Afghanistan, Bernie Madoff, Spring Gardens: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

Photo of author

By admin

(Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. “It’s time to end America’s longest war.”

President Biden formally ended the 20-year war with Afghanistan, announcing plans to withdraw the remaining few thousand U.S. troops by Sept. 11. Mr. Biden, who visited Arlington National Cemetery, above, warned the Taliban that if American forces are attacked on the way out, “we’re going to defend ourselves.”

The war was not only the longest in U.S. history — it was also one of the costliest, at more than $2 trillion. And while the U.S. accomplished the key strategic objective that led President George W. Bush to order the invasion of the country in October 2001, ousting Al Qaeda and preventing it from launching another terrorist attack on the U.S., few of the broader goals of building the nation proved lasting.

2. An advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed the decision to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, but said they needed more time to assess the risks before making a recommendation.

The experts are reviewing data from six cases of rare and severe blood clots in women 18 to 48. When they meet again in a week or 10 days, they could vote to recommend that the pause continue or to specify that it apply only to a certain age or sex.

3. The white Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a Black man, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor said.

The arrest of Kimberly Potter, who resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department, follows three nights of protests over the killing of Mr. Wright. Ms. Potter shot Mr. Wright in a traffic stop after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser.

Residents across the region are preparing for a verdict next week in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged with murdering George Floyd. On Wednesday, the defense called to the stand a forensic pathologist, who said it was his medical opinion that Mr. Floyd died from cardiac arrhythmia.

4. Overdose deaths have soared during the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing even the tolls during the height of the opioid epidemic.

According to preliminary federal data, more Americans died from drug overdoses from September 2019 to September 2020 than in any year since the epidemic began in the 1990s. The biggest jump took place in April and May, when fear and stress were rampant, job losses were multiplying and the strictest lockdown measures were in effect. At that time, many treatment programs and support centers closed or cut back services.

Unlike the epidemic’s early years, when mostly white Americans died, the current fentanyl-driven crisis disproportionately affects Black Americans. Above, E.M.S. respond to a drug overdose in Brooklyn, Md., last year.

5. The Capitol Police were told not to use their most aggressive tactics ahead of the Jan. 6 riot despite warnings of violence, according to a scathing new report by the agency’s internal investigator.

Three days before the siege, a Capitol Police intelligence assessment warned that “Congress itself is the target,” a clearer advance warning than was previously known. Leaders ordered officers to refrain from using the most powerful crowd-control tools, like stun grenades.

Now, as more rioters face trial, defense lawyers are trying to poke holes in the government’s case. Some argue that the charges don’t apply to the riot, while others have challenged prosecutors’ use of a 1960s-era law intended to silence civil rights leaders.

6. Bernie Madoff, the one-time senior statesmen of Wall Street who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, died in prison at 82.

His enormous fraud targeted thousands, leaving behind a devastating human toll and paper losses totaling $64.8 billion. Mr. Madoff, who was serving a 150-year sentence, had asked for early release in February 2020, saying he was in the late stages of kidney disease. At the time, he expressed remorse, saying he had “made a terrible mistake.”

At least two people, in despair over their financial losses, died by suicide. When he was sentenced in 2009, above, the judge condemned his crimes as “extraordinarily evil” and imposed a sentence that was three times as long as the federal probation office suggested.

7. The Muldrow Glacier in Alaska is moving 100 times its normal rate.

In what’s known as a glacial surge, the 39-mile-long river of ice has been moving as much as 90 feet a day over the past few months. Surges generally last only a few months and are often detected only after they’ve ended. But the Muldrow is within Denali National Park and Preserve, and planes regularly fly over it, making Muldrow ripe for observation.

Because of their relative rarity, scientists haven’t been able to study surges enough to have a complete understanding of why they happen, or to gauge how climate change, which is rapidly melting glaciers in Alaska and elsewhere, may be affecting them.

8. Life is a Cabaret, old chum.

What if you could bring some of the greatest shows from before the time of archival video back to life? That’s what a curator at the New York Public Library did with the original 1966 production of “Cabaret.” He worked with 350 publicity images that were taken at the theater in quick enough sequence to allow digital versions to be stitched together.

The result is 70 animations that “awaken the show’s sleeping aura,” our theater critic writes.

If you’re in New York this summer, in-person performances will be held outdoors across the city. Here’s what Bryant Park and Lincoln Center have planned.

9. The largest animal that could ever fly had a giraffe-like neck.

The extreme dimensions of azhdarchids, a group of pterosaurs that included species with a wingspan of 33 feet, raised questions about how they carried large prey without breaking their long necks or how they flew. A CT scan of a fossil in Morocco of the animal’s neck stunned researchers: It revealed an intricate scaffolding of spokelike vertebrae that has no parallel in the animal kingdom.

In other zoological news, a new study found that Indian jumping ants shrink their brains by nearly 20 percent and unshrink them in a matter of weeks. Researchers said that females of the ant species use this ability to prepare their bodies for reproduction.

10. And finally, how to make a happy garden.

Gardeners have often looked to companion plants for pest control, but smart pairings can minimize weeds and improve soil, too. So if you’re planting a vegetable garden this spring, forget about what you’ve heard about which plants “love” which other plants. This isn’t for vegetables, our garden expert says: There’s a science to it.

Rather than recommend old-style rows of a farm field in your vegetable garden, horticulturist Jessica Walliser suggests a vibrant jumble of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. Radishes, for example, can help fight the flea beetles on your new tomatoes. Legumes, including clovers and peas, can fix nitrogen in the soil.

Have a symbiotic night.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at

Here is today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

Source link