Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pentagon officials have been telling members of Congress and aides in recent weeks about what they say are ties between Iran and Al Qaeda, officials said.

Some lawmakers are concerned that the administration is trying to link Iran and Al Qaeda in order to invoke a 2001 authorization, which permits the U.S. to wage war on the terrorist group and use military force in Iran.

Officials are also skeptical that there are legitimate links between Iran, a Shiite Muslim nation, and the hard-line Sunni terrorist group. The two have often fought on opposite sides of regional conflicts.

Explainer: The 2001 authorization was passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks enabling a military response against the “nations, organizations or persons” involved, which at the time meant Al Qaeda. In 2002, former President George Bush tried to draw links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda to build a case to invade Iraq.

Since then, the law has been stretched by presidents of both parties to justify attacks against other groups.

Related: Fragments recovered from one of the two oil tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week bear a “striking resemblance” to a type of limpet mine that Iran has previously displayed, U.S. Navy officials told reporters, bolstering Washington’s accusation that Iran was responsible for the attack.

The Chinese leader is expected to arrive in the North Korean capital today for a two-day state visit with Kim Jong-un. We’ll bring you the latest updates on

The trip comes as China and North Korea are each locked in tense disputes with the U.S. Analysts expect Mr. Xi to use his meeting with Mr. Kim to try to revive stalled denuclearization talks, which he can then use as leverage in the trade war with Washington.

Separately: South Korea said it would send 50,000 tons of rice to the North to help the country survive what the U.N. has called the worst harvest in decades. The food aid — and the prospect of more assistance — is also intended to persuade North Korea to return to nuclear negotiations.

It is “inconceivable” that Prince Mohammed bin Salman wasn’t aware of the murder of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Istanbul consulate in October, a U.N. expert wrote in a new report.

The report, the culmination of a five-month investigation, urges the international community to impose sanctions on individual Saudi officials involved in the killing, including the crown prince.

Prince Mohammed was already widely suspected of having ordered the killing.

Details: The 100-page U.N. report provides the most complete findings yet of what happened inside the consulate building and supports the conclusions reached by Western intelligence agencies.

The report cites recordings of a conversation between Saudi officials in which they appear to discuss how to dismember Mr. Khashoggi’s body.

Perspective: In an Op-Ed for The Times, Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, writes that “Washington hasn’t done enough to bring Jamal’s killers to justice.”

International prosecutors charged four men — including three with ties to Russian intelligence — in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine in 2014, which killed all 298 people on board.

The accused, the first to face charges in the episode, “formed a chain linking” Moscow to the disaster, the investigators said. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement.

Background: MH17 was blown out of the sky by an antiaircraft missile over Ukraine, where a civil war was raging at the time. Five countries that were directly affected by the tragedy started a joint investigation and quickly identified the missile as Russian.

What’s next: The Dutch-led investigators said they would seek international arrest warrants ahead of a trial to begin next March in the Netherlands.

The Toronto Raptors player was on court for just 27 minutes of the N.B.A. playoffs but even his minimal participation in the team’s first championship was momentous for Asians in North America.

Mr. Lin’s story has always been about more than his performance on the court. It has been about Asian representation and visibility, rarely recognized or seen in organized basketball.

Climate change: The Trump administration replaced an Obama-era effort to reduce planet-warming pollution with a new rule that, among other things, allows coal plants to stay open longer. Scientists say the move could slow efforts to cut back carbon emissions.

Hong Kong: The territory’s top security official defended the police’s use of tear gas and pepper spray against protesters last week, saying the officers had been in a “life-threatening situation.”

Federal Reserve: The U.S. central bank kept interest rates unchanged, despite an intensifying trade war and mounting political pressure from President Trump, who has criticized the Fed for keeping rates too high.

Refugees: The number of people fleeing violence is the highest recorded since World War II, according to new figures from the United Nations refugee agency.

U.S. presidential race: Before the first Democratic debates next week, The Times asked most of the candidates the same questions on camera, including about income equality, gun ownership, climate change and how they relax. Here are seven takeaways from the project.

Snapshot: Above, the Lao national women’s rugby team before a match in Hong Kong this spring. Rugby was played for decades in Laos before the Communist takeover of 1975. The Lao Rugby Federation, which was started in 2001, has grown to more than 4,000 players, the majority of whom are women.

What we’re reading: This essay from BuzzFeed News. “Shannon Keating writes almost cinematically about a press junket on a lesbian cruise that became a love story,” says Liam Stack, a general assignment reporter. “She renders familiar L.G.B.T. debates over gender, sex, monogamy, aging and the tension between inclusivity and the power of exclusively female or exclusively queer spaces in ways that are raw, funny and human.”

Cook: Deviled chicken thighs have a tangy flavor and crispy skin.

Go: New stagings of “Don Giovanni” and “Rigoletto” in Paris and Berlin are co-productions with the Metropolitan Opera. Both are improvements over what’s being offered in New York, our critic writes.

Watch: Jim Jarmusch’s zombie movie “The Dead Don’t Die,” starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton and a bunch of other interesting people, respects the genre without committing to it.

Smarter Living: Even in the wake of #MeToo, there’s no clear-cut “right” way for victims to respond to sexual harassment. A sociologist offers some suggestions: First, document everything. Knowing the result you want will also shape what you do. And remember that you are the expert on your own situation, so trust your intuition.

We also extol the virtues of touring Europe by bus.

“Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s film about a shark that terrorizes the beaches of Amity Island, was released on this day in 1975.

The film, which became a blockbuster and a hallmark of American cinema, was not the only one that summer to feature creatures causing mayhem.

There was also “Bug,” the final work by the gimmick-horror film producer William Castle, best known for “Rosemary’s Baby.”

The plot: Incendiary cockroaches released from the depths of the earth by an earthquake are made resistant to life above ground by a mad scientist and wreak havoc in California.

The roaches eventually develop superintelligent abilities and, of course, become carnivorous.

A review in The Times described the film as “decidedly poisonous” and “cruel.” It urged parents not to let their children see it.

Coincidentally, the director of “Bug,” Jeannot Szwarc, went on to direct “Jaws 2,” which, while financially successful, was not widely acclaimed.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Alisha

Thank you
Chris Stanford helped compile this briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Nadav Gavrielov wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the start of President Trump’s re-election campaign.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: British prime minister who recently announced her resignation (3 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Many episodes of TimesTalks, in which New York Times journalists speak with figures in the fields of film and theater, art, music, literature, innovation and fashion, are free to stream.

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health news headlines provided courtesy of Medical News Today.


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