Your Monday Briefing
We’re covering what to watch as the Australian Open gets underway, what the arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial will entail and the pain and resilience of a historic Uighur town.
Australian Open begins as fire threats loom
The first Grand Slam event of this decade gets underway today.
There will be some notable absences at Melbourne Park over the next two weeks: Bianca Andreescu, the 19-year-old sensation, and the former No. 1 Andy Murray were both sidelined by injuries.
But the two reigning champions, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, will be present. Serena Williams will again try to tie Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles. And Ashleigh Barty is Australia’s best chance for a homegrown singles winner. Here’s what else to watch.
Fires: The city and tournament organizers are trying to forecast the winds, as smoke from nearby fires dusted the air and created a haze for players in the qualifying rounds. The tournament director said play would stop or shift indoors if the air quality was too poor.
The latest: The Australian government said it would channel $76 million to the tourism industry. Recent heavy rains have dampened many of the monthslong bushfires. Scientists say Australia’s landscape is being permanently altered by the fires.
Meng Wanzhou’s case goes to court
The highly anticipated extradition hearing of the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is set to begin today in Vancouver. It will bring together global politics, big money, high technology and the intricacies of Canadian law.
A judge will decide whether the crime Ms. Meng is accused of in the U.S. — deceiving banks into clearing transactions in Iran through a subsidiary company, in violation of sanctions against Iran — constitutes a crime in Canada.
Ms. Meng, the eldest daughter of Huawei’s founder, is Canada’s most famous detainee. She was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018, after the U.S. requested her extradition. Out on bail, she is living at a megamansion under 24-hour surveillance with a GPS tracker on her ankle.
What’s next: If Ms. Meng loses, she could appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in a process that could drag on for years. In the wake of the flight of the fallen Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn from Japan, some have questioned whether Ms. Meng might also try to escape.
Washington forecast: Heated
The third impeachment trial of an American president is set to begin in earnest on Tuesday.
Dueling arguments in legal filings from the White House and the House’s impeachment managers previewed a heated debate and presented the legal strategies both sides are likely to employ.
The managers, appointed by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will argue that the Senate should convict President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to a pressure campaign on Ukraine. The president’s defense team denounced the charges as a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to cost him re-election.
The rules: The trial will be tightly controlled, with limited video footage and reporters enclosed in a roped-off pen.
“The Daily”: Nicholas Fandos, who covers Congress for The Times, explains the process.
SpaceX launch fails exactly as planned
Less than two minutes after it launched, the rocket exploded.
On Sunday, SpaceX demonstrated a crucial safety system for the Crew Dragon, a capsule that is to carry astronauts for NASA to the International Space Station.
It’s the last major milestone before SpaceX can begin ferrying humans.
Details: The launch, carrying only sensor-laden dummies on board, took off at 10:30 a.m. Eastern from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and it aimed to verify that the capsule could whisk astronauts away safely from an exploding rocket.
If you have 7 minutes, this is worth it
A rare visit to a historic Uighur town
Yarkand, an ancient Muslim town in China’s Xinjiang region, is a cultural cradle for the Uighurs that has been under intense pressure from a regional indoctrination camp program. Above, a student holding a Chinese-language textbook near a food stall.
Our reporters managed a daylong visit, under constant supervision. They found that some public restrictions had eased, and while most displays of Islamic faith had disappeared, some traditions appeared to be holding strong.
Here’s what else is happening
Virus in China: The authorities said that 17 more people had been infected with a mysterious new illness, raising fears about an outbreak as hundreds of millions of people in China are expected to travel for the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins Friday.
A “hard” royal exit: Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, are losing their “Royal Highness” titles, state funding and other privileges in their agreement with Buckingham Palace — conditions much more severe than the couple apparently expected.
Paraguay prison break: At least 75 members of one of Brazil’s drug cartels escaped through a prison tunnel, a plan that the authorities knew of but could not stop. It’s the latest sign that the cartels, which smuggle arms and drugs in through Paraguay, have penetrated its security agencies.
Snapshot: Above, an image of the Balat neighborhood in Istanbul, taken by Orhan Pamuk. The Nobel laureate and Times Opinion contributor walked through his city to photograph its changing streets.
What we’re reading: This look back at Prohibition, 100 years later, from NorthJersey.com. “It’s a perfectly mixed cocktail of history, politics and culture,” writes Gina Lamb, a Special Sections editor. “Don’t miss the video.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Red curry lentils with sweet potato and spinach is an aromatic meal inspired by Indian dal.
Watch: The directors of “Uncut Gems,” Josh and Benny Safdie, narrate a sequence from the film featuring Adam Sandler.
Smarter Living: If you’re a night owl tired of not getting enough sleep, here’s how to become a morning person.
And now for the Back Story on …
The Australian Open
Facing the likelihood of incoming clouds of smoke from the bushfires scorching the country, tournament officials say they may have to close the retractable roofs on three stadiums and restrict play to the eight indoor courts.
The retractable roof on what is now Rod Laver Arena was a big attraction when it was new, in 1988. According to its designers, the point was to allow the stadium to host concerts and sports in all seasons.
It also helped the Australian Open make the transition into one of the grander of tennis’s four Grand Slam events.
When the event began in the early 20th century, travel time for Americans and Europeans could be more than a month, so play was largely limited to Australians and New Zealanders.
Even after the advent of jet travel, low prize money and dates around the Christmas holidays kept many players away. Chris Evert played the Australian Open just six times; John McEnroe five; Bjorn Borg once.
Over time, prize money and ranking points increased. The tournament shifted to the third and fourth weeks of January and moved to Melbourne Park — which has since added two more retractable roofs. Who would have guessed how handy they would prove?
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Today’s Back Story is drawn from reporting by Ben Rothenberg, who covers the Australian Open for The Times. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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