Belarus, Donald Trump, Hurricane Laura: Your Friday Briefing


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Good morning.

We’re covering a warning from Vladimir Putin on Belarus, President Trump’s case for a second term, and an exodus of Beirut’s young people.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia said he ordered the creation of a special force of officers to be deployed at the request of Belarus’s authoritarian leader. He said the force would not be used “unless the situation gets out of control.”

It was the strongest warning yet that the Kremlin could intervene to halt the demonstrations that have shaken Belarus for more than two weeks, as thousands of protesters have called for President Aleksandr Lukashenko to step down.

“We are certainly not indifferent to what is happening there,” Mr. Putin said in an interview with Russian state television on Thursday.

A warning to the West: Mr. Putin’s warning that Russia could intervene to restore order, said Nina Khrushcheva, a Russia expert at the New School in New York, signaled less “full-throated support for Lukashenko than a message to the West: If you keep pushing on Belarus, you will have another Ukraine on your hands.”

Analysis: Mr. Putin is loath to see the demise of a fellow authoritarian who until this month seemed invincible. It might give Russians ideas. But he is wary of getting sucked into Mr. Lukashenko’s fight for survival.

President Trump on Thursday accepted his party’s renomination and framed the 2020 election as a crossroads for America, in which his achievements were “now in danger” of being reversed by his rival Joseph Biden Jr.

Addressing a crowd, who were seated close together and without face masks, the president’s tone quickly diverged from optimism to fear. He took credit for meeting the challenge of the pandemic, which continues to kill about 1,000 Americans every day, and claimed a vaccine would be produced “before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.”

Here are the principal takeaways from the night. You can also read a live analysis from our correspondents.

Go deeper: In a 40-minute call with our reporter this week, Mr. Trump struggled to describe how he has changed in office. “I think I’ve just become more guarded than I was four years ago,” he said. Also, aides are hoping that Ivanka Trump will again reach women who see her as a centrist counterpart to her firebrand father. But will it work?


An escalating dispute between Greece and Turkey over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean is becoming militarized, risking a conflict among the two NATO allies.

Both countries received a visit this week from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany, who urged against further escalation. “Fire is being played with, and any small spark could lead to catastrophe,” he said.

Details: In recent weeks, Turkey has used warships and fighter jets to guard its vessels conducting energy exploration in disputed waters. France, Greece, Cyprus and Italy say their military exercises off the coast of Cyprus are meant to deter Turkey. Turkey, a NATO member, has provided troops to Libya’s government in return for a deal that would extend Turkish drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

What’s next: France, Greece and Cyprus want a tough line, while Germany, Spain and Italy favor a more conciliatory approach. Those tensions will be discussed as European Union defense and foreign ministers meet this week in Berlin. The bloc has already objected to most of Turkey’s actions, including its deal with Libya.

In other developments:

  • In Britain, the government said it would begin payments to people in low-income areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases who have to quarantine but cannot work from home.

  • In Germany, demonstrations by far-right groups against virus restrictions scheduled for the weekend in Berlin were canceled after city authorities said that they would most likely break social-distancing rules.

  • Face masks will be required in all public places in Paris starting Friday morning, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced.

    Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

The young people cleaning up Beirut after a huge explosion rocked the city this month know the struggle for a better Lebanon. Mostly in their 20s and 30s, and well educated yet underemployed, many were protesting for change before the blast.

But with their city in ruins, few are willing to see if that change will come. An exodus now seems inevitable. As one political organizer and cleanup volunteer said: “Yesterday I woke up thinking: ‘I can go to the airport immediately, tell them I’m not coming to work. Go to the airport, fly to Turkey, see what happens.’”

What we’re reading: This National Geographic article on why walking is the ideal pandemic activity. “Of course, walking is good for your health,” writes Carole Landry, from the Briefings team. “This is a reminder about the benefits for the mind.”

Cook: These simple frosted sugar cookies are just the thing to share distantly — or hoard all for yourself.

Watch: “Made in Bangladesh” follows a group of garment factory workers in Dhaka as they take steps to form a union after one of their own is killed in a fire.

Read: Mariah Carey’s tell-all and several deep dives into Cold War espionage are among the 15 new books to watch for.

At Home has more ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Today is my last as the writer of this briefing, a job I began in late March, as Europe reeled from the coronavirus pandemic’s first wave and strict lockdowns took hold. I’ll soon be embarking on a new opportunity with The Times, which I hope to share soon.

March feels like a lifetime ago. It was the dawn of a frightening new reality and every day brought news of emerging epicenters, impending recessions and a distinct sense of instability. Amid the anxiety and uncertainty, I have been lucky to hold onto a daily constant: a morning cup of coffee and delivering you the news from our reporters around the world.

Writing this briefing has been to watch the world turn a page in its history. In a few short months we’ve experienced not just the pandemic, but also the Black Lives Matter protests stretching around the world and the revolutionary energy overtaking Belarus. It has been an extraordinary time for news, and a reminder of the power of independent journalism.

I’m thankful to the Briefing team and the editors for their guidance. But mostly, I’m grateful for you — our readers, who have let me know what the briefing means to you or to correct my mistakes. (A personal favorite: that time I swapped M16 for MI6.) Thanks for reminding me of the people, perspectives and places that exist beyond our own little patches of the world. (If you’d like, you can keep in touch here.)

Take care, stay safe and as always — have a lovely day.

— Isabella


Thank you
Melissa Clark provided the recipe, and Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about what’s happening in Kenosha, Wis., the latest U.S. city to have been rocked by civil unrest.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: “I’m outta here!” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times won five awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia including one for our visual investigations project about the assault by white-clad men at the Yuen Long subway station in Hong Kong.





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