Boris Johnson, United Nations, Puerto Rico: Your Tuesday Briefing


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Good morning.

We’re covering fresh revelations about President Trump’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine, today’s opening of the United Nations General Assembly, and an earthquake in Puerto Rico.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson illegally suspended Parliament, Britain’s top court ruled, pushing the country into even deeper political turmoil barely a month before it is scheduled to leave the European Union.

Two senior administration officials told The Times that Mr. Trump ordered the suspension of about $391 million for Ukraine shortly before a July phone call in which he’s said to have encouraged the country’s president to investigate Joe Biden.

Democratic leaders are demanding that the administration turn over documents involving the matter.

Mr. Trump denied on Monday that he had withheld aid to press for an investigation, but he also suggested that there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with doing so.

The details: Congressional Democrats have said that pressuring a foreign government for dirt on a political rival could be an impeachable offense regardless of whether American aid was involved. Here’s where every House member stands on an impeachment inquiry.

What’s next: Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to meet today with the leaders of six House committees that are investigating Mr. Trump and will later discuss impeachment with the full Democratic caucus.

News analysis: Our senior White House correspondent writes of Mr. Trump: “The last time he was accused of collaborating with a foreign power to influence an election, he denied it and traveled the country practically chanting, ‘No collusion!’ This time, he is saying, in effect, so what if I did?”

President Trump is among more than 20 world leaders who are scheduled to speak today at the opening of the General Assembly in New York. Here’s what to expect.

At a climate summit on Monday, a host of countries made only incremental promises to address climate change, and the U.S. said nothing.

Watch: The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, however, did have something to say, in a fiery speech to world leaders: “You are failing us.”

Another angle: Across town from the summit, 13 of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies pledged action on climate change, though many of their ideas would perpetuate the use of oil and gas.

“Americans are living through an unusual political moment,” two of our reporters write. “Their political institutions are the most divided they’ve been since the period after the Civil War, according to some political science research. But how divided are Americans themselves?”

To find out, they went to Scranton, Pa., a critical front line in next year’s presidential election where many said they were just scraping by and didn’t have a lot of patience for politics.

Another angle: The Democratic National Committee said November’s presidential debate would have a slightly higher qualifying threshold. Eleven candidates have qualified for October’s.

The Supreme Court is to consider the question next month.

At issue is whether the prohibition of sex discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In more than half the states, someone can be fired for being gay.

It will be the justices’ first case on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement last year of Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions.

Related: A provocative new book argues that the thinking of the conservative justice Clarence Thomas is underpinned by black nationalism. Read our review.

In a warning about the rising hostility toward journalists, A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The Times, revealed a threat to one of our own: Two years ago, The Times learned that its correspondent in Egypt faced imminent arrest. A U.S. official shared the information with us but was concerned that the Trump administration might not offer assistance.

“The United States has done more than any other country to popularize the idea of free expression and to champion the rights of the free press,” Mr. Sulzberger writes in our Opinion section. “The time has come for us to fight for those ideals again.”

Puerto Rico quake: There were no immediate reports of deaths or damage after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck off the island’s coast. The U.S. territory is bracing for Tropical Depression Karen, which is expected to bring heavy rains today.

Limiting the “right to be forgotten”: Europe’s highest court said today that a landmark online privacy law couldn’t be applied outside the European Union, a decision that restricts people’s ability to control what information is available about them on the internet.

California back in the firing line: The Trump administration said it would withhold federal highway funds if the state didn’t address a backlog of state-level pollution control plans.

Talks in Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief opponent, Benny Gantz, agreed to negotiate on sharing power after last week’s election ended in gridlock. Their teams are set to meet today.

Cook: Perfect boiled eggs, with guidance from our new food contributor, J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats and “Food Lab” fame. (After testing 700 eggs, he settled on steaming, rather than boiling.)

Go: Opera Philadelphia’s season-opening festival includes a death scene mash-up, but the morbidity doesn’t stop there.

Listen: How does Post Malone sound like everything and nothing? On the latest Popcast, our critics discuss the musician’s rapid rise and the questions — about genre and race — glossed over along the way.

Watch: We asked the writer who recapped the TV version of “Downton Abbey” for The Times for his take on the big-screen version.

Smarter Living: Dentists recommend flossing every day, but there are other options. Experts told us about five floss alternatives, including oral irrigators that use a water jet and interdental brushes — essentially tiny toothbrushes that fit between your teeth.

Are you keeping up with health news? Try our quiz.

The travel company Thomas Cook was in business for nearly 180 years before collapsing on Monday.

It was named for its founder, a carpenter born in England in 1808 and raised as a strict Baptist. As an adult, he became active in the temperance movement, which promoted abstaining from alcohol.

In 1841, he arranged for a train to carry hundreds of members of a temperance society from Leicester, in central England, to a meeting in the nearby town of Loughborough.

After the success of the trip, Cook started offering excursions around Britain, and, in 1855, led his first tour of Europe, a package that included travel, accommodation and food.

His son, John Mason Cook, later joined the business, and in the early 1870s, Thomas Cook led his first round-the-world tour, a seven-month trip in which he covered more than 29,000 miles.

A statue of Thomas Cook stands outside the Leicester train station, the starting point of his initial excursion.

Yesterday’s Back Story said that the widely remembered story about the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe during a 1960 address at the U.N. probably didn’t happen. Although a biographer of Khrushchev has questioned details of the incident, numerous media outlets, including The Times, reported that Khrushchev did bang his shoe.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news, and Chris wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode includes an interview with a Border Patrol agent.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Kitschy garden statue (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Metropolitan Opera said it would stage the first work by a black composer in its 136-year history. It’s based on a memoir by the Times Opinion columnist Charles Blow.


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