US & Canada

Vaccine, Stimulus, Trump: Your Weekend Briefing

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

1. A third Covid-19 vaccine has been approved.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine for emergency use on Saturday, making a third vaccine available in the U.S. Above, a drive-through vaccine clinic in Scranton, Pa., on Friday.

It’s the first approved vaccine to require one dose instead of two. Shipments are expected to start within days, on top of the millions of doses being churned out by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

2. The $1.9 trillion pandemic aid bill passed in the House and must now maneuver through a procedural and political thicket in the Senate.

Every House Republican voted against the measure early Saturday, underscoring the depth of the partisan division it has provoked. The road ahead in the Senate is far bumpier.

Already, President Biden’s effort to include an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 has run aground because of arcane rules that accompany the fast-track process Democrats are using. Above, showing support for a $15 minimum wage in Washington last week.

With unemployment benefits set to begin lapsing on March 14, Democrats have only two weeks to finish the package in the Senate, resend it to the House for final adjustments and deliver it to Mr. Biden’s desk.

Here’s a look at what’s in the stimulus plan. We fact-checked misleading claims about the bill.


3. Trump returns to the spotlight.

Most former presidents adopt low profiles after leaving the White House, but Donald Trump is returning to the stage with a prominent appearance at the end of the Conservative Political Action Conference this afternoon.

His advisers have implored him not to revive his false statements about the 2020 election. But CPAC — once a forum for conservative ideas with a strong libertarian strain — has been transformed into Trump-chella. Above, a golden statue of him greets attendees.

For now, Mr. Trump is serious about running for president in 2024, our White House correspondent writes. While some aides expect that he ultimately won’t go through with another bid, his musings could have a chilling effect on his party.


4. A second former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo has accused him of sexual harassment.

The aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, above, was an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she left in November. She told The Times that the governor had harassed her late last spring, during the height of the state’s fight against the coronavirus.

She said that he had asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous and if she had ever had sex with older men. Mr. Cuomo said in a statement that he believed he had been acting as a mentor and had “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett.”

Her account follows another detailed accusation published last week.


5. The pandemic economy lifted some, and left others behind.

Robin Arnone and Julie Stark are among the millions of pairs of friends who were on a relatively equal financial footing before last March — and now find themselves on vastly different trajectories.

Ms. Arnone works in home appraising and is doing well in the booming housing market. Ms. Stark, above, a dog walker, has found her services are no longer in demand now that many of her clients are stuck at home.

This contrast is mirrored in the larger economy: Lines at food banks lengthen as new Teslas dot parking lots, and there are waiting lists for Peloton machines so the most fortunate can keep up with their workouts from home.

This newsletter is free, but you can go deeper into the stories we highlight each morning with a subscription to The Times. Please consider becoming a subscriber today.


6. The Golden Globes kick off awards season.

Rather than the usual Beverly Hills gala, the show tonight will be hosted from opposite coasts: Tina Fey live from the Rainbow Room in New York and Amy Poehler from the Beverly Hilton, the awards’ usual West Coast home. Here’s what to watch for.

Our entertainment reporter sees “Nomadland” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” as having the best hopes of winning the best picture award. Here are his other projections.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the ceremony, is under fire after recent articles exposed a membership that includes no Black voters, which may explain why “Da 5 Bloods” and “One Night in Miami” did not make the best-drama lineup.


7. These gummies will get you high, and may even be legal.

A once-ignored derivative of hemp called Delta-8-THC has become a hot seller for people looking for a loophole around marijuana laws.

Delta 8 is an only slightly chemically different form of Delta 9, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. But it wasn’t mentioned in the 2018 Farm Bill, an enormous piece of federal legislation that, among many other things, legalized widespread hemp farming and distribution.

So entrepreneurs began extracting and packaging it, and, as one Austin-based entrepreneur said, the number of customers “coming into Delta 8 is staggering.”


8. The Times Book Review is 125 years old — a moment for celebration, but also introspection.

Parul Sehgal, a critic and former editor at the Book Review, looked back at its legacy. Her brief, you might say, was to review the Book Review. She found much to admire, like the reviews of John Leonard, an early and forceful champion of writers like Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman and Grace Paley.

She also saw misjudgments, to be sure — masterpieces misunderstood in their time. But what about the reviews themselves?

In years past, books by nonwhite writers, women and especially L.G.B.T.Q. writers, she found, were referred to, not as written or crafted, but as expelled, excreted, almost involuntarily. And reviewers might impute cultural importance to the work of Black writers, but rarely aesthetic significance.

Of her own favorite critics, Parul writes, their “credentials were nerve, wariness and style.”

9. Some homeowners are taking D.I.Y. to a new level.

As the pandemic ignites a wave of home renovations, some craftier homeowners are channeling their artistic energy into reimagining their décor.

There’s no time like the present to turn the basement into a home theater with a full concession stand, or to build an ice-skating rink in the front yard.

“I had a lot of energy that I needed to put into something,” said Jen Rondeau, who turned the gray basement laundry room in her home into a psychedelic disco lounge, above.

If you’re hunting for a new home, however, you may already have discovered that the inventory of homes for sale nationwide is startlingly low.


10. And finally, quarantines, freebies and puppies.

The Weekender has 11 stories our editors chose for you: Read about travel quarantines, above, the free stuff tossed out in New York City streets, pandemic pets in need of training, and more.

New York Times



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