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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. The Trump administration and Congress are in a standoff over a potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower said to involve President Trump and at least one conversation with a foreign leader.
The inspector general for American spy agencies told lawmakers during a private briefing that the complaint involves multiple events, two officials familiar with the briefing told The Times. The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has refused to turn the complaint over to Congress, as is generally required by law.
After the private briefing, Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, above, said he still did not know the contents of the complaint.
2. Revelations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed up in racist makeup reinforce a long-running narrative that has dogged the Canadian leader: He isn’t really who he portrays himself to be.
Mr. Trudeau, above in Winnipeg on Thursday, has long cast himself as a glittering spokesman for the world’s beleaguered liberals. But at the very least, the scandal casts a shadow over his carefully calibrated image as a progressive champion of racial, gender and immigrant rights.
Three instances of the prime minister caricaturing people of color have surfaced, throwing his re-election campaign into turmoil before next month’s election.
Mr. Trudeau said he could not rule out the existence of more examples. “I am wary of, of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered,” he said.
3. President Trump’s legal team is suing to block a subpoena seeking his tax returns, claiming that Mr. Trump can’t be criminally prosecuted while president.
Taking a broad, untested legal position, the president’s lawyers argued that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries.
The move comes days after the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns as part of an investigation into payments to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Separately, in today’s Debatable column: The Constitution sets a minimum age for the presidency at 35. Should there be a maximum one, too?
4. The vaping outbreak toll has risen to 530 probable cases and eight deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, and some of the illnesses are so severe that more deaths are expected.
Health officials have not yet pinpointed the cause of the respiratory illness, but did offer a demographic snapshot: More than three-fourths of those sickened are male, and half are under 25.
Meanwhile, the vaping backlash is expanding globally: India moved a step closer to a nationwide ban on electronic cigarettes.
Separately, health authorities in Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey have warned residents to protect themselves against mosquitoes after Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare virus, has killed at least five people this year.
5. Tropical Depression Imelda is pummeling southeast Texas, bringing torrential rain and devastating flooding.
The storm shuttered highways and left hundreds of residents stranded. Imelda churned over Houston on Wednesday before slamming into the area around Beaumont, Tex., overnight, with quantities of rain that rivaled those caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Here’s the latest. Above, Splendora, Tex.
Farther south, Tropical Storm Jerry strengthened to a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, just one day after Hurricane Humberto grazed Bermuda.
6. The skies are emptying: There are 2.9 billion fewer birds in the U.S. and Canada now than 50 years ago — a steep decline that stunned researchers.
While some species grew, the majority declined — often by huge numbers — including traditionally abundant birds like robins and sparrows. Habitat loss, pesticides and house cats are among the likely culprits, and experts say the declines are a dire warning about the planet’s well-being.
7. The largest and most ambitious climate-change research expedition the Arctic has ever seen is about to get underway.
On Friday, the German icebreaker Polarstern will leave Norway, above, for the Laptev Sea, north of Central Siberia. There, it will churn through the ice and sidle up to an ice floe, cut its engine and allow itself to fully freeze into place for the next 12 to 14 months.
The $155 million expedition involves scientists from 19 nations, and is designed to help them better understand how global warming will affect the region.
In other climate news, Amazon committed to being carbon neutral by 2040, in part by buying 100,000 electric delivery vans.
8. Yesterday we told you about a Queens library that is a new gem of New York City architecture. Today, something a little more familiar: a revamped Empire State Building.
The $165 million, four-year renovation of the city’s first “supertall” skyscraper is ultimately intended to ease lines and crowds as people make their way to its vertiginous observatories.
Manhattan offers three public decks with distinct views and experiences — Top of the Rock, One World Observatory and the Empire State Building — and next year a fourth, The Edge, will join the mix. Here’s how the views compare.
9. Can a rugby player become an N.F.L. star?
Jordan Mailata, a 360-pound rugby player from Australia, had never played a game of American football when he was drafted into the N.F.L. by the Philadelphia Eagles. Now he’s trying to learn one of the sport’s most technically demanding positions: offensive tackle.
We also looked at the intersection between technology and college athletics. Teams are asking players to swallow electronic pills that monitor body temperature and wear goggles that track eye movement — all in the name of collecting data and improving performance.
10. And finally, a break in the action.
With “Little Women,” “Watchmen,” “Catch-22” and other book adaptations heading to screens big and small, we rounded up nine titles worth curling up with first.
Or maybe you’d rather head to space. Brad Pitt plays an astronaut in “Ad Astra,” a story that reminds us that “in order to get found, you need to get lost,” Manohla Dargis writes in her review. It’s a Critic’s Pick.
Have a leisurely night.
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