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Gaza, Texas, Summer Drinks: Your Friday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was holding, but unrest broke out in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The halt in fighting allowed residents in Gaza to assess for the first time the scale of the damage: Officials said that about 1,000 residential units across the coastal strip had been destroyed. Above, a home in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. Bombing also leveled three mosques, and damaged 17 hospitals as well as clinics and dozens of schools. It cut off fresh water, electricity and sewer service to much of the area.

Less than 12 hours after the rockets and airstrikes stopped, Israeli security forces stormed Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque to push demonstrators and worshipers out of the compound after Friday prayers. And across the West Bank, Israeli soldiers used rubber bullets and live rounds to disperse Palestinian demonstrators.

In more than 10 days of fighting, the Israeli military killed at least 230 Palestinians. Some Israeli generals were triumphant, while others acknowledged that the military campaign might not prevent another round of fighting.

2. The number of global deaths from the coronavirus is probably two to three times higher than the official data, the World Health Organization said. Above, São Paulo, Brazil.

Some six to eight million people may have now died from Covid-19 or its effects since the start of the pandemic, compared with 3.4 million deaths recorded in countries’ official reporting. The W.H.O. also estimates that at least three million people may have died from Covid-19 in 2020, compared with 1.8 million recorded in official data.

In Africa, the rates of illness and death from Covid have, for the most part, been lower than in the rest of the world. But if the virus begins to spread more rapidly on the continent, new findings suggest that the death toll could worsen.


3. Insurers and Congress wrote rules to protect Covid patients from medical bills. The charges came anyway, leaving some like Irena Schulz, above, mired in debt.

For 10 months, The Times has tracked the high costs of coronavirus testing and treatment through bills submitted by readers. Those bills show that some hospitals are not complying with the ban on balance billing. One man whose father died of the virus last fall is facing over $1 million in bills.

This phase of the pandemic, when adults can be vaccinated but young children cannot, is confusing for many families. We asked more than 800 experts to weigh in on what activities unvaccinated children can do. Our Well team also answered common questions about vaccines and kids.

4. President Biden met with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea at the White House. Two major issues were on their agenda: North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and climate change.

Moon has said that one goal for today’s meeting was bringing North Korea “back on the path of dialogue.” Privately, officials in the Biden administration admit they have no illusions that North Korea will ever give up the entirety of its nuclear program.

On the topic of climate change, the U.S. is calling on South Korea to nearly double its current target of cutting carbon 24.4 percent below 2017 levels by the end of the decade.


5. A sweeping legislative measure unveiled in New York State could lead to greater police accountability.

The proposal from Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, would allow police officers to use force only as a last resort, raise the threshold for using deadly force and establish criminal penalties for officers who violate those guidelines. The changes could dramatically transform policing as the legal system contends with outrage over the deaths of Black men in police custody.

Next week marks one year since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. During protests last summer, businesses boarded up their storefronts. Hundreds of those boards — turned into art inspired by the moment — will be displayed in exhibitions in Minneapolis, New York and Chicago.


6. Tribune Publishing, owner of some of the biggest city newspapers in the country, will be acquired by a hedge fund with a reputation for slashing costs and cutting jobs.

Shareholders of Tribune, whose titles include The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and The New York Daily News, approved the company’s sale to Alden Global Capital. While buying a newspaper may sound like a questionable investment in the digital era, Alden has found a way to eke out a profit by laying off workers and selling off real estate.

In other business news, American steel is booming as production increases. Record prices are not going to reverse decades of job losses, but the surge is delivering optimism to steel towns across the country.


7. “I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God.”

That’s how schoolchildren in Texas start their day, every morning. Now, Republican lawmakers want to take that loyalty one step further and reframe Texas history lessons to play down references to slavery and anti-Mexican discrimination that are part of the state’s founding. A series of measures under consideration in the state legislature amount to some of the most aggressive efforts to control the teaching of American history.

In other education news, for the first time in three decades, yoga can be taught in Alabama schools. But teachers will be barred from saying the traditional salutation “namaste” and using Sanskrit names for poses. Chanting and the sound of “om” is also a no-no.

8. Global cactus traffickers are cleaning out the deserts.

A record-breaking seizure of rare Chilean cactuses from an Italian man’s makeshift greenhouse — more than 1,000 of some of the world’s rarest cactuses, valued at over $1.2 million — highlights the international black market in the thorny plants. Once cactuses are poached from the wild, they are often traded in the open on platforms like eBay, Instagram, Etsy and Facebook.

For a safer bet, plant lovers can consider the terrarium. The enclosed nurseries have seen new waves of interest in recent years. Our garden expert also breaks down the versatility of ferns. In 400 million years, these plants have developed some surprising variations.


9. Dramatic props. Stage theatrics. Geopolitics. And of course singing.

Think of the Eurovision Song Contest as the Olympics of song. Tomorrow, singers from 39 countries will compete in the finals. As in sports, fans respond to a victory by acting as if the entire country has won. The Netherlands, the 2019 winner, is hosting. If you’re in the U.S., you can watch starting at 3 p.m. Eastern on Peacock. Here’s what you need to know.

There are six main contenders this year, from Italy, France, Malta, Switzerland, San Marino, and Ukraine. Among the favorites to win is the Italian rock band Maneskin, who perform “Zitti E Buoni” in eyeliner and a lot of leather.

10. And finally, beauty in the eye of the beer holder.

The pandemic, for all its woes, brought new customs and tastes. In nearly 20 states, to-go cocktails that were allowed under Covid-era rules are now here to stay. And breweries and beverage companies have invented new summer drinks, including hops-infused seltzers, hard seltzer smoothies and Popsicle-inspired beer.

But as we begin to again gather outside, all Eric Asimov, our wine critic, wants is a great summer beer. He prefers pilsners for a pronounced hop character that is dry and floral, or Kölsch, which is a little mellower. Gose, a wheat beer that is tart, lively, spicy and lightly saline, is also a good bet.

After 14 months of anxiety, a beer on a summer day, “outside in the shade of a big old oak tree, with friends and an occasional breeze,” is just what’s needed, Asimov writes.

Have a refreshing (and responsible) weekend.


Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at briefing@nytimes.com.

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