Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

Written by Tamarindo News

Good morning. We’re covering the rising death toll from a building collapse in Florida and Sydney’s strict Covid-19 lockdown to contain the Delta variant.

On Sunday, four days after a residential building north of Miami Beach collapsed, the death toll rose to nine as rescuers found additional bodies and remains. More than 150 people are still missing. Here are live updates and what we know so far.

The search has been painstakingly slow: Fire beneath the rubble has hampered efforts and rescuers have to balance their own safety with their search. More than 300 emergency personnel are working 24 hours a day, and the Army Corps of Engineers has been called in to help. Still, some families are beginning to lose hope.

The collapsed building, which was in Surfside, Fla., was about to undergo repairs to fix “major structural problems” that an engineer had identified in 2018.

Next door: Residents of a sister tower are stuck in limbo. Building inspectors determined it was structurally sound, a condo board member said. Still, while some residents are confident; others hastily packed bags and found other places to sleep.

Safety check: The collapse has raised questions about the safety of similar buildings along South Florida’s beaches, where salt air tends to eat away at steel and concrete structures. On Saturday, the mayor of Miami-Dade County announced a 30-day audit of all buildings that are 40 years and older.

A global problem: Around the world, sloppy construction, poor maintenance or shoddy materials often cause buildings to collapse. But the bigger problem is weak, uneven or nonexistent oversight.

As the Delta variant spreads through Australia’s biggest city, officials put into effect a strict two-week lockdown that began on Saturday for all of greater Sydney and its surrounding regions. It is the first such lockdown since early 2020 and reflects the rise in concern about the rapidly-growing outbreak.

A cluster that began with an airport limousine driver has jumped to nearly 100 cases, with dozens more expected over the coming days. Officials also worry about a hair salon that had 900 clients while at least a few employees were infectious, and a seafood wholesaler where a delivery driver tested positive after several days of transporting fish across the city.

Officials, who initially resisted such strong measures, said they were now necessary after several new chains of transmission were found. Until at least July 9, people across Sydney can leave their homes only to exercise, seek medical attention, care for loved ones, buy food or carry out other essential activities.

Vaccines: Australia is one of many countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region that continue to struggle with the ups and downs of the coronavirus, mainly because of new variants and a slow rollout of vaccines. Most people in Sydney are unvaccinated. Fewer than a quarter of Australians have received at least one dose, according to New York Times data.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Dozens of climbers on Mount Everest have given firsthand accounts of being infected with the coronavirus, but Nepal refuses to acknowledge any cases.

  • Indonesian doctors, who got the Chinese-made Sinovac shots, are still getting sick.

  • Indian doctors worry about a new version of the virus: Delta Plus.

  • The British health minister resigned after photos surfaced of him embracing a senior aide — an apparent violation of social distancing guidelines.

Pope Francis sent a deeply encouraging handwritten letter to a leader in the Roman Catholic Church’s effort to reach out to L.G.B.T.Q. people. But a growing dissonance has developed between his inclusive language and the church’s actions.

This past week, the Vatican confirmed that it had grave concerns about legislation currently in the Italian Parliament that increases protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people. Days later, the second in command insisted the church had nothing against gay rights, but was protecting itself from possible discrimination charges stemming from the new bill.

Francis’s note adds to the political confusion over whether he is a liberal trying to reform the church or just a social conservative trying to please everyone, our Rome bureau chief writes.

Background: Francis has appeared open to homosexuality: In 2016, he famously responded, “Who am I to judge?” on the issue of gay Catholics and recently, he has expressed support for same-sex civil unions. But in March, the church’s top doctrinal office — with Francis’s support — denied Catholic clergy the authority to bless gay unions.

Chinese tourists are flocking to attractions to take in the official version of the history of the Communist Party ahead of its July 1 centennial. This wave of “red tourism” — in which old tour sites have been jazzed up for the era of Instagram and TikTok — presents a sanitized, sometimes misleading, narrative.

People have been holding meetings for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians had hieroglyphs to convey the concept of “council.” George Washington, sick of writing letters, convened the founders in his study to help set up the U.S. government, Caity Weaver writes in The Times.

Over the course of the pandemic, in-person meetings have shifted to online ones. But they were almost never without technical difficulties, and many people found them wanting.

So, Caity asks, what do we miss when we don’t meet in person?

With their emphasis on collaboration, meetings can “play a psychological role in motivating the work force,” Caitlin Rosenthal, an economic historian, said.

Avoiding a bad meeting requires a purpose, a mixture of introverts and extroverts and — ideally — designated decision makers. As Caity writes, “A meeting can be good, in short — but only if it needs to be a meeting.”

For more: Do chance encounters at the office actually increase innovation?

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