Your Weekend Briefing

Gaza, George Floyd, Eurovision
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By Remy Tumin and Sarah Hughes

Welcome to the Weekend Briefing. We're covering the Israeli-Hamas conflict, new global demographic numbers and the winner of Eurovision.

Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

1. The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appears to be holding after a brief war that reverberated worldwide.

In total, the Israeli military killed 248 Palestinians in Gaza, including 66 children, according to officials there, and thousands have been displaced during the 11 days of fighting. The rocket attacks launched by Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, killed 12 people in Israel, including two children.

Gaza is a sea of rubble, and the scale of the destruction will not allow a return to normalcy for some time. The fighting may be over for now, but for millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and has controlled through decades of failed peace talks, the routine indignities of occupation are part of daily life.

The battle with Hamas may benefit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu politically in the short term as he struggles to stay in power, but it leaves his underlying problems unresolved, our correspondent writes in an analysis.

The Biden administration is now considering how to recalibrate its policy in the region without distracting from other priorities.

Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times

2. Maternity wards are shuttering in Italy. Ghost cities are appearing in China. Hundreds of thousands of properties in Germany have been leveled and the land turned into parks.

The world's demographics are changing, pushing toward more deaths than births. Though some countries' populations continue to grow, fertility rates are falling nearly everywhere else as women have gained more access to education and contraception. Demographers now predict that toward the middle of this century, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time. Above, a couple in Acciaroli, Italy.

A planet with fewer people could ease pressure on resources, slow climate change and reduce burdens for women. But the data also points to changes that are hard to fathom: Fewer workers could upend the ways societies are organized and our ideas about family and nation.

Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

3. One year ago Tuesday, George Floyd went to buy a pack of cigarettes. The world hasn't been the same since.

Floyd's family will visit the White House on the anniversary of his death, more than a month after a former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of murdering Floyd, who died after the officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.

In a special series, our Opinion section looked at the legacy of Floyd's death and the national reckoning over race that followed. Read about the surge of support for Black Lives Matter, how a cry of "I can't breathe" united a generation and more.

Policing is still under scrutiny. A Times review of videos of the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man, in North Carolina casts doubt on whether the use of lethal force was justified. In Louisiana, the state police said Ronald Greene had died in a crash. Footage shows troopers shocking and beating him.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

4. The number of global deaths from the coronavirus is probably two to three times higher than the official data, the World Health Organization said. Above, São Paulo, Brazil.

Six to eight million people may have died from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, compared with 3.4 million deaths recorded in countries' official reporting.

In the U.S., more than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden. We also asked more than 800 experts to weigh in on what activities unvaccinated children can do. Our Well team answered common questions about vaccines and kids.

Neeta Satam for The New York Times

5. The Biden administration set aside $4 billion to help minority farmers. White farmers say they are being unfairly excluded.

The tension has plunged Shade Lewis, above in La Grange, Mo., and other farmers of color into a new culture war over race, money and power in American farming. The payment plans have drawn thousands of enraged comments on farm forums. Some rural residents have rallied around a new slogan: All Farmers Matter.

For generations, Black farmers have struggled financially, and last year, they received little help from the Trump administration's farm bailouts. On Friday, the U.S.D.A. said that it would begin making loan forgiveness payments in June to thousands of minority farmers as part of the relief program.

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Emile Ducke for The New York Times

6. Russia faces a new security threat from climate change in the Arctic. Some are calling it the beginnings of a Very Cold War.

Nowhere on Earth has climate change been so pronounced as in the polar regions. As the sea ice melts, Russia is deploying more soldiers and equipment to the Far North, becoming essentially the first military to act on the strategic implications of climate change for the region. One expert called the big melt Russia's strategic "worst nightmare."

The drastic reductions in sea ice are opening up the Arctic to ships during the summer months and exposing Russia to new security threats. Of the five nations with significant Arctic coastline — Canada, Denmark (in Greenland), Norway, Russia and the U.S. — Russia has by far the longest.

Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/EPA, via Shutterstock

7. "We just want to say to the whole Europe, to the whole world, rock 'n' roll never dies!"

That's Damiano David, the lead singer of Maneskin after winning the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night. With their song "Zitti E Buoni," Maneskin beat 25 other acts from across Europe to bring the title home for Italy. France came in second, and Switzerland came in third.

The contest was the first major global cultural event to be held in person since the coronavirus pandemic hit last year. Other contenders included a folk-techno act from Ukraine, a feminist Russian pop star and an Icelandic disco band. Here's what we learned from the grand final.

Justin Casterline/Getty Images

8. The N.B.A. playoffs are underway. The scariest teams aren't at the top.

In the Western Conference, neither of the two top seeds — the Jazz or the Suns — is favored to escape the conference with the defending-champion Lakers and the Clippers lurking. In the Eastern Conference, the Nets are finally at full strength, and the Bucks and the 76ers are revamped. Here's a preview of the matchups.

And the Knicks — the Knicks! — finally have a seat at the table. No one is more excited about that than their long-suffering fans. They play the Hawks tonight at 7 Eastern.

But the toughest playoff matchup may be with the opponent the N.B.A. has been facing for 14 months: the coronavirus.

David Prahl/Getty Images

9. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

The pandemic, for all its woes, brought new customs and tastes. In nearly 20 states, to-go cocktails that were allowed under Covid-era rules are now here to stay. And breweries and beverage companies have invented new summer drinks, including hops-infused seltzers, hard seltzer smoothies and Popsicle-inspired beer.

All Eric Asimov, our wine critic, wants is a great summer beer. He prefers pilsners for a pronounced hop character that is dry and floral, or Kölsch, which is a little mellower. Gose, a wheat beer, is also a good bet. A beer on a summer day, "outside in the shade of a big old oak tree, with friends and an occasional breeze," is exactly what's needed right now, Asimov writes.

Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

10. And finally, some ideas for your leisure time.

New York City's newest park, above. The case of the disappearing cicadas. Your summer reading list. All these and more await you in The Weekender.

Our editors also suggest these 11 new books, "Black Monday" on Showtime, the Linda Lindas' punk rock anti-hate anthem and other new music.

Did you follow the news this week? Test your knowledge. And here's the front page of our Sunday paper, the Sunday Review from Opinion and today's Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. If you're in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

It's a hot one here in New York. Hope you stay cool this week.

Your Weekend Briefing is published Sundays at 6:30 a.m. Eastern.

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