Your Friday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Friday.

1. With President Biden’s climate agenda stalled, cities and states will play a critical role in combating climate change.

A patchwork approach is no substitute for a coordinated national strategy. But in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling limiting the E.P.A.’s authority to restrict power plant emissions, experts said the U.S. needs local action to have a chance at meeting its climate goals. Colorado, historically a coal state, has passed more than 50 climate-related laws since 2019. And voters in Athens, Ohio, imposed a carbon fee on themselves.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is trying persuade other countries to quickly move away from fossil fuels, despite a notable lack of success back home. John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, “goes around the world saying all the right things, but he can’t make the U.S. deliver them,” said one international climate activist. “He loses credibility when he comes and preaches to everyone else.”

2. After the fall of Roe v. Wade, states are figuring out what’s next.

New York’s State Senate passed a measure that, if fully enacted, would enshrine in the state’s constitution the right to abortion and contraception — placing New York at the forefront of legal efforts to protect reproductive rights. The legislation would need voter approval via referendum before it would take effect.

In Texas, where conservative leadership has spent decades narrowing abortion access, even some anti-abortion adherents say their state is woefully unprepared for a likely surge in births among poor women. Texas is already one of the most dangerous states in the nation to have a baby, and it has more uninsured women of childbearing age than any other state.

Within the anti-abortion movement, there is disagreement about further restrictions. Some of the most extreme activists want to pursue “abortion abolition,” which would criminalize abortion from conception as homicide and hold pregnant women responsible. The more mainstream members of the movement oppose prosecuting pregnant women and instead want to focus on penalizing abortion providers.

3. The Supreme Court was more conservative this term than it has been in nearly a century.

In its first full term with a six-justice conservative majority, the court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, expanded Americans’ right to carry guns outside the home, made it harder to address climate change and enlarged the role of religion in public life.

Those blockbusters underscored the court’s relentless shift to the political right in the term that ended this week. By one standard measurement, its rulings were more conservative than any year since 1931. About 74 percent of cases were decided with a conservative ruling.

Previously under Chief Justice John Roberts, the final days of a term had tended to end with a mix of decisions pointing in different ideological directions. But over the past year, the difference was the addition of a third justice appointed by Donald Trump, Amy Coney Barrett, who replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, tilting the court’s ideological balance further to the right.

4. Donald Trump and his allies have offered to pay the legal fees of more than a dozen witnesses called by the Jan. 6 committee, raising questions about whether Trump may be influencing their testimony.

The arrangement drew new scrutiny after testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide who agreed to testify publicly only after firing a lawyer paid for by Trump’s political organization.

Hutchinson’s testimony revealed a little-acknowledged truth about how Washington works: The capital is led largely by the geriatric set, but much of the work is performed by recent college graduates. Younger staff members’ proximity to power gives them disproportionate influence, as well as a front-row seat to critical moments that can define the country.

Dozens more were injured after a nine-story residential tower and a recreational center were hit early Friday. The Kremlin’s spokesman denied that Russia was targeting any civilian infrastructure.

Also, Brittney Griner, the American W.N.B.A. star, went on trial on drug charges in Russia. Legal experts said her trial — which was adjourned to next Thursday — was all but certain to end in a conviction, which could carry a sentence of up to 10 years at a penal colony. Griner, who was detained days before Russia invaded Ukraine, is the latest American to get caught up in “hostage diplomacy.”

6. Xi Jinping’s first visit to Hong Kong since a sweeping crackdown was a declaration of victory over the opposition in Hong Kong, an assertion of his power to viewers at home and a warning to critics abroad.

At the event, for the 25th anniversary of the end of British rule in Hong Kong, the police showed off new armored vehicles and goose-stepped in the city’s streets, which were empty of the protesters who traditionally gather by the thousands each July 1. Xi, China’s leader, delivered a stern admonition that the open dissent and pro-democracy activism that defined the city in recent years were things of the past.

The West increasingly sees Xi’s actions as overly aggressive. NATO, for the first time, declared China a “challenge,” adding that the country’s policies were “coercive,” its cyberoperations “malicious” and its rhetoric “confrontational.”

7. Traveling this weekend? Be prepared to wait.

As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, more people are expected to travel to, from and within the U.S. than at any other time this year. For many, the increased traffic is likely to lead to traffic and delays. (On the Friday before Juneteenth, nearly a third of flights arrived late.)

For those driving, it might not be much better. Inflated prices for fuel, food and lodging have led some to rethink their summer plans. Hotel industry executives said that many people who drove on vacation were choosing destinations closer to home to save on gas.

8. Juggling private jets at the “summer camp for billionaires” is a logistical nightmare. It’s also Chris Pomeroy’s job.

Each year at the Sun Valley conference, an annual shoulder-rubbing bonanza organized by a secretive investment bank that begins next week, scores of private jets fly into a small resort town in Idaho. Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, flies in a Gulfstream G650. So do Jeff Bezos and Dan Schulman, PayPal’s chief executive.

Pomeroy is tasked with a high-stakes, three-dimensionsional game of Tetris with multimillion-dollar private jets. With everyone arriving around the same time, a lack of proper organization — which happened his first year, 2016 — could cause delays and diversions while pilots burn precious fuel.

9. Ants can be a paleontologist’s best friend.

At a recent dig, scientists discovered evidence of 10 species of previously unknown ancient mammals, including an ancestor of the kangaroo rat. They had help from thousands of tiny harvester ants.

The ants live in subterranean burrows that sit beneath mounds of dirt, which they fortify with bits of rock and other tough materials — including fossilized mammal teeth that paleontologists can then harvest.

“They’re not fantastic when they’re biting you,” Samantha Hopkins, a researcher from the University of Oregon, said. “But I’ve got to appreciate them, because they make my job a whole lot easier.”

10. And, finally, India’s “mango man” finds power in a tree.

Kaleem Ullah Khan, 82, has spent a lifetime caring for — and experimenting with — a mango tree in a field in northern India. He has grafted hundreds of kinds of mango onto the mother tree, achieving domestic and international acclaim for his efforts.

Khan is philosophical about the fruit but also obsessive — an expert nearing the end of a lifetime of discovery, still resigned to what remains beyond his reach. He tells anyone and everyone of his faith in the mango’s infinite potential, including its ability to cure sickness.

Khan now spends most of his time around the tree. About two months ago, he moved from the house where his wife, sons and grandchildren live to another house on the edge of the nursery, with a balcony overlooking his life’s work.

Have a juicy evening.

Brent Lewis compiled photos for this briefing.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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