Trade War, Mars, Yosemite: Your Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The trade war with the European Union appears to be off, at least for now.

At a surprise news conference, President Trump and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said they would work toward lowering tariffs and other trade barriers.

Details of the agreement were scant but hinted at collaboration against Chinese trade practices.

At the same time, a very different story was unfurling. The release of a secret recording Tuesday night by Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, has unraveled some of the false statements the president has used as a shield against tough questions and embarrassing stories.

2. The news from Washington took some other interesting twists, in a fairly compressed time frame.

While President Trump was announcing a trade truce with the E.U., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed President Trump’s case that, despite his conciliatory appearance last week with Vladimir Putin, Mr. Trump was being tough on Russia.

Before a sometime dubious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Pompeo said Mr. Trump was “well aware of the challenges that Russia poses” and had taken “a staggering number of actions to protect our interests.”

And while Mr. Pompeo was speaking, John Bolton, the national security adviser, announced that Mr. Trump’s second meeting with Mr. Putin, in Washington, would be delayed until next year — “after the Russia witch hunt is over.”

3. We’re ready to go to space right about now, how about you?

Italian scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission said an underground lake had been detected by radar measurements — meaning there might be life on Mars. Above, the Martian south pole where the lake was discovered.

“It is liquid, and it’s salty, and it’s in contact with rocks,” said the scientists who oversaw the research. “There are all the ingredients for thinking that life can be there, or can be maintained there if life once existed on Mars.”


4. Yosemite National Park is closed because of wildfires. Thousands of tourists, along with a smaller number of residents from the area, were evacuated.

“This is my life and this is my home. It’s heartbreaking,” said a woman who had to flee her home at the foot of the Yosemite Valley.

It is the first time the park has closed because of a fire in almost 30 years.

There have been seven injuries and one fatality connected to the 38,000-acre Ferguson Fire, which has roared nearby for nearly two weeks. It’s only 25 percent contained.

6. “Every single house, gone.”

In Laos, the death toll is climbing from the devastating flood released when an auxiliary dam, part of a billion-dollar hydroelectric project, collapsed under heavy rains.

At least 26 people have been reported killed, and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said 131 people were still missing. More than 3,000 are homeless. Many had been rescued from rooftops and trees after their villages and farms were flooded.

“Everyone here lost everything — animals, our houses,” a farmer told a Times reporter on the scene. “All we have left is our lives.”

7. For years, big tech companies have had a near-absolutist understanding of free speech. But that ethos, our tech columnist writes, is over.

Because of pressure from lawmakers and the media about the harm caused by misinformation, propaganda and harassment, tech platforms are radically overhauling what can, and can’t, be said online.

Sorting out where their responsibility begins and ends will be complicated, he says, and may end up increasing their power.

A tech P.S.: That smart TV that’s tracing everything you watch for the sake of advertisers? Here’s how to stop it.


8. This year’s Kennedy Center honorees were announced. They include Cher, above, Reba McEntire, Philip Glass and Wayne Shorter.

The Broadway musical “Hamilton” will receive a special honor.

Those who remember that President Trump avoided the ceremony last year are asking if he will again. At least three of the honorees have publicly criticized him.

“Whether he’s there or not, who cares?” Mr. Glass told our reporter. “The show will go on.”


9. 1 hen. 76 ducklings.

An amateur wildlife photographer captured this image: a female duck in Minnesota with about six dozen ducklings under her wing.

It’s not unusual to see a large group of ducklings together, but 70-plus is “an extraordinary sighting,” one ornithologist said.

The mama duck is a common merganser, a duck found on freshwater lakes. And it turns out the female ducks at Lake Bemidji, where the ducklings were found, all watch over each others’ little ones.

Have a great night!


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Source : Nytimes