Fri. Aug 23rd, 2019

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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

5 min read

President Trump on Tuesday put off new tariffs on many Chinese imports until after the start of the Christmas shopping season, acknowledging that the measures could hurt American consumers.

Mr. Trump pushed a 10 percent tariff on consumer electronics and some other goods to Dec. 15, and excluded others entirely, in the face of growing pressure from U.S. businesses and consumer groups.

Go deeper: Mr. Trump’s tax cuts and tariffs have not caused a significant return of factory activity to the U.S., according to data from the government and other sources.

Antigovernment demonstrators apologized today after two days of disruptions at the city’s international airport, which said it would limit terminal access to ticketed passengers and airport workers.

“We apologize for our behavior but we are just too scared,” read one post that was widely distributed on social media. “Our police shot us, government betrayed us, social institutions failed us. Please help us.”

A Chinese government spokesman denounced the protests as “conduct close to terrorism.”

The Daily: Today’s episode is about the protests.

News analysis: Under President Trump’s “America First” strategy, Washington has largely stayed on the sidelines during recent disputes in Asia, our correspondent writes. “The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday. “We’ll see what happens. But I’m sure it’ll work out.”

The two guards in the jail unit where Jeffrey Epstein died last weekend had fallen asleep and failed to check on him for about three hours, according to law enforcement officials. The pair then falsified records to cover that up.

The Justice Department on Tuesday placed the employees on leave and temporarily reassigned the jail’s warden, pending an investigation into the apparent suicide of Mr. Epstein, who was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

What’s next: In addition to investigations by the Justice Department, the inspector general and the F.B.I., two other reviews are underway, a Justice Department official said. An “after-action” team from the Bureau of Prisons is expected at the jail today.

Over the past two years, as the oil-rich economy crumbled and a majority of Venezuelans lacked food and medicine, factions within the security forces staged at least five attempts to overthrow or assassinate President Nicolás Maduro.

His government has since targeted its own military in an effort to retain control. There are at least 217 active and retired officers in Venezuelan jails, including 12 generals, according to a nonprofit based in Caracas that represents several of the men.

Closer look: A retired navy captain, Rafael Acosta, died in June. He suffered blunt force trauma and electrocution, according to leaked portions of his autopsy report, and the government admits excessive force was used against him.

Response: Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to detailed questions from The Times about torture allegations. The attorney general’s office, which handles criminal and human rights investigations, declined to comment.

In August of 1619, a ship appeared near Point Comfort, a port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. America was not yet America, but this, The Times Magazine argues, was the moment that it began.

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The Times about how 400 years of slavery shaped the U.S. An essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones anchors the project: “Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written,” she says. “Black Americans fought to make them true.”

The photograph above is from a 1965 march in Alabama to fight for black suffrage.

Legal fight on climate change: A lawsuit brought by 29 states and cities over regulating coal plants could determine how much leverage the government has to fight global warming.

Snapshot: Above, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, aboard a racing yacht in Plymouth, England, on Tuesday. She is scheduled to begin a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean today to attend a United Nations climate summit. She refuses to fly because of aviation’s enormous carbon footprint.

Late-night comedy: The professional golfer John Daly tweeted a photo of himself with the hashtag #dad during a round with President Trump on Monday. “‘Dad’? What kind of bet did those two make?” Jimmy Kimmel asked.

What we’re reading: This article from The Cut. Alexandria Symonds, a senior staff editor, recommends it for “empathetically representing the very real suffering of people with a constellation of symptoms that some label chronic Lyme disease, while also being appropriately rigorous about the uncertainties of the science behind it.”

Smarter Living: Addressing air pollution requires policy changes and enforcement, but you can take steps to protect your health. Moving away from truck routes can reduce your exposure. And a HEPA air purifier can help at home if it’s the right size for the room.

And we look at the ups and downs of making your home an Instagram star.

A little-known 19th-century payment system that used metal tokens paved the way for today’s credit cards, tap-to-pay and cryptocurrency, according to our friends at Wirecutter, a Times Company site that reviews products.

The tokens, called charge coins or credit coins, were embossed with an account number and given out by merchants. A customer presented the coin to a merchant, who charged the purchase to the associated account. Some coins had a specific limit.

The first were issued after the Civil War, and they grew increasingly popular until charge plates — metal rectangles with raised letters — took over around the Great Depression. Those gave way in the 1950s to the modern credit card.

Collectors are into all of them. But coins, which are rarely worth more than $100, have the least competition. A founder of the American Credit Card Collectors Society estimates that probably no more than 1,000 people worldwide collect them.

That’s it for this briefing. Our Styles section is putting together a package on workplace culture and would love to hear your tales of office awkwardness.

See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile this briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach us at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the Hong Kong protests.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Rapper on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists” list (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The 1619 Project, The Times Magazine’s special report on slavery, began on Tuesday with an evening of conversation and performance. You can watch it here.

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