Your Monday Evening Briefing - The New York Times

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Monday.

1. Britain is sizzling, with temperatures close to smashing records.

For a country unaccustomed to extreme heat, it was a struggle to cope. By midafternoon, temperatures neared 100 degrees in England — just short of an all-time high. Wales recorded its highest-ever temperature, 37.1 degrees Celsius (98.8 Fahrenheit).

2. As the planet cooks, climate change has stalled as a political issue.

Scientists have found that human-induced climate change is a factor in at least some of the extreme heat (This is why Europe is getting hit).

3. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine fired two top officials, the biggest shake-up of his government since Russia’s invasion.

In announcing the dismissals of Ivan Bakanov, the leader of Ukraine’s Security Service, and Iryna Venediktova, the prosecutor general, Zelenksy also said that hundreds of treason investigations had been opened into employees of law enforcement agencies. The president did not suggest that either of the officials were suspected of treason, but other Ukrainian officials had blamed them for failing to effectively root out spies and collaborators.

The battle in the eastern province of Donetsk grinds on amid ominous signs that Russia is intensifying its war on other fronts. Ukrainian soldiers told our reporter there that they are living under almost constant Russian bombardment but dismiss any suggestion that they should cede land.

4. A report found “systemic failures” in the response to the Uvalde, Texas, school massacre.

Nearly 400 officers were dispatched to the school that day, the 77-page report by a special Texas House committee found. Yet the school was inadequately secured and the police officers were mired in confusion and bad information. The decision to finally confront the gunman was made by a small group of officers, including Border Patrol agents. The report concluded that others at the scene could have intervened far earlier. The May 24 massacre left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Separately, a sentencing trial began for the former student who pleaded guilty to murdering 17 people in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. A jury will decide whether to recommend that he be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Over the weekend, another shooting left three people dead at an Indiana mall. The gunman was killed by an armed bystander, officials said.

BA.5, a subvariant of Omicron, has sent infections rising in at least 40 states. Hospitalizations have climbed by 20 percent in the last two weeks, leaving more than a daily average of 40,000 people in American hospitals. Deaths are rising modestly. But as the commissioner of the Chicago health department put it, “I feel strongly that you can’t just kind of cry wolf all the time.”

We’re also monitoring the spread of monkeypox across the country. New York City patients, in particular, have faced a private battle to find treatment and relief from serious symptoms. “It was just the worst pain I’ve experienced in my life,” one man said.

7. Claes Oldenburg, a Pop artist who made monumental sculptures of everyday objects, died at 93.

Born in Sweden, Oldenburg entered the New York art scene in the 1950s, experimenting with drawings, collages and papier-mâché. As he focused more on sculpture, he began increasing the scale of his work, depicting subjects like hamburgers, ice cream cones and household appliances with imposing dimensions.

His first realized “Colossal Monument,” as he called this type of work, was “Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks.”

“My intention is to make an everyday object that eludes definition,” he once said.

8. Joe Davis is the new voice of baseball.

Davis, who replaced Joe Buck as the lead play-by-play voice for baseball on Fox, inherited Vin Scully’s job with the Dodgers. The 34-year-old has never been to an All-Star Game and has never worked the World Series. Now he’ll be calling both. He has been preparing for this moment since he was 8 years old.

The All-Star Game gets underway in Los Angeles tomorrow night. The Yankees will have six players at the game, including their star catcher, Jose Trevino. Trevino is so good at manipulating umpires with his pitch framing that he sometimes fools his own pitchers.

Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels will also be there. But baseball’s would-be saviors are in need of a rescue themselves, our columnist writes.

9. Barbie is about to reunite with some old friends: Major Matt Mason, Big Jim and Pulsar.

Mattel is dusting off three dormant lines that have not been on toy shelves in decades. The reappearance of three action heroes is part of a strategy to capitalize on the company’s intellectual property by reviving old brands for new generations.

Barbie will feature in a live-action movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, one of a dozen films in the works for various Mattel brands. Tom Hanks signed on to star and produce an adaptation of Major Matt Mason, an astronaut action figure introduced in 1966.

Netflix is also investing in what they hope will be a blockbuster franchise: “The Gray Man” is about shadow employees of the C.I.A. who are trying to kill each other. It cost $200 million to make.

10. And finally, the secret of an elephant’s trunk.

Full of muscle and devoid of bone, the elephant’s trunk can move in an infinite number of directions and is capable of many tasks, including tearing up foliage and suctioning up water and food. The trunk, it turns out, is more than just muscle, and its abilities may also depend on something obvious but often ignored: its skin.

Researchers who worked with elephants at Zoo Atlanta determined that different sections of the trunk serve distinct functions based on the nature of the skin. The upper surface, covered in long folds, has this “flexible armor like Kevlar” that makes it easily extendable. By contrast, the underside of the trunk is covered in smaller wrinkles and used for gripping and moving objects.

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By Jon Doe