Thursday, 21 Jan 2021

Border Wall, Illinois, Colin Kaepernick: Your Friday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. President Trump declared a national emergency to try and build a border wall that Congress refused to give him.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other,” he said in a televised announcement at the White House, above. “It’s an invasion,” he added. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”

Nearly all of Mr. Trump’s claims about the southern border were misleading, exaggerated or false.

House Democrats plan to introduce legislation to block the president’s move. If approved by Congress, it would put the president in the position of issuing the first veto of his presidency. Here’s what might happen next.

A last-minute tantrum by Mr. Trump nearly derailed a deal to avert another government shutdown and forced the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to accept an emergency declaration. We have a behind-the-scenes look at how it all came to a head.


2. The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the Trump administration can add a question about citizenship to the next census questionnaire. A decision is expected before census forms are printed in June.

Critics say that adding the question would undermine the accuracy of the census because both legal and unauthorized immigrants might refuse to fill out the form. About 6.5 million people might decide not to participate, according to one government estimate.

That could reduce Democratic representation when congressional districts are drawn in 2021 and affect the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending.


3. Amazon was long accustomed to highly deferential treatment from localities across the country. But according to dozens of interviews this week, it badly misjudged how it would be received in New York.

Thursday’s abrupt announcement that the tech company was canceling a deal to build a new campus in Long Island City, Queens, capped several days of intense behind-the-scenes maneuvering among government officials and Amazon executives. We took a look at how the deal collapsed.

New York was one of two cities chosen for new Amazon campuses. Northern Virginia is keeping Amazon’s 25,000 jobs, and it wants you to know it.


4. As the possibility grows of Britain leaving the E.U. with no deal, one country is seeing it as a beacon of hope: Many in Ireland believe a no-deal Brexit could lead to the country’s reunification with Northern Ireland.

“The sense of a slow momentum toward Irish reunification has become a fast momentum now,” said an English economist based in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, where a defaced “Welcome to Northern Ireland” sign can be seen, above.

But lurking in the background of the debate is the possibility that the imposition of a hard border between Britain and Ireland could reignite the violence that largely ended in 1998. And even still, the majority of voters in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic would need to back reunification in a public referendum — and the British government has discretion over when to call a vote.

Separately, check out our British-Irish dialect quiz to see what it says about where you’re from. (You can still play along even if you weren’t raised there.)


5. A gunman opened fire inside an industrial complex in suburban Chicago on Friday afternoon, leaving five people dead and injuring others, including five police officers.

Scores of law enforcement authorities swarmed Aurora, Ill., west of Chicago, and schools were forced to keep students inside.

After a tense period of waiting, as officers from departments all over the region gathered near the complex, the Aurora Police Department said the gunman died after police shot at him.


6. The N.F.L. and Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, have settled a case accusing the league of colluding to keep him off a team.

Mr. Kaepernick, above center, has not played in the N.F.L. since the 2016 season, when he ignited a protest movement against racism and police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem. He became a free agent in March 2017. As a parade of quarterbacks found work, he filed a grievance asserting that the league’s owners had conspired to keep him out because of his protests.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The league also settled a similar claim lodged by another player, Eric Reid, above right, who knelt alongside Kaepernick and went unsigned for a period.


7. Terminally ill federal prisoners have long had the option of applying for what is called compassionate release — at least in theory. But in practice, that reprieve has come too late for many.

An analysis of federal data by The New York Times and The Marshall Project found that 266 inmates who had applied from 2013 to 2017 had died, either after being denied or while still waiting for a decision. During the same period, the bureau approved only 6 percent of applications.

One of the provisions of the new criminal justice law signed by President Trump in December gives inmates the ability to appeal directly to the courts. Steve Cheatham, 59, seen above with his wife, did just that, filing a petition last month so that he could go home to die. He was among the first to be granted release under the new law — but he died before he could make it home.


8. First stop: Puerto Rico.

Our new 52 Places Traveler started his yearlong journey there, one and a half years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. He knew he would see progress, but “what I didn’t expect to see were the omnipresent smiles, the sense of optimism shared by so many people I met,” he writes. Above, crowds pour into the streets during an informal Bomba concert.

Explore the cities, countries, regions and states on this year’s list of “52 Places to Go in 2019” through these books.

And our previous 52 Places Traveler writes about experiencing pop culture shock after a year of traveling by herself.


9. Meg Ryan and the romantic comedy genre were synonymous from the late 1980s through the 1990s. But harsh reaction to an erotic thriller in 2003 compelled her to step into a less public, far happier life.

For the debut of our new, extended Talk column, David Marchese spoke with Ms. Ryan about the future of romantic comedies, the burden of celebrity and leaving it all behind. “The feeling with Hollywood was mutual,” she said.

Here are eight things we learned from the interview.


10. Finally, we end the week with a test of wits.

Can you name the Mars rover mission that came to an end this week, the Democrat who entered the 2020 presidential race during a snowstorm or the breed of dog who took home best in show at the Westminster Dog Show? Take our quiz to find out.

Perhaps picking up one of these nine new books we recommend or catching up on TV is more your speed.

No matter what you do, have a great weekend.


We’ll be off Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday. See you Tuesday.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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