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Stimulus, Wildfires, Capri: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The Senate will vote this week on a scaled-back stimulus plan, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, announced as senators returned to Washington today.

Democrats are likely to block it. The Republican-drafted measure would revive lapsed unemployment benefits at $300 a week — half their previous level — and provide $105 billion for schools as well as funds for coronavirus testing and the Postal Service. Above, Mr. McConnell with reporters as he walked to the Senate chambers.

The plan is an attempt to intensify pressure on Democratic leaders, who want to fully restore the $600 weekly unemployment benefit along with other spending increases. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said the proposal was “laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support.”

2. Extreme weather is battering several Western states, with fires raging along the Pacific Coast.

In California, helicopters battling smoky skies have rescued more than 360 people as a fire burned the Sierra National Forest. California’s largest electricity provider has cut power to 170,000 of its customers to prevent wildfires. Above, evacuees being flown to safety.

Fires in Oregon that have burned through more than 27,000 acres were approaching more densely populated areas, while in Washington State, 80 percent of homes and structures in Malden, a town of 200, was destroyed by fire. Follow our wildfires live updates. These images capture the devastation.

In Colorado, 101-degree weather on Monday gave way to a rapid cold front. Snow was falling in Denver on Tuesday morning.


3. On the first day of school, online classes started (and some quickly stopped).

A ransomware attack forced Hartford, Conn., to call off classes. A website crash left Houston’s 200,000 students staring at error messages. And a software outage in Virginia Beach disrupted the first hours of the school year.

Classes also started today in some of the nation’s largest districts, including Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Baltimore, along with many suburbs of Washington. Almost all began the year remotely, with some still hoping to hold in-person classes several weeks from now. Above, picking up children after the first day of school in Detroit. A majority of Detroit students have opted for online classes.


4. The police chief of Rochester, N.Y., resigned following the death of a Black man who suffocated after he had been placed in a hood by city police officers and pinned to the ground.

The resignation of the police chief, La’Ron D. Singletary, above, came three days after the state attorney general announced that she would set up a grand jury to consider evidence in the death of the man, Daniel Prude.

Mr. Prude’s family has accused officials of covering up his death to protect the police officers involved. In a statement, Mr. Singletary said he was being targeted by “an attempt to destroy my character.”


5. Sensing opportunity in America’s retail crisis.

Jamie Salter, above left, a licensing expert, and David Simon, the largest mall operator in the U.S., are buying up bankrupt brands like Brooks Brothers, Forever 21 and Lucky Brand denim. Together, they own and operate 1,500 stores, and are reshaping the shopping landscape.

Critics say the venture is exploiting the industry’s traumas for fast profits in ways that cheapen the brands’ legacies.

In other economic news, U.S. stocks fell as the sudden pullback in technology stocks continued into a third day. The S&P 500 slid about 2.8 percent while the Nasdaq composite tumbled more than 4 percent.


6. Is your mask helping you build immunity?

As the world awaits a coronavirus vaccine, a team of researchers has come forward with a provocative new theory: Masks might act as a crude vaccine.

Some experts are intrigued by the idea that if a small number of pathogens slip through the mask, they might prompt the body to produce immune cells that can remember the virus and stick around to fight it off again.

Separately, nine drug companies pledged that they would not put forward a vaccine until it had been thoroughly vetted for safety and efficacy. President Trump has claimed that a vaccine could be available before Election Day, Nov. 3.

7. Massacres in Myanmar: “Kill all you see.”

That’s the order that Pvt. Zaw Naing Tun of the Myanmar Army received from his superior officer in August 2017. “We wiped out about 20 villages,” he said in video testimony, adding that he dumped the bodies of ethnic Rohingya in a mass grave.

On Monday, the private, above right, and another soldier were transported to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court has opened a case examining whether Myanmar’s military leaders committed large-scale crimes against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

It is the first time that members of the military have openly confessed to taking part in what United Nations officials say was a genocidal campaign against the Rohingya.


8. A Belarus opposition leader foiled deportation.

Maria Kolesnikova, who was abducted on Monday by Belarusian security agents, tore up her passport at the border with Ukraine to prevent them from expelling her from the country.

Ms. Kolesnikova was the last of three female activists to remain in Belarus, part of a groundswell of opposition to President Aleksandr Lukashenko. The other two have left the country, which has seen weeks of mass protests calling on Mr. Lukashenko to step down.

Mr. Lukashenko claimed in an interview that Ms. Kolesnikova, above at a protest in August, had tried to flee Belarus illegally in a car with two activists, but was thrown out of the vehicle on the way to Ukraine. He said that Belarusian border officers then arrested her.


9. Guitars are back, baby!

A half year into a pandemic that has threatened to sink entire industries, people are turning to the guitar as a quarantine companion and psychological salve. A surge in sales for storied companies like Fender, Gibson, Martin and Taylor has surprised industry veterans.

The coronavirus guitar boom is not just graying baby-boomer men looking to live out one last Peter Frampton fantasy. Young adults and teenagers, many of them women, are helping to power the revival, manufacturers and retailers said. Above, Miranda Lambert performing remotely on “The Tonight Show” in May.


10. And finally, Capri misses you.

Americans, particularly famous ones, have long been a dependable presence on Capri. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis made famous a length of pants named after the Italian island. Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney recorded the same song about Capri for their albums.

This year, coronavirus travel restrictions have meant that Americans, who make up the island’s largest share of foreign tourists, are staying away. Locals say that Capri looks and feels very different without them.

One boutique owner said he missed American shoppers. “The Americans, if they like two or three scarves, they’re like, ‘You know what, I’ll just take the three because I’ll figure out what to do with them later,’” he said. “Europeans are much more, ‘Tomorrow I’ll come back and get it down to two, and then I’ll choose one.’ We’ve all been spoiled with that sort of optimism.”

Buonasera Americani.


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