UPDATING… Russia, U.S. Congress, Brexit: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning.

The curious case of an American charged with espionage, a brand new session of the U.S. Congress and a plan to return artwork to Africa. Right here’s the most recent:

An American citizen has been charged with spying in Russia, his lawyer mentioned.

The Russian authorities have introduced espionage fees towards Paul Whelan, a former Marine who’s the top of worldwide safety for an auto components maker. If convicted, Mr. Whelan faces as much as 20 years in jail.

Why Russia: Mr. Whelan’s household mentioned he was in Russia to attend the marriage of a buddy. A Russian information company reported that he was accused of making an attempt to recruit a Russian citizen to acquire categorised data.

Attainable trade: There was widespread hypothesis that Russia seized Mr. Whelan to trade him for Maria Butina, a Russian who pleaded responsible in a U.S. federal court docket to conspiring to behave as a international agent and affect N.R.A. officers and outstanding Republicans.

Democrats took management of the Home of Representatives and returned Nancy Pelosi to the speaker’s submit, bringing divided authorities again to Washington.

Hours earlier than her election, Ms. Pelosi, the one girl who has been speaker of the Home, steered in an interview that a sitting president might be indicted and left open the choice of impeaching President Trump. She is now second in line to the presidency.

Meet the brand new freshmen: The category is finest described in superlatives — it’s the most racially various group ever elected to the Home, and it features a historic variety of girls.

Authorities shutdown: In its first session, the Home handed a plan to reopen the federal government, however the shutdown isn’t over. The Senate might not even vote on it. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican chief, is dealing with stress from members of his personal occasion to step in and resolve the stalemate.


Final month, traders appeared too pessimistic. Now, they appear prescient.

As firms like Apple and Delta issued warnings this week concerning the well being of their companies, their concern means that traders have been proper to be nervous. Scores of firms will quickly report fourth-quarter outcomes. A White Home official mentioned there might be a torrent of unhealthy information from company America.

Markets: Information that Apple was chopping its income forecast for the primary time in 16 years due to poor iPhone gross sales in China rippled via shares all over the world.

One other angle: What must you do concerning the falling inventory market? Take a nap, our senior economics correspondent writes.


In November, a pivotal report commissioned by the French president referred to as for 1000’s of artworks to go away French museums and return to West Africa. However how do Africans see the challenges of restituting artworks?

The Instances sat down with an African artist, a historian and a thinker to debate what ought to occur.

What’s at stake: It might be the most important shake-up ever for European museums which have objects acquired through the colonial period.

One take: “It calls for that the logic of France’s relationship to Africa be renegotiated,” a French artwork historian mentioned. “It’s not merely concerning the objects, and the place they’re. By insisting on full restitution, the concept of ‘long-term loans’ to African nations turns into as absurd because it sounds.”


Brexit: A brand new ballot of Conservative Occasion members reveals that 57 % want leaving the European Union with out a deal, regardless of warnings of value will increase and meals shortages.

France: The French police arrested a outstanding chief of the Yellow Vest motion for a second time, a transparent sign that the federal government is following via on a pledge to get powerful after violent protests.

North Korea: The nation’s ambassador to Italy disappeared from its embassy in Rome in November in what gave the impression to be a defection try, in keeping with a South Korean lawmaker.

Rome: Pope Francis advised U.S. bishops to put aside their variations and confront a “disaster of credibility” stemming from the sexual abuse scandal.

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor formally requested the demise penalty for 5 suspects within the killing of the dissident, however didn’t present their names, the roles they performed within the crime or some other particulars.

World wide: Our inaugural 52 Locations Traveler journeyed almost 75,000 miles across the globe. Right here’s what she discovered in a 12 months of virtually nonstop movement.


Ideas for a extra fulfilling life.

Recipe of the day: Strive a meatless Friday dinner of roasted squash with turmeric-ginger chickpeas.

Take our 30-day Nicely problem.

Units that can invade your life in 2019 (and what’s overhyped).


A few of us are nonetheless sorting via the year-end “better of” lists. Notably, many online game lists included a brand new launch with roots in 1984: Tetris Impact.

It contains a fashionable visible and sonic expertise, together with an acclaimed virtual-reality mode. However its core is similar gameplay that a Russian programmer, Alexey Pajitnov, created in his authentic title, Tetris.

In that model — and in additional than 200 subsequent official releases — seven shapes (configurations of 4 squares, referred to as tetriminos) stream one after the other from the highest of the display screen. The participant seeks to prepare them to fill horizontal rows, which then clear from the sector of play. The sport ends when uncleared areas fill the taking part in grid. (Due to Soviet-era contracts, Mr. Pajitnov solely started to get Tetris royalties in 1996.)

A report in The Instances in 1988 mentioned gamers discovered it “surprisingly addictive.”

That has been borne out. Gamers report seeing the tetriminos away from the display screen, together with whereas dreaming.

The phenomenon’s identify? The Tetris Impact.

Brian Hoerst, a loyal video gamer who does tech help in our London newsroom, wrote as we speak’s Again Story.

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