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Iran, Australia, Golden Globes: Your Monday Briefing

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Iran, Australia, Golden Globes: Your Monday Briefing

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Good Morning.

We cover Iran's response to the death of a general, the political dimension of Australia's devastating forest fires and the victories of "Fleabag" and "1917" at the Golden Globe.

Iran's announcement – that its nuclear program "will have no production constraints, including enrichment capacity" – has been one of the biggest consequences so far in the chaotic aftermath of the commander-in-chief's assassination of Baghdad in Baghdad. # 2 indeed.

Iran said it would return to nuclear limits if US sanctions – imposed by President Trump on the country following the withdrawal of the nuclear agreement in 2018 – were lifted. But amid widespread anger and grief in Iran, Tehran must respond to US interests, and Trump said the United States could attack sites in Iran if it retaliates.

Answers: The American allies in the Middle East, fearing to pay a price for General Suleimani's death, remained largely silent. And European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell invited Iran's foreign minister to Brussels for talks.

What follows: Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq is expected to sign a bill, passed by Parliament on Sunday, which will expel US troops from Iraq. And a US-led coalition says it is ending its one-year mission to attack the Islamic State and train local forces in Syria and Iraq.

Analysis: Our chief White House correspondent writes that the consequences of the assassination will test whether Trump's critics – who have long argued that he was too erratic to deal with times of crisis – were correct.

Italy's populist-led government is deeply involved in a high-risk struggle for the future of a giant steelmaker with a checkered environmental record. If the factory closes, it could affect the stability of the national economy and raise questions about the government's ability to provide stability to foreign investors.

The fight for the steel industry is "an emblem of what ails Italy – a declining industry, random regulation and volatile politics," writes our Rome department head Jason Horowitz.

Background: In the last decade, Italy's economy has experienced the lowest growth rates since the country was formed in the 19th century, says one leading Italian economist. The steel mill, which employs more than 10,000 people, is in a southern region that already has dizzying unemployment rates.

After moving to Britain, Ghanem al-Masarir found his voice on YouTube, where his satirical videos about Saudi Arabia, his homeland, were viewed over 300 million times.

But after Al-Masarir was quietly warned of a Saudi plot to kidnap him, he discovered that his smartphones were infected with spyware. Then British police visited his home to issue an official warning about a threat to his life.

Now he is suing Saudi Arabia in a British court. "You're essentially dealing with the mafia," he said. "Except they have diplomatic passports and a lot of money."

Carlos Ghosn: Japanese authorities on Sunday defended their justice system as fair after the unfortunate car executive escaped last month. Ghosn is now in Lebanon – and his next step is to guess.

Croatia: In a rare victory by a leftist official in Central Europe, former Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic won a contested presidential election on Sunday. Their victory is significant in part because Croatia took over the presidency of the European Union on January 1, and the country will be tasked with overseeing Britain's divorce in the bloc this month.

Drunk Driver: A blood-alcohol driver nearly four times the legal limit drove a car to young German tourists as they crossed a road in northern Italy on Sunday, killing six people and injuring 11 others.

Venezuela: Lawmakers aligned with the country's repressive leader, Nicolás Maduro, blocked the re-election of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as head of the National Assembly, gaining control of the last political institution still dominated by the opposition.

Harvey Weinstein: A trial of the disgraced Hollywood mogul starting today in New York City will be seen as a test of whether the legal system can offer justice to victims who helped unleash the #MeToo movement.

The medieval system works very well. But it requires every fourth year to be a leap year, and 2020 is one. On February 29th, we will have an extra day to align the calendar with the actual time it takes the earth to get around the sun: 365.24 days.

To keep the calendar in balance, every century, we skip the leap year, and every fourth century, not. (For those planning ahead, the next hop will be 2100.)

Another marker: the elliptical orbit of the earth means that there is a point where the planet is farthest from our star and one where it is closest.

You may not have noticed, but the closest pass, known as perihelion, happened over the weekend. The farthest point will be in early July.

Looking for something earlier and more obvious to celebrate? Our next solar marker is an equinox. "Day" and "night" will be divided equally on 19 or 20 March (depending on your time zone).

That's it in this briefing. See you next time.

– Mike

To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the news break. Andrea Kannapell, editor of Briefings, wrote today's Back Story. You can contact the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

• We are listening to "The Daily". Our last episode revisits a whistleblower and his concerns about Boeing.
• Here's today's mini crossword puzzle and a clue: tin or steel (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times science industry can help you synchronize your calendar with the solar system.


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