Russia, Trump, Migrants: Your Friday Evening Briefing

Russia, Trump, Migrants: Your Friday Evening Briefing

By Joumana Khatib and Debbie Bondulic

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

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CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

1. Twelve Russian intelligence agents have been charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, above, announced the indictments just days before President Trump is set to meet with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, in Finland.

The indictments are the latest in the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Russia has denied any wrongdoing, and Mr. Trump has expressed frustration over the investigation.

Read the indictment.

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CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

2. Damage control.

President Trump tried to walk back tough comments he made about Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, in an interview with The Sun, a British newspaper.

First, he denied having criticized her, then blamed the episode on the news media. Then, he heaped praise on Mrs. May and called the U.S.’s relationship with the U.K. “the highest level of special.”

He also outlined an ambitious agenda for his meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, saying he would ask about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His comments came before the new indictments were announced.

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CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

3. Our reporter followed the Águilas del Desierto, a volunteer group that searches the southwest border for the bodies of migrants who died trying to cross it.

The number of deaths is climbing even as illegal border crossings have decreased sharply. The volunteers — most of them immigrants themselves — find purpose in providing closure for families haunted by missing relatives.

“The desert is like a lion, stalking both the strong and the weak,” said the group’s leader. “The desert could devour any of us.”

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CreditPrd/EPA, via Shutterstock

4. Plastic cocoons, anti-anxiety medication and 10,000 people from around the world.

That’s only some of what was needed to safely rescue the Thai soccer team from a flooded cave, an operation that captivated the globe.

“So many things could have gone wrong, but somehow we managed to get the boys out,” a Thai official said. “I still can’t believe it worked.”

Here’s how they pulled off the remarkable rescue.

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CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

5. The Justice Department said it would appeal the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, a blockbuster deal that has already started to reshape the media industry.

If the government prevails, disentangling the two companies could be difficult: The $85.4 billion deal was finalized a month ago, and an AT&T executive is already in charge of Time Warner properties like HBO and the news network CNN.

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CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

6. More than 4,000 volunteers are helping Democratic campaigns become more tech-savvy.

A nationwide group of volunteers — with day jobs at Google, Netflix and other tech companies — is training campaigns on digital skills, like how to promote candidates on social media, build their email lists and use data analytics to identify potential donors.

Many Democrats lag behind Republican opponents when it comes to tech-savvy campaigning, which has been a motivating factor: “If we don’t start now, it will be too late in 2020,” the group’s co-founder said.

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CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

7. Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said he would sell all of his remaining stock holdings after the Office of Government Ethics faulted him for failing to make required divestitures.

The acting director of the ethics office wrote that Mr. Ross, above, had “created the potential for a serious criminal violation on your part and undermined public confidence.”

Separately, investigators found that Tom Price, the former health secretary, had wasted $341,000 on improper travel. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services urged the government to try to recoup the money.

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8. Microsoft called for stricter regulation of facial recognition technology, a rare case of a tech company urging more government oversight.

“A world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards,” the company’s president wrote, urging Congress to study the technology.

Facial recognition software can be used to identify people in photos or video feeds without their knowledge or permission, and its use has raised privacy concerns.

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CreditSamuel Aranda for The New York Times

9. It’s a first for the Miss Universe pageant.

After winning Spain’s national beauty contest last month, Angela Ponce, above, will be the first transgender woman to compete, and she’s on a mission to challenge beauty standards.

“Having a vagina doesn’t make a woman,” she said. “Even if many people don’t want to see me as a woman, I clearly belong among them.”

Interested in keeping up with gender news? Subscribe to our weekly Gender Letter here.

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CreditHannah Reyes for The New York Times ORG XMIT: NPX

10. Finally, this is your periodic reminder that it’s not all bad news out there.

Here’s The Week in Good News, which includes the end to Ethiopia and Eritrea’s two-decade war; a volunteer network in Bali that rescues sea turtles, above; and the first African-American woman to work a pit crew in Nascar’s top series.

Have a great weekend.

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