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Omicron, Twitter, Cuomo: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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

1. “A cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”

President Biden tried to reassure Americans in an address today, saying that crucial questions remain about the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus and that the administration was in close touch with vaccine manufacturers. The variant has yet to be detected in the U.S.

Although it has mutations that scientists fear could make it more infectious and less susceptible to vaccines, evidence to support those fears has yet to be established. It will likely be a week, possibly two weeks, before experts know more.

2. A U.S. airstrike in Syria that killed civilians is being re-examined.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III ordered a new high-level investigation into the 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children.

3. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, stepped down as chief executive.

Dorsey, who was fired from his C.E.O. job at Twitter in 2008 but returned in 2015, was replaced by Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief technology officer.

In recent years, Dorsey led the company amid pressure from investors who thought it did not make enough money and lawmakers who thought it was biased or had too much power. Agrawal, 37, is a Twitter veteran and a confidant of Dorsey.

His departure comes a year and a half after he survived an attempted ouster by the activist investor Elliott Management. Twitter shares fell today.

Dorsey told employees via email that he wanted Twitter to stop being a founder-led company, and he had recently discussed a desire to focus on projects in cryptocurrency and philanthropy. He is also the chief executive of the payments company Square.


4. Chris Cuomo, the CNN host, played an outsize role in the defense of his brother, the former New York governor.

Thousands of pages of new evidence and sworn testimony released today show the extent to which former Gov. Andrew Cuomo relied on a group of allies, including his younger brother, to strategize over the sexual harassment charges that eventually engulfed him.

Chris Cuomo participated in strategy discussions and ran down a tip on one woman who had accused his brother of sexual harassment. He pleaded to his brother’s team to “let me help with the prep,” to “trust me” and to “stop hiding” details from him.

He also insisted to investigators that he had never manipulated coverage or spun other journalists to benefit his brother.

5. There’s $7 billion in Afghan money at the Federal Reserve Bank. Does it belong to the Taliban?

Back in control of Afghanistan, Taliban leaders say their country’s central bank account in New York is rightfully theirs. Family members of Sept. 11 victims, awarded $7 billion in damages in a case against the Taliban and others a decade ago, say it should be theirs.

The Biden administration is scheduled to tell a court by Friday which outcome would be in the national interest. Among the specifics to be worked out is whether the U.S. can sidestep recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government.

6. Start-ups are digging deeper into data to improve credit scoring.

Roughly 45 million Americans have a thin or nonexistent credit history, and many of them don’t fit squarely inside the traditional scoring models used by the Big Three credit bureaus.

Several new companies are collecting all kinds of other data — like bank balances, car mileage, spending habits and college degree details — to determine who ought to get a loan and how much each person should pay.

FICO scores, the most widely used credit arbiter, leave “millions of people out in the cold and millions more who pay more for credit than they should,” said Dave Girouard, chief executive of Upstart, one of the companies.


Recipes, for the most part, can’t be copyrighted. But in October, the publisher of the cookbook “Makan,” by the prominent British chef Elizabeth Haigh, pulled the book out of circulation, citing “rights issues” after a complaint from the writer of a 2012 cookbook.

The incident reinvigorated a debate about recipe ownership, leaving many writers and editors wondering how they can — or even if they should — protect their work in a genre that’s all about building on what came before.


8. People don’t eat ingredients. They eat food.

That’s what the American Heart Association is recognizing in its new nutrition guidelines. The main message is that it’s your overall dietary pattern that matters most.

For example, rather than urging people to skip pasta because it’s a refined carbohydrate, it might be more effective to tell people to eat it the traditional Italian way, as a small first-course portion.

And along with its recommendation to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, the association notes that buying them frozen reduces waste, adds convenience and saves money.

9. Lee Elder, the first African-American person to play in the Masters golf tournament, has died. He was 87.

Elder broke the Masters color barrier in 1975 at age 40 after capturing the 1974 Monsanto Open at the Pensacola Country Club in Florida, where six years earlier he had been refused entrance to the clubhouse and had to dress in a parking lot.

He played in the Masters six times, won four PGA Tour events and finished second 10 times, playing regularly through 1989 and earning $1.02 million in purses.

Separately, Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of men’s wear for Louis Vuitton, died on Sunday at age 41. “Look around at the way young men now think about clothes, design and music, and the ways in which those pursuits all intersect,” Jon Caramanica, a Times pop music critic, writes. “It’s hard not to see Abloh everywhere.”


10. And finally, baptism is getting a little bit wild.

Contemporary evangelical baptisms these days have included photographers, selfie stations and T-shirts with slogans like “#washed,” “Best day ever,” “No turning back” and “Meet the new me.”

The Linwood Baptist church in Kansas uses an inflatable hot tub for baptisms. Another one in Tennessee used a horse trough. A church in Texas calls its regular mass baptism event a “plunge party.”

“We live in an age where people like experiences,” Mark Clifton, the pastor of Linwood Baptist, said.

Have a restorative evening.


Angela Jimenez and Yeong-Ung Yang compiled photos for this briefing.

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 briefing@nytimes.com.

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