Huawei, Impeachment Hearings, NATO: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering President Trump’s challenges in the U.S. and abroad, shifting views toward Huawei at home and a mysterious North Korean threat.

ImageConstitutional scholars were sworn in to testify in Washington on Wednesday. 
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

As President Trump left a tense NATO meeting in London, the impeachment process at home entered a new phase.

Mr. Trump abandoned plans for a final news conference after the NATO meeting, and he called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada “two-faced” after a video surfaced in which Mr. Trudeau and other world leaders appeared to mock Mr. Trump.

He returns to Washington, where the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry has concluded, and the House Judiciary Committee is taking up the question of whether to recommend his impeachment.

At the hearings: Three scholars of the U.S. Constitution said that Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political gain clearly met the historical definition of impeachable offenses. But a scholar invited by Republicans offered a dissent, calling the Democrats’ case “slipshod.”

NATO’s future: The alliance faces bigger challenges than political squabbles, write our correspondents. They are focusing on a rising China and Turkey’s wavering commitment to the alliance, among other things.

What’s next: More hearings are scheduled for next week. House Democrats hope to push the process through to vote on impeachment before their holiday recess begins on Dec. 20, opening the way to a Senate trial in the new year. Read our step-by-step guide to the process.


Much of the public was not sympathetic when Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese telecom giant’s chief financial officer, posted a letter this week about her life since being arrested in Canada a year ago.

In comments on the social media platform Weibo, many users posted numbers that were coded references to a recent scandal in which a Huawei worker was jailed for 251 days after he demanded severance pay. When his story went viral, articles and comments were censored.

But some direct comments came through. “One enjoyed a sunny Canadian mansion while the other enjoyed the cold and damp detention cell in Shenzhen,” wrote a user on the question-and-answer site Zhihu.

Big picture: The responses were a sign that China is starting to sour on Huawei, and that the middle class is growing insecure about its protections from economic downturn. In the wake of the censorship, people are worrying, too, about the degree to which their complaints are quashed.

Quotable: “A company that’s too big to criticize is even scarier than a company that’s too big to fail,” said a professor in Beijing.

The Saudi oil giant is to announce the price of its shares in its much-anticipated I.P.O. today, as a Saudi delegation faces what could be a difficult OPEC meeting in Vienna.

It could be the largest initial public offering ever, potentially eclipsing the amount generated by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. Trading on the Saudi stock market, the Tadawul, is expected to start around Dec. 12.

Changes: Saudi Aramco’s offering is a fraction of the size originally envisioned. It could raise around $26 billion, well short of the prince’s original goal of about $100 billion.

And although it was billed as a way to inject foreign investment into an economy still built around being the world’s chief oil exporter, shares will be sold almost exclusively to domestic investors.


“Things are getting worse,” said Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, which on Tuesday issued its annual report on the state of the global climate.

Seas are warming and rising faster, putting more cities at risk of flooding, and glaciers are melting at a pace that many researchers didn’t expect for decades.

The report, released at the United Nations’ annual climate conference in Madrid, said that this past decade will almost certainly be the warmest on record. (Read the report here.)

Related: Global coal consumption declined this year, but a surge in the use of oil and natural gas pushed greenhouse gas emissions to a new high.

For you: Our Climate Fwd: email newsletter offers weekly recommendations for a greener life. This week, smarter holiday lights.

When Ken Liu, above, started translating science fiction into English, he did something unusually invasive for a translator — suggested editing the story’s structure and changing its timeline. He began to repeat that pattern, opening the floodgates for new translations of Chinese science fiction and becoming as sought-after as the bestselling authors he translates.

“Usually when Chinese literature gets translated to a foreign language, it tends to lose something,” the author Liu Cixin said. But with his novel “The Three-Body Problem,” he said, “I think it gained something.”

Germany: Two Russian diplomats were expelled after the authorities declared that Russia was suspected of being behind the daylight assassination in Berlin of a Chechen separatist. Moscow promised responding measures.

Australia: Lawmakers repealed a law enacted 10 months earlier that had allowed refugees and asylum seekers being held offshore to seek emergency medical care in Australia.

South Korea: The actor Cha In-ha was found dead at 27, the third young Korean entertainer to die in less than two months.

Google: An era is ending with the announcement that the tech giant’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are stepping down from executive roles at its parent company, Alphabet. Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, will become the chief of both companies.

Afghanistan: Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese doctor who introduced life-changing canal building techniques to the country in the 1980s, was fatally shot while driving to work in Jalalabad. He was 73. It was the latest case in a series of attacks targeting humanitarians.

Snapshot: Above, Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, with his wife, Ri Sol-ju, in a photo provided by the country’s official news agency, which said they were visiting the sacred Mount Paektu. His previous such journeys have been followed by major policy shifts.

In Her Words: Your former Briefing writer, Alisha Haridasani Gupta, looked at how the global surge in authoritarian movements has spurred a rollback of gender violence protections.

What we’re reading: The Daily Suffragist on Twitter. Our reporter Jennifer Schuessler says, “Love this account, which gives a concise daily snapshot from the history of the women’s suffrage movement.” One example: a look at a 21-year-old woman who publicly dressed down Abraham Lincoln in 1864 for inadequately protecting former slaves.

We asked Dan Levin, the National reporter who wrote the story, about the months he spent tracking down the students from the Class of 2000, and conducting sometimes heartbreaking interviews.

“I was honored that people were willing to talk with me about these very intimate details of their lives, in incredibly nuanced ways,” Dan said.

“It’s almost something out of a Stephen King story,” he said. “You have this small town, and a dark force that clandestinely creeps in. It’s not vampires, it’s not supernatural, but it’s just as horrific.”

For many of the former students, he said, “There was a feeling that, had they only been a few years older, they would have been spared.

“One had a brother, four or five years older. He’d grown up before opioids hit — he was lucky enough to escape.”

And he’s noticed a way the reporting has changed him: “Since working on this, when I see people who are struggling with drugs, on the street, I think to myself, there’s probably a yearbook with them smiling.”


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

— Melina


Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the impeachment investigation against President Trump.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Gross!” (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
“1619,” about slavery in America, has been named the year’s best podcast by Time magazine.

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