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Indianapolis, Refugees, Boba Tea: Your Friday Evening Briefing 1
A J Mast for The New York Times

1. The authorities are still searching for a motive behind the latest mass shooting to rock the nation in just a few weeks.

A gunman on late Thursday fatally shot eight people at an Indianapolis FedEx facility where he used to work. At least seven others were injured during a fast-moving, chaotic scene before the 19-year-old suspect killed himself. Officials believe the young man was armed with a rifle. The F.B.I. said the man had been interviewed by agents a year ago after his mother contacted law enforcement to report that he might try to commit “suicide by cop.”

A large number of Sikh employees worked at the facility. The names of the victims have not been released. Here’s what else we know.

The rampage marked the 147th mass shooting so far this year in the U.S., according to one organization, and caps a week in which violence has been prominent on screens across the country, with the release of a video of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old, the killing of Duante Wright, a Black man, by a white police officer, and the conclusion of testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin.


Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

2. Facing a backlash, the White House abruptly reversed course on the number of refugees that would be allowed into the U.S.

At midday Friday, the White House said it would keep a cap on refugees at 15,000, a historically low level set by the Trump administration and a reversal of an earlier promise to boost that number to more than 60,000. But just hours later, the White House put out a statement saying it expects to increase the cap next month. It did not give a specific number. Above, a refugee camp in Afrin, Syria.

In other Washington news:

  • Russia will expel 10 U.S. diplomats and ban some American officials from the country in retaliation for the White House’s new sanctions.

  • A member of the Oath Keepers pleaded guilty to charges connected to the Capitol riot of Jan. 6 and will cooperate with the government’s inquiry.


White House via YouTube

3. The nation’s effort to track coronavirus variants is getting a $2 billion boost.

Public health experts have said the effort is desperately needed to help forestall another devastating surge of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. The investment is the most significant measure yet by the federal government to speed up its ability to locate more contagious variants, which account for over half of infections and could prolong the pandemic.

While federal officials are still reviewing a rare blood clot disorder that appeared in six women after they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, our Upshot team put the risk in context: The rate of blood clots is extremely low, but the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could reveal more cases.

Here’s what women need to know about getting a coronavirus vaccine.


Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

4. Liberty University sued Jerry Falwell Jr. for $10 million, accusing its former president and chancellor of breach of contract and fiduciary duty.

The lawsuit exacerbates the messy divorce between the Christian university and its former president. It claims that Mr. Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees — including being threatened with extortion by a man who had a yearslong sexual relationship with Mr. Falwell’s wife — while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019.

Instead of divulging the active threat to Liberty’s board, “Falwell Jr. chose personal protection,” the suit claims.


Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

5. China reported 18.3 percent quarterly growth a year after Covid-19 froze its economy. The recovery was powered by exports, big infrastructure and property investment.

But not everybody is enjoying the boom. China is now trying to get its consumers to return to their prepandemic ways, something that other countries will soon have to grapple with once more vaccines become available.

Separately, the media tycoon Jimmy Lai and several other prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy figures were sentenced to prison for their role in a demonstration in 2019. The punishments point to what critics say is the shrinking space for dissent in Hong Kong, under China’s control.


Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

6. Prince Philip’s funeral tomorrow marks the end of an era for the British royal family.

Buckingham Palace said that the ceremony will reflect the personal wishes of Prince Philip, who died last week at 99, after 73 years as Queen Elizabeth II’s husband and royal consort. The parsed down funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. local time and will be televised. Only 30 mourners will enter St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, above.

Military buglers will fulfill one specific request by Philip: sounding the so-called Action Stations — a call used on naval warships to summon crew to battle readiness.

The prince’s death is in many ways the monarchy’s dress rehearsal for the far more consequential passing of the queen, a reckoning that seems likely to reverberate in British history, our correspondent writes.


Kelsey McClellan for The New York Times

7. Boba tea fans, brace yourselves: Tapioca pearls are running low.

The key ingredient of the popular drink is out at sea, sitting on large ships that deliver goods from Asia. Shipments have been backed up for several months at ports in Los Angeles and San Francisco and there’s no sign that the delays will abate anytime soon. Store owners are panicking.

“A boba shop without boba is like a car dealership without cars to sell,” one owner said. “It’s like a steakhouse without steak.”


David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

8. The secret to smooth doughs and fluffy bread is simpler than you think.

Across cultures and cuisines, just-boiled water has long played a role in making pie crusts and milk breads shine. It’s because of a process baking experts call gelatinization, which occurs when you heat a wet starch above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, making dough easier to mix and roll out, with very little rest time or kneading. Above, a turmeric-rich samosa pie.

We are also deep into asparagus season. After a particularly long winter, these bright recipes will have you clamoring to eat greens.


Kate Warren for The New York Times

9. “You just didn’t want to cheat on your theater. There was no reason to go anywhere else.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood, the director of “The Old Guard” and “Love & Basketball,” was one of many loyal moviegoers and filmmakers who were shocked to learn that ArcLight Cinemas, the beloved theater chain in Los Angeles, would close after financial hardships during the pandemic. Put simply: “The ArcLight is a place for people who love movies,” she said in an interview.

While cinemas took a hit during the pandemic, movies endured, and the Oscars diversified. But there’s still a lot to fix, writes Wesley Morris, our critic at large. Here’s what the best picture nominees tell us about the movies in the year they became TV.

The ceremony is scheduled for April 25. Make your picks here.


Science Photo Library/Science Source

10. And finally, just how many T. rexes were there on Earth?

To get a rough estimate, researchers used a mathematical equation known as Damuth’s law, which calculates the average body mass of an animal and its expected population density. Scientists found that before they were killed off by a meteor 66 million years ago, some 20,000 adults of the iconic dinosaur predator may have roamed North America at any given time.

If the 20,000 number is correct, over the 2.4 million years that T. rex walked the earth, there would have been a total of 2.5 billion adults that ever lived. The number is imprecise and could be far lower or higher, but it can teach us things about dinosaurs that fossils cannot. “Studies like this are the first step in recreating ancient ecosystems,” one scientist said.

Have a ferocious weekend.


Marcus Payadue contributed to this briefing.

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