Impeachment, Brexit, Fake Meat: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. In what Democrats called the most damaging impeachment testimony yet, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine drew a “direct line” between President Trump’s withholding of security aid and his demand for investigations.

William Taylor told impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill that Mr. Trump held up the aid and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine’s leader until he agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals, a Democratic lawmaker said. Here’s Mr. Taylor’s opening statement.

Earlier, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to denounce the impeachment inquiry as a “lynching.” The language sparked swift outrage among Democrats, particularly African-Americans, and even some Republicans expressed discomfort.

And looking ahead, the anonymous Trump administration official who wrote a Times Op-Ed about resisting the president’s agenda will publish a book next month.

2. Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of territory in northern Syria.

The move, which came after President Vladimir Putin of Russia hosted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey for talks on how they will divide control of Syria, cements Russian influence there at the expense of the U.S. and its Kurdish former allies.

Russia, which rescued the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria with brutal airstrikes over the last four years, now looks to be the arbiter of the power balance there, days after President Trump left a power vacuum with his sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops.

3. After a critical Brexit defeat, more tumult.

The process was left in disarray — again — after today’s vote in Parliament gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson a damaging setback, raising the prospect he might shelve his withdrawal deal and toss the debate over Brexit to the voters in an election.

Lawmakers refused to put legislation enacting Brexit on a fast track to passage, which could have enabled Mr. Johnson to meet his deadline of leaving the E.U. by Oct. 31.

The E.U. now has to decide how long an extension to grant Britain. Mr. Johnson said that if the deadlock slipped into next year, he would rather pull the legislation altogether and face the voters, calculating that he could win a popular mandate for a swift Brexit.

4. “Is there anybody else?”

A longtime Democrat who has run two of the party’s recent conventions says she has been hearing that question lately.

Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Sherrod Brown, John Kerry, even Michelle Obama are being whispered about as possible white knights to enter the presidential primary race at the last minute.

It’s a persistent question. But Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, had a message for angst-ridden Democrats: “Everybody needs to calm down, it’s early. It’s so early.”

5. More than a million children have lost health insurance in the last two years, according to new Census Bureau data, disappearing from the rolls of the two main state-federal health programs for lower-income children.

There is growing evidence that administrative changes aimed at fighting fraud and waste — and rising fears of deportation in immigrant communities — are to blame. Above, Kristin Johnson with her son Elijah, who was dropped from Medicaid coverage.

At the same time, prices for the most popular plan offered through Obamacare will actually drop next year, and the number of insurers offering plans will go up, after several years of turmoil caused in part by President Trump’s aggressive efforts to undermine it.

6. The executive in charge of Boeing’s commercial airplanes is leaving.

Kevin McAllister, above in January, is the most senior official to depart as the plane maker struggles to contain the crisis following the deadly crashes of two of its 737 Max jets. He had been at the center of efforts to return the plane to service.

Nike’s C.E.O. will also step down after 13 years in the role. He has faced several controversies, including a doping scandal and a revolt by female workers.

And WeWork is being taken over by SoftBank, which will pour billions more into saving it after having already invested $10.5 billion. The rescue deal will mean a huge payout for Adam Neumann, the co-founder and former chief executive of the flexible work space company.

7. Desalinated seawater is seen as one answer to the worsening problems of water quantity and quality. Above, a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia.

But the process requires enormous amounts of energy, and therefore is largely limited to more affluent countries. Researchers are now devising more effective and durable ways to produce more water per unit of energy and to deal with the highly concentrated brine that remains.

In other climate news, the Trump administration moved to lift protections on a threatened fish, allowing California’s waters to be diverted to its farmers.

9. McDonald’s already knows if you want fries with that.

The fast-food chain has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on artificial intelligence and machine learning in the hope of predicting what customers want before they decide.

Some of its drive-throughs, for example, might promote soda rather than coffee on a hot afternoon. And it has tested technology that can recognize license-plate numbers, allowing the company to tailor suggested purchases to a customer’s previous orders.

Domino’s Pizza and other restaurant chains have the same ambition, though they have stopped short of buying tech start-ups, as McDonald’s is doing.

10. And finally, how does “fake meat” perform in a taste test?

Three Times food experts — the restaurant critic Pete Wells, the cooking columnist Melissa Clark and the reporter Julia Moskin — lined up six national brands of the new vegan burgers for a blind tasting.

They tested two kinds of meatless patties at home, those assembled from an array of starches, fats, salts, sweeteners and synthetic proteins, and those based on whole grains and vegetables.

Good news for burger lovers: One of the six scored four and a half stars out of five. Here are the results.

Have an appetizing evening.

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