(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead
1. Donald Trump began his next act Saturday night at the North Carolina Republican convention.
In a 90-minute speech, Mr. Trump ran through a litany of conservative culture war issues and ended with an extended frontal attack on voting and American democracy in which he endorsed a long list of Republican voter suppression proposals.
The former president is both a diminished figure and an oversized presence, our White House correspondents write. He shut down his blog after hearing from friends that the site was getting little traffic and making him look small and irrelevant, according to a person familiar with his thinking. But he remains the front-runner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination in every poll, and believes he could be “reinstated” to the White House in August.
“If you’re a one-term president, you usually go quietly into the night,” said a presidential historian. “He sees himself as leading the revolution, and he’s doing it from the back of a golf cart.”
Newly uncovered emails provided to Congress show that during Trump’s final weeks in office, Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
2. The U.S. appears to be trying to close the curtain on the pandemic. Across the ocean, in Britain and the European Union, it is quite a different story. Above, Parisians getting coffee last month after the country’s lockdown measures had been eased.
America has essentially lifted all rules for people who are vaccinated, while parts of Europe are maintaining limits on gatherings, reimposing curbs on travel and weighing local lockdowns even as infection levels plunge. The split is particularly stark in Britain, which is facing the spread of Delta, a new variant first detected in India.
Thailand is one of many Southeast Asian countries suffering a late-breaking wave. Two nightclubs are at the epicenter of its biggest and deadliest surge.
3. Calling it a “failed experiment,” a federal judge overturned California’s 32-year assault weapons ban.
The judge, Roger T. Benitez, wrote in his ruling that the firearms banned under the state’s law were “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles,” describing the AR-15 assault rifle as “a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” Above, AR-15 style rifles at a gun store in Oceanside, Calif. in April.
The judge granted a 30-day stay to allow the state’s attorney general to appeal the decision, where it is likely to join a number of other closely watched gun rights cases on appeal. The judge’s vividly worded opinion, comparing military-style firearms to Swiss Army knives, underscored the growing boldness of gun rights advocates.
4. For the first time in a generation, workers are gaining the upper hand.
Companies are becoming more willing to pay a little more to train workers, to take chances on people without traditional qualifications and to show greater flexibility in where and how people work, our senior economics correspondent writes. Above, Adquena Faine, a former ride-hailing driver who is now building a career as a cloud storage engineer.
The share of job postings that say “no experience necessary” is up two-thirds over 2019 levels, according to one firm. The shift builds on changes already underway in the tight labor market before the pandemic, when the unemployment rate was 4 percent or lower for two straight years.
But polls suggest Americans remain divided on whether President Biden’s policies are helping or hurting the recovery. Progressive activists contend that the enhanced pandemic unemployment insurance, which Republicans and many employers decry, is giving workers a bit more leverage. The White House is emphasizing that the benefit will expire in September, as planned.
5. A severe drought of historic proportions has much of the Western half of the U.S. in its grip.
Nearly all of California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and North Dakota are in drought, and in large areas of those states conditions are “severe” or “exceptional.” Above, water-intensive almond trees are removed from an orchard in Snelling, Calif.
Wildfires of a size normally seen in summers have already occurred in California, Arizona and New Mexico. Experts are concerned that this summer’s wildfires will be severe and widespread. Reservoirs in California hold about half as much water as usual for this time of year.
On the other side of the Pacific, the annual summer monsoon in South Asia begins this month. A million years of data suggests global warming is likely to make monsoons worse.
6. President Biden will head to England this week for a Group of 7 summit and will later hold meetings with European leaders.
Ahead of the summit, finance ministers agreed to back a new global minimum tax rate of at least 15 percent that companies would have to pay regardless of where they are based. Officials said the agreement could reshape global commerce and solidify public finances after more than a year of combating the pandemic.
As E.U. leaders prepare to welcome Biden, the simple fact that he regards Europe as an ally and NATO as vital is almost a revelation. Yet the Trump administration has left scars that some experts say will not soon heal, and there are serious issues to discuss: the withdrawal from Afghanistan, cyberwarfare, trade disputes, vaccines.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is embarking on her first international trip, to Guatemala and Mexico, to address migration to the U.S. by seeking to improve conditions in those countries.
7. At the U.S. Women’s Open, a 17-year-old amateur put herself in competition.
Nearly eliminated in qualifying, Megha Ganne, above, a Stanford-bound high-school junior from New Jersey, rose to the top of the leaderboard after two rounds. One of her most famous competitors, Michelle Wie West, 31, wouldn’t be in the tournament if crude comments from Rudy Giuliani hadn’t inspired her comeback.
8. Stonehenge, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, above, and the Taj Mahal: Demand for once-in-a-lifetime travel is high.
Last year, travelers had to put aside their bucket-list dreams of trekking to Mount Everest base camp or visiting the wonders of the ancient world. Now, as vaccines are available and countries open to visitors, tour companies are reporting a resurgence in interest for summer and fall trips from those hoping to get to these iconic sites.
If you’re more of a lounging type, these aerial photographs of pools around the world are soothing, and so are these ideas for do-it-yourself rain gardens.
9. As spring turns to summer, hope blooms at prom.
There were custom-made masks to match outfits. There were silent discos to encourage social distancing. There was dancing, outdoors, on the football field. And there was joy, as American high school rites of passage proved durable, flexible, pandemic-proof. We went to four California high schools to report on Covid-influenced proms.
For more big looks and glam dresses, meet Symone — the drag queen persona of Reggie Gavin, winner of this season’s “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”
10. And finally, relax and read.
The mystery of the $113 million deli. The life and death of your jeans. Kate Winslet, above, without a filter. Find these and more in The Weekender.