Coronavirus Surge, Roger Stone, Summer Gardens: Your Weekend Briefing

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

1. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are shattering records nearly every day.

Cases in the U.S. soared to more than 68,000 on Friday — and set a single-day record for the seventh time in 11 days, according to a Times database. More than 60,000 new coronavirus cases were announced in the U.S. on Saturday. North Carolina, Oregon, Arkansas, Hawaii and Alaska all recorded single-day highs.

And despite rising cases in Florida, Disney World reopened its gates, above.

More than 12.5 million people around the world have been infected with Covid-19; 3.2 million of them are Americans. Here is the latest case count.

2. With the fall semester looming, school districts and parents around the country are grappling with one big question: Is it safe to send children back to school?

The challenge to answering that question is complicated by a pair of fundamental uncertainties: No country has tried to do so with the virus raging at levels like America’s, and the scientific research about transmission in classrooms is limited.

Our reporters examined what we can learn from relevant studies and other countries like Thailand, where students in Bangkok, above, learned how to properly wash their hands.

Another big piece of the puzzle is money. As President Trump and others push for a fall return, educators say they are being crushed by the cost of getting students and teachers back in the classroom safely. Many teachers are fearful and angry over the pressure to return.

3. Roger Stone promised to remain loyal to President Trump. On Friday, he was made a free man.

Mr. Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of his longtime friend and former campaign adviser was the latest example of how the president has managed to bend the legal system to his advantage and undermine a criminal investigation that has dominated his presidency.

Mr. Stone was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation into Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and possible ties to Russia. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison. Hours before the announcement, Mr. Stone told a journalist he hoped for clemency because Mr. Trump knew he had resisted pressure from prosecutors to cooperate.

In using his power of office to keep his friend out of prison, Mr. Trump crossed a line that even President Richard Nixon dared not cross in the depths of the Watergate scandal, our chief White House correspondent writes.

In rare public comments, the former special counsel Robert Mueller forcefully rebutted the president’s attacks on him, and said Mr. Stone was no innocent victim.

4. The Supreme Court concluded its most consequential term in recent memory, steered to the center by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The term, which ended Thursday, included rulings that will be taught to law students for generations, on matters including presidential power, the rights of gay and transgender workers and the role of religion in public life.

Doling out victories to both sides, the court seemed to strive to avoid charges of partisanship, writes our Supreme Court correspondent, Adam Liptak.

Among its last rulings, the court handed Native Americans their biggest legal victory in decades when it ruled that much of eastern Oklahoma had long been a reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. For Muscogee citizens, the win was deeply personal.


5. As President Trump’s poll numbers slide, some Democrats are urging Joe Biden to go big, and try for fast-changing states like Texas and Georgia. So far, he’s being cautious.

This election, party officials argue, offers a chance to install a generation of lawmakers who can cement Democratic control of Congress and help redraw legislative maps following this year’s census.

But Mr. Biden’s campaign has opted to focus mostly on a handful of traditional battlegrounds, in part to see where the race stands closer to November.


6. It is rare to speak to a female veteran or current service member who has not experienced sexual harassment or worse. The killing of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen may be a turning point for women in the military.

The horrific nature of the crime, perpetrated against the backdrop of a sweeping racial equality movement, has galvanized many women to the cause. Specialist Guillen’s remains were discovered last month about 25 miles from Fort Hood in central Texas, the victim, officials said, of a fellow soldier.

“The American moment we’re in is inspiring collective action in a way that we’ve needed,” said Allison Jaslow, a former Army captain and veteran of the Iraq war. A group of female veterans is calling for a congressional investigation into her death, and the effort has gained support across social media.

In Her Words, our gender newsletter, is spending a week exploring inequalities faced by women in the U.S. You can join the program here.


7. Eviction protection programs created in response to the pandemic are expiring across the country.

The Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project in Denver estimates that 19 million to 23 million Americans are at risk of eviction by the end of September. But as harrowing as eviction is, it’s a process that plays out over weeks, at a minimum. And it may be possible to stop it. We spoke to experts about what to know and what to do. Above, protesters in Boston last month.

Another deadline is fast approaching: tax day. The Treasury Department postponed the traditional April 15 federal tax filing deadline until July 15, and this time, there’s no wiggle room. Here’s what you need to know. (And if you’re owed a refund, be prepared to wait.)


8. Everyone needs a blueprint for a green thumb.

Our garden expert, Margaret Roach, spoke with Bill Noble, a garden designer and former director of preservation at the Garden Conservancy, about developing the ideal garden plan. His process involves two kinds of efforts: accentuating the best views and developing spaces within his boundaries.

Sometimes all it takes is a few well-placed plants — and some guiding principles. Here are some of his suggestions.

Hydrangeas are at full bloom these days. But they’re not all created equal. Here are some uncommon varieties you may not have considered. You can find all of Margaret’s columns here.


9. The best drinks in life are frozen.

Frozen drinks don’t have to be oversweet sugary messes — they can be great, balanced cocktails. Stick umbrellas in them if you like, but the secret to creating great slushy drinks starts at the beginning: The colder everything is, the better, and you may not even need a blender.

“That way, the ingredients are all the same temperature, and the final blended drink doesn’t get too diluted,” said Tiffanie Barriere, a bartender and educator based in Atlanta known as the Drinking Coach. How about a frozen Tom Collins, above, or a sweet vermouth slush?

Our wine columnist also suggests these 20 bottles under $20 from 11 different countries.


10. And finally, dig into one of our Best Weekend Reads.

A one-of-a-kind look at New York City’s subways, the Chicks (formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) are back, above, the revival of Italy’s pawnshops and more stories top this week’s great journalism.

For more ideas on what to read, watch and listen to, may we suggest these 9 new books our editors liked, a glance at the latest small-screen recommendations from Watching, and our music critics’ latest playlist.

Stay cool, and have a pleasant week.


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

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