Your Wednesday Briefing

President Biden will seek re-election, he announced yesterday. But as with any incumbent seeking a renewal by voters, there is the record he is running on and the record he is running away from.

In his telling, in the past two and a half years the U.S. has added more jobs, more roads and bridges, more clean energy and more opportunities for workers without college degrees, amid a wholesale recovery after a debilitating pandemic and societal collapse. But setbacks and failures to meet key promises have left him with some of the lowest approval ratings of a president at this point in a term.

Biden’s record looks different depending on the angle from which it is viewed, all the more so when voters and viewers migrate to their own corners of the information world for radically different vantage points. The president is either the mature leader fixing the country as he stands against the forces of evil or he is the leader of the forces of evil destroying the nation.

Trump: Donald Trump, Biden’s predecessor who is now seeking a rematch, framed his opponent in unsparing terms: “When I stand on that debate stage and compare our records,” he said in a statement, “it will be radical Democrats’ worst nightmare because there’s never been a record as bad as they have, and our country has never been through so much.”

The Taliban have killed the leader of the Islamic State cell responsible for the suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August 2021 that killed 13 U.S. troops and as many as 170 civilians, the White House said. It was unclear whether the Taliban were specifically targeting the insurgent, officials said.

Based on classified intelligence reports — most likely from informants, electronic intercepts or information from allied spy services — analysts concluded with “high confidence” that the chief plotter of the airport attack had been killed, according to officials. It was “another in a series of high-profile leadership losses” that the Islamic State cell had suffered this year, John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said.

The administration yesterday began calling relatives of the American troops who died in the attack to tell them that the leader had been killed by Taliban security forces in recent weeks. Officials did not go into detail about the operation, according to family members.

Context: The 2021 evacuation from Afghanistan and its aftermath continue to be a subject of heated debate on Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers have accused the Biden administration of being directly responsible for the failures of the exit and condemned administration officials as inept when it comes to the future of counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

Whether it’s floods or epidemics, societies are generally equipped to handle only the gravest disasters they have experienced in recent memory. And so, when it comes to sudden extreme heat waves, communities cope better if they have been through one before.

A new study by researchers in Britain looks at which places are most at risk from a heat wave, focusing on those that have not suffered an extreme hot spell since at least 1959 and so may not be as prepared. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg all make the list, as do parts of China and developing nations like Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea.

As the planet warms, the range of possible temperatures that many places can experience has expanded. Scorching heat that would once have counted as unusual is becoming more common. But the weather has always varied a great deal, and the most exceptional events are ones that, by definition, people haven’t experienced very often.

Context: The study looks only at maximum temperatures, which aren’t the only factor that can make heat waves devastating. Humidity is also important, as are sweltering overnight temperatures, which eliminate opportunities for people to cool down from oppressive daytime conditions.

In his most extensive interview yet, Anthony Fauci wrestles with the hard lessons of the pandemic — and the decisions that will define his legacy.

“Something clearly went wrong,” he said. “And I don’t know exactly what it was.”

Harry Belafonte smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his music and was a leader in the civil rights movement. He died at 96.

Why an interim manager was fired after four games: Tottenham Hotspur has replaced one temporary manager with another, a sign of a club staggering on without a clear strategy.

Inside the chaos in Italy’s top league: Juventus have their points back, leapfrogging rivals up Serie A, but bad news still looms.

Who is Dide?: A masked rapper says he’s a Premier League soccer player. Who could he be?

From The Times: Kevon Looney, a U.S. basketball star, practices “Joga” (yoga for jocks) before every game to help him cope with the physical and mental rigors of the N.B.A.

Since 2017, the podcast “Pod Save America,” made by Crooked Media, has been a liberal answer to conservative talk radio. A British iteration — “Pod Save the U.K.” — will start next week, with subsequent episodes arriving weekly.

The podcast is co-hosted by the comedian Nish Kumar and Coco Khan, a journalist for The Guardian. While one of the calling cards of “Pod Save America” is its hosts’ perspective as political insiders, the British show has opted for a different tack, looking instead for fabulous chemistry.

Still, Khan and Kumar are no strangers to political commentary. Kumar is unashamedly political and progressive in his stand-up and television work, and Khan said that she hoped to bring her background as a journalist to the new show, with a focus on the politics inherent in everyday British life.

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