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Ukraine, Syracuse University, Fred Rogers: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”

On the opening day of a packed week of impeachment testimony, two White House aides who were on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president challenged Mr. Trump’s description of the conversation as “perfect.”

The top Ukraine expert at the White House, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, said that the phone call, in which Mr. Trump asked Ukraine’s president for investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden, was “inappropriate” and “a partisan play.”

Both he and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to the vice president, said it was clear to the Ukrainians that the U.S. was withholding aid.

Some students escaped by rappelling from a nearby bridge to be whisked away by waiting motorbikes, but most failed to flee without facing arrest. Dozens went to the hospital for hypothermia after an unsuccessful sewer getaway.

Hundreds of parents of young people under siege came to the front lines of the fight as they begged for their children’s release.

Our 52 Places columnist, who spent part of his childhood living in Hong Kong, found it hard to reconcile his memories with today’s reality.

3. Two federal workers were charged with failing to check on Jeffrey Epstein regularly the night he killed himself in a Manhattan jail, above, and then lying about it on official forms.

The charges are the first in a criminal investigation into the death of Mr. Epstein, the disgraced financier who hanged himself while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

The accusations against Mr. Epstein have had global ripples even after his death: Britain’s Prince Andrew is facing pressure to testify before the F.B.I. about his friendship with Mr. Epstein.

4. Sweden announced that it will end an investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.

“The evidence is not strong enough to form the basis of an indictment,” a Swedish official said of the allegations, some of which date to 2010.

Mr. Assange, above in 2017, is still in a British prison awaiting a hearing over possible extradition to the U.S., where he would face allegations that he attempted to assist in a breach of classified data. The conclusion of the Swedish investigation could clear the way for the extradition process to move forward.

5. Law enforcement officials are investigating the electronic distribution of a white supremacist manifesto at Syracuse University. It’s the latest in a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents that have roiled the upstate New York school.

The manifesto, an anti-Muslim screed written by the suspected gunman in the New Zealand massacre, was posted on a Greek life forum and sent to several students’ phones.

6. Big tech is girding for renewed government focus on end-to-end encryption.

The fight over the technology, which scrambles digital messages, has been going on for years: As law enforcement has sought access to encrypted messages to aid in investigations, privacy advocates and tech leaders have resisted.

Now, a Justice Department official hinted that the issue could become part of a larger investigation into big tech companies. Here’s what’s at stake.

Our profile of Margrethe Vestager, who oversees E.U. antitrust rules, explains why tech giants may also be looking at more aggressive oversight from Europe.

7. It’s official: Carmelo Anthony, the former Knick and 10-time All Star, is joining the Portland Trail Blazers.

He is expected to make his debut tonight in New Orleans. The Blazers, who made the Western Conference last year, have had a disappointing 5-9 season so far.

Anthony, above in 2018, hasn’t played in the N.B.A. since last November, when he was on the Rockets. They used Anthony in only 10 games before parting ways with him.

8. The cult of Bravo now has its very own meeting place.

The network hosted its first conference last weekend, bringing together the network’s stars (“Bravolebrities”) and its superfans. Bravo has worked hard to promote a cultish attitude toward its programming and stars, in part by appearing to laugh at itself along with the audience.

“What’s cool is everyone here speaks the same language and they’re fluent,” said Andy Cohen, an executive producer and host at Bravo.

We also had our Styles reporters analyze the sale of Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics brand to a legacy beauty company for $600 million. Is this a harbinger of a new stage in the Kardashian-Jenner empire?

9. We’ve been talking a lot about Fred Rogers lately. And there’s more.

He wasn’t just an educator and a moral example, a longtime friend writes in the Times Magazine; he was an artist, too. Over the 33 years of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” he wrote or co-wrote all of the scripts, plus the melodies and lyrics. And then he worked the puppets.

With the show, Mr. Rogers was trying to create “an atmosphere that allows people to be comfortable enough to be who they are,” he once told his friend. “A lot of this — all of this — is just tending soil.”

10. And finally, the surfing skills of honeybees.

Worker bees, in addition to pollinating flowers, are sent in search of water to cool the hives. But they can’t fly if their wings get wet, so what happens if they fall into a pond?

A study found that the bees can use their wings to create small ripples in the water that they then use to propel themselves to land, like surfers creating and riding their own waves.

The researchers hope the movements could help them develop an amphibious craft that moves in water and in the air.

Hope you have a smooth ride tonight.

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

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