A senior State Department official testified that he was alarmed at President Trump’s demands that Ukraine investigate his political opponents, casting them as the kind of tactic the U.S. has condemned in the world’s most corrupt countries, according to a transcript released yesterday.

The official, George Kent, has been one of the lower-profile players in the Ukraine affair, but Democrats have called him to be a witness during their first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday. This account, given to investigators last month, helps explain why.

Related: As the threat of impeachment rises, President Trump’s relationship with Attorney General William Barr may be growing more complicated.

Another angle: In another blunt critique of American foreign policy, the top U.S. diplomat in northern Syria criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to avert Turkey’s military offensive there last month.

Yesterday: A state judge ordered President Trump to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofit groups, after he admitted misusing money raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

Related: The anonymous writer of a Times Opinion essay about being part of a “resistance” inside the Trump administration has published a book on the presidency. Here’s our review.

For years, much of the yoga community has disregarded complaints about unwanted touching, or worse, maybe because teachers are loath to discredit those they see as gurus.

Still, our reporter writes, “there may be no grayer gray zone than a yoga studio, where physical intimacy, spirituality and power dynamics come together in a sweaty little room.”

The Weekly: The latest episode of The Times’s TV show, on FX and Hulu, explores how yoga teaching practices raise questions about consent.

The Mexican authorities say the recent massacre of three Mormon mothers and six of their children was apparently carried out by a cartel that mistook them for a rival gang.

The attack has obliterated the government’s longstanding refrain that Mexico’s drug war mostly claims the lives of criminals, our reporter writes in a dispatch from the tiny hamlet where the victims lived.

U.S.-China trade war: The countries said that any initial trade deal would include both sides’ rolling back some tariffs, a step toward defusing tensions between the world’s largest economies.

Snapshot: Above, trying to catch a piglet in Indonesia. A Christian community in the Muslim-majority country is pushing back against religious conservatism with a pork-centric festival.

News quiz: The quiz is off this week and will return next Friday.

Modern Love: In this week’s column, a daughter muses on how her father’s midlife transition affected her.

Late-night comedy: “Something is seriously wrong,” said Stephen Colbert, referring to reports that the attorney general had declined President Trump’s request to publicly state that no laws had been broken in Mr. Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. “That’s like Nicolas Cage turning down a movie role,” he added

What we’re reading: This article on Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Vogue. Our Magazine writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes, “I loved Lauren Collins’s sharp, largehearted profile of the creator of ‘Fleabag’ — even though it is hard for me to understand why two such glamorous women agreed to meet for any part of it at my least favorite sports bar in Midtown Manhattan (and that is saying something).”

Read: Bernardine Evaristo, the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, talks about her mission to write about the African diaspora (and why her novel “Girl, Woman, Other” involves 12 interconnected characters).

Smarter living: A time management coach has some simple strategies to prevent burnout before it happens.

You may have already noticed signs of holiday spirit. Or at least merchandising.

In New York this week, vendors at the Bryant Park Christmas market are selling ornaments, dog-themed socks and calendars, and thick, soothing hot chocolate — even if the temperature hasn’t dropped all that far.

It’s not just New York. Christmas markets, an Austrian and German tradition dating to the 1200s, have expanded. They take in billions of dollars yearly in Germany. In Britain, the number tripled from 2007 to 2017. They’ve also popped up in Japan, Singapore and China, where Christmas is not a public holiday; and in the Middle East, including in Dubai.

They fit seamlessly into the era of experiential retail, where temporary experiences can be more profitable than brick-and-mortar stores.

And lest you dismiss the markets as mere holiday profiteering, keep this in mind: At a time of chains and mass production, the markets make room for small production and artisanal craft.


That’s it for this briefing. My colleague Chris Stanford returns on Monday.

— Mike


Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Melina wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is on Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Chutzpah (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt, two of our Washington reporters, recently answered reader questions on Reddit. Here are a few highlights.



Source link