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Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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William Barr, Coronavirus, ‘Dance Monkey’

Your Thursday Evening Briefing

Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

1. “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.”

In an interview with ABC News this afternoon, Attorney General William Barr said President Trump’s criticisms of the Justice Department “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

It was a stunning public challenge to the president from one of his most loyal allies.

Mr. Trump has tweeted repeatedly this week, praising Mr. Barr but denigrating his department over what he saw as an overly harsh sentence recommendation for Roger Stone, the president’s longtime friend.

Another presidential rebuke: The Senate voted to require congressional approval for further attacks against Iran. Coming nearly six weeks after the U.S. military killed a top Iranian general, the vote was bipartisan but mostly symbolic, since the votes fell short of the number needed to override Mr. Trump’s promised veto.

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CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

2. Mass roundups of the sick were extended to two Chinese cities other than Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

But the large-scale quarantines in Wuhan have created confusion and frustration, and put some patients at even greater risk. Confirmed coronavirus patients showing mild symptoms are being massed together, while suspected cases are being isolated in converted hotels and schools.

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A move by China to use CT scans to look for pneumonia rather than rely only on a positive test for the virus appears to have caused a sudden rise in the number of reported deaths and infections. Experts say the scans could catch many more cases and allow for faster treatment and quarantines.

For now, the World Health Organization is continuing to rely only on confirmed test numbers.

Steve Marcus/Reuters

3. The U.S. charged Huawei with racketeering and conspiring to steal trade secrets, escalating its fight with the Chinese telecommunications company.

In a federal indictment, the Justice Department accused the company and two of its subsidiaries of a “pattern of racketeering activity” and stealing information from six U.S. companies, including source code and manuals for wireless technology, going back to 1999.

Separately, in a victory for Amazon, a judge ordered Microsoft to halt work on a cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon until Amazon’s legal challenge is resolved.

Richard Drew/Associated Press

4. Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer Donna Rotunno told jurors in closing arguments that his accusers had a choice in sexual encounters. That’s her, above, arriving in court today.

She said that Mr. Weinstein’s accusers had engaged in consensual and often transactional relationships with Mr. Weinstein to advance their own careers. She said that prosecutors had spun “a sinister tale,” creating “a universe in which they’re stripping adult women of common sense, autonomy and responsibility.”

The prosecutors will present closing remarks on Friday. The jury will begin deliberating on Tuesday, after the Presidents’ Day holiday.

In case you missed it, our reporter interviewed Ms. Rotunno for “The Daily.”

Saul Martinez for The New York Times

5. Michael Bloomberg’s campaign is awash in cash.

The billionaire has deployed his privately held corporation, Bloomberg L.P., in service of his presidential bid. His campaign events are slick — complete with platters of honey-coated Brie and commissioned oversize paintings — and his campaign staff’s pay is unusually high.

The money has also gone toward contracting some of the biggest meme-makers on the internet.

But he’s under increasing scrutiny. Mr. Bloomberg drew condemnation for drawing a connection in 2008 between the financial crisis and the end of redlining, in which banks discriminate against people of color seeking mortgages.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

6. Climate change threatens hundreds of millions of coastal residents. Two sprawling metropolitan areas — one rich, one poor — offer a glimpse of the future.

Our Climate reporters looked at Manila, above left, and San Francisco, above right, as they approach a crucial fork in the road: Will they adapt to the tide, force the water to adapt to their needs, or reimagine coastlines?

Their paths forward may be a game plan (or warning) for coasts around the world.

Dannielle Bowman for The New York Times

7. For hundreds of years, enslaved people were bought and sold in the U.S.

Today, most of the sites of this trade are forgotten. Only a few have some kind of marker.

We photographed 12 of the sites as part of our 1619 Project, to expand the historical record. The auction block in Fredericksburg, Va., above, is paired with a 1984 plaque that reads “Fredericksburg’s Principal Auction Site in Pre-Civil War Days for Slaves and Property.”

“To look at some of these images,” writes Anne Bailey, a historian at Binghamton University who helped identify the sites, “is to grasp how invisible some of American history’s most grievous wounds have become.”

Ana Cuba for The New York Times

8. Zoë Kravitz is moving directly into the spotlight.

She’s always been at its fringes, writes our reporter, thanks in part to being “the child of the actress Lisa Bonet and the rocker/scarf influencer Lenny Kravitz” and her roles in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the “Divergent” series and HBO’s “Big Little Lies.”

Now she has two higher-profile projects: the TV version of “High Fidelity” and the role of Catwoman in “The Batman.”

In our review of “High Fidelity,” our critic says Kravitz is great in this gender-flipped version of the book and film, but the show itself offers only superficial pleasures.

Jill Frank for The New York Times

9. Jalaiah Harmon, above, created one of the most viral dances on the internet. She’s finally getting credit for it.

Last September, after school, the 14-year-old from Atlanta came up with the Renegade, and posted the sequence to Funimate and then Instagram. It’s everywhere now: on TikTok, in the halls of high schools and in celebrity social media feeds.

And Toni Watson, who performs as the solo act Tones and I, knows a thing or two about overnight sensation. She began singing “Dance Monkey” while busking the streets of Melbourne, Australia. Now it’s reached No. 1 in 20 countries and topped 1 billion plays on Spotify.

Illustrations by Ross MacDonald

10. And finally, 50 states of love.

Ahead of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, our Books team rounded up the best fiction that explores matters of the heart — from Alaska to Maine. They include “Forrest Gump” out of Alabama, “Swamplandia!” out of Florida, “The Descendants” from Hawaii, and “The Bridges of Madison County” from Iowa, among others.

In a very different kind of analysis, a new study named the cities where you’re most likely to mend a broken heart. (Hint: Roses are red, divorce makes you blue, but move to Minneapolis and you’ll feel better soon.)

Have a delightful night.

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

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