Your Tuesday Briefing

New travel bans in the fight against the coronavirus.

By Natasha Frost

Good morning.

We’re covering new travel bans in the fight against the coronavirus, the likely collapse of Italy’s government and famous writers’ reviews of famous writing.

More travel is restricted as virus variants spread

In a bid to curb the spread of new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus, both the U.S. and the E.U. are exploring ways to restrict travel further, following in the footsteps of countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Ghana and South Korea, whose stringent travel restrictions have proved an effective way to manage the rate of infection on shore.

President Biden will from Saturday ban travel by noncitizens into the U.S. from South Africa, and he will extend similar bans imposed by former President Donald Trump on travel from Brazil, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, recommended on Monday restricting nonessential travel in a bid to prevent blanket border closures, which would obstruct trade and the movement of cross-border workers. Traveling without restrictions would still be possible for family, work and health reasons, which are deemed essential.

Official comment: “The situation in Europe with the new variants have led us to take difficult but necessary decisions,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the commission, wrote on Twitter. “We need to keep safe & discourage non-essential travel.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

After the discovery that its vaccine appeared to be less protective against the variant discovered in South Africa, Moderna said it was developing a new form of its vaccine that could be used as a booster shot.

Delays, inconsistent data and spotty disclosures have set off a backlash against China’s coronavirus vaccines, marring an effort by Beijing to portray itself as a leader in global health.

Health experts, doctors and government officials in Britain are calling for greater efforts to address vaccine hesitancy among minority groups. Some have also urged that those groups be designated a priority for immunization because they are more at risk.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands said that anyone involved in riots over the weekend protesting the country’s coronavirus measures had engaged in “criminal violence” and warned that perpetrators would be treated accordingly.

The likely collapse of Italy’s government

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy will present his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella today, his office said, very likely triggering the collapse of Italy’s government as it faces a still-spiraling coronavirus epidemic and a halting vaccine rollout.

More than 80,000 Italians have died from the virus. The government, which was making slow but steady progress in vaccinating its public health workers, has hit a speed bump and threatened to sue Pfizer over a shortfall in vaccine doses.

Mr. Conte’s government failed to get an absolute majority during a Senate confidence vote last week after Matteo Renzi pulled out of the coalition to protest Mr. Conte’s management of the epidemic.

Forthcoming: What will happen after Mr. Conte offers his resignation remains unclear. Mr. Conte could remain in charge, heading a new governing coalition with a different lineup of parties. Other possibilities include a more thorough reorganization under a different prime minister, or even elections to choose a new Parliament.

The House delivers its impeachment charge against Trump

For the second time in just over a year, the House of Representatives on Monday sent an article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate for trial, thrusting his political fate into the hands of 50 Republican senators.

The trial itself will not begin until Feb. 9, and it is unlikely to result in a conviction unless 17 Republicans join Democrats in voting against Mr. Trump. Several Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have signaled that they are open to convicting the former president, but their numbers currently fall well short of that threshold.

Money matters: The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen, a labor economist and former Federal Reserve chair, to be Treasury secretary on Monday. Separately, President Biden’s Treasury Department will speed up the process of putting Harriet Tubman’s portrait on the front of the $20 bill.

Executive order: Mr. Biden reversed his predecessor’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military.

Related: The inspector general for the Justice Department announced an investigation into whether any current or former officials had tried improperly to wield the powers of the department to undo the results of the presidential election.

If you have 10 minutes, this is worth it

What working for Trump was really like

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, has been an adviser to seven presidents. But the past year has stood out to him like no other. Although his calm counsel endeared him to many Americans, the politicization of the pandemic made him a villain to others — so much so that he received death threats.

In a wide-ranging interview, Dr. Fauci described the toll of the past year. Through it all, he never thought of quitting: “I felt it would be better for the country and better for the cause for me to stay.”

Here’s what else is happening

Portuguese election: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Portugal’s center-right president, was re-elected on Sunday to a second term in office, but the vote also confirmed the rise of the far-right politician André Ventura, who formed his party less than two years ago.

Malka Leifer: An Israeli woman accused of sexually abusing dozens of students at an Australian school where she had been the principal was extradited from Israel, concluding a seven-year deportation process that had tested relations between the two countries.

Madrid snowfall: The record-breaking dump of snow in the Spanish capital this month devastated the already vulnerable neighborhood of Cañada Real, home to about 8,000 people.

India-China clash: Indian media outlets and independent military analysts reported a skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops along their disputed Himalayan border several days ago. Soldiers on both sides were wounded, although no fatalities were recorded.

Snapshot: Above, a man receiving a second dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv. In Israel, which leads the world in vaccinating its population against the virus, early data show a significant drop in infection after just one shot of a two-dose vaccine and better-than-expected results for people who received both doses.

Backing track: After Salisbury Cathedral in England became a vaccination center, its organists began providing musical accompaniment to the inoculations — and they’re even taking requests.

Nazi looting: The holders of a rare 300-year-old violin are refusing to compensate the heirs of a Jewish music dealer, jeopardizing a system for restitution that has been in place in Germany for nearly two decades.

Capitalism memorabilia: The sale of products associated with the 2008 financial crash, the dot-com bubble and even the Enron scandal has become a thriving niche market online.

What we’re reading: This ranking from Bloomberg of the best and worst places to be during the pandemic, across multiple different metrics. (New Zealand is holding the top spot — for now.)

Now, a break from the news

Cook: This kale salad with cranberries, pecans and blue cheese is a no-recipe recipe. It invites you to improvise in the kitchen.

Do: The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly disrupted some social circles. Here’s what you need to know about making, and maintaining, friends during the pandemic.

Disrupt: Break up the monotony of a pandemic winter by doing something small and life-changing.

Fill up your free time with cooking, culture or crafts. At Home has ideas on what to do while staying safe at home.

And now for the Back Story on …

Famous writers on famous writing

Our Book Review section celebrated its 125th anniversary by dipping into the archives and reprising 25 big-name authors reviewing new books by their peers. Here’s an excerpt.

“Sartre’s name, I understand, is associated with a fashionable brand of cafe philosophy, and since for every so-called existentialist, one finds quite a few ‘suctorialists’ (if I may coin a polite term), this made-in-England translation of Sartre’s first novel, ‘La Nausée,’ should enjoy some success.” — Vladimir Nabokov, on Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea”

“I don’t think many of the Danielle Steel crowd will be rushing out to buy a book in which one character is eaten from the inside out by a ravenous moray eel — but for those who like what Harris can do so brilliantly, no book report is required.” — Stephen King, on Thomas Harris’s “Hannibal”

“If there were any doubts about her stature as a pre-eminent American novelist, of her own or any other generation, ‘Beloved’ will put them to rest. In three words or less, it’s a hair-raiser.” — Margaret Atwood, on Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

“It suggests with great power, how each of us, however unconsciously, can’t but be the vehicle of the history which has produced us. Well, we can perish in this vehicle, children, or we can move on up the road.” — James Baldwin, on Alex Haley’s “Roots”

“Rex Reed is a saucy, snoopy, bitchy man who sees with sharp eyes and writes with a mean pen and succeeds in making voyeurs of us all. If any of this sounds like I don’t like Rex Reed, let me correct that impression. I love Rex Reed.” — Nora Ephron, on Rex Reed’s “Do You Sleep in the Nude?”

That’s it for this briefing. Have a great Tuesday.

— Natasha

Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about Aleksei Navalny and the future of Russia.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Classic toy on a string (four letters).
• Our live coronavirus briefing has been ongoing for a year. It is believed to be the longest continuous coverage of the pandemic in the world.

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