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Your Wednesday Briefing

President Biden delivered an impassioned speech in Philadelphia in which he described the fight against restrictive voting laws as the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War,” and in which he called President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election “a big lie.”

As the president put it, “please assist in preventing this coordinated effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote.” “Do you have no sense of shame?”

The partisan battle over voting rights is being waged all over the country. This spring, lawmakers in about a dozen Republican-controlled states passed legislation that restricts voting or significantly alters election rules. In an attempt to legally stall Republican state legislators’ efforts to pass restrictive voting legislation, a group of Texas Democrats has fled to Washington.

Analysis: Democratic leaders have no evident way to stop the Republican-backed laws — but the effect of those laws remains somewhat uncertain, David Leonhardt writes in The Morning newsletter.

In Washington: Two Democrat-led bills aimed at expanding voting rights nationwide are languishing in Congress. Biden has bucked increasing pressure from Democrats to endorse pushing the legislation through the Senate by eliminating the filibuster.

Republican response: In a statement, the communications director for the Republican National Committee said that the president’s speech had amounted to “lies and theatrics.”

Dozens of people were killed in an ensuing blaze that was so intense that at least 22 bodies could not be identified immediately after an electrical short caused oxygen canisters to explode at the Imam Hussein Teaching Hospital in the southern city of Nasiriya, according to reports.

In one account, firefighters reported that their trucks had run out of water and that volunteers had desperately attempted to pry open a padlocked door. While people on ventilators were unable to move or leave, members of the medical staff were able to flee. The majority of the victims were hospitalised patients.

The lack of precautions taken and the inability of the hospital to put out the fire were indicative of a country in deep crisis. Years of corruption and mismanagement on the part of the Iraqi government have wreaked havoc on basic government services throughout the country.

Government response: Over 17,000 people have died in Iraq since the outbreak of coronavirus began in 2003, making it the country’s third wave of the disease. The detention of the provincial health director, the civil defence chief, and the hospital director was ordered by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi as a result of the fire.

Background: In late April, more than 80 people died in a similar fire at a coronavirus hospital in Baghdad. Iraq’s health minister at the time resigned in response.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • In India, health officials are expressing concern that a combination of an uneven virus response and a faltering vaccination campaign could result in a third wave of infectious diseases.

    Over 1.3 million people in France scheduled Covid vaccine appointments after President Emmanuel Macron ordered vaccinations for health-care workers, those seeking to enter restaurants, and those seeking to visit museums and other cultural institutions.

    As the United Kingdom prepares to reopen its doors to the public next week, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, outlined more cautious plans for relaxing coronavirus regulations, stating that masks would continue to be required for “some time.”

The Russian group REvil, which is short for “Ransomware Evil,” mysteriously vanished from the dark web at around 1 a.m. on Tuesday, just days after Vice President Joe Biden demanded that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin shut down ransomware groups that had targeted American targets.

REvil is suspected of being responsible for the attack that brought down JBS, one of the largest beef producers in the United States. In addition, the group claimed responsibility for a hack that had an impact on thousands of businesses around the world over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

As much as many people were relieved to see the hackers’ online presence disappear, especially those who believe that ransomware is a serious threat to national security, it left some of the group’s victims in a difficult position, unable to pay the ransom to get their data back and their businesses back up and running again.

Three theories: The United States Cyber Command, in collaboration with domestic law enforcement agencies, had the ability to bring down the group; Russia could have done the same. Alternatively, REvil could have decided that the heat was too intense and extinguished itself. According to experts, the group may resurface under a different moniker.

In the aftermath of England’s defeat to Italy in the European soccer championship, racist slurs were hurled at a mural depicting the English athlete Marcus Rashford.

However, as word of the vandalism spread, hundreds of messages of pride and love were sent in response to one act of racism. With only a few hours, the paper that had been used to conceal the graffiti had been replaced with a collage of hearts, England flags, and letters addressed to Rashford.

As part of its nominations for the 73rd Emmy Awards, the Television Academy recognised streaming services, which received a significant number of nominations in a year in which audiences stayed at home and consumed large amounts of television. Here is the complete list of nominees, as well as a few surprises among the nominees.

A new playing field: Because of the pandemic, new seasons of some of last year’s most nominated shows, such as “Insecure,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and “Succession,” were delayed, making the competition more open than usual.

Decline of broadcast: In fact, only one of the nominees for best comedy — ABC’s “Black-ish” — came from a cable or broadcast network, while the majority of the nominees came from streaming platforms: Netflix’s “The Crown,” which dominated the acting categories, as well as the Disney+ shows “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision.”

A first: Mj Rodriguez of “Pose” became the first trans person to land a nomination in a lead acting category.

Critics weigh in: My colleagues James Poniewozik and Margaret Lyon talked about the strangely persistent acclaim for “Emily in Paris,” whether “Hamilton” really needs any more awards, and whether Michaela Coel’s powerful series “I May Destroy You” should have received some sort of justice.


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