Monday . 18 March . 2019
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Brett Kavanaugh, China, Octopus: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern. Read about their preparations.

For Judge Kavanaugh, the challenge is to avoid looking like he is attacking his accusers. Dr. Blasey, for her part, will be questioned by a veteran sex crimes prosecutor, a scenario that could rattle the most seasoned witness.

At stake is a swing seat on a Supreme Court that is divided ideologically between four conservatives and four liberals, and all this before midterm elections that will determine which party controls Congress.

Updates: Our live briefing will have the latest.

Prepared remarks: Here are transcripts of what Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh plan to tell senators today. She will testify first.

Online: We debunked some of the viral rumors about Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers.

Those were President Trump’s words as he appeared to relish sparring with reporters during an 83-minute news conference in New York City on Wednesday. Here are five takeaways.

As well as his remarks about Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump addressed reaction to his speech before the U.N. General Assembly a day earlier. “They weren’t laughing at me; they were laughing with me,” he said. “We had fun.”

He also confirmed that he had rejected trade talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada over disagreements on tariffs, adding that the country “has treated us very badly.”

Election interference: The president also accused a foreign power of meddling in U.S. elections, but it was China, not Russia.

A security crisis: The cover story in this week’s Times Magazine asks why, when America’s electronic voting systems are more vulnerable than ever, no one is trying to fix them.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he wanted to retain the deputy attorney general.

Doubts about Mr. Rosenstein’s future grew after The Times reported that he had discussed secretly taping the president and removing him from office.

The two men were supposed to meet today, but Mr. Trump said he was considering delaying the meeting because of the Kavanaugh hearings.

Q. and A.: The Times article prompted a vigorous discussion about how we handle reporting that relies on anonymous sources. Two of our editors responded to some of those questions.

The number of youngsters living in poverty in the country has jumped sharply in the past six years. It’s a trend that critics blame in part on the government’s austerity measures.

Roughly 35 percent of all minors in Britain are expected to be poor by 2021, according to one forecast. And the country’s departure from the European Union in March could raise living costs.

Our correspondent reports from a school in northwest England where one staff member estimated that one in three students wouldn’t have breakfast unless the school provided it.

In the opposition: Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, promised to sweep away “greed is good” capitalism and expand the state’s role in the economy.

The U.S. economy is experiencing “a particularly bright moment,” the Federal Reserve chairman said, announcing a rate increase.

Best of late-night TV

Samantha Bee rejected the suggestion that not being confirmed to the Supreme Court would “destroy” Brett Kavanaugh’s life: “Lots of people aren’t on the Supreme Court. Are you really saying Rihanna has a worse life than Sonia Sotomayor?”

Quotation of the day

“We are happy we were able to help, and loved seeing their joy when power was restored. It’s unbelievable how they now seek to take advantage of our willingness to lend a hand.”

Randall Hakes, a lawyer at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which sent workers and trucks to fix Puerto Rico’s grid, then received bills for taxes, interest and penalties from cities there.

The Times, in other words

Here’s an image of today’s front page, and links to our Opinion content and crossword puzzles.

What we’re reading

Kevin McKenna, a deputy Business editor, recommends this report from The Times’s archives: “Not 2018, but 1991, and the case of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, told in real time by Maureen Dowd. She writes, ‘Once again women and men are watching something unfold through absolutely different sets of eyes and different sets of experiences.’ Hat tip to Brian Stelter of CNN for surfacing a piece that at many points could pass for contemporary.”

The illustrations that appear on Google’s home page to celebrate special occasions, like its 20th birthday today, began as a sly out-of-office message.

When the company’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, left for Burning Man in 1998, they added a drawing of the annual festival’s logo to their home page as a wink that they were away. The first Google Doodle was a hit.

A Google Doodle celebrating the birthday of Roger Hargreaves, the creator of the “Mr. Men” and “Little Miss” children’s books.CreditAlamy

Google now employs a team of more than a dozen “Doodlers” to keep up with global demand for designs.

A few of the thousands of Doodles have caused controversy, including one honoring the Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama, who expressed support for terrorists including Osama bin Laden.

But other Doodles have stirred creativity.

Ryan Germick, whose title is principal designer, Doodleland, said 40 million songs had been created with an interactive guitar Doodle celebrating Les Paul’s 96th birthday. And the Birth of Hip-Hop Doodle allowed visitors to mix samples from classic breakbeats, which he called the Doodles’ high-water mark.

Living in Doodleland, however, comes with a cost for Mr. Germick: seeing Doodles everywhere.

“Like at the supermarket,” he said in 2016, “the cucumbers and tomatoes are arranged a certain way and I’m like, ‘You know what, if I had a watermelon, that could work as a G.’ ”

Robb Todd wrote today’s Back Story.


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