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One With Credit

MONDAY PUZZLE — Have you seen my credit card? I had it just a moment ago, and I could swear I put it back in my wallet.

We’ve all had those scares, but fortunately, Michael Black returns after a fairly long absence to help us find our cards. We just have to rifle through a few crossword entries to locate them.

Today’s Theme

Mr. Black offers us a set of three seemingly disparate theme entries and a revealer at 59A.

The revealer, CARD HOLDER (clued as “One with credit … or a literal hint to 17-, 27- and 44-Across”), hints that each of these three entries holds a credit card. I realized this at 44A, where it was easy to see the DISCOVER card in DISCO VERSION. We also have an American Express, or AMEX, card in OAXACA, MEXICO, and a Visa card in the title “ELVIS AND ME.”

This is a nice way to start our solving week, although I wonder if circling or shading the credit card name squares might have made this more of a Monday.

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How to Try and Where to Buy: Willow Baskets

This story on willow baskets is the first installment of a series for T on craft around the world. For each practice I researched, I knew I would discover more incredible resources and makers than could fit on just a few pages. While the focus of each column is the current state of a particular craft (what we are calling “universal crafts,” as nearly all cultures have created versions of them), it is worth noting that the craftspeople engaged in these centuries-old traditions are involved in a living practice. These are objects meant to be used, not simply regarded as historic artifacts or hung on a wall. These makers are not starting from scratch or reinventing the wheel, yet their work is the product of innovative new ideas, practices and modifications. And it is also a tangible link to our past.

Baskets are unique in the realm of craft in that their materials remain unchanged in finished form. For pottery, earth is turned into clay. For weaving, wool must be spun into yarn. But the willow sticks as cut are the willow sticks that form your basket. Each of the makers featured here grow their own willow. In the winter, they coppice year-old withies, or sticks, to the ground (in the spring, the willow will sprout again from the stump). Then they bundle their harvest and transport it home, where they size and rebundle the pieces. Over a period of months, the willow sticks are left somewhere covered, but well ventilated, so that they may lose their sap. Just before weaving, the now-dry willow is soaked for about to a day in a basin of water and then drained and wrapped in a towel to mellow, so that it will bend without kinking.

There are three different ways willow can be processed for making baskets: There’s unpeeled willow, called “brown,” as it’s still clad in its bark; there’s stripped willow, called “white,” which is the palest because its bark has been skinned off; and there’s the honey-hued willow, or “buff,” which is boiled in water, allowing the bark’s tannins to leach into the pith before it’s peeled.

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Opinion | Sanctuaries of Silence

The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the largest temperate rain forests in the United States. Situated within the Olympic National Park in western Washington State, the Hoh is protected from commercial logging and is a haven for old-growth Sitka spruce, western hemlock, coast Douglas fir, big-leaf maples and black cottonwoods. The isolated region is far from main roads and development, making the Hoh one of the quietest places in North America.

This virtual reality Op-Doc provides an immersive experience into the Hoh Rain Forest, told from the perspective of the acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton. For the past 35 years, Mr. Hempton has been documenting the sounds of the Hoh and its many species, including Pacific tree frogs, Roosevelt elk, northern spotted owls, the red-breasted nuthatch and Pacific wrens. He believes silence is on the verge of extinction. Planes often fly over the Hoh en route to Seattle, emitting a dull roar that punctures the silence of the landscape. The Hoh is but one of many remote corners of the world being affected by noise pollution.

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Vietnam Pulls Request for U.S. Help to Build a Coal-Fired Power Plant

HONG KONG — A Vietnamese company is no longer seeking American financial support to build a coal-fired power plant in Vietnam, bringing to an abrupt end a closely watched test of whether Washington would back international projects that could potentially contribute to climate change.

On Thursday, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a lender run by the American government, said the Vietnamese state-controlled company, PetroVietnam, had withdrawn its application for financial support.

The lender, also known as the Ex-Im Bank, takes on the financial risk for American companies exporting high-value equipment and merchandise as a way to help companies in the United States win valuable international business.

In this case, a green light would have allowed PetroVietnam to purchase millions of dollars’ worth of turbines and other equipment from General Electric, the American manufacturer.

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Facebook Is Changing. What Does That Mean for Your News Feed?

Facebook has overhauled how it ranks the posts, videos and photos that appear in its users’ News Feeds, introducing major changes on Thursday designed to put what friends and family have to say first.

In short, you’ll see more posts from friends that have spurred lively debates in the comments. And you’ll see fewer cooking videos from brands and publications. Prioritizing what your friends and family share is part of an effort by Facebook to help people spend time on the site in what it thinks is a more meaningful way.

Facebook is making the changes by tinkering under the hood, reconfiguring its algorithms that guess what you may be most interested in. Here’s what it means for you.

Publishers and brands are the losers.

Facebook is not being coy about this: Those third-party organizations that took over large swaths of your News Feed years ago — sites that post funny pictures and memes, sell you clothing, or deliver articles about the world — will have the visibility of their posts scaled back under the new arrangement.

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When Hollywood Ageism Hits Close to Home

For years, a college friend (in her 50s) has forbidden me from telling anyone we went to school together. Since moving to Hollywood, she deducted 10 years from her age (some of it with cosmetic surgery) to preserve her writing career, she claims. She is afraid that my salt-and-pepper hair will “bust” her. Lately, she has been mostly out of touch. But the implication that I look so much older than her has rankled for years. When I confided my hurt feelings to her, she was unapologetic. Blame the industry and ageism, she said, not her. Do I have a right to feel hurt?


Age, as fantasists have long told us, is just a number. But patterns of numbers have meaning. If 50-year-old leading men routinely win the hearts of 30-year-old actresses in Hollywood films (as demonstrated by a totally nonscientific survey of movies watched on a recent cross-country flight), what happens to 50-year-old women? Who knows if this invisibility also pertains to writers? In any event, your friend is living in never-never land: It takes about three minutes to learn anyone’s age these days.

As for your hurt feelings, they seem reasonable. Personally, I would be less hurt by her assessment of my looks (until I inspected her cosmetic surgery, anyway) than by her shame at associating with me. Still, you have shared your honest feelings, and she rejected them. If you are committed to this friendship, I would never dissuade you from trying again. But as my (brutally efficient) nana used to say: “No use watering dead flowers.” And don’t out her as 50-something. Two wrongs. …

Release the Date?

I am the eldest of five adult children. While packing up the family home after our father died (our mother predeceased him), I came across a copy of my parents’ marriage certificate. They celebrated their anniversary on Jan. 12, so I was surprised to see the actual date was Jan. 6. But I was even more surprised to see the year: 1962 — after the first three children were born. I’m smiling just writing this. Good on them! Question: Should I tell my siblings?

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Listen to ‘The Daily’: Focusing on Words, not Walls

Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile device: Via Apple Podcasts | Via RadioPublic | Via Stitcher

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Focusing on Words, not WallsA Senate committee hearing on border security turned into a fight over how President Trump described some countries, and Stephen Bannon is subpoenaed in the Russia investigation.

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Lauren Ambrose Finally Gets Her Musical

When the actress Lauren Ambrose arrives in the lobby at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it takes a minute to recognize that she is indeed Lauren Ambrose. A wide-brimmed hat hides her flaring hair. A wool overcoat hides the rest of her. A girlish, clean-scrubbed face peeks out in between.

That half-hidden face will soon be more visible and a lot dirtier when “My Fair Lady,” the 1956 Lerner and Loewe musical, begins previews on March 15 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Ms. Ambrose, who has been peripheral to the public eye for a few years now, will play Eliza Doolittle, the pert cockney flower seller who transforms her life through sheer force of will and correct vowel placement.

She had come to the Met because an art historian cousin had tipped her off to a Renoir portrait of the first Eliza, the Austrian actress Tilla Durieux who created the role in George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” Lerner and Loewe’s source text. She thought that maybe it would help her open up “this antique play, find a new way through it,” she said.

Diana Rigg, seated left, as Mrs. Higgins and Ms. Ambrose as Eliza Doolittle during a rehearsal of “My Fair Lady” in a basement room at Lincoln Center.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

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As Bitcoin Bubble Loses Air, Frauds and Flaws Rise to Surface

SAN FRANCISCO — You did not have to be a technophobe to worry that the virtual-currency boom of the past year papered over plenty of problems.

The scale of those problems is starting to become clear as digital tokens have slid more than 50 percent in value from their peaks in early January, with steep drops on Monday pushing the value of Bitcoin specifically below $7,000.

Hackers draining funds from online exchanges. Ponzi schemes. Government regulators unable to keep up with the rise of so-called cryptocurrencies. Signs of trouble have appeared at nearly every level of the industry, from the biggest exchanges to the news sites and chat rooms where the investment frenzy has been discussed.

On Tuesday, the leaders of the two main regulatory agencies in the United States that oversee the technology, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, are to testify before the Senate banking committee about their efforts to police virtual currency markets. In the past two weeks, both have brought major cases, but people in the young industry said regulators had barely made a dent.

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