Democrats, John Walker Lindh, Stanley Cup Finals: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning,

We’re covering a new front in the trade war with China, Democrats’ increasing calls for impeachment proceedings and the scourge of New Yorkers: rats.

The Trump administration is considering limits to Hikvision, a manufacturer of video surveillance products, as part of its efforts to counter Beijing’s global economic ambitions.

The restrictions would be similar to those placed on Huawei, another Chinese tech giant, which prevent it from purchasing American software and semiconductors without approval from Washington.

Background: Using Hikvision technology, China has built what amounts to a police state in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, which Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority, consider their homeland.

Related: President Xi Jinping has urged China to begin a modern “long march,” invoking a turning point in Communist Party history to suggest that Beijing has abandoned hopes of a trade deal in the near term.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is to update lawmakers today on the House’s investigations of President Trump. More liberal Democrats have called for an impeachment inquiry, but Ms. Pelosi has repeatedly warned against the divisiveness of such a strategy.

The former White House counsel Donald McGahn skipped a scheduled hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday after Mr. Trump ordered him to ignore a subpoena. The committee later issued subpoenas to Mr. McGahn’s former chief of staff, Annie Donaldson, and to Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director.

The Daily: Today’s episode is about Democrats’ push for impeachment proceedings.

Related: The Internal Revenue Service must honor congressional requests for Mr. Trump’s federal tax returns unless he invokes executive privilege, according to a draft legal memo written by the agency’s staff.

Yesterday: The New York State Assembly closed a loophole that lawmakers said could be used by Mr. Trump to issue pardons. The Legislature is expected to pass a bill today that would allow congressional committees to seek the president’s state tax returns.

John Walker Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, is scheduled to leave a federal prison in Indiana on Thursday, released on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence for providing support to the Taliban.

His release has brought objections from elected officials and the family of a C.I.A. officer who was the first U.S. casualty in the Afghan war.

The details: Under the conditions of his release, Mr. Lindh, now 38, will be barred from going online without permission and from getting a passport or other travel document.

A pledge by the billionaire Robert Smith to pay the student loans of the graduating class of Morehouse College has highlighted the systematic problems of debt in American college education.

The Morehouse president, David Thomas, said the college would soon work out the logistics of the grant, which is expected to run into the millions of dollars.

The details: About two-thirds of seniors at four-year colleges carry student loan debt. In 2017, that average was nearly $29,000, one analysis found. For students at historically black colleges like Morehouse, the picture is even worse.

Quotable: Shaquille Lampley has more than $200,000 in loans. “I just kept looking at the number and thinking to myself, this would cripple me for life,” he said. “I am so grateful and still in shock about this gift.”

The city has always had to coexist with the four-legged vermin. But reported rat sightings have increased almost 40 percent in the past few years, and city health inspections have found almost double the number of active signs of the animals.

One reason: gentrification. The city’s construction boom is digging up burrows, forcing more rats into the open, experts say. Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia have a similar problem.

Shifting gears on infrastructure: President Trump has said Congress should approve a new trade pact with Canada and Mexico before addressing infrastructure measures. He is scheduled to meet with Democratic leaders today to discuss the construction package.

Citizenship concerns: Same-sex couples in the U.S. who have babies abroad through assisted reproductive technology face a major complication: Their children may not be American.

Negotiations in Venezuela: Unable to resolve the country’s political crisis, the opposition leader Juan Guaidó is considering talks with President Nicolás Maduro. Both sides have sent representatives to Norway for discussions.

Snapshot: Above, a hiking trail near Stary Smokovec, Slovakia, where our 52 Places columnist found himself alone but happy. Read his latest dispatch.

Stanley Cup finals: The St. Louis Blues will face the Boston Bruins after eliminating the San Jose Sharks. Game 1 is scheduled for Monday.

Man Booker International Prize: “Celestial Bodies,” set during Oman’s transition from slave trading center to oil producer, became on Tuesday the first novel originally written in Arabic to win the award, which is given each year to the best book translated into English and published in Britain. The book’s author, Jokha Alharthi, shares the award with its translator, Marilyn Booth.

Smarter Living: Hey, guys, Tim here. I’m the editor of Smarter Living and wanted to remind you about our weekly newsletter, which has more great stories and topics than we can get to you in your Morning Briefing. Every Monday, I email readers with tips for living a better, more fulfilling life. Sign up here to get it.

Today, we have guidance for booking an R.V. or camper.

The mobile technology known as 5G is in the news for its promise of superfast smartphone connections, as well as concerns about national security.

But 5G networks may have unintended consequences for meteorology.

The Federal Communications Commission has begun auctioning U.S. rights to radio frequencies for 5G use. And there is a concern, first raised in an internal memo by a U.S. Navy officer, that one of them will interfere with a nearby frequency that is crucial for meteorologists: the natural frequency of water vapor.

Monitoring water vapor yields valuable data that can be fed into weather-modeling programs — and forecasters can’t just switch to another band.

In a letter to the Trump administration last week, two senators warned that the accuracy of forecasts could be set back 50 years, a big loss given that extreme weather events are on the rise.

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

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen provided the break from the news. Kendra Pierre-Louis, a climate reporter, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about Democrats’ calls for impeachment proceedings.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Spreading around the internet (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Kathy Ryan, the director of photography for The New York Times Magazine, published a book of photographs in 2014 that capture the interplay of natural light and architecture within The Times’s building.

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