2019年11月21日 星期四

Your Thursday Evening Briefing:

Fiona Hill, Israel, ‘Frozen 2’

Your Thursday Evening Briefing

By Jillian Rayfield

Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

1. It was an eventful day in the impeachment investigation, the last before a weeklong break for Thanksgiving.

Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, testified that the pressure campaign on Ukraine amounted to a “domestic political errand” that diverged from U.S. foreign policy goals.

She also criticized the “fictional narrative” that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 elections, denouncing a theory embraced by President Trump. She argued that the story was planted by Russia and played into Moscow’s hands by sowing political divisions in the U.S.

David Holmes, a top aide in the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, added detail to a now-infamous call he overheard between Mr. Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland.


Conservative Edition News

2. Conservative Edition News, above, has stories that anger people on the right. Liberal Edition News churns out material designed to enrage the left.

But they have something in common: their owner, Ken LaCorte, is a former Fox News executive, according to an investigation by The New York Times and researchers at Nisos, a security firm in Virginia. He owns a number of such websites that employ young Macedonians to churn out inflammatory stories — an echo of Russia’s 2016 playbook.


In an interview, he explained that he was driving Facebook traffic to LaCorte News, which he brands as a “digital news start-up with the stated goal of restoring faith in the media.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “the things that work best right now are hyperactive politics.”

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

3. President Trump reversed a decision by the Navy to oust a SEAL he has repeatedly championed.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who is at the center of a high-profile war crimes case in Iraq, was granted clemency by Mr. Trump on Friday, but the Navy had begun the process of removing his trident pin, visible above at the top of Chief Gallagher’s display of medals, which signifies membership in the SEALs.

People close to Mr. Trump say he has a natural affinity for Chief Gallagher, seeing him as a military figure caught up in war with no intent to commit crimes. They also said Mr. Trump’s view of the case was colored by his anger at investigations directed at him and his aides that he sees as unfair.

Gali Tibbon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

4. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges as part of a long-running corruption case in Israel.

The case relates to allegations that Mr. Netanyahu offered or gave official favors to multiple media tycoons in exchange for favorable news coverage or gifts. Above, his supporters protested.

The charges make Mr. Netanyahu the first sitting prime minister to be indicted, and complicates his quest to retain his role as prime minister, a chaotic process that has so far involved two elections and repeated failures to form a government.

Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

5. A day after the fifth presidential primary debate, Democrats fanned out across the Atlanta region.

Most spoke to black audiences in attempts to peel away a core of support for former Vice President Joe Biden. Five, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg, above, attended a ministers’ breakfast meeting sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

No Democrat in modern times has won the nomination without significant backing from black voters, which may be a particular problem for Mr. Buttigieg.

While he has surged to first place in some Iowa polls, he has failed to show even minimal support by African-Americans and Hispanics, and his record on racial issues was scrutinized in Wednesday’s debate.

Desiree Rios for The New York Times

6. New York City has been grading its restaurants for cleanliness for years. Now, a new set of letter-grades will begin to appear, this time rating energy efficiency.

Beginning next year, offices and residential buildings will have to report how energy-efficient (or not) they are, and then post the letter-grade given out by the city. Above, an inspector in a Midtown building.

Some other cities have made similar moves. Earlier this year, Chicago began using its own rating system, which uses stars instead of letter grades.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

7. Last year was the wettest on record for the continental U.S., and it’s not over for the farmers.

Spring flooding meant that some in the Midwest couldn’t plant or had to delay until dangerously late. A wet, snowy autumn added to the troubles. Agriculture Department figures show that 13 percent of total corn acreage and almost 6 percent of soy acreage went unplanted this year.

Even if it is difficult to prove the precise impact of climate change, some farmers are drawing the connection: “We’re seeing more extremes than we’ve encountered before,” said Beau Bateman of North Dakota.


8. The holiday movie season is kicking off, and this week we have two entries into the catalog of feel-goodery.

First there’s “Frozen 2,” a sequel to 2013’s animated musical juggernaut. Our critic Manohla Dargis writes that it “continues in the same nonthreatening, emancipatory vein.”

“It’s never surprising, yet its bursts of pictorial imagination — snowflakes that streak like shooting stars — keep you engaged.”

Also out this week is “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the Mr. Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks. A.O. Scott writes that there is an “off-the-shelf quality to this story,” though there are some elements that are “charming.”

Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

9. The British royal family is facing one of its worst scandals in modern history. And for a monarchy that’s had a century of P.R. disasters, that’s saying something.

The focus this time is Prince Andrew, above right, who is stepping away from public life amid the backlash over a disastrous BBC interview in which he tried to defend his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who killed himself after being accused of trafficking girls for sex.

It has the makings of another “annis horribilis” for his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. The two are pictured above at her birthday parade in June.

Illustration by Matthieu Bourel; photograph by Michael Ochs Archives, via Getty Images

10. And finally, the enduring appeal of Dolly Parton.

At 73, the country star is the subject of a popular podcast and the inspiration behind a Netflix series, finding relevance with a whole new generation.

In fact, those who’ve grown up with “Snapchat-filtered selfies and pop feminism,” our writer says, seem “to have an innate understanding that artifice doesn’t negate authenticity, or that a penchant for towering wigs and acrylic nails doesn’t prevent someone from being a songwriting genius.”

And it may help that she stays — determinedly — out of politics, professing love and understanding for all.

Have an open-hearted evening.

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