Your Wednesday Briefing

Cuomo resigns amid sexual abuse scandal

Andrew Cuomo is stepping down as governor of New York, ending a decade-long run in disgrace amid a harassment scandal and the threat of impeachment. His resignation will take effect in 14 days, he said. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take his place, becoming the first woman to lead the state. Read his full remarks and watch highlights here.

Cuomo’s resignation marks an astonishing reversal of fortune for the leader who emerged as the face of the pandemic response in America’s first epicenter. His announcement comes after a searing report found that he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of state and federal laws. Cuomo still faces legal threats from ongoing criminal investigations.

In a 21-minute speech, Cuomo decried the effort to remove him but said “given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing.”

Quotable: The governor said he took “full responsibility for his actions,” even as he denied touching anyone inappropriately. He framed the allegations by 11 women as stemming from generational differences. “In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone,” Cuomo said. “But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”

‘A litany of failures’

Britain is suffering a crisis of violence against women that has worsened during the pandemic. During the first month of Britain’s lockdown, 16 women and girls were killed in suspected domestic homicides — more than triple the number in that month the previous year.

Among those victims was Daniela Espirito Santo, of Grantham, England, who died after reporting her boyfriend to the police seven times in a year and who was found slumped on her sofa, holding her 7-month-old baby. Initially charged with manslaughter, the boyfriend was eventually sentenced to only 10 months behind bars.

The case, and those like it, reveal the repeated failure of British prosecutors to punish abusers. Fewer than 2 percent of rape cases and 8 percent of domestic abuse cases reported to the police in England and Wales are prosecuted, even as complaints are rising.

Quotable: “There was a litany of failures where once again a woman’s voice hasn’t been listened to,” said Jess Phillips, an opposition lawmaker. “This case shows nothing is changing, even though victims keep being promised it is.”

From the archives: In April 2020, The Times reported that domestic violence had already become more frequent, more severe and more dangerous, as governments failed to prepare for the way lockdown measures would affect abusers and their victims.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Germany will no longer subsidize free coronavirus antigen tests for adults who choose not to get vaccinated. (People under 18 and pregnant women will still be covered.)

Visitors to France who have been inoculated outside the E.U. may now use a national health pass to enter bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and other indoor venues.

As the Delta variant tears across the U.S., vaccine and mask mandates are gaining momentum. See data on breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths by state.

Saudi Arabia has resumed allowing foreign travelers to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the kingdom announced this week.

English soccer’s online racism problem

For over two years, major English soccer organizations called on social media companies to rein in online hate speech against Black players. In response, Facebook pointed to other issues on its horizon and attempted to shift responsibility by encouraging players to shield themselves from bigotry using its tools.

The pressure intensified after the European Championship last month, when three of England’s Black players were subjected to an onslaught of hateful online abuse for missing decisive penalty kicks at the end of the final game. Inside Facebook, the incident was escalated to a “Site Event 1,” the equivalent of a companywide five-alarm fire.

As the Premier League, England’s top division, opens its season on Friday, soccer officials said that the social media companies hadn’t taken the issue seriously enough. It is yet another instance of Facebook’s failing to solve speech problems on its platform, even after it was made aware of the level of abuse.

Response: In one internal comment, Jerry Newman, Facebook’s director of sports partnerships for Europe and the Middle East, reminded employees that users could filter out offensive words or symbols. It was up to players to use the feature, he wrote.

Other soccer news: Lionel Messi signed a two-year contract with Paris St.-Germain, days after bidding a tearful farewell to the financially troubled F.C. Barcelona, where he had spent his entire professional career.


Other Big Stories

The Senate passed President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, with 19 Republicans voting in favor. It now heads to the House. Here’s what’s in the bill.

Two more provincial capitals in Afghanistan have all but fallen to the Taliban, local officials said, the seventh and eighth cities to be overrun in under a week.

Wishma Rathnayake, a Sri Lankan migrant, died at 33 in a migrant detention center in Japan. Though an official report on her case placed little blame, reform advocates say the immigration system needs a complete overhaul.

President Jair Bolsonaro is attacking Brazil’s electoral system as polls show him behind in next year’s election. Some fear that he’s setting up a power grab.

What Else Is Happening

A sexual abuse suit against Prince Andrew of Britain, brought by Virginia Giuffre, one of Jeffrey Epstein’s most prominent accusers, has renewed questions about his royal role.

BMW has fallen behind in the electric vehicle race, frustrating investors. But the German carmaker says its next model will prove critics wrong.

Firefighters battled blazes across Greece yesterday after a difficult night on the island of Evia. The fires have destroyed more than 200,000 acres of forest.

A Morning Read

When the Berlin Wall fell, the East German secret police, known as the Stasi, tried to destroy records of extensive spying and surveillance of the population. Over the past 30 years, researchers have been reconstructing 40 to 55 million documents by hand to help former citizens understand how the Stasi interfered in their lives.


A Russian view of Chernobyl

Two years after HBO aired its critically acclaimed series “Chernobyl,” the Russian film “Chernobyl 1986” has arrived on Netflix. While the HBO series focused on the failures of the Soviet system that led to the nuclear plant’s explosion, the movie on Netflix follows the lives of “liquidators” — people who prevented the fire from spreading to the other reactors and helped avoid an even larger disaster.

The movie, which was partly funded by the Russian state, has received some criticism within Russia and Ukraine for not emphasizing the government’s missteps enough. Alexander Rodnyansky, one of the film’s producers, who as a young documentary filmmaker captured the disaster zone in the days after the catastrophe, said that was never his goal.

“For years people spoke about what really happened there,” he told The Times, adding that most people understand the government’s role in the disaster. The Russian film, instead, trains its lens on the role of individual heroism.

Today, the power plant site has fewer than 2,000 workers, who monitor a giant sarcophagus that ensures no nuclear waste is released, Valerie Hopkins writes. Read her story.


What to Cook

Beat the heat with this creamy, orange-pink gazpacho. For more plant-forward fare, sign up for the first edition of The Veggie newsletter.

What to Read

The poet Rita Dove, whose new collection is “Playlist for the Apocalypse,” recommends “Grettir the Strong,” an Icelandic saga. “It’s an amazing epic,” she says.

From Wirecutter

Napping doesn’t come easily for everyone. The first step is creating an environment that’s conducive to comfort.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Retro photo tint (five letters).

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. After seven years at The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Davis O’Brien will cover criminal justice for The Times.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the Taliban’s advance.

Sanam Yar wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Natasha and the team at

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