The True Comeback Kid
March 12, 2021
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“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.” — Edmund Berke
“Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.” — Hannah Arendt
The True Comeback Kid
(Alex Wong via Getty Images)
Last night, President Biden addressed the nation on the one-year anniversary of the Covid shutdown, reviewing his progress on fixing the dark and dismal vaccine strategy left behind by the previous administration, which failed to order enough doses, then failed again to properly distribute them to states.
In his address, the President asserted that the goals he set out on Day 1 in office are being accomplished even quicker than imagined. Vaccine manufacturing and distribution have exploded, as have the numbers of Americans getting vaccinated. Biden will direct that by May 1, every person in America, regardless of age, will be eligible to sign up for a shot, and there will be enough vaccine doses for everyone by the end of May.
He emphasized that reliance on science is finally showing us the light at the end of a long dark tunnel. He also pleaded with Americans not to give up too soon on taking precautions, like mask-wearing and hand washing, as that is a big risk for a setback.
Earlier Thursday, Biden signed the massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Congressional Democrats were able to get passed in those 51 days. The American Rescue Plan tackles not only the health crisis, but the economic crisis created by the health crisis. It allocates money for vaccines, schools, small businesses. and anti-poverty programs like an expanded child tax credit which will provide new monthly payments to many parents and possibly lift half the nation’s children out of poverty. Most adults will receive a direct $1,400 payment.
Democrats had hoped to get bipartisan support, but Republicans were in lockstep against it. The bill passed along party lines 220 to 211. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve seen pass here in the time I’ve been in the Senate.” Then he added that he and his party would spend the next months telling the American people what a terrible mistake the Democrats’ COVID relief package is.
In 2009, after the financial meltdown during the Bush administration and the election of Barack Obama, Congressional Democrats passed a Recovery Act that was unabashedly vilified by all Republicans — except when it benefited their constituents. The practice became so common Dems started calling these Republicans “Highway Hypocrites.”
It’s happening again. Hours after the Rescue Plan passed, Mississippi’s Republican senator Roger Wicker tweeted his glowing approval of funding that meant “independent restaurant operators” would receive “$28.6 billion worth of targeted relief…[ensuring] small businesses can survive the pandemic…and keep their employees on the payroll.” He didn’t mention he voted against the bill. (KHN, NPR, MSNBC)
No Room At The Inn, Or The Hospitals
(Alexandre Schneider via Getty Images)
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro aligned himself as closely as he could with Donald Trump, and he’s been leading his people down the same deadly coronavirus path. Last year Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld states’ jurisdiction to impose restrictions on activities.
- Bolsonaro condemned any attempts to do that, saying the economy needed to keep churning. Now as a highly contagious coronavirus variant rips through the country, and Brazil’s hospitals are buckling, Bolsonaro dismisses health experts’ concerns, continues to insist on unproven treatments, and rejects any plans states have to try curbing the latest outbreak, like imposing curfews, limiting the hours nonessential services can operate, or prohibiting crowded events.
- “We have reached the limit across Brazil,” the leader of the governors’ forum said. “The chance of dying without assistance is real.” (AP)
Police Pay Up
- Following the 2019 presidential elections in Malawi, violence broke out and police were sent to a township in the capital city of Lilongwe. Security personnel attacked civilians and used tear gas against them. Numerous women and girls reported being sexually assaulted by officers.
- The Women Lawyers Association of Malawi filed a legal complaint against the police over failure to take action against the officers accused of the attacks. In a landmark decision, Malawi’s Supreme Court held in favor of 18 women who said they’d been raped during the post-election violence.
- And on Tuesday, police authorities were ordered to pay between $5,000 and $12,600 in compensation to the victims. The court also ordered the police to investigate the officers named in the complaint. The decision is being hailed as a milestone development in women’s rights in the country. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Chinese lawmakers endorse tighter control over Hong Kong (AP)
- Sweet, sweet resistance: Taiwan bursts with creative pineapple dishes after China ban (AP)
- Greek PM appeals for peace after police brutality ignites riots (Guardian)
- Japan mourns victims of earthquake and Fukushima disaster ten years on (NBC)
- Mexico Passes Bill to Legalize Cannabis (NYT, $)
- Yahya Sinwar re-elected as Hamas chief in Gaza Strip (Al Jazeera)
- Thailand considers expanding jails as it arrests more political prisoners (Guardian)
- Pakistani court orders TikTok banned over ‘obscene content’ (Al Jazeera). Shh, nobody tell them what’s on the rest of the internet.
- Obesity’s Role In Severe COVID-19 Cases Complicates Vaccine Rollout (NPR)
- How Chile built one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns (Vox)
- It works, it really works. Israeli real-world data on Pfizer vaccine shows high Covid protection (Guardian)
- 1 Year Into The Pandemic, Reflecting On The Day That Changed Everything (NPR)
Looking For Election Interference In All The Wrong Places
- Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated more than $400 million to nonprofits that in turn distributed grants last year to state and local election officials in both red and blue states across the country. But because Joe Biden won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, and Mark Kelly won a seat in the US Senate, the state’s Republican-controlled House has voted to stop election workers from ever taking private donations again.
- HB 2569 would ban election officials at all levels of government — city, county, and state — from receiving private funds to help pay for any aspect of election operations, including voter registration. The bill’s sponsor said it’s a matter of election integrity — keeping elections free of influence or interference
- And even though supporters can’t point to a single instance where grants were used in a partisan manner, they say just the perception of Zuckerberg’s influence is problematic. and reason enough to adopt a law ensuring the government is the sole source of election funding. (NPR)
Crisis In Kauai
- Hawaii’s governor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after heavy rains triggered flooding, landslides, and fear of dam failures on multiple islands. Homes and bridges have been destroyed and thousands of people evacuated from communities threatened by rising waters.
- The emergency declaration covers the counties of Hawai’i, Maui, Kalawao, O’ahu and Kaua’i; the disaster relief period that makes state general funds available to those impacted by severe weather runs until May 8.
- Officials and climate scientists say the downpour is an example of increasingly intense rainstorms that are occurring more frequently as the climate changes. The climate crisis is also making Hawaii vulnerable to rising sea levels, which along with increased rainfall and flooding means saltwater can inundate freshwater supplies. (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- New US vehicles must be electric by 2030 to meet climate goals – report (Guardian). For your new convertible, green is the new red.
- Number Of Unaccompanied Children At Border Soars (NPR)
- How laws allow the world’s largest police departments to use lethal force (Guardian)
- Fight to vote: why a new bill in Georgia will harm Black voters (Guardian)
- Mississippi governor to sign bill banning trans athletes from women’s teams (Guardian)
- Texas AG demands Austin drop mask mandate or face legal action (The Hill)
- GOP united in opposing COVID relief bill but what will voters think? (USA Today)
- Biden’s airstrikes in the Middle East are a far cry from the diplomacy he promised (Business Insider). He’s mastered the “carry a big stick” portion of Roosevelt’s advice.
- Minneapolis promised change after George Floyd. Instead it’s geared up for war (Guardian)
- California attorney general cuts off researchers’ access to gun violence data (Guardian)
Pining After Lysol
- When the pandemic first hit, items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizers flew off store shelves. Even online availability was limited, or absent, or priced out of reach.
- Eventually, mega-retailers like Walmart and Amazon started being restocked. But local independent grocery stores are still suffering from limited consumer supplies because the major suppliers are prioritizing their biggest retail customers. And without access to key products, small grocers say they’re losing out on customers and facing yet another hurdle as they try to survive against big chains.
- Even before the pandemic, independent grocers were often told they couldn’t get products or particular items that are available at big chains. According to a senior vice president at the National Grocers Association, Covid has just magnified the problem.
- Large retailers are known in the industry as “power buyers.” They’ve had an advantage for years when it comes to buying goods because they order much larger quantities than smaller wholesalers do.
- The Agriculture Department found that independent grocers are more likely to be located in lower-income communities and rural areas. They buy their goods from small to medium-sized wholesalers, who in turn have relationships with large consumer product and food manufacturers. But the biggest customers for those large manufacturers are the large retailers that generally cut out the middleman and buy direct. Some consumer product manufacturers have canceled purchase orders on wholesalers serving independent grocers or restricted the amount of product they can buy.
- A distributor that supplies independent grocers said that between July and January, it received 52% fewer cases of Lysol wipes, 21% fewer Clorox wipes, and 40% fewer Reynolds aluminum foil wraps than it had in the same period a year ago, even though demand has gone up in those categories. Another wholesaler said that prior to the pandemic he was getting 97.5% of the products he ordered. Now he’s lucky to get 75%. (CNN)
Additional Weekend Reads
- The sense of smell is still a mystery. But that’s not stopping research on robot noses. (Vox)
- The googly eyes of the mantis shrimp inspire new optical sensors (ArsTechnica). Did you know they can see three times as many colors as humans?
- Meet the Climate Change Activists of TikTok (Wired)
- Physics undergraduate proposes solution to quantum field theory problem (Phys)
- Relax with the calming sound of NASA’s Perseverance firing lasers on Mars (Verge)
- The farms being run from space (BBC)
- Eye, robot (TechCrunch)
- From buggies to buses, the first Black-owned US automaker did what few others dared (ArsTechnica)
- An Oral History of the Day Everything Changed (Wired)
- Michigan Zoom hearing adjourned when attorney spots alleged assaulter, victim in same home (Yahoo News)
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