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Tuesday Briefing: Donald Trump’s Trial Begins

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Jury selection began yesterday in New York City, where Donald Trump faces charges that he falsified business records to cover up a sex scandal while serving as president. It is the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president, and the first of four indictments that Trump faces in the coming months.

The initial pool of prospective jurors dwindled rapidly. More than half of the first group of 96 were dismissed in short order after indicating that they did not believe they could be impartial. As Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors hashed out pretrial motions, the former U.S. president seemed alternately irritated and exhausted. He smirked and scoffed, and also seemed to nod off a few times before jolting back awake.

Last month, the judge imposed a gag order on Trump, barring him from attacking witnesses in the case. But over the weekend, Trump assailed a key witness — his former fixer, Michael Cohen — on social media. The judge said he would hold a hearing later this month to discuss potential violations of the gag order, which also bars Trump from attacking the judge’s family.

What’s next: Jury selection could take two weeks or more, and the trial may spill into June.

Background: In 2016, Cohen paid $130,000 to the porn star Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence about a story of having had sex with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the encounter.

Israel is facing growing international pressure not to retaliate against Iran for its missile and drone attack over the weekend, even as some right-wing lawmakers pushed for an aggressive response.

The war cabinet met again yesterday, but there was no immediate indication of what, if anything, it had decided. But rather than preparing the public for a showdown with its archrival, the Israeli government signaled a return to relative normalcy, lifting restrictions on large gatherings and allowing schools to reopen.

Many Arab countries also urged de-escalation. They fear that clashes could have broader effects than those during past Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, or those involving groups in Lebanon or Syria. Unlike previous conflicts, this one keeps expanding, suggesting that the clashes are getting harder to contain.

The war between two military factions in Sudan, which has now been going on for a year, has created one of the largest waves of displaced people in the world.

About 8.6 million have been forced from their home by the fighting, which has also led to massacres and atrocities. More than a third of Sudan’s 48 million people are also facing catastrophic levels of hunger, the U.N. said.

What’s next: The continued clashes between the two rival generals’ competing flanks — the army and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces — have dashed hopes that Sudan will usher in civilian rule anytime soon.

Argeli, an evergreen shrub that grows wild in Nepal, had virtually no value until Japan discovered that it could be used to make bank notes. Now, Nepal’s farmers are thriving as they (literally) grow money on the hillsides.

Lives lived: Ushio Amagatsu brought worldwide visibility to Butoh, a hauntingly minimalist Japanese form of dance theater that arose in the wake of World War II. He died at 74.

  • Rethinking expectations: Perfectionism among young people has skyrocketed. Here are tips to keep your inner critic in check.

  • Koala conservation: Scientists in Australia are using tree-planting drones and other unorthodox methods to try to save the marsupials.

  • Measuring A.I.: There’s a problem with some leading A.I. tools, my colleague Kevin Roose writes in a column: We don’t really know how smart they are.

In “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,” which comes out today, Salman Rushdie writes about the 2022 attack that blinded him in one eye and the way his wife supported him through his recovery. It is a visceral, intimate remembrance.

“I wanted to write a book which was about both love and hatred — one overcoming the other,” he told my colleague Sarah Lyall. “And so it’s a book about both of us.”

For more: Our reviewer called the book “candid, plain-spoken and gripping.”

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