Your Friday Briefing

What Biden accomplished in Europe

In his first foreign trip since taking office, President Biden made significant inroads on two of his three most pressing tasks, as he sought to convince U.S. allies that America was back for good and to gather them in common cause against the rising threat of China.

But his third goal — establishing some red lines for President Vladimir Putin of Russia, whom he called his “worthy adversary” — proved more elusive. Though Biden expressed cautious optimism after their meeting in Geneva, it is far from clear that any of the modest initiatives discussed will fundamentally change a bad dynamic.

Details: Biden’s European comeback tour began on the rocky shores of Cornwall, England, playing all the old crowd favorites — talking about friendship, alliances, consultation, comity and multilateralism; quoting Irish poetry; and greeting European leaders with warmth. At every stop he opened with the same three words: “America is back.”

The view from Russia: After months of ridiculing Biden as bumbling, confused and well past his prime, Russian state media changed its tune. Here is a man we can do business with, some in Moscow said.

The U.S. invests billions in antiviral drugs

The U.S. will spend $3.2 billion on a new federal program to support the development of antiviral pills, which would fight the coronavirus early in the course of infection, potentially saving many lives in the years to come.

The program will speed up the clinical trials of a few promising drug candidates. If all goes well, some of those first pills could be ready by the end of the year.

The hope “is that we can get an antiviral by the end of the fall that can help us close out this chapter of the epidemic,” said Dr. David Kessler, the chief science officer of the Biden administration’s Covid-19 response team.

Looking back: About 100,000 people have died of Covid in the U.S. since February, after vaccine distribution was well underway. Many more have been infected and could face long-term medical problems. We asked public health experts, economists and bioethicists to assess what, if anything, could have been done differently.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Perhaps the greatest hurdle to a return to normalcy in sports is the hesitancy among some elite athletes to be vaccinated.

South Asian countries are turning to the rest of the world to jump-start inoculation campaigns that have stalled since India halted vaccine exports in March.

Parents and unpaid caregivers in the U.S. reported far higher rates of mental health issues during the pandemic than other people.

As Japan’s latest outbreak recedes and vaccinations slowly pick up, officials said they would ease Tokyo’s state of emergency ahead of the Olympics next month.

An Iranian election seen as a presidential race of one

Many moderate-leaning Iranians are planning to sit the presidential election out, according to polls. The country is moving increasingly toward what amounts to a one-party system whereby the body of top clerics that vets the contenders eliminates anyone seen as a challenge to their conservative policies and views.

The Islamic Republic’s hierarchy has long used election turnout to try to bolster its legitimacy, pointing to robust voter participation as proof that Iranians really do choose their leaders. If voter turnout is low on Friday, that could be regarded as a sign of growing disaffection.

Top contender: Ebrahim Raisi, the ultraconservative judiciary chief, appears to have the only real chance of winning after top clerics disqualified virtually all the other viable choices.


News From Europe

As Britain’s economy reopens after months of lockdown, staffing shortages have emerged in some industries — related, in some cases, to Brexit. Above, a restaurant in Notting Hill, London, last week.

In the latest embarrassment for Germany’s armed forces, a tank platoon was sent home from a NATO mission in Lithuania over accusations of sexual assault and racist and anti-Semitic behavior.

North Macedonia is hoping its Euro 2020 campaign can serve as an advertisement for the country and as a unifying force in a young nation seeking a sense of itself.

News From the U.S.

President Biden signed legislation enshrining June 19 as Juneteenth, the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in 1865. Above, Nancy Pelosi, joined by fellow Democrat James Clyburn and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

At the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act survived another challenge. Separately, the court ruled unanimously that a Catholic social-service agency could refuse to work with same-sex couples seeking to be foster parents, and it ruled in favor of two American corporations accused of complicity in child slavery on Ivory Coast cocoa farms.

The House repealed the 2002 authorization for George W. Bush to invade Iraq, in an effort to rein in presidential war powers.

What Else Is Happening

Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal announced they would skip Wimbledon to give themselves time to rest and recuperate.

Three Chinese astronauts docked with the core module of a space station that is under construction and expected to be completed by the end of next year.

A Morning Read

Temperatures in Arizona and Nevada soared past 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius) this week, and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt as parts of the U.S. face severe drought and heat waves. Above, sunset over Phoenix.

“And as bad as it might seem today, this is about as good as it’s going to get if we don’t get global warming under control,” one climate scientist said.

Lives Lived

Janet Malcolm, a longtime writer for The New Yorker who was known for her piercing judgments, has died at 86.


‘What women want’

After years of waning popularity, Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie giant known for its hypersexy image, is undergoing a major rebrand. Its scantily clad supermodel Angels are out, in favor of “the VS Collective,” seven women including the soccer star Megan Rapinoe and the actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

“We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want,” Martin Waters, the chief executive of the brand, said. The new Victoria’s Secret will have more women at its helm and more diversity in its mannequins and offer products like nursing bras and sportswear.

Victoria’s Secret has long “epitomized a certain widely accepted stereotype of femininity,” as Sapna Maheshwari and Vanessa Friedman wrote in The Times. But that model is outdated. Over the past decade, there has been a rise of “the anti-Victoria’s Secrets,” as Rory Satran wrote in The Wall Street Journal, as women seek out comfort and inclusive sizing instead of — or as well as — sexiness.

Now, how the brand, which previously sold push-up sports bras and no maternity lingerie, positions “sexiness” is set to broaden. “I don’t have to wear the traditional sexy thing to be sexy, and I don’t think the traditional thing is sexy when it comes to my partner or people I’ve dated,” Rapinoe said. “I think functionality is probably the sexiest thing we could possibly achieve in life. Sometimes just cool is sexy, too.”


What to Cook

Looking for weekend baking inspiration? Make some strawberry slab pie, the perfect dish for a Juneteenth celebration.

What to Watch

Our TV critics compiled a list of their 21 favorite American comedies of the 21st century.

What to Drink

Blame ’90s nostalgia: The espresso martini is everywhere again. (Here’s an alcohol-free alternative.)

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: French for “sea” (three letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a fabulous weekend. — Natasha

P.S. The Times’s project measuring air quality in New Delhi won a Sigma award for data journalism.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Ralph Northam, a former Virginia governor.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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