As of Monday, February 22nd, more than 500,000 people have died at the hands of the Coronavirus in the United States. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris honored those who have lost their life with a candle-light ceremony. The House Budget Committee approved President Biden’s 1.9 trillion dollar relief bill, this sets up a clear and likely very smooth passage through the House.
This week Virginia lawmakers voted to end the death penalty. This made Virginia the 23rd state to do so. The bill was passed in the name of furthering equity for those more frequently targeted by the death penalty, this especially being people of color and the mentally ill. New Jersey becomes the most populous state in the Northeast to fully legalize the use of marajuana. This is ideally going to alleviate the racial disparities in enforcement of the current laws against marajuana possession. Sales are predicted to begin in a few months. Today started the trial of the security guards present during the capitol insurrection which occurred on January 6th. The ex- capitol police Chief, Steven Sund relentlessly defends his actions, claiming to have been denied backup in the days leading up to the riot. All three security guards on trial agree that there was not enough intel to anticipate the size and coordination of the attack.
Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is eyeing ownership of the NFL’s Washington team. According to a Sports Illustrated article, “Adding Bezos to the ownership ranks would give the NFL one of the world’s most powerful and influential businessmen, and a pipeline into all of his relationships across the globe and his expertise in areas vital to the NFL like, for one, the future of media.”
Bill Gates wants to team up with Bezos to help combat climate change. Recent data has shown that single dose COVID-19 vaccines are safe and COVID-19 antibodies appear to stop reinfection for months. During the recent power outages in Texas, some merchants have been taking advantage of the crisis by charging $1,000 per night for a hotel room with electricity. Op-Ed contributor Elizabeth Brake wrote “Disaster creates a scarcity of basic necessities; retailers and providers respond by sharply raising the price tags on sought-after commodities.” She continues, “these economic arguments can fail in times of disaster. Panicking humans tend not to make rational economic choices. And communications and transport can be disrupted, mitigating the signaling effect of higher prices.”
After being reintroduced in the House, the Equality Act has passed with a vote of 224-206. It seeks to provide basic civil right protections to the LGBTQ+ community. A summary provided by Congress.gov reads “This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.” President Biden has moved forward concerning unemployment, granting eligibility for workers who denied going back to work owing to a lack of safety regulation on the part of the employer. A former top aid for New York Governor Cuomo has released information, citing that the governor sexually harassed her. This comes after his inappropriate handling of nursing home residents, many are now calling on him to resign.
Nearly 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the newly approved manufacturer Johnson and Johnson will be shipped to the US Sunday night. This shot will only require one dose to be effective against COVID-19, compared to Moderna and Pfitzer’s two. Johnson and Johnson is expected to deliver around 16 million more doses by the end of March. Officials urge Americans to take whichever vaccine is available to them the soonest, regardless of the manufacturer. Seven months following the disturbing murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Arbery, scrutinized some fundraisers for exploiting her son’s death as a business opportunity. The fundraiser in question, “I Run With Maud”, has been rebranded and trademarked its name. Multiple attempts made by Cooper-Jones to become an administrator of the original Facebook page have been denied. Lindsey Boylan, a former advisor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaks out regarding sexual harassment by the governor. Details consisted of unwanted touching, kissing, and a strip poker insinuation in front of coworkers. Boylan further writes of the pervasive work culture that Cuomo condoned. A peaceful demonstration in Myanmar was met by police and military forces. Casualties included 18 individuals being killed and more than 30 being injured. Following the military coup on February 1st, security forces have been suppressing protesters through violent measures.
COVID-19 cases in the United States continue to decline, but public health officials and experts are growing increasingly worried about the new, more contagious virus strains. The primary strains of concern were first identified in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil. Biden’s administration has bolstered weekly vaccine shipments to individual states to 14.5 million, which is a 70% increase from the Trump administration. On Thursday the 25th, Biden ordered airstrikes on multiple facilities at the Syrian-Iraqi border. His decision has received bipartisan support as well as widespread criticism. Many, including Ryan Costello, director of the National Iranian American Council, has expressed concern over the fact that “President Biden’s first instinct […] appears to be to reach for military options instead of diplomacy.” Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been rising at alarming levels, which has motivated many Asian Americans to call for legislative action. Biden has signed an executive order on the anti-Asian hate crimes, but significant change has not yet occurred.
The Johnson & Jonshon one shot Covid-19 vaccine has now been granted emergency use authorization. Millions are expected to ship this upcoming week. Grief-stricken parents in Nigeria convened together on Sunday, following the kidnapping of 300 schoolgirls from a government school. This brings many of us back to the 2014 kidnapping of 276 girls in Borno State, many of those girls remain missing. During his first public appearance after leaving office, Former President Donald Trump teased a third campaign, though it remains unclear whether or not his statement was veiled in truth.