Johnson & Johnson, India, Mushrooms: Your Weekend Briefing
Here’s what you need to know about the week’s top stories.,
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Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.
1. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is back in the mix.
States across the country resumed administering Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines on Saturday, at sites including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, above, a day after the F.D.A. lifted its temporary pause over concerns about extremely rare blood clots. The single-shot vaccine now comes with a warning label about the disorder, which has been identified in 15 people out of the nearly eight million doses given out.
The label notes that “most cases” of the clotting disorder have occurred in women between 18 and 49 years old.
As Johnson & Johnson shots are distributed again, a new worry about the two other federally authorized vaccines has emerged: Nearly 8 percent of those who got initial Pfizer or Moderna shots missed their second doses. In some cases, problems with shipments or scheduling may be playing a role.
2. India now accounts for nearly half of all new Covid cases in a global surge. But experts say the number is just a fraction of the virus’s real reach in the country.
As Indian officials reported nearly 350,000 new infections on Saturday, a world record, hospitals are unbearably full, oxygen supplies are dangerously low and people are dying in line waiting to see doctors. The sudden surge in recent weeks has cast doubt on India’s official Covid-19 death toll of nearly 200,000. Reports from cremation grounds, above, suggest a far greater number.
India’s crisis is wreaking havoc on the global vaccination effort, especially in Africa, after the government in Delhi restricted exports of doses to deal with its own outbreak. Now the U.S. is under pressure to release vaccine supplies that Indian vaccine makers say they need to expand production.
3. President Biden’s climate goals carry a big risk — or a big potential payoff.
Scientists say that his pledge to cut America’s climate warming emissions in half by 2030 is technologically feasible and ecologically imperative. The speed of the economic transition away from fossil fuels, however, risks exposing vulnerabilities in the nation’s electricity system and unsettling its transportation sector. But the rewards could be high: lower risk of catastrophic climate change, new jobs and renewed global leadership for American companies.
Separately, a major U.N. report to be released next month will declare that slashing emissions of methane, the main component of natural gas, is far more vital than previously thought to ward off the worst effects of climate change.
4. The coronavirus sent the world economy into a tailspin, and yet, the chief executives at some of the hardest-hit companies were showered with riches.
Hundreds of companies awarded their leaders pay packages worth significantly more than most Americans will make in their entire lives. C.E.O.s of big companies now make, on average, 320 times as much as typical workers at their companies, according to one analysis. For executives who own large stakes in giant companies, the gains have been even more pronounced.
The Biden administration is trying to narrow the wealth gap through big spending programs, including the $1.9 trillion stimulus and the $2.3 trillion infrastructure packages. The measures are explicitly meant to help left-behind workers and communities of color — and they would be funded, in part, by taxes on the rich.
5. For generations, the American criminal justice system has operated by an old playbook in cases of police violence. The case of George Floyd upended that.
Instead of dissecting his background, Floyd was presented as a full person. Derek Chauvin, who declined to take the stand and was convicted in Floyd’s murder, remained an aloof figure, shown on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes.
Some prosecutors saw Chauvin’s trial as a turning point in how Black victims are portrayed. Others found it to be an exception.
We’re also watching developments out of Elizabeth City, N.C., where seven sheriff’s deputies were put on leave after they shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man, on Wednesday. The governor called for the release of body-camera footage.
6. President Biden recognized the killing of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, equating the violence with the scale of those committed in Nazi-occupied Europe, Cambodia and Rwanda.
The declaration by Biden, on the 106th anniversary of a brutal campaign by the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, reflected his administration’s commitment to human rights. Above, a memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, on Friday.
Biden’s predecessors have been reluctant to anger Turkey, whose leaders have denied that the killings amounted to genocide. The Turkish government, as well as human rights activists and ethnic Armenians, described the move as largely symbolic.
7. Scott Rudin, the powerful Broadway and Hollywood producer, was known for his eye for talent and his vile temper. Now he is facing a reckoning.
An article this month in The Hollywood Reporter detailing his long history of bullying led Rudin to announce that he would step back from “active participation” in his projects. To gain a fuller picture of how he used and abused power at all levels, Times reporters interviewed dozens of people in the entertainment industry who had worked with Rudin.
Former employees said he had thrown things at walls, at windows, at the ground and, occasionally, toward subordinates. Screaming and swearing were routine. His comeuppance arrives as the industry looks to shape its post-pandemic future.
8. Call it the ‘shroom boom.
Mushrooms are showing up in all sorts of wellness products — coffee for immune support, hot chocolate to help you focus and supplements for inflammation — pushing them into the mainstream and turning them into a major force in the flourishing, multibillion-dollar wellness market.
Psychedelic mushrooms are also on investors’ minds. So far, regulators in the U.S. and Canada are taking baby steps toward allowing limited use of psychedelic mushrooms for treatment of certain mental health conditions (Oregon became the first state to do so in November). But in the past year, more than 20 companies focused on psychedelics have gone public.
9. Pro tip: Don’t forget the mulch.
Margaret Roach, our garden expert, has two pieces of advice when visiting a garden center: Proceed at your own risk and take a list. After all, there’s a reason the garden industry affectionately refers to this time of year as the “100 days of hell.”
Before you go plant shopping, Roach suggests looking out the window and thinking about how to enhance the view; write down what you look forward to in the garden during each month of the year; and think about shoulder season elements, like winterberry hollies, above. Here are some of her other tips.
If you’re heading outside with friends today, these 12 recipes are great for outdoor hangs.
10. And finally, catch up on some great journalism.
How to trick yourself into liking running. One of the world’s oldest science experiments, above. Seth Rogen on his secret to happiness. All these and more in the latest edition of The Weekender.
Our editors also suggest these 11 new books, Weezer’s rock’ n’ roll nostalgia trip and “A Black Lady Sketch Show” on HBO. If you’re having a lazy Sunday, catch up on Oscar-nominated films before tonight’s awards show. Here’s how to watch.
Did you follow the news this week? Test your knowledge. And here’s the the Sunday Review from Opinion and today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.