India, Voting Rights, Kentucky Derby: Your Weekend Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead

2. Republican lawmakers are trying to empower poll watchers, raising fears of voter intimidation.

Election officials and voting rights activists point to the long history of poll watchers being used to harass voters and election workers, especially in Democratic-leaning communities of color. Republicans have offered little evidence to justify a need to give poll watchers expanded access and autonomy.

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger left the California governor’s mansion 10 years ago. He is a more popular political figure today than when he was elected.

Over the past year, the former Republican governor, now 73, has been in demand, embracing an unlikely role that he describes as “elderly statesman.” He’s made public service announcements on hand washing, raised millions of dollars for protective health gear and is now being sought out for guidance on the Republican-led effort to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom, the same mechanism that led to Schwarzenegger’s election in 2003.

“When you leave office, you realize — well, I realized — that I just couldn’t cut it off like that,” he said in a three-hour interview.

4. Apple’s grip on the app economy is heading to court on Monday.

Epic Games, the maker of the wildly popular game Fortnite, has accused Apple of breaking antitrust laws by forcing Epic to hand over a 30 percent cut from its sales. The lawsuit followed Apple’s removal of Fortnite from its app store last year because Epic encouraged users to make purchases outside of Apple’s payment system. Epic has another trial against Google over the same issues for Android devices.

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, will center on a legal debate over whether Apple is a monopoly. If Epic wins, it will upend the economics of the $100 billion app market and create a path for millions of companies and developers to avoid Apple’s fees. It would also invigorate the antitrust fight against Apple, both in the U.S. and the E.U.

5. A deadly blast rocked Afghanistan as U.S. troops started to leave.

A suicide bomber blew up a truck in Logar province on Friday night, killing at least 27 people. If the blast was the work of the Taliban, as the Afghan government asserts, it would be the most overt signal yet that a peace deal reached by the Trump administration is off.

The blast occurred just before a May 1 deadline agreed to last year by the Taliban and U.S. officials to end the 20-year U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. That plan was scrapped when President Biden shifted the withdrawal to Sept. 11, but it’s unclear whether the blast was retaliation for that extension. U.S. troops have already started to leave the country, and American bases are being dismantled.

6. Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby, giving his trainer, Bob Baffert, a record seventh victory in the famed horse race.

The colt, above right, crossed the finish line half a length ahead of Mandaloun and comfortably ahead of the pre-race favorite, Essential Quality, who finished fourth. The mint juleps flowed while the exuberant hats and pocket squares bobbed through the grandstand and the clubhouse of the famed Churchill Downs, but at a significantly reduced capacity because of the pandemic.

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Baffert said after his record-breaking victory. “I’m so spoiled bringing these heavy-duty horses in here, and this little horse has a big heart.”

7. Olympia Dukakis, who often played world-weary characters in films including “Moonstruck” and “Steel Magnolias,” died at 89.

Dukakis was an East Coast stage veteran of three decades when she starred in “Moonstruck,” above, opposite Cher, stealing scene after scene as her sardonic mother and earning an Oscar. In a 2011 review of her performance in the Tennessee Williams play “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” The Times called her “macabre, hilarious and weirdly touching,” with a “bullying bravado that commands attention.”

We also remember Eli Broad, the philanthropist whose vast fortune and zeal for civic improvement helped reshape the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. He died at 87.

8. “I’m not stingy with my experience. I believe in abundance.”

That’s Janet Mock, a transgender activist, writer, director and executive producer on the FX series “Pose,” above. As the groundbreaking drama about the Harlem ballroom scene in the 1980s begins its final season Sunday night, Mock talked to us about “Pose” and her plan to make more TV that shows people that they are not alone.

“I fought for those love stories, because I know what it feels like to be rejected over and over and over,” she said.

We also talked to Brie Larson, the Oscar-winning actress who has found therapeutic refuge on YouTube. “I love that my job is like holding up a mirror to society, and society changed, so it meant I needed to start over again,” she said.

9. Fall is to leaf peeping as spring is to waterfall watching.

Across the U.S., a glorious array of waterfalls awaits nature lovers, from thunderous plunges to delicate trickles. Now is the perfect time to admire them, when snowmelt and spring rains add to the drama. From New York to Washington State, here’s a spring guide to enjoying the majesty, like above at Arethusa Falls in New Hampshire.

While you’re out and about, take a moment to enjoy spring’s wildflower season. Whether you plan to transplant trilliums or violets, or simply admire them in the garden or on a guided walk at a preserve, “knowing these flowers’ life histories enriches the experience,” writes Margaret Roach, our garden expert. In her latest column, she explains what to look out for.

May is here. Cheers to new beginnings this week.

Your Weekend Briefing is published Sundays at 6:30 a.m. Eastern.

Did a friend forward you the briefing? You can sign up here.

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at

Browse our full range of Times newsletters here.

Well shit

I Used Cookie Dough to Try and Befriend My Imaginary Internet BFF