Written by 12:47 pm New York News

Labor Day, 2020 Election, Serena Williams: Your Weekend Briefing

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

1. Summer is ending with a lost opportunity.

The U.S. is averaging about 40,000 coronavirus cases a day, down from a startling peak in late July, but nearly twice the level at summer’s start, according to a Times database. Above, a testing site in Los Angeles this weekend.

The failure to control the virus deepens the dangers heading into fall: the start of the school year, flu season and cooler temperatures that will drive more people indoors.

2. President Trump has drawn on campaign funds to pay his legal expenses far more than his predecessors did, unsettling members of both parties.

Mr. Trump, pictured above in Latrobe, Pa., this week, and his affiliated political entities have spent at least $58.4 million in donations on legal and compliance work since 2015, according to a Times analysis. By comparison, President Barack Obama spent $10.7 million during an equivalent stretch, starting in 2007. President George W. Bush also spent much less.

The spending covers not only legal work that would be routine for any president, but also cases in which Mr. Trump has a personal stake. Here are some highlights of the lawsuits the president is defending himself from, or is pursuing.

And a report in The Atlantic that the president had referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers” weighed heavily on many veterans’ families over the weekend. Dana Canedy, a former Times journalist, lost her fiancé in the Iraq war. She writes in an Op-Ed about what Mr. Trump’s reported comments mean to her 14-year-old son.


3. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are planning an accelerated travel schedule as the 2020 campaign rounds the homestretch.

After months of virtual campaigning, the Democratic ticket will visit battleground states while still being mindful of safety precautions, campaign officials said. Ms. Harris is expected in Wisconsin on Labor Day, and Mr. Biden is scheduled to go to Michigan and Pennsylvania shortly. Mr. Biden visited Kenosha, Wis., this past week, above.

Their campaign continues to see the race as a referendum on Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden’s chief strategist said. A wave of data released this week suggests that the race is largely holding steady after the parties’ conventions.


4. College towns around America are becoming coronavirus hot spots.

About 100 college communities across the country, including Iowa City, above, have seen an increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks as students return for the fall semester. The potential spread of the virus off-campus has deeply affected workplaces, schools, governments and other institutions in local communities.

In the U.S., at least 51,000 coronavirus cases and at least 60 deaths from the virus can be traced to American colleges and universities, a Times survey found.


5. Lawmakers begin returning to Washington this week after their summer recess, with all eyes on a new coronavirus relief package.

Trillions of dollars in federal spending, which helped sustain many households and businesses early in the health crisis, are drying up.

New job numbers emphasize the fragility of the U.S. economy; unemployment fell to 8.4 percent, but the job growth was the weakest in months, and an increasing number of people reported that they had lost their jobs permanently.

The economic situation in India is even more perilous. The Indian economy has shrunk faster than any other major nation’s, and some estimates say as many as 200 million people could slip back into poverty.


6. The summer of unrest continues.

For 100 days, racial justice protesters have flooded the streets of Portland, Ore., in tempestuous, sometimes violent, demonstrations. On Thursday, law enforcement agents killed one of them, Michael Forest Reinoehl, while trying to arrest him for the shooting death of a supporter of a far-right group.

The proximity of the left and the right in Oregon has created a dynamic of fear, mistrust and anger that feeds the street conflicts.

And in New York, the Rochester police treated the March death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man suffering a psychotic episode while on PCP, as a drug overdose — though an autopsy found that he died of asphyxia and ruled the death a homicide.

The case has drawn scrutiny and protests, above, since his family shared a video showing him being pinned down and hooded by officers. On Saturday, the state attorney general said she would set up a grand jury.


7. A tropical wetland in Brazil, one of the most diverse habitats on the planet, has been devastated by fire.

8. Serena Williams defeated Sloane Stephens in the third round of the U.S. Open in New York.

Williams, the greatest women’s tennis player of her era, struggled on her serve and groundstrokes in the early stages against Stephens, the last American to win a U.S. Open singles title.

Their match served as a reminder of how many Black players have flowed into tennis in the age of the Williams sisters. In this year’s women’s singles tournament, there were 12 American players who are Black, nearly one-tenth of the field of 128 women.

And farther south, at Churchill Downs, Authentic won the Kentucky Derby in a virtually empty and mostly silent park, ending Tiz the Law’s unconventional Triple Crown bid. The May race had been postponed because of the coronavirus crisis.

9. The elusive smoky flavors and aromas of stir-fry can be achieved in your kitchen. Our food columnist J. Kenji López-Alt can show you how.

Wok hei is the Cantonese name for that aroma (literally “wok energy” or “wok breath”). Because most Chinese food in America has its earliest roots in Cantonese cuisine, American diners strongly associate good Chinese food with that finishing touch.

To capture the restaurant taste at home, Kenji narrowed it down to a few key elements, including adding soy sauce around the rim of a wok — and using a blowtorch.


10. And finally, dig into our Best Weekend Reads.

A virtual tour of Malawi, above, the untold story of Breonna Taylor and the few lucky spectators at the U.S. Open are among this week’s top stories.

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

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, the Sunday Review from Opinion and our crossword puzzles.

Have a refreshing week.


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

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