Gun Violence, Supreme Court, Britney Spears: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.

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

President Biden, accompanied by Attorney General Merrick Garland, addressed rising gun violence.
Doug Mills/The New York Times

1. President Biden announced new efforts to tackle gun violence amid a contentious debate over how to address a rise in violent crime in many U.S. cities.

His administration said state and local governments could use their designated $350 billion of coronavirus relief funds to shore up to shore up police departments and support community-based anti-violence groups. He also directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to revoke the licenses of gun dealers “the first time that they violate federal law” by failing to run background checks.

“This is not a time to turn our backs on law enforcement or our communities,” Biden said.

Biden made clear that he intends to approach crime prevention by investing in, rather than defunding, the police. City leaders are grappling with calls to both improve oversight of their police departments and address soaring homicide rates.

James Estrin/The New York Times

2. Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, holds a strong lead in the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City. But the race is far from over.

Adams has 32 percent of first-choice votes so far. Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, has 22 percent of the vote, and Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner, earned 20 percent. In cities with ranked-choice elections, the candidate who is leading in the first round of voting usually prevails in the final count. The runners-up still have a narrow chance to win.

The city will reveal the first round of ranked-choice results on Tuesday, and will release updated results as absentee ballots are counted. See neighborhood-level results.

Adams, a moderate whose campaign focused on crime and public safety, has a long history in New York politics and has faced scrutiny over his ethics. But a traditional Democratic coalition of unions and Black and Latino voters gave him his lead.

Danna Singer/Aclu/Via Reuters

3. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania cheerleader who was punished by her high school district over a vulgar Snapchat message.

The court found that the district violated the First Amendment by disciplining Brandi Levy for off-campus speech. It was the first time in 50 years that a high school student won a free-speech case in the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for an eight-member majority, said that schools must teach the value of free speech.

The court also ruled against a California regulation allowing union organizers to recruit farmworkers at their workplaces. The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent.

Xiong Qi/Xinhua, via Associated Press

4. A scientist found early coronavirus sequences that disappeared from a database last year.

By rooting through files stored on Google Cloud, a virologist in Seattle recovered 13 original sequences, offering new information for understanding when and how the virus may have spilled over from an animal into humans. The new analysis, which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, does not strengthen or weaken the hypothesis that the pathogen leaked out of a lab in Wuhan, China. But it does raise questions about why original sequences were deleted.

Separately, C.D.C. researchers said that heart problems after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are exceedingly rare, just 12.6 cases per million second doses administered, and that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

5. “I just want my life back.”

In a passionate speech, Britney Spears addressed a Los Angeles probate judge after more than a decade of public silence regarding the court-approved conservatorship that oversees her life and finances. She sharply criticized her father as her parents and their lawyers listened on. We have live updates here.

“I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” Spears said during a remote hearing, adding that she wants the conservatorship to end “without having to be evaluated.”

“I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive,” she said.

The move came after the singer’s court-appointed lawyer in the conservatorship requested in April that the singer be allowed to address the judge directly.

Tyrone Siu/Reuters

6. A protester in Hong Kong is the first person to face trial under a draconian new national security law.

Tong Ying-kit, 23, rode a motorcycle while flying a protest flag and collided into riot police officers as they tried to stop him. He faces life in prison. Tong is among the more than 100 people in Hong Kong who have been arrested under the sweeping new rules.

His case is a test of how the city’s judicial system will interpret and enforce Beijing’s far-reaching law, which was imposed only hours before his arrest.

Separately, Apple Daily, the pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper, will print its last issue on Thursday and is officially closing. It comes days after the police froze its accounts, raided the paper’s offices and arrested top editors.

Photo Illustration by The New York Times

7. China is spreading its propaganda version of life in Xinjiang, where the Communist Party has carried out repressive policies against Uyghurs. Here’s how.

Thousands of videos, in which Chinese citizens deny abuses in Xinjiang, migrated from a regional Communist Party news app to YouTube, Twitter and other global sites. Meant to look like unfiltered glimpses of life in the region, most of the videos carry no signs that they are official propaganda.

But taken together, the videos reveal clues of broader coordination. In a monthslong analysis of more than 3,000 of them, The Times and ProPublica found evidence of one of China’s most elaborate efforts to shape global opinion — and how Western internet platforms serve as high-speed propaganda pipelines for Beijing.

Maggie Shannon for The New York Times

8. “I knew I’d met someone who’s stupid in the way that I’m stupid and doesn’t take much seriously.”

Andy Richter immediately hit it off with Conan O’Brien when they were introduced. What has followed is a long career as O’Brien’s sidekick on three talk shows. As the final episode of “Conan” airs on Thursday, we asked Richter to reflect on his career as late-night’s No. 1 second banana.

The end of “Conan” also signifies the end for one of late-night’s last sidekicks. Richter reinvigorated the role, but now that “Conan” is going off the air, our critic writes, it’s time to re-evaluate work that was often mired in stereotypes.

Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

9. With help from A.I., a 17th-century Rembrandt is whole again.

“The Night Watch” has been a national icon in the Netherlands ever since it was painted in 1642, but large sections of it were cut off in the 18th century and lost. Now, using scanning technologies and a relatively new class of artificial-intelligence algorithms, the Rijksmuseum’s senior scientist trained a computer to recreate the pieces pixel by pixel in Rembrandt’s style.

And in Paris, the Hôtel de la Marine is open to the public for the first time in almost 250 years after a $157 million, four-year renovation. About 200 top artisans in France restored the neoclassical palace to its 18th-century splendor. Take a look at the eagerly awaited new museum.

Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Susan Spungen.

10. And finally, summer feasting.

The food columnist J. Kenji López-Alt fell in love with raw oysters on a warm summer evening on Cape Cod when he was 8 years old. Now teaching his own children to eat oysters, he makes a compelling case for grilling them: Brininess is enhanced with fire and flavored butters, there’s a safety benefit and shucking is not required. He also offers wine pairings for oysters and vibrant ways to finish them.

If you’re looking for the perfect post-pandemic party food, Gabrielle Hamilton, a Times Magazine contributor, makes the case for the “ongoingly spirit-lifting” six-foot hero. For more options, here are our staff picks for summer potlucks.

Have a delicious night.

Lance Booth compiled photos for this briefing.

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

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