Israel, Donald Trump, Magic Johnson: Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Good morning,

We’re covering the election results in Israel, the expected release of the first images of a black hole, and a big day in Brexit negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted supporters in Tel Aviv early today.CreditThomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Preliminary results today showed that the parties of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, appeared to have won the same number of seats in the Israeli Parliament, but that Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party had stronger potential partners for a coalition government. Here are the latest updates.

A victory for Mr. Netanyahu would result in his fourth consecutive term, and fifth overall, and probably make him Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. It would also provide him with a renewed mandate as he fights charges of bribery and corruption.

Closer look: Mr. Netanyahu is widely credited with having built a strong economy and keeping Israel secure. He has also delivered long-sought diplomatic victories, several of them with the help of President Trump.

What’s next: President Reuven Rivlin in the next few days is expected to choose the party leader he believes has the best chance of assembling a parliamentary majority.

In his more than three months as acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney has encouraged President Trump’s instincts where his predecessors often tried to restrain them.

Two of our White House correspondents report: “Some outsiders see the cascade of hard-line policy ventures, unorthodox appointments and high-level purges of recent days as a sign of Mr. Mulvaney’s expanding influence, assuming that he is pushing Mr. Trump to the right. But insiders call that a misconception, insisting that Mr. Mulvaney at most is pushing on an open door and otherwise is merely liberating Mr. Trump to pursue the courses he prefers.”

Yesterday: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers that White House lawyers had been in touch with his department about a congressional request for Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

Another angle: Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday that he would release a redacted version of the special counsel’s report “within a week.” He is set to appear before Congress this morning for a second day of testimony.

The senator and early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination plans to reintroduce his Medicare for All Act today, an effort to offer all Americans health insurance under a single plan run by the government and financed by taxpayers.

Mr. Sanders ran for president as an outsider in 2016, but his brand of democratic socialism has taken root on the Democratic left. The co-sponsors of his Medicare for All bill include at least four Senate Democrats who are running against him.

The details: The Times asked a handful of economists and think tanks with a range of perspectives to estimate total health care expenditures in 2019 under a Medicare for All plan. The range of responses, and the things that all the experts agree on, offer a look at what would be the largest domestic policy change in a generation.

Perspective: In an Op-Ed, a writer with Type 1 diabetes discusses the skyrocketing price of insulin, and how even those with health insurance are having financial trouble.

Yesterday: Mr. Sanders said he would release 10 years of tax returns by Monday and acknowledged that he had joined the ranks of the millionaires he has denounced for years.


The first image of a black hole, from the galaxy Messier 87.CreditEvent Horizon Telescope Collaboration/Manunakea Observatories

At 9 a.m. Eastern, astronomers unveiled the first image of a black hole, an object so dense that not even light can escape its gravity.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” said Shep Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The image showed a dark circle surrounded by swirling fogs of radio noise in the heart of a galaxy. It affirmed a finding that shocked Albert Einstein when his equations predicted it in the early 20th century: that space-time can collapse when too much matter or energy is concentrated in one place.

Background: Astrophysicists think black holes generate the prodigious energies of quasars and other explosive galactic nuclei. Last October, The Times Magazine discussed the challenges of photographing them.


CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

It’s the ham world’s equivalent of pop music: a honeyed, easy-to-eat mainstay of the buffet table. Even boutique producers are starting to make it, as cooks have come to care more about the provenance of their pork.

With Easter and other spring celebrations approaching, our Southern-based correspondent digs into the history of the spiral-cut ham, estimated to represent up to a third of all the ham sold in the U.S.

New Zealand gun ban: Parliament passed a law today banning most semiautomatic weapons, less than a month after the killings in Christchurch. Just one lawmaker opposed it.

Brexit talks: European Union officials are expected to offerBritain extra time for its withdrawal from the bloc — and more than the couple of months that Prime Minister Theresa May has requested. Their meeting in Brussels today comes two days before the current deadline.

Osteoporosis drug: The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for the bone disease, the first new treatment approach in nearly two decades. About 10 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis.

Facebook and grief: The company has said that improved artificial intelligence should help stop dead people’s profiles “from showing up in places that might cause distress.”


CreditJohn Taggart for The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, outside Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov in Brooklyn, where there was a measles outbreak this year. On Tuesday, New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, declared a public health emergency in parts of the borough to contain the spread of the disease in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

Magic Johnson steps down: The former Los Angeles Lakers star announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down as the team’s president of basketball operations after two years. He helped bring LeBron James to the Lakers, but they failed to make the playoffs this season.

52 Places traveler: In his latest dispatch, our columnist visits Doha, the capital of Qatar, where he found a desert pearl-diving settlement transformed into a gleaming vision of the future, with the help of A-list architects.

Late-night comedy: Conan O’Brien addressed the growing number of Democratic presidential candidates: “Yes, in fact, for this month only, if you announce you’re running for president you can get all-you-can-eat crab legs at Red Lobster.”

What we’re reading: This Twitter thread by Hind Makki, a Sudanese-American woman who lives outside Chicago. Alisha Haridasani Gupta, on the briefings team, found that it illuminated the significance of a widely shared image from the mass protests in Sudan.


CreditJulia Gartland for The New York Times

Cook: Miso chicken ramen is a perfect excuse to pull out that pressure cooker.

Watch: If you recently signed up for a Hulu streaming subscription thanks to your Spotify premium account, you may be wondering what to watch. We’re here to help.

Read: “Normal People,” Sally Rooney’s hugely anticipated second novel, is finally out in the U.S. “There is, in the pointed dialogue, a reminder of why we call it a punch line,” our critic writes.

Eat: The chef Jenny Kwak has been turning New Yorkers on to Korean food for 25 years. Our critic reviews her newest restaurant, Haenyeo, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Smarter Living: Many of us can tailor our jobs to maximize our satisfaction and sense of purpose. For a week, note down your tasks according to whether you love them or loathe them. Then you can focus on doing more of what energizes you.

Also, we have ideas to make your lighting at home more flattering.

For someone who called Canada home for only about five years, Frederick Arthur Stanley certainly found effective ways for his name to live on.

The park that dominates Vancouver’s downtown bears his name. Even more famously, there’s the Stanley Cup, the silver trophy he donated in 1892. (It cost about $50.) Top teams in the National Hockey League begin this year’s competition for it today.


Frederick Arthur Stanley and his famous cup.CreditUniversal History Archive/Getty Images, left; Ethan Miller/Getty Image

Stanley was a British politician who was appointed governor general of Canada in 1888. Canadians were still British subjects, and he was Queen Victoria’s representative.

He created the hockey award because of his sons’ interest in the sport. Originally called the Dominion Challenge Trophy, it was for the best amateur team in Canada.

But there is no indication that the man who first awarded it ever picked up a stick and took to the ice. His passion was horse racing.

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

— Chris

Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news. Ian Austen, our Canada correspondent, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

P. S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about recent power failures in Venezuela.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Sandwiches on pita bread (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
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