California Fires, Republicans, Pasta Sauce: Your Weekend Briefing

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

2. The battle of the conventions.

Most of the events for the Republican National Convention will be online, but the kickoff on Monday will feature an in-person roll call in Charlotte, N.C., to nominate President Trump to lead the country for another four years.

Mr. Trump will be there to thank the delegates, and he will accept the nomination from the White House on Thursday. He has weighed in on much of the programming himself, insisting on having it look like a “real convention” on television, and on playing a major role himself every night.

3. The Biden-Harris ticket.

The Democratic convention last week showcased a theme that Joe Biden, from the beginning of his campaign to his formal arrival as the Democrats’ presidential candidate, has never wavered from: that President Trump is a danger to American democracy.

That’s paying off in polling. But the uncertainty around the election caused by the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Trump’s stated intent to undermine voting by mail and the country’s polarization leave plenty of room for suspense. So do the fall debates.

The Biden-Harris message will be tested against one of the most negative campaigns since the first President George Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988, a race some Republicans are looking back to as a beacon of hope.

4. Congress is seized with the fight over the post office.

In a rare weekend session that interrupted the summer recess, the House passed a measure to protect the Postal Service’s budget and its ability to pay overtime. But the bill appeared unlikely to move through the Republican-controlled Senate. And the White House has vowed a veto. Above, a demonstrator in Jersey City, N.J., last week.

5. Some schools are keeping quiet about coronavirus infections.

In areas where schools are open and the pandemic is still raging, some districts have issued weekly, sometimes daily, reports. But other districts have been silent, to the dismay of anxious parents, teachers and health workers. Case in point: the above school’s district in Kingsland, Ga.

“You don’t scare people by telling them what’s going on,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “You scare them by hiding information.”

But notification policies vary widely. Some states, like Oklahoma, do not require school districts to report Covid-19 cases to health departments. And some states that do, including Maine, say that privacy concerns prevent officials from sharing details with the public.

6. President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, Aleksei Navalny, is undergoing treatment in Germany after a suspected poisoning in Russia’s Far East left him comatose.

It took two days for doctors in Siberia to release Mr. Navalny, a delay that could make it harder to identify the cause. Above, he was taken from a hospital in Omsk and flown to Berlin on Saturday.

His plane was met by an ambulance that brought Mr. Navalny, under police escort, to one of Germany’s leading medical research facilities, where doctors immediately began extensive testing to determine what struck him down and how to proceed with treatment.

The Russian authorities have denied that any evidence exists of poisoning, and a welter of alternatives have been floated, including, improbably, low blood sugar.

7. Can a food capital survive outdoors?

Nearly 10,000 restaurants have set up outdoor tables in New York City, but many are still struggling to stay in business. Above, a scene in the West Village.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the city’s restaurant industry employed more than 300,000 people. “I don’t want to be dramatic, but this is apocalyptic,” said the owner of nine — about to be eight — Manhattan restaurants.

If indoor dining is still not deemed safe when the weather turns cooler, many restaurant owners say they don’t know how they can hold out.

8. The angelfish that outshine their parents.

Normal angelfish can be a riot of color. But when different species breed, the hybrid offspring are sometimes even more vibrant.

Take for example the multibarred angelfish, with black-and-white stripes, or the purple masked angelfish, with a yellow drop and a purplish-blue backside. When the two breed, they produce a blue-and-yellow hybrid, above, swirled with white, almost like a slice of babka.

Researchers say a lofty 48 percent of marine angelfishes can hybridize, more than any other group of coral reef fish, but how and why hybrids form remains a conundrum.

More from the animal kingdom: At 22 years old, Mei Xiang became the oldest panda in the U.S. to give birth. Her fourth cub arrived Friday evening at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington — a “tiny little pink bald thing,” said Brandie Smith, the zoo’s deputy director.

9. Jars of sunshine.

Who knows what the rest of 2020 will bring, but at least you can have homemade pasta sauce. August and early September is the ideal time to finally pick those plump tomatoes that you’ve spent all season tending (or eyeing at the supermarket). The redder and juicier the tomato, the better for your sauce.

From our Food editors, the week’s most popular dishes include chicken and mushroom bulgogi lettuce wraps, peaches and cream pie and chile-oil noodles with cilantro.

10. And finally, Weekend Reads: The best of the best.

Kamala Harris often talks about her experiences as an African-American, but her path to the vice-presidential nomination was also shaped by her Indian mother’s family, which defied stereotypes and promoted equality for women. (Above, Ms. Harris standing before her mother, Shyamala, center, and next to her sister, Maya, with their maternal grandparents.)

Also among our most notable stories this week: the shift toward herd immunity, a visual history of the suffrage movement and an audio exploration of the contrasts between life pre-pandemic and now.

For more ideas on what to read, watch and listen to, our editors liked these 11 new books, Watching has a glance at the latest on the small screen, and our music critics put together a new playlist.

Have an enlightening week.

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

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