Climate Strike, Whistle-Blower, Iran: Your Friday Briefing

By Chris Stanford

Chris Stanford

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Good morning.

We’re covering today’s climate protests, a mysterious whistle-blower’s claim in Washington, and Bill de Blasio’s withdrawal from the presidential race. It’s also Friday, so there’s a news quiz.

ImageClimate protesters in Sydney, Australia, today.
Climate protesters in Sydney, Australia, today.CreditSteven Saphore/EPA, via Shutterstock
Representative Adam Schiff has sought more information about a whistle-blower’s complaint as part of an investigation into President Trump.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

A complaint by a member of the intelligence community involves at least one instance of Mr. Trump making a commitment to a foreign leader, according to interviews.

Much is unknown about the allegation, which was submitted last month to the intelligence community’s inspector general. But at least part of it deals with Ukraine, two people familiar with it said.

Background: Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, revealed the existence of the complaint last week and said Congress had been blocked from seeing it. This is the latest episode in a series of disputes between the Trump administration and House Democrats involving oversight of the executive branch.

Reaction: Mr. Trump defended his actions on Thursday, saying in a tweet, “I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

The U.S. has protected the oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf for decades, but last weekend’s attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia may strain that commitment.

CreditPhoto illustration by Matt Dorfman
CreditEmilee Chinn/Getty Images

Snapshot: Above from left, Gio Urshela, Cameron Maybin and Luke Voit celebrating after the New York Yankees clinched the American League East division title on Thursday for the first time since 2012. (If rugby’s more your thing, we have a preview of the World Cup, which starts today in Japan.)

Circling the globe: On this day in 1519, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan began what would become the first circumnavigation of the world. But Spain has at least as strong a claim on the feat, in the name of another sailor.

Banksy auction: The street artist’s painting of chimpanzees in Britain’s Parliament, which is set to be auctioned at Sotheby’s next month, seems to have been monkeyed with.

News quiz: Did you follow the headlines this week? Test yourself.

Modern Love: In this week’s column, a woman who expected to give birth on Christmas Day is confronted by a different reality.

Late-night comedy: The hosts all discussed Justin Trudeau: “He didn’t need the brownface to make the costume work,” Trevor Noah said. “He’s in a full Aladdin outfit at an Arabian Nights-themed party. Nobody was gonna see him and be like ‘Huh, white skin — are you the snowman from ‘Frozen?’”

What we’re watching: This music video from Playing for Change, with Rolling Stone’s explanation of how the group went to five continents to record its version of Robbie Robertson’s “The Weight.” Mark Mazzetti, our Washington-based investigative correspondent, wrote on Twitter, “This is terrific!”

CreditAndrew Purcell for The New York Times. Food Sylist: Barrett Washburne.

Cook: Try Indian-influenced vegetarian nachos, with Cheddar, black beans and chutney.

Go: A revamped Empire State Building offers flashy exhibits, including a convincingly animated King Kong, and a vertiginous ride to the 102nd floor.

Watch:Ad Astra,” starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut, reminds us “that in order to get found, you need to get lost,” our critic writes.

Read: “The Penguin Book of Migration Literature,” an expansive new anthology, is one of 11 books we recommend this week.

Smarter Living: What happens when you switch to a green energy provider? Well, there’s no way to guarantee the electricity charging your phone came from a wind farm — you’re buying generic “renewable energy certificates.” Nonetheless, our Climate Fwd: newsletter reports the certificates are a “totally legit” way to reduce your carbon footprint.

And if you’re looking to spend a weekend outdoors without going broke, our Frugal Traveler column suggests camping gear rental.

Do you remember … the 21st night of September?

If you find yourself shaking your hips on Saturday night, thank Earth, Wind & Fire. Their funk classic “September,” which name-checks the date in its first line, is a staple of weddings and dance floors around the world.

Earth, Wind & Fire performing in Tokyo in 1979.CreditKoh Hasebe/Shinko Music, via Getty Images

The song’s unstoppable groove made it a hit when it was released in 1978. More recently, annual Twitter videos have made it a viral sensation.

Why the 21st? “We went through all the dates: ‘Do you remember the first, the second, the third, the fourth …’ and the one that just felt the best was the 21st,” Allee Willis, one of the song’s writers, told NPR. “There is no significance beyond it just sang better than any of the other dates.”

Oh, and what does “ba-dee-ya” really mean? It was a placeholder lyric that the band’s leader, Maurice White, opted to keep in the song: a lesson to Ms. Willis to “never let the lyric get in the way of the groove.”

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

— Chris

Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign rallies.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Lyft competitor (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Farhad Manjoo, who writes on the business and culture of technology for The Times’s Opinion section, will answer questions about his column at 1:30 p.m. Eastern today on Twitter (@fmanjoo).


An earlier version of this briefing misstated the surname of the leader of Earth, Wind & Fire. He was Maurice White, not Wright.

Chris Stanford writes the U.S. edition of the Morning Briefing. He also compiles a weekly news quiz. He joined The Times as a home page producer in 2013, before which he worked at The Washington Post and other news outlets. He is now based in London. @stanfordc