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MORNING NEWS BRIEFING – APRIL 23, 2021 – Rick Bulow, New Media
Good morning! Here is your news briefing for Friday April 23, 2021
1.) THE DAILY SIGNAL
April 23 2021
Happy Friday from Washington, where the left is working overtime to remake the nation’s institutions. It’s doubtful we’ll want to live with the results, Victor Davis Hanson writes. For an adviser on elections, President Biden turns to a former lawyer for the Democratic National Committee. Fred Lucas reports. On the podcast, our Virginia Allen talks about Democrats’ plans to pack the Supreme Court with Heritage Foundation legal expert GianCarlo Canaparo. Plus: the greening of warfare; mandating unionization; and Larry Elder’s thoughts on the Chauvin trial. Sixty years ago tonight, singer-actress Judy Garland, 38, plays Carnegie Hall for a 27-song concert hailed as “the greatest night in showbiz history,” resulting in a No. 1 album.
Adam Smith said of successful nations that they have a lot of “ruin” in them. He meant that a dissolute, leisured, and ahistorical generation has to waste a lot of its inherited wealth before it runs out.
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For the obvious reason that they seek to add two more Senators to their ranks. Though it’s unlikely to get past a filibuster in the Senate, the story notes “Zack Smith, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argued before Congress last month that D.C.’s status can only be changed through a constitutional amendment since its creation and purpose provisions are enumerated in Article I of the Constitution. He claimed that the framers of the Constitution “intended this to be a federal district outside the jurisdiction of any one state.” Smith predicted that lawsuits and litigation would follow a D.C. statehood bill passing in Congress. “Every legislative act of this new state would be called into question. … Things would be in a state of flux for years,” Smith said” (National Review). From the Wall Street Journal editorial board: A week after the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee introduced legislation to pack the Supreme Court by adding four new Justices, the House is set to vote on a bill to pack the U.S. Senate by adding two new Senators. Unlike court-packing, the bill granting statehood to Washington, D.C., has majority support among elected Democrats and the official backing of the White House. But the impetus behind both measures is the same—to tilt the constitutional playing field and consolidate liberal power (WSJ). From Spencer Brown: Rather than prioritizing policies to address the crisis challenge at our southern border, spiking violent crime, rising fuel and energy prices, or aggression from China and Russia, the “we know best” Democrats have cleared another hurdle in their latest push to give Washington, D.C., statehood (Townhall).
Senate Democrats Vote Down Amendment to Stop Discrimination Against Asians
Not a single Democrat agreed that we should not fund “any institution of higher education that discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review, or admissions” (Twitter). The amendment was rejected as the Senate overwhelmingly passed a hate crimes bill to address violence targeting Asian Americans (USA Today).
Stocks Tumble on Reports that Biden Wants to Double Capital Gains Taxes for Wealthy
From the story: The proposal would nearly double the capital gains tax for wealthy individuals from the 20% rate it is at now to 39.6%. Individuals making $1 million or more could end up paying a federal rate of up to 43.4% when an existing Obamacare surtax on investment income is included. The news, while not yet confirmed, caused stocks to drop the most in over a month, with the S&P 500 down about 0.92% at close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed more than 320 points lower, and the NASDAQ was down by about 0.94 (Washington Examiner). Another story notes “Before the report hit, major averages were trading higher, buoyed by better-than-expected unemployment data and some positive earnings reports” (NY Post).
Biden: US Must Cut All Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050
From David Harsanyi: President Joe Biden declared that the United States had a “moral imperative” to adopt an “ambitious” goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. Such an effort, if we were serious about it, would entail massive destruction of wealth, a surrender of our international trade advantages, the creation of a hugely intrusive state-run bureaucracy at home, the inhibition of free markets that have helped make the world a cleaner place, and a precipitous drop in the living standards of most citizens — especially the poor (National Review). From the Wall Street Journal: The Biden goal will require the electric grid to be totally rebuilt in 10 years. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. will also have to double its share of carbon-free power to 80% from 40% today—half of which is now provided by nuclear—to have any hope of achieving Mr. Biden’s pledge. All coal plants would have to shut down, and natural gas plants would be phased into obsolescence. Wind and solar energy would have to increase six to seven fold. The Obama Clean Power Plan, which the Supreme Court blocked in 2016, looks modest by comparison. It sought to reduce CO2 power emissions by 32%. Most homes would also have to be electrified. So if you like your gas stove, you won’t be able to keep it. Farmers would also have to adopt “climate-smart agriculture and forestry,” EDF says (WSJ).
Kansas Governor Vetoes Bill to Protect Women from Being Forced to Compete with Men
Democrat Laura Kelly was concerned it would harm the state’s business climate, so she chose that over girls (Washington Times). From Abigail Shrier: Amazing. A bill in Kansas to keep girls’ sports for girls is called “divisive” by the governor (Twitter).
Politico Tells Reporters They Can’t Use “Crisis” When Describing Crisis on the Border
Even though Biden slipped up and admitted it was, in fact, a crisis. Politico claims it doesn’t fit the dictionary definition of “crisis,” but a quick look at the dictionary definition reveals that it most certainly does.
Progressive Employees at Simon and Schuster Demand the Publisher Cancel Book with VP Pence
But CEO Jonathan Karp rejected their demands, explaining “we come to work each day to publish, not cancel, which is the most extreme decision a publisher can make, and one that runs counter to the very core of our mission to publish a diversity of voices and perspectives. We will, therefore, proceed in our publishing agreement with Vice President Mike Pence.”
Senator Tim Scott to Give GOP Rebuttal to Biden Address
From the story: “We face serious challenges on multiple fronts, but I am as confident as I have ever been in the promise and potential of America,” Scott said in a statement. “I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans’ optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families.”
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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.23.21
Who’s up, down, in and out — your morning tipsheet on Florida politics.
President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis may not like each other, but they have one thing in common: Solid approval among Florida voters.
A new poll from bipartisan firm RABA Research found the state’s top elected official and the Commander in Chief both have approval ratings in the positive by double-digits.
DeSantis, midway through his first term, has the approval of 56% of voters compared to 42% who disapprove, giving him a plus-14 favorability rating. Biden, who’s wrapping up his first 100 days, is above water 54%-42%, or plus-12.
Joe Biden and Ron DeSantis have one thing in common — their popularity in Florida.
Biden’s policies are even more popular than the man himself.
Just shy of two-thirds of voters said they were fans of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan the President signed into law earlier this month.
And his next major proposal — a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure package funded by tax hikes on the rich — has the support of 59% of Florida voters while 36% are against it.
RABA did find something voters don’t like, however.
Asked their views on proposed legislation to close off the state pension program to future hires, a whopping 71% said the Legislature should keep its hands off FRS.
Nearly as many (68%) said that now is not the time for lawmakers to consider any legislation that would weaken employment protections for health care workers or teachers.
The RABA Research poll was conducted on April 19 via telephone interviews. It has a sample size of 575 and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.09 percentage points.
—@AGGancarski: Not sure if the Make It Legal Florida could have cleared 60% given the corporate cannabis nature of the amendment, but what this does is effectively decouples the cannabis issue from the 2022 race for Governor in a way impossible if there had been a citizen initiative.
—@BruceRitchie: Sorry, I may have a difficult time covering your Earth Day event because I have to cover bills in both the FL House and Senate blocking local environmental initiatives.
—@RenzoDowney: COVID is to the 2020 Session as weddings are to the 2021 Session
—@Fineout: So no budget conference meeting tonight. Budget chairs have met just once in public since Monday. Tick, tick, tick. Budget must be done by next Tuesday in order for Session to end on time. Decisions on billions made behind closed doors.
—@ShevrinJones: Of all the bills that passed today, good or bad, THIS is the most important piece of legislation we passed. Thankful that the Senate see this as a priority for Floridians. It’s unfortunate that the Governor and the House are opposed to increasing weekly unemployment payments.
—@AnaCeballos_: Can I just say how thankful I am for the new @floridachannelpause button during livestreams?
—@OJCorral: Why don’t more people in South Florida know about Florida’s amazing springs? My theory: few families make it past the gravitational pull of Disney and Universal when driving north, a tourism black hole at the heart of Florida
NFL Draft begins — 6; Disney Wish announcement — 6; Disneyland to open — 7; Orthodox Easter 2021 — 9; Mother’s Day — 16; Florida Chamber Safety Council’s inaugural Southeastern Leadership Conference on Safety, Health and Sustainability — 17; ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ rescheduled premiere — 35; Memorial Day — 38; Florida TaxWatch Spring Meeting and PLA Awards — 41; ‘Loki’ premieres on Disney+ — 49; Father’s Day — 58; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 63; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 70; 4th of July — 72; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 76; MLB All-Star Game — 81; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 91; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 91; The NBA Draft — 97; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 99; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 105; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 123; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 133; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 154; ‘Dune’ premieres — 161; MLB regular season ends — 163; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 169; World Series Game 1 — 186; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 193; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 196; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 217; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 228; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 235; Super Bowl LVI — 296; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 336; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 378; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 441; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 532; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 567.
“Sports betting appears headed to Florida in deal agreed to by Governor, Seminole Tribe” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — More than half of all states now allow some form of legal sports betting, and if a proposal which has been agreed to in principle between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state gets approved by the Legislature in the next week, Florida could be added to that list and at least $500 million in annual revenue could be added to the budget. Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. said in a statement the deal negotiated this week with DeSantis was a “historic agreement that cements our partnership with the state for decades to come,” and thanked the Governor, Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls for working with the Tribe.
Coming soon to Florida?
“Non-Compact gaming legislation stalls; could be pushed to Special Session” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — A trio of gaming bills that had been flying through the Senate committee process has stalled on the Senate floor. The interruption came as murmurs swirl of a new gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe. Two of the bills would establish a gaming commission, and the third removes the live racing requirement for certain gaming permit holders. House companion legislation is slightly behind the Senate bills in the process, but Sprowls said a compact agreement with the Tribe could affect the gaming bills. “Should the Governor sign a Compact in the next several days, I think one of the discussion points that the Chambers need to have is, well, does it really make sense to deal with these issues now,” Sprowls said.
“Parents’ Bill of Rights on its way to becoming law; concerns of LGBTQ advocates remain” via Joshua Solomon of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Parents are set to become a protected class in Florida schools, solidifying the power dynamic between parents and schools, following the passage of the Parents’ Bill of Rights in the Senate Wednesday. The bill has faced staunch opposition from LGBTQ advocates concerned it could lead to the outing of a student’s sexual or gender identity. It also raised public health concerns from the advocacy groups because it explicitly allows parents to exempt their children from sex education. The bill now goes to DeSantis, who has seven days to sign or veto it during the Session. If signed, it would go into effect on July 1.
“Legislature’s voting reform bills are more tweaks than big changes. Are they needed?” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — Florida lawmakers continued to water down an elections bill in the state Senate on Thursday, stripping out some of the more controversial measures that provoked outrage by Democrats and voting rights groups. Gone is a proposal that could have caused headaches for millions of voters by requiring them to update their signatures on file with their county elections supervisor. Senators also eased up on some concerns by election supervisors. The result, Republicans said, is evidence that they listened to concerns by elections officials and voting rights groups over the last several weeks, after corporations and MLB protested a similar bill passed by Georgia lawmakers.
“House passes school safety legislation” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The House has voted unanimously to approve this year’s measure to improve safety in Florida’s schools. The legislation aims to strengthen mental health services in schools. In addition, the bill requires school districts and charter governing boards to assemble a plan for reunification during an emergency. School districts would need to coordinate with local governments and law enforcement agencies when formulating those reunification plans. Rep. Chip LaMarca is fronting this year’s bill (HB 7035), with Rep. Christine Hunschofsky serving as a prime co-sponsor. Hunschofsky served as Parkland Mayor during the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Several members recalled the moment they heard the news and the debates held in committee meetings and on the floor.
“Bill cracking down on social media de-platforming ready for Senate vote” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Senators will soon vote on a measure to crack down on social media companies that block users and content from their platform. DeSantis named that proposal (SB 7072) a priority ahead of the 2021 Legislative Session. Conservatives argue they have been disproportionately targeted with bans, censoring, shadow bans and other restrictions. The bill, carried by Sen. Ray Rodrigues, would require social media companies to post their terms of service and apply them equally. It would prohibit social media platforms from banning a qualified political candidate for more than 60 days and lay out consequences for companies who do not comply.
“Senate pushes for jobless benefits boost — defying Ron DeSantis and House” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Months after Floridians saw unemployment soar to a 50-year high because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Senate unanimously approved Thursday a $100 increase in the state’s maximum jobless pay; now among the lowest in the nation. The Senate’s 40-0 vote was a rare moment of bipartisanship in a divided chamber. But the Senate’s Republican majority also is defying the GOP-led House and DeSantis, who both recently rejected calls to increase the $275 top weekly pay. The Florida Senate is looking to increase maximum unemployment benefits to $375 weekly, defying DeSantis and the House.
“After Fox News twisted his words, Shevrin Jones gets his say” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The West Park Democrat, whose news conference quote on the anti-riot measure (HB 1) was chopped up on The Ingraham Angle, appeared unabridged on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. “The Governor has created a piece of legislation that no one has asked for.” Jones’ de-contextualized criticisms were dismissed as “wild accusations” by the Governor. But DeSantis and Laura Ingraham were nowhere to be found as Jones amped up his critique of the legislation. “The bill also hinders local government from having the ability to alter any of their public safety budget, which definitely ties their hand,” Jones said. Jones also noted that “anyone who is against the legislation, he said they are the same individuals who want to defund the police.”
“Legislature is so used to budget-cutting it’s struggling to spend relief aid” via Mary Ellen Klas, Lawrence Mower and Kirby Wilson of the Miami Herald — After a decade of honing their skills as budget cutters, Florida’s Republican legislative leaders are having a hard time deciding how to spend. The $10.23 billion pot of one-time federal money arriving in the next year from Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act has created a bit of budget trauma as legislators try to wrap up the annual budget that this year is expected to exceed $100 billion. The rescue plan funds are intended to address unmet needs and ease financial losses suffered by hundreds of thousands of Florida residents who have lost jobs, encountered health problems, or saw their businesses face deep financial declines.
“A $12 billion question: Florida’s education budget hinges on COVID-19 relief” via Ana Ceballos of the Tampa Bay Times — A dispute over how to use $12 billion in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds earmarked for education has led to an impasse in budget negotiations as Florida lawmakers work to piece together a near-$100 billion fiscal plan for 2021-22. House leaders have appropriated some of the funds in their initial education budget offers, and House Speaker Sprowls said in an interview Tuesday that the Legislature’s role should be to give the Florida Department of Education spending authority over $7 billion in federal funds to give directly to K-12 school districts. Senate leaders, meanwhile, have said little about how they want to use any of the money as they say they are still figuring out how they can and cannot use the federal funds on education.
COVID-19 relief and Florida education funding are linked, says Chris Sprowls. Image via Colin Hackley.
“Lawmakers reach agreement on $200M school choice expansion” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Florida lawmakers on Thursday reached a deal on a sweeping $200 million school-choice proposal that would combine and significantly expand the state’s voucher programs that help families pay for private schooling. After months of negotiations, House and Senate leaders agreed on legislation that would pave the way for about 61,000 new students to qualify for taxpayer-funded vouchers, a push that Democrats fought as they advocated for more oversight and accountability for private schools that will be getting state-funded vouchers. Republican leaders in both chambers have been steadfast on their decadeslong push to expand school choice in Florida and agreed on legislation that would make a series of changes to the state’s school-choice infrastructure.
“Steve Bahmer: Florida values its seniors. Don’t cripple nursing homes with budget cuts” for Florida Politics — This year, 237 — or 36% — of Florida’s nursing homes will see their Medicaid rates reduced due to the ongoing implementation of the Medicaid PPS, a system that largely cuts funding from high-performing nursing homes. Not only does the new payment system pose a threat to the viability of many high-quality providers, but the implementation timeline also comes on the heels of a once-in-a-century pandemic that dramatically increased costs and reduced revenues and will take 12 to 24 months to recover from. We have heard from many nursing homes across the state that not only would further cuts in elder care be crippling to them, but such cuts would force some facilities to permanently close their doors, displacing Florida’s most frail elders.
“Pharmacy benefit manager bill passes final panel without side effects” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Legislation to regulate pharmacy benefit managers is on its way to the Senate floor. The Senate Appropriations Committee gave its unanimous support on Wednesday to a bill (SB 390) to clarify that the Office of Insurance Regulation can audit PBMs. Lawmakers have attempted to add that oversight in the past, but OIR said the statute wasn’t clear enough. PBMs are middlemen between health care plans and pharmacies that are often blamed for rising prescription drug prices. They help determine which drugs insurance plans will cover and negotiate on behalf of insurers to secure discounts from drug manufacturers. When a claim is filed, PBMs collect money from those plans, then pass money to pharmacies through different methods.
“Senate passes seaport preemption bill” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — After dredging up committee testimony all Session long, a seaport preemption bill passed the Senate Thursday with no debate. The preemption legislation (SB 426) is seemingly a direct counter to the will of Key West voters who, last November, voted to block large cruise ships from docking at the city’s port. The bill passed in a 25-14 vote not quite along party lines Thursday. Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez broke from her party and voted against the measure. Sen. Jeff Brandes, also a Republican, abstained from voting. Throughout the committee process, Sen. Jim Boyd, who sponsors the bill, has maintained the bill is not about Key West. Instead, Boyd said, the bill protects the “vulnerability of our state’s maritime commerce to the vagaries of local politics to the detriment of the state and our citizens.”
Jim Boyd’s seaport preemption bill has a few GOP detractors. Image via Colin Hackley.
“Gas station preemption bill ready for Senate floor” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — A bill to preempt energy regulations was watered down in committee meetings, but it still faced questions from Democrats on the Senate floor during a second reading Tuesday. The Senate is considering the House version of a bill (HB 839) dealing with local regulations of gas stations. The bill was on its second reading Thursday. “I don’t want any government in the state of Florida to effectively just wipe gas stations off, and then you have tourists come down trying to figure out how to refuel their rental car,” Sen. Travis Hutson, the bill’s sponsor, said. At this point, the bill would shield gas stations and their related infrastructure from being outlawed by local governments that want to encourage clean energy.
“‘It does nothing’: Jeff Brandes voices frustration with TBARTA on Senate floor” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Sen. Ed Hooper’s transportation package received unanimous approval from the Senate, but a series of amendments addressing the Tampa Bay Regional Transit Authority sparked frustration among Sen. Brandes. The bill (SB 1194) altered several provisions related to transportation, like upping the maximum weight for personal delivery devices. While the bill appeared to be unobjectionable, the floor got heated when discussing several amendments related to TBARTA, which oversees regional transit planning in the Tampa Bay region. Sen. Darryl Rouson presented one amendment that mirrored the legislation he filed earlier this year (SB 422). That measure would give Mayors more flexibility as members of TBARTA by allowing them to send a designated alternate to serve as a member of the governing board, with the ability to act as a voting member.
“Human trafficking bill awaits House consideration” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A bill that would empower human trafficking victims and establish a confidentiality privilege between them and victim advocates now awaits a full House vote. Sponsored by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., the bill (SB 1826) contains a slew of provisions addressing human trafficking in Florida. Republican Rep. Jackie Toledo moved to adopt the Senate bill in place of her companion proposal. “Human trafficking is not just the Hollywood projection of international vacationers who get abducted for ransom,” Toledo said. “It can be a child who is coerced by a pair or a stranger on Snapchat or TikTok.”
Manny Diaz’s human trafficking bill has a slew of protections for victims.
“Legislature approves moment of silence to start public school day” via Ryan Dailey of News Service of Florida — Florida public-school students might soon have a required moment of silence at the start of each day, under a measure passed Thursday by the Senate and headed to DeSantis’ desk. The Senate voted 32-6 to pass the bill (HB 529) approved by the House last month in a 94-24 vote. Under the measure, school principals would be required to direct first-period teachers to institute a one- to two-minute moment of silence at the beginning of each day. Under the bill, teachers would not be able to “make suggestions as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence,” and students “may not interfere with other students’ participation.
“‘Disability abortion’ bill has some critics in the disability community” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Most abortion bills are controversial. A bill making its way through the Florida House that would ban “disability abortions” is no exception, particularly for the disability community. But it’s less the “abortion” part of the bill that’s an issue for some in that community. It’s more the “disability” part. The bill, House Bill 1221, would ban a doctor from performing an abortion in an instance where they know, or “should know,” a woman is seeking the procedure ”solely on the basis of” a disability or potential disability found in the fetus. At least nine states have laws banning abortion in similar circumstances; most of those laws have been legally challenged.
“Expanded ‘Right to Farm’ protections pass” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The House has passed a bill to protect farming operations from nuisance lawsuits, preparing that legislation for the Governor’s signature. By a 110-7 vote, with only a handful of Democrats in opposition, members have passed an update (SB 88) to Florida’s Right to Farm Act, a priority of the Senate to moderate lawsuits against farmers. The law is meant to protect farmers from people who move into rural communities and then file complaints against farmers. Rep. Jayer Williamson said shepherding Sen. Jason Brodeur‘s bill through the House was a learning experience for him since he’s not a farmer. “I might talk like one, and I might walk like one,” he added. “You can look at me and tell I definitely enjoy partaking in the fruits of their labor, but I’m not a farmer.”
“Senate approves Little Wekiva, wildlife corridors bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that requires officials to look into what is wrecking the Little Wekiva River in Central Florida, and expand initiatives to protect wildlife corridors throughout the state, aiding migratory routes for animals such as black bears and panthers. The Senate took up the House version (HB 727), which awaits a second reading on the House Floor, and then passed that measure by a 40-0 vote. Brodeur had pushed the Senate version (SB 976). He initially filed it to authorize the state to address the alarming siltation and overgrowth of the Little Wekiva in Seminole County. In its last committee stop, Brodeur’s bill had been amended to resemble Republican Rep. Keith Truenow‘s HB 727, which focuses on protecting and promoting wildlife habitat corridors.
“Senate passes bill to add lawmakers to Space Florida board” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A bill that would give the Legislature two nonvoting seats on the Space Florida Board of Directors was approved Thursday by the Senate. By a 38-0 vote, the chamber approved Republican Sen. Tom Wright‘s SB 1512. It would create two new seats on the board to be reserved for a member of the Senate and a member of the House of Representatives, attending board meetings in an ex officio capacity. They could deliberate, but they couldn’t vote. Wright’s bill, and the companion measure, Republican Rep. Thad Altman‘s HB 1201, would return the Legislature’s presence on the Space Florida board. They had seats on the board until 2010. Wright and Altman have argued that the lawmakers’ presence on the board would be good for oversight, cooperation, and dialogue.
A proposal from Thad Altman would return a legislative presence to the Space Florida board. Image via Colin Hackley.
“House OK’s memorial to ‘resist’ Joe Biden’s gun control effort” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Florida Republicans rallied without Democrats around a House Memorial on Thursday that formally rejects Biden’s gun control efforts. The proposal (HM 1301) is intended to express the Legislature’s stance against Biden’s gun control proposals, calling the measures “unconstitutional.” Further, it declares the Legislature intends to use “all lawful means necessary to resist and overturn any federal gun-control measures that violate the right of Floridians to keep and bear arms.” While directed at Biden, the memorial does not list any specific gun control measures. The memorial instead rejects any proposals “forthcoming at the federal level to restrict the right to keep and bear arms.” Democrats repeatedly asked the bill sponsor, Rep. Jason Shoaf, to cite a specific measure.
“Why Florida? Why now? Transgender bill part of nationwide Republican push” via Gary white of The Florida Times-Union — The Florida Senate is running out of time to pass a proposed controversial transgender athletic bill this session, but advocates fear rising national sentiment against the LGBTQ community will make a repeat attempt likely. The state Legislature has aligned itself with Republicans nationwide and mirrors other states in pushing for a ban on transgender girls and women from sports teams. The House passed a bill last week that would require transgender high school and college students to compete in sports based on their birth gender. A companion bill by Sen. Kelli Stargel stalled because the differences between the two were insurmountable, she said.
Bill Rubin, Erica Chanti, Christopher Finkbeiner, Rubin Turnbull & Associates: Orchid Cove Health Group
The House will hold a floor session, 10 a.m., House Chamber.
The House Rules Committee meets, 6:15 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets to analyze potential costs of legislation, 9 a.m., Room 216.
“Val Demings exploring options for 2022 gubernatorial bid” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Responding to increasing scuttlebutt that Rep. Demings is talking to people about a possible gubernatorial run in 2022, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday that the Orlando Democrat is exploring options. “She’s thankful for all of the encouragement and continuing to explore all of her options,” a campaign spokesperson told Florida Politics. That statement follows reports that Demings has been talking lately with donors, a potential campaign manager, a potential campaign finance director, digital campaign firms, and state lawmakers, about a possible gubernatorial campaign to challenge DeSantis. Demings also has been mentioned as a possible U.S. Senate candidate to challenge MarcoRubio in 2022, but that path seems to be taken right now by her Winter Park colleague, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.
Is Val Demings headed for bigger things? Image via AP.
“Pot guru attorney Michael Minardi running for HD 59” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Minardi, a well-known attorney representing clients on cannabis-related issues, is running for the House District 59 seat currently held by Rep. Andrew Learned. So far, Minardi is the only Republican in the race to challenge Learned, a moderate Democrat. Minardi has made a name for himself in Florida as a major proponent for legalized cannabis and intends to run on a pro-pot agenda. He’s the man behind the Sensible Florida ballot initiative that failed to make the ballot in 2020. The Tampa lawyer also participates in “expungement clinics,” recently partnering with the medical marijuana giant Trulieve to help patients have marijuana-related charges expunged or sealed from their records. Minardi filed paperwork to run for the east Hillsborough district on April 6. This week, he sent a fundraising email to voters seeking contributions.
HD 86 candidate Katherine Waldron announces slew of endorsements — Waldron is the first Democrat to file for the seat, currently held by Democratic state Rep. Matt Willhite. Willhite is opting against another run and is instead seeking a Palm Beach County Commission seat. Now, a wide range of politicians is backing Waldron’s bid to succeed Willhite. Included in that list are U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, state Rep. Emily Slosberg, Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon, Palm Beach County Port Commissioner Wayne Richards, former Palm Beach County Mayors Jeff Koons and Shelley Vana, Haverhill Vice Mayor Lawrence Gordon, West Palm Beach Commissioner Joe Peduzzi, former West Palm Beach Commissioner Paula Ryan and former Riviera Beach Councilman Bruce Guyton.
“DeSantis vs. DeSantis: 4 times the Florida Governor changed his tune lately” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis certainly isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Most days, if he’s not on Fox News, he’s in front of local media cameras somewhere in the Sunshine State. DeSantis last year was surprised that Florida’s unemployment benefit was $275. Fast forward to 2021, and DeSantis has no interest in raising weekly benefits. DeSantis last year said he was outraged after the death of George Floyd. But this week, DeSantis said he thought Derek Chauvin’s conviction might have come because “the jury is scared of what a mob may do.” During the pandemic, he made the call to give local election offices more time to count mail-in and early ballots. Not long after making that statement, DeSantis ordered a crackdown on voting-by-mail.
DeSantis v. DeSantis? Sometimes, he’s all over the map.
“DeSantis, Army Corps reach deal on major Everglades project.” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — DeSantis signed an agreement Thursday with the Army Corps of Engineers that will continue work on a key reservoir in Everglades restoration. Work on the reservoir is to be shared between the state and federal governments. DeSantis said Thursday’s agreement will accelerate the Army Corps portion of the project. According to the South Florida Water Management District, the reservoir will have a water storage component and a wetland with vegetation that can cleanse water from Lake Okeechobee. The plan is to sharply reduce the Lake Okeechobee discharges down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers to estuaries where the water is blamed for blue-green algae blooms and other environmental problems.
“Orlando ‘anti-riot’ lawsuit lawyer was listed as ineligible to practice, but The Bar changed it to member in good standing” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando attorney who filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis over the state’s new anti-riot law had been listed as being barred from practicing law in Florida, according to the Florida Bar, but he’s back to being a member in good standing. Aaron Carter Bates was listed as having failed to complete the continuing legal education courses required by the Florida Bar, Bar spokesman Leslie Smith said Thursday. Bates’ status was updated as a member in good standing on the Bar’s website Thursday morning. Shortly after, a story on his eligibility was published on Orlando Sentinel’s website.
“Miami’s sea level rise bill is $4 billion by 2060. It won’t keep every neighborhood dry.” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Miami has to spend at least $3.8 billion in the next 40 years to keep the city dry from rising seas, according to a draft of the city’s long-awaited and newly released stormwater master plan. That will buy a hundred new mega stormwater pumps, miles of 6-foot-tall sea walls, thousands of injection wells, and a network of underground pipes so big and wide even the tallest NBA player could stroll through them without bumping his head. Even then, it won’t be enough to save every neighborhood. And it’s not because it’s too expensive, although that’s part of it.
“Mayors launch ‘Race to Zero’ campaign at Florida Climate Week” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Mayors of Miami, Orlando, St. Pete, and Tampa Bay are teaming up on a new initiative, the Florida Race to Zero, to put cities at the forefront of combating climate change by achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050. At the Florida Climate Week kickoff event Thursday, Nic Glover of the Tampa Bay Chamber announced the launch of the friendly competition, stressing that the race to carbon neutrality is critical to the state’s long-term economic competitiveness, as companies are increasingly focused on minimizing their own carbon footprints. Participants also discussed the prospect of creating new clean energy jobs and positioning Florida as a leader in the booming clean energy sector. The cities were represented at the event by their sustainability and resilience officers.
Climate change is spurring Nic Glover and the Tampa Bay area to ‘Race to Zero.’
“Appeal scuttled in charter school case” via The News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal by the Volusia County School Board in a battle over approval of a charter school. The school board went to the Supreme Court last month after the 5th District Court of Appeal in January upheld a decision by the State Board of Education that cleared the way for Florida East Coast Charter School. The Volusia board denied the application of Florida East Coast Charter School, which took the dispute to the state Charter School Appeal Commission. The commission sided with the charter school, and the State Board of Education subsequently reversed the denial of the school’s application. That led the school board to go to the 5th District Court of Appeal.
“Court orders another look at judge’s conduct” via The News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court rejected proposed sanctions against a Miami-Dade County circuit judge accused of wrongdoing such as falsifying work attendance records and using judicial assistants to perform personal tasks. This month, an investigative panel of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended a $30,000 fine, a 60-day suspension without pay, written letters of apology, and attendance at a judicial college for Judge Martin Zilber. But in a unanimous order, the Supreme Court rejected the proposed sanctions. “We remand for further proceedings to include a full hearing before the Judicial Qualifications Commission in order to fully develop the facts regarding any misconduct that occurred.”
“What’s in the anti-riot law and how will it play out? Brevard could be first to know” via Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon of Florida Today — With rallies planned by activists in Brevard on Friday and Orlando on Saturday in response to the deaths of Black men and teens in Florida at the hands of law enforcement, the state’s new “anti-riot” law could be facing its first test since being signed into statute Monday by DeSantis. The law has been assailed by critics as an assault on civil liberties and praised by defenders as a badly needed measure to protect law enforcement and public order. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said he plans to make no changes to his policing philosophy but is also waiting for his agency’s lawyers to draft legal bulletins for how deputies should apply provisions.
“Florida reports 6,684 coronavirus cases and 80 more deaths” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Even as more than 8 million Floridians are vaccinated with at least one dose, new COVID-19 cases per day continue to creep upward. Florida reported 6,684 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and another 80 new resident deaths linked to COVID-19. The state has now reported 2,191,038 cases since the pandemic began. In early January, the seven-day average was 17,991. It was 6,085 on Thursday. South Florida counties reported 2,428 new cases Thursday. July 2020 was the worst month for cases in South Florida. Public health experts say the virus is considered under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. But since Oct. 29, Florida has exceeded 5% in its positivity rate.
“COVID-19 in Florida: ‘We have a small window’ to get coronavirus under control” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Demand for COVID-19 vaccinations is slipping in Florida, just as public health officials are noticing a worrisome trend: hospitalizations and case numbers are ticking up while a variant is spreading rapidly. The concern: Florida is missing its window to shut down the virus. Softening demand for vaccinations in Florida leaves vials unused at vaccination sites while less than half of all eligible Floridians have had one dose. Even though every American adult is now eligible for the shots, health experts estimate that the U. S. will reach a tipping point on vaccine enthusiasm in the next two to four weeks.
Vaccine demand is dropping in Florida, and the window is closing to get COVID-19 under control.
“To beat coronavirus, herd immunity is the goal. Can Florida get there?” via Allison Ross and Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — The rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Florida was heralded as a light at the end of the tunnel for a pandemic that has upended normalcy and killed 35,000 people in the Sunshine State alone. Now comes the question of just how long the tunnel is. Across Tampa Bay, officials see slowdowns in the number of people lining up for doses. One site in Plant City averaged 200 to 300 shots a day during the first full week of April, though managers there had planned for a daily average of 1,000. “We have a lot of vaccines out there all over the place, but people aren’t getting it,” said Kevin Watler, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.
“The ‘heretical’ claims about wearing masks in Florida schools” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Richard Corcoran wrote to local school superintendents April 14 complaining that mandatory mask policies “inhibit peer-to-peer learning” and suggesting they may actually dissuade some students “who would otherwise choose in-person instruction” from returning to the classroom. He said a review of “all districts relevant health data” and other information shows that “face-covering policies do not impact the spread of the virus.” Corcoran called masks “a personal decision” for individuals and families, and said mandatory policies in the schools “serve no remaining good at this point.”
“Citing low demand, Jackson Health will stop vaccinations after April 30” via Alexi C. Cardona and Joshua Ceballos of the Miami New Times — Jackson Health System announced today that it is ending its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, five months after it began administering the shots to some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Jackson, Miami-Dade’s public hospital system, cited decreasing demand for the vaccine. To date, the hospital system has vaccinated more than 167,000 people. The hospital says it has enough supplies to administer the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine through April 30. Anyone who receives a shot at one of Jackson’s three vaccination sites by April 30 is guaranteed a second dose by May 21.
Miami’s Jackson Health will stop vaccinating as of April 30. Image via AP.
“Miami-Dade, Broward partner up to combat vaccine inequities in Black and Brown communities” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Black and Hispanic communities aren’t strangers to being marginalized in South Florida, and the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated that cultural stigma. A majority of Black residents have yet to receive any dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, even while Miami-Dade County recently surpassed 1 million partially or fully vaccinated residents and Broward County is close behind at more than 750,000 inoculations. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Broward Mayor Steve Geller now have metaphorically eradicated county lines, along with several commissioners and community members, to resolve this issue.
“Okaloosa County residents less likely than most of U.S. to seek COVID-19 vaccine” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Okaloosa County trails the bulk of the nation in the percentage of people vaccinated for COVID-19 in almost every age category, and Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman expressed worries this week about the number of local men receiving shots. “I remain concerned that men are much less likely to come out for the vaccine than women. For age 16 years and older, males (29.5%) lag females (39.5%) for getting any vaccine dose,” Chapman said in her most recent memorandum to county officials. “The gap has widened to a 10% difference in uptake of vaccine by gender alone.”
“Orange County Convention Center vaccine site sees decreased demand” via Matt Fernandez of Spectrum News 13 — When the COVID-19 vaccine became available to all adults on April 5, sites across Florida saw a huge demand. As the end of April approaches, that isn’t the case. Michael Fowler was at the Orange County Convention Center to receive his second dose of the vaccine Thursday. “I am excited, hoping I won’t have any symptoms but looking forward to being fully vaccinated,” Fowler said. Fowler said the line was a lot shorter. “The first time I came, it was about an hour through the line,” he said. “And this was 8 minutes through the line. But I am concerned it’s tapering off. The people who really want to get it now seem to have it is what I felt like when I went through the line just now and saw how much less demand there was today.”
“With vaccine demand low, Orange County ponders more local locations” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Health officials have more vaccines available than appointments booked at the Orange County Convention Center, a signal that it may be time to alter local strategies to bring shots closer to people, a health official said Thursday. The county, which opened appointments last Friday for this week, still has open appointments for Friday and Saturday, when in weeks prior, all appointments were scooped up in minutes. Dr. Raul Pino, the local state health officer, said the county hasn’t opened up appointments for next week yet, as it’s considering taking its clinic on the road to get within walking distance of people who either can’t, or don’t want to, travel to the convention center.
“Hillsborough COVID-19 spike caused by variants, virus ‘fatigue’” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — The rise in Hillsborough County’s COVID-19 cases likely is attributable to variants of the coronavirus combined with a relaxed public attitude toward face masks and social distancing, a public health expert said Wednesday. Some Hillsborough County Commissioners admitted concern at the recent rise. The percentage of positive test results for the coronavirus in Hillsborough County is 10.7, above the statewide average of 8. That percentage makes Hillsborough one of nine counties with a double-digit positivity rate. The county added more than 6,600 cases over the past two weeks. The daily increase of approximately 500 cases is 60% higher than four weeks ago.
Virus fatigue is helping push infections in Hillsborough County.
“St. Petersburg businesses fighting city over mask fines” via Christine McLarty of WFLA — The city of St. Petersburg wants to punish businesses that officials said repeatedly ignored COVID-19 safety guidelines. But a lawyer for one of those businesses said the city doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. The owner of Jack’s London Grill said the community has shown amazing support through the pandemic, buying gift cards, and getting to-go orders. But now, they’re one of many businesses feeling attacked by the city. “Instead of putting their forces into explaining, they seem they just sent people out to penalize,” said Peter Leonavicius, owner of Jacks London Grill. Leonavicius said with masks, social distancing, and sanitizing, they have and continue to take precautions against COVID-19 extremely seriously. Leonavicius claims he was surprised to be one of about a dozen businesses facing fines from the city.
“The pandemic has been awful. It could have been so much worse.” via Megan McArdle of The Washington Post — Already, the United States has vaccinated half its eligible population with at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. We recently crossed another important threshold: More than 40% of all Americans are vaccinated. That’s the inflection point at which some studies suggest it’s reasonable to hope that caseloads will start to flatten or decline. Imagine what might have happened if COVID-19 had hit in 2000 instead of 2020. The virus could have traveled as quickly down those economic superhighways. We might well have had to make do with less effective vaccines, like the dead-virus vaccine from Sinovac, or simply wait until at least 70% of the population had gotten sick.
The pandemic was bad, but it could have been worse. Image via Reuters.
“Michigan’s spring COVID-19 surge is close to previous pandemic high” via Talal Ansari of The Wall Street Journal — Michigan’s latest rise in new COVID-19 cases rivals highs reached during the prolonged fall surge. The state’s seven-day case average of newly reported cases remained above 7,000 for nearly two weeks before falling slightly to 6,891 on Tuesday. At the end of November, when Michigan was at the center of a fresh rise in infections that would eventually encompass the entire nation, the state averaged more than 7,000 cases a day for 10 days. Cases then dropped before briefly peaking again in early December and then fell for the next two months, to the low 1,000s. Since then, cases have been on the rise and remained near previous highs.
“California’s coronavirus case rate now the lowest in the continental U.S.” via Luke Money of the Los Angeles Times — California’s coronavirus case rate is now the lowest in the continental U.S., an achievement that reflects months of hard-won progress against the pandemic in the aftermath of the state’s devastating fall and winter surge. The state’s latest seven-day rate of new cases, 40.3 per 100,000 people, is dramatically lower than the nationwide rate of 135.3 and edged only by Hawaii, 39.1, over the same time period. At the other end of the spectrum is Michigan, which has far and away the highest seven-day case rate in the nation, at 483 per 100,000 people. Others topping that distressing leader board are New Jersey, 269.7; Delaware, 264.1; Pennsylvania, 248.5; and Minnesota, 238.4.
Shot — “Health officials lean toward resuming Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine” via Laurie McGinley and Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post — Federal health authorities are leaning toward recommending that use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine resume, possibly as soon as this weekend, a move that would include a new warning about a rare complication involving blood clots but probably not call for age restrictions. The position would be similar to one taken by Europe’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, which said this week the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should carry a warning but placed no restrictions on its use. The European agency said the shot’s benefits continue to outweigh the risks.
Chaser — “Biden officials lose faith in Johnson & Johnson after repeated vaccine stumbles” via Erin Banco, Adam Cancryn and Sarah Owermohle of POLITICO — The Biden administration has stood by Johnson & Johnson as the vaccine maker struggled to deliver promised doses of its COVID-19 vaccine — but privately, frustrated senior health officials have largely written off the shot, according to seven people with knowledge of the matter. Johnson & Johnson, which has a long history of successful vaccine development, was one of the government’s first and biggest bets in the coronavirus vaccine race. But the company has faced an unrelenting series of setbacks, including production problems at its vaccine plant in the Netherlands, a contractor mix-up that ruined 15 million doses and revealed serious safety and hygiene lapses, and concerns that the vaccine may be linked to recent reports of rare, severe blood clots.
“U.S. sees unprecedented drop in vaccinations over past week” via The Washington Post — Daily coronavirus vaccinations have slowed significantly for the first time since February, a sign that demand is slipping even though every American adult is now eligible for the shots. About 3 million Americans are getting vaccinated daily, an 11% decrease in the seven-day average of daily shots administered over the past week. The unprecedented drop is rivaled only by a brief falloff that occurred in February when winter storms forced the closure of vaccination sites and delayed shipments nationwide. The downturn hits as half all eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine dose.
“Bidenworld fears many vaccine skeptics may be unreachable. They’re trying anyway.” via Eugene Daniels of POLITICO — The Biden administration is launching a renewed, more nuanced push to tackle a resistance problem of its own; it has more COVID-19 vaccines than people willing or able to take them. In recent days, officials have leveraged community groups, attempted to lower financial hurdles, and utilized top health care officials all in the service of one objective: convincing reluctant folks to get the jab. The effort comes as local leaders ask for more help from the administration and as questions mount about whether federal regulators have been too cautious in their approach to vaccine safety.
Vaccine skeptics are a tough nut to crack. Joe Biden is still going to try.
“Many older teens only have access to one vaccine: The hardest one to roll out in rural America” via Katheryn Houghton of Kaiser Health News — As states expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to allow shots for 16- and 17-year-olds, teens in rural America may have trouble getting them. Of the three vaccines authorized in the U.S., currently only one can go to that age group: the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. That vaccine comes in 1,170-dose packages at a minimum and expires after five days in a fridge, meaning too many doses on too tight a deadline for many rural communities to manage. “We’re still trying to get people to accept the vaccine,” said Aurelia Jones-Taylor, CEO of Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center. “If we have to race to give out 1,100 doses in five days, that’s untenable.”
“About a third of service members have taken the COVID-19 vaccine” via Meghann Myers of the Military Times — The vast majority of those doses have gone to service members in phase 1, including those working in clinics and hospitals, as first responders, deploying to or redeploying from overseas and those with preexisting conditions. As of April 19, along with the rest of the United States, all DoD personnel and beneficiaries are eligible to receive a vaccine. “We are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated because these vaccines are effective and safe and are a critical part of us getting back to normal,” Dr. Terry Adirim, the acting defense secretary for health affairs, told reporters Wednesday. As of Tuesday, 459,921 troops are fully vaccinated, and an additional 280,667 have received the first dose. They represent 28% of 2,603,081 doses DoD has administered, out of 3,226,290 delivered to 350 sites worldwide.
“Patients with long COVID-19 face lingering worrisome health risks, study finds” via Pam Belluck of The New York Times — The health effects of COVID-19 not only can stretch for months but appear to increase the risk of death and chronic medical conditions, even in people who were never sick enough to be hospitalized, a large new study finds. In the study, researchers looked at the medical records of more than 73,000 people across the United States whose coronavirus infections did not require hospitalization. Between one and six months after becoming infected, those patients had a significantly greater risk of death, 60% higher, than people who had not been infected with the virus.
“U.S. jobless claims fall to 547,000, another pandemic low” via The Associated Press — The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell last week to 547,000, the lowest point since the pandemic struck and an encouraging sign that layoffs are slowing on the strength of an improving job market. The Labor Department said that applications declined 39,000 from a revised 586,000 a week earlier. Weekly jobless claims are down sharply from a peak of 900,000 in early January. At the same time, they’re still far above the roughly 230,000 level that prevailed before the viral outbreak ripped through the economy in March of last year. About 17.4 million people were continuing to collect unemployment benefits in the week that ended April 3, up from 16.9 million in the previous week.
Jobs seem to be coming back. Image via AP.
“More than 16,000 jobless claims filed last week” via The News Service of Florida — The state has averaged more than 18,000 weekly claims since early February. The U.S. Department of Labor’s estimate for the week that ended April 17 was down from a revised 24,402 claims the prior week. The revised number for the week that ended April 10 was the highest since the end of January when 69,140 applications came in. Nationally, 547,000 new claims were filed last week, down 39,000 from the prior week.
“Burned out by the pandemic, 3 in 10 health care workers consider leaving the profession” via William Wan of The Washington Post — A year into the pandemic, many health care professionals are headed out the door, an exodus fueled by burnout, trauma and disillusionment. Roughly 3 in 10 health care workers have weighed leaving their profession. And about 6 in 10 say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health. Nurses, doctors, technicians, and even administrative staff and dental hygienists explained the impulse to quit and the emotional wreckage the pandemic has left in their lives. Many talked about the betrayal and hypocrisy they feel from the public they have sacrificed so much to save; their clapping and hero-worship one day, then refusal to wear masks and take basic precautions the next.
“What do you do when the kids are still unvaccinated?” via David Leonhardt of The New York Times — Many families will soon face a complicated choice about how quickly to resume their pre-pandemic activities. While the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be authorized for children ages 12 to 15 as early as next month, younger children appear to remain months away from being eligible for any vaccine. Some parents will choose to keep their children largely away from indoor social situations until vaccines are available for them. But other parents will be more willing to resume many parts of normal life before all of their children have been vaccinated. And those parents will be making a decision that is as scientifically grounded as the more cautious approach. Unfortunately, there is no risk-free option available to parents in the coming months.
“Pope announces ‘marathon’ month of prayer throughout May to end COVID-19 pandemic” via Rachael Bunyan of The Daily Mail — PopeFrancis has announced a ‘marathon’ month of prayer throughout May intending to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pope has encouraged Catholics worldwide to dedicate next month to pray for the end of the virus, which has seen more than three million people die. The month will involve 30 Marian shrines, which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary, across the globe which will encourage worshippers to pray, reports the official Vatican News website. The Pope, who has faced criticism over his reluctance to wear a face mask, will open the month of prayer on May 1 with a Holy Rosary online broadcast.
Pope Francis calls for a month of prayer to end the pandemic. Couldn’t hurt. Image via AP.
“Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine 97.6% effective in real-world study” via Reuters — Russian scientists have found the Sputnik V vaccine 97.6% effective against COVID-19 in a “real-world” assessment based on data from 3.8 million people, Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund said on Monday. The new claimed effectiveness rate is higher than the 91.6% rate outlined in results from a large-scale trial of Sputnik V published in The Lancet medical journal earlier this year and compares favorably with data on the effectiveness of other COVID-19 vaccines. The new data was based on 3.8 million Russians who received both a first shot and a booster shot as part of the national rollout of Sputnik V.
“No evidence that Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are unsafe during pregnancy, a preliminary study says” via Emily Anthes of The New York Times — In an early analysis of coronavirus vaccine safety data, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found no evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines pose serious risks during pregnancy. The findings are preliminary and cover just the first 11 weeks of the U.S. vaccination program. But the study, which included self-reported data on more than 35,000 people who received one of the vaccines during or shortly before pregnancy, is the largest yet on the safety of the coronavirus vaccines in pregnant people.
“The flu vanished during COVID-19. What will its return look like?” via Keith Collins of The New York Times — There have been fewer influenza cases in the United States this flu season than in any on record. About 2,000 cases have been recorded since late September, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent years, the average number of cases over the same period was about 206,000. As measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus were implemented around the country in March 2020, influenza quickly disappeared, and it still has not returned. The latest flu season, which normally would have run until next month, essentially never happened.
“Cruise ships are moving out of the U.S. due to CDC restrictions: Will they return?” via Morgan Hines of USA Today — Typically, Americans represent nearly half cruisers on an annual basis, and nearly half cruises worldwide depart from U.S. ports. The CDC’s “conditional sailing order” keeps ships from sailing stateside without a clear timeline for resumption, though the CDC has said that midsummer cruising could be feasible if cruise lines adhere to the agency’s order and meet its requirements. Major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Virgin Voyages, have announced sailings in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Israel. Carnival Cruise Line has threatened the same.
Cruises are sailing away from the U.S. But will they ever return?
“Demand may exceed supply as CEO of one of the world’s biggest hotel groups sees ‘surge’ in bookings” via Rupert Steiner of MarketWatch — Travel and tourism will begin to bounce back by the second half 2021, according to data seen by Keith Barr, chief executive of Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels. But the boss of one of the world’s largest hotel groups warns about capacity constraints across the industry, in an interview with MarketWatch, and says the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is behind a “surge” in bookings at hotels, airlines and tour operators. “If a market is open for travel, we are seeing surges in leisure demand,” he says.
“A long-awaited return trip to Puerto Rico” via Robert P. Walzer of The Wall Street Journal — I moved to San Juan in 1990 and stayed five years, working first in film production and later as a journalist with the now-defunct San Juan Star. Now, 26 years after leaving, I returned with a close friend from those days, Larry Luxner. The sad spectacle mirrors the island’s slow economic decline, spurred by its loss of special industrial tax status, a U.S. Navy base closure and a series of hurricanes, earthquakes and other calamities, including a debt crisis. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland U.S. A cultural reawakening is underway in Loíza, however, a former slave enclave outside San Juan. One manifestation: the Bomba, a drum, song and dance tradition rooted in West Africa that has become an expression of Puerto Rican identity.
“As economy spikes, Republicans are still waiting for the ‘Biden depression’ that Donald Trump predicted” via David J. Lynch of The Washington Post — Throughout last year’s campaign, Trump issued a series of increasingly dark predictions about what would happen if Biden were elected. “If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell, and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country,” Trump said in the Oct. 22 candidate debate. By Trump’s preferred metric — the stock market — Biden is outperforming his predecessor at this stage of his presidency. Through Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up nearly 16% since Nov. 7, when the Democrat was declared the apparent election winner, compared with a 10.5% gain over a similar period following Trump’s election.
Donald Trump said a Joe Biden presidency will lead to economic depression. Not quite. Image via AP.
“Biden says he wants unity. He can prove it by supporting Tim Scott on police reform.” via Marc A. Thiessen of The Washington Post — The guilty verdicts in the Chauvin trial give Biden a once-in-a-presidency opportunity to deliver on his promise of unity and bipartisanship. To seize it, he should immediately call Sen. Scott and offer to work with him to pass bipartisan police reform legislation. After the murder of Floyd last spring, Scott wanted to bring Republicans and Democrats together to get something done on police reform. As a Black man who had experienced police discrimination, he did not want to let the moment pass without bipartisan action. Rather than work with Scott, Democratic leaders attacked him.
“Biden eyeing tax rate as high as 43.4% in next economic package” via Allyson Wersprille and Laura Davison of Bloomberg — Biden will propose almost doubling the capital gains tax rate for wealthy individuals to 39.6% to help pay for a raft of social spending that addresses long-standing inequality, according to people familiar with the proposal. For those earning $1 million or more, the new top rate, coupled with an existing surtax on investment income, means that federal tax rates for wealthy investors could be as high as 43.4%. The new marginal 39.6% rate would increase from the current base rate of 20%, the people said on the condition of anonymity because the plan is not yet public.
“Biden’s mammoth education agenda would expand the federal role from cradle to college” via Laura Meckler and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel of The Washington Post — The federal government has long been a bit player in education. Under an expansive vision being rolled out this spring by Biden, that would change. Biden has proposed a half dozen education programs that would constitute the largest federal investment in education in at least a half-century. Any one of them would be significant on its own. Taken together, if approved by Congress, they form a cradle-to-college plan that aims to reduce inequities that course through American schools by infusing hundreds of billions of dollars into virtually every level of the system.
“Biden’s top scientist met Jeffrey Epstein twice. It’s now complicating his confirmation.” via Alex Thompson, Theodoric Meyer, and Marianne Levine of POLITICO — Biden’s nomination of Eric Lander to be his top science adviser has been delayed in part because a Democratic Senator was concerned about meetings Lander and his colleagues had with Epstein, the late financier who was charged with sex trafficking in 2019 before his apparent suicide. Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, has wanted more clarity on the extent of Lander’s associations with Epstein. Asked Wednesday about her concerns about Lander and Epstein, Cantwell said: “We’re having a hearing on him next week, and we’ll see what happens with that.”
“Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico” via Tracy Jan and Lisa Rein of The Washington Post — The Trump administration put up bureaucratic obstacles that stalled approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed an investigation into the holdup. Congress requested the investigation into the delays to recovery aid for Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 left residents of the U.S. territory without power and clean water for months. But, the report said, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and another former HUD official declined to be interviewed by investigators during the course of the examination that began in 2019. Access to HUD information was delayed or denied on several occasions.
Donald Trump was a bit more active than first thought in blocking hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.
“Kevin McCarthy’s strategy to rein in GOP extremists: Don’t” via Sam Brodey of the Daily Beast — When House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer began criticizing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene during House debate on Tuesday, the QAnon-curious lawmaker quickly sought out a nearby ally on the floor: McCarthy. Instead of ruling with an iron fist, McCarthy has preferred a softer touch. He has kept his party’s most controversial lawmakers in the fold, largely choosing to turn the focus around on Democrats instead of dwelling on the troubling views springing forth from his own ranks. McCarthy has issued condemnations of Greene’s rhetoric and behavior, but he’s also defended her over and over again. Where former top Republicans in the House would have kept their distance from the fringiest elements of the GOP conference, McCarthy has kept them close. Literally.
“Zoe Lofgren: Capitol Police official being investigated for directions to pursue only ‘anti-Trump’ protesters Jan. 6” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — A Capitol Police official radioed units outside of the building on the morning of Jan. 6 and told them only to scout for anti-Trump troublemakers, not pro-Trump protesters, according to Rep. Lofgren, who described what she said were details of an internal investigation conducted in the aftermath of the mob attack. Lofgren revealed the finding while she questioned Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton, who appeared before the House Administration Committee Wednesday to testify about security failures that precipitated the Jan. 6 attack. Lofgren, who chairs the panel, described the findings as she asked him whether he had read the internal investigation reports.
Were Capitol Police ordered to only go after anti-Trumpers? Zoe Lofgren thinks so. Image via AP.
“Rick Scott vows ‘day of reckoning’ against corporations, urges them to lobby up” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Scott continued to get traction for his hits on “woke” corporations, with a showcase A-Block spot on Fox News Primetime Thursday. Cued up with a sympathetic intro from host Ben Domenech, the first-term Senator railed against corporate cave-ins to the left and not so implicit threats for revenge on corporations, vowing a “day of reckoning” for private sector companies that boycott states like Georgia in the wake of voting law changes earlier this year. The Senator said, “there’s a backlash coming up against these CEOs.” He predicted tough sledding for corporations once Republicans take over Washington. “They’re going to have to hire a lot more lobbyists than what they’ve got now,” Scott quipped.
“For Florida Woman Shannon Estenoz, just appointed to U.S. Dept. of Interior job: Here’s a to-do list” via Craig Pittman of the Florida Phoenix — First of all, congratulations! As a fellow Florida native — albeit one from the Panhandle, not from the Keys — I am always happy to see a Floridian get the opportunity to influence the course of history. Of course, such an opportunity comes with certain risks. We saw this with Katherine Harris’ blundering in overseeing the 2000 election recount, and with the crew from Miami became the bungling Watergate burglars. That’s naming just a couple of times when Florida’s contribution to the nation’s destiny was to play the fool. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that you can avoid those missteps and maybe even achieve something great.
“Roger Stone spent weeks publicly defending Matt Gaetz after being paid by his campaign” via Matt Gertz of Media Matters — Since cashing a check from the reelection campaign of Rep. Gaetz in March, Stone has furiously defended the congressman amid a firestorm surrounding a federal investigation into his activities. On his social media accounts and in an interview with Infowars’ Alex Jones, Stone attacked the story as a conspiracy between the media and the “deep state” intended to derail a future Gaetz run for president. The Daily Beast reported that federal campaign finance disclosures reveal Gaetz’s campaign paid Stone’s Drake Ventures $5,000 for “strategic political consulting” fees on March 24. It was the first time the campaign had ever made a payment to the firm. Six days later, The New York Times reported that Gaetz has been under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking.
Thick as thieves.
“Gaetz’s complaints about Iran hostage scheme will not distract FBI probe” via Mark Hosenball of Yahoo! News — A federal investigation into whether Gaetz trafficked a minor for sex will not be derailed by his assertion that a veteran asked his father for money to pay for the release of an American held by Iran, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said. Investigators believe the purported scheme to free Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, lacked credibility, the source said. Another U.S. official familiar with the case noted that Levinson’s family in March 2020 publicly accepted U.S. government assessments that he died in Iranian custody.
“Gaetz pleads for money, and you can guess how people are responding” via Ed Mazza of the Huffington Post — Gaetz is pleading for money from his supporters as he launches a media attack on CNN amid reports he’s under investigation in connection with a sex scandal. Gaetz denies the allegations, but investigators are reportedly examining evidence to see whether he and an associate paid for sex, including with a person who was 17 years old at the time. According to reports, that evidence is said to include receipts from online payments made via Venmo, Apple Pay and Cash App. Gaetz tweeted his ad, in which he basically takes some of the text from a right-wing meme about Trump and makes it about himself instead
“State threatens ‘emergency action’ on Hillsborough school finances” via Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Weeks after the Hillsborough County School District cut more than 1,000 jobs from its workforce, the Florida Department of Education is warning it might place the system in financial receivership. Under that scenario, the state would assume control of finances in the nation’s seventh-largest school district. “Make no mistake about it,” Commissioner of Education Corcoran wrote in a letter Thursday to the School Board and superintendent Addison Davis. State law requires districts to maintain a reserve that is equivalent to 2% of anticipated revenues. District leaders have warned for months that, absent deep cuts in spending or a new source of revenue, they would run out of money in June.
Addison Davis has been warned, Hillsborough schools may be in deep financial trouble.
“Hillsborough OKs water rate increases through 2025” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — The price of a gallon of tap water is going up in Hillsborough County. And it will keep going up for each of the next four years. Annual 4% rate increases are intended to improve and expand the county’s water utility system. Hillsborough Commissioners approved the four-year rate increases by a 5-1 vote Wednesday. Commissioner Ken Hagan, who didn’t say anything during the debate, dissented and Commissioner Stacy White didn’t vote. A customer using 6,000 gallons of water monthly currently pays $85.04. That will increase to $89.14 on Oct. 1 and go up annually each of the following three years. On Oct. 1, 2024, that same usage will cost nearly $20 more than it does now at $103.51.
“Lenny Curry files bills for gas tax increase, septic tank removal” via Mike Mendenhall of the Jacksonville Daily Record — Curry filed legislation with City Council to partner with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to extend and double Duval County’s local option gas tax to pay for nearly $1 billion in infrastructure projects. During a Council workshop on April 21, President Tommy Hazouri said he and the Curry administration will file a bill concurrently that would use money freed by added gas tax revenue to spend about $100 million over two years to remove aging septic tanks and connect underserved neighborhoods to city sewers. JTA would spend nearly $372 million in gas tax money to fund its $415.96 million Downtown Skyway conversion and extension using automated vehicles. That plan has met with public and Council criticism.
Dude’s having a tough week — “Seminole commissioners reject Chris Dorworth’s latest River Cross proposal after closed-door meeting” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Following a closed-door meeting, Seminole County commissioners unanimously agreed to reject a proposal from Dorworth, the developer of the controversial River Cross project, to settle a pair of lawsuits he filed against the county in October 2018 after his development application was denied. Dorworth had offered to drop the lawsuits if Seminole agreed to carve the 669 acres proposed for his River Cross development out of the county’s rural boundary. Dorworth and his River Cross Land Co. could have then submitted new development plans for the old pastureland just north of the Orange County line and east of the Econolockhatchee River.
“Timeline: How a grand jury indicted school chief Robert Runcie and other leaders” via Marc Freeman and Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The surprise arrests of Broward schools chief Runcie and lead attorney Barbara Myrick this week can be traced to the fallout from the Feb. 14, 2018, Parkland school shooting. One year after the massacre, DeSantis called for a statewide grand jury to review safety and corruption issues in Broward and other school districts. A final report is expected soon. The superintendent is accused of making a still-unspecified false statement to these grand jurors three weeks ago. According to an indictment, the general counsel disclosed unspecified information from the grand jury proceedings sometime between March 31 and April 14.
“No swift firing likely for Superintendent Runcie and attorney Barbara Myrick” via Scott Travis and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The arrests of Broward County’s school superintendent and the district’s chief lawyer may not be enough to get them fired, at least not without a big payout. A majority of the School Board could fire Superintendent Runcie and Chief Counsel Myrick under their contracts. But if board members want to avoid paying hefty severance packages, they’d have to fire them for good cause, which would require more than an arrest.
Despite his arrest, Robert Runcie will be tough to fire. Image via AP.
“A red wave followed George Floyd protests in Miami. But activists want to revive the movement” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Hours after a Minnesota jury convicted police officer Chauvin in the murder of Floyd, a group of Miami organizers and activists who advocate against police brutality and anti-Blackness gathered at their monthly general meeting, where they’d planned to discuss Florida’s new “anti-riot” legislation. But once the verdict came down, local organizers with the Dream Defenders turned their attention to the historic decision, saying that Chauvin’s conviction is reason to double down on the movement to shift resources away from police departments and pressure politicians who stand in their way.
“Hialeah motorcycle cops charged with issuing bogus tickets to drivers they never pulled over” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Prosecutors charged Ernesto Arias-Martinez and Armando Perez with multiple felony counts of official misconduct and falsifying public records. They were being jailed early Wednesday and are expected to post bond later in the day. Perez had been with Hialeah for five years; Arias-Martinez, for less than four. The scheme began to unravel thanks in part to a defense law firm chasing business. The office asked the motorist, Reicel Sosa Polo, if he needed legal help with the 10 traffic tickets that could wreck his driving record. Sosa was stunned because he’d never gotten pulled over.
“Miami Beach selects Alina Tejeda Hudak as next city manager; first woman to run city” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — The Miami Beach City Commission voted Wednesday unanimously to select Hudak as the city’s top administrator. Hudak is the first woman appointed city manager in Miami Beach. Hudak, a former county deputy mayor who joined Miami Beach last year as an assistant city manager, will begin her new job as city manager immediately. By Wednesday afternoon, she had already started posting tweets from the city manager’s Twitter page, and the city’s website has been updated to reflect her appointment as the head of City Hall. Hudak came out of retirement to work for the city after a 35-year career in Miami-Dade County government, where in 2011, she also became the first woman to serve as County Manager.
“Plan to temporarily stop South Beach alcohol sales at 2 a.m. receives initial approval” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Four years after Miami Beach voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to end late-night drinking in the famous tourist city, commissioners on Wednesday voted to temporarily restrict alcohol sales in the South Beach entertainment district. A final vote is still needed to approve the pilot program, which does not yet include specific details about a starting date or duration. If approved during the second vote on May 12, the legislation would institute a temporary 2 a.m. cutoff along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue from Fifth to 16th streets. Mayor Dan Gelber was forced to broker a deal with Commissioner Micky Steinberg to make his proposal a pilot program to get enough votes to pass the restrictions.
“Blue-green algae causes health officials to close recreational area in Caloosahatchee River” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — State health officials released a public advisory Wednesday for the upper portion of the Caloosahatchee River estuary, saying the public should not swim there or touch the water. The Florida Department of Health in Lee County says it found blue-green algae toxins in the waters surrounding W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam in Alva. “DOH recommends individuals avoid contact with the water,” the advisory says. “Blue-green algae can cause gastrointestinal effects if swallowed. Children and pets are especially vulnerable, so keeping them away from the water during a bloom is especially important.” Businesses related to the fishing industry in that area say they are worried the bloom will get worse and larger this summer.
“New autism center in Cape Coral is first for Southwest Florida” via Craig Handle for the Fort Myers News-Press — The 3,900-square-foot support center, officially named the Family Initiative Lizbeth Benacquisto Autism Support Center after the former Florida Senate member, is Southwest Florida’s first facility dedicated to championing individuals with the Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as their families. Joining Family Initiative vice president Anjali Van Drie, Family Initiative president David Brown and Benacquisto, were Cape Coral officials and more than 200 community members. The global pandemic delayed construction by about six months. “It feels amazing to have this finished,” Brown said. “This has been a particularly challenging time for our families. To have a space open for families is phenomenal.
A new Southwest Florida autism center bears the name of Lizbeth Benacquisto.
“City of Tallahassee to resume utility disconnects for newly delinquent bills” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — City officials plan to resume disconnecting utility accounts that have gone past due since February. At the same time, they continue to reach out to customers who faced economic hardships during the past year and were offered leeway in making payments. Of the roughly 9,000 customers whose accounts were delinquent while the city paused utility disconnects last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 5,000 have made payments. Another 3,500 have made applications to access Leon County CARES Act funding to help pay 12 months back due bills and three months in advance, said James Barnes, chief customer officer with the city of Tallahassee.
“Dana White welcomes full crowd for UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena ” via Clayton Freeman of The Florida Times-Union — UFC President White stepped to the podium, saw the fans in the front, and knew more were to come. For White, that sight represented one big step toward mission accomplished. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said. Jacksonville rolled out the red carpet for the fight world Thursday, welcoming fighters, organizers, and fans into VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for a news conference ahead of Saturday night’s UFC 261 pay-per-view feature, the nation’s first major indoor sporting event with a full crowd since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Come Saturday night, the arena is expected to open to a full-capacity 15,000 for a pay-per-view slugfest on the multibillion-dollar global mixed martial arts circuit.
“Benjamin Crump to visit Viera, calls for Justice Department investigation into ‘justifiable’ shootings” via J.D. Gallop of Florida Today — Civil rights attorney Crump said he’ll be visiting Brevard on Friday for a news conference aimed at asking the U.S. Justice Department to review the deputy-involved shootings of two Cocoa teens. “It’s very significant because I have a lot of family in Brevard County,” Crump told FLORIDA TODAY. “It’s coming back to your base to fight a battle we’re fighting all over the country, in different states.” Crump and his counselor Steven Hart, along with attorney Natalie Jackson, represent the families of the Cocoa teens. The news conference, expected to draw a consortium of civil rights leaders, family members of the slain teens, elected officials and others, will take place at 10 a.m. at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.
“Okaloosa County eyes major public safety communications system upgrades” via Tony Judnich of the Northwest Florida Daily News — By mid-to-late 2023, first responders from dozens of local, state and federal agencies should be able to start using a single Okaloosa County-wide emergency public safety radio communications system that’s expected to be a vast improvement over the four different and faulty systems now in place. The County Commission unanimously approved spending more than $27 million for the project. The bulk of the funding will be $19.65 million in borrowed money, which the county plans to pay off in seven years with local option half-cent sales tax funds.
“A never-Trump Republican comes to grips with his new democratic allies” via Mac Stipanovich for the Tampa Bay Times — I fancy myself a wild goose, together with my unyielding and unrepentant Never Trump brothers and sisters who were formerly stalwarts in the Republican Party, all of us self-exiled from the Trump GOP and fighting at the side of people we do not know and for whom we often do not particularly care. These are the vicissitudes of Never Trump exile. But as long as the likes of DeSantis, Ashley Moody, Scott and Rubio endure and Trumpism remains an existential threat to American representative democracy, then we, too, must endure. Having come so far after leaving so much behind, there is nothing for it but to fight to the finish.
“How pandemics wreak havoc — and open minds” via Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker — The consequences of wars and economic depressions have been amply studied; the consequences of pandemics, less so. This spring, in order to understand our possible future, I decided to look at the past through the eyes of Gianna Pomata, a retired professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. When we first talked on Skype, she immediately compared COVID-19 to the bubonic plague that struck Europe in the fourteenth century — “not in the number of dead but in terms of shaking up the way people think.” She went on, “The Black Death really marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of something else.” That something else was the Renaissance.
“Democrats feign surprise, outrage at DeSantis being DeSantis” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis signed two of the 2021 legislative session’s most important pieces of legislation this week, and Florida Democrats quickly capitalized on the political implications of both acts. First, he went to Polk County to sign his new “combating Public Disorder” law, the infamous House Bill 1 that Democrats and various civil libertarians call an unconstitutional abridgment of First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. It was informally dubbed the “anti-riot” act because DeSantis proposed it following the summer of violent disturbances, and he said it would give local authorities in Florida the tools needed to prevent what we saw in Portland, Seattle and some other cities.
“The Florida Legislature actually did something right” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Amid so much that’s wrong with this year’s session of the Florida Legislature, three particular bills are relief from its far-right radicalism and urgently deserve the public’s attention and strong support. Senate Bill 100 would repeal the worst of the toll road boondoggle that was the Legislature’s going-away gift to then-Senate President Bill Galvano two years ago. House Bill 7051 is a late-arriving response to the public’s righteous demand for police training and practice reforms. Senate Bill 1156, by Sen. Brandes, would prohibit the execution of murderers who are seriously mentally ill when they committed their crimes, substituting life in prison without parole.
“Florida House’s election bill is unnecessary, confusing and antidemocratic” via Dan Daley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Overall, Florida’s 2020 election was one for the history books: smoothly run, and timely reported. So why is the GOP pushing “much-needed voting reform?” From the rank and file to DeSantis himself, who called our election “the smoothest and most successful of any state,” the conclusion has been the same across the board. House Bill 7041 makes them worse. It creates a Byzantine system for casting absentee or vote-by-mail ballots. HB 7041 is a confusing, anti-democratic step in the wrong direction under the guise of “fixing” something. I am opposed to the bill and ask others to voice their opposition as well. Republican lawmakers have alleged that their proposals crack down on voter fraud, a largely make-believe problem.
“Bob Hunter, Bill Newton: Act now! There’s still time to stop bad property bills ramrodded through Session” via Florida Politics — Call your legislators immediately and tell them not to give in to the insurance companies just as our economy is coming back. Tell them you oppose Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 305. These bills would increase Citizens’ rates and forbid them from ever lowering rates. It is designed to allow private insurers to raise rates to much higher levels than they’ve currently proposed. These bills also include a huge gift of depreciating your roof if it is damaged. That’s right. It’s sneaky. Although you need 100% of your roof 100% of the time, our Legislators think they can let your insurance company replace only a percentage of your roof based on age. You pay the rest.
“Finally reclaiming the Florida Everglades is within reach” via The Palm Beach Post editorial board — Last month, every single Florida member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican and Democrat, wrote to Biden urging him to seek “robust funding” for the sporadically stalled environmental repair project that aims to redirect the flow of water south, as the Everglades used to do naturally. In other words, even politicians who normally recoil at large, activist government projects are enthusiasts for correcting the 20th-century canal-building and swamp-draining that, while opening South Florida to agriculture, houses, malls and golf courses, have meant ecological disaster for the once-healthy “River of Grass.”
“Help local Tallahassee businesses lead the post-COVID-19 recovery” via Sally Bradshaw for the Tallahassee Democrat — Five years ago, I took a foolish risk. After three decades in the trenches running political campaigns, I was ready to walk away from the endless partisan trolling and build something of value in Tallahassee. Today, Midtown Reader is proud to support over 16,000 customers with a carefully curated inventory of books and author events that add a rich new dimension to Tallahassee’s cultural scene. We’ve thrived despite COVID-19 thanks to local support and by quickly pivoting to an expanded online presence that allows customers to search over 9 million titles through our website. We added home delivery and private browsing by appointment. We can deliver the most popular titles to your home in hours, not days, and in so doing, we’ve taken the fight directly to Amazon.
On today’s Sunrise
A bill to strengthen Florida’s Right to Farm law heads for the Governor’s desk after final passage in the House. The debate had its moments.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Everyone loves their local farmers, but critics say this bill also protects Florida’s sugar farmers from legal fallout over the burning of cane fields in South Florida.
— A revamp of the state’s election law hits the Senate floor, its final stop. Among other things, it bands people from handing out treats and drinks at polling places if they have any campaign stickers — but you can always BYOB.
— The Florida Supreme Court says an amendment to legalize recreational marijuana cannot go on the ballot because it misleads the voters. Glenn Burhans discusses that decision.
— The House approves a bill that would make it easier to exclude the only Democrat elected to the state cabinet.
— Don’t look now, but Otter Cat has resurfaced in the Senate.
— And finally, a Florida couple invited their friends to a lavish wedding at what they thought was a vacant mansion. It was not.
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren; Deborah Tamargo, president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women; South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist-reporter Steve Bousquet; and Rick Edmond, media business analyst, leader of News Transformation for the Poynter Institute.
In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion on the prevention of maternal mortality, especially among women of color. Joining Walker are Reps. Kamia Brown and Vance Aloupis; Jennie Joseph, CEO of Commonsense Childbirth in Orlando; and Dr. Haywood Brown, USF Health OBGYN, Maternal and Fetal Medicine.
Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: An overview of what’s left for the Legislative Session, including the state budget; a look at how Florida Democrats are preparing to fight the newly passed “anti-riot” bill; and a look at Biden and the Climate Change Summit.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will discuss Biden’s infrastructure plan; and one-on-one with Sen. Scott about legislation designed to revive the cruise ship industry.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition; Steve Zona, Fraternal Order of Police 5-30 president, Jacksonville; Jacksonville Transit Authority CEO Nat Ford; former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney; and Rick Mullaney, founder and director of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez; Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz; and Broward County School Board Member Debra Hixon.
“Palm Beach County Food Bank celebrates new $1.6M donation from Steve and Christine Schwarzman” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Palm Beach County Food Bank is on its way to expanding a program offering free food over the weekend for elementary school students in need. Jim Greco, vice-chair of the food bank, thanked philanthropists Steve and Christine Schwarzman Thursday for a $1.6 million seed donation aimed at helping court additional donors to help make that program permanent. “The ‘Food 4 Kids’ program is designed to help children who receive free school meals by providing them with food to bring home for the weekend,” Greco explained. Steve Schwarzman serves as chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group, a private equity firm.
Palm Beach County Food Bank gets a $1.6M boost, to make permanent a program to feed elementary school children. Image via Facebook.
“Miami women surprise homeless teen with magical quinceanera” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — Entering her magical quinceanera on by her father’s arm, her tiara sparkling and her fuchsia ballgown trimmed with ruffles to perfectly match her cake, Adriana Palma scanned the crowd for familiar faces. Most of the guests were strangers. Without them, this Parisian pink fairy tale of a 15th birthday party would never have come to life. Alone and impoverished, she and her family spent four months living in their SUV. But now, she danced with her father, swaying under the palm trees to Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” as many of her new godmothers wept with joy. As the party was about to end, Adriana tucked handwritten notes into each hand; in her halting English, she thanked her godmothers for the magical memories.
“Disney adapts program to bring art and animals to children’s hospitals” via Kathleen Christiansen of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World has adapted a long-standing children’s hospital program to virtually bring the theme parks’ animals and Animal Kingdom’s Animation Experience to children at AdventHealth for Children, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Nemours Children’s Hospital. Previously, the program consisted of monthly visits in which Disney cast members brought handheld animals, including rabbits, hedgehogs, birds and lizards, and medical equipment to the hospitals to teach and entertain young patients. “We were able to talk about the animals and, most importantly, talk about how we care for the animals from a medical perspective,” said Scott Terrell, director of animal and science operations for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.
“Who let the dogs out? Therapy pets return to Moffitt Cancer Center” via Erin Murray of Bay News 9 — The miracles of modern medicine come in all forms and sometimes on all fours. After a year away because of COVID-19 restrictions, Pet Therapy is back and helping everyone smile at Moffitt Cancer Center. “I come every other day for whether it’s a blood transfusion or just to get my labs, and then chemo treatments as well,” said Donna Rossi, patient. “But I have never had such a great day here; this is wonderful.” Rossi is battling acute myeloid leukemia. Fighting cancer is not easy, but when a pack of pups is on your side, it helps make patients feel stronger.
Best wishes to our man, Drew Wilson, Sen. Randolph Bracy, Katie Crofoot of Strategic Digital Services, Laura Lenhart of Frontier Communications, and Kenneth Pratt of the Florida Bankers Association.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.
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Economy: Onboarding szn is here. For the second straight week, jobless claims fell to a pandemic-era low of 547,000.
Markets: Stocks ticked lower after a report that Biden will introduce a big hike on capital gains taxes—more on that in a jiffy. Our highlighted stock today is Hometown International, that mysterious $100 million NJ deli everyone was buzzing about last week. It was just delisted from an over-the-counter market platform for public disclosure “irregularities.”
President Biden will soon propose nearly doubling the capital gains tax for wealthy people to 39.6%, according to Bloomberg. Wealthy people = individuals earning $1 million or more.
Biden is expected to announce the tax hike next week as part of the pitch for his “American Families Plan,” the highly anticipated sequel to the $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal he released a few weeks ago.
To pay for the first plan, which includes spending on bridges and broadband, Biden wants to hike taxes on corporations.
To pay for his second proposal, which includes spending on childcare and paid leave for workers, he wants to hike taxes on wealthy investors.
Capital gains 101
You pay capital gains taxes on your profits from a savvy investment. For example, say in the summer of 2020 you listened to Roaring Kitty and bought GameStop at $4.50/share, then sold it this year at $150/share to buy courtside tickets to the Knicks’ NBA Finals game—nice work, but you’re going to have to pay taxes once you sell that stock.
Investments held for less than one year are taxed like regular income, but long-term capital gains (investments held for at least one year) have three tax brackets that top out at just 20%.
Critics of the current capital gains system say, “So you’re telling me this rich investor is paying less in taxes on their stock sales than a middle-class worker pays on their income? That doesn’t sound right.” Wealthy people with a majority of their net worth tied up in investments do benefit from the current system—Warren Buffett once said he’s the lowest-paying taxpayer in his office.
But people who oppose raising capital gains taxes argue that the ripple effects would be way worse, disincentivizing risk-taking, holding back economic growth, and discouraging investors from selling their assets, which is seen as keeping the market healthy.
Bottom line: Investors knew this dramatic hike was coming (the proposal was in candidate Biden’s tax plan), but the report jarred Wall Street nonetheless. It could lead to a lot of asset sales before 2021’s out, according to Axios.
In a unanimous ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court said the Federal Trade Commission does not have the authority to make companies give back profits made through deceptive or unfair practices, aka “ill-gotten gains.”
For decades, the FTC has used a provision called Section 13(b) to recoup billions of dollars and (at times) pay back consumers. Problem is, 13(b) does’t explicitly say the FTC is allowed to. So after the FTC ordered payday lender AMG Capital Management to return a record $1.3 billion to consumers in 2016, the company dug in its heels and appealed up the judicial ladder (around $500 million was distributed to consumers in 2018).
Justices said the FTC needs to ask Congress to grant those powers back, which acting FTC Chair Rebecca Slaughter did earlier this week. Yesterday, Slaughter criticized the Court’s decision for ruling “in favor of scam artists and dishonest corporations, leaving average Americans to pay for illegal behavior” and urged lawmakers to act quickly.
Big picture: If the FTC doesn’t get its enforcement teeth back, wronged consumers will have fewer opportunities to collect damages and big corporations could get off easier in antitrust and privacy cases.
Tesla employees are preparing their epsom salt baths after a long week. On Monday, protestors took over the company’s booth at the Shanghai Auto Show to voice complaints about vehicle malfunctions. One video of a woman climbing on top of a Tesla claiming faulty brakes caused a crash that injured her parents went viral. And over the course of the week, Tesla was battered by Chinese media after the EV company issued statements deemed “insincere.”
Big picture: China accounts for 30% of Tesla’s sales, so CEO Elon Musk is motivated to make sure their gift basket has the good fruit in it (no honeydew). But the company’s cavalier attitude and inability to keep up with auto repairs as sales grow rapidly have rubbed some Chinese regulators the wrong way.
In March, Tesla cars were banned from military complexes in China over fears their cameras would be used to spy on the government. Musk insisted that would never happen.
Bottom line: If Tesla doesn’t do some damage control in China, it could get lapped by Western automakers like Volkswagen or homegrown Chinese upstarts like BYD, Nio, or Xpeng.
Stat: 2.8 million people in the US subscribed to HBO Max in Q1; Netflix added just 450,000 subs across the US and Canada in the same period.
Quote: “In-person is way better than anything. It’s like the major leagues versus sandlot ball.”
Fried Frank exec Jonathan Mechanic is one of many bigwig New Yorkers relieved to put down the homemade tuna sandwich and enjoy the return of the Midtown Manhattan “power lunch,” according to the WSJ. But things are a bit different in 2021: Desperate for social interaction, diners are lingering for longer and getting buzzed on cocktails or wine.
Read: There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: languishing. (NYT)
Many of you know Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD, as one of the most authoritative tech reviewers on YouTube.
What you may not know is that Brownlee has a team including a researcher, accountant, brand manager, script supervisor, and more. On our podcast Business Casual, Brownlee explained how he scaled his channel and his thoughts on the future of the “creator economy.”
For the bill’s advocates, D.C. statehood is a civil rights issue. The district has a population of more than 700,000 people, larger than the population of Wyoming or Vermont. But while those states each have two senators and a [House representative], D.C. has no voting representation in Congress. If admitted, it would be the first state with a plurality Black population.
Many D.C. statehood supporters are pushing the Senate to eliminate the filibuster, which would allow measures to advance with a simple majority. But this would require support from all 50 Democrats in the Senate, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. Two Democrats say they won’t support it — all but dooming the prospects for H.R. 51.
If admitted as a state, it is highly likely that the two senators and one representative from D.C. would be Democratic, tipping the balance of Congress further into Democrats’ favor. 92% of its residents supported President Biden in the 2020 election.
All votes are anonymous. This poll closes at: 9:00 PST
YESTERDAY’S POLLWould you use a palm reader to pay for groceries?
405 votes, 111 comments
Context: Whole Foods will unveil palm readers to pay for groceries.
“No – I can recover stolen money from a bank account or credit card. Once your biometric or DNA data is “out there” you’ve lost all control. We’ve seen this turn bad when government officials use familial DNA to arrest others. No thanks. Waving my phone with Apple Pay works just fine. ”
“Yes – It’s not perfect, but it’s a big step forward. Even if the biomet…”
Leaked details of Joe Biden’s proposal for huge tax-hikes on wealthy Americans sent the stock market into free-fall late yesterday. Bloomberg reports that the increases include a top marginal income tax rate of 39.6% – up from 20% – and a capital gains rate of 43.4%. High-income Americans in California and New York would find themselves forking over more than half of what they earn to cover state and federal taxes.
Statehood for DC Was Never Necessary – Only Political
Paul Krugman, who writes for The New York Times and also plays an economist on television, suggested in an April 22 tweet that Republican voters had merely imagined Black Lives Matter riots and looting in several major American cities over the past year. There is no taking Krugman’s comments out of context here. He asserts that “GOP supporters believe that rampaging mobs burned and looted major cities – somehow without the people actually living in those cities noticing… “ Krugman went on to say that BLM “may have been the best-behaved protest movement in history.”
Missouri Republican Josh Hawley was the only senator to vote against a hate crimes bill on Thursday, saying it was “dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents.”
Roger Marshall (R-KS) has introduced a bill to make the District of Columbia part of the state of Maryland. Democrats in the House of Representatives pushed through legislation that would grant statehood to DC.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (R) has been tapped to deliver the Republican rebuttal to Joe Biden’s upcoming address to a joint session of Congress.
Something political to ponder as you enjoy your morning coffee.
Left-wingers appear to have lost any shred of rationality, following an Ohio police officer’s shooting of a teenager – an action that may well have saved the life of a black woman, whose life, apparently, does not matter. Between LeBron James – an NBA star and legend in his own lunchtime – tweeting a direct threat against the officer and The View’s Joy Behar suggesting that said officer should have fired his gun in the air – as if he was Wyatt Earp – these people are no longer in control of their faculties. Hopefully, red flag laws will prevent any of them from ever owning a firearm.
Good morning and welcome to Fox News First. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day …
Ohio cop in Ma’Khia Bryant shooting used ‘best judgment,’ neighbor says: ‘Video doesn’t lie’
The Columbus, Ohio, police officer who fatally shot a teen Tuesday “reacted with what he thought was his best judgment,” a neighbor whose surveillance camera captured video of the incident said Thursday.
Donavon Brinson shared his views on Fox News’ “The Faulkner Focus” in an exclusive interview after reviewing the footage.
Brinson did not witness the incident himself, he told host Harris Faulkner, but reviewed the surveillance footage recorded from his home, which is located across the street from where the shooting took place.
“The video doesn’t lie,” he said. The police officer “did what he thought was best,” given that he had only seconds to react, the neighbor asserted.
Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, has been identified by her family as the person who was killed in east Columbus after police were called to the scene about a dispute. Body camera footage released by police showed the teen attacking two other people with what appeared to be a knife before a responding officer fired multiple shots.
In other developments:
– MSNBC guest suggests Ma’Khia Bryant was shot for ‘not being perfect,’ having a ‘bad day’
– Gutfeld: Ohio police shooting being politicized by left is ‘propagating’ violence
– Nancy Grace: If Ma’Khia Bryant called 911 before Columbus police shooting, ‘that changes everything’
– Tucker Carlson: Democrats cry, ‘Let them use knives,’ because teenage knife fights are human rights
– Joe Concha slams the media’s coverage of fatal police shooting: ‘This isn’t play time’
– ‘The View’ pushes back against CNN’s Don Lemon over Ma’Khia Bryant shooting: He’s ‘wrong about this’
– Columbus shooting: Others involved in confrontation that led to teen’s death were all adults
– Columbus officer who fatally shot teen girl as she lunged with knife is 23 years old, on force for 16 months
Biden’s ‘open-border’ policies have agents ‘burned out,’ DHS whistleblower tells Fox
A whistleblower painted a grim picture of conditions on the U.S.- Mexico border Thursday in an exclusive “Hannity” interview with Fox News contributor and investigative reporter Sara Carter.
Carter explained that border officials are growing increasingly frustrated with dangerous conditions and negligence inside migrant processing centers and are desperate for Washington authorities to step in.
“How frustrated are DHS officials … federal law enforcement officers working along the border? What are you hearing, What’s the feeling?” Carter asked.
“People are just very burned out and there’s not a lot of optimism that it’s going to get better anytime soon,” responded the unidentified DHS official, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
The official said he is frustrated with the Biden administration’s open-border policies “because I think the policies were implemented irresponsibly and I think they do not have any sense of realism,” he explained. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
In other developments:
– Kamala Harris has gone 30 days without a news conference since being tapped for border crisis role
– Kamala Harris emphasizes ‘root causes’ of border surge, says problem is ‘complex’
– House Republicans demand answers from VP Harris on ‘politically motivated’ border decision
– Pence hits Dems over border crisis, touts Trump’s success stemming illegal immigration
– Border crisis: Sens. Cornyn, Sinema to introduce bipartisan bill targeting migrant surge
– VP Kamala Harris sets virtual meeting with Guatemala president next week regarding migrant crisis
New York Times columnist claims ‘rampaging mobs’ that looted cities were GOP make-believe
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman suggested Thursday that riots that have plagued many U.S. cities over the past year were a figment of Republicans’ imaginations.
Krugman knocked the GOP on Twitter for being concerned “only” about illegal immigration and the deficit in comparison to Democrats, who according to a Pew study are overwhelmingly concerned about gun violence, racism, the coronavirus, climate change, affordable health care, and economic inequality.
“You might think that it would be hard to obsess over the deficit when it was actually Trump who blew the deficit up, to zero complaints from his party,” Krugman tweeted. “But that would be assuming that R voters know about that, or would even be willing to hear it.”
“In reality, given that GOP supporters believe that rampaging mobs burned and looted major cities — somehow without the people actually living in those cities noticing — getting them to see facts about something as abstract as the deficit is a hopeless cause,” Krugman added. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
In other developments:
– NY Times ignores 18 deaths, nearly $2 billion in damage when bashing GOP bills targeting rioters
– FBI puts law enforcement nationwide on notice about increase in crime, ‘remain vigilant’
– New York police clear encampment after earlier clash; 8 arrested
– Activists allegedly refusing to leave George Floyd Square after Chauvin verdict, call for demands to be met
– Kamala Harris trip to New Hampshire sparks 2024 White House speculation
– Virginia moving to eliminate all accelerated math courses before 11th grade as part of equity-focused plan
– George W. Bush reveals who he voted for in 2020
– Ex-Virginia Tech soccer star sues coach, claims he forced her off team because she wouldn’t kneel
– Kentucky men’s basketball star dies in car accident days after signing with NBA agent: report
– Michigan Gov. Whitmer lied about travels before Florida trip revealed: ‘I was here in town the whole time’
THE LATEST FROM FOX BUSINESS:
– Tesla raises prices on Model 3 and Model Y again
– Republicans question US Postal Service over ‘amorphous’ intelligence collecting operation
– Biden planning to hike capital gains tax rate on wealthy individuals
– IRS sends another batch of $1,400 stimulus checks to 2M Americans
– Topless clubs among businesses that can reopen in Las Vegas
– Elon Musk launches $100M ‘XPRIZE Carbon Removal’
SOME PARTING WORDS
Laura Ingraham lashed out at the media for joining with Black Lives Matter and Democrats in a questionable narrative regarding Tuesday’s fatal police shooting of knife-wielding 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio.
“The Ingraham Angle” host said the media used a “deceitful and despicable campaign to paint a police officer’s life-saving actions as just a cold-blooded killing of a Black teenager,” Ingraham said.
“No reason – it’s a lie, and they know it’s a lie. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to obscure key details in this story and then they go on to spin fantasy.”
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A major infrastructure plan should increase productivity and future wealth. The American Jobs Plan does not do this. Worse, if passed, it will actually make future attempts to invest in the nation’s infrastructure more difficult.
Many Republicans are parroting the same grievance-based, stick-it-to-the-man rhetoric that Donald Trump reveled in. But that approach is not likely to work with the general electorate in the 2024 presidential election or many state races.
☕ Happy Friday! Smart Brevity™ count: 940 words … < 4 minutes. Edited by Justin Green.
♻️ We’re launching a Get Smart video short course series on climate tech, including electric vehicles.Sign up here, and get it 5/10.
1 big thing: Biden’s tax-the-rich plans
Jen Psaki briefs on April 1. Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters
President Biden in the next few days will unveil eye-popping new tax rates for the wealthiest Americans — a top marginal income tax rate of 39.6% and a capital gains rate of 43.4%, Axios’ Hans Nichols reports.
“For New Yorkers, the combined state and federal capital gains rate could be as high as 52.22%. For Californians, it could be 56.7%,” Bloomberg News reported.
Why it matters: The proposal, to be announced ahead of Biden’s address to Congress next Wednesday, is an opening bid for Hill negotiations.
Between the lines: Democrats close to the White House believe that the amount of revenue that the IRS can collect on capital gains actually decreases past a certain point, probably in the low 30% range.
Officials haven’t yet made clear whether the capital gains rate would apply in 2022 — or in 2021.
Goldman Sachs sent out a research note last evening: “We expect Congress will pass a scaled back version of this tax increase.”
What we’re watching: Biden also is likely to raise more revenue from the wealthy by making changes to estate taxes.
Biden wants to impose so-called “stepped up basis” for accounting purposes, and value assets when they are passed on to an heir, not at their original cost.
Legal experts think former police officer Derek Chauvin is likely to be sentenced to between 15 years and 30 years for the death of George Floyd, Axios Twin Cities‘ Torey Van Oot and Nick Halter tell me.
Many in the community want to see the higher end. But experts think it’ll likely be lower than the max, given his lack of priors.
Aggravating factors include committing the crime in the presence of children.
Although he was found guilty of three counts, under Minnesota law, he’ll only be sentenced on the most serious one — second-degree murder.
Go deeper … AP explainer: Why Chauvin is unlikely to face max sentence.
3. ⚡️ Breaking: SpaceX launches crew of four
The rocket launches from Florida. Photo: NASA TV
Four astronauts safely lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 5:49 a.m. ET aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon en route to the International Space Station, Axios Space author Miriam Kramer reports.
The big picture: This marks the third time SpaceX has launched people to space for NASA, helping the space agency end its reliance on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft and rocket for trips to the space station.
The four crewmembers are expected to dock at 5:10 a.m. ET Saturday, with the hatch opening a couple hours later.
You can watch a live broadcast of their trip through space via NASA TV, which is expected to air continuous coverage through docking.
President Biden’s virtual climate summit highlights a White House approach that blends diplomacy, executive power, salesmanship — and a few threats, Axios’ Ben Geman and Andrew Freedman write.
Here are a few pillars of the emerging Biden doctrine.
1. Convincing the world that executive power can work. The message is that strong progress is possible without Congress.
2. Faith that an underwhelming global diplomatic apparatus can be effective. Special climate envoy John Kerry has been everywhere as the U.S. tries to get countries to toughen their commitments.
3. There are sticks, too — or at least the threat of them. The U.S. message: If your country isn’t cracking down on emissions, we’ll tax your exports to the U.S.
4. Big finance can be a climate ally. (See today’s item 5)
5. Confidence in clean energy technology growth.
In an interview with Axios, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said the company sees itself as a clean-energy accelerator: “Our goal is not just to do it for ourselves, but share the knowledge and the solutions we come up with.”
Sales of U.S. homes fell in March for the second consecutive month because so few are on the market. For the listings that exist, fierce competition is pushing prices to new highs, AP reports.
Homes typically sold in 18 days — a record low.
The U.S. median home price surged 17.2% from a year earlier to $329,100, an all-time high.
7. Next-gen vaccines won’t come as quickly
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Incentives for competitors to today’s COVID vaccines won’t be nearly as strong as the flood of Operation Warp Speed cash that coaxed in a slew of biotech companies, Axios Vitals author Caitlin Owens reports.
The big picture: Much of the remaining need will be in poorer countries.
“If you’re trying to get another vaccine developed at a lower price, that’s probably not a good incentive” for drug companies, said Craig Garthwaite, a Northwestern University management professor.
What’s next: Pfizer is researching whether its vaccine can be stored at warmer temperatures, which would make it more accessible worldwide.
President Biden marks his 100th day next Thursday — the day after his first address to a joint session of Congress.
“I did not expect him to be as big and as bold as he’s been,” House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn, whose 2020 endorsement reinvigorated Biden’s campaign, told Bloomberg Businessweek.
9. Justice’s book sets record
Judge Amy Coney Barrett looks over at President Trump as he stands behind a teleprompter before her swearing-in on Oct. 26. Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters
Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s $2 millionbook deal is the largest ever for a Supreme Court justice — topping the $1.5 million Justice Clarence Thomas received for his 2007 memoir, and the $1.175 million advance Justice Sonia Sotomayor got for hers, published in 2013, Bloomberg reports.
10. 1 fun thing: Seth Rogen’s 3-part formula
Photo: Chris Buck for The New York Times
At 39, Seth Rogen — the comedian (and director, writer, ceramist and weed entrepreneur) who made a career out of mining the pitfalls and possibilities of adolescence — remains admirably childlike, Jonah Weiner writes for the N.Y. Times Magazine:
A quarter century since he first set foot on a comedy-club stage, he has somehow preserved the openness of that 13-year-old, never quite hardening into a settled form. … Rogen set out knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life — make people laugh, smoke weed and hang out with his friends — and somehow managed to turn those three goals into the organizing principles of his whole career.
“The United States and other countries hiked their targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions… Biden unveiled the goal to cut emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels at the start of a two-day climate summit kicked off on Earth Day and attended virtually by leaders of 40 countries including big emitters China, India and Russia.” Reuters
The right is critical of Biden’s pledge, arguing that it is not feasible without exorbitant costs and economic disruption, and that China is not making a similar effort.
“Amid last year’s Covid-19 lockdowns, greenhouse gas emissions fell to about 21% below 2005 levels. In other words, even with the economy shut down and a large share of the population stuck at home, the U.S. was less than halfway to Mr. Biden’s goal…
“The Biden goal will require the electric grid to be totally rebuilt in 10 years. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. will also have to double its share of carbon-free power to 80% from 40% today—half of which is now provided by nuclear—to have any hope of achieving Mr. Biden’s pledge. All coal plants would have to shut down, and natural gas plants would be phased into obsolescence. Wind and solar energy would have to increase six to seven fold… [Biden is] committing the U.S. to a far-fetched CO2 emissions goal without a vote of Congress.” Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal
“Biden’s promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 is going to mean life changes for everyone… Take transportation. Reducing emissions in this sector is theoretically simple: Stop burning fossil fuels to power our vehicles. In practice, this means moving as quickly as possible to all-electric vehicles, which requires the retooling of automotive factories so they replace gas-powered internal combustion engine vehicles with battery-powered ones…
“The changes that will come from altering our electricity production will be as dramatic or [more so]. Do you use natural gas to heat your home or cook your food? That’s going to have to change if we’re going green, which means massive retrofitting of homes to move to electric heat and cooking… Communities that live off of local power plants will likely wither away, and many of the nearly 1.4 million people who work in the utility industry will have to change careers…
“There’s a reason Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal says saving the planet will require ‘a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.’ It will. Meeting Biden’s goals will ultimately require Americans to endure wartime-level economic planning and intervention for years — perhaps decades. It’s doubtful Americans are willing to pay that price, especially when they learn that China, which emits more greenhouse gasses than the United States and the European Union combined, still plans to increase its emissions in the coming years.” Henry Olsen, Washington Post
“In the (non-binding) Paris accord, Xi vowed only that China, the world’s worst emitter of carbon dioxide, would reach its greenhouse-gas-emissions peak by 2030 and become carbon-neutral by safely-far-off 2060. Last year, China not only generated more than half the world’s coal-fired power (the dirtiest fossil fuel), it also opened three times more coal plants in 2020 than the rest of the world combined. It’s the only G20 country whose emissions rose last year…
“Yet Xi told Biden’s summit, with a straight face and without challenge, ‘To protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that.’ Except, again, he’s not even trying ‘to boost the environment’ for another decade.” Editorial Board, New York Post
“If the Chinese fall short of their pledge in 2030, by which time we may have fought and lost a hot war with China over Taiwan, what are we going to do to punish or correct them? If we can’t get them to stop committing genocide in Xinjiang province today, are we really going to bring them to heel over excess emissions nearly a decade from now?” Rich Lowry, Politico
“We need to get smarter on climate. It is not about the rich world spending trillions it doesn’t have on ineffective and premature renewables. Leaders should instead spend billions smarter on green innovation: if we can innovate future green energy to be cheaper than fossil fuels, everyone will switch. To Biden’s credit, this is one of his many climate promises, but it needs to be front and center of a successful climate agenda.” Bjorn Lomborg, New York Post
From the Left
The left urges Biden to release more details; some argue that even more ambitious commitments are necessary to avert climate change.
“This will not be easy. And although a unified federal government leading the charge is vital, much of the onus will fall on consumers who have been slow to buy electric vehicles instead of the gas-powered pickup trucks and SUVs with which they’ve been so enamored…
“Further, nearly half of U.S. homes are heated with gas furnaces; converting those to electric fuel pumps or other sources will be expensive. Americans love their beef and other meats, but raising the animals — particularly cattle — is a significant contributor to the problem. Not only do the animals emit copious amounts of methane, but ranchers around the globe also are clearing critical carbon-sucking forest for pastureland. And on and on… [Biden provides] lots of vision, not a lot of details.” Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times
“[A December 2020 survey] found that 66 percent of registered voters said developing sources of clean energy should be a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ priority for the president and Congress. That number was 13 percentage points higher than the number of registered voters who said global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress, the poll found. And 72 percent of registered voters supported transitioning the US economy from fossil fuels to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. (Of course, it’s worth repeating that Biden wants to speed up this timeline.)” Ella Nilsen, Vox
“Climate change is a cumulative problem; if one were to add up all the greenhouse gases the US has emitted, the US would top every other country. The largest share of human-produced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere right now came from the US. The energy that created those emissions helped the US become one of the wealthiest countries in the world…
“That’s why some activists are arguing that the new [target] doesn’t go far enough. ‘As the world’s biggest historical emitter, the US has a responsibility to the most vulnerable nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis,’ Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid USA, in a statement. He added that a fairer US target would be closer to a 70 percent cut in emissions, coupled with financial support to developing countries suffering under climate change.” Umair Irfan, Vox
“Emissions reductions in the U.S. don’t need to be decisive to be mitigating. And American policy may well determine whether leaders in the developing world find a politically tenable way to decarbonize their economies. If rich countries do not treat warming as a serious issue, they cannot expect poor ones to do so either; it’s not like entrenched fossil-fuel interests or anti-science demagogues are phenomena peculiar to the United States…
“Breakthrough technologies that allow low-income nations to have their rapid economic development — and CO2 reductions, too — are humanity’s last best hope. The U.S. should spend as much as we can afford on facilitating such breakthroughs.” Eric Levitz, New York Magazine
Former President George W. Bush revealed that Condoleeza Rice, who served as his secretary of state, beat out President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump as his top choice on the 2020 ballot.
Former President Donald Trump slammed NBA star LeBron James after he sent a tweet that said, “You’re next,” with what appeared to be the photo of the Ohio officer who shot and killed a black teenager who police said was about to stab another female individual on Tuesday.
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The United States will consider using sanctions and revoking visas from people involved in corruption in Northern Triangle countries as part of the White House’s push to curb the surge of migrants at the southern border.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress representing border states introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at responding to “the surge” at the U.S.-Mexico border by creating “regional processing centers” along the southern border to process migrants.
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April 23, 2021
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AP Morning Wire
Good morning from Rome. In today’s Morning Wire, find out why some places in the U.S are turning down COVID-19 vaccines. We look at how President Joe Biden is bringing out the billionaires at a virtual climate summit of world leaders. And criticism over Israel’s use of deadly force against Palestinians has echoes of the debate over police killings of Black Americans in the United States.
Also this morning:
India’s hospitals desperate for oxygen as virus crisis deepens
Denmark tells some Syrian refugees to go back home
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is bringing out the billionaires, the CEOs and the union executives Friday to help sell President Joe Biden’s climate-friendly transformation of the U.S. economy at a virtual summit of world leaders. The closing day…Read More
NEW DELHI (AP) — India put oxygen tankers on special express trains as major hospitals in New Delhi on Friday begged on social media for more supplies to save COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. More than a dozen people died when an oxy…Read More
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Louisiana has stopped asking the federal government for its full allotment of COVID-19 vaccine. About three-quarters of Kansas counties have turned down new shipments of the vaccine at least once over the past month. And in Mis…Read More
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Moments after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death, copies of the original Minneapolis police statement began recirculating on social media. It attributed Floyd’s death to “medical distress…Read More
JERUSALEM (AP) — Hours after Israeli soldiers shot and killed Osama Mansour at a temporary checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, the military announced that it had thwarted a car-ramming attack — but the facts didn’t seem to add up. By all accounts,…Read More
Good morning, Chicago. On Thursday, Illinois health officials announced 3,170 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 33 additional fatalities. The 7-day daily average of administered vaccine doses is 123,078, with 131,411 doses given on Wednesday.
Three years in the making, the renovated Skydeck Chicago is reopening Friday for public tours of the 45,000-square-foot space that has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation. Here’s a sneak peak inside.
Attention faded in recent months on the movement to remove uniformed police officers from Chicago Public Schools, particularly while high schools remained closed because of COVID-19.
But when high schoolers returned to classrooms this week for the first time in 13 months with those same cops in hallways, they also had to deal with fresh trauma from police violence.
The city’s latest death at the hands of Chicago police, that of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month in Little Village, the youngest victim of a CPD shooting in many years, has students across CPS — a system that’s 83% Black and Hispanic — hurting. Nader Issa has the story…
When high schoolers returned to classrooms this week for the first time in 13 months, they had to deal with fresh trauma from the shooting of Adam, a Latino seventh grader at Gary Elementary in Little Village.
Brown, speaking to reporters after one year on the job, said his goal is to “change the culture” of the department. He also spoke about how people living criminal lifestyles bring violence upon their families.
The bill, which Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch co-sponsored, has “been a priority for the speaker since Day One, because he understands how important it is to build a bench for leadership positions in the General Assembly,” a Welch spokeswoman said.
Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Friday! TGIF! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators. Readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 567,217; Tuesday, 567,694; Wednesday, 568,470; Thursday, 569,402; Friday, 570,345.
Senate Republicans made their most formal foray into infrastructure talks on Thursday as they unveiled a $568 billion counter-proposal that was immediately met with derision by Democrats, who are growing frustrated as party priorities stack up in the Senate graveyard.
The Republican offer, which is roughly one-quarter the size of the Democratic bill, focuses on what the party considers “traditional” infrastructure, with the lion’s share of proposed funding going toward roads, bridges, airports and ports. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the leader of the group that created the bill, indicated that she hopes the proposal will serve as a starting point.
“This is something that Congress has done for many, many years together on a bipartisan basis. Our focus today is to say what our concepts are as Republicans [about] what infrastructure means, what our principles are in terms of pay-fors and to say to President Biden and his team and our Democrat colleagues: ‘We’re ready to sit down and get to work on this,’” Capito said.
As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton details, the blueprint would spend $299 billion on roads and bridges, $61 billion on public transit systems, $20 billion on rail, $35 billion on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, $13 billion on safety programs, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, $17 billion on ports and inland waterways, and $44 billion on airports. The bill also proposes user fees for electric vehicles and repurposing unused federal spending allocated by the $1.9 trillion stimulus law to cover the cost of the plan.
Capito described the bill as a “framework” for future negotiations.
CNBC: Senate Republicans outline their own infrastructure plan — here’s what’s in it.
However, the proposal quickly received the cold shoulder from Democrats, who widely panned it as inadequate. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) described the bill as a “slap in the face” (The Hill ). Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) dismissed it as “far too small,” adding that it “paves over the status quo” (Politico).
However, that sentiment was not what emerged from the White House. Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the administration believes the outline is a legitimate starting point for ongoing talks and that President Biden would likely host lawmakers for further discussions in the near future.
“It’s the beginning of a discussion,” Psaki said. “And the next steps will be conversations at the staff level, conversations between senior members of our administration, members of Congress, appropriate committee staff through the course of next week, and then as I noted the president will invite members down to the White House. But there are a lot of details to be discussed.”
For weeks, Republicans have been wary of coming up with a counter to Biden’s proposal because they anticipate a replay of their experience with the COVID-19 relief law. Namely, Republicans work on a slimmed down bill, Democrats ignore it, and pass their own version without GOP backing by dodging the Senate filibuster using a budget tool known as reconciliation.
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the House on Thursday greenlighted legislation to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state in the nation in a strict party-line vote, 216-208, the second time the lower chamber has passed a statehood bill in two years. However, the bill is expected to be dead-on-arrival in the Senate (The Hill).
As The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes, the D.C. statehood bill highlights the frustration among Democrats as party priorities make their way out of the House and pile up in the Senate, unable to garner the requisite 60 votes. This has forced the Senate to take up other legislative items, headlined by the infrastructure bill and other bipartisan bills that can make their way to Biden’s desk.
The Senate on Thursday passed legislation intended to combat the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans. The bill passed 94-1. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the lone senator to vote against it (The Hill).
The legislation, now headed for the House, was spearheaded by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and requires the Justice Department to review COVID-19-related hate crimes while beefing up state and local resources.
“The Senate is poised to take real action to confront the wave of anti-Asian hate sweeping our country,” Hirono said as the Senate voted on amendments to the bill. “We will send a solid message of solidarity that the Senate will not be a bystander as anti-Asian violence surges in our country” (The Hill).
The Hill: Senate to vote next week on repealing Trump methane rule.
The Hill: Five big players to watch in Big Tech’s antitrust fight.
ADMINISTRATION: Financial markets sagged following Thursday’s headlines, first reported by Bloomberg News, that Biden will seek a capital gains tax increase that could go as high as 43.4 percent for long-term gains. The proposal would raise the capital gains rate to 39.6 percent for those earning $1 million or more, up from the current 20 percent.
Biden and progressive Democrats proposed during last year’s campaigns to try to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for federal proposals that could benefit low- and middle-income families and serve the goal of improving economic equity. Although polls indicate raising taxes on corporations and the rich is a generally popular idea, Republican lawmakers are mobilizing to defend the tax cuts they muscled through Congress in 2017 with former President Trump’s signature.
Last year, Trump campaigned to slash the 23.8 percent top rate on long-term capital gains to 15 percent, while Biden told voters the rate should rise to 39.6 percent (The Wall Street Journal). The proposed increase is one part of the administration’s push to raise taxes on Americans who earn more than $400,000 a year.
The challenges for Biden are many, including a 50-50 Senate in which some Democrats in certain states may be reluctant to vote for higher taxes. In general, Republicans maintain that increasing taxes slows growth, investment and job creation. But Axios reports that key GOP senators say they won’t rule out raising additional revenue from corporate taxes.
CNBC: Dow closes more than 300 points lower on reports of Biden eyeing capital gains tax increase.
CNBC: How the Biden capital gains tax increase would hit the wealthy.
The Hill: Details of Biden’s American Families Plan, an adjunct to his American Jobs Plan (otherwise known as his infrastructure plan), will come into focus when the president addresses the nation Wednesday when he appears before a joint session of Congress. Elements of Biden’s next pitch are health care, child care, education, social safety net programs and policy ideas that he believes help build the middle class (and the proposed tax changes to partially offset the costs).
> With the pomp of Earth Day and the cubism of Zoom screens, leaders of Russia and China put aside their disputes with Biden on Thursday long enough to pledge international cooperation to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming and changing the planet. Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping immediately followed the U.S. and some of its developed allies in making specific new pledges to reduce damaging fossil fuel pollution during the first day of the two-day U.S.-hosted summit. But climate advocates hoped the high-profile gathering would kickstart new action by major polluters, paving the way for a November U.N. meeting in Glasgow critical to drastically slowing climate change over the coming decade (The Associated Press).
> U.S. immigration & Central America: Vice President Harris and other administration officials on Thursday described a U.S. approach to Central American countries responsible for a surge of migrants at the U.S. southern border with Mexico, reports The Hill’s Rafael Bernal. The administration wants to tackle the complicated stew of problems that prompt families to flee their countries for the United States.
“The bottom line is that this initiative, from my perspective, must be effective and relevant to the underlying issue, which is addressing the acute and the root causes of migration away from that region,” Harris told a group of philanthropists working in the region.
Harris on Monday is expected to meet virtually with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to discuss relief needs, and she’ll visit the region in June (Axios). On Tuesday, the vice president will participate in a virtual roundtable with representatives of Guatemalan organizations, hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City.
CORONAVIRUS: A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel is set to rule today whether to resume administering Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine, with all indications showing that officials are leaning toward doing so despite very rare side effects.
According to The Washington Post, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to recommend the continued use of the shot as soon as this weekend, but would include a warning of extremely rare blood clots. The panel is not expected to recommend an age restriction.
Administration of the jab was paused last week after six reports of blood clots emerged out of the 6.8 million J&J shots that had gone into the arms of Americans. As the Post notes, the expected outcome is likely to closely resemble the recommendation by European regulators for AstraZeneca’s vaccine, arguing that the benefits of the shot outweighs the risk.
As the U.S. awaits word on the future of J&J’s shot, continued evidence shows that the vaccinations are working with flying colors. According to The Associated Press, hospitalizations among senior citizens have fallen by more than 70 percent since the start of 2021, with the daily death toll dropping by roughly 20 percent compared to the January peak of the pandemic.
The good news for older Americans, however, means a mixed bag for younger adults as far fewer have received shots thus far in the vaccination campaign. As The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel notes, the White House’s goal of more than 200 million shots since the inauguration was the easy part as it faces two key obstacles moving forward: a significant percentage of hesitant individuals and demand likely to fall behind the supply of available shots.
POLITICS: Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) will deliver the Republican response on Wednesday night following Biden’s televised address to a joint session of Congress. In announcing the selection of Scott, the sole Black GOP senator, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), called him “not just one of the strongest leaders in the Senate” but also “one of the most inspiring and unifying leaders in our nation.”
Scott, who has said his 2022 reelection campaign will be his last, already faces a Democratic challenger in South Carolina, but he also enjoys Trump’s backing in a conservative state (The Associated Press). Scott has been mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
> STATE WATCH: Access to the ballot box is dividing Americans along partisan lines as Republican legislators promote measures to crack down on easy voting, according to a new Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday (The Hill). … Tumult within the top organization dedicated to electing Republican attorneys general now threatens to splinter the group ahead of critical elections in 2022, reports The Hill’s Reid Wilson.
> Republicans are eager to defeat Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) next year. A new potential challenger emerged following a closed-door meeting on Wednesday during which Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told party officials she’s considered stepping down from her post. She was just reelected at the RNC (Politico).
>House runoff: Louisiana’s weeklong early voting period wraps up Saturday in the runoff election between Democratic state senators from New Orleans — Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson — to fill a vacant U.S. House seat for a district centered in New Orleans and extending up the Mississippi River into Baton Rouge (The Associated Press).
The House meets at noon on Monday for a pro forma session.
TheSenate will convene at 3 p.m. on Monday and resume consideration of the nomination of Jason Scott Miller to be deputy director for management with the Office of Management and Budget.
The president will participate for a second day in a virtual, live-streamed summit session on climate with global leaders at 9:15 a.m. At 11 a.m., Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief. The president will get his weekly economic briefing from advisers at 1:45 p.m. in the Oval Office. Biden will participate at 2:45 p.m. from the White House Situation Room in a virtual senior leaders conference with Department of Defense personnel.
Harris will be in Plymouth, N.H., at 11:55 a.m. at the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative to talk about broadband investments. She will be in Concord, N.H., at 2 p.m. at the IBEW Local 490 for remarks at 2:40 p.m. to promote proposed federal investments in workforce development and infrastructure (NBC10).
The National Park Service, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff at 9:30 a.m. will announce 16 new listings on the NPS’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program (The Washington Post recently reported on the location of the remains of Harriet Tubman’s father’s cabin in Maryland). The new listings join more than 670 sites in 39 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands already in the network, which showcases freedom seekers who escaped slavery.
The White House press briefing will take place at 11:30 a.m., including Haaland. The administration’s coronavirus response briefing for reporters is scheduled at 11 a.m.
➔ SUPREME COURT: Justices on Thursday ruled in a case that concerned a 15-year-old boy who killed his grandfather that judges need not determine that juvenile offenders are beyond hope of rehabilitation before sentencing them to die in prison. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling, said it was enough that the sentencing judge exercised discretion rather than automatically imposing a sentence of life without parole. “In a case involving an individual who was under 18 when he or she committed a homicide,” he wrote, “a state’s discretionary sentencing system is both constitutionally necessary and constitutionally sufficient” (The New York Times). … Justice Amy Coney Barrett was on the high court bench six months before capitalizing on her prominence while securing a reported $2 million advance for a book contract with a conservative imprint of Penguin Random House (The Associated Press). Politico reported the book will be about how judges are not supposed to inject their personal feelings into how they rule. Criticism of the deal has been sharp (Bloomberg News).
➔ CHIP SHORTAGE: Four Ford Motor plants in the U.S. and one in Canada will remain shut down as the company responds to the global shortage of semiconductor chips that are used in high-tech devices and in many automobiles. The shutdown will continue for two weeks and affect four plants in Chicago, Detroit and Kansas City, Mo. A plant in Ontario, Canada will stay shut down for one additional week (The Hill).
➔ WOLVES: The Idaho Senate approved a bill this week that would permit the state to hire contractors to kill up to 90 percent of Idaho’s wolves with the goal, supporters said, of protecting cattle and other agricultural interests. “These wolves, there’s too many in the state of Idaho,” State Senator Mark Harris, a Republican, said on the Senate floor before the vote on Wednesday (The New York Times).
➔ SPACE & TECH: 🚀 Using a recycled capsule and rocket, SpaceX successfully launched its third crew to the International Space Station this morning for NASA at 5:49 a.m. EDT. Four astronauts, representing the United States, Japan and France, had been delayed on Thursday at Cape Canaveral, Fla., because of poor weather offshore. (SpaceX’s Dragon capsule requires calm waves and winds in case an emergency splashdown is needed during the climb to orbit). Docking with the space station is scheduled on Saturday (The Associated Press). … NASA’s baby helicopter on Mars, known as Ingenuity, made its second flight over the red planet on Thursday, rising 16 feet and moving side to side before touching down again to complete a longer hop than its first adventure (The Associated Press).
And finally … 👏👏👏 Congratulations to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners!
Here’s who aced the news coverage puzzle about Oscars history ahead of the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday: Lesa Davis, Mary Anne McEnery, Rich Davis, Daniel Bachhuber, Mark Neuman-Scott, Randall Patrick, John Donato, and Terry Pflaumer.
They knew that Judi Dench has not won multiple (or actually any) awards for best actress (despite having been nominated five times).
Oscar-nominated director David Fincher has never won the Oscar for best picture, but will try to change that this weekend with “Mank.”
“Beauty and the Beast” was the first animated film to be nominated for best picture in 1991 (one of three animated films to ever be nominated, along with “Toy Story 3” and “Up”).
Finally, Matt Damon has never won the Academy Award for best actor despite twice being nominated (for “Good Will Hunting” and “The Martian”).
The U.S. is quickly approaching a point in the vaccination process where supply will exceed demand. https://bit.ly/3gGf3Oa
What that will mean: “State and federal officials are going to need to find the best message and best method to get shots to the people who are either hesitant, unable or just indifferent. Doing so will require a change in tactics, likely in how vaccines are distributed to states and how states allocate their doses to get the shots into as many people as possible.”
When we could hit that tipping point: Possibly in 2-4 weeks, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis
^ We’re already seeing it in some states: “In Mississippi, for example, only about 22 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, and in Alabama the number is around 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Happy Friday! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to firstname.lastname@example.org — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.
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Via Axios’s Lachlan Markay, Alayna Treene and Jonathan Swan, former Olympian and reality television star Caitlyn Jenner is officially running for governor of California. https://bit.ly/32GGS0N
Has she announced it?: Yes, her campaign made the announcement this morning.
From Jenner’s campaign website: “For the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision.” See her full campaign site: https://bit.ly/3tLBk15
TIDBIT — JENNER HASN’T BEEN THE MOST FREQUENT VOTER:
Via Politico’s Carla Marinucci, “Los Angeles County records show [Jenner] did not cast ballots in nearly two-thirds of the elections in which she was eligible to vote since 2000. The full story: https://politi.co/2QVb5GD
J&J’s metaphorical court date:
Via The Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun, “A federal vaccine advisory committee is reconvening Friday to discuss next steps for Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after health officials recommended last week that states pause use while six U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot were reviewed.” https://wapo.st/3dHvR5M
A pretty likely outcome — use it but with a warning: “Federal health authorities are leaning toward recommending that use of the vaccine resume, possibly as soon as this weekend — a move that would include a new warning about a rare complication involving blood clots but probably not call for age restrictions.”
Via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, “Democrats are divided over a $568 billion infrastructure counteroffer unveiled Thursday by Senate Republicans.” https://bit.ly/3vkN37b
How so: “Some [are] calling it a good starting point for bipartisan talks and others dismissing it as ‘a slap in the face’ and ‘totally inadequate.’”
Why Dems are divided — go big or pass something with Republican support: “The rift boils down to a difference over strategy revolving around the importance of winning a bipartisan deal and the risk it could leave certain Democratic priorities on the cutting-room floor.”
ANALYSIS — Staring in the face of competitive reelection races, more than two dozen vulnerable House Democrats are wrestling with whether to keep campaign contributions sent to them by their colleague, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. Read more…
Senate Republicans characterize their newly unveiled five-year, $568 billion counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s eight-year, $2 trillion infrastructure proposal as a starting point to serious negotiations. Democrats dismissed the proposal as not serious at all. Read more…
President Joe Biden’s new target for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions drew mixed reactions from advocates and lawmakers alike, underscoring the difficult task ahead as his administration tries to wean the country and the world off fossil fuels at a pace that avoids the worst impacts of climate change. Read more…
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Wisconsin Rep. Glenn Grothman’s speech on the House floor, criticizing Cardi B, was a perfect example of the kind of performative fights that eat up a lot of time in Congress. Focusing on the serious, complicated issues is more difficult, and gets less attention. Read more…
A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled legislation on Thursday to address the recent influx of migration to the U.S.-Mexico border by ramping up staffing at immigration agencies and streamlining immigration court proceedings. Read more…
The House passed a bill Thursday that would make the District of Columbia the 51st state, but the measure faces a difficult fight ahead in the Senate. See the video for the debate ahead of the party-line vote. Watch here…
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25.) POLITICO PLAYBOOK
Manchin endorses Murkowski, and the border crisis Trump saw coming
DRIVING THE DAY
THE ENDORSEMENT HEARD WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS — Democratic Sen. JOE MANCHIN made waves when he endorsed Republican colleague and friend Sen. SUSAN COLLINS (Maine) for reelection in 2020. Now he’s making more in PLAYBOOK DEEP DIVE, a new weekly podcast launching this morning.
The West Virginia senator sat down with another GOP friend, Alaska Sen. LISA MURKOWSKI, for a rare joint interview with our co-congressional bureau chief BURGESS EVERETT. The conversation got personal, with the longtime friends finishing each other’s sentences — and covering everything from reconciliation to Murkowski’s fishing skills and parties on Manchin’s houseboat.
In between, they made some news: Manchin said he’s endorsing Murkowski’s reelection. The Alaskan has a tough race next year, with former President DONALD TRUMP vowing to take her out after her vote to convict him of inciting an insurrection. Manchin’s faced Trump’s wrath himself, having survived a challenge inspired by the president in 2018. More from Burgess
MAN BITES DOG — It’s a fascinating listen: two old-school lawmakers pining for the days of bipartisanship, which they insist are about to make a comeback (highly unlikely, explains Burgess). The pair talks about how legislators in Washington should get to know each other’s families, how CHUCK SCHUMER and MITCH MCCONNELL should grab coffee or dinner together more often, and how Congress should return to “regular order,” giving members the room to cut deals and make laws as opposed to leadership dictating most everything.
Here’s Burgess reflecting on the episode: “If there were more relationships like Manchin and Murkowski, we wouldn’t necessarily care about two senators being friends. That would be a dog-bites-man story in journalism parlance. And instead, it’s a man-bites-dog. This is unusual. These two people from different parties are actually friends, and one of them’s supporting the other’s reelection campaign. That’s what makes it interesting.”
Listen here— it’s the first episode of Playbook Deep Dive, where each Friday POLITICO’s top reporters and Playbook authors will bring you the most compelling stories that explain what’s really going on in Washington.
“When Donald Trump took his final trip as president to the southwest border in January, the publicly stated purpose was to tout his record. Privately, however, his Republican allies had hatched a plan that they thought could get them back into the seats of power.
“In Alamo, Texas, supporters lined the route of the motorcade. Trump used a Sharpie to autograph a newly constructed piece of the 452 miles of a 30-foot steel wall. He was joined by Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), as well as the head of the federal agency charged with border enforcement, MARK MORGAN, and TOM HOMAN, a former Trump immigration official who had pushed for Republicans to speak more about the issue during the 2020 campaign. …
“The conversations around the trip were some of the earliest indications that Republicans anticipated the spike in migrants crossing the border — due to seasonal patterns and regional crises — and planned to use it as a political cudgel to try to retake Congress in the midterm elections. The topic turned out to be much more of a vulnerability for Biden than even they expected.”
WATCH: Chauvin found guilty, Trump pondering 2024, Bush still paints and Gaetz says thank you: On Tuesday, the murder trial of former Minneapolis police office DEREK CHAUVIN ended with a guilty verdict for all three counts including second-degree murder. Following the announcement, Biden called the Floyd family promising to make police reform a top priority. EUGENE shares his surprising reaction to the guilty Chauvin verdict, and TARA explains how Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) could run for president. We also heard this week from former Presidents Trumpand GEORGE W. BUSH, who both sat down with news networks to talk about the state of the Republican Party.
BIDEN’S FRIDAY — The president will deliver remarks and take part in the fifth session of the Leaders Summit on Climate at 9:15 a.m. Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 11 a.m. and the weekly economic briefing at 1:45 p.m. He’ll take part in a virtual DOD senior leaders conference at 2:45 p.m. from the Situation Room.
— VP KAMALA HARRIS is heading to Plymouth and Concord, N.H., at 9:25 a.m. She’ll hold a listening session at 11:55 a.m. about broadband and the American Jobs Plan at New Hampshire Electric Cooperative in Plymouth. At 2 p.m. she’ll tour IBEW Local 490 in Concord; at 2:40 p.m. she’ll speak about the plan’s focus on workforce development and infrastructure. Then it’s back to D.C. at 4:45 p.m.
— The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 11 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 11:30 a.m. with Interior Secretary DEB HAALAND.
THE SENATE and THE HOUSE are out.
Friday’s four must-reads:
POLITICO’s Michael Grunwald explains why the Biden climate plan is all about “the rapid transformation of U.S. electricity,” where the U.S. in recent years has made enormous strides when it comes to carbon emissions, unlike “vehicles, buildings, factories and farms,” where the “United States has made almost no progress.”
WSJ’s Kristina Peterson and Andrew Duehren on the Democratic debate over whether Biden’s American Families Plan should include a Biden campaign promise to lower prescription drug costs. The sticking point: debate between progressives and centrists over how to spend the savings. The left, including Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), wants to use the money to expand Medicare benefits, while others want to use it to boost the Affordable Care Act. The fight has pushed the White House to drop the proposal altogether, per the NYT.
But Speaker NANCY PELOSI says not so fast: “Lowering health costs and prescription drug prices will be a top priority for House Democrats to be included in the American Families Plan.” This is the first time we’ve seen Pelosi on the record forcefully at odds with Biden. One of them will have to blink.
NYT’s David Brooks explores how the left and right are dealing with what he sees as the illiberal movements within their ranks. The center-left is responding: “Over the last decade or so, as illiberalism, cancel culture and all the rest have arisen within the universities and elite institutions on the left, dozens of publications and organizations have sprung up. They have drawn a sharp line between progressives who believe in liberal free speech norms, and those who don’t.”
But the GOP is failing: “This is exactly the line-drawing that now confronts the right, which faces a more radical threat. Republicans and conservatives who believe in the liberal project need to organize and draw a bright line between themselves and the illiberals on their own side. This is no longer just about Trump the man, it’s about how you are going to look at reality — as the muddle [it’s] always been, or as an apocalyptic hellscape. It’s about how you pursue change — through the conversation and compromise of politics, or through intimidations of macho display.”
THE WORLD REACTS — “Biden’s climate plan faces global skepticism,” by Ryan Heath: “The U.S. government finds itself in an unfamiliar position midway through President Joe Biden’s global climate summit: struggling to deploy the moral authority and financial heft needed to assume global leadership.
“Washington’s history of backing out or failing to ratify climate commitments now jeopardizes widespread support for Biden’s just-announced plans to cut U.S. carbon dioxide output between 50 and 52 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Surface-level positive feelings from foreign leaders toward Biden belies fundamental tensions around how both the U.S. and its allies and competitors can achieve such cuts, and who should pay.”
AGGRAVATING TO ENVIRONMENTALISTS — “White House dances around a big contributor to climate change: Agriculture,”by Ryan McCrimmon: “[T]he White House hasn’t set any specific targets yet for agriculture, which accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. emissions … The administration has steered clear of discussing stricter environmental regulations that could scare off the largely conservative farm sector, as well as the rural lawmakers that Biden will need to advance many of his environmental goals. …
“So far, the Biden administration is leaning heavily toward awarding financial bonuses for farmers, ranchers and foresters who retool their operations to suck carbon from the atmosphere. … An especially thorny topic that could draw huge resistance from farmers and ranchers is what to do about methane emissions from cows and other livestock.”
WE TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN—“The virtual summit makes history, but proves even world leaders aren’t immune to tech issues,” NYT: “The opening speeches by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were beset with painful echoes, evidently a result of overlapping microphone or speaker devices. Secretary of State ANTONY J. BLINKEN introduced President VLADIMIR V. PUTIN of Russia, but the screen alternated between Mr. Putin and President EMMANUEL MACRON of France, as Mr. Putin sat in stony silence. And as China’s president, XI JINPING, launched into his speech in Chinese, there was a prolonged delay before an English-language translator joined in.”
“The proposal could reverse a long-standing provision of the tax code that taxes returns on investment lower than on labor. … The capital gains increase would raise $370 billion over a decade, according to an estimate from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center based on Biden’s campaign platform.”
DEPRESSION WHERE? — “As economy spikes, Republicans are still waiting for the ‘Biden depression’ that Trump predicted,”WaPo: “With more businesses reopening and recalling workers to their jobs, the economy is expected to post impressive growth for the rest of this year. But as the boom inevitably fades, the opportunity will come for Republicans to attack, [American Action Forum head DOUGLAS] HOLTZ-EAKIN said. Already, some public opinion surveys show unease over the administration’s deficit-financed social spending.
“[A]s Trump fixated late last year on unfounded allegations of election cheating, the economy wobbled. A renewed coronavirus surge interrupted business reopenings and led employers to trim 306,000 jobs in December. The economy regained its footing in mid-January as Trump conceded defeat and the components of Biden’s first coronavirus relief plan came into focus. That signature legislative achievement, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, has just begun feeding money into the economy. Its benefits are expected to become increasingly apparent over the remainder of the year.”
COMING ATTRACTIONS — @LeaderMcConnell: “@SenatorTimScott is not just one of the strongest leaders in the Senate. He is one of the most inspiring and unifying leaders in our nation. I’m glad he’ll be delivering the Republican Address following the President’s remarks on Wednesday.” … @SenatorTimScott: “Honored to have this opportunity. I’m as confident as I’ve ever been in the promise and potential of America and look forward to sharing my vision for our nation with all of you.”
RARE BIPARTISAN ACTION — “Senate passes anti-Asian American hate crime bill,”by Nicholas Wu: “The measure, which would create a Justice Department position focusing on the issue and beef up state and local hate crime reporting, soared through the chamber by a 94-1 vote. Sen. JOSH HAWLEY (R-Mo.) was the only vote against the bill. A series of Republican-led amendments, such as one from Sen. MIKE LEE (R-Utah), requiring a report on religious freedom during the pandemic, were all voted down.”
— @HawleyMO: “My big problem with Sen Hirono’s bill that Senate voted on today is that it turns the federal government into the speech police – gives government sweeping authority to decide what counts as offensive speech and then monitor it. Raises big free speech questions.”
LABOR PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON — “Unions warn Senate Democrats: Pass the PRO Act, or else,”by Eleanor Mueller and Holly Otterbein: “Union leaders told the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm in a private call Wednesday not to expect them to back lawmakers in upcoming elections unless they coalesce behind the pro-labor Protecting the Right to Organize Act … One lawmaker, in particular, became the center of attention, two sources said: Sen. MARK KELLY (D-Ariz.).”
JAN. 6 AND ITS AFTERMATH
HMM … “Capitol Police denies Lofgren claim they were focused only on anti-Trump forces on 1/6,”by Kyle Cheney: “‘The radio call does not mean USCP was only looking out for anti-Trump counter protestors,’ the department statement said. … The department’s statement indicated that the reason officers were told to look out for anti-Trump activists is that previous protests in D.C. featured violent clashes between pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators. …
“A [ZOE] LOFGREN aide said that’s precisely the point: The department’s focus on potential street skirmishes that morning — despite clear indications and persuasive intelligence of right-wing violence aimed at Congress — underscores that the Capitol Police did not understand the gravity of the event that was about to unfold.”
LOST HOPE — “Biden officials lose faith in Johnson & Johnson after repeated vaccine stumbles,” by Erin Banco, Adam Cancryn and Sarah Owermohle: “[P]rivately, frustrated senior health officials have largely written off the shot … [T]he Biden administration is bracing for yet another potential complication: If ongoing tests of remaining vaccine batches made by J&J’s contractor Emergent BioSolutions reveal further contamination, it could take the vaccine maker up to four months to replace those doses through manufacturing at alternate facilities …
“The Biden administration is still on track to have enough vaccine between Moderna and Pfizer to vaccinate every American adult by the end of May. But the outsize attention paid to J&J’s stumbles have frustrated officials who lamented that it’s distracted from the White House’s broader vaccination campaign.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
THE MYSTERY ATTACKS — “U.S. troops increasingly vulnerable to directed-energy attacks, Pentagon tells lawmakers,”by Lara Seligman, Andrew Desiderio and Betsy Woodruff Swan: “Two Defense Department officials briefed members of the House Armed Service Committee about the phenomenon in a classified setting on Wednesday … and told lawmakers they are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of U.S. troops in places such as Syria, Afghanistan and various countries in South America. Briefers pointed to Russia as a likely culprit … but didn’t have a smoking gun.”
SYMBOLIC MOVE — “Blinken Will Allow U.S. Embassies to Fly Pride Flag,”Foreign Policy: “The directive marks a departure from how the Trump administration handled the matter … Blinken gave authority for diplomats to fly the Pride flag before May 17, which marks the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia, as well as June, which in the United States and many other countries is Pride month.”
2022 WATCH — “With Trump’s backing, Walker freezes Senate GOP field in Georgia,”CNN: “But the prospect that [HERSCHEL] WALKER could have the field to himself is causing anxiety among some Republicans in Georgia and Washington, who privately are uncertain whether the first-time candidate and Texas resident could handle the enormous challenges ahead. And they’re worried that Trump is propping up a candidate simply because he has been a loyal friend …
“In a brief phone call on Wednesday, Walker didn’t seem to be in any particular rush to announce. … The two top candidates in 2020 — former Sen. KELLY LOEFFLER and former Rep. DOUG COLLINS — are also considering running again. … Georgia Rep. BUDDY CARTER told CNN that he is encouraging Walker to run, calling him ‘a fighter,’ but added that if ‘Hershel doesn’t run, then I can run.’”
THE NEXT GENERATION — The Harvard Institute of Politics is out this morning with a new poll of 18- to 29-year-old Americans, and some of the results are fascinating: Biden has the highest favorability among this group of any first-term president over the 21 years this poll has been conducted. … Fifty-six percent of young Americans are hopeful about the country’s future, including 72% of Black people and 69% of Hispanic people. … Young Americans are more politically active than they used to be, and there’s been a big increase in progressive views.
More findings: Three-quarters of young Americans say they want more open-mindedness in politics. … They rank Facebook as the least trustworthy of 16 major institutions, and half want more Big Tech regulation. … Only 26% of young Republicans think Biden won fairly. … About one-third of young Americans have seen politics get in the way of a friendship. The full poll results
TV TONIGHT — PBS’ “Washington Week,” guest-moderated by Peter Baker: Josh Lederman, Toluse Olorunnipa, Susan Page and Pierre Thomas.
SUNDAY SO FAR …
“Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) … House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Panel: Brit Hume, Julie Pace and Juan Williams. Plus a special broadcast celebrating the program’s 25-year anniversary — looking back at the show’s history, some of its special guests and how the world has changed.
“Full Court Press”: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) … Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).
“Face the Nation”: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine … Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) … Troy Finner … Sherrilyn Ifill … Scott Gottlieb.
“The Sunday Show”: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) … Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) … Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan … Charles Blow.
“Inside Politics”: Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) … Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.).
“Meet the Press”: Panel: Malcolm Gladwell, Peggy Noonan, Morgan Radford and Eugene Robinson.
TRUMP SAYS ‘NO’ TO WOODWARD — The former president sat down for an interview with MICHAEL WOLFF, who wrote two books exposing his dysfunctional administration. He let MAGGIE HABERMAN and JEREMY PETERS, who write for what Trump calls “the failing New York Times,” question him at Mar-a-Lago for their forthcoming books. A source in Trumpworld said he believes that if he can make a book even 10% more favorable to him it’s worth talking to the journalist.
Except one. Trump, we’re told, is refusing an interview with the legendary BOB WOODARD, who is writing his next book with WaPo’s BOB COSTA. In his latest bestseller, “Rage,” published just before the election, Woodward revealed that Trump downplayed the pandemic in its early days despite knowing how deadly the coronavirus would be. “President Trump is not participating in Bob Woodward’s book,” said Trump spokesman JASON MILLER. Woodward, Costa and their publisher, Simon & Schuster, did not respond to requests for comment.
SPOTTED: John Bolton in the first row of first class on a United flight from Houston to DCA, masked up and reading a book.
MEDIAWATCH — Robert Hayes has been appointed chief business officer for new ventures at Dow Jones. He most recently was EVPfor NBC Entertainment and Peacock at NBCUniversal. Announcement
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Matt Pottinger is now senior adviser at the Marathon Initiative, a nonprofit think tank focused on developing strategies for great power competition. He previously was deputy national security adviser in the Trump White House.
STAFFING UP — The White House announced a suite of forthcoming climate and infrastructure nominees: Amit Bose as head of the Federal Railroad Administration, Tracy Stone-Manning as head of the Bureau of Land Management, Rick Spinrad as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Carlos Monje, Robert Hampshire and Annie Petsonk at DOT, Shalanda Baker, Asmeret Berhe and Frank Rose at DOE, Monica Medina (who’s married to Ron Klain) at State, Bryan Newland at Interior and Margaret Schaus at NASA.
TRANSITIONS — Mark Smith is now political director for Latham Saddler’s Georgia Senate campaign. He previously worked for Sen. David Perdue’s campaigns and Atlanta office. … New Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) announced her congressional staff, including Ted Verrill as chief of staff, Andrew Bautsch as Louisiana chief of staff, Lindsay Linhares as legislative director, and Trey Williams as coombs director. … Halleh Seyson is joining CNA as a VP, heading the enterprise systems data analysis division. She previously was EVP and COO at Cathexis.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Massachusetts state Sen. Eric Lesser, an Obama White House alum, and Alison Silber, an attorney in private practice, welcomed David Wesley Lesser on April 5. He came in at 9 lbs, 0.3 oz and 20 inches, and joins big sisters Rose and Nora. Pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) … Pili Tobar, White House deputy comms director … Aaron Huertas … Jeff Wiener of Milne, Wiener & Shofe Global Strategies … John Oliver … Tim Lim of Lim Consulting and the Hooligans Agency … Kindred Motes … Hadar Susskind of Americans for Peace Now … Michael Moore … Doug Brake of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation … Kal Penn … Clarine Nardi Riddle of Kasowitz Benson Torres and No Labels … Bill Browder … Global Women’s Innovation Network’s Tizzy Brown … Neil Strauss … Camila Gonzalez of WilmerHale … Zachery Michael … POLITICO’s Blendi Qatipi, Phil Vavelidis and Julian Sharat … Alexis Kleinman … Ted Trippi … Sarah Nielsen … Darien Flowers … Chevron’s Jennifer Smith … Michael Celler … Bloomberg’s Paula Dwyer … WNYC’s Beth Fertig … Justin White … Vice News’ Jesse Seidman
Send Playbookers tips to email@example.com. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.
By Shane Vander Hart on Apr 23, 2021 01:24 am
Shane Vander Hart: According to preliminary evidence shows Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon acted to save lives, Derek Chauvin callously took a life. Read in browser »
Summary: President Joe Biden will participate in a virtual climate summit, receive his daily briefing, receive an economic briefing and participate in a virtual defense conference on Friday. President Biden’s Itinerary for 4/23/21: All Times EDT 9:15 AM Virtual climate summit session – East Room10:00 AM Daily Briefing – Oval …
North Carolina’s first black Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson criticized Democrats’ opposition to Georgia’s voting laws at a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Robinson said that black Americans are more than capable of acquiring an ID to vote as they have overcome historical injustices and hold positions in the highest branches …
Public health officials have supported mask-wearing well beyond mass vaccination, and some advocated integrating them into post-COVID-19 life. Most states implemented mandatory COVID-19 guidelines like restrictions on business capacities, social distancing guidelines and mask requirements. “I think we do need a new culture of masks, at least any time not …
A Chinese-born chemist who worked for Coca-Cola was found guilty Thursday of multiple spying-related charges including economic espionage and stealing trade secrets. Xiaorong You, a Chinese-born American citizen, stole trade secrets related to the development of the bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coating found within soda cans and used it to start a …
Joe Biden is fueling the Democrat mantra that we are an inherently systemic racist country. Kamala Harris who has yet to have an original thought stands by her man and echoes the same story. It works for them. It works for their base. It works for the Radical Left, and …
Twitter is refusing to address whether a tweet by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James violated the platform’s terms of service. “YOU’RE NEXT,” James tweeted to his millions of followers with the hashtag #ACCOUNTABILITY. He has since deleted the tweet. Twitter’s policy warns that users may “not engage in the …
Xi’s Court Jester Threatens Policeman Shut Up and Dribble! When a policeman yells, “Stop, or I’ll shoot!,” it’s usually wise to do as he says. Similarly, if a knife-wielding teenage girl is chasing down another girl with a large knife and the intended victim is calling for help, it’s procedure …
Russia was purportedly behind directed-energy attacks targeting U.S. soldiers and officials, the Pentagon told lawmakers. The U.S. began an investigation into the attacks last year after multiple incidents in which several Americans overseas developed flu-like symptoms at once, four unnamed national security officials involved told Politico. Department of Defense officials …
Yesterday, LeBron James, a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, made headlines when he sent out a tweet targeting a police officer saying that he was next to be charged in the killing of a Black individual. The officer shot a 16-year-old who was holding a knife and appeared …
The Biden administration is taking new steps to promote Critical Race Theory and The New York Times’s controversial 1619 Project in US education programs. In a proposed federal rule issued on Monday, the US Department of Education indicated that it will be using taxpayer funds to award millions of dollars …
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Climate Envoy John Kerry, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy hold a press briefing Thursday. The briefing is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Content created by Conservative Daily News and some content syndicated through CDN is available for re-publication without charge under the …
Biden Wants to Make Public Education Even More Worthless
Happy Friday, dear Kruiser Morning Briefing friends. Garlic is my superpower.
One of these Fridays I’m going to find something fun and frivolous to write about so we can all head into the weekend on a lighter note.
Today is not that Friday.
It’s not that we can’t cover what’s going on in the world and still have a fun weekend. Read this, then ignore the news until the next Briefing on Monday morning. That’s a sound plan every week. Trust me, I wanted to be a doctor when I was young.
We haven’t talked about the rapidly deteriorating state of public education in this fine country for some time now.
One thing more of the public has learned in this past year is something that a lot of us have known for a very long time: teachers’ unions don’t give a damn about school kids. I am not saying that all public teachers are bad and don’t care, but the union higher-ups are pure evil. The rank-and-file union teachers don’t get a pass, however, because they enable and don’t call out the evil ones.
Public school teachers have made it plain that they’re not interested in teaching kids. If they have to be in a classroom with them they want to be indoctrinating them. That’s really what public education in America has been about for decades. When I wrote “the Death of Public Education” in the headline I didn’t mean that public schools were going away, I meant that education as we once knew it is going to disappear.
Now they’ve got a puppet in the Oval Office who is literally in bed with a union teacher.
The liberal public school brainwash mill is about to get much, much worse.
The Biden Department of Education has quietly proposed a new rule prioritizing the use of federal tax dollars for K-12 schools that replace traditional education with “culturally responsive teaching and learning” – more commonly referred to as critical race theory. This is the most significant move by the federal government to redefine the nature of state-funded public schools in U.S. history.
Although the current effort to push public schools receiving federal funding to adopt a detailed indoctrination agenda may feel new and overwhelming for parents, the truth is that the Biden attempt is simply the last phase in a decades-long effort to control local schools and press the progressive agenda on our children. With the power of taxpayer-funded purse strings, the federal government sends a message to public schools that if they want financial aid they must “teach” critical race theory and prioritize its ideologically anti-American, anti-traditional agenda over traditional education.
The mask is off (COVID-era pun intended), the pretense that they want to enrich the minds of young Americans with real knowledge has been abandoned. Biden and Mrs. Dr. Jill want to start minting mindless automatons who are convinced that America is awful.
At its core, critical race theory is the false idea that the United States is a fundamentally racist country and that all of our nation’s institutions – the law, culture, business, economy, education – are designed to maintain white supremacy. Politicians and pundits market critical race theory as inclusive teaching, one that promotes understanding and tolerance. When the truth is exposed, they try to repackage it in a series of euphemisms, including anti-racism, equity, or culturally responsive teaching. But the “scholars,” like Ibram X. Kendi and the 1619 Project behind the related anti-racist rhetoric proposed in the rule – the true believers – admit the truth.
For years, those of us who were railing on and on about indoctrination in public education were called paranoid. What I’ve learned over the years is that the only real way to know that I’m 100% correct about an issue is if a leftist tells me I’m merely being paranoid. As Kimberly wrote, this has been a very long-term plan. Leftists are brilliant at playing the long game. By the time they escalate and reveal what they’re up to most of the agenda is in place.
The reluctance of union teachers to go back to work wasn’t about not wanting to get back to indoctrinating the kids again, it was just pure leftist greed. They saw an opportunity to shake down the taxpayers to fund even more of the leftist agenda, most of it having nothing to do with education. They pretended that their lives were in mortal peril to facilitate the shakedown. They knew they weren’t going to get COVID from the kids, it was all theater.
Critical race theory is a key component in the leftists’ effort to turn the United States into a Third-World communist cesspool. The people behind it won’t suffer, they’ll be the ruling class that gets all the goodies, which is found in every commie society. They know that.
PJ Media senior columnist and associate editor Stephen Kruiser is a professional stand-up comic, writer, and recovering political activist who edits and writes PJ’s Morning Briefing, aka The Greatest Political Newsletter in America. His latest book, Straight Outta Feelings, is a humorous exploration of how the 2016 election made him enjoy politics more than he ever had before. When not being a reclusive writer, Kruiser has had the honor of entertaining U.S. troops all over the world. Follow on: Gab, Parler, MeWe
FBI puts law enforcement nationwide on notice about increase in crime . . . The FBI is warning local law enforcement agencies to prepare for potential increases in crime over the next few months. Crimes rates in many cities have increased since the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, with many agencies seeing upticks in gun violence and crimes committed by teenagers. Fox News
Let’s keep defunding the police and see how that works out.
Parents Organize to Push Back Against the Quasi-Marxist Critical Race Theory . . . A growing number of American parents are getting together to find ways to block the spread of the quasi-Marxist critical race theory (CRT) in schools where they send their children. They see the doctrine as a culprit in creating a toxic environment and exacerbating problems it claims to ameliorate. School officials have been responding with denials or silence.
CRT has been spreading throughout academia, entertainment, government, schools, and corporations. It redefines America’s history as a struggle between “oppressors” (white people) and the “oppressed” (everybody else), similarly to Marxism’s reduction of human history to a struggle between the “bourgeoisie” and the “proletariat.” It labels institutions that emerged in majority-white societies as “systemically” or “structurally” racist.
CRT’s entry into schools went largely unnoticed by parents due to its being dressed up as “equity,” “anti-racist,” or “culturally responsive” initiatives. It has spawned an industry of speakers, trainers, and consultants who get paid to diagnose an organization as “systemically racist,” prescribe CRT-based initiatives as the remedy, and then to help implement it over the years to come. The existence of “systemic racism” is usually claimed based on disparate outcomes for different groups, such as lower average test scores or more detentions for black students. Epoch Times
Biden paints Floyd murder as evidence of police racism — without evidence . . . Derek Chauvin, convicted of murdering George Floyd, was white and that Floyd was black. But was racism was part of Chauvin’s motivation for the ultimately deadly hold he put on Floyd? Well, Joe Biden knows what was in Chauvin’s head. But as the Washington Times notes, the prosecution didn’t think it knew, or could prove it knew, and never including racism as an aggravating factor in its charges. The racism angle was conspicuously absent from the Derek Chauvin courtroom drama, but not the post-trial push by Democrats for ambitious policing legislation. President Biden and other Democrats wasted no time after Tuesday’s guilty verdict in trying to link George Floyd’s murder to “systemic racism.” White House Dossier
Biden Nominee Pushed Essay Comparing Cops To KKK, Defending A Cop Killer . . . President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division circulated an essay from self-proclaimed Marxist poet Amiri Baraka defending cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and referring to police officers as members of the Ku Klux Klan, according an email from her days at Columbia University. Kristen Clarke forwarded the Baraka essay in an email on June 25, 1999, to her mentor, the late historian Manning Marable. She suggested that the essay, entitled “Mumia, ‘Lynch Law’ & Imperialism” be placed in a magazine Marable edited and used for a panel on the death penalty. Daily Caller
Biden Appointees Decry ‘White Male’ Diplomacy . . . Biden administration political appointees are peddling controversial language about gender and race within the State Department to pivot away from “white male-dominated” diplomacy. United Nations ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and other senior State Department staffers bring a fixation on race to diplomacy and their criticisms of America’s history and internal agency policies. Multiple senior State Department officials have accused white diplomats of being complicit in systemic racism and said the agency should prioritize the hiring of women and minorities. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the Biden-appointed diversity czar for the State Department, took issue with the “white male-dominated” national security sector in a December podcast. Washington Free Beacon
Newt Gingrich Audio Update: Is Biden Admin Helping Spread Communist China’s Propaganda? . . . It’s really hard to understand why the Biden administration is so anti-American. After the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had the opportunity to praise the American justice system. Instead, they’re refraining comments about systemic racism, and in the process, sounding just like Communist China defacing America. The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t need a propaganda system when it can send out the Biden administration’s own attacks on the United States. Gingrich360
BLM Protesters Storm Into State Capitol To Protest Law Protecting Motorists From Rioters . . . Roughly two dozen people interrupted Oklahoma lawmakers at the state’s Capitol by chanting “black lives matter” in protest laws that would protect motorists fleeing riots and another that would ban transgender people from girls’ sports. Protesters entered the fifth floor and chanted “We will use our voices to stand against corruption, to fight hate, to defend black and brown lives.” Daily Caller
House approves bill to make DC a state . . . The House, in a party-line vote on Thursday, approved legislation to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state in the nation, sending the bill to the Senate. It’s the second time the House has approved such legislation in two years, but the statehood bill, long a goal for the nation’s capital, faces an uphill climb in a Senate evenly divided between the two parties. Winning a vote in the Senate would likely require ending the filibuster that requires most legislation to clear a 60-vote hurdle. Even then, not all 50 Democrats in the Senate back making D.C. a state. The Hill
Supreme Court Makes It Easier to Impose Life Without Parole on Juvenile Murderers . . . The Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier to sentence juvenile murderers to life in prison without parole, ruling against a Mississippi inmate who killed his grandfather when he was 15. The question was whether courts must find that a youth offender has no capacity for change before sentencing him to life without parole. Writing for a majority of five, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the answer is no, a defeat for defendants across the country fighting life without parole sentences imposed while they were minors. Thursday’s decision breaks with a modern trend of clemency toward youth offenders at the High Court. It also reflects a continuing rightward shift in cruel and unusual punishment cases. The inmate in Thursday’s case, Brett Jones, murdered his 67-year-old grandfather Bertis Jones in August 2004 by stabbing him eight times with a steak knife. Washington Free Beacon
Senator Ron Johnson asks why police wrongly claimed Sicknick died of injuries sustained at Capitol riot . . . A top GOP senator is demanding to know why the U.S. Capitol Police claimed Officer Brian Sicknick suffered mortal injuries while on duty and after clashing with protesters during the Capitol riot in light of the District of Columbia’s chief medical examiner’s ruling that Sicknick died of natural causes. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, on Thursday sent a letter to acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, contending the determination from Chief Medical Officer Francisco Diaz, who told the Washington Examiner last week that Sicknick’s cause of death was a stroke, “raises more questions about what USCP knew and what actions USCP took to confirm certain facts regarding Officer Sicknick’s death before it released its Jan. 7 statement.” “The death of any police officer is a tragedy, and the use of any officer’s death for political purposes or to create a false narrative is reprehensible,” Johnson added. Washington Examiner
UK spymaster issues warning over China’s cyber threat . . . The UK faces a “moment of reckoning” in the race to protect future technologies from the influence of adversaries such as China and Russia, the director of signals intelligence agency GCHQ Jeremy Fleming, warned on Friday. China has already proposed a radical change to internet architecture, supported by Russia and potentially Saudi Arabia, which critics fear would give state-run internet service providers control over citizens’ internet use. His fears over hostile states’ tech advancements are shared by US intelligence chiefs, who warned in their annual threat assessment this month that “new technologies, rapidly diffusing around the world, put increasingly sophisticated capabilities in the hands of small groups and individuals as well as enhancing the capabilities of nation states”. Financial Times
North Korea propaganda spike suggests looming challenge to Biden, US . . . The propaganda spike that sprung from Pyongyang this week, promising major advances in the country’s ballistic missile program, has triggered speculation that Mr. Kim’s regime may be preparing a barrage of provocations — including possible submarine-launched ballistic missile tests. North Korean leader probably aimed at cutting the legs out from whatever strategy the Biden White House announces following months of keeping the knotty problem of North Korea on the back-burner. A new Congressional Research Service (CRS) analysis this week concluded that the Kim regime is focused on developing weapons capable of evading U.S. missile defenses deployed in the region, including in South Korea. Washington Times
The spy who LinkedIn with me . . . What is social media good for, if not a bit of spying? Companies deploy it for due diligence on applicants, ex-partners check their former loved ones’ profiles, and actual spies use it too. MI5, the UK domestic intelligence agency, this week warned 450,000 civil servants and partners in academia and industry that they were potential targets for agents of hostile states with sham profiles on social media and professional-networking sites. Foreign recruiters, posing headhunters, look for new spy agents by seeking to connect on LinkedIn and other sites, through bribery and blackmail, or to garner useful or damaging information. In the US, a scandal around China’s misuse of LinkedIn exploded last year after a Singaporean doctoral student, who also happened to be an agent of China, admitted in a US court that he had used a front company on LinkedIn to lure US government and military officials, with some success. Separately, a former CIA officer received a 20-year sentence in 2019 for giving military secrets to the Chinese after an initial LinkedIn approach. Financial Times
US prepares for vaccine tipping point . . . The US has surpassed President Biden’s goal of administering 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses four months into its massive vaccination campaign, but experts say that was the easy part. For months, supply has been so limited that states were restricting access to specific priority groups, and many people who wanted a shot couldn’t get one. But now every person over the age of 16 is eligible, and more than half the country’s adult population has received at least one dose. The nation is fast approaching the tipping point of vaccinations, where supply will outstrip demand, as some people remain hesitant about getting a shot, unable or just indifferent. The Hill