Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle the defamation lawsuit brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems. The surprise resolution abruptly put an end to a dispute over misinformation in the 2020 U.S. election, just as opening statements in a landmark trial were set to begin.

Dominion had argued that its reputation was damaged when Fox — a powerhouse in conservative media and America’s most popular cable network — repeatedly aired falsehoods about its voting machines. The conspiracy theories generally related to the false claim that the machines had “switched” votes for Donald Trump to votes for Joe Biden.

In settling, Fox avoided an excruciating, drawn-out trial in which its founding chief, Rupert Murdoch, and its biggest stars would have faced grilling on an embarrassing question: Why did they allow a virulent, defamatory theory about the election to spread across the network when so many of them knew it to be false?

Details: Dominion will receive roughly half of the $1.6 billion that it initially asked for — but the settlement does not require Fox to apologize for any wrongdoing. It is one of the largest-ever payouts in a defamation case.

Analysis: The settlement is a rare instance of accountability for attempts to delegitimize President Biden’s victory. Few people or organizations have faced legal ramifications for claims related to electoral fraud brought by Donald Trump or his supporters.

Putin visited the southern region of Kherson and the eastern Luhansk region on Monday, the Kremlin said. But footage suggested he had made the visit before Easter, which the Orthodox Church celebrated on Sunday.

The two visits were announced as fighting intensified, in areas including Bakhmut. If Russian forces capture all of that eastern city, it would be their first seizure of a key city in months.

Evan Gershkovich: As expected, a Russian judge denied the American reporter’s appeal to be released from detention.

In other news:

Fighting between forces loyal to competing generals continued to rage in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities yesterday, even after a 24-hour truce was announced. At least 185 people have been killed in the past four days, and millions of people are trapped in their homes for fear of crossfire.

Officials and diplomats have come under attack. At least one senior E.U. official was wounded by gunfire; his colleagues found him yesterday. On Monday, gunfire hit a U.S. diplomatic convoy, but no one was hurt; initial reports indicated that the assailants might have ties to a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces.

Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, the leader of the R.S.F., called for the cease-fire after speaking with Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state. But Hamdan’s troops still went on a rampage.

And with conflicting signals about whether the Sudanese Army had agreed to take part in the truce, residents of Khartoum were too terrified to step outside their doors. Hospitals have shut down, and many people are running low on food, water and supplies.

Willy Staley examined the psychology of being on Twitter during its deepening decline.

“The site feels a little emptier, though certainly not dead,” he writes. “More like the part of the dinner party when only the serious drinkers remain. Whiskey is being poured into wineglasses, and the cheese plate has become an ashtray. It’s still a great time — indeed, it’s a little looser — but it also feels as if many of us are just avoiding the inevitable.”

Lives Lived: Many believed Freddie Scappaticci, who led the I.R.A.’s internal security unit for years during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, was the high-ranking British mole known as Stakeknife. He recently died, at an unknown age.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s legacy in Saudi Arabia hangs in the balance: Though he has brought publicity to Al Nassr, his first season playing for the club has had its ups and downs.

An elite soccer coach seemed finished. Then he returned to Italy: Jose Mourinho has turned Roma around. Were those who said he was done speaking too soon?

Should Barcelona sign Lionel Messi? Barcelona wants to re-sign Lionel Messi. There are obstacles in the way, and the situation is complex, but here’s how the club plans to proceed.

The Atacama Desert, high in the Chilean Andes, is one of the driest and darkest places on Earth. It has some of our planet’s most exquisite stargazing conditions and, in the last half-century, has become a global center for astronomy.

Now, a new multibillion-dollar instrument, the Giant Magellan Telescope, is being built there. It is set to be more powerful than any existing ground-based telescope, and its instruments could detect rocky, Earthlike planets as far as 30 light-years away. On other mountaintops across the world, other equally gargantuan stargazers are being planned and built.

The Earth-based telescopes can be upgraded as technology changes, while those in orbit are stuck with whatever they carried at launch. Astronomers hope to use the ground-based telescopes to capture the first detailed images of faraway planets. Those photos could be the next important step in the quest to determine whether life outside of Earth could — or already does — exist.

For more: The mirrors at the heart of giant telescopes are enormous, expensive and incredibly delicate. But they are vulnerable to bird droppings, which can smudge the surface.

These pink grapefruit bars are a ritzy take on classic lemon bars.

“Kantika,” a novel, is the story of an Ottoman Jewish family’s winding journey from early-20th-century Constantinople to New York.

Yoga really is as healthy as people say. Here’s how to start.

Tips to avoid (and treat) arthritis as you age.


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