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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. $11 billion.
That’s how much the five-week government shutdown cost the U.S. economy, with nearly a quarter of that total permanently lost, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The number was released as hundreds of thousands of federal employees returned to work. After returning to work, subway traffic picked up in Washington, above. Now, a 17-member bipartisan panel has less than three weeks to come up with an agreement on border security.
In the meantime, investors and economic policymakers, including the Federal Reserve, are operating without government analyses of retail sales, manufacturing, housing and other parts of the economy.
2. To say it’s really cold in the Midwest just scrapes at the (iced over) surface. The polar vortex is back with a level of cold that a generation of Midwesterners has never experienced. Above, the scene in Appleton, Wis.
Punches of snow and life-threatening cold temperatures are crippling much of the region, with school closings and canceled flights. The danger is only expected to grow, with forecasts of highs in the negative teens, and wind chills as low as minus 50 in Chicago and minus 60 in Minneapolis.
3. The Trump administration took steps against two international companies, one in China and one in Venezuela.
The Justice Department unveiled sweeping charges against the Chinese telecom firm Huawei, several subsidiaries and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, accusing the company of stealing trade secrets and Ms. Meng of helping banks evade sanctions on Iran.
And the Treasury Department announced it would impose sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil monopoly, the most forceful challenge to the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro.
In a side note to the Justice Department’s announcement, the acting attorney general announced that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was nearing an end.
4. The U.S. and the Taliban agreed in principle to the framework of a peace deal, the biggest tangible step toward ending the 17-year conflict. Many, many details remain to be worked out.
Above, Afghan National Army soldiers and American soldiers during an operation to destroy a known Taliban firing position in Kandahar Province in 2013.
The possibility of a peace deal has inspired waves of enthusiasm and hope among many Afghans. But for women, it could mean a new horror story.
Need a refresher on the Afghanistan war? Here are the basics.
5. Looking to 2020: Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, began taking steps to prepare for a run for president as an independent.
A self-described “lifelong Democrat,” Mr. Schultz said he would begin a three-month crisscross of the country before making a decision. But Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City who is eyeing a Democratic run, argued that Mr. Schultz could split the vote and enable a second term for President Trump.
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s passion for policy minutiae has become her way of standing out in a crowded field of candidates.
6. In media news, Tom Brokaw, the former NBC anchor, got something of a daylong workshop in cultural diversity after his appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Why? During a discussion about President Trump’s border wall, he said Hispanics should work harder to assimilate: “They ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all of their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities, and that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”
Among those objecting was the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which noted that “most U.S. Hispanics are born in the United States; English is their native language.” Mr. Brokaw apologized.
Separately, according to tabloid reports, Jennifer Aniston should have given birth to some two dozen babies in the last few years. Our media columnist looks at how readers are drawn to stories they simply want to be true, whether they’re about celebrity baby bumps or President Trump.
7. How’s Apple doing?
The company will reveal more about its earnings and forecast Tuesday, a few weeks after reducing its revenue expectations for the first time in 16 years. That may also offer insight into the weakening economy in China — which it relies on as both a market and a manufacturing center.
Apple, like many companies, has found that no country can match China’s combination of scale, skills, infrastructure and cost. (We have a case study that hinges on a tiny screw, above.)
8. In the fast-growing category of adventure vacations, it’s safe to say that a cycling expedition through West Africa is on the extreme end.
Our travel writer, a former Times business editor, went along for about half of the 10-week bike trip from Morocco to Ghana, riding a rough ribbon of road through a region growing more stable.
Of the 33 people signed up for the whole ride, 28 made it the full 4,000 miles, pedaling and camping through mountains, deserts, rolling farmland and tropical forests.
“We want to live life to the fullest,” said one rider, whose bike computer displayed 35 km/h, or 22 miles per hour. “It’s time to put some Ks down.”
9. How do you measure a show you were never really meant to see?
Awkwardly, for starters. On Sunday night, the live television broadcast of “Rent” had to use footage from a recorded dress rehearsal after a lead actor broke his foot. Only the final 15 minutes or so were live. Much of the hit musical was disappointing, our critic writes, “but clearly there was love in this production, too.”
We also took a second look at “My Fair Lady,” 10 months into its run in New York.
With four replacement principals in place, the revival is nicely evolving with new stars, our theater critic says. It’s all the more satisfying “when a musical not only lives in the moment but also changes and grows over time,” he says.
10. Finally, we end the day with whodunits.
We have six new thrillers to put on your radar. From a plummeting death in which everyone is guilty of something, to a Prohibition-era story in which a woman stumbles off a sleeper train, gutshot, barely alive and splendidly dressed, there’s a mystery for everyone.
“We may have to concede that while truth is indeed stranger than fiction,” our reviewer writes, “fiction is substantially better arranged.”
Have a gripping night.
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