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We’re covering the sliding British pound, the second round of Democratic presidential debates in the U.S. and an Austrian woman who escaped a kidnapper by complimenting his orchids.
Brexit and Boris Johnson send the pound sliding
Investors have taken Boris Johnson’s ascension to the role of prime minister as the impetus to evacuate their money ahead of a potential disaster, and the British pound has dropped as a result.
The slide is expected to continue, perhaps right up until Oct. 31, the day Britain is scheduled to depart the European bloc. The moves are now gradual, reflecting a continued downgrading of sentiment rather than a meaningful change to the economy. But as Oct. 31 draws closer, the pound could plunge. Britain could well descend into recession.
Details: The currency has lost nearly 3 percent of its value against both the American dollar — it fell to $1.2151 on Tuesday afternoon — and the euro since Mr. Johnson took over last week.
Big picture: The decline is at once a reflection of the market’s recognition that Britain has been economically weakened by the looming Brexit, and a cause for distress. Most broadly, it signals that investors see less need for British currency in the future, because Brexit is already reducing the appeal of doing business in Britain.
A fiery round of U.S. presidential debates
Ten presidential candidates faced off in Detroit for the first of two debates this week, and the mood was at times heated as several tried to raise their profiles before a September debate with a higher barrier to entry.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the leading liberal populists and the marquee matchup for the night, fought back accusations of impracticality in their plans.
Immigration: Ms. Warren and Beto O’Rourke argued for fully decriminalizing border crossing, while Pete Buttigieg was cautious.
Gun policy: Several candidates pushed for stronger gun control. “What I believe we have got to do is have the guts to finally take on the N.R.A.,” Mr. Sanders said.
Racism: Ms. Warren called white supremacy “domestic terrorism,” and Marianne Williamson, the self-help author, had a breakout moment: “If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”
Migrant family separations continue at U.S. border
More than 900 children have been removed from an adult at the U.S. southern border since June 2018, even though President Trump officially ended the family separation policy then.
The separations are occurring over crimes committed by adults, but some are as minor as having a traffic citation for driving without a license or not changing a baby’s diaper.
What’s next: The American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the separations, asked a judge in San Diego to clarify a set of standards for such separations that would ensure that children are taken from their parents only when there is evidence that the parent is a genuine danger to the child or is unfit to provide care.
Related: Three pink seesaws have been placed along the border as part of an installation allowing children on each side to play with one another, despite being separated by the border wall.
Skepticism after China says most Muslim detainees have been released
Two Beijing-backed leaders from the Xinjiang region said most inmates in a sprawling network of re-education camps had “returned to society.”
But the U.S. government, experts and members of the Muslim minority groups that have been targeted by the camps said there was no evidence of mass releases and that it was unclear how much freedom released inmates actually enjoyed. One researcher said the government was moving inmates into coercive labor programs and “transitioning from internment to societywide control.”
Reminder: Detention centers in Xinjiang have held an estimated million or more people from Muslim minority groups since 2017, drawing global condemnation. Chinese officials say the camps are benign facilities that offer vocational training and language classes; former detainees say they are meant to remove devotion to Islam and instill loyalty to China and its ruling Communist Party.
If you have 7 minutes, this is worth it
A concertgoer’s body and a debate on police force
Snapshot: Above, the town of Vevey, where Switzerland’s over-the-top Fête des Vignerons, or winegrowers’ festival, takes place every 20 years. It lasts 25 days, and this year its organizers built a 20,000-capacity stadium for the daily show.
ASAP Rocky: The rapper’s trial on assault charges began in Stockholm, and a special envoy for hostage affairs from the U.S. was in the courtroom. “The president asked me to come here and support these American citizens,” the envoy, Robert O’Brien, said.
What we’re reading: This story in the Verge by Amanda Chicago Lewis about Big Alcohol’s plans for cannabis. Brewing giants struggling with declining sales are all making big bets on drinkable marijuana products. “But there’s one big problem,” writes Adam Pasick on the briefings team, “nobody really wants or likes them.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: These no-bake chocolate mousse bars melt in your mouth.
Listen: Chance the Rapper’s long-awaited new album, “The Big Day,” finds the artist reveling in the joy of married life. The album’s “most striking lyrical moment,” our critic writes, “is the most somber.”
Go: Hannah Gadsby’s “Douglas,” now playing at the Daryl Roth Theater in Manhattan, is as startling and divisive as “Nanette.” It’s a critic’s pick.
Read: Yuval Noah Harari’s book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” is now available in Russian — but it is heavily censored, with mentions of the fighting in Ukraine and Crimea removed and criticism of the Russian government toned down or cut.
Smarter Living: Don’t let the bed bugs bite when you check into a hotel room. Stash your luggage in the bathroom until you’ve had a good, hard look at the bed and luggage rack for bed bugs. And don’t assume that a luxury hotel couldn’t possibly have them — it can happen anywhere. Here are other tips for a cleaner and safer hotel stay.
We also have advice on how to keep your bedroom cool as summer heats up.
And now for the Back Story on …
Europe’s August Shutdown
The tourist traps are open, but it’ll be hard to find a baker, plumber or dry cleaner in Europe next month, as much of the Continent races off to the beach for all of August. How did that happen?
Before the 1930s, paid vacation was rare. Then, between the world wars, European unions and political parties from across the ideological spectrum pushed for the idea, calling for “total and sustained freedom from toil” and “an absolute rest from work.”
The nascent travel industry picked up the gauntlet, especially as the spread of the automobile and improved roads made skipping town easier.
In the United States, President William Howard Taft said in 1910 that a worker (meaning a man) should get two to three months off every year, “in order to continue his work next year with the energy and effectiveness that it ought to have.”
But nothing came of his proposal. There is still no U.S. law requiring paid days off, and many Americans don’t even use all the time they have.
Despite the extended holiday, or perhaps because of it, The Economist notes that Europeans are the most productive workers in the world.
That’s it for this briefing. Have a toil-less August, if you’re among the lucky vacationers.
Alisha Haridasani Gupta helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford wrote the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the Briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about Boeing’s 737 Max crisis.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Doggie doctor (3 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Jodi Rudoren, an associate managing editor at The Times, is leaving to become editor in chief of The Forward. We’ll miss you, Jodi — mazel tov!