Kirstjen Nielsen, Facebook, N.F.L. Draft: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Don’t tell the president.

That was the message Kirstjen Nielsen received when, as homeland security secretary, she became increasingly worried about Russian interference in the 2020 election. But Ms. Nielsen, pictured above last summer, couldn’t discuss it at high-level White House meetings.

Mick Mulvaney, the president’s chief of staff, said in a meeting this year that President Trump still equated any public discussion of Russian influence with questions about the legitimacy of his victory, and it was best to keep the information “below his level.”

Mr. Mulvaney said through a spokesman, “I don’t recall anything along those lines happening in any meeting.”

2. In other Washington news:

House Democrats are wrestling with duty and politics in the wake of the report from the special counsel Robert Mueller. Prominent left-leaning members are pressing for action.

“I don’t ever want to look back,” said Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, “to say that we didn’t do everything in our power to stop this lawless president from jeopardizing our democracy.” But Speaker Nancy Pelosi, above center, has urged caution.

On Wednesday, President Trump told reporters that he vowed to resist all subpoenas seeking to investigate further.

Our reporters are still unpacking the report. In an overlooked section, Mr. Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have the Justice Department prosecute Hillary Clinton. What happens next? Members from our Washington bureau are discussing the report in a Times Talk event at 7 p.m. ET. Watch here.


3. Facebook said it expects to be fined up to $5 billion for violating an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to better protect its users’ privacy, a record penalty for a technology company.

The social network disclosed the amount in its quarterly financial results. Facebook and the F.T.C. have been in negotiations over a financial penalty for claims that the company violated a 2011 privacy consent decree with the agency.

Separately, Boeing said its revenue for the first quarter slumped 2 percent after the 737 Max was grounded following two deadly crashes. Increased spending, including pilot training and software updates for the Max jet, and fewer deliveries for the troubled model cost Boeing more than $1 billion.

4. For years, children younger than 12 have crossed the southern border without parents or guardians. Those numbers are now soaring.

More than 8,900 unaccompanied children were apprehended in March, nearly twice the number seen in October.

Early Tuesday, federal authorities found a 3-year-old boy wandering alone at the border in Texas. The boy watched “Paw Patrol” at a Border Patrol office, above. He had his name and phone numbers written onto his shoes. And it’s not an anomaly. Our reporters explored why more children are crossing the border alone.


5. The American ambassador warned of “ongoing terrorist plots” following the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka.

Officials said that the nine suicide bombers were all Sri Lankans, from mostly educated, middle-class backgrounds, and that other people involved remained at large. The authorities are investigating whether the Islamic State, which on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the blasts, had provided more than symbolic support. The latest death toll is 359.

For older residents of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, the security measures following the bombings are a flashback to the country’s dark days of civil war, and for a younger generation, they are entirely disorienting. And the country’s Muslims face an angry backlash.

6. China mastered its surveillance systems. And now it’s sharing.

Ecuador is one of 18 countries using Chinese-made monitoring systems that are increasingly sophisticated and cheap. Police officers there spend their days poring over computer screens, watching footage from 4,300 cameras across Ecuador and scanning the streets for drug deals, muggings and murders.

A Times investigation found that this footage also goes to Ecuador’s feared domestic intelligence agency, which under a previous president was known for intimidating and attacking political opponents. Above, a centralized surveillance room in Quito, Ecuador.


7. A new study has brought scientists a step closer to restoring speech.

Scientists have developed a prosthetic voice system that can translate the words in your brain into mostly understandable speech. No muscle movement is needed. Above, an electrode array that recorded brain activity.

The new system, described in the journal Nature, decodes the brain’s motor commands guiding vocal movement during speech — the tap of the tongue, the narrowing of the lips — and generates sentences that approximate a speaker’s natural cadence.


8. Penn Station is the busiest transit hub in the Western Hemisphere. Our architecture critic takes it to task.

It wasn’t always “humiliating and bewildering.” Demolished more than half a century ago, the former Pennsylvania Station by McKim, Mead & White, above in 1909, was the “the architectural embodiment of New York’s vaulted ambition and open arms,” Michael Kimmelman writes. Its replacement during the mid-1960s became a “subterranean rat’s maze.”

He looks back at the grandeur of the old station, and what the city lost in its wake.

Separately, New York is trying to fix the gender imbalance in the city’s art and monuments. First up for recognition: Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress.


9. Nothing but net — from 37 feet.

The Portland Trail Blazers eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night with a buzzer-beating, half-court 3-pointer from Damian Lillard. The Blazers head to the Western Conference semifinals, where they will face the Denver Nuggets or the San Antonio Spurs.

We’re also looking ahead to Thursday’s N.F.L. draft. Will Kyler Murray, a do-everything star, be the No. 1 pick? He leads a 2019 rookie class that is long on talent.

And on the baseball diamond, C. C. Sabathia is nearing his 3,000th strikeout. Our baseball columnist writes about the pitcher’s triumph of reinvention.

10. Finally, where have all the rom-coms gone?

It’s a question Wesley Morris, our critic at large, explores this week in the Times Magazine. Romantic comedies were corny and retrograde, so why does he miss them so much? It might be the most featherweight of genres, but it also might be among the most important.

“This was work determined, across the whole history of cinema, to find something funny about loneliness, curiosity, attraction, intimacy, conflict and rapprochement,” he writes. “This is moviemaking that explores a basic human wonder about how to connect with a person who’s not you.”

And who knows, maybe you’ll meet your Harry or Sally tonight.

Have a lovely evening.


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Source : Nytimes