Thursday, January 31, 2019

Your Thursday Evening Briefing

Polar Vortex, Brexit, Sweethearts
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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Your Thursday Evening Briefing
By REMY TUMIN AND ELIJAH WALKER
Good evening. Here's the latest.
Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press
1. The polar vortex continued to cripple much of the country as temperatures remained near record lows across the Midwest for a second day. Parts of the Northeast also endured subzero wind chills. Above, Chicago at sunrise.
At least eight deaths have been connected with the record-breaking cold, including a University of Iowa freshman who was found unconscious near his dorm, and who died at the hospital.
The sustained cold taxed energy systems and forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and closings of schools and universities. In Milwaukee, wind chill fell to minus 50. Here's what photographers across the frigid regions are seeing.
But the cold is expected to begin to lift on Friday. By the end of the weekend, temperatures in some areas could swing up to the 40s or 50s, bringing rain instead of snow.
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Erin Schaff for The New York Times
2. The Senate, in a stinging bipartisan rebuke to President Trump, advanced a measure opposing his moves to withdraw troops in Syria and Afghanistan.
The measure, written by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, warned that "the precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either country could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security."
The measure was backed by virtually every Senate Republican and will be added to a broader bipartisan Middle East policy bill expected to pass the Senate next week.
But the bipartisan spirit had its limits. Mr. McConnell (above, on Capitol Hill today) called a proposal to make Election Day a holiday a "power grab" by Democrats.
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Tom Brenner for The New York Times
3. Two days of trade meetings between the U.S. and China ended with a flurry of good will, but much work remains to avert a major escalation of the trade war.
In a letter, President Xi Jinping promised big purchases of American agricultural products, but President Trump said any deal must include an unprecedented opening of China's markets to American businesses. 
The president also signed an order to help, in the words of his trade adviser, U.S. manufacturers and "blue-collar Trump people," whose economic prospects have been shaken by the trade war.
Our team of reporters sat down with Mr. Trump this afternoon, pictured above. We'll have takeaways, a fact check and excerpts from the interview later tonight on nytimes.com.
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Suzie Howell for The New York Times
4. Companies across Britain, faced with increasing uncertainty around the country's departure from the E.U., have been stockpiling products, making backup plans and exploring new shipping routes. International banks are shifting thousands of jobs from Britain to the Continent.
"It's meant extra resources, extra overtime, to get it done," said one executive of an auto parts factory in the Midlands of England, pictured above. "It's incredibly annoying. It's frustrating."
The economy is 2.3 percent smaller than it would have been if Britain had voted to remain in the E.U. in 2016, according to one research institution. And investment in the auto sector was found to have plunged by almost 50 percent in 2018.
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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
5. The cold war between the two giant companies over data use and privacy is heating up.
Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, has cut off Facebook's access to apps and updates that it was working on internally, citing violation of Apple's rules with a research app that allowed Facebook to snoop on users' online activity.
Our tech writer sees the possibility that Mr. Cook, above in September, could become "a technology regulator of last resort — using the power of Apple's iOS operating system as a cudgel to force software companies to respect user privacy and play by the rules, or risk losing access to millions of iPhone users."
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Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
6. Three people in California were indicted in a crackdown on a multimillion-dollar "birth tourism" business as part of the biggest federal criminal probe to target an industry that capitalizes on the birthright of U.S. citizenship.
The businesses were dismantled following raids in Irvine, Calif., in 2015, including the one pictured above. They coached clients to falsify U.S. visa applications and pay indigent rates at hospitals where they delivered. Some Chinese couples were charged as much as $100,000 for a package that included housing, nannies and shopping at Gucci, according to the indictments.
One suggested pregnant mothers indicate that they intended to stay at a Trump luxury hotel, to convince immigration officials that they were well-to-do vacationers.
_____
Paul Bride
7. Jason Hairston played briefly in the N.F.L., hunted with Donald Trump Jr., and owned a successful hunting gear and apparel company. For years, he was convinced he had the degenerative brain disease known as C.T.E. from his football years.
When he fatally shot himself in his bedroom last September, his family and friends were shocked. Not his wife, who watched his decline up close. "We were really good at hiding it," she told our reporter.
We took a look at the history of his deterioration, and the posthumous confirmation of C.T.E.
_____
 
8. Frida Kahlo meticulously built her own image as an artist in the 20th century. Now, a sweeping survey in New York examines how she did it, and why.
Through her own works and collections, the show, at the Brooklyn Museum, highlights Kahlo's skill of leaving behind a public persona that still resonates well into the 21st century. It is the biggest stateside show ever devoted to the artist. We have images of some of the exhibits here.
We also have a review of "Black Leopard, Red Wolf," the first volume of Marlon James's "Dark Star" trilogy. The novel is packed with dizzying references fused into something new and startling, our former chief book critic Michiko Kakutani writes.
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Meyer Liebowitz/The New York Times
9. One hundred years ago today, Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in a red-clay corner of Georgia.
In 1947, he was a 28-year-old rookie in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform, the first African-American to play in the major leagues in the modern era. Jackie Robinson pushed the boundaries of baseball, and by extension, the entire country. Above, Mr. Robinson after winning the National League Championship in 1950.
We've collected 100 photos of the icon — a ballplayer, a change agent, a humanitarian — and commissioned a series of essays that examine the legacy of the baseball great. (They also all appear in a special section in today's print paper.)
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Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
10. Finally, we end the day slightly brokenhearted.
Sweethearts, the brightly colored Valentine's Day candy that offered "Be Mine" and "Kiss Me" messages, will be hard to find this year. The factory that manufactured the conversation hearts shut down last year. Brach's, which also makes candied hearts, is ramping up production.
But there may be hope yet for Sweethearts fans. A new owner of the brand left a three-heart response on its website for adoring fans: "Miss U 2," the hearts said. "Wait 4 Me." "Back Soon."
Have a sweet night.
_____
An item in yesterday's briefing incorrectly referrenced the last time the Rams had a chance at winning the Super Bowl. It was 1999, not 1992.
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