A Wedding or an Art Installation? A Little of Both.

Kristin Banta is a Los Angeles event planner specializing in weddings, but you might not know this from her recent functions.

For one wedding, she designed a gigantic banana peel on the reception floor. In another, she worked with vendors to construct 250 feet of golden nautical rope to serve as a centerpiece. She had a flock of 5,000 paper cranes made for a third.

The strangest, though, may have been the antlers dipped in automotive paint. Or maybe it was the floating candy cloud reachable via a golden ladder.

“Today’s couples want something provocative, memorable, experiential, tactile and reflective

Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.

LONDON — Advance publicity for the Marble Arch Mound — London’s newest visitor attraction — suggested that an Arcadian landscape would be created in the middle of the city, with spectacular views over Hyde Park.

A huge artificial hill, over 80 feet high, would rise at one end of Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping district. Costing around 2 million pounds, or about $2.7 million, design renderings suggested that it would be covered in lush trees and that visitors would be able to climb to the top — and “feel a light breeze” against their skin.

The hill was part of

New York City restaurant unveils $200 French fries

(Reuters) — Jerome Powell, this story’s for you.

The Federal Reserve chair, always on the lookout for signs of inflation, might want to drop by Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where a $200 plate of french fries stretches the definition of haute cuisine.

The restaurant Serendipity 3 already claims world records for the most expensive burger ($295) and ice cream sundae ($1,000), so if the question is, “You want fries with that?” its answer is a resounding yes.

Guinness World Records certified the feat. As of July 13, the fries are officially the most expensive on Earth.

“Serendipity is really a

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Don’t Date People in Your Neighborhood’

In December 2020, my boyfriend and I hiked Kranzhorn, a mountain that divides Austria and Germany. As we climbed, the snow drifts thickened. We were surprised to see a fit middle-aged man bike past us alone. When we reached the summit, we saw him again — this time, with a woman. On our way down, the biker, now alone, passed us one more time. We asked about the woman. He lived on the German side of the border and she on the Austrian. Even in the strictest of times, they had found a way to

I.M.F. World Economic Outlook Forecasts 6 Percent Global Growth

The International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday that the gap between rich and poor countries was widening amid the pandemic, with low vaccination rates in emerging economies leading to a lopsided global recovery.

The I.M.F. maintained its 2021 global growth forecast of 6 percent in its latest World Economic Outlook report, largely because advanced economies, including the United States, expect slightly faster growth than the global body previously forecast. Economic growth in developing countries is expected to be more sluggish, and the global body said the spread of more contagious variants of the virus posed a threat to the recovery.

Hong Kong Protester Is Convicted in First Trial Under Tough Security Law

The discussion covered a range of history, from the ancient Shang and Zhou dynasties to the Cultural Revolution and Malcolm X. Professor Lau testified that the slogan, which was coined in 2016 by Edward Leung, a now-imprisoned pro-independence activist, called for acts of violence to end China’s control of Hong Kong.

Mr. Tong’s attorneys had argued that the slogan was open to interpretation.

“Just as if somebody says let’s go fight for our rights, that doesn’t necessarily mean get out a gun and start shooting people,” said Clive Grossman, Mr. Tong’s lead defense attorney.

Two defense witnesses, Eliza Lee, a …

Breakthrough Covid, in Perspective

Breakthrough infections — in which vaccinated people nonetheless get the Covid-19 virus — are one of those vexing topics that can be difficult to put in perspective.

On the one hand, breakthrough infections are obviously occurring. They’ve happened to the New York Yankees and to White House officials, as well at summer gatherings in Massachusetts, Oklahoma and elsewhere. My colleague Liam Stack recently got sick with a breakthrough infection (and I’ll tell you his story below).

On the other hand, the scale of breakthrough infections remains unclear. Are they a significant reason that cases are now surging in the U.S.

‘The Hot Doctor’ Finds a Life Partner Close to Home

It took him nine months. But on a rainy morning in March 2016, in the Rittenhouse neighborhood of Philadelphia, the man known as “the hot doctor” by all the girls on the block finally asked out the girl he apparently had noticed a few months after she had moved into the brownstone just one door down from his.

Jerri Hobdy was walking her dog in the rain. She said her neighbor, Dr. Ryan Weight, appeared “unusually chatty considering the weather.” He asked her out to bubble tea and it was love at first sip.

Ms. Hobdy, 29, is a Houston

Afghan Civilian Casualties Soar as U.S. Exits, Monitors Say

KABUL, Afghanistan — Civilian casualties and rights violations are rising sharply in Afghanistan, human rights groups say, with the Taliban carrying out the bulk of the offenses as they wage a campaign against the government amid the void left by departing American forces.

Since the Taliban intensified their offensive in early May, the United Nations said in a report released on Monday, nearly 2,400 civilians have been killed or injured, as many as in the preceding four months. The total, the U.N. said, was the highest recorded for the May-to-June period since monitoring began in 2009.

The Taliban’s campaign, conducted

Taekwondo Is Path to Medals for Countries That Rarely Get Them

TOKYO — In the sand-swept alleys of Niamey, the capital of one of the world’s poorest nations, Niger, they spin kick. In the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan, crowded with Syrians who fled civil war, they scissor kick. And in the slums of Thailand, where martial arts offer a tantalizing path out of poverty, they deliver the chopping ax kick that helps make taekwondo the most explosive of the combat sports.

Of all the Olympic events, taekwondo is perhaps the most generous to the wealth of nations that exist on the margins of international sport. Since the Korean martial art