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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. The stock market had its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, fueled by worry over the spreading coronavirus.
The S&P 500 fell about 0.8 percent, bringing its loss for the week to more than 11 percent. In a statement aimed at calming jittery investors, the Fed signaled a willingness to cut interest rates if the outbreak worsens.
Meanwhile, Northern California reported a second coronavirus case in a person without known risk factors, raising the possibility of local transmission. Here’s the latest.
The World Health Organization raised its risk assessment to “very high,” its top level, and the virus has now been found in at least 56 countries as case numbers outside China rise fast. Italy has been hit particularly hard, with multiple towns on lockdown, but care packages of focaccia and cigarettes have made it through the forbidden “red area.”
2. President Trump complained that Democrats and the news media were trying to scare Americans about the virus for political gain.
“They’re doing everything they can to instill fear in people, and I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Trump said at the White House. “And some of the Democrats are doing it the way it should be done, but some of them are trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.”
Mr. Trump’s remarks came as the health secretary, Alex Azar, said he was considering using a 70-year-old law to speed up manufacturing of medical supplies before a coronavirus outbreak. Above, a mask factory in Hong Kong.
Separately, an appeals court ruled that Congress cannot sue to enforce subpoenas against the executive branch, dealing a blow to its oversight power.
3. With one day to go, Democratic candidates are making their final appeals to voters in South Carolina.
Joe Biden, who has a solid lead, insisted he has “fire” and passion — but that he expresses it differently from his “screaming” rivals. Bernie Sanders, who is looking strong in several Super Tuesday states, called President Trump “pathetic” and “petty” for traveling to the state tonight for a campaign rally rather than responding to the coronavirus crisis.
Winning the black vote has historically been critical to securing the Democratic nomination. We looked at churches’ evolving role for black support in South Carolina, and Elizabeth Warren’s struggle to gain traction with the voting bloc.
We’ll have live coverage all day Saturday. Polls close at 7 p.m.
4. A federal court ruled that asylum seekers can once again enter the U.S., a blow to the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
A three-judge panel blocked a policy that has required people applying for asylum at the border to wait in Mexico while their claims for protection are reviewed, a process that can take years.
Since the restrictions were rolled out in early 2019, more than 59,000 asylum seekers have been turned back by American authorities into Mexican border cities. With no easy way into the U.S., new migrant communities have emerged as people from around the world put down roots in Mexico.
5. Turkey called an extraordinary emergency NATO meeting a day after a deadly airstrike in Syria killed 33 of its soldiers.
Ambassadors for the alliance expressed “solidarity” with Turkey, condemned the strikes and called for a renewed cease-fire. They stopped short of approving any military action, let alone the no-fly zone that Turkey has demanded over Idlib, where the strike occurred.
Turkey, pressing the E.U. for help in Syria, threatened to allow refugees into the rest of Europe. E.U. officials, fearful of a repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis, were apprehensively following reports of migrants making their way to Turkey’s borders with Greece, above.
6. In search of tubeless wipe, our reporter delved into the world of eco-friendly toilet paper to find out why her go-to brand disappeared from the market.
“I learned about waste and consumer choice; about environmentalism; about the different ways Americans and Europeans wipe their tuchuses,” she writes. “And I learned that what had seemed obvious to me was not conclusively true.”
7. “We said we wanted to give a party, and everybody is coming.”
That would be a running party this weekend in Atlanta, where nearly 700 runners are expected to compete Saturday for the six spots on the U.S. Olympic team that will head to the Tokyo Games this summer. The field is bigger than ever. Above, the trials in 2012.
About 480 of those runners are women, a huge number that reflects a sea change in the sport, driven in part by changes to the rules and innovations in shoe technology. Many have pushed themselves to results they once thought unachievable. We talked to hundreds of them.
8. Donald Judd always wanted to be a super influencer. A new MoMA retrospective of the pioneering Minimalist’s work shows just how much we’ve lived in a Judd World — and still do.
There is a beautifully complex language of materials to savor in the exhibition, our art critic writes. Judd, who died in 1994, continues to inspire “a generation yearning for more physicality,” said Leslie Hewitt, one of five notable makers we asked to reflect on his legacy.
And for a different kind of art influencer: Hunter Biden. His name is forever linked to President Trump’s impeachment, but painting, he says, “is literally keeping me sane” after years of addiction and poor choices.
9. And now for some creatures that glow in the dark.
Science has documented many biofluorescent animals, including sharks, scorpions, butterflies, penguins, jellyfish, puffins and even flying squirrels. And many — perhaps all — amphibians are on the list, according to a new survey.
The study paves the way for research into how or why amphibians possess this special adaptation, which has potential applications in medical technology and conservation.
On the topic of jellyfish: One of their tiny, parasitic cousins doesn’t need oxygen to survive, researchers discovered. In fact, the parasite was missing a critical organelle all together.
10. And finally, February’s extra day.
Tomorrow, Feb. 29., is a leap day — and your briefing writer’s birthday — a calendar oddity that gives us an extra day. It takes Earth a messy 365.2422 spins of the planet to complete its loop, or one orbit, of the sun, so every four years we add an extra day to balance it out and keep our seasons where they’re supposed to be.
The contortions are awkward, but they’re fairly straightforward compared with the adjustments that would need to be made to the calendars of alien civilizations if they existed elsewhere in our solar system. Luckily, astronomers, science-fiction writers and enthusiastic hobbyists have presented several proposals for Mars, Jupiter and Venus calendars.
Have a once-in-every-four-years kind of weekend.
Will Dudding contributed to tonight’s briefing.
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