Your Monday Briefing


Good morning. We’re covering a heat wave in Europe, a shake-up in Ukraine’s government and a report on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

A life-threatening heat wave is continuing its march across Western Europe this week.

Spain and Italy baked over the weekend, and wildfires raged in France, prompting the evacuation of more than 14,000 people near Bordeaux since early last week, the local authorities said. France’s national weather forecaster predicted temperatures of at least 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on the country’s Atlantic coast through tomorrow.

Now, the blistering weather is moving to Britain. Today and tomorrow, temperatures could soar to 41 degrees Celsius, which would shatter records. Air-conditioning is rare in the country, where buildings are constructed to retain heat (because cold temperatures have, in the past, been a bigger concern).

Here’s a guide to staying safe and cool during a heat wave.

Climate change: Heat waves in Europe have increased in frequency and intensity over the past four decades.

The war in Ukraine: Energy prices have shot up in Europe partly because of the war, making air-conditioners more expensive to run. The heat could damage French wheat yields at a time when mountains of Ukrainian grain remain blocked from distribution by Russian warships.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, yesterday fired his prosecutor general and intelligence chief, the country’s top two law enforcement officials. It was the most significant government shake-up there since the start of the Russian invasion.

Zelensky said he was responding to a large number of treason investigations that were opened into employees of law enforcement agencies. American officials said the moves reflected Zelensky’s efforts to put more experienced leaders in key security positions.

Officials emphasized that the firing of Ivan Bakanov, the leader of Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency and a childhood friend of the president’s, was not because of any mishandling of intelligence or any major penetration of Ukraine’s intelligence services by Russia.

More strikes: Russia’s assaults intensified with a “massive attack” on Mykolaiv, according to a Ukrainian news agency. Ukrainian officials said Russia launched at least 10 missiles toward the city. On Friday, a volley hit two universities, a hotel and a mall.

Toll: After a brief pause, Russia’s defense minister ordered troops to step up attacks, intensifying fighting in the eastern Donbas region. Yesterday, loved ones buried a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome, one of 23 people killed by Russian missiles in Vinnytsia last week.

Europe: The continent is at a fragile moment as it confronts tests of its democracies, a plunging currency and the war in Ukraine.

Culture: President Vladimir Putin is making sweeping changes to school curriculums to shape the views of young Russians. And our critic Jason Farago traveled to Ukraine to chronicle the country’s fight to preserve and expand its artistic heritage during the war.

The first comprehensive assessment of the law enforcement response to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, found “systemic failures” and “egregious poor decision making” in the police response.

Nearly 400 officers responded to the school during the attack on May 24. Yet the decision to finally confront the gunman was made by a small group of officers, the report found, concluding that others at the scene could have taken charge and done so far earlier.

A flawless police response would not have saved most of the victims, who sustained devastating injuries when they were shot with a high-powered AR-15-style rifle. But some did survive, only to die on the way to the hospital, the report noted, adding in a footnote that “it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait” for rescue.

Background: Scores of officers waited outside two connected classrooms where the gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. It took 77 minutes for the police to storm into the classroom after the gunman started firing.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s president, has jailed critics on a vast scale by holding them in pretrial detention, a Times investigation found.

From September 2020 to February 2021, The Times estimates, about 4,500 people were trapped in pretrial detention. At least one in four of the detainees had spent more than a year in detention, their cases extended without trial over and over again.

A graffiti artist known as the “King of Kowloon” used to write peculiar, personal messages across Hong Kong.

During his lifetime, his work was not considered political. Instead, the artist, Tsang Tsou-choi, covered public spaces with expansive jumbles of Chinese characters that announced his unshakable belief that much of the Kowloon Peninsula rightfully belonged to his family.

Despite his fame, his works were often painted over by municipal workers seeking to keep graffiti at bay. Tsang’s art almost entirely disappeared from public spaces after his death in 2007.

But this year, peeling paint on a concrete railway bridge revealed remnants of Tsang’s writings. “I thought the old Hong Kong was saying hello again,” a local artist said.

The lost artworks have also taken on a new political resonance in a changed Hong Kong, where a sweeping campaign against dissent has crushed the city’s former freewheeling eccentricity.

“He was talking about these Hong Kong preoccupations long before other people were — territory, sovereignty, dispossession and loss,” said Louisa Lim, who examined Tsang’s legacy in the book “Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong.”

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