Impeachment Trial, Davos, Coronavirus: Your Tuesday Briefing

Impeachment Trial, Davos, Coronavirus: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering President Trump’s impeachment trial and fears of the spread of a mysterious disease from China. We’ve also published a collection of essays about something we’ve all probably thought about at some point: quitting.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

After a ceremonial opening last week for the third presidential impeachment proceeding in U.S. history, the Senate gets down to business today, starting with what’s expected to be a partisan debate over the rules. Here’s what to expect when the trial begins at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, released draft rules on Monday. They would limit each side’s arguments to 24 hours over two days and permit the Senate to decline to hear new evidence.

Mr. McConnell has said the rules are based on those used during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, but there are meaningful differences.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode is about Mr. Clinton’s trial.

News analysis: Mr. Trump’s lawyers have said that the articles of impeachment — for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — are invalid because they don’t accuse him of an ordinary crime. It’s an argument that plenty of scholars have rejected, our Washington correspondent explains.

The details: Read the brief that Mr. Trump’s legal team submitted to the Senate on Monday. The House has until noon to file a rebuttal.

Related: The president is in Davos, Switzerland, today, for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. He received a frosty reception there in 2018, but this time he’s likely to be accepted, if not embraced, writes our DealBook columnist, Andrew Ross Sorkin. (One reason: He may be in office for another four years.)

A $16 billion federal program to help states prepare for natural disasters reflects the complicated politics of global warming in the U.S., even as officials are increasingly forced to confront its effects.

States applying for funding must explain why they need the money and describe their “current and future risks.” When those include flooding, states must account for “continued sea level rise,” a consequence of warming.

But some conservative states have submitted proposals that mostly avoid mentioning climate change. Texas refers to “changing coastal conditions” and South Carolina talks about the “destabilizing effects and unpredictability” of three major storms in four years.

One exception is Florida, whose proposal calls climate change “a key overarching challenge.”

Related: Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old climate activist, is expected to criticize inaction by the world’s business and political leaders during a speech today in Davos, Switzerland. Read a transcript of her planned remarks.

Another angle: Australia’s biggest mining company announced today that coal output was down because of smoke from wildfires, a crisis exacerbated by climate change, which is caused in no small part by the burning of coal. The irony was not lost on many Australians.

When a Boeing 737 crashed near Amsterdam in 2009, killing nine people, Dutch pilots were blamed. But mistakes by the manufacturer — including design choices and faulty safety assessments — also contributed, documents and interviews show.

A Times review of evidence from the accident, some of it previously confidential, revealed striking parallels with two recent crashes of a newer model, the 737 Max, and similar pushback from the company and American safety officials.

An expert commissioned by the Dutch Safety Board to analyze the 2009 crash said it represented “a sentinel event that was never taken seriously.” His study was never made public.

Response: Boeing declined to address detailed questions from The Times. In a statement, the company pointed to differences between the 2009 accident and the Max crashes. “These accidents involved fundamentally different system inputs and phases of flight,” the company said.

Is there a more exciting and complicated phrase than “I quit”?

Our collection of 21 first-person narratives discusses quitting all sorts of things, including jobs, sex, the presidential campaign and even the task of writing about quitting.

Fear of pandemic: Australian officials said today that they would begin screening passengers on flights from Wuhan, the Chinese city where a deadly coronavirus that has infected more than 250 people originated.

Virginia gun rights rally: More than 20,000 people, many of them armed, gathered in Richmond to protest gun control proposals. The authorities had been braced for violence, but the police reported no major incidents.

Snapshot: Above, the Cosmic Ray Research Station in Armenia. In its heyday, more than 100 scientists worked there tracking high-energy particles from space. Physics has mostly moved on, but the station persists — a ghost observatory that is maintained for long stretches by two technicians and a cook.

Late-night comedy: The hosts wondered about the defense strategy for President Trump’s legal team. “Release a live bat in the Senate chamber, then scatter,” Jimmy Fallon suggested.

What we’re reading: This piece in Taste about a food specialty familiar to only a small subset of Italian-Americans. “It has come to my attention that some of you do not know the first blessed thing about lard bread,” tweeted our food critic Pete Wells. “Max [Falkowitz] is here to guide you into the light of lardy knowledge.”

Cook: Turn pantry staples into vegetarian skillet chili. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Go: “Emojiland” is an Off Broadway musical set inside a smartphone with a cast of, you guessed it, emojis. It’s “big-hearted and comforting,” our critic writes.

Watch: Ruth Negga, an Ethiopian-Irish actress, is set to play Hamlet in Brooklyn. She spoke to The Times about the role and her next project, a film adaptation of a 1920s novel about passing for white.

Smarter Living: Should you unpack your suitcase when you travel? Whatever your choice, pack thoughtfully.

A hundred years ago this month, the U.S. embarked on an official prohibition on the “manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors” anywhere within the country.

It didn’t go well.

Bootlegging liquor operations proliferated, as did the illicit bars known as speakeasies. The drink of choice: the cocktail, which spread out the hooch and could disguise bad flavors. The boom far outlasted Prohibition, which ended after 13 years. Sidecar, anyone?

Dave Wondrich, a drinks historian, tracked down the source of the word “cocktail.” In the second edition of his landmark reconstruction of mixed drinks, “Imbibe!,” he notes that prospective horse sellers in England would give old or droopy specimens a rectal dose of ginger to make them cock their tails for a younger, zippier appearance.

From there it was just a short jump to the zingy drinks that made humans perk up, at least at the start of their alcoholic forays.

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

— Chris

Thank you
“Office Space” provided this morning’s soundtrack, and Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell, the briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
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