In New Hampshire, Joe Biden called a woman 56 years his junior “a lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” which his campaign incorrectly attributed to a film starring John Wayne.
Senator Mitt Romney (R., Utah), whom Barack Obama once described as a “bullshitter,” voted to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power and to acquit him of obstruction of Congress.1 2 “I don’t think that was an appropriate approach, necessarily,” Romney said later. “But [Trump] did follow the law.” The freshly acquitted president proposed a $4.8 trillion budget that would cut student loan assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid, and invest in nuclear weapons.3 “We’re doing a lot of things that are good, including waste and fraud,” Trump said. “Tremendous waste and tremendous fraud.” During his third State of the Union address, Trump announced a “great American comeback,” surprised an Army wife with her husband’s return, and granted a scholarship to a nine-year-old girl.4 The president also broke with tradition by giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh—a radio host who has said that the NBA should be renamed “the Thug Basketball Association,” that the NFL “all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons,” and that “all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson”—during the speech.5 6 7 8 Twitter and Facebook did not remove a video that had been edited to make it seem as though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had practiced ripping up the president’s speech on the dais.9 The Iowa Democratic Party took six days to release the full results of its first-in-the-nation caucuses, in part because of an app designed by Shadow, Inc., internet trolls clogging the reporting hotline, and rounding errors on caucus tally sheets.10 11 12 A lawyer for the party said that “incorrect math on the Caucus Math Worksheets must not be changed” so as not to “insert personal opinion into the process,” and DNC chairman Tom Perez called for a second Iowa caucus.13 14 In New Hampshire, Joe Biden called a woman 56 years his junior “a lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” which his campaign incorrectly attributed to a film starring John Wayne, and Pete Buttigieg said that his lack of experience was “exactly the point.”15 16
The novel coronavirus death toll in China rose above nine hundred, surpassing that of the SARS epidemic of 2002–03.17 The WHO sent a team to Beijing to investigate the epidemic and warned of a shortage in protective gear, saying that demand for some products had risen one hundredfold.18 19 Chinese authorities recommended treating the virus with patchouli, dried tangerine peel, and the Peaceful Palace Bovine Pill, which is made from cattle gallstone, buffalo horn, jasmine, pearl, and ruby of arsenic.20 21 “Something is wrong,” said an American novelist who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship for a week.22 “I keep hearing painful coughs from a foreigner,” said another passenger.23 Americans evacuated from Wuhan did Zumba.24 Macau closed its casinos.25 Fang County began offering cash to residents for reporting fevers: 500 renminbi for a neighbor’s, 1,000 for their own.26 Chinese authorities fined a supermarket for inflating cabbage prices, an instant-noodle company increased production to four million packets a day, and Hong Kong residents rushed to buy toilet paper after rumors of a shortage spread online.27 28 A man flying from Canada to Jamaica lied about having the virus in an attempt to go viral.29 “I was looking to get it up on all the social-media platforms,” he said. In Turkey, a Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off the runway and broke apart, killing three people, and a team of rescue workers searching for a minibus hit by an avalanche in Van province were buried in a second avalanche.30 31 “I guess I died,” said a passenger who survived the crash. A high-speed passenger train went off the rails in Ospedaletto Lodigiano, Italy; one passenger described the crash as “a roller-coaster for twenty seconds.”32 The U.S. government approved a robotics company’s request to deploy self-driving vehicles that will not be required to have side or rearview mirrors, windshield wipers, steering wheels, or brake pedals, and police officers in North Carolina arrested a man who allegedly doused a woman in flammable liquid and lit her on fire while she was sitting alone in her car.33 34
To comply with a new cash-register law, bakeries in Bavaria began selling Kassenbon Krapfen, donuts topped with fondant receipts.35 “Edible and not hazardous waste,” said a baker in Grosshabersdorf. In Kerala, a local water supply was contaminated by expired beer, brandy, and rum. In Tokyo, a pub introduced a robot bartender that can pour a beer in forty seconds, mix a cocktail in a minute, and chat about the weather.36 37 “I like it because dealing with people can be a hassle,” said a restaurant worker. “With this you can just come and get drunk.” A German court ruled that a 13th-century bas-relief that depicts a rabbi looking into a pig’s anus “did not harm Jews’ reputation” because it was “embedded” and could keep its place on the Wittenberg church where Martin Luther once preached.38 A hunting convention auctioned off a trip to shoot Sitka black-tailed deer in Alaska with “accomplished conservationist” Donald Trump Jr., and contractors blasted a mountain on protected lands in the Sonoran Desert to make way for his father’s border wall.39 40 Scientists found that the jackass penguin, which brays like a donkey in distress, follows the same speech patterns as humans, and that sand dunes can communicate when they move, pushing neighbors away.41 42 “We’re not talking about humans with brains,” said a researcher. “We’re talking about sand dunes.” A team of marine scientists prepared to dive into the Indian Ocean’s Midnight Zone to study life beyond light’s reach.43—Stephanie McFeeters