2019年11月19日 星期二

Your Wednesday Briefing

Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019 | View in browser
Good morning.
We’re covering the latest in the impeachment hearings, China’s worries about U.S. trade negotiations and a new home for Bei Bei the panda.
By Melina Delkic
Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman arriving to testify in the impeachment hearings on Tuesday.   Erin Schaff/The New York Times

White House officials fault Trump’s call

In the first of three packed days of testimony in the impeachment inquiry this week, two White House aides who were on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president challenged Mr. Trump’s description of the conversation as “perfect.” Here’s the latest:
■ The top Ukraine expert at the White House, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, said that the phone call, in which Mr. Trump asked Ukraine’s president for investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden, was “inappropriate” and “a partisan play.”
■ Republicans attacked Colonel Vindman’s loyalty and professionalism, quoting negative comments about him.
■ Another national security official, Jennifer Williams, said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.”
■ At the White House, Mr. Trump dismissed the impeachment hearings as “a big scam.”
Go deeper: Our reporters offered moment-to-moment analysis of the hearings. More testimony is expected later today. Check back here for updates.
Protesters tried to find a way out of Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Tuesday.   Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Few left on Hong Kong campus struggle to escape

Around 50 protesters remained holed up inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University after more than 1,000 people were detained by the police.
Some students had escaped by rappelling from a nearby bridge to be whisked away by waiting motorbikes, but most failed to escape without facing arrest. Dozens went to the hospital for hypothermia after a failed sewer getaway.
The waning battle had made for the most violent week in months of protests, and represented the police force’s most direct intervention into the territory’s university campuses.
And this week, hundreds of parents of young protesters under siege came to the front lines of the fight as they begged for their children’s release. Many said seeing the police’s response firsthand changed their minds about the demonstrations.
Related: When our Travel desk put Hong Kong on its 52 Places to Go list, it didn’t anticipate the months of escalating tensions and unrest. Our columnist, who spent part of his childhood living there, found it hard to reconcile his memories with today’s reality.

Chinese negotiators wary of concessions

Officials in Beijing are nervous about offering incentives to the U.S. as they negotiate a trade deal, believing President Trump will respond by asking for more, people familiar with Chinese trade policy said.
Despite losing steam, there is still hope for a deal in the next few weeks — but Chinese negotiators want a promise that tariffs will be reduced, to avoid looking like President Xi Jinping gave away too much. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump on Tuesday threatened to hike tariffs if China did not agree to a deal.
Another angle: A prolonged trade war does offer some political advantages for Mr. Trump, allowing him to maintain an image of toughness toward China. But the roller coaster has been exhausting for businesses.
Related: The tech giant Huawei said the Trump administration’s decision to allow U.S. companies to do business with Huawei for an additional 90 days will make little difference, maintaining that it was being treated unfairly.

If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it

Finding love in rural Australia

Matthew Abbott for The New York Times
Bachelor and Spinster balls — or B&S balls, a fixture in Australia since the 1880s — aim to help people in the country’s vast distances meet and mate. They’re increasingly the catalyst for a matchmaking hybrid that combines the digital with the raw, communal and real. Above, partygoers inscribe jokes on one another in permanent marker.
“You’re limited to three single boys in your town, and you’re related to two of them,” said one of the ball’s organizers. “These were built for single women and men to find love in the country, really.”
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Here’s what else is happening

Julian Assange: Sweden announced it was dropping an investigation into allegations of rape and sexual assault made against the embattled WikiLeaks founder that date from 2010. It opened questions about a possible extradition to the U.S.
Iran: Protests erupted for a fifth day, as the rights group Amnesty International said that as many as 106 protesters in 21 cities had been killed. If confirmed, it would be a significant increase from the 12 reported dead by semiofficial Iranian news agencies.
Qantas lawsuit: The Australian airline said it would support a flight attendant if she decided to sue the musician Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas for defamation after he called her a racist on Twitter and posted her name and photograph.
Oxford Union: The violent treatment of a blind student from Ghana, who witnesses say was forcibly expelled from a packed event hall, has prompted outrage and resignations from the board of the prestigious, nearly 200-year-old debate society.
Afghan prisoners exchange: The Taliban freed an American and an Australian whom they had held for three years in a prisoner exchange with the Afghan government, with hopes that the swap will help peace talks. Some Afghans aren’t convinced.
Yara Nardi/Reuters
Snapshot: Above, Bei Bei, the other major newsmaker in Washington today. The beloved panda is leaving Washington’s National Zoo, where he has grown up for four years, to go back to China. And he’s traveling in style — via a private cargo jet with 66 pounds of bamboo.
What we’re reading: This from NJ.com. Randy Archibold, our sports editor, writes, “This column about a coach on trial for ordering a young baseball player to slide tells us so much about the stresses in youth sports, where routine play has turned into a high-stakes gambit.”

Now, a break from the news

Craig Lee for The New York Times
Cook: Millionaire’s shortbread is a simple, yet flashy cookie with swoops of chocolate and caramel.
Read: If you love “The Crown,” we have a list of supplemental reading, including “Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch.”
Listen: After a year of rocket-fueled fame, Billie Eilish offers a melancholic new single, “Everything I Wanted.”
Smarter Living: Stressed about the holidays? Sharing a meal with loved ones, co-workers or friends may seem like a chore, but research shows it has real benefits.

And now for the Back Story on …

Heroes of comics’ Golden Age

Two important characters debuted in Flash Comics No. 1, first on sale 80 years ago today.
Flash (Jay Garrick, a college student) and Hawkman (Carter Hall, an archaeologist) would run and soar from the so-called Golden Age of the comics through 1950, when interest in superheroes had ebbed.
In the mid-1950s, the start of the Silver Age, superheroes rebounded, bolstered by a new Flash (Barry Allen, a police scientist), a new Hawkman (Katar Hol, an alien detective) and others.
A twist came in 1961’s Flash No. 123, by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, that linked the two incarnations of Flash: Jay was real on his world (Earth Two), but fictional on Barry’s (Earth One).
This would lead to the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, when the Silver Age ended and Barry died, in a moving, heroic and definitive ending — which was tarnished by his return in 2008.
Ah, comics.
That’s it for this briefing. Bye bye, Bei Bei!
See you next time.
— Melina
Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. George Gustines, an editor who covers the comic book industry for The Times, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on corporate America and the Trump tax cuts.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Slightly off-kilter (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times Book Review has two graphic novels and comics columnists, Ed Park and Hillary Chute.
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