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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Tuesday.
1. European leaders made a landmark decision to ban Russian oil imports but struggled with how to move millions of tons of grain out of Ukraine.
As their summit wrapped today, E.U. leaders said they’d ban some 90 percent of Russian oil imports by year-end. The measure was once considered impossible, given Europe’s reliance on the fuel, but Hungary was exempted in order to get its approval.
2. Chuck Schumer says he’ll try — again — to pass U.S. gun restrictions.
Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said he’d try for a negotiated compromise on new gun laws after the latest pair of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, reinforcing President Joe Biden’s promise in Uvalde on Sunday. A bipartisan group of 10 senators planned to have a Zoom call today to work out a framework for negotiations.
3. Covid death rates for older people in the U.S. soared during the Omicron wave.
Deaths from Covid-19 have always concentrated in older people, but this winter they skewed toward seniors more than at any point since coronavirus vaccines became widely available.
A high percentage of older people are fully vaccinated, but immunity granted by vaccines wanes over time and many seniors are behind on boosters. At the same time, the very contagious Omicron variant is adept at exploiting weakened immunity.
4. A Trump-chosen prosecutor lost his case against a Clinton-linked lawyer.
Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer with Democratic ties, was acquitted of a felony charge that he lied to the F.B.I. in 2016. Sussman had shared a tip with a Bureau official about a possible covert computer server connection between former President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. The F.B.I. dismissed the tip.
Sussmann, who had been doing work for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said he acted on his own behalf. John Durham, a Trump-appointed special counsel, tried to prove that Sussmann was part of larger Democratic efforts to frame Trump for collusion with Russia, but he had thin evidence.
6. Witnesses said that Russian mercenaries took part in a civilian massacre in Mali.
Malian soldiers working with foreign fighters executed hundreds of men in the village of Moura in central Mali in late March. The soldiers were in pursuit of Islamist militants.
The foreigners, according to diplomats, officials and human rights groups, belonged to the Russian paramilitary group known as Wagner, a shadowy proxy force for Russia’s ministry of defense. The Malian authorities hailed the Moura attack as a major victory, claiming to have killed 203 fighters, but denied the presence of Wagner operatives and made no mention of civilian casualties.
Witnesses and analysts said the death toll in Moura was between 300 and 400, by their most conservative estimates. Most of the victims, they said, were civilians.
7. Under Trump, the U.S. climate ranking tumbled.
The 2022 Environmental Performance Index, which is published every two years by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities, showed that the U.S.’s environmental performance had plunged compared to other countries, in large part because the country mostly halted federal climate regulation during the Trump administration.
Of 180 countries in the report, the U.S. ranked 101st on climate metrics in the current report, down from 15th in 2020. The report’s bottom line is sobering: only Denmark and Britain are on sustainable paths to net-zero emissions by 2050.
8. The art of N.Y.C.’s garbage.
Sto Len has a peculiar position: resident artist for New York City’s Sanitation Department.
During his yearlong term, part of the city’s Public Artists in Residence initiative, Len will make art that aims to help New Yorkers reconsider their relationship with their waste, and with the roughly 10,000 sanitation workers who haul it away.
“Hopefully, I can get people to look more closely at things they willfully ignore,” Len said.
Separately, thieves wielding a power saw stole a bejeweled, golden tabernacle worth $2 million from a Brooklyn church.
9. You can still vacation, despite inflation, high airfare and crazy gas prices.
Economic woes have kept many would-be travelers home or limited their plans, a recent survey found. But you needn’t abandon fun summer journeys — just try subbing in cheaper options.
Our Frugal Traveler columnist suggests the Kentucky Bourbon Trail rather than Scotland for a spirits tour, or, instead of an Italian wine tour, America’s first federally recognized viticultural area in Augusta, Mo. Rather than heading for Hawaii, where prices have skyrocketed, consider Mexico or St. Lucia. Food destinations? Toronto holds a virtual U.N. of dining districts, from Little India to Little Jamaica.
10. And finally, an algorithm against killer asteroids.
By applying powerful cloud computing techniques to asteroid science, cosmologists may soon be able to identify and help deflect large space rocks endangering Earth.
The B612 Foundation (whose name was inspired by the asteroid in “The Little Prince”) was founded by Ed Lu, a physicist and former astronaut. Its efforts have led to an algorithm that looks at hundreds of thousands of existing space telescope images to track asteroids among 68 billion dots of cosmic light.
Its goal? Locate the 60 percent of the roughly 25,000 near-Earth asteroids at least 460 feet in diameter that are currently undetected. Each of those asteroids holds the potential to unleash the energy equivalent of hundreds of millions of tons of TNT in a collision with Earth.
Have a heavenly evening!
Eve Edelheit compiled photos for this briefing.
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