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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.
NEWS THIS MORNING
The Oprah strategy, if you will:
Amid the omicron surge, President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE just announced the purchase of more COVID-19 tests and that he will make “high-quality” masks available to Americans for free.
Watch Biden’s full update on the COVID-19 omicron variant: https://bit.ly/3zWB9Ur
The Biden administration will buy 500 million more COVID-19 tests: This is in addition to the 500 million rapid tests Biden announced in December. The tests will be available online later this month. https://bit.ly/3GsiiTJ
If you need more masks: Biden said he will make “high-quality” masks available to Americans for free. Video of Biden’s mask announcement: https://bit.ly/3rf1nO7
Sending medical reinforcements to surging states: The administration will send medical teams to six states that are surging with COVID-19 hospitalizations. https://bit.ly/3qpylMm
TIDBIT AFTER THE PRESS CONFERENCE:
The Hill’s Alex Gangitano tweeted, “As press walked out, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell asked Biden, ‘Maybe a press conference soon Mr President. We would look forward to that?’ Biden replied, ‘Me too.’ Per pooler, [TIME’s Brian Bennett]. https://bit.ly/33e0wVG
NEW POLL — LESS THAN HALF OF AMERICANS SUPPORT BIDEN’S COVID-19 RESPONSE:
Only 45 percent of registered voters approve of President Biden’s handling of the pandemic, according to a new NewsNation poll. Fifty-five percent disapprove. https://bit.ly/3HWFSrO
And on whether Americans trust the info from leaders: “Only 16 percent said they trusted information from the president on COVID-19 and 31 percent trust information from Anthony FauciAnthony Fauci Auschwitz Memorial says RFK Jr. speech at anti-vaccine rally exploits Holocaust tragedy Thousands descend on DC for anti-vaccine mandate rally Sunday shows - Russia standoff over Ukraine dominates MORE, the president’s top health adviser.”
See the full poll: https://bit.ly/3rfJHSn
‘HERE’S WHY STORE SHELVES ARE EMPTY AGAIN IN PARTS OF THE U.S.’:
Via NBC’s Phil McCausland: https://nbcnews.to/33quaXD
The gist: The omicron variant’s surge is putting even more stress on “shipping delays, congestion at ports, labor shortages and more”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.
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President Biden is heading to Capitol Hill this afternoon to huddle with Senate Democrats as they strategize passing the voting rights bills and potentially changing the filibuster to do so.
Why would Democrats need to change the filibuster?: They don’t have the votes. Sixty votes would be needed, but Republicans are unified in their opposition.
That all sounds hunky-dory. Dems can just change the filibuster!: *Insert buzzer noise* Nope. You guessed it: Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters MORE (D-Ariz.) aren’t on board with changing the filibuster — and Dems don’t have enough votes without them.
Hence today’s Capitol Hill trip: Biden is meeting with Senate Democrats to strategize and regroup.
When was the last time Biden met with Senate Democrats face to face?: July of last year, according to The Hill’s Jordain Carney.
More on what to expect from today’s meeting: https://bit.ly/3nq0WiC
LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
I’m crossing my fingers and my toes to avoid jinxing anything, but … :
There are signs that the omicron surge is peaking in parts of the U.S., according to the New York Times’s David Leonhardt. https://nyti.ms/3r8ZEcQ
In the northeast: “The number of new Covid-19 cases in New York City rose more than twentyfold in December. In the past few days, it has flattened. In both New Jersey and Maryland, the number of new cases has fallen slightly this week. In several major cities, the number is also showing signs of leveling off.”
An interesting metric in Boston: “In Boston, the amount of the Covid virus detected in wastewater, which has been a leading indicator of case trends in the past, has plunged by about 40 percent since its peak just after Jan. 1.”
Would it make sense that this is the peak?: Yes! “A huge surge in cases that lasts for about one month, followed by a rapid decline, would be consistent with the experience in some places where Omicron arrived earlier than in the U.S. In South Africa, new daily cases have fallen by about 70 percent from the mid-December peak.”
The full story in The New York Times: https://nyti.ms/3r8ZEcQ
Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 63,232,336
U.S. death toll: 844,631
Breakdown of the numbers: https://cnn.it/2UAgW3y
Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 522 million shots have been given.
Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.24 million doses
For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.
Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH
THE TALK OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Why you keep seeing gray, yellow and green blank boxes on Twitter:
An online puzzle game, Wordle, has recently gained popularity. The game releases one, five-letter word a day for all users to guess in six tries.
OK, but the blank, colored boxes?: Because all users are guessing the same word, it has become a faux pas to post that day’s answer. So, Wordle has a feature to post your final board, but with the actual letters hidden.
Gray means the letter is not in the answer. Yellow means the letter is right, but the placement is wrong. Green means the right letter in the right space.
^ Here is one of those posts: Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellSwalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down There's no such thing as 'absolute immunity' for former presidents The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden strategizes with Senate Dems MORE (D-Calif.) posted his blank board yesterday. That was close one!: https://bit.ly/3nn1d68
If you haven’t played Wordle yet, here’s the link for today’s game: https://bit.ly/3rjHWDT
THIS MADE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD:
Writer Bess Kalb tweeted, “Two years ago I pulled my own child out of my body and placed him on my goddamn chest but I’ve never felt as powerful as when I got the Wordle on line 2.” https://bit.ly/3rfL9Ef
IF YOU’RE DEEP INTO WORDLE AND WANT TO UP YOUR GAME:
Slate published, “The two best ways to win, according to crossword masters.” https://bit.ly/3zTO1KZ
^ MORE STRATEGIES FOR THE COMPETITIVE PLAYERS IN THE ROOM:
Wired published a list of “the best starting words to win at Wordle.” Here you go: https://bit.ly/34HpzAV
There it is! The snowy owl! In all its glory:
Bird watchers have been gathering around Washington, D.C.’s Union Station to see a snowy owl that has been recently seen in the area.
Photo of the owl last night, tweeted by photographer Dave Lyons: https://bit.ly/3qpexZG
From another angle: Here are people gathering to catch a glimpse of the owl, via Lilly Broadcasting’s Rachel Knapp. Watch: https://bit.ly/3fnCie5
The Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic posted a photo of military troops lining the Capitol Visitor Center a year ago now. The photo is still so jarring, though reassuring to see: https://bit.ly/3GsklqT
You know how some neighborhoods have a free book library? Well, The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel posted a photo of a “little free sled library: in Buffalo, N.Y. Photo: https://bit.ly/3Fri0ee
The House and Senate are in. President Biden is in Washington, D.C., and is heading to the U.S. Capitol this afternoon.
9:30 a.m. EST: President Biden received the President’s Daily Brief.
10:45 – 11:15 a.m. EST: First and last votes in the House. The House’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3rip4VA
1 p.m. EST: President Biden meets with Senate Democrats to discuss the voting rights bills.
2:45 p.m. EST: The Senate votes on Nord Stream 2. The Senate’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3K8rqPx
WHAT TO WATCH:
10:30 a.m. EST: President Biden delivers an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and his administration’s response. Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia GOP lawmakers press administration on US weapons left behind in Afghanistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell also attend. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3nkdw3a
3 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team Virginia's Youngkin gets the DeSantis treatment from media On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet MORE and national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanWicker: Biden comments on Ukraine caused 'distress' for both parties White House says Russia could launch attack in Ukraine 'at any point' Blinken stresses 'unshakable' US commitment to Ukraine in call with Russian counterpart MORE hold a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/34NkiYK
IN LIGHTER NEWS:
Today is National Peach Melba Day. Tbh, I had to Google what that was. It seems fine at best.
And to brighten your Thursday afternoon, her is an incredibly realistic reenactment of The Lion King: https://bit.ly/3K6oe75
^ You do need the sound for this video. ;)