Afghanistan, Florida, U.S. Open: Your Weekend Briefing


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

1. Evacuation flights from Kabul’s airport are winding down as President Biden warned of another attack in the closing days of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

In a statement on Saturday, just days after a suicide bomber had killed 13 American troops and as many as 170 Afghan civilians, Mr. Biden said another Kabul attack was “highly likely in the next 24 to 36 hours.” This is how Thursday’s attack unfolded.

3. Children’s hospitals around the country are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 patients.

As the Delta variant grips the country, children who are not yet eligible for vaccination are at higher risk of being infected — especially in places where the virus is surging. A New Orleans children’s hospital had so many Covid-19 patients that a federal “surge team” was called in to bolster an exhausted staff.

4. Florida offers a cautionary tale for dealing with the Delta variant: Even a state that made a major push for vaccinations can be crushed.

While leaders in Florida refused lockdowns and mask orders, they made it a priority to vaccinate vulnerable older people. But it wasn’t enough — Florida has so many older people that even vaccinating a vast majority of them left more than 800,000 unprotected. Vaccination rates among younger people were uneven, so clusters of people remained at risk. Now, cases in Florida are reaching their highest peak of the pandemic.

In Britain, the public has moved on, even if the virus has not. The country is reporting more than 30,000 new Covid cases a day, but public observance of measures to contain the spread seems to be slipping. Experts say this could be a glimpse into the future for other countries.

5. Tens of millions of older Americans who cannot afford dental care may soon get help.

Democrats are maneuvering to add dental benefits to Medicare for the first time in its history, a proposal that is part of the large budget bill moving through Congress. The impact would be enormous: Nearly half of Americans 65 and over didn’t visit a dentist in the past year, and nearly one in five have lost all their natural teeth.

But first, lawmakers must overcome resistance from a key group: dentists themselves, who want the dental benefits to be offered only to poorer patients and face a potential hit to their income. So far, no Republicans have endorsed the plan.

6. France outlawed six American vine varieties in 1934, mainly on the grounds that they produced poor wine. So why do renegade winemakers still grow them?

In a year when an April frost has ravaged France’s wine production, growers vaunt the hardiness of the American grapes as climate change wreaks havoc on vineyards across Europe. The pest-resistant varieties are also helping vintners meet the growing popularity of natural wine. Guerrilla winemakers in the southern Cévennes region now hope the forbidden grapes will be legalized.

“France is a great wine country,” one grower said. “To remain one, we have to open up. We can’t get stuck on what we already know.”

7. The U.S. Open begins in New York on Monday, and Novak Djokovic is on a treasure hunt.

Win this tournament, and he will break his tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and take the record for Grand Slam men’s singles titles with 21. Win this tournament, and he completes a Grand Slam by winning all four major tournaments in the same calendar year. No man has done so in singles since 1969 (Steffi Graf did it in 1988).

Here’s what Djokovic’s path to victory might look like. His success may be made easier by Federer and Nadal’s absence from the U.S. Open because of injuries. Serena Williams is also out.

8. Sally Rooney’s first two books made her more famous than she liked, and she thought she would never write again. Then she had a reckoning with why she writes at all.

The result is “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” which focuses on the friendship between two women as they enter their 30s and develop romantic relationships. “It was with this book that I sat down and thought, wait a minute, what is a novel?” Rooney said.

Her book, out Sept. 7, is one the most anticipated titles for September. Here are 18 other books to look out for.


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