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Good morning. Hope in Thailand, protests in Hong Kong and two tragedies in India. Here’s what you need to know:
• In Hong Kong, about 50,000 people marched to observe the anniversary of the territory’s return to China from Britain. It was one of the lowest turnouts since the march was first held in 2003.
Many in the Hong Kong believe that its freedoms and relative autonomy promised when Britain handed it over in 1997 are dying. “Justice is no more,” one demonstrator said. “Freedom has changed.”
In a first, this year’s march called explicitly for the end of one-party rule in China.
• A glimmer of hope in Thailand.
Rescuers desperately trying to reach a dozen boys, ages 11 to 16, and their soccer coach in a flooded cave complex near Chiang Mai used huge pumps to enable divers to place guide ropes and oxygen tanks along the route to a cavern where the group might be.
It was the first real progress for the rescue effort, which has involved hundreds of people from some 20 government agencies and half a dozen nations. But the boys have been missing for more than a week.
• The U.S. has now evacuated at least 11 Americans from China, including one employee from the consulate in Shanghai and two from the embassy in Beijing, since abnormal sounds or sensations were first reported by consulate employees in Guangzhou.
The mysterious cases are similar to a wave of illnesses that struck Americans working at the embassy in Havana beginning in fall 2016.
The various hypotheses to explain the sounds and sensations the ailing workers have reported include sophisticated electronic eavesdropping or aural harassment, possibly by Russia or China; environmental factors; or even mass hysteria.
• In India, two grim tragedies.
Eleven members of a single family were found dead near New Delhi. Most were found hanged from the ceiling of their home, blindfolded and gagged. The police released a statement late in the day suggesting some kind of occult practice had been followed. Above, ambulances at the house.
And at least 48 people were killed and a dozen more injured in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand after a badly overloaded bus plunged into a gorge in northern India early Sunday, the police said. The death toll was high even in a country where deadly crashes are all too common.
• A World Cup shocker.
Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the field, beat powerhouse Spain on penalties. Our reporter described the scene:
“Stunning finish there as Akinfeev kicks away the last attempt by Aspas. The Russians pour toward him and he dives, fists outstretched into the grass to absorb their love. The crowd has gone absolutely bonkers in here.”
• Australia’s favorite money guru has a new book coming out in September. Scott Pape, the 39-year-old “Barefoot Investor,” told us about the philosophy that made his first book the country’s all-time best-selling nonfiction book: simple security.
• Brakes on the Belt and Road Initiative: Chinese companies are pouring less money into the multibillion-dollar campaign, as officials question sovereign borrowers’ ability to repay loans.
• The BBC apologized to Carrie Gracie, a senior journalist who quit as China editor this year over unequal pay. The broadcaster agreed to pay for the years she was underpaid.
• Celebrity pay cut: Citing the need to curb tax evasion and celebrity worship, Beijing is moving to limit movie stars’ salaries, even as it dreams of making China’s film industry a global force.
• “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” hit $932 million in global box office sales, and “Incredibles 2” hit $647 million. The biggest surprise at the North American box office was “Sanju,” a film about the celebrated Indian actor Sanjay Dutt: It made $2.5 million despite being shown in just 356 theaters.
• In Mexico, voters cast ballots in what may be the nation’s biggest general election ever — and a lead-up that may also have been the most violent. [The New York Times]
• North Korea’s weapons programs could be mostly dismantled within a year, John Bolton, the White House national security adviser, said. Experts say the process could take far longer. [Reuters]
• “The pain will be beyond endurance.” Anonymous researchers for China say they helped develop a new laser assault rifle whose invisible energy beam can pass through windows half a mile away and cause the “instant carbonization” of human tissue. [South China Morning Post]
• A boys’ school in Afghanistan was attacked by militants who beheaded three workers and burned the building. Local officials blamed the Islamic State. [The New York Times]
• In Malaysia, reports of that an 11-year-old girl and a 41-year-old man had married caused a furor over marriage laws. [BBC]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• “Play it again, Issam”: In this Casablanca Dispatch, our correspondent visited Rick’s Café, opened in 2004 by a former U.S. diplomat. More than a homage to the movie “Casablanca,” it’s a testament to the enduring power of art.
• Our Afghanistan correspondent met the blind poet Zaheer Ahmad Zindani, a founder of the peace march that reached Kabul last month after a 400-mile slog. His thoughts and poetry focus on the love he lost, and bittersweet images of another life.
• In memoriam. Jamsheed Marker, 95, a leading Pakistani diplomat who played a vital role in negotiations over the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and was the U.N. envoy to East Timor.
How are Wimbledon ball boys and girls chosen? As the tennis tournament’s main draw begins today, here’s a look at the selection process.
In 1920, Wimbledon became the first tennis tournament to introduce ball boys (girls were not included until 1977). They were initially drawn from a children’s charity, then in later years from local schools.
This almost led to a shortage in 1969 when students could not be spared during examinations. The tournament faced “the prospect of the world’s best players having to scurry and stoop to retrieve balls,” as The Times wrote.
That would certainly not be an issue today: There are about 700 applicants each year, for 250 positions.
Candidates are on average 15 years old and are nominated by their teachers. They must pass several exhaustive written tests about the game’s rules.
Next is physical training. Skills like rolling the ball are crucial, and ball boys and girls must do this “with the precision of a champion snooker player.”
Once the tournament begins, there are additional challenges. “Being hit with a 120 mph serve is quite memorable,” one coach said. “And it will happen to all of them.”
Jillian Rayfield wrote today’s Back Story.
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