Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

2020 Debates, Jeffrey Epstein, Hal Prince
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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Your Wednesday Evening Briefing
Good evening. It happens to the best of us — technical difficulties. We're sorry we didn't make it into your inbox last night, but we're back for more tonight. Here's the latest.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times
1. It's Democratic debate night part two: Can Joe Biden up his game?
After other moderate candidates faltered last night, the hopes of jittery moderates now rest on Mr. Biden. The spotlight is on the dynamic between the former vice president and Senator Kamala Harris, his antagonist in the last debate, when the two sparred over Mr. Biden's record on race.
Medicare was a focal point in last night's debate. Here's how it works, and why most of the candidates are holding it up as a model for universal coverage, but with important differences. We also have a primer on why candidates are likely to make direct appeals to black voters tonight.
The debate begins at 8 p.m. on CNN. We'll have live coverage and analysis. Who won in last night's matchup? Our Opinion columnists and contributors weighed in.
The New York Times
2. The Fed cut interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, a pre-emptive move to address growing fears about the trade war and a global economic slowdown. The quarter-point move was widely expected.
Why now? Uncertainty about global growth and persistently low inflation were some of the biggest factors. One of the biggest potential impacts of the Fed's cut may be one you don't see: heading off a recession. Here's where you might see effects from the cut, from your savings account to your job.
The decision came as the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks ended with no deal in sight.
Drone Base/Reuters
3. The latest in the Jeffrey Epstein saga: a baby ranch.
The wealthy financier, who has been charged with sex trafficking, told scientists and other acquaintances of his plans to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating scores of women at his sprawling New Mexico ranch, above, according to an exclusive Times report. The scheme reflected Mr. Epstein's longstanding fasciation with transhumanism, a modern-day version of eugenics.
According to two award-winning scientists and an adviser to large companies and wealthy individuals, the idea struck all three as far-fetched and disturbing. Mr. Epstein, who used his wealth to cultivate relationships with a wide range of business, political and scientific luminaries, also claimed to be bankrolling efforts to identify "a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that someone is watching you."
A federal judge on Wednesday set a trial date for mid-2020.
4. Osama bin Laden's son, who was seen as a potential future leader of Al Qaeda, is dead, U.S. officials said. He repeatedly threatened to attack the U.S.
Hamza bin Laden was killed at some point in the past two years, but it took time to confirm his death, the officials said. The U.S. had a role in the operation that killed the younger Mr. bin Laden, but other details, including where and how he died, are not yet known.
Separately, the U.S. placed sanctions on Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, seeming to cut off a clear avenue for new talks with Iran.
Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
5. A last-minute succession plan for Puerto Rico is in the works.
The U.S. territory's ousted governor, Ricardo Rosselló, nominated Pedro Pierluisi as secretary of state. That positions Mr. Pierluisi, above in 2013, who formerly represented the island in Congress, to succeed him.
But his confirmation by lawmakers is far from certain as a tense power struggle continues inside the ruling New Progressive Party. Mr. Rosselló's resignation, sparked by his participation in a leaked exchange of rude and profane text messages and pressured by a mass uprising, is effective at 5 p.m. on Friday.
The New York Times
6. Military-style weapons have proved to be the deadliest firearms in mass shootings and the most visible targets for gun control. But weapons bans have worked better in theory than in practice.
Today's most popular rifles can be modified in ways that keep the weapons legal — and nearly indistinguishable from illegal assault weapons. Our graphics team breaks it down piece by piece.
To advocates of stricter gun laws, the messy patchwork of state laws that contributed to the tragedy at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday is one more reason that federal gun-law changes are needed: The gun used by the suspect was legally purchased in Nevada, but is banned in California.
Rachel Woolf for The New York Times
7. "My mind is constantly thinking, 'What did that touch?'"
Virginia Fuchs is the captain of the U.S. boxing team and the most established fighter at the Pan American Games this week. She has no trouble stepping into the ring against the world's top fighters: It's her obsessive-compulsive disorder that causes problems.
O.C.D. takes many forms, and Ms. Fuchs's obsessions and compulsions pertain to contamination, and fighters are constantly exposed to opponents' sweat, saliva and blood, and the rot of damp headgear and gloves. But boxing, which requires total and immediate focus, actually provides a respite.
Susan Wright for The New York Times
8. Our travel writer thought he'd been making a pasta dish the right way for 40 years. And then he went to Italy.
So what's the best way to make pasta all'amatriciana, made with pork, tomatoes and cheese? He went to the source, Amatrice in the northernmost part of Lazio, and had five versions of the dish in five days — even though the town largely doesn't exist since a 2016 earthquake.
In other pro tips, Deb Perelman, founder of the Smitten Kitchen blog, shares how to make a week of meals for your family that you actually want to eat. She suggests starting with a single recipe you really, really want to make — despite what your kids say.
Bettmann/Getty Images
9. When was the last time you read a funny tale by John Steinbeck? Now's your chance.
The iconic American author wrote pieces for a Paris newspaper in the 1950s, and one — about a nervous chef and a magnificent cat — is being published in English for the first time. Above, Steinbeck and his wife, Elaine, in 1954.
We also rounded up four new books that examine our language from various angles — historical, political and grammatical — including "Semicolon," the small punctuation mark that can carry big ideas.
In need of a new read? Here are 11 new titles to watch for in August.
Ian Douglas for The New York Times
10. And lastly, saying goodbye to a Broadway giant.
Hal Prince, who directed and produced some of the most successful musicals in Broadway history, has died at the age of 91. Mr. Prince, pictured above in 2016, trailblazed a new direction for the modern musical with shows like "The Pajama Game," "West Side Story," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Cabaret," and won a record 21 Tony Awards over the course of his long career.
"No show gets a free ride because you had a success before, you're as naked as the first day you worked, and you better make it good," he told The Times in 2008. "I live for the next musical."
Tonight, tonight, the world is full of light.
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National Conference Helped Set Our Family Medicine Paths
In this video post from the event, Michelle Byrne, M.D., M.P.H., the resident member of the AAFP Board of Directors, and student Board member Chandler Stisher, M.D., discuss how the National Conference of Family Medicine Resident and Medical Students influenced their career paths.
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