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Vaccine Passports, Iran, Croissants: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Vaccine passports are emerging as the next coronavirus divide.

Businesses, schools and politicians are considering digital proof of vaccination against the coronavirus as a path to reviving the economy and getting Americans back to work and play. Experts say that requiring proof of vaccination is generally legal, but the idea is raising charged questions, and conservative politicians have turned the notion of passports into a cultural flash point. Above, a vaccination site in Miami on Monday.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas became the latest Republican governor to bar agencies and some businesses from requiring proof of vaccination. The World Health Organization, citing equity concerns, said it did not support mandatory proof of vaccination for international travel.

Separately, the biotech firm Emergent BioSolutions, which last week said it would throw out millions of contaminated vaccine doses at its Baltimore plant, has a history of ignoring errors in its factories, a Times investigation found.

2. Coronavirus variants have slowed U.S. progress against the pandemic, and cases are rising in most states.

Vaccinations have topped three million per day in the U.S., and new cases trended steeply downward in the first quarter of the year. Meanwhile, states rolled back virus control measures, people began socializing and traveling again, and cases are now rising where more-contagious variants have gained a foothold. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown.

A new study led by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many children who developed an inflammatory syndrome after a coronavirus infection never had classic Covid symptoms. Experts said pediatricians should be vigilant.


3. Democrats might not have the votes to gut the filibuster, but on Monday they were handed the procedural keys to a backdoor.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled that Democrats can reuse this year’s budget blueprint at least once to employ the fast-track reconciliation process, meaning they could avoid the infamous obstruction tactic and push through President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, among other spending and tax packages this year, without a single Republican vote. Above, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer.

It also means other initiatives could become filibuster-proof, but Democrats insist that they have made no decisions about how to use the tool.

In other political news, Arkansas lawmakers voted to override a veto from the governor and enact a law banning gender-affirming treatment for transgender minors.

4. Talks are underway in Vienna to try to bring both the U.S. and Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The negotiations, held through intermediaries, are intended to return strict controls of Iran’s nuclear enrichment to make sure that it cannot build a nuclear weapon. In exchange, the U.S. would lift punishing economic sanctions imposed by former President Donald J. Trump. U.S. officials estimate that the time necessary for Iran to assemble enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon is down to a few months.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, called the move an initial success, but cautioned that the “restoration” of the deal “will not happen immediately.”


5. The global economy is on firmer ground one year into the pandemic because of the rollout of vaccines, the International Monetary Fund said.

The international body now expects the global economy to expand by 6 percent this year, up from its previous projection of 5.5 percent, after a contraction of 3.3 percent in 2020. The emergence from the crisis is being led by the wealthiest countries, particularly the U.S., where the economy is now projected to expand by 6.4 percent this year.

But the recovery will be uneven around the world because of persistent inequality, and the unequal rollout of vaccines threatens to leave developing countries even further behind. This chart breaks down the projected economic outcome by country.


6. A nationwide risk from toxic ponds was brought into sharp focus this week when a giant wastewater pond in Florida began to leak dangerously.

The leak at the reservoir holding more than 300 million gallons of wastewater, which contained traces of heavy metals and toxic substances, prompted the authorities to evacuate hundreds over the weekend. If the reservoir were to breach, the authorities said it could result in a 20-foot wall of water.

Ponds like the one in Florida, at a former phosphate mining plant south of Tampa, above, are a common feature at thousands of industrial and agricultural sites across the country. Environmental groups say they pose major environmental, health and safety risks, whether from mismanagement or, increasingly, from the effects of climate change.


7. There are 6,000 graves of American troops killed in World War II whom the military has not been able to identify. Forensic techniques used to track serial killers may change that.

Normally, DNA matching requires a sample from a blood relative for comparison, but in the cases of many of the World War II dead, the military cannot find relatives. Instead, military researchers want to upload DNA to public genetic databases in hopes of finding matches in family trees.

“The technology is there — we just have to develop the policy to use it,” said Timothy McMahon, who oversees DNA identification of remains for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.


9. The only thing that could rival a fresh bakery croissant is one that comes out of your very own oven.

A pastry as miraculous as a croissant is tricky to make at home. There is the lamination — the process of rolling and flattening butter into thin sheets between layers of dough — and the rolling and folding of that butter-layered dough, a technique called a “turn.” But anyone with even a passing interest in baking can do it. Claire Saffitz walks you through the tight script.

In other carbohydrate delights, look out for a new pasta shape — cascatelli, inspired by the Italian word for waterfall. After three years of development, the pasta maker Sfoglini and the podcast host Dan Pashman introduced a shape that Mr. Pashman designed to be speared with a fork, hold sauce well and have the proper bite. Try it with simple sauces like marinara or carbonara.


10. And finally, the end of an era for a corner of the internet.

Some might argue there are few stupid questions, and you could find that embrace on Yahoo Answers. The site helped people identify their sense of self (why do people with baguettes think they are better than me?) and pushed the limits of human curiosity (what would a heaven for elephants be like?).

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