US briefing: impeachment trial, coronavirus and gun violence | US news

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

McConnell aims for speedy trial conducted outside primetime

For only the third time in US history, prosecutors will take to the Senate floor on Tuesday to charge the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors” and argue for his removal. They face not only Donald Trump’s legal team, but also the ruthless Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who on Monday night unveiled a resolution calling for a quick trial, with key proceedings conducted late at night, away from the gaze of most Americans.

China confirms human-to-human transmission of coronavirus

Medical staff in biohazard suits carry a patient into the Wuhan hospital where patients infected with the new strain of coronavirus are being treated. Photograph: EPA

The Chinese health ministry has confirmed that at least two cases of infection with a new strain of a mysterious Sars-like virus were caused by human-to-human transmission. Medical staff in Guangdong province are among the 291 people to have been infected with the so-called coronavirus since it was first detected last month in the city of Wuhan, where an 89-year-old man died from the virus at the weekend, bringing the number of fatalities to four.

Rockets his Baghdad’s Green Zone, close to US embassy

The US embassy inside Baghdad’s Green Zone.

The US embassy inside Baghdad’s Green Zone. Photograph: Reuters

Three Katyusha rockets launched from just outside Baghdad landed close to the US embassy in the Iraqi capital’s high-security Green Zone on Tuesday morning, police in the city said. The attack follows a previous incident on 8 January, when two rockets landed in the Green Zone shortly after Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing US troops, in retaliation for the US assassination of the top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani.

  • New Isis leader. Intelligence officials have confirmed that the new leader of Islamic State is the Iraq-born Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, one of the group’s founding members, who took charge following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last October.

Report: US gun violence is driven by distrust of police

Police at the scene of a 2016 shooting in Philadelphia.

Police at the scene of a 2016 shooting in Philadelphia. Photograph: Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

A report by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has warned that police brutality, the over-enforcement of small infractions and high numbers of unsolved homicides have eroded trust in law enforcement in US cities, driving many to rely on vigilante justice. “If people can’t count on help from the state and its agents, they’re going to take care of themselves,” said David Kennedy, the director of the National Network for Safe Communities.

  • Racial injustice. The report notes that more than half of homicides of black Americans do not lead to an arrest, while nearly three-quarters of all unsolved murders in US cities involve a victim who was black.

  • Community solutions. The report also highlights successful, community-led efforts to reduce gun violence in cities including Camden, New Jersey, and Oakland, California.

Cheat sheet

  • A protest against new Virginia gun laws by thousands of armed demonstrators in the state capital of Richmond on Monday remained peaceful, with one person arrested for wearing a mask in public.

  • A group of homeless mothers who occupied a vacant house in Oakland, California, will be allowed to purchase the property – a major victory for activists seeking to keep such homes out of the hands of real estate speculators.

  • Lawyers for the detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou have described allegations that she committed fraud by trying to circumvent US sanctions as “fiction”, at the start of a hearing in Vancouver to decide whether she will be extradited to the US.

  • A New Zealand student has persuaded a stranger in Spain to join him in placing a slice of white bread on the ground at precisely opposite ends of the world, creating what he called an “Earth sandwich”.


Pryce with longtime friend and collaborator Terry Gilliam, on the set of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

Pryce with longtime friend and collaborator Terry Gilliam, on the set of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Photograph: –

Jonathan Pryce, an Oscar newcomer at 72

Jonathan Pryce has just received his first Oscar nomination, for Netflix drama The Two Popes. He’s also the star of Terry Gilliam’s long-gestating project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. He talks to Xan Brooks about his long career and inequality in the film industry: “Sometimes I can’t believe that we’re still having that argument.”

Trump’s reckless fixation on immigration

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig’s new book, A Very Stable Genius, goes inside the Trump White House to examine how a reckless president has tested the US and its institutions. In this extract, they report on his damaging obsession with immigration and the border.

Roberta Flack: “I didn’t try to be a soul singer”

Roberta Flack will receive a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Grammys, just as her debut LP gets a 50th anniversary re-release. “I didn’t try to be a soul singer, a jazz singer, a blues singer – no category,” the 82-year-old star tells Jim Farber. “My music is my expression of what I feel and believe in a moment.”

What’s on the climate agenda for 2020?

The world leaders and business chiefs meeting in Davos this week will for the first time have climate issues at the top of their agenda. 2020 could prove crucial in determining the direction of the world’s response to the crisis, as Fiona Harvey explains.


Across social media, influencers from Gwyneth Paltrow on down are perpetuating wellness trends and dubious diets. Not all celebrity influence is negative, says David Robert Grimes, but we must all maintain a healthy scepticism.

In an era where repackaged snake oil can be easily and immediately spread by anyone with a platform, we must be more mindful than ever to question dubious claims.


The Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has argued that the League Cup competition ought to be scrapped for the good of English club football, saying teams are overburdened with fixtures, leading to injuries and exhaustion, especially over the winter months.

America’s Shelby Rogers has lost in three sets to a resurgent Garbine Muguruza in the first round of the Australian Open. Follow the Guardian’s liveblog for the rest of Tuesday evening’s action from Melbourne.

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