2019年12月17日 星期二

Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

Trump Letter, F.B.I., Bitcoin

Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

1. The president came out swinging.

In a six-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump denounced the impeachment inquiry in irate terms, asserting that he had done nothing wrong and that Democrats would pay a political price in 2020.

Mr. Trump, pictured above at the White House today, said he knew his letter would not change the outcome of tomorrow’s impeachment votes by the full House, which are expected to occur almost entirely along party lines.

Here’s the letter, here’s where every House member stands on impeachment, and here’s the timeline for the process going forward.

And four Times journalists who covered President Bill Clinton’s impeachment reminisced about that era and how it echoes in today’s events.


Erin Schaff for The New York Times

2. Another former Trump campaign aide will spend time in jail.

Rick Gates, who helped bring down two former advisers to the president, was sentenced to 45 days in prison and a $20,000 fine for his part in a financial scheme and for lying to federal investigators.


Prosecutors did not oppose Mr. Gates’s request for probation. In fact, they strongly urged the judge to take into account what they called his “extraordinary” efforts to help investigators, including with inquiries that remain secret. Above, Mr. Gates in February of last year.

Separately, William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine and a key impeachment witness, said he is stepping down in January because his temporary appointment is expiring.

Jason Andrew for The New York Times

3. A judge ordered the F.B.I. to change how it conducts wiretaps.

It was the first public response by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to the scathing findings released last week by the Justice Department’s inspector general about the wiretapping of a former Trump adviser, Carter Page.

The investigation exposed a litany of errors and inaccuracies by case agents who cherry-picked the evidence about Mr. Page as part of the Russia investigation as they sought permission to eavesdrop on his calls and emails. Above, the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, which the F.B.I. occupies.

The court “expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing,” the judge wrote.

4. A big step toward avoiding a government shutdown.

The House approved two spending packages allocating $1.4 trillion for the federal budget, designating priorities like raising the tobacco purchase age to 21.

The measures were designed to have enough goodies for both parties to ensure their passage and secure President Trump’s signature. The Senate is expected to vote before a deadline on Friday, when funding will run out.

The legislation also includes funding for gun violence research for the first time in more than two decades and the elimination of taxes that were intended to fund the Affordable Care Act. Brewers, racehorse owners and some churches would also receive federal tax breaks.

Separately, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a $738 billion defense bill, sending Mr. Trump one of the most expensive military measures in the nation’s history. He is expected to sign it this week.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

5. Twelve states launched an ambitious plan to cap tailpipe emissions.

The coalition of states in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, along with the District of Columbia, proposed a cap-and-trade program to curb what is now the largest source of planet-warming gases.

More than a fifth of the U.S. population would be affected by the program, which would set a cap, to be lowered over time, on the total amount of carbon dioxide that can be released from vehicles that use gasoline and diesel. Above, Thanksgiving eve traffic in New York City.

The effort, which must be approved by state legislatures, is likely to raise prices at the pump as fuel producers pass on costs to consumers.

Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

6. Authoritarian tactics in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has cut off the internet 93 times so far this year and 134 times last year, more than any other country, according to a monitoring group.

Kashmiris have not had internet access since August. And last week, the northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura lost their connections amid protests against a new citizenship law that will ease the path of migrants who are not Muslim. Above, a protest in Delhi today.

In all, 60 million people are without internet.

The authorities say they are trying to stop the spread of misinformation, which can move faster than their efforts to control it. But it’s a tactic normally used by authoritarians, not democracies, to stifle dissent.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

7. Millions in cryptocurrency disappeared when a C.E.O. died — or did he?

Gerald Cotten, the 30-year-old head of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, was the only one who knew crucial passwords when he died, the company said, making at least $250 million of investors’ funds inaccessible.

Now investors want proof he did not fake his death. Their lawyers have asked to exhume his body and conduct an autopsy “to confirm both its identity and the cause of death.”

In a Jan. 14 Facebook post, the firm announced that he had died more than a month earlier from Crohn’s disease — an inflammatory bowel disease that is rarely fatal — while traveling in India.

Theis Jensen

8. Juicy Fruit’s ancient forerunner?

Scientists are studying this wad of primitive chewing gum that dates back 5,700 years to learn about ancient Scandinavians.

Hunter-gatherers in the region used a gooey tar from birch bark to fix arrowheads onto arrows and to repair a variety of stone tools. They also rolled the pitch in their mouths and chewed on it.

More important to scientists is that when they spat the gum out, the DNA in their saliva was preserved. The resulting genetic map is providing clues about the people who settled in the area, the kind of food they ate and even the type of bacteria they carried on their teeth.

Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

9. A village with no children — just hundreds of dolls.

Tsukimi Ayano hails from Nagoro, Japan, a shrinking village whose elementary school shut down in 2012. It’s a consequence of Japan’s declining and aging population, a trend felt most intensively in rural regions.

Saddened by the loss, she led her friends in creating some 350 lifelike dolls. “I wish there were more children because it would be more cheerful,” she said. “So I made the children.”

Her creations now outnumber human residents by more than 10 to 1.

Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

10. And finally, cursive writing is not dead.

Ask last year’s national cursive champ, Edbert Aquino, a 10-year-old from New Jersey. “I just tend to write better” in longhand, he says.

Cursive fans argue that a computer or phone keyboard is still not quite up to the task of autographing a yearbook or endorsing a check. Edbert’s principal says students practice printing or handwriting right after lunch: “It calms the students down.”

Schools in 24 states now require some form of cursive instruction, including seven that have adopted policies since 2013. New Jersey is now considering its own mandate.

Hope your evening is smooth and flowing.

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