—Police say five people, including the alleged assailant, were killed in a terrorist attack in London. Forty others were injured. More here
—At Wednesday’s hearing, Democratic senators adopted a new strategy to press Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on abortion and campaign finance. More here
—House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes turned quite a few heads on Capitol Hill when he announced he’s learned that the Intelligence Community “incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” More here
—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes turned quite a few heads on Capitol Hill Wednesday when he announced he’s learned that the Intelligence Community “incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” He said he received this information through an unnamed source. The vague statement from the congressman and Trump ally did note that the intelligence was gathered legally and that there was no evidence of wiretapping at Trump Tower. But the news does throw a lifeline to President Trump after weeks of alleging his predecessor “wiretapped” him. As my colleague David A. Graham writes:
Nunes’s vague statements raised a host of questions, and his decision to announce them publicly and then go to the White House to brief President Trump, having not informed Democrats on the committee about his new findings, cast a pall of politics over the proceedings.
Trump said felt “somewhat vindicated” by the announcement, as former intelligence officials and Democrats on the Hill said the statement from Nunes was inappropriate.
Possible U.S. Airstrike Kills 33 Civilians in Syria
A possible U.S. airstrike killed 33 civilians in Syria, a monitoring group said Wednesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based network trusted by many news organizations, said the U.S.-led coalition airstrike hit a school in northern Syria in a region controlled by ISIS. The school, located in the town of Mansoura, some 15 miles southwest of Raqqa, was being used as a shelter for displaced families from Raqqa, Aleppo, and Homs. Only two people survived the airstrike. U.S. officials have not confirmed whether the airstrike took place. U.S. military personnel were in the area that day airlifting around 500 U.S.-trained Syrian fighters. Fighting remains intense the northern city of Raqqa, the last ISIS stronghold and self-declared capital.
The U.K. Parliament was placed under lockdown Wednesday after reports emerged of gunfire outside Westminster Palace in central London, according to local media. Details about what exactly happened are not yet known.
This story is developing. For more updates, follow our live blog here.
More Allegations About Manafort's Russia Links, But Trump's Former Campaign Manager Rejects Them
Paul Manafort, who was chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, worked secretly a decade ago for Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire, to further Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests, the Associated Press is reporting this morning, citing documents that laid out Manafort’s plan to hurt opponents of Russia across the former Soviet Union. For this work, the AP adds, Manafort received a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006. Manafort and the Trump White House have repeatedly denied that Manafort, who previously worked for Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president, worked to further Russian government interests. Manafort’s repeated that assertion today in response to the AP’s story, acknowledging he worked for Deripaska, but noting his “work did not involve representing Russian political interests.” Here’s more from the AP: “Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. … Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.” The allegations come a day after Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker, said he had evidence Manafort tried to hide about $750,000 as payment in 2009 from a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine; at the time, Manafort was an adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who was close to Moscow. Manafort called that claim “baseless.” On Monday, FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers the bureau was “investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” including “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
Judge Gorsuch Prepares for the Third Day of His Confirmation Hearings
Judge Neil Gorsuch will face questions for the third day from lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a day after he went before the panel and defended the independence of the judiciary, but refused to be drawn into more controversial issues such as abortion rights and gun control. As my colleague Matt Ford wrote last night, “attempts by the Democratic senators … to reveal new dimensions of Gorsuch’s ideological beliefs were largely unsuccessful.” Gorsuch is President Trump’s nominee to fill the position on the U.S. Supreme Court made vacant by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia. Democrats were angered that President Obama’s nominee for the position, Judge Merrick Garland, was not given a hearing by Republicans, who control the Senate. The fourth and final day of the hearings are scheduled for Thursday. Despite some public opposition from Democrats and their supporters, Gorsuch, a widely respected jurist, is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate.
By establishing an official record of the insurrection, the members are creating clarity in a political moment fogged with lies.
During its astonishing Tuesday hearing about Donald Trump’s actions on the day of January 6, the House select committee investigating the insurrection made clear that the integrity of its work is under threat. “The same people who drove the former president’s pressure campaign to overturn the election are now trying to cover up the truth about January 6,” warned committee chair Bennie Thompson. “But thanks to the courage of certain individuals, the truth won’t be buried.” The main individual he seemed to have in mind was Cassidy Hutchinson, once an aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who testified to the former president’s violent and bizarre behavior—demanding that rally-goers with guns and knives be allowed onto the Ellipse to hear his speech and exploding in rage when his security detail refused to drive him to the Capitol, as rioters there began to overwhelm law enforcement.
Newer, better UV-blocking agents have been in use in other countries for years. Why can’t we have them here?
At 36, I am just old enough to remember when sunscreen wasn’t a big deal. My mom, despite being among the palest people alive, does not remember bringing it on our earliest vacations, or hearing any mention of sun protection by our pediatrician. The first memories I have of sunscreen are from the day camp that my brother and I attended in the 1990s, where we spent every day on a playground in the direct Georgia sun but were prompted to slather it on only once every two weeks, when we were bused to a community pool. On those days, mom dropped an ancient bottle of Coppertone, expiration date unknown, into my backpack, where I usually left it. In 2000, I started high school, just in time for the golden age of the tanning bed.
Kyiv’s success against Moscow forces us to reexamine our assumptions about what it means to be powerful.
In times of peace, much of what anyone says about national power is guesswork. Different claims can be based on hopes, prejudices, or even simple self-interest. Analysts and experts can speak confidently about how some states are undoubtedly great powers while others are weak, that some countries are led by strategic geniuses and others by corrupt incompetents. The statements can sound eminently plausible as facts, even be downright persuasive, because there is no way of knowing the truth.
Until, that is, a war breaks out. The Russia-Ukraine war is now cutting through much of the nonsense that dominated the discussion of international power politics, posing particular challenges to blasé assumptions about what makes a state powerful, and what makes a country’s leadership effective. This reassessment doesn’t just concern the question of debatable prewar military analysis of Russia and Ukraine, or theories of international relations. Instead, it is aimed at the whole way we think about how countries interact with one another, about national power, and about leadership.
In the 1880s, Vancouver’s seafood joints served lots of salmon. These days they serve squid.
Vancouver, British Columbia, is nothing short of a seafood paradise. Situated at the mouth of the formerly salmon-rich Fraser River, the city overlooks Vancouver Island to the west, and beyond that, the open Pacific Ocean. Long before it had a skyline or a deepwater port, this was a bountiful fishing ground for the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, who still depend on its waters for cultural sustenance. Today, tourists come from all over the world to taste local favorites, such as salmon and halibut, fresh from the water. But beneath these waves, things are changing.
Climate change is an intensifying reality for the marine species that live near Vancouver and for the people who depend on them. In a new study, a team from the University of British Columbia (UBC) shows one unexpected way that climate effects are already manifesting in our daily lives. To find it, they looked not at thermometers or ice cores, but at restaurant menus.
Some tips for how to be a good sick person in the COVID era, whatever is ailing you
The maskless man a few rows back was coughing his head off. I had just boarded the train from D.C. to New York City a couple of weeks ago and, along with several other passengers, was craning my neck to get a look at what was going on. This was not the reedy dregs of some lingering cold. This was a deep, constant, full-bodied cough. Think garbage disposal with a fork caught inside.
No one said anything to the man (at least to my knowledge). If someone had, though, I imagine that he might have replied with a now-familiar pandemic-times refrain: “Don’t worry! It’s not COVID!” Such assurances can be perfectly fine (polite, even), say, at the height of allergy season, when you want worried-looking company to know that you are not, in fact, showering them with deadly virus. But assurances only go so far. As my colleague Katherine J. Wu recently wrote, a negative COVID test, especially in the early days of symptomatic illness, is no guarantee that you’re not infected and contagious. And even setting that concern aside, still: Whatever it was that had that maskless man hacking away like a malfunctioning kitchen appliance, I didn’t want that either!
For its evening programming on January 20, 2017, Turner Classic Movies, a network known for its commitment to the cinematic canon, not its politics, made a pointed scheduling decision. The channel would be airing A Face in the Crowd.
On any other Friday evening, it would have been an unremarkable choice. Though not a critical success in its own time, the 1957 film, written by Budd Schulberg and directed by Elia Kazan, has since been heralded as a masterpiece, praised by François Truffaut and preserved by the National Film Registry. The movie tells the story of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a charismatic, populist entertainer with a dark side, who uses the new medium of television to rise to the pinnacle of American power. TCM swore it had chosen the airdate simply to mark the birthday of Patricia Neal, who co-starred in the film. The fact that it was also Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day had nothing to do with it.
An experimental therapy helped patients with a rare disease feel better. It also led to an accidental makeover.
In October 2019, Jordan Janz became the first person in the world to receive an experimental therapy for cystinosis, a rare genetic disease. The treatment was physically grueling. Doctors extracted blood stem cells from Janz’s bone marrow and genetically modified them in a lab. Meanwhile, he underwent chemotherapy to clear out the remaining faulty cells in his bone marrow before he got the newly modified ones. The chemo gave Janz sores in his mouth so painful that he couldn’t eat. He lost his head full of pale-blond hair.
But Janz, then a 20-year-old from Alberta, Canada, had signed up for this because he knew that cystinosis was slowly killing him. The mutated gene behind this disease was causing toxic crystals of a molecule called cystine to build up everywhere in his body. He threw up constantly as a kid. Visible crystals accumulated in his eyes. And his kidneys were now failing. Cystinosis patients live, on average, to 28.5 years old.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.
When you’re admired and well known, “people are always nice to you,” the actor Robert De Niro once confessed to Esquire magazine. “You’re in a conversation, and everybody’s agreeing with what you’re saying.” Sounds great! Agreement makes life smooth, and the praise and esteem of others gives us pleasure, even stimulating a reward center in our brain. Wanting to surround ourselves with admirers, if we can, is only natural.
But in his interview, De Niro clarified exactly what a life filled with admirers can mean. Admirers agree with you “even if you say something totally crazy.” And that’s bad: “You need people who can tell you what you don’t want to hear,” he said. In other words, the admiration of others can be a double-edged sword. Being admired for our accomplishments is pleasant, but it can also inflame our vanity and distort reality in ways that leave us worse off in the end.
In a narrow but important sense, the world has become more amenable to the former president. And yet.
If Donald Trump returns to power in 2025, he will find a world starkly different from the one he tried to construct while president. All hopes of normalizing relations with Russia have been obliterated in the slaughter of Ukraine. China is more powerful than ever. Iran is closer to acquiring nuclear weapons. And Kim Jong Un is still behaving like Kim Jong Un.
But, in a narrow yet important sense, the world has become more Trumpian since he left office. After NATO met in Madrid this past week to agree on a new strategy to defend the West, the great irony is that it has started to resemble the kind of organization Trump and his wing of the Republican Party said they always wanted.
NATO’s European members are paying more for their own defense, the alliance is more Eastern European in its outlook and positioning, and, for the first time, it is explicitly focused on America’s great-power rivalry with China. Trump is not primarily responsible for these changes—for that he can thank Vladimir Putin—but they nevertheless signal an important moment for the West, as Europe moves to more closely align itself with American domestic political concerns. Europe’s shift is part of a bid to protect the status quo that has existed since NATO’s founding, but which is now threatened both by Russia’s aggression and by the U.S.’s growing focus on its great-power rival in the 21st century: China.