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Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

Days after Russia renounced a multinational deal that had allowed desperately needed grain to make it to the world market, two Ukrainian ports that are critical to the world’s food supply were struck by aerial assaults, and at least 19 people were injured. The U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, strongly condemned the attacks.

Separately, the White House warned that the Kremlin has mined sea routes and may be setting the stage for attacks on commercial transport ships. The waters where Russia is said to have placed the mines are in an area already mined by Ukraine to deter an amphibious assault.

The goal, John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said at a news briefing, may be to implicate Ukraine should a civilian ship in the Black Sea be damaged in the coming days. “We believe that this is rather a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea, and then blame them on Ukraine,” he said.

Response: Ships heading to Russian ports or to ports in occupied Ukraine, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said, will now be considered to be carrying “military cargo, with all the corresponding risks.”

Last month was the warmest June since global temperature record-keeping began in 1850, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said yesterday. The agency warned that August may also see unusually hot temperatures across almost all of the U.S.

The first two weeks of July were also most likely the Earth’s warmest on human record, for any time of year, according to the E.U.’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Successive heat waves in southern Europe over the past week have forced those who can afford it to seek shelter in air-conditioned homes and offices or at seaside retreats. But for many seniors, heat has become the new Covid, reinforcing their isolation and pushing governments and social services to take extraordinary steps to try to protect them.

Voters in three British electoral seats yesterday went to the polls to select replacements for a trio of lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party who have quit Parliament, including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Conservatives narrowly retained Uxbridge and South Ruislip, by a margin of 495 votes. The small, centrist Liberal Democrats party won in Somerset and Frome by just over 10,000 votes. And in Selby and Ainsty, the main opposition Labour Party won by more than 4,000 votes.

With inflation and interest rates high, labor unrest boiling and the health service struggling, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives had been braced for the possibility of losing all three contests.

Background: The votes, known as by-elections, happen when a seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant between general elections. They were seen as a critical test of Mr. Sunak’s popularity.

Southerners wait for the same sandwich each summer: thinly sliced, salted and peppered tomatoes and “twangy” Duke’s mayonnaise between soft white bread.

The key to the sandwich is good timing — after all, a homegrown, vine-ripe tomato, plucked by a farmer during its high season, is only ready when it’s ready. And though cherry, Campari and other small greenhouse tomatoes can be lovely, what you really want is a big, peak-season beefsteak or heirloom that still has the warmth of the sun as you slice into it.

Megan Rapinoe’s game: The U.S. women’s soccer star shares analysis of some of the most notable plays from her career.

Smashed hotels, diplomatic rows, missing players: When soccer preseason tours go wrong.

Who needs to win the Open Championship most? Rory McIlroy may be the betting favorite, but other golfers are still hoping for success at Royal Liverpool.

Hip-hop is a fount of constant innovation; a historical text ripe for pilfering; a continuation of rock, soul and jazz traditions that also explicitly loosens their cultural grip. The Times compiled oral histories from 50 genre titans of the past five-plus decades to chart its winding, circuitous path from countless vantage points. Read the full collection here.

“When you’re doing it, you feel like you’re on your own planet, right? But then when people dig it and you start seeing other people draw inspiration from what we did, it let us know that we were onto something and it also made the world a little less scary.” — Q-Tip

“A thing that has kept me healthy is never being xenophobic about the Brits. They are really, really, really, really, really good at rapping.” — Earl Sweatshirt

“In Brooklyn there was this melting pot of every Caribbean community in existence. It wasn’t just about hip-hop. You had Haitians, Trinidadians, Guyanese, Jamaicans, Bajans, Panamanians.” — Busta Rhymes

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