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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. Top leaders of intelligence agencies made their annual appearance before the Senate to discuss the biggest threats to national security.
Cyberthreats from China and Russia were high on the agenda. Among other observations: North Korea is “unlikely to give up” all of its nuclear stockpiles and Iran is not actively trying to make a nuclear bomb — both direct contradictions of President Trump’s foreign policy tenets. Above from left, the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray; the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel; and the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.
Also notable was the absence of any rationale for building a wall along the southwestern border, which Mr. Trump has characterized as the country’s most critical security threat.
2. It’s so cold that…
This is not the setup to a bad joke. Temperatures are growing dangerously low across the Midwest this week. You could get frostbite in as little as five minutes; it will be warmer in Antarctica than in Des Moines; it could feel like minus 65 in Minneapolis.
Hundreds of schools are being closed, and the governors of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin have declared emergencies. Above, Lake Michigan freezing over in Chicago.
How can it get so cold if the Earth is warming? Because climate and weather are not the same thing.
3. British lawmakers, voting on a broad spectrum of amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May’s E.U. withdrawal plan, embraced a measure that, in principle, rules out withdrawing without a deal.
Parliament also rejected delaying Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Above, protesters on both sides of the issue outside Parliament on Tuesday.
Before the voting session, Mrs. May raised the stakes by promising to reopen negotiations on the agreement — a 585-page text that the E.U. has said was its final offer. Critics think she is trying to run down the clock to present them with two options: her plan or no deal.
4. The U.S. State Department said it gave Juan Guaidó, above, the right to control Venezuelan assets and property in U.S. banks, one week after he declared himself the interim president of his country.
The move is the latest part of the U.S. campaign to oust President Nicolás Maduro, whose re-election has been widely contested — but who still has the backing of the country’s generals.
Venezuela has begun moving, carefully, against Mr. Guaidó. The chief prosecutor announced a formal investigation of him for antigovernment activities and encouraging protests. His assets have been frozen, and the government is trying to stop him from leaving the country.
6. Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, filed for bankruptcy protection. It is facing tens of billions of dollars in liability claims for two years of wildfires.
Equipment owned and maintained by the utility sparked at least 17 of the 21 major wildfires that burned through California in 2017, but some argue that climate change and development in remote areas have made blazes more destructive. Above, a PG&E crew working on power lines during the Camp Fire in November.
The utility serves 16 million customers, whose electricity might become more expensive as PG&E tries to recoup its losses from the fires. Here are answers to some other big questions about the bankruptcy.
7. Today’s 2020 update:
Senator Kamala Harris, the most high-profile and politically connected black woman to run for president, would seem well positioned to secure the support of black voters that buoyed former President Barack Obama in 2008.
Yet interviews in early primary states like South Carolina and her home state, California, show the challenges she faces: activists’ skepticism of her record as a prosecutor, the desire for a push further to the left, sexism and some concern that a female candidate might not beat President Trump. Above, Ms. Harris at a local sorority chapter in South Carolina.
“I don’t know, I need to see her devotion to the African-American community,” said one resident of Columbia, S.C.
8. Want to know why you fall facefirst into the ocean every time you go surfing? Let’s go to the videotapes.
At the new Surf Simply resort in Costa Rica, guests are filmed as they catch a wave, and that’s just the start of personalized, tech-based coaching. Surf Simply is so popular that sessions routinely get booked out a year in advance (a one-week stay starts at about $4,500).
One repeat surf guest summed it up: “It’s the school for surf nerds — but it’s the coolest nerds you’ve ever met.”
9. A few words from the stars.
Over four seasons, the Netflix series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” turned the story of a woman freed after being kidnapped and held underground for 15 years into a sprightly, joyous comedy.
As the series ends, its lead actress, Ellie Kemper, above, reflects on what she learned from her castmates and what it’s like to “be a part of a show that seems to make people feel better.”
And the actress and director Lena Dunham pays homage to her literary hero, Diana Athill, the British centenarian who died last week after a life of both fierce independence and marvelous affirmation.
10. Finally, Aztec legend meets science.
The axolotl, a tube-sock-like salamander, was thought to be a god who transformed himself to avoid sacrifice. Many animals can perform some degree of regeneration, but axolotls can grow back a nearly perfect replica of just about any body part (excepting, of course, the head).
Now, researchers reported the most complete assembly of DNA yet for the striking amphibian, also known as the Mexican walking fish. Fully mapping its genome could unlock some of the secrets of regeneration for humans.
Have a restorative night.
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