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Your Wednesday Briefing - The New York Times


Chinese health officials said today that the death toll from the coronavirus had passed 1,000. Here are the latest updates and maps of where the virus has reached.

In Hong Kong, two people living 10 floors apart were found to be infected, suggesting the virus may have spread through their apartment building, perhaps through a pipe. Similar fears came after several confirmed cases in Tianjin, a city near Beijing, were linked to one department store.

Indonesia has yet to announce a case — something experts find astonishing, considering Bali alone hosts some 5,000 Chinese tourists a day.

Another angle: President Trump has so far kept his distance from the issue, but public health experts are now concerned that a president who has spoken openly about his phobia of germs might overreact to the coronavirus crisis.

The governing Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., won far fewer seats than expected in elections in New Delhi on Tuesday — showing some cracks in the support for the party behind contentious laws seen as discriminatory toward Muslims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set his sights on winning big in the capital. And while his party won five more seats there than it did in the last election, it still fell short of the seats needed to beat the opposition.

Context: During the campaign, the B.J.P. focused on Hindu-centric initiatives and sectarian identity issues, rather than issues specific to the city. The incumbent Aam Aadmi Party, or A.A.P., did just the opposite, but still avoided discussing the protests sweeping the nation.


T-Mobile’s takeover of Sprint cleared a major hurdle in the U.S., as a judge ruled in favor of the deal years in the making. The new telecommunications giant would take on companies like AT&T and Verizon.

SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate, has pumped billions into Sprint over nearly a decade, and the deal turned out to be its best hope of offloading the debt-laden company.

It’s unclear how consumers will be affected, and it might take years to figure that out. States in the U.S. have argued that the merger would reduce competition and raise prices.

Related: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ordered five big tech companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft — to provide information on mergers that were too small to report to regulators. It came as several government bodies were investigating the platforms for potential anti-competitive behavior.

Polls for the first primary of the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign are set to close in a few hours. The vote in New Hampshire, which follows last week’s Iowa caucus, has the potential to narrow the unsettled Democratic field. Here’s what to expect.

Though New Hampshire’s primary doesn’t lend much in terms of delegates — only 24 are up for grabs today — it can provide momentum for the top performers as they head into the Nevada caucuses next week and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29. Here’s how important today’s contest is for each candidate.

The details: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., began the day as the favorites, according to recent polls. We’ll have live results for the Democratic race, as well as the Republican primary, which President Trump is expected to win handily.

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.

Snapshot: Above, “A Concise Passage,” an art installation at Desert X AlUla, a new Saudi art festival in the desert that is attracting the Coachella crowd. Some locals are worried about damaging the area’s archaeological jewels, and outsiders have called the collaboration with Saudi Arabia “morally corrupt.”

What we’re reading: This story in Bitter Southerner about the busboy in the iconic 1960 photo of four young black men defiantly sitting at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. Dan Saltzstein, our senior editor for Special Projects, calls it a “lovely piece about a supporting character in the history of civil rights.”

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

Watch: Our critics discussed what the Oscars success for the South Korean movie “Parasite” could mean for the film industry.

Listen: Sharon Van Etten’s new single, “Beaten Down,” is all deliberation and determination, our critic writes, hovering between dirge and homily. Here are a few more new songs we recommend.

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.

It will reach its peak in a few hours with the judging of Best in Show. 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.

— Melina


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

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the New Hampshire primary.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Partner of peanut butter (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Manny Fernandez has been named The Times’s new Los Angeles bureau chief. Since 2011, he has led our Houston bureau.

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