Iran, Impeachment, Elizabeth Wurtzel: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

Iran, Impeachment, Elizabeth Wurtzel: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

9 mins read

Remy TuminHiroko Masuike

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

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Credit…Erfan Kouchari/Tasnim News Agency, via Associated Press

1. Iran has begun a retaliatory attack on the U.S., striking two American bases in Iraq.

American military officials said that Iran had launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces, targeting the Asad and Erbil bases. Iranian officials said the attacks were in response to the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander, last week.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, and the Pentagon said Tuesday evening that it was still assessing the damage. Stay here for updates.

“The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” the White House said in a statement.

But Democrats are insisting on both.

If Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the House’s articles of impeachment to the Senate — and that remains uncertain — Mr. McConnell’s plan would leave the decision on witnesses and evidence to be settled only after House representatives and the president make opening arguments and senators question both sides.

Also out of Washington: Prosecutors said the former Trump aide Michael Flynn should be jailed for up to six months, shifting from greater leniency after he backed off a cooperation deal and grew antagonistic.


3. Puerto Rico can’t catch a break.

A 6.4-magnitude quake struck five miles off the southwestern coast before dawn, the strongest tremor yet in a week of heavy seismic activity. The quake knocked out power to much of the island, seriously damaging buildings and leaving at least one person dead.

“In 102 years, Puerto Rico had not experienced anything like this,” said Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who declared a state of emergency. She warned that more seismic activity is expected in the coming days.

Squeezed between the border of the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates, the island is as vulnerable to earthquakes as California or Japan.

4. At the Super Bowl, it’ll be Bloomberg against Trump.

Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign announced it had secured a 60-second advertising slot during the game in February. Hours later, President Trump’s campaign said that it, too, had secured a 60-second slot.

The ad buys by the New York billionaires are likely to cost at least $10 million each — a show of financial force rarely seen in presidential politics.

Separately, a longtime Facebook executive told employees that the company had a moral duty not to tilt the scales against Mr. Trump as he seeks re-election, even though the platform’s current policies may “very well may lead to” Mr. Trump’s victory.


5. A grim reality is emerging in Australia’s wildfires: the grievous toll on the country’s renowned wildlife.

At least 24 people have been killed as the fires ravaged 15 million acres, and some estimates put the number of animals lost in the hundreds of millions, including many found nowhere else but Australia.

“We will have taken many species that weren’t threatened close to extinction, if not to extinction,” said an ecologist and botanist at Curtin University, in Perth.

Some residents are banding together to help feed, find and rehabilitate survivors. Some are even keeping the animals in their homes, above.

Here’s how to help fire victims, human and otherwise.


6. Sonos accused Google of stealing its technology.

The maker of home speakers said Amazon did the same, taking design details it shared to create its own, cheaper products. But Sonos said it could risk suing only one tech giant at a time.

Sonos is seeking financial damages and a ban on the sale of Google’s speakers, smartphones and laptops in the U.S.

It’s a rare case but a common complaint: that the biggest tech companies have become essential to reach customers and build businesses, and that they have exploited that leverage to steal smaller companies’ ideas and customers.

7. Elizabeth Wurtzel, who opened a dialogue about clinical depression with her startling 1994 memoir, “Prozac Nation,” died. She was 52.

Social media was filled with mourning.

Ms. Wurtzel’s first book, published when she was 27, became a cultural reference point and part of a new wave of confessional writing. Critics were initially divided, but the book, Michiko Kakutani of The Times wrote, “ultimately wins the reader over.”

Ms. Wurtzel, above in 2007, died of metastatic breast cancer. She did not know until the cancer was first found that she had the BRCA genetic mutation, which radically increases risk. After her diagnosis, she became an advocate for BRCA testing and wrote about her cancer experience in The Times.


8. The future is looking increasingly flat, at least when it comes to electronics.

A promising new material called molybdenum disulfide, or MoS₂, can be deposited in a layer just three atoms thick. In the world of engineering, things can’t get much thinner. Above, tiny electronic circuits made of graphene, a 2-D form of carbon.

Researchers believe such two-dimensional materials will be the linchpin of the internet of everything. A layer of MoS₂ could wrap around a desk and turn it into a laptop charger, without any power cords.

The possibilities seem endless. (Warning: This story may make your mind explode.)


9. And in other futuristic tech: Old musical stars never die anymore. They just become holograms.

Companies are making plans to put droves of departed idols on tour: Whitney Houston, Frank Zappa, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, above, to name a few. The holograms would reanimate a live-music industry whose biggest earners will soon be … let’s say no longer touring.

Our music critic also looks at a trend he finds disturbing: pop stars being pulled into courtrooms for lifting ideas. “Originality is a con,” he writes. “Pop music history is the history of near overlap.”


10. Finally, one of the world’s most obscure languages is thriving. In Brooklyn.

The world has just 700 speakers of “the golden language,” Seke (pronounced SAY-kay), the native tongue of five villages in a part of Nepal called Mustang, near the border with Tibet.

About 100 of those speakers live in New York — half in Queens and most of the other half in a single Brooklyn building, above. Linguists and Seke speakers alike worry that it could disappear. You can listen to it here.

But the city offers surprising advantages to keep it going. “Back home, it takes two days by horse ride and long hours of walking to reach a village,” a Seke translator said. “Over here, it just takes two stops on the subway.”

Have a loquacious evening.


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