Immigration, Endangered Wildlife Act, Jeffery Epstein: Your Monday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

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1. New limits for legal immigrants.

The Trump administration is making it harder for legal immigrants who rely on public aid, like food stamps and subsidized housing, to get permanent legal status.

The U.S. wants immigrants who can support themselves, not those who “depend on public resources to meet their needs,” according to a new rule championed by the Trump adviser Stephen Miller and announced by Kenneth Cuccinelli, above, the acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

It is not supposed to apply to people who already have green cards, refugees and asylum-seekers, or pregnant women and children, but immigration advocates said many might forgo aid to preserve their chances of a green card. They plan to sue to block the regulation, set to go into effect in two months.

CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

2. A rollback of wildlife protections.

The administration plans changes to the Endangered Species Act that will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change, most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, include economic assessments.

The new rules will go into effect 30 days after appearing in the Federal Register, expected this week.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the changes modernize the act and increase its transparency, and has in the past described the act’s “unnecessary regulatory burden” on companies.

Since President Richard M. Nixon signed it into law in 1973, the act has been credited with preserving the bald eagle, the grizzly bear, the American alligator and other species.

CreditThe Advocate, via Associated Press

3. “Serious irregularities.”

Attorney General William Barr sharply criticized the management of the federal jail in Manhattan where the financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday.

In a speech at a conference in New Orleans for the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, above, Mr. Barr vowed to “get to the bottom” of what happened.

Mr. Epstein, who was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, had been removed from suicide watch. We learned that only one of the two people guarding him during the hours of his apparent suicide normally worked as a correctional officer at the understaffed jail.

Shortly after his death, it seemed that anyone with 10 fingers and a Twitter account was providing, promoting or questioning a conspiracy theory. Among them: President Trump, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.

And our business columnist tells of his 90-minute interview with Mr. Epstein last year, in which the financier told him he had dirt on powerful people.

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CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

4. Protesters swarmed Hong Kong’s airport.

More than 150 flights in and out of one of the world’s busiest airports were canceled after thousands of antigovernment protesters overran the terminals. The disruptions are expected to continue Tuesday.

The demonstration, following a three-day sit-in over the weekend, came in response to what protesters saw as heavy-handed police tactics at protests elsewhere in the city.

The central government in Beijing reiterated its support for the Hong Kong police and condemned the actions of protesters on Sunday, including the use of a gasoline bomb.

Here’s what travelers need to know.

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CreditBaz Ratner/Reuters

In both, monoclonal antibodies are infused intravenously and attach themselves to the outside of the virus, preventing it from invading the patient’s cells. “Now we can say that 90 percent can come out of treatment cured,” one scientist said.

More than 1,800 people have died in the epidemic. The new treatments will be offered to the 1,000 others infected.

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CreditMarat Abulkhatin/TASS, via Getty Images

6. What was that radioactive blast in Russia?

American intelligence officials are racing to understand a mysterious explosion off northern Russia last week that killed at least seven people.

Officials at a Russian research institute confirmed only that a small nuclear reactor had exploded during an experiment and that the authorities were investigating the cause. The secretive response set off anxiety in nearby cities and towns.

U.S. intelligence officials say they suspect the blast involved the failure of a prototype of what NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, a cruise missile that Vladimir Putin, above last year, said could reach any corner of the earth because it is partially powered by a small nuclear reactor.

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CreditMario Tama/Getty Images

7. A new zeal for banning assault weapons.

Leading Democrats are increasingly pushing the idea of reviving the ban on assault weapons, which Republicans let expire in 2004.

Given Republican opposition, a ban has little chance before 2020, but momentum after the Texas and Ohio mass shootings has thrust the issue onto the presidential campaign agenda. Above, a voter registration table in El Paso last week.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, an architect of the original 1994 ban, and at least six other Democratic candidates are embracing it. “We have to get these weapons of war off our streets,” Mr. Biden wrote in an Op-Ed.

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CreditRahmat Gul/Associated Press

8. Taliban-U.S. peace talks near end.

An agreement with the Taliban on pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan could come as early as Tuesday — or could be delayed, perhaps for weeks.

One factor is widely seen as giving the Taliban an edge in the talks: Afghanistan’s security forces are in their worst state in years, according to local military commanders and civilian officials. Above, a new class of recruits in July.

In most major battlegrounds, the bulk of the regular Afghan forces are still holed up in fortified bases and outposts, leaving offensive operations to small numbers of Afghan and American Special Operations soldiers backed by air power.

CreditSSPL/Getty Images

9. “Imagine searching the side of a volcano at night with a flashlight.”

That’s how Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic in 1985, describes his latest adventure: trying to locate the plane Amelia Earhart was flying when she disappeared in the Pacific in 1937.

His quest is spurred by a digitally enhanced image of a 1937 photo of the reef of tiny Nikumaroro Island. He and other experts are convinced it shows the landing gear from Earhart’s plane.

But he thinks the plane itself may have slipped down the island’s base: a steep, craggy 10,000-foot underwater mountain.

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CreditStan Honda/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

10. And finally, the peak of the Perseids.

The Perseid meteor shower puts on its best show of the year tonight, with up to 200 shooting stars an hour zooming through the atmosphere at 133,000 m.p.h. and bursting about 60 miles overhead.

Tonight’s meteors were ejected by Comet Swift-Tuttle in 1862 or earlier. Debris from its more recent pass on its route around the sun, in 1992, is still a long way from Earth’s orbit.

If the weather or the moon — which happens to be close to full tonight — obscure your view, there’s always NASA’s usual livestream, and more chances on nonpeak nights through Aug. 26.

Have a starlit evening.

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