Coronavirus, Germany, Storm Ciara: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the latest in the coronavirus outbreak, an upset for Germany’s Christian Democrats and a deadly storm in Europe.


Credit…Isabel Infantes/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The World Health Organization is holding a meeting today as Chinese officials said the death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to 1,016, with 42,638 confirmed cases in total. Here are the latest updates and maps of where the virus has spread.

In Britain, where four more cases linked to a cluster of transmissions at a ski resort in France were confirmed, the health authorities on Monday declared the virus an “imminent threat” to public health and announced new measures to combat its spread. That includes the ability to forcibly quarantine people — a sign of how seriously they are treating the outbreak.

Related: Sixty-five new cases were confirmed on a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, bringing the total on board to 135.

Quote of note: “Let’s not shake hands in this special time,” said China’s leader, Xi Jinping, as he reappeared in public in Beijing on Monday. The visit came after Mr. Xi had been criticized for appearing aloof amid increasing public discontent with his government’s response to the crisis and an idled economy.

Go deeper: In our Opinion section, an epidemiologist heading to the W.H.O. meeting today lists what is known, and not yet known, about the virus.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handpicked successor, said on Monday she would not seek Germany’s top position after a local chapter of her party, the center-right Christian Democrats, allied itself with a rising far-right party, Alternative for Germany.

If you missed it: Last Wednesday protests broke out after the Christian Democrats and AfD voted together to elect the governor of the tiny eastern state of Thuringia, where the Nazis first won power locally before taking power nationally. The vote exposed Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer’s lack of authority over her party and the creeping influence of the far right on the country’s political direction.

Context: Germany’s weakened traditional parties and increasingly powerful far right are an uncomfortable echo of the rise of the Nazis, at a crucial time when a post-Brexit Europe looks to Berlin for leadership.

Looking ahead: The Christian Democrats, expected to elect a new leader in December, face the choice of whether to join forces with the far right or to draw a red line against any collaboration.

A Russian military court on Monday sentenced a group of left-wing activists to up to 18 years in prison on terrorism and other charges; some of the activists claimed they had been forced to testify and had been brutally tortured.

The seven men were accused of plotting attacks ahead of the World Cup soccer tournament in Russia and presidential election in 2018. All denied the charges.

Context: Russia’s security and law enforcement agencies are under immense pressure to produce results, say critics who see a parallel with 2018, when the authorities were accused of entrapping members of a chat group.

Above, lightning over Pretoria, South Africa, in 2016. Researchers said an increase in temperatures in Africa over the past seven decades was leading to bigger and more frequent thunderstorms.

In a continent that already experiences destructive storms and has many of the world’s lightning hot spots, that can mean more fatalities and more economic damage.

Storm Ciara: At least five people were killed as a powerful winter storm tore through western and northern Europe. The storm, which also caused flooding, transport disruptions and power outages, was particularly destructive because of its very strong and widespread winds, according to a British meteorologist.

New Hampshire: The state’s Democratic presidential primary, the second contest in the 2020 race, takes place today. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., are trying to capitalize on their strong showings in the troubled Iowa caucuses, while also increasingly training their fire on each other.

Israel: A software flaw that has exposed the personal data of every eligible voter in the country has raised concerns about identity theft and electoral manipulation, just three weeks before a national election.

The Netherlands: Slave labor in the South American nation of Suriname generated vast wealth for Amsterdam. Now a movement has grown to press the city to apologize for slavery in the former colony.

Snapshot: Above, poodles wait to be judged at the Westminster Dog Show in New York City. The finale takes place tonight, when the best in show emerges from a shortlist of seven.

What we’re reading: The 10,000-Year Clock Is a Waste of Time,” in Wired. Adam Pasick, of the Briefings team, writes: “The piece takes a look at the complicated device being built in Texas — mind-boggling not just because of its ambition, but as an emblem of the hubris of tech mega-billionaires.”

Cook: Sesame noodles with chicken and peanuts is quick and spicy. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Indulge: Our critics discussed the impact that the success of the South Korean movie “Parasite” at the Oscars could have on the film industry. And we collected some of the best and worst moments from Sunday’s ceremony.

Listen: Christine and the Queens — the French songwriter Hélöise Letissier — couldn’t be more straightforwardly melancholy than she is in the ballad, “People, I’ve Been Sad,” our critic Jon Pareles writes. It’s one of our picks of recent releases.

Smarter Living: Better coffee at home is within reach. Here are five cheap(ish) things to make it happen.

Some members of our politics team have been on the ground in New Hampshire for weeks. We talked to one of them, Matt Stevens, about the mood in the state ahead of today’s primary.

We just came off a messy run in Iowa. Are there fears that New Hampshire’s vote could also go awry?

Short answer: Yes, absolutely. There are many, many things that could go wrong. But as some of our colleagues have pointed out, New Hampshire has a history of running elections smoothly, whereas the Iowa caucuses have now encountered problems in three consecutive cycles.

How are New Hampshire voters feeling about their primary system? Perhaps because of those divergent histories, the voters I have talked to here in New Hampshire have both expressed confidence in their system and given the side-eye to Iowa. Caucuses and primaries are very different, and the folks here are pretty darn sure their system is best.

Last week, as the mess was unfolding in Iowa, a woman in Hampton, N.H., told me: “This is a national level campaign. You have all these years to get it straight and this is the embarrassment you’re causing the party?”

How is your team managing back-to-back primaries?

Some of us went to Iowa; most of the rest of us came to New Hampshire. And a handful did both. (Bless them!) The consensus among the people who have been to both places seems to be that the workroom at our hotel here in Manchester has windows, and is therefore far superior to the one in Des Moines, but the food options around our New Hampshire hotel are way more limited. I, personally, have already been to the Olive Garden next door twice.

That’s it for this briefing, my first solo. See you next time.

— Sofia

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Kathleen Massara for the break from the news. Remy Tumin, who writes our Evening Briefing, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

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