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Climate, Taxes, Johnson & Johnson: Your Thursday Evening Briefing 1
Al Drago for The New York Times

1. The United States pledged to cut emissions in half from 2005 levels by the end of the decade, a plan that would lead to big changes.

At an Earth Day summit, President Biden declared America “has resolved to take action” on climate change. His administration also announced it intends to double the amount of money it offers to help developing countries address the issue. Here’s how the U.S. plan stacks up globally.

Canada and Japan also made new commitments to cut emissions. China — currently the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluter — promised to strictly limit coal consumption and renewed its pledge to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2060.

Reaching the new U.S. climate targets would mean changes to virtually every corner of the nation’s economy, transforming the way Americans drive to work, heat their homes and operate their factories.

The virtual summit demonstrated that even the world’s most powerful people are not immune from Zoom-induced glitches.


James Estrin/The New York Times

2. President Biden will seek to raise taxes on the rich to fund child care and education.

The president is set to outline the plan before his first address to a joint session of Congress next week. It will focus on universal prekindergarten, child care, a national paid leave program for workers and free community college tuition. It will also seek to extend a tax credit for parents through 2025. Above, a classroom in Queens, N.Y.

Mr. Biden would offset the $1.5 trillion cost by raising the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6 percent, from 37 percent. He would also significantly raise capital gains taxes for those earning more than $1 million to 39.6 percent, from 20 percent.

In Congress, the Senate passed a bill aimed at addressing anti-Asian American hate crimes. The House voted to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., a long-held Democratic priority, but the measure faces an uphill battle in the Senate.


Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

3. With few new clotting cases, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause could be lifted soon.

Federal health officials are waiting to act until they hear from a committee of experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That committee will meet tomorrow to discuss whether to lift, extend or modify the pause.

The Food and Drug Administration is likely to attach a warning to the vaccine’s label about the exceedingly uncommon, but dangerous, possible side effect.

As the Biden administration seeks to get most adults vaccinated by summer, men are holding back. The reluctance could impede that goal.

Separately, a growing body of research shows that the risk of virus transmission outside is low. So we asked virus and public health experts how to make the right decision about when to wear a mask outside.


Atul Loke for The New York Times

4. India set a global Covid record, topping 312,000 cases in one day.

Over the past two months, the coronavirus outbreak in India has exploded, with reports of superspreader gatherings, oxygen shortages and ambulances lined up outside hospitals because there were no ventilators for new patients.

Maharashtra, a populous state that includes Mumbai, has been the hardest hit. The state’s leader has ordered government offices to operate at 15 percent capacity and imposed new restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. Above, relatives perform last rites outside Mumbai this week.

More than 132 million Indians have received at least one vaccine dose, but supplies are running low and experts warn that the country is unlikely to meet its goal of inoculating 300 million people by the summer.


Maxar Technologies, via Associated Press

5. Russia ordered a partial pullback of troops from its border with Ukraine.

The defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the units deployed at the border were part of a test of Russian military readiness that has been completed, and that they should now return to their regular positions.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine welcomed the move. “The reduction of troops on our border proportionally reduces tension,” he said.

But the order also said that troops departing from one large camp near the border should leave their armored vehicles there until fall. Satellite images, above, showed hundreds of trucks and tanks parked in the area.


Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

6. U.S. home sales are surging, and buyers and sellers are wary.

The median sale price of a house in the U.S. was up almost 16 percent in February from the previous year; a 3 to 5 percent annual increase is considered healthy. In some outlier markets, prices are now jumping by nearly 20 percent.

How long the boom will last depends largely on where you live and how the pandemic reorders buyer priorities, but it will hinge on two trends: rising mortgage rates and, in some markets, tight inventory. Above, a neighborhood in Union, N.J.

In other business news, airlines are rebounding. Leisure travel in the U.S. has almost fully recovered.


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

7. Idaho passed a bill to kill up to 90 percent of the state’s wolves.

The measure would allow the state to hire contractors to kill wolves with the goal, supporters said, of protecting cattle and other agricultural interests. A conservation plan calls for the state to maintain a wolf population of at least 150, and there are about 1,556 roaming the state.

The measure now goes to the State House of Representatives.


Danny Kasirye for The New York Times

8. Marianne Faithfull is working again, after her latest brush with death.

Right before she contracted the coronavirus in March 2020 and fell into a coma, the British musician was working on an album she’d dreamed of making for more than half a century: a spoken-word tribute to the Romantic poets, whom she had admired since she was a teenager.

Ms. Faithfull, above, always wanted to study English literature, but instead, she said, “I went to a party and got discovered by bloody old Andrew Loog Oldham,” referring to the first manager of the Rolling Stones.

Her new album, “She Walks in Beauty,” is out April 30.


Maridelis Morales Rosado for The New York Times

9. Stuck at home, many dancers have taken on a new role: motherhood.

The dance world is experiencing a full-blown baby boom. A dance career is relatively short, and so is the window for a dancer to have a child. But the pandemic has afforded dancers something rare: time — to be away from performing and then to get back into dancing shape. Above, Zhong-Jing Fang from the American Ballet Theater performing in front of her daughter.

“I don’t have to sacrifice another year of contemplating, Should I stop now? Should I have the baby?” said Erica Pereira, a soloist at New York City Ballet who is pregnant. “It’s like a blessing in disguise.”


Sebastien Salom-Gomis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

10. And finally, space gastronomy.

When the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet spends six months in the International Space Station, his grub will be a far cry from John Glenn’s apple sauce in 1962. He’ll enjoy a menu that includes lobster, beef bourguignon and almond tarts with caramelized pears, made by Michelin-starred chefs. Above, canned salmon with a reduction of balsamic vinegar from Alain Ducasse’s kitchen.

Still, the meticulously prepared dishes cannot be exactly like food on Earth: Much of it is freeze-dried, with the water extracted, to reduce its size and volume, and sometimes heated to high temperatures to kill off germs.

“It needs to remind people of their experiences of eating food on Earth,” said Ryan Dowdy, who has managed food on the space station.

Bon appétit.


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