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Amazon Pauses Construction After Seventh Noose Is Found at Site

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Amazon said it had temporarily stopped construction of a new fulfillment center in Windsor, Conn., after seven ropes that appeared to be nooses were found on the site since April 27.

The Windsor Police Department said it was investigating what it called “potential hate crime incidents” with the Connecticut State Police and the F.B.I.

Amazon said it had shut down construction on the site until at least Monday while new security measures were being put in place. It said a $100,000 reward had been offered; Amazon said that it had contributed $50,000 and that construction companies and subcontractors working on the site had contributed the other $50,000.

“We continue to be deeply disturbed by the incidents at this construction site,” Brad Griggs, an Amazon representative, said at a news conference on Thursday with Black elected officials and members of the N.A.A.C.P. “Hate, racism and discrimination have no place in our society and certainly are not tolerated in any Amazon workplace.”

in Windsor, a town of about 28,000 people north of Hartford.

“We want to see someone apprehended,” Nuchette Black-Burke, a member of the Windsor Town Council, said at the news conference. “If we need to get a sit-in, a protest, whatever we need to do, we’re going to continue to do it until the folks here realize it’s not acceptable. It’s a hate crime.”

Construction Dive, a news site focused on the construction and building industry, which said that 65 percent of the readers it surveyed last year had witnessed racist incidents on job sites. Those incidents included nooses, graffiti and slurs. Seventy-seven percent of readers said that nothing had been done to address the incidents.

The F.B.I. said it was lending resources and support to the Windsor police.

“The implications of a hanging noose anywhere are unacceptable and will always generate the appropriate investigative response,” David Sundberg, the special agent in charge of the New Haven field office, said in a statement.

Mr. Esdaile said that workers on the site had come from Lynchburg, Va., as well as Florida, Georgia, Texas and other parts of the South. “We are concerned that individuals from this community are not really working on this particular site, as promised,” he said.

Carlos Best, an ironworker who was at the news conference, said he had seen Confederate flags on hats and on the backs of cars and had heard “racial remarks” on the construction site. He said it was not the only job site where he had seen and heard such things, but “it’s kept quiet because some guys just want to get a paycheck and go home.”

“But, personally, on this job here, I’ve seen a lot of racism,” Mr. Best said. “I would like to say to the person that’s doing it: Could you please stop? Stop what you’re doing and grow a conscience and think about other people.”

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Covid on the Run

I want to end this week by showing you two Covid-19 charts. They contain the same message: The pandemic is in retreat.

received at least one vaccine shot, and the share is growing by about two percentage points per week. Among unvaccinated people, a substantial number have already had Covid and therefore have some natural immunity. “The virus is running out of places to be communicable,” Andy Slavitt, one of President Biden’s top Covid advisers, told me.

noted. For the first time since March 5 of last year, San Francisco General Hospital yesterday had no Covid patients — “a truly momentous day,” Dr. Vivek Jain said.

There are still important caveats. Covid remains especially dangerous in communities with low vaccination rates, as Slavitt noted, including much of the Southeast; these communities may suffer through future outbreaks. And about 600 Americans continue to die from the disease every day.

But the sharp decline in cases over the past month virtually guarantees that deaths will fall over the next month. The pandemic appears to be in an exponential-decay phase, as this helpful Times essay by Zoë McLaren explains. “Every case of Covid-19 that is prevented cuts off transmission chains, which prevents many more cases down the line,” she writes.

This isn’t merely a theoretical prediction. In Britain, one of the few countries to have given a shot to a greater share of the population than the U.S., deaths are down more than 99 percent from their peak.

down 23 percent from their peak in late April. In India, caseloads have been falling rapidly for almost two weeks.

The rising number of vaccinations also helps; it has exceeded 1.5 billion, which means that more than 10 percent of the world’s population — and maybe closer to 15 percent — has received at least one shot. (A new outlier: Mongolia has secured enough shots to vaccinate all of its adults, thanks to deals with neighboring Russia and China.) Natural immunity, from past infections, may also be slowing the spread in many places, and the virus’s seasonal cycles may play a role, too.

Most countries remain more vulnerable than the U.S. because of their lower vaccination rates. In Africa, a tiny share of people have received a shot, and the numbers are only modestly higher in much of Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The vaccines are how this pandemic ends. That point is coming nearer in the United States and a few other affluent countries, but it remains distant in much of the world. Accelerating the global manufacturing and distribution of vaccines is the only sure way to avoid many more preventable deaths this year. (The Times editorial board, The Economist and National Review have each recently laid out arguments for how to do so.)

“Unless vaccine supplies reach poorer countries, the tragic scenes now unfolding in India risk being repeated elsewhere,” The Economist’s editors wrote. “Millions more will die.”

More on the virus:

disqualified Belarus over lyrics that seemed to endorse a crackdown on antigovernment protests. In 2009, Georgia withdrew over a song about Vladimir Putin.

The Netherlands, which won the contest in 2019, is hosting the event tomorrow in an arena that will allow 3,500 audience members. Many of this year’s contestants qualified for Eurovision last year, though the show was canceled. While they’re getting another chance at performing this year, they’re singing different songs than they had planned in 2020.

The Guardian has a roundup of this year’s entries, including Ukrainian folk-techno and an Azerbaijani ode to a wartime spy. — Claire Moses, a Morning writer

tender chicken skewers with tarragon and yogurt.

The former N.B.A. star Chris Bosh recommends some of his favorite basketball books. Kobe Bryant makes the list.

Climbing the world’s tallest mountains without reaching the top and more stories read aloud by the Times journalists who wrote them.

Take the weekly News Quiz and see how you do compared with other Times readers.

The hosts discussed Michael Cohen.

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Iceberg Splits From Antarctica, Becoming World’s Largest

The largest iceberg on record, B15, broke off from the Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000 measuring more than 4,200 square miles (11,000 square kilometers). Despite being more than twice the size of A76, Dr. Shuman said, B15 did not destabilize the Ross Ice Shelf. B15 has since fractured into several icebergs, all but one of which have melted away.

According to Dr. Shuman, the last significant calving event on the Ronne shelf was in May 2000.

By studying the new iceberg, researchers hope to better understand the overall state of Antarctica’s ice shelves, said David Long, who runs the Antarctic Iceberg Tracking Database at Brigham Young University.

“Understanding when the ice sheets calve helps us understand whether some of these other more unstable ice sheets could break up or disintegrate,” he said. “And that would be important because as these more unstable ice sheets break up they can release the flow of glaciers that are held in place by the ice shelves.”

While ice shelves are floating on the water, the glaciers behind them are on land. So if they are released into the sea and melt, that would add to sea levels, he said.

The National Ice Center names and tracks Antarctic icebergs that are at least 10 nautical miles long or 20 square nautical miles large. The center, which is operated by the Navy, the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is currently tracking 42 named icebergs.

The question with A76 is what will happen next.

An iceberg about 100 miles long and 30 miles wide that had broken off from the Antarctic Peninsula in 2017 raised alarm in November when it appeared to be on a collision course with the British island territory of South Georgia. That iceberg, A68a, ended up grounding off the island’s coast. If A76 hits a similar current, it could reach the Antarctic Peninsula within months and could interfere with shipping lanes there, said Christopher Readinger, the Ice Center’s Antarctica team lead.

As A76 makes its journey, Dr. Jackson said, climatologists will be watching closely — even if much of the public isn’t. Dr. Jackson cited A68a, the iceberg that briefly threatened South Georgia.

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Sale of Museum Paintings Helps Conclude Strong Auction Season

Fifteen objects from cultural institutions passed through Sotheby’s at auction on Wednesday, showing that the debate among museum and industry leaders over deaccessioning hasn’t stopped these sales from occurring.

One work, Thomas Cole’s “The Arch of Nero” (1846) from the Newark Museum of Art, was a highlight, going for $988,000 with fees to a private foundation operated by the Florida-based collectors Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen, in a sale of American art totaling $15 million. Last week, Sotheby’s made a combined $703.4 million from its contemporary, impressionist and modern art auctions. Its competitor, Christie’s, had similar successes, reaching more than $775.2 million for the week.

Talk of deaccessioning, the sale by museums of artworks to cover some operating costs, had been divisive earlier this year. The Newark Museum of Art’s decision this month to consign the Cole and 16 other artworks (including pieces by Thomas Eakins, Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe) drew criticism from more than 80 curators and historians who signed a public letter that described the sale as “inflicting irreparable damage” on the institution.

The Newark Museum of Art’s director, Linda Harrison, defended the plan earlier this month, calling it “thoughtfully considered” and saying it represented a loss of less than 1 percent of the institution’s 130,000 artworks.

have argued that losing public access to works like the Cole landscape, which allegorizes the fragility of American democracy and the dangerous allure of oligarchs, limits society’s understanding of history.

“It’s a sad day for the people of Newark who are losing objects that have been at the heart of their great art museum for many decades,” William L. Coleman, a former associate curator of American art at the museum, who is now the director of collections and exhibitions at Olana Partnership in upstate New York, said in an interview. “We did not succeed in stopping the sale and that will be a source of regret for a long time.”

The Brooklyn Museum also participated in the auction, selling a Mary Cassatt painting, “Baby Charles Looking Over His Mother’s Shoulder (No. 3),” for $1.6 million with fees to the same collectors who bought the Cole painting. Before this latest sale, the museum had raised close to $35 million at auctions in the United States and Europe for the care of its artworks.

Commodore Amiga personal computer. They will be sold as NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, a type of investment conferring ownership of works that exist only in the digital world.

Funds from the Christie’s sale will benefit the Warhol Foundation’s grant initiatives, including its substantial annual funding of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

“As the great visionary of the 20th century who predicted so many universal truths about art, fame, commerce and technology, Warhol is the ideal artist and NFTs are the ideal medium to reintroduce his pioneering digital artworks,” said Noah Davis, the Christie’s specialist leading the sale.

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Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma join states cutting off pandemic unemployment benefits.

Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma this week joined the growing number of states that are withdrawing from federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Supported by Republican governors and lawmakers as well as national and state chambers of commerce, the decision will eliminate the temporary $300-a-week supplement that unemployment recipients have been getting and will end benefits for freelancers, part-timers and those who have been unemployed for more than six months.

In Wisconsin, where the governor is a Democrat, Republicans in the Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to end participation.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also plan to end federal unemployment benefits, beginning in June or early July.

Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits.”

The moves will affect more than 3.4 million people in the 21 states, according to a calculation by Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis firm. Of those workers, 2.5 million currently on unemployment would lose benefits altogether, it said.

Although business owners and managers have complained that unemployment benefits are discouraging people from answering help-wanted ads, the evidence is mixed. Vaccination rates are picking up but less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. In surveys, people have cited continuing fear of infection. A lack of child care has also prevented many parents from returning to work full time.

Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma are offering newly hired workers an incentive bonus.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said this week that his state would offer $1,000 bonuses to 10,000 workers who have experienced long-term unemployment and obtain new jobs. His state is not dropping the federal benefits.

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Democrats, Growing More Skeptical of Israel, Pressure Biden

WASHINGTON — President Biden’s carefully worded statement on Monday supporting a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians came amid growing pressure within his own party for the United States to take a more skeptical stance toward one of its closest allies.

Mr. Biden’s urging of a halt to the fighting — tucked at the end of a summary of a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — followed a drumbeat of calls from Democratic lawmakers across the ideological spectrum for his administration to speak out firmly against the escalation of violence. It reflected a different tone than the one members of Congress have sounded during past clashes in the region, when most Democrats have repeated their strong backing for Israel’s right to defend itself and called for peace, without openly criticizing its actions.

The push is strongest from the energized progressive wing of the party, whose representatives in the House, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, have drawn attention in recent days for accusing Israel of gross human rights violations against Palestinians and of operating an “apartheid state.” But their intensity has obscured a quieter, concerted shift among more mainstream Democrats that could ultimately be more consequential.

Though they have no intention of ending the United States’ close alliance with Israel, a growing number of Democrats in Washington say they are no longer willing to give the country a pass for its harsh treatment of the Palestinians and the spasms of violence that have defined the conflict for years.

a letter on Friday that stood by Israel but also said Palestinians “should know that the American people value their lives as we do Israeli lives,” AIPAC quietly worked behind the scenes to discourage lawmakers from signing.

Republicans have also seen a political advantage in trying to use the most extreme statements from progressive Democrats to try to peel Jewish voters away from the party.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader and a vocal supporter of Israel, condemned Ms. Ocasio-Cortez on Monday for her description of Israel as an “apartheid state” and urged the president to “leave no doubt where America stands.”

wrote on Twitter. (Mr. Yang later released a new statement saying that his first was “overly simplistic” and “failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering on both sides.”)

That has left some of Israel’s most vocal traditional allies in the party in an awkward position.

Mindful of the crosscurrents in his party and home state, where he faces re-election next year, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has been largely silent since the fighting broke out. Like Mr. Menendez, Mr. Schumer voted against the Iran nuclear deal, and he represents the largest Jewish population in the country, ranging from secular progressives to politically conservative Orthodox communities.

In response to a question asked by a reporter at the Capitol on Monday, Mr. Schumer said, “I want to see a cease-fire reached quickly, and mourn the loss of life.”

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