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Wildfires, 2020 Election, N.F.L. Sunday: Your Weekend Briefing

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Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead

1. Dozens of people remain missing in the Oregon wildfires. One official spoke of the horrifying possibility of a “mass fatality incident.”

West Coast blazes have scorched a combined area approaching the size of New Jersey, killing at least 20 people and sending blankets of choking smoke far from the fires. Above, the Holiday Farm fire near McKenzie Bridge, Ore., this week.

They are Wisconsin, where Mr. Trump’s denunciations of rioting and crime have rallied support on the right but failed to sway voters who dislike him; Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning state that Mr. Trump hopes to flip; Nevada; and New Hampshire.

Every week through Election Day, The Times will bring you dispatches from the swing states to help explain how voters see the race and what issues are driving it.

We also took a closer look at how Senator Kamala Harris’s parents shaped the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. They grew up under British colonial rule on different sides of the planet, but each was drawn to Berkeley, Calif., where they met and rewrote their life plans.


For instance, in August, President Trump called the director of the National Institutes of Health, demanding fast action to approve expanded use of convalescent plasma to treat the coronavirus. Even though it didn’t come, Mr. Trump announced the expansion of the treatment anyway, with the F.D.A.’s approval, on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

Tensions over the White House’s urgency to show progress against the pandemic, which has killed more than 193,500 people in the U.S., are also playing out at the Department of Health and Human Services, where political appointees have repeatedly meddled in weekly outbreak reports prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


4. China is harnessing the power of its authoritarian system to bring nearly 200 million students back into classrooms, like one in Wuhan, above.

The Communist Party has rolled out sanitation and distancing procedures with an all-out approach that brooks no dissent, one that would be nearly impossible almost anywhere else. Local officials and party cadres inspect classrooms; apps monitor students and staff members. Some colleges forbid students to leave campus.

President Xi Jinping boasted last week that the country’s return to business and school “fully demonstrated the clear superiority of Communist Party leadership and our socialist system.”

5. The White House announcement on Friday that Bahrain would normalize relations with Israel may pave the way for more such moves.

Sudan and Oman may follow suit, according to some analysts, but the real test will be whether Saudi Arabia does so. Israel and Arab leaders in the Persian Gulf have quietly cultivated ties for years, united by antipathy toward Iran.

With the November election nearing and U.S. efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord foiled, Israel’s détentes with both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, along with the start of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, have helped spotlight President Trump’s sudden turn toward ending, rather than starting, conflicts.


6. Disney wanted to make a splash in China with “Mulan.” Instead, it stumbled.

The $200 million live-action spectacle, five years in the making, arrived on Disney+ to strong reviews. Critics lauded its ravishing scenery and thrilling battle sequences. But when the credits rolled, social media users noticed the filmmakers thanked government entities in Xinjiang, the region in China where Uighur Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps.

The filming location, used for roughly one minute of background footage, created the exact kind of controversy Disney had hoped to avoid — a rare blunder by a company that’s one of the world’s savviest on China.

Separately, “Nomadland,” starring Frances McDormand, won the top award at the Venice Film Festival, the first international film festival held since the pandemic began.


7. On Aug. 5, 1944, nearly a thousand Jewish refugees from Europe arrived in upstate New York at the invitation of President Roosevelt. It was supposed to be the first of many relief camps. It turned out to be the only one.

This is the overlooked saga of one of the more complex refugee experiences in American history. At the time, the country was embroiled in familiar debates over immigration, complicated by the spread of misinformation. We spoke to some of the former refugees, and to residents of Oswego who remember the camp.

“All we saw was a barbed-wire fence and American soldiers,” said Ben Alalouf, who arrived at the converted military base as a four-year-old. Everyone thought it was a concentration camp.”


8. It’s been a very full week in sports.

Naomi Osaka defeated Victoria Azarenka in three sets to win the U.S. Open, her third Grand Slam singles victory. Dominic Thiem plays Alexander Zverev in the men’s singles final today at 4 p.m. Eastern.

In basketball, the Lakers defeated the Rockets to move on to the Western Conference finals, where they’ll play either the Nuggets or the Clippers. The Heat and the Celtics begin the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday.

And it’s opening weekend for the N.F.L. Tom Brady (in a new uniform) squares off against Drew Brees, and Lamar Jackson goes up against the Browns, the last team to beat him in the regular season. Here’s a look at Sunday’s best games.

9. Tan France has a lot to teach us about dressing.

The style guru on Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” which follows a group of experts as they help “heroes” with simple life tips and home improvements, has spun his fame into ample opportunity: a memoir, a competition show, a comedic web series and now a MasterClass where you, too, can learn everything you ever wanted to know about capsule wardrobes.

According to him, it’s not about the money. “I took this job because I had an agenda,” he said. “I needed people to see my people — Muslims, gays, Pakistanis, immigrants — as real people, not just characters on a TV show.


10. And finally, a dessert menu of great stories.

Ice skaters trade the rink for New York City pavement. London’s bridges really are falling down. Tilda Swinton talks about her new “ultimate lockdown film.” We have all that and more in our Best Weekend Reads.

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