This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.
The Story of Kyrsten Sinema
As congressional Democrats dramatically scale back the most ambitious social spending bill since the 1960s, they’re placing much of the blame on moderates who have demanded changes.
One senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, has played an outsized role in shaping the bill — but has remained quiet about why. Today, we explore what brought her to this moment.
Guest: Reid J. Epstein, who covers campaigns and elections for The New York Times.
Why Spending Too Little Could Backfire on Democrats
When Democrats first set out to expand the social safety net, they envisioned a piece of legislation as transformational as what the party has achieved in the 1960s. In the process, they hoped that they’d win back the working-class voters the party had since lost.
But now that they’re on the brink of reaching a deal, the question is whether the enormous cuts and compromises they’ve made will make it impossible to fulfill either ambition.
Guest: Jonathan Weisman, a congressional correspondent for The Times.
A Threat to China’s Economy
Every once in a while a company grows so big and messy that governments fear what would happen to the broader economy if it were to fail. In China, Evergrande, a sprawling real estate developer, is that company.
Evergrande has the distinction of being the world’s most debt-saddled property developer and has been on life support for months. A steady drumbeat of bad news in recent weeks has accelerated what many experts warn is inevitable: failure.
But will the government let the company fail? And what would happen if it did?
Guest: Alexandra Stevenson, a business correspondent based in Hong Kong covering Chinese corporate giants.
The Sunday Read: ‘Who Is the Bad Art Friend?’
On June 24, 2015, Dawn Dorland, an essayist and aspiring novelist, did perhaps the kindest, most consequential thing she might ever do in her life. She donated one of her kidneys — and elected to do it in a slightly unusual and particularly altruistic way. As a so-called nondirected donation, her kidney was not meant for anyone in particular, but for a recipient who may otherwise have no other living donor.
Several weeks before the surgery, Ms. Dorland decided to share her truth with others. She started a private Facebook group, inviting family and friends, including some fellow writers from GrubStreet, the Boston writing center where she had spent many years learning her craft.
After her surgery, she posted something to her group: a heartfelt letter she’d written to the final recipient of the surgical chain, whoever they may be. Ms. Dorland noticed some people she’d invited into the group hadn’t seemed to react to any of her posts. On July 20, she wrote an email to one of them: a writer named Sonya Larson.
A year later, Ms. Dorland learned that Ms. Larson had written a story about a woman who received a kidney. Ms. Larson told Ms. Dorland that it was “partially inspired” by how her imagination took off after learning of Ms. Dorland’s donation.
Art often draws inspiration from life — but what happens when it’s your life?
Qaddafi's Son is Alive, and He Wants to Take Back Libya
Before the Arab Spring, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the second son of the Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was establishing himself as a serious figure internationally. Then, the Arab Spring came to Libya.
His father and brothers were killed and Seif himself was captured by rebels and taken to the western mountains of Libya.
For years, rumors have surrounded the fate of Seif. Now he has re-emerged, touting political ambitions, but where has he been and what has he learned?
Guest: Robert F. Worth, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine.
A Showdown in Chicago
Chicago is in the midst of a crime wave — but there is also a question about whether police officers will show up for work.
That’s because of a showdown between the mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and the police union over a coronavirus vaccine mandate.
Some 30,000 city workers are subject to the mandate, but no group has expressed more discontent than the police.
Guest: Julie Bosman, the Chicago bureau chief for The New York Times.