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Russia, Harvey Weinstein, ‘West Side Story’: Your Friday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. “Hoax number 7!”

President Trump said an assessment by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia was again meddling in the presidential election in his favor was a “misinformation campaign” cooked up by his Democratic rivals.

His remarks came as Richard Grenell, above, Mr. Trump’s new acting director of national intelligence, asked to see the facts underlying the findings around Russian interference.

Mr. Grenell has wasted no time in shaping his new team of advisers, ousting his office’s No. 2 official — a longtime intelligence officer — and bringing in an expert on Trump conspiracy theories to help lead the agency, according to officials.

Russia has also been trying to aid Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, U.S. officials told his campaign. Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

2. When Nevada Democrats caucus tomorrow for the presidential primary race, they’ll report their results the old-fashioned way: by phone.

3. The coronavirus outbreak showed dangerous signs of breaking out beyond China. Above, an airport checkpoint in Iraq.

Iran acknowledged 18 cases in three cities, with four fatalities, and a surge in South Korea was linked to a secretive church. The number of U.S. coronavirus cases increased to at least 34, with more expected. Many of them were travelers who fell ill after returning from overseas. Here’s the latest.

4. The jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s trial told the judge they were deadlocked on two of the most serious charges, but suggested they were unanimous on three other counts.

In the fourth day of deliberations, the jury sent a note asking if it could return a verdict on two charges of rape and one count of criminal sexual assault but remain split on two charges of predatory sexual assault, which carry a possible life sentence.

The judge told the jury to keep deliberating. Minutes later, though, he adjourned the proceedings for the weekend because one of Mr. Weinstein’s lawyers had a funeral to attend. Deliberations will resume Monday.


5. “Our democracy is under attack at the grass-roots level.”

That’s Henriette Reker, mayor of Cologne, Germany, who was stabbed in the throat with a kitchen knife by a man who wanted to punish her for her pro-refugee stance. She is one of the many mayors in Germany who now routinely find themselves targets of threats and intimidation, often from the far right.

The effect has been chilling: 1,240 attacks were recorded against local German politicians last year, leading many to question whether the job was worth it. Ms. Reker is an exception; she is running again.


6. He’s known as the Bernie Madoff of France.

Gérard Lhéritier, a collector, is accused of orchestrating a $1 billion literary Ponzi scheme, in which bibliophile investors bought shares of rare manuscripts at inflated prices. About 18,000 people, many of them elderly and of modest means, collectively invested in items like a page of scribbled calculations by Isaac Newton or a letter from Albert Einstein, above.

Everything in his collection is authentic, and a large part of it is highly coveted. The authorities seized all 136,000 pieces and hired a company to catalog and auction them, a process that will take years.

The hope is to return as much money as possible to investors, though it may not amount to much.


7. The U.S. women’s soccer team has put a price tag on its fight for equal pay: $67 million in back pay and damages.

That number came out of court filings ahead of a looming gender discrimination trial in which the players and the United States Soccer Federation proposed resolutions to end a bitter equal-pay lawsuit (U.S. Soccer made a motion to have the case dismissed altogether).

The diametrically opposed terms showed just how far apart the two sides remain. Both parties expect the judge overseeing the case to allow it to go to trial, likely in May.


8. Many movie versions of “Emma” emphasized the charms of Jane Austen’s heroine. In the latest adaptation, she doesn’t care about pleasing her audience.

There have been three other “Emma” movies in the last 15 years (and four if you go back to 1995’s “Clueless”). Now, Anya Taylor-Joy, above left with the director Autumn de Wilde, plays the title role with style and attitude and sharpness, “as if the character has stepped out of a Regency England version of ‘Mean Girls,’” writes our reporter. Here’s our review of the film.

Around the time Austen was publishing that novel, Beethoven was writing his only opera. But during revisions, one of the arias was lost. Now, a conductor has filled in the missing pages.


9. In other updates to classics, Ivo van Hove has blown up “West Side Story.”

The director’s attention-splintering revival of the watershed musical, now on Broadway, features new choreography, a ravishing orchestra and smothering visual effects, our theater critic says. He calls it a “curiously unaffecting reimagining” of the 1957 show.

For a very different kind of New York story, the Lower East Side has always turned out the most vital music. Here are eight songs that capture what the neighborhood has sounded like over the years, from blackface minstrels to the Velvet Underground.

10. And finally, the snow wizards of Killington.

The Vermont resort offers more than 1,500 skiable acres and 73 miles of trails. And when Mother Nature comes up short, the snow-making team jumps in, carefully balancing the right amount of compressed air and water to create fresh powder.

Our photographer and writer captured the 24/7 process, from the powerful snow guns perched along the slopes to the mid-mountain pump house that sends out 10 million gallons of water each day.

The head of the team recognized the Sisyphean nature of the work: “We make snow. It melts. We make it again. It melts. So we make it again.”

Have a cozy weekend.


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