(Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.)
Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. Senate leaders reached an agreement on rules for an exceedingly swift impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
The proceedings, following the first time a president was impeached twice, are set to begin on Tuesday with a debate and vote on whether trying a former president is unconstitutional. Above, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer.
On the substance of the charge against Mr. Trump, his lawyers asserted in a filing that his speech just before an attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 “did not direct anyone to commit unlawful actions,” and that he deserved no blame for the conduct of a “small group of criminals.”
They also insisted that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” to try him at all because he was now a private citizen.
House impeachment managers rebutted in their own memo that “there is no ‘January Exception’ to the Constitution that allows presidents to abuse power in their final days without accountability.”
If a simple majority of senators agree to move forward after Tuesday’s debate, as expected, the prosecution and defense would have up to 16 hours each to present their cases starting at noon on Wednesday.
2. House Democrats unveiled legislation to expand the child tax credit.
The proposal would provide a $3,600 credit a year per child younger than 6 and $3,000 per child up to 17 as lawmakers target child poverty rates as part of President Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.
The plan would phase out the payments for Americans who make more than $75,000 and for couples who make more than $150,000. Democrats hope to have the entire stimulus package signed into law by mid-March. Above, picking up free school lunches in Dallas, Texas.
Although the proposed credit is only for a year, some Democrats said they would fight to make it permanent, a move that could reshape efforts to fight child poverty.
3. Tesla said it expects to start taking Bitcoin as payment “in the near future.”
The carmaker also disclosed in its annual report that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency as part of an initiative to invest in alternative assets.
Digital currencies like Bitcoin, originally a way to conduct business outside the regulated financial system, are increasingly seen as an asset akin to private equity or venture capital. The value of Bitcoin reached a record after Tesla’s announcement, rising more than 14 percent to about $44,000 per coin.
Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, above, is known for promoting cryptocurrencies on Twitter. Dogecoin, a digital token that began as a joke, also soared after encouragement by Mr. Musk and other big names, and was up another 14 percent today.
5. “We’re around just as many sick people as we are around nonsick people, just like health care workers.”
That’s Toni Ward Sockwell, an assistant manager at a grocery chain in Oklahoma, bemoaning the plight of supermarket workers during the pandemic.
Even as experts warn people to minimize time spent in grocery stores, The Times found only 13 states have started specifically vaccinating those workers. And in cities eyeing mandates that require hazard pay, some grocery workers are facing threats of store closures. Above, workers last week outside a supermarket set to close in Long Beach, Calif.
Our journalists also spent more than a week in the hardest-hit hospital in the hardest-hit county in California, the state now leading the nation in coronavirus cases. See what life and death are like in what has been called a “separate and unequal” hospital system.
6. Alabama’s longest-serving senator, Richard Shelby, will retire next year.
Mr. Shelby, 86, above, a longtime political powerhouse in his home state, said he would not seek a seventh term, a move that will touch off a scramble for the open seat among Republicans. Democrats are seen as having little chance of picking up the seat.
He is the fourth Senate Republican to disclose he will not run in 2022, joining Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Separately, Representative Ron Wright, Republican of Texas, died after battling Covid-19 in the hospital, his office said today. Mr. Wright, 67, who had also been undergoing treatment for cancer, is the first seated member of Congress to die after contracting the coronavirus.
7. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel entered a plea of not guilty in his corruption trial.
Few world leaders have ever stood trial while in office, let alone while running for re-election. But with a general election just weeks away, Mr. Netanyahu appeared in court to plead his innocence. Above, the prime minister, far right, talking with his lawyer.
For some, the fact that an Israeli prime minister can be brought to trial is evidence of judicial independence and equality before the law. But others fear that the discourse surrounding the trial — which Mr. Netanyahu has himself portrayed as a plot by unelected bureaucrats — has undermined public trust in the judicial system. Here’s a look at the charges and the political ramifications.
8. A normal sports event?
At the Australian Open, which began today in Melbourne, above, international sports returned to something like what they were before the pandemic: Spectators lined up for tickets, waited in security lines, lounged on the grass and hung out in fancy restaurants.
The Grand Slam tennis season is taking place in a country that has arguably controlled Covid-19 better than anywhere else, thanks to months of enforced lockdowns, closed borders, and thorough testing and contact tracing.
Tonight, Sofia Kenin, the 22-year-old American defending her women’s singles championship, plays Maddison Inglis of Australia at 7 p.m. Eastern, and Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty will both be featured on the court later.
Here’s what to watch.
9. Another reason to hate climate change: It’s making allergy season worse.
Researchers have found a strong link between planetary warming and pollen, causing North American pollen seasons since 1990 to start some 20 days earlier, on average, and to have 21 percent more pollen.
What’s more, the trend of higher pollen counts is accelerating, the researchers said.
The greatest pollen increases came from trees, as opposed to grasses and weeds, and the most pronounced effects were seen in Texas, the Midwest and the Southeast.
And now, the good news: A new study of air quality has found that the northern part of sub-Saharan Africa is becoming less polluted as wealth and population in the area have increased and as controlled fires set by farmers decline.
Even after lowering their estimates of how much phosphine may be present, the researchers are still certain of their findings. Many of their peers, however, remain doubtful, creating a stalemate until further observations can be made.
“There’s nothing you can point to that says, ‘Oh, yeah, we absolutely see phosphine on Venus,’” said Bryan Butler of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, N.M. But he added that the matter was not settled. “You know, it’s tantalizing,” he said.
Have a life-affirming evening.
Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.
Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.
What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.