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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. How badly were states hit by the pandemic?
Republicans and Democrats wrangling over President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill have often clashed over how much aid states should get from the federal government. The president’s package contains $350 billion in new relief for state and local governments.
According to recent data, though, by some measures the states ended up collecting nearly as much revenue in 2020 as they did in 2019. One big reason: $600-a-week federal supplements to state unemployment benefits, along with other federal stimulus money.
Republican lawmakers are citing the findings as evidence that the states were doing just fine. On the other hand, Democrats have said states need relief, even if their revenues are resilient, because costs will spiral as schools reopen and vaccination programs roll out.
2. California agreed on a plan to encourage schools to reopen for six to 12 weeks of in-person class this year.
Lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the measures, which include $2 billion in incentives and fast-tracked coronavirus vaccinations to lure teachers back. Most of California’s six million school children have been receiving only remote instruction for the past year. Less than half of students in the U.S. are attending public schools in person. Above, a protest to reopen schools in Calabasas, Calif., today.
Also in California, Riverside County is the first in the nation to prioritize farm workers for Covid vaccination. Epidemiologists say such programs will need to expand to have any chance of ending one of the biggest threats to the stability of the country’s food supply.
In Gila County, Ariz., about 90 miles from Phoenix, any resident over the age of 18 can walk into a clinic without an appointment right now and get a vaccine. The county offers a glimpse of what the rest of the country could soon look like — when age and health status aren’t barriers to getting a Covid shot.
In Britain, which has a higher per capita virus death toll than any other large country, the government has laid out plans for a gradual reopening. But in the nation’s cramped intensive care wards, teeming with patients and doctors near despair, the battle is unrelenting. We report from behind the lines of Britain’s Covid war.
3. President Biden’s top immigration official said the government will consider allowing migrant families separated at the border to remain in the U.S. permanently.
But the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, above, stopped short of promising to give them a chance to become citizens.
The statement came as Mr. Biden prepared to speak by video conference with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, a pivotal driver of Trump-era immigration policies that Mr. Biden is trying to unwind.
Mr. Biden was expected to discuss the pandemic, drug trafficking and efforts to control migration. But he was not expected to demand specific actions of Mr. López Obrador, one of the last global leaders to congratulate Mr. Biden on his election victory.
4. “He has refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior.”
That was Charlotte Bennett, above, who has accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, in her first public comments since her allegations were published by The New York Times on Saturday.
She said that the New York governor’s response to her claims, and that of another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, indicated that he did not actually want the truth of his actions to be reported.
The state attorney general, Letitia James, has already begun the process of evaluating criteria for possible outside investigators to look into Mr. Cuomo’s actions and the state’s response.
5. Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation that would tax the wealthiest people in America.
A 2 percent tax would apply to individual net worth above $50 million, with an additional 1 percent surcharge on net worth above $1 billion. Polls have consistently shown her proposal supported by more than three in five Americans, including a majority of Republican voters.
But unlike Ms. Warren, above, President Biden pointedly did not endorse a wealth tax in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.
Speaking of wealth, the Oracle of Omaha isn’t taking as many risks as he used to. In Warren Buffett’s annual letter to investors over the weekend, the billionaire showed that his Berkshire Hathaway is spending more on smaller investments, as opposed to the huge acquisitions that he’s typically made.
It’s only the second time in modern French history that a former president has been convicted of a crime. The conviction does not bar Mr. Sarkozy, who still holds considerable sway among conservatives, from running for office, although he has not publicly expressed any such desire.
7. A digital arsenal of repression in Myanmar.
The Myanmar generals who staged a coup last month use surveillance drones, phone cracking devices and hacking software, some of it from Western countries that ban sales of such technology to the country.
Some of these technologies, tools of both legitimate law enforcement and repression, are being deployed by the military to target opponents of the Feb. 1 coup — a practice that is similar to actions taken against critics by China, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and other governments. Above, a protest against the coup on Friday.
Since the coup, security forces have killed at least 25 people and detained more than 1,100, including the ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Today, she was hit with new charges — making a statement that could alarm the public and inducing someone to act against the state — that could put her in prison for years.
8. “We’re taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach where all are welcome.”
That was Chris Palusky, above, the president of one of the largest adoption and foster care agencies in the U.S., Bethany Christian Services, in announcing that it will begin providing services to L.G.B.T.Q. parents nationwide.
The move is a significant departure for the 77-year-old Protestant organization, which previously referred openly gay prospective parents to other agencies in most states.
The decision also comes as more cities and states require organizations to accept applications from L.G.B.T.Q. couples or risk losing government contracts. Gay couples are far more likely than straight couples to adopt and foster children.
9. Streaming the Golden Globe winners.
The one benefit to an awards show during a pandemic year is that the winners are by and large available right now on various streaming services, particularly Netflix and Hulu.
10. And finally, check your dining room wall.
That’s where a New York City nurse rediscovered a long-lost painting by Jacob Lawrence, a leading modernist painter of the 20th century, that had disappeared from public view in 1960.
Odder still, it was the second such find in a matter of weeks — both of them on the walls of unrelated Upper West Side apartments a few blocks apart.
The two paintings are among the five missing panels in the 30-part “Struggle,” Lawrence’s 1954-56 series on the history of the American people. They have now been incorporated into the traveling exhibition “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle,” which opens this week at the Seattle Art Museum.
As for the three panels still at large? Just a thought: After leaving New York, the painter lived in Seattle for the last 30 years of his life.
Have a serendipitous evening.
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