Impeachment, Supreme Court, Octopus: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The White House declared war on the impeachment investigation, saying in a letter to House leaders that it would not cooperate.

“Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice,” said the eight-page letter signed by Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. “President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.” Read the entire letter here.

Mr. Trump called the inquiry into his efforts to pressure Ukraine to find dirt on his political rivals “a totally compromised kangaroo court,” and the White House intervened for the first time to block the testimony of a key witness.

Meanwhile, more details emerged about Mr. Trump’s call with Ukraine. According to a memo from a whistle-blower, a White House official was “visibly shaken” a day after listening to the call, and said the conversation was “crazy” and “frightening.”

Unit 29155, whose existence has not been previously reported, is on the secretive side of the so-called hybrid warfare promoted by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in which open warfare is paired with a blend of propaganda, hacking attacks and disinformation.

A retired Russian intelligence officer with knowledge of Unit 29155 said that it specialized in preparing for “diversionary” missions, “in groups or individually — bombings, murders, anything.”

3. The Supreme Court heard arguments in cases about gay and transgender rights for the first time since recent appointments moved it to the right.

At issue is whether the Civil Rights Act’s ban on sex discrimination also applies to sexual orientation. While Justice Neil Gorsuch asked questions suggesting his vote might be in play, several other conservative justices expressed skepticism.

“You’re trying to change the meaning of what Congress understood sex to mean,” said Justice Samuel Alito Jr., who voiced the most outward doubts of any of the justices, later adding, “It’s sexual orientation — it’s not sex.”

4. The commander of a Kurdish militia said it would attack Turkish forces if they entered northeastern Syria, which Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said was imminent.

“We will resist,” the commander, Mazlum Kobani, told The Times. Above, a U.S.-backed military convoy near the border last month.

American troops withdrew from posts near two Syrian towns close to the border on Monday, after President Trump agreed to let the Turkish operation go forward but then said he would restrain Turkey. Mr. Trump has invited Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House in November.

And from Opinion: Does Mr. Trump’s withdrawal mark a betrayal of indispensable allies?

In other international news: A “frank exchange” between Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany appeared to dash hopes of a Brexit deal before the Oct. 31 deadline. At issue is Mr. Johnson’s proposal on how to deal with Northern Ireland.

5. Saltwater from rising seas is killing forests, sometimes surprisingly far from the ocean.

Our journalists documented the ghost forests on the Mid-Atlantic coast.

Seawater has been pushed inland by ever stronger storms or has seeped into sinking ground, bleaching or blackening trees in previously lush landscapes. One ecologist said the dying pines along the Maryland coast offered a stark “window into the future for the rest of the world.”

In other climate news: In barely a year, Extinction Rebellion has arguably become the most prominent and radical climate movement worldwide. We look at whether the group can keep up the momentum.

6. The economic toll of the G.M. strike is starting to mount.

Much of the pain from the strike is concentrated in the northern Midwest, where suppliers and other businesses linked to G.M. have had to conduct layoffs.

Wael Tlaib, the owner of Phoenix Transit & Logistics, above, laid off nearly his entire staff. “I might lose the business next week,” he said.

It’s been four weeks since 50,000 United Auto Worker members walked off the job to press for more job security. Talks progressed last week, but hit a roadblock over the weekend on how production might be moved to the U.S. from Mexico.

7. Samuel Little is the most prolific known serial killer in American history, the F.B.I. said.

The 79-year-old has admitted to strangling vulnerable women across the country for decades, has confessed to 93 murders and has been convicted of at least eight. The agency said it believed “all of his confessions are credible.”

The task of identifying his victims is all the more urgent because of Mr. Little’s age. The F.B.I., asking for help, released his drawings of some victims, above, along with videos of prison interviews with him.

8. The N.B.A. defended its members’ right to free speech even as a firestorm spread over a basketball executive’s tweet supporting Hong Kong’s protesters.

China said it would not broadcast N.B.A. preseason games this week in Shanghai and Shenzhen, and multiple Chinese companies, including Anta, a sportswear brand, suspended partnerships with N.B.A. players. Above, a preseason game in Japan today.

In other sports news: The Yankees are heading to the American League Championship Series after routing the Twins in three games. Or, as our columnist writes, an “18-wheeler from New York City flattened them.”

9. Coconut milk chicken adobo. Lumpia Shanghai. Bibingka.

Angela Dimayuga grew up in a Filipino household in Northern California where such food was a constant. But it wasn’t until she started cooking professionally that she realized that it was also complex and layered, refined over centuries and demanding meticulous technique.

She shares her 10 essential recipes that define the cuisine for her.

And nobody does a slice of pizza like New York City, right? Think again, says our restaurant critic. To chase the perfect slice, Bread and Salt in Jersey City, of all places, looks to Rome.

10. And finally, have you seen the video of Heidi the octopus taking a snooze?

She looks just like a person twitching and muttering during a dream, or like a napping dog chasing dream-squirrels. But an octopus can change colors, even while asleep.

In the video, Heidi turns from ghostly white to yellow, flashes deep red, then goes mottled green and bumpy. Her muscles clench and relax, sending a tendril of arm loose. “If she’s dreaming, this is a dramatic moment,” one octopus researcher said.

Sweet dreams.

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