2019年12月24日 星期二

Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

Boeing, Christmas, ‘Little Women’

Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

Good evening. The breakneck pace of news has finally slowed over the holidays, so we’ll make this one quick.

Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times

1. The Pentagon is weighing a major reduction of U.S. forces in West Africa as the first step in a global troop shift.

The idea is to reduce missions battling terrorist groups and refocus on confronting powers like Russia and China. The reaction may be harsh from lawmakers, allies and some military officials. Above, American troops in Agadez, Niger, in 2018.

President Trump spent Christmas Eve making video calls to some of the 200,000 American forces stationed abroad.

At a news conference afterward, he lashed out at Democrats, saying they were treating him unfairly, and said he was not worried about a threatened “Christmas gift” from North Korea. (We’ll be on it if the North delivers.)


Win McNamee/Getty Images

2. A new interpretation of a century-old law is costing us birds, new documents reviewed by The Times show.

In 2017, the Trump administration decided that businesses would no longer be held responsible for “incidental” bird deaths under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 — relieving them of prosecution or fines on that score. Even a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, above, would be exempt.


So birds have been killed and nests destroyed by oil spills, construction crews and chemical contamination, with no response from the federal government.

The shift is one of 95 environmental rollbacks under the Trump administration.

3. Boeing is turning its eye to its next battle: winning back trust.

A day after the company fired its chief executive, our reporters learned of a series of conference calls with airlines and reviewed 40 pages of accompanying presentation materials that lay out Boeing’s strategy to convince the traveling public that the 737 Max is safe.

The company has its work cut out. The grounded Max is far from being cleared by regulators, and in Boeing’s surveys this year, just 52 percent of U.S. travelers said they would be willing to fly on the plane.

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

4. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former C.E.O. of Uber, is leaving. For good.

He’s stepping down from the board of directors, severing his last tie with the company he helped found in 2009. The stock price has been struggling since Uber went public in May, and he hasn’t been C.E.O. since 2017, when investors forced him to resign after a series of privacy scandals and complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment at the company.

Over time, Mr. Kalanick, above in 2018, sold more than $2 billion of his shares. On Thursday, he’ll complete the sale of his remaining stake.

Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

5. Chinese immigrants worked hard in restaurants so their children wouldn’t have to. It mostly worked. The result? Fewer Chinese restaurants.

According to new data from Yelp, the share of Chinese restaurants in the top 20 metropolitan areas has been consistently falling. The owners’ children, educated and raised in America, are often pursuing professional careers that do not demand the same kind of grueling labor. The Sit family, above, has owned Eng’s in the Hudson Valley for more than 40 years.

More on family businesses: We sent an illustrator to visit a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker.

James Hosking for The New York Times

6. A bit of a holiday downer: Christmas tree farms are closing. A trip to Indiana, where many have vanished, revealed a variety of reasons.

Many tree farmers are getting older and choosing to retire. Extreme weather has made business difficult. And trees alone don’t seem to be enough anymore.

“You’ve got to have Santa Claus, you’ve got to have hot chocolate, you’ve got to have a hayride,” said Rick Robbins, who owns Dreamland Christmas Tree Farm, above. He’s been in the business for 39 years. “I tell people I’m a tree farmer, I don’t want to entertain you.”

In Germany, forests are traditionally a source of inspiration, respite and wealth. Now, people are fighting to save them from drought and illness.

Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

7. Late one night in Nashville, Taylor Swift got out of bed, stumbled to the piano and wrote a smoky, wistful track. Now, “Lover” is a Grammy-nominated hit.

In our latest Diary of a Song video, Swift, pictured earlier this month, reconstructs what happened in between, using never-before-seen videos, voice memo recordings and interviews.

“In my head I had the last two people on a dance floor at 3 a.m., swaying,” she told our reporter Joe Coscarelli.

Also, Joe and our music critics rounded up their favorite new seasonal tracks.

Wilson Webb/Sony Pictures

8. And finally, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.”

So begins Louisa May Alcott’s novel “Little Women.” But our film critic is happy to say that Greta Gerwig’s refreshed take is “an absolute gift.”

Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and her sisters (Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Elizabeth Scanlon) create a “natural, affectionate, clamorous intimacy” that is “a joy to behold.” Laura Dern and Meryl Streep help make it a critic’s pick.

Looking to stay closer to your own home over the next few days? Here are five holiday movies worth binging.

We’re off for Christmas, returning Friday.

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night.

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