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Steve Scalise, London, Federal Reserve: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.


1. A lone gunman attacked a congressional baseball team practice in Virginia, shooting four people, including a congressman. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the majority whip of the House, was in critical condition after surgery.

“He was hunting us,” said Representative Mike Bishop of Michigan, who was among the Republican lawmakers practicing for an annual charity game. Our graphics team mapped out how the shooting unfolded.

The assailant, a 66-year-old Illinois man named James Hodgkinson, below in 2012, died after being shot at the scene. He was reportedly distraught over the election of Mr. Trump.


Credit Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat, via Associated Press



Credit Andy Rain/European Pressphoto Agency

2. “I have never, ever seen anything of this scale.”

That was London’s fire chief in the aftermath of an inferno that killed at least 12 people early Wednesday as it consumed a 24-story apartment building. The cause is under investigation.

By evening, firefighters were still searching for victims and working to extinguish the remnants of the blaze. We have more on the fire and the history of safety complaints about the building, called the Grenfell Tower, here.

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Credit Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

3. President Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authority over troop levels in Afghanistan, administration officials said.

That opens the door for sending more Americans into a war that Mr. Mattis says the U.S. is “not winning.” He’s believed to favor sending several thousand more troops to strengthen Afghan forces as they fight the Taliban, the Islamic State and other militant groups.

Mr. Trump has already given Mr. Mattis similar authority for Iraq and Syria. Above, Marines in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.



Credit John Minchillo/Associated Press

4. North Korea’s treatment of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American student released in a coma this week, may have been unusually brutal.

Though Americans have been kept in terrible conditions in the repressive country, they are generally not physically abused. But an American official said intelligence reports suggest that Mr. Warmbier was repeatedly beaten.

The question now is why. Mr. Warmbier is being treated at a hospital in Cincinnati, and details on his conditions are not yet known. Above, the plane that brought him home.



Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

5. Five officials in Michigan, including the head of the state’s health department, Nick Lyon, above, were charged with involuntary manslaughter over the tainted water crisis in the city of Flint.

It was the first time investigators have drawn a direct link between the acts of government officials and the deaths of residents that followed.

The state attorney general said that the officials failed to properly alert the public about a Legionnaires’ outbreak and the possibility that another outbreak would happen.



Credit Susan Walsh/Associated Press

6. The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate for the third consecutive quarter, a sign of its confidence in the stability of the American economy. It moved to a range between 1 percent and 1.25 percent.

The Fed has concluded that the economy is growing about as fast as it can, and it wants to make loans more expensive for businesses and consumers.

So far, the markets are not cooperating. Auto loan rates are up a bit since the Fed starting raising its rates in 2015, but mortgage loans remain unchanged. Above, the Fed chairwoman, Janet Yellen.



Credit Olga Maltseva/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

7. A new report found at least 17 construction workers have died and many others have faced abuse while building stadiums for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Human Rights Watch said that FIFA, soccer’s corruption-plagued governing body, had failed to address rights violations.

The tournament is scheduled to be held at 12 stadiums in 11 cities across Russia from June 14 to July 15 next year. (Above, a stadium in St. Petersburg.) There’s concern the death toll could rise as workers rush to complete projects in time.



Credit Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times

8. For more than 150 years, African-Americans have gathered on June 19 — the day known as Juneteenth — to celebrate freedom.

The holiday is rooted in Texas, signifying the day in 1865 — more than two years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — when a Union general delivered the news that slavery had been abolished.

Our food writer explains the culinary traditions of the holiday, which include many bright red foods meant to signify perseverance, from strawberry pie, above, to hibiscus tea and spicy hot links.



Credit James Estrin/The New York Times

9. The Library of Congress named Tracy K. Smith its new poet laureate. It’s the nation’s highest honor in poetry.

Ms. Smith, who is also the director of the creative writing program at Princeton, says she plans to use the position to be a literary evangelist, visiting small towns and rural areas to hold poetry events.

“Poems are friendly, and they teach us how to read them,” she said.



Credit George Kraychyk/Hulu

10. Finally, time for a break from the news.

We interviewed Margaret Atwood, the author of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” about Hulu’s TV adaptation of her novel ahead of the Season 1 finale, which was released today. She walked us through each episode, explaining the show’s most disconcerting elements.

Have a great night.

Photographs may appear out of order for some readers. Viewing this version of the briefing should help.

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

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Source: NYT > World

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