Alabama, San Francisco, Boeing: Your Wednesday Briefing
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We start today with Alabama’s move to outlaw almost all abortions. We’re also covering San Francisco’s ban on facial recognition technology, and a record-breaking art sale.
Alabama lawmakers vote to effectively ban abortion
The Alabama Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that would almost entirely outlaw abortion. It now moves to the desk of Gov. Kay Ivey, whose Republican colleagues expect her support.
Even supporters expect lower courts to block the measure. But it was drafted with exactly that in mind: Its architects hope a fight will prompt the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized a constitutional right to end a pregnancy.
The details: The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy — starting at conception — and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the woman’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest.
Response: Abortion rights advocates say that the measure would drive the procedure underground, endangering the lives of women and girls and disproportionately affecting the poor and minorities.
Tariffs could be here to stay
After imposing 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, President Trump said on Tuesday that he was now looking “very strongly” at placing additional levies on nearly every Chinese import.
“Our economy is fantastic; theirs is not so good,” he said.
Mr. Trump’s measures are putting the U.S., previously a steadfast advocate of global free trade, in an unfamiliar position: It now has the highest tariff rate among developed nations, outranking Canada, Germany, Russia and even China. The American economy is strong, but decreased trade could hurt even sectors that seem unrelated to importing and exporting goods, including research and development, retail, and marketing.
Another angle: Despite Beijing’s defiant tone on the trade war with the U.S., some in China argue that the countries benefit more from their economic relationship than either admits.
What’s next: Mr. Trump must decide by Friday whether to act on his threat to impose global auto tariffs. European officials would regard such measures as a breach of a tariff truce they worked out with the president last year.
“The Daily”: Today’s episode looks at what the U.S. and China have to lose from the trade war.
San Francisco bans facial recognition technology
With an 8-to-1 vote by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the technology hub became the first major American city to block a tool that many police forces are turning to in the search for suspects.
“We have an outsize responsibility to regulate the excesses of technology precisely because they are headquartered here,” said Aaron Peskin, the city official who sponsored the bill.
Critics, including a local police officers’ association, say the ban would hinder investigations.
The details: The facial recognition fight in San Francisco is largely theoretical. The police department does not currently deploy such technology, and it is in use only at the international airport and at ports that are under federal jurisdiction and are not impacted by the legislation.
Go deeper: China uses extensive facial recognition to keep tabs on a largely Muslim minority group.
N.R.A. cash machine sputters
As the National Rifle Association lavished pay and perks on its leaders and partners, it increasingly relied on its own charity for funds — at least $206 million since 2010, a review of tax records by The Times shows.
The charity’s role is among the issues being examined by the New York attorney general in an investigation into the N.R.A.’s tax-exempt status. At issue, experts say, would be whether that money was used for charitable purposes, as required by law, or for political activities.
The response: An N.R.A. board member said the lobbying group’s opponents “are trying to paint this false narrative that we’re in deep financial trouble, and I think it’s wishful thinking on their part.”
If you have 7 minutes, this is worth it
Fear on the Appalachian Trail
People who walk the Appalachian Trail, above, a 2,190-odd-mile path from Georgia to Maine, are typically a close-knit bunch.
But news that one hiker was murdered and another stabbed along a stretch of the trail in Virginia has unnerved the hiking world.
Here’s what else is happening
Partial embassy evacuation: “Nonemergency” employees were ordered to leave the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad today, after the Trump administration warned of a threat linked to Iran.
Sudan breakthrough: Military and civilian leaders agreed today on a transition to democratic rule, a step forward after last month’s ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Attack by Yemeni rebels: The Iranian-backed Houthis attacked Saudi oil facilities on Tuesday, a day after Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers had been sabotaged at sea.
Allies question Iran threat: A British military official said he saw no increased risk from Iran or from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq or Syria, drawing a rebuke from the United States.
Boeing hearing: Lawmakers are set to grill federal regulators today about the safety certification of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, which has been grounded after two deadly crashes.
Obstruction inquiry: The House Intelligence Committee has opened an investigation into Michael Cohen’s claims that lawyers for President Trump and his family helped shape his false testimony to Congress.
Death-penalty drugs: The Justice Department said the Food and Drug Administration lacked the legal authority to regulate drugs used for lethal injections, opening the door for states to import them for executions.
Snapshot: Above, an 1890 painting from Claude Monet’s “Meules” series sold for $110.7 million on Tuesday, the most ever for an Impressionist work.
In memoriam: Tim Conway, one of Hollywood’s most enduringly popular clowns, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 85.
Late-night comedy: Stephen Colbert mocked President Trump’s claim that the U.S. was engaged in a “little squabble” with China over trade. “We’ve had lots of squabbles throughout history,” he said. “We had World Squabble I, World Squabble II.”
What we’re reading: This essay in The Atlantic. Steven Erlanger, our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe, recommends its argument that the changing demographics of America help explain the increasing divide between Democrats and Republicans.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Namoura, a syrup-soaked semolina cake, is a perfect sweet for iftar, after a long day of fasting.
Go: The choreographer and performance artist Ann Liv Young is using her Bushwick apartment — and her daughters and animals — in her version of “Antigone.”
Listen: Colin Farrell narrates a new edition of James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist” with coolness and restraint.
Smarter Living: We all have moments from our past that gnaw at us — a regret, an unanswered question, hurt feelings. Sometimes revisiting that moment can make things right. It’s never too late to say the thing you’ve been meaning to say. And if you reach out to someone and don’t hear back immediately, don’t assume the worst.
And to reduce stress while traveling, plan less.
And now for the Back Story on …
Ice hockey in May
By this time in 1967, 13 days had passed since the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup — a victory that remains the team’s last National Hockey League title. Three years earlier, the Leafs took home the trophy in April.
This year, the champions won’t be known until well into June.
Several factors keep the N.H.L.’s stars on ice when many sports fans’ thoughts have turned to golf greens. But, like the extended season (it’s gone from 60 regular-season games just after World War II to 82 now), the protracted playoffs mean more ticket and concession sales for teams and more advertising sales for broadcasters.
But the playoff economics don’t always work out. After agreeing to pay nearly $5 billion for the N.H.L. rights in Canada — twice what the U.S. market costs NBC — the broadcaster Rogers Communications has been hit by disappointing ratings when, as is the case again this year, the Canadian teams are all out golfing.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. Ian Austen, our Canada correspondent, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected]
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the U.S.-China trade war.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Aerobics class with an elevated block (4 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times has 15 bureaus in the U.S. and 31 international bureaus, including in Beijing; Johannesburg; Moscow; and Sydney, Australia.
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