Here’s what you need to know:
Parties avoid worst-case scenarios
The Democrats, who had more on the line, increased their prospects of winning control of the House this fall by securing ballot spots in multiple California districts. The party had feared being shut out of some races because of the state’s quirky primary system.
• For their part, the Republicans secured a spot in California’s governor’s race, which is seen as important to voter turnout in November. Read more about that race, which will offer a stark ideological choice between John Cox, a Republican businessman endorsed by President Trump, and Gavin Newsom, the Democratic lieutenant governor who has promised a “Marshall Plan” for the state.
Paul Ryan rejects “Spygate” claims
• There are signs of Republican resistance on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday, Mr. Ryan, the House speaker, joined other lawmakers in dismissing President Trump’s claims that the Justice Department had placed a spy in his campaign. He also said that Mr. Trump should not to try to pardon himself.
Mr. Trump is facing dissent from members of his own party over a range of issues, particularly trade. He has drastically departed from the traditional Republican embrace of free markets.
• Also on Wednesday, Mr. Trump commuted the sentence of a 63-year-old woman serving life in prison for a nonviolent drug conviction after her case was brought to his attention by the celebrity Kim Kardashian West.
From put-downs to sit-downs
• He has ordered relatives killed, tested nuclear weapons and called President Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”
But that was last year.
More recently, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has attempted one of the most striking transformations in modern diplomacy. His planned summit meeting with Mr. Trump will test the new image he’s trying to project.
• Rudolph Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, said on Wednesday that Mr. Kim “got back on his hands and knees and begged” for the U.S. to revive the meeting in Singapore next week.
A medical mystery spreads
• It started in Cuba in 2016. Now, a strange ailment that has sickened American diplomats and their families has appeared in China.
The State Department on Wednesday evacuated at least two more Americans from the southern city of Guangzhou, where they worked at the American Consulate. The new illnesses come weeks after another consulate employee got sick.
The diplomats are thought to have been attacked by harmful sounds, leading to symptoms including headaches, nausea and cognitive issues. But it remains unclear if the illnesses are the result of deliberate attacks.
• The issue has complicated relations with Cuba, and the U.S. expelled 15 of that country’s diplomats. But the discovery of cases in China has raised suspicions about whether other countries might be to blame.
When a name makes a brand
• The departure of a founder for whom a label was named doesn’t always mean doom for the company. The designer Kate Spade was a big part of her brand’s appeal, even though she hadn’t worked for the company since 2007.
Ms. Spade’s husband, Andy Spade, said on Wednesday that she suffered from severe depression before her death. Read his statement.
• Reactions to her apparent suicide show that she spoke to more people than many perhaps realized. “Your gorgeous yet practical art made me feel a little less lonely at work every day,” one woman said. Read more here.
“The Daily”: Part 4 of “Charm City”
• A corruption trial exposed the depths of police misconduct in Baltimore.
• Voters in San Francisco resoundingly supported banning sales of flavored tobacco products, including vaping liquids packaged as candies and juice boxes, and menthol cigarettes.
• The New Yorker joined a growing list of publications whose employees have unionized.
• Our tech columnist wanted to hate electric scooters. (“Tech hubris on wheels,” he writes, “what’s not to loathe?”). Then he used shared e-scooters for a week.
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Office friendships can be awkward. Here’s why.
• How to clean your workout clothes.
• Recipe of the day: Soy-basted chicken thighs pair beautifully with Sriracha-roasted cashews.
• Warriors take a commanding lead
Golden State could win its second straight N.B.A. championship on Friday after it beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 110-102, on Wednesday. The Warriors lead the series 3-0.
• In memoriam
Red Schoendienst, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Fame second baseman, manager and coach, had a major league career of more than 70 years. He was 95 and the oldest living member of the Hall.
Jerry Maren was said to be the last survivor of the more than 100 dwarfs who performed as Munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939. His role as the leader of the Lollipop Guild overshadowed a lifetime of work to bring dignity to dwarfs. He was 98.
• Love in New York, and “Sex and the City”
A special issue of The Times Magazine is dedicated entirely to love in New York City over the course of a single day.
By choosing this theme and so tightly limiting the time frame, we hoped to convey how the city juxtaposes the communion of one pair of lovers with the rollicking energy of the bustling crowd. Here’s what we found.
We also asked readers, 20 years after the debut of “Sex and the City,” how it inspired them to move to New York. Lots of sometime-Carrie Bradshaws responded.
• Sedaris by the sea
The humorist David Sedaris has another No. 1 debut on our hardcover nonfiction best-seller list with “Calypso,” a collection of stories inspired by his time at a beach house. Find all of our best-seller lists here.
• Best of late-night TV
Samantha Bee apologized on Wednesday for using a severe epithet to describe Ivanka Trump last week. But she didn’t apologize to everybody.
• Quotation of the day
“Is this city, state and nation safer because they took a pizza delivery guy off the street?”
— Justin Brannan, a New York City councilman, referring to an undocumented immigrant who was detained while delivering to an army base and who may now be deported to Ecuador.
• The Times, in other words
• What we’re reading
Sam Sifton, our Food editor, recommends this investigation by Voice of America and ProPublica: “Everything ends up as garbage. And this dive into the dark world of one of New York’s largest private trash haulers, Sanitation Salvage, is brutal.”
In a recent reference to the volcanic eruption in Hawaii, a caption in the Morning Briefing confused tea leaves with ti leaves. (A special mahalo to our readers in Hawaii and elsewhere who alerted us.)
After correcting our mistake, we wanted to learn more.
The ti plant, or lau-ki, is known scientifically as Cordyline fruticosa. It was taken to Hawaii by ancient Polynesian settlers, who believed that it had protective power. But it has been used in just about every way imaginable.
Its narrow leaves grow up to two feet long and can be green, red, purple and other colors — attractive additions to leis, table settings and floral arrangements.
Water runs off their waxy surfaces, so the leaves are useful for thatched roofs, footwear and hula skirts.
The plant serves both as a food wrapper and as food itself: The roots can be turned into liquor or a sweet. It has medicinal uses as well.
Ti leaves are also used as offerings to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, in the hope of halting lava flows. Plants are placed around homes to dispel evil.
Both Pele and ti leaves also play a role in a traditional sport: lava sledding.
Jennifer Jett wrote today’s Back Story.
Correction: Because of an editing error, an early version of the Wednesday Briefing misstated the number of months until the midterm elections. It is five, not six.
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