AstraZeneca, Dreamers, Atlanta: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

2. The House voted to give millions of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

The move reopened debate over the nation’s broken immigration system just as President Biden confronts a growing surge of migrants at the border, including the unaccompanied minors above.

In a near party-line vote of 228 to 197, with just nine Republicans joining Democrats, the House moved to set up a permanent legal pathway for roughly 2.5 million undocumented immigrants. That includes those brought to the U.S. as children — known as Dreamers — and those granted Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons. The House is expected to approve a second measure later that would grant legal status to close to a million farmworkers and their families.

But the bills face steep odds in the evenly divided Senate. While some Republicans there have pledged support for Dreamers in the past, their party is increasingly uniting behind a hard-line strategy to block any new immigration law.

3. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, above, and Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, are meeting with their Chinese counterparts in Alaska.

The meeting will test a new approach to China, in which the Biden administration will focus on gathering allies to counter Beijing’s coercive diplomacy and ensure that China does not gain a permanent advantage in critical technologies.

It will also demonstrate Beijing’s determination to stand up to the new administration. Yesterday, the United States imposed sanctions on 24 Chinese officials for undermining Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms.

Separately, Russia recalled its ambassador to Washington after Mr. Biden said in an interview that he thought President Vladimir Putin was a “killer.”

4. The suspect in the Atlanta-area killings was a customer at two of the targeted spas, according to police.

The man, who has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, told the police that he had a sex addiction and had targeted the spas because he wanted to remove a “temptation,” denying any racist motives. A former roommate at a halfway house said the suspect had tried to stop acting on his sexual impulsion but had continued visiting massage parlors for sex.

In a Congressional hearing on violence targeting the Asian community, which was scheduled weeks ago, Asian-American congresswomen gave deeply personal testimonies describing the fear and trauma rippling through their communities.

“Last year, as I heard, at the highest levels of government, people use racist slurs like ‘China virus’ to spread xenophobia and cast blame on innocent communities, it was all too familiar,” said Representative Doris Matsui of California.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Atlanta on Friday. Above, a memorial for the victims at Gold Spa in Atlanta.

5. Nearly half of all Californians received unemployment aid over the past year.

New research illustrates both the scale and the inequality of the job losses during the pandemic — and makes clear that the crisis is far from over.

According to a report released today by the California Policy Lab, 47 percent of the state’s prepandemic labor force received some form of jobless benefits in the past 12 months. Nearly 90 percent of Black workers have claimed benefits, compared with about 40 percent of whites. Younger and less-educated workers have been hit especially hard.

“We have solidly shifted into a world where a large-scale problem of long-term unemployment is now a reality,” said an author of the report.

Separately, penny stocks — tiny companies that present great investment risks — are booming as small investors flood the market. The trend is reminiscent of the 1920s, when amateurs flooded into the market before it crashed.

6. NASA’s giant new moon rocket fired its engines in a crucial test of the system that could eventually carry astronauts back to the lunar surface.

Engineers cheered after the engines fired for more than 8 minutes in a ground test that should allow NASA to move on to the next phase of preparations for a flight: attaching rocket boosters, a second stage and the Orion crew capsule. An earlier engine test was shut down by computers after only about one minute.

The rocket is being prepared, eventually, for the Artemis I mission. The launch, illustrated above, will carry the Orion module, as well as a variety of small satellites on a course to the moon and orbit it several times before returning to Earth. Success of that mission could set the stage for the first astronaut flight in Orion and eventually result in a moon landing.

7. Alexi McCammond planned to start as the editor in chief of Teen Vogue next week. Plagued by racist and homophobic tweets she posted in 2011, she resigned.

Ms. McCammond, 27, is a former Axios political reporter who in 2019 was named the emerging journalist of the year by the National Association of Black Journalists. While she apologized and deleted the tweets that year, pressure from Teen Vogue staff members paired with a heightened concern about racism directed against Asian-Americans led to her departure.

In a statement, Ms. McCammond said her “past tweets have overshadowed the work I’ve done to highlight the people and issues that I care about.”


8. Your faceprint is out there. Clearview will find you.

Clearview AI, a facial recognition app that has been used by at least 600 law enforcement agencies, has taken the technology to a new level by scraping images from companies like Google and Facebook, increasing its database to a billion faces in 2018.

“It has revolutionized how we are able to identify and rescue children,” said Erin Burke, an official in the investigative arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

9. Superblue, a new immersive art center in Miami, is a big player in a rapidly growing field.

With an inaugural exhibition that includes giant flowers, soap bubble clouds and a spatial installation by James Turrell called a Ganzfeld, Superblue left our art critic, Arthur Lubow, pondering the intersection of art and theme-park entertainment. If nothing else, he suggests, it offers an escape for those deprived of sensory experience and malnourished by screens. Above, teamLab’s “Proliferating Immense Life.”

And, after months of delays, Super Nintendo World opened in Japan, with rules on mask wearing and social distancing for visitors as they race in a Mario Kart or punch question-mark blocks.


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10. And finally, model trains whistle and puff again.

Märklin, a 162-year-old model train maker in Germany, has experienced a boom in sales during the pandemic and is hiring new apprentices for the first time in years. Above, the workshop at the Märklin factory. While real steam has emitted from some models for a long time, other features — like the ability to control the trains via phone app — have brought the trains into the 21st century.

“Outside, there is total chaos, but inside, around my little train set, it is quiet, it is picturesque,” one hobbyist said.

Is the comeback here to stay? Train makers are hopeful. “Because it really is not the kind of hobby that you do for two weeks and then abandon,” said Florian Siever, a train director at Märklin.

Have a nostalgic evening.


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

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