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We’re covering the first cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in Europe, the results of a key election in Italy and the death of the retired basketball star Kobe Bryant.
Coronavirus outbreak intensifies and spreads to France
As of this morning, the outbreak of a mysterious coronavirus has killed at least 80 people in China, sickened thousands and spread to at least 10 countries. That includes three confirmed cases in France, the first European country on that growing international roster. Here’s the latest.
Almost all of the worldwide infections involve people who traveled from China. A top health official in Beijing warned on Sunday that the spread of the disease was accelerating, partly because it was being carried and transmitted by seemingly healthy people.
Yesterday: Five million people left Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus originated, before travel was restricted, the city’s mayor said — a stunning disclosure that intensified questions about the government’s delayed response.
Related: China’s flawed response to the outbreak may be another sign of how President Xi Jinping’s political dominance hampers internal debate over key policy decisions, analysts tell our correspondents based in Beijing.
What’s next: The Chinese government has extended the end of the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday by three days, to next Sunday, in an effort to to temporarily limit travel.
Italy’s League party loses a key election
The party of the nationalist leader Matteo Salvini lost a regional election on Sunday that he had hoped would set the stage for his return to power — a prospect that once thrilled Europe’s populists and menaced its establishment.
Mr. Salvini had campaigned feverishly before the vote, in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, in the hope that a victory would provide ammunition in his calls for early national elections. But voters there, who have typically supported communist and leftist parties, rejected his anti-migrant League party’s candidate by a margin of around five percentage points.
Go deeper: Five Star, an anti-establishment party in Italy’s governing coalition, was humiliated in the election, raising more questions about its viability in the wake of its leader’s resignation last week.
How Iran covered up its deadly mistake
Come clean or I’ll resign. That’s what President Hassan Rouhani of Iran told top commanders who had been covering up the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet over Tehran.
It was only then — three days after the plane crashed in early January — that the country’s supreme leader ordered the government to acknowledge its fatal mistake.
We have an in-depth report on the cover-up and its political implications. Key takeaway: The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite force charged with defending Iran’s clerical rule at home and abroad, effectively sidelined the elected government in a moment of national crisis.
How we know: Our reporter interviewed current and former Iranian officials, ranking members of the Revolutionary Guards and people close to the supreme leader’s inner circle.
In Baghdad: In a protest organized by an anti-American Shiite cleric and armed groups with ties to Iran, an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 Iraqis gathered on Friday to protest the United States military presence in the country. (An American drone strike that killed a top Iranian commander in the Iraqi capital on Jan. 3 has prompted widespread public anger.)
How solid are Europe’s post-Holocaust values?
World leaders and dignitaries will gather today for a solemn ceremony at Auschwitz in Poland to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi death camp.
But these days, our Warsaw bureau chief writes, some worry that Europe’s post-Holocaust values are being eroded amid a surge of anti-Semitism and dehumanizing political rhetoric on the Continent and in the United States.
Even the memory of Auschwitz — where 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were murdered — has been weaponized. Case in point: A ceremony at a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem last week was clouded by a bitter dispute over World War II history between Poland and Russia.
Yesterday: Mark Rutte of the Netherlands became the first Dutch prime minister to apologize for his country’s role during the Holocaust and its lack of action against the persecution of Jews.
Related: In the first installment of “Beyond the World War II We Know,” a new Times series, a United States Navy veteran looks at how her family fled Nazi Germany weeks before Hitler invaded Poland.
If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it
The risky journey to Europe
After the great migration of 2015 — in which more than a million undocumented people landed in Europe — the authorities in Turkey, Greece and Hungary responded by reducing undocumented migration by more than 90 percent.
Now, migrants who risk the journey to Europe travel up and over the icy hills and mountains that line Bosnia’s border with Croatia.
The terrain, pictured above, contains land mines from the Balkan wars. And the Croatian authorities typically force all who cross safely to turn around, without letting them apply for asylum.
Here’s what else is happening
Impeachment: John Bolton, the former U.S. national security adviser, writes in a book draft that President Trump wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there investigated his political rivals. The revelation could complicate the case that Mr. Trump’s lawyers plan to make at his impeachment trial.
Israeli politics: Middle East experts see the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan for the region — which the president is expected to lay out when he meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in Washington today — mainly as a “booster shot” for Mr. Netanyahu’s desperate campaign to stay in power.
Retired basketball star dies: Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles on Sunday. His death generated an outpouring of grief across the United States and beyond.
Surveillance in London: Privacy groups criticized a decision by the city’s Police Department to begin using facial recognition technology that identifies people on a police watch list as soon as they are filmed on a video camera.
Grammy Awards: Billie Eilish won record, album and song of the year, but Kobe Bryant’s death overshadowed the ceremony. We have live updates, a rundown of who won and a look at red carpet fashion.
What we’re reading: This Boston Globe investigation of the government’s inaction on E. coli outbreaks. The story of a 2-year-old boy who ate some of his father’s salad and developed the illness is “heartbreaking, terrifying and riveting,” writes our Times Insider editor, Jennifer Krauss.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Slow cooker red beans and rice takes only about 20 minutes to set up in the morning.
Go: Our critic writes that the Berlin Philharmonic is playing with “enthusiasm and virtually flawless precision” under its new chief conductor, Kirill Petrenko.
Smarter Living: Wirecutter recommends five cheap(ish) things to radically make over your cluttered closet.
And now for the Back Story on …
Bill Clinton’s impeachment
We asked Peter Baker, our chief White House correspondent, to reflect on a major moment in the lead-up to the last presidential impeachment and compare it with the current trial. He has covered both.
Twenty-two years ago this week came a milestone moment in the last presidential impeachment drama. President Bill Clinton was on the defensive after The Washington Post, where I was working then, broke the news that Ken Starr was investigating whether he committed perjury to cover up an affair with a onetime White House intern.
Mr. Clinton took to the microphone at the end of an event, glared angrily at the reporters in the room, wagged his finger and, with Hillary Clinton standing behind him, forcefully said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
We were struck by two things: One, that he seemed to briefly blank on her name, referring to her as “that woman,” before summoning it. But the second was the intensity of his denial. He was white-hot mad. At that time, before the DNA and the grand jury testimony, we didn’t know if the story we were pursuing was bogus or if the president of the United States was lying to us and to the country. Of course, later we found out which it was.
Now, as Ken Starr re-emerges as a lawyer for President Trump in the current impeachment trial, and the administration’s explanations of what happened continue to fluctuate, it’s hard not to feel déjà vu.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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