Impeachment, China Trade, Whitney Houston: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

1. The House delivered articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate, setting the stage for the third such trial of a sitting president in history.

The seven managers, appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the day to prosecute the case against Mr. Trump, were accompanied by the House clerk and sergeant of arms to hand-deliver the articles, marching from the House chamber to the entrance of the Senate. Here’s the latest.

The trial has broad implications: the potential to shape Mr. Trump’s legacy, stoke the country’s political polarization and affect the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections. It is most likely to start on Tuesday.

3. President Vladimir Putin upended Russia’s political elite by proposing sweeping constitutional changes that could extend his hold on power for years, leading to the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and his cabinet.

It was not immediately evident whether the resignations signaled a rift at the top of Russia’s hierarchy or if they were part of a coordinated but still unclear plan to reshape the system. Under the current law, Mr. Putin must step down in 2024.

Some experts said Mr. Putin could be contemplating a return to the prime minister’s office to extend his grip on power, this time at the helm of a newly empowered Parliament.


4. Last year was the second-hottest on record, closing out the warmest decade on record, U.S. government researchers said.

In analyses of temperature data from thousands of observing stations around the world, researchers at NASA and NOAA also concluded that 2019 was only slightly cooler than 2016, the warmest year ever measured.

The results closely match findings from a separate analysis released last week by a European climate agency. The warming trends “are clear and unequivocal,” said director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which conducted the NASA analysis.

6. Jeffrey Epstein sexually exploited hundreds of women and girls on his Caribbean island, some as recently as 2018, a Virgin Islands lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, said Mr. Epstein and his associates used a database to track victims as young as 11.

The new evidence significantly expands the scope of his alleged misconduct. Mr. Epstein, who hanged himself last year, had been charged by Manhattan prosecutors with sexually exploiting dozens of women and girls in New York and Florida, but they did not point to any actions beyond 2005.


7. A strange microbe living in ocean muck may be one of evolution’s missing links.

Two billion years ago, simple cells gave way to far more complex building blocks, seemingly out of nowhere. A bizarre tentacled microbe called Prometheoarchaeum, discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, may prove to be the crucial transitional form.

Researchers believe the newly discovered species helps to explain the origins of all animals, plants, fungi — including humans, of course. The research was reported in the journal Nature.

8. The second biggest diamond in history has a new owner: Louis Vuitton.

The luxury brand declined to say how much it had spent on the stone known as the Sewelo, a 1,758-carat diamond about the size of a baseball, though it acknowledged that it was in the “millions.”

It is the latest sign, following the $16.2 billion purchase of Tiffany by LVMH (Louis Vuitton’s parent company), that it is out to dominate the high-end jewelry market.

Speaking of Tiffany’s, how do you move 114,000 gems without getting robbed? With a lot of security. The jeweler recently had to move into temporary quarters in New York while it renovated its flagship store.


9. In the streaming era, an old TV genre is booming: the nature show.

Netflix, Disney and Apple are investing heavily in wildlife programming, and nature shows are thriving on cable and public broadcast networks, with roughly 130 original nature series airing in 2019 — more than the previous three years combined.

“Seven Worlds, One Planet,” above, is the latest nature documentary extravaganza, this time from BBC.

And in case you missed it, Ken Jennings won the “Jeopardy!” greatest of all time tournament last night. The winning answer: He has 272 speeches, the most of any nontitle character in a Shakespeare tragedy. (The correct response is at the bottom of the newsletter.)


10. And finally, the 2020 class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Whitney Houston, pictured above in 2002, Nine Inch Nails and the Notorious B.I.G. are among the latest inductees into the gradually broadening tent that is the Rock Hall. Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers and T-Rex will also be feted in the official ceremony this spring.

The hall has consistently faced criticism for a lack of diversity, and only three women were up for induction this year out of 16 nominees. Only Houston, who died in 2012, was voted in.

Hope you find somebody to dance with tonight.


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The correct Jeopardy! response: “Who is Iago?”