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Your Wednesday Briefing


During more than 20 years in power, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has never uttered the name of Aleksei Navalny, his highest-profile opponent, in public. (When he did so at a private event in 2013, after prodding from an American interlocutor, it became a national news story.)

Why? Intolerably for Mr. Putin’s circle, Mr. Navalny is “completely out of their control,” resulting in a quasi-mystical taboo around his name, one analyst said. Another source of the anger, he added, is that the security services have never been able to find any compromising material on him.

The Russian opposition leader is lying comatose in a German hospital after being poisoned — but he has still managed to needle Mr. Putin. His organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, released a video on Monday with footage of Mr. Navalny denouncing corrupt pro-Kremlin politicians in Siberia.

Russia’s outbreak: The number of coronavirus cases in Russia passed one million on Tuesday, the government said, making it fourth in the world for reported total infections after the United States, Brazil and India.

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has republished the cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad and Islam that prompted a deadly attack on the magazine in 2015, a move that will be seen by some as a defiant act of free speech and by others as reckless provocation. The cartoons were published online Tuesday and will appear in print today — just as the long-awaited trial begins of people accused of assisting in the attack, which left 12 people dead.

In the new issue, Charlie Hebdo’s editors wrote that not republishing the cartoons would have amounted to “political or journalistic cowardice.” They added, “Do we want to live in a country that claims to be a great democracy, free and modern, which, at the same time, does not affirm its most profound convictions?”

Looking back: Charlie Hebdo last published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on its front page for the issue after the January 2015 massacre. It showed him carrying a sign reading, “I am Charlie,” with the headline “All is Forgiven.”

In his second visit to Lebanon in less than a month, President Emmanuel Macron of France met with representatives of the country’s political factions on Tuesday. He urged them to back an overhaul of government and measures to curb pervasive corruption, and he warned that they would otherwise be at risk of sanctions on their personal wealth.

The leaders have controlled the government through a sectarian power-sharing agreement during the three decades since Lebanon’s civil war, a long and brutal conflict in which most of them participated.

By dangling the threat of sanctions, Mr. Macron is hoping to secure a commitment to economic and political measures that underpinned discussions early this year with the International Monetary Fund about a bailout. Those talks stalled over several issues, including the government’s rejection of a forensic audit of the central bank.

Quote of note: In an interview with Politico, Mr. Macron described the conversation as a “last chance” for the current system. “It’s a risky bet I’m making, I am aware of it,” he said. “I am putting the only thing I have on the table: my political capital.”

Miners, loggers and farmers have turned vast parts of the Southern Cone of South America into grassland, driving jaguars to extinction in several of their former domains. Our reporter visited Iberá National Park in Argentina, where conservationists are working to bring back the top predators after more than seven decades of absence.

The five felines chosen for rewilding came from zoos and had troubled pasts. Getting them to mate and hunt takes teams of people working untold hours (from a distance). If all goes as planned, the jaguars will be fully released into the wild this year or early in 2021.

Russian interference: The Internet Research Agency, a Russian group that interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is at it again, Facebook said on Tuesday.

Turkey: The authorities announced the arrest of Mahmut Ozden, described as a top Islamic State figure in Turkey, and said they suspected the group was planning an attack in Istanbul.

Tennis: The U.S. Open began in New York without many of the world’s top players, including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Here are the highlights so far.

What we’re reading: This truly imaginative multimedia portrait in Quartz of a fictional “climate utopia,” Leeside, in 2057. It’s a bold look at the post-warming future of our cities.

Cook: These roasted tomato, mozzarella and pesto calzones are a good picnic option if you’re looking for a change from sandwiches.

Watch: “Away,” “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” and “Enola Holmes” are among our streaming picks for this month.

Read: Sales of tell-all books about President Trump are soaring. With just two months to go before the U.S. election, a bumper crop of Trump books is landing, including a memoir by his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

For more ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do, browse our At Home section.

On Tuesday, we featured a discussion among Times reporters about the Democratic National Convention. In Part 2, John Eligon, who covers race; Annie Karni, who covers the White House; and Jonathan Martin, who covers politics, talked about the themes at the Republican National Convention and the strategies in play to help President Trump get re-elected.

Jonathan, talk about how President Trump and the Republicans chose to frame the events in Kenosha, Wis. What distinction are they drawing with Democrats about law and order?

The president is running in a moment where the country is suffering from a pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 people and thrown millions out of work, so Republicans see the Kenosha event as an opportunity to recast the campaign and make it more about disorder in American cities and charging that Joe Biden would tolerate or enable that. Obviously, it’s tough to drive that message when Mr. Biden is not the president when this is happening, but this is a matter of political necessity.

Annie, we heard a lot about women, about suffrage. There was a lot of programming that hit that message. What do you think the aim of that was?

The phrase I was tracking went like, “I wish you could see what I see”: this empathetic president who is kind. This was a theme over and over. It was an acknowledgment that he needs to increase his support with suburban women. That’s the best path he has to re-election, and it was a clear acknowledgment that just the base is not going to be enough.

How was this convention aimed at the swing states that were fundamental to his 2016 win?

Jonathan: If you look at the polling, the president has been trailing Biden consistently, but the margins got worse over the summer, and there’s been some analysis about what happened. You can basically trace it back to June and July, when two things happened. He responded to the Black Lives Matter protest in a way that was incendiary and turned off a lot of voters, including center and center-right voters, and then the coronavirus flared back up and he wasn’t showing urgency in his response.

Those two issues have given Biden a larger lead that may be temporary, so I think the mission in this convention was looking to places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and trying to get back some of those voters they lost.


Thanks for joining me. See you next time.

— Natasha


Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about Joe Biden’s speech in Pittsburgh this week.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Divvy up” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
Dodai Stewart, a deputy editor on our Metro desk with a passion for visual storytelling, will be joining Special Projects as the deputy editor for Narrative Projects.



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