Sunday, June 20

Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

Having abandoned hopes of eradicating the virus or developing a vaccine quickly, Europeans have largely gone back to work and school, leading lives as normally as possible even as the possibility of a second wave haunts the continent.

Europeans are putting to use the lessons from the pandemic’s initial phase: the need to wear masks and practice social distancing, the importance of testing and contact tracing, the critical advantages of reacting nimbly and locally. All of those measures are intended to prevent the kind of national lockdowns that crippled economies this year. “We are in a living-with-the-virus phase,” said Roberto Speranza, the health minister of Italy.

It’s a very different story across the English Channel, however. With a second wave imminent, Britain is undergoing a testing crisis, in which the country cannot meet current demand and labs are overwhelmed with unprocessed samples. The reopening of schools and businesses now hangs in the balance.

After last year’s blazes in Australia burned through 46 million acres — a chunk of land that is larger than Syria — brick chimneys are all that remains of many homes. Animals appear in smaller numbers. Hillsides are covered with trees as dead as matchsticks, and even the rivers are choking with ash.

As this year’s fire season nears, the country’s mood is one of anticipation — and a desperate urge to do something that might ward off another round of ruin. Homeowners are turning to Aboriginal fire experts for preventive burning. Land clearing, above, has become more common than barbecues. “Climate change, it’s real, mate,” said a marine scientist. “There is no returning to normal; there is no normal. We just have to change.”

U.S. disasters: The wildfires raging on the West Coast have left at least 27 people dead, and the authorities said they faced a disaster with no clear end in sight. In the Gulf Coast region, residents from Mississippi to Florida were bracing for Hurricane Sally, which was expected to make landfall Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, local time.

Refugee crisis: Germany agreed to accept more than 1,500 people now living in Greek refugee camps, in what appeared to be a challenge to fellow E.U. members to also do their part.

Breonna Taylor: City officials in Louisville, Ky., have agreed to pay $12 million to the family of the young Black woman who was killed by white police officers in a botched raid last March. The city will also institute reforms aimed at preventing future deaths by officers.

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