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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times



Democrats on Tuesday introduced a measure to lower health insurance premiums, strengthen protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and ban the sale of “junk insurance.”

The legislation came a day after the Trump administration moved to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act. The Justice Department had initially said that only parts of the health care law, including its protections for pre-existing conditions, should be struck down.

Why it matters: Some 21 million people could lose health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is ruled unconstitutional. Here are more potential consequences.

In a startling reversal in a case that drew national attention, prosecutors in Chicago dropped all charges against the “Empire” actor, who was accused of staging a hate crime attack in January.

It was unclear what led prosecutors to Tuesday’s decision, which was sharply criticized by city officials. Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it “a whitewash of justice” and cited Mr. Smollett’s celebrity as a factor in the decision.

Background: Mr. Smollett, who is black, gay and vocal on social issues, had told the police that two men had attacked him, taunting him with homophobic and racial slurs. The men later said they had been paid by Mr. Smollett to concoct the attack, according to the police.

The end of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, made clear at least one thing: President Trump has successfully thrown out unwritten rules that have been in place since President Richard Nixon resigned, our chief White House correspondent writes in a news analysis.

Whether Mr. Trump’s actions constituted obstruction of justice has emerged as the most debated question of Mr. Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel’s decision not to take a position on the issue means that future occupants of the White House could feel entitled to take similar actions, and it may be the Mueller report’s most enduring legacy.

The reaction: No collusion. Let’s party. Mr. Trump’s aides emerged from their emotional bunkers in celebration of what they said was total vindication.

Congressional committees are holding hearings today to examine federal oversight of the aviation industry, offering lawmakers an opportunity to question Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao about the Boeing 737 Max. We’ll have live coverage starting around 10 a.m. Eastern.

The hearings are likely to be the most public reckoning for Boeing since the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet earlier this month. The accident came five months after the crash of another 737 Max jet, in Indonesia, prompting serious concerns about the model’s safety.

With deep ties in Washington and a lavish lobbying budget, Boeing would appear to be well prepared to deal with a public-relations crisis. But the company’s public comments have been relatively sparse.

Closer look: Long before the grounding of the 737 Max, the Federal Aviation Administration faced scrutiny over its longtime practice of giving manufacturers the authority to help certify their own planes.

Chris Riley, above, grew up in the mining town of Clawson, Utah. His great-grandfather, grandfather and father all worked in the coal mines, but Mr. Riley founded a company that could hasten the fossil fuel’s decline.

These are portraits of seven people who found a different path from their families, working in industries like wind and solar power that now provide more jobs than mining and burning coal do.

National emergency vote: The House failed to override President Trump’s first veto, shifting the fight over his declaration on the southwestern border to the courts.

Purdue Pharma settlement: The maker of OxyContin and its owners, the Sackler family, agreed to pay the state of Oklahoma $270 million to avoid going to trial over the company’s role in the opioid addiction epidemic.

Next steps for Brexit: Parliament is set to vote today on alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to withdraw Britain from the European Union.

Indian missile test: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today that his country had shot down a satellite. If the test is confirmed, India would join China, Russia and the U.S. in having the ability to destroy targets in space.

A shift in the Middle East: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that President Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights allowed a country to keep territory seized in war. That argument could pave the way for annexation of at least part of the occupied West Bank.

Sexual assault inquiry: Conor McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s biggest star and one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, is under investigation in Ireland.

Measles outbreak: Rockland County, a suburb of New York City, declared a state of emergency and barred unvaccinated children from public places.

52 Places traveler: In his latest dispatch, our columnist visits Columbus, Ohio, a city obsessed with its future; and Williamsburg, Va., a place dedicated to its past.

Late-night comedy: Stephen Colbert reacted to Jussie Smollett’s release: “Isn’t it a hopeful sign for America that regardless of your race or sexual orientation, all rich famous people get off easily?”

What we’re reading: This report from Inkstone, a daily digest of China-focused stories. It describes a propaganda subway train dedicated to the political doctrine of Xi Jinping that The Times’s Asia editor, Philip Pan, calls “beyond Orwell.”

Smarter Living: Procrastination is not the result of laziness or time mismanagement, but of avoiding negative feelings associated with the delayed task. We feel better in the moment, but worse in the long run. Useful tools to help you act: Forgive yourself, and try to connect to some good feeling about the task.

And we look at how gardening can help hospital patients recover.

“Boeing” is synonymous with airplanes — though maybe it should be spelled Böing.

William Boeing, the company’s founder, was the son of a German immigrant-turned-lumber tycoon, and seems to have inherited his father’s business acumen in addition to the Americanized version of their family name.

According to Mr. Boeing’s biography on the company’s website, he started flying as a hobby around 1910 and quickly believed that airplanes could make a worthwhile business.

“Convinced that there was a definite future in aviation, I became interested in the construction as well as the flying of aircraft,” he once told an interviewer.

That interest eventually led to the Boeing Aircraft Company, which initially focused on military planes but has long been known for its commercial aircraft.

Mr. Boeing left his namesake company in 1934 to pursue work in other industries, including lumber, real estate, horse breeding and livestock farming, though he continued consulting for Boeing for the rest of his life.

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

— Inyoung and Chris

Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news. Zach Wichter, who’s been covering Boeing, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Slow-cooking pot (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times published its first mini crossword on Aug. 21, 2014. Read more about the puzzle’s history, as told by its creator.

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