Your Weekend Briefing

Impeachment, Coronavirus, N.F.L. Playoffs

Welcome to the Weekend Briefing. A year ago this week, China first identified the coronavirus and House Democrats were preparing articles of impeachment. Here we are again.

Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

1. The drumbeat for a second Trump impeachment is getting louder.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi could bring a new article of impeachment to the House floor as early as Monday, charging President Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in encouraging a mob that went on to ransack the Capitol on Wednesday.

Privately, Republican leaders said conviction was not out of the question.

A second impeachment would be “a final showdown that will test the boundaries of politics, accountability and the Constitution,” writes Peter Baker, our chief White House correspondent. Lisa Murkowski and Patrick Toomey became the first Republican senators to publicly join the multitude of calls for Mr. Trump to resign.

No president has ever been impeached twice. If Mr. Trump were convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office again. Here’s what we know about the process.

President-elect Joe Biden sidestepped the issue, saying that “what the Congress decides to do is for them to decide,” focusing instead on the urgency of the health and economic crises facing the country.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

2. The Capitol rioters had different perspectives — QAnon, Proud Boys, elected officials, regular Americans — but one allegiance.

All had assembled in response to President Trump’s repeated appeals to march to the Capitol on Wednesday, a day that he promised would be “wild.” Many Americans thought the rally near the White House beforehand was just one more salve for Mr. Trump’s ego, wounded by losing the election. But supporters heard something else — a battle cry.

In the end, five people died, including Brian Sicknick, a military veteran and experienced Capitol Police officer. A Confederate flag was carried into the Capitol. Lawmakers, aides and journalists feared for their lives.

Some of the people pictured in viral photos and videos from the raid on the U.S. Capitol have been arrested and charged, including 13 who face federal charges. Dozens of cases are pending.


3. In the end, it was two California billionaires who pulled the plug on President Trump.

In a watershed moment in the history of social media, Twitter permanently suspended Mr. Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” and Facebook banned the president at least through the end of his term.

Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook had been under pressure for years to hold Mr. Trump accountable. Making their move now “provides a clarifying lesson in where power resides in our digital society,” writes Kevin Roose, our technology columnist.

Many of Mr. Trump’s followers derided his banishment as an example of Silicon Valley’s tyrannical speech controls, but the First Amendment is not on their side.

Alice Proujansky for The New York Times

4. The more transmissible coronavirus variant pummeling Britain has been detected in 45 countries and at least eight American states.

For years, public health officials called for routine genetic surveillance of viral outbreaks, but many countries — including the U.S. — are conducting only a fraction of the genomic studies needed to determine how prevalent mutations of the virus are. Above, a testing center in Newark.

The new variants only add pressure to speed up vaccine rollouts, both to keep caseloads from further skyrocketing and to protect as many people as possible before mutations undercut the vaccines’ efficacy. About 6.7 million people in the U.S. have received at least one of the two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine; more than 150,000 have gotten both.

Some states are expanding eligibility, though millions of people that were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to go first — health care workers and nursing home residents — have yet to get their shots. See how vaccinations are going in your state.

Philip Cheung for The New York Times

5. A sustained surge of coronavirus infections has locked Southern California in a crisis. Above, a mobile testing unit.

Los Angeles County has a coronavirus-related death every eight minutes, and the city is on the threshold of one in 10 residents testing positive for the virus. Dozens of overcrowded emergency rooms have shut their doors to ambulances for hours at a time. Oxygen and the portable canisters to supply it to patients are low.

And in Chicago, some students are set to return to school on Monday for the first time since March. But it’s unclear how many of their teachers will be there to greet them: The mayor and teachers’ unions are locked in a bitter fight over whether to reopen classrooms.

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Ed Wray/Getty Images

6. A search and rescue operation entered its second day after an Indonesian passenger jet crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff in heavy monsoon rains.

More than 60 people were believed to be aboard the Boeing 737-500, operated by Sriwijaya Air, that had taken off from Jakarta, the capital, on Saturday. Officials said they found body parts and some clothes from the passengers as well as part of the wreckage in an area known as the Thousand Islands.

The crash comes at a terrible time for Boeing, whose reputation and bottom line were devastated by two crashes involving its 737 Max jet two years ago, including Lion Air Flight 610 that also plunged into the Java Sea.

Libby March for The New York Times

7. A supersized N.F.L. playoff weekend is missing one thing: fans.

The crowd noise may be dulled, fewer Terrible Towels waved in Pittsburgh and less drama over all, but there are plenty of games in what the league is calling “Super Wild Card Weekend.” A few thousand fans watched the Buffalo Bills beat the Los Angeles Rams, above.

In perhaps the strangest of the N.F.L.’s 101 seasons, more touchdowns and more points were scored than ever before, thanks to fewer penalties, empty stadiums and more strategic decision-making. If you need to catch up on the season, our reporters have you covered.

Mick Tsikas/Reuters

8. Is the platypus normal, and are we the thing that turned out strange?

Platypuses diverged from other mammals about 187 million years ago, making them an important part of understanding evolution. And it may be that the traits that seem so strange to us were present in the ancestor we all share — that we were the ones who evolved away from those very traits.

Now, researchers have produced the most comprehensive platypus genome yet to uncover the genes and proteins that underpin some of these creatures’ distinctive traits — a rubbery bill, ankle spikes full of venom, luxurious fur that glows under black light, egg-laying but also nursing the young — and better understand how we came to be so unlike them.

Morgan Charles

9. A different “52 Places to Go.”

The Times usually publishes its annual travel feature right about now, a visually rich list of worthy destinations for the coming year. But, of course, the pandemic has changed that. This year’s list hits closer to home: We’re calling it “52 Places to Love.”

Instead of turning to reporters and photographers, The Times asked readers to tell us about their favorite places — near or far — and share photos. The responses included a town in Wales called Mumbles, the Scottish Highlands, above, and London’s St. James the Less Church in England.

“No one told me ‘the love of my life’ could be a place,” writes Jody Greene about Ladakh, India. Take a look. Maybe you’ll find a new place to love.

Jack Davison for The New York Times

10. And finally, a plethora of great reads.

The last two northern white rhinos on earth. A yacht, oligarchs and family drama. Life in a Tuscan village slides back in time. Check out the latest edition of The Weekender.

Did you follow the headlines this week? Take our quiz to find out. And here’s the front page of our Sunday paper, the Sunday Review from Opinion and our crossword puzzles.

Have a more peaceful week.

Your Weekend Briefing is published Sundays at 6:30 a.m. Eastern.

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