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We’re covering protests in Iran, a leadership transition in Malta, and a satirical ditty that has caused a stir in Germany.
The disaster has turned into a domestic political crisis that has for now overshadowed Iran’s struggle with the United States. In one sign of public anger, a moderate Iranian newspaper declared in a banner headline on Sunday: “Apologize and resign.”
Iran admitted responsibility for downing the plane, after denying it for days, and the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, called the error an “unforgivable mistake.” But Ukrainian officials said the admission came only because its own investigators had found evidence of a missile strike at the crash site.
Related: President Trump’s defense secretary, Mark Esper, said on Sunday that he never saw specific evidence of the president’s claim that the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in part because Tehran was planning attacks on four American embassies.
Go deeper: Our reporters pieced together the story of how American officials secretly planned the attack on the general — and why the two countries came close to open war.
Video: Here’s what we know about the doomed jet’s seven-minute flight.
Looking back: The downing of the Ukrainian jet has an eerie echo of a crash in 1988, when the U.S. Navy accidentally shot down a Dubai-bound Iranian passenger jet in the waning days of the Iran-Iraq war.
A fragile truce in Libya
A truce brokered by Turkey and Russia took effect in Libya on Sunday, after months of escalating fighting around the capital, Tripoli. The country’s two warring parties were set to sign a cease-fire agreement in Moscow today.
Early this morning, Fayez al-Sarraj, the leader of Libya’s United Nations-backed government, called on Libyans “to turn the page on the past, reject discord and to close ranks to move towards stability and peace.” But there were already reports of continuing fighting around Tripoli.
Background: The conflict is part of a broader struggle for strategic and economic advantage in the Mediterranean, fought by loosely allied local militias with backing from foreign militaries. Turkey is sending troops to bolster the beleaguered U.N.-backed Tripoli government. But Khalifa Hifter, the commander based in eastern Libya whose forces have been laying siege to the city since April, is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
What’s next: During a trip to Moscow over the weekend, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany repeated her offer to host a summit meeting in Berlin to seek an end to Libya’s crisis.
Prince Harry to discuss #Megxit with Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II has summoned Prince Harry, his brother, Prince William, and their father, Prince Charles, for a meeting today to discuss the future of the monarchy’s relationship with Harry and his wife, the former Meghan Markle.
The meeting, at the queen’s Sandringham estate, comes in response to the couple’s bombshell announcement last week that they would “step back” as senior royals, live partly in North America and try to become financially independent. Here’s how we got to this point.
The announcement took Buckingham Palace by surprise, and it’s still unclear how Harry and Meghan will earn money or who will pay for their security.
Related: Meghan is in Canada, where she lived for seven years during a previous career as an actress. And many Canadians are giddy at the prospect that she and Harry could be moving there.
If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it
Can France’s Socialists go beyond ‘bobo’?
François Hollande, who served as France’s president from 2012 to 2017, presided over what some see as a break between his Socialist Party and its working-class supporters. Now the party’s survival is in doubt.
The party recently moved its headquarters from central Paris to a working-class suburb, above. Some sense an opportunity for the party to reconnect with the working class — and shed its image as the party of the urban “bobo,” or bourgeois bohemian.
Here’s what else is happening
Malta: Amid demands for accountability over the 2017 murder of an anticorruption journalist, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter that he would formally resign today. His replacement is Robert Abela, a first-term lawmaker.
Ireland: Prime Minister Leo Varadkar suggested on Sunday that a snap election would be called next month. He spoke two days after Northern Ireland’s two main parties — including Sinn Fein, a nationalist party that supports unification with the Republic of Ireland — agreed to restore a coalition government after three years of political paralysis.
France: The government’s latest concession to unions — agreeing to scrap a proposal to raise the full-benefits retirement age from 62 to 64 — is unlikely to end a weekslong transit strike or the demonstrations gripping French cities.
Taiwan: After President Tsai Ing-wen won a landslide election victory over the weekend, on a platform of preserving the democratically ruled island’s sovereignty, she urged China to resume talks with her government.
Oman: The Persian Gulf nation on Saturday named a new leader and announced the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who ruled for half a century and championed a foreign policy of independence and nonalignment.
Impeachment: Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to send articles of impeachment against President Trump to the U.S. Senate this week, paving the way for an impeachment trial to begin as soon as Wednesday.
Snapshot: Above, the Taal volcano in the Philippines, which erupted on Sunday, leading to mass evacuations amid fears of a “volcanic tsunami.”
Opinion: The breakup of the United Kingdom would be “one of the few good things to come out of Brexit,” a history professor in London argues.
Oscar nominations: Our awards season columnist breaks down what to expect when this year’s nods are announced today in Los Angeles.
What we’re listening to: This interview with the journalist Ronan Farrow on the “Armchair Expert” podcast. Melina Delkic, on the Briefings team, writes: “You’re surely familiar with the journalist’s award-winning investigation of Harvey Weinstein, but the way his life story and background contribute to his reporting adds fascinating context.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Start the week with vegan mac and cheese, ready in 30 minutes.
Watch: The HBO series “The New Pope,” starring John Malkovich, starts today. Here’s our review.
Smarter Living: If you’ve been thinking about taking a cruise, now through March may be the best time to book. You can snap up savings and better accommodations.
And now for the Back Story on …
The making of a telling photo
A photograph that ran in The Times recently has come to symbolize the destruction wrought by the wildfires in Australia. Matthew Abbott, a photographer based there, was vacationing in the country’s southeast with his family the day he accepted an assignment from The Times and took the picture. Here is an edited excerpt from his account of how it happened.
The fire that hit Lake Conjola was one of the biggest. So I headed there on the highway.
It was mayhem. People were clearly frightened. Some had their possessions with them. Down the road, in Conjola Park, every house was burning. It was catastrophic.
In the town of Lake Conjola, there was a stretch of about four or five homes, with one engulfed in flames. The neighbors on each side were trying to hose down their own houses. They were using their shirts as masks because there was smoke everywhere.
A little after 1 p.m., a power line to the burning house fell. It was then that I saw a group of kangaroos coming up the middle of the road, obviously running from another fire. And one ran right between me and the house. I reacted and raised the camera so I could compose that one image.
I remembered thinking, Yeah, got it, good shot, but I never allow myself to get too excited about a photo in the middle of something.
A photojournalist is trying to tell the story with pictures, and you need a series of strong images. You’re looking to document everything that’s happening. So I kept moving.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the second of a two-part series about the Harvey Weinstein case.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Mars, Mercury and Neptune (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• To create some sense of routine and a chance for reflection in a year of expansive traveling, our 52 Places columnist sent himself a postcard from each of the places he visited last year.