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Aggregating and archiving news from both sides of the aisle.

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JPMorgan Chase beats profit estimates on strong trading, $5.2 billion release of loan-loss reserves

Preview: JPMorgan posted first-quarter profit of $4.50 a share, much higher than the $3.10 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Coinbase gets reference price of $250 per share from Nasdaq ahead of today's direct listing

Preview: Coinbase's $250 reference price for its direct listing would value the company at around $65.3 billion on a fully diluted basis.

Gary Gensler has a full agenda as he gets set to take over the SEC

Preview: The Senate is likely to confirm Gary Gensler as the new SEC chairman, and crypto assets — including bitcoin — are likely high on his agenda.

Coinbase CEO says regulation is one of the biggest threats to crypto

Preview: Coinbase is set to become the first major crypto company to go public in the U.S. after it hits the markets through a direct listing Wednesday.

Stock futures rise slightly amid strong bank earnings, Goldman shares gain

Preview: On Tuesday, the S&P 500 climbed 0.4% to close at a record high.

U.S. vaccination pace picks up as officials say Johnson & Johnson pause won't slow rollout

Preview: On average, 3.4 million daily vaccine doses have been reported administered over the past week, and officials say the J&J vaccine pause will not slow this pace.

Mortgage refinance demand hits lowest level in over a year, and homebuyers retreat, too

Preview: It was a mixed week for mortgage rates, which started high and then fell slightly, but the damage was done early.

Bed Bath & Beyond shares fall on mixed results, backs forecast as turnaround continues

Preview: Bed Bath & Beyond reported a double-digit decline in fourth-quarter sales, as ongoing store closures and divestments weigh on results.

Stocks making the biggest moves in the premarket: Goldman Sachs, Bed Bath & Beyond, JetBlue & more

Preview: Check out the companies that are making headlines in premarket trading.

Moderna says new data shows its Covid vaccine is more than 90% effective against virus six months after second shot

Preview: Moderna said Tuesday that new data shows its vaccine is more than 90% effective at protecting against Covid-19 up to six months after the second dose.

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The world already seems more dangerous and complex than when Biden took office less than three months ago

Preview: The world already seems more dangerous and complex than when Joe Biden took office less than three months ago. That's partly because America's adversaries are putting the new commander in chief to the test.

Biden draws on long history with the war in Afghanistan as he prepares to announce troop withdrawal

Preview: It's an image President Joe Biden kept returning to: the sight of helicopters evacuating Americans from Saigon during the last major battle of the Vietnam War.

Intelligence officials reassert their role post-Trump

Preview: The last time the top three intelligence officials testified in front of Congress, they were publicly criticized by the President, who lashed out at them in a series of tweets calling them passive and naive and saying that they should "go back to school."

Biden's unexpected radical approach to the presidency

Preview: Even though Joe Biden was known as a pragmatic dealmaker, he has taken a bold, radical approach to the beginning of his presidency. In this latest episode of The Point, CNN's Chris Cillizza explains Biden's unexpected direction in the wake of the post-Trump era and Covid-19.

Opinion: Biden is making a major mistake on Afghanistan

Preview: On Wednesday, President Joe Biden is expected to formally announce the planned withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2001, which will also mark the end of America's longest war -- a war many no longer remember or understand why we entered.

White House fires back at GOP senator's attack on Biden

Preview: CNN's David Chalian says that Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) questioning whether or not President Joe Biden is being controlled by his staff and not really in charge is another example of the GOP trying to find a way to attack Biden, something they have yet to be successful at thus far.

Why Biden is pulling the US -- and NATO -- out of Afghanistan

Preview: As President Biden prepares to lay out his plan Wednesday to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and end America's longest war, a source familiar with his thinking tells me that he thinks no amount of US troops in the country can be a game changer anymore.

Protesters and police clash for a third night

Preview: • Live updates: Prosecutors could decide today whether to charge the officer who shot Wright • Daunte Wright called his mother right before he was shot. This is what he said • Officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright submits 2 sentence resignation letter

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Nonprofit Got Massive Border Contract From Biden Admin After They Hired Former Biden Official: Report

Preview: A nonprofit in Texas received a massive contract worth up to $530 million — significantly larger than the organization’s annual budget — to help manage President Joe Biden’s border crisis after they hired a former Biden transition official. “The contract is by far the largest ever awarded to Family Endeavors. It’s potentially worth more than […]

Amazon Quietly Pulls Book On Transgenderism As Crackdown On ‘Hate Speech’ Continues

Preview: Amazon pulled a second book critical of transgender identity theory from its online store this week as it moves to silence one side of the debate over LGBT issues. The online retailer has removed Maria Keffler’s “Desist, Detrans, & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult.” The newly released book had sold less […]

Biden Blasted By Terrorism, Foreign Policy Experts Over Afghanistan Decision: ‘Such An Avoidable Shame’

Preview: Foreign policy and terrorism experts slammed President Joe Biden this week following his announcement that he was going to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history. The New York Times reported that Biden ignored warnings from his own advisers that pulling […]

Democrats Push New Extreme Anti-Police Agenda After Rashida Tlaib Calls For ‘No More Policing’

Preview: Democratic lawmakers are promoting a radical anti-law enforcement agenda, including calling to abolish policing and prisons, in the wake of a police shooting of a man who resisted arrest and attempted to flee law enforcement. The drastic calls for dismantling the law enforcement apparatus in the U.S. comes after police shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte […]

Morgan Wallen Breaks Long Silence: ‘I Needed This Time Off’

Preview: After fans posted billboards around Nashville expressing support for him, country music star Morgan Wallen broke his months-long silence Tuesday to say he has grown since the incident that crippled his thriving music career. Wallen was pulled from various platforms in February after a video showed him using the N-word to refer to a white […]

Democrat Governor’s Campaign Settles Lawsuit Filed By Man Who Said She Groped His Crotch

Preview: Democrat New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign has paid tens of thousands of dollars as part of a settlement with a former male staffer who says that she poured water on his crotch and then proceeded to grab him under his clothes. “The five monthly payments of $12,500 are outlined in a campaign […]

WATCH: CNN Director Bolts After Being Confronted By James O’Keefe Over Stunning Admissions Made On Video

Preview: Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe released a video of him confronting CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester after Chester made stunning admissions about the far-left network’s partisan agenda while talking to an undercover journalist. O’Keefe confronted Chester at a restaurant where Chester had been talking to the undercover journalist. The journalist got up and left the […]

CNN Director: Network Hammering Gaetz ‘To Keep Hurting Him’ Because It’s ‘Great’ For Democrat Party

Preview: James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released explosive video on Tuesday that appeared to show CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester admitting that the network has aggressively covered allegations that have been made against Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) “to keep hurting him” because it would be “great” for the Democrat Party. “If the agenda say, is to like […]

FDA Changes Policy, Allows Abortion Pills To Be Sent Through Mail During COVID-19 Pandemic

Preview: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday that it will change its policy regarding the access of abortion pills through the use of telemedicine. In the latest development of a continuing legal debate over the use of telemedicine for chemical abortion, the FDA sent a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and […]

CNN Director: We Worked To Oust Trump, We Create ‘Propaganda,’ Use ‘Fear’ To Pass Climate Agenda

Preview: James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released explosive video on Tuesday that showed CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester admitting that the network worked to get President Donald Trump out of office and that the network creates “propaganda” on issues they know little about. While explosive, the footage likely will not come as a surprise are many; polling has […]

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CRYPTO EXCHANGE GOES PUBLIC

Preview: CRYPTO EXCHANGE GOES PUBLIC (Main headline, 1st story, link) Related stories: MARCH TO MAINSTREAM Drudge Report Feed needs your support!   Become a Patron

MARCH TO MAINSTREAM

Preview: MARCH TO MAINSTREAM (Main headline, 2nd story, link) Related stories: CRYPTO EXCHANGE GOES PUBLIC

Study of public attitude toward press reveals distrust deeper than partisanship...

Preview: Study of public attitude toward press reveals distrust deeper than partisanship... (First column, 1st story, link)

Emotional Biden tells kids their dad is 'hero' as cop lies in Rotunda...

Preview: Emotional Biden tells kids their dad is 'hero' as cop lies in Rotunda... (First column, 2nd story, link) Related stories: FOXNEWS anchor praises 'iconic' speech... Drudge Report Feed needs your support!   Become a Patron

FOXNEWS anchor praises 'iconic' speech...

Preview: FOXNEWS anchor praises 'iconic' speech... (First column, 3rd story, link) Related stories: Emotional Biden tells kids their dad is 'hero' as cop lies in Rotunda...

Mixing and matching' corona vaccines will be trialed to see if alternating doses can boost immunity...

Preview: Mixing and matching' corona vaccines will be trialed to see if alternating doses can boost immunity... (First column, 4th story, link) Related stories: World struggles to maintain immunization drives amid mounting reports of side effects... J&J halt threatens to worsen 'hesitancy' problem... MODERNA efficacy falls to 90%... Regular Exercise May Help Protect Against Severe Covid... Patients with sedentary habits more likely to die... Cases on rise in 27 states... SAFER TO BE OUTSIDE... Can cup of yogurt cure your case? Biden's plea for masks will fail. Blame political polarization... Jagger Sends Up Anti-Vaxxers in Surprise New Covid Song... BILL GATES IS IN MY BLOODSTREAM... THERE'S ALIENS IN THE DEEP STATE...

World struggles to maintain immunization drives amid mounting reports of side effects...

Preview: World struggles to maintain immunization drives amid mounting reports of side effects... (First column, 5th story, link) Related stories: Mixing and matching' corona vaccines will be trialed to see if alternating doses can boost immunity... J&J halt threatens to worsen 'hesitancy' problem... MODERNA efficacy falls to 90%... Regular Exercise May Help Protect Against Severe Covid... Patients with sedentary habits more likely to die... Cases on rise in 27 states... SAFER TO BE OUTSIDE... Can cup of yogurt cure your case? Biden's plea for masks will fail. Blame political polarization... Jagger Sends Up Anti-Vaxxers in Surprise New Covid Song... BILL GATES IS IN MY BLOODSTREAM... THERE'S ALIENS IN THE DEEP STATE...

J&J halt threatens to worsen 'hesitancy' problem...

Preview: J&J halt threatens to worsen 'hesitancy' problem... (First column, 6th story, link) Related stories: Mixing and matching' corona vaccines will be trialed to see if alternating doses can boost immunity... World struggles to maintain immunization drives amid mounting reports of side effects... MODERNA efficacy falls to 90%... Regular Exercise May Help Protect Against Severe Covid... Patients with sedentary habits more likely to die... Cases on rise in 27 states... SAFER TO BE OUTSIDE... Can cup of yogurt cure your case? Biden's plea for masks will fail. Blame political polarization... Jagger Sends Up Anti-Vaxxers in Surprise New Covid Song... BILL GATES IS IN MY BLOODSTREAM... THERE'S ALIENS IN THE DEEP STATE...

MODERNA efficacy falls to 90%...

Preview: MODERNA efficacy falls to 90%... (First column, 7th story, link) Related stories: Mixing and matching' corona vaccines will be trialed to see if alternating doses can boost immunity... World struggles to maintain immunization drives amid mounting reports of side effects... J&J halt threatens to worsen 'hesitancy' problem... Regular Exercise May Help Protect Against Severe Covid... Patients with sedentary habits more likely to die... Cases on rise in 27 states... SAFER TO BE OUTSIDE... Can cup of yogurt cure your case? Biden's plea for masks will fail. Blame political polarization... Jagger Sends Up Anti-Vaxxers in Surprise New Covid Song... BILL GATES IS IN MY BLOODSTREAM... THERE'S ALIENS IN THE DEEP STATE...

Regular Exercise May Help Protect Against Severe Covid...

Preview: Regular Exercise May Help Protect Against Severe Covid... (First column, 8th story, link) Related stories: Mixing and matching' corona vaccines will be trialed to see if alternating doses can boost immunity... World struggles to maintain immunization drives amid mounting reports of side effects... J&J halt threatens to worsen 'hesitancy' problem... MODERNA efficacy falls to 90%... Patients with sedentary habits more likely to die... Cases on rise in 27 states... SAFER TO BE OUTSIDE... Can cup of yogurt cure your case? Biden's plea for masks will fail. Blame political polarization... Jagger Sends Up Anti-Vaxxers in Surprise New Covid Song... BILL GATES IS IN MY BLOODSTREAM... THERE'S ALIENS IN THE DEEP STATE...

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Maryland trooper shoots, kills teen who had airsoft gun and knife, investigators say

Preview: A Maryland State Police trooper responding to a pair of 911 calls shot and killed a teenager who was pointing what investigators determined was an airsoft gun at him.

Former California resident sentenced to prison for fatally shooting elephant seal

Preview: A former California resident has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for gunning down a protected elephant seal in the state, authorities said.

National weather forecast: Winter weather hangs on in the West

Preview: Winter weather continues to hang on across the West with heavy snow for the Rockies including Colorado and Wyoming on Wednesday.

Daunte Wright protests: Crowd in Washington, DC, chants 'burn the precinct to the ground,' video shows

Preview: A video has emerged of protesters in Washington, D.C., chanting “burn the precinct to the ground” during demonstrations following the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.

Minnesota police fortify Kim Potter’s home with concrete barriers

Preview: Police officers in the Minneapolis suburb of Champlin erected barriers around the home of the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop last weekend.

Kim Potter mistook her gun for a Taser, police say: How often does that happen?

Preview: Sunday's fatal shooting in a Minneapolis suburb was the 18th time in the past 20 years that police officers used a gun when they said they intended to use a Taser, according to a use-of-force researcher.

Portland police declare riot for second straight night fire breaks out at union building

Preview: The Portland Police Department declared a riot late Tuesday night shortly after a fire broke out at the city's police union building.

LIVE UPDATES: Derek Chauvin murder trial continues Wednesday

Preview: The murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin is set to resume on Wednesday morning.

LIVE UPDATES: Minnesota police arrest more than 60 for rioting, other offenses

Preview: Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Police Chief Tim Gannon, and Officer Kim Potter have resigned after the deadly shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, Mayor Mike Elliott announced Tuesday.

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Why Biden is pulling the US -- and NATO -- out of Afghanistan - CNN

Preview: Why Biden is pulling the US -- and NATO -- out of Afghanistan  CNN McConnell: 'Withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake'  POLITICO Biden Withdrawal Plan for Afghanistan Amounts to Surrender  Bloomberg Biden is making a major mistake on Afghanistan  CNN Biden takes the easy way out of Afghanistan. The likely result is disaster.  The Washington Post View Full Coverage on Google News

Decision expected on charging Kim Potter, the cop who killed Daunte Wright - CBS News

Preview: Decision expected on charging Kim Potter, the cop who killed Daunte Wright  CBS News Police Order Protesters In Downtown Sacramento To Disburse Or Be Arrested  Good Day Sacramento Daunte Wright called his mother right before he was shot. This is what he said  CNN Readers Write: The death of Daunte Wright  Minneapolis Star Tribune Daunte Wright shooting shows American sickness doesn't stop  Los Angeles Times View Full Coverage on Google News

6 rescued, search on for others after boat capsizes south of Louisiana - WAFB

Preview: 6 rescued, search on for others after boat capsizes south of Louisiana  WAFB Louisiana storm prompts Coast Guard search off Grand Isle for ‘multiple people in the water’  Fox News A dozen people are missing after a commercial vessel capsized off Louisiana coast  CNN Multiple people in the water, rescues underway near Grand Isle  KLFY 6 rescued, search on for others after ship capsizes off Louisiana  NBC News View Full Coverage on Google News

Derek Chauvin’s defense opens with focus on George Floyd’s drug use, rebuttal testimony on use of force - The Washington Post

Preview: Derek Chauvin’s defense opens with focus on George Floyd’s drug use, rebuttal testimony on use of force  The Washington Post Use-of-force expert for defense says Derek Chauvin was justified in kneeling on George Floyd  CNN Five stories you need to know for April 14, 2021  Reuters Chauvin defense begins case with narrow testimony of Floyd's 2019 arrest  KARE11.com What killed George Floyd? Chauvin trial prosecution is having trouble answering.  MSNBC View Full Coverage on Google News

Capitol Police Inspector General On The Jan. 6 Insurrection - NPR

Preview: Capitol Police Inspector General On The Jan. 6 Insurrection  NPR Police Told to Hold Back on Capitol Riot Response, Report Finds  The New York Times Capitol Police officer killed in car attack lies in honor  CBS Evening News What's next as Congress ramps up investigations of Jan. 6  Associated Press Key Findings from the Inspector General's Capitol Riot Report  The New York Times View Full Coverage on Google News

Gaetz's glare stings House GOP — but his future's safe for now - POLITICO

Preview: Gaetz's glare stings House GOP — but his future's safe for now  POLITICO Women detail drug use, sex and payments after late-night parties with Gaetz and others  CNN New details shed light on Gaetz's Bahamas trip  POLITICO This Florida Man may lead the GOP out of the wilderness | Column  Tampa Bay Times Op-ed: Florida Man could pave the GOP’s future  Chicago Tribune View Full Coverage on Google News

How to handle anxiety over Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine - Los Angeles Times

Preview: How to handle anxiety over Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine  Los Angeles Times Confidence is key issue with Johnson & Johnson vaccine  Yahoo News How serious is the Johnson & Johnson blood clot risk compared to common medications? Experts explain.  Yahoo Lifestyle The problem with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause  The Washington Post Opinion | The F.D.A.’s Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Call Is No Catastrophe  The New York Times View Full Coverage on Google News

These Photographs Show The Dire Conditions Immigrants Face At The US—Mexico Border - BuzzFeed News

Preview: These Photographs Show The Dire Conditions Immigrants Face At The US—Mexico Border  BuzzFeed News Texas, Missouri sue Biden administration over scrapping of 'Remain-in-Mexico' policy  Fox News Governor Ducey's White House meeting on the border may not have gone according to plan  ABC15 Arizona Opinion | We Need a High Wall With a Big Gate on the Southern Border  The New York Times Three principles for America's border policies | TheHill  The Hill View Full Coverage on Google News

Biden Urges Calm After Police Shooting. Activists Want Answers. - The New York Times

Preview: Biden Urges Calm After Police Shooting. Activists Want Answers.  The New York Times Biden to address joint session of Congress on April 28  Fox News Biden will address a joint session of Congress on April 28  CNN Biden, Harris meet with Congressional Black Caucus about police reform  WOOD TV8 Biden vows to keep pushing for 'significant change' for Black Americans  Yahoo News View Full Coverage on Google News

Paul and Ruben Flores arrested in 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart - CBS News

Preview: Paul and Ruben Flores arrested in 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart  CBS News San Pedro man arrested on suspicion of murder in death of Kristin Smart, SLO sheriff says  KTLA 5 Paul Flores Charged With Kristin Smart’s Murder 25 Years Later: Sheriff  Yahoo! Voices SLO Sheriff to make major announcement regarding Kristin Smart investigation | NewsChannel 3-12  KEYT Two suspects arrested in the disappearance of Kristin Smart, San Luis Obispo County sheriff says  CNN View Full Coverage on Google News

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McConnell seeks to end feud with Trump

Preview: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seeking to end his running feud with President Trump, which escalated this weekend when the former president insulted him as a "dumb son of a bitch" and a "stone-cold lose...

Lachlan Murdoch responds to call for Tucker Carlson's firing

Preview: Lachlan Murdoch, Fox Corp.'s executive chairman and CEO, defended comments by Tucker Carlson that prompted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to call for the cable network's host to be fired, saying he had rejected an anti-...

Inside the surprisingly close Biden-Manchin relationship

Preview: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has been seen as an early impediment to progressives and his own president's agenda in the first 100 days of Joe Biden's presidency.Manchin opposed a $15 federal minimum wage, doesn't wan...

Fauci fatigue sets in as top doc sows doubt in vaccine effectiveness

Preview: Living in fear for the foreseeable future seems to be the overall message that many Americans are hearing from more than a few doctors who really need to get their media-exposure diets under control.

Maryland trooper fatally shoots 16-year-old

Preview: A Maryland state trooper is being investigated in an officer-involved shooting that killed a 16-year-old.Police confirmed they received two calls Tuesday ab...

Poll: DC worst place in country, Americans say

Preview: Americans said in a recent poll by YouGov th...

Biden's court-packing theater could tame the Supreme Court's conservatives

Preview: FDR was able to use his court-packing threat to pressure the high court to change course.

Trump lawyers argue NY tax return law no longer applies to him

Preview: Former President Trump's personal lawyers on Monday urged a federal judge to find that a New York state law on congressional tax return requests no longer pertains to the former president because he's out of office....

Top executives speak out against voting limits after Republicans tell them to stay out of politics

Preview: Hundreds of business executives signed on to a letter released Wednesday condemning efforts to restrict voting rights around the country in response to a number of GOP-led bills after Republicans urged companies to stay o...

House passes bill to avert Medicare cuts

Preview: The House on Tuesday approved a bill that would put off automatic cuts to Medicare provider payments until the end of the year.

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Report: Broad missteps Left Capitol Police Unprepared Jan. 6

Preview: An internal report describes conversations between officials as they disagreed on whether National Guard forces were necessary to back up understaffed Capitol Police.

Tucker Carlson Suggests Vaccines Don't Work And Government Won't Say It

Preview: "We can't think of" another explanation, the Fox News host said in a doozy of a coronavirus cover-up conspiracy rant.

‘Outdated War On Drugs Playbook’: Liberals Fume Over Biden Decision On Fentanyl

Preview: Congress and the Biden administration appear set to extend a Trump administration decision to impose harsher penalties on drug crimes.

Here's What A Civilian Climate Corps Could Look Like

Preview: A new proposal from an influential policy outfit outlines how the Biden administration could put 1.5 million Americans to work.

Lost Footage Shows John Lennon Creating One Of His Most Iconic Songs

Preview: The previously unseen video features the Beatle working on "Give Peace A Chance" days before the song was recorded.

Trevor Noah Questions How Pausing J&J Shot Will Affect Vaccine Hesitancy

Preview: "It's a setback for a country that's already dealing with a sh*t-ton of vaccine hesitancy," the "Daily Show" host said.

Mick Jagger Nails The Problem With Anti-Vaxxers: 'Rational Thought Doesn't Work'

Preview: The Rolling Stones frontman speaks out after dropping the surprise new single, "Eazy Sleazy," with Dave Grohl.

Taylor Swift Creeps Out Stephen Colbert During Awkward Dispute Over 'Hey Stephen'

Preview: The singer insisted the song is not about Colbert.

Joe Biden To Address Joint Session Of Congress On April 28

Preview: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris will preside over the address, a historic moment.

'Who Would Buy This?' Jimmy Kimmel Shows Off MyPillow Guy's Weird New Merch

Preview: Mike Lindell's latest business venture takes an unexpected turn.

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NewsWatch: U.S. stocks edge higher as investors parse Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan earnings

Preview: U.S. stock-index futures are slightly higher early Wednesday as investors parse results from some of the biggest banks with the first quarter reporting season beginning and JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs so far delivering earnings and revenue that were better than expectations.

The Moneyist: My wife offered to ‘loan’ me money when I was having financial trouble. I now make six figures — and she refuses to pay any bills

Preview: ‘As I started my new job, and my wife received her money, she used part of her $200,000 inheritance to go on a spending spree: a $50,000 truck, and a $20,000 camping trailer.’

Dispatches from a Pandemic: Johnson & Johnson saga reveals critical strengths — and weaknesses — in U.S. COVID-19 vaccination strategy

Preview: ‘Part of Operation Warp Speed was not knowing which ones would cross the finish line,’ said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Economic Report: Import prices jump 1.2% in March and add to rising U.S. inflation

Preview: The cost of imports surged in March for the fourth month in a row and added to growing inflationary pressures in the U.S., as a resurgent economy spawns strong demand for a host of goods ranging from lumber to computer chips to new cars.

Market Extra: This new ETF gets you access to the backbone of the crypto world

Preview: The 'digital asset ecosystem' is now mature enough to support a fund that tracks companies offering ancillary services, and a new Van Eck ETF will attempt to be a pure-play version of that strategy.

: How much money should I spend on Coinbase stock? Financial advisers offer guidance to young investors

Preview: 'They have these dollar signs in their eyes,' one adviser said.

Need to Know: Earnings season is starting. Why you might want to take a look at the weather, too.

Preview: How a stock perform after earnings depends, in part, on the weather at its major investors, research finds.

: Moderna and Novavax added to ‘mix and match’ COVID-19 vaccine trial

Preview: A major U.K. trial looking at whether COVID-19 vaccines can be safely mixed has been expanded to include shots made by Moderna and Novavax, researchers announced on Wednesday.

The Margin: Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause: What to know if you got or scheduled the shot

Preview: What blood clot symptoms should you watch out for? Should you cancel your upcoming vaccine appointment?

: This robot-run fund with a history of predicting Tesla price moves has just made these stock picks

Preview: An exchange-traded fund driven by artificial intelligence has correctly predicted Tesla price movements, and recently shared its most recent portfolio additions and subtractions with MarketWatch.

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Everything you need to know (and more) about Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine pause

Preview: Rachel Maddow, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a week ago, talks with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about why Covid vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been put on hold, the nature of the blood clot concerns, and what the pause means for people who have already received the vaccine.

Why President Biden is pulling the U.S. out of Afghanistan now

Preview: Missy Ryan, Pentagon reporter for the Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the decision making process behind President Biden's announcement that the U.S. and NATO will withdraw from Afghanistan unconditionally this September 11th.

Katie Phang said ‘the defense failed today’ in the Chauvin trial

Preview: A former police officer and use-of-force expert, Barry Brodd, for the defense testified Tuesday he believed Derek Chauvin “was justified" in his actions and acted reasonably during his fatal encounter with George Floyd. Katie Phang says the defense ‘failed today:’ “Brodd was unlikable, I don’t know why the Defense put him on ... If you ask the jurors to put themselves in the shoes of Derek Chauvin, none of them are going to say what that cop did reasonable.”

Gaetz associate cooperating with DOJ sex crime probe

Preview: Indicted Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg has been cooperating with the DOJ’s investigation into allegations of sex trafficking against Rep. Matt Gaetz since last year, according to the New York Times. MSNBC’s Chief Legal Corresponent Ari Melber discusses the significance of this update.

Protesters clash with police for third night after Daunte Wright's death

Preview: Individuals protesting the police shooting of Daunte Wright took to the streets again in Brooklyn Center, Minn. on Tuesday night. And Kim Potter, the officer who fatally shot Wright, resigned Tuesday. The Morning Joe panel discusses.

Sen. Warren: Biden could cancel $50k of student loan debt with ‘stroke of a pen’

Preview: Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Chris Hayes discuss the economic and social importance of canceling student loan debt: “President Biden could cancel $50,000 worth of student loan debt basically with the stroke of a pen.”

Obama on Daunte Wright's death: We must 'reimagine policing'

Preview: Following the tragic police shooting death of Daunte Wright, fmr. Pres. Barack Obama put out a statement saying the tragedy serves as a reminder that officials must 'reimagine policing.' Wesley Lowery of 60 Minutes+ joins us to discuss.

Why in the world would Team Trump need a 'policy institute'?

Preview: The "America First Policy Institute" may soon have tens of millions of dollars, but I haven't the foggiest idea what its staffers will do all day.

New revelations point to fresh trouble for GOP's Matt Gaetz

Preview: It's generally not a good sign when federal agents reportedly execute a search warrant and "seize" a congressman's smart phone.

Ending the longest war: Biden to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

Preview: "We will leave," Biden said last month. "The question is, when we leave." Today, that question has an answer.

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Colton Underwood contemplated suicide amid sexuality struggle

Preview: "I would’ve rather died than say I’m gay."

Four men arrested after woman’s body found in car trunk in Far Rockaway

Preview: Four men are in custody after cops caught them hauling a woman's body wrapped in a blanket and stashing it in the trunk of a car in the dead of night, cops said Wednesday.

Colton Underwood apologizes to Cassie Randolph after coming out as gay

Preview: “I messed up. I made a lot of bad choices.”

‘Street fighter’ Nancy Pelosi says she would’ve fought off Capitol rioters

Preview: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrectionists would have “had a battle on their hands” if they encountered her — declaring she is a “street fighter.” “That’s what they were setting out to do,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told USA Today, acknowledging that rioters had intended to reach herself and other prominent targets, such...

‘Bachelor’ Star Colton Underwood Comes Out: “I’m Gay”

Preview: "I'm the happiest and healthiest I've ever been in my life," Underwood told GMA's Robin Roberts.

Fauci warns women who had Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be ‘alert’ to symptoms

Preview: Just hours after the shot was halted in the US on Tuesday, Fauci said that the six women reporting the potentially deadly clots had them "between six days and 13 days" after getting the one-dose shot.

Lee Aaker, ‘Rin Tin Tin’ and ‘High Noon’ child star, dead at 77

Preview: He died "alone and unclaimed ... listed as an 'indigent decedent.' "

The 15 youngest Oscar winners and nominees of all time

Preview: Some of them survived the child star curse.

Dogecoin price soars to record high amid latest crypto frenzy

Preview: Dogecoin has the internet howling yet again. The cult coin nearly doubled its value in less than a day amid a new wave of investor enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies. Dogecoin exploded to a new all-time high of about 14.5 cents early Wednesday morning, hours after roaring above the 10-cent mark for the first time, according to...

UK woman says AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine turned her into ‘Alien’ monster

Preview: A UK woman said she felt like a creature in the sci-fi horror flick “Alien” when she broke out in a rash and her skin bubbled after she received a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a report. Susie Forbes, 49, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, suffered the disfigurement within hours of getting her first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford...

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Will Afghanistan Become a Terrorism Safe Haven Once Again?

Preview: Not likely, at least in the short term, intelligence officials assess. But stopping terrorism groups over the long term could be more difficult.

Photos From America’s Longest War

Preview: A visual chronicle of the Afghanistan conflict.

Afghans Wonder ‘What About Me?’ as US Troops Prepare to Withdraw

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NATO Is Expected to Confirm Its Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan

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Chauvin Trial: Defense Focuses on Floyd's Past Police Encounters

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Medical Witnesses for Chauvin’s Defense May Begin Testifying

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How the Courts Have Handled Accidental Discharge Cases

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Court Vindicates Black Officer Fired for Stopping Colleague’s Chokehold

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Police Told to Hold Back on Capitol Riot Response, Report Finds

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What It Took for an Upscale Restaurant to Finally Give in to Delivery Apps

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When It’s Up to the Cops if You Get Your Visa

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What Has Happened Since the Daunte Wright Shooting

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Corporations Bet on Both Parties, and Our Democracy Suffers

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Today in Supreme Court History: April 14, 1873

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Prohibited Prayer and the Limits of Public Health Authority

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U.S. Troops Were Supposed To Leave Afghanistan on May 1. Biden Will Keep Them There Until September.

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“It is not a blockade”: US says Saudi Arabia isn’t to blame for Yemen’s fuel shortage

Preview: People displaced by conflict receive food aid donated by a Kuwaiti charity organization in the western Yemeni province of Hodeidah on March 20. | Khaled Ziad/AFP via Getty Images Is there a fuel blockade in Yemen? It’s complicated. A March CNN report reignited calls, mainly from Democrats and progressive activists, for the US to do more to pressure Saudi Arabia to end what they call its “blockade” of Yemen. The report said Saudi warships were blockading the Yemeni coast, preventing fuel tankers from docking in the country’s main port of Hodeidah, and that this fuel blockade is directly contributing to the ongoing famine and humanitarian crisis in the country. Understandably, this led some activists and lawmakers to demand Biden do more to make Saudi lift the blockade and allow in the desperately needed fuel. There’s just one problem: The Biden administration says there isn’t a blockade — and that any restrictions that are in place aren’t coming directly from the Saudis, but mainly from Yemen’s internationally recognized government. The issue is exacerbated, they say, by the Houthi rebels who control most of the country. That’s a pretty stark disagreement. And it’s one that has critical implications for the lives of millions of Yemenis who are caught in the middle. Here’s what we know about what’s actually happening in Yemen, who is responsible for the shortages causing millions of Yemenis to suffer, and whether the Biden administration can or should be doing more to help. CNN’s blockade report launched a firestorm of controversy Saudi Arabia, along with several other countries in the region that joined its war effort, has been fighting a war in Yemen since 2015. They’re fighting to oust the Houthis, a rebel group backed by Iran that had just overthrown Yemen’s internationally recognized government led by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The Saudi-led coalition, which until recently was also supported by the US, wants to return Hadi, who currently lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, to power. When Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war, they used military force to stop planes from landing and ships from docking in Yemen, saying such measures were necessary to stop the Houthis from smuggling in weapons, including from Iran. But critics warned the blockade would keep much-needed food, fuel, medicine, and humanitarian aid from reaching desperate Yemenis, including millions of children, who are caught in the middle of the fighting. That concern proved devastatingly prophetic. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, the world’s top authority on food security, said last year that 47,000 Yemenis were suffering from famine-like conditions and that more than 16 million — over half of Yemen’s population — couldn’t reliably and adequately feed themselves. United Nations agencies have said that at least 400,000 Yemeni children could die this year alone if conditions don’t improve. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images A Yemeni girl from a family who was affected by the war checks her lunch from a charitable center on April 12 in Sana’a, Yemen. What CNN found last month fit the years-long pattern: Saudi warships had kept all oil tankers from docking in the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah since the start of the year. “The Saudi vessels that patrol the waters of Hodeidah have control over which commercial ships can dock and unload their cargo,” the outlet reported. “Some goods are getting through — CNN witnessed aid being loaded on to trucks at the port after being delivered by ship — but not any fuel to deliver them.” This is what has activists so angry. “Food and medicine can’t be transported without fuel,” said Hassan El-Tayyab, the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s lead lobbyist for Middle East policy. “It’s causing a humanitarian nightmare in Yemen right now.” What’s more, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals are losing power because they don’t have enough fuel to keep the lights on. In early February, President Joe Biden promised the US would stop supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive operations in the war. But, he added, “We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.” In light of the CNN report, progressive activists and some Democrats want Biden to go further. Last week, nearly 80 Democrats sent a letter to the president demanding he do more to push Riyadh to end the blockade once and for all. The problem, though, is that the Biden administration has a totally different read of the situation. What the Biden administration says: It’s not a blockade, and it’s not really the Saudis While reporting on the letter Democrats sent to Biden, I asked the State Department for comment, as the agency’s special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, is leading America’s diplomatic response to the crisis. It turns out the State Department disagrees with the growing narrative since the CNN report’s release. “It is not a blockade,” a spokesperson for the agency said Monday. “Food is getting through, commodities are getting through, so it is not a blockade.” However, the administration does acknowledge there has been a slowdown in the amount of fuel coming into the country, and they’re concerned about it. “The United States understands the urgent need for fuel to get into Hodeidah port,” Lenderking told me on Tuesday. “This is a constant priority in our conversations with ​the Republic of Yemen government​ and Saudi Arabia.” Carolyn Kaster/Getty Images Tim Lenderking, left, was the deputy chief of mission in Saudi Arabia when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter, right, visited on July 22, 2015. But the primary culprit for the fuel slowdown, the State Department and the National Security Council contend, is not Saudi Arabia but rather the Hadi government. Here’s why: Even though it doesn’t actually control the bulk of the country and is operating out of Saudi Arabia, it is still the legitimate, recognized government of Yemen and thus retains authority over who is allowed to dock in Yemen’s ports. Which means that if the Hadi government doesn’t grant permission to a particular ship to dock in Hodeidah (or elsewhere), that ship can’t dock. The Saudi-led coalition enforces those decisions if necessary with its ships and planes, blocking any vessels Hadi’s government says can’t come in. And that process of approving ships to dock is where the State Department says the real problem lies, leading to the fuel shortage. The State Department said it opposes any arbitrary restrictions of commodities entering Yemen, but that “we respect the right of the government to control its access to ports.” However, the spokesperson added, “We do press them and work with them to make sure that their process improves and runs as smoothly as possible.” In other words, nobody, including the Saudis, is solely for malicious purposes trying to cut off fuel from Yemen. It’s just that the Hadi government’s approval whims are the main issue here. “It may have faltered, it may not be perfect, it may not be smooth, but it is a Yemeni government process, it is not a Saudi government process,” the State Department spokesperson told me. “We are working with many government officials to try to improve it, to make it as smooth as possible.” Okay, so who’s right? It’s important to keep three main questions in mind when trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong: Is fuel being blocked from reaching Yemen’s most vulnerable? If so, who is responsible for blocking it? Are they doing it on purpose? The answer to the first question seems to be yes. Data from the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen, the UN body that inspects certain ships coming into the country, clearly shows a significant drop-off of fuel making it into the country over the past two months. OCHA Yemen However, the Biden administration is correct that it’s not exactly a “blockade,” as UN data shows food and fuel are still getting in. The below snapshot from a March 2021 report shows that food imports actually increased from 2019 to 2020. UNVIM And even as fuel went down to zero in February and barely rose in March, food and other cargo were still getting into Yemen, including through Hodeidah. UNVIM As to who is blocking the fuel, both sides are kind of right and kind of wrong. The Biden administration is correct that any ship carrying fuel must receive approval from the Hadi government to unload at a Yemeni port like Hodeidah. “They have the final say on who gets in,” a spokesperson for the UN office overseeing the crisis in Yemen told me. But Saudi Arabia’s ships are the ones doing the actual physical blocking. So it is partly their fault, too, as they could choose not to do that. The Houthis are partly to blame here, too. Experts told me the rebels aren’t great about dispersing the fuel that is allowed to come off the ships. Sometimes they shut down gas stations so that the price of fuel they control on the black market goes up. So they are also responsible for why fuel isn’t getting to those who need it. As to the third question, is any of this happening on purpose, the answer also seems to be yes. All three parties — the Hadi government, the Saudis, and the Houthis — are guilty of purposely using fuel, and access to it, as a weapon in this war. In 2018, the warring parties agreed in Stockholm, Sweden, to, among other things, use revenues from imports at Hodeidah to pay civil service salaries in Yemen. In March 2020, though, the Houthis diverted 50 billion Yemeni rials (roughly $200 million) and used the money mostly to fund their fight — a conclusion confirmed by the United Nations in January. The State Department spokesperson made the same charge: “The Houthis profit from the trade, fuel, and those funds to support their warfront.” Experts told me in order to stop the Houthis from doing that, the Hadi government — with the Saudi-led coalition’s help — has denied permits to fuel ships in Hodeidah. In other words, the severe restrictions in fuel imports at Hodeidah aren’t happening out of pure malice, but they are happening on purpose. It’s part of an effort by the Hadi government and the Saudis to stop the Houthis from exploiting fuel revenues for their own benefit. The Hadi government “has declined to let them in [to Hodeidah] because of a long-running dispute with the Houthis over revenue payments,” the UN spokesperson told me. But that doesn’t mean State is pleased with what’s going on. The spokesperson said that the US is telling the Hadi government it should still allow fuel ships to dock and unload in Hodeidah despite their concerns over the Houthis. “We’ve really been encouraging them to understand the humanitarian imperative,” they told me. So case closed? Not exactly. Activists say the Biden administration can and should still be doing more to pressure Saudi Arabia It’s true that the Hadi government is denying permits for some vessels. It’s also true that the Houthis are siphoning off fuel for their own benefit. But could fuel flow more easily into Yemen if the Saudi-led coalition chose not to block ships from docking and unloading? Of course. This is a point activists can’t see past. “I don’t buy that is the Yemeni government’s fault. They do not have the navy or aircraft to bomb a ship that threatens to break the blockade,” said Aisha Jumaan, president of the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. “This is nonsense, and the State Department knows that.” “It is hard to fathom that after six years, the US is casting doubt about the existence of the oppressive blockade,” she continued. “It is harder because it is from the Biden administration from whom we expected better judgment.” Drew Angerer/Getty Images Twenty-six-year-old Iman Saleh (L), on her 12th day of a hunger strike for Yemen, speaks during a press conference alongisde Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at Black Lives Matter Plaza on April 9 in Washington, DC. In other words, it’s pretty clear that the Biden administration is downplaying the Saudi role during this entire episode. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 1 did “call on all parties to allow the unhindered import and distribution of fuel,” but didn’t specifically call Riyadh out. That’s surprising for two reasons, experts say. First, the Biden administration has said that human rights are “at the center of US foreign policy.” Minimizing Riyadh’s role in blocking fuel into Yemen isn’t making human rights a priority. Second, it’s not like the Saudis have downplayed their own role. In March, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud proposed to reopen the airport in Sana’a in exchange for a ceasefire — the first time Riyadh openly acknowledged carrying out any kind of blocking effort in Yemen. Further, the Saudi-led coalition allowed at least four fuel ships in Hodeidah’s port in March after the Hadi government gave its approval, shortly following pressure from the CNN report. It’s clear, then, that Riyadh plays a key role in deciding which ships do and don’t get to operate in Hodeidah. This is something UN World Food Program Director David Beasley noted openly last month. “The people of Yemen deserve our help. That blockade must be lifted, as a humanitarian act. Otherwise, millions more will spiral into crisis,” he said in a speech to the UN Security Council. When I asked Beasley’s team what he precisely meant by “blockade,” a spokesperson said that “the fuel shortage is in reference to the coalition blockade.” Beasley’s remarks follow many other instances of the UN calling the Saudi-led coalition’s efforts a “blockade.” The question now is why the Biden administration won’t more openly and forcefully deride Riyadh’s involvement in blocking fuel from getting into Yemen. Analysts say one consideration is that the US is trying to broker a peace agreement between the Saudi-led coalition, the Hadi government, and the Houthis. If the Biden administration berates the Saudis repeatedly, they might lose leverage with a key party in those talks. Another reason experts noted is that the US is in the middle of negotiations to reenter the Iran nuclear deal, an accord Riyadh doesn’t like. By not speaking out against Saudi Arabia’s complicity in blocking fuel into Yemen, then Riyadh implicitly understands it isn’t to speak out about the Iran diplomacy. There’s one more: Pushing for Saudi Arabia and its partners to “end the blockade” could lead to the dissolution of the UN ship-inspection system that was put in place to facilitate shipments during a war and humanitarian crisis and curb the smuggling of weapons to the Houthis. If that happens, then it’d be far easier for Iran to send arms to the Houthis and further inflame the war. That also wouldn’t reverse the humanitarian disaster brought on by years of fighting. Whatever the reason, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on the Biden administration to “urgently push” Riyadh to stop helping keep fuel from reaching Yemeni ports. “The interference, delay, and outright blocking of commercial goods and humanitarian assistance shipped to Yemen’s ports is a principal cause of price inflation, food insecurity, economic collapse, and the failure of public services in Yemen,” House of Representatives members wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Blinken on Tuesday. It’s unclear if Biden or his team will listen to them. What is clear, though, is that without Riyadh, a lot more fuel would be flowing into Yemen.

Why some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress want to bring back a tax break for the rich

Preview: Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Tom Suozzi, both of New York, announce their plan to restore the SALT tax deduction on July 14, 2020. They are joined by some big-name progressives in their push, including Reps. Katie Porter and Jamaal Bowman. | Raychel Brightman/Newsday RM/Getty Images Democrats want to raise taxes. So why are they debating cutting them for some well-off taxpayers? Democrats are trying to figure out how to pay for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan and raise hundreds of billions of dollars to put toward rebuilding American roads and bridges. And yet somehow one of the big internal battles happening on the left is not about putting in place a more progressive tax regime, but reinstating one that can look quite regressive. In their 2017 tax bill, Republicans partially closed a tax loophole that mainly affected higher-income people in high-tax areas — i.e., relatively well-off people in blue states. They capped the state and local tax deduction (SALT) people can take when calculating their federal income tax at $10,000. People can still deduct state and local taxes from their federal tax bill, but only up to that point. Many Democrats — namely, those from states such as New York, New Jersey, and California — want to repeal the SALT deduction cap and go back to the old regime, where people could deduct all (or at least more) of their state and local taxes. They argue the cap unfairly drives up their constituents’ tax bills, might keep their states from implementing more progressive tax regimes on high-income people, and was a vindictive move by the GOP in the first place. “It was mean-spirited to begin with, politically targeted,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said at a press conference on April 1. But some Democrats, Republicans, and economists are saying hold the phone. “The vast majority of the benefits of repealing the SALT cap would go to the people at the very top. It would also be costly — and for that amount, we could finance much more worthy efforts to support American families and workers. We can say we are for a progressive tax code and for fighting inequality, or we can support the SALT deduction, but it is really hard to do both,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) in a statement to Vox. When the Senate took up a vote on whether to repeal the SALT cap in December 2019, he was the only Democrat to vote against it. It’s an issue where, ideologically, the stars don’t entirely align: Rep. Katie Porter wants to scrap the SALT cap; JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon doesn’t. A poll conducted by Vox and Data for Progress found that repealing the SALT cap isn’t popular among the broader electorate. Independents and Republicans generally oppose axing it, though a plurality of Democrats support repeal. According to the survey, which was conducted from April 9-12 of 1,217 likely voters, urban voters were likelier to support repealing the cap than rural and suburban voters. The poll noted that restoring the full state and local tax deduction would primarily benefit well-off Americans. Data for Progress Restoring the full state and local tax deduction doesn’t poll very well among likely voters, though Democrats like it more than Republicans and independents. Many moderate Democrats are arguing for the SALT deduction cap to be lifted, but so are some progressives. Take a look at New York Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate who represents parts of Long Island and Queens in New York, and has adopted, “No SALT, no deal,” as a sort of tagline on infrastructure as of late. “The first thing is just basic fairness, it’s not fair that you pay taxes on taxes you’ve already paid,” he said in an interview with Vox. Suozzi is joined by Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones on the issue. They’re both Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-aligned progressives and newly minted members of “the Squad.” Yesterday, I joined @RepMondaire @RepTomSuozzi @RyeGSL to discuss repealing the $10,000 cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction. We need to repeal this cap and put money back into the hands of middle-class families. pic.twitter.com/212GhFUvdT — Congressman Jamaal Bowman (@RepBowman) March 26, 2021 The debate over Democrats’ next move on infrastructure, which Biden has put forth as part of his American Jobs Plan, and whether and how to pay for it through taxes, is just getting started. Plenty of proposals are going to be on the table, including SALT. The White House has signaled some openness to it, but the matter is far from settled. “If Democrats want to propose a way to eliminate SALT — which is not a revenue raiser, as you know; it would cost more money — and they want to propose a way to pay for it, and they want to put that forward, we’re happy to hear their ideas,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on April 1. SALT, explained When people file their taxes, they can deduct certain expenses to make their taxable incomes lower. A lot of people just take the “standard deduction” and lop off a flat amount. Others, however, choose to itemize their deductions, so they can subtract things like charitable deductions and medical expenses. Generally, taxpayers choose whichever avenue will be more beneficial for them — as in, whichever will leave them with less income to be taxed. For decades, taxpayers who itemized their federal income taxes could deduct what they paid in state and local property taxes and either income or sales taxes (whichever was higher). It was one of the biggest federal tax expenditures, according to the Tax Policy Center. “One way to view the deduction was as an indirect subsidy for states, and basically, the federal government was saying to taxpayers, ‘We’ll take up 37 percent of the cost of your state and local taxes,’” said Frank Sammartino, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. But with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 under then-President Donald Trump, that changed: the law capped the state and local deduction at $10,000. Sammartino explained who was hit: “If you’re high-income and in a state with high state and local taxes, this is going to bite you.” The legislation also basically doubled the standard deduction from $6,500 to $12,000 for individuals and from $13,000 to $24,000 for couples, which softened the blow a little bit. But for many taxpayers, it still stung. Prior to the 2017 tax bill, about 30 percent of taxpayers itemized deductions on their federal returns, including claiming the SALT deduction. The higher-income the household, the likelier the deduction: in 2017, 16 percent of taxpayers with incomes between $20,000 and $50,000 claimed the deduction, compared to two-thirds of taxpayers in the $100,000 to $200,000 threshold and 9 in 10 taxpayers with incomes above $200,000. After the 2017 law, the proportion of people who itemize deductions on their taxes fell to about 10 percent, and an estimated two-thirds of them have an income of over $100,000. “Those that continue to itemize are generally high-income taxpayers,” Sammartino said. According to estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, if the SALT cap — which is set to expire in 2025 — were to be repealed earlier, it would overwhelmingly benefit those at the higher end of the income scale — the ones who were hurt by the bill back in 2017. The CBPP estimates that more than half of the benefit would go to the top 1 percent, and over 80 percent would go to the top 5 percent, of earners. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Lifting the cap on the SALT deduction would disproportionately benefit the top 5 percent of earners. The deduction is geographically concentrated as well. Prior to the TCJA, the 10 counties benefiting the most from the deduction were in four states: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. And six states claimed over half of the deduction: California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. It’s popular in other states, too, including Utah, Minnesota, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. While the burden of the SALT cap falls disproportionately on high-income taxpayers in those states, it can affect other people too. In a state like New Jersey, people’s property taxes can be high even though they’re not super rich. And in New York City, $150,000 in annual income isn’t landing you in a Fifth Avenue penthouse. Still, given the data, it’s hard to argue that scrapping the cap on SALT deductions is squarely aimed at helping the middle class. Some economists have even changed their minds on it. Jason Furman, President Barack Obama’s chief economist, did a tweet thread in 2017 that my colleague Dylan Matthews documented at the time, arguing lawmakers should keep the SALT deduction in place, making the case that Republicans were doing away with it to pay for tax cuts for even richer people (which to a certain extent, they were). Furman has since described restoring the deduction as a “waste of money” and the “Democratic version of trickle-down economics.” I like calling SALT repeal the Democratic version of trickle-down economics. It is *slightly better* trickle down but slightly better than terrible is, well, pretty bad. — Jason Furman (@jasonfurman) January 29, 2021 Jared Bernstein, one of Biden’s top economic advisers, isn’t a fan of putting the full SALT deduction back in place, either. 2a) Again, re SALT cap repeal, if you told me I'd be siding with R's against D's on a tax change, I would have concluded you'd lost your mind. — Jared Bernstein (@econjared) December 14, 2019 Why SALT isn’t settled: There are internal Democratic divisions over what to do Many lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — have been mad about the SALT cap since before the ink on the 2017 law was even dry. Since-retired Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey voted against the legislation in 2017, when he was chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He specifically cited the SALT limit in his reasoning, warning that it would “hurt New Jersey families who already pay some of the highest income and property taxes in the nation.” The SALT cap may have hurt Republicans in the 2018 midterms, as they wound up losing in some key impacted districts. In 2019, the House of Representatives voted to roll back the SALT cap, with many Democrats and some Republicans going along. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) voted against the bill at the time, but she left the door open to doing something to “restructure” SALT. The bill failed in the Senate, which was then controlled by Republicans, but all Democratic senators voted for it except for one — Bennet from Colorado. Now, SALT is back up for discussion as part of the broader conversation around Biden’s plan for spending on infrastructure and jobs, which includes talk of potential changes to the tax code. Some Democrats are pushing for the restoration of the full deduction, or at the very least, some changes to the current cap, to be included as part of a broader upcoming package, even though those changes would mean a decrease in revenue at a moment when the White House is looking to raise it. How on board Biden is with that is unclear: Axios reports the president isn’t planning to rejuvenate the SALT deduction, but there are some big names encouraging him to go along. Pelosi has described the limit as “devastating” to California voters and said she shares the “exuberance” of lawmakers who are looking to do something about it. “Hopefully we can get it into the bill,” she said in April. “I never give up hope for something like that.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is up for reelection in New York in 2022, has also urged Biden to bring back the SALT deduction in full and has tried to further his argument by noting how hard-hit his home state has been by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Double taxing hardworking homeowners is plainly unfair; we need to bring our federal dollars back home to ... cushion the blow this virus — and this harmful SALT cap — has dealt so many homeowners and families locally,” he said in a statement in January. Some Democratic members of the House have gone as far as to declare, “No SALT, no deal,” in an effort to force the president’s hand on the issue. I've got a few words for anyone considering altering federal tax rates for families in North Jersey: No SALT, No Dice // No SALT, No Deal! See the statement below from my colleagues @BillPascrell, @RepTomSuozzi, & me: pic.twitter.com/DFd22JgDSt — Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) March 30, 2021 “I’m going to talk to my colleagues on the Ways and Means staff and I’m going to talk to the White House and I am going to talk to my other colleagues that are in a similar predicament as my state is in,” Suozzi told Vox. “Right now, no SALT, no deal.” Proponents of restoring the SALT deduction make multiple arguments. One is that capping it will cause wealthy people to flee from high-tax states. There’s not really a lot of evidence for millionaire mass migration when their taxes go up. The SALT deduction is a relatively bigger hit, but there’s not clear proof that rich people are fleeing high-tax states en masse because of it — plus, people move for plenty of reasons. (See: the pandemic.) They also say that the SALT deduction lets state and local governments tax high-income people to pay for public services for low- and middle-income people. The reasoning goes that letting rich people deduct their state and local taxes means states can tax them more to pay for health care, education, public transit, etc., and that it stops states from engaging in a race to the bottom to cut taxes. “For my progressive friends, I want to say very clearly, don’t be bamboozled by the conservative movement. They’ve been planning this for 40 years to figure out how to undo the progressive policies in progressive states by getting rid of the state and local tax deduction,” Suozzi said. Richard Reeves, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution and co-author of A New Contract with the Middle Class, said that to the extent the SALT deduction is an attempt to accomplish those goals, it’s doing so in a very roundabout way. “The idea that the best way to get states to spend more money, particularly on services that are actually progressive, is to give a massive tax break to the people who live there in the hopes that it will allow the states and cities to therefore tax them a bit more because they know they’ve got a break, and that that extra revenue will be used in a progressive way — that might be happening, but wow, that’s a pretty long way around,” he said. Democrats also make the point that the deduction limit wound up in the 2017 tax bill as a way for Trump to exact revenge on blue states that didn’t support him. “The notion that if Democrats had enacted a policy specifically targeted at Texas and Florida, the members from Texas and Florida wouldn’t try to reverse it … obviously [they would] if the shoe were on the other foot,” one Democratic aide said. “Republicans were so clear about what they were doing in 2017, they wanted to shift money from wealthier people in New Jersey and New York to wealthier people in Texas and Florida and other red states.” Reeves sees it a different way: “Good policy gets made for bad reasons.” This is really an issue of politics meets policy The fault lines around the SALT deduction aren’t really so ideological as they are geographic, which makes sense, given whose constituents are impacted by this and whose aren’t. It’s a non-issue for voters in many parts of the country, but places where it matters, it really matters: Rep. Mikie Sherrill, the Democrat now representing the district Frelinghuysen retired from, ran ads during the 2018 about the SALT deduction. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which represents the left-leaning faction of the House, has declined to take a position on the matter — its membership is split. “There are some members that feel very strongly about it because they’re in a state where that’s a very big issue for their revenue,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the CPC’s chair, told the Hill. The politics of the SALT deduction are a bit messy, but the bigger issue is really the policy angle, said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who advised Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. The Biden team wants to raise revenue to pay for infrastructure and other priorities, and lifting the SALT cap will do the opposite. It would cost an estimated $600 billion through 2025. “I don’t think it has much downside politically, it’s more of a dilemma for the economic team and the budget team,” Lake said. “Democrats right now are concentrating on who’s not paying their fair share as opposed to who’s paying their fair share.” The debate over what to do about the SALT deduction doesn’t have to be a binary one. There are other alternatives, like reducing all itemized deductions or limiting the tax rate applying to itemized deductions. Or, the federal government could raise the SALT cap to $20,000 for couples to at least get rid of the marriage penalty currently in place, or raise the top individual income rate back to 39.6 percent, where it was pre-TJCA. “If you wanted to raise revenue from higher-income people, you could just raise the top rates. It’s pretty straightforward, and it doesn’t distinguish between different regions of the country,” Sammartino said. Reeves chafed at the idea of raising the top rate to counterbalance lifting the deduction cap. “Why would you take with one hand and give back with the other? Why not just take with one hand and make the tax code a bit simpler?” he said. He instead pointed to a proposal from the Tax Policy Center for the federal government to help create a kind of “rainy day fund” to help states. Lake said she believes it would be “fairly easy to obtain some kind of compromise.” Biden ran on his ability to bring Democrats and Republicans together. It’s become increasingly obvious Republicans aren’t coming along for the ride with him on much of anything, and even though some of them might want to restore the SALT deduction, it’s likely to be tucked into a broader package that the GOP isn’t going to go for. And so the challenge on state and local taxes, as with so many other issues, is for the White House and congressional leadership to keep Democrats together. The debate on this, and myriad other tax proposals, is just beginning.

Scientists haven’t figured out long Covid. Here are 5 of their best hypotheses.

Preview: Christina Animashaun/Vox From disturbing the gut microbiome to lingering in the brain, there are many ways the coronavirus might cause lasting symptoms. Most people who get the coronavirus will fully recover and go right back to their lives. But the latest research suggests that at least 10 percent have long-term symptoms, even after their body has apparently cleared the virus. The condition, known as “long Covid,” has emerged as a scary feature of the pandemic — a reminder that even as hospitalizations and deaths come down, millions of people will continue to suffer from the aftermath of infection. And, as it turns out, “this isn’t unique to Covid,” Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at the Yale School of Medicine, told Vox. Instead, Covid-19 appears to be one of many infections, from Ebola to strep throat, that can give rise to stubborn symptoms in an unlucky subset of patients. “It is more typical than not that a virus infection leads to long-lasting symptoms in some fraction of individuals,” Iwasaki said. The difference now is that, with 137 million Covid-19 cases worldwide and counting, long-haulers are more visible: Their suffering has come on in unprecedented numbers. It’s also possible the coronavirus causes long-term symptoms even more frequently than other infections. In this week’s episode of Unexplainable, we dive into what we know about long Covid and what other viruses can teach us about the condition, including the leading hypotheses for what might be driving symptoms in Covid long-haulers. We also look at what we can learn from patients who have been grappling with medically unexplained symptoms — the kind that don’t correspond to problematic diagnostic test results or imaging — for years before the pandemic hit. Here’s a rundown of what scientists think could explain the mysterious symptoms, and why even the vaccine might not help. 1) The virus and “viral ghosts” didn’t actually leave the body Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images Cell nuclei (blue) being infected by SARS-CoV-2 (red areas), the virus that causes Covid-19. The first explanation for what might cause persistent symptoms in people who’ve been infected with Covid-19 is the simplest: The virus or its components might still be lurking in the body somewhere, long after a person starts testing negative. We’ve learned from other long-term viral illnesses that, in some cases, pathogens do not fully clear the body. “It’s out of the blood but gets into tissue in a low level — the gut, even maybe the brain in some people who are really sick — and you have a reservoir of the virus that remains,” PolyBio Research Foundation microbiologist Amy Proal told Vox. “And that drives a lot of inflammation and symptoms.” These viral reservoirs have been documented following infections with many other pathogens. During the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, studies emerged showing the Ebola virus could linger in the eye and semen. There were similar findings during the 2015-2016 Zika epidemic when health officials warned about the possibility that Zika could be sexually transmitted. (Viral reservoirs are also why the moniker “post-viral” can be problematic, Proal added.) A related explanation for what might be happening with long-Covid patients is what Iwasaki calls “viral ghosts.” While the intact virus may have left the body, “there may be RNA and protein from the virus that’s lingering and continuing to stimulate the immune system,” Iwasaki said. “It’s almost like having a chronic viral infection — it keeps stimulating the immune system because the virus or viral components are still there, and the body doesn’t know how to shut it off.” Recent studies in Nature and The Lancet documented coronavirus RNA and protein in a variety of body systems, including the gastrointestinal tract and brain. In autopsies of people with chronic fatigue syndrome, researchers also found enterovirus RNA and proteins in patients’ brains, including, in one case, in the brain stem region. The brain stem controls sleep cycles, autonomic function (the largely unconscious system driving bodily functions, such as digestion, blood pressure, and heart rate), and the flu-like symptoms we develop in response to inflammation and injury. “If that area of the brain signaling becomes dysregulated [by viruses],” Proal said, “[that] can result in sets of symptoms that meet a diagnostic criteria for [chronic fatigue syndrome], or even for long Covid.” 2) Other pathogens lurking in the body reawaken Other pathogens already lurking in the body prior to a coronavirus infection might also exacerbate symptoms. For example, viruses in the herpes family — such as Epstein-Barr (the cause of mono) or varicella zoster (the cause of chickenpox and shingles) — stay dormant in the body forever. Under normal conditions, the immune system can keep them in check. “So, for example, 90 percent of people in the world already have herpes viruses,” said Proal. “But in those patients, the immune system keeps them in a place where they can’t replicate, where they can’t express proteins. They’re kind of controlled.” But then Covid-19 comes along, and all of a sudden these other viruses get a chance to gain a foothold again. With the immune system tied up fighting Covid-19, the other viruses may reawaken. And they — not the coronavirus — drive symptoms. 3) The immune system turns on the body Another key hypothesis: Long-Covid patients have developed an autoimmune disorder. The virus interrupts normal immune function, causing it to misfire, so that molecules that normally target foreign invaders — like viruses — turn on the body. These “rogue antibodies,” known as autoantibodies, “attack either elements of the body’s immune defences or specific proteins in organs such as the heart,” according to Nature. The assault is thought to be distinct from cytokine storm, an acute immune system disorder that appeared as a potential threat early in the pandemic. “Under that scenario, we talk about molecular mimicry,” Proal said. “Basically, the virus creates proteins that look like human proteins or tissue, and that kind of tricks the immune system.” Here, the the immune system tries to target the virus, which “if it has a similar size and shape to a human tissue or protein, it fires on the human tissue or protein as well,” she added. 4) The microbiome gets thrown out of whack It’s also possible the coronavirus might deplete important microorganisms in the gut microbiome — the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in and on the body. In one study, researchers tracked blood and stool samples from 100 patients hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 infection, testing some up to 30 days after they cleared the virus. (They also collected samples from a control group for comparison.) And they found Covid-19 infection was linked to a “dysbiotic gut microbiome,” even after the virus cleared the respiratory tract; they also hypothesized that it might contribute to the persistent health problems some patients are experiencing. “Under conditions of health, those communities are in a state of balance. It’s like a forest, like different organisms are doing different things, but it’s in a harmonious state,” Proal said. But Covid-19 could lead to an imbalance in the microbiome. “And a huge number of symptoms are tied to microbiome dysbiosis. Irritable bowel syndrome or even neuro-inflammatory symptoms can be driven by these ecosystems when they go out of balance, too.” 5) The body is injured Nicola Marfisi/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images Radiologists observe CT scans of Covid-19 patients’ lungs. The virus might have cleared the body but left injuries in its wake — scars in the lungs or damage to the heart, for example — and these injuries might give rise to symptoms. According to a recent preprint involving 201 patients, 70 percent had impairments in one or more organs four months after their initial Covid-19 symptoms set in. In other unpublished research, radiologists at the University of Southern California tracked hospitalized patients’ lung recovery using CT scans. They found one-third had scars caused by tissue death more than a month later. Other patients may have brain damage that causes neurological symptoms. There’s also growing evidence of widespread cardiac injury, even in patients who aren’t hospitalized. In a JAMA Cardiology study, researchers performed cardiac MRIs on 100 patients in Germany who had recovered from Covid-19 within the past two to three months. An astounding 78 percent still had heart abnormalities. For coronavirus patients who had to be admitted to intensive care units, there’s a related explanation: Long before the pandemic, the intensive care community coined a term for the persistent symptoms people frequently experience following stays in an ICU for any reason, from cancer to tuberculosis. These symptoms include muscle weakness, brain fog, sleep disturbances, and depression — the aftermath of a body lying around in a hospital bed for days on end and injuries or side effects from treatments patients received, including intubation. The term “post-intensive care syndrome” was “created to raise awareness and education, because so many of our ICU survivors were going to their primary care doctor saying they were fatigued,” said Dale Needham, who has been treating Covid-19 patients in the ICU at Johns Hopkins. “They had trouble remembering, and they were weak. Their primary care doctor would do some lab tests and say, ‘Oh, there’s nothing wrong with you.’ The patient might walk away and feel like the doctor was saying, ‘It’s all in your head. You’re making it up.’” The Covid-inspired medical revolution So what might help alleviate the nagging symptoms of Covid long-haulers? One idea that’s been circulating is the Covid-19 vaccine: Some long-haulers are reporting their symptoms improving after they’ve gotten immunized. But others have reported feeling worse — and still others, no different. So researchers are racing to understand the effects of vaccination on long Covid, but it isn’t looking like a silver bullet just yet. Proal had a simpler solution that could be implemented today: “It’s time for medicine to be rooted in just believing the patient.” Even with growing awareness about long Covid, patients with the condition — and other chronic “medically unexplained” symptoms — are still too often minimized and dismissed by health professionals. People “want disease to kill you, or they want you to return to miraculous good health,” said Jaime Seltzer, director of scientific and medical outreach at the chronic fatigue syndrome advocacy group ME Action. “When you stay sick, compassion can fade. And that is not just friends and family. That is your clinicians as well; they want somebody fixable.” But long-haulers of any chronic condition can exist in a space between sickness and health for years, sometimes without a diagnosis. Their unexplainable symptoms can elicit outright skepticism in health professionals who are trained to consider patient feedback the “lowest form of evidence on [the evidence hierarchy], even under research on mice,” Proal said. The situation can be even more challenging for patients who never had a positive PCR test confirming their Covid-19 diagnosis. Of the dozens of medical appointments one Covid-19 long-hauler, Hannah Davis, had for her ongoing symptoms — which include memory loss, muscle and joint pain, and headaches a year after her initial disease — one of the best experiences involved a doctor who simply said, “I don’t know.” “The doctor [told me], ‘We are seeing hundreds of people like you with neurological symptoms. Unfortunately, we don’t know how to treat this yet. We don’t even understand what’s going on yet. But just know you’re not alone,’” she recounted. “And that’s the kind of conversation that needs to be happening. Because we can wait, but we can’t have the doctor’s anxiety being projected onto us as patients.”

Violent crime is up. Newsmax and OANN viewers are most likely to say so.

Preview: People are bad at judging crime trends. People who consume right-wing media are more likely to think violent crime has increased than those who don’t, according to a new poll from Vox and Data for Progress. The poll, which surveyed 1,209 likely voters about their perceptions of crime and has a 3 percentage point (plus or minus) margin of error, indicates that viewers of Newsmax and OANN, two right-wing media outlets that have a loose relationship with the facts — most notably in their perpetuation of the false conspiracy theory that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election due to mass voter fraud — are more likely to say that violent crime is on the rise. Data for Progress Forty-three percent of OANN/Newsmax viewers believe crime has increased in their communities, while only 30 percent of those who don’t watch right-wing news agree. The effect is more pronounced at the national level, where 87 percent of OANN/Newsmax viewers think crime has increased, compared with 70 percent of those who watch neither Fox, OANN, nor Newsmax and 71 percent of those who reported watching just Fox. In this instance, OANN/Newsmax viewers are closer to the truth when it comes to national shifts: Murder and violent crime have increased over the last year. As Vox’s German Lopez recently reported, “Based on preliminary FBI data, the US’s murder rate increased by 25 percent or more in 2020. That amounts to more than 20,000 murders in a year for the first time since 1995, up from about 16,000 in 2019, according to crime analyst Jeff Asher.” But that may not be the full picture, Lopez noted: The FBI analysis found violent crime was up by 3 percent nationwide, although not as uniformly as murder was. The three data sets all found some kinds of violent crime were up, including aggravated assaults and gun assaults, while others were down, including rape and robbery. Crime overall fell, largely due to drops in nonviolent offenses involving drugs, burglary, or theft (with an exception for car theft). Criminologists often look to murder rates to tell the real story of what is going on with violent crime. Although reported rates of burglary, assault, or other crimes may fluctuate (especially with the upheaval of the last year), murder is a more reliable indicator because there is either a missing person or a body. But rather than assuming OANN and Newsmax are better at portraying reality (considering the numerous ways they spread false information), it’s more likely this is a quintessential example of the saying that “a broken clock is right twice a day.” Americans are pretty bad at estimating crime trends According to the poll, people believe crime may have increased significantly nationwide and somewhat in their state, but when asked about their immediate community — for which they would feasibly have the greatest information — a minority of respondents, including OANN and Newsmax viewers, said they thought crime had increased. Only 33 percent of likely voters agreed that violent crime has increased in their immediate communities, while 72 percent and 51 percent, respectively, agreed that crime has increased nationwide and in their state. Gallup, whose annual crime poll asks respondents about the increase or decrease in crime in their area over the past year, found in October 2020 that 38 percent said more, 39 percent said less, and 22 percent said the same. Gallup similarly found a sharp divergence when asking respondents in the same survey about crime nationwide: In October 2020, 78 percent said there was more crime in the US as a whole compared with the previous year. Historically, people are not very good at estimating crime trends. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that a majority of voters (57 percent) said crime had worsened since 2008, even though violent crime had fallen nearly 20 percent during that time period. “Voters are usually more likely to say crime is up than down, regardless of what official statistics show,” wrote John Gramlich, a senior writer/editor at Pew. Since 1989 (excluding 2001), respondents to Gallup’s annual crime poll have said crime in the US increased over the year before, often sharply at odds with existing data. Media consumption may not be causing these differential views of crime. It could just be that people who believe crime is a bigger issue are more likely to watch right-wing news. Pew’s issue polling of the 2020 presidential election showed that 74 percent of Donald Trump supporters said violent crime was “very important” to their vote, whereas only 46 percent of Biden voters said the same. But whichever direction the causal arrow flows, it’s clear that people’s perceptions of crime are often (if not this year) divorced from reality. Pew Research Center

Fast food over fine dining: What spending data tells us about the pandemic recovery

Preview: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images Five charts that show how dramatically the pandemic affected our spending. You can paint a picture of the pandemic by what we bought or didn't buy. You can learn a lot by looking at where we went or didn’t go. And as vaccines become more widely available and the end of the pandemic potentially draws near, you can also use those measures to illustrate which industries have recovered or are still struggling Recovery from the impacts of the pandemic varies widely by industry, according to new data from Earnest Research, which uses de-identified credit card, debit card, and mobile geolocation data to track spending and foot traffic at businesses in the United States. Even within a category like food or retail, there are winners and losers based on the particulars of the pandemic that made one type more or less popular than another. The data is indexed to the same month two years earlier — so March 2020 data would show the percentage difference from March 2018 — in order to strip out some of the huge dips when many businesses were closed completely during lockdown. Food Spending on online grocers like Fresh Direct and Instacart and delivery services like DoorDash and GrubHub soared during the pandemic to rates 400 percent higher than what they had been a couple years earlier, as people sought a safer way to get food than going to the supermarket or restaurants. While below their pandemic peaks, sales remain elevated far above where they had been as these types of commerce continue to grow in popularity. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}});window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded',function(){var i=document.createElement("iframe");var e=document.getElementById("datawrapper-pMLhR");var t=e.dataset.iframeTitle||'Interactive graphic';i.setAttribute("src",e.dataset.iframe);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("frameborder","0");i.setAttribute("scrolling","no");i.setAttribute("aria-label",e.dataset.iframeFallbackAlt||t);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("height","400");i.setAttribute("id","datawrapper-chart-pMLhR");i.style.minWidth="100%";i.style.border="none";e.appendChild(i)})}() Restaurant recovery varied by type, though none is booming. Sales at fast food and fast casual restaurants — think Chipotle and Chopt, where you can pick up food but don’t necessarily dine in — are above 2019 levels. Meanwhile, sales at restaurants where people typically dine in, both fine dining chains like Capital Grille or Sugarfish and casual chains like Applebee’s and California Pizza Kitchen, remained depressed. Supermarket sales are back to the 2019 baseline after sales surged nearly 30 percent in the early pandemic. Perhaps people are over a lockdown spent cooking for themselves, but it’s more likely that grocery shopping has moved online and into meal kits. Shopping The biggest areas of apparel growth were in active and athleisure brands like Lululemon, Spanx, and Nike, as Americans worked from home and got comfy. Even from our quarantine isolation, our fashion followed collective trends bolstered by social media. Unflattering bike shorts became the official uniform of pandemic summer. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}});window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded',function(){var i=document.createElement("iframe");var e=document.getElementById("datawrapper-f3xBi");var t=e.dataset.iframeTitle||'Interactive graphic';i.setAttribute("src",e.dataset.iframe);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("frameborder","0");i.setAttribute("scrolling","no");i.setAttribute("aria-label",e.dataset.iframeFallbackAlt||t);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("height","400");i.setAttribute("id","datawrapper-chart-f3xBi");i.style.minWidth="100%";i.style.border="none";e.appendChild(i)})}() Unsurprisingly for those of us who have abstained from the strictures of pants and going out, professional and dress attire brands like Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic suffered most, and sales remain down. Purchases of fast fashion and luxury brands, however, are up — perhaps thanks to the beloved quarantine pastime of impulse buying online. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}});window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded',function(){var i=document.createElement("iframe");var e=document.getElementById("datawrapper-tXcz7");var t=e.dataset.iframeTitle||'Interactive graphic';i.setAttribute("src",e.dataset.iframe);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("frameborder","0");i.setAttribute("scrolling","no");i.setAttribute("aria-label",e.dataset.iframeFallbackAlt||t);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("height","400");i.setAttribute("id","datawrapper-chart-tXcz7");i.style.minWidth="100%";i.style.border="none";e.appendChild(i)})}() And while certain types of clothing spend have recovered, the physical stores at which they were once purchased haven’t. Emergent Research data on foot traffic by category — which is different from their spending categories because they use different data sources — shows that people haven’t completely returned to clothing stores. In conjunction with the elevated spending data, this suggests that online sales have taken a bigger portion of clothing sales in a move that’s likely to be permanent. Fitness Even before the pandemic, physical gyms were in trouble, as people increasingly opted to work out at home on a new swath of at-home fitness equipment rather than in the gym. The pandemic closures during lockdown might have solidified that trend. Gym traffic is down 30 percent from pre-pandemic levels and spending is down significantly as well: 40 percent in March 2021 compared with March 2019, according to Earnest data. And it’s possible it will remain depressed, thanks to the enormous growth in spending on at-home workout equipment and subscriptions during the pandemic, with companies like Peloton and NordicTrack seeing rapid growth. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}});window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded',function(){var i=document.createElement("iframe");var e=document.getElementById("datawrapper-dwpDU");var t=e.dataset.iframeTitle||'Interactive graphic';i.setAttribute("src",e.dataset.iframe);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("frameborder","0");i.setAttribute("scrolling","no");i.setAttribute("aria-label",e.dataset.iframeFallbackAlt||t);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("height","400");i.setAttribute("id","datawrapper-chart-dwpDU");i.style.minWidth="100%";i.style.border="none";e.appendChild(i)})}() Travel Travel recovery is a bit harder to pin down, especially since a lot of travel during the pandemic happened locally, with people traveling by car and staying in Airbnbs nearby. The data we have also ends in March, before the CDC gave the green light to vaccinated travelers. What we do know is that foot traffic to airports, hotels, and rental car establishments remains down. And while numbers are ticking upward, spending data on airlines and online travel also remain depressed as of the end of March, according to Earnest’s data. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}});window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded',function(){var i=document.createElement("iframe");var e=document.getElementById("datawrapper-BHZU0");var t=e.dataset.iframeTitle||'Interactive graphic';i.setAttribute("src",e.dataset.iframe);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("frameborder","0");i.setAttribute("scrolling","no");i.setAttribute("aria-label",e.dataset.iframeFallbackAlt||t);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("height","400");i.setAttribute("id","datawrapper-chart-BHZU0");i.style.minWidth="100%";i.style.border="none";e.appendChild(i)})}() That said, many are predicting a travel boom this summer. As more Americans get vaccinated — currently nearly a quarter of the population are fully vaccinated — it is likely that more people will take to the air (or boat or rental car). Three-quarters of Americans are planning a post-vaccine trip within the next six months, according to a new survey from PredictHQ, a demand intelligence company. “My guess is there’s so much pent-up demand, domestic travel this summer will potentially be bigger than pre-pandemic levels,” PredictHQ CEO Campbell Brown told Recode. Americans, who have hoarded so many vacation days since the pandemic that some employers are paying them to take off, are about to summer like Europeans, according to the Atlantic, which reported searches and reservations for summer growing rapidly on online portals. For now, our travel habits are closer to getting back to how they used to be.

Why Johnson & Johnson shots were paused — and why that’s so confusing

Preview: The CDC and FDA on Tuesday called for a pause in distribution of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. It has already been administered to nearly 7 million Americans. | Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images The logic and challenge behind the FDA and CDC’s decision to temporarily halt the one-shot vaccine. The US rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was halted Tuesday as regulators race to investigate rare blood-clotting complications linked to the shot. The move may force thousands of people scheduled to receive the shot this week to scramble for an alternative. Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a pause in distributing the vaccine after six reported cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). These clots block blood flowing out of the brain and can quickly turn deadly. The complications were found in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and they arose between six and 13 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “Of the clots seen in the United States, one case was fatal, and one patient is in critical condition,” said Peter Marks, the head of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, during a Tuesday press conference. However, the fact that so few cases led to a nationwide pause of the vaccine has raised questions about a possible overreaction. Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, argued that the CDC and FDA were acting “out of an abundance of caution” and emphasized that their Tuesday decision was a “pause,” implying that it is meant to be temporary. “I don’t think that they were pulling the trigger too quickly,” Fauci said. But the move has nonetheless created confusion for people slated to receive the Johnson & Johnson shot and raised fears that it could fuel hesitancy around Covid-19 vaccines. Johnson & Johnson itself was already reeling from a manufacturing error at one of its suppliers that ruined 15 million doses. And in Colorado, three mass vaccination sites stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week after 11 people reported feelings of nausea and dizziness. For regulators, the episode highlights the tricky challenge of balancing caution against an urgent need for a vaccine in a still-raging pandemic. And as they investigate the problem, they also have to try to maintain public confidence in the vaccination program. The pause helps show that regulators are taking potential problems seriously, but if they botch the messaging, that could make people less likely to get vaccinated. What is cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and how is it connected to Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine? Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis is a condition that blocks blood from leaving the brain. In the general population, it occurs in about five out of a million people. Symptoms of CVST include headache, blurred vision, seizures, and a loss of control of the body. However, there are several factors that made regulators pay close attention to the recent cases following vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson shot. Marks explained that patients with these clots also had thrombocytopenia, a condition where platelets in the blood drop to very low levels, leading to bleeding and bruising. The combination of blood clots and low platelets means that patients cannot receive conventional blood clot therapies like heparin, a blood thinner. That’s why health officials want to wait to resume vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until they can investigate the concern and come up with new guidelines if necessary. Another factor is that these cases occurred in younger women, who normally don’t face a high risk of these types of clots. Very rare side effects, but right decision by @CDCgov @US_FDA to check the data and use science to guide next steps. pic.twitter.com/DWruhZRtUk — Ali H. Mokdad (@AliHMokdad) April 13, 2021 The pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine mirrors a similar halt in Europe of another Covid-19 vaccine, one developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, because of concerns about blood clots. In March, the European Union’s pharmaceutical regulator halted the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine before allowing distribution to resume. Regulators concluded the vaccine didn’t cause an increase in overall risk of blood clots. “This is a safe and effective vaccine. Its benefits in protecting people from Covid-19 with the associated risks of deaths and hospitalizations outweigh the possible risks,” said Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency, during a press conference last month. Both the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are based on a modified adenovirus vector. The adenovirus is a separate virus engineered to deliver DNA instructions to cells for making the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Nearly 7 million people in the US have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is still under review and has not begun distribution in the US, although the US government has already purchased millions of doses. The mechanism connecting these vaccines to CVST isn’t clear just yet, but there are some hypotheses. Robert Brodsky, director of the hematology division at Johns Hopkins University, said last month that the spike proteins built using the instructions from these vaccines could, in rare cases, trigger an immune system response that interferes with the regulation of blood clots. That immune response could also damage platelets, accounting for the symptoms presented. More evidence is needed to verify that is causing the problem, but it could help scientists develop ways to treat or prevent the issue. But if a spike protein can trigger this reaction, then it’s likely that a whole intact virus could also trigger CVST in people who are vulnerable. The question is how best to protect those individuals from infection while also mitigating the risks of complications. Rare complications with Covid-19 vaccines pose a massive challenge for public health messaging It’s always tricky to communicate risk, but having to study and explain uncommon problems with vaccines was foreseeable. The Covid-19 vaccines were tested in tens of thousands of people in clinical trials, and all three that have begun distribution in the US — from Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson — were shown to be safe, with mild to moderate side effects. But when vaccines make the jump from thousands of carefully screened trial participants to millions of people in the general population, rare problems — the one-in-a-million complications — start to emerge. That already happened with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after it started to roll out. Several recipients suffered severe allergic reactions to the vaccine. Similar problems emerged with the Moderna vaccine. The CDC estimated in January that the rate of allergic reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was 11.1 per million vaccinations, while the rate was 2.5 per million for Moderna. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccine use mRNA as their means to deliver instructions to cells for making viral spike proteins. That mRNA is encased in a lipid nanoparticle, which may be what’s triggering the allergic reactions. While researchers are still investigating the connection, the mRNA vaccines have continued distribution. Health officials modified the vaccine protocol to screen people with a history of severe allergies. They also added a 15-minute waiting period for recipients post-vaccination, since most allergic reactions arose in that window. Regulators could, then, take a similar approach with the Johnson & Johnson shot to the one they used for allergies and the mRNA vaccines, adding a screening criterion for people at highest risk of these blood clots before they receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It’s too soon to say whether regulators did everything right when it comes to handling the pause and the public messaging around the vaccine. The willingness to wait and study potential problems may boost overall confidence in vaccinations, or the confusion and fears around complications could make more people wary. Or it may end up as a minor bump in the vaccine rollout. And what about people who have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? Fauci said that for people who received the vaccine more than a month ago, they’re out of the woods. But people who have had the shot more recently and start to experience symptoms associated with CVST should alert their physician about their vaccination record. “If you look at the time frame where this occurs, it’s pretty tight, from six to 13 days from the time of the vaccination,” Fauci said.

Tech billionaires are staying “very, very quiet” on proposals to tax their wealth

Preview: Bill Gates has declined to get involved in a tax fight in his home state. | Lintao Zhang/Getty Images It is relatively easy for a billionaire to say they support higher taxes. More is on the line if they are asked to do something about it. Billionaires like Bill Gates have long said that they, theoretically, would be in favor of paying much more money in personal taxes. And yet Gates and some of the wealthiest people in the world are staying silent on a series of active proposals that would do just that, sidestepping a legislative package in their home state of Washington that targets them specifically. Washington is home to four of the richest people on the planet: Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Bezos’s ex-wife novelist MacKenzie Scott, and longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. And the state in 2021 is also home to some of the most aggressive proposals to tax the ultra-rich, including a first-of-its-kind proposal to tax the wealth of billionaires at the state level. All four of them have declined to campaign for the tax increase proposals, spurning requests to back the measures and staying on the sidelines. “They have stayed very, very quiet during this conversation — and it’s not for a lack of trying,” said Noel Frame, the state legislator behind the wealth tax. “I talked to folks who talk to them, and they have chosen not to engage.” Frame has approached her contacts with ties to the Gates, Ballmer, and Bezos families to see if the billionaires would be interested in publicly supporting her proposal. But she hasn’t even secured a meeting. Other pro-tax activists in Washington state say they have recently spoken with some of those families in recent months about the need, in general, for rate increases. Asked about the wealth tax, Gates spokespeople didn’t return repeated requests for comment. A spokesperson for Bezos said his boss had no comment on the measure. And aides to Ballmer and the publicity-shy Scott didn’t return a request for comment. Their silence and inaction bother some activists because Gates and Ballmer, at least, claim to support paying more in taxes. And yet it is relatively easy for a billionaire to say in a television studio or in a blog post that they, in theory, support a far-away, unlikely-to-ever-happen tax increase. Far more is on the line if they are asked to spend their social capital and proactively back a measure that is tangible and alive, working its way through the legislative chambers that they routinely prod on other matters they care about. So in some ways, the measures in Washington state are a test of whether their rhetoric was just rhetoric — or whether they are prepared to back their beliefs up with muscle. “Silence is consent,” said Chuck Collins, an inequality critic who collaborated with Gates’s father to push for higher taxes. “Here’s the proposal that your state legislature is considering. Yes or no? Where do you stand?” These proposals are not all loony legislative long shots that are patently unworthy of their attention, either. The state Senate just narrowly passed the capital gains tax, a priority for Gov. Jay Inslee. And although the wealth tax proposal is seen as unlikely to become law this session, the measure was voted out of committee late last month, a sign that there is some momentum behind it, or at least credibility. Both measures face their fates this month in the final days of the legislative session. Washington is one of the only states in the country without a state income tax, and progressives there have spent the last decade exploring ways to add new revenue streams, all of which would probably trigger legal fights. More of the advocacy and energy in Olympia has revolved around the likelier-to-pass capital gains tax proposal, which takes a 7 percent cut off of sales of stocks or bonds in excess of $250,000. While it does not as narrowly target billionaires, it still effectively taxes the well-to-do. Anti-tax activists say it would make Washington, which does not have any capital gains tax right now, a less hospitable place for business. The wealth tax proposal would levy a 1 percent fee on all assets over $1 billion, an attempt — like its national inspirations — to increase the tax burden that the ultra-rich pay. But critics charge that, unlike the national proposals, Washington state billionaires can easily move out of state and could do so if it passes, sapping Washington of any tax revenue from them at all. “Why are you going to give these people a reason to make their economic domicile a different state?” said Matt McIlwain, who has helped organize the tech community against tax proposals and runs a venture capital firm that invested early in Amazon. “Come on, Bezos grew up in Texas and Florida. He’s got a bunch of operations and projects in his own life — not to mention different aspects of what’s going on in Amazon — in other states. He doesn’t need Washington state to be his home state.” The state is the latest battleground in the simmering fight over how much America should tax its richest citizens. The mega-wealthy are facing calls for higher taxes in part due to the pandemic, which has widened inequality. And so while passing a wealth tax through Congress is quite difficult, tax advocates are capitalizing on a vulnerability for the rich: They tend to live near one another, making state and local proposals a side door of sorts into achieving a similar outcome. Gates, Ballmer, Bezos, and Scott have all gotten much wealthier over the last year when Big Tech stocks surged as the world relied more on tech companies. The foursome has about $500 billion in assets, according to tracking by Bloomberg. At the beginning of 2020, they controlled about $320 billion. While recruiting billionaire endorsements is not a priority for either the pro-tax or anti-tax activists, Frame said she reached out precisely because it would rebut her critics’ arguments. “Any time you have the affected taxpayer coming to the table and saying, ‘I’m okay with this change. I’m okay with this increase. Yes, please tax me,’ that’s always a coup,” she said. Guided by his father, Bill Gates Sr., who served as the public face of a failed push 10 years ago for a state income tax, the younger Gates has been the most consistently vocal about wanting to pay substantially more in taxes. That’s been especially so in his home state of Washington, which he has said has “the most regressive tax system in the country.” Gates has expressed concern that taxes could go “too far” — including, at times, wealth taxes. But, in general, he has said he supports substantially higher rates, including higher federal estate taxes and capital gains taxes, along with an institution of a state income tax in Washington, which it currently lacks. “I think the rich should pay more than they currently do, and that includes Melinda and me,” Gates said in a year-end 2019 blog post about his views. Ballmer’s tax views are more of a moving target, but he has in recent years voiced more and more comfort with increases. An avowed deficit hawk, Ballmer has stressed the need for a closer look at federal spending patterns. But he has also increasingly sounded more fiscally liberal in recent interviews, saying in 2019, for instance, “I certainly know that there are things I believe in that might require more” in tax revenue. “Because I’ve been very fortunate, I can say to you I’d be happy personally to pay more taxes,” Ballmer said at a conference earlier this year. Bezos, whose politics have been described as libertarian, has displayed an anti-tax streak: He, along with Ballmer, donated to a group a decade ago that opposed a measure trying to create a state income tax in Washington. And when Bezos said last week that he supported Amazon paying more in corporate income taxes to finance Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, he didn’t offer anything about whether he backed paying more in personal income taxes — another part of the Biden economic package — to finance that same policy goal. And then there’s Scott, who has the most limited paper trail on these policy questions. She has said nothing to date explicitly about taxes. She has, however, repeatedly expressed deep concerns about wealth inequality — reflecting recently on how the pandemic functioned as a “wrecking ball” for the poor while enriching billionaires, stirring a speculative belief from progressives that she may agree with them, Activists on both sides aren’t necessarily surprised these billionaires have taken a pass right now. Some Washington political observers think billionaire non-engagement is only sustainable because the wealth tax currently faces long odds this legislative session. The capital gains tax on the cusp of becoming law took years of advocacy before it became a front-burner debate in the state. And yet John Burbank, a longtime Washington tax activist who has met with Ballmer aides in recent months to discuss progressive state tax policy more generally, said he actually saw the billionaires’ inactivity and neutrality as a win for his side. Why? Well, he said, at least the billionaires weren’t actively speaking out against the bill — as they might have in the past.

It’s not just Big Oil. Big Meat also spends millions to crush good climate policy.

Preview: Getty Images A new study reveals how the companies you buy meat from block climate action. You probably already know that the fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars trying to sow doubt about climate change and the industry’s role in it. But did you know that big meat and dairy companies do the same thing? According to a new study out of NYU, these companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying against climate policies and funding dubious research that tries to blur the links between animal agriculture and our climate emergency. The biggest link is that about 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from meat and dairy. “US beef and dairy companies appear to act collectively in ways similar to the fossil fuel industry, which built an extensive climate change countermovement,” write the authors of the study, published in the journal Climatic Change. One of the authors, Jennifer Jacquet, says the paper should spur a vigorous public response. “People should be mad,” she said. “And we should build a system where we can prevent this kind of influence.” Comparing the meat and dairy industry with the fossil fuel industry is not a facile analogy. These industries have worked in tandem for years to undercut climate policy. For example, in 2009, Tyson and other meat companies got nervous about the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as Waxman-Markey, which would have established a cap-and-trade system. They worked alongside the fossil fuel industry to stop the bill. Had it passed, it would’ve been the first congressional bill to directly tackle greenhouse gas emissions. But it never made it past the House. Now, more information is coming to light about how big meat and dairy companies work against climate policies: through lobbying, through political campaigns, and through academic research. How Big Meat lobbies against climate-friendly policies Let’s start with lobbying. It’s not a surprise that meat and dairy trade associations would lobby for things like access to federally owned public lands for cattle-grazing or industry-friendly manure management regulations. That’s more or less their raison d’être, and it’s what they’ve done for decades. But as the authors determined, “more recently they have been involved in blocking climate policy that would limit production.” Six of the big US groups — the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the North American Meat Institute, the National Chicken Council, the International Dairy Foods Association, and the American Farm Bureau Federation — have together spent about $200 million in lobbying since 2000. And they’ve been lobbying annually against climate policies like cap-and-trade, the Clean Air Act, and regulations that would require farms to report emissions. Individual meat companies likewise spend millions on lobbying. Tyson, for example, has spent $25 million since 2000. Now, that may not sound like much if we compare it to what individual companies in the fossil fuel industry spend — Exxon alone spent over $240 million during the same period. But the study notes that we have to look at these amounts in proportion to each company’s bottom line. Taken as a share of total revenue over the past two decades, Tyson has spent 33 percent more on lobbying than Exxon has. “The relative spending is very much an indicator of political engagement,” Jacquet said. These figures refer to meat companies’ total spending on lobbying, not only climate-specific lobbying. That said, even policies that are not explicitly about climate — like crop incentives or land-use decisions — can also drive harmful emissions. When Big Meat gets involved in political campaigns The study also found that the big US meat companies have spent millions on political campaigns, typically to support Republican candidates. Again, these companies are big spenders in this arena relative to their bottom line. Since 2000, Exxon spent about $17 million on US federal political campaigns, while Tyson spent $3.2 million. “But taken as a share of each company’s total revenue over that period, Tyson has spent double what Exxon has on political campaigns,” the study notes. Meat and dairy companies bankroll candidates because it pays off. Members of Congress they’ve funded, like Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), have backed pro-agriculture bills and frequently voted against climate change legislation, including cap-and-trade. According to the study, in some cases funding from Big Meat is the biggest contributor to a politician’s financial resources: “Hormel Foods was the largest contributor to Rep. Gutknecht (R-MN) over the course of his career — a former Congressman who has regularly questioned climate science.” Sometimes, Big Meat has also funded Democratic candidates. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Tyson was known to be one of Bill Clinton’s main backers — to the point that Clinton was actually nicknamed the “Chicken Man.” Tyson, which is headquartered in Clinton’s home state of Arkansas, did not respond to a request for comment. Can you trust environmental research funded by Big Meat? The meat and dairy industries also fund their own academic experts, who then publish research that minimizes or denies the causal link between animal agriculture and climate change. Industry-funded research isn’t always necessarily flawed. But it’s certainly fair to wonder about the integrity of industry-funded research that happens to advance that industry’s goals. As Undark has reported, you might read a white paper that paints a hopeful picture of the cattle industry’s emissions, only to then realize that the co-authors run dairy groups or received livestock industry funding. This happens in adjacent industries, too: You might hear a scientist denying that overfishing is a major problem, say, only to then find out that they’ve received funding from fisheries and seafood industry groups. (To be fair, we should note that plant-based meat companies have also commissioned analyses from outside researchers, though much less extensively.) The new study out of NYU provides other examples of how meat-industry-funded research seeks to downplay the industry’s environmental costs — like emphasizing that its emissions are small relative to those of other sectors, like transportation, instead of acknowledging that animal agriculture causes almost 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which means it’s still a big driver of climate change. In fact, the NYU paper notes that if the Food and Agriculture Organization is right in projecting that meat consumption will rise 73 percent by 2050, emissions by some meat and dairy companies could exceed the emissions of several fossil fuel companies. That means people who care about the climate need to get serious about holding Big Meat and Big Dairy accountable, just as they’ve been trying to do for years with Big Oil. “There has to be a big reimagining of meat and dairy,” Jacquet said. Whether that will entail a reduction in meat consumption or a total switch to plant-based or lab-grown meat and dairy, one thing is for sure: “Given what we know about climate change,” Jacquet said, “it seems clear that business as usual is not the answer.”

Daunte Wright’s killing is a reminder of how quickly traffic stops can become deadly

Preview: Protesters in New York demonstrate to demand justice for Daunte Wright, who was killed in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, during a traffic stop. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images Wright was killed by police just 10 miles from where Derek Chauvin is on trial for the killing of George Floyd. The police killing of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, following a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, comes as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the killing of George Floyd, roughly 10 miles away. Wright’s death, one of more than 260 fatal police shootings already this year, is yet another reminder of how quickly any police interaction can turn deadly — particularly for Black Americans. Wright was stopped by police Sunday afternoon; his mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as the stop was happening in order to ask her about insurance — she says the car had belonged to her, and she’d given it to Wright two weeks prior. His mother also said Wright told her officers informed him he was being stopped because there was an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. Most “objects suspended between the driver and the windshield,” including air fresheners, are illegal in the state. Police, however, said Monday that Wright was stopped for having expired tags on his car. Police also say they discovered after they pulled him over that there was a warrant out for Wright’s arrest. Wright’s mother says she heard him being told to exit his vehicle, and that “I heard police officers say, ‘Daunte, don’t run.’” Police body camera video released Monday afternoon shows Wright outside the car, with his hands behind his back. As one officer moves to handcuff him, he breaks away, reentering his car. An officer attempts to pull him back out, while the body camera shows an officer later identified as 26-year department veteran and former police union president Kim Potter aiming a gun at Wright. That gun discharges; Wright is shot. The car pulls away. Potter can be heard saying, “Oh, shit, I just shot him.” The chief of police at Brooklyn Center said he believes the shot was an “accidental discharge,” and, given that the officer can be heard yelling “taser,” that the officer drew their handgun in error. “A mistake, that doesn’t even sound right,” Aubrey Wright, Daunte Wright’s father, told Good Morning America on Tuesday. “This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can’t accept that.” Wright died a few blocks away from the shooting after hitting another vehicle. His girlfriend, who needed treatment for non-life-threatening injuries, was in the passenger seat. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension — the law enforcement agency that oversaw the state investigation into George Floyd’s death — has begun a review of the shooting. Potter resigned Tuesday, as did the Brooklyn Center chief of police. Calls for justice have led to protests “We want justice for Daunte,” Katie Wright said at a memorial following the shooting. Following the shooting, hundreds of Brooklyn Center residents protested late into the night in demonstrations that culminated in a rally outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, which saw protesters demanding accountability as officers pushed them back with flash-bang grenades and tear gas. Police ultimately declared the rally — which featured some protesters throwing items at armored officers — an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to leave or be arrested. Monday night, demonstrations continued, with hundreds again gathering near the police station, and protesters again being repelled with flash-bangs and tear gas. Police said about 40 people were arrested. Ahead of Monday’s rallies, Wright’s mother called on the protesters to be peaceful in their advocacy, saying, “All the violence, if it keeps going it’s only going to be about the violence. We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason.” Many parents have asked similar questions. More than 1,127 people were killed by police during 2020, according to Mapping Police Violence. And many of those parents have had Black children; the races of all those killed aren't known, but of those that are, about 30 percent of those killed were Black. The knowledge that a disproportionate number of Black Americans are killed by police can make every encounter feel dangerous. At another recent, prominent traffic stop — this one in Virginia — 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, a Black Latinx man, was confronted by officers who demanded, at gunpoint, that he exit his vehicle. When Nazario told the officers, “I’m honestly afraid to get out,” one responded, “Yeah, you should be.” And he should have been. Wright’s killing, the killing of Philando Castile (who died nearly five years ago, not far from where Wright lived his last moments), the arrest and death of Sandra Bland, and the many other Black people killed are testament to the fact that traffic stops are inherently dangerous. And it has reignited debate over just how necessary traffic stops really are. Traffic stops demonstrate police bias and can be dangerous for Black drivers As University of Arkansas law professor Jordan Blair Woods wrote in the Michigan Law Review, police, like many Black Americans, are taught to view stops as dangerous — not to those being stopped, but to themselves. “Police academies regularly show officer trainees videos of the most extreme cases of violence against officers during routine traffic stops in order to stress that mundane police work can quickly turn into a deadly situation if they become complacent on the scene or hesitate to use force,” Woods wrote. But in a review of Florida’s traffic stop data from 2005 to 2014, Woods found this mindset to be unnecessary. Police, the data showed, had a 1 in 6.5 million chance of being killed during a traffic stop, and a 1 in 361,111 chance of being seriously injured. Overall, 98 percent of stops saw zero or minor injury to officers. Citizens’ chances of surviving a routine stop with police don’t seem to be quite as good; a 2019 study by Shea Streeter, currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, found that in 2015, about 11 percent of police killings happened at traffic and pedestrian stops nationwide. Complicating matters for Black individuals is that they appear to be stopped more often than white people — in some localities, by a large margin. The Stanford Open Policing Project, a database of more than 200 million traffic stops, found that in St. Paul, not far from where Wright was killed, Black drivers are a little over three times more likely than white drivers to be pulled over; in San Jose, California, Black drivers are six times more likely to be stopped. Arguably, drivers of all races ought to be stopped at about the same rate — failing to signal or missing a sudden change in speed limit would seem to be mistakes anyone could make. This has led to a number of researchers trying to understand this disparity, and, in general, these studies suggest that the issue has to do with officer bias, conscious or unconscious, that casts Black people as inherently more dangerous than their white counterparts. Tied to this idea is the question of what stops are for. As a group of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dartmouth College researchers led by UNC political science professor Frank Baumgartner wrote in a 2017 paper, in many departments, traffic stops are meant to serve a dual purpose: as a deterrent for the person stopped, and as a chance to do some investigative work for the officer. In many ways, this system is akin to the stop-and-frisk technique, a practice most prominently used in New York City that was meant to uncover criminal behavior through street searches. The program was ruled unconstitutional. As Baumgartner wrote, “officers are trained to use traffic stops as a general enforcement strategy aimed at reducing violent crime or drug trafficking. When officers are serving these broader goals, they are making an investigatory stop, and these stops have little (if anything) to do with traffic safety and everything to do with who looks suspicious.” If Black drivers are seen as more suspicious and police are trained to view traffic stops as dangerous in general, this creates a serious problem. When a Black driver is stopped, the interaction is more likely to begin with the officer even more on guard for trouble than they might otherwise be. This can lead to the kind of rapid escalation seen in Nazario’s case, in which officers attempted to manage the stop through violence: first with a weapon and threats, and later with nonlethal force. Body camera footage released during Chauvin’s trial, for example, shows an officer drawing his weapon shortly after approaching Floyd’s vehicle and yelling at him to “Put your fucking hands up right now.” All of this puts Black drivers in mortal danger. Law enforcement representatives have argued the stops are necessary — “we find drugs, evidence of other crimes ... it’s a very valuable tool,” Kevin Lawrence, the Texas Municipal Police Association’s executive director, told the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2019 — but those discoveries are rare. Nationally, about 4 percent of stops resulted in arrests in 2015, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. This has a number of activists and elected officials questioning whether the risks traffic stops pose to drivers — particularly Black drivers — are worth such a small number of arrests. Berkeley, California, for instance, recently approved a plan to prohibit officers from conducting traffic stops for violations that have nothing to do with safety; Oakland has a similar policy in place. Other places, including Montgomery County, Maryland, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have contemplated such measures as well. Washington, DC, stripped its police department of some of its authority to regulate traffic laws, empowering its transportation department to do enforcement instead. New York’s attorney general has recommended New York City make a similar change. The long-term effectiveness of such measures remains to be seen. But they represent a step toward reform and a step away from the kind of policing that has left Wright dead.

America’s forever war may be ending

Preview: US Army soldiers return home from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on December 10, 2020, at Fort Drum, New York. | John Moore/Getty Images The Biden administration announced that all US troops will be leaving Afghanistan by September 11. President Joe Biden plans to withdraw all 3,500 US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, finally bringing an end to America’s longest war 20 years to the day after the terror attacks that prompted it. Biden is expected to announce the decision, which was first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by Vox, on Wednesday. A senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday that US forces “will begin an orderly drawdown of the remaining forces before May 1 and plan to have all US troops out of the country” by the 9/11 anniversary. The decision is momentous. Biden is the fourth president to oversee the war, but, if all goes to plan, he will be the first to end it. It will mean the end of trillions spent, the American end of a conflict that took roughly 2,400 US lives (not including the thousands of Afghans) and that has plagued US foreign policy for two decades. Biden didn’t come to this decision lightly, though. It is the result of a months-long policy review that began when he got into office. As part of that review, Biden was presented with three broad options for how to proceed in Afghanistan. The first was to adhere to former President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban, which would require Biden to withdraw all US forces in Afghanistan by May 1. The second was to negotiate an extension with the insurgent group, allowing American forces to remain in the country beyond early May. And third was to defy the Trump-Taliban pact altogether and keep fighting in Afghanistan with no stated end date. Biden is sort of choosing the second option: extending America’s presence a few months beyond the deadline, but without the Taliban’s explicit approval. That could be a problem, as the Taliban had previously warned that if the US didn’t abide by the May 1 deadline, it would end its months-long ceasefire with the US and resume attacking American troops. The senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday that the US would respond if the Taliban targeted Americans, raising the possibility of tit-for-tat retaliations in the months ahead. But with Biden making clear there’s a firm withdrawal date, the Taliban may decide to hold off on attacking the US, some experts say, so as not to risk making the Americans change their minds. The senior administration official said that the withdrawal timeline wasn’t conditions-based, meaning the US will leave no matter what happens over the next few months. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), who advised top US generals in Afghanistan and was a national security adviser in the Obama administration, likes that plan. “I’ve seen what conditions-based gets you,” he told me in an interview after the news broke. “It gets you 20 years in a war in Afghanistan.” There’s also another factor here: The president launched a Hail Mary effort to broker a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban before US troops left. But that plan hit a major stumbling block on Monday when the insurgents rejected an offer to attend a meeting in Istanbul with Kabul officials later this week. Perhaps knowing that achieving peace on a shortened timeline wasn’t going to work, Biden is opting to announce a withdrawal and get US troops out of harm’s way. “What we won’t do is use our troops as a bargaining chip in that process,” an unnamed official told the Washington Post. Most experts, though, think Biden realized there’s little more the US can achieve in the country militarily after nearly 20 years of war. “Biden’s decision to finalize a troop withdrawal, not tied to improved conditions on the battlefield or the peace table, signals a sense of resignation with the long US intervention there,” said Andrew Watkins, the senior analyst for Afghanistan at the International Crisis Group. But, he warned, “this may just be the start of a whole new chapter in Afghanistan’s conflict.” The US war in Afghanistan is ending. Afghanistan’s troubles aren’t. Biden pledged during the presidential campaign to bring all US “combat troops” back from Afghanistan by the end of his first term. By using the squishy term “combat troops,” he was essentially leaving the door open to maintaining a small number of troops in the country whose mission would focus solely on counterterrorism operations against ISIS and al-Qaeda, not fighting the Taliban. It seems Biden has abandoned that approach. “We’re going to zero troops by September,” the unnamed senior official told the Post. Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Afghan women, youths, activists, and elders gather at a rally to support peace talks and in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 29, 2021. The administration is still concerned with ensuring groups like al-Qaeda don’t use the country to plan attacks against America or its allies, though, a senior administration official told reporters. However, the plan is to “reposition” America’s “counterterrorism capabilities, retaining significant assets in the region to counter the potential reemergence of the terrorist threat to the homeland from Afghanistan.” In other words, there will still be US forces in the region keeping an eye on the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, but those troops won’t be in Afghanistan itself. The US won’t completely abandon Afghanistan, though. “We are ending our military operations while we focus our efforts on supporting diplomatically,” the official said. Three other key questions remain unanswered ahead of Biden’s Wednesday address. The first is when all NATO troops will leave the country. The senior administration official said that “we will coordinate with NATO allies and partners about a drawdown of their forces in the same time frame” — meaning they also will leave Afghanistan before September 11. That makes sense, as NATO can’t really do much without American firepower in the country. What’s more, those troops only really joined the US-led war effort in Afghanistan because the US asked them to, calling on NATO allies to come to America’s aid after it was attacked on 9/11. So if the US isn’t going to be fighting the war anymore, there’s little reason for its allies to stay, either. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are currently in Brussels, home to NATO headquarters, explaining Biden’s decision to the allies. The second question is what will happen to the peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Kabul. The US wants to remain as a key player in diplomacy, but some analysts say the Taliban will have far less incentive to make concessions to the government once US troops are no longer there backing it up. Some experts, then, say the withdrawal will undermine any leverage America had left in the war. Others disagree. “Ultimately the future of Afghanistan is something Afghans have to come to collective terms on, and the US military presence is preventing that from occurring, said Jonathan Schroden, an expert on the war at the CNA research organization in Arlington, Virginia. That leads to the third, and most important, question: What’s going to happen to the country after America leaves? The Taliban currently controls most of the land in the country — and that’s with the US military still there. With the US gone, the Afghan military and security forces will be a lot weaker. That’s why many experts warn that a US troop withdrawal could very well be followed swiftly by a complete Taliban takeover of the country, including the capital city of Kabul. If that were to happen, it would spell doom for millions of Afghans, not least women and children. When the Taliban last ruled the country, from 1996 to 2001, it imposed an extreme, and extremely brutal, form of Islamic government on the country that saw women banned not only from working but even from appearing in public without a male chaperone, and girls banned from attending school. Though the Taliban of today is not quite the same organization it was when it ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, it still aims to establish its version of an Islamic government — and if the way it governs in the areas already under its control is any indication of what that might look like, the future is likely to be bleak for women. Afghans will also suffer as the Afghan government, trained for years by the US military, tries to fight back against any Taliban advances. A worsening civil war will only exacerbate the nation’s many problems. Biden’s decision to withdraw isn’t without its perils, then. Republicans, for example, are already blasting the move. “A full withdrawal from Afghanistan is dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “President Biden will have, in essence, cancelled an insurance policy against another 9/11.” But after two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, with very little to show for it except trillions spent and 2,400 Americans dead, many say it was time for the US to leave. “This is the right decision,” Rep. Kim told me. “We need to end the war this year.”

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