Infrastructure, France, ‘Follies’: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.,


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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Credit…Zack DeZon for The New York Times

1. $2 trillion for America’s bridges, roads, rail lines and utilities.

President Biden unveiled his plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and create jobs, in a proposal that would push federal investment in those areas to levels not seen since the 1960s. The plan would also address climate change with a shift to clean energy and would be paid for with 15 years of higher taxes on corporations.

Among the proposals: Modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads; repair 10,000 bridges; and build a network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers. Here’s what’s in the plan. Above, under the F.D.R. in New York City.

“It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Mr. Biden said. “It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America.”

House Democrats hope to adopt it by July 4, but Republicans are already unloading a torrent of objections to the package’s scope. One question unanswered in Mr. Biden’s climate plan: Whose home will, or won’t, be saved from rising sea levels?

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Credit…Shawn Rocco/Duke Health, via Associated Press

2. A Pfizer-BioNTech trial found the vaccine to be extremely effective in 12- to 15-year-olds.

No infections were found among children who received the vaccine, the companies reported. Depending on regulatory approval, vaccinations could begin for many students before the start of the next academic year.

Johnson & Johnson doses from a Baltimore plant are on hold after about 15 million doses were ruined by a factory mix-up. Federal officials attributed the mistake to human error. It does not affect Johnson & Johnson doses that are currently being delivered and used nationwide.


Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

3. France will enter a third national lockdown in a move to halt a new wave of coronavirus infections.

President Emmanuel Macron announced that schools would be closed for three weeks as part of the new restrictions. In January, Mr. Macron rebuffed his advisers and opted against more restrictions, betting that vaccinations would curb the pandemic. But with infections rising sharply across the country, hospitals in Paris overflowing and a slow vaccine rollout, he was left with little choice. Above, outside the Louvre today.

The E.U., facing criticism for its sluggish vaccine campaign, vowed to speed up distribution and set a goal to have enough doses to cover 70 percent of the bloc’s population by July.


Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

4. Day 3 of the Derek Chauvin trial offered new glimpses of George Floyd’s final hour.

Prosecutors showed chilling video from police body cameras of the last moments of Mr. Floyd’s life. He sobs and screams in terror throughout much of the footage, and at no point does he appear to pose any threat to the officers. “Don’t shoot me,” Mr. Floyd says repeatedly.

Christopher Martin, a teenage store clerk who first confronted Mr. Floyd about his use of a fake $20 bill, which subsequently led to a call to the police, said he had felt “disbelief and guilt” after Mr. Floyd’s death in police custody.

“If I would’ve just not taken the bill, this could’ve been avoided,” Mr. Martin testified. He was one of a handful of witnesses to testify today, and several of them broke down in tears. A juror briefly halted today’s trial, experiencing a “stress-related reaction.”

Prosecutors also played previously unseen surveillance video from inside Cup Foods, above, in an effort to show the minor nature of the crime Mr. Floyd was accused of committing.


Credit…Sara Naomi Lewkowicz for The New York Times

5. After years of stalled attempts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana in New York State.

Under the measure, 40 percent of the tax revenue from marijuana sales will go to minority communities ravaged by the war on drugs, and people with certain marijuana-related convictions will have their records expunged immediately. Here’s what it means for New Yorkers.

New York is the 15th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Earlier today, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia asked lawmakers to legalize marijuana beginning July 1, rather than at the start of 2024. Voters in Arizona, in a November referendum, approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.


Credit…Pool photo by Dario Lopez-Mills

6. New photos show migrant children and families sleeping on mats in an overcrowded border tent camp.

The facility at Donna, Texas, designed for 250 people, now holds more than 4,100. About 3,300 of them are children who have crossed the border without parents or guardians.

The camp has become a focal point of the Biden administration’s struggle to absorb a surge of new arrivals on the southwestern border. Transfers from the border are not keeping up with the pace of arrivals; children have been entering the country at the rate of 500 a day.


Credit…Maria Magdalena Arrellaga for The New York Times

7. More than 10 million acres of tropical forest were destroyed last year, an increase of 12 percent from 2019.

The loss added more than two and a half billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, about twice as much as is spewed into the air by cars in the U.S. every year, according to the World Resources Institute. Brazil, above, once again led the world in the destruction of forests, by a wide margin.

The decline of primary old-growth tropical forest, which plays a critical role in keeping carbon out of the atmosphere and in maintaining biodiversity, came despite the global economic downturn caused by the pandemic, which reduced demand for some commodities that have spurred deforestation in the past.


Credit…Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

8. Amsterdam is bracing for the hordes of returning tourists.

When international travel came to a halt last year, Amsterdam was one of many cities drained of tourists overnight, much to the delight of many residents. Now efforts to rein in the expected post-pandemic crowds are ramping up, with restrictions on short-term rentals, sex tourism and cannabis sales to visitors. But not without controversy.

In Spain, domestic travel restrictions do not apply to visitors from abroad, underlining the trouble European nations face in balancing public health and economic recovery.

Perhaps you find yourself daydreaming about New Orleans. Our travel writer has tips to help you pretend you’re in the Crescent City, right from home.


Credit…Johan Persson

9. Fifty years ago, “Follies” upended Broadway by conjuring the bittersweet reunion of aging showgirls. Musical theater has not been the same since.

So what makes “Follies,” created by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman, a classic? “In its seriousness and cleverness, in its matching of style to substance, in its use of a medium to comment on itself, it has hardly ever been bettered,” writes our theater critic Jesse Green.

When Ben Brantley, the former co-chief theater critic, first saw “Follies” when he was 16, he didn’t know what had hit him — or would keep hitting him for 50 years.

“Follies” is every musical theater nerd’s favorite casting puzzle. Here’s who our critics think should be cast in the next revival, including Ben Platt, Bernadette Peters and Beyonce.


Credit…Douglas W. Tallamy

10. And finally, magnificent trees.

Time to test your nature knowledge: What very large, long-lived tree supports more life-forms than any other in North America? The answer is oak. Its size and its longevity are just two factors among several that help explain the oak’s power.

Oak trees support 97 caterpillar species in the U.S., and one oak can produce three million acorns in its lifetime. Birds tend to forage longer in them, too. As one entomologist told our garden expert, Margaret Roach, “A yard without oaks is a yard meeting only a fraction of its life-support potential.”

Ms. Roach has been providing gardening advice to readers for the past year. I recently spoke to her about her “part Buddhist retreat, part science laboratory” approach to gardening.

Have a lush evening.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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