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Mueller Report, Cyclone Fani, Venezuela: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning,

We start today with a no-show from the U.S. attorney general at a hearing over the Mueller report, a powerful cyclone in India and the German left’s version of socialism.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Mr. Barr of lying to Congress at a hearing in April, which she said was a “crime.” Mr. Barr refused to show up because Democrats had insisted that he sit for questioning from Democratic and Republican staff lawyers.

Related: The F.B.I. sent an investigator posing as a professor’s research assistant to meet with a Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.

Next: Democrats are hoping to hold a hearing with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, on May 15 but are still “seeking to firm up the date” with the Justice Department.


Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from parts of the country’s eastern coast ahead of the arrival today of Cyclone Fani.

By late Thursday in India, Cyclone Fani had sustained winds of about 155 miles per hour, nearly in the range of a Category 5 hurricane. Tens of millions of people are potentially in the cyclone’s path.

The World Meteorological Organization said the storm was “one of the most intense” in 20 years in the region.

The details: As much as eight inches of rain is forecast to fall on the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The storm is expected to continue north, hitting Bangladesh and Bhutan, as well as parts of the Indian states of West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya. Check our live cyclone tracking map for the latest.


Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, mustered troops in a televised show of authority a day after the opposition tried to incite a military mutiny that fizzled within hours.

“Soldiers of the fatherland, it’s time to fight!” Mr. Maduro said to hundreds of troops in an appearance at the Fuerte Tiuna base near Caracas.

Mr. Maduro’s visit seemed to contradict assertions of authority by Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader, who has the support of more than 50 countries but has been unable to turn military commanders, whose support is crucial, to his side.

Go deeper: Tareck El Aissami, a powerful confidant of Mr. Maduro, was the target of investigations by his own country’s intelligence agency.

According to a secret dossier compiled by Venezuelan agents, Mr. El Aissami and his family helped sneak Hezbollah militants into the country and went into business with a drug lord. The documents offer a window into how fractured the nation’s security services have become, particularly over corruption at the highest levels of government.

Analysis: What makes a coup successful? According to our columnist: confidence, consensus and a sense of inevitability.


House lawmakers voted to block President Trump from abandoning the Paris Agreement on climate change and to require his administration to devise a plan to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The measure, which passed 231 to 190, stands virtually no chance of approval in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Why it matters: Democrats sought to tie Republicans to Mr. Trump, who has said that climate change is a hoax, and to isolate them on an issue they believe is resonating strongly with voters.

Context: Mr. Trump has said he will withdraw the U.S. from the pact, under which nearly 200 countries agreed to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gases in order to avert the worst effects of global warming. Scientists say even full cooperation is not enough, but that it’s a good start.

The term was popularized in the late 1970s, after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency across the country that lasted for 21 months.

At the time, Ms. Gandhi faced mounting challenges. Economic distress had led to widespread riots and protests, while a state high court had convicted her of election fraud.

Instead of resigning, she installed a curfew and censored the press. She also jailed hundreds of political opponents — many from early predecessors of the B.J.P. — without trial, deriding them as anti-nationals.

With the resurgence of the term today, the question is whether it “tells us more about the people accused” or the accusers, writes the journalist and author Raghu Karnad. — Alisha Haridasani Gupta

Send us your feedback or questions on this series here.

Facebook: The social network banned Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of Infowars, and other controversial figures from its service, in an escalation of its enforcement of its content policies.

Bank of England: The bank raised its growth forecast for the British economy through the next three years and said it might need to raise its benchmark interest rate more than once over that period to control inflation. It cited expectations that Brexit fears would subside, global growth would stabilize and consumer demand would grow.

Julian Assange: The founder of WikiLeaks appeared in a British court on Thursday for an initial hearing on whether he will be extradited to the U.S. to face prosecution. His next hearing, in what promises to be a long extradition fight, is scheduled for May 30.

Perspective: Kevin Kühnert, the leader of the Social Democrats’ youth organization in Germany and one of his party’s most promising young talents, has made socialism his calling card — but not the “wannabe socialism of American Democrats,” writes Jochen Bittner of Die Zeit. This socialism means democratic control over the economy.

Snapshot: Russia’s Lake Baikal, above, was host to 186,200 Chinese tourists last year, 37 percent more than during the previous year, and the surge is expected to continue. In an old resort town on the lake, where there is no water or sewage system, it stirs fears of a Chinese land grab and raises concerns about polluting the lake.

More from The Times: It’s World Press Freedom Day. To celebrate, we are taking down our paywall for three days. Our international editor also asked each of us to imagine what would happen around the world if journalists, and the public, were not watching.

What we’re reading: This piece in BBC Travel. Lynda Richardson, a Travel editor, writes: “Former President Barack Obama recently gave an erudite meditation on why travel is important, in this wide-ranging Q. and A. at an international tourism conference in Seville, Spain.”

In the first century A.D., Romans began conquering the territory they called Britannia. They established Derventio, a small settlement on the east bank of the Derwent River.

According to “Secret Derby,” a book by the British historian Maxwell Craven, the name “Derwent” is old Celtic, coming “from deru meaning oak and wen meaning white/pale, thus ‘place/river of the white oaks.’”

Some 850 years later, Mr. Craven writes, Saxons established a fortified settlement across the river as a stronghold against Viking attacks. They named it by combining the first syllable of Derventio with the Norse suffix “-by,” meaning town or settlement.

Roughly another 850 years later, a reputed coin toss won the 12th Earl of Derby the honor of having a new horse race named for him.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina


Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford, Chris Harcum and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. Jake Lucas wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Senate testimony of Attorney General William Barr.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Sound from a smoke alarm in need of new batteries (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times Magazine documented how it came up with its covers for a year.

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