Rayshard Brooks, John Bolton, N.B.A.: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Atlanta prosecutors charged a former police officer with felony murder in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s last Friday. A second officer was charged with three lesser counts.

Garrett Rolfe, above left in an image taken from the second officer’s body camera, faces 11 charges. Prosecutors said that he shot Mr. Brooks twice in the back and kicked him as he lay on the ground, and that the officers failed to provide timely medical treatment.

Mr. Rolfe declared, “I got him,” after firing, the prosecutors said.

The episode began when the Wendy’s called the police because Mr. Brooks, 27, had fallen asleep in his car in the drive-through line. Videos show him cooperating with officers for more than 40 minutes, until they tell him he failed a sobriety test and try to handcuff him.

2. John Bolton’s book says the House should have investigated President Trump for potentially impeachable actions beyond Ukraine.

In “The Room Where It Happened,” which the administration has sought to block, the former national security adviser describes several times when the president expressed willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” citing cases involving major firms in China and Turkey.

“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Mr. Bolton writes, adding that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William Barr.

Mr. Bolton, pictured above just over a year ago, also writes that Mr. Trump asked President Xi Jinping of China to buy American agricultural products to help his standing with farm states in this year’s election. Mr. Trump, he writes, was “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.”

Here’s our book critic’s review.

3. A coronavirus flare-up in Beijing shows just how easily the virus can resurge.

The Chinese capital is working to halt an outbreak tied to a huge market — 137 infections after an additional 31 were reported on Wednesday. That has meant mass flight cancellations, school closures and sealed-off neighborhoods, above.

In the U.S., Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top disease expert, are on very different pages when it comes to the state of the virus. Mr. Pence said concern over a second wave was “overblown,” while Dr. Fauci warned that the U.S. was still in the first wave.

4. George Floyd’s brother pleaded with the U.N. to study the killing of black Americans by the police.

“I am my brother’s keeper,” Philonise Floyd told an extraordinary session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. “You in the U.N. are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America, and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd.”

The meeting of the council in Geneva was called by Burkina Faso on behalf of 54 African countries, and pertained to police abuses around the world. George Floyd’s killing in police custody last month has galvanized a global movement to address systemic racism.

The tumult and passion of the past weeks have left veterans of the civil rights era 60 years ago with trepidation and hope. Seven offered lessons — and warnings.


5. “India wants peace, but if provoked India is capable of giving a befitting reply.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence and issued a stern warning after 20 Indian soldiers died in a border clash with Chinese troops. It was extraordinarily brutal: The two sides fired no weapons, but wielded fence posts and clubs wrapped in barbed wire along jagged cliffs.

China pledged to avoid a broader conflict, but its foreign minister warned that India “must not underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard territorial sovereignty.”

In other news out of China, the police are collecting blood samples from men and boys from across the country to build a genetic map of its roughly 700 million males, giving the authorities a powerful new tool for their emerging high-tech surveillance state.


6. After 131 years, Aunt Jemima, the syrup and pancake brand, will change its name and image. Its parent company, Quaker Oats, acknowledged that they were “based on a racial stereotype.”

The brand is built on images of a black female character often associated as a symbol of slavery, rooted in the “Mammy” stereotype. The first woman to play the role of Aunt Jemima for the brand was born a slave in Kentucky in 1834; the brand has since gone through several redesigns, including giving the focal character pearl earrings and a lace collar in 1989. Above, a 1940s print ad.

Other brands are also facing increased pressure to shed imagery that critics call commodified racism. Mars, which owns Uncle Ben’s, said it was “evaluating all possibilities” concerning the rice brand, which has been marketed through a character that has long been criticized as a racial stereotype.


7. No doubles in table tennis. No caddies on the golf course. No sharing snorkels. No fiddling with mouth guards.

As the N.B.A. prepares to resume play in late July, the league sent team personnel a voluminous list of health protocols — 113 pages of new rules, to be exact. The N.B.A.’s comeback attempt is not only ambitious but also hazardous. Florida, where the teams will relocate for the rest of the shortened season, has re-emerged as a coronavirus hot spot.

The N.F.L. may want to take a page out of the N.B.A.’s playbook. The lack of virus protocols as July’s camps approach has left many in football unsure about safety in a sport that involves cramped team facilities and contact on nearly every play.

8. “You talk to people at the next table. You shout. You sweat. You laugh hard.”

Bill Buford is one of several renowned writers we asked to recount some of their most memorable meals out. What they told us makes it clear that when we lost restaurants in the pandemic, we lost more than just a meal out — we lost a theater of experience.

For her recollection, Ruth Reichl, a former Times restaurant critic and editor of Gourmet Magazine, wrote about her son’s perfect meal: French fries and chocolate cake in Paris. Good news: You don’t have to go to France for the perfect fry. The chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s recipe is laborious (at least 48 hours), but straightforward.


9. Two scientific discoveries:

In one of Europe’s most impressive Stone Age burial mounds — an area that has been called the Irish Valley of the Kings, above — researchers found evidence of an incestuous union. The finding suggests the existence of a ruling elite that considered themselves so close to divine that, like the Egyptian pharaohs, they could break society’s ultimate taboos.

And a team of scientists hunting dark matter has recorded suspicious pings that might be evidence of never-before-seen subatomic particles called axions — long believed to play a crucial role in keeping nature symmetric — streaming from the sun. The pings “could be a key to the secret of the universe,” our cosmos reporter writes. “Or just annoying background noise.”


10. And finally, how can you make birds feel welcome in your garden?

Like many beginning birders, one garden writer sought the answer in fancy feeders and birdhouses. But then she began to think of her plant choices not as just ornament but also as habitat.

Using native plant species helps, but the two most important accommodations don’t involve any planting at all: Leave dying trees alone if you can (they provide food and shelter for a thriving ecosystem) and create a year-round water supply. Here’s how she did it.

Have a hospitable night.


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

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