Coronavirus Vaccines, Billionaires’ Tax, World Series: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Tuesday.

1. A key F.D.A. advisory panel recommended the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds, the first in a string of decisions that could lead to children getting their shots as early as next week.

Nearly two million in that age group have been infected with the virus, and 8,300 of them have been hospitalized; almost 100 have died over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Federal officials hope the pediatric dose can help to close a major gap in the nation’s vaccination campaign: If the F.D.A. grants authorization, about 28 million children will become eligible for the vaccine.

2. Democrats are divided over a new tax on billionaires, as they scramble to pay for a sprawling budget bill.

4. A series of killings of New York City children have exposed holes in the safety net designed to protect them. Could they have been saved?

Child welfare caseworkers in the city field over 1,000 reports a week of mistreatment and neglect. Sometimes steps get skipped. In recent weeks, city officials have examined how investigators fell into that pattern, were slow to follow up or might have closed an abuse case too soon.

In response to questions from The Times, the city said it would increase unannounced home visits by the police, put a police captain in charge of child abuse cases and restart training programs. But a former head of the police’s Special Victims Division said the changes are just renewals of lapsed procedures.


5. More than eight months after she was detained by the military in a coup, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s ousted civilian government, mounted her defense for the first time.

No journalists, diplomats or members of the public were allowed into a courtroom that was specially built for her in Naypyidaw, the capital. She faces three simultaneous trials on 10 of the 11 charges against her. Experts say there is little doubt she will be convicted.

Foreign governments and the U.N. have described the charges, which could lead to 102 years in prison, as politically motivated. Aung San Suu Kyi and her enduring popularity have long been a thorn in the side of the military, which the country’s judiciary tends to side with.


6. Several Chicago Blackhawks executives failed to report a former player’s sexual assault accusation, according to an investigation commissioned by the hockey team.

Executives were concerned about distracting the team in 2010 — the Blackhawks would win the Stanley Cup a month later — and did not thoroughly investigate the accusation or punish the team’s video coach, Brad Aldrich, according to the investigation.

Aldrich was allowed to resign from his position, and he would go on to hold a number of other jobs in hockey, including at colleges and high schools. The N.H.L. fined the Blackhawks $2 million for their inaction. The team’s president of hockey operations and its senior director of hockey administration both stepped down.


7. Cheating has consumed elite bridge playing during the pandemic.

By one estimate, based on data beginning in March 2020, about 2 to 5 percent of all pairs playing online were cheating, a figure that translates to several hundred players in the American Contract Bridge League. Online platforms simplified cheating, but they also left a record of every bid and card played. Some players began to analyze patterns of odd decisions that led to uncanny success.

In person, cheating usually meant surreptitious signals like tapping a foot or placing a card a certain way. With remote play, organizers couldn’t look for signals, analyze video or tell whether partners were talking. But top players say a tight-lipped culture is finally changing.

9. “The feeling of scaring somebody is what makes you want to do it again and again and again.”

What does it take to scare the candy corn out of someone? We talked to actors at two of New York’s hallowed haunted attractions about the secrets behind the shocks. Some performers specialize in jump scares. Others prefer more psychological scares, like whispering in ears. “There has to be at least a little something off about you,” one longtime actor said.

10. And finally, how to map a fly’s brain in 20 million easy steps.

The brain of a fruit fly is the size of a poppy seed, and yet these insects are capable of sophisticated behaviors like navigating landscapes, tussling with rivals and serenading potential mates. Since 2014, researchers have been mapping the fly’s brain in an effort to create a comprehensive wiring diagram, known as a connectome.

Now an enormous new study of a small part of the fruit fly brain — the central complex, which plays an important role in navigation — has identified dozens of new neuron types and pinpointed circuits that appear to help the flies make their way through the world. In total, the connectome of the central complex includes nearly 3,000 neurons, about 3 percent of those in the fly’s brain.

The work, a proof of principle for modern connectomics, could help provide insight into how all kinds of animal brains process a flood of sensory information and translate it into action.

Have a buzzy night.


Eve Edelheit compiled photos for this briefing.



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