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Robert Mueller, Boris Johnson, Booker Prize: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

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CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

1. The special counsel Robert Mueller was a reluctant witness during two hearings on Capitol Hill.

Republicans sought to undermine him and his investigation, and Democrats to highlight his most damning findings.

Mr. Mueller defended his work and sought to drive home to lawmakers and the public the grave implications of his report, particularly on the systematic effort Russia made to influence the 2016 presidential election.

But he also left a great deal unsaid. Sometimes appearing confused or at a loss for words over hours of testimony, he declined repeatedly to offer his opinion on key questions, including impeachment, or even to read directly from the 448-page document.

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CreditMarco Ugarte/Associated Press

2. A Trump administration policy that effectively bars asylum petitions from most Central American migrants is going through court challenges.

A federal judge in San Francisco — who has blocked other parts of the administration’s asylum policy — issued a temporary injunction today, ordering the administration to continue accepting asylum claims from all eligible migrants. Earlier in the day, a judge in Washington let the rule stand. Above, the border at Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

In other court rulings today, a federal judge temporarily blocked three new abortion restrictions from taking effect in Arkansas, including one that could threaten to close the state’s only surgical abortion clinic.

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CreditRozette Rago for The New York Times

3. A crisis is lurking in California’s taps: One out of three water systems in the state may be at high risk of failing.

That’s according to a previously undisclosed estimate by senior officials at the California State Water Resources Control Board. The troubled districts, which operate with little oversight in poor areas, face a host of problems, including putrid tap water and people complaining of stomach pains and itchy skin. Rosalba Moralez, above, estimated that her family spent about $150 a month on bottled water.

In other health news, breast implants made by Allergan, linked to an unusual cancer, are being recalled in the United States at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. Worldwide, 573 cases and 33 deaths from the cancer have been reported.

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CreditJeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

“After three years of unfounded self-doubt, it is time to change the record,” he said after meeting with Queen Elizabeth II. “No one in the last few centuries has succeeded in betting against the pluck, nerve and ambition of this country. They will not succeed today.”

Mr. Johnson, a polarizing advocate, reiterated his view that Britain must leave the E.U. by Oct. 31 one way or another — “no ifs or buts.”

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CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

5. Beijing hinted broadly that it was prepared to use military force to quell protests in Hong Kong. Above, protests in June.

The warning — the most explicit to date, in a government document outlining China’s defense strategy — was a stark reminder of who ultimately controls the semiautonomous city. The chief spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense cited protests on Sunday outside the Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, which protesters painted with graffiti.

Analysts said that the warning could inflame the underlying grievances driving the protests in Hong Kong.

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CreditYuri Gripas/Reuters

6. The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations and placed new conditions on the social media giant, but stopped short of restricting its ability to gather people’s personal information and use it to sell advertising.

Facebook agreed to create an independent privacy committee and appoint an outside assessor to monitor the handling of data, among other conditions. But critics pilloried the agency for not going far enough, and a dissenting F.T.C. commissioner said that the deal gave Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and other senior executives “blanket immunity” for their role in the violations.

Separately, Boeing said it might shut down production of the 737 Max, its best-selling jet, as it struggles with the fallout of two deadly crashes. The company reported a $2.9 billion quarterly net loss because of costs related to the grounded jet.

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CreditLiam Sharp; Amaal Said; Beowulf Sheehan

7. Margaret Atwood’s sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” is one of 13 books in the running for the Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award.

The novel, “The Testaments,” is due out in September. A nondisclosure agreement prevented the prize’s judges from revealing any plot points, but they said the novel was “terrifying and exhilarating.” It faces strong competition: Other nominated books include works from Elif Shafak and Salman Rushdie, pictured above with Ms. Atwood, left.

In other arts news, Beyoncé’s companion album to the remake of “The Lion King” is our Critic’s Pick. As singer, songwriter and executive producer on most of its tracks, Beyoncé flexes both her musicianship and her cultural leverage, he writes.

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CreditSam Cannon for The New York Times

8. Emotional, funky, fierce, rowdy: Women are changing New York’s D.J. scene.

An unprecedented number of women are behind the decks in the city, where a grass-roots movement has elevated their stature, and pay. Watch, and listen, to them work.

There’s also a different kind of influx in New York — jetskis. Kayakers fear them. Commercial captains hate them. But once a year, the Jet Ski Invasion takes over the city’s waterways for a couple of hours of controlled chaos.

Maybe escaping New York is more your thing. In this week’s Summer in the City newsletter, our team heads upstate for a cultural escape.

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CreditSebastian Modak/The New York Times

9. Four tourists, thousands of penguins.

After two weeks of attempts, our 52 Places traveler finally made it to the Falkland Islands — in the off-season. He came face to face with its “profound remoteness”; the cozy pubs of its capital, Stanley; and the fluffiest of penguins.

We also drove up an isolated Norwegian valley and found an ancient dialect, mesmerizing fiddle music, unique local costumes and stunning mountain scenery. Setesdal is fighting to protect its way of life while hoping to embrace the modern age.

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CreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times

10. And finally, finding empowerment in an unexpected field: stripping.

Across America, strip bars are no longer the domain solely of finance bros and the like unwinding after hours, but social centers where women, too, celebrate the style and acrobatic skills of the dancers. Above, the Kit Kat Club in Portland, Ore.

And the strippers are organizing for fairer labor practices, sharing their experiences through podcasts and books, and trying to stifle the stigma around what they believe is as legitimate a profession as any.

A dancer in Los Angeles has even created a club-rating app. “I’m not playing anymore with these clubs,” she said. “There’s a big change coming.”

Have a liberating night.

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Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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