Here’s what you need to know:
Hopes and fears on North Korea
• “Sleep well tonight!” President Trump told Americans on Twitter after returning from his meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, adding that there is “no longer a nuclear threat” to the U.S.
But the path to disarmament remains unclear. North Korea still has 141 sites devoted to the production and use of weapons of mass destruction, and the country’s state media has not mentioned the ambitious disarmament targets that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined in South Korea on Wednesday.
• The talks seem to have lowered the short-term chances of war on the Korean Peninsula, but for Japan and South Korea, they’ve raised fears of a U.S. retreat from the region.
Reaching out to religious conservatives
• “President Trump and I are going to continue to fight for what we know is right.”
That’s what Vice President Mike Pence told a gathering of nearly 10,000 evangelical pastors in Dallas on Wednesday, appealing for their continued support (but drawing some complaints that a religious event was being used for political gain).
Even as evangelicals praise Mr. Trump for nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and for advancing anti-abortion priorities, they are not in lock-step allegiance to his presidency. Among their concerns: the administration’s stance on immigration and race, and Mr. Pence’s allegiance to a president accused of sexual misconduct.
• The primaries on Tuesday have highlighted how much Mr. Trump has transformed the Republican Party and its priorities.
Fed raises interest rates
• Prepare for higher borrowing costs for cars, credit cards and home mortgages, after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates on Wednesday for the second time this year.
“The economy is doing very well,” the Fed’s new chairman, Jerome Powell, said after the bank raised the benchmark rate to a range of 1.75 to 2 percent. “Most people who want to find jobs are finding them, and unemployment and inflation are low.”
• The last time the benchmark rate topped 2 percent was in 2008, the year the financial crisis began. But U.S. officials express confidence that raising borrowing costs now won’t hurt growth.
A humanitarian catastrophe worsens
• A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates attacked the Yemeni port of Al Hudaydah on Wednesday, exacerbating a crisis in which the U.N. says eight million people are at risk of starvation.
The country, the poorest in the Arab world, has been embroiled in civil war for years, and it is suffering from a severe cholera epidemic. The offensive on Wednesday, aimed at tipping the balance against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, has disrupted food and aid deliveries to millions of vulnerable people.
• Our explainer untangles the complex war, and we have a video about the blockade that is starving the country.
Russia welcomes the world
• The World Cup begins today, with the host, Russia, playing Saudi Arabia in the opening game. For President Vladimir Putin, the tournament is a chance to showcase “an open and transparent country to the world.”
On Wednesday, global soccer officials picked the U.S., Mexico and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup, bringing the tournament to North America for the first time since 1994.
“The Daily”: A door to asylum closes
• The Trump administration has said that domestic abuse is no longer grounds for being allowed to stay in the U.S.
• Comcast has offered $ 65 billion for the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s businesses, setting up a showdown with Disney, which has already struck a $ 52.4 billion deal for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
• Apple plans to close a loophole that let authorities hack into iPhones. The move adds to the debate over security versus privacy.
• Developers are using the concept behind prefabricated housing to manufacture entire apartment buildings.
Two decades ago, John Kidd, a former Boston University professor, was determined to produce a flawless version of “Ulysses,” a famously cryptic James Joyce novel. Then he vanished.
• Where are the gender gaps?
The stereotype about boys doing better than girls in math simply isn’t true — except in mostly rich, white, suburban areas. How does your school district fare?
• Remember the Mediterranean diet?
The study that celebrated the health benefits of the diet, with abundant vegetables and fruit, has been retracted. But the authors still came to the same conclusions after reanalyzing their data.
(The main takeaway: It’s really hard to test diets in clinical trials.)
• “Dynamite” and “Cardiac”
Those are the names of two obstacles at Dipsea, a California running race with a quirky history and a surprising list of winners. Our reporter called it “a topographically schizophrenic romp.”
• A best seller returns after 18 years
“Kitchen Confidential,” a memoir by Anthony Bourdain, is No. 1 on both our paperback nonfiction best-seller list and our combined print and e-book nonfiction one. Find all of our best-seller lists here.
• Best of late-night TV
Samantha Bee attacked pundits who contend that survivors of the Parkland, Fla., shooting were paid actors.
• Quotation of the day
“This raccoon needs peace and quiet right now.”
— Laurie Brickley, a spokeswoman for the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections, after the animal entranced social media by scaling a 25-story office building.
• The Times, in other words
• What we’re listening to
Dan Saltzstein, a senior staff editor for Travel, recommends this 30 for 30 podcast: “About a decade ago, for a year, I practiced Bikram yoga, in which you do a series of preset poses in a room heated to about 105 degrees. Even at the time, I knew Bikram Choudhury was a controversial figure. Now I know a lot more, thanks to this terrific podcast series from the 30 for 30 folks at ESPN. Like the yoga itself, the story is not pretty.”
When the American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe died in 1896, The Times minced no words about her antislavery book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly,” the century’s best-selling American novel.
“In the English language, the Bible and Shakespeare’s works are its only rivals,” The Times noted.
Rapidly translated into at least 20 languages, including Finnish, Russian and Spanish, it was also an overnight international phenomenon.
Stowe lived for years across the Ohio River from Kentucky, meeting fugitive slaves and seeing Southern plantations firsthand. But her novel had another inspiration as well: the loss of an adored son to cholera.
She once wrote, “It was at his dying bed and at his grave that I learned what a poor slave mother may feel when her child is torn away from her.”
The book began as a newspaper serial in 1851. With evocative characters — saintly Uncle Tom, the slave child Topsy, the villainous master Simon Legree — it sparked outrage about slavery.
“No book in American history molded public opinion more powerfully,” the critic David Reynolds wrote in “Mightier Than the Sword,” a book about the novel’s writing, reception and modern reputation.
Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.
Correction: The Wednesday Briefing referred incorrectly to “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” by Joan Didion. It is a book of essays, not a short story collection.
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