Donald Trump, Super Bowl, India: Your Friday Briefing


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Good morning,

Our reporters spoke with President Trump on Thursday. We’re also looking ahead to a jobs report today and the Super Bowl on Sunday.

President Trump said on Thursday that he had all but given up negotiating with Congress to fund a wall on the southwestern border, suggesting that he planned to declare a national emergency to build it instead.

Mr. Trump made the remarks in an interview with The Times, during which he also dismissed the investigations that have dogged his presidency, expressed optimism about reaching a trade deal with China and denied being at odds with his intelligence chiefs.

Here are five takeaways from the interview, and excerpts from the conversation.

Fact check: We assessed the president’s statements about trade, the military and the flow of drugs at the border with Mexico.

Background: The interview was arranged after Mr. Trump invited A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The Times, to an off-the-record dinner. Mr. Sulzberger declined, saying he would prefer an on-the-record interview that included two Times reporters.

The Daily: Today’s episode is about a discussion of the media during Thursday’s interview.

Bitter temperatures are expected to loosen their grip on the Midwest today, as the dangerously cold weather system that has disrupted life in the region heads toward the East Coast.

On Thursday, a temperature of minus 38 was recorded in Illinois. If confirmed, it would be a record low for the state.

Notable: At least 21 deaths have been attributed to the cold, including that of a student at the University of Iowa who was found unconscious outside a campus building.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce the suspension of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this morning, based on the long-running accusation that Moscow is violating its terms. Russia has likewise accused the U.S. of breaking the accord.

American officials expect a full withdrawal from the treaty after six months. Starting on Saturday, the U.S. would be free to begin testing or deploying its own weapons.

Background: The I.N.F. was long considered a model arms control treaty, banning an entire category of weapons deployed in the 1980s. But China was not a signatory, and the treaty’s terms prevented the U.S. from countering its growing nuclear arsenal.

The Super Bowl on Sunday between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots follows a season in which the league’s TV ratings rebounded after dropping the previous two years.

Plenty of dangers remain — including a concussion crisis and dwindling attendance —  but new stars and fewer off-the-field controversies have helped the N.F.L. renew its popularity.

The details: The game starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. Our writer picks the Rams to win, but it’s hard to bet against Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback, who’ll be starting his ninth Super Bowl.

Another angle: The Rams’ Sean McVay, 33, is the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history. The rest of the league has rushed to replicate his success.

She’s been a punch line for most of her adult life, after she cut off her husband’s penis 26 years ago. But few asked what made her do it.

Lorena Gallo, as she is now known, talked to our reporter about the rest of the story, one of a young immigrant who snapped after enduring years of domestic violence.

An uncertain jobs report: Analysts estimate the U.S. economy added 172,000 jobs in January, although the effects of the partial government shutdown will make the monthly report unusually hard to interpret. Here’s what to expect when it’s released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

A bipartisan rebuke: The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to advance legislation drafted by Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, to express strong opposition to President Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Apple-Facebook dispute: Apple restored access to its internal apps for Facebook’s 35,000 workers on Thursday, after cutting it off for two days over a violation of Apple’s rules. The spat underscored the tensions between two tech giants.

Clarity on Trump Tower calls: Phone calls that Donald Trump Jr. received from a blocked number around the time of a 2016 meeting with Russians were from family friends, not his father, according to evidence obtained by Senate investigators. There have long been questions about whether President Trump knew about the meeting.

India’s economy: Months before a general election, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accused on Thursday of suppressing an official report said to show the unemployment rate at a 45-year high. Mr. Modi’s popularity has rested in part on his promises to make India an economic powerhouse.

Snapshot: Above, the funeral service for Kim Bok-dong in Seoul, South Korea, today. Ms. Kim, a former sex slave for the Japanese military during World War II, helped bring international attention to the suffering of thousands of women like her. She died on Monday at 92.

News quiz: Did you follow the headlines this week? Test yourself.

Late-night comedy: Jimmy Kimmel was puzzled by the possibility that President Trump would divert disaster aid to a border wall: “Sometimes I’m kind of amazed he only bankrupted three casinos.”

What we’re listening to: The Shining 2:37 Podcast.” Our culture editor, Gilbert Cruz, writes: “If you know a little about Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic, you know that Room 237 is where the really bad things happen in the Overlook Hotel. This podcast offers the deepest of dives — each episode deconstructs a 2 minute and 37 second chunk of the film.”

Cook: End the week with a glass of red wine and an Italian-American classic: pasta alla vodka.

Read: Our editors recommend 10 new books, including a memoir of obesity and weight loss.

Watch: Natasha Lyonne’s new Netflix show, “Russian Doll,” is a gritty take on “Groundhog Day,” with a nihilistic New Yorker repeating her birthday party.

Listen: Florence and the Machine has released a yin-yang pair of new songs. Are you in the mood for room-shaking rock-soul (“Moderation”) or a decorous piano waltz (“Haunted House”)?

Smarter Living: Unplugging your DVR, or trading it in to stream with apps, is one way to cut your electric bill. DVRs are enormous power drainers; as of 2017, set-top boxes in the U.S. were using about seven large power plants’ worth of electricity each year. App-based services use far less.

We also have ideas for how to spend less when you’re on the road.

On this day in 1786, a Briton living in India delivered a discourse on a little-known proposition: that Sanskrit, Persian, Latin, Greek and other languages might have a common source.

The commentary set off the field of comparative linguistics. Its fruits are known today as the concept of Proto-Indo-European, a mother language for dozens of tongues. The idea revolutionized not only the study of language, but also the sense of human history.

The man who delivered the talk, Sir William Jones, was, predictably, a student of languages and culture. Less predictably, he was in India because he was also a legal expert — the same reason he ultimately became convinced of his theory.

Sir William Jones, circa 1770.CreditHulton Archive, via Getty Images

He arrived many decades before the Raj, or British government rule. The British East India Company was increasing its control over territories where it had long traded. Some of the company’s officials wanted British justices like Jones to supervise the administration of Indian courts; translations from Sanskrit to English were crucial to that effort.

Jones’s work with translators enabled his remarkable insights.

That’s it for this briefing.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day, which gives me the opportunity to cite a favorite entry in The Times’s stylebook: “Punxsutawney (Pa.). It is so spelled. And groundhog is so spelled. And overexposed publicity stunt is so spelled.”

See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
To Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news, and Andrea Kannapell, the briefings editor, for today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about President Trump’s interview with The Times.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Capital of Vietnam (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times Magazine ran a column called “On Language” from 1979 until 2011.

Source : Nytimes