Impeachment, Housing Crisis, Super Bowl LV: Your Weekend Briefing
(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.1. Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial begins.House impeachment managers are preparing to prosecute the former president on the charge of “incitement of an insurrection” for inflaming the mob that attacked the Capitol last month. Opening arguments begin Tuesday.Prosecutors plan to mount a fast-paced, cinematic case in which they’ll argue that Mr. Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack and a broader attack on democracy that showed he would do anything to “reassert his grip on power” if he were allowed to seek election again.2. Thousands of migrants are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.Many are hoping to benefit from President Biden’s pledge for a more compassionate immigration policy — and indeed, Border Patrol agents have already released hundreds of migrant families into the country. Above, a protest in Tijuana the day before Mr. Biden’s inauguration last month.Migrants still hoping to enter from the Mexican side during the pandemic could create a backlash for Mr. Biden. They are trying to enter not just by land: Record numbers are risking everything on the open ocean.Separately, Mr. Biden said he would bar Donald Trump from receiving the intelligence briefings traditionally given to former presidents, citing his “erratic behavior.”3. There was a U.S. housing crisis long before the pandemic. Now it’s worse.A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed that tenants who lost jobs during the Covid-19 crisis had amassed $11 billion in rental arrears; a broader measure estimated that as of January, renters owed $53 billion in missed rent, utility payments and late fees.President Biden said the rental assistance in his $1.9 trillion relief plan was essential to keeping people from “being thrown out in the street.” But the aid might miss the most desperate, like Angelica Gabriel and Felix Cesario, above, who are improvising by moving into even more crowded homes, pairing up with friends and family, or taking in subtenants.Democrats will begin drafting the wording of the aid package in the coming week and aim to speed it through the House by the end of the month.4. Cautious optimism: The worst of the current wave of coronavirus infections seems to be behind us.The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the U.S. is trending down in almost every part of the country. Still, that number is 104 percent higher than the summer peak on July 25, when the seven-day average was 66,784.At the same time, the number of coronavirus tests administered daily in the U.S. has been trending downward for more than two weeks, raising the possibility that testing has reached a ceiling or that the ramping up of vaccine distribution is fostering complacency.One thing is certain: The scramble for inoculations is getting intense, with “vaccine hunters” crossing state lines in quest of a shot. 5. Litigation represents a new front in the war against misinformation.Fox Business canceled its highest-rated show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” on Friday after its host was sued as part of a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit by Smartmatic, a voting systems company. On Tuesday, the pro-Trump cable channel Newsmax cut off a guest’s rant about rigged voting machines.The use of defamation suits has also raised questions about how to police a news media that counts on First Amendment protections. But one liberal lawyer said, “It’s gotten to the point where the problem is so bad right now there’s virtually no other way to do it.”This newsletter is free, but you can go deeper into the stories we highlight each morning with a subscription to The Times. Please consider becoming a subscriber today.6. The new reality in Myanmar includes arrests, beatings by mysterious thugs and communications blackouts. But civil disobedience defiantly persists.On Saturday, thousands of people in hard hats and face masks marched in Yangon, the largest rallies since the coup on Monday that ousted the civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But the world could not watch. Live social-media feeds of the protests were abruptly shut off.Subtler forms of protests have appeared: Balloons showed support for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, and cities have resounded with the clanging of pots and pans, a traditional send-off for the devil. We’re also watching Haiti, where the opposition is demanding that President Jovenel Moïse step down today, as his five-year term ends. He maintains that because an interim government occupied the first year of his term, he should stay in office for another year.8. “Bridgerton” is just the cherry on top for fans of period clothing.Shonda Rhimes’s racially diverse Netflix series has ignited new interest in Regency fashions. But a global community of hobbyists has been designing, making and wearing clothing from the 19th century and earlier for many years. Social media has only widened the conversation.“You can’t really understand history until you’ve worn it,” said Filippa Trozelli, an antique jewelry appraiser in Stockholm who is pictured above in hot pink. “You get a whole different understanding.”9. Ten thousand years ago or more, people started painting the walls of these caves near Bhopal, India, above.In March, visiting scientists spotted something else: what looks an awful lot like an imprint of a 550-million-year-old fossil from the first bloom of complex life on Earth.Even if it’s just another example of cave art, that, too, could prove to be remarkable — a trace from the dawn of life nearly overwritten by the dawn of human creativity.Going further back in time: Scientists are now able to recreate precisely the journeys of Earth’s tectonic plates over the last billion years of its history, modeling the migration of continents.