Outbreak surges in U.S. and Europe
The number of new coronavirus cases rose sharply in the U.S. and Europe on Thursday, as stocks fell on both sides of the Atlantic and Britain and Switzerland reported their first fatalities.
On the Continent alone, the caseload rose in Italy to 3,858 from 3,089; in Germany to 482 from 262; in France to 423 from 285; and in the Netherlands to 82 from 38.
California: A cruise ship with over 2,000 passengers on board is being held off the coast of San Francisco over coronavirus concerns, and health officials are expected to announce today the results of screenings of about 100 passengers and crew members, including 21 with symptoms. California so far has at least 54 of the more than 200 confirmed cases in the U.S., the most of any state.
Britain: As cases rose to 115 from 87, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the virus would probably “spread in a significant way.” Dozens of health experts warn that the National Health Service, which has seen decades of budget cuts, will not have enough beds for critically ill patients.
Japan: Critics are calling for the resignation of Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, for his handling of the country’s outbreak. But the consolidation of power that seems to have hampered the official reaction to the virus may ultimately keep Mr. Abe firmly in place.
Aviation: Airline stocks dropped sharply on Thursday, as a trade group said that the coronavirus could wipe out from $63 billion to $113 billion in worldwide aviation revenues this year, and the British airline Flybe ceased operations.
Cease-fire in northern Syria
The presidents of Russia and Turkey on Thursday announced what they said was a deal to halt fighting in the Syrian region of Idlib, starting with a cease-fire that came into force early this morning.
For now, the fragile truce in Idlib — where Syria’s government has been trying to break the last stronghold of Syrian rebels, with help from Russian-backed forces — calms a volatile conflict that had pushed Russia and Turkey to the brink of open war.
Context: Recent tensions between Russia and Turkey have undercut previously successful efforts by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to cultivate a relationship with the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the hope that Mr. Erdogan would help Moscow sow discord within the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.
Looking ahead: It’s unclear whether President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will respect the Idlib cease-fire, and the Russia-Turkey deal is unlikely to end a nine-year-old Syrian war that has killed as many as 400,000 people.
Elizabeth Warren quits presidential race
Her exit essentially winnows the field to two white men: former Vice President Joe Biden, a centrist, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had been competing with Ms. Warren in the party’s left lane.
Mr. Warren was one of several female leaders in the primary field, all of whom were ultimately rejected by a majority of Democratic voters.
“One of the hardest parts of this,” she said, her voice shaking, “is all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That’s going to be hard.”
Background: Ms. Warren’s campaign, which envisioned stripping power and wealth from moneyed elites, was popular with liberals but failed to catch on with the Democratic Party’s working-class and diverse base.
What to watch for: Both the Biden and Sanders campaigns would love to receive an endorsement from Ms. Warren. She is more ideologically aligned with Mr. Sanders, but if she endorsed Mr. Biden and he won, she could gain political capital in Washington.
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
Guarding Jewish cemeteries
When the French region of Alsace was incorporated into Nazi Germany 80 years ago, the swastika proliferated and Jews were expelled, deported and killed.
Rural Alsace is now a hotbed for far-right politics, and its Jewish cemeteries, above, are prime sites for anti-Semitic vandalism. So the local authorities have organized patrols by volunteers, whose badges read “Guardians of Memory.”
The brigade consists of about 20 retired teachers, farmers, housewives and students, our Paris bureau chief writes in an Alsace dispatch. That none are Jewish heightens the interfaith symbolism.
Here’s what else is happening
Afghanistan: The International Criminal Court ruled that its chief prosecutor could open an investigation into allegations of war crimes in the country by the Taliban, Afghan forces or U.S. military or intelligence personnel. It’s the first I.C.C. decision that could make American forces defendants in a war-crimes prosecution, although the U.S. does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.
Dubai’s ruler: A British court has found that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum kidnapped and confined two grown daughters, then threatened Princess Haya, one of his many wives, when she began to question his treatment of the abductees. The sheikh said in a statement to the court that the daughters had been forcibly returned out of concern for their well-being.
Snapshot: Piera Aiello, above, a parliamentary deputy in Italy who spent the past 28 years in a witness protection program after testifying against the Mafia. She revealed her identity after entering politics in 2018.
In memoriam: Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, a two-term secretary general of the U.N. during the 1980s and ’90s, died on Wednesday at 100. He helped broker several peace agreements, including the end of a 10-year war between Iran and Iraq, and the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan.
What we’re listening to: This “Reply All” episode about a man searching for a song that seemed to vanish from the world. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you will not be able to get the song out of your head,” says Tim Herrera, our Smarter Living editor. “My jaw literally dropped at the climax, and I’m still giggling just thinking about it.”
Now, a break from the news
“It was super unpleasant!” he said. “I was confined to my couch for weeks and, for some stretches, had trouble breathing. But I was basically fine.”
While he was ill, relatives and friends helped him with personal obligations, and Times colleagues did the same for his work. He was able to see doctors and get prescriptions. All told, he said, the net toll of his illness was negligible.
“But! That toll was negligible because I’m just one person,” he said. “Society was prepared to absorb the consequences of my illness.”
“If a big fraction of my neighborhood in West London had all fallen sick at once, it would’ve been a different story,” he added. His local health office might not have been able to see him as quickly. Friends and relatives could have had other sick people to help, or could have been sick themselves.
“The risk from the virus’s impact on you individually is probably low,” he concluded. But its impact on society — particularly on low-wage workers who can’t afford child care or time off — could be profound.
That’s it for this briefing. Have a great weekend.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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