US briefing: Italy in lockdown, mini Super Tuesday and Saudi arrests | US news

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

US vows more Covid-19 testing as official count questioned

The Italian government has extended its coronavirus emergency measures across the entire country in an attempt to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of Covid-19. The Trump administration has pledged to step up testing for the disease amid concerns a lag in testing has kept the country’s official case count artificially low, but frontline health workers says the government’s shifting guidelines on the outbreak could prove “catastrophic”. At least one man isn’t panicked: Donald Trump just spent two successive days golfing. But has he met his match in the coronavirus?

Biden looking to cement lead on mini-Super Tuesday








Biden campaigns in Michigan on Monday. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Millions of voters in six states are headed to the polls for mini-Super Tuesday, with Joe Biden hoping to build on his delegate lead over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential race. Both men have campaigned particularly hard in Michigan, the state with the largest delegate haul, where Sanders won an upset victory over Hillary Clinton four years ago. Clinton told CNN on Sunday that unlike Sanders, Biden was building “a broad-based coalition”.

  • Neil Young. The Canadian folk-rock veteran on Monday endorsed Sanders, writing on his website that “every point [Sanders] makes is what I believe in”.Meanwhile, Cory Booker has joined several other former candidates in endorsing Biden.

Weinstein ‘abuse survivors’ denounce settlement





Harvey Weinstein is set for sentencing in his criminal case this week, after being found guilty of rape and sexual assault.



Harvey Weinstein is set for sentencing in his criminal case this week, after being found guilty of rape and sexual assault. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Seven women describing themselves as “survivors of sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein” have sent an open letter to New York’s attorney general, demanding she reconsider the terms of a civil settlement between the convicted rapist and his accusers. The deal was reached in December, before Weinstein’s criminal conviction, and does not require the film producer to pay a cent of his own money towards the settlement.

Arrested Saudi royals ‘plotted to block MBS accession’





Mohammed bin Salman, left, with the then-Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2016. The latter was arrested for plotting to block the MBS’s accession.



Mohammed bin Salman, left, with the then-Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2016. The latter was arrested for plotting to block the MBS’s accession. Photograph: Bandar Al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP via Getty Images

Two senior Saudi royals were arrested last week because they had discussed ways to block the accession of the country’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, should his father King Salman die or become incapacitated, the Guardian has learned. Those detained included King Salman’s sole surviving full brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, and his son, the former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef – who was ousted as heir to the Saudi throne in 2017.

Cheat sheet

  • The UK parliament’s intelligence committee has heard accusations that Russia “infiltrated” British public life by hiring a network of UK politicians and consultants to advance its criminal interests and “go after” Vladimir Putin’s enemies in London.

  • Thousands of women across Mexico on Monday staged a “Day Without Women” strike, walking out of work to protest against the country’s astonishing rates of gender-based violence.

  • A group of at least seven armed men stole $14m and €1m from a Brinks security van at Santiago airport in Chile, taking advantage of the country’s current unrest in what national papers have called the “heist of the century”.

  • New York state is to use prison labour to produce 100,000 gallons of hand sanitiser for use in those prisons, as well as schools, transpor systems and other government agencies, amid the shortage sparked by the coronavirus crisis.

Must-reads





Dolly Parton on being a Playboy cover girl at 75: ‘It would be such a hoot, I don’t know if they’ll go for it.’



Dolly Parton on being a Playboy cover girl at 75: ‘It would be such a hoot, I don’t know if they’ll go for it.’ Photograph: Mark Seliger/ABC via Getty Images

Why Playboy should put this 75-year-old on its cover

Dolly Parton has told ABC Australia that she would like to be on the cover of Playboy – again – to mark her upcoming 75th birthday. If the publication really believes in its new, woke remit, it should seriously consider her offer, says Poppy Noor.

How killing an abusive father shook Russia’s patriarchy

In July 2018, Mikhail Khachaturyan was killed by his three teenage daughters after years of routine sexual abuse, beatings and humiliation. Their case galvanised a movement to tackle domestic violence in Russia, reports Matthew Luxmoore – but it also inspired a backlash from the country’s patriarchy.

Typhoid Mary: the original super-spreader

Mary Mallon was infected with typhoid in early 20th century New York, yet showed no symptoms. She unwittingly triggered several outbreaks, became notorious as “Typhoid Mary” and was eventually quarantined for life. Rory Carroll tells the story of the original disease super-spreader.

Climate conscious remedy for diamond trade’s dirty secrets

The diamond trade has a long and inglorious history of plunder, poor work practices and the funding of violent conflicts. One third-generation diamond and jewellery merchant tells Oliver Milman there’s a solution that’s both ethical and environmentally friendly: lab-grown diamonds.

Opinion

Three years ago, the boss of a California financial firm told his employees they could leave work at 1pm if they figured out how to do a day’s work in five hours. The result, says Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, was happier employees – and higher productivity.


We now live in a fast-moving, unstable world in which overwork is a source of riches for some and a necessity for survival for the rest. But this way of working is costly for individuals, for companies and for economies.

Sport

The entire Italian sporting programme at all levels – including Serie A, the country’s top soccer league – has been suspended until 3 April at the earliest, in an attempt to halt the large gatherings that could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The Edmonton franchise in the Canadian Football League has defended the decision to retain its longstanding name – the Eskimos – despite criticism from Inuit activists who say it is “slanderous and outdated”.

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