Iran, I.M. Pei, Statue of Liberty: Your Thursday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. War with Iran? “I hope not.”

That was President Trump at the White House today, making clear for the second time this week that he does not want to go to war with Iran.

The first came Wednesday, in a meeting in the White House Situation Room. According to several officials, Mr. Trump told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he did not want a clash.

That’s a pushback against two of Mr. Trump’s most hawkish aides — the national security adviser, John Bolton, pictured above with the president earlier this week, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

2. Republicans’ messaging on abortion has put Democrats on the defensive.

The unusually forceful campaign to reset the terms of the divisive debate has left Democrats struggling to combat misinformation and thwart further efforts to undercut access to abortion, as Alabama did this week by essentially outlawing it.

Evangelical voters are delighted that President Trump has stuck to his promises on the issue. They like his use of graphic language on abortion and see transactional rewards in his judicial appointments.

In an Opinion essay, a local reporter who covered the Alabama vote reflects on what it’s like to be a woman in the state.

3. For the first time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly suggested impeachment to get information from the Trump administration.

“The courts would respect it if you said we need this information to carry out our oversight responsibilities — and among them is impeachment,” Ms. Pelosi said during her weekly news conference at the Capitol.

It was a sharp response to the White House’s blanket claim that House requests served no “legitimate” legislative purpose. The Democrats’ latest tactic: reading the entire Mueller report into the congressional record, all 448 pages.


4. He’s been good.” “He should run away.”

New Yorkers’ reactions to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s entry into the presidential race ran the gamut from support to orange foam fingers that said “liar.” Mr. de Blasio, pictured above with his wife, Chirlane McCray, is the 23rd candidate running for the Democratic nomination, and advisers see big gaps in polling and fund-raising. Here’s where he stands on the issues.

In other news from New York, a disturbing detail emerged in the case of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 on a Staten Island sidewalk after gasping “I can’t breathe” as four police officers tried to handcuff him.

A commander’s text on the death was read at a police disciplinary hearing in Manhattan: “Not a big deal. We were effecting a lawful arrest.”


5. The SAT is adding an “adversity score” to help colleges account for hardships like crime and poverty levels amid concerns about the fairness of standardized tests.

The score measures students’ socioeconomic background through 15 factors, which the College Board says will better put test scores in context. It would not be reported to the student, only to college officials.

Separately, Georgetown said it planned to dismiss two students in the wake of the college admissions scandal. One student, whose father paid $400,000 to get him admitted, is suing.


6. I. M. Pei, one of the world’s most renowned architects, has died. He was 102. The glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris was one of his many famous designs.

“If there’s one thing I know I didn’t do wrong, it’s the Louvre,” he once said. Above, Mr. Pei and his pyramid in 1989.

Mr. Pei, a committed modernist, was one of the few architects equally attractive to real estate developers, corporate chieftains and art museum boards, and his landmarks are many.

In our obituary, the architecture critic Paul Goldberger describes Mr. Pei as “a cultivated man whose quiet, understated manner and easy charm masked an intense, competitive ambition.”


7. This week, San Francisco banned the use of facial-recognition technology by the city’s police and other agencies. Our tech veteran turned Opinion columnist is hoping for a cascade effect.

“I worry that we’re stumbling dumbly into a surveillance state,” Farhad Manjoo writes, noting efforts by Chicago, Detroit and other cities to adopt facial recognition systems. “And it’s why I think the only reasonable thing to do about smart cameras now is to put a stop to them.”

And SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by Elon Musk, is trying again to launch dozens of satellites at once for its Starlink global internet system. High-altitude winds delayed Wednesday’s launch.

SpaceX’s webcast is to start about 15 minutes before liftoff, possibly as early as 10:15 p.m. Eastern tonight.

8. Tiger Woods once seemed like a long shot for the P.G.A. Championship this week, given his multiple back surgeries.

But the outcome of the last — spinal fusion surgery, the most complicated of all — was “like winning the lottery,” one spine surgeon said. It paved the way for Woods’s Masters win last month, allowing him to play the way he used to.

And he was there as the 101st edition of the tournament began today at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, above. The players approve of the tournament’s move from August to May. Less sweat is better.

9. Our critic at large ignored “Game of Thrones” for eight years. Then he watched it all in five weeks.

Over the course of about 70 hours, Wesley Morris caught up with the dragons, beheadings and brinkmanship before the finale on Sunday by watching three or four episodes a day. Here’s what he learned.

“I never had to suffer disappointment or resentment,” he writes. “I never underwent the urge to have a take.” (True freedom for a critic.) “I was just excited — because the show could do that to you.”


10. And finally, new lessons from history.

Millions of people visit the Statue of Liberty each year. A new museum opened today on the island, focused on the vague, sometimes dubious ideal of “liberty for all.” Above, Lady Liberty’s original torch.

It highlights the doubts of black Americans and women whose personal freedoms were regularly compromised in the 1880s, when the statue opened. And it reminds visitors that the statue’s creators intended it to honor the end of slavery. Years later, it became an icon for immigration.

“It’s hard to believe for a while that you’re really going to be in this country, but when you see the Statue of Liberty, you know it’s there,” one recording of an immigrant says. “It’s thrilling.”

Have an illuminating night.


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