Oh nice, we're sending our surplus vaccine to neighboring countries: The U.S. has enough vaccine to give all Americans a jab, plus "tens of millions" of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on top of that. Rather than hoard all those doses until the company finally gets around to filing for authorization in the U.S., which it has yet to do, we're sending along 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million doses to Canada, according to the New York Times.
Health care advocates have been calling for the Biden administration and other rulers of rich countries to send out the surplus doses to poorer countries because it's the right thing to do, and because worldwide vaccination rates are pretty dismal. The longer people around the world remain unvaccinated, the greater the chance the virus will have to mutate in a way that renders our current vaccines useless.
And in case there's still any doubt: Europe's version of the FDA confirmed the safety of AstraZeneca today, reports to the New York Times. The agency found no evidence to support fears that the vaccine increased blood clotting, which prompted several European countries to pause their administration of the company's product this week, but regulators will add "a new warning label...so that people in the medical community can be on the lookout for a potential rare complication leading to bleeding in the brain."
Armie Hammer is under investigation for sexual assault: Gloria Allred will represent a woman who claims the actor violently raped her in 2017 "for four hours."
🚨🚨🚨 I've confirmed with the LAPD that #ArmieHammer is being investigated.
"We can confirm that Armie Hammer is the main suspect in an alleged sexual assault investigation that was initiated Feb. 3 of this year," a LAPD spokesperson tells me. https://t.co/9kYIKNZO0X
— Elizabeth Wagmeister (@EWagmeister) March 18, 2021
The U.S. has its first Latino Health Secretary: Today the Senate confirmed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to the cabinet position after the GOP spent a lot of time an energy trying to cancel him because he sued Trump a bunch, reports The Sacramento Bee. Gov. Gavin Newsome must now take a break from dealing with a recall campaign to select a replacement for Becerra. On his short list: "Assemblyman Rob Bonta, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank."
Biden trades barbs with Putin: In an interview, President Biden called Putin a "killer" after U.S. intelligence agencies found that the Russian dictator attempted to influence the election in favor of Trump. Putin literally came back with "it takes one to know one," according to the BBC, and then challenged Biden to a live debate on TV. 1) He's not wrong, but he's also... admitting that he's a killer. And 2) I guess I had no idea that Ben Shapiro was running the motherland.
Headline of the day goes to Christina Cauterucci and/or her editors at Slate: "The Atlanta Shooting Suspect Bought His Gun Faster Than a Woman in Georgia Can Get an Abortion." People must wait 24 hours before undergoing the simple medical procedure, but they don't have to wait any time at all to buy a "tool" people use in racist terrorist attacks.
Big immigration bills pass the U.S. House with bipartisan support: A bill to offer a "pathway to citizenship" for 2.5 million Dreamers and 400,000 immigrants with Temporary Protected Status passed the Democratically controlled People's house along with a bill that "would provide a path for immigrant farmworkers to get a green card," the Washington Post reports. Washington Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, who reporters keep trying to peg as some kind of resistance leader to Trump, did not join Democrats in voting for the former bill, but Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse did. The ball now rests in the court of a slow, moribund, deliberative body bent on killing anything decent.
So very relieved to see this earlier vaccine eligibility for people experiencing #homelessness who live in or access services in congregate settings: March 31, much sooner than the previous timeline of April 26. #ThisIsOurShot #VaccinateWA pic.twitter.com/QjUINfSguy
— Catherine Hinrichsen (@chinrichsenwa) March 19, 2021
Your food server can get a jab at the end of the month: Inslee sped up the vaccination eligibility timeline to include two million more Washingtonians starting March 31. On that day, restaurant workers, the homeless, and anyone between 60 and 64 years of age can schedule a shot. Inslee said he "anticipates" meeting Biden's mandate of opening eligibility to all-comers come May 1, god speed the day. The Governor also extended the eviction moratorium through June 30, which will come as a relief to over 130,000 renters who have fallen behind.
Hazard pay can stay: Today a judge dismissed a lawsuit grocery industry bosses filed to block Seattle's temporary $4 per hour wage increases for grocers, who have had to spend their work days locked inside big boxes with a bunch of germy germs over the course of the last year, the Seattle Times reports. I'm paraphrasing here, but the grocery industry was like, "You can't do this, this is totally political, so bad." And City Attorney Pete Holmes was like, "Yeah huh we absolutely can do this." And the judge was like, "Yeah, this is actually pretty reasonable given the circumstances, so it's Holmes for the win, folks."
Oh my god, no one has been a bigger baby about remote session than Sen. Doug Ericksen, who represents Ferndale. And yet, The News Tribune reports, no one in the state Senate has missed more mandatory votes than he has: 131 of them, to be exact. One big reason he's missed so many votes? A week-long trip to El Salvador in the middle of a pandemic to watch the election of an authoritarian. As for the reason why he missed 37 other votes? He wouldn't say. And all of this from a Senator who argues that legislating by Zoom disenfranchises his voters whenever his connection cuts out for a few minutes. Oof, I long for the days when hypocrisy still mattered.
By the way, if you haven't tuned into his "news" show, The Eriksen Report, which aims to "fuse together Reaganism and Trumpism into one clear pathway forward for Washington state," then you're missing out on absolutely nothing.
Soup Nazi shop in Everett sees a little smashy-smashy: King 5 reports on some vandalism at a new but unopened restaurant inspired by a famous sketch from a Seinfeld episode. The "edgy" shop's website featured "a cartoon image of a young woman in Nazi clothing," but that image has since been deleted, probably because making light of the Holocaust was just way too funny for people ha ha ha go fuck yourself. The TV station couldn't get ahold of the owner, Andrew Ho, but they quote a troubling blog post from him:
Ho, however, posted information to a blog, saying the business was 'created in response to the lockdown.' He said he is standing up to censorship 'before everything and everyone is canceled.'
Ho added, 'white supremacy is not on the rise' but nationalism is, which he called a 'reasonable response to globalism.'
After a long delay, the Regional Homeless Authority finally picked its leader: According to the Seattle Times, Marc Dones will now have to figure out how to steer a ship loaded up with people who have good and progressive ideas for tackling the homelessness crisis and also people who want to ban homeless people from getting to sleep. I wish them way more than luck.