Russia’s grinding gains in Ukraine
After Russia’s capture of the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Moscow controls the Luhansk province in eastern Ukraine. The Russian military relies on its superior firepower and on making grinding incremental advances — a strategy that is paying off.
Moscow is now focused on population centers in neighboring Donetsk, the other province in the Donbas region. The city of Bakhmut has emptied out, as residents anticipate a coming assault. It has suffered sporadic shelling since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February.
Among Ukrainians, a creeping sense of resignation is mounting. The country’s battered and vastly outgunned forces have been forced to rely on raw recruits and are suffering from the strain of combat, retreat and constant Russian shelling. But the invasion has taken a brutal toll on Russia, too. Moscow is suffering hundreds of casualties a day, according to Western intelligence.
Updated Covid shots in the U.S.
Regulators in the U.S. have committed to updating the coronavirus vaccines created in 2020 for this fall’s booster campaign, with new formulas meant to defend against ultra-contagious Omicron subvariants. The new cocktails are part of an effort to drastically speed up vaccine development and to appeal to Americans who have so far spurned booster shots.
But it is unclear whether those modified boosters will arrive in time. Seeking to match the latest forms of the virus, the F.D.A. asked vaccine manufacturers to target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, rather than the version of Omicron that emerged last winter. Pfizer and Moderna said that they could deliver subvariant vaccine doses no earlier than October. They have already begun making doses tailored to the original form of Omicron.
Many scientists believe that updated boosters will be critical for diversifying people’s immune defenses as subvariants eat away at the protection offered by vaccines. Covid deaths in the U.S. have recently begun rising, as cases surge. Epidemiologists predict as many as 200,000 Covid deaths in the U.S. within the next year.
BA.4 and BA.5: The most evasive forms of Omicron yet, these two subvariants appear to be driving a fresh surge of cases across much of the U.S. and have sent hospital admissions climbing in Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium and Israel.
Six killed at July 4 parade near Chicago
A 22-year-old man was taken into custody last night after a person opened fire from a rooftop into a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, an Illinois suburb north of Chicago, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more. The man was detained after hundreds of law enforcement officials spent hours scouring the region.
After the shooting on Monday morning, the police asked nearby residents to turn over any security camera footage to investigators. Later, Robert Crimo, who had been identified as “a person of interest” in the shooting, was spotted in a car by a North Chicago police unit. When the police tried to stop him, Crimo fled, leading officers on a brief chase, the police said.
At the scene of the shooting, lawn chairs remained scattered along the parade route as police with rifles patrolled the streets. Those injured ranged in age from 8 to 85. At least 25 of them suffered gunshot wounds, the authorities said.
White House: In a statement, President Biden said he was “shocked by the senseless gun violence.” The U.S. faces an epidemic of gun violence: In just the last eight weeks, 10 people were fatally shot at a grocery in Buffalo and 21 people — 19 students and two teachers — were killed by a gunman at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
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Around the World
The bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh, a slain Palestinian American journalist, was most likely fired from Israeli military lines but was too damaged to say for sure, U.S. investigators said.
Nick Kyrgios, the mercurial Australian tennis player, has reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. His antics and psychological warfare have dominated the tournament. Here’s the latest.
Eight U.S. states have now outlawed abortion, including Texas, which allowed a 1925 law to go into effect on Friday night.
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A Morning Read
Many L.G.B.T.Q. residents of America’s “gayborhoods” like the Castro, above, are choosing to live elsewhere in search of cheaper housing and better amenities. After decades of political and social changes, they are finding growing acceptance in other communities — to the potential detriment of their former homes.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The best two-player board games
A good game is a vacation mainstay, helping to while away long summer evenings or a tedious train journey. Games for two people have come a long way since checkers, backgammon and Battleship. Today, the best of them are just as complex and enthralling as any group game.
Wirecutter talked with experts, spent more than 25 hours researching and played 20 different games to find the one-on-one games that most people will enjoy. Here is a short selection to consider for your next trip. (Peruse the full list here.)
Hive is a really fun, chess-like game that’s played by placing and moving bugs (represented by tiles) in order to surround your opponent’s queen bee. It’s a deeply strategic game that is simple to learn — on any turn you can take one of two possible actions — but it’s still deep enough to keep revealing new ways to play.
The Fox in the Forest is a lighter, more luck-based game for a laid-back vibe. Anyone who has played a trick-taking card game will be familiar with the main mechanic: The goal of the game is to win tricks by playing a higher-value card than the other player.
In 7 Wonders Duel, the objective is to build an ancient civilization that outdoes your opponent’s, something you accomplish by building wonders like the pyramids, the hanging gardens and the colossus. Of all our picks, this is the one that feels the most like a modern multiplayer board game, but pared down to work perfectly with two players.