US briefing: remembering Kobe Bryant, Grammys and John Bolton's book

Tim Walker
Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

LA pays tribute to NBA great and daughter killed in crash

Basketball players and fans, figures from sports, entertainment and politics are in mourning following the death in a helicopter crash of Kobe Bryant, the 41-year-old NBA legend described by Magic Johnson as the “greatest Laker of all time”. Eight others died in the accident on Sunday, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, herself a promising basketball talent. Bryant, writes Gabriel Baumgaertner, was “a titanic figure who inspired a generation”.

Billie Eilish wins big at Grammys overshadowed by tragedy

Eilish, 18, who went home with five Grammys including album of the year. Photograph: Rachel Luna/FilmMagic

Eighteen-year-old Billie Eilish was the biggest winner at Sunday night’s Grammys, taking home five awards including best new artist, album of the year and song of the year for Bad Guy. But the ceremony, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles – Bryant’s sporting home – was a more somber affair than usual, marked by tributes to the late Lakers star and to the rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot dead in LA last April. Here’s the full list of winners.

  • Academy row. This year’s Grammys were already mired in controversy over the recent suspension of Recording Academy’s president, Deborah Dugan, following misconduct allegations, which she countered with her own legal complaint.

Bolton book ‘says Trump linked Ukraine aid to Biden inquiry’

Bolton’s book manuscript makes allegations that could transform the impeachment trial, according to the New York Times. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly claims in a new book that the president told him directly of his plan to delay military aid to the Ukraine until its government announced an investigation into his political rival, Joe Biden. A draft of the explosive book manuscript was obtained by the New York Times, and its revelations likely explain why the White House is so intent on preventing Bolton from testifying at the impeachment trial. Trump denies the claim.

WHO to meet in Beijing as coronavirus death toll jumps to 80

The World Health Organization is meeting officials in Beijing on Monday to discuss its response to the coronavirus outbreak, after the death toll from the disease rose to 80. More than 400 people are in a critical condition in China after being struck down by the virus, which experts warned may already have infected more than 100,000 people worldwide. Two cases were confirmed in California and Arizona on Sunday, bringing the total in the US to five.

  • Simple precautions. The WHO has offered some basic advice on how to protect yourself from the coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

Cheat sheet


David Schwimmer: ‘I don’t want to do anything for the money’

As he prepares to launch a new sitcom, David Schwimmer tells David Smith he has come to terms with the idea that he’ll always be best known as Ross from Friends. “The older I get and the more my perspective shifts,” he says, “the more you realise just how good you had it.”

Why US maternity policy stretches women to the limit

The US is one of the only developed countries in the world that offers new mothers not a single day of national paid maternity leave. Miranda Bryant talks to the women who “risked their lives” by returning to work just two weeks after their children were born.

Should architects work for repressive regimes?

Despots have always used grand building projects to glorify their ideologies. As the progressive architect Bjarke Ingels pursues projects in Saudi Arabia and Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Oliver Wainwright asks him whether he ought to be taking such controversial commissions.

Bolivian Christians claim credit for ousting Morales

Bolivia’s fast-growing religious right has claimed the removal of the socialist leader Evo Morales was a result of divine intervention. But others are concerned that Bolivia’s status as a secular state is under threat, as Tom Phillips reports from El Alto.


The son of German Jews, Jason Stanley grew up in the shadow of Auschwitz. But as the world marks the 75th anniversary of its liberation, his parents’ experience shows that the horrors of the Holocaust did not begin and end in the death camp.

My parents’ scars come from an early fear of having to hide, of having the wrong papers. They remember how they were described in the press and by the leaders – as criminals, as fundamental threats, as non-humans. They remember the rough treatment from official bureaucracies. They remember the family separations.


John McEnroe has described Margaret Court as the “crazy aunt” of tennis over her controversial views on homosexuality and race. In a video posted to Twitter, McEnroe begged Serena Williams to win two more grand slams and break Court’s all-time record of 24, as the Australian marks 50 years since her calendar grand slam.

Liverpool, the apparently invincible Premier League leaders, were humbled on Sunday evening after drawing 2-2 in the FA Cup fourth round against a little-fancied League One side, Shrewsbury Town.

Sign up

The US morning briefing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.