(Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.)
Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Tuesday.
1. A Russian jet collided with a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, U.S. officials said.
The American surveillance drone was forced to crash into international waters today after its propeller was struck by one of two Russian fighter jets that were trying to intercept the unmanned aircraft, according to U.S. officials.
Russia denied that there had been a collision, saying the drone’s own maneuvers caused it to crash. If confirmed, it would be the first known physical contact between the two nations’ militaries as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Before the collision, the jets dumped fuel on the drone, which was conducting routine operations in international airspace, the officials said. “This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” U.S. European Command said in a statement.
A White House spokesman said that it was not uncommon for Russian aircraft to intercept American drones, but that this was the first to result “in the splashing of one of our drones.” Officials said it was a “complete loss.”
2. The Justice Department is said to have opened an investigation into the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
The federal inquiry into the failed California lender, which was taken over by federal regulators last week after its customers rushed to pull their money out of the bank, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
The investigation is in its early stages and it is unclear what the prosecutors are focusing on, but one potential item could be sales of company shares by several executives in the weeks before the bank’s failure, several legal experts said. Separately, the S.E.C. also opened an investigation.
Elsewhere in the industry, executives finally had a chance to take a breath today. After days of tumult caused an almost sector-wide panic, shares of several midsize banks rebounded.
For more: Washington remains haunted by the 2008 financial crisis. The idea of more bailouts has leaders of both parties spooked.
4. OpenAI released a new chatbot that ups the ante in the race for A.I. supremacy.
Four months after ChatGPT captivated the tech industry with its ability to answer complex questions and mimic human emotions, OpenAI unveiled the next iteration of the technology, called GPT-4.
The new tech has notable improvements: The bot can now ace a bar exam, wow doctors with its medical advice and describe images in detail. Yet it still has some of the same issues, including problems discussing the future and answering some questions with entirely made-up results.
In related news, what began as a gold rush into A.I. start-ups has become a full-blown mania.
5. President Biden issued an executive order to strengthen background checks for guns.
The president, who has so far failed in his effort to push Congress to pass new gun restrictions, announced the new policies in Monterey Park, Calif., where a gunman killed 11 people in January at a dance studio.
Biden’s new order is a handful of steps designed to improve enforcement of existing laws, including making sure gun dealers are complying with existing background check laws. But the president’s more significant proposals are constrained by the constitutional right to bear arms and a political system that has so far refused to make progress on his demands.
7. Her doctor said her illness was in her head. She was determined to find out the truth.
When Marlena Fejzo was pregnant, she suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare and potentially severe condition whose hallmark symptoms include nausea and vomiting so severe that it can cause hospitalization. Yet her doctor chalked up her issues to psychological effects, including a ploy to gain the sympathy of her husband.
Her doctor’s dismissive attitude and the lack of research about hyperemesis prompted Fejzo, who is now a scientist at the University of Southern California, to make it her life’s work to find the condition’s true cause.
In other health news, the Biden administration said it would require utilities to remove two cancer-causing “forever chemicals” from drinking water.
8. Florida’s pythons are becoming even more invasive.
Despite extensive efforts to stop them from proliferating, the giant snakes have been making their way up the state. A new study found that they had reached West Palm Beach and Fort Myers, threatening ever-larger stretches of the ecosystem.
Little is known about how long the pythons live in the wild, how often they reproduce or even how they travel, but scientists believe that the nonnative apex predators have helped decimate populations of wading birds, marsh rabbits and white-tailed deer.
Another problem in Florida: A giant blob of seaweed — spanning thousands of miles and visible from outer space — is expected to come ashore in the coming months, fouling beaches over the busy summer season.
10. And finally, a dress that survived three centuries underwater.
The silk dress was found in the wreckage of a ship known as the Palmwood, which sank off the Dutch island of Texel around the year 1650. Its almost perfectly preserved condition has generated considerable interest: It has recently become the focus of a television show and a podcast, and thousands of visitors have flocked to its new home at a Dutch museum.
Researchers are trying to figure out who owned the garment. Experts have suggested that the clothes belonged to a theater company that was fleeing England, or perhaps a wealthy family escaping the Thirty Years’ War. The answers, however, are probably still hidden underwater.
Have an elegant night.
Brent Lewis compiled photos for this briefing.
Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.
What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at email@example.com.
Here are today’s Mini Crossword, Spelling Bee and Wordle. If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.