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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing
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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.

 

The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Mars rover expected to land on Mars this afternoon | Live updates | Arrives after seven month, 300-million mile journey | Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Shelby endorses Shalanda Young for OMB director should Biden pull Tanden's nomination MORE traveled to Cancun amid Texas’s energy crisis | Spotted in airport photos | Reportedly returning immediately amid backlash | Robinhood, Reddit execs. Testify on GameStop | Bob Dole diagnosed with lung cancer | DCA’s new terminal opens in April 

 

HAPPENING THIS AFTERNOON

Houston, we are T-minus 3 hours and 25 minutes from landing:

Via CNN’s Ashley Strickland, NASA’s rover “Perseverance” is expected to land on Mars today. https://cnn.it/2OED3Fx 

What time: 3:55 p.m. EST 

Can we watch the landing?: Unfortunately, no. The technology is not there yet. 

But what we can follow: NASA is livestreaming coverage, commentary and a countdown to the rover’s landing. 

Tune in live — here's the livestream of the NASA rover landing coverage: It begins at 2:15 p.m. EST. https://go.nasa.gov/3k8gCV6 

NASA’S Perseverance Mars Rover had a Twitter account: Follow the live updates: https://bit.ly/3qyTu4v

FOR CONTEXT — THE TIME AND DISTANCE THIS ROVER HAS TRAVELED:

“The rover has been traveling through space since launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the end of July. When it reaches Mars, Perseverance will have traveled 292.5 million miles on its journey from Earth.” https://cnn.it/2OED3Fx

ASSUMING ALL GOES TO PLAN, WHEN WILL WE HAVE FOOTAGE FROM MARS?
“If everything goes according to plan, the rover will send back an image tomorrow that will show the view looking down on Perseverance from above. By Monday, the team hopes to release video from the same view.” More from National Geographichttps://on.natgeo.com/2NiJcab

Thanks for the update, Pers! — yeah, I’m calling it Pers for short ;)

 

Twitter feed from Mars Perseverance rover

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3s5LgRH

^ Keep in mind: Perseverance tweeted this yesterday.

IF YOU’RE NEAR A KRISPY KREME TODAY:

Krispy Kreme has created a special Mars doughnut that is only sold today.  

The doughnut: “A Chocolate Kreme-filled doughnut dipped in caramel icing with a red planet swirl and sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbs.” 

Photo — it’s beauuutifulhttps://bit.ly/2Zv2Cek

It’s Thursday! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

Did someone forward this to you? Want your own copy? Sign up here to receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox daily: http://bit.ly/2kjMNnn

GETTING TRACTION

Losing the optics game this morning: let me present the senator from Texas:

Fox News’s Tyler Olson and Paul Steinhauser confirmed social media reports that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) flew to Cancun, Mexico, with his family amid the energy crisis in his state that has left at least 20 people dead and millions without power. https://fxn.ws/3pAksaq 

The Associated Press confirmed it, toohttps://bit.ly/3qshnKV 

Here’s the photo circulating of Cruz on the flight to Cancunhttps://bit.ly/3k0Qmf6 

More photoshttps://bit.ly/3pxcOxE 

Cruz is now facing backlashhttps://bit.ly/37nddMQ

WHAT TED CRUZ TWEETED ABOUT THE CRISIS IN HIS STATE:

Cruz tweeted on Tuesday evening: “I got no defense …  A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good. Stay safe!” https://bit.ly/3ben6xG

THIS A.M.:

A source told The Associated Press that Cruz is returning immediately: “The high-profile Republican lawmaker went with his family for a long-planned trip to Cancun and was expected to return immediately, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.” https://bit.ly/3qshnKV

LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

What’s the deal with the COVID vaccines and the new variants?:

Via The Wall Street Journal’s Jared S. Hopkins, The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective in protecting against the South African COVID variant, according to new research from the New England Journal of Medicine. https://on.wsj.com/2NEm8SW

Yes, but: “The results suggest the vaccine generated a slightly lower immune response against the variant's mutations than the original strain circulating in the U.S., but was still effective at neutralizing the variant virus, according to the research. The finding is consistent with earlier research of Pfizer’s vaccine against emerging variants.”

The full storyhttps://on.wsj.com/2NEm8SW

CASE NUMBERS:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 27,829,771 

U.S. death toll: 490,775 

Breakdown of the numbershttps://cnn.it/2UAgW3y

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 57.4 million shots have been given. 

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.61 million doses

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.

Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH

IN OTHER NEWS

Just announced — Stay strong, senator!:

Former senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole announced this morning that he has been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. https://bit.ly/3awBke8

On his treatment: “My first treatment will begin on Monday.  While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own.” 

Read Dole’s announcement on Twitterhttps://bit.ly/2M0SQ0s

It’s Donald Trump’s new life mission to make Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo MORE’s life miserable:

Via The Hill’s Jonathan Easley and Juliegrace Brufke, “Allies of former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE say he’s determined to make life miserable for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) https://bit.ly/3s5YT3j

It wasn’t McConnell’s floor speech that put Trump over the edge: “Trump was prepared to give McConnell a pass, sources in his orbit stated, after he gave a blistering post-impeachment floor speech saying the former president was ‘practically and morally’ responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.”

It was McConnell’s op-ed: “McConnell’s follow-up op-ed knocking Trump in The Wall Street Journal was the final straw, provoking a blistering response in which the former president insulted McConnell and his family and threatened to back primary challengers against GOP incumbents.” 

How this could play out — it could get ugly!https://bit.ly/3s5YT3j

TIDBIT — CAPITOL POLICE RECOMMENDS LEAVING PROTECTIVE FENCING UNTIL SEPTEMBER:

Via The Associated Press’s Michael Balsamohttps://bit.ly/3dq8Vbp

NOTABLE TWEETS:

This is really sad:

 

Newseum First Amendment plates comes down

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/2OLbf2l 

Reaction from The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel: “Ah, that's too bad. One of the fun things about DC protests that marched down Pennsylvania Avenue was hearing people cheer when they saw the Godzilla-sized First Amendment text.” https://bit.ly/2NG5aDH

ON TAP:

The House and Senate are out. President BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE and Vice President Harris are in Washington, D.C. 

9:45 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief. 

10:30 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received a COVID-19 briefing. 

11:15 a.m. EST: Vice President Harris met with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden health nominee faces first Senate test Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing MORE (D-Wash.), Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats ready mammoth relief bill for 10-day sprint Senate Republicans target Democrats over school reopenings in new campaign MORE (D-Nev.), Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroDemocratic women sound alarm on female unemployment The Hill's 12:30 Report: Mars rover prepares for landing The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats ready mammoth relief bill for 10-day sprint MORE (D-Conn.), Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan MORE (D-Calif.) to discuss the COVID-19 relief package and women. 

WHAT TO WATCH:

10:45 a.m. EST: House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House House Republican attempts to appeal fine for bypassing metal detector outside chamber MORE (D-Calif.) held her weekly press conference. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/3qBp0yA 

Noon: Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev and Reddit Co-Founder Steve Huffman testify before the House Financial Services Committee on the GameStop stock surge. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/3qzknVJ 

12:30 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMore than 700 migrant children in Border Patrol custody: report Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Biden's picks face peril in 50-50 Senate MORE holds a press briefing. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/3k48i8S 

Feb. 25Jill BidenJill BidenJill Biden shares what she's looking forward to post-coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Biden leans into empathizer-in-chief role MORE gives her first solo broadcast interview as first lady on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Drink Wine Day!

Buh-bye, Gate 35X! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!:

Via Washingtonian’s Jessica Sidman, the dreaded Gate 35X at Reagan National Airport is closing and the new 14-gate concourse is set to open on April 20. Details and a video tour of the new concoursehttps://bit.ly/3ubXoT6

I didn’t mean for this section to become aviation-themed, but alas:

Via Tom Demerly of The Aviationist, National Geographic released a new documentary with a behind-the-scenes look of Air Force One and what is required to maintain the 30-year-old plane. https://bit.ly/3dqyrgv

Because it’s so old: A crew chief said that maintaining the old aircraft is "essentially like a classic car."  

The instruments are still analog: “Flight crews for the present VC-25A also showcase the analog instruments of the aircraft and the challenges in sourcing maintenance parts for the plane.” 

The full story in Business Insiderhttps://bit.ly/3dqyrgv

And because you made it this far, here’s an orangutan watching a magic trick: https://bit.ly/2ZsQjPQ 

 

Orangutan watches a magic trick