Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.
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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. A “return to life as we know it.”
With 70 percent of adults in New York having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted nearly all restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. That includes ending capacity limits, social distance requirements, disinfection protocols and health screenings. Above, the restaurant Juliette in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
It was also “reopening day” in California, as Gov. Gavin Newsom called it. He, too, lifted nearly all of the state’s restrictions, with 72 percent of adults having received at least one dose of the vaccine. As the economy fully reopens, our California restaurant critic said the most exciting place to eat in Los Angeles is Chinatown.
While the U.S. edges toward normalcy, many countries in Asia are still facing months of uncertainty and isolation as their vaccination campaigns just start to gain steam.
2. We learned more about Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to help overturn the election results.
An hour before William Barr stepped down as attorney general, the former president was pressuring his replacement, Jeffrey Rosen, above, to back his false election fraud claims, emails show. Two weeks later, another email from Trump asked the Justice Department to file a brief to the Supreme Court that argued state officials used the pandemic to weaken election security and pave the way for widespread election fraud.
Separately, the Biden administration is aiming to bolster its ability to combat domestic extremism. A new plan acts as a blueprint on how to more effectively identify extremists in the U.S. after years of heightened focus on foreign terrorists.
3. There is little expectation that the summit between Presidents Biden and Vladimir Putin will radically change U.S.-Russia relations. But it could at least stop the downward spiral.
Officials say the talks on Wednesday in Geneva could open the door to wider negotiations on arms control and cybersecurity, and perhaps lift some restrictions on each other’s diplomatic missions.
The Russians believe that Biden is prepared to engage broadly with Putin despite his concerns about domestic issues. But a senior American official said that Biden would not engage in any “breaking of bread” with Putin. Biden plans to confront Putin on ransomware attacks on U.S. companies and government agencies, and will demand that Putin stop harboring criminal hacking groups.
4. Amazon did the impossible for customers during the pandemic. But at its only fulfillment center in New York City, the company burned through workers as orders skyrocketed.
An examination by The Times into how the pandemic unfolded at JFK8, as the center is known, found that the crisis exposed the power and peril of Amazon’s employment system. JFK8 helped the company book the equivalent of the previous three years’ profits rolled into one. It also relied on a strained, faltering system for mass-managing people that hired, monitored and fired without much human contact.
Here are five takeaways from the investigation.
Separately, President Biden named Lina Khan, a prominent critic of Big Tech who first attracted notice as a critic of Amazon, as chair of the F.T.C.
5. Hundreds of thousands of post-Covid patients, including Karla Jefferies, above, are experiencing nagging new problems they didn’t have before the disease, a new U.S. study revealed.
An analysis of health insurance records of almost two million coronavirus patients found new issues in nearly a quarter of them, most commonly pain, including in nerves and muscles; breathing difficulties; high cholesterol; malaise and fatigue; and high blood pressure. Those affected were all ages; many were asymptomatic when they had Covid. Others are finding certain foods off-putting because of distortions of smell and taste.
Separately, a new study suggests the virus may have been circulating in five U.S. states as early as December 2019, well before the first confirmed cases.
6. A heat wave across the Western U.S. could deliver temperatures above 125 degrees and stress electric grids in a region facing the worst drought in two decades.
Arizona, above outside Superior, and Nevada are bracing for the possibility of record highs, while firefighters confronting small blazes in California may be forced to do so in triple-digit heat. The Texas power grid’s operator has urged residents to minimize their electricity usage or risk outages. More than 100 people died in Texas during a February snowstorm that crippled the grid.
We’re also watching two tropical weather events. Tropical Storm Bill became the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season overnight, though it is expected to remain away from the coast. And a tropical depression may form by the end of the week, bringing heavy rains to the northern Gulf Coast.
7. Charitable giving in the U.S. rose 5 percent in 2020 to a record $471.4 billion, with civil rights and environmental groups benefiting.
A national conversation over race in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer fueled fund-raising, as did a rising stock market and government stimulus checks.
For the third time in under a year, MacKenzie Scott, above, one of the richest women in the world, announced a multibillion-dollar round of grants — $2.74 billion to 286 organizations. The latest round brings her total to more than $8 billion. When Scott and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, divorced in 2019, her stock was valued at about $36 billion. Amazon’s soaring stock price has since pushed her net worth to an estimated $60 billion.
8. “Can I lick these people?”
Stephen Colbert, above, returned to a capacity, vaccinated crowd at the Ed Sullivan Theater last night after 15 months of hosting “The Late Show” from home, prompting his guest, Jon Stewart, to ask the question above. “There was something of a surviving-your-own-funeral aspect to the reunion,” writes our TV critic James Poniewozik.
And after four decades, Martin Yan, who used TV to help many North Americans start cooking Chinese food at home, is as cheery as ever but aware of some harsher truths. We spoke to the chef, who is now re-energizing fans as a YouTube host, about the new food media landscape.
9. It’s time to hit the open road, and the U.S. has much to offer.
Traveling along U.S. 1 in Maine, above, is a perpetually evolving panorama, and the “sky islands” of Arizona — uniquely biodiverse mountainous enclaves — attract birds from miles around. California’s old-growth redwood forests remain a place for stillness, and the Midwest’s barn-quilt tradition offers bright, creative Americana.
In updated recommendations, the C.D.C. said domestic and international travel are low risk for fully vaccinated Americans, but it’s still far from simple. Here’s what you need to know.
10. And finally, the art of the toast.
Massive wedding parties with 10-piece bands and champagne fountains may be giving way to the micro-wedding, but one tradition remains steadfast: the wedding speech.
If you’ve been charged with saying a few words about the couple, we spoke to several experts for tips to help you speak from the heart. Think about your relationship with the couple, consider making it a group effort, cut the clichés and keep it short.
“We’re all so acutely aware that no one has any idea what tomorrow will bring,” one toastmaster said. “The fact that two people want to tackle that tomorrow together feels especially noteworthy.”
Have a moving night.
Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.
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