FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

Donald Trump’s acquittal in his second Senate impeachment trial has triggered friction and recrimination within the Republican party between lawmakers who want to break from the former president and those who still embrace his brand of politics.

Trump was exonerated on Saturday even after seven Republican senators voted to convict him of inciting an insurrection that led to last month’s deadly assault on the US Capitol.

Under the US constitution, two-thirds of the Senate was needed to find him guilty in order for him to be convicted. But the final 57-43 vote has revealed serious tensions within the Republican party over how to recover from their recent election losses.

After voting to acquit Trump of inciting an insurrection, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell hinted that the former president’s legal woes were far from over.

He echoed other Republican senators, including Florida’s Marco Rubio, who have suggested Trump could soon face charges in criminal or civil courts relating to the January 6 siege on the US Capitol. (FT)

Coronavirus digest

The White House and the UK have called on China to hand over data from the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic and expressed “deep concerns” about a World Health Organization fact-finding mission to Wuhan.

Auckland will go into lockdown for three days after the discovery of three local coronavirus cases.

Australian authorities ordered a five-day lockdown of Melbourne on Friday to tackle a fast-spreading Covid-19 outbreak. The Australian Open has continued without spectators.

Boris Johnson on Sunday said the UK had vaccinated more than 15m people, as MPs apply pressure on the government to lift the lockdown by the end of April. 

Argentina’s vice-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner wants to postpone a crucial $44bn debt deal with the IMF until the pandemic has eased. (FT, Politico, BBC)

The US seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases on Sunday was under six digits for the first time since November 2. Follow the latest with our live blog.

In the news

Myanmar junta deploy night-time arrests Myanmar’s military junta has escalated night-time arrests of opponents, reviving a tactic from the country’s old military regime that human rights groups said was designed to instil fear following the coup on February 1. Internet access was largely cut off early Monday amid fears of a crackdown on protesters. (FT, Al Jazeera)

On Friday, the military granted amnesty to more than 23,000 prisoners, in a move Amnesty International called a “sideshow” to distract from the military’s “daily trampling of human rights”.

Police leave a neighbourhood in Myanmar after being pushed out by local residents © AFP via Getty Images

Indian police arrest environmentalist linked to Thunberg A 21-year-old environmentalist has been arrested in India after allegedly using social media to mobilise support for protesting farmers by sharing a campaign “toolkit” promoted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. (FT)

ByteDance ditches deal with Oracle The Chinese owner of TikTok has reportedly shelved a deal to sell the video app’s US operations to Oracle following the White House departure of Donald Trump, who had pledged to ban the app over national security concerns. (SCMP)

HK to tighten money laundering checks on China officials The Hong Kong government has proposed changes to the requirements on financial institutions and advisers that would introduce checks on the bank accounts and transactions of politically connected people from mainland China. (FT)

Japan rocked by earthquake The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on Saturday was an aftershock of the 9.0 quake that hit the same region nearly 10 years earlier, according to the national Meteorological Agency. At least 48 people were injured but there were no significant casualties. (CNN)

A library staff member restores books after they fell from book shelves during an earthquake in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture
A library staff member restores books after they fell from book shelves during an earthquake in Fukushima prefecture, Japan © REUTERS

UK proposes ban on China, Russia defence investments China and Russia should be barred from investing in the UK defence supply chain, MPs have warned, as pressure mounts for the government to take a more assertive stance on potential threats posed by Beijing and Moscow in the forthcoming defence and foreign policy review. (FT)

Draghi sworn in as Italian prime minister A short oath delivered at the presidential palace in Rome on Saturday completed Mario Draghi’s transformation from central bank chief to front-line politician. The former ECB chief has selected a diverse cabinet as he begins to address twin health and economic emergencies. (FT)

China’s box office roars while Hollywood remains on mute The pandemic has brought a striking divergence between Hollywood and China, which toppled the US last year as the biggest moneymaker in box-office sales. By 7pm on Friday in Beijing, China’s box office had already made Rmb1.7bn ($260m) in sales, according to booking service Maoyan, while the majority of cinemas remain closed in North America. (FT)

 Cinema-goers on hold

The days ahead

Japan growth figures The country’s preliminary GDP figures for the fourth quarter of 2020 are set to be released on Monday, when the economy could emerge from its state of emergency. (Bloomberg)

WHO vaccine listing The World Health Organization is likely to issue an emergency use listing for the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine this week, possibly as early as Monday. FT’s Hannah Kuchler and Clive Cookson answered your questions on vaccines on Friday. (FT)

UK hotel quarantine All passengers arriving into England from a list of 33 high-risk “red list” countries must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days from Monday, amid growing concerns among ministers over new variants of coronavirus first identified abroad. (FT)

US financial markets are closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday and China is shut until Thursday for the lunar new year.

What else we’re reading

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Nigerian powerhouse to head the WTO As she prepares to take up the role of director-general of the World Trade Organization, Okonjo-Iweala sees an opportunity for the organisation to rediscover some of its original purpose of raising living standards and to bring its outdated rule book up to date at a time of accelerating change. (FT)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala © AFP via Getty Images

Bitcoin’s rise reflects America’s decline The rise in popularity of highly volatile cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin could simply be seen as a speculative sign of this US Federal Reserve-enabled froth, writes Rana Foroohar. But it might better be interpreted as an early signal of a new world order in which the US and the dollar will play a less important role. (FT)

Lunch with the FT: North Korean defector Tae Yong-ho “A very small spark” is all it would take to topple Kim Jong Un, the former North Korean diplomat told the FT’s Edward White over lunch in South Korea, where he now resides. “[L]ike what happened at the Arab Spring.” (FT)

The struggle for women’s rights in the Arab world Activists are trying to challenge predatory behaviour 10 years after regional uprisings raised hopes of substantial change. The horrific details of a woman who was allegedly raped at the luxury Fairmont hotel in Cairo in 2014 illustrate the obstacles in the path of change. (FT)

Egyptian women protest against sexual harassment in Cairo in June 2014 © Amr Nabil/AP
Egyptian women protest against sexual harassment in Cairo in June 2014 © Amr Nabil/AP

Why students are in revolt The pandemic has reignited disputes over the cost and value of higher education, as students fight for rent reductions to university-owned accommodation. Young people, many of whom have been hard hit by economic setbacks, have felt despair deepen as the Covid-19 crisis drags on. (FT, NYT)

The ticking time bomb inside the new world of work In a post-Covid world, there is a looming “discrimination crisis” if workers are allowed to work at home as often as they please, writes Pilita Clark. Employers may avoid lawsuits by laying down rules about when we need to be in the office. Plus, Jo Ellison writes about the wisdom of terrible career advice. (FT)

Are you a working parent? How has the pandemic affected you? As part of an FT reporting project, we want to know how it has been for you. Your participation will be integral to our reporting.

Video of the day

How strong is the commodities rally? Wall Street banks are telling clients to increase their exposure to raw materials. The FT’s US finance editor Robert Armstrong assesses the recent commodities boom and asks whether the fundamentals justify the recent price rises. (FT)

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