Department of Justice, Johnson & Johnson, Roland-Garros: your Friday night briefing
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Good night. Here is the last one.
1. The watchdog of the Ministry of Justice opened an investigation into the Trump administration’s covert data entry from House Democrats and reporters.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz, above in 2019, said he would review the department’s use of subpoenas and other legal measures to covertly access the communications records of lawmakers and Democratic aides. Senate Democrats have also announced their own investigation into the matter.
The Times first reported yesterday that Trump’s Justice Department ordered Apple and another service provider to hand over related data to at least a dozen people as it traced the source of the leaks regarding associates of Trump and Russia. The ministry then obtained a gag order to keep it a secret. Apple said it unknowingly handed over the data, calling the publication the routine work of a paralegal.
Horowitz said he would also examine other recently disclosed actions to secretly seize journalists’ data.
2. The FDA has decided that approximately 60 million doses Johnson & Johnson vaccine made at a Baltimore plant should be discarded due to possible contamination.
The FDA plans to allow approximately 10 million doses to be distributed in the United States or shipment to other countries, but with a warning that regulators cannot guarantee that the plant followed good practices of manufacturing. Doses of Johnson & Johnson administered so far in the United States have been manufactured in the Netherlands.
The loss of 60 million doses of Johnson & Johnson puts the brakes on the Biden administration’s plan to distribute vaccines to other countries still in the grip of the pandemic. On Friday, Group of 7 leaders promise one billion doses of the Covid vaccine to poor and middle-income countries.
3. The question of employers in a vaccine dilemma: what’s your status?
Most companies hope to avoid the need for Covid vaccines. While technically legal, business leaders fear that vaccine mandates could lead to lawsuits, invite political upheaval, and be difficult to enforce. But they are concerned about safety and are trying everything but a warrant, not yet ruling out one. Here’s how to safely reopen offices.
During much of the pandemic, rush hour was gone. But as the economy reopens and traffic returns, what if that headache doesn’t come back? A modest number of people working from home, for example, on a Thursday, could make the task less painful.
4. Call it the end of Zoom diplomacy.
After more than a year of remote meetings, leaders of the Group of 7 met face to face as they opened a summit in England dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. As G7 countries – the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany and Italy – increasingly have control of Covid within their own borders, the pandemic remains an urgent global threat.
Despite the welfare images on display at the meeting, many Europeans suspect President Biden is a little more interested in give and take than his predecessor. Covid restrictions kept protesters at bay, but a floating airship that caricatures Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson managed to float.
5. US lawmakers introduced the sweep Antitrust legislation aimed at restricting Big Tech, the most ambitious effort to update monopoly laws in decades.
The bipartisan bills – five in total – directly target Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google and their grip on online commerce, information and entertainment. The proposals would restrict their power and prevent consolidation of businesses across the economy, and also give regulators more funding for police companies.
Also outside Washington: Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out a detailed plan to protect voting rights, including doubling staff and reviewing new laws, and saying he would act if he identified a violation of federal law.
6. New Maps Produced By The Times Show The Most Severe Drought conditions in the American West in at least 20 years. And the hottest summer months are yet to come.
The outlook for the 2021 fire season is “as bad as it gets,” an expert said. The situation is particularly dire in the southwest and California, where a drier-than-usual winter and warm spring temperatures made the situation dangerous. The state is unlikely to receive significant rainfall until October.
7. Pulitzer Prize were given to news outlets which provided in-depth coverage of the dramatic turning points of 2020.
The public service award, considered the most prestigious of journalism awards, went to The Times for its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, including the front page commemorating the first 100,000 deaths from Covid, above. Wesley Morris also won the award for his “Relentlessly Relevant and Deeply Engaged Criticism” for The Times.
The staff of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis took home the award in the breaking news category for their coverage of the murder of George Floyd. And Pulitzer’s board of directors awarded a special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed the murder.
BuzzFeed News won its first prize, for a report on China’s internment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Louise Erdrich won the prize for her novel “The Night Watchman”. Here’s the full list of winners (and a guide to winning books).
9. After more than a year of disjointed streaming, “In the Heights” is “a dream come true,” says our film critic.
Adapted from the Tony-winning Broadway show by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, “In the Heights” is a musical tribute to Latino culture, an intergenerational story about family, community and upward mobility. “It’s a traditional American piece of entertainment in the best sense of the word,” writes AO Scott, “a testament to the power of art to turn struggles into dreams.”
Told through the lens of Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, the musical was shot on location, a risky choice that offered “a million authenticity checks every day,” Miranda said in a discussion with Hudes and the director of the film, Jon Chu. They explain what it took to create a euphoric show that stays true to its roots.
10. And finally, meet the Great Lakes jumper.
Suspended from a party and worried about the pandemic, Dan O’Conor was ordered to leave the house by his wife one day in June to let off steam. O’Conor hopped on his bike and rode three miles to Lake Michigan, where he quickly jumped. “It was so good,” he said. “I just wanted to block everything, the pandemic, everything. “
O’Conor has been doing it every day since. The daily jump slowly became his escape route, even if it took a shovel to break through an ice-covered lake. On Saturday, O’Conor is planning a grand final for his 365th jump. He doesn’t know how many people will show up, but he expects a few to take the plunge with him.