Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Your Wednesday Briefing

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 | View in browser
Good morning.
We’re covering President Trump’s State of the Union address and Iowa’s Democratic caucus debacle. We’re also looking ahead to the expected end of the impeachment trial today.
By Chris Stanford
The president's speech on Tuesday ended with Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up her copy.  Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Trump makes his case for re-election

To Republican chants of “four more years,” Mr. Trump took credit for the robust economy and a “great American comeback” during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny,” Mr. Trump said. Here are six takeaways from the 78-minute speech.
The tense dynamic between the president and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on display all evening.
The details: Read a full transcript and watch video highlights. Our reporters also fact-checked the speech.
News analysis: “Mr. Trump moved past preserving his first term and focused on securing a second with an argument aimed at both his political base and dubious suburban voters,” our chief White House correspondent writes.
The scene: The address included a few theatrical touches, including the surprise reunion of a military family. Mr. Trump also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who was seated next to the first lady, Melania Trump. Mr. Limbaugh recently announced that he has advanced lung cancer.
What’s next: Mr. Trump didn’t mention his impeachment trial, which is expected to end today with a vote in the Senate to acquit him. Here’s what to watch for before the vote around 4 p.m. Eastern.

In partial results, Buttigieg and Sanders lead

With 71 percent of precincts counted, here’s where the delayed results from Iowa’s Democratic caucuses stand:
■ Pete Buttigieg has 26.8 percent of state delegate equivalents, followed by Bernie Sanders, with 25.2 percent.
■ Elizabeth Warren (18.4 percent), Joe Biden (15.4 percent) and Amy Klobuchar (12.6 percent) round out the top of the field.
■ It’s unclear when the rest of the results will be released. Here are the latest updates and a county-by-county map of the voting.
Closer look: An untested app and new reporting requirements were among the problems affecting the process. Here’s a look at what went wrong.
Go deeper: The app for reporting results was built in less than two months by Shadow Inc., a company founded by veterans of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The technology was part of Democrats’ broader efforts to match Republicans’ digital prowess.
Related: Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said on Tuesday that “what happened last night should never happen again.” The confusion has revived calls for Iowa to lose its longtime place at the front of the presidential nominating process.
Perspective: After Monday’s debacle, “we should be begging for the most analog election technology possible,” our technology columnist writes.
A convention center in Wuhan, China, on Tuesday. The building has been converted into a temporary hospital.  Chinatopix, via Associated Press

Coronavirus deaths near 500 in China

Chinese health officials today raised the death toll from the monthlong outbreak to 490, a day after 65 people in the country died from the virus. Here are the latest updates.
Health experts are still unable to say definitively how lethal the virus is, but the mortality rate so far — about 2 percent — is lower than that of SARS, which is about 10 percent.
Closer look: Our maps are tracking the outbreak, and drone footage from Wuhan, where the epidemic originated, shows the city of 11 million looking unusually quiet.
Go deeper: China’s response to the crisis has offered its 1.4 billion people a rare glimpse of how a “giant, opaque bureaucratic system works — or, rather, how it fails to work,” our columnist writes.
Another angle: In the U.S., the responsibility for containing the virus falls to local health officials. Our reporter spent two weeks in Snohomish County, Wash., the site of the first confirmed U.S. case.

If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it

More forests, and more fires

Edu Bayer for The New York Times
In the decades after World War II, large areas of Europe went from being cropland to woods, and the Continent is now one of the most forest-rich regions in the world. That also means it’s ripe for wildfires. Above, hillsides scorched last year in the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Our reporter traveled to Catalonia to learn more about managing woodlands in a hotter, drier climate. “Climate change is changing everything,” a fire analyst said. “We’re trying to build some vaccination into the landscape.”
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Here’s what else is happening

When the vet does harm: Doctors who harm their patients face costly lawsuits and other serious consequences. There is much less accountability for veterinarians, as devastated pet owners in Oregon learned.
Sensitivity education at Prada: Employees at the fashion house will receive training as part of a settlement with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, after a shop window featured figurines that resembled monkeys in blackface.
Jason Henry for The New York Times
Snapshot: Above, a dinner party at a nudist resort in Lutz, Fla. The nudist, or naturist, movement has historically been connected to food, and nudists say their relationship to eating is better and healthier without clothing — despite the occasional splatter burn.
Late-night comedy: The hosts joked about the Iowa caucuses: “We haven’t seen white people that confused since they first tried to dab,” Jimmy Fallon said.
What we’re reading: This piece from Stat, the health news site. Our Interpreter columnist Max Fisher says it’s “enormously helpful and illuminating” in describing possible long-term scenarios for the coronavirus.

Now, a break from the news

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Cook: This chocolate caramel tart comes from the dawn of the salty-dessert trend, and it shows why the pairing works.
Watch: The Netflix comedy “BoJack Horseman” has had many animal gags during its run. Here are some of the funniest.
Eat: The chef Alfred Portale made Gotham Bar & Grill into an institution. At Portale, he applies what he’s learned to Italian cuisine. Our restaurant critic likes the results.
Smarter Living: A former F.B.I. negotiator offers some tips for travel.

And now for the Back Story on …

The kindness of Australian strangers

Australia’s bush fires have brought pain and destruction to land, wildlife and property, but they have also highlighted the camaraderie and support that Australians call “mateship.” Damien Cave, our Australia bureau chief, experienced it while reporting on volunteer firefighters. This is his account.
We had just finished interviewing a group of firefighters trying to contain a sprawling blaze, and after bouncing down rocky roads for a few miles, we hit pavement.
That’s when I heard the familiar thump, thump, thump. I turned to Matthew Abbott, the photographer who was driving. “I think we’ve got a flat,” I said.
The back left tire on his Toyota pickup was hissing like a snake. The jack he had was built for a smaller car.
Members of the Australian Army greeted volunteer firefighters last month.  Matthew Abbott for The New York Times
While we searched for rocks to prop it up, an S.U.V. pulled over. “Need any help?” the older man behind the wheel asked.
Then a truck driver pulling a load of timber stopped, and a man with tattoos on his arms and legs hopped out.
Within minutes, he’d found a better place for the jack, lying on the ground to push it into place.
Three or four other cars drove down the small country road while we were stuck. Every driver stopped to offer assistance.
Every. Single. One.
Such kindness is no panacea for climate change or mega-blazes, but it does show that Australia has depths of something it will need to recover from this horrific fire season: thoughtfulness and empathy.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
— Chris
Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the State of the Union address.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Whale-obsessed captain (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Mihir Zaveri, a Times reporter, has been voted president of the South Asian Journalists Association.
London Hong Kong Sydney

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