• Fri. Jun 9th, 2023


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Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Thursday.

1. The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet sank amid conflicting claims of the cause.

Ukraine said it had hit the vessel, the Moskva, with a missile. Russia said it had been damaged by a fire and that it later sank while being towed in a storm. Analysts said the loss of the ship would not alter the course of the war, but a confirmed missile attack would be a sign of Ukraine’s military capability and could serve as a deterrent to Russian naval attacks.

In Brussels, E.U. officials started drafting the most contested measure yet to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine: an embargo on Russian oil products, even though the move may increase energy prices around the bloc.

2. Elon Musk has begun a hostile bid to take over Twitter.

The bid came only weeks after Musk became the social media company’s largest shareholder. He offered $54.20 a share, valuing the company at roughly $43 billion.

“Twitter has extraordinary potential,” Musk wrote in a letter to the chair of Twitter’s board. “I will unlock it.”

The move could have broad implications for a social network where world leaders, lawmakers, celebrities and more than 217 million other users conduct daily public discourse. Twitter’s board is likely to take up to several days to review the offer.

3. Pfizer says its Covid vaccine booster strengthens the immune response in children 5 to 11.

Pfizer-BioNTech said the booster increased the level of neutralizing antibodies against multiple strains of the coronavirus in a small trial of children.

The companies said they would ask the F.D.A. for emergency authorization of a booster for 5- to 11-year-olds in the coming days. Currently, residents 12 and older in the U.S. are eligible for at least one booster, and people age 50 or older are eligible for a second.

In New York, two new Omicron subvariants are spreading quickly. But the official data on case counts is becoming less reliable as people increasingly turn to at-home testing and mass testing sites shut down. Scientists say truly keeping tabs on the virus will require more creative thinking and investment.

4. The man charged in the Brooklyn subway shooting was ordered to be held without bail.

A federal judge ordered Frank James to be detained until trial, after prosecutors said he carried out a violent and well-planned attack that left at least 30 people injured. He has been charged with the federal crime of committing a terrorist act on a mass transit system.

Lawyers for James asked the judge to ensure that he received psychiatric care in jail. They also said their client had called a tip line to turn himself in.

The shooting on Tuesday was the bloodiest crime on the city’s public transit system in nearly four decades. But the following days have revealed a remarkable truth: Not one person died. Experts say luck and poor marksmanship appear to have saved the many victims.

5. A federal jury convicted a British member of the Islamic State for the abduction and deaths of four Americans.

The jury took less than a day to convict El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, the most prominent member of the Islamic State to be brought to trial in the U.S.

The verdict capped a two-week trial that featured the testimony of former captives, who detailed beatings, sexual abuse, waterboarding and murder perpetrated by a cell of four Britons, nicknamed the Beatles. Elsheikh’s defense lawyers denied that he was a member.

Among the cell’s captives were Kayla Mueller and three American men — James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig — who, according to prosecutors, were killed by one of Elsheikh’s close associates. Elsheikh was captured in Syria by a Kurdish-backed militia in 2018.

New Jersey voters approved the legalization of marijuana in November 2020, but it was not until this week that state regulators gave the final go-ahead to legal sales of recreational cannabis. Enthusiasm within the industry is palpable: Dispensaries are making plans to entertain customers waiting in line with D.J.s, doughnut trucks and steel drum bands.

7. Even cactuses may not be safe from climate change.

The cactus — fond of heat, and accustomed to rough soils — might not seem like an obvious victim of climate change. But new research estimates that global warming could put 60 percent of cactus species at a greater risk of extinction by midcentury.

In other research, a huge volcanic explosion in Tonga several months ago generated a shockwave that scientists hadn’t seen the likes of in years — and that will be studied for many to come. See the visualization of how the wave circled the Earth for days.

And in colder climates, scientists say they now know why two ice shelves in Antarctica collapsed. New research shows that their disintegration was most likely caused by vast plumes of warm air from the Pacific.

8. These Japanese toddlers are sent on their own to run errands.

“Old Enough!,” a reality show that has been airing in Japan for decades, began streaming on Netflix in March. A typical scene features a toddler crossing the street. “Even though the light’s green,” a narrator says, “she still looks out for cars!”

The show’s popularity in Japan is a reflection of the country’s high level of public safety, as well as a parenting culture that sees toddlers’ independence as a key marker of their development. “It’s a typical way of raising children in Japan and symbolic of our cultural approach, which can be surprising for people from other countries,” said Toshiyuki Shiomi, an expert on child development in Tokyo.

9. The defiant rise of LoveShackFancy.

In a moment marked by a pandemic, war, social strife and a generally ceaseless sense of doom, how did a pretty, brash, moneyed and altogether doom-free brand take off?

The LoveShackFancy line, with its ruffles, lace and bows, saw net sales expand about 125 percent in 2021 from the year before, according to the company. That rapid expansion has caused bewilderment among people outside the brand’s customer base. The appeal seems to lie in what its founder calls “the ultimate girls’ club” and a core group of devotees who behave more like fans than customers.

Also on the up, lingerie for men. Lacy thongs and sheer undergarments designed for men’s bodies are shaking up the traditional lingerie market.

10. And finally, the science of snarge.

When a bird has collided with an airplane, it’s important to understand what kind of bird it was. Knowing the species can help officials tailor their strategies to prevent future collisions and, hopefully, crashes.

But there’s usually not much left of the bird. That’s where “snarge” comes in: You’ve probably never heard of it but almost certainly enjoyed the benefits.

Snarge is what remains of a bird after a collision. It can be a wad of Canada goose lodged inside an airplane engine. Or a charred gull feather on the runway. And it’s what scientists use to determine the victim’s species.

The science of snarge was born after an airplane crash in 1960 that killed dozens. Now, airports employ wildlife biologists that collect snarge and ultimately try to discourage certain bird species from flocking in and around flight paths.