Your Wednesday Night Briefing – The New York Times


Good evening. Here is the last Wednesday at the end of the day.

2. The United States and its allies imposed new sanctions on Russia in response to recent reports of civilians being targeted and killed in Ukraine.

3. The Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Amir Locke will not face criminal charges.

Prosecutors said they would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer committed a crime when he killed Locke, a black man, during an early morning raid in February. Locke, 22, was holding his own handgun when officers entered and was not a suspect on the warrant.

The shooting drew thousands of protesters to the streets and renewed calls for police accountability in Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was murdered. In response, the city’s mayor issued a new policy this week banning no-knock warrants and requiring officers to knock, announce their presence and wait before entering a building.

4. States are propose new restrictions on abortion pills ahead of a Supreme Court ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

About 54% of abortions in 2020 were by pills, the new front in the fight against abortion in the United States. Demand has surged in states that have imposed strict restrictions on the procedure. Some states are trying to go beyond their borders to prevent their residents from getting pills elsewhere, while Connecticut and California are rushing to protect their citizens from being penalized for helping women in restrictive states to get the drugs.

However, if the Supreme Court overturns or weakens Roe v. Wade, about half of US states should ban drugs and surgical abortion.

In other Supreme Court news, the justices reinstated Trump administration environmental regulations that limited the role states play in enforcing the Clean Water Act.

5. Six state attorneys general told the NFL that they had “serious concerns” about reports of workplace harassment.

Attorneys general, including Letitia James of New York, where the league is headquartered, have warned the NFL that unless it takes action to address allegations of harassment of women and minorities, it could do the subject of extensive investigation.

The allegations, which stem from a February report by The Times, include statements by female staff members that they were asked to publicly state whether they had been victims of domestic violence. Staffers also said they were sidelined or kicked out of their jobs if they questioned the NFL’s handling of sexual harassment issues.

6. Tech giants have privacy measures in place. But you are still followed.

Apple and Google have introduced changes over the past year that have shrunk the highly profitable “third-party” tracking market, preventing companies from tracking users across the internet. Now the money has shifted to “first party” tracking, where companies such as Google, Pinterest and TikTok collect information about their own users to use for advertising purposes.

This type of tracking tilts the playing field towards large ecosystems like Snap and Amazon. Many small businesses already seem to be spending less on digital ads that rely on third-party data, such as Facebook and Instagram ads, reallocating their budgets to platforms with lots of first-party information.

7. The Alzheimer’s Association pushed relentlessly for broad access to a new medicine, despite safety risks and uncertain evidence.

Just a day after Medicare officials announced a preliminary decision to severely limit coverage for the new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, the association came together with one goal: to fight Medicare’s proposal, despite its support by many Alzheimer’s disease experts and other physicians.

The group, which argues the expensive drug should be covered for anyone with mild cognitive decline linked to Alzheimer’s disease, has staged tweets aimed at President Biden, digital ads and more than 400 meetings among supporters and their members of Congress. The drug has been approved by the FDA, but many experts suggest more clinical research is needed to prove that the benefits outweigh its risks.

8. Ed Sheeran Didn’t Steal another songwriter for his hit ‘Shape of You’, a British judge has ruled.

At the heart of the matter was a short passage in “Shape of You”, currently the most streamed song on Spotify. Sheeran repeatedly sings the hook “Oh, I”, in a rising pentatonic melody, which British songwriter Sami Chokri, who records as Sami Switch, says was based on a section of his song “Oh Why”. But the judge handling the case said: “Mr. Sheeran neither deliberately nor unknowingly copied” Chokri.

The plagiarism case was only the latest involving a high-profile songwriter, but record industry executives have been following the case because of its potential to bolster other allegations.

In other music news, Kanye West dropped his headliner at the Coachella music festival nine days before it opened.

9. Gardeners who go “birdwatching with a purpose” play an important role.

Every 20 years, New York asks its people to go out and take notes on all the birds nearby and what they are doing. Through Atlasing, everyone has the opportunity to contribute and help inform the state’s conservation efforts.

Locals contribute by collecting a rough count of each species and noting one of 23 behavior codes to choose from. If birds display courtship behavior, score C; if they carry nesting material, record them as CN; and, perhaps most commonly, if referring to songbirds, use the letter S.

10. And finally, the “cult cruisers” are back on board.

For a small group of dedicated cruisers — those who book back-to-back cruises for, well, more or less forever — the return to cruising was more than an invitation to book another vacation. It was a welcome home.

Since pandemic restrictions were largely eased last year, more than 6 million passengers have sailed in nearly 90 markets around the world, including more than 2 million from US ports. None have returned to sea with more vigor than self-proclaimed “cult cruisers,” like Denorah Irby, who has spent the pandemic watching cruise videos on YouTube.

“It was a tough two years,” she said.

Have a relaxing night.

Sarah Hughes photos compiled for this briefing.

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