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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. Senate leaders offered the first glimmers of a potential resolution to the government shutdown, scheduling procedural votes Thursday on two competing bills to reopen the government.
One measure includes funding for President Trump’s border wall; the other is a short-term spending bill that would fund shuttered agencies through Feb. 8. Although neither is likely to pass, the compromise gives each party a chance to press its proposal. And the votes could prompt the two sides to negotiate a bipartisan compromise.
Above, Mexican migrants prepare to jump the border fence to get into the U.S. in December.
At the same time, Mr. Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained in a private standoff about whether he should be allowed to deliver his State of the Union address next week. Ms. Pelosi has yet to issue Mr. Trump a formal invitation.
2. The Supreme Court revived the Trump administration’s policy of barring most transgender people from serving in the military.
The justices voted 5 to 4 to temporarily allow the ban to go into effect while court challenges move forward.
The policy prohibits people identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from serving in the military, with narrow exceptions. Since the ban was announced on Twitter by President Trump in 2017, it has been challenged in lower courts with mixed success. Above, protesters outside of the White House after Mr. Trump’s original announcement.
The court also agreed to hear a challenge to a New York City gun law that restricts people with a particular kind of gun license from transporting their guns outside of the city. It will be the first Second Amendment case to go before the court since 2010 and will shed light on the court’s approach to gun rights under a newly reliable five-member conservative majority.
3. A Trump administration deal to lift sanctions on companies controlled by a prominent Russian oligarch may have freed him from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, according to a confidential document.
Last month, the administration characterized the move as tough on the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, above, and on Russia. But the deal contains provisions that free Mr. Deripaska, a close ally of the Kremlin, from debt while leaving him in control of his most important company, the document shows.
House Democrats won widespread Republican support last week for efforts to block the sanctions relief deal, but the measure fell short in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Separately, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested in Moscow on spying charges had received a flash drive that he thought contained pictures of churches but was instead loaded with classified information, his lawyer said.
4. Vice President Mike Pence declared “unwavering support” from the U.S. for planned mass protests in Venezuela against President Nicolás Maduro.
“We are with you,” he wrote on Twitter, posting a video message. It was the administration’s most explicit backing yet for efforts to unseat Mr. Maduro.
Leading the opposition is a virtually unheard-of 35-year-old, Juan Guaidó, above, who called for citizens to take to the streets on Wednesday.
Conditions in Venezuela have deteriorated to a point where the opposition sees an opportunity: A group of soldiers has turned against Mr. Maduro, the government is running out of money and countries across the region have called the president an illegitimate dictator.
5. Los Angeles public schoolteachers are expected to return to their classrooms on Wednesday morning after reaching a tentative deal to end a weeklong strike.
The teachers won a 6 percent pay raise and caps on class sizes. The city and county will also spend money to expand services in schools, including hiring more nurses, counselors and psychologists.
The agreement also includes a pledge that the school board will vote on a resolution to “establish a charter school cap.” Charter schools have been embraced by political leaders and are popular among parents, but the union says they siphon off students and money from traditional public schools.
The contract still needs to be ratified by the union, but that is widely expected.
6. A speedy new technology for genetic fingerprinting is changing the way crimes are solved.
Rapid DNA machines can match a suspect’s genetic code to previously collected samples in 90 minutes. And they allow the police to analyze results themselves, instead of needing outside labs and waiting a month or more.
But forensic experts see a potential for misuse. As police agencies build out their local DNA databases, they are collecting samples not only from people who have been charged with major crimes but also from people who are merely deemed suspicious.
Some 73 percent of Americans polled late last year said global warming was happening, a jump in 10 percentage points from 2015. And 72 percent of Americans said global warming was personally important to them, jumping nine percentage points since last March. Above, Mexico Beach, Fla., after Hurricane Michael last year.
In other environmental news, the world’s oceans are getting louder. Ship traffic, sonar and now seismic air gun blasts planned for offshore drilling all contribute to the growing din. And experts fear the man-made noise is fundamentally disrupting the marine ecosystem.
8. And the Oscar nominees were… announced today.
Netflix got its first best picture nod for “Roma,” above, which had 10 nominations today, including for direction, cinematography and original screenplay. It will compete against “The Favourite” (also with 10 nominations), “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther,” the first superhero film to get a best picture nomination.
The best picture selections were remarkably diverse compared to past years. But the acting categories were less inclusive, with one black actor and one black actress among the 20 nominees. All of the directing and cinematography nominees were men.
9. Renovation projects often face delays or run over budget — but not usually because of a mysterious artwork from the 17th century.
Last summer, workers on a new Oscar de la Renta boutique in Paris discovered a 10-by-20-foot oil painting of an elaborately dressed 17th century nobleman. It turned out to have been painted by a significant artist in 1674.
So how did it end up hidden behind a wall, and why? Nobody knows.
For the last two months, a small team of conservators has swabbed away at the varnish to allow the colors to come through. They hope to finish in time to open the store in late spring.
10. Finally, we end today with a load of laundry.
As music tours have gotten bigger and more professionalized, their logistics have become daunting. That’s where Hans-Jürgen Topf comes in. He’s the world’s top specialist for tour laundry and has washed clothes for U2, Madonna, Phil Collins and Beyoncé.
Things have changed in his 20 years on the job: He used to find drugs in the clothes all the time, he said, but “these days, I’m more likely to find an herbal tea bag.”
Have a fresh night.
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