(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
Here’s what you need to know:
A disdain for the courts
The acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, said in 2014 that the courts “are supposed to be the inferior branch” of government, and he criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and to declare them unconstitutional.
Mr. Whitaker’s record has been under scrutiny since President Trump forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week. The acting chief has disparaged the special counsel investigation of Russian election interference, which he now oversees.
• Business ties: Mr. Whitaker served on the board of a company that used his position as a former federal prosecutor to threaten consumers who tried to get their money back.
• A final act: Before he was fired, Mr. Sessions ordered drastic limits on the ability of federal law enforcement to overhaul local police departments accused of abuses and civil rights violations.
Second brush with a mass shooting
The Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where a gunman killed 12 people, was a popular hangout for country music fans, some of whom survived last year’s massacre at a festival in Las Vegas.
The gunman, Ian Long, 28, was found dead at the scene. He was a Marine Corps veteran who had served in Afghanistan, and mental health specialists had suspected he had post-traumatic stress disorder.
• The victims: A longtime sheriff’s deputy was among those killed at the bar.
• The laws: California has some of the strictest gun control measures in the country. The assailant used a .45-caliber handgun that had been purchased legally.
• The industry: The Country Music Association Awards next week will be the second in a row to closely follow a mass shooting. While many entertainers have taken political stands in the last two years, the world of country music is more cautious.
• The “Dreamers”: A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s attempt to revoke deportation protections for some 700,000 people brought into the U.S. illegally as children.
Wondering who won
Georgia and Florida still can’t say for sure who won three top contests on Tuesday.
Officials are still counting absentee, provisional and overseas ballots in the two states’ races for governor as well as in Florida’s Senate contest.
The situation has unleashed hordes of lawyers, talk of recounts and runoffs, and the kind of bickering that brought back memories of the 2000 presidential election.
• Turnout: Americans cast ballots on Tuesday at rates not seen in a midterm election in half a century. Here’s what the data tells us (and doesn’t yet).
• A changing Congress: A record 34 women were newly elected to the House on Tuesday, beating a previous high set in 1992.
Warning of nationalism’s dangers
Dozens of world leaders, including President Trump, will be in France this weekend to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, wants to use the occasion to reinforce European unity and highlight the dangers of nationalism. But the event may highlight his increasing isolation.
• Quotation of the day
“He knew what he was doing. He had perfect form.”
— Teylor Whittler, a survivor of the mass shooting at a California bar, describing the gunman.
• The Times, in other words
• What we’re reading
Randy Archibold, an editor in sports, recommends this piece from Sports Illustrated: “Lady Leadfoot had an affair with Steve McQueen. Lady Leadfoot hung out with Miles Davis. Lady Leadfoot wrote about sports in the 1950s at a time few women did. But more than anything, Lady Leadfoot raced cars, and raced them to victory. The journalist Amy Wallace captures the fascinating, pioneering life of Denise McCluggage.”
Recently, a visitor has been paddling around a lake in New York’s Central Park: a brightly colored duck.
The duck, which quickly became a star on social media, is known as a yuānyang (鸳鸯) in China. In English, it’s a Mandarin duck. Why?
The fowl’s vibrant plumage recalls the dress of government bureaucrats centuries ago, called mandarins in the West. The same connection applied to the dialect those officials used. Even mandarin oranges got the linguistic overlay.
But mandarin is not a Chinese word. Its etymology is disputed.
Some say that during the Qing dynasty, visiting Westerners heard people calling government officials of the ruling class “mǎn dàrén” (满大人): Manchu for “big man” or “boss.”
Others say the term comes from “menteri,” Malay for “court councilor” or “minister,” and that the 16th-century Portuguese who used Malaysia as a steppingstone to China wrote it as “mandarin.”
The duck in Central Park has been solo, but in China, its cousins are believed to be lifelong couples. There is a saying: A pair of Mandarin ducks is more enviable than an immortal.
Check out our full range of free newsletters here.
What would you like to see here? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Chris Stanford on Twitter: @stanfordc.