Situational awareness: The Trump administration will be imposing fresh sanctions on Russia after officially accusing it of illegally using chemical weapons in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this year.
Breaking: New York City is targeting ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, voting today to "freeze new vehicle licenses for one year while the city studies ways of reducing traffic congestion," the WSJ reports.
1 big thing: Democrats' special edge in 2018
Democrats have outperformed in each special election since President Trump took office by an average of 8.5 points, according to the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index, which measures the partisan tilt of each district based on the two previous presidential elections.
Why it matters: This is nearly double the margin required for Democrats to take back the House, says Cook's Dave Wasserman, who estimates they'd need to outperform PVI by just 4-5 points to win in November.
The big picture: "[T]here are 68 GOP-held House seats with a Cook PVI score less Republican than the 12th CD's (R+7), and 119 GOP-held House seats less Republican than Pennsylvania's 18th CD (R+11), where Democrat Conor Lamb won in March. Democrats only need to net 23 seats to win the House," Wasserman writes.
Be smart: John Kasich's support looks to be more crucial than Trump's to Republicans surviving in Ohio.
- Turnout was much higher among Kasich's base than the "abysmally low" turnout in counties Trump dominated in 2016, Wasserman notes.
Bonus: Photo du jour
An artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe, scheduled to launch Saturday, eventually approaching the Sun. It is designed to take solar punishment like never before, thanks to its revolutionary heat shield that’s capable of withstanding 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. What you missed
- Rep. Christopher Collins (R-NY) was arrested this morning for "charges tied to securities fraud." He was among Trump's early supporters. Go deeper.
- In July, 9,258 family members were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, a record high for July since at least 2012. Go deeper.
- The Mendocino Complex Fire is now the size of Los Angeles, making it the largest in state history. Go deeper.
- Tariffs on tariffs: The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced it will levy a 25% tariff on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods, including crude oil and cars.
- Secretive VR company Magic Leap announced the launch of its long-awaited first commercial product. Go deeper.
- Former anchor Tamron Hall has a new agreement to develop a daytime talk show with Disney and ABC, Variety reports.
3. 1 fun thing
The Oscars are rolling out a new format in 2020 in an attempt to reverse ratings slides and a bloated runtime, the AP's Lindsey Bahr reports.
- Popular film category will be added
- Date will move earlier, from Feb. 24 in 2019 to Feb 9 in 2020.
- “[T]o keep future ceremonies to three hours, the awards will be presented live and during commercial breaks.”
Why it matters: This year's awards had record low viewership and lasted nearly four hours.