Your Tuesday Evening Briefing
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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Tuesday.
2. Ukraine weighs the cost of more lives against retreat from the Donbas.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday that the eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk are “dead” and nearly empty of civilians after constant Russian bombardment. Leaders face a strategic decision: Withdraw or risk being encircled and besieged.
But a retreat from Sievierodonetsk would give Moscow control of the Luhansk region, which is part of Donbas, and make attempts to retake the city even more costly, Zelensky added. He has vowed that Ukraine will fight to regain all its territory, including Crimea and the Donbas.
3. House Democrats, with their majority at stake in the midterms, will hold landmark hearings into the Jan. 6 insurrection starting on Thursday.
The six investigative hearings into the Jan. 6 insurrection, based on select committee findings from over 1,000 witnesses, are an effort to draw voter attention to the attack. The carefully arranged rollout of revelations and media moments will, Democrats hope, persuade voters to hold Republicans accountable.
Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and select committee member, said the hearings would “blow the roof off the House.” Republicans have dismissed them as political theater. Unlike other top networks, Fox News won’t air the hearings, but its sister network Fox Business will. Here’s how to watch.
5. How “trustless” is Bitcoin, really?
The cryptocurrency was not meant to rely on a “trusted” party, like a bank or a government, to arbitrate transactions. In myth, it is egalitarian and all but anonymous. But the reality is very different, scientists found.
New research focused on data leakages revealed that in the first two years of its existence, 64 key players mined most of the Bitcoin that existed at the time. On many occasions, just one or two people held most of the mining power.
In other tech news, the E.U. reached an agreement that would require all new smartphones, tablets and laptops to use USB-C charging ports by 2026.
6. As the Great Salt Lake dries up, Utah is facing “an environmental nuclear bomb.”
The lake has already shrunk by two-thirds. If it continues to dry up, it will cause a disastrous chain reaction. Flies and brine shrimp will die off — scientists warn it could start this summer — threatening the 10 million migratory birds that feed on the creatures.
Mountain snow above Salt Lake City, a vital source of ski tourism revenue, will be diminished. Most alarming, the air surrounding the city will occasionally turn poisonous, as arsenic from the exposed lake bed is carried away by windstorms.
As climate change causes record-breaking drought, there are no easy solutions. Letting more snowmelt flow to the lake would mean less water for residents and farmers, threatening the region’s breakneck growth and high-value agriculture.
7. Deshaun Watson, the N.F.L. quarterback, has been accused by more than two dozen women of harassment or assault during massage appointments.
Watson and his lawyers insist the meetings were innocuous. Two grand juries this year declined to charge him criminally. But reporting by The Times showed that Watson engaged in troubling behavior far more than previously known.
Watson has said that he hired about 40 different therapists across five seasons. The Times found that he booked appointments with at least 66 different women in one 17-month period. Some described experiences that undercut Watson’s insistence that he was seeking only professional massage therapy.
Watson recently signed a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Browns. The N.F.L. is considering whether to discipline him.
8. Disney apologized after an employee thwarted a marriage proposal.
A German man had been planning for months to pop the question to his girlfriend at Disneyland Paris, but those dreams were dashed by an employee who snatched the ring and ushered the couple off a stage, where he suggested they could continue the proposal.
Video of the event, viewed by thousands online, has stoked anger at Disney, with many online rallying in support of the couple. In a statement, the company said it regretted how the situation had been handled.
“Disneyland stands for dreams,” he said. “They can’t give us the moment back and that’s the only thing I want — to get a second chance.”
9. A new app, Tertulia, hopes to help you discover new books.
In many ways, the book business is thriving. Some 827 million print books were sold in 2021, a record since today’s tracking process began 20 years ago. But when online buyers don’t see bookstore displays or eye-catching covers, new authors often can’t break through. Of 3.2 million tracked titles in 2021, fewer than 1 percent sold over 5,000 copies.
Tertulia uses human curation and A.I. to distill book talk. It draws from social media, reviews, articles and more, ranking books by “buzz” instead of sales. Users answer questions about genres and can sign in with Twitter, so the app can pull recommendations from people they follow. It then generates a personalized daily list of five books.
10. And finally, caviar bumps are all the rage.
Doing a bump hasn’t typically meant lapping up fish roe. But for some trendsetters — Diplo among them — spooning a dollop of caviar onto your fist and licking it off is the best way to eat the pricey treat.
“People used to get high off of drugs,” a bar owner said. “Now, we’re getting high off the food.”
Historically, caviar was considered too expensive to serve so casually, but improved farming techniques have lowered prices. And downing it like this means keeping it pure, just as caviar specialists who sample roe do, without chips or other flavors to adulterate the taste.
Have a luxurious evening.
Eve Edelheit compiled photos for this briefing.