He started with furnishings he provided to a bar called Gilhooley’s, then moved on to decorative arts and art nouveau for the landmark Samuel M. Nickerson mansion, a palazzo that he restored as the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. He also amassed a fleet of vintage automobiles.

He gave as good as he got, several hundred million dollars’ worth — to DePaul and to Chicago theater and dance groups, Catholic schools and other organizations often overlooked by major philanthropies. And he felt quite at ease being a very big fish in what he acknowledged was a smaller pond — but a more hospitable one.

“In New York, I’m just another successful guy,” he told the City Club of Chicago in 2016. “You can’t make an impact in New York. But in Chicago you can, because it’s big enough and it’s small enough and people actually get along enough.”

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Covid-19 Live Updates: States Aim to Expand Vaccine Eligibility Before Biden’s Deadline

vaccine production and distribution ramp up and more states begin to heed a call from President Biden to expand access to all adults by May.

States are also racing to stay ahead of the growing number of virus variants, some of which are more contagious and possibly even more deadly. At least three states — Maine, Virginia and Wisconsin — and Washington, D.C., have said that they will expand eligibility to their general population by May 1, the deadline that Mr. Biden set last week. At least six other states — including Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Montana and Utah — hope to do so this month or next.

In Mississippi and Alaska, everyone age 16 or older is eligible, and Arizona and Michigan have made the vaccines available to all adults in some counties.

Mr. Biden said last week that he was directing the federal government to secure an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With three vaccines now in use, Mr. Biden has said that the United States will have secured enough doses by the end of May for shots to be available for all adults.

50+ or 55+

60+ or 65+

Eligible only in some counties

Restaurant workers

Eligible only in some counties

High-risk adults

Over a certain age

Eligible only in some counties

Several states have already been expanding eligibility for vaccinations. In Ohio, vaccines will open to anyone 40 and up as of Friday, and to more residents with certain medical conditions. Indiana extended access to people 45 and older, effective immediately.

Coloradans age 50 and up will be eligible for a shot on Friday, along with anyone 16 years and older with certain medical conditions. Wisconsin said on Tuesday that residents 16 years and up with certain medical conditions would be eligible a week earlier than initially planned.

On Monday, Texans age 50 and older and Georgians over 55 became eligible for vaccines.

In New York State, residents 60 and older are eligible to receive a vaccine, and more frontline workers will become eligible on Wednesday, including government employees, building services workers and employees of nonprofit groups. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to announce how or when the state will open eligibility to all adults.

Since vaccinations began in December, the federal government has delivered nearly 143 million vaccine doses to states and territories, and more than 77 percent have been administered, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country is averaging about 2.4 million shots a day, compared with well under one million a day in January.

As of Tuesday, 65 percent of the country’s older population had received at least one vaccine dose, according to C.D.C. data, with 37 percent fully vaccinated.

Virus-related cases, deaths and hospitalizations are significantly down from the peak levels reported in January. But progress has slowed noticeably since the start of this month, with continued drops in some states offset by persistent outbreaks in other parts of the country, especially the Northeast.

Public health leaders like Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, have warned Americans not to let their guard down prematurely, noting that the amount of new cases remains high, at around 55,000 per day.

Serbia’s largest vaccination center this month at the Belgrade Fair, a sprawling exhibition complex in the Serbian capital.
Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Stained for years by its brutal role in the horrific Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, Serbia is now basking in the glow of success in a good campaign: the quest to get its people vaccinated.

Serbia has raced ahead of the far richer and usually better-organized countries in Europe to offer all adult citizens not only free inoculations, but also a smorgasbord of five vaccines to choose from.

The country’s unusual surfeit of vaccines has been a public relations triumph for the increasingly authoritarian government of President Aleksandar Vucic. It has burnished his own and his country’s image, weakened his already beleaguered opponents and added a new twist to the complex geopolitics of vaccines.

Serbia, with a population under seven million, placed bets across the board, sealing initial deals for more than 11 million doses with Russia and China, whose products have not been approved by European regulators, as well as with Western drug companies.

It reached its first vaccine deal, covering 2.2 million doses, with Pfizer in August and quickly followed up with contracts for millions more from Russia and China.

As a result, Serbia has become the best vaccinator in Europe after Britain, data collected by OurWorldInData shows. It had administered 29.5 doses for every 100 people as of last week compared with just 10.5 in Germany, a country long viewed as a model of efficiency and good governance, and 10.7 in France.

Serbia’s prime minister, Ana Brnabic, attributed her country’s success to its decision to “treat this as a health issue, not a political issue. We negotiated with all, regardless of whether East or West.”

Serbia’s readiness to embrace non-Western vaccines so far shunned by the European Union could backfire if they turn out to be duds. Sinopharm, unlike Western vaccine makers, has not published detailed data from Phase 3 trials. Data it has released suggest that its product is less effective than Western coronavirus vaccines.

Many Serbians, apparently reassured by the vaccination drive, have also lowered their guard against the risk of infection. The daily number of new cases has more than doubled since early February, prompting the government to order all businesses other than food stores and pharmacies to close last weekend.

More than 150 million students and educators are using Google Classroom app.
Credit…Friedemann Vogel/EPA, via Shutterstock

After a tough year of toggling between remote and in-person schooling, many students, teachers and their families feel burned out from pandemic learning. But companies that market digital learning tools to schools are enjoying a windfall.

Venture and equity financing for education technology start-ups has more than doubled, surging to $12.6 billion worldwide last year from $4.8 billion in 2019, according to a report from CB Insights, a firm that tracks start-ups and venture capital.

Yet as more districts reopen for in-person instruction, the billions of dollars that schools and venture capitalists have sunk into education technology are about to get tested.

“There’s definitely going to be a shakeout over the next year,” said Matthew Gross, the chief executive of Newsela, a popular reading lesson app for schools.

A number of ed-tech start-ups reporting record growth had sizable school audiences before the pandemic. Then last spring, as school districts switched to remote learning, many education apps hit on a common pandemic growth strategy: They temporarily made their premium services free to teachers for the rest of the school year.

“What unfolded from there was massive adoption,” said Tory Patterson, a managing director at Owl Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in education start-ups like Newsela. Once the school year ended, he said, ed-tech start-ups began trying to convert school districts into paying customers, and “we saw pretty broad-based uptake of those offers.”

Some consumer tech giants that provided free services to schools also reaped benefits, gaining audience share and getting millions of students accustomed to using their product.

The worldwide audience for Google Classroom, Google’s free class assignment and grading app, has skyrocketed to more than 150 million students and educators, up from 40 million early last year. And Zoom Video Communications says it has provided free services during the pandemic to more than 125,000 schools in 25 countries.

Whether tools that teachers have come to rely on for remote learning can maintain their popularity will now hinge on how useful the apps are in the classroom.


Casting a ballot at a polling station in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Credit…Sem Van Der Wal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As Dutch voters go to the polls for parliamentary elections this week, the pandemic has changed the usual dynamic.

To help maintain social distancing, the voting process was spread over three days, ending on Wednesday. Voters over 70 were encouraged to vote by mail. And campaigning mainly took place on television, making it hard for voters to spontaneously confront politicians as is typical practice.

Coronavirus cases are again surging in the Netherlands, prompting the authorities to warn of a third wave. Last year, it took the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte until November to get the country’s testing capabilities in order, and the vaccination process is also going slowly.

Yet during the campaigning, more localized issues managed to overshadow the government’s handling of the coronavirus.

The prime minister and his cabinet resigned in January over a scandal involving the tax authorities’ hunting down people, mostly poor, who had made administrative mistakes in their child benefits requests. Many were brought to financial ruin as a result.

Broader policies put forward by Mr. Rutte, who has been in power since 2010, were also a focus on the campaign trail. While his party is ahead in the polls, it has lost some support in recent weeks.

Neighboring Germany is also entering a packed election season, with national and state votes coming in a year that will bring to an end the 16-year chancellorship of Angela Merkel.

In other developments around the world:

  • Australia will send 8,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea in an attempt to curb a rapidly growing outbreak in the country, which is Australia’s closest neighbor, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday. Australia will also ask AstraZeneca to divert to the small island nation a million vaccine doses that were bound for Australia. And it is suspending all charter flights from Papua New Guinea, where about half of the nation’s total reported 2,351 coronavirus cases have been recorded in the past two weeks.

Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver, said she worried about how some clients would adjust as the world begins to reopen.
Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

When the pandemic narrowed the world, Jonathan Hirshon stopped traveling, eating out, going to cocktail parties and commuting to the office.

What a relief.

Mr. Hirshon experiences severe social anxiety. Even as he grieved the pandemic’s toll, he found lockdown life to be a respite.

Now, with public life about to resume, he finds himself with decidedly mixed feelings — “anticipation, dread and hope.”

Mr. Hirshon, a 54-year-old public relations consultant, is one of numerous people who find the everyday grind not only wearing, but also emotionally unsettling. That includes people with clinical diagnoses of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and also some run-of-the-mill introverts.

A new survey from the American Psychological Association found that while 47 percent of people have seen their stress rise over the pandemic, about 43 percent reported no change in stress and 7 percent said they felt less stress.

Mental health experts said that this portion of the population found lockdown measures protective, a sort of permission to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And experts say that while the lockdown periods have blessed the “avoidance” of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.

“I am very worried about many of my socially anxious patients,” said Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver. That anxiety, she said, “is going to come back with a vengeance when the world opens up.”

A protest over masks and Covid vaccines outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on Saturday.
Credit…Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Former President Donald J. Trump recommended in a nationally televised interview on Tuesday evening that Americans who are reluctant to be vaccinated against the coronavirus should go ahead with inoculations.

Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated in January. And vaccine proponents have called on him to speak out in favor of the shots to his supporters — many of whom remain reluctant, polls show.

Speaking to Maria Bartiromo on “Fox News Primetime,” Mr. Trump said, “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it — and a lot of those people voted for me frankly.”

He added: “It is a safe vaccine, and it is something that works.”

While there are degrees of opposition to coronavirus vaccination among a number of groups, polling suggests that the opinions break substantially along partisan lines.

A third of Republicans said in a CBS News poll that they would not be vaccinated — compared with 10 percent of Democrats — and another 20 percent of Republicans said they were unsure. Other polls have found similar trends.

Mr. Trump encouraged attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., late last month to get vaccinated.

Still, Mr. Trump — whose tenure during the pandemic was often marked by railing against recommendations from medical experts — said on Tuesday that “we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also.”

With President Biden’s administration readying television and internet advertising and other efforts to promote vaccination, the challenge for the White House is complicated by perceptions of Mr. Trump’s stance on the vaccine.

Asked about the issue on Monday at the White House, Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump’s help promoting vaccination was less important than getting trusted community figures on board.

“I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say,” Mr. Biden said, referring to Mr. Trump’s supporters and campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Grace Sundstrom, a senior in Des Moines, wrote her college essay about correspondence she had with Alden, a nursing home resident.
Credit…via Grace Sundstrom

This year perhaps more than ever, the college essay has served as a canvas for high school seniors to reflect on a turbulent and, for many, sorrowful year. It has been a psychiatrist’s couch, a road map to a more hopeful future, a chance to pour out intimate feelings about loneliness and injustice.

In response to a request from The New York Times, more than 900 seniors submitted the personal essays they wrote for their college applications. Reading them is like a taking a trip through two of the biggest news events of recent decades: the devastation wrought by the coronavirus, and the rise of a new civil rights movement.

In the wake of the high-profile deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers, students shared how they had wrestled with racism in their own lives. Many dipped their feet into the politics of protest.

And in the midst of the most far-reaching pandemic in a century, they described the isolation and loss that have pervaded every aspect of their lives since schools suddenly shut down a year ago. They sought to articulate how they have managed while cut off from friends and activities.

The coronavirus was the most common theme in the essays submitted to The Times, appearing in 393 essays, more than 40 percent. Next was the value of family, coming up in 351 essays, but often in the context of other issues, like the pandemic and race. Racial justice and protest figured in 342 essays.

Family was not the only eternal verity to appear. Love came up in 286 essays; science in 128; art in 110; music in 109; and honor in 32. Personal tragedy also loomed large, with 30 essays about cancer alone.

Some students resisted the lure of current events and wrote quirky essays about captaining a fishing boat on Cape Cod or hosting dinner parties. A few wrote poetry. Perhaps surprisingly, politics and the 2020 election were not of great interest.

After his wife died from Covid-19 complications, John Lancos joined social media groups that offered support for people who had lost loved ones in the pandemic.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Pamela Addison is, in her own words, “one of the shyest people in this world.” Certainly not the sort of person who would submit an opinion essay to a newspaper, start a support group for strangers or ask a U.S. senator to vote for $1.9 trillion legislation.

But in the past five months, she has done all of those things.

Her husband, Martin Addison, a 44-year-old health care worker in New Jersey, died from the coronavirus in April after a month of illness. The last time she saw him was when he was loaded into an ambulance. At 37, Ms. Addison was left to care for a 2-year-old daughter and an infant son, and to make ends meet on her own.

“Seeing the impact my story has had on people — it has been very therapeutic and healing for me,” she said. “And knowing that I’m doing it to honor my husband gives me the greatest joy, because I’m doing it for him.”

With the United States’ coronavirus death toll — over 530,000 people — come thousands of stories like hers. Many people who have lost loved ones, or whose lives have been upended by long-haul symptoms, have turned to political action.

There are Marjorie Roberts, who got sick while managing a hospital gift shop in Atlanta and now has lung scarring; Mary Wilson-Snipes, still on oxygen more than two months after coming home from the hospital; and John Lancos, who lost his wife of 41 years on April 23.

In January, they and dozens of others participated in an advocacy training session over Zoom, run by a group called Covid Survivors for Change. This month, the group organized virtual meetings with the offices of 16 senators, and more than 50 group members lobbied for the coronavirus relief package.

The immediate purpose of the training session was to teach people how to do things like lobby a senator. The longer-term purpose was to confront the problem of numbers.

Numbers are dehumanizing, as activists like to say. In sufficient quantities — 535,227, for instance — they are also numbing. This is why converting numbers into people is so often the job of activists seeking policy change after tragedy.

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A New Generation Takes the Lead in Myanmar Protests

When massive demonstrations swept Myanmar in opposition to last month’s military coup, 17-year-old Sithu Shein rushed to the front lines. The high-school student, who used to spend his free time playing videogames, organized friends and neighbors and exhorted workers at a nearby garment factory to join what he called a fight for democracy.

A week ago, security forces opened fire at a protest in the neighborhood where he lived in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, and he was shot. One bullet struck his chest, another his hip. He died hours later in a chaotic hospital emergency room.

Myanmar’s young people—who came of age during a period of relative openness and democratic transition in a country that spent decades as an authoritarian state isolated from the outside world—are at the forefront of the movement to restore elected government. Their struggle, following large-scale protests in Hong Kong, Thailand, Belarus and Russia, come at a time when both autocratic rule and resistance to it have been rising, pitting often youthful crowds in the streets against regimes willing to arrest, intimidate and even kill to hold on to power.

Today’s generation in Myanmar glimpsed what it’s like to live in a free society. State censorship was lifted in 2012, and millions of young people connected to the world through the internet for the first time. They saw the promise of foreign investment, and many aspire to jobs in fields like tech and travel. The transition was incomplete, but after half a century of military rule, it opened the door to momentous change.

“Despite the governments of the past decade being far from democratic, a new generation’s come to the fore that has known a good degree of political freedom, a more confident generation that fully expected their lives to be a quantum leap forward from those of their parents,” said author and historian Thant Myint-U, whose books include “The Hidden History of Burma,” the former name for Myanmar.

Since authorities began using force, the young men and women at the front lines of demonstrations have adjusted their tactics and borrowed strategies from Hong Kong’s street battles, staying fluid and using encrypted messaging apps. While many still support the pro-democracy effort that for decades was led by Aung San Suu Kyi—the 75-year-old ousted civilian leader now detained in her home—young people are beginning to view themselves as leaders of what is emerging as a more diverse and decentralized movement than before.

People flash a three-finger sign of resistance during the burial of a protester in Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 4.

Photo: Associated Press

Police officers search for demonstrators during a protest in Yangon this week.

Photo: lynn bo bo/EPA/Shutterstock

After the coup on Feb. 1, 20-year-old protester Aung Hein Cho, said at first he lost hope. “My future looked bleak and opaque—I couldn’t let that happen,” he said.

What started off as massive centralized rallies has increasingly shifted to smaller demonstrations in neighborhoods, making them more difficult for authorities to track and control. Many are fortified with makeshift barricades of wooden planks, trash bins and car tires to slow authorities, and volunteers monitor the streets for police or soldiers. If spotted, crowds will often disperse and either move to a safer location or reconvene when the coast is clear.

Arrayed against them are Myanmar’s armed forces, which have violently suppressed past protests and for most of the country’s post-independence history waged bloody civil wars in the borderlands.

In the past two weeks, at least 59 people have died. Among them: a 19-year-old Taekwondo practitioner shot in the head while wearing a T-shirt that read, “Everything will be OK”; a Korean-language student weeks from his 25th birthday who aspired to travel to Seoul as an electrical specialist; and a 23-year-old internet network engineer who bled to death.

While the young are playing a critical role, the resistance is drawing from all layers of Myanmar society, helped by an array of organizations. These organizations are combined forces of student and labor unions, civil-society groups and other networks with longstanding connections allowing for fast transmission of plans, particularly through social media. Adding to that are striking civil servants and state employees—electrical and railways workers, banking staff, doctors and others—threatening to bring government to a standstill.

Live-streams of marches, gunfire and people being beaten with batons and rifle butts flood Facebook daily. Young citizens scan social-media feeds and dozens of encrypted Telegram and Signal groups to stay on top of street battles in real time. One Telegram group, with an anonymous administrator, pings constantly with information about military deployments and road blockages.

Photos: Crackdown on Myanmar Protesters Escalates

Hein Min Oo is part of what he calls the defense team. Geared up in a hard hat, gas mask, red-rimmed goggles and gloves, his job is to smother tear-gas canisters. The 28-year-old studied YouTube videos from Hong Kong, he said, and uses wet blankets and old clothes for the job. Others, equipped with shields, work as “blockers,” forming a phalanx against rubber bullets and water cannons, he said.

Until Feb. 28, Mr. Hein Min Oo wasn’t an active protester. He contributed through the car-rental service he runs, whose fleet of Toyota Alphards offered free rides from protest venues to help participants return home. But a crackdown that killed 18 people convinced him he needed to fight, he said.

Unlike his father, who worked odd jobs, Mr. Hein Min Oo launched a business in 2013 as Myanmar was opening up, and catered to a growing stream of tourists and foreign investors. He says he can’t tolerate the idea of returning to military rule, where soldiers can harass and detain with impunity. On several occasions in recent days, he has sought refuge in strangers’ homes to evade police.

“It’s like a game of peek-a-boo,” said Thinzar Shunlei Yi, 29, a prominent activist. Stun grenades erupted in the background as she spoke from her Yangon neighborhood, Sanchaung. “They can’t be everywhere all the time. When the police leave, people just get right back on the streets.”

Activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi at a recent protest march in Yangon.

Photo: Future Nation Alliance

Ms. Thinzar Shunlei Yi is emblematic of her generation. She remembers the first time she felt emboldened to express herself—in 2012, when she was invited to represent her country at a regional youth forum in Cambodia. She and other participants from Myanmar feared they would face backlash when they returned. But when their plane landed in Yangon, “nothing bad happened.”

“That was the moment we knew we could widen the boundaries,” she said.

She went on to host a youth debate platform called Under 30 Dialogue, broadcast by Mizzima, a news outlet that returned to Myanmar in 2012 after years of operating from exile in India. On Monday, the military junta revoked the licenses of Mizzima and four other outlets, effectively banning them.

Ms. Thinzar Shunlei Yi threw herself into the anticoup movement. She attends regular in-person meetings with other activists, where they plan how to spread the word about gathering sites, arrange security for smaller protests and organize street cleanups afterward. Every day, she wakes up and checks her channels on Signal, Telegram and Viber, then she takes to Twitter to send out a few updates before she sets out. She’s prepared to throw away her phone before allowing it to be taken by authorities.

“We’re all aware of what we’re dealing with—we could be killed, arrested, jailed,” she said. “But we know and the security forces know that they can’t kill all of us.”

Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing, a 23-year-old internet network engineer, bled to death after being shot at a Feb. 28 protest.

Photo: Ko Ko Aung Htet Naing

Authorities have rounded up hundreds of protesters, politicians and activists from the streets and in nightly raids on their homes. A politician arrested Saturday night was confirmed dead in a military hospital the next morning, his party said. On Sunday, Yangon residents heard rounds of gunfire and stun grenades erupting after nightfall.

While some democracy fighters are visible, others are behind the scenes, including those who participated in earlier movements in 1988 and 2007. From a hiding place he has called home since shortly after the coup, one activist furnishes protesters with food supplies and shields made of galvanized iron. He also arranges for hide-outs for police defectors and others like him who are being hunted by authorities.

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Another experienced activist said the continuing protests are different from the past in one key way: “This time, the military is taking us towards darkness from the light which we saw in recent years.”

Mr. Aung Hein Cho agrees. The internet’s arrival made it possible to learn about events in the world, he said. More books became available; one of his favorites is a Burmese-language bootleg copy of Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History and the Last Man.” His family used to read the state-run newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, but after 2012, independent newspapers appeared on newsstands in Myanmar.

These days, the 20-year-old can often be found huddled behind a homemade shield fashioned from old water tanks. His and his friends’ backpacks are filled with firecrackers, bottles of Coca-Cola to wash tear gas from their eyes and sometimes, a few Molotov cocktails, though he said he himself hasn’t used one.

People use their mobile phones to take photographs of a spent shotgun shell, which was believed to contain rubber bullets, as protesters face off with security forces.

Photo: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE via Getty Images

Protesters react after riot police fired tear gas canisters during a demonstration in Yangon this week against the military coup.

Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA/Zuma Press

March 3 was the first time he had to run for his life as security forces with guns sent protesters fleeing. “They came using force and tried to kill us, I will never forget that,” he said.

Others didn’t escape. Mr. Sithu Shein, the 17-year-old, became a teenager at a time when having a mobile phone and internet was no longer a novelty. Before that, SIM cards—the chips that connect phones to a mobile network—could cost thousands of dollars in the isolated country.

He played videogames DOTA-2 and Mobile Legends at gaming shops. His father said his son wasn’t interested in the family construction business, and instead thought he might consider a career in travel, one of Myanmar’s most-promising industries since junta rule ended.

The coup jolted him and his friends. Elders at home had shared stories of land confiscations, arrests and scarce economic, educational and travel opportunities during military rule. With the takeover, they saw for themselves how hundreds were detained and the internet cut off every night. They knew the army would “do whatever they want to people whenever they have an opportunity,” said a friend of Mr. Sithu Shein’s.

Mr. Sithu Shein immersed himself. On the day of the coup, he posted on Facebook an illustration of civilian leader Ms. Suu Kyi whose government was deposed, which had the words “Give her back” across the top. Ms. Suu Kyi was detained in her home in a predawn raid and hasn’t been heard from since, except in closed video hearings on the charges against her.

Sithu Shein, 17, died of gunshot wounds sustained during protests in Myanmar on March 3.

Mr. Sithu Shein quickly took on a leadership role mobilizing other young people. He made friends easily, networking among activists he met on the streets and joining forces with groups from other neighborhoods. They exchanged phone numbers, met at each other’s houses and plotted future assemblies.

One of his new friends said Mr. Sithu Shein paid for materials to make a dozen protective shields. On the morning of March 3, Mr. Sithu Shein came to his house to convince him to join a demonstration in a neighborhood further south, he said. Lin Tun Ko declined, still recovering from an ankle injury he sustained when unknown assailants ambushed him one night and warned him to steer clear of protests.

“I feel really sorry and I really regret that I wasn’t able to accompany him to the protests on that day,” Mr. Lin Tun Ko said.

Police broke up the demonstration with flashbangs and tear gas. A bulldozer rammed protesters’ makeshift barricade. Mr. Sithu Shein, accompanied by a different friend, scurried into the nearest home. When police left, they reassembled.

Returning home that afternoon, the pair encountered roadblocks and decided to walk. A crowd had gathered near an overpass in an area called North Okkalapa and they joined the protest. Police hurled tear gas, but it didn’t end there, said the friend, Tin Moe Naing.

Some protesters confronted police and the two watched reinforcements arrive: soldiers in military vehicles. Then the shooting began. Many were hit and fell to the ground. Some lunged forward to help the injured and were gunned down.

The friends were separated in the melee. Mr. Tin Moe Naing called Mr. Sithu Shein’s phone repeatedly but got no answer. He asked other friends to try, without luck. When the search proved fruitless, he headed to Mr. Sithu Shein’s house hoping his friend had escaped. Around him, bleeding men were being dragged into cars and rushed to hospital.

He learned later that Mr. Sithu Shein was one of them. He had been hit in the chest and hip. Doctors performed surgery to try to remove the bullets, but he was losing blood and the influx of wounded patients had overwhelmed the emergency room, his father said. His upper body in bandages, the young man breathed his last after midnight.

Thousands attended the funeral. Symbols of resistance were everywhere: three-finger salutes common to the region’s activists, the pro-democracy party’s red flags and protest poetry. “I will still keep fighting for democracy and freedom until my last breath,” said Mr. Tin Moe Naing.

Mourners flash a three-fingered symbol of resistance as they carry the coffin of Pho Chit, an anti-coup protester who died during a Mar. 3 rally.

Photo: Associated Press

Write to Niharika Mandhana at niharika.mandhana@wsj.com and Feliz Solomon at feliz.solomon@wsj.com

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Your Tuesday Briefing

Hours after the interview was broadcast in the U.S. on Sunday, Britain was already grappling with the shock wave rippling out across the Atlantic, exposing a deep royal rift.

For many Black Britons, in particular, the interview offered a scathing assessment of the royal family and resurfaced barely submerged tensions over entrenched racism.

Recap: Meghan Markle made dramatic disclosures, including that there were “concerns and conversations about how dark” her son Archie’s skin might be when she was pregnant with him. (Harry later said neither Queen Elizabeth II nor Prince Philip was the source of that comment.) Meghan also disclosed that her life as a member of the royal family had become so emotionally desolate that she contemplated suicide. When she asked for help, she said, palace officials rebuffed her. Here’s what else we learned.

Reactions: The interview left the country divided, with major news outlets publishing biting commentary. On social media, some denounced the couple’s infidelity to the family, while others firmly defended them. The palace has not yet responded, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to stay out of royal matters.

attracted 17.1 million viewers on CBS, according to preliminary Nielsen figures. The program is airing in Britain Monday night.

setting up makeshift operations on university campuses, hospitals and Buddhist pagoda complexes.

On Sunday, security forces stormed Yangon General Hospital and universities in Mandalay. “I think they are trying to prepare for a brutal war against the people,” a security guard at Mandalay Technological University said. The abbot of the Mahamuni Buddha Temple in Mandalay said that soldiers had taken over the pagoda’s grounds for a month.

U Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, gave the U.N. General Assembly the defiant three-finger salute adopted by the protest movement, calling the military rule illegitimate. The generals fired him, but his replacement refused the job and the U.N. declined to recognize his dismissal, so he remains at his post.

plans to vaccinate at least 110,000 Palestinians over the next two weeks, including about 80,000 employed in Israel and about 30,000 employed in the West Bank.

Israel has outpaced the rest of the world in vaccinating its own citizens, including Jewish settlers in the West Bank, but has faced intense criticism for providing only token amounts of vaccine for Palestinians living under its control. The new vaccination campaign was worked out with the Palestinian Authority more than a month ago and approved by the Israeli government late last month.

episodes of high heat and high humidity that go beyond the limits of human survival, according to a new study.

Extreme heat and high humidity prevent the body from cooling down, stressing the cardiovascular system. The tropics, a region that encircles Earth at the Equator, is home to more than 3 billion people. Above, Aceh, Indonesia, part of the region.

Australia murder case: In 2003, a court sentenced Kathleen Folbigg to 40 years in prison for smothering her four children, with tabloids calling her a murderer. But after years of her claiming innocence, saying the children died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, 90 scientists say she is right and are demanding her release.

George Floyd: Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in connection with Mr. Floyd’s death. Mr. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Afghan peace: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has proposed a United Nations-led peace conference in Turkey aimed at forming an inclusive Afghan government with the Taliban and establishing a three-month reduction in violence leading to a cease-fire. The U.S. has not decided whether to withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by May 1.

Foreign Affairs article by Cai Xia, a former Chinese Communist Party insider, on why she backed away from Beijing.

Thai curry risotto, effortlessly lending lots of flavor.

Read: Imbolo Mbue’s “How Beautiful We Were” is set in an African village ravaged by an American oil conglomerate. What starts as a David-and-Goliath story slowly transforms into a nuanced exploration of self-interest, of what it means to want in the age of capitalism and colonialism.

Do: Here are five workouts that take less than 10 minutes.

Let us help you discover an interesting pastime. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.

The prolific translator Margaret Jull Costa, who has brought Portuguese- and Spanish-language fiction and poetry into the English-speaking world, spoke to our Books desk about what she’s reading.

What books are on your night stand?

Well, none, since I never read in bed, but there’s always a pile next to my favorite chair. At the moment, this includes “Buddenbrooks,” which we’re reading with a group of friends, “Le Château de Ma Mère,” by Marcel Pagnol, which my husband and I are reading with our French tutor, a collection of novellas and short stories by the Portuguese writer Maria Judite de Carvalho, who I’m keen to translate more of. And Michael Gorra’s “Portrait of a Novel,” about the writing of “Portrait of a Lady” (possibly my favorite novel), which has been on my pile for far too long and should be read soon.


• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the second part of our look at the biggest issues facing the Biden administration.
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Xi Jinping’s Eager-to-Please Minions Snarl His China Plans

After Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordered rural poverty eliminated by 2020, bureaucrats in the southwestern city of Mianyang got busy—with paperwork.

Instructed to devote 70% of their time to the campaign, they diligently filled out forms certifying compliance, a practice known as “leaving marks,” said Pang Jia, a local judicial clerk who joined the effort. When higher-ups demanded photographic proof of their home visits, some aid workers made up for missing winter photos by posing in cold-weather clothing during summer house calls, Ms. Pang said.

Since taking power in late 2012, Mr. Xi has realigned Chinese politics with his domineering style and a top-down drive to forge a centralized state under the Communist Party. But his efforts are running into an old foe: bureaucracy.

Party observers say the drive for centralization in a sprawling nation too often fosters bureaucratic inertia, duplicity and other unproductive practices that are aimed at satisfying Beijing and protecting careers but threaten to undermine Mr. Xi’s goals.

Indeed, some local officials have become so focused on pleasing Mr. Xi and fulfilling party mandates that they can neglect their basic duties as public servants, sometimes with dire results.

As the new coronavirus spread in Wuhan in late 2019, for instance, local authorities were afraid to share bad news with Beijing. That impeded the national response and contributed to the death toll, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.

Mr. Xi and other senior officials publicly lamented how front-line bureaucrats were consumed with paperwork instead of fighting the contagion. Officials dedicated hours each day to filling out multiple documents for agencies making overlapping requests for information, including residents’ body temperatures and symptoms.

Reports of fraudulent and wasteful projects have marred Mr. Xi’s campaign to eliminate rural poverty, a centerpiece of his “China Dream”—particularly after 2015, when he ordered that officials sign pledges to meet poverty-relief targets and be held accountable if things went wrong.

Rural farmers in China’s Sichuan Province last September.

Photo: ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA/Shutterstock

In the eastern city of Fuyang, local officials were disciplined in 2019 for ordering homes in some rural villages to be painted white so that they would look nicer to party bosses—spending the equivalent of $1.2 million—without addressing deficient roads and drainage systems. Party inspectors found that local officials started the “whitewashing” as a way to deliver quick results after higher-ups demanded that residents’ homes be fixed up within three months. Even that project was haphazard, with many houses only partially painted, according to a state television documentary.

Provincial authorities denounced the episode as a vanity project and a highly damaging act of “formalism”—the official epithet for box-ticking and “CYA” behavior that prioritizes form over substance—and replaced Fuyang’s top official.

Such unpleasantness aside, Mr. Xi last month declared a “complete victory” in China’s war on poverty.

Locally, officials say they keep getting overwhelmed with bureaucratic demands from above, often involving repetitive meetings and excessive paperwork that sometimes weighs in at hundreds of pounds, according to state media accounts.

One grass-roots official complained to the official Xinhua News Agency about not having time to do real work after participating in 15 meetings over 23 days. The agency also quoted a county chief as saying, “If we don’t hold meetings, how do we show that we’ve implemented our work?”

The dangers of box-ticking have worried Communist governments since the days of Stalin and Mao. Historians say Mao was so troubled by the phenomenon that he repeatedly launched campaigns to shake up what he saw as an ossifying and increasingly self-serving party bureaucracy. Today, under Mr. Xi, the problem appears to have returned with a vengeance.

“As Xi controls more strictly from above, the people below face far too many orders and rules and choose to do the safest thing,” said Ryan Manuel, managing director of Hong Kong-based research firm Official China, which analyzes Communist Party governance.

Mr. Xi has repeatedly spurred efforts to stamp out excessive bureaucracy, calling it a “major enemy” of the party and the people. In January, he ordered the Communist Party’s top disciplinary commission to spare no effort in curbing such behavior and demanded “excellent results” befitting the party’s centenary in July, according to state media.

Mao Zedong also launched efforts to shake up China’s party bureaucracy.

Photo: Paolo KOCH/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

In a sign of how seriously leaders are taking the issue, the party’s disciplinary commission started disclosing nationwide data on “formalism” and “bureaucratism” offenses in 2020.

About 108,000 people were punished for such misconduct in 2019, including demotions, while roughly 117,600 people were warned or disciplined last year. The number of headlines referring to “formalism” in Chinese media has surged.

Distracted officials

Chinese labor activist Han Dongfang says the effort put into satisfying Mr. Xi’s demands amounts to political performance art that distracts from other work, like monitoring workplace safety.

His Hong Kong-based advocacy group, China Labour Bulletin, has documented a number of industrial accidents over the past year in which they believe local unions neglected their duties due to their preoccupation with Mr. Xi’s priorities in eliminating rural poverty and instilling political loyalty.

“It’s like a local fire brigade seeing a fire in a neighboring district that’s getting more attention, so they ignore the fire burning beside them and rush to join in at the other one, because they can score results there,” Mr. Han said.

Last March, Mr. Han said, after flooding at a coal mine in the central city of Xinyang killed seven workers, he called up a district labor union to ask what was being done to improve safety, only to be told that the official handling the incident was away helping with poverty-relief work in a rural village.

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What does bureaucratic subterfuge signal about the future of the Chinese Communist Party? Join the conversation below.

A few months before a coal-mine fire in July in the central city of Zhangjiajie left three workers with severe burns, more than two dozen local union officials visited revolutionary memorials to honor Communist forces who participated in the 1934-35 “Long March,” a retreat over thousands of miles in search of a new revolutionary base, according to a report published by the city’s official trade-union federation.

During the daylong trip, arranged under the auspices of Mr. Xi’s campaign to remind party members to “stay true to our original aspirations,” the union officials dressed in 1930s-style military uniforms, toured a historical exhibition and sang revolutionary songs.

Mr. Han says he spoke to one participant, a union official, to voice his dismay. According to a transcript of their phone conversation published by China Labour Bulletin, the official cited manpower shortages that hampered the union’s ability to fulfill its duties, but also acknowledged that its officials have been pulled away from work by political-education events.

The unions cited by Mr. Han didn’t respond to queries.

Xi Jinping delivers a New Year’s address in Beijing on Dec. 31, in this photo released by the Xinhua News Agency.

Photo: Ju Peng/Xinhua/Associated Press

Government workers complain that their WeChat messaging apps have become bureaucratic quagmires where they are overwhelmed by bosses sending round-the-clock demands by text. Some chat rooms created for work discussions devolved into what is colloquially known as kuakuaqun, or “groups of praise,” where subordinates speak sycophantically in support of superiors.

Some participants post emojis depicting genuflection “in order to make superiors happy,” while others fawningly say “boss, you’ve worked hard” or “boss, you’re brilliant,” according to “Combating Formalism,” a book released last year by a party publisher.

Grass-roots cadres often find themselves members of more than a hundred WeChat messaging groups, the Xinhua agency said in a December commentary lamenting the spread of “formalism” online. Rather than speaking to ordinary people to understand their needs, some officials focus on how to document and publicize their work to please superiors, it added.

Such brown-nosing “appears ridiculous to common folk and chills their hearts,” it said.

Seeking workarounds

And yet, demands from Beijing keep coming.

After China launched in 2019 a mobile app known as Xuexi Qiangguo, which can translate as “Learn From Xi to Strengthen the Nation,” hundreds of millions of officials, party members, state-business employees and students have been required to download the software to educate themselves on Mr. Xi’s ideas and speeches.

Many officials and employers have demanded that subordinates demonstrate political zeal by earning points on the app through activities like quizzes and watching videos. The chore is vexing enough for some users to devise workarounds, such as using custom-made software to simulate usage of the app and meet point quotas.

Party members employed by Tidal Star Group use a cellphone app that translates literally as ‘Study to Make China Strong’ during a weekly group session.

Photo: jason lee/Reuters

Some party members regard Xuexi Qiangguo as something “to deal with, and only seek to earn points to complete their study tasks,” Fang Shinan, a professor at Soochow University in the eastern city of Suzhou, wrote in an essay published July in the party-backed journal Governance.

Similar problems surfaced after Mr. Xi launched in August a national “clean plate” campaign to curb food waste, which state media said amounted to an estimated 35 million tons annually in China. Officials must deal firmly with this “shocking and distressing” problem, Mr. Xi said.

Racing to comply, some schools required students to answer one multiple-choice question “for every grain of rice wasted.” Others told students to sing songs and recite poetry celebrating the hard work that went into putting every rice grain into a meal.

In September, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, People’s Daily, published a letter from a parent of an elementary-school pupil in the central city of Nanchang complaining about how the school had asked parents to submit videos of their children singing the “Table Manners Song” after dinner with clean plates in their hands for 21 days straight.

“Such formalistic practices by the school has left many parents with a deep sense of helplessness and distaste, and we’d typically delete the videos after clocking in,” wrote the parent, Liu Jing.

A student in Shanghai returns his empty plate last year during a campaign to eliminate food waste.

Photo: Ding Ting/Xinhua/Zuma Press

The backlash prompted a central-government office overseeing education policy to issue a notice in October criticizing schools for “formalism” in fighting food waste. It specifically called out requirements for students to “memorize and recite meal songs” and threats of punishment with additional test questions for those who waste rice.

Wasted time

Some of Beijing’s proposed remedies only seem to encourage more bureaucracy. As the pandemic’s economic fallout heaped pressure on officials struggling to meet poverty-relief targets, party authorities ordered in April a fresh push to curb red tape.

Among its demands: compiling an anthology of Mr. Xi’s remarks on “formalism and bureaucratism” and making it required reading for all cadres.

Within weeks, a party publisher had released a 136-page volume featuring 182 passages, and government agencies and state businesses started arranging seminars for officials to study the text.

The publishing arm of the party’s disciplinary commission released six new books last year, including a comic, to teach officials how to recognize and prevent “formalistic” practices.

One book cited case studies of local officials caught plagiarizing and forging paperwork to satisfy Mr. Xi’s demands for more-rigorous ideological training. One way to curb such misconduct, the book suggests, is to study Mr. Xi’s ideas more closely.

“Only by studying hard and conscientiously acquiring a good grasp” of Mr. Xi’s political philosophy, the book said, “can we continuously improve our abilities and better fulfill our responsibilities.”

Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com

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Amanda Gorman tells of being followed by security guard who said she looked ‘suspicious’

Amanda Gorman, the poet who won acclaim for her performance at Joe Biden’s inauguration, has told of being followed home and accosted by a security guard who allegedly claimed she looked suspicious.

She said the incident, on Friday night, was emblematic of “the reality of black girls” in the US, in which “one day you’re called an icon” but the next day considered a threat.

Gorman wrote on Twitter:

She said in a following tweet: “In a sense, he was right. I AM A THREAT: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be.”

Gorman, 22, from Los Angeles, shared a post she made in February which said: “We live in a contradictory society that can celebrate a black girl poet & also pepper spray a 9 yr old” – in reference to a recent incident in Rochester, New York, that led to protests and three police officers being suspended pending the completion of an investigation.

A favourite with Democratic establishment figures, the youngest inaugural poet in US history was named the country’s’ first youth poet laureate in 2017, when she was a student at Harvard. The Guardian has contacted her for further comment. She did not indicate the ethnic origin of the security guard.

A Virginia state legislator, Mark Keam, tweeted: “Let this story sink in. And realise how – while I’m glad it ended safe for Amanda Gorman – this type of confrontation is an every day occurrence for millions of our fellow Americans.”

Youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman reads The Hill We Climb at Biden inauguration – video
Youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman reads The Hill We Climb at Biden inauguration – video

In her inauguration poem, The Hill We Climb, Gorman described herself as “a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother [who] can dream of becoming president, only to find her self reciting for one”.

She also spoke of “striving to forge a union with purpose / To compose a country committed to all cultures, colours, characters and conditions of man.”

Talking to the New York Times, Gorman said she had been struggling to write the inaugural poem. But she was compelled to stay up all night and finish it after the 6 January assault on the US Capitol.

“I’m the daughter of Black writers,” Gorman said after the inauguration. “We’re descended from freedom fighters who broke through chains and change the world.”

Gorman also performed at this year’s Super Bowl and has recently been signed by IMG Models. Her forthcoming books, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb and the children’s book Change Sings, shot to the top of book charts after her inauguration performance.

“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” she wrote on Twitter. Gorman has described herself as having been a bookworm as a child and overcoming a speech impediment in her youth.

She is also the founder of charity One Pen One Page, which supports underprivileged young people through writing.

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