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DEMS KEEP ON PUSHING: The Democratic chairs of key House committees on Friday called on Congress to send $4 billion to states to allow for mail-in voting and other efforts to conduct elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the right to vote “may be in jeopardy” without action.
House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLofgren: Many Jan. 6 panel witnesses are former Trump officials One congressional committee is rejecting partisanship to protect state votes Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — China's president to video in for climate confab MORE (D-Calif.), House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyFormer Washington Football Team cheerleaders, employees to protest outside stadium Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-N.Y.), House Administration subcommittee on Elections Chairwoman Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeButtigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package Black Caucus eager to see BBB cross finish line in House MORE (D-Ohio), and Reps. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Trump allies leaning on his executive privilege claims Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City MORE (D-Md.) and Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchLawmakers seek answers on armed services' plans to address gun tracking Left warns Pelosi they'll take down Biden infrastructure bill Pelosi signals she won't move .5T bill without Senate-House deal MORE (D-Mass.) criticized Congress for not doing enough to prevent barriers to vote this year.
“Without decisive action by Congress, the coronavirus crisis may exacerbate dangerous impediments for voters, including closed or restricted access to polling places and public health restrictions that deter voter participation — all of which could result in depressed voter turnout that undermines the will of the American people and degrades confidence in our elections,” the House members said in a joint statement.
Limited funding on the way: The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE last month included $400 million to assist states conduct elections during the COVID-19 crisis.
The amount was far lower than the $4 billion proposed in the House version of that bill rolled out by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (D-Calif.) and supported by Lofgren. The House version would also have imposed requirements on states on how to use the funds, including expanding early in-person voting and ensuring every voter had the ability to vote by mail.
The version ultimately signed into law was the Senate version, which did not include any requirements on how the funds could be used, and required states to match the funding by 20 percent. The House Democratic leaders on Friday strongly criticized the funding match requirement.
“These funds must be free from burdensome matching requirements that prevent states from quickly deploying resources where they are urgently needed,” the House Democrats said. “Vote-by-mail and early voting options are commonsense and tested solutions that will both protect public health and the fundamental American right to vote.”
SUSPENDED: Amazon has suspended more than 6,000 vendors, totaling more than 500,000 listings, from its website for price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic, CEO and founder Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosDorsey's exit shakes up Twitter future The dangers of anarchy in space Health risks of space tourism: Is it responsible to send humans to Mars? MORE told investors Thursday.
This comes after Amazon in a blog post last month said it had suspended over 3,900 vendors on its U.S. site.
"Amazon turned over information about sellers we suspect engaged in price gouging of products related to COVID-19 to 42 state attorneys general offices," Bezos wrote in the letter to investors.
"To accelerate our response to price-gouging incidents, we created a special communication channel for state attorneys general to quickly and easily escalate consumer complaints to us," he added.
Comes after previous criticism: The company has received criticism during the pandemic for the lack of availability of essential goods such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
Also in the letter, Bezos said that mass global testing would be needed to “get the economy back up and running" after the pandemic.
"If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus," he wrote. "Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence."
THAT SOUNDS CONCERNING: Google saw more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to the novel coronavirus on its service per day last week, the company revealed Thursday.
That figure is in addition to the nearly 240 million coronavirus-related daily spam messages it sees.
The malware and phishing attacks on Gmail "use both fear and financial incentives to create urgency to try to prompt users to respond," the company said in a blog post.
Google shared examples of scammers posing as the World Health Organization (WHO) to "solicit fraudulent donations or distribute malware," as administrators targeting employees working from home and as government agents trying to get information to process stimulus checks.
The company says its machine learning software has been able to "block more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware."
HOUSTON, WE HAVE LIFT OFF: NASA announced Friday that its historic SpaceX launch will take place May 27 of this year at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The launch marks the first flight of NASA crews from the U.S. since 2011 and the first launch of a rocket owned by a private company: SpaceX, the commercial space company founded by Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskElon Musk warns SpaceX employees of bankruptcy risk if Starship engine production doesn't increase: report Microsoft CEO Nadella sells off nearly 0 million in shares of the company The dangers of anarchy in space MORE.
The news comes as NASA struggles to maintain a consistent presence on the International Space Station, paying Russia $83 million per seat for a ride to the station, as U.S. shuttles have been retired, according to The Washington Post.
NASA has assigned two of its most experienced astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, to the upcoming SpaceX mission. It’s unclear how long the mission will take.
MUSK MESS UP: Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk last month announced that his company purchased 1,255 FDA-approved ventilators from Chinese oversupply and shipped them to hospitals in Los Angeles to help treat COVID-19 patients.
However, four of the hospitals on the list told CNN that instead of the sought-after ventilators, they received bilevel positive airway pressure (biPAP) and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines from the billionaire and his electric car company.
"We received six CPAPs and we are very grateful for the gift," a spokesperson for Sonoma Valley Hospital told the network.
The news comes after California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom pledges increased spending on busting retail crime rings The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Shipwreck sends waste thousands of miles MORE's (D) office reported on Thursday that the ventilators Musk promised never made it to their destinations. At the time, Musk responded by tweeting a list of the hospitals that he said he sent the ventilators to and asked Newsom to fix the "misunderstanding."
Kathleen Piché, director of public information for the L.A. County Department of Health Services, noted that the machines had "been distributed to hospitals in our system and are being used as intended."
"These units are used for breathing and airway support, reducing the need for certain patients to be placed on mechanical ventilation," she said.
A lighter click: Thank u Reddit
An op-ed to chew on: Women are essential helpers during crises — but they need access to the internet
Notable links around the web:
In Trump's 'LIBERATE' tweets, extremists see a call to arms (NBC News / Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny)
Bill Gates, at Odds With Trump on Virus, Becomes a Right-Wing Target (New York Times / Daisuke Wakabayashi, Davey Alba and Marc Tracy)
Zoom Has a Google Problem (Gizmodo / Shoshana Wodinsky)
Steve Bonnell Made Big Bucks Following a Simple Plan: Play Video Games. Troll Your Fans. Fight the Online Right. (Mother Jones / Ali Breland)