Vaccinations, Senate Clerks, Myanmar: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Two million shots a day.

That’s what the U.S. average has reached. More mass vaccination sites are opening up as Pfizer and Moderna ramp up production and Johnson & Johnson begins shipments. Above, a vaccine line today at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Some health officials had worried that Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine might be viewed as inferior, but many now see it as the solution for vulnerable communities like homeless people, and plenty of Americans are clamoring for the convenience of a single shot.

The vaccine’s lower official efficacy rate of 72 percent, compared with 95 percent for the other two, may simply reflect that its clinical trials occurred later in the pandemic, when transmission rates were soaring.

“It will accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks, who work very hard, day in, day out, to help the Senate function,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader.

Separately, the Treasury Department is opening the application process for its Emergency Capital Investment Program, which will provide funds to minority communities, which have been hit disproportionately by the pandemic.

In other military news, the Marine Corps is promoting Col. Anthony Henderson, an African-American who was combat-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, to brigadier general. If his confirmed by the Senate, he will become the rare Black general with a shot at getting all the way to the top of the Marines.

4. U.S. moms are going back to work, and still doing most of the parenting.

Last April, the number of mothers who were working and living with children plummeted 22 percent from the previous April, while the number of fathers doing so fell only 15.5 percent.

A new report shows that those numbers have now evened out, despite previous predictions of a “she-cession.” But as children remain home from school, many more mothers than fathers are shouldering the burden of child care.

“When we say moms are catching up to dads, that says nothing about how hard it is,” an author of the new analysis said.

5. Women in Myanmar are on the front lines of protests.

Since the military ousted the country’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Feb. 1, hundreds of thousands of women have risen up, massing in daily marches of striking unions dominated by women: teachers, garment workers and medical workers.

They are a powerful rebuke to the military’s reimposition of a patriarchal order that has suppressed women for half a century.

Young women are often on the front lines. On Wednesday, at least three were among the dozens of protesters killed by gunfire, including one, above, who was still in her teens.

6. In Wyoming, a slow embrace of alternative energy.

The state’s 16 working coal mines make up nearly 40 percent of U.S. production, and its oil and gas reserves often land it among the nation’s top 10 producers. Driven more by pragmatism than by climate change, the state is cautiously taking advantage of another abundant energy source: wind. Above, the Ekola Flats wind farm.

The pandemic, which has driven down the price of fossil fuels, has heightened the state’s urgency in finding alternative resources. Small towns like Rawlins, which is soon to be home to one of the biggest wind farms in the nation, could also be spared futures as ghost towns.

“You can stand at the tracks when the train is coming at you, or you can stand at the switch,” said one resident, explaining his support for wind energy.

7. Iraq is bracing for Pope Francis’ visit.

On Friday, Francis is to fly to Baghdad, above, despite the country’s surging coronavirus infection rate. Public health experts worry that thousands of Iraqi Christians may gather to see him in potential superspreader events.

Several popes have dreamed of traveling to the country, which shares a history with Christianity that extends back to the first decades of the faith. But its once-vibrant Christian community has been culled by persecution, a devastating decade of war after the U.S. invasion in 2003 and decimation by the Islamic State from 2014 to 2017.

Iraq has welcomed the visit as a chance to showcase its relative stability after years of war and sectarian conflict.

8. A college president told students to isolate themselves. Then he joined them.

In three decades of military service, Mark Anarumo, above, lost 11 people to suicide. So when, as the president of Norwich University, he ordered students to isolate in their dorms, he worried about the toll on their mental health.

So he decided to move in to the dormitory. He warned students not to visit him in person, but they found ways to reach him.

“They’d be waiting for me in the stairwell, all quiet,” he said. “I said: ‘Hey, can I help you? Are you OK? Do you need to talk?’ And they said, ‘Yeah.’ And then I would see the tears.” At moments like that, he said, they needed to see me in person.”

9. The fashion industry vowed to change. Did it?

The pledges came against the backdrop of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and amid a flurry of racist incidents in fashion.

A Times survey of the world’s biggest fashion companies, retailers and glossy magazines found that more Black models had appeared in magazine shoots, ad campaigns and runway shows. But it also found that the reality was complicated and that representation remained limited. For some, the efforts to highlight Black talent have gone awry.

“It’s fashion’s version of segregation,” said Antoine Gregory, founder of the Black Fashion Fair. “We’re not asking to be in our own little space — we’re asking to be included.”

10. And finally, the mystery of the fluctuating moonbeam.

Special cameras can pick up something surprising about the moon. When meteorites bombard its surface, sodium atoms fly high into orbit and collide with the sun’s photons, which ends up giving the moon something like a comet trail invisible to the human eye.

For a few days each month, when the new moon moves between Earth and the sun, our planet’s gravity narrows that sodium stream into a beam that wraps around Earth’s atmosphere and shoots out into space.

The cameras show the beam appearing sometimes brighter, sometimes dimmer. A new report suggests that the bigger the meteor that hits the moon, the brighter the trail.

“Does this have a practical application? Probably not,” the study’s lead author said. This research was driven by nothing more than curiosity.

Have an impractical night.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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