Ol Joe has got some explainin to do.
Ol' Joe has got some explainin' to do. JOSHUA LOTT/GETTY IMAGES

Virginia becomes the first Southern formerly-Confederate state to abolish the death penalty: Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill yesterday that outlawed the barbaric practice. “Justice and punishment are not always the same thing, that is too clearly evident in 400 years of the death penalty in Virginia,” Northam said before signing the legislation [emphasis mine]. In banning the death penalty, Old Dominion follows the lead of 22 other states.

Biden will hold his very first press conference today at 10:15 a.m. PST: The president intends to highlight the passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and his administration's efforts to combat the pandemic. But the press will take advantage of the situation to probe the president directly about a whole host of topics. Politico spoke to some of the journos allowed in the room this afternoon. Here's what they're interested in getting into: immigration and border security, foreign policy, whether or not he'll seek a second term, and passing voting rights legislation. Watch the conference for yourself here:

Montlake Bridge to close for a month this summer: During August, the Washington State Department of Transportation will make repairs to the 97-year-old bridge that will extend its lifespan. The agency will "replace all 84 panels of the bridge's metal grid deck" and will also replace two expansion joints, reports the Seattle P.I. The bridge will close to traffic again in the fall—but only on weekends—to replace the "25-year-old center lock to keep the bridge in alignment."

Unemployment claims are at a pandemic-era low: 684,000 filed first-time job claims last week, the first time in a year that number fell below 700,000, but still 4.5 times the claims from before the pandemic. 241,745 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance while, as of March 6, almost 19 million people "were receiving benefits of any kind from a variety of programs," reports The Hill.

The Biden administration has deported more Haitians since late January than the Trump administration did in fiscal year 2020: And how did they do it? By using a "highly controversial Trump-era public health order denying asylum seekers basic legal rights," says The Guardian. According to a new report, the Public Health Service Act allows the government to deport migrants because of the so-called "risk" they pose during the pandemic. While the Biden administration is seeking a moratorium on deportations of people already in the U.S., deportations of the newly-arrived have "increased dramatically."

More epistolary profiles please: Admittedly, the fan letter format is a little weird to settle into, but once you get it, it's sorta fun and unhinged. Take a break today and read Rachel Tashjian on New York-based painter Sam McKinniss for GQ. McKinniss—whose work you may recognize from the cover of Lorde's second album Melodrama—paints paparazzi pics, movie stills, ads, iconic moments in pop culture. His pieces never feel derivative or frivolous. Rather his paintings take their subjects seriously, building on what makes the original photo so great, so look-worthy. His thick brushstrokes make these familiar images look as if they've been rendered in buttercream. And they are just as delicious to take in:

Rachel Levine is the first out trans person to be confirmed by the Senate: She will serve as assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services. The vote was 52-48, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joining the Dems in approving her appointment.

Bicyclist killed by semi-truck in Georgetown: A U.S. Postal Service semi was making a right turn when it struck and killed a cyclist on Wednesday. Authorities say no alcohol or drugs were involved in the incident, but that the cyclist "may just have been out of the view of the driver." No word yet on the victim's name.

Cuomo resign already: In another damning New York Times report, New York governor Andrew Cuomo's family apparently received special access to government-run coronavirus testing last year when testing still wasn't widely available. Officials in his administration carried out the arrangement, allowing Cuomo's brother, Chris Cuomo, mother, and "at least one of his sisters" to access state-administered tests. This news comes on the heels of the governor's multiple sexual harassment claims and botched handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic. How much longer will he hold on?

Human remains found on land occupied by vacation rental site: On March 19, a construction worker found a human skull and bone fragments while operating an excavator at The Lookout in Chelan. After work stopped on the site, state forensic anthropologist Dr. Kathy Taylor told KING 5 that the remains belonged to a Native American. More skeletal pieces have since been located on the site, which will undergo further investigation by archaeologist working with the Colville Tribe.

A weather break:


New York looks like it's set to legalize recreational marijuana: Lawmakers have finalized a deal to be passed next week that would legalize pot for everyone over the age of 21 and will include the creation of weed-consumption sites. According to a memo obtained by CNN, The Cannabis Law would "create a new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) controlled by a Cannabis Control Board." And—get this—the bill would also legalize home grows, something our stoned state has yet to accomplish. The creation of the potential $4.2 billion industry will hopefully help quell the disparities in policing of Black and Latino communities who are unjustly targeted for low-level weed charges. Welcome to the smoke sesh, New York!

A major showdown in Echo Park last night: At least 200 protesters showed up in Los Angeles's Echo Park yesterday to stop the police from permanently clearing homeless encampments set up in the park. Police donning riot gear issued three dispersal orders, declaring the protest an "unlawful assembly." According to the L.A. Times, there were clashes "with police seen shoving some protesters and some bottles and other objects thrown at officers. Police tried to push protesters back from the park but they refused to move." The homeless people who lived in the encampment said the city did not give them ample time to find alternatives before deciding to kick them out of the park.

City-run COVID testing sites in West Seattle and Rainier Beach will switch to vaccine administration instead: Starting on March 31, the change will allow each site to vaccinate 500 more people a day, from 1,000 to 1,500, says the Seattle Times. This comes as coronavirus testing at both sites has dropped, with West Seattle giving 200 tests a day and Rainier Beach giving 100. The SoDo and Aurora testing centers, however, will continue to do drive-thru testing.

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Good luck getting on a cruise this summer: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended the cruise-ban until November 1, which will have a major economic impact in Seattle. As KOMO notes, cruise stops in the city generate "more than $4.5 million for the local economy" with whole seasons "worth nearly $900 million." Even when cruises are allowed, they'll have to contend with a Canadian port ban until February 2022. Let's give those germ boats a break.

Chrissy Teigen left Twitter: Girl, bye!

For your listening pleasure: Yves Tumor's "Kerosene!" I immediately fell in love with this song when I saw that the music video references 1996's Crash, which is one of the best movies of all time. I'm happy that Yves also recognizes Cronenberg as fundamental!