The weekend’s wave of killings began just before midnight on Friday, when a crowd of people gathered outside a police station in Yangon seeking the release of three brothers who had been seized from their home. The police opened fire, killing two men, relatives of the victims said.

On Saturday, the killing continued with four more victims in Yangon, three in the town of Pyay and one in the town of Chauk. Both towns sit on the Irrawaddy River north of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.

In Mandalay, the second-largest city, where the first major street protests against the coup were held on Feb. 4, four protesters were shot and killed by the security forces on Saturday, according to doctors who tried to treat the victims. A fifth death was confirmed by a relative of the victim.

On Sunday, three protesters in Yangon were shot and killed, according to the clinic where their bodies were taken.

In Mandalay on Saturday, after police officers began shooting at protesters, about two dozen students who had been demonstrating fled and took refuge in the nearby home of Daw Pyone, 49.

Police officers and soldiers followed them there and confronted Ms. Pyone, said her daughter, Ma Tin Nilar San, who hid with the students under blankets and mosquito nets. When Ms. Pyone refused to give them up, Ms. Tin Nilar San said, a soldier shot her in the head from a few feet away.

“I was crying in hiding and I was shaking because I was so afraid,” said Ms. Tin Nilar San, 28. “My mother gave birth to me by risking her life. But I could not save my mom’s life when she was in need and calling my name.”

The soldiers began firing randomly inside the house, and most of the students came out of hiding, she said. Eighteen were arrested.

After the police and soldiers left, Ms. Tin Nilar San said she and the remaining students carried her mother, who was still alive, to a nearby Buddhist monastery, where volunteer medics were treating wounded protesters.

They put her in an ambulance. But before it could be driven away, about 20 soldiers and police officers arrived, said Mr. Tin Tun, who was coordinating emergency care at the monastery. They broke down the door of the monastery, and everyone fled or hid, he said.

Mr. Tin Tun said he found a place to hide near the ambulance. He said he heard the soldiers say that Ms. Pyone appeared to have died, and that they should take her to a cemetery to be cremated.

The soldiers then drove off in the ambulance, he said. Ms. Pyone has not been seen since. Family members, hoping she might have survived, have looked for her at a prison and at police and military hospitals, without success.

“I cannot sleep, I cannot eat anything,” Ms. Tin Nilar San said. “I want my mother back. She is such a nice woman with a kind heart. She risked her life to save all the students hiding in our house.”

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U.S. Has 1,000 More Troops in Afghanistan Than It Disclosed

So, officially, the Pentagon insists that troop numbers are lower. “We are still at 2,500” in Afghanistan, Maj. Rob Lodewick, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email to The New York Times on Friday.

What U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan are stationed at roughly a dozen bases and consist mostly of Special Operations troops advising Afghan units at the headquarters level, as well as flight and support crews for aircraft. In southern Afghanistan, U.S. jets fly overhead almost nightly.

Since this time last year, U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan have declined from 12,000 to the current number. That drop was staunchly opposed by Pentagon leaders, who have long said that at least 8,600 U.S. troops are needed, both to support the Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism missions.

But a review of the U.S.-Taliban deal by the Afghan Study Group, a congressionally mandated report that submitted its findings to lawmakers last month, concluded that maintaining around 4,500 troops in Afghanistan could be enough “to secure U.S. interests under current conditions and at an acceptable level of risk.”

In addition to the 3,500 Americans, there are roughly 7,000 NATO and allied troops still in Afghanistan who depend on U.S. forces for logistics and force protection. If the United States did, indeed, try to leave by May 1, it would be almost impossible logistically to withdraw both the American and the allied forces in time, experts have said, though U.S. officials insist it remains an option.

Despite the shrinking timeline, Mr. Biden has yet to decide whether U.S. troops will stay beyond the proposed date — and if so, how many — or leave, ending America’s longest war after more than 19 years.

Mr. Biden’s own inclination, when he was Mr. Obama’s vice president, was toward a reduced U.S. presence. But as president, he must weigh whether following such instincts would run too high a risk of the Taliban defeating government forces and taking over Afghanistan’s key cities. Many senior military commanders still argue that a full withdrawal could also lead to Al Qaeda and other groups hostile to the United States regaining a prominent presence in the country.

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Subway Product Placement Makes It a Star of Korean TV

In an episode of the Korean television show “The K2,” which takes place in a world of fugitives and bodyguards, a man is being treated with a defibrillator when he enters into a dream state. On the fringe of death, he recalls taking a past love to a Subway restaurant and to a park for a picnic, where he gently feeds her a sandwich and soft drink with the Subway logo facing the camera.

The detail is not a narrative quirk. It is a result of South Korea’s broadcasting regulations and the aggressive use of product placement in the country’s shows by Subway, the American sandwich chain famous for its $5 foot-longs.

“People joke, ‘If I had a drink every time Subway popped up, I’d be drunk before the first half is over,’” said Jae-Ha Kim, a journalist in Chicago who reviews Korean dramas. “Everyone here’s like, ‘I never got a Subway sandwich that looked that good, with that much meat.’”

Product placement in TV shows is a reality the world over. But South Korea’s terrestrial stations are prevented from inserting commercial breaks during programming, meaning many Korean companies must be creative about getting their wares in front of viewers. As Korean dramas have become more popular with international audiences, global brands have pushed to be part of the action.

world’s largest fast-food chain by store count since its founding in 1965 in Bridgeport, Conn.

Colin Clark, the country director for Subway in South Korea, said product placements in popular dramas like “Descendants of the Sun” had a positive impact on global sales, specifically citing markets in China, Taiwan and Singapore.

“I swear to you, it was a difference between night and day — before the product placement and after the product placement — the effect it had on the customers,” said Mr. Clark, who declined to provide specific sales figures.

an Irish court ruled is not bread, and its tuna, which a lawsuit claimed is “anything but tuna.”

But on TV, pristinely clean Subway shops pop with bright colors serve as the setting for business meetings, social gossip and dates for beautiful couples. Instead of cookies and tea, elderly Korean TV characters keep freshly wrapped Subway sandwiches at the ready — you never can know when an unexpected guest will drop by and crave an Italian sub.

On the popular Korean drama “Crash Landing on You,” North Korean soldiers and a South Korean businesswoman find common ground through Subway sandwiches.

Product placement in Korean shows began in earnest in 2010, when South Korea’s stringent broadcasting laws eased restrictions on the practice in an effort to increase network revenues and promote Korean goods. In 2018, South Korea’s networks sold $114 million worth of product placement, up 15 percent from the previous year, according to Soobum Lee, a mass communication professor at Incheon National University.

Shows collect an average of about $900,000 from product placements, although 2016’s “Descendants of the Sun” sold triple that amount, Mr. Lee said. It was also criticized by some viewers for excessive product placement.

Other American companies, like Papa John’s Pizza, have used product placements in Korean dramas, but none are as ubiquitous as Subway.

first episode of “Someway” has more than 1.3 million views.

“There’s humor in the advertising we’re doing,” Subway’s Mr. Clark said. “As a brand, if you take yourself too seriously, you’re going to end up always getting into trouble.”

Subway opened its first South Korea location in 1992. Now there are more than 430 Subways in the country, its second-largest footprint in Asia behind China.

To continually appeal to its target demographic of 15- to 25-year-olds, Subway is also becoming more inventive with how it is presented. On the drama “Memories of the Alhambra,” gamers competing in an augmented reality game collected valuable swords and coins by going to Subway.

In real life, newer restaurants with digital menu boards display the chain’s appearances on shows.

Product placement “was a relatively cheap way to get us brand awareness,” said Mr. Clark, who has also overseen collaborations with the K-pop star Kang Daniel and a limited-edition Subway streetwear release with Fila. “It was something the other brands were doing, but weren’t really kind of owning that space the way Subway started doing.”

commercial breaks on terrestrial stations.

Product placement is not likely to disappear, though.

Mr. Clark said that terrestrial advertising was too expensive and that those stations didn’t reach Subway’s desired young customer base, who frequently stream episodes on their phones.

Besides, the practice of product placement has already become a plot point.

On the show “Because This Is My First Life,” the lead character dreams of becoming a television writer. When she lands a job in the industry, her assignment is to jam product placements into the scripts of popular Korean dramas.

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Jordan Hospital’s Oxygen Shortage Tied to at Least 7 Deaths

At least seven people died at a hospital in Jordan on Saturday after it ran out of oxygen, according to Jordanian news reports, prompting an outcry in the kingdom, a visit to the hospital by King Abdullah II and the resignations of the country’s health minister and the hospital’s director.

Officials said that all of the victims were being treated for the coronavirus and that they had died after an interruption of oxygen supply that lasted around an hour at a government hospital in Salt, northwest of Amman, the capital.

Many countries across the world, including Mexico, Nigeria and Egypt, have faced oxygen supply shortages that have driven up the virus death toll. In Mexico, prices for oxygen have spiked, sales of oxygen tanks have thrived on the black market, and criminal groups have stolen them from hospitals. In Egypt, a New York Times investigation found that at least three patients had died of oxygen deprivation in a hospital that was running out of it earlier this year.

Last month, more than 500,000 people infected with the coronavirus were in need of oxygen every day, according to the World Health Organization, which identified up to 20 low- and middle-income countries that were in urgent need of oxygen supplies, including Malawi, Nigeria and Afghanistan. But there have also been fears that the world’s oxygen supply would be unable to meet the needs of all of those who need it, which include not only Covid-19 patients but also those being treated for many other diseases.

Al-Mamlaka TV.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in front of the hospital to protest against the shortage of oxygen, including relatives of victims, according to news reports and photographs, and a video circulating online showed the king, in military fatigues, speaking with what appeared to be an official at the hospital as similarly clad members of his entourage held back a surging crowd.

Jordan, a country of 10 million people, has reported over 5,200 Covid-19 deaths, according to a count by The Times. On Friday, it received a first shipment of 144,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

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In U.S. nursing homes, where Covid-19 killed scores, even reports of maggots and rape don’t dock five-star ratings.

Twelve years ago, the U.S. government introduced a powerful new tool to help people make a wrenching decision: which nursing home to choose for loved ones at their most vulnerable. Using a simple star rating — one being the worst, five the best — the system promised to distill reams of information and transform an emotional process into one based on objective, government-blessed metrics.

The star system quickly became ubiquitous, a popular way for consumers to educate themselves and for nursing homes to attract new customers. During the coronavirus pandemic, with many locked-down homes unavailable for prospective residents or their families to see firsthand, the ratings seemed indispensable.

But a New York Times investigation, based on the most comprehensive analysis of the data that powers the ratings program, found that it is broken.

The ratings program, which is run by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or C.M.S., relies on a mix of self-reported data from more than 15,000 nursing homes and on-site examinations by state health inspectors.

years of warnings, the system provided a badly distorted picture of the quality of care at the nation’s nursing homes. Many relied on sleight-of-hand maneuvers to improve their ratings and hide shortcomings that contributed to the damage when the pandemic struck.

More than 130,000 nursing-home residents have died of Covid-19, and The Times’s analysis found that people at five-star facilities were roughly as likely to die of the disease as those at one-star homes.

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The Taliban’s Secret Prisons: A Reporter’s Perilous Trip

Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.

It was a throwaway line in a grim Human Rights Watch report that sent me on my quest: “The Taliban run dozens of unacknowledged prisons.” Here, for me, was a new and sinister aspect of the kind of parallel government that this insurgent group has constructed in Afghanistan.

Bombings and shootings have been written about at length. These prisons were an overlooked element in the Taliban’s terror campaign: a below-the-radar network of incarceration that is waiting to arbitrarily swallow up and punish citizens who are considered enemies of the group.

As the Kabul bureau chief for The New York Times, I surmised that this network must have affected a substantial number of Afghans. My goal was to describe the physical features of these prisons as closely as possible, the conditions under which the Taliban’s prisoners are held and the psychological aftermath. What followed was a trip north, to Badakhshan Province, and a series of wrenching accounts of beatings, privation, despair and lingering trauma, culminating in one interview I will remember for a long time.

buzkashi match — a rough game of mounted polo in which the headless corpse of a calf or goat is chased by riders around an immense field — was unfolding noisily beneath us.

Before the interview, I had ranged far and wide in the mountains of Badakhshan looking for ex-prisoners of the Taliban, with my small and excellent team of colleagues: the photographer Kiana Hayeri; a reporter in the Kabul bureau, Najim Rahim; and a great Faizabad freelance journalist and driver (who asked not to be named).

One of our destinations was a forlorn rural outpost of an ineffectual pro-government militia in Jorm District. We were told as soon as we arrived that we would have to make the interviews quick, as the Taliban had gotten wind of our arrival. So we hurried, and afterward the Faizabad colleague sped our small car through the hills to get us out of there.

As we were making our way back, we could see the white flag of the Taliban fluttering across the river. When we arrived back in town, our colleague told us with grim humor that the last stretch of road was known locally as “the valley of death” because Taliban kidnappings were not infrequent.

Just the week before, he told us, a judge from Faizabad had been kidnapped on it.


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Your Daylight Saving Time Questions Answered

“There was the threat of federal intervention in all of this, so the railroads decided they were going to police themselves,” said Carlene Stephens, a curator at the National Museum of American History. Scientists were also urging a standardized system for marking time, she said.

In North America, a coalition of businessmen and scientists decided on time zones, and in 1883, U.S. and Canadian railroads adopted four (Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific) to streamline service. The shift was not universally well received. Evangelical Christians were among the strongest opponents, arguing “time came from God and railroads were not to mess with it,” Ms. Stephens said.

The introduction of time zones prompted fears of a kind of 19th-century Y2K. “Jewelers were busy yesterday answering questions from the curious, many of whom seemed to think that the change in time would generally create a sensation, a stoppage of business, and some sort of a disaster, the nature of which could not be exactly ascertained,” The New York Times reported in November 1883.

Once the time zone business was settled, it wasn’t long until Franklin’s idea for daylight saving was refashioned for the industrial world. In the 1900s, an English builder, William Willet, urged British lawmakers to shift the clocks to reap economic benefits. Parliament rejected the proposal in 1909, only to embrace it a few years later under the pressures of World War I. In 1916, Germany was the first European nation to enact the policy in an effort to cut energy costs, and over the next few years several Western nations followed suit. In the United States, the federal government took oversight of time zones in 1918. And in March of that year, the country lost its first hour of sleep.

One of the oldest arguments for daylight saving time is that it can save energy costs. There have been many conflicting studies about whether actually it does.

A Department of Energy report from 2008 found that the extended daylight saving time signed by George W. Bush in 2005 saved about 0.5 percent in total electricity use per day. Also that year, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the shift in daylight saving time, “contrary to the policy’s intent,” increased residential electricity demand by about 1 percent, raising electricity bills in Indiana by $9 million per year and increasing pollution emissions.

But daylight saving time still has fervent supporters, especially among business advocates who argue it helps drive the economy.

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A Last-Minute Add to Stimulus Bill Could Restrict State Tax Cuts

WASHINGTON — A last-minute change in the $1.9 trillion economic relief package that President Biden signed into law this week includes a provision that could temporarily prevent states that receive government aid from turning around and cutting taxes.

The restriction, which was added by Senate Democrats, is intended to ensure that states use federal funds to keep their local economies humming and avoid drastic budget cuts and not simply use the money to subsidize tax cuts. But the provision is causing alarm among some local officials, primarily Republicans, who see the move as federal overreach and fear conditions attached to the money will impede upon their ability to manage their budgets as they see fit.

Officials are scrambling to understand what strings are attached to the $220 billion that is expected to be parceled out among states, territories and tribes and are already pressing the Treasury Department for guidance about the restrictions they will face if they take federal money.

Under the new law, $25 billion will be divided equally among states, while $169 billion will be allocated based on a state’s unemployment rate. States can use the money for pandemic-related costs, offsetting lost revenues to provide essential government services, and for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure projects.

based on a formula that considers its unemployment rate rather than its population. Conservative-leaning states, many of which had less onerous coronavirus restrictions and did not shut down as much business activity, claim they are essentially being penalized for prioritizing their economies during the pandemic.

But early analyses of the bill show that both conservative-leaning and liberal-leaning states will receive big chunks of cash. California, Florida, New York and Texas will each get more than $10 billion in aid, according to a Tax Foundation tally.

Still, the tax language has angered Republicans — none of whom voted for the rescue package — and on Thursday, Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, introduced legislation to reverse it.

many cities are facing budget crunches, state finances have turned out to be relatively healthy.

A New York Times analysis this month found that, on balance, state revenues were generally flat or down slightly last year compared with 2019 as expanded unemployment benefits allowed consumer spending and tax revenues to keep flowing.

“Idaho would potentially subsidize poorly managed states simply because we are using our record budget surplus to pursue historic tax relief for our citizens,” Gov. Brad Little of Idaho said this week. “We achieved our record budget surplus after years of responsible, conservative governing and quick action during the pandemic, and our surplus should be returned to Idahoans as I proposed.”

Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican of West Virginia, criticized Mr. Manchin in an interview this week with CNN.

How Has the Pandemic Changed Your Taxes?

Nope. The so-called economic impact payments are not treated as income. In fact, they’re technically an advance on a tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. The payments could indirectly affect what you pay in state income taxes in a handful of states, where federal tax is deductible against state taxable income, as our colleague Ann Carrns wrote. Read more.

Mostly.  Unemployment insurance is generally subject to federal as well as state income tax, though there are exceptions (Nine states don’t impose their own income taxes, and another six exempt unemployment payments from taxation, according to the Tax Foundation). But you won’t owe so-called payroll taxes, which pay for Social Security and Medicare. The new relief bill will make the first $10,200 of benefits tax-free if your income is less than $150,000. This applies to 2020 only. (If you’ve already filed your taxes, watch for I.R.S. guidance.) Unlike paychecks from an employer, taxes for unemployment aren’t automatically withheld. Recipients must opt in — and even when they do, federal taxes are withheld only at a flat rate of 10 percent of benefits. While the new tax break will provide a cushion, some people could still owe the I.R.S. or certain states money. Read more.

Probably not, unless you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a gig worker. The tax law overhaul of late 2019 eliminated the home office deduction for employees from 2018 through 2025. “Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home,” the I.R.S. said. Read more.

Self-employed people can take paid caregiving leave if their child’s school is closed or their usual child care provider is unavailable because of the outbreak. This works similarly to the smaller sick leave credit — 67 percent of average daily earnings (for either 2020 or 2019), up to $200 a day. But the caregiving leave can be taken for 50 days. Read more.

Yes. This year, you can deduct up to $300 for charitable contributions, even if you use the standard deduction. Previously, only people who itemized could claim these deductions. Donations must be made in cash (for these purposes, this includes check, credit card or debit card), and can’t include securities, household items or other property. For 2021, the deduction limit will double to $600 for joint filers. Rules for itemizers became more generous as well. The limit on charitable donations has been suspended, so individuals can contribute up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income, up from 60 percent. But these donations must be made to public charities in cash; the old rules apply to contributions made to donor-advised funds, for example. Both provisions are available through 2021. Read more.

“He’s hurting his own people in the state of West Virginia,” Mr. Justice said. “I do not condone it.”

The provision is also raising questions about what actually constitutes a tax cut and whether the law could prevent states from other types of tax relief. The language of the legislation appears to offer states little wiggle room.

Jared Walczak, the vice president for state projects at the Tax Foundation’s Center for State Tax Policy, said that the fine print in the law raised many complicated questions for states that, in some cases, would be awarded money for things that they either do not need or that they already had plans to pay for out of their budgets. It is not clear, for example, if a state could use aid money for an expense related to the coronavirus that it was already planning to pay for and then offer tax credits with the additional surplus.

“If the federal government intends to forbid any sort of revenue negative tax policy, no matter what its size, because a state received some funding, that would be a radical federal entanglement in state fiscal policy that may go beyond what was intended,” Mr. Walczak said.

Such questions will largely hinge on how Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen interprets the legislation and what guidance the Treasury Department gives to states.

A department official noted that the law says that states and territories that receive the aid cannot use the funds to offset a reduction in net tax revenue as a result of tax cuts because the money is intended to be used to support the public health response and avoid layoffs and cuts to public services. More guidance on the matter is coming, the official said.

The lack of clarity also raises the risk that states use the money for projects or programs that do not actually qualify under the law and then are forced to repay the federal government. States are required to submit regular reports to the Treasury Department accounting for how the funds are being spent and to show any other changes that they have made to their tax codes. The department will also be setting up a system of monitoring how the funds are being used.

Emily Swenson Brock, the director of the Federal Liaison Center at the Government Finance Officers Association, said that the eligible uses of the federal aid appeared to be relatively limited for the states and that some might actually find it challenging to deploy the money in a useful way.

“It’s complicated here for the states,” Ms. Brock said, adding that her organization had asked the Treasury Department for an explanation. “Congress is reaching in and telling these states how they can and can’t use that money.”

Before they receive federal funds, states will have to submit a certification promising to use the money according to the law. They could also decline funding or, if they are set on tax cuts, they could offset them with other sources of revenue that do not include the federal funds.

For many states, the federal money is welcome even if they do not necessarily need it for public health purposes.

Melissa Hortman, the speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, said that she was hopeful that the federal government gives states the flexibility to use the money to make up for lost revenue from the virus. She suggested that the state should look to make new investments in education and transportation. Minnesota is expected to have a budget surplus for the next two years and will receive more than $2 billion in aid.

“It’s not too much money,” said Ms. Hortman, a Democrat. “Our country has just lived through a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic.”

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Pace of U.S. Covid Vaccinations Increases

President Biden’s call for every adult American to be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by May 1 comes at a time when doses are being administered at an accelerated pace.

In the past month alone, the rate of vaccinations has ramped up about 40 percent, to an average of 2.3 million shots a day as of Friday, up from an average of about 1.7 million shots a day on Feb. 12, according to a New York Times database.

The increased pace of inoculations comes as vaccine production has ramped up. Mr. Biden’s team has made key decisions that quickened the manufacturing and distribution, though some of that success is owed to the Trump administration which had a vaccine production effort in place when Mr. Biden assumed office.

But now that the vaccine supply is getting closer to meeting the demand of the eligible, the country faces the challenge of getting all those shots into arms, an operation that requires not only enough doses, but also improving access to communities of color, as well as space, manpower and messaging to convince Americans wary for a variety of reasons that getting vaccinated is safe and effective.

More and more states have also been expanding the criteria for people now eligible to sign up for vaccines as well.

Since the vaccination campaign began in December, 101 million doses have been administered across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of shots had been gradually increasing, and since Jan. 20, more than 84 million doses that have been administered as of Thursday. The president initially set a goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office and, later, said he was aiming for an average of 1.5 million shots per day. At the current pace of 2.3 million shots a day, the country would surpass the point of 100 million shots during his administration in about a week.

In mid-February, Mr. Biden said there should be enough vaccine supply available to any adult in the country by the end of July. By early March, he said that timeline moved up to the end of May. Mr. Biden also recently announced that his administration would secure an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine by the end of this year, a boost that could eventually make the vaccines available to children. The additional doses could also be used for booster shots, if necessary.

Getting the country vaccinated has become a race against time, with new variants emerging around the country and state leaders becoming antsy to ease restrictions as the weather gets warmer. Mr. Biden’s health team has warned that now is not the time to lift restrictions, especially leaving in place mask mandates that have shown to successfully stem the spread of infections.

“We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay socially distanced, and keep wearing the mask as recommended by the C.D.C.,” Mr. Biden said during a national address on Thursday. “Because even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity.”

Amy Schoenfeld WalkerandNoah Weiland contributed reporting.

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Too Much on the Bottom and Not Enough in the Middle: Nanaimo Bar Outrage

This week was the first anniversary of the official declaration that the coronavirus was a global pandemic. But a number of Canada Letter readers have recently emailed about a very different issue: the correct layer proportions of Nanaimo bars.

Instagram post from The Times’s Cooking account of an example of Canada’s favorite no-bake squares. “Canadians, this one’s for you,” it read.

But many Canadians were quick to point out that it had way too thick of a base layer — a mixture of butter, cocoa powder, nuts, shredded coconut, graham cracker crumbs and lots of butter. The yellow middle layer — lots more butter, more sugar, Bird’s custard powder and heavy cream — was mingy, the critics said. And instead of being as smooth as an ice rink, the melted top layer sported a ripple pattern.

told the CBC “If you’re going to do something different, you can call it a Nanaimo-esque bar, or in the style of a Nanaimo bar.”

The Instagram post linked to the account of Sara Bonisteel, an editor in Cooking, and a photo of a more generally accepted style of Nanaimo bar. (For the record: She did not make the squares of contention.)

Almost two years ago, Sara wrote a terrific article about the pride of British Columbia’s kitchens, and she also posted a recipe, a process that involved having a caterer in British Columbia ship sample bars to New York for analysis and inspection.

A Bite-Size Square of Canada’s History, Culture and Craving]

She told me that she was a bit surprised about the online heat the Instagram post generated in Canada and that she agreed with the critics.

“This particular photo brought drama but didn’t do the Nanaimo bar justice,” she said. “They’re a delicious treat. And I am glad that such a topic can be the centerpiece of such a lively debate, especially after the last few years where debate seemed to be very heavy. To be able to have a national debate about a treat, it’s kind of refreshing.”

While Sara did not create the bar of scorn, she said that its out-of-whack portions might have been a result of its coming from the edge of a pan. “When you press down that bottom layer, it does sort of pop up the sides if you’re not a Nanaimo-bar-making expert,” she said.

She too rejects the swirling pattern on the top layer of the bar shown in the post, although her experience has been that it’s tricky to get the melted chocolate to set “completely smooth, like freshly Zambonied ice.” She finds that banging the pan on a counter several times after layering the top on helps, however.

Credit…Canada Post

Cooking’s Instagram bar isn’t the only one to come under criticism. In 2019, Canada Post released an unusually shaped stamp featuring a Nanaimo bar with the opposite condition: Critics found its yellow middle layer way too thick.

“We understand there are some strong views on the layer proportions, but we also understand there are many views of these beloved treats across the country,” Sylvie Lapointe, a spokeswoman for Canada Post, told me. “That factored into our image decisions.”

how the city successfully shielded its Indigenous elders from the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Catherine Porter reports that vaccination has not loosened the restrictions that have made life severely constrained for residents of long-term care homes over the past year. “You always hear people say, ‘Oh, they lived a long life,’” the daughter of one resident told her. “Right now, they aren’t living. They are existing.”

  • Shawna Richer, who recently joined The Times as an editor in Sports from The Globe and Mail, wrote about Justin Bieber’s new video, a “love letter” to the Toronto Maple Leafs: “This is not the rapper Lil Wayne, who is from New Orleans but front-running for the Green Bay Packers in song. Bieber has been obsessed with the Leafs since he was a kid, with the twin-size bedsheets and wallpaper to prove it.”

  • Also from the Northwest Territories comes the story of how the Łutsël K’é’ Dene worked with the federal government to block diamond mining by establishing Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, an area that still allows them to exercise their traditional hunting and fishing rights. It’s part of an article by Somini Sengupta, Catrin Einhorn and Manuela Andreoni on how Indigenous people in many countries are now leading the way on conserving nature.

  • Since leaving Microsoft, Nathan P. Myhrvold, the company’s former chief technology officer, has started coming to Canada to photograph snowflakes. But he’s not using the phone on his camera, Kenneth Chang found. It took Dr. Myhrvold 18 months to design and build a special snowflake camera roughly the size of a bar fridge that can make super-high-resolution images while minimizing melting. A Canadian photographer who uses a store-bought camera and photographs snowflakes on a black mitten said of Mr. Myhrvold’s system, “I think it’s a little over-engineered.”

  • In Opinion, Charlie Warzel writes about Aron Rosenberg, a former teacher in Montreal who went cold turkey and completely cut himself off from the internet as part of his research for an education Ph.D. at McGill University.

  • Five former elite swimmers have accused Canada Artistic Swimming of failing to provide a safe environment and of neglecting abusive behavior by coaches. Their allegations of being bullied, harassed and psychologically abused are being made by other athletes in the sport around the world, Jeré Longman and Gillian R. Brassil found.


  • A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


    nytcanada@nytimes.com.

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