Vaccines, Georgia, Beverly Cleary: Your Friday 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…Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Associated Press

1. States are racing to vaccinate as many people as possible as the coronavirus infection curve continues its plateau for a third week.

At least 34 states are giving all adults vaccine access by mid-April, and at least 14 more have announced plans to expand eligibility on or before May 1, a goal set by President Biden. Track your state here. Above, a vaccine clinic in Coraopolis, Pa.

The expansion comes at a critical juncture. The U.S. is logging more than 54,000 new cases per day, a level that health experts warn could rapidly escalate into a new wave.

As U.S. manufacturers hit their stride, vaccine scarcity will soon turn to glut. And then there’s the battle against disinformation: Far-right extremist groups have shifted their focus from “stop the steal” to bashing the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.

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Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

2. Donald Trump is gone from the White House, but Georgia’s crackdown on ballot access proves that his brand of politics remains a political force.

The sweeping bill to restrict voting access, passed by Georgia Republicans on Thursday, was very much in line with Mr. Trump’s false claims that expanded voter access had led to widespread fraud, and, in turn, his defeat. For a second day, President Biden condemned the law and called it “an atrocity.”

A Democratic state legislator was arrested after she lightly knocked on Gov. Brian Kemp’s door as he was signing the bill. Above, protesters in Atlanta on Thursday.

Separately, Fox News is facing a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over its coverage of the 2020 election. It was previously sued for $2.7 billion by Smartmatic, another voting technology company.


Credit…Khaled Elfiqi/EPA, via Shutterstock

3. With the Suez Canal still blocked by one of the world’s largest container vessels, ships began rerouting around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, which could add weeks to a vessel’s journey.

There are growing signs that efforts to dislodge the ship, Ever Given, may take many days if not weeks. More than 100 vessels are stuck at either end of the canal, above, awaiting clear passage. The fact that one mishap could sow fresh chaos from Los Angeles to Rotterdam to Shanghai underscored the world’s reliance on vulnerable global supply chains.

By land, Egypt is dealing with another crisis: Two trains collided near the city of Sohag, killing at least 32 people and injuring more than 160 when several passenger cars overturned, officials said.


Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

4. We’re still learning more about the fallout from the crippling winter storm that hit Texas last month.

At least 111 people died in the storm, state officials announced Thursday, nearly twice as many as officials had previously estimated. Deaths from the storm had many causes, but most of the victims died as a result of hypothermia.

And as the frigid temperatures froze pipelines and triggered widespread blackouts, drilling companies in the state’s largest oil field were forced to burn off 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas in a single day — enough to power 10,000 homes for at least a year. As the state’s power plants went offline and pipelines froze, there was no place to send the gas coming out of the ground, and it had to be set ablaze.


Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

5. Since enacting a national security law last June, the authorities in Hong Kong have moved to quash dissent in the political and educational spheres. Now they’re coming for the arts.

Pro-Beijing lawmakers have called for work by the dissident artist Ai Weiwei to be removed from the M+ museum, slated to open later this year, and a prominent lawmaker said the government should review parts of the museum’s collection, which she described as spreading “hatred” against China. State-owned newspapers have also urged the government to revoke funding from local arts organizations. Above, the temporary venue for M+ in 2017.

“It is possible that artists, especially those who are really critical of society and the political system, won’t be able to get enough resources,” an arts educator said. “They’ll have to go underground.”


Credit…Michael Thomas/Associated Press

6. The N.C.A.A.’s budget for its men’s basketball tournament was nearly double that of its women’s event in 2019, newly revealed financial data shows.

According to a summary prepared by the N.C.A.A., the association budgeted $28 million for the 2019 men’s championship, a 68-team, 67-game tournament that was played in major cities nationwide. The N.C.A.A. budgeted $14.5 million for the women’s championship, a 63-game competition that was also staged across the country.

The gap will assuredly drive questions about the organization’s commitment to gender equity, which has come under fire in recent weeks over its management of this year’s tournaments. The tournaments vary substantially in their formats and popularity, and N.C.A.A. executives insist that those differences necessarily account for their budgeting decisions.

The tournaments move to the Sweet 16 this weekend. Here’s what to watch for from the women’s and the men’s teams.


Credit…Peter DaSilva

7. Remembering two literary giants.

Beverly Cleary, whose children’s books were beloved by tens of millions of young readers, died at 104. With characters like Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, Ramona Quimby and her older sister Beezus, and other residents of Klickitat Street, Ms. Cleary constructed a world that children recognized — and one that changed with the times.

And Larry McMurtry, the prolific novelist and screenwriter known for “Lonesome Dove” and “Terms of Endearment,” died at 84. Mr. McMurtry demythologized the American West in dozens of novels, essays, memoirs and history, as well as more than 30 screenplays, including “Brokeback Mountain,” adapted from Annie Proulx’s short story. Here’s a look at the trove of work the Pulitzer Prize-winner left behind.


Credit…Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

8. Good news for the American bald eagle: The population of birds, once on the brink of extinction, has quadrupled since 2009 in the lower 48 states.

There were an estimated 316,700 bald eagles during the 2019 breeding season, according to a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, up from 72,000 ten years prior. Deb Haaland, the secretary of the Interior, said the results were “truly a historic conservation success story.”

The same can’t be said for Africa’s forest elephants, who have lost nearly nine-tenths of their number in a generation and are now critically endangered — just one step from extinction in the wild.


Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Susan Spungen.

9. Next year in Jerusalem? At the very least, anywhere but Zoom.

Another trip around the sun during Covid means another year of virtual Passover Seders and smaller gatherings. For the Food contributor Susan Spungen, it’s a good year to try something new and perhaps a bit more exciting than the usual. She developed five Seder dishes you’ll want to eat all the time, like coconut macaroons, above. And if you need more inspiration through out the holiday week, here are 18 recipes to brighten the table.

Here’s how to safely observe upcoming holidays like Passover, Easter and Ramadan.

And consider adding honey to your next evening cocktail. This sometimes overlooked pantry staple has been in the mixologist’s arsenal for generations.


Credit…The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

10. And finally, how do you complete Mozart?

It’s hard to imagine a more intimidating task for a musician. But that’s exactly what Timothy Jones, a Mozart expert who teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London, has done, completing violin sonata fragments that the composer left behind. Listen to them here.

Posthumous completions aren’t uncommon in classical music. But Mr. Jones’s latest effort comes with a twist: He made multiple completed versions of each fragment, each emphasizing different aspects of Mozart’s style.

“Putting the hubris aside,” Mr. Jones said, “I’d much rather Mozart had finished these pieces than I.”

Have a mellifluous weekend.

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