January 6, China, Restaurant Reviews: Your Tuesday Night Briefing

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Good evening. Here is the last Tuesday at the end of the day.

1. A January 6 panel revealed evidence that Trump was involved in a scheme to introduce fake voters.

The committee released a deposition video from Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, who said Trump personally called her to help push the scheme forward. The committee also showed texts from an aide to Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, indicating that Johnson was seeking to hand-deliver bogus voters in his state and Michigan.

The revelation came during the panel’s fourth hearing this month, which focused on the pressure on election officials and workers to overturn the 2020 results. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, said that Trump allies had broken into the home of his widowed daughter-in-law and that his wife had received threats.

2. Asia buys cheap oil from Russia, mitigating the effects of Western sanctions.

Most of the extra oil went to two countries: China and India. Chinese imports of Russian oil hit a record high in May and made Russia the country’s biggest supplier. India has gone from almost no Russian oil to more than 760,000 barrels per day.

The shift helped Moscow maintain production levels, helped make the ruble the best-performing currency in the world, and underscored the cooperation Russia enjoys from China. Soaring energy prices have boosted Russia’s oil revenues, which took in $1.7 billion more last month than in April.

In Ukraine, officials have urged civilians to flee the occupied south ahead of a promised counteroffensive. Merrick Garland, the United States Attorney General, arrived today on a surprise trip to speak with Ukraine’s Attorney General about the Russian war crimes prosecution.

3. Vaccines are now available for children under 5, but a slow rollout is met with mixed emotions.

Today, health workers across the country began administering Covid-19 vaccines to children 6 months to 5 years old, the last group of Americans to have access to vaccines.

But the response has been particularly muted by parents, with little of the excitement and long queues that have greeted previous vaccination campaigns. An April poll showed that less than 20% of parents of young children were eager to find vaccines right away.

4. The Supreme Court ruled that Maine could not exclude religious schools from a state schooling program.

The case arose out of an arrangement in Maine that requires rural communities without public high schools to provide education for students. One option is to pay tuition at a “non-sectarian” private school. Two families who send or wanted to send their children to religious schools challenged the law, saying it violated their right to freely exercise their faith.

“A state does not need to subsidize private education,” the chief justice wrote in the ruling, the latest in a series of rulings barring the exclusion of religious institutions from government programs. “But once a state decides to do that, it can’t disqualify certain private schools just because they’re religious.”

5. Texas State Police Chief called the response to Uvalde’s shot a failure.

Steven McCraw, the director of the Department of Public Safety, testified today before a legislative hearing in Austin on the law enforcement response to the mass shooting, calling it an “abject failure” that went to the against two decades of training.

He said police at the scene had enough firepower and protective gear to storm the pair of connected classrooms just minutes after the shooting began. But the commander on the spot “decided to put the lives of the officers before those of the children” and waited unnecessarily for the key to a door that could not be locked from the inside.

6. Voters decided the second round in Alabama and Georgia, and Virginia hosted primaries.

Republican voters in Alabama are getting a boost: Donald Trump, popular in the state, first endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks as the party’s nominee for an open Senate seat. But when Brooks fell behind in the polls, Trump threw his support behind Katie Britt, former chief of staff to Sen. Richard Shelby, who is retiring. Polls indicate a Britt victory is likely.

In Georgia, Republicans are picking their House candidates against entrenched Democrats. There are similar issues in Virginia, where Jen Kiggans and Jarome Bell are vying to take on Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat. All three are Navy veterans in a district where one in five voters is a veteran or is on active duty in the military. But what separates them is ideology, with Bell campaigning on Trump’s false claims of voter fraud.

7. An investigation into the expansion of the surveillance state in China.

The scale of Beijing’s surveillance – of citizens’ appearances, personal technology and the sound of their voices – and the infrastructure that supports it are bigger and more elaborate than previously known, a visual survey finds .

For more than a year, Times reporters analyzed more than 100,000 government tender documents. ChinaFile, a digital magazine published by the Asia Society, collected the offers and shared them exclusively with The Times. Here are four takeaways from the survey.

In other tech news, a bombshell report from BuzzFeed has raised questions about Biden’s approach to TikTok and getting Chinese deals. And Microsoft will stop offering automated tools that predict a person’s gender, age and emotional state, and limit the use of its facial recognition tool.

8. A champion retires at 4 years old.

Wasabi the Pekingese was America’s most famous dog last summer. But on Wednesday, a new champion will be crowned best in show at the Westminster Dog Show, raising the question: once a dog reaches the pinnacle of success, what’s next?

9. Times star ratings go to restaurant reviews.

The longstanding practice was suspended at the start of the pandemic, but as diners once again fill restaurants, four-star ratings are also returning, as a service to readers (and eaters).

First up: La Piraña Lechonera, where a man in a trailer wielding a machete provides New York’s closest thing to eating roast pork in Puerto Rico. Say yes when Angel Jimenez, the sole operator of La Piraña, offers to dress the pulpo, a classic Caribbean salad, “my way” with hot sauce and mojo de ajo – the garlic sauce a customer calls “God’s juice”. Three stars.

Also recommended: How to host a memorable meal out.

10. And finally, a 661-pound stingray is perhaps the largest freshwater fish in the world.

Found in Cambodia’s Mekong River, a 13-foot-long stingray marks a victory for conservation efforts in the region. It weighed 15 pounds more than a giant catfish discovered in Thailand in 2005.

Zeb Hogan, the biologist who found the giant stingray, called his discovery in the Mekong “remarkable” because the area is heavily populated and “the river faces a ton of challenges, including lots of fishing.” But the stingray’s existence is an indicator of ecosystem health and, Dr. Hogan hopes, will serve as a reminder of just how special the river is.

Have a massive evening.

Allison Zaucha and Eve Edelheit compiled photos for this briefing.

Your evening briefing is posted at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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