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Booster Shots, Alec Baldwin, M.L.B. Playoffs: Your Weekend Briefing

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Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.

1. Tens of millions of Americans are now cleared to get booster shots for all three Covid-19 vaccines offered in the U.S.

Among those who received two doses of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine six or more months ago, here’s who is eligible for a booster right now: people 65 and older; those 18 and older who live in long-term care; and those 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions or work or live in high-risk settings. For those who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, anyone 18 and older who was vaccinated two or more months ago is eligible. (Read the C.D.C.’s full guidelines).

3. Two months after the evacuation of 80,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover, most evacuees have cleared vetting for admission into the U.S. But dozens have been red-flagged and are now in limbo.

Though the flagged evacuees helped America during its 20-year war in Afghanistan, screenings uncovered apparent records of violent crime or links to Islamist militants that follow-up evaluations have not cleared, officials said. The military transferred most of them to a NATO base in Kosovo, but because many will be barred from the U.S., the Biden administration has been meeting to determine what to do with them.

In Kabul, the Taliban brought together families of suicide bombers at a publicized event, praising their actions while alienating those who have suffered at their hands. It seemed to be an effort to appease the aggrieved families of the bombers and an overt attempt to rewrite the history of the war.


4. Internal Facebook documents show that employees repeatedly warned of misinformation about the 2020 election. Executives have placed blame elsewhere.

Company documents obtained by The Times revealed the degree to which Facebook knew of extremist movements on its site that were trying to polarize American voters before and after the election, but failed or struggled to address the issues. “Enforcement was piecemeal,” read one internal review in March of Facebook’s response to Stop the Steal groups, which contended that the election was rigged.

6. “Hamilton” restaged a scene. “The Lion King” removed references with potential racial overtones. “The Book of Mormon” made a series of alterations.

As Broadway shows resume after the long pandemic shutdown, some of the biggest plays and musicals are reconsidering their content midrun to reflect concerns that intensified after last year’s wave of protests against racism and police misconduct. They took advantage of an unexpected window of time in which rewriting was possible, and re-rehearsing was necessary.

Separately, when residents of Franklin, Tenn., were not able to have a Confederate monument removed, they came up with a provocative response: a new bronze statue honoring Black soldiers who served in the Civil War.


7. An astronaut is breaking China’s gender barriers in space while facing an undercurrent of sexism on the ground.

Col. Wang Yaping is a space veteran, and in the coming weeks, she is set to be the first Chinese woman to walk in space. But as she began a six-month mission last week, officials made it known that they had supplied the space station with sanitary napkins and makeup. The media questioned her about the daughter she had left behind. The discourse is the latest example of the sexist overtones that course through Chinese society.

In other space news, on a special zero-gravity flight last week, a dozen passengers with disabilities proved they could go to space safely. For some passengers, it was the first time in their lives that they were able to stand.


8. The World Series matchup is settled: The Houston Astros will play the Atlanta Braves. Game 1 is on Tuesday.

Atlanta rode a surprising group of trade deadline acquisitions to a pennant, outlasting the 106-win Dodgers for their first World Series appearance since 1999. They’ll play the Astros, who will make their third World Series appearance in five years. Stained by a cheating scandal, Houston’s core stuck together, outlasting the Boston Red Sox in pursuit of another ring.

Later this morning, one of the greatest rivalries in sports — when war off the field allows it — will face off: India and Pakistan play in the cricket World Cup. They play at 10 a.m. Eastern.


9. Welcome, Instant Pot season.

When Melissa Clark first wrote about Instant Pots in 2017, she saw the electric pressure cooker with “the ardor of new love.” After hundreds of meals, she has a few tips to share: play to its strengths with dishes that traditionally need long, slow cooking; lock the lid; salt your beans; and clean that smelly seal.

Yewande Komolafe is dedicated to a different kitchen tool: the mortar and pestle. Grinding and pounding aromatics by hand can yield textures and flavors that are full of nuance. She uses her asanka, a traditional Ghanaian earthenware mortar lined with thin grooves, and a two-sided wooden pestle, to make this roast fish recipe.


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