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Good morning. Turmoil in Washington, a left turn for Labour and ecstasy for octopuses.
Here’s the latest:
• Rod Rosenstein is in limbo.
The deputy attorney general will meet with President Trump on Thursday to discuss his fate, the president said, after The Times reported that Mr. Rosenstein had talked about secretly taping the president and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
We have the inside story of a day of whiplash that began with Mr. Rosenstein expecting to be fired, but ended with him still in his job. Above, Mr. Rosenstein after meeting with John Kelly, the White House chief of staff.
Mr. Rosenstein oversees the Russia investigation, and his potential departure could pave the way for the president to then get rid of Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
Separately, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, gave an extraordinary interview to Fox News in which he defended himself against allegations of sexual misconduct from two women. Earlier Monday, he sent a letter to senators saying he “will not be intimidated into withdrawing.”
But his high school yearbook page offers a peek into his teenage years and a hard-partying school culture. And a cryptic reference on the page to a female classmate — an apparent boast of a conquest — has prompted a rebuke of Judge Kavanaugh from the woman.
• Labour makes a sharp left.
John McDonnell, above, the economic spokesman for Britain’s opposition Labour Party, laid out an agenda that includes nationalizing major utilities and allotting 10 percent of large companies’ shares to workers, as well as giving workers representation on corporate boards.
“The greater the mess we inherit, the more radical we have to be,” he told the party’s annual conference in Liverpool. Labour’s bet is that austerity-weary British voters will want to expand the state’s role in the economy.
Business groups expressed displeasure, but Labour is polling close to the Conservative Party, whose government is teetering ahead of Brexit.
• The U.N. is bracing for President Trump.
Today, he addresses a General Assembly in which many nations fear his stark rhetoric and “America First” approach. The session comes against the backdrop of global calamities like climate change, wars in Syria and Yemen and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. But in case after case, critics say, American leadership is lacking.
Above, Mr. Trump at a U.N. meeting on Monday about the global drug problem.
Also in New York for the General Assembly is President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, who said Monday that he would consider new talks with Washington only if Mr. Trump reversed himself and honored the 2015 nuclear accord.
Iran also threatened unspecified retaliation against the U.S. and regional foes — including Saudi Arabia and Israel — after a deadly attack on a military parade last week by militants who Iran said were backed by the country’s international enemies.
• “You kept the faith.”
Pope Francis, above in Aglona, Latvia, praised the country for weathering totalitarianism to become “a place of dialogue and encounter.”
His trip to the Baltics follows a papal diplomatic coup: a provisional deal reached last week with China over the ordination of bishops.
For China, the deal was part of a broader effort to bring the country’s 60 million Christians to heel. China has demolished hundreds of Protestant churches while also repressing Catholics. The party thinking goes that, with the pope now recognizing the legitimacy of bishops appointed by the Chinese government, underground churches have no reason to exist.
• Michael Kors, the U.S. fashion group, is close to announcing a purchase of Versace, in a deal valuing the luxury Italian label at about $2 billion. Above center, Donatella Versace, the label’s chief designer.
• Instagram’s two co-founders resigned from the photo-sharing app, adding to the challenges facing Facebook, its owner. They did not give a reason for their departure.
• Five seconds of freedom: Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny, above, was released from prison after serving a 30-day sentence for organizing a protest. Seconds later, he was arrested again on new charges. [The New York Times]
• Russia said it would sell advanced air-defense systems to the Syrian government over the protests of Israel, potentially heightening the risk of an air war over Syria. [The New York Times]
• Italy’s government approved hard-line measures that would make it easier to deport migrants, including those deemed “socially dangerous.” Parliament has 60 days to debate the decree before it becomes law. [The Guardian]
• The European Commission referred Poland to the European Court of Justice over the forced retirement of almost a third of Polish judges, saying that the rule of law in Poland is under threat. The Polish government insists the measure is essential to good governance. [BBC]
• The British Virgin Islands are still struggling to recover from two Category 5 hurricanes last year that razed housing and crippled tourism, the economic lifeblood of the Caribbean. [The New York Times]
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
• Two very different hotels represent the opulent and on-a-tight-budget sides of staying in Venice. Which to choose?
• Octopuses are generally asocial. But on ecstasy, they reach out to hug each other with several of their arms, a finding that could shed light on the drug’s impact on humans. (In Opinion, our contributor expresses misgivings about such research.)
• As apartments in major cities continue to shrink, architects are turning to robots. Check out these Transformer-like units that can switch from a living room to a bedroom to a study with the push of a button.
William Faulkner, born on this day in 1897 in New Albany, Miss., won two Pulitzers and the Nobel Prize. His Southern-rooted fiction, heartbreaking, dark and perverse, is often remarked on for its long, winding sentences. His work appears in almost any listing of the best American novels.
What’s less well known about Faulkner is that he was a devoted fan of mysteries — Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Sayers — and tried his own hand at the genre.
In 1946 he won second prize in the annual Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine contest, for the story “An Error in Chemistry” (its big reveal involved a whiskey toddy).
The story later appeared in “Knight’s Gambit,” a mystery collection from Faulkner featuring a mild-mannered yet shrewd country lawyer from Mississippi. Reviews were mixed, but The Times gave it a thumbs up.
Faulkner rarely discussed his love of mysteries, perhaps considering them lowbrow, but seemed to understand their importance to his writing.
A friend recalled visiting a library with him, so Faulkner could “exchange a stack of mystery stories for a new stack. I asked him, ‘Why do you read all of these damn mysteries?’ and he said, ‘Bud, no matter what you write, it’s a mystery of one kind or another.’”
Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.
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