Your Thursday briefing


The House of Representatives on Wednesday embarked on the path to the impeachment of President Trump for a historic second time. A vote was underway to charge him with “inciting insurgency” after his supporters stormed the Capitol last week. Follow our live updates and our vote tracker.

A small but growing number of Republicans have said they support the effort. In 2019, not a single Republican voted in favor of impeachment. Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Republican, said there has “never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States.” Here is a guide to what we know.

And after: No president has ever been indicted twice or in the last days of his term, and none has ever been convicted. Our journalists trace the next steps in the process.

After the Capitol attack: Law enforcement officials warned of threats of violence ahead of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration on January 20. National Guard troops will be sent to Washington. Airbnb has taken a drastic step, canceling all of its Washington area reservations and blocking news in response to calls asking people not to attend.

The country is experiencing its worst coronavirus outbreak since last summer, testing the government’s success in fighting infections.

Authorities jumped into action, ordering tests on every resident, halting transport and canceling weddings and other events. They have ordered more than 22 million people to stay inside their homes, double the number affected last January in Wuhan, the world’s first lockdown against coronaviruses.

The outbreaks remain small compared to the devastation other countries are suffering – an average of 109 new cases a day over the past week – but they threaten to undermine the country’s success in containing the virus and restarting the ‘economy.

Details: The lockdown included Shijiazhuang, Xingtai, Langfang, and Beijing districts. Throughout the pandemic, officials have been particularly concerned about Beijing, the seat of the Communist Party’s central leadership.

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Related: In another possible setback for China, Brazilian scientists have downgraded the effectiveness of its CoronaVac vaccine to just over 50% – well below the 78% level announced last week. The implications could be significant for China’s willingness to supply its vaccine to developing countries.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, doubled down on his plan to boost his country’s nuclear program at a recent party convention where many hoped he would instead focus on the economy, which has been hit hard. by the coronavirus pandemic and sanctions.

The country will likely wait to see if the Biden administration offers a dialogue, some analysts say. If North Korea does not get what it wants, it will continue its aggressive tactics: “The Biden team must be prepared for provocations and escalation in the first half of the year,” an expert said.

Mr. Kim has deep mistrust of Washington and Seoul. During the party leadership reshuffle during the congress, he demoted officials who led diplomatic efforts and emphasized relations with China.

Related: Iran has taken another step forward in its nuclear program, according to the Wall Street Journal, by starting to work on a key material.

Six decades ago, after the Korean War, refugees like Han Gi-taek, above, arrived in a town on the border with North Korea to rebuild themselves. Stray landmines and brutal cold made Haean City’s land difficult to cultivate. The government promised the settlers that if they could do it for 10 years, they would keep the land.

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Now, after a delay on thorny legal issues, South Korea is keeping its promise to 160 families. Our correspondent examined their struggle to make the city his home.

Trial of the Italian crowd: Prosecutors have opened the largest popular trial in decades, with 325 defendants linked to the Ndrangheta crime syndicate charged with murder, corruption, drug trafficking and other crimes in the southern region of Calabria.

Aleksei Navalny: The Russian opposition leader has said he plans to return to Russia this weekend, after recovering in Germany from a nerve agent attack widely attributed to the Russian state. He faces the threat of being imprisoned upon his arrival.

What we read: This Wired article on the hunt for the identity of a hiker who died in Florida, where his emaciated body was found in a tent. Natasha Frost, of the Briefings team, calls it “fascinating and super sad”.

Cook: This Thai-inspired chicken meatball soup is invigorating and comfortable, made in a single pot and ready in 30 minutes.

Lily: Nadia Owusu’s “Aftershocks” is an attempt to understand what it means to be rooted and rootless. Our review describes it as “a beautiful and disturbing memory of Owusu’s own Peripatetic childhood, and the confusion and collapse that followed.

Make: Try this 11-minute bodyweight workout. Study shows that it significantly improves aerobic endurance.

We have more ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home. It’s all in our At Home collection here.

Many countries are taking steps to help artists and cultural venues stay afloat during the pandemic, some more generously than others. Here’s a look at the highlights and missteps of eight countries’ efforts.

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New Zealand

In May, the government announced it would spend about $ 268 million in arts aid over four years – a significant amount for a country of five million people. The government’s cultural revival plan was particularly focused on musicians, with a fund of $ 3.5 million to help groups tour nationally. Thanks to the country’s grip on coronavirus cases, the groups have been able to perform without social distancing measures since June.

South Africa

The government made small payments to arts workers, including freelancers, in addition to existing unemployment benefits. A plan for actors and musicians that began last summer called for a one-time payment of around $ 449. And in November, the country launched a similar initiative that offered up to about $ 1,000 to artisans and those working behind the scenes of theaters and film sets.

South Korea

South Korea never experienced a full-fledged lockdown in the spring, as it took other steps to quickly control the spread of the virus. As a result, cultural life quickly returned to a semblance of normalcy (a production of “The Phantom of the Opera” in Seoul was only closed for three weeks). But the South Korean government has still provided some $ 280 million to support cultural institutions.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

– Melina

Thank you
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh took the news break. You can reach the team at [email protected]

• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest episode is about whether a recent crackdown on U.S. social media makes violence less likely, or simply harder to follow.
• Here are our mini-crosswords and a hint: Car Trip (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• David Rubin, Marketing Director of The Times, spoke to the Our Future podcast about his vision of The Times as the “Netflix of Truth”.


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