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  • April 9, 2021: Intel report sees dire future
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    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    A forward-looking report released every four years by the US intelligence community notes a number of worrisome global trends. The pandemic is only one of them.

    Meanwhile, we’ve got news on the union election at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Did Amazon break the rules and taint the results by having the Postal Service install a special mailbox for ballots?

    And lastly, the White House rolled out several new gun control measures yesterday. There were also at least two more mass shootings, in South Carolina and Texas.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    The forecast is not sunshine and rainbows, folks. The Associated Press reports that US intelligence officials are painting a dark picture of the world’s future, writing in a report released yesterday that the coronavirus pandemic has deepened economic inequality, strained government resources and fanned nationalist sentiments. Those assessments are included in a Global Trends report by the government’s National Intelligence Council. The reports, produced every four years, are designed to help policymakers and citizens anticipate the economic, environmental, technological and demographic forces likely to shape the world through the next twenty years. This year’s report focuses heavily on the impact of the pandemic, calling it the most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political, and security implications that will ripple for years to come.

    Nations in different parts of the world set new records yesterday for Covid-19 deaths and new infections, according to the AP. The report says, "Covid-19 has shaken long-held assumptions about resilience and adaptation and created new uncertainties about the economy, governance, geopolitics, and technology."

    The document finds cause for concern in virtually all aspects of life, the AP reports. It warns, for instance, that the effects of climate change are likely to worsen the problem of food and water insecurity in poor countries and hasten global migration. Though health, education and household prosperity have made historic improvements in recent decades, that progress will

    be hard to sustain because of "headwinds," not only from the effects of the pandemic but also aging populations and potentially slower economic growth. The report also warns of eroding trust in government and institutions. Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem if they did a better job of looking after people.

    Here’s what we know about the hottest labor story in the country. The first ballots counted in a closely watched bid to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama were heavily against the effort, according to an unofficial tally of the results by the New York Times. The union seeking to represent workers said there were three thousand two hundred and fifteen ballots cast – or about fifty five percent of the roughly fifty eight hundred workers who were eligible to vote. Hundreds of ballots are being contested, mostly by Amazon, according to the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. Responding to the early results, union president Stuart Appelbaum said the system is broken and, "Amazon took full advantage of that."

    As of 7 PM Eastern time yesterday, the Times’ unofficial tally counted four hundred fifty six Yes votes and one thousand and eighty four No votes. Counting resumes today. One thousand six hundred and eight votes are needed for the union to win. Union elections are typically held in person, but the labor board determined that the election should be conducted by mail to minimize risks during the pandemic.

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that emails among US Postal Service employees show that Amazon pressed the agency to install a mailbox outside its Bessemer warehouse, a move the union contends is a violation of labor laws. The union has complained about the mailbox, which the Postal Service installed just before the start of mail-in balloting for the union election in early February. It has argued that the mailbox could lead workers to think Amazon has some role in collecting and counting ballots, which could influence their votes. Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox said the mailbox’s placement was intended to make voting easy. They’re just trying to help! Sure.

    President Joe Biden announced an array of executive actions yesterday intended curb gun violence, following pressure from activists and fellow Democrats in the aftermath of two recent mass shootings, the Washington Post reports. The president announced new rules on firearms that are assembled at home, which lack serial numbers and are harder to track, among other moves designed to make it harder for unqualified people to obtain dangerous weapons. Biden also named David Chipman as his pick to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman is an adviser to a gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely injured in a mass shooting in 2011.

    Biden’s moves come amid growing impatience from gun control activists that the administration has not acted more quickly, the Post reports. Biden promised he would take action to limit gun violence on the first day of his administration, but that fell by the wayside. The issue of gun violence moved the forefront after the two mass shootings, one in the Atlanta area in which eight people were killed and another in Colorado, where ten were killed.

    It never ends. The AP reports that one person was killed and four wounded yesterday in a shooting at a cabinet-making business in Bryan, Texas. And at least five people are dead, including two children, in what police in York County, South Carolina, yesterday called a mass shooting, according to the Post. The AP and Charlotte Observer reported that the suspect, who was identified as former National Football League player Phillip Adams, killed himself. Adams’s father, Alonzo, told a regional NBC affiliate that his son had been, "a good kid. I think the football messed him up." So, he should’ve never had a gun.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, a medical expert testified at former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial yesterday, according to the AP. The testimony emphatically rejected the defense theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems were what killed him. If Chauvin walks after all this, expect big protests.

    The Guardian reports that rioters were blasted with a water cannon by police as unrest stirred on the streets of Northern Ireland. After calls for calm this week, violence again flared up on the streets of west Belfast last night. Officers were seen being pelted with missiles before charging youths with dogs in order to drive them off. President Biden yesterday joined British and Irish leaders in calling for peace.

    Transgender rights activist and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner and her advisers are gathering at her Malibu home next week to discuss her potential candidacy in the upcoming California gubernatorial recall election, Politico reports. Jenner has brought aboard a team of seasoned GOP strategists including Ryan Erwin, a former top official at the California Republican Party, and Brad Parscale, a former campaign manager to Donald Trump. A poll released last week showed support for removing Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is well short of a majority.

    The New York Times reports that Joel Greenberg, a former local official in Florida who faces an array of federal charges, including a sex trafficking count, is expected to plead guilty in the coming weeks. The news is an indication that the defendant could cooperate as a key witness against Representative Matt Gaetz, who is under investigation.

    APRIL 9 , 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • April 8, 2021: Biden moves against Russian pipeline
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    April 2, 2021: Matt Gaetz Under investigation

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Amid pressure from Congress, the Biden administration is trying to scuttle a Russian gas pipeline through Europe before the project is finished. But Germany wants the pipeline to happen, so it’s very tricky diplomacy.

    Meanwhile, European medical regulators now concede that there is a slight risk of blood clots with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Although the vaccine is still considered safe and effective, Britain is recommending that people under thirty take another shot, just in case.

    And lastly, many lawmakers and economists are pushing for another round of stimulus checks for Americans – or even recurring payments. Is the White House listening?

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    President Joe Biden remains knee deep in sticky European pipeline politics. The White House is in talks to appoint a special envoy to lead negotiations on halting the construction of Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream Two, according to Politico. The Biden administration is grappling with how to stymie a nearly completed energy project that would serve as a major financial and geopolitical boon to Moscow. Amos Hochstein, who served as the coordinator for international energy affairs under President Barack Obama, was informally offered the role late last month. Hochstein, who stepped down from the supervisory board of the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz late last year, declined to comment.

    Politico reports that senators from both parties have been pushing the Biden administration to cripple the pipeline before it’s too late. Republican Senator Ted Cruz has held up speedy confirmation of Biden’s top State Department nominees as part of that effort. In a recent private meeting, Cruz pressed Victoria Nuland, Biden’s pick to lead the State Department’s political affairs office, about the possibility of appointing an envoy to handle the matter.

    While it is not yet clear what the envoy’s exact mandate would be, Politico reports, the role would at least initially be focused on managing delicate negotiations over how to impede the pipeline without alienating a key US ally in Berlin. The administration wants to impede Moscow’s energy leverage but it also wants to strengthen the US relationship with Germany,

    which has been lobbying Washington for the pipeline’s construction to continue unabated. But US lawmakers from both parties have argued that the pipeline would make some European countries more dependent on Russian energy, while depriving Ukraine of billions of dollars in revenue. Ah, so it’s about money. Who could’ve guessed?

    Here’s the latest vaccine update. Unusual blood clots should be listed as very rare side effects of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, Europe’s main drug regulator said yesterday, according to NBC News. Emer Cooke, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency, said that the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot overall outweigh the risks of side effects. The vaccine has proved to be highly effective, she said at a news briefing, adding that it prevented severe disease and hospitalization and is saving lives. However, Cooke added that after a very in-depth analysis, the regulator had concluded that, "the reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine."

    NBC reports that because of a very small number of blood clots in younger people reported in the UK, Britain's vaccines advisory body said yesterday that it was recommending that those under the age of thirty should be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine to the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine, where one is available. In a separate statement, the EMA said that blood clots should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria, the official name of the AstraZeneca vaccine. So far, most of the cases reported have occurred in women under sixty years of age within two weeks of vaccination, the statement added. Meanwhile, Doctor Sabine Straus, the chair of the EMA's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee, said at yesterday’s briefing that the currently available data, "did not allow us to identify a definite cause for these complications." She added that no specific risk factors could be identified. More research would be conducted, she said. Hopefully this news doesn’t deter anyone from getting vaccinated. Regardless, we’ll keep bringing you the best information we can find.

    Expert opinion says the government could be doing a lot more to help people right now. The IRS has issued one hundred and fifty six million payments in the third round of direct stimulus aid, with twenty five million people this week in line to receive the $1,400 checks, CBS News reports. But some lawmakers are pushing for a fourth round of stimulus aid that would send recurring payments until the pandemic ends. So far, the federal response to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has delivered $3,200 to each eligible adult. Despite that financial assistance, millions of Americans remain in financial distress, with about four in ten people saying their income remains below its pre-pandemic levels. Unemployment remains elevated. For many people, in short, the latest round of $1,400 checks may not last long.

    Twenty-one senators – all Democrats – signed a March 30 letter to Biden in support of recurring stimulus payments, CBS reports. While the letter doesn't specify how large the payments the senators are seeking, a separate effort from Democratic lawmakers in January pushed for $2,000 monthly checks until the pandemic ends. Some top economists have called for more direct aid to Americans. More than one hundred and fifty economists, including former Obama administration economist Jason Furman, signed a letter last year that argued for recurring direct stimulus payments, lasting until the economy recovers.

    The economy is expected to rebound this year thanks to rising Covid-19 vaccination rates and as states start to reopen, according to CBS. That could diminish the rationale for the government offering more direct aid, especially if the jobless rate recovers and more workers come off the sidelines. But in the meantime, people are hurting – and Biden’s big infrastructure package doesn’t include the direct aid that so many need. Give us cash!

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    The Virginia General Assembly agreed yesterday to make it legal for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana on July 1, nearly three years sooner than had been approved by the legislature in February, according to the Washington Post. Indeed, why wait?

    The Post reports that testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin resumed yesterday in Minneapolis. The former officer’s defense team argued that George Floyd saying, I can’t

    breathe, while police attempted to load him into the squad car was a form of resisting arrest. I honestly don’t understand how these people can look at themselves in the mirror.

    The Defense Department announced Tuesday that it would retain the Trump administration’s policy and keep antipersonnel land mines in its arsenal, reserving the right to use them in war, the New York Times reports. The announcement drew swift condemnation from human rights groups. For some reason they don’t respect America’s right to defend itself by maiming children around the world.

    Mike Pence has signed a multimillion-dollar, two-book deal with publisher Simon and Schuster, CNN reports. The former Indiana governor and vice president is making moves to suggest he could run for president in 2024. Yesterday Pence announced he was launching a new political advocacy group called Advancing American Freedom. Larry Kudlow is on board. Bottoms up! And, uh, praise the lord, I guess. It’s mandatory.

    APRIL 8 , 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • April 7, 2021: Security officials demand 1/6 Commission
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    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Top former national security officials are calling on Congress to establish an independent commission to investigate the January 6th Capitol insurrection. The threat of a repeat performance, they say, is growing.

    Meanwhile, Arkansas becomes the first state to ban many medical procedures for transgender youth. State lawmakers even overrode a governor’s veto in their campaign to take away rights from vulnerable people.

    And lastly, both sides appear pleased with progress so far in talks to re-engage a US nuclear deal with Iran, after Trump trashed it. The original deal was one of the Obama administration’s greatest hits.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Impeachment wasn’t enough. CBS News reports that precisely three months after the January 6 assault on the Capitol, dozens of former senior national security, military and elected officials from both sides of the aisle urged lawmakers in Congress to establish an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the attack. The letter, signed by one hundred and forty officials, encourages Congress to not only investigate the direct causes of the insurrection, but to make recommendations to prevent future assaults. The long list of officials includes nearly two dozen ambassadors, six former senators, four former secretaries of homeland security and two members of the 9/11 Commission. The letter warned of an exigent and growing threat to the American public.

    Last month, CBS reports, US intelligence agencies issued a joint assessment of the national security threat posed by domestic violent extremism. An unclassified summary of the report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said domestic terrorism poses an elevated threat in 2021. It predicted that social and political factors, including the coronavirus pandemic and the emboldening impact of the insurrection, will almost certainly spur domestic extremists to engage in further violence.

    But according to CBS, congressional efforts to create an independent commission have stalled. They hit a snag in February as Democrats and Republicans disagreed over the scope and structure of the review. Unable to find common ground on an independent commission, seven House Committees launched an investigation into the federal government's handling of the attack in late March. The former officials who signed yesterday’s letter warned that failure to establish such a commission would "leave the Capitol, and the nation, vulnerable to future attacks." As if regular mass shootings didn’t make that obvious.

    Bad news for trans youth, their families and friends: Arkansas state legislators voted yesterday to pass the nation’s first law banning gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender minors, overriding a veto from their governor and intense opposition from major medical organizations across the country, the Washington Post reports. Arkansas legislators voted twenty five to eight in the Senate and seventy one to twenty four in the House to override the veto from Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson. The new legislation would prohibit doctors from providing transgender minors with medical care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies and transition-related surgeries, and from referring them for such treatments. The bill is part of a Republican-led wave of similar legislation in at least seventeen other states seeking to restrict access to medical treatments for transgender minors.

    A day earlier, the Post reports, Hutchinson had stunned advocates by issuing a veto of the ban, calling it a vast government overreach. He said that if signed into law, the bill would interfere with physicians and parents "as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people." He cited opposition from leading national medical associations that said denying access to such medical care could jeopardize the mental health of an already vulnerable community. But state legislators voted to pass the bill anyway, setting the stage for a potential legal battle.

    Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to challenge the ban in court, according to the Post. Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said state legislators are waging a discriminatory crusade against trans youth. She said "This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over – and we’re in it for the long haul." And, hopefully, other states will hold the line.

    Some promising diplomatic news: Iran said initial talks yesterday in Vienna on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal were constructive, according to the Washington Post. Iranian and American envoys are seeking a road map to lift US sanctions and bring Tehran back to its commitments under the accord. Iran's lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, characterized the talks as on the right track. However, reiterating the Iranian demand that US sanctions be lifted in one step, he added, "It's too soon to say it has been successful."

    A US team led President Joe Biden's special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, was in the Austrian capital for the discussions – which are expected to continue on Friday, the Post reports. But Malley did not meet directly with Iran, setting up camp in a different hotel. For the US, the core issue is having Iran scale back its uranium enrichment to levels outlined in the nuclear deal. Iran wants an end to sanctions placed by the Trump administration after withdrawing from the accord in 2018. But the two sides have been at loggerheads over who takes the first step. European diplomats say they will negotiate a list of moves for each side in parallel, to overcome the arguments over which side acts first.

    Enrique Mora, the European coordinator for the talks, tweeted that he would intensify separate contacts with all relevant parties, including the US, according to the Post. Backers of the pact see an urgency to get it back on track: the dwindling time before Iran is expected to be able to produce enough fissile material for a potential nuclear weapon, alongside approaching elections in Iran. Iran has said for decades it does not want nuclear weapons. Which should simplify this process, if only anyone believed it.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    President Joe Biden announced yesterday that he’s bumping up his deadline by two weeks for states to make all adults in the US eligible for coronavirus vaccines, the Associated Press reports. Now every adult will be eligible by April 19 to get in a virtual line to be vaccinated. Biden also said no one should fear mutations of the coronavirus that are showing

    up in the US. He acknowledged that the new strains are more virulent and dangerous, but said "the vaccines work on all of them." That’s a relief.

    Ukraine’s president has called on Nato to hasten his country’s membership into the western military alliance in response to a growing buildup of Russian forces on his country’s borders, the Guardian reports. Russia has not denied the troop movements but insisted it was "not threatening anyone." Oh, so they’re just sightseeing.

    Embattled National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre feared for his safety after mass shootings in recent years, forcing him to take refuge aboard a friend's luxury yacht, NBC News reports. LaPierre made the admission in a deposition connected to the NRA's bankruptcy case in Dallas. With any luck he’s prone to seasickness.

    Politico reports that Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, mired in an ongoing federal sex trafficking investigation, is headed to Donald Trump’s resort in Doral this Friday, where he will be a featured speaker at a summit hosted by a pro-Trump women’s group. Women For America First says on its website that "We won’t be pushed around by bullies who tell us who we are supposed to like." Their freak flags are flying high, folks.

    APRIL 7, 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • April 6, 2021: Democrats Actually Raising Taxes
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    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    The Democrats are preparing to finally raise some taxes: setting their sights on big multinational companies as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calls for a global minimum rate for corporations.

    Meanwhile, the doctor who pronounced George Floyd dead testified that Floyd likely died of oxygen deprivation, striking a blow against alleged killer cop Derek Chauvin’s defense.

    And lastly, the disparity between vaccinations in rich and poor countries is becoming more stark, as the U.S. vaccinates 4 million in one day while Haiti lacks even a single dose.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    You heard it here first: the Democrats are actually going to try to raise some taxes. Probably not your taxes, however, unless you happen to be a millionaire or a multinational corporation.

    On Monday, a trio of Senators and the Biden Administration started unveiling plans to overhaul the U.S. corporate tax system, particularly focusing on multinational corporations and the highest earners in the economy.

    Biden’s Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also jumped in, coming out in favor of an international global minimum tax, which would help cut down on corporations who stick their headquarters in some backwater tax haven to save money.

    In the U.S., President Biden proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, a 7 point jump from where it was but still far shy of the 35 percent that it was at before Trump. And in Congress, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and fellow tax writers Sherrod Brown and Mark Warner put out a proposal that mirrored most of Biden’s plan, but delved further into the details of international corporate taxes.

    In other words, the details still have to be hammered out, but it appears that the Biden administration is serious about making at least some incremental gains on the laissez faire, tax cut happy system Donald Trump enabled. Biden said, “You have 51 or 52 corporations of the Fortune 500 that haven’t paid a single penny in taxes for three years. Come on, man. Let’s get real.”

    The hope in all this, of course, is that a bump in tax revenue from big corporations could help finance Biden’s ambitious infrastructure bill, which is expected to cost around $2 trillion. And we know for sure that the bloated corporations that got even richer under Trump certainly have that to spare.

    The emergency room physician who pronounced George Floyd dead testified in the murder trial for former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin today, saying that Floyd likely died of oxygen deprivation.

    Doctor Bradford Langenfeld’s testimony puts a major hole in the core of Chauvin’s defense, which has sought to blame Floyd’s death on substances in his system, and not on the fact that Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes.

    Langenfeld testified that Floyd’s condition of heart failure was more consistent with a lack of oxygen to the body, rather than another acute cause like a heart attack.

    Later that day, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand, and said unequivocally that Chauvin should have stopped pinning Floyd to the ground. Arradondo has previous called Floyd’s death murder, so it’s clear why the prosecution wanted him on the stand.

    But despite the wealth of evidence against him, and the way that witness testimony is trending, prosecutors still have a tough task ahead to convict Chauvin.

    Reporting from the Washington Post this week showed that only around 1,400 officers were arrested for a violent crime committed on duty between 2005 and 2015. And when they were arrested, the conviction rate was just around 50 percent, even for the most serious crimes like murder.

    Let’s hope that the jury comes down on the right side of that coin toss this time.

    As the vaccine rollout roars through America, the divide between rich nations and poor ones is getting even steeper. On Saturday, more than 4 million Americans received a dose of the coronavirus vaccine, breaking prior records and showing just how quickly the rollout is picking up steam.

    But in Haiti, for instance, after a year of the pandemic the government doesn’t have a single dose of the vaccine available for its citizens.

    The Associated Press reports that Haiti, which has a population of 11.26 million, is slated to receive only 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through a United Nations program. They were supposed to get those doses by May, but may see delays after missing paperwork deadlines.

    Part of this is due to misappropriation of funds and corruption in the Haitian government, the sad result of a political crisis the U.S. had a large hand in creating. And AP also reported that current political violence supersedes the coronavirus on most Haitians’ list of worries, something that’s been reported in other unstable countries like Afghanistan.

    The fact that Haiti and countries like it don’t have access to the vaccine or the infrastructure to distribute it properly is an international scandal, brought on as richer countries monopolized doses early on in the pandemic by simply out-bidding everyone else in the game.

    As those countries, including our own, start to approach normal again, the inequality already present across the world is only going to get worse, as impoverished areas deal with the pandemic far longer than the developed world.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, of all people, offered a concurrent opinion in a court ruling on Monday that argued that social media companies should be treated and regulated like public utilities. Of course, part of his reasoning was that Donald Trump’s twitter ban was unfair, so you know what they say about broken clocks.

    Arkansa Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed a bill on Monday that would make it illegal for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming medication or surgery, in a rare example of a conservative sticking up for the rights of trans people. But his GOP-heavy state legislature could override the veto.

    Nina Turner, longtime surrogate for Bernie Sanders, posted a massive fundraising haul in her race for a Congressional seat in Ohio, raising $2.2 million total and a whopping $1.55 million in the first quarter of this year.

    The Intercept reports on a surreal case of police hypocrisy, where officers in Thurston County Washington fundraised tens of thousands from the public for one of their police dogs medical bills, without admitting that their own cops were the one who shot the poor pooch.

    APRIL 6 , 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • April 5, 2021: Documents Show Immigration Surge
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    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    The Biden administration apprehended more than 170,000 immigrants at the southern border in March, the most in more than a year, as the government continues to let children and adults seeking refuge languish in prison-like conditions.

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the next housing bubble may be rapidly inflating, as major investors are snapping up single-family homes and even entire subdivisions, competing with normal people and driving prices way above their actual value.

    And lastly, The New York Times reports that Donald Trump had one final humiliation in store for his deluded followers: many of them who thought they made one-time donations were instead milked for recurring payments to the campaign.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Government documents obtained by the New York Times show that the Biden administration apprehended more than 170,000 migrants at the southwest border last month.

    The surge in migration is fueled by a number of factors: the perception that Biden will be less barbaric than Trump, the changing weather, the state of conflicts and crises in Central America.

    Of those, the first factor appears to be only half true. While the Biden administration has abandoned some of Trump’s overtly evil policies, the conditions that children and families are subjected to in CBP and ICE custody are still abhorrent.

    The current surge, the Times reports, is causing several problems. The number of unaccompanied minors is still high, making the government fall behind on transferring children to more comfortable facilities.

    The other issue, the Times reports, is that there’s also been a surge of complete family units. For most of the beginning of his term, Biden was still using Trump ruling to turn away families and single adults, leaving them in Mexico and admitting only children. But Mexico doesn’t want to play by those rules anymore. Out of necessity, that’s made the Biden administration do something immigration hawks hate: just releasing people to go meet their other relatives instead of detaining them.

    Of course, the GOP is busy trying to weaponize this against Biden as much as possible -- but there’s no situation on the border that they wouldn’t try to exploit. What progressives need to stay focused on is making sure that the people who arrive here seeking a better life get treated like the human beings they are.

    The Wall Street Journal reports on a distressing new trend: big investors are gobbling up U.S. real estate, inflating prices far beyond the average consumer’s means and puffing up a bubble in the housing market.

    If that sounds familiar to anyone, well, buckle up.

    The Journal reports that big investors including pension funds and private equity vultures are snatching up whole subdivisions of single-family homes, attempting to capitalize on surging prices to rent them at a profit or flip them for more.

    What this means is actual human home-buyers are competing with the offering power of Wall Street, and for the most part they can’t keep up. Those who do manage to buy, of course, are running the same risk that homeowners ran in the mid-2000s, where they got locked into mortgages that were worth far more than their house’s actual value.

    And we saw what happens when millions of Americans are in that position.

    In Houston, for example, 24% of new home purchases were by investors, not actual families, according to data from one consulting firm. They’re specifically targeting the kind of middle-class homes that got hit hard in the last crisis -- ones that aren’t too expensive and in good school districts, for example.

    The Journal reports that this speculative bubble still has more room to fill -- but when it bursts, we know it’s not the fat cats on Wall Street who will be left in the lurch.

    The Times has one more big scoop for us this morning. This time, we’re talking Trump again. Sure, the monster has been out of the big house for a few months, but considering his continued influence in the GOP it’s important to remember what he’s capable of.

    This time, it’s some rudimentary scamming of his own supporters. The Times reports that many supporters who donated to the Trump campaign through the third-party service it used to process contributions were tricked into recurring payments instead of one-time gifts.

    It’s the oldest trick in a scammers book, almost. The Times reports that in September of last year, as the Democrats were outspending and hammering Trump on every front, the campaign and its donation company made recurring payments the default for any contribution that came in, forcing people to read through fine print and opt-out to make a one-time payment.

    You can imagine how many people that nabbed. And to make things worse, the campaign also introduced a second prechecked option online, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution.

    The Times investigation is expansive, and also shows that the Trump campaign was eventually forced to refund over 10 percent of the money it collected through these methods. But that’s certainly much less than it dishonestly took in -- and the only thing left to learn is whether the people in charge will face any actual consequences.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Amazon’s thoroughly-humiliated PR department apologized to Rep. Mark Pocan on Friday for lying about their track record of forcing employees to pee in bottles while on the clock after a Motherboard investigation caught them out. But their apology was, of course, insincere, as it ended with a list of articles about other companies who also work employees so hard they can’t find bathrooms easily. Nice deflection there!

    With more than one in 10 households reporting that they lack enough to eat, the Times reports that the Biden administration is accelerating a vast campaign of hunger relief that will temporarily increase food assistance by tens of billions of dollars, hopefully setting the stage for further permanent expansions of federal aid programs.

    The Intercept reports that oil pipeline giant Energy Transfer recently subpoenaed members of the nonprofit news organization Unicorn Riot, which was instrumental in covering the Standing Rock movement, seeking a wide range of documents, including newsgathering materials that would identify sources. If that sounds like a troubling act of retribution against the free press, well, that’s because it is.

    The Associated Press reports that the U.S. military has closed the notorious Camp 7 facility at guantanamo bay, which housed prisoners who were straight from CIA black sites. Those prisoners were moved to another part of the facility, which is still holding 40 people overall, so while Biden says he wants to close the whole facility, it’s not happening any time soon.

    April 5, 2021 - AM Quickie

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • April 2, 2021: Beltway Lobbyists Defend Drug Traffickers
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    08:32

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    A top Washington lobbying firm took up the cause of a powerful accused drug trafficker. With murder, cocaine, and bribery, it’s all a bit more than business as usual.

    Meanwhile, it seems like nobody’s coming to the defense of Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is under investigation for illegally grooming a seventeen-year-old girl. Now, if the allegations are true, he stands to lose his committee assignments – and more.

    And lastly, Democrats have been calling on Joe Biden to cancel student debt. Though he’s signaled reluctance before, there’s now some indication he might actually do it.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    The Washington Post brings us this story of exceptionally scummy Beltway lobbying. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández’s government retained a powerhouse Washington law firm to lobby US prosecutors to call off a state-sponsored drug trafficking probe of his brother, who was sentenced this week for smuggling one hundred and eighty five tons of cocaine into the United States. Prosecutors cited the failed September 2019 influence campaign by Arnold and Porter Kaye Scholer LLP – along with the murder of four people linked to the investigation – in urging stiff punishment for Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández. US District Judge Kevin Castel of Manhattan sided with prosecutors, sentencing Hernández on Tuesday to life in prison plus thirty years and a $158 million fine.

    According to the Post, Honduras in September 2019 retained a US law firm to lobby the prosecution team. Prosecutors did not name the firm, but Arnold and Porter separately disclosed the relationship. One of the most elite and prominent white-shoe firms in Washington, Arnold and Porter counts as alumni former Supreme Court nominee and current US Attorney General Merrick Garland and former CIA general counsel Jeffrey Smith. Assistant US Attorneys Amanda Houle, Matthew Laroche and Jason Richman said they gave out no information and did not alter their trial presentation because of the firm’s campaign.

    Prosecutors also cited the lobbying campaign among alleged obstruction efforts, the Post reports. Those efforts included the murders of a suspected US informant in a Honduran maximum security prison. In a sentencing filing, prosecutors wrote that Juan Antonio Hernández reaped blood money and trafficked drugs on a monumental scale in his violence- ravaged country, and funneled millions of dollars in bribes to politicians. A spokeswoman said Arnold and Porter declined to comment. Gee, I wonder why.

    Gaetz could face ethics investigation

    Here’s an update on one of the creepiest guys in Congress. Representative Matt Gaetz, facing accusations of a sexual relationship with an underage girl, should at a minimum be removed from the House Judiciary Committee if the claims are true, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, according to the Associated Press. Pelosi also said the House Ethics Committee should consider the allegations against the Florida Republican. Gaetz, thirty eight, who has been one of Donald Trump’s closest allies since coming to Congress in 2017, has said the accusations are false. The Justice Department has also been examining whether Gaetz has had relationships with other underage girls. Investigators are trying to determine whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws.

    Gaetz has so far received little vocal support from his fellow Republicans, the AP reports. According to NBC News, Gaetz has found few people willing to defend him or lend credence to his claim that he's done nothing wrong but instead is being extorted and smeared. Trump has so far not spoken up. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he was surprised he hadn’t been able to reach Gaetz yet and that the allegations were serious. McCarthy said Gaetz will be removed from his committees if he is indicted, adding "He says this is not true. And we have a newspaper report that says something else. We'll find out."

    Despite his high profile, Gaetz has few friends on Capitol Hill, NBC reports. His relentless self-promoting and near-daily appearances on Fox News stand out, even by the standards of Congress, where a generous ego and a hunger for the spotlight are practically job requirements. He criticized some of his Republican colleagues, accusing them of weakness and selling out the conservative cause. Big talk from a small, skeevy man with no friends.

    Biden considers student debt cancellation

    NBC brings us this update on a major issue for several generations of Americans, not to mention the wider economy. President Joe Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to prepare a memo on the president's legal authority to cancel student debt, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said yesterday, amid growing pressure for the administration to address the student loan crisis crippling millions of Americans. In an interview with Politico, Klain said Biden will make a decision on how to proceed once he reviews the memo, which could be sent to his desk within the next few weeks.

    NBC reports that Klain's comments come as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and other Democrats on Capitol Hill are pressuring Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt via executive action. Lawmakers have conceded that they lacked the needed Republican support to pass a bill that would do the same. Biden has voiced support for canceling up to $10,000. But he has said he does not think he has the legal authority to unilaterally wipe out as much as $50,000 without congressional action.

    The Department of Education memo is being conducted jointly with the Department of Justice, with the Department of Education taking the lead, NBC reports. More than forty million Americans are estimated to have student loan debt. The Federal Reserve estimates that in the third quarter of 2020, Americans owed more than $1.7 trillion in student loans. Studies show that students of color are more likely to take on student debt and disproportionately struggle to pay it back. Here’s hoping Biden will make the right decision and cancel a large amount of debt. Otherwise, it seems like a lot of trouble to go through just to announce he’ll be doing nothing.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    The gunman who killed four people, including a nine-year-old boy, at an Orange, California office park locked the gates to the complex with bike cable locks, police said yesterday, according to the Los Angeles Times. They said the gunman, Aminadab Gonzalez, and the victims were connected through business and personal ties. And it appeared that the boy died in the arms of a woman who was trying to save him. Terrible.

    Food banks around the US continue giving away far more canned, packaged and fresh provisions than they did before the coronavirus outbreak tossed millions of people out of work, the AP reports. Food banks collectively distributed far more food – about forty two percent more – during the last quarter of 2020 than in the same period of 2019. They expect to collectively distribute the equivalent of six billion meals this year. Quite something considering this is still the world’s wealthiest country.

    A potential breakthrough in the apparently deadlocked efforts to bring the US back into the nuclear deal with Iran is on the horizon after secret diplomatic talks in Frankfurt this week, the Guardian reports. The private discussions have focused on agreeing a framework whereby the US could start to lift sanctions in return for specific and verifiable steps by Iran to come back into full compliance with the deal. This would be a welcome development!

    The Supreme Court of Virginia has cleared the way for the city of Charlottesville to take down the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that was the focus of 2017's deadly Unite the Right rally, the Washington Post reports. And yesterday’s ruling appears to open the door for statue removals around the state. Honestly, who needs ’em?

    APRIL 02, 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • April 1, 2021: Biden Unveils Jobs and Infrastructure Plan
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    08:39

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    President Joe Biden wants to show what good the government can do with his new $2 trillion infrastructure plan. We’ve got the nitty gritty details in a digestible summary form.

    Meanwhile, European regulators say there’s no evidence to support restricting the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine because of reported bloodclots. And, in the US, oopsie daisy – workers accidentally spoil fifteen million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

    And lastly, New York becomes the fifteenth state to legalize recreational marijuana. Even better, the law puts racial equity at the forefront.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Now we’re getting down to business. The Washington Post reports that President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan yesterday to address some of the country’s most pressing problems, including damaged bridges, unequal broadband access, and climate change. Biden’s proposal, the American Jobs Plan, would be paid for, in part, by raising the corporate tax rate and global minimum tax. Many of these measures would reverse the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts. Here’s some of what’s in the proposal, according to the Post:

    - The plan would invest $115 billion to revamp highways and roads, including more than ten thousand bridges in need of reconstruction. It also includes $20 billion to improve road safety, including for cyclists and pedestrians.

    - The plan calls for $85 billion to modernize existing transit systems. The investment would double federal funding for public transit.

    - It would establish $174 billion to build a national network of five hundred thousand electric- vehicle chargers by 2030.

    - Biden’s proposal would invest $213 billion to build and retrofit more than two million homes.

    - It aims to deliver universal broadband, including to more than thirty five percent of rural Americans who lack access to high-speed internet.

    - The plan would invest $111 billion for clean drinking water, $45 billion of which would be used to replace the country’s lead pipes and service lines.

    - The proposal calls for $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools.

    - It would invest $180 billion in research and development.

    - The plan would put $35 billion toward clean-energy technology.

    - The proposal also places a heavy emphasis on creating union-backed jobs.

    There you have it folks, the full smorgasbord. Today Biden will convene his first Cabinet meeting to promote the plan. Next, Congress gets a taste.

    CDC Warns Coronavirus Cases Rising

    Here’s all the latest on the pandemic. The head of the European Medicines Agency said yesterday that there is no evidence that would support restricting the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in any population, as Germany has now done amid concerns over rare blood clots in people who got the shot, the Associated Press reports. On Tuesday, an independent vaccine expert panel in Germany said AstraZeneca shots should not routinely be given to people under sixty because of a rise in reported cases of unusual blood clots in the days after vaccination. The move put the spotlight back on the European Medicines Agency, which authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine in January and said earlier this month that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.

    Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that workers at a Baltimore plant manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated the vaccines’ ingredients several weeks ago, ruining about fifteen million doses of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine. Federal officials attributed the mistake to human error. The mixup has halted future shipments of Johnson and Johnson doses in the United States while the Food and Drug Administration investigates.

    Finally, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, again urged Americans not to let their guard down as the pandemic wears on, according to the Washington Post. During a White House briefing, Walensky said the agency’s most recent data shows the seven-day average of new cases is just under sixty two thousand cases per day, which she said marked a nearly twelve percent spike from the prior seven-day period. Walensky called this a critical moment in our fight against the pandemic and added; "We are so close, so very close, to getting back to the everyday activities we all miss so much. But we’re not quite there yet"

    New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

    Hallelujah! After years of stalled attempts, that New York State has legalized the use of recreational marijuana, the New York Times reports. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the cannabis legislation yesterday, a day after the State Legislature passed the bill following hours of debate among lawmakers in Albany. New York became the fifteenth state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, positioning itself to quickly become one of the largest markets of legal cannabis in the nation and one of the few states where legalization is directly tied to economic and racial equity.

    The Times reports that forty percent of the tax revenue from pot sales will be steered to communities where Black and Latino people have been arrested on marijuana charges in disproportionate numbers. People convicted of marijuana-related offenses that are no longer criminalized will have their records automatically expunged. The law also seeks to allow people with past convictions to participate in the new legal market. Certain parts of the law went into effect immediately. Individuals are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of cannabis for recreational purposes or twenty four grams of concentrated forms of the drug, such as oils. New Yorkers are permitted to smoke cannabis in public wherever smoking tobacco is allowed. Smoking cannabis, however, is not permitted in schools, workplaces or inside a car.

    Other changes will go into effect in the coming months when officials create a regulatory framework, the Times reports. People, for example, will eventually be able to have cannabis delivered to their homes, use cannabis products at lounge-like consumption sites and cultivate up to six plants at home for personal use. Dispensaries won’t open until more than a year from now. The recreational market is expected to eventually generate $350 million in yearly tax revenue. It’s a win-win-win.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Here’s an update from the Derek Chauvin trial, via the Washington Post. The third day of testimony in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer brought more anguish from people who wished they could have kept George Floyd alive. For instance, store clerk Chris Martin said he thought Floyd didn’t know he was passing a counterfeit $20 bill. Tragedy upon tragedy.

    The Guardian reports that two Capitol Police officers have filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, saying he was responsible for physical and emotional injuries they suffered in the January 6th insurrection. James Blassingame, a seventeen-year veteran of the force, and Sidney Hemby, an eleven-year veteran, filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in US District Court for the District of Columbia. Each are seeking damages of at least $75,000. Good luck and godspeed.

    The Pentagon yesterday scrapped restrictions on transgender troops imposed by the Trump administration, and unveiled new rules designed to end discrimination and provide medical care for those service members, according to NBC News. The Defense Department’s new policy will permit troops to serve openly under their self-identified gender and will offer access to medical treatments for gender transition. A return to fairness and decency at last.

    A judge in Wyoming has sentenced a man to six months in prison for digging in a Yellowstone National Park cemetery in pursuit of a famous hidden treasure, the Associated Press reports. Rodrick Dow Craythorn, fifty two, of Syracuse, Utah, was seeking a treasure chest containing coins, gold and other valuables that art and antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn stashed in the Rocky Mountain backcountry. Fenn published a poem containing clues to where the treasure could be found. Craythorn said in a statement, "my obsession clouded my judgment." Happens to the best of us.

    APRIL1 , 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 31, 2021: Florida Bill Bans Water for Voters
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    07:16

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    Florida Republicans are considering a harsh new voting bill to accompany their protest crackdowns from earlier this week. This law would make it a crime to distribute water, food or any items or aid whatsoever to voters waiting in line at a polling place.

    Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the Justice Department is investigating Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz for a possible relationship he had with a 17 year old girl.

    And lastly, Joe Biden has started making his first Judicial appointments, nominating a diverse slate of judges to various federal benches in an attempt to slowly swing back Mitch McConnell’s great project to warp the nation’s courts.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Florida’s GOP is really swinging for the fences, enacting as many drastic and repressive laws as possible while they have full control of the governorship and state house. The latest injustice is a voting law introduced by House Republicans late last week which would make it a crime to distribute aid to voters waiting in line outside a polling place, echoing a similar law in Georgia.

    The law, dubbed H.B. 7041, would expand Florida’s existing ban on offering voters so-called assistance within 100 feet of polling locations.

    The new distance would be 150 feet, and to make matters worse, the new bill also adds a provision that specifically bans giving a voter quote “any item” or interacting with them in any way.

    NBC reports that in committee meetings, Florida Republicans specifically mentioned that this would apply to food or water. When you combine that with the GOP’s voter suppression efforts that have resulted in massive, hours-long lines, the law starts to look even more dehumanizing.

    President Biden torched the similar Georgia bill, calling it, “Jim Crow in the 21st Century."

    While that’s certainly true, it’s going to take more than presidential rhetoric to take these bills down, which means they’re likely to get settled in a lengthy legal process once rights groups sue, like they have for other voter suppression and protest bills recently.

    Matt Gaetz Investigated for Sex Trafficking

    More news from the Sunshine State: Florida man and elected Representative Matt Gaetz is in hot water, as the New York Times reports that the Justice Department is investigating the possibility that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him.

    According to the Times, the DOJ is investigating whether or not Gaetz’s behavior constitutes sex trafficking, as many states make it illegal to transport someone over state lines to exchange sex for money or other items of value.

    Gaetz was caught up by a broader investigation into another Florida politician, Joel Greenberg, who the Times reports was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex.

    But what makes this story truly wild is Gaetz’s response. On Twitter shortly after the Times’ story dropped, Gaetz offered a truly ludicrous story, claiming that his family was quote “victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name,” endquote. Gaetz then claimed that his father had been wearing a wire in collaboration with the FBI to catch these so called criminals who were extorting him.

    If that’s not a “huh?” response enough, Gaetz then went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and continued to spout off excuses, theories and denials. But he also told Axios this quote:

    "I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I've dated. You know, I've paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I’ve been, you know, generous as a partner."

    Weird thing to say! It appears that Gaetz might have seen this coming, as Axios reported earlier Tuesday he had privately told friends that he was considering ditching Congress for a job at Newsmax. It certainly seems like he’ll have a change of employment one way or another soon!

    Biden Names First Judicial Picks

    Joe Biden is mounting his charge against Mitch McConnell’s conservative judiciary crusade, beginning a drive to reshape federal courts with a new slate of liberal, diverse, and even progressive judges.

    He’s chasing a long, long lead, however. McConnell successfully confirmed 220 of Donald Trump’s appointees, meaning Federal courts are and will be stacked with Trump judges for years to come.

    But Biden’s first appointments show some definite progress. His first 11 nominees include three black women, the first Muslim federal district judge, the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge in Maryland, and the first Asian-American woman to serve in D.C.’s district court circuit.

    The biggest name in the bunch is Ketanji Brown Jackson, who if confirmed by the Senate will sit on the hugely influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She’ll be filling a big seat, one vacated by former Supreme Court nominee and current Attorney General Merrick Garland, which most politicos assume makes her first in line to be Biden’s Supreme Court nominee if a seat opens up during his first term.

    And even better, Biden seems to be focusing on younger judges. The average age of his first nominees is 48, which means many of them could spend decades on the bench, preserving their seats from whatever ghoul the Republicans manage to sneak into the Oval Office in the future. Let’s hope that day doesn’t come anytime soon, though.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    Biden’s dog Major was involved in a second so-called biting incident, according to CNN, this time getting his jaws on a National Park employee on the White House’s South Lawn. Clearly, someone isn’t adjusting to the pressures of the White House well!

    Prosecutors in the Derek Chauvin trial called a series of witnesses who described in detail the killing of George Floyd last spring, while Chauvin’s defense attorneys continued to try to deflect the blame for Floyd’s death. The core of Chauvin’s defense is still to come, when the trial shifts to examine police tactics and Floyd’s medical cause of death.

    A new analysis by the New York Daily News shows that embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo took almost $600,000 in campaign contributions from just 15 billionaires, while resisting his party’s calls to raise taxes on the rich. Sounds about right.

    A judge on Tuesday ruled that New York state must immediately begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to all incarcerated people in the state’s prisons and jails, saying that they had been directly excluded from the vaccine rollout. This is a major victory for activists who have been fighting for better treatment and conditions of prisoners during the pandemic.

    MAR 31, 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 30, 2021: Derek Chauvin Trial Begins
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    06:26

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    The trial for George Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin began on Monday, as the former officer’s legal team mounted a victim-blaming, morally repugnant defense.

    Meanwhile, President Biden begs states to reinstitute mask bans to curb surging coronavirus cases, although early studies show the vaccines are working well.

    And lastly, Jeff Bezos personally told Amazon’s PR to push back against critics ahead of a historic union drive in Bessmer, Alabama, prompting a wave of tweets that were so ludicrous some staffers at the company thought they’d been hacked.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Derek Chauvin’s trial for the killing of George Floyd began monday, and the former Minneapolis police officer’s lawyers wasted no time in creating an alternative set of circumstances from the ones the entire country witnessed on video last summer.

    Chauvin’s defense team claimed that Floyd died because he ingested drugs to conceal them from police, not because Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while he struggled for air. His lawyers also blamed the crowd, painting the witnesses who did all they could and recorded the scene as a threat to the four heavily armed officers holding Floyd down.

    These tactics are both sick and unnecessary: as we well know, many defenses have gotten cops off for murder with far less callous strategies. The prosecution, meanwhile, confronted Chauvin’s defenders with a lineup of witnesses who had been on the scene, testifying one by one that what they saw was a murder.

    It seems that’s the way the trial will continue, as the New York Times reports that the case will center around Floyd’s specific cause of death. This in itself is an injustice: no matter what was in Floyd’s system when he died, anyone who has seen the video knows that the police’s conduct was immoral.

    At around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, the Judge abruptly adjourned the trial for the day, as a so-called “major technical glitch” had disrupted the proceedings’ live stream. We’ll see what tone day two strikes today.

    Biden Asks For More Masks

    President Biden urged states to restore mask mandates on Monday, after several mostly GOP-led states had started dropping all their reluctant precautions at the first sight of relief.

    This is basically the opposite of what disease experts want to happen, but it seems unlikely that Biden will be able to put this particular Republican cat back in the bag. Still, Biden tried, saying quote:

    “People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing. We are giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains.”

    Endquote

    Other national officials were even more dire. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she felt a sense of quote “impending doom.”

    As we reported yesterday, cases are still rising around the country. The only good news is that vaccines appear to be working well, and more and more people will be able to get them soon. New York announced on Monday that everyone over the age of 30 would be eligible starting today, and everyone over 16 would be eligible on April 6.

    Additionally, a new CDC report confirmed the early promising numbers in early clinical trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which showed that they were highly effective against the disease. We had already been taking that for granted, but it’s nice to know that assumption has the official seal on it.

    Bezos Bozo Amazon PR Plan

    Recode reported on Sunday that Amazon’s bizarre, aggressive PR blitz last week was directly urged by CEO Jeff Bezos, who told his underlings that they weren’t pushing back hard enough on pressure from lawmakers like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

    According to Recode, this was almost certainly timed to exert as much power as possible during the NLRB election currently going down in Bessemer, Alabama. In practice, it could explain Amazon Worldwide SVP Dave Clark’s extremely aggro tweets, where he smeared Bernie Sanders with old attack lines about the Senator’s staff and tried to do some Twitter dunks with tired corporate propaganda.

    Following that, Amazon’s own public relations account started popping off, famously claiming quote “you don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” endquote. That was in response to House Rep. Mark Pocan’s criticism of the company, which has a well-documented history of workers being forced to relieve themselves in bottles while on the job.

    These last tweets were so inflammatory and unprofessional that Amazon’s internal security team flagged them, thinking they had possibly been hacked, according to documents obtained

    by the Intercept. The only good thing you can say about all this is that finally, Amazon isn’t pretending to be the nice guy anymore. And that means more people might see it for what it is.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    A collection of civil rights groups including the Atlanta NAACP filed suit on Sunday against Georgia’s new voter suppression laws, indicating their willingness to fight the anti-democratic law in court as hard as they can before the next election cycle.

    The ship is free! In the early hours of Monday morning, tugboat and dredging crews successfully floated the massive cargo ship Ever Given, clearing the way for other ships to pass through the Suez Canal for the first time in days.

    A new indictment for the first time charged Ghislane Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime confidant, with sex trafficking of a minor. The charges are the most serious pursued by federal prosecutors since Maxwell’s arrest last summer.

    The Biden Administration announced a plan on Monday to designate a large swathe of coastline between New Jersey and New York as a priority offshore wind zone, hoping to dramatically expand the region’s production of wind power.

    That’s it for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today! Emma will be with you in the afternoon.

    MAR 30, 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn

  • Mar 29, 2021: US COVID Cases Rise Again
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    07:14

    Welcome to Majority.FM's AM QUICKIE! Brought to you by justcoffee.coop

    TODAY'S HEADLINES:

    U.S. virus cases are once again on the rise, despite the growing vaccine rollout, as the Biden administration works to issue Americans a so-called vaccine passport.

    Meanwhile, Florida’s state legislature passes a draconian anti-protest bill, alarming civil liberties advocates.

    And lastly, Myanmar’s military repeatedly opens fire on demonstrators in one of the bloodiest days of the country’s recent protests, killing close to 100 civilians.

    THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

    Coronavirus cases are once again on the rise in the United States, despite our continued vaccine rollout.

    The good news is that deaths are still decreasing. But for the first time in weeks, the line of recorded cases started to creep up again, with an average of about 62,000 per week.

    Scientists did predict we’d see a rise in the latter part of this month due to the spread of new variants of the disease. Many of these new strains are more infectious than the original versions we’ve been dealing with for a year, although vaccines are still effective at limiting their harm.

    The bigger risk that we’re seeing is states reopening way too soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci pointed specifically to the ludicrous spring break gatherings in Florida as examples of states that aren’t doing it right.

    The lesson here is clear: everyone wants to have a hot vax summer, but if we jump the gun too early it’s just going to cause more death.

    The Biden Administration, meanwhile, is working with various private companies to consolidate credentials that prove someone has received a coronavirus vaccine. A number of organizations have said they’ll be restricting access to everything from cruise ships to sports stadiums to people who have been vaccinated, and there are more than 17 fledgling so-called passport programs underway worldwide.

    So far, the Administration is being tight-lipped on exactly what these plans will look like, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on it as it develops, because there’s obviously a pretty big risk that such a system will further discriminate against groups who aren’t getting the doses they need.

    Florida Passes Anti-Protest Law

    Florida’s Republican-controlled State Legislature passed an aggressive, undemocratic anti-protest bill on Friday.

    The bill, known as HB1 in the Florida house, also has a concurrent bill in the Florida Senate, and has been promoted by current Governor Ron DeSantis.

    If it passes, it would further criminalize even mundane participation in protests, making it a felony to even be present at a protest that became violent and offering up prison sentences of up to 15 years for pulling down a Confederate statue or monument.

    In a statement, Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said:

    “This bill is not intended to increase public safety. It is not intended to address any public need. Over 95% of protests across the state of Florida have been peaceful. HB1 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 484, represent a blatant attempt to silence and criminalize speech that runs counter to the political agendas of those currently in power in Florida."

    The Intercept reported back in January that the right wing has been using bills like this to crack down on lawful protest by hypocritcally playing on fears of the January 6 insurrection. But the bills they pass, of course, will crack down on civil rights protests, not the white nationalist violence we saw early this year.

    And even Florida’s swing-state voters aren’t convinced: a recent poll showed that 63 percent of the state’s voters don’t like the new bills. HB1 is through the house, so now it’s over to the State Senate. Unfortunately, the GOP there has an eight-seat majority, so things aren’t looking good.

    Myanmar Military Shoots Dozens in Day of Shame

    A brutal campaign of repression is unfolding in Myanmar, where the military siezed power from democratically-elected leaders in February.

    On Saturday, protesters weathered the most deadly day of violence yet, as the military celebrated Armed Forces Day by killing over 100 civilians, according to local news sources. The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, a rights group based in Myanmar and Thailand, said that the actual number of deaths is probably much higher than that.

    Dr. Sasa, a spokesperson for a group of the elected officials who were ousted by the military called Saturday quote “a day of shame for the armed forces.” endquote.

    The United Nations has called for a quote “unified international response” to the abuses going on in Myanmar, but is once again hamstrung by the five-member national security council. Two of those members, Russia and China, have lent their tacit support to the coup, and will veto any action the U.N. tries to take. Russia, for its part, is also a major supplier of weapons to the country’s military.

    But while international organizations flounder, the people of Myanmar aren’t backing down. On Saturday, protestors defied an explicit order that said they could be shot in the head or back by military forces if they took to the streets. Some paid with their lives, but the protests continue.

    AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

    House Democrats introduced a new bill aiming to block Trump holdout Postmaster General Louis Dejoy from further sabotaging his own agency, while other leaders like Bernie Sanders resume calls for Biden to give Dejoy the boot. The House bill is literally called the DEJOY act, so there’s no question what it’s meant to do.

    A quick update on the big boat stuck in the Suez Canal situation: the big boat is, yep, still stuck! Late on Saturday, however, it did move approximately 100 feet. So that’s progress, I guess!

    The murder trial for Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd last spring and sparked a nationwide uprising against police brutality, is expected to begin on Monday, as lawyers finished seating the jury on Sunday. The jury is comprised of two white men, four white women, three Black men, one Black woman and two women who identify as mixed race, according to the New York Times.

    And finally, Ron Weiser, the chairman of the Michigan Republican party called Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Attorney General Dana Nessel a trio of quote “witches,” and implied that they should be assassinated. Just in case you forgot the level the Republian Party is playing on here!

    That’s it for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Sam’s off this week, so Emma and the rest of the gang will be with you this afternoon.

    MAR 29, 2021 - AM QUICKIE

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn