It’s a dismal ritual of American life: A mass shooting occurs — sometimes more than one, in quick succession. The country mourns the victims. And nothing changes.
I expect the same will happen following the killings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo. But it is still worth taking a few minutes to lay out the basic facts about gun violence. The key one is simply this: The scale of gun deaths in the United States is not inevitable. The country could reduce the death toll, perhaps substantially, if it chose to.
1. The toll approaches pancreatic cancer’s
When gun violence is counted as a single category — spanning homicides, suicides and accidents — it kills about 40,000 Americans a year.
That’s far behind the country’s biggest killers, like heart disease (about 650,000 annual deaths) or Alzheimer’s (about 125,000). But it is broadly comparable to the toll from many well-known causes of death, including an average flu season (35,000), vehicle accidents (39,000), breast cancer (42,000), liver disease (43,000) or pancreatic cancer (45,000).
dismissed calls for restricting gun availability, saying, “There’s not a big appetite among our members to do things that would appear to be addressing it, but actually don’t do anything to fix the problem.”
But there is overwhelming evidence that this country has a unique problem with gun violence, mostly because it has unique gun availability.
Michael Siegel of Boston University’s School of Public Health says.
“The main lesson that comes out of this research is that we know which laws work,” Siegel says. (Nicholas Kristof, the Times columnist, has written a good overview, called “How to Reduce Shootings.”)
one out of every 400 gun deaths was the result of a mass shooting (defined as any attack with at least four deaths). More than half of gun deaths are from suicides, as Margot Sanger-Katz of The Times has noted.
Still, many of the policies that experts say would reduce gun deaths — like requiring gun licenses and background checks — would likely affect both mass shootings and the larger problem.
4. Public opinion is complicated
Yes, an overwhelming majority of Americans support many gun-regulation proposals — like background checks — that congressional Republicans have blocked. And, yes, the campaign donations of the National Rifle Association influence the debate.
But the main reason that members of Congress feel comfortable blocking gun control is that most Americans don’t feel strongly enough about the issue to change their votes because of it. If Americans stopped voting for opponents of gun control, gun-control laws would pass very quickly. This country’s level of gun violence is as high as it is because many Americans have decided that they are OK with it.
5. The filibuster is pro-gun
Gun control is yet another issue in which the filibuster helps Republican policy priorities and hurts Democratic priorities. On guns (as on climate change, taxes, Medicare access, the minimum wage, immigration and other issues), Republicans are happier with the status quo than Democrats. The filibuster — which requires 60 Senate votes to pass most bills, rather than a straight majority of 51 — protects the status quo.
If Democrats were to change the filibuster, as many favor, it isn’t hard to imagine how a gun-control bill could become law this year. With the filibuster, it is almost impossible to imagine.
a song by Kermit the Frog.
Lives Lived: Jessica McClintock dressed generations of women in calico, lace and beribboned pastiches known as granny dresses. Her clients included Vanna White and a 27-year-old Hillary Rodham for her 1975 wedding to Bill Clinton. McClintock died at 90.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Ian Parker writes in The New Yorker. “The latest streaming-video subscriptions have been sold on the promise of content that is remarkable.” HGTV, as Parker notes, “is low-budget and unassuming.”
Torn Down for What.”
HGTV is now part of the Discovery+ streaming platform, which is tiny compared with Netflix and Disney+. But HGTV’s value also lies in the size of its library, which includes hundreds of episodes of popular shows like “House Hunters” and “Fixer Upper.”
For more: Discovery+ brings a cable-era way of watching TV to streaming.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Frequent flier (five letters).
If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
P.S. Priya Krishna, a food writer who previously worked at Bon Appétit, is joining The Times, where she will write and appear on NYT Cooking’s YouTube channel.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the vaccine rollout. On “Sway,” Glennon Doyle discusses misogyny, the power of apologies and more.
Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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LONDON — Britain’s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines has revived the political fortunes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Now, Mr. Johnson’s allies hope the stark disparity between Britain’s performance and the European Union’s will do something perhaps even more challenging: vindicate their larger Brexit project.
Pro-Brexit politicians and commentators are casting Britain’s vaccine deployment, which ranks among the fastest in the world, as an example of risk-taking and entrepreneurial pluck that comes from not being shackled to the collective decision-making of the 27 member states of the European Union.
With vaccination rates that are a fraction of Britain’s, threats of export bans on vaccines produced on the continent and churlish statements about British-made vaccines by leaders like President Emmanuel Macron of France, the European Union has seemingly done all it can to make it look like Britain picked the right time to leave.
“It is the first serious test that the U.K. state has faced since Brexit,” said Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at the University of Kent who studies the British right. “Boris Johnson is going to have a vaccine dividend, and that will give him a whole new narrative for the summer and beyond.”
the costs of Brexit since Britain severed itself from the European Union in January — damaging disruptions to cross-channel trade and businesses choking on reams of red tape, among other headaches. And it conveniently ignores the harrowing experience many Britons had with the virus before the first vaccine “jabs” arrived last December.
according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos MORI for the E.U.-U.K. Forum, an organization that promotes cross-Channel dialogue. Only 12 percent said they thought Britain had performed worse while 14 percent thought both had handled things equally well.
For all its early stumbles, said Kelly Beaver, managing director of Public Affairs at Ipsos MORI, “the British public feel that overall, the government has done well compared to its E.U. counterparts, no doubt a halo effect of the vaccination program that has, to date, been incredibly successful.”
Significantly, a slight plurality of those surveyed — 40 percent — said they thought Brexit had helped improve Britain’s handling of the pandemic, while 14 percent said it had made it worse, and 38 percent thought it had made no difference.
Overall, the survey shows that the strength of feeling over Brexit has faded somewhat although a majority expect it to increase food prices and make European vacations more difficult. And Britons remain sharply divided, not just over E.U. membership but also on other issues like crime, British values and political correctness.
Mr. Johnson’s vaccine bounce, analysts point out, could be fleeting if a new variant emerges or if the economy does not recover swiftly.
But Mr. Goodwin said one consequence of the vaccine success is that there are few signs of significant numbers of people rethinking the wisdom of Brexit or suffering the acute regret — or as he called it, “Bregret” — that some expected.
The British media has understandably given more coverage to the 28 million people who have been inoculated than to the post-Brexit trade disruptions that have afflicted some British food and seafood exports and left supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland empty.
The monthslong shutdown of much of Britain’s economy will also complicate the task of identifying the negative effects of Brexit, since they are likely to be lost in a sea of red ink. And long before the pandemic, economists predicted that Brexit’s biggest cost would be to dampen economic expansion, an effect that would compound almost imperceptibly over many years, rather than create a sudden shock.
In any event, the vaccine rollout has helped the government to hone a separate and distinct argument for Brexit, one that emphasizes responsibility and accountability over economic costs or benefits.
David Frost, a former diplomat who negotiated the Brexit trade agreement for Mr. Johnson and is now a cabinet minister, articulated this case earlier this month when he said Britain’s membership in the European Union had stifled its initiative, producing “a kind of institutional paralysis.”
Britain faced problems “which we seemed to find very difficult to summon up the will to resolve, and I do think E.U membership had a kind sapping quality to our ability to take decisions,” he said at the Policy Exchange, a research institute.
“Brexit doesn’t solve those problems,” Mr. Frost added, “but it does give us means to solve them, to move on, to get a grip but also to reform our attitudes and become a country that can deal with problems again.”
Britain, officials point out, made risky bets on multiple vaccine candidates and aggressively locked up supplies in advance — characteristics, they say, that were conspicuously lacking in the European Union’s plodding, lockstep, risk-averse approach.
But critics argue that Britain could have done much of what it did as an active member of the European Union. The British medical regulator always had the right to approve vaccines, on an emergency basis, faster than the rest of the bloc — as it did last December — and the government always had the freedom to buy doses separately from the bloc, as some other E.U. countries have since done.
The strengths of Britain’s rollout, these critics said, are rooted in its robust scientific establishment, which developed the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine, and its widely revered National Health Service, which has delivered the doses. Neither of those were strengthened by leaving the European Union.
Britain cut its own deal with AstraZeneca, an Anglo-Swedish company, which is at the heart of its clash with the European Union, which was slower to make such purchases. Brussels has accused the company of giving Britain preferential treatment at the expense of the bloc.
European leaders will be weighing a plan this week to halt vaccine exports temporarily as a way to demand reciprocity with Britain and other countries, and that could leave Britain — and Mr. Johnson — badly exposed. The country relies heavily on vaccines manufactured in factories in Belgium and other European countries to keep the pace of its inoculations going.
“What Brexit changes is Britain’s ability to protect the overseas parts of its supply chains,” said Mark Malloch Brown, a diplomat and former Labour government minister who chaired an anti-Brexit group, Best for Britain. “The crisis, looked at from the other end, exposes Britain’s vulnerability.”
Britain’s reliance on the European Union goes beyond a steady supply of vaccines. It is by far Britain’s largest trading partner, and the two sides have close links in security and law enforcement. While Mr. Johnson himself has avoided using overtly provocative language against Brussels, he has overseen a rapid deterioration in relations since Britain officially cast off on Jan. 1.
“I’m worried that they’re getting so carried away by the evidence that Brexit was a good thing, that they’re going to carry on dissing Europe,” said Jonathan Powell, who served as chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair. “Then the next time we need them for something, it’s going to backfire on us.”
Two months into the new administration, labor leaders are proclaiming Joseph R. Biden Jr. to be the most union-friendly president of their lifetime — and “maybe ever,” as Steve Rosenthal, a former political director for the A.F.L.-C.I.O., said in an interview.
Mr. Biden has moved quickly to oust government officials whom unions deemed hostile to labor, and to reverse Trump-era rules that weakened worker protections. He has pushed through legislation sending hundreds of billions of dollars to cities and states, aid that public-sector unions consider essential, and tens of billions to shore up union pension plans.
Perhaps most notably, the president appeared in a video alluding to a union vote underway at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, warning that “there should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda” — an unusually outspoken move by a president in a standard union election.
Yet Mr. Rosenthal and other labor advocates confess to a gnawing anxiety: Despite Mr. Biden’s remarkable support for their movement, unions may not be much better off when he leaves office than when he entered it.
PRO Act, which the House passed this month — to reverse the trend.
“The PRO Act is vital,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “But what happens now in terms of Republicans in Congress, the Senate filibuster, is anyone’s guess.”
Until recently, it was far from clear that Mr. Biden would govern in such a union-friendly way. Though he has long promoted the benefits of unions and cited close relationships with labor leaders, the president has also maintained ties to corporate figures like Steve Ricchetti, a counselor to the president who was a lobbyist for companies including AT&T and Eli Lilly. Mr. Biden voted over the years for free-trade agreement that unions opposed.
Then there is the fact that he served as vice president in an administration that sometimes annoyed unions, as when President Barack Obama weighed in on behalf of a school district in Rhode Island that fired the faculty of an underperforming school. Mr. Biden also captained an Obama administration team that negotiated with Republicans over deficit reduction, an effort that raised hackles within labor.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Mr. Biden’s allies and advisers argued that he had merely acted as a loyal deputy to his boss, and that he would prove more in sync with labor as president.
National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel, Peter B. Robb, whose office enforces the labor rights of private-sector employees.
Mr. Robb was deeply unpopular with organized labor, which viewed him as overly friendly to management. His term was set to expire in November, and presidents of both parties have allowed general counsels to serve out their time in office.
But with no letter of resignation from Mr. Robb forthcoming on Inauguration Day, the White House fired him.
“What was really promising and exciting to those of us who care was the firing of Peter Robb and the dramatic way it came down,” said Lisa Canada, the political and legislative director for Michigan’s state carpenters union.
Yet it is the Alabama video that most clearly highlights the differences between Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama on labor. When state workers flocked to Madison, Wis., in 2011 protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to roll back their bargaining rights, union leaders pleaded with the White House to send a top administration official in solidarity. The White House declined, though Mr. Obama did say the plan seemed like “an assault on unions.”
“We made every imaginable effort to get someone there,” said Larry Cohen, who was then president of the Communications Workers of America and is now chair of the progressive advocacy group Our Revolution. “They would not allow anyone to go.”
post a notice promising to abide by labor law in the future, said Wilma B. Liebman, a former board chairwoman. There are no monetary penalties for such violations, though workers can be made whole through back pay.
The PRO Act would outlaw mandatory anti-union meetings, enact financial penalties for threatening or firing workers and help wrongly terminated workers win quick reinstatement. It would also give unions leverage by allowing them to engage in secondary boycotts — say, asking customers to boycott restaurants that buy food from a bakery they are trying to unionize.
statement after the meeting, the council members called for “swift and necessary changes” to Senate rules to remove the filibuster as an obstacle to progressive legislation.
indicated that he is open to weakening the filibuster, though it is not clear whether the PRO Act would benefit.
Mr. Trumka said he was confident that Mr. Biden would seize the opportunity that Mr. Obama had let pass when Democrats enjoyed a large Senate majority but still failed to change labor law. “This president understands the power of solving inequalities through collective bargaining,” Mr. Trumka said.
But others are skeptical that Mr. Biden, for all his outspokenness on behalf of unions, will be in a position to deliver.
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. “We know where his heart is. It doesn’t mean anything will change.”
The push to get Americans vaccinated has picked up momentum in recent days. Governors and public health officials in more than 40 states have said they will meet or beat President Biden’s goal of making every adult eligible for a vaccine by May 1, and at least 30 states plan to start universal eligibility in March or April.
“Everybody in the state vaccinated, that ought to be our goal,” said Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia, one of five states where everyone 16 and older is already eligible. “I know we’re not going to be able to attain that goal, but we’re going to absolutely be close and that’s what we need to continue to do.”
This week alone, officials in seven states have announced dates for universal eligibility. In Arizona, everyone 16 and older became eligible this week at state-run sites. In Tennessee, universal eligibility was set for April 5. In New Jersey, officials said they expected to meet Mr. Biden’s May 1 goal.
On Tuesday, Texas, Indiana and Georgia announced universal eligibility dates for late March. Officials in some other states, including Alabama and Minnesota, have said they expect to meet the president’s May deadline, but have not given exact dates for the eligibility expansions.
part of Phase 1c, the third round of priority groups, are not eligible to get vaccinated in the state unless they meet age requirements. Those groups include construction workers and many retail employees, who are generally not able to work remotely during the pandemic.
as about 2.5 million doses of vaccine are administered across the country each day, according to data reported by the C.D.C. About 25 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, and about 14 percent have been fully vaccinated. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in people as young as 16 while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be given to those 18 and older.
about 55,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths identified each day. Though the number of new deaths continues to fall, reports of new cases have leveled off in recent weeks as more cases of worrisome variants are detected. Case numbers have been persistently high in the Northeast, and new outbreaks have emerged in Michigan, Minnesota and other states. On Wednesday, the country surpassed more than 30 million cases, according to a New York Times database.
But many officials hope expanding eligibility and increasing the pace of inoculation could bring those outbreaks under control.
“My thought is that we’re going to see a continued decrease in transmission as we open vaccine eligibility,” said Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida. “It’s not just a matter of more people getting vaccinated, but the variety of ages and kinds of people who can get vaccinated will reduce that transmission.”
Kids’ cereals have a long history of coming with prizes in the box – perhaps a SpongeBob Squarepants figurine or a cardboard cutout of Spider-Man. It is less appealing when the surprise inside appears to be multiple dried shrimp tails.
That is what allegedly happened on Monday morning to Jensen Karp, a Los Angeles comedian, who reported his findings on Twitter with some truly alarming photographs and the words “this is not a bit”.
Thus began a saga that blew up on what might be dubbed “Cereal Twitter”. General Mills, which makes Cinnamon Toast Crunch, replied with an offer to replace the box, but Karp suggested he was not psychologically prepared to consume more of the cereal.
TMZ he was such a fan of the cereal that he had a “Cinnamon Toast Crunch vintage T-shirt”, disagreed:
The two parties continued their exchange via direct messages, which Karp posted publicly. They included a request from General Mills that he submit to a sort of breakfast-based forensic investigation: the company offered to send him a pre-paid envelope in which he could return the alleged tails.
Meanwhile, Karp said he had found other undesirable items in the box, including individual cereal pieces with odd black marks, which some on Twitter theorized were animal excrement; a “weird cinnamon-covered pea thing”; and “a weird little string”.
He said his wife – who happens to be Danielle Fishel Karp, AKA Topanga from Boy Meets World – checked another bag and found what appeared to be dental floss. That bag, he said, had tape on it.
As the mystery gained steam, various Twitter users voiced their theories and offered to conduct their own investigations.
Others created mockups of nightmare cereals:
Amid the humor, real concerns emerged. Karp pointed out that many are allergic to shellfish, not to mention that it is not Kosher. And as he told the New York Times: “I get really grossed out, and I’m medicated for OCD, so this is a total nightmare for me.” So far, however, he has not gotten sick – despite having eaten a bowl, he said.
In a statement, a General Mills spokesman, Mike Siemienas, said: “While we are still investigating this matter, we can say with confidence that this did not occur at our facility. We are waiting for the consumer to send us the package to investigate further.” He added: “Any consumers who notice their cereal box or bag has been tampered with, such as the clear tape that was found in this case, should contact us.”
Seeking clarity, Karp took the “cereal” to Quest Diagnostics; there he was referred to a different lab for testing, the New York Times reported. He has contacted the other lab but has not yet heard back, according to the paper.
In the meantime, TMZ asked whether he was “on the cereal or off the cereal now”.
LONDON — The announcement this week that the AstraZeneca shot, the workhorse of global vaccine rollouts, had achieved nearly 80 percent efficacy in a gold-standard American trial was met with relief by the many countries relying on it.
“When you get the call, get the jab,” the British health secretary, Matt Hancock, urged, part of a campaign by European lawmakers to calm people’s nerves after a recent safety scare with the shot.
But by Tuesday, that campaign had, once again, been thrown off course, at least for the moment. For AstraZeneca, it was seemingly another episode of public relations whiplash, part of a series of recent miscues and communication blunders by the company that scientists said had undercut the effort to sell one of the most potent and indispensable vaccines against the coronavirus.
In a highly unusual move, American health officials said on Tuesday that the company’s account of its U.S. trial findings had not been entirely accurate, suggesting that AstraZeneca had used only the most favorable data to generate apparently spectacular efficacy results.
developed unusual blood clots.
In France, Germany, Italy and Spain, more people now believe that the vaccine is unsafe than that safe, polling has shown, a blow to a shot that remains the continent’s best hope for saving people’s lives during a mounting surge of new infections. Millions of doses are sitting unused in refrigerators across the continent, with doctors reporting some people canceling injections over fears about side effects.
driving down hospitalizations and helping the country to emerge from a dreadful wintertime wave of infections.
Nevertheless, AstraZeneca’s U.S. trial was hotly anticipated. The largest of its kind for the shot, it had been expected to provide the cleanest, most complete picture of the vaccine’s efficacy. American officials saw it as an incontrovertible test of the vaccine’s performance.
And health officials around the world were looking to it as a crucial guide to their own rollouts: It would supply crucial data on older people, who had not been as well represented in earlier trials, and a more precise read on the vaccine’s overall efficacy, which had appeared from earlier trials to be lower than that of other leading shots.
As soon as AstraZeneca announced its results on Monday, saying that the vaccine had 79 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, lawmakers began citing it as part of their fledgling efforts to shore up public confidence in the vaccine.
communications problems that have dogged the company since last year, delaying the regulatory process in some regions and creating hesitation among some recipients.
So far, only 55 percent of the AstraZeneca doses delivered to the European Union have been put into people’s arms, according to the bloc’s figures, markedly lower than the usage rate for other vaccines. Some seven million doses are still sitting in refrigerators.
public confusion about a vaccine that appears to be highly effective.
In early September, the company quietly halted its global trials after a participant in Britain fell ill. But American regulators did not find out until the story broke publicly. Subsequently, the company’s slowness to provide the F.D.A. with evidence that its vaccine was not linked to any illnesses kept it grounded for nearly seven weeks. AstraZeneca has said it shared data in a timely manner.
By late November, the company was again riding high: It released results from early clinical trials, including in Britain, showing that the vaccine was up to 90 percent effective.
But those results, too, were quickly clouded by uncertainty. AstraZeneca later acknowledged that there had initially been confusion over the vaccine dosage received by some study participants, making it more difficult to interpret the findings.
Britain, which has long championed the homegrown vaccine, authorized the shot in late December, relying on the earlier clinical trial results. The European Union’s medicine regulator did the same, but a month later.
E.U. officials said that the delay had partly resulted from a back-and-forth between the regulators and AstraZeneca over the quality of the data.
And even after the vaccine was authorized, a number of European countries initially restricted it to younger people, citing a lack of sufficient data about its efficacy in older people. That problem was supposed to be resolved by the American trial, in which older people were better represented.
Neither European nor British regulators gave any indication on Tuesday that the problems with AstraZeneca’s American data would have any impact on rollouts there. Those agencies relied on a separate set of data from non-American trials to authorize the vaccine.
“We are in contact with the company regarding this further information,” the European Medicines Agency said in a statement on Tuesday, “and E.M.A. will assess the data concerned as soon as the company submits it to us.”
Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting from Brussels.
BHAGWANPURA, India — The farmer sat in the house his grandfather built, contemplating economic ruin.
Jaswinder Singh Gill had plowed 20 years of savings from an earlier career as a mechanical engineer into his family’s nearly 40-acre plot in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab, just a dozen miles from the border with Pakistan. He has eked rice out of the sandy, loamy soil with the help of generous government subsidies for 15 years, in hopes that his son and daughter may someday become the sixth generation to work the land.
Then India suddenly transformed the way it farms. Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year pushed through new laws that would reduce the government’s role in agriculture, aimed at fixing a system that has led to huge rice surpluses in a country that still grapples with malnutrition.
But the laws could make Mr. Gill’s farm and many others like it unsustainable. They would reduce the role of government-run markets for grain, which the farmers fear would eventually undermine the price subsidies that make their work possible. If that happens, the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on the land could be in jeopardy.
in a matter of days — could devastate vast swaths of the country where farming remains a way of life.
60 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people make a living from agriculture, though the sector accounts for only about 11 percent of economic output. For many, getting another job isn’t an option. The manufacturing sector has shrunk slightly since 2012, government figures show, while the work force has swelled.
“Our potential nonagricultural work force is growing very fast,” said Jayan Jose Thomas, an economist and professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi. “They’re all looking for jobs.”
Officials in the ministry of agriculture in New Delhi did not respond to requests for comment.
Unquestionably, India’s current system is outdated. It was introduced in the 1960s to stave off a famine by encouraging farmers to grow wheat and rice. It included minimum prices set by the government, helping farmers sell what they grow for a profit.
according to the Global Hunger Index. India’s surpluses are grown in the wrong places, and the public food rations system can’t transport all of the grain to the needy before it rots. The government doesn’t buy enough nutritious crops like green leafy vegetables, lentils, chickpeas and sorghum to incentivize farmers to grow them.
leading to crushing debt and suicides.
The subsidies encourage farmers in Punjab, a relatively dry area, to grow conventional rice, which requires a lot of water. Rice and wheat irrigation is depleting the area’s water table, according to India’s Central Groundwater Board.
Mr. Gill once tried to grow basmati rice instead. More flavorful and nutritious than conventional rice, it also consumes less water, grows faster and sells at a premium on the international market. But government price rules don’t cover basmati rice. When he sold the basmati rice, Mr. Gill said, a private buyer shortchanged him.
Under Mr. Modi’s plan, corporate buyers would take a much greater role in Indian agriculture because farmers would have greater power to sell their crops to private buyers outside the mandi system, which he said would lift farmer incomes and increase exports.
it spurred growth, but some economists and farmers in Punjab consider it a failure. Some farms in Bihar ship their harvests to Punjab’s mandis for the guaranteed prices, while many of those who lost their farms became migrant laborers in Punjab.
The change in the farm laws is an example of how Mr. Modi has a penchant for quick, dramatic moves that have roiled the country. Punjab’s farmers and local officials want slower change and a shift in subsidies to support different crops. In interviews, the farmers of Bhagwanpura, population 1,620, said they feared losing their farms and having no other work.
“I’m not scared of hard work,” said Rajwinder Kaur, 28. “I will do any job, but there are none.”
average of about two and a half.
With revenue from her grain sales, Ms. Kaur said, she and her two children can barely eat. A relative pays one child’s tuition at a local Catholic school. She is negotiating with the school to waive fees for the other.
joined the protests have left family members to tend the land. Others pool their money to support the protests.
“We feel that the struggle of Punjab is everyone’s struggle,” said Gurjant Singh, the village head, “and unless everyone contributes to that cause, the protest will not be successful.”
Mr. Gill lent his 17-foot tractor-trailer and donated money and grain to those taking turns. For him, defending the farm is a family matter.
His grandfather built the farmhouse after the bloody partition of Pakistan from India in 1947 forced him to flee Pakistan. The subsidies of the 1960s brought the farm prosperity, making it the largest landholding in this corner of Punjab.
Since he took over the farm in 2005, Mr. Gill has plowed his savings into a smart irrigation system, built a machine to clear crop residue and invested in a pair of John Deere tractors.
As he spoke, prayers from a Sikh gurdwara, or temple, bellowed through a loudspeaker across Mr. Gill’s wheat fields.
“Work hard, worship the Almighty, and share the benefits with all mankind,” Mr. Gill said. “That is what is taught to us at the gurdwara every day.”
His fears for the future, he said, should not hinder his work.
“What’s going on here is within me,” he added, touching his heart. “I should keep it in myself.”
PRAGUE — More than 20,000 white crosses have appeared painted on the cobblestones of a medieval square in central Prague, each representing a victim of Covid-19 — an effort highlighting the ravages of a pandemic that has in recent weeks battered Eastern and Central Europe.
Like many countries in the region, the Czech Republic weathered the first wave of the coronavirus early last year far better than Italy and many other nations in Western Europe. But it has since suffered one of the world’s highest Covid death rates and has struggled over the past month to contain a new wave of infections.
Hungary — whose far-right populist leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, last year boasted of his government’s response to the pandemic — is also experiencing record death rates, with over 4,000 fatalities this past month.
The Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and other countries in the region lifted pandemic restrictions last summer after successful initial efforts to the contain the virus. But with cases and deaths climbing in recent weeks, they are now scrambling to reverse the damage.
Serbia, Europe’s best vaccinator after Britain, has seen infection rates spike sharply in recent weeks, prompting the authorities to impose new partial lockdowns.
the European Union’s stumbling efforts to order and distribute vaccines, the Czech government has sought to get its infection and death rate down by imposing some of Europe’s toughest restrictions.
After a three-week lockdown with shops and schools closed, obligatory testing of employees by companies and restrictions on movement, the number of Covid-10 patients entering hospital has started to drop. That has slowly eased the burden on hospitals that were last month at the limit of their capacity, and Czech hospitals now report that 12 percent of beds in their intensive care unit are unoccupied.
Petr Smejkal, the chief epidemiologist at Prague’s Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, blamed what he described as a series of misjudgments by the authorities for his country’s bleak record.
“Firstly, we missed the beginning of the second wave and failed to contain the surge of infections at the end of the summer,” he said. “Secondly, we relaxed restrictions before Christmas, and thirdly, we insufficiently tracked the British mutation at the beginning of January.”
“Sadly, the government did not listen to its experts,” he added.
The Hungarian government had been particularly resistant to the advice of experts who called for greater vigilance in response to the crisis. It has instead sought public opinion on the issue of reopening via an online questionnaire.
A report by Politico this month found that Hungary, despite having Russian, Chinese and Western vaccines, had one of the lowest coronavirus inoculation rates in the European Union.
vaccines and medical equipment.
“Obviously, it would be much more effective to involve the municipalities” in the vaccine rollout, Mr. Karacsony said. “But they won’t do it, because they don’t want the opposition to capitalize on it.”
Hana de Goeij reported from Prague, and Benjamin Novak from Budapest. Andrew Higgins contributed reporting from Warsaw.
Federal health officials said early Tuesday that results from a U.S. trial of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine may have relied on “outdated information” that “may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” casting doubt on an announcement on Monday that had been seen as good news for the British-Swedish company as well as the global vaccination drive.
In a highly unusual statement released after midnight, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that the data and safety monitoring board, an independent panel of medical experts under the National Institutes of Health that has been helping to oversee AstraZeneca’s U.S. trial, had notified government agencies and AstraZeneca late Monday that it was “concerned” by information the company had released that morning.
The institute urged AstraZeneca to work with the monitoring board “to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”
AstraZeneca did not immediately return a request for comment early Tuesday.
In a news release on Monday announcing the results of the U.S. trial, the company said that the vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford was 79 percent effective against Covid-19, higher than observed in previous trials, and completely prevented the worst outcomes from the disease. The long-anticipated results were seen as encouraging global confidence in the vaccine, which was shaken this month when more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, temporarily suspended the shot’s use over concerns about possible rare side effects.
the design of its clinical trials, its results and safety issues. That skepticism carried over to last week, when senior officials at a number of federal health agencies grew suspicious about why AstraZeneca had not announced data from its U.S. study.
That U.S. trial, which involved more than 32,000 participants, was the largest test of its kind for the shot. The results AstraZeneca released on Monday were from an interim look at the data after 141 Covid-19 cases had turned up among volunteers.
The company did not disclose how up-to-date the data are. If the analysis was conducted on data from a month or two ago, it is possible that a more current look would present a different picture of the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety. The company has said it will provide the Food and Drug Administration with a more comprehensive, recent set of data than what it disclosed on Monday. Although no clinical trial is large enough to rule out extremely rare side effects, AstraZeneca reported that its study turned up no serious safety issues.
The fresh data may have arrived too late to make much difference in the United States, where the vaccine is not yet authorized and is unlikely to become available before May. By then, federal officials predict, there will be enough vaccine doses for all of the nation’s adults from the three vaccines that have already been authorized: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Even so, the better-than-expected results were seen as a heartening turn for AstraZeneca’s shot, whose low cost and simple storage requirements have made it a vital piece of the drive to vaccinate the world.
said last week that the shot was “safe and effective,” having conducted a review after a small number of people who had recently been inoculated developed blood clots and abnormal bleeding. The U.S. trial did not turn up any sign of such problems, although some safety issues can only be detected in the real world, once a drug or vaccine has been widely used.
Many millions of people have received the AstraZeneca shot worldwide, including more than 17 million in Britain and the European Union, almost all without serious side effects. In an effort to increase public confidence, many European political leaders have gotten the injections in recent days. The AstraZeneca vaccine has also been administered in the past week to leaders in South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
AstraZeneca said on Monday that it would continue to analyze the new data and prepare to apply in the coming weeks for emergency authorization in the United States. The vaccine has already been approved in more than 70 countries, but clearance from American regulators would bolster its global reputation.
The statement from the infectious disease institute comes after a series of miscues and communication blunders by AstraZeneca dating to last year that have eroded American officials’ trust in the company.
Last summer, at least some top F.D.A. officials learned only from news reports that AstraZeneca had paused its Phase ⅔ vaccine trial in Britain after a participant developed neurological symptoms. Then in September, after another participant in the British study fell ill with similar symptoms, AstraZeneca halted its trials globally but failed to promptly notify the U.S. authorities.
The U.S. study was ultimately paused for seven weeks last fall, in part because AstraZeneca was slow to provide the F.D.A. with evidence that the vaccine had not caused the neurological symptoms. Investigators ultimately concluded that the illnesses could not be linked to the vaccine. Still, the delay was a key reason that AstraZeneca fell so far behind the three other manufacturers whose vaccines have been granted emergency authorization in the United States.
MADRID — In 1936, the photographer Robert Capa trained his lens on children outside a pockmarked tenement in Madrid that had been bombed by the German Luftwaffe. That image of the Spanish Civil War remains a powerful reminder of the effects of armed conflict on civilians.
This month, some 85 years after the picture was made, plans are underway for the decrepit, century-old building to be preserved and converted into a cultural center that will celebrate the photographer’s work and commemorate Madrid’s wartime history. Residents of the tenement were permanently moved to subsidized housing.
For those who had made their homes in the building, the change was long overdue. Most of them could not afford something better because of a chronic shortage of subsidized housing in Madrid. In January, the discrepancy between the city’s haves and have-nots was on full display when a giant snowstorm deepened the misery in one of the poorest areas of Madrid.
In their new homes, the residents will pay the same or even less for more space, proper heating and other improvements.
reduced the amount of state-subsidized housing to less than 1 percent of the total available — about a quarter of the average across the European Union.
banded together to urge the government to oblige large real estate owners to make some of their holdings available for subsidized housing.
José María Uría, who works for a labor union foundation that led the efforts to salvage the Capa building, said that when the tenement opened in 1927, it was billed as a “new housing model for the working class.”
Some local residents even called the building “the home of the rich,” Mr. Uría added, because one of its inner courtyards had the relative luxury of a water well.
including The New York Times.
The picture “launched his reputation,” said Cynthia Young, former curator of the Robert Capa archive at the International Center of Photography in New York. “It was the first time he had been called out for his work on the cover of a magazine, rare for any photojournalist at the time.”
The decision to preserve the building was made in 2018, when the parliament of Spain’s capital region voted to create the cultural center. To take ownership of the building, the city paid off the old owners at a cost of about $1 million.
Confronting the history of the Civil War has long been divisive in Spain. And like other projects linked to Spain’s wartime past, this one became mired in politics, particularly when right-wing politicians took back control of Madrid’s city government the next year. They delayed confirming what would be displayed at the center.
Mar Espinar, a city lawmaker from the opposition Socialists, said she wanted the center to document the air raids of the war.
“Politicians can disagree on many things, but people need to know our history and that bombs were once dropped on the homes of civilians — as a significant fact and not a matter of opinion,” she said.
exhumed Gen. Francisco Franco, whose victory ushered in a dictatorship that only ended with his death in 1975. His remains were reburied in a family crypt.
Madrid city employees removed a plaque from the home of Francisco Largo Caballero, a Socialist who became prime minister of the Republican government in 1936, a few months after Franco and other generals started a military coup.
The bombing of the Vallecas neighborhood in 1936 was not an obvious military priority for Franco and his forces, but it offered a proving ground for his German allies.
Walther L. Bernecker, a professor emeritus at Erlangen-Nürnberg University in Germany who has studied the war, said the attack on Vallecas, as well as later bombings like the one that devastated the town of Guernica, provided “a perfect laboratory” for the Luftwaffe to test its weaponry and for Nazi Germany to “spread terror among the civilian population.”
Capa did not write specific captions for his Vallecas photographs, so they also appeared in some publications without attribution or even in a manipulated context. In Italy, a pro-Fascist magazine headlined his picture with the words “The cruel war” but did not mention which side had carried out the bombing.
Nowadays, any poignancy about living in the historical building was outweighed by its practical disadvantages, residents said.
“The only reason I lived here so long is that I could never afford anything better,” said Rosa Báez, who spent eight years in the building.
“I’m now getting a better apartment and am among the lucky ones,” she added.
Ms. Uquillas, as she left with her family, offered thanks to Capa for his indirect role in her move. Finally getting an upgrade, she said, felt like “winning the lottery.”