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We start today with breaking news from Syria, as well as the latest from the government shutdown, which is now tied for the longest in history. And it’s Friday, so there’s a new news quiz.
The U.S. began withdrawing troops from Syria today, an American military spokesman said.
White House sees storm aid as a way to build a wall
The Trump administration is considering diverting $13.9 billion allocated last year for areas damaged by hurricanes and wildfires to pay for a wall on the southwestern border. That’s according to congressional and Defense Department officials with knowledge of the matter, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the possibility.
Officials are debating whether they could make such a move without a declaration of a national emergency. President Trump has repeatedly said he might declare one in order to bypass Congress, where Democrats have declined to fund a wall.
Yesterday: Mr. Trump visited the border city of McAllen, Tex., to make his case
Go deeper: Two Times journalists are driving the length of the 1,900-mile border. Their first dispatch is from Brownsville, Tex.
The Daily: On today’s episode, hear from a sheriff in Arizona who supports Mr. Trump’s plans.
Government shutdown nears a record
The partial closure that has resulted from the impasse over a border wall would become the longest in history on Saturday. Most of the 800,000 federal workers involved will miss a paycheck today.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence made clear that President Trump would not support a deal to reopen the government before wall funding was secured. “No wall, no deal,” Mr. Pence said.
Oceans are warming faster than we thought
Water temperatures are rising 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago, according to an analysis published on Thursday.
The oceans have been absorbing most of the heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions, offering a buffer against climate change. The escalating temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.
The background: Historically, understanding ocean temperatures has been difficult. A 2014 U.N. report presented five estimates, all showing less ocean warming than the levels projected by computer climate models. The new analysis incorporates more recent data, and its results are more in line with the models.
Mike Pompeo lays out a vision for the Middle East
The secretary of state told an audience in Cairo on Thursday that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over” and that the U.S. would pursue a more activist policy in the Middle East, despite President Trump’s move to withdraw troops from Syria.
Mr. Pompeo sharply criticized former President Barack Obama, saying he had “fundamental misunderstandings” about the region that “underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism.” In a speech in 2009, also in Cairo, Mr. Obama made an effort to reset relations with the Muslim world in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Iraq war.
Closer look: Mr. Pompeo’s speech contrasted starkly with Mr. Obama’s. We compared the two.
News analysis: The Trump administration on Thursday “explicitly favored foreign autocrats over elected American leaders,” one of our White House correspondents writes. Mr. Pompeo praised Egypt’s repressive president,
If you have 35 minutes, this is worth it
The nature of beauty
For decades, the centerpiece of evolutionary theory has been that creatures with the most advantageous traits have the best chance of multiplying. Beauty — so far as a reproductive mate was concerned — was merely a shorthand for those traits.
Charles Darwin himself never thought that explained everything. Now biologists are revisiting his theory that animals can appreciate beauty for its own sake.
Here’s what else is happening
Missing girl is found: Jayme Closs, 13, disappeared in October on the night that her parents were shot to death in their rural Wisconsin home. She was found alive on Thursday, the authorities said. A suspect was in custody.
Huawei arrest: The Polish authorities have charged a Chinese employee of Huawei, the telecommunications giant, and a Polish national with spying for China, officials said today. The arrests come as the U.S. and its allies have tried to restrict the use of Chinese technology based on espionage fears.
Michael Cohen in Congress: President Trump’s former personal lawyer said on Thursday that he would give “a full and credible account” of his work for Mr. Trump to a House committee next month.
New Carlos Ghosn accusations: Japanese prosecutors brought fresh charges of financial wrongdoing today against the former head of the automaking alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi. He is in jail in Tokyo.
Snapshot: Above, Venezuelans at the inauguration of President Nicolás Maduro, who was sworn in on Thursday for a second term. He has been able to retain power despite a plummeting economy, skyrocketing violence
Andy Murray retirement: The former No. 1 player and three-time Grand Slam champion announced today that he would end his tennis career after Wimbledon, if not sooner.
News quiz: Did you follow the headlines this week? Test yourself.
Late-night comedy: Jimmy Fallon discussed the government shutdown. “Everyone’s fighting. People are exhausted. There’s no end in sight. It’s basically like playing a game of Monopoly with your family.”
What we’re reading: This reprint of an article in Appalachia, a mountaineering and conservation journal. “You’re hiking high up a frigid mountain, storm clouds are gathering, and you come across a trail of fresh prints in the snow, made by someone in decidedly unwinter-y sneakers,” writes Michael Wines, a national correspondent. “What would you do? This woman did what many would not. It’s quite a yarn.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: A comforting three-cheese cauliflower casserole.
Listen: Jordan Cardy, Don’t Hesitate.” Our critic says he combines the energy of punk with the storytelling of hip-hop.
Read: These eight new books are recommended by our editors, who have globe-trotting in mind this week.
Watch: Our critics picked the 20 best TV dramas broadcast since “The Sopranos” debuted 20 years ago (“Game of Thrones” doesn’t feature, to the chagrin of our TV editor).
Smarter Living: Revolving doors were invented during the late 19th century to cut back on fumes and dirt in larger buildings. Over time, they’ve proven to be real energy savers: Used enough, one can save enough carbon emissions to heat five houses.
We also have tips on managing the perennial scourge of teenage acne.
And now for the Back Story on …
A gathering of Sherlock Holmes fans
The game is afoot this weekend for the Baker Street Irregulars, a literary society devoted to Sherlock Holmes that is holding its annual dinner in New York City.
Founded in 1934, the Irregulars are named for a group of street urchins who assist Holmes in some of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 60 stories about the fictional detective.
The group, which is invitation only, has about 300 members around the world and publishes a quarterly journal of Sherlockian scholarship.
The Irregulars’ dinner tonight is part of a five-day celebration in Manhattan featuring a lecture, a memorabilia sale and parties with other groups of Sherlock Holmes fans, including the Baker Street Babes. (The first female members of the Irregulars weren’t admitted until the early 1990s.)
The event is timed to coincide with Holmes’s birthday, which enthusiasts have generally agreed is Jan. 6 — although the reasoning is far from elementary.
That’s it for this briefing. Have a good weekend.
Thank you[email protected].
P.S.The Daily.” Today’s episode is about a sheriff in Arizona who supports President Trump’s plans for a border wall.mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: You can find all our puzzles here. was named the new Sports editor on Thursday.
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