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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Thursday.
1. The hotter-than-normal conditions that have contributed to severe drought across much of the Western U.S. show no signs of stopping.
Five states had their warmest June through August in 127 years of record-keeping. Two of those states — California and Oregon — experienced some of the largest wildfires in their history. Now, federal scientists have forecast that October will bring above-normal temperatures across the country, with only the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf States likely to have near-average temperatures.
If that forecast holds, the withering drought will most likely expand eastward into eastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, and nearly all of Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Much of the East Coast and the Upper Midwest are expected to be wetter than normal as well.
In other climate news, a House panel widened its inquiry into disinformation by oil giants after a secret video recording released in July exposed an Exxon official boasting of such efforts. Tomorrow, President Biden will host leaders to discuss climate change ahead of a U.N. summit.
2. Beijing and Paris responded with anger after Australia announced a military partnership with the U.S. and Britain that allows it to send submarines to monitor China’s actions in the South China Sea.
French officials accused President Biden of acting like his predecessor, saying they were not consulted about the deal and describing the decision as a “knife in the back.” France also canceled a gala that was meant to celebrate its relations with the U.S. The Biden administration said it had not told French leaders beforehand because it was clear that they would be unhappy with the deal.
Australia bet the house on U.S. power in Asia, our correspondents write in a news analysis. When Prime Minister Scott Morrison came to power, he insisted that his country could maintain close ties with China while working with the U.S. But after years of worsening relations with Beijing, the country is forging a “forever partnership” with Washington, its main security ally.
3. Thousands of Afghans remain on American military bases across the U.S. and overseas, weeks after their dramatic escape from Kabul.
Nearly 49,000 are living on eight domestic military bases, according to a document obtained by The Times. Roughly 18,000 are on bases overseas, largely in Germany. Some will leave within weeks; most will stay longer. Many Afghans who left the country in August were waiting for medical and security screenings and for flights that have been halted by a measles outbreak.
Our reporter visited rural Afghanistan, where the remnants of war are everywhere. But for the first time in years, the shooting has stopped.
5. The South Carolina lawyer whose wife and son were mysteriously fatally shot was arrested after he admitted to staging his own murder.
Alex Murdaugh was charged with insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and with filing a false police report in connection with the suicide scheme, which his lawyers said was meant to ensure a $10 million life insurance policy payout. He continued to deny any role in the deaths of his wife and son in June.
The series of stunning developments brought intense scrutiny to the prominent Murdaugh family and to three other deaths that took place in proximity to the family in recent years.
Separately, a young couple left for an adventure in their outfitted van. Now, the police say, the woman is missing and her fiancé is a “person of interest” in her disappearance.
6. “It’s always going to haunt me.”
Capt. Carneysha Mendoza, a commander with the Capitol Police, was at home when she started getting frantic calls about violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. She raced to the scene and fought a pro-Trump mob for hours, suffering chemical burns to her face.
For those present, this moment of national crisis was also a deeply personal trauma. Here are some of their stories.
The “Justice for J6” rally for suspects involved in the Jan. 6 riot is scheduled for Saturday at the foot of Capitol Hill. Wary of the political fallout, Republican lawmakers are steering clear of the event.
In other news out of Washington, a Justice Department special counsel scrutinizing the Russia investigation secured an indictment against a lawyer at a firm with Democratic ties.
7. As internet titans enact privacy changes, a battle is intensifying that will reshape the future of the web.
The struggle has entangled Apple, Google and Facebook, upended Madison Avenue and disrupted small businesses. It previews a profound shift in how people’s personal information may be used online, with sweeping implications for the ways that businesses make money digitally.
At the center is the internet’s lifeblood: advertising. The technology behind “cookies,” which track people from site to site, is being dismantled. The fallout may hurt brands that rely on targeted ads to get people to buy their goods, and instead, drive money to Big Tech.
Here’s what the privacy battle means for you.
9. Many of the best trees will be showing off their colors soon. But the best aren’t always the biggest.
Between the low ground cover and the tall canopy trees is a layer gardeners often forget about. Our garden columnist spoke to Marc Wolf, the executive director of Mountain Top Arboretum in Tannersville, N.Y., about the “native trees for the observant” that can fill that space.
If you’re outside in New York City and the surrounding region, be on the lookout for the beautiful spotted lantern fly — and kill it immediately. This invasive pest from Asia zealously feeds on the sap of more than 70 plant species, leaving them susceptible to disease and destruction.
10. And finally, good vibes on three wheels.
Parking enforcement vehicles are best known for ferrying dreaded parking police around cities. But a few dozen San Franciscans are reclaiming some of these three-wheelers for transportation and personal expression: decking them out in fanciful colors (blue and pink) as well as disco balls and faux fur.
The vehicles have a distinct practical advantage. Three-wheelers are legally classified as motorcycles, so they can be parked perpendicular to the curb. Outrageous decorations are a necessity — the cars are an instant magnet for the wrath of disgruntled passers-by — and most owners wisely stay off the highway. But they offer a bit of “creativity in the way we move in the world,” Jennifer Devine said.
Have a whimsical night.
Shelby Knowles compiled photos for this briefing.
Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.
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