New York Times

North Korea, World Cup, Supreme Court: Your Weekend Briefing

North Korea, World Cup, Supreme Court: Your Weekend Briefing

By Joumana Khatib and Lance Booth

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

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CreditRungroj Yongrit/EPA, via Shutterstock

1. At least four members of a Thai soccer team have been brought out alive, officials said. Divers began the extraction attempt in a race against the threat of rains, which could make an already difficult rescue impossible. The 12 boys and their soccer coach had been stranded in the flooded cave since June 23. Above, medics took the rescued children to a helicopter.

We examined the cave complex and the logistical challenges the rescuers face.

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CreditPool photo by Andrew Harnik

2. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up two days of talks in North Korea, declaring them “productive.” But soon after, Pyongyang accused the U.S. of pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization.”

Mr. Pompeo and his team offered no immediate evidence that they had come away with anything tangible from disarmament talks, while North Korea declared that American “working-level” officials were trying to destroy the agreement struck in Singapore. And on Sunday, Mr. Pompeo sharpened his tone on North Korea, saying that if American behavior were gangster-like, then “the world is a gangster.”

Have you been keeping up with the headlines? Test your knowledge with our news quiz. And here’s the front page of our Sunday paper, and our crossword puzzles.

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CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

3. For Senate Democrats from Republican states, the upcoming battle over a Supreme Court vacancy poses a wrenching choice.

Those senators — like Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, above — can vote to confirm President Trump’s pick and risk alienating Democratic voters ahead of the midterm elections. Or they can stick with their party and jeopardize their seats — and the chances for a Democratic majority in 2019.

A nonpartisan congressional analyst put it simply: “It is a terrible vote.”

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, is close to announcing his nominee. He’s likely to stick to the strategy that worked for him the first time: His aides say he views the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as one of the unalloyed triumphs of his presidency.

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CreditHeather Ainsworth for The New York Times

4. Most nursing homes have overstated their staffing levels in reports to the government, effectively falsifying their records and confirming the suspicions of many families that the number of caretakers was often inadequate.

Close to 1.4 million people receive care in skilled nursing facilities. The new federal data reveals frequent and significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing.

The discrepancy can be particularly acute on the weekends — when, one resident said, it becomes “like a ghost town.”

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CreditFarah Abdi Warsameh/Associated Press

5. ISIS may be losing ground on the battlefield, but global threats of terrorism continue to spread.

From the scheming of lone extremists, with no apparent connections to terrorist groups, to fighters aligned with the Islamic State or Al Qaeda in more than two dozen countries, terrorist threats are as complex and diverse as ever. And the Islamic State is adapting to the changing landscape, taking its communications underground to rally supporters worldwide, a sign of the group’s enduring legacy and influence.

“The message continues to resonate with way too many people,” a counterterrorism expert said.

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CreditFrancisco Seco/Associated Press

6. News from the World Cup:

England breezed through to the semifinals, overtaking Sweden 2-0. It will be England’s first appearance in a semifinal since 1990.

Croatia, too, worked its way through to the semifinals, beating Russia in penalties. The game picked up in the latter half and careened into two furious periods of extra time.

The semifinals begin on Tuesday, with France and Belgium facing off. Until then, find all our World Cup coverage here.

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CreditDmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

7. Migrants were once welcome in a small Italian town. Then came a killing, an attack on migrants and an election.

Macerata, above, used to have a reputation for tolerance, its former bishop boasting of a “welcoming spirit.” But the killing of a young woman, allegedly by a Nigerian drug dealer, and a revenge shooting afterward have helped make the city a symbol of right-wing politics.

Many inside Italy and in the European Union fear the far-right, populist wave taking hold across the country. “Within one year, we will see if united Europe still exists,” said the new interior minister in Italy’s new nationalist government.

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CreditIllustration by The New York Times

8. How easy is it to impersonate someone online? In many cases, it’s a breeze.

That can be a huge headache for celebrities and other public figures. Millions of phony social media profiles pose specifically as actors, singers, politicians and other well-known figures to broadcast falsehoods, cheat people out of money — or worse.

Our reporter tried it himself, creating dozens of impostor social media accounts that claimed to be him.

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CreditAdam Amengual for The New York Times

9. Romance novels are breaking — slowly — out of the boy-meets-girl mold.

Some publishers are starting to acquire books featuring gay, interracial and other romances, written by writers of color that feature more character diversity, but barriers remain.

“Readers want books that reflect the world they live in,” said the co-owner of a romance bookstore.

But while a growing number of authors from minority groups are finding publishers, many say they face hurdles their white peers do not, like getting an agent and into bookstores.

That may be changing. When the agent of Helen Hoang, above, put her debut novel on the market, five publishers made offers. Fans have flocked to Ms. Hoang’s book, a multicultural love story centered on an autistic woman who has trouble navigating the nuances of dating and courtship.

“I wanted to share the perspective of an autistic woman, because I don’t think that’s a perspective you see very much,” Ms. Hoang said of her book.

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CreditKsenia Kuleshova for The New York Times

10. Finally, a Moroccan cafe built as homage to the movie “Casablanca,” above; a look at why Americans are having fewer babies; and a conversation with Lakeith Stanfield, the star of “Sorry to Bother You.” We have those stories and more in this collection of our best weekend reads.

For more suggestions on what to read, watch and listen to, may we suggest these 10 new books our editors liked, a glance at the latest recommendations from Watching, or our music critics’ latest playlist.

Have a great week.

Your Weekend Briefing is published Sundays at 6 a.m. Eastern.

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