Democrats, China Virus, Australian Open: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning.

It’s Martin Luther King’s Birthday, a federal holiday, in the U.S. We’re covering the Times editorial board’s endorsement for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the matchup for Super Bowl LIV.

The board announced on Sunday that it is supporting both Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic presidential nomination, a departure from convention that is meant to address the party’s “realist” and “radical” models.

While arguing that President Trump must be defeated, the board did not take a position on the best path forward for Democrats, writing that both approaches “warrant serious consideration.” Read the endorsement here.

Background: The 15 members of the editorial board, which is separate from the Times newsroom, met with nine candidates and released full transcripts of their interviews.

“The Weekly”: The latest episode of the Times’s TV show is about the endorsement process. Watch it on Hulu.

Another angle: During a visit to a black congregation in South Carolina on Sunday, Joe Biden condemned Mr. Trump for heightening racial divisions.

The authorities in China today reported a third death from a new pneumonialike illness, and doubled the number of cases from a day earlier, including in Beijing and southern China for the first time. Cases have also been reported in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

With hundreds of millions of people in China expected to travel for the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins Friday, public health officials are working to stop a major outbreak. Some experts have suggested that there are probably far more cases of the illness than the authorities have disclosed.

Background: Most people with the infection have contracted it through exposure to animals at a market in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization said on Sunday that it was unclear whether the virus can easily spread from one person to another. Here’s what we know.

After a neo-Nazi group held a poorly attended rally in Newnan, Ga., the town of about 40,000 people decided to use art to help celebrate its growing diversity, putting up 17 oversize portraits of residents. Among them was Ariel McCullough, above.

Called “Seeing Newnan,” the project was meant to upend preconceptions and unravel the cocoons that people had created within the community. Not everyone was ready for what it showed.

Virginia gun rally: Thousands of activists are expected to descend on Richmond today to protest sweeping gun control proposals supported by state Democrats. Fears of violence have led Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a state of emergency.

Harry and Meghan’s hard exit: The severance deal that Buckingham Palace announced for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over the weekend makes a more thorough break with the royal family than the couple apparently expected.

How warm was your town?: Scientists said that 2019 was the second-warmest year on record, and an AccuWeather database of 3,500 cities showed that more than 80 percent experienced higher-than-normal average temperatures last year. See how your city compares.

Super Bowl is set: The Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 2 in Miami. In the conference championship games, the Chiefs came back to beat Tennessee, and the 49ers crushed Green Bay.

Snapshot: Above, a SpaceX rocket self-destructed, as expected, during a test of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule on Sunday. The accomplishment may set the stage for a new era in spaceflight, as no one has launched to orbit from the U.S. in more than eight years.

Metropolitan Diary: In this week’s column, the corner laundromat, human punctuation on the subway and more reader tales of New York City.

What we’re reading: This look at Prohibition, 100 years later, from “It’s a perfectly mixed cocktail of history, politics and culture,” writes Gina Lamb, a Special Sections editor. “Don’t miss the video.”

Cook: Red curry lentils with sweet potato and spinach makes a hearty vegetarian main dish.

Go: A service today at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York is among the events in the city commemorating the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Watch: Leslie Jones spoke to The Times about why she left “Saturday Night Live,” why she quit performing at the same club as Louis C.K., and how the next “Ghostbusters” is a win for the trolls.

Smarter Living: If you’re tired of staying up late, here’s how to become a morning person.

Facing the likelihood of incoming clouds of smoke from the wildfires scorching the country, tournament officials say they may have to close the retractable roofs on three stadiums and restrict play to eight indoor tennis courts. Play began today.

The retractable roof on what is now Rod Laver Arena was a big attraction in 1988. According to its designers, the point was to allow the stadium to host concerts and sports in all seasons.

It also helped the Australian Open make the transition into one of the grander of tennis’s four Grand Slam events.

When the event began in the early 20th century, travel time for Americans and Europeans could be more than a month, so play was largely limited to Australians and New Zealanders.

Even after the advent of jet travel, low prize money and dates around the Christmas holidays kept many players away. Chris Evert played the Australian Open just six times; John McEnroe five; Bjorn Borg once.

Over time, prize money and ranking points increased. The tournament shifted to the third and fourth weeks of January and moved to Melbourne Park — which has since added two more retractable roofs.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Today’s Back Story is drawn from reporting by Ben Rothenberg, who covers the Australian Open for The Times. You can reach the team at

• There’s no new episode of “The Daily” today because of the holiday.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Point of a fable (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Amy Virshup, the Travel editor for The Times, answered questions on Reddit about our 52 Places to Go list and more.

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