Fourth Wave, Matt Gaetz, Lil Nas X: Your Tuesday 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.
1. After weeks of decline followed by a plateau, the U.S. is seeing a rise in coronavirus cases again.
Over the past week, there has been an average of 65,382 cases per day, an increase of 19 percent from the average two weeks earlier. States like Florida and Texas, both overwhelmed by the virus, have removed mask mandates and precautions most experts still call necessary. This is adding urgency to getting more Americans vaccinated before worrisome variants spread into a possible fourth wave of infections.
A total of 39 states are set to open eligibility for the Covid-19 vaccine to all adults by mid-April, with Arkansas, Delaware and Wisconsin the latest to join the list. Federal health officials are pleading with Americans to stay vigilant. Above, a mass vaccination site in Louisville, Ky.
Coronavirus testing remains essential, and individuals are typically protected from costs. But an elite New York City hospital repeatedly billed patients more than $3,000 for Covid tests, about 30 times the normal cost.
2. Young witnesses took the stand on the second day of the Derek Chauvin trial.
Darnella Frazier, the teenager who took the video of Mr. Chauvin arresting George Floyd, held back tears as she described arriving on the scene and seeing him “terrified, scared, begging for his life.” The widely seen footage of the former Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck during the arrest, along with the precise cause of death, has emerged as key to the arguments.
3. Representative Matt Gaetz is said to be under investigation over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him.
The Justice Department is examining whether Mr. Gaetz, a Florida Republican and a close ally of Donald Trump, violated federal sex trafficking laws, people briefed on the matter said. It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing.
The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration by former Attorney General William Barr. It was part of a broader investigation of a political ally of Mr. Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on several charges including the sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.
4. As President Biden prepares to announce his big infrastructure plan on Wednesday, one group is fighting for inclusion: mothers.
The package is expected to include significant child care aid, on top of the financial support for families outlined in the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. But for many mothers who have been hit hard by the pandemic, like Bridget Hughes, above, there are no real feelings of relief yet, and resentment lingers that the government is helping too late. Both political parties are now trying to court them.
And with a burst of judicial nominations, Mr. Biden began a drive to reshape the federal judiciary. The president’s first choices reflected his campaign promise to choose judges from diverse backgrounds, including public defenders.
5. An attack in Manhattan on a 65-year-old woman is the latest in a surge of anti-Asian violence.
The N.Y.P.D. said it was searching for a man who kicked the woman to the ground in broad daylight on a Midtown Manhattan sidewalk, stomped on her several times and made anti-Asian remarks. Building staff members who witnessed the attack and did not intervene have been suspended.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the video of the attack was “absolutely disgusting and outrageous” and that it was “absolutely unacceptable” that no one stepped in or came to the woman’s aid.
The assault on the woman came as hate crimes investigators were looking into the subway beating of a man on the same day.
6. Peace deal or not, the Taliban think they have already won the war.
From the bellicose speech of their deputy leader, boasting of “conquests,” to sneering references to the “foreign masters” of the “illegitimate” Kabul government, the Taliban’s swagger is shaping Afghanistan’s volatile present.
The grim sense of Taliban supremacy is hanging over talks scheduled for next month in Turkey. The Taliban are showing little outward interest in compromise, or in going along with the American idea of power-sharing.
7. The Suez Canal blockage showed that bigger is not always better.
The Ever Given, a ship longer than the Empire State Building and capable of carrying furnishings for 20,000 apartments, may finally be sailing again, but it was part of a growing trend in how ships were built: As global trade has grown, shipping companies have steadily increased ship sizes.
The growth in ship size, which sped up in recent years, often made economic sense — bigger vessels are generally cheaper to build and operate on a per container basis. But the increase has pitted port against port, canal against canal, in the race to accommodate mammoth ships.
8. The Final Four will be settled tonight.
In the women’s basketball tournament, Texas will play South Carolina and Louisville faces off against Stanford. The winners will join UConn, which secured its 13th consecutive trip to the Final Four last night, above, and Arizona.
U.S.C. will play Gonzaga and U.C.L.A. will play Michigan for a spot in the men’s college basketball semifinals. The winners will join Houston and Baylor, which is heading to the Final Four for the first time since 1950.
The N.C.A.A. is under increasing scrutiny on Capitol Hill, and tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear the association’s appeal in a case about caps on certain benefits for student-athletes. The pressure for college sports to change is bound to intensify.
9. Lil Nas X has engineered a good old-fashioned moral panic, our music critic writes.
Since the release four days ago of his new single “Montero,” the 21-year-old rapper has been using Twitter to bait critics and swat them away, including Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Nike and Fox News.
“Montero” — a frisky song about lust featured in a campy erotica video where Lil Nas X gives Satan a lap dance before killing him — may or may not top the Billboard Hot 100 next week, but it will be unrivaled in conversations started.
“The true art here isn’t the music,” Jon Caramanica writes, adding that though it’s one of his better songs, “it’s the effortlessness, the ease, the joy of his reactions to the reactions.”
10. And finally, tiny sea creatures are ready for their close-up.
One of the largest migrations of organisms on the planet takes place every evening as larval fish and invertebrates rise from the depths to the surface. A growing group of hobbyists are there to take their picture — and help scientists by offering new insights into fish larvae.
In what is known as blackwater photography, divers plunge deep into the ocean during nighttime to a place where “there’s no bottom, no walls, just this space that goes to infinity,” as one photographer put it. Many of the larvae are no bigger than a fingernail. But up close through macro lenses, the scene is like an undersea safari on another planet.
“The No. 1 thing people, even scientists, ask is: ‘What the hell is that?'” said Ned DeLoach, an experienced underwater photographer.
Have an otherworldly night.