Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
Good morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
• Rex Tillerson and President Trump never really saw eye to eye.
During his 405-day tenure as secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson had favored remaining in the Paris climate accord, preserving the Iran nuclear deal, and undertaking negotiations to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. Those positions put him at odds with the president, on whom Mr. Tillerson was considered a restraining influence.
On Tuesday, Mr. Tillerson learned from Twitter that he had been replaced by Mike Pompeo, the C. I. A. director, who more closely aligns with the president’s “America First” worldview .
• Looking for a pattern in the many staff changes? Don’t, our chief White House correspondent recommends . “I like conflict,” Mr. Trump said.
• President Trump’s nominee for C. I. A. director is Gina Haspel, a veteran officer who once oversaw a secret prison where brutal interrogation techniques were used after the Sept. 11,2001, attacks.
Lawmakers, human rights activists and others eventually condemned the methods as torture, but the program had defenders, including Mr. Trump, who vowed during his campaign to bring back waterboarding.
Now the agency’s deputy director, Ms. Haspel will probably face questions about the program during her confirmation hearings.
• “It’s going to be the first chance for senators to have someone intimately involved in the program in front of them to answer questions,” a former C. I. A. lawyer said. “I think they’ll take full advantage of that opportunity.”
• Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist who pondered the origin of the universe from a wheelchair, died today at his home in England. He was 76.
“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” said a physics professor at the City University of New York.
In 1963, Dr. Hawking learned that he had Lou Gehrig’s disease and was given a few years to live, but he went on to become a world expert in gravity and the properties of black holes.
• His 1988 book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes” sold more than 10 million copies and, according to The Times review, made the Big Bang “almost understandable.”
• A few hundred votes separate the candidates in a special House election in a Pittsburgh-area district on Tuesday that Donald Trump won by nearly 20 percentage points.
A Democrat, Conor Lamb, was clinging to a 579-vote lead over Rick Saccone, a Republican. But a few thousand absentee ballots had not yet been counted.
• A winner probably won’t be declared until later today at the earliest. Here are the results so far.
• From President Vladimir Putin’s perspective, Russia is under constant threat from enemies within and outside its borders.
Britain’s allegation that Moscow was responsible for the nerve-agent attack on a former Russian agent last week will be used to bolster that view. Russia’s foreign minister dismissed the claim on Tuesday as “nonsense.”
For Mr. Putin, who is cruising to certain victory in Sunday’s presidential election, “This is all about demonstrating that Russia not only has capacity to act but the will to act, too,” one expert said.
• Novichok, the chemical used in the attack, is believed to be far more lethal than sarin or VX, and there was no sign of it ever being used. Until now.
• Rex Tillerson’s dismissal as secretary of state comes just as President Trump prepares to meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
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For more about Mr. Trump’s first trip to California as president, click here .
• The White House ’s effort to protect American companies from China is expected to escalate as the Trump administration prepares tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese products for the alleged theft of intellectual property.
• Richard Meier, the celebrated architect who designed the Getty Center in Los Angeles, took a six-month leave of absence from his firm after five women accused him of sexual harassment .
• United Airlines apologized after a dog died on a flight during which it was stored in a passenger’s overhead compartment.
• U. S. stocks were down on Tuesday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets today.
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• It’s tax time! Here’s guidance for filing your return .
• Check-in time hours away? Ditch those bags .
• Recipe of the day: Do some throwback cooking with spaghetti primavera .
• How young is too young for protest?
A coordinated protest against gun violence at U. S. schools has administrators making special plans for students who may not be old enough to handle the subject. Here’s what we know about today’s walkout.
On Tuesday, a Florida prosecutor said he would seek the death penalty against the suspect in last month’s school shooting that left 17 people dead.
• Myths about American health care
Analysts are fond of describing the system as wasteful, but in a new international comparison, the U. S. looks a lot more like its peers than researchers expected.
• Today’s number: 53.1
That’s the percentage of fresh fruit eaten in the U. S. in 2016 that was imported, up from 23 percent in 1975, according to the Department of Agriculture.
• Best of late-night TV
After President Trump said he made the decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “by myself,” Jimmy Fallon said, “Trump brags about firing people the same way a toddler brags about using the bathroom alone for the first time.”
• Quotation of the day
“You may get a tweet.”
— John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, warning Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week that change was afoot.
• The Times, in other words
Here’s an image of today’s front page, and links to our Opinion content and crossword puzzles .
The reaction to our collaboration last week with The Times’s crossword column, Wordplay, was overwhelmingly positive, so we’re doing it again.
Each week, Wordplay’s editor, Deb Amlen, highlights the answer to one of the most difficult clues from the previous week.
This week’s word: aubade .
It was the answer to a clue in last Friday’s crossword: “Poem greeting the dawn.

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