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We start today with a multistate lawsuit over President Trump’s national emergency declaration, an impending showdown in Venezuela, and the Vatican’s secret guidelines for priests who have children.
16 states sue over emergency declaration
A coalition of states, including California and New York, challenged President Trump in court on Monday over his plan to use emergency powers to pay for a wall on the border with Mexico.
The suit, filed in San Francisco, argues that the president doesn’t have the power to divert funds because it is Congress that controls spending. Read the full lawsuit here.
Catch up: The lawsuit is part of a constitutional battle that Mr. Trump set off last week when he declared a national emergency in order to use money that lawmakers declined to give him.
Go deeper: Presidents have declared national emergencies nearly five dozen times since 1976. Never before has one been used after Congress rejected funding for a particular policy.
President Trump warns Venezuela’s military
Mr. Trump said on Monday that forces loyal to President Nicolás Maduro stand to “lose everything” by refusing to allow in emergency aid that has been blocked at the border.
Mr. Trump’s remarks at a rally in Florida came five days before a deadline that his administration and the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, have declared for getting aid into the country, which has experienced long shortages of food and medicine.
What’s next: It’s unclear how the Venezuelan opposition would break the blockade. John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, said the U.S. military, which has airlifted supplies to the Venezuela-Colombia border, would not enter the country.
Another angle: The crisis has prompted plans for dueling aid concerts this weekend, one organized by the British billionaire Richard Branson and one by the Venezuelan government.
Double role for a major consulting firm
McKinsey & Company, which says it offers management advice to 90 of the world’s 100 biggest companies, also has a secretive $12.3 billion investment arm, prompting questions about conflicts of interest.
In Puerto Rico, where McKinsey is advising a board that seeks to reduce the island’s debt, the company’s hedge fund has investments in that debt, according to a report released on Monday.
Response: McKinsey says the way the fund is operated ensures that its employee investors do not stand to benefit from the firm’s inside knowledge. But those assurances have been challenged in Congress and in lawsuits.
Vatican’s secret plans for priests who have children
The Roman Catholic Church has guidelines for what to do when clerics break celibacy vows and father children. There are no estimates of how many such children exist.
A Vatican spokesman said that the “fundamental principle” of the internal document was the “protection of the child.” He said the guidelines requested that the father leave the priesthood, but another official said that was “impossible to impose.”
How we know: The Vatican confirmed, apparently for the first time, the existence of the rules in response to a query from The Times.
Related: The revelation comes as the Vatican prepares for a meeting this week about the church’s child sexual abuse crisis at which victims will speak.
Catch up: The Vatican announced over the weekend that Pope Francis had expelled Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, from the priesthood. It appeared to be the first time that a cardinal had been defrocked for sexual abuse.
If you have 10 minutes, this is worth it
A black mathematician’s lonely trek
Math would seem to be the ultimate meritocracy. Either you can solve a problem or you can’t.
But fewer than 1 percent of doctorates in the subject are awarded to African-Americans. Dr. Edray Goins, pictured above, won two math prizes at Caltech, and in 1999 he received a Ph.D. from Stanford’s math department. “To say that I feel isolated,” he wrote in a widely shared essay, “is an understatement.”
Here’s what else is happening
North Carolina vote: At a hearing on Monday that could settle the final undecided House race of 2018, a state election official said that an operative working on behalf of a Republican candidate went to elaborate lengths to conceal an illegal absentee ballot “scheme.”
Southern Baptist Convention: The largest evangelical denomination in the U.S. has announced plans to address revelations of widespread sexual abuse in churches across the country.
Political storm in Canada: The resignation of a top adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has deepened a crisis over allegations that the government tried to interfere in a criminal court case.
Jussie Smollett case: The police in Chicago said they planned to re-interview the “Empire” star after news reports that the attack he reported last month had been a hoax. Here’s a timeline of the case.
Snapshot: Above, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Texas Rangers at bat during spring training in Surprise, Ariz., on Monday. (Start the countdown: Spring begins March 20, and Major League Baseball has its earliest opening day ever, March 28.)
In memoriam: Lee Radziwill, a former princess and the younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, died on Friday at 85.
George Mendonsa made the most credible claim to being the sailor who was famously photographed kissing a woman in Times Square after the end of World War II. He died on Sunday at 95.
Late-night comedy: In declaring a national emergency last week, President Trump said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” That prompted Stephen Colbert to say: “That’s the exact opposite of an emergency. That’s a choice.”
What we’re watching: This Twitter thread. The briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell, writes: “Dance tells its own story. I can only hope someone will put into words what these clips of break dancing among rural Chinese have to say.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Leave the measuring spoons aside for a simple roast fish with ginger, scallions and soy. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)
Watch: Sergei Bondarchuk’s sprawling 1960s adaptation of “War and Peace” is “a singular feat of filmmaking that can never be repeated,” our critic writes. A digital restoration of the seven-hour-plus magnum opus is screening through Thursday at Film Society of Lincoln Center, and a home release by Criterion is in the works.
Listen: “For Real,” a previously unreleased Tom Petty track about media posturing, rings true in 2019.
Read: Our Globetrotting feature offers a preview of books being published around the world.
Smarter Living: Face-to-face connections come with meaningful bonds. How to make time for that? Invite family members into whatever you’re already doing. Ask your kids to help you cook. Invite your spouse to walk the dog with you. You can turn ritual into connection.
An organizational psychologist offers strategies to handle even the most hopelessly overstuffed inbox.
And now for the Back Story on …
An operatic disaster
Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” is one of the most popular operas ever written. It would have been pretty amazing to be at its premiere, which was given this week in 1904, right?
Undoubtedly — because it was one of the great fiascos in opera history.
The premiere, at the storied Teatro alla Scala in Milan, was often drowned out by what one critic described as “groans, roars, moos, laughs, bellows, sneers.” The Times reported that the opera had been “received rather coldly.”
Puccini compared the experience to a “lynching.” Some believed rivals had organized claques to embarrass him. Others cited the opera’s subject matter: An unsympathetic American naval lieutenant impregnates and abandons a Japanese teenager, later driving her to suicide.
After several revisions — including a new remorseful aria to soften the lieutenant — “Butterfly” became a hit. (The challenge in staging it these days has more to do with avoiding Orientalism and cultural appropriation.)
And in 2016, La Scala staged the rarely seen original version, in a symbolic act of contrition.
That’s it for this briefing.
Thanks to all the readers who answered our call on Friday for odd facts, some of which we plan to feature in future briefings.
See you next time.
Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson gave us the break from the news. Michael Cooper, who covers classical music and dance for The Times, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected]
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about Democrats and Israel.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Vietnamese New Year (3 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• In 2016, a mariachi band serenaded Julia Preston as she left The Times after more than two decades as a reporter and editor focused on Mexico and immigration.
Chris Stanford is based in London and writes the U.S. version of the Morning Briefing. He also compiles a weekly news quiz. He was previously a producer for the desktop home page and mobile site, helping to present The New York Times’s news report to readers. Before joining The Times in 2013, he was an editor and designer at The Washington Post and other news organizations. @stanfordc
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