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Your Friday Briefing
Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Mexico: Here's what you need to know. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
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Good morning.
We’re covering the latest poll on the 2020 election, debates about German identity, and concerns over yoga teaching practices.
By Mike Ives
George Kent said he documented his concerns weeks before the public disclosure of a whistle-blower complaint.  Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Ukraine pressure denounced as “injurious to the rule of law”

A senior State Department official testified that he was alarmed at President Trump’s demands that Ukraine investigate his political opponents, casting them as the kind of tactic the U.S. has condemned in the world’s most corrupt countries, according to a transcript released yesterday.
The official, George Kent, has been one of the lower-profile players in the Ukraine affair, but Democrats have called him to be a witness during their first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday. This account, given to investigators last month, helps explain why.
Related: As the threat of impeachment rises, President Trump’s relationship with Attorney General William Barr may be growing more complicated.
Another angle: In another blunt critique of American foreign policy, the top U.S. diplomat in northern Syria criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to avert Turkey’s military offensive there last month.
Far corners: Times reporters traveled along the only major road that runs the length of northeastern Syria to assess the region’s new power dynamic.

Lessons from battleground states

Democrats in six states that could decide the 2020 election — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — prefer a moderate presidential nominee who would seek common ground with Republicans, according to the latest New York Times/Siena College poll.
As the Democratic candidates intensify their argument over how best to defeat President Trump, the poll suggests that their party’s identity is more complex than the opposition and some progressive activists suggest.
Surprises: Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, has dispatched staffers to Alabama to gather qualifying signatures for its primary — a sign that he may enter the Democratic race.
Yesterday: A state judge ordered President Trump to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofit groups, after he admitted misusing money raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Related: The anonymous writer of a Times Opinion essay about being part of a “resistance” inside the Trump administration has published a book on the presidency. Here’s our review.
Dr. Hans-Joachim Maaz, like many of his patients, now identifies as East German first, something he never did under communism.  Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

Germany’s wall fell, but prejudice lingers

On Saturday, Germans will mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet the question of what constitutes German identity is far from settled, and rising ethnic hatred and violence have left many in the country feeling like strangers in their own land, our Berlin bureau chief writes.
Some in the country have begun distinguishing between “passport Germans” and “bio-Germans,” a far-right party has fueled resentment toward migrants, and two people were killed in a synagogue attack last month.
Voices: German readers in mixed-race families told us about the subtle and overt racism they experience.

Yoga in the #MeToo era

For years, much of the yoga community has disregarded complaints about unwanted touching, or worse, maybe because teachers are loath to discredit those they see as gurus.
Still, our reporter writes, “there may be no grayer gray zone than a yoga studio, where physical intimacy, spirituality and power dynamics come together in a sweaty little room.”
The Weekly: The latest episode of The Times’s TV show, on FX and Hulu, explores how yoga teaching practices raise questions about consent.

If you have 15 minutes, this is worth it

Searing grief, and disillusionment, in Mexico

The attack has devastated the tight-knit Mormon community in La Mora, a tiny hamlet of fruit and nut orchards in northern Mexico.  Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times
The Mexican authorities say the recent massacre of three Mormon mothers and six of their children was apparently carried out by a cartel that mistook them for a rival gang.
The attack has obliterated the government’s longstanding refrain that Mexico’s drug war mostly claims the lives of criminals, our reporter writes in a dispatch from the tiny hamlet where the victims lived.
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Here’s what else is happening

U.S.-China trade war: The countries said that any initial trade deal would include both sides’ rolling back some tariffs, a step toward defusing tensions between the world’s largest economies.
Equal Rights Amendment: Democrats plan to start today what they hope is a final push to enshrine the nearly century-old legislation in the Constitution.
Truck deaths: The British police on Thursday said they had identified all the 39 bodies discovered in a refrigerated trailer near London last month, and confirmed that all the victims were from Vietnam.
Hong Kong: A student was killed after falling from a parking garage near where police officers clashed with demonstrators. More protests are expected over the weekend.
Russian police vs. Russian science: A recent raid on a physics institute in Moscow stirred questions about the country’s increasingly aggressive and erratic security apparatus.
Violence in Bolivia: Amid clashes over a disputed presidential election, protesters kidnapped the mayor of a small town, drenched her with red paint and marched her through the streets barefoot.
Fears of a security breach: The last of seven defendants was expected to surrender today in a case against a Long Island company that sold Chinese-manufactured surveillance equipment labeled “Made in U.S.A.” to American government agencies.
Ulet Ifansasti for The New York Times
Snapshot: Above, trying to catch a piglet in Indonesia. A Christian community in the Muslim-majority country is pushing back against religious conservatism with a pork-centric festival.
News quiz: The quiz is off this week and will return next Friday.
Modern Love: In this week’s column, a daughter muses on how her father’s midlife transition affected her.
Late-night comedy: “Something is seriously wrong,” said Stephen Colbert, referring to reports that the attorney general had declined President Trump’s request to publicly state that no laws had been broken in Mr. Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. “That’s like Nicolas Cage turning down a movie role,” he added
What we’re reading: This article on Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Vogue. Our Magazine writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes, “I loved Lauren Collins’s sharp, largehearted profile of the creator of ‘Fleabag’ — even though it is hard for me to understand why two such glamorous women agreed to meet for any part of it at my least favorite sports bar in Midtown Manhattan (and that is saying something).”
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Now, a break from the news

David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.
Cook: Crème brûlée pie is an easy crowd-pleaser.
Look: A new exhibition in New York City highlights the art of Agnes Denes, 88, whose drawings explore scientific and philosophical subjects.
Listen: On “74,” the breathless ramble of an opening track from his immersive new album “Feet of Clay,” Earl Sweatshirt digs deeper into his free-associative, muddy style.
Read: Bernardine Evaristo, the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, talks about her mission to write about the African diaspora (and why her novel “Girl, Woman, Other” involves 12 interconnected characters).
Smarter living: A time management coach has some simple strategies to prevent burnout before it happens.

And now for the Back Story on …

Christmas markets (in November)

You may have already noticed signs of holiday spirit. Or at least merchandising.
In New York this week, vendors at the Bryant Park Christmas market are selling ornaments, dog-themed socks and calendars, and thick, soothing hot chocolate — even if the temperature hasn’t dropped all that far.
A Christmas market in Geneva last year.  Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA, via Shutterstock
It’s not just New York. Christmas markets, an Austrian and German tradition dating to the 1200s, have expanded. They take in billions of dollars yearly in Germany. In Britain, the number tripled from 2007 to 2017. They’ve also popped up in Japan, Singapore and China, where Christmas is not a public holiday; and in the Middle East, including in Dubai.
They fit seamlessly into the era of experiential retail, where temporary experiences can be more profitable than brick-and-mortar stores.
And lest you dismiss the markets as mere holiday profiteering, keep this in mind: At a time of chains and mass production, the markets make room for small production and artisanal craft.
That’s it for this briefing. My colleague Chris Stanford returns on Monday.
— Mike
Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Melina wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.
P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is on Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Chutzpah (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt, two of our Washington reporters, recently answered reader questions on Reddit. Here are a few highlights.
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