Infrastructure, Murders, R. Kelly: Your Monday Evening Briefing
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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Monday.
1. President Biden’s agenda faces a make-or-break week.
The president and top Democrats in Congress are facing a daunting set of challenges as they maneuver to unite their party around their multitrillion-dollar domestic agenda and keep the government from shutting down before the deadline on Friday.
Progressives have said they will not back a $1 trillion infrastructure bill — the vote is set for Thursday — until they see action on a sprawling $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate change package. But moderates have balked at the size and scope of that bill, leaving both measures in limbo.
The talks are unfolding under the cloud of a potential government shutdown. Senate Republicans are expected to block action on a spending measure to extend government funding into December and raise the debt ceiling to allow the government to pay its obligations. Their opposition risks a shutdown this week and a catastrophic debt default within weeks.
Some 21,500 people were killed last year, a toll that is still well below the record set during the violence of the early 1990s. Still, several cities, like Albuquerque, Memphis, Milwaukee and Des Moines, are recording their highest murder numbers ever.
The high murder rate has continued into 2021, although the pace has slowed as the year has progressed. The significant rise in homicides has roughly coincided with the 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. Today is the deadline for health care workers in New York to get vaccinated for Covid-19 or risk losing their jobs.
Tens of thousands of medical workers could lose their jobs by defying a state mandate to receive a dose of a vaccine.
The state’s order sets up an early test for similar employer mandates. Rhode Island, Maine, Oregon and the District of Columbia are also requiring health care workers to be vaccinated to remain employed.
No figures were available yet, but New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, said she had heard that some medical facilities were seeing an increase in the number of health care workers who were being vaccinated today.
Separately, President Biden got his vaccine booster today, only days after federal regulators moved to allow millions of Americans to get Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots if they meet eligibility rules.
“Boosters are important,” he said. “But the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated.”
4. It is still not clear who will govern Germany.
The center-left narrowly defeated Angela Merkel’s conservatives in the election yesterday, but difficult coalition talks lie ahead, and smaller parties will be pivotal.
Despite overtaking the mighty conservative-party machine, there is no certainty that Olaf Scholz, who carried his Social Democrats to victory, will become chancellor.
For the first time since the 1950s, the next chancellor will have to get at least three different parties behind a governing deal. Four midsize parties are now jockeying for a place in government.
5. Fuel shortages and long lines at gas stations have Britons scrambling.
Government officials said there was no shortage of fuel and blamed panic buying for the problems. But analysts said the real cause of the chaos was a chronic shortage of truck drivers to deliver fuel to gas stations.
The British government is said to be weighing whether to call in the military to help make deliveries.
In China, power outages and even blackouts have slowed or closed factories in recent days, adding a new threat to the country’s slowing economy and potentially further snarling global supply chains.
7. Cancer treatment without chemotherapy?
A growing number of cancer patients, especially those with breast and lung cancers, are being spared chemotherapy, which can cause hair loss, nausea, fatigue and permanent damage to the heart and to nerves in the hands and feet.
For many, there are better options with an ever-expanding array of treatments, including estrogen blockers and drugs that destroy cancers by attacking specific proteins on the surface of tumors. And there is a growing willingness among oncologists to scale back unhelpful treatments.
Still, the opportunity to avoid chemotherapy is not evenly distributed, and it is often dependent on where a person is treated and by whom.
8. The best and the worst of the Tony awards.
Broadway is back, but its awards ceremony last night showed a split personality, our critics report: The sincerity, warmth and professionalism of the first half was shattered by what followed in the second half.
Among the best: No one else did what Jennifer Holliday did “when she planted herself center stage and let rip with ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’ from ‘Dreamgirls,’” our critic Jesse Green writes.
Among the worst: the confusing, and unnecessary, streaming setup, writes our reporter Nancy Coleman. All but three honors of the show were given exclusively on Paramount+ before being turned over to CBS.
9. Who is Luis Felber?
Among other things, he is now Lena Dunham’s husband. Born in England, to a Peruvian mother and a British father, he is also a musician performing under the name Attawalpa.
He and Dunham — the actress, filmmaker and writer who created and starred in the HBO television series “Girls” — married over the weekend. Our Style section has an interview with him.
By the way, he has never seen “Girls.”
10. And finally, Jonathan Franzen has a new novel out.
The acclaimed novelist is back, after “Purity” (2015) and the award-winning “Corrections” (2001) and “Freedom” (2010), with “Crossroads,” a book that he calls the first volume of a trilogy.
Set in suburban Chicago, it follows the Hildebrandts, a seemingly solid Midwestern family whose members all suffer crises of faith and morality.
Our critic Dwight Garner calls the novel “a mellow, marzipan-hued ’70s-era heartbreaker.” “Crossroads,” he writes, “is warmer than anything he’s yet written, wider in its human sympathies, weightier of image and intellect.”
Have a literary evening.
Angela Jimenez compiled photos for this briefing.
Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.
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