Vietnam offers a model for North Korea
President Trump is set to arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam, this morning for his second summit meeting to discuss denuclearization with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. The two-day meeting is to begin Wednesday.
Vietnam, a country once at war with the U.S., has since cozied up to its former enemy, and Vietnamese officials have suggested that North Korea could benefit by doing the same, while also holding China at bay.
“The success of the Vietnamese economy is due to its decision to normalize relations with the United States in 1995,” one official said. The U.S. is the top destination for Vietnamese exports.
Another angle: Although Vietnam has galvanized its economy by pursuing market reforms, the country’s Communist Party has shown little sign of embracing political reform.
A split screen for President Trump
As the first day of Mr. Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un ends, his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is set to testify publicly against him in Congress.
The White House has shrugged off the clashing narratives. “I don’t think the president has any concerns whatsoever about Michael Cohen,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said last week.
The details: Mr. Cohen plans to portray his former client in starkly negative terms, according to a person familiar with his intended testimony. Using documents to support his claims, Mr. Cohen plans to describe what he says was Mr. Trump’s use of racist language, lies about his wealth and possible criminal conduct.
Indian jets are said to strike Pakistan
Indian warplanes launched airstrikes in Pakistan today, according to Pakistani officials, escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed nations.
If confirmed, it would be the first time in years that Indian jets had dropped bombs in Pakistan. No casualties or damage were reported.
Background: India had vowed to retaliate after blaming Pakistan for a suicide attack in the disputed region of Kashmir that killed at least 40 Indian troops this month. It was unclear what, if anything, today’s airstrikes hit, raising the possibility that India was trying to assuage public anger but minimize the risk of a major Pakistani response.
U.S. increases pressure on Venezuela’s leader
Vice President Mike Pence escalated the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure President Nicolás Maduro to step down, announcing additional sanctions on Monday and warning of more punitive measures.
Mr. Pence, who met with Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, in Colombia, also warned countries in the region, particularly Mexico and Uruguay, that they could not remain neutral in the crisis.
Related: Jorge Ramos, a news anchor for Univision, said he was detained by the Venezuelan government after an interview with Mr. Maduro on Monday in Caracas.
If you have 12 minutes (maybe more), this is worth it
Have dark forces been messing with the universe?
The universe seems to be expanding far more rapidly than it should be. Astrophysicists have struggled to account for the discrepancy. They’ve been coming up with new ideas, which, if borne out, could mean rewriting the story of the origin of the cosmos, and its ultimate fate.
Our science reporter Dennis Overbye, who has a physics degree from M.I.T. and a way with words, explains.
Here’s what else is happening
Worries over border action: The Democratic-led House is expected to vote today to reject President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border. Republican defections could give the resolution momentum in the Senate.
Chicago election: Residents of the nation’s third-largest city go to the polls today to vote for a new mayor, after Rahm Emanuel decided not to seek a third term.
Cardinal’s conviction is unsealed: Cardinal George Pell was found guilty in December of sexually assaulting two choirboys, but a judge in Australia barred news organizations from publishing anything about the verdict. The gag order was lifted today when a second trial for the cardinal, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader convicted of sexual abuse, was dropped.
New support for Brexit revote: The opposition Labour Party said on Monday that it was prepared to support a second referendum on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The shift by the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was encouraging to pro-European Britons, but is certainly no guarantee of a second vote.
Methodists face possible split: The United Methodist Church is scheduled to vote today whether to strengthen or end its prohibitions on same-sex marriage and ordaining gays and lesbians.
Snapshot: Above, a scene from this year’s Kumbh Mela in India, a Hindu pilgrimage that is the largest religious gathering in the world. Critics say the once-humbling event has become too luxurious and corporate.
A soccer pro at 13: Olivia Moultrie said Monday that she had signed with an agent and with Nike, giving up the college scholarship she had accepted at 11.
Late-night comedy: Conan O’Brien was troubled by the improved ratings for an Oscars broadcast that lacked a host: “All last night I was like tossing and turning. ‘End of hosts. No host! Hosts gone!’”
What we’re listening to: This NPR report. Gina Lamb, a special sections editor, writes: “If you need a little break from political scrambling, try this story about political gambling — in Denmark, where you can bet on when an election will actually happen.”
Now, a break from the news
Watch: Many Oscar-winning films are available to stream at home.
See: Madeleine George’s play “Hurricane Diane,” at New York Theater Workshop, sees the god Dionysus trying to convince the women of Monmouth County, N.J., that the ecological end is near.
Listen: Norah Jones’s “Just a Little Bit” “leans toward jazz and Minimalism, with the meticulous Brian Blade on drums carrying a syncopated pulse as Jones sustains a drone on organ,” writes Jon Pareles.
Smarter Living: If you want to reduce your impact on the planet, look to your closet. Water and chemicals are used to dye and finish cotton clothes, and polyesters and nylons aren’t biodegradable. In this age of fast fashion, it’s best to wear your clothes for a long time. (Buying secondhand helps, too.)
Also, take our test to find out which health care policy aligns with your values.
And now for the Back Story on …
The Oxford comma
We often ask readers for Back Story ideas. Susanne Fischer of New York suggested the Oxford comma, which was traditionally used at Oxford University Press.
“I’m a big fan, use it often, and think it’s really important for clarification,” she wrote.
The Times, like most other news organizations, does not usually use the comma, which is also known as the serial comma. “In general, do not use a comma before and or or in a series: The snow stalled cars, buses and trains,” our stylebook says.
“A goal of punctuation is to make a sentence as clear as possible, and in most cases that final comma isn’t necessary for understanding the relationship of all the items in a series,” said Susan Wessling, The Times’s senior editor for editing standards.
There are exceptions. Around this time last year, a Maine dairy company agreed to pay its drivers $5 million after a dispute that hinged entirely on the lack of an Oxford comma — in a list of activities that did not require overtime payments.
That’s it for this briefing.
A correction: Monday’s Morning Briefing misspelled the surname of the actress who won the Academy Award for best actress on Sunday. She is Olivia Colman, not Coleman.
See you next time.
To Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news. Inyoung Kang, a home screen editor based in London who often contributes to the briefings, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about “Green Book,” the Oscar winner that critics say oversimplifies race relations.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Author of the “Odyssey” and the “Iliad” (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times keeps a running log of news related to grammar and language usage.