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America celebrates July 4.

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The crowd at President Biden’s Independence Day speech from the South Lawn of the White House.Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

The U.S. celebrates its Independence Day

On the day long earmarked as a milestone in the fight against the coronavirus, the White House hosted a celebration of about 1,000 people yesterday to commemorate the July 4 holiday and herald the administration’s progress toward overcoming the pandemic.

Speaking at the event, President Biden compared the nation’s fight for independence with the battle against the coronavirus. “Two hundred and 45 years ago, we declared our independence from a distant king,” he said. “Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.”

Despite celebrations across the country, the U.S. remains deeply divided. The American flag, once a unifying symbol, is now alienating to some, its stripes fault lines between people who kneel while “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays and those for whom not pledging allegiance is an affront.

By the numbers: Reports of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. are steady at 12,000 a day, the lowest since testing became widely available, with fewer than 300 daily deaths. The U.S. did not meet Biden’s deadline of 70 percent of adults at least partly vaccinated by July 4.

From Opinion: Both Juneteenth and the Fourth of July belong to all Americans, writes Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor at Harvard. But while one celebrates the independence of the American nation, the other celebrates the independence of a nation within the American nation.

Related: Stacie Marshall, who inherited a Georgia farm, is descended from a family that enslaved people. She is trying on a small scale to address a generations-old wrong that still bedevils the nation.

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The scene of the plane crash on Jolo in the Philippines yesterday. The head of the country’s armed forces said the aircraft had missed a runway while trying to land.Credit…Joint Task Force-Sulu

A deadly plane crash in the Philippines

A military plane in the Philippines crashed yesterday, with 96 soldiers and crew members onboard, after missing a runway while trying to land on the island of Jolo. At least 50 people died, including three civilians on the ground. Officials fear the death toll will climb.

The soldiers were heading to Jolo to bolster military operations against Abu Sayyaf, a small Islamist group that the Philippine government considers a terrorist organization.

Context: The Philippine military has been trying to modernize its aging air fleet. The plane that crashed first flew in 1988 and was used by the U.S. Air Force until the Philippines bought it in January. Three helicopters have also crashed this year.

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The Open Night vaccine initiative at the Santo Spirito hospital in Rome on Saturday.Credit…Giuseppe Lami/EPA, via Shutterstock

An overnight vaccination drive in Rome

Nearly 900 people showed up on Saturday in the Italian capital for an overnight vaccination drive, called Open Night, which aimed to reach “people on the margins of society, the most fragile,” a local health official said.

Doctors and nurses administered the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to homeless people, undocumented migrants, foreign students and legal migrants who are not registered with the national health service. The vaccine is especially useful for people who might be harder to reach or might not return for a second dose.

At least 700,000 people in Italy are not registered with the national health service, which is managed by regional governments, according to the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty.

Details: To help draw in crowds, a jazz pianist serenaded those present on Saturday night, while free espresso and cornetti — the Italian croissant — were offered yesterday morning.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Iran’s president warned of a potential fifth wave as the Delta variant spread.

Since April, health care providers in France have routinely given a third dose of a two-dose vaccine to people with certain immune conditions.

Britain is trying to reopen despite the spreading Delta variant. Deer are running rampant across England after the pandemic halted hunting and culling.

The Indian police are investigating whether scammers gave out thousands of shots of salt water instead of Covid-19 vaccines.

THE LATEST NEWS

Other Big Stories

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Credit…Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis, 84, had responded well to colon surgery yesterday.

With little fanfare, the U.S. handed over its final air base in Afghanistan, effectively ending its military operations in the country after nearly two decades.

Scores of people are missing in Japan after heavy rainfall caused a mudslide in Atami, a coastal town about 60 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The inclusion of an Islamist party in Israel’s coalition government has spurred a group of imams and rabbis hoping to build a religious-based peace movement.

What Else is Happening

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Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

Officials in Surfside, Fla., rushed to demolish what remained of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condominium complex last night before a tropical storm made landfall. Miami Beach canceled its Independence Day celebrations out of respect for the victims of the collapse and their families.

A cyberattack affected businesses across the world, including one of Sweden’s largest grocery chains.

French prosecutors are investigating whether international fashion companies like Zara and Uniqlo have profited from and concealed “crimes against humanity” by using forced labor by Uyghurs in China.

In an interview with The Times, Tigray’s leader presented the rebels’ side of a conflict that plunged Ethiopia into chaos after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia began a military operation there in November.

Sports News

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Credit…Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

After his lopsided loss at Wimbledon, Andy Murray’s future in tennis is in doubt.

The International Olympic Committee changed its policy to allow protests by athletes — but not during events, while on the podium for medal ceremonies, in the athletes’ village or at the opening and closing ceremonies.

Denmark’s soccer team will face off against England in the Euro 2020 semifinal on Thursday. The secret to the Danes’ success is hard to distill, our chief soccer correspondent writes.

Check out these amazing photos of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials.

A Morning Read

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Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Some Chinese millennials are chilling and, in turn, defying the country’s prosperity narrative by refusing to participate in it. Beijing isn’t happy.

ARTS AND IDEAS

Why American politics aren’t budging

The country is recovering from a pandemic and an economic crisis, and its former president is in legal and financial peril. But no political realignment appears to be at hand, writes Alexander Burns, a national politics correspondent for The Times.

It’s unclear whether the American electorate is still capable of large-scale shifts in opinion, or whether the country is essentially locked into a schism for the foreseeable future, with roughly 53 percent of Americans on one side and 47 percent on the other.

“I think we’re open to small moves; I’m not sure we’re open to big moves,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster. “Partisanship has made our system so sclerotic that it isn’t very responsive to real changes in the real world.”

Though the pandemic recovery had helped voters feel better about the direction the country is moving in, it did not seem to be changing party preferences, said Russ Schriefer, a Republican strategist. “If anything, since November people have retreated further and further back into their own corners.”

Last year, Donald Trump presided over an out-of-control pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and devastated the economy. In his subsequent presidential campaign, he outlined no agenda for his second term and delivered one of the most self-destructive debate performances in modern history — but still won 25 states.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

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Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times

Start the week right with this warm, satisfying salad, as good on its own as it is alongside grilled salmon or shrimp.

What to Watch

“Cousins,” an adaptation of the 1992 novel by Patricia Grace about three Maori cousins, is a powerful, sprawling drama.

‘Small Travel’

Leave the hassle of passports and PCR tests behind by vacationing near your home. Here’s how.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Creative nuggets (five letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. Haley Willis from our Visual Investigations team joined CBS to discuss our 40-minute report compiling video on the Capitol riot.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the debate over critical race theory. On the latest episode of “The Argument,” a debate over who has power in American society.

You can reach Natasha and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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