Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

Midterms, Markets, Pittsburgh |
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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Your Wednesday Evening Briefing
By JEAN RUTTER AND MARCUS PAYADUE
Good evening. Here's the latest.
 
1. It's six days to the midterm elections.
We've mentioned before that the diversity of this year's candidates is remarkable. Now we can show you.
Former President Barack Obama is crisscrossing the country in support of Democrats. But, as our reporter notes, some of his supporters "have come to want a fist, not a handshake" in the fight against President Trump and his party.
Meanwhile, the Hub Project, a little-known Democratic organization with deep pockets from anonymous donors — providing funds known as "dark money" — is on track to spend $30 million in closely contested congressional elections across the country.
And our White House correspondent teamed up with our fact-check reporter to examine President Trump's campaign statements, which have gone far beyond the typical bounds of political spin.
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Hilary Swift for The New York Times
2. Mourners in Pittsburgh are attending a sorrowful round of funerals, burials and communal gatherings for the 11 victims of the synagogue massacre last weekend. Outside private homes, long lines formed for those paying shiva calls.
"It's very all-consuming, everybody is talking about whose funeral they have gone to and when the next funeral is going to be and where will it be held," said one rabbi as he prepared for a service.
We asked rabbis across the country to let us know how they and their congregations have reacted to the massacre, and dozens responded. They are confronting grief, fear, horror and shock, addressing security and trying to comfort young people with what one called "the outpouring of support that brought people together across all lines of difference.
Separately, prosecutors in Miami asserted that the man arrested in Florida last week in connection with crude pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of President Trump had been planning his campaign for at least three months.
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Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters
3. U.S. stocks were up today, but are well off this year's peaks.
The performance of tech giants drove the rise and the companies are sharing in the fall. But the losses — which have wiped out the gains on the benchmark S.&.P. 500 — seem to have far more to do with broad concerns about the fundamentals of the economy and the continuing profitability of companies of all kinds. Above, the New York Stock Exchange.
Among the worrisome elements: the trade war with China; the Federal Reserve's stated plans to keep raising interest rates; signs that labor and other costs could climb; and slowing growth in Europe and China. Tax cuts that increased profit growth will not have the same effect next year.
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John Burcham for The New York Times
4. His gift to the planet: $1 billion.
Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss-born philanthropist and conservationist living in Wyoming, pledged the money to advance land and ocean conservation over the next 10 years.
The goal: protecting 30 percent of the planet's surface by 2030.
"We need to embrace the radical, time-tested and profoundly democratic idea of public-land protection that was invented in the United States," he wrote in an Op-Ed. Above, Saguaro National Park, which Mr. Wyss has supported in the past.
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Eric Thayer/Reuters
5. One of the 18 federal investigations involving Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, has been passed to the Justice Department, signaling that the government may be considering a criminal investigation, our climate reporter has learned.
The source, a person familiar with the matter, said the case involved a land deal in Whitefish, Mont., Mr. Zinke's hometown, and the chairman of the energy giant Halliburton.
Mr. Zinke's lawyer said the interior secretary was not aware of any Department of Justice action in the matter.
Some legal experts say that the cluster of investigations into possible ethical misconduct or other policy violations on Mr. Zinke's part is beginning to resemble the challenges that brought down the former E.P.A. chief Scott Pruitt.
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Gabriella Angotti-Jones/The New York Times
6. There's an especially troubling aspect to the growing problem of homelessness in New York.
"Pop quiz. At what age are you most likely to be homeless?" our reporter was asked. "The answer is 1," said Allyson Crawford, the chief executive of Room to Grow, a nonprofit that helps poor parents with newborns. More than 11,000 of the 60,000 individuals housed daily in the city's shelter system are under 6.
The city's commissioner of social services said that the main driver of homelessness was "the gap between rent and income" — but that infants were often "the tipping point."
_____
Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times
7. Thousands of women at Google plan to walk out Thursday to protest how the company has treated men accused of sexual harassment, following a Times article about a former executive who was accused and received a $90 million exit package. Above, Google's main campus in Mountain View, Calif.
Another executive identified in that investigation resigned this week.
_____
Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
8. The U.S. and Britain called for an end to the yearslong conflict between Saudi-led forces and Houthi insurgents in Yemen, an abrupt increase in diplomatic pressure on the Saudis.
The war has created the world's worst man-made humanitarian disaster, claiming at least 10,000 lives and pushing millions to the brink of starvation. Our journalists are chronicling the devastation. Above, the city of Sana after an airstrike.
The Saudis have come under intense criticism following the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.
Turkish officials, frustrated by an unproductive visit by a Saudi official this week, abandoned their stream of leaks to the media to say on the record that Mr. Khashoggi had been strangled almost immediately after entering the Saudi Consulate and then dismembered.
_____
Jean-Baptist Mignardot
9. Promising first steps.
Several men who lost the use of their legs after severe spinal cord injuries have been able to walk again, though imperfectly, with a pacemaker-like implant that applies bursts of electrical stimulation to muscles, according to a new report.
Researchers cautioned that the study was small, and the men said the rehabilitation, like the work above, was arduous.
But for one, stepping onto a treadmill was a major milestone. "I wasn't able to do that for so many years; it was a really cool feeling."
_____
Edward Gorey
10. Finally, a Halloween hat tip to Edward Gorey, the illustrator of meticulously crosshatched grim, anachronistic absurdity, who died in 2000.
Fans are welcome to visit his house in Yarmouth Port, Mass., this evening to pay tribute to the creator of works like "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," a singularly dark alphabet and "A Dull Afternoon," a drawing of Victorian-era women playing catch with a human skull. 
"There's an absurdity to Gorey's work that resonates with people," one admirer said. "It helps people deal with the uncontrollable nature of death."
Mark Derry, the author of a new biography, "Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey," said he needed seven years to wrap his head around "the panoramic sweep" of his subject's mind.
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