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Coronavirus, Italy, Bernie Sanders: Your Tuesday Briefing | Press "Enter" to skip to content

Coronavirus, Italy, Bernie Sanders: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering Italy’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown, a very bad day on Wall Street and a key electoral test for Bernie Sanders.

Referring to his country as “Italy, protected zone,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said classifications between levels of threat in different regions and provinces would be replaced by a blanket restriction on nonessential movement across the country of 60 million people.

The latest: The Italian authorities said that 1,598 more people had contracted the virus, and that there were 97 more deaths since Sunday. Italy now has 9,172 confirmed cases, making it the site of the largest outbreak outside China. We have live updates and a map of where the virus has spread.

Xi Jinping: China’s leader visited Wuhan this morning for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak erupted there. His visit to the city, which was closed off in late January, sends a powerful signal that the Chinese government believes the worst of its national emergency is over.

Opinion: An author in Milan observes that a sense of indignation over travel restrictions has morphed into a dawning sense of community awareness. “Perhaps we will even have to get to know each other, albeit without shaking hands,” he writes.

Asian markets opened mixed this morning, in an apparent sign that investors were trying to regain their footing a day after financial markets around the world took a pounding.

Here are the latest updates on this week’s economic turmoil, which has been driven by effects of the coronavirus outbreak and a sharp drop in oil prices over the weekend.

By the numbers: In Wall Street’s worst day in over a decade, the S&P 500, already down 12 percent from its late February high, fell more than 7 percent on Monday. Major stock benchmarks in Europe were down more than 7 percent as well.

Analysis: Europe’s economy is most likely in a recession, and the coronavirus isn’t helping. Few express confidence that European policymakers — dithering, debating and cross-border recriminations over economic crises — will tackle this one collectively or effectively.

Saudi Arabia’s role: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, whose sudden, steep cut to the price of oil has rocked a global economy that was already on the brink of a recession, has revived debates in Western capitals about whether he is too rash to trust as a partner.


Six states hold Democratic presidential primaries today, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont hopes to revive his flagging campaign with a victory over former Vice President Joe Biden in Michigan, the first of the big Midwestern battlegrounds to cast ballots.

But Mr. Sanders might face even longer odds of winning Michigan than he did in the 2016 primary, when working-class white voters propelled him to victory there over Hillary Clinton.

Background: Mr. Biden, who won 10 of the 14 states that voted last Tuesday, is racking up endorsements from former rivals and is expected to do well today with black Democrats and college-educated white voters. But Mr. Sanders has been campaigning hard in Michigan, and running TV ads that attack Mr. Biden on trade and Social Security.

Context: “The Sanders campaign has exposed a class divide within the Democratic Party,” two of our political reporters write. “His promises of a leg up are most alluring to those who need it, and most confounding to those who do not.”

Another angle: The Democratic presidential nominee will almost certainly be (another) male. Party activists, elected officials and voters are pushing for a woman to occupy the second spot on the ticket.

Go deeper: On a trip to her hometown in Michigan, Rebecca Blumenstein, a deputy managing editor of The Times, explored why it doesn’t “fall into a neat script” of American political polarization.

Adam Castillejo, above, was introduced to the world last year as only the second person to be cured of H.I.V. Scientists identified him as the “London Patient.”

Now he has chosen to reveal his identity, after realizing that his story carried a powerful message of optimism.

“This is a unique position to be in,” said Mr. Castillejo, 40, who grew up in Venezuela and moved to London via Copenhagen in 2002. “A unique and very humbling position.”

Afghanistan: Peace talks between the government and the Taliban, which were expected to begin today, have been delayed. On Monday in the capital, a surreal scene played out in which both President Ashraf Ghani and his chief rival took the oath of office — the result of a monthslong election dispute.

MH17 trial: In The Hague, four men with ties to the Russian security services are being tried in absentia for the shooting down of a passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Prince Andrew: In a rare move, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan said for a second time that Prince Andrew has refused to help the authorities with an investigation into allegations of sex trafficking by the financier Jeffrey Epstein and his associates.

Snapshot: Above, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, outside Westminster Abbey on Monday. It was their final royal engagement before they begin an uncertain new life as semi-royals in western Canada.

In memoriam: The Swedish actor Max von Sydow, who starred in “The Seventh Seal” and “The Exorcist,” has died at 90.

What we’re listening to: This Radio Lab podcast about a reporter, Latif Nasser, who discovers a Guantánamo Bay detainee with the same name as him who was cleared for transfer in 2016 but is still stuck inside the prison. “The show takes you on a wild journey to Morocco, Sudan and inside the barbed-wire U.S. military prison in Cuba,” says Alisha Haridasani Gupta, who writes In Her Words.

Cook: This old-school recipe for smothered chicken, which our Food editor, Sam Sifton, calls “the culinary equivalent of a weighted blanket and a nap on the couch: safe and homey” in his newsletter.

Watch: In the Ken Loach film “Sorry We Missed You,” a British family that’s barely getting by faces the perils of the gig economy.

Smarter Living: Long emails and difficult-to-decipher memos mean modern office communication goes ignored more often than it’s understood. Here are eight ways to improve how you communicate.

Our Istanbul bureau chief, Carlotta Gall, is covering a tense moment in Syria’s nine-year civil war, as government forces backed by Russian warplanes have been closing in on the country’s last rebel-held city. She chatted over email with Mike about what it’s like to report there.

Did your latest trip to Syria feel any more risky than previous ones?

Thankfully our trip to Idlib was not particularly dangerous. We could hear planes in the sky at times — we heard a shell land in a nearby neighborhood — but nothing came in very close to where we were working.

But I saw that the Syrians around us were very nervous when we received radio reports that Russian war planes were in the sky. They have learned that Russian jets are extremely dangerous and unleash devastatingly powerful bombs, and they seem to target civilian areas frequently, especially hospitals, schools and markets.

Do any scenes, or stories, from Idlib stand out?

What surprised me was to hear how so many people had fled their homes in the middle of the night, often only in the clothes they were wearing. There has been a very rapid advance by the Syrian-Russian forces, and people suddenly found themselves in extreme danger. There are many who do not own cars, and families had to pile altogether, sometimes five people, on one motorcycle.

The most powerful quote in your piece — “The only choice is to wait for death” — comes from a woman who had fled to Idlib city and settled in a nearby town. It was relayed by her son Hikmat al-Khatib, an orthopedic surgeon. What’s his story?

He runs the main hospital in the town of Maaret Misrin. He is torn three ways. His young daughter has cancer, so he sought treatment for her in Turkey and moved his wife, a psychologist who works with refugees, and three children to Turkey. But he stayed to keep working in the hospital. Then his home village was attacked and his parents had to flee. Now his family is split between three towns, and he is starting to despair that he cannot protect them.


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

— Mike


Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about an abortion case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Air Jordans, e.g. (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our reporters felt as if they were in a thriller at times while reporting on Peter Nygard, a wealthy Canadian playboy accused of sexually abusing poor teenage girls in the Bahamas.


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