Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Biden Promises Vaccine For All In May

President Biden said yesterday that the U.S. expects to have received enough coronavirus vaccines for all American adults by the end of May, two months earlier than had previously been expected. Contributing to that, he said that drugmaker Merck will help produce the newly-approved one-shot vaccine from rival Johnson & Johnson. Actually getting Americans vaccinated, however, will take longer, with officials saying it could go well into the summer. Biden also pushed states yesterday to have teachers receive at least one shot of vaccine by the end of March to help speed up the reopening of schools for in-person learning, stating, "Let's treat in-person learning as the essential service that it is."

States Ease Restrictions Despite Warnings: Several states and localities announced easing or even elimination of coronavirus restrictions yesterday, joining the growing number of places doing so around the country as cases have come down drastically since their peak in January. But they're doing so as top health officials have warned against easing the restrictions until more people are vaccinated, pointing out that the declines in cases and deaths have stalled in recent days and even started rising slightly, as well as that the coronavirus variants are spreading. Despite that, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that mask mandates are being eliminated and businesses will be allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity, including restaurants and bars. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves made a similar announcement, and the governors of Michigan, Mississippi and Louisiana and the mayor of San Francisco all eased restrictions on bars, restaurants and other businesses.

➤FBI HEAD WARNS OF GROWING THREAT IN U.S. FROM DOMESTIC TERRORISM: FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday (March 2nd) about the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, calling what happened an act of domestic terrorism and warning of a quickly growing threat to the country from such homegrown violent extremists, including militias and white supremacists. Wray said, "January 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon." Wray defended the FBI's handling of an intelligence report from its Norfolk, Virginia, field office the day before the Capitol attack that warned of the potential for violence on January 6th. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report, but Wray said, "We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol Police and [Metropolitan Police Department] in not one, not two, but three different ways." However, Wray said they are looking at what the FBI could have done differently. He additionally said there was no evidence the attack was planned or carried out by antifa or by Trump opponents pretending to be his supporters.

➤TANDEN WITHDRAWS NOMINATION TO BE HEAD OF OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Neera Tanden, who President Biden had chosen to head the Office of Management and Budget, withdrew her nomination yesterday in the face of opposition from key Republican and Democratic senators because of controversial tweets she's posted in the past, including criticism of members of both parties. Tanden had apologized during her Senate hearing to those, quote, "hurt by what I've said," but wrote in a letter to Biden yesterday, "Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain [Senate] confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities." Biden praised Tanden and said he would found another role for her in his administration.

➤U-S SANCTIONS RUSSIAN OFFICIALS OVER NERVE AGENT ATTACK ON OPPOSITION LEADER NAVALNY: The U.S. sanctioned seven mid-level and senior Russian officials Tuesday, as well as more than a dozen Russian government entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny last summer, as well as him being jailed, as he is currently, after he recovered. The actions were the first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin by the Biden administration. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman condemned the sanctions as part of the U.S., quote, "meddling in our internal affairs," and said they would "respond in kind."

➤13 OF 25 PEOPLE PACKED INTO SUV KILLED IN CALIFORNIA CRASH: Thirteen of 25 people who were packed into an SUV were killed in a crash with a tractor-trailer in southeastern California near the Mexican border early yesterday, and authorities are investigating whether human smuggling was involved. AP cited a Mexican official as saying that most of those killed were Mexican. The 1997 Ford Expedition reportedly had its middle and back seats removed, allowing more people to pack in. It wasn't clear if the people in the SUV were migrants who'd crossed the border, farmworkers being taken to fields, or if they were being transported for another reason.

➤POLL...AMERICANS FEELING MORE HOPEFUL ABOUT THE PANDEMIC:  In what almost certainly is due, at least in part, to the ongoing coronavirus vaccination campaign, a new poll finds that Americans are feeling more hopeful about the pandemic. Nearly half of of those surveyed, 48 percent, said in the Axios-Ipsos poll published yesterday that they're feeling hopeful about the pandemic, more than double the 20 percent who said they felt hopeful over the past year. The percentage feeling hopeful rose to 61 percent among those who have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Additionally, one-third of respondents said they think they'll be able to return to something like their pre-pandemic normal within six months or less, up from 26 percent last week.

➤THE REASONS PEOPLE CHEAT IN RELATIONSHIPS, ACCORDING TO SCIENCE:  Science has identified the traits of those most-likely to cheat in relationships. University of Queensland researchers found people who have had higher numbers of sexual partners, have impulsive tendencies, feel detached from their partner or have low relationship satisfaction, are most-likely to cheat. The scientists say those who are impulsive might cheat simply because they do not pause to consider the situation, while those who’ve had more sexual partners are inclined to be unfaithful because they have developed certain “skills” in that area (i.e., better able to recognize sexual advances, or be better at recruiting sex partners.) They also found that length and depth of relationship commitment have minimal impact on fidelity. One more find: that women who’ve been cheated on ultimately grow from the experience and learn to choose better mates in the future.

➤USING ZOOM IS LEADING MORE MEN TO WEAR MAKE-UP:  Zoom, something most of us had never heard of just a year ago, quickly became essential for many amid the ongoing pandemic, used both for work, with countless meetings pushed online, and for "play," for things like virtual happy hours with friends or even dates. But using Zoom means seeing your face close-up a lot, and that's apparently leading some men to start wearing makeup when using it to cover up flaws, according to the New York Post. Sales of cosmetics for men is having a surge in sales, according to the Post, and market analytics firm Moz said they Google questions asking for "men’s makeup looks" spiked by almost 80 percent last year from 2019. In addition to products like moisturizer and concealer, New York-based cosmetics company Tribe, for one, also sells Eyebrow and Beard Fix, which fills in gaps in uneven bears, hairlines and eyebrows.

➤SHERIFF EXECUTES WARRANT TO GET 'BLACK BOX' FROM TIGER WOODS' CAR: The L.A. County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant to get the data from the so-called "black box" from the car Tiger Woods was driving when he crashed last week, according to USA Today. But the report said they didn't seek a warrant for Woods' blood to determine if he was under the influence of any medication at the time, with Sheriff’s Deputy John Schloegl telling the newspaper there was no probable cause to get it. There was no indication that Woods was impaired at the time of the crash, which left him with severe injuries of his right leg that required surgery.

🏀JOKIC REACHES 50 TRIPLE-DOUBLES, JOINING CHAMBERLAIN: Nikola Jokic notched the 50th triple-double of his career last night, getting 37 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as his Denver Nuggets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 128-97. With the accomplishment, he becomes only the second center to get 50 career triple-doubles, joining NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain, who had 78. He also is just the ninth player ever to get 50 triple-doubles.

🏀BAYLOR WINS BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP FOR FIRST TIME: Number 3 Baylor clinched basketball's Big 12 championship for the first time with a 94-89 overtime win over Number 6 West Virginia yesterday. Jared Butler scored 25 points for Butler before fouling out, and Davion Mitchell made the go-ahead basket in overtime. Baylor came back after suffering its only defeat of the season to Number 13 Kansas on Saturday.

🏒PENGUINS TOP FLYERS 5-2 BEFORE FANS AT HOME FOR FIRST TIME IN NEARLY A YEAR: The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 last night, with forward Kasperi Kapanen scoring two of their goals, as they played before fans in their home arena for the first time in nearly a year. After Pennsylvania restrictions were eased at the beginning of the month, fans were allowed at the PPG Paints Arena at 15 percent capacity, which amounted to 2,800 fans. It was the first Pengins game at the arena with people in the stands since March 8, 2020. The Pittsburgh players raised their sticks to salute the fans after their win.

🏀LEBRON TO MISS GAME TONIGHT FOR FIRST TIME THIS SEASON: The L.A. Lakers' LeBron James will miss his first game of the season tonight when he sits out the Lakers' road game against the Sacramento Kings, their last before the NBA All-Star break. James has a left ankle sprain, and the Lakers said he'll get treatment while he remains in L.A. James will be playing in the All-Star Game in Atlanta this weekend, the 17th straight of his career.

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