Tariffs, NATO, Philippines: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering disappointing results for American students on a global exam, today’s NATO anniversary celebrations, and a deadly storm in the Philippines.

ImageImages from a study in 2013 on 3-D human facial images.
Credit…BMC Bioinformatics

At least two Chinese researchers working on the technology have ties to institutions in Europe, and critics say Beijing is exploiting the openness of the international scientific community for questionable purposes. The Chinese have said that they followed international norms that would require research subjects’ consent, but many in Xinjiang have no choice.

The details: The process, called DNA phenotyping, is in its early stages and is also being developed in the U.S. and elsewhere.

What’s next: In the long term, it may be possible to add DNA-produced images into the mass surveillance systems that China is building, tightening the government’s grip on society.

Quotable: “What the Chinese government is doing should be a warning to everybody who kind of goes along happily thinking, ‘How could anyone be worried about these technologies?’” said Pilar Ossorio, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The president has opened a new front in the global trade dispute that he had appeared ready to scale back, threatening on Monday to place tariffs on steel and aluminum from Argentina and Brazil.

Mr. Trump accused the countries of manipulating their currencies, an idea that economists and government officials have rejected. Their currencies have weakened recently, making Brazilian and Argentine products less expensive in other countries, most notably China.

Another angle: The administration also threatened to place tariffs as high as 100 percent on French wine and other products. It’s responding to a new French tax that targets American technology companies such as Facebook and Google, which have little physical presence in France but whose products are widely used there.

American teenagers’ performance in reading and math remains stagnant, according to the latest results of an international exam, despite decades of effort — and billions of dollars spent — to raise standards.

The results of the test, the Program for International Student Assessment, were announced today. They showed that about a fifth of American 15-year-olds last year hadn’t mastered the reading skills expected of a 10-year-old.

Education experts disagree about why American students struggle and why a string of national reform efforts, including No Child Left Behind and the Common Core, has produced uneven results.

The details: About 600,000 15-year-olds from around the world took the test, which is given every three years. Students from Canada, China, Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Singapore were among those who outperformed their U.S. counterparts.

William Barr has said that he is skeptical of a Justice Department finding that the F.B.I. was justified in opening an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

The report by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is set to be released on Monday and is expected to contradict some of the theories about the 2016 election that President Trump and his allies have promoted.

Another angle: A planned vote today will shift the impeachment inquiry to the House Judiciary Committee, which will oversee the drafting of articles of impeachment.

Related: Republicans released a report on Monday that said Mr. Trump acted on “valid” concerns about possible corruption involving Americans when he pressed Ukraine for investigations of his Democratic rivals. Read it here.

What’s next: Only three previous presidents have faced impeachment proceedings. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the process.

Snapshot: Above, the White House Christmas decorations were revealed on Monday. Our chief fashion critic discussed what you can see — and what you can’t — in the official photographs.

Late-night comedy: “Today is Cyber Monday, which is followed tomorrow by Someone-Stole-the-Blender-From-My-Porch Tuesday,” Jimmy Kimmel said.

R.I.P. Lil Bub: The cat whosedroopy tongue and soulful eyes made her one of the internet’s most beloved celebrities has died. She was 8.

What we’re watching: This BBC Breakfast video, in which the head of Fishmongers’ Hall, where the London Bridge stabbing attack began, recounts the bravery of his staff. “Amazing,” writes our reporter Sarah Lyall, who lived in London for years.

Cook: Set yourself up by freezing a batch of slow cooker chicken chili. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Listen: For the music of “Frozen 2,” the songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez found inspiration in a Latin hymn, grief and Bryan Adams.

Watch: A decade after the pioneering original ended, “The L Word: Generation Q” has a new, young cast from across the L.G.B.T.Q. spectrum. Can the series still break ground in 2019?

Smarter Living: Including whole fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils in your daily diet can protect against debilitating gut infections.

Millions of people have read “The Jungle Prince of Delhi” since it was published on Nov. 22, and many more have listened to the three-part podcast.

The tale of an eccentric family of deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace was well known to foreign correspondents posted to India. But our reporter Ellen Barry kept returning to the story after her tenure as The Times’s Delhi bureau chief — and found an entirely new narrative.

Her account reaches deep into the tumult of Britain’s partition of India and Pakistan, and explores how dislocation reshaped one family into an enduring legend.

We asked Ellen, who is now our New England bureau chief, why she couldn’t stop until she found the real story.

“It never entered my mind that I would be working on it for years,” she said. “But I was not able to answer the question of what the family’s history had been to my satisfaction.”

Ellen said the story would have been impossible without the backing of her editor, Jim Yardley. A former Times Delhi bureau chief himself, he had met the prince and encouraged her as she dug beyond the family’s fabled history.

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

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the deadly crackdown in Iran.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Fermented honey drink (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• J. Kenji López-Alt, a California-based food writer for The Times, recently answered questions on Reddit, including why you can’t find good bagels in the Bay Area.

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