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We’re covering coronavirus-related school closures, the state of the Democratic primary race and Europe’s plans for cutting carbon emissions.
Coronavirus outbreak puts life on pause
As the number of coronavirus deaths in Italy jumped to 107 on Wednesday, the government shut down schools nationwide until at least March 15.
The governor of California declared a state of emergency as the number of cases there shot up to 54, the most in the United States, and Facebook said that a worker in its Seattle offices had tested positive. We have live updates and a video of what the virus’s impact looks like from space.
Nearly 300 million students are now out of classrooms worldwide, and the outbreak — which has killed more than 3,200 people and infected more than 95,000 in dozens of countries — is increasingly disrupting work, travel and leisure on multiple continents.
Here’s a sampling:
China: Local governments across the country are erecting barriers between neighborhoods in an effort to stop people from spreading the virus. Officials in the northern city of Tianjin call the steel sheets the “Blue Great Wall.”
Events: The London Book Fair and the Geneva International Auto Show are among the events that have been canceled over coronavirus fears. (The Summer Olympics in Tokyo are still a go, at least for now.)
The arts: The Louvre in Paris reopened, with caveats, after closing for three days, and some wonder if a highly anticipated exhibition of Raphael paintings that opens in Rome today will go on as planned.
Fashion: Falling sales and supply-chain disruptions in China are among the disruptions upending the luxury fashion world.
Biden leads primary race, and Bloomberg quits
Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, dropped out of the Democratic primary race and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday, a day after voters in 14 states made Mr. Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders the clear front-runners.
Mr. Biden won 10 of those states and now has a delegate lead over Mr. Sanders that is small but may be hard to beat. That is partly because black voters — a crucial base of Mr. Biden’s support — represent an average or above-average share of the population in many of the remaining nominating contests.
Still, Mr. Sanders, who won the delegate-rich state of California, has vowed to wage a long battle for the nomination leading up to the Democratic convention in July.
Looking ahead: The next contests — in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington State — are on March 10. Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio will hold primaries a week later.
Analysis: The former vice president is hardly a risk-free candidate, our reporter Matt Flegenheimer writes, but he was lifted by a “hasty unity” among moderates in the Democratic Party who are wary of Mr. Sanders’s progressive agenda.
Another angle: Wall Street executives are opening their checkbooks for Mr. Biden, but their support could have downsides for the candidate, who presents himself as anti-elitist.
Europe’s ‘moral clash’ on migration
Turkey’s recent decision to open its borders for migrants to cross into Europe has exposed Europe’s failure to create coherent migration or asylum policies in the wake of a migration crisis five years ago — one that produced horrible pictures of dead children and fueled far-right populism across the Continent.
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, visited Greece this week, saying the bloc’s first priority would be “making sure that order is maintained at Greece’s external border, which is also Europe’s border.”
But displaying solidarity with Greece’s sometimes-harsh efforts to keep out migrants and refugees is an “awkward moral clash” for a bloc that professes to care about protecting human rights, individual dignity and the right to seek asylum under international law, writes our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe.
Context: Some analysts see the latest crisis as the inevitable result of Europe’s failure to engage with a long-brewing crisis in Idlib Province, which borders Turkey in northwestern Syria. Syrian and Russian forces are trying to crush the last redoubt of revolution there. Turkey has waded into the conflict, after accusing European leaders of not keeping their promises to help it cope with millions of Syrian refugees.
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it
Dark web noir
When the first sites selling assassination services were discovered, some people assumed that the dark web was crawling with hit men waiting to kill on command.
Experts say the sites, which charge roughly the same as the going price for real-life assassins, are scams. There has not been a known murder attributed to any of them.
But the sites ensnare clients anyway, leading to salacious headlines that distract from identity theft and other crimes that are common on the dark web. “There is actual crime, but we are too busy talking about some guy who wants to kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend,” one researcher said.
Here’s what else is happening
Ukraine: President Volodymyr Zelensky fired his cabinet on Wednesday, faulting his ministers for poor performance and suggesting that Western nations had been allowed to appoint too many foreigners to the boards of the country’s state-owned companies.
Israel: Forces on both sides of the country’s yawning political divide were maneuvering to gain advantage, two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won another election but fell three parliamentary seats short of a majority. Here’s why Mr. Netanyahu seems unsinkable, even as he faces trial on bribery and other corruption charges.
Climate change: Greta Thunberg and other activists denounced as “empty words” the European Union’s plans for a climate law that would set a target of net zero carbon emissions across the bloc by 2050. But some climate experts praised the plan, which would require the European Commission to factor climate goals into every piece of legislation.
Snapshot: Above, the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima, Peru. Its Dublin-based designers, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, have won his year’s Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor.
What we’re reading: Anahad O’Connor, a health reporter, highlights a fascinating — and somewhat frightening — new study of coral species that suggests that Earth’s “sixth extinction” may already be well underway. The science journalist Emily Laber-Warren tells the story in Newsweek.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Vegan chili is where meat alternatives are at their best, J. Kenji López-Alt found. He experimented for two years with cooking plant-based protein mixes designed to taste, look and feel like ground meat. Here are some other plant-based-meat recipes to make at home.
Read: Our critic calls “The Mirror and the Light,” Hilary Mantel’s latest novel, the “triumphant capstone” to her trilogy on Thomas Cromwell.
Listen: For Hayley Williams, the frontwoman of the rock band Paramore, a solo project was a way to exorcise demons and stretch her creative powers. Our reporter met her in Nashville.
Smarter Living: Microaggressions, the everyday insults that members of marginalized groups experience, can negatively affect your health or elicit symptoms of trauma. Here’s how to decide which ones to fight, and what to say.
And now for the Back Story on …
In 1896, The New York Times adopted its now famous mission: “to give the news impartially, without fear or favor.” But what does this mean in practice? Some of our reporters and editors recently told us what they do to remain objective.
Peter Baker, our chief White House correspondent, says:
“As reporters, our job is to observe, not participate, and so to that end I don’t belong to any political party, I don’t belong to any nonjournalism organization, I don’t support any candidate, I don’t give money to interest groups and I don’t vote.
“I try hard not to take strong positions on public issues even in private, much to the frustration of friends and family. For me, it’s easier to stay out of the fray if I never make up my mind, even in the privacy of the kitchen or the voting booth, that one candidate is better than another, that one side is right and the other wrong.”
Elizabeth Dias, a national correspondent who covers religion and politics, says:
“I don’t go to marches, though that’s the hobby du jour in Washington right now. When my friends point out that Americans have the right to free assembly, I agree. I just also think of another First Amendment right, freedom of the press, and that is my focus.
“Impartiality, for me, is not about hiding something I really think, or trying to keep my real views from being exposed. It is about trust. I think about my readers a lot. I want them to trust me.”
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Lara Takenaga wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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