Impeachment, Schools Reopening, Valentine’s Day: Your Friday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Donald Trump’s impeachment team concluded its incendiary defense of the former president, setting up a verdict in the trial as early as Saturday.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers called the House’s charge that he incited an insurrection at the Capitol a “preposterous and monstrous lie.” They claimed, contrary to facts, that Mr. Trump never glorified violence, and tried to equate his conduct to Democrats’ use of combative rhetoric.

“This trial is about far more than President Trump,” said Bruce Castor, one of the lawyers, along with Michael van Der Veen, above. “It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints.”

With an acquittal likely, the defense team used only about three of the 16 hours it was allotted. Senators then completed a period of questioning the prosecution and defense and adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

A little more than a month after the Capitol siege, a fuller picture of the injuries sustained by the police has emerged. The Jan. 6 assault resulted in one of the worst days of injuries for law enforcement in the U.S. since Sept. 11.

2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released long-awaited guidelines for how to quickly reopen schools during the coronavirus pandemic, drawing from scientific evidence that shows buildings can be opened safely if districts take adequate precautions.

Most notably, the C.D.C. said that elementary school students could receive at least some in-person instruction safely, even at high levels of community transmission, and that middle and high school students could attend school safely at lower levels of community transmission.

The recommendations attempt to carve a middle path between those who want to reopen immediately and others who remain reluctant before widespread vaccination. Here are the basics.

We asked 175 pediatric disease experts if it was safe to open schools. Many broadly agreed that elementary schools didn’t need vaccines to open safely.


3. After a sluggish start, vaccine rollout is improving in every state.

More than two-thirds of delivered vaccine doses had been used as of Thursday, compared with just a quarter on Jan. 1. A handful of states have administered more than 80 percent of the doses they have received.

4. As the Year of the Ox begins today, the pandemic and a spate of attacks against Asian-Americans are muting Lunar New Year celebrations.

The attacks, disproportionately targeting older people, have renewed fears about a wave of anti-Asian violence, harassment and pandemic-related racism. The situation is particularly bad in San Francisco’s Chinatown, America’s oldest and largest, where a lack of tourists and a rash of violence and robberies have exacerbated the neighborhood’s economic pain. Younger activists like Max Leung, second right, are raising awareness and circulating calls to action.

A writer reflected on connecting her children to their heritage in Mandarin, and “the act of bravery” her own parents made in uprooting their lives in search of better opportunities.

5. Mario Draghi is all but assured to become Italy’s next prime minister after he gathered enough support to form a national unity government.

Mr. Draghi, a former head of the European Central Bank, will look to lead the country out of the coronavirus crisis and repair the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic. The new government is expected to prioritize Italy’s vaccination campaign, expand welfare protections for those out of work and increase support for healthy companies and for education.

Also out of Italy: The police in Milan arrested a group of men on suspicion of having monitored the social media accounts of influencers to coordinate robberies and take tens of thousands of euros in watches, scarves, designer bags and jewels.


6. Pizza was the restaurant champion of 2020: Revenue at large chains spiked, and frozen pizza sales climbed as it became a pandemic comfort food staple.

In a year when restaurants across the country have struggled to stay afloat, those that dished up pizza have generally fared better. Over the first nine months of 2020, Domino’s and Papa John’s sold the rough equivalent of 30 million more large cheese pizzas than they had the year before. Brasserie Brixton in Denver, above, became (Le) Brix Pizza and Wine this winter to accommodate the demand for delivery foods.

In other business news, Maryland passed the country’s first tax on digital ad revenue at companies like Facebook and Google. Analysts estimate the tax will generate up to $250 million for schools in its first year, though it most likely faces fierce legal challenges.


7. In 2007, celebrity magazines had a favorite cover story: the trials and tribulations of a 25-year-old Britney Spears. The breathless coverage is now being re-examined.

In the wake of a new Times documentary about the singer, pictured in 2004, and her troubles, some see the hypercritical fixation on her mental health, mothering and sexuality as a broad public failing. And apologies are trickling in from media and celebrities alike, including her ex, the singer and actor Justin Timberlake.

The legal battle over Spears’s personal well-being and finances continued on Thursday in a brief court hearing. A judge made no substantial changes to the conservatorship that has overseen much of Spears’s existence since 2008.


8. Even the best-laid tennis plans aren’t immune from the coronavirus.

A new coronavirus lockdown for the state of Victoria spurred a five-day ban on fans at the Australian Open in Melbourne. It was bittersweet news for the players, who for the first time since last year’s Australian Open were contesting a Grand Slam tournament in front of crowds, albeit at limited capacity.

Here’s what to watch tonight: Rafael Nadal will face Cameron Norrie, a 25-year-old British player, in the fourth round; Ashleigh Barty, the No. 1 women’s player in the world, will play Ekaterina Alexandrova. Novak Djokovic, above, the reigning champion and the top-ranked player in the world, is injured but scheduled to face Milos Raonic in the fourth round on Sunday.


10. And finally, the most popular pet name of the century (maybe).

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y., is the oldest continually operating pet cemetery in the U.S. Founded in 1896, it is home to more than 80,000 departed companions. A survey of its tombstones, conducted by a veterinary company, found that more than one in 100 animals interred there were named Princess.

Tastes changed over time. The most common dog names in the 1930s and 1940s were Queenie and Tippy; Lady ruled the 1960s; and Brandy rose to the top in the 1970s. The ’80s, ’90s and ’00s were all dominated by Max. But there was plenty of originality among the tombstones, including Dorian Gray, Fleetwood and Goldfleck, a lion who died in 1912 after living at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Have a standout long weekend.


We’re off for Presidents’ Day on Monday, see you Tuesday.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at briefing@nytimes.com.



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