Iran, Reparations, Poet Laureate: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.) Good evening. Here’s the latest 1. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pentagon officials, including Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, above, have been telling members of Congress and aides in recent weeks about what they say are ties between Iran and Al Qaeda, officials said Some lawmakers are concerned that the administration is trying to link Iran and Al Qaeda in order to invoke a 2001 authorization that permits the U S. to wage war on the terrorist group. Doing so would allow the administration to use military force in Iran But officials are skeptical that there are legitimate links between Iran, a Shiite Muslim nation, and the hard-line Sunni terrorist group The two have often fought on opposite sides of regional conflicts._____2. Congress addressed the topic of reparations for slavery for the first time in over a decade today Known as Juneteenth, the day commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States House Democrats revived a 30-year-old idea to create a commission that would study the issue and make recommendations about redress for descendants of slaves There are several instances when Americans have previously received compensation for historical injustices At a raucous hearing with hundreds of spectators, the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, above, challenged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the idea Also on Capitol Hill, Senator Chuck Schumer requested an investigation into the Treasury Department’s decision to postpone development of a $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman for six years _____3. The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, defying President Trump’s calls for cuts But it also opened the door to lowering rates if the trade fight intensified and risks to the economy increased The Fed hasn’t cut rates since the end of 2008, amid the recession.Officials also demoted their assessment of overall economic activity to “moderate” from May’s “solid ”In other business news, sources said the Federal Trade Commission is investigating how YouTube handles videos aimed at children The company has been under pressure from parents and consumer groups to do more to prevent harmful and adult content from appearing in searches for children’s videos _____4. A United Nations expert called for an investigation into the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the killing of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi, above Her report is the most complete yet made public about Mr. Khashoggi’s death and cites a recording of a conversation between Saudi officials in which they appear to discuss dismembering Mr Khashoggi.Separately, an international investigative team charged four people with murder in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people Three of them have ties to Russian intelligence._____5. Who is your hero, and why? How many hours of sleep do you get a night? In an ideal world, would anyone own handguns? What do you do to relax?The Times tracked down almost all of the 2020 Democratic candidates and asked them the same set of 18 questions Here are their answers.Among the takeaways: They agree on reversing President Trump’s international actions on climate change, and they diverge on issues like expanding the Supreme Court and whether anyone deserves a billion-dollar fortune _____6. “We have the cleanest air in the world in the United States and it’s gotten better since I’m president,” President Trump said again this month But that’s not necessarily true. By one crucial metric, the U.S. ranks 10th in air quality And air pollution is ticking back up across the country, according to the American Lung Association Air quality has indeed drastically increased over the past 40 years, largely thanks to the Clean Air Act of 1970 But more than 110 million Americans still live in counties with unhealthy levels of pollution, according to the E P.A.Today, the Trump administration replaced an Obama-era effort to reduce planet-warming pollution with a new rule that, among other things, allows coal plants to stay open longer _____7. Adidas has long profited from its association with black superstars like Run-DMC, Beyoncé and James Harden But African-American employees say the brand isn’t pro-diversity in practice. In more than 20 interviews, current and former employees at its Portland headquarters, pictured, described a culture of marginalization and, at times, discrimination Meanwhile, a $7.5 million donation by Juul, the e-cigarette company, to a historically black medical college for nicotine research alarmed African-American public health experts They question research independence and remember the tobacco industry’s history of targeting black people _____8. A government ruling will extend disability protections for air travelers to those with severe food allergies Airlines must now permit people with peanut or tree-nut allergies — which can be so acute that even incidental contact with a contaminated surface can cause serious reactions — or their parents, in the case of children, to pre-board planes in order to wipe down surfaces And a federal appeals court cleared the way for a lawsuit against a restaurant in Colonial Williamsburg, Va , where a child with severe celiac disease on a school trip was not allowed to eat a gluten-free meal he brought from home _____9. In Aberdeen, Scotland, our 52 Places traveler found that the city’s gray, industrial reputation is being enlivened by a vibrant, colorful art scene It pops up in unexpected places — like the cracks in walls that the artist Jan Vormann fills with Lego bricks, above For a different travel experience, consider Blackberry Mountain, a resort built into Tennessee’s Chilhowee Mountain Think of it as a stepped-up summer camp, with activities that range from endurance hiking to bathing enhanced by sonic vibrations and some seriously impressive meals (Canned beans aren’t on the menu.)_____10. And finally, a new poet laureate for America The Library of Congress selected Joy Harjo, above, who is the 23rd poet and the first Native American to hold the post Ms. Harjo, who will take over from Tracy Smith, is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation Ms. Harjo has written eight books of poetry, a memoir and two books for young audiences While she hasn’t decided what she will do during her time as laureate, she said she hoped “to remind people that poetry belongs to everyone ”Have a creative night._____Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.And don’t miss Your Morning Briefing Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at [email protected] com.

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