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Your Wednesday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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

3. Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as secretary of state, died at 84.

A child of Czech refugees who fled from Nazis and Communist oppressors, she climbed the ranks of the Democratic Party to serve as a counselor to President Jimmy Carter and as a foreign policy adviser to three presidential candidates.

But she was largely unknown until Bill Clinton took office in 1993 and named her chief delegate to the U.N. In 1997 she became secretary of state, making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of American government at the time.

It was not until after she became secretary of state that she accepted proof, long suspected, that her family was Jewish and that her parents had protectively converted to Roman Catholicism during World War II.


4. A pandemic mystery: Why are Africa’s death rates so low?

Experts once feared that Covid might eviscerate Africa’s weak health systems. Many Africans did indeed contract the virus, but reported death rates are well below those of higher-income countries.

One answer could be demographics: The median age in Africa is 19 years, compared with 43 in Europe and 38 in the United States. It is also possible that the deaths are simply not being recorded, although some local public health officials disagree with that theory.

Solving the mystery could determine whether scarce public health resources should be devoted to Covid vaccination drives. “We should really avoid the hubris that all Africa is safe,” one expert warned.

In other virus news


5. Rescuers found one of the flight recorders from Monday’s plane crash in China.

The device recovered from the China Eastern Airlines plane was believed to be the cockpit voice recorder, officials said during a brief news conference today. More fragments of the aircraft and body parts were also recovered, they added.

Search efforts have been underway since the Boeing 737 plummeted more than 20,000 feet in about a minute before crashing into a rural mountainside. No survivors have been found.

State news sources in China have said little about the potential causes, but Mao Yanfeng, the director of the Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Center, said that the weather had been fine on Monday and communication between the flight crew and the ground was normal before the crash.

6. The surge in U.S. shootings shows no sign of easing.

Last weekend, there were at least nine mass shootings across the country, as well as many more with fewer victims. The deadly weekend was an ominous harbinger for the summer, typically America’s most violent time.

Homicides in the U.S. were up 30 percent in 2020, the largest annual recorded increase. Researchers say no single cause explains the rise in gun violence, but they point to a confluence of traumatic events, including the economic and social disruptions of the pandemic and the unrest of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, as well as a surge in gun ownership.

Our sister newsletter, The Morning, delved into the root causes of crime waves, noting that they often occur when people are feeling frustrated with society and the government.


7. Ashleigh Barty, 25, is going out on top, stunning the tennis world by quitting while she holds the No. 1 ranking.

Barty, a three-time Grand Slam champion, revealed her decision in an Instagram video. “I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself. It’s just I don’t have that in me anymore,” she said.

In January, Barty won her country’s major tournament, the Australian Open, with a tour de force performance. She has spent 119 total weeks at No. 1, placing her seventh on the career list.


8. A best-selling book claiming to reveal the identity of Anne Frank’s betrayer has been withdrawn by its Dutch publisher.

“The Betrayal of Anne Frank” received worldwide attention, with its findings featured on the CBS News program “60 Minutes.” It describes how a cold-case team, led by a retired F.B.I. investigator, concluded that a Dutch Jewish notary steered Nazi police to the secret annex in Amsterdam where the Frank family and four other Jews were hiding.

But after five prominent Dutch historians called the findings into question, the publisher announced that “effective immediately, the book will no longer be available” and asked bookstores to return their stock.


9. A newly discovered shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico provides a glimpse into the life of its crew, which most likely included Black, white and Native Americans.

Scientists say the ship is the Industry, the only whaling ship known to have sunk in the Gulf of Mexico, during a storm in 1836. The whaling trade was booming, and in Northern coastal towns like Westport, Mass., it brought together racially diverse Americans to a rare degree.

Until now, historians didn’t know what happened to the Industry’s crew. But the new findings include new information showing that a passing ship rescued them — and the 375 barrels of whale oil they had harvested.

10. Their family business is the paranormal.

The Parapsychology Foundation is a four-generation matrilineal dynasty that houses one of the country’s largest collections of research into psychic and paranormal phenomena. But its future is in doubt.

The organization was founded in 1951 by Eileen Garrett, a celebrity psychic whose clients included Salvador Dalí, Anaïs Nin and Aldous Huxley. The foundation is now overseen by Garrett’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

The library is a gold mine of peer-reviewed information and rare primary sources, said the foundation’s president, Lisette Coly. She added: “You won’t find any books on werewolves.”

Have a phenomenal night.


Sean Culligan compiled photos for this briefing.

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

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