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Boosters, 1619 Project, Thanksgiving: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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

Separately, Moderna and the U.S. are in a patent dispute over the company’s Covid vaccine, which grew out of a collaboration with the N.I.H. The company’s patent application names several employees as the sole inventors of a crucial component, but it excluded three government scientists.

If the agency scientists are included, the government could have more of a say in which countries manufacture the vaccine. It would also secure rights to license the technology, which could earn the government millions of dollars.

2. Thirteen of Donald Trump’s top aides campaigned illegally for his re-election, violating a law to prevent abuse of official power, a government watchdog agency said.

The withering report from the agency, the Office of Special Counsel, described a concerted effort to violate the law by the most senior officials in the White House, including Trump’s son-in-law and chief of staff. The findings followed a nearly yearlong investigation into “myriad” violations of the Hatch Act.

Investigators said officials purposely violated the law during the final few weeks of the administration, when the Office of Special Counsel would not have time to investigate and issue findings before Election Day.

Separately, the House committee scrutinizing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack issued 10 new subpoenas for former top officials in the Trump administration, including Stephen Miller.


3. The Oklahoma Supreme Court threw out a ruling that required Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $465 million for its role in the opioid epidemic.

The court, 5-1, rejected the state’s argument that the company had violated “public nuisance” laws by aggressively overstating the benefits of its prescription opioid painkillers and downplaying the dangers.

It was the second time this month that a court invalidated an opioid settlement that used the public nuisance argument as a crucial legal strategy for plaintiffs in thousands of cases against drugmakers. The decision could embolden the companies to dig in.


4. Poland sent 17,000 troops to keep out migrants who have set up camp at a razor-wire fence on the Poland-Belarus border.

The move was a tense new phase of a confrontation between the E.U. and the autocratic leader of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who escalated his strategy of funneling asylum seekers from the Middle East toward Poland, which is part of the E.U., as revenge against sanctions imposed after his disputed 2020 election victory, Western officials said.

The confrontation is rattling European officials, with images evoking the refugee crisis of 2015. Polish authorities said at least 3,000 people were hoping to enter the bloc. E.U. leaders are scrambling to balance protecting the bloc’s external borders against preventing a worsening humanitarian crisis.

5. As negotiators at the Glasgow climate talks try to agree on greenhouse gas cuts, African leaders have an idea: Rich countries should go first.

Poorer countries can’t be expected to remake their systems as quickly, they argue. Improvements like solar panels can be costly, and many people still don’t have basic needs like electricity. Analysts say wealthier nations — some of which keep gas in their own transition plans — should support the emissions cuts.

Sub-Saharan Africa contributes about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, among the lowest of the world’s regions. Yet African countries are particularly hard hit by the consequences of climate change.

6. General Electric plans to break up into three publicly traded businesses, its latest effort to simplify its organization.

G.E. intends to spin off its health care division in early 2023 and its energy businesses a year later, leaving its aviation unit. Industrial conglomerates have fallen somewhat out of favor, but none have undergone as drastic an overhaul as the 129-year-old company as it makes a final break with its past.

In tech news, Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, plans to eliminate advertisers’ ability to target based on people’s interactions with content related to race, sexual orientation and thousands of other topics.

And in his first interview since he was forced out of WeWork two years ago, Adam Neumann, its co-founder, admitted regrets — “It went to my head” — and tried to revise the record.


7. The 1619 Project is now a book, and it arrives amid a prolonged debate over how American history is taught.

“The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” is an extension of the project The New York Times Magazine published two years ago, which made a bold claim: that the moment in August 1619 when the first enslaved Africans arrived in the English colonies could be considered the origin of the U.S. The editor of the magazine, Jake Silverstein, explores disagreement over America’s story that goes back more than a century, how the 1619 Project fits into that long arc and what it can teach us about our current divisions.

The 1619 book is one of 16 titles out or coming this month, including memoirs from Ai Weiwei, Huma Abedin and Will Smith and new fiction from Gary Shteyngart and Neal Stephenson.


8. The way responders prepare for volcanic eruptions has changed.

The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii had been continuously erupting since 1983. But from May to August of 2018, the volcano unleashed 320,000 Olympic-size swimming pools’ worth of molten rock from its eastern flank. The lava bulldozed around 700 homes.

Responders found new ways to deploy drones and used social media to help those in the lava’s path, creating new tactics for future volcanic emergencies. The U.S. is home to 161 active or potentially active volcanoes — approximately 10 percent of the world’s total. It’s a matter of when, not if, another Kilauean-esque outburst occurs.


10. And finally, Nimblewill Nomad enters the record book.

M.J. Eberhart, known by his trail name, had a strenuous weekend. An 83-year-old retired eye doctor, he pushed through the final miles of a hike on the Appalachian Trail, becoming the oldest known person to complete the roughly 2,190-mile journey from Georgia to Maine.

Eberhart started from his home at Flagg Mountain, which is in Alabama, with a series of day hikes that gradually took him to Georgia. From there, he started the Appalachian Trail in March. Sometimes friends and supporters picked him up for overnight breaks of a warm bed and meal, but mostly he slept in the wild. On Sunday, he hiked the last leg.

“Once you get into it, it helps steel you,” he said. “The more you get into it, the more committed you have to be.”

Have a nimble night.


Laurence Tan compiled photos for this briefing.

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

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