Colin Dwyer

For an entire generation of writers, Michiko Kakutani acted at times as intrepid champion, hated villain or helping hand. But from her perch as chief book critic at The New York Times, the Pulizer Prize winner rarely left one thing in doubt: her vast influence over the literary world she assessed.

On Thursday, after 38 years, Kakutani announced she is stepping down.

Updated 8:25 p.m. ET

Just days away from a national vote to decide the delegates who will rewrite Venezuela's constitution, President Nicolas Maduro's government is trying a new method of clamping down on popular unrest: a complete ban on demonstrations nationwide for the next five days.

Updated at 4:49 p.m. ET

The head of the Boy Scouts of America apologized Thursday to the organization's members, telling them that the group did not intend to showcase the "political rhetoric" in President Trump's speech to the National Jamboree earlier this week.

Speaking at a news conference in Finland on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin derided the sanctions bill now in the U.S. Congress as "illegal under international law" — but he said Russia's response will depend on what ultimately gets passed.

"We haven't seen the final version yet, so we haven't got any kind of definitive view on it," Putin said, "but we can see that over a lengthy period they are trying to provoke us more and more."

The U.K. has only recently rolled out the largest warship the country has ever produced, testing the massive aircraft carrier's sea legs off the coast of Scotland, but already the British navy has a destination in mind for the HMS Queen Elizabeth and its still-to-be-named sister ship: the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

The last orca to be born in captivity at SeaWorld died Monday after just three months of life, the company announced. The calf, named Kyara, succumbed to "some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week" at SeaWorld's park in San Antonio.

Friction has flared anew in the seas off China's eastern border, attracting renewed international scrutiny to the country's disputed territorial claims in the region. Those claims, which have long been a flashpoint of frustration with China's neighbors, surfaced in two different incidents — with two widely different focuses: a fraught airborne encounter and a trendy cinema opening.

The highest court in Massachusetts ruled Monday that local law enforcement cannot keep people in custody solely at the request of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The practice, often known as an "ICE detainer," enabled federal authorities to take a longer look at the immigration status of people whom they suspect might be in the country illegally, even if they were otherwise free to leave.

Federal prosecutors have charged a Florida man with "transporting illegal aliens" after at least 10 people died crammed into the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio. The truck, which had been parked in a Walmart parking lot in blistering heat, contained 39 people in total, all of whom were immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

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