New Hampshire, Coronavirus, #MeToo: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, another sharp rise in coronavirus cases and Germany’s succession crisis.


Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

With most results in, Senator Bernie Sanders won narrowly over former Mayor Pete Buttigieg in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary, consolidating support on the left. The two had virtually tied each other in the Iowa caucuses.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. were well behind, and the political outsider Andrew Yang announced that he was ending his campaign. The next contest is the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22.

Takeaway: The Democratic contest seems to coming down to the question of whether the party will move to the left with Mr. Sanders, a democratic socialist, or to the center with Mr. Buttigieg or even Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was in a strong third.

Another angle: Michael Bloomberg, set to join the ballot in later states, was on the defensive after he was heard on newly released audio as mayor of New York defending how minorities were targeted in a now-discontinued police policy of stop-and-frisk.

The reported death toll from the coronavirus has passed 1,100 out of more than 44,000 known cases. The World Health Organization gave the illness caused by the virus an official name: COVID-19. Here are the latest updates.

So far the coronavirus has made only scattershot appearances in Europe. But any prolonged economic slowdown in China, which is ordering people back to work, could push an already vulnerable Germany, and maybe the entire eurozone, into recession.

Contagion: Demonstrating how the virus can spread quickly in confined places, a ski chalet in France has been a hot spot for infections along with an apartment complex in Hong Kong, a department store in the Chinese city of Tianjin, and a cruise ship in Japan whose passengers are struggling for answers under quarantine. A British businessman believed to be the source of the cluster in France and another in Britain came forward to say he had recovered.

Europe could be left leaderless after the front-runner to replace Angela Merkel stepped aside on Monday. The question of who takes her place will loom on Friday over the Munich Security Conference, a foreign-policy equivalent to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Hopes that Ms. Merkel would lead a multilateral world in the Trump era seem more deflated than ever now that her chosen successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, resigned from leading the Christian Democratic Union after it joined the Alternative for Germany party in a vote for a state governor — contravening a policy of not allying with the far right.

Looking ahead: No clear replacement has emerged. And while there are calls for Germany to break away from its traditional shyness about continental leadership after World War II, that push comes as many Germans see Nazi ghosts emerging in a newly powerful far right.

U.S. Air Force veterans who cleared debris from a B-52 bomber that exploded during an accident in 1966 over Spain, sending four hydrogen bombs hurtling to earth, have won the right to sue collectively against the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Facing cancer and other ailments they trace to radiation exposure, they no longer have to fight alone against a U.S. government insistent that their problems have nothing to do with radiation. But many who could have joined the suit have died.

Background: Declassified documents showed the United States knew there was major risk when it assured Palomares, Spain, the town at the center of the cleanup, and a barely protected cleanup force that there was little to worry about. The Air Force has denied nearly every health compensation claim by veterans because it concluded there was no significant radiation exposure, which one expert called “absurd.”

Investigation: In 2016, dozens of veterans described the sometimes barehanded cleanup and the health problems they had afterward to The Times.

Our writer tracked down Gabriel Matzneff, the French writer under investigation for his promotion of pedophilia, after he was abandoned by the same powerful people who had protected him until a few weeks ago.

His longtime support from elite circles, along with many members of the public, reflects an enduring French contradiction: an egalitarian nation that nevertheless lets the rich play by a different moral code.

U.S. politics: The Justice Department moved to reduce prison time for Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Trump convicted of lying to Congress. Four prosecutors abruptly withdrew from the case amid questions about whether President Trump, having just publicly called the case unfair to Mr. Stone, intervened.

Ukraine: President Volodymyr Zelensky replaced his chief of staff with Andriy Yermak, who negotiated for political dirt last summer with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. The reshuffling appears to be a part of a power struggle between the prime minister and an oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky, who has also worked with Mr. Giuliani.

Britain: A high-speed rail project decades in the making won the support of Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he seeks to deliver to new supporters in northern England against the wishes of many in his Conservative Party who oppose the project. In the first phase, London and Birmingham would be linked by around 2030.

Cook: There are few dips as satisfying as a classic queso.

Watch: Margaret Lyons, our television critic, offers guidance on what to watch next in her latest edition of “Ask a TV Critic.” (Send in your questions to

Go: See Ruth Negga’s electrifying interpretation of the title role in “Hamlet” at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. Ben Brantley, our theater critic, was in awe, calling it “a performance drawn in lines of lightning.”

Smarter Living: Save more money by automating the process so you don’t have to actively think about it.

Every year at this time, dog fanciers and fancy dogs get together at Madison Square Garden for a few days of mutual admiration. The competitors, human and canine, have been working toward the Westminster Dog Show for months.

The Best in Show this year went to Siba, a black standard poodle, pictured below. We spoke with Sarah Blesener, one of a number of photographers who has helped us cover the show.

Have you covered anything like this before?

Oh my, no. This is my first time, and there’s nothing like it. It feels like there’s too much to photograph. It’s visually overwhelming — that’s a better way to put it. The activities are quite redundant, the grooming and the competition, but the people and the dogs are unique. You turn a corner and there’s hair spray in the air and a dog in a new outfit, or people are dressed in ’40s sequins.

How do you work with the other photographers?

We cover different shifts. Somebody will be there in the morning, somebody in the afternoon, somebody in the evening. Somebody is doing video. It feels nice, you have more confidence to have your own vision.

What are you looking to capture?

The people are so quirky and interesting, and their relationships with the dogs are remarkable. That’s what I was drawn to. But it’s hard, because you have to make it not look too kitschy, to get something that’s more than just another cute dog. And you don’t want to disturb or overwhelm anyone. People are really emotional, they’re really stressed. It was more challenging than I realized.

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

— Penn

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Kathleen Massara for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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