👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Biden called on Congress to “immediately pass” legislation that would close loopholes in gun background checks and ban the purchase of assault weapons a day after the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, which left 10 dead. “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour to take common sense steps that will save the lives in the future,” Biden said, adding that background checks “should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue […] We have to act.” Earlier this month, the House passed a pair of bills aimed at strengthening the nation’s gun laws. One would expand background checks and the other would extend the waiting period for background checks to 10 days from three days. Both bills face opposition in the Senate, where they don’t not currently have the 60 votes needed to advance. (USA Today / NPR / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / Washington Post)
- The Boulder attack was the seventh mass shootings in the past week across the United States. On Tuesday, March 16, eight people, including six Asian women, were killed at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia; Five people were shot in a drive-by shooting in Stockton, California on March 17; Four people were taken to the hospital after a shooting outside of Portland, Oregon on March 18; Five people were shot inside a club in Houston, eight people were shot in Dallas, and one person was killed and five others injured during a shooting in Philadelphia on March 20. (CNN)
2/ A Colorado judge blocked Boulder’s ban on assault weapons 10 days ago – the gunman used an AR-15 rifle he purchased six days ago. In 2018, following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the city of Boulder passed an ordinance banning the possession, transfer or sale of assault weapons, and large-capacity magazines. But on March 12, Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman sided with the plaintiffs (the Colorado State Shooting Association and Boulder-based Gunsport of Colorado), ruling that a 2003 state law banned cities and counties from restricting guns that are otherwise legal under federal and state law. (Washington Post / Denver Post / Associated Press / New York Times)
3/ The second-largest teachers union is “not convinced” it’s safe to reduce social distancing in schools to three feet between students. Last week, the CDC updated its guidance for social distancing in schools to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from six feet to three feet. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, citing studies of limited virus transmission from the WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the “updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, however, said: “We are not convinced that the evidence supports changing physical distancing requirements at this time. Our concern is that the cited studies do not identify the baseline mitigation strategies needed to support 3 feet of physical distancing.” (CBS News)
4/ AstraZeneca’s recent Covid-19 vaccine trial results “may have included outdated information” that “provided an incomplete view of the efficacy” in its announcement touting its shot’s 79% effectiveness against the coronavirus, according to a statement by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. AstraZeneca unveiled its interim results on Monday without conducting the full analysis requested by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board. While the company announced its vaccine was 79% effective, the panel said it had seen data showing the vaccine may be 69 to 74% effective, and had “strongly recommended” that that information be included in the news release. “This is really what you call an unforced error,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “Because the fact is: This is very likely a very good vaccine, and this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contributes to the hesitancy.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / STAT News / Politico / ABC News)
😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~123,978,000; deaths: ~2,729,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,907,000; deaths: ~544,000; fully vaccinated: ~13.0%; partially vaccinated: ~25.3%
The Biden administration is not confident Johnson & Johnson will meet its deadline to deliver 20 million coronavirus vaccines by the end of March. Johnson & Johnson shipped four million doses at the end of February and an another 1.2 million doses since. (CNN)
5/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year strategic plan for the U.S. Postal Service includes higher postage rates, slower services, and reduced post office hours. “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter?” DeJoy told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in February. “Because something has to change. We cannot keep doing the same thing we’re doing.” (NBC News / CNN / NPR / Washington Post)
6/ Lawyers for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell claimed that “no reasonable person” would believe that her false conspiracies about widespread election fraud were “statements of fact.” Powell also asked a federal court to dismiss a $1.3 billion defamation suit filed against her by Dominion Voting Systems over her conspiracy theories. (CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)
7/ The Trump administration impeded at least nine key oversight investigations, and 11 inspectors general or their senior aides said hostility to oversight reached unprecedented levels during Trump’s time in office. (Washington Post)
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