William Barr, Joe Biden, India: Your Thursday Briefing


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Good morning,

We’re covering the attorney general’s Senate testimony, the widening college admissions scandal, and a North Carolina student who is being hailed as a hero.

Mr. Barr rebuffed accusations that he had misrepresented the conclusions reached by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and dismissed Mr. Mueller’s complaints about an initial summary of the report as “a bit snitty.”

News analysis: Whether Mr. Barr used his powers neutrally or abused them to create a more favorable impression for the president was a focus of the hearing, our Washington correspondent writes.

See for yourself: Read Mr. Mueller’s letter, and review crucial moments from the testimony.

The Daily: In today’s episode, our congressional reporter tells us about the day in the hearing room.

Perspective: In an Op-Ed, the former F.B.I. director James Comey writes about Mr. Barr and his relationship with President Trump: “Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them.”

The Trump administration has described the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, as a despot who must be replaced. But Mr. Maduro’s endurance in the face of a mass uprising this week has raised questions about whether Washington had faulty intelligence about the strength of the opposition. Read more in our news analysis.

Another angle: A secret dossier compiled by Venezuelan agents warned that a confidant of Mr. Maduro had been linked to drug traffickers and militants. The documents offer a window into how fractured and nervous the nation’s security services have become.

As vice president, Mr. Biden played a key role in the dismissal of a prosecutor in Ukraine who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption.

Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch in the sights of the fired prosecutor.

The broad outlines have been known for some time, and Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign said that his actions in the matter had been consistent with U.S. foreign policy. But the renewed scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s experience in Ukraine has been encouraged by allies of President Trump.

Related: After a national firefighters’ union formally endorsed Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump criticized the group’s leadership, signaling a potential fight over the support of blue-collar voters.

More parents have been informed that they are under investigation in the nation’s largest-ever college admissions inquiry, stirring speculation about which executive or celebrity might be charged next.

Prosecutors first announced charges against 50 people in March, describing a brazen scheme of cheating on college entrance exams and bribing officials to secure admission to universities like Stanford, the University of Southern California and Yale.

By the numbers: One family paid $6.5 million to get their daughter into Stanford.

What’s next: Three students have been sent target letters, raising the prospect that they could face criminal charges.

Patrick Cumaiyi waved to his family with shackled hands as he boarded a plane to face a domestic-violence complaint in northern Australia. Before takeoff, an argument broke out, an officer delivered a sharp blow to Mr. Cumaiyi’s head, and another officer dragged him headfirst onto the tarmac.

Medical records obtained by The Times suggest he is a victim not only of police brutality — a persistent problem for Indigenous Australians — but also of a cover-up.

North Carolina shooting: Riley Howell, 21, saved many lives by tackling the gunman at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the police said. Mr. Howell was one of two students killed on the campus Tuesday evening.

The 2020 race: Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, announced today he was running for president.

Facebook settlement: The social media company is set to create oversight roles to strengthen its privacy practices as part of a deal with the Federal Trade Commission.

Snapshot: Above, a fisherman in Visakhapatnam, India, before the arrival of Cyclone Fani, which is expected to hit the eastern coast on Friday. Hundreds of thousands of people have evacuated.

Overlooked obituaries: In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor became, in her early 60s, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She’s the latest entry in our series of people who didn’t receive obituaries in The Times when they died.

Late-night comedy: All the hosts addressed William Barr’s Senate appearance to answer questions about the Mueller investigation (or, as Trevor Noah referred to it, “the longest-running saga that doesn’t have Iron Man in it”).

What we’re reading: This conversation with Anjelica Huston in Vulture. “It’s as good as everyone is saying,” writes Katie Rogers, one of our White House correspondents.

Smarter Living: Allergies can be torture. Immunotherapy — shots that can help desensitize you to allergens — can help over time. If needles aren’t your thing, cleaning the filter of your air-conditioner or furnace can keep indoor air cleaner. Vacuum often. Mattress protectors keep dust mites out. Pillow protectors are also an option.

And we asked you for the best advice you’ve ever received, and how it affected your life. Here’s what you said.

A recent feature by our Berlin bureau chief tracked how Germany’s far right had adopted anti-immigrant tropes in discussing an influx from Poland of “the most notorious fairy-tale baddie”: the wolf.

Connecting nationalism and fairy tales is not new.

The Brothers Grimm, who based their tales on folk tradition, lived and worked in the 19th century, when Europe was brimming with enthusiasm for the nation-state over multiethnic empires. Artists and writers reached for ancient myths to feed the ideal of a national culture.

But when populists pick up the tales and myths, they often seem to stray far from the artists’ intentions.

“Even if musical folklore once owed a debt to nationalism, today, ultranationalism hurts it so much that the damage is far greater than the benefit once was,” Bartok wrote in an essay in 1937.

This week, we told you about South Korean grandmothers who are learning to read and write for the first time. Their poignant stories reminded our Seoul bureau chief of the older villagers he knew when he was growing up.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Inyoung

Thank you
Chris Stanford helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford, Chris Harcum and Kenneth R. Rosen provided the break from the news. Palko Karasz, a reporter based in London, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about William Barr’s Senate testimony.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Components of a criminal code (4 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times translated our Tokyo bureau chief’s five-part look at the Japanese monarchy into Japanese.

Source : Nytimes