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  • May 27, 2021: Citizen Scraps Private Police App; Biden Orders Review Of Virus Origins; Exxon Shareholders Revolt Over Clean Energy

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    One of the sketchiest libertarian venture capitalists in America planned to launch an app to summon a private police force by smartphone. Today we are pleased to report that, thanks to negative publicity, the rent-a-cop app is being scrapped.

    Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has given US intelligence agencies ninety days to figure out where the coronavirus came from. And he says they’ll be entertaining a theory favored by many Republicans, that the virus somehow escaped from a lab in China.

    And lastly, activist shareholders, with the support of public pension funds, won a vote forcing Exxon Mobil to hire directors who favor clean energy. It’s a massive defeat for Exxon management and a repudiation of the company’s old, planet-destroying ways.


    This dispatch from the dystopia comes from CBS News. The crowdsourcing crime- tracking app Citizen, whose earliest backers include the venture capitalist billionaire Peter Thiel, is ditching plans to develop a private police force that could be summoned by users via the smartphone app. The company began offering the service in Los Angeles last month as a pilot program. For the service, Citizen partnered with a private firm called Los Angeles Professional Security, which describes itself as a provider of subscription law enforcement. But on Tuesday, Citizen ended the program, stating it has no plans to launch a similar service elsewhere. The company's decision follows more than a week of negative publicity for the popular app, which uses cellphone-location data to alert users of potential safety hazards, emergencies and criminal activity in their area.

    CBS reports that as Citizen's popularity has grown, so, too, has its number of critics, who say the app raises privacy issues as well as racial bias. Matthew Guariglia, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the app "a digital superhighway for racial profiling," In mid-May, the app misidentified a homeless person as the source of a recent wildfire in Los Angeles. Citizen posted pictures of the man, and offered a $30,000 reward to anyone who could provide information leading to his arrest. A few days later, a different man was arrested for the crime. If you think the regular police are bad, wait until you see what Silicon Valley comes up with.

    Biden Orders Review Of Virus Origins

    This update on the politics of the pandemic comes from the Washington Post. President Biden said yesterday that he has asked the intelligence community to determine the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a major departure from the previous White House position that the World Health Organization should lead efforts to uncover the contagion’s origin. Biden has asked for a report within ninety days. The new message from the White House reflects the rapidly changing views about the origins of the virus. In recent weeks, a theory has gained more support that the source of the coronavirus may have emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, though that is far from proved. Some Republicans pushed the idea early on, including Donald Trump. But the idea was dismissed by many influential scientists and Democrats.

    The Post says that in recent weeks, some prominent researchers have begun arguing that the lab theory should remain on the table until more is known. And a series of reports in the Wall Street Journal, including one that highlighted how several people who work at the Wuhan lab became sick in fall 2019 with Covid-like symptoms, has been part of a reexamination. Biden said one element of the US intelligence community leans toward the view that the novel coronavirus came from a laboratory accident. Two other components, on the other hand, believe the virus came from animal-to-human contact. But are American spies really well- suited to make this determination, especially without Chinese cooperation?

    Exxon Shareholders Revolt Over Clean Energy

    You love to see it. The New York Times says Big Oil was knocked down a peg yesterday. Shareholders of Exxon Mobil dealt the company’s management a stunning defeat by electing at least two board candidates who pledged to steer the company away from oil and gas and toward cleaner energy. The success of the campaign, led by a tiny hedge fund against the nation’s largest oil company, could force the energy industry to confront climate change. Analysts could not recall another time that Exxon management had lost a vote against company-picked directors. The vote reveals the growing power that giant Wall Street firms now have to press corporate managements to pursue social goals.

    According to the Times, the hedge fund leading this campaign, Engine Number One, was seeking to defeat four of the company’s twelve director candidates. Its victory is the culmination of years of efforts by activists to force the oil giant to change its environmental policies. Some big pension funds, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, had joined the effort. In another sign of change, shareholders of Chevron, the second largest US oil company, yesterday voted for a proposal to reduce emissions from the fuel the company makes and sells. And in the Netherlands, a court required Royal Dutch Shell to reduce its emissions by forty five percent by 2030.

    One day these companies will be only a memory, and the world will be better for it.


    The Los Angeles Times reports that nine people were killed, including the gunman, in a shooting yesterday morning at a San Jose rail yard. The suspect set his own house on fire, then drove to a Valley Transportation Authority union meeting and began shooting, law enforcement sources said. Sympathy and solidarity to all affected.

    The Washington Post reports that Amazon will buy MGM Holdings from its investment- group owners, paying $8.45 billion billion to put the historic studio in the hands of the retailing giant. The Post is also owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, but we aren’t, so we can say he has enough money, power and cultural influence, already.

    According to the Associated Press, President Biden is nominating former senior State Department official Nicholas Burns to serve as his ambassador to China, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be his ambassador to India. Prominent Democratic fundraisers Denise Bauer, Jane Hartley and David Cohen have also emerged as leading contenders for postings in France, Italy and Canada, respectively. Gotta love those patronage jobs!

    Good news! The New York Times reports that immunity to the coronavirus lasts at least a year, possibly a lifetime, improving over time – especially after vaccination. That’s according to two new studies, both in the journal Nature. The results suggest that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and later been vaccinated will continue to have high levels of protection against emerging variants, even without a vaccine booster. So there’s a silver lining for survivors.

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 27, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 26, 2021: Congress Prepping Bezos Bailout; Biden OK's Israel Arms Deal; Centrists Cash in Conservative Clout

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    The Intercept reports that the Senate is preparing a $10 billion bailout fund for Jeff Bezos’s vanity spaceflight company Blue Origin.

    Meanwhile, the State Department approves a $735 million arms deal to Israel, while sending only a paltry 5 million to Palestinian reconstruction efforts.

    And lastly, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema try to leverage their conservative clout to beg Republicans to support a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection.


    The hottest luxury for billionaires right now is a private space company. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are both in on the trend, but the former’s big rocket adventure isn’t going so well. But don’t worry! Our government is preparing to save him.

    The Intercept reported that Bezos’s company Blue Origin recently lost out on a massive, multi-billion dollar government contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. But now, Congress is trying to slip in an amendment to a bill that would make sure Blue Origin still gets a big chunk of taxpayer money.

    According to the Intercept, the slush money was added in as an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell. It would go to NASA first, which would then use it for a Blue Origin contract. And quick: you’ve got one guess as to where Blue Origin’s headquarters are. That’s right, Washington.

    The amendment might face some opposition, however. Bernie Sanders quickly slid in an amendment of his own to cut out the $10 billion, telling the Intercept quote:

    “It does not make a lot of sense to me that we would provide billions of dollars to a company owned by the wealthiest guy in America.”

    That’s a great point, Bernie!

    It’s worth placing some of this information in the wider context, which is that spaceflight in general is becoming more and more privatized. Instead of NASA building the ships that carry our astronauts and satellites to the ISS and beyond, those contracts are now going to people like Musk and Bezos. The specific contract Blue Origin lost was to put astronauts on the moon, something we haven’t done since 1972.

    The difference is back then, we could truly say we the people put someone on the moon. Now, we can only say we paid for a private company to do it.

    White House OK's Israel Arms Deal

    On Tuesday, the Biden Administration officially committed to sending $5 million in relief funds to rebuild Palestine’s bombed-out Gaza strip. But days before that, it also agreed to send an order of magnitude more in deadly weapons to Israel.

    Jewish Currents magazine reports that on May 21, the Biden State department granted the U.S. based company Boeing an export license to sell $735 million worth of laser guided munitions to Israel.

    If you remember, this is the arms deal that progressives in the House and Senate were trying to stop.

    Jewish Currents reports that Bernie Sanders office learned that the sale had been greenlit on Friday, and immediately used his leverage to place a hold on all new State Department nominations, stopping them from being approved by the Senate. Sanders only lifted that hold when the Biden administration committed to some humanitarian relief for Gaza.

    But the dollar amounts at play tell the whole story. The government is letting Israel buy $735 million in U.S. bombs, which makes its 5 million in relief to Gazans seem like pennies.

    As Jewish Currents notes, that’s a pretty good indication that the Biden Administration’s policy toward Israel’s violence in Palestine is going to look like much more of the same.

    Manchin and Sinema Cash in Conservative Clout

    Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have spent the first months of the Biden Presidency building clout with their colleagues across the aisle, largely by stopping their own party from getting anything done.

    Now, they’re finally cashing that in, in a last-ditch attempt to get several GOP Senators to support the creation of a January 6 commission.

    The proposed commission would be modeled after the one that investigated the 9/11 attacks, and represents basically the only shot at getting a formal government breakdown of who did what during the Capitol Insurrection.

    The GOP, of course, largely does not want this to happen, probably because several of their colleagues were directly involved or implicated. The proposal was somewhat bipartisan, and won 35 votes in the House. But in the Senate, it’s in trouble, because Mitch McConnell unsurprisingly does not want to play ball, calling the commission a quote “purely political exercise” endquote.

    Instead Manchin and Synema are reportedly working the same little cadre of moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, some of whom want tweaks to the commission to give the GOP more power over how it works.

    We’ll see if all that boot-licking and bill-sabotaging pays off for them!


    The New York Times reports that the Navy has finally dropped its opposition to parts of the California coast being used for wind farms, clearing the way for the Biden Administration to push forward on a long-sought clean energy goal.

    One more note about the Democratic spoiler crew mentioned in our third story tonight: the Washington Post reports that the bipartisan centrist lobby is now privately designing a new and not-improved version of Biden’s ambitious infrastructure bill in case the first one falls apart. That’s progress, baby! Moving steadily backwards.

    Daniella Frazier, the 17-year-old girl who filmed Derek Chauvin’s murdering George Floyd last year, spoke publicly for the first time in a Facebook post. Here’s a quote:

    “It changed me. It changed how I viewed life. It made me realize how dangerous it is to be Black in America. We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around police officers, the same people that are supposed to protect and serve.”

    And finally, the CDC says it will stop investigating mild COVID infections in vaccinated adults, indicating that they’re confident that the vast majority of these breakthrough cases will not be life-threatening. The vaccines, it seems, are doing their jobs, though the Washington Post reports that some scientists are lamenting the loss of potential data.

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 26, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 25, 2021: New COVID Variant Spreading; Supreme Court Turns Down Firing Squad Request; One Year Since George Floyd

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    A new coronavirus variant that has been ravaging India is now spreading throughout the UK and other European countries, and could pose problems in communities that haven’t yet received a vaccine.

    Meanwhile, the Supreme Court turns down a request by a Mississippi inmate on death row who asked to be executed by a firing squad.

    And lastly, George Floyd died one year ago today, and while activists have won some victories in the struggle since, police department funding is rising again as the status quo re asserts itself.


    The new coronavirus variant that has been fueling India’s out of control epidemic has made its way to Europe, where researchers are starting to get a picture of what it represents for the future of the pandemic.

    First, some good news: existing vaccines still offer pretty high levels of protection against this variant. But like others before it, there is evidence that it is more infectious, according to a report by the New York Times.

    So far, the U.S. has only detected 800 cases of this specific variant, which is called B dot 1 dot 617 dot 2. You’d be forgiven for not keeping track of all these numbered variants -- there’s a simpler way to interpret this news. The newer variants of the virus are more infectious, which means they eventually slowly replace the older strains in places they make it to.

    What this means is that they’ll be particularly dangerous to unvaccinated communities, and as both America and the general global vaccination efforts slow down, this is what we’re going to be dealing with.

    The Times reports that people who have only gotten one shot of the vaccine should still be careful, as the more infectious strains are more resistant to the vaccine. In other words, like most of the scary news of new variants, the advice here is the same: keep track of your own risks and stay safe until you’re fully vaxxed.

    Supreme Court Turns Down Firing Squad Request

    The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Mississippi death row inmate Ernest Johnson, who asked to be executed by firing squad.

    The Court’s conservative majority voted to not hear the case, despite strong dissent from the bench’s liberals. Johnson suffers from epilepsy, and was requesting a firing squad as he fears that lethal injection will cause incredibly painful seizures.

    The Court’s liberals fiercely argued for Johnson’s right to choose his death. While a firing squad may be unusual and barbaric, evidence suggests that it’s also a much quicker and less painful death than lethal injection or the electric chair.

    Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent that Johnson’s petition was simple. Quote:

    “In other words, he asks that the courts decide between an execution that is ‘cruel’ and one that is ‘unusual.”

    Johnson had previously petitioned to be executed with nitrogen gas rather than lethal injection, and was turned down by a lower federal court. He then tried to amend this petition to request the firing squad, which was the decision the Supreme Court decided not to hear.

    One Year Since George Floyd

    George Floyd died one year ago today. After months of protests, activists won some key reforms, but now the status quo is creeping back in.

    The New York Times reports that major cities like Los Angeles are starting to funnel money back to their police departments after getting spooked by a rise in violent crime statistics. LA is hiring 250 more cops less than a year after city leaders promised to take $150 million away from the LAPD.

    The right wing has leaned into the narrative of crime surges, and placed the blame squarely on movements like defunding the police. Research shows, of course, that surges in crime are often linked to gaps in social services and economic hardship, which have swept the country during the pandemic.

    And some of the biggest changes activists seek do little to defund police, instead seeking to hold them accountable. New York City moved earlier this year to become the first city to end qualified immunity for its police forces, a major change that would let people file civil suits against cops who abuse their power.

    But on a national level, even those small changes have stalled. On Monday, for instance, the Supreme Court declined to take up a case that would have challenged qualified immunity on a broader scale.

    What this means is that this fight is far from over -- and we can only hope that elected officials feel just as much pressure from the people this summer as they did last.


    After Belarus’s shocking abduction of a journalist on a civilian airliner this weekend, European officials agreed to level sanctions against the dictator Aleksadr Lukashenko’s regime, also moving to stop E.U. airlines from flying into Belarus’s airspace, which would be a significant blow to the country’s economy.

    The Washington Post reports that the Biden administration is moving to let more government employees than ever to work from home even after the pandemic ends, continue the experiment in remote work that the federal government has been slow to adopt.

    Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and other democrats reintroduced legislation on Monday to slash spending to the U.S.’s massive nuclear arsenal, dubbing it the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act, or SANE. They promise that it will save $73 billion over the next decade, if it passes.

    And finally, New York City, once the epicenter of the U.S.’s coronavirus outbreak, has announced that it will not have any form of remote learning starting next school year, heralding that the city expects to be fully back open by that time.

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 25, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 24, 2021: Belarus Hijacks Airline to Abduct Journalist; Gaza Sees Rise in Covid Cases; Biden Gives Haitians Protected Status

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    The far-right dictator of Belarus used a fighter jet and a fake bomb threat to force down a civilian airliner flying over his country, allowing him to arrest a journalist and dissident who was on board.

    Meanwhile, Israel’s violence against Gaza is still having ripple effects after a ceasefire, as health officials report hospitals overwhelmed with wounded civilians are now also facing a surge in coronavirus cases.

    And lastly, the Biden Administration finally granted Temporary Protected Status to thousands of Haitian immigrants living in the U.S., shielding them from deportation back to a country that is dealing with both a political crisis and a brutal COVID epidemic.


    Belarus’ dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko carried out a shocking abduction of a journalist on Sunday, using a fighter jet and a faked bomb plot to force down a civilian airliner carrying the dissident and then arresting him on the ground.

    On Sunday, dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was on a Ryanair flight from Greece to Vilnius, Poland, where he has been living in exile. Protasevich is the 26-year-old former editor of NEXTA, a channel on the Telegram app that has become one of Belarus’s largest opposition media companies.

    The flight passed through Belarussian airspace, at which point Belarussian air traffic control claimed that there was a bomb threat aboard. Lukashenko then used that as pretext to personally order Mig-29 fighter jet up to force the plane to land in Minsk, although it was by that time far closer to its destination of Vilnius, according to the BBC.

    After seven hours on the tarmac in Minsk, the flight eventually made it to Vilnius. But Protasevich was not aboard, as he had been abducted by Belarussian agents when the plane was forced to land. One passenger on the flight told AFP quote:

    “He was not screaming, but it was clear that he was very much afraid. It looked like if the window had been open, he would have jumped out of it.” Protasevich reportedly told other passengers that he was facing the death penalty.

    Lukashenko has, in recent months, brutally repressed protests against his authoritarian rule, but has been staunchly defended by the Russian government and faced little to no consequences for his policies. European governments and the U.S. have strongly denounced the shocking hijacking, but it’s unclear what concrete action they can or actually will take -- prior sanctions on the Lukashenko regime have clearly done little to dampen his brazen authoritarianism.

    Gaza Sees Rise in Covid Cases

    Israel agreed to stop its outright bombardment of the Gaza strip on Friday, but the aftershocks of its brutal campaign of violence are still shaking the captive population there.

    According to the Washington Post, Gaza’s hospitals are starting to experience a new wave of COVID cases, as Israel’s bombardment forced many residents into close-packed bomb shelters.

    Those cases are in addition to the 1,900 people who were injured directly by Israel’s bombing. To make matters worse, the Post reports that an airstrike destroyed the only lab in Gaza that was doing PCR tests for COVID.

    All of this is even more outrageous when you consider the disparities between Israel and Gaza’s access to the vaccine. Outside of the strip, Israel has conducted one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the world. But inside Gaza, only 2 percent of the population has been vaccinated. Much of this shortage is in thanks in part to the Israeli blockade that stops medical supplies getting through to people there.

    Even before the recent bombardment, Gaza’s ICUs were completely swamped. The country has only 60 ICU beds for a population of almost 2 million.

    The International Red Cross said that damage inflicted by Israel during the conflict cut water supplies in Gaza by 40 percent and had cut power to 700,000 Gazans at one point or another.

    Lest we forget: all of this damage is intentional. Israel knows what will happen when it drops its bombs. And even though it claims to be targeting Hamas, it’s Gaza’s citizens who suffer the most.

    Biden Gives Haitians Protected Status

    Some good news from the Biden Administration. Biden’s head of the DHS announced on Saturday that Haitians living in the U.S. would be extended Temporary Protected Status, reversing Trump-era efforts to deport them or force them out of the country.

    Some 150,000 Haitians have been living in the U.S. since the devastating 2010 earthquake, and recent political crises and the pandemic there have only made their predicament more dire.

    Alejandro Mayorkas, the head of the DHS, acknowledged that the country’s recent plight has made it all the more important to offer these people shelter.

    The temporary protected status order will last for 18 months, and is a continuation of policies the Obama administration started for Haitians after the 2010 quake. The New York Times reports that it originally stems from a 1990 law that allowed foreigners who had to flee their homes because of natural disasters and conflict to work and live in the United States.

    This decision is far from fixing the disastrous trend of U.S. immigration policy, but it will certainly be a welcome relief for thousands of Haitians fearing for their lives and livelihoods. The U.S. was founded to offer refuge to the needy, and policies like this are the least we can do to live up to that ideal.


    Some more good news for the coronavirus watch in the U.S. Our cases are down to their lowest rate since last summer, with fewer than 30,000 new cases a day. That’s still a lot, but at least 50 percent of Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine now, so we should see those continue to drop.

    The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jack Read, said on Sunday that he supports assigning independent prosecutors to sexual assault cases in the military, cutting out the role that unit commanders had played in investigating their own troops.

    Shareholders at Tribune Publishing, the company that owns the Chicago Tribune and many other newspapers, approved a sale of the company to Alden Global Capital, one of the most bloodthirsty vulture capital funds that has been destroying newspaper chains across the country, in another blow to the greater journalism industry.

    In news that should surprise no one, GOP Senator Rand Paul has announced he will not get the COVID vaccine. What can we say -- I guess the only thing Rand is afraid of is that neighbor who beat the crap out of him a few years back, and not a deadly pandemic. A smart guy, that Rand.

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 24, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 21, 2021: Republicans Ban History Education; FEMA Workers Are Exhausted; Gaza Ceasefire Takes Effect

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    Republican state legislators across the country are passing laws to micromanage the history that gets taught in schools and make it seem like racism doesn’t exist. For some reason the party of bigoted white men is touchy about this particular subject.

    Meanwhile, forecasters are predicting another year of intense storms and wildfires. So it’s rather concerning that FEMA’s workforce is reportedly stretched to the breaking point.

    And lastly, after eleven days of fighting, Israel has agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza. The work of rebuilding is urgent, as Palestinian medical facilities are overwhelmed.


    The curriculum wars continue. CBS News reports that this month, Idaho Governor Brad Little became the first Republican governor to sign into law a bill that restricts educators from teaching a concept called critical race theory. And more could follow: Nearly a dozen states have introduced similar Republican-backed bills that would direct what students can and cannot be taught about slavery in American history and the ongoing effects of racism. But critics say the legislation isn’t aimed at what children are learning in the classroom. Idaho’s law prohibits teaching that individuals are responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, religion, et cetera. A proposal in Rhode Island would prevent teaching that the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist. However, proponents of critical race theory say it does not teach that any race is inherently racist, but how race is ingrained in our history.

    Jazmyne Owens, of the think tank New America, told CBS that the wave of legislation is; "aimed at erasing and whitewashing American history." For example, Owens pointed to a Texas bill that just passed in the state's House that bans discussion of privilege and white supremacy. The state bills have similar goals as two executive orders Donald Trump introduced, one that called for patriotic education and a one that sought to ban diversity training for federal workers. President Joe Biden has revoked both. But at this rate, Republicans will soon be pushing to ban schools entirely.

    FEMA Workers Are Exhausted

    This report on essential worker burnout comes from the New York Times. Workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been scouting shelters for migrant children. They’ve been running coronavirus vaccination sites in Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington. And they are still managing the recovery from a string of record disasters starting with Hurricane Harvey in 2017. On the cusp of a destructive season of hurricanes and wildfires, just thirty eight hundred of the agency’s nearly fourteen thousand emergency workers are available now to respond to a new disaster. That’s twenty nine percent fewer than were ready to deploy at the start of last year’s hurricane period. FEMA has seldom been in greater demand – becoming a kind of 911 hotline for some of President Biden’s most pressing challenges. And the men and women who have become the nation’s first responders are tired. Deanne Criswell, Biden’s pick to run the agency, identified employee burnout as a major issue during her first all-hands FEMA meeting, according to Steve Reaves, president of the union local that represents employees.

    According to the Times, the shortage is severe for some categories of workers. Among the agency’s senior leadership, just three out of fifty three are currently available to deploy. Other specialized personnel have less than fifteen percent of their workers available. In interviews, current and former FEMA employees described twelve-hour days, canceled vacations, and not enough time to recover between assignments. Sounds like they should hire and train more staff and create some good-paying government jobs.

    Gaza Ceasefire Takes Effect

    At last, a breather. Al-Jazeera reports that Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire yesterday to halt eleven days of fighting in the Gaza Strip. A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the security cabinet had unanimously accepted an Egyptian initiative for an unconditional ceasefire. Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad then confirmed the ceasefire in a statement. At least two hundred and thirty two Palestinians, including sixty five children, have been killed. On the Israeli side, twelve people, including two children, have been killed. Following the announcement of a ceasefire, Egypt’s representative at the United Nations announced to member states that it will fund efforts to rebuild Gaza.

    And there is much rebuilding to be done. According to the Associated Press, the Gaza Strip’s already feeble health system has been brought to its knees. Hospitals have been overwhelmed with waves of dead and wounded from Israel’s bombardment. Many vital medicines are rapidly running out in the tiny, blockaded coastal territory, as is fuel to keep electricity going. Two of Gaza’s most prominent doctors, including the Number Two in Gaza’s coronavirus task force, were killed when their homes were destroyed during barrages. Just as Gaza was climbing out of a second wave of coronavirus infections, its only virus testing lab was damaged by an airstrike and has been shut. Health officials fear further outbreaks among tens of thousands of displaced residents crowded into makeshift shelters after fleeing massive barrages. And absolutely none of this needed to happen.


    The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors in the case of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with abetting Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd told an appellate court yesterday they are considering adding a third-degree murder charge against the three men. Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are expected to stand trial next March. They could have stopped Chauvin, but didn’t.

    According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed legislation that bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy and, in a first, would give nearly any Texan the ability to sue providers who they believe have broken the law. It is one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the nation and is certain to face legal challenges. Strike it down on the double!

    The Intercept reports that the Department of Homeland Security will be shutting down the controversial immigration prison in Georgia where dozens of women were subjected to nonconsensual gynecological procedures, including hysterectomies. The Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, run by LaSalle Corrections, was the focus of criticism last fall when a nurse alleged pervasive medical misconduct. Good riddance.

    The Guardian reports that relations between the US and Russia have taken a tentative step forward after the Kremlin welcomed a decision by the Biden administration not to impose sanctions on a Russian pipeline delivering gas to Germany. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, also reacted positively. Let’s everybody just hug it out, okay?

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 21, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 20, 2021: Migrant Children Still Suffer In Us Custody; Swing State Republicans Getting Trumpier; AOC Seeks To Stop Israel Arms Deal

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    Conditions are still atrocious for thousands of migrant children in US government custody. Why hasn’t the Biden administration come up with a humane way to house these kids until they can be reunited with their families?

    Meanwhile, a review of recent state Republican leadership elections shows that the party is still getting Trumpier, even though he’s out of office. And the trend is stronger in swing states.

    And lastly, AOC and some fellow House Democrats are introducing a resolution to stop a massive arms sale to Israel, as the assault on Gaza continues. Better late than never!


    This spotlight on America’s national shame comes from CBS News. Migrant children housed at two makeshift US government shelters, an Army base in west Texas and a Houston warehouse, described subpar living conditions, including limited access to showers, soiled clothes and undercooked food. Unaccompanied children at the two Department of Health and Human Services emergency housing facilities – which are not licensed to care for minors – also reported feeling sad and desperate while in US government custody. That’s according to attorney Leecia Welch, who cited recent interviews with more than thirty migrant girls and boys. Several migrant children reported suicidal thoughts and talk of self-harm among other youths, Welch said. The minors longed to be with their families, she added, but some had not spoken to case managers charged with facilitating their reunifications.

    CBS reports that over the past several weeks, the Biden administration has dramatically reduced the number of unaccompanied children stuck in ill-suited Border Patrol facilities. However, the government is still housing more than nineteen thousand unaccompanied youths in facilities overseen by HHS, including the mass makeshift shelters, four of which are housing more than one thousand minors each. Welch said, "From a child welfare perspective, I disagree with housing hundreds of kids in shelters to begin with. And now we're being told the best long-term plan our government can come up with is to warehouse thousands of kids in tents on a military base?" Biden’s team really needs to fix this – and fast.

    Swing State Republicans Getting Trumpier

    Vice News brings us this update on GOP extremism. The Republican Party chairs of Texas and Wyoming have flirted with secession from the United States. Oklahoma’s Republican chair has called Islam a cancer. The Oregon GOP called the Capitol insurrection a false flag operation. And at least nineteen Republican state chairs publicly pushed Trump’s big lie about the election. A review of public positions of all fifty GOP state chairs shows many are pushing conspiracy theories, spouting unhinged rhetoric, and undermining voters’ trust in democracy. That includes the chairs of nearly every swing state in the US. And the trend is accelerating: Many of the most extreme chairs just won their chairmanships or have been reelected since Trump left office four months ago, a number of them with his endorsement. Former GOP officials say it was predictable that state parties would get Trumpier while he was president, but found it notable that the trend has continued since he left office.

    According to Vice, it’s coming from the top down, too. The Republican National Committee launched a so-called Election Integrity Commission in February. Of the six state party chairs on the commission, just one has come close to acknowledging the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory – South Carolina’s Drew McKissick. Three others on the commission pushed Trump’s claims that the election was stolen. There are plenty of Republican chairs who haven’t been willing to echo Trump’s lies. But most of them have refused to stand up for the truth. Profiles in cowardice!

    AOC Seeks To Stop Israel Arms Deal

    The Squad is working to protect Palestinian lives. Jewish Currents reports that amidst Israel’s devastating assault on Gaza, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib are preparing to introduce a resolution that would block the United States’ planned $735 million sale of bombs to Israel. The resolution would halt the transfer of so-called J-DAMs, or Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and of Small Diameter Bombs. Both are bombs outfitted with special guidance systems to hit their targets. Both are made by Boeing. Israel has used J-DAMs and

    Small Diameter Bombs in its current attack on Gaza. Additional co-sponsors include Representatives Cori Bush, Andre Carson, Pramila Jayapal, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley.

    Jewish Currents says that even if it doesn’t pass, the resolution could set up an unprecedented debate in the House of Representatives on the propriety of a bomb sale to Israel. As such, the proposed legislation is a rebuke of the Biden administration’s policy of facilitating the flow of weapons to a country that has killed at least two hundred and twenty Palestinians in ten days, including sixty three children. The US gives Israel $3.8 billion in annual military assistance, money that is used to purchase American weaponry. Tlaib said, "You cannot claim to support human rights and peace on Earth and continue to back the extremist Netanyahu regime, it’s that simple."

    Finally, Israel’s Channel Twelve reports that a cease-fire will begin tomorrow. We’ll see.


    The Washington Post reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will oppose legislation to create a commission tasked with investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol – a signal that the legislation will not have the votes to get through the Senate. The House voted yesterday to pass a bill creating the commission. If Congress fails to fully investigate, at least we still have the press.

    The Associated Press reports that the European Union took a step toward relaxing travel rules for tourists yesterday when EU ambassadors agreed on measures to allow in fully vaccinated visitors. But EU countries will keep the possibility to impose restrictive measures on tourists such as quarantines. So don’t imagine that summer travel will be stress-free.

    Reuters reports that twenty-two people accused of trafficking children to work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast have received prison sentences of up to twenty years. The case follows the rescue by police this month of sixty eight children working on cocoa farms. Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa producer and is under pressure to crack down on child slavery.

    According to NBC News, the New York attorney general’s office is pursuing a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization, in addition to the ongoing civil probe. But, on the bright side, it looks like he might get state approval to open a casino at his resort in Doral, Florida. Win some, lose some!

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 20, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 19, 2021: Report Sees End To Fossil Fuels; Val Demings Takes On Marco Rubio; Biden Will Sign Hate Crimes Bill

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


    An international advisory body that’s long been seen as providing cover to the oil and gas industry made some jaws drop with a new report. The International Energy Agency now says new fossil fuels projects need to be put to a stop immediately.

    Meanwhile, a formidable Democratic challenger has emerged to take on Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Progressives can’t get too excited, however – she’s a former cop.

    And lastly, both chambers of Congress have now passed a bill designed to address the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes. Sixty three Republicans stood to oppose it, for reasons only they will ever truly understand.


    This agenda-setter comes from the Houston Chronicle. The International Energy Agency, the body that advises governments on energy and is widely respected among Republicans and Democrats, warned yesterday that nations need to halt oil and gas development this year if they are to meet their target of net zero emissions by 2050. In a new report the IEA advises nations to shift their economies to run largely on electricity, with ninety percent of that energy coming from renewables such as wind and solar. Such a shift in less than thirty years represents a daunting challenging for governments, who would need to overhaul their energy systems in a fraction of the time of past energy transitions, such as the move from wood to coal. Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director, calls this, "perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced."

    The Chronicle reports that to make it happen, the IEA is recommending several things. It says governments should end subsidies for fossil fuels and put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. It also says they should mandate the end of technologies including internal combustion cars, gas-powered furnaces and coal plants.

    Separately, the Washington Post reports that President Joe Biden yesterday cast the US as being in an urgent race with China to build electric vehicles. Biden was visiting a plant in

    Dearborn, Michigan, that is about to unveil the electric version of its popular F-150 pickup truck. Can we do this without the gratuitous nationalism, please?

    Val Demings Takes On Marco Rubio

    Here’s a battleground race to watch. The Washington Post reports that Democratic Representative Val Demings, who raised her national profile as one of the House managers prosecuting Donald Trump’s first impeachment, plans to run for the Senate in Florida in a bid to unseat Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Demings is now the most high-profile Democrat seeking to take on Rubio. If she wins the party primary, she will be a formidable opponent against the incumbent. The race will certainly receive national attention, but Rubio won’t be easy to beat. Trump won Florida in 2020, and Rubio has former president’s full support. Still, the former Orlando police chief-turned-politician has seen her star rise in her brief time in Washington, even making the shortlist of President Biden’s possible vice-presidential picks.

    The Post says Rubio is viewed favorably by more Florida voters than not, but his approval is under fifty percent, which suggests he has some vulnerability. A Democrat with knowledge of Demings’s strategy said the congresswoman is entering the race early in the hope of galvanizing support from key players to box out other potential candidates and avoid a messy primary. Key among them is Representative Stephanie Murphy, another rising star in Florida Democratic circles and the first Vietnamese American woman to be elected to Congress. Murphy has been on a listening tour across the state in anticipation of her Senate run. She’s also a moderate, so there’s still room for a strong progressive in the primary.

    Biden Will Sign Hate Crimes Bill

    The opposition here is puzzling. NBC News reports that the House yesterday passed a Senate bill to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono introduced the bill in March alongside New York Representative Grace Meng, both Democrats. Last month the Senate passed it ninety four to one. Yesterday’s House vote was three hundred and sixty four to sixty two. All sixty two No votes were from Republicans. Texas Republican Representative Chip Roy said ahead of the vote that he didn’t support the measure because he didn’t think it would be effective. Suuuure.

    According to NBC, the legislation directs the Department of Justice to expedite the review of Covid-related hate crimes that were reported to law enforcement agencies, and help them establish ways to report such incidents online. The bill also directs the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidance on how to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic. Ahead of the vote, House Democrats maintained the legislation will help prevent the spate of attacks against Asian Americans. Meng, who represents a district in Queens with a large Asian-American population, said her community has faced despicable and sickening acts of hate and violence over the last year and a half. The bill's passage in the House paves the way for it to head to President Biden’s desk. He’s expected to sign it later this week. Now we should ask, what more can be done?


    The Guardian reports that Chile’s elections resulted in resounding victories for leftist and independent candidates while rightwing politicians crashed to dismal electoral defeats. Across two days of voting, Chileans cast votes for the one hundred and fifty five delegates who will write a new constitution to replace Augusto Pinochet’s 1980 document and the neoliberal model it enshrined. It’s an inspiring moment of political optimism.

    The Associated Press says that with the war showing no sign of abating, Palestinians staged a general strike yesterday. One protester was killed and more than seventy wounded – including sixteen by live fire – in clashes with Israeli troops in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and other cities. Israel continued its airstrikes into Gaza. Optimism here is harder to find.

    CBS News reports that Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order yesterday that will bar public schools and most other government entities from requiring masks. The order bans any government entity from mandating masks, with fines of up to $1,000 for those who don’t comply. Talk about useless grandstanding.

    Axios reports that the FBI is investigating what it describes as a massive scheme to illegally finance Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins’ 2020 reelection bid. The FBI believes a Hawaii defense contractor then called Navatek illegally funneled $150,000 to a pro- Collins super PAC and reimbursed donations to Collins’ campaign. Collins helped the contractor secure an $8 million Navy contract before most of the donations took place. What a way to say you’re welcome!

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 19, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 18, 2021: US Shipping 20m COVID Vaccines; Supreme Court Takes Abortion Case; NLRB Finds Amazon Union Shenanigans

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


    The United States has agreed to send a further 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine abroad, in addition to the 60 million doses currently stuck in FDA limbo. Hopefully this batch will get out the door ASAP.

    Meanwhile, the Supreme Court says it will hear arguments in a case from Mississippi that could directly challenge Roe V. Wade and change the future of abortion rights in America.

    And lastly, new emails uncovered by the NLRB show the corrupt lengths Amazon went to to disrupt the union vote in Bessemer, Alabama.


    The United States is finally getting its act together and shipping some of our massive surplus of vaccines to the countries who need it most.

    On Monday, the Biden administration announced that it would send 20 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines to countries still struggling with the pandemic.

    That’s in addition to the 60 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vax that we’ve already pledged. The AZ doses, unfortunately, are still held up by FDA approval, so they haven’t gone out yet.

    Biden says the new doses should be shipped by the end of June.

    Biden said, “Just as in World War II America was the arsenal of democracy, in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic our nation’s going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world. We’ll share these vaccines in the service of ending the pandemic everywhere.”

    That might be getting ahead of things a little.

    While the U.S.’s contribution is large, it’s still a drop in the bucket of what the world needs. India, which is currently still in the throes of one of the worst outbreaks since the pandemic began, has only fully vaccinated 3 percent of its population. That means there are over a billion people who still need a shot in that country alone.

    As we reported yesterday, we also need Biden to stand firm on his promised patent waivers, so big pharma can’t swoop in to extract their price.

    Supreme Court Takes Abortion Case

    The big one that liberals have feared for years may be coming. The Supreme Court annonced on Monday that it would hear a case from Mississippi that could directly challenge the judicial protection of abortion outlined in Roe v Wade.

    According to the New York Times, the new case concerns a state law that seeks to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This won’t be a quick process: the Times reports that the court will hear arguments in the case during its next term, which starts in October, and probably make a decision in the spring or summer of 2022.

    But by now we all know the score. Conservatives have a 6-3 majority on the court, and Donald Trump’s hand-picked justices all seem poised to tear up Roe V Wade at their first opportunity.

    The Supreme Court last heard a major abortion case in 2020, when it struck down a restrictive Louisiana law. But that was before Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death, and only went down because of centrist Chief Justice John Roberts tiebreaking vote.

    Now, liberals are outnumbered, which means the Biden administration has a choice: make changes to the structure of the court, or go down as the administration who sat and watched as Donald Trump’s legacy of bigotry and injustice came to pass.

    NLRB Finds Amazon Union Shenanigans

    It’s been a minute since we checked in with the union-busting activities of Amazon, but it feels like just yesterday. Today, new National Labor Relations Board documents show that Amazon specifically lobbied the U.S. Postal Service to install an illegal ballot dropbox in its Bessemer facility during its vote-by-mail election.

    In emails about the mailbox surfaced by the NLRB and reported by More Perfect Union, an Amazon executive writes:

    “This is of the utmost importance for our senior leadership. I am not joking at all when I say that I will drive to Alabama myself to install it if need be.”

    The order reportedly came from Dave Clark, Amazon’s SVP who oversees warehouse operations. What happened next was even more blatant. Not only did Amazon security guards have the key to the USPS mailbox, the company then installed a tent around the mailbox with anti-union messaging on the side.

    The postal service claimed it didn’t know about the tent, but it’s pretty easy to see the score here. The only question now is what the NLRB is prepared to do about it.


    President Biden had a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin [BIN YA MIN] Netanyahu on Monday, and reportedly pushed for a ceasefire in the country’s assault on Gaza. Meanwhile, of course, he’s continuing to push for a new $735 millon weapons deal to Israel. Congress has the power to block that, but do they have the will?

    Andrew Cuomo’s disgustingly self-serving book about leadership during COVID fetched a whopping $5.12 million book deal, which is being paid out over the next few years. Of the 1.4 mil he got this year, Cuomo donated 500 thousand to United Way and put the rest in a trust for his daughters. Lucky them! Unlucky for the thousands of New Yorkers who died under his leadership.

    LiveScience reports that the reactors under the Chernobyl nuclear site have started to smolder again, like “the embers in a barbecue pit.” This isn’t cause for global panic, as any resulting accident would be on a far smaller scale than the original meltdown, but certainly sounds ominous!

    And finally, the Intercept reports that the Pentagon will begin monitoring the social media of military members for extremist content, as part of a wider attempt to crack down on extremism in the service. This attempt, however, raises some pretty severe privacy concerns, as such policies inevitably aren’t just used to root out Nazis.

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 18, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 17, 2021: Israel Says No End in Sight to Gaza Bombings; GOP Vs. Poll Workers; Big Pharma Lobbies Congress to Stop Patent Waivers

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


    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there is no clear end in sight to the violence in Palestine, as the death toll from Israeli strikes continues to climb despite widespread international calls for a ceasefire.

    Meanwhile, the GOP has a new target in their war on voting rights: poll workers. They’re seeking to levy harsh penalties for anyone who makes a mistake while working on an election.

    And finally, the Intercept reports that Big Pharma is doing all it can to lobby lawmakers toward stopping Joe Biden’s support for worldwide access to generic COVID vaccines.


    Israeli forces killed dozens more Palestinians over the weekend and destroyed the building housing both the Associated Press and Al Jazeera’s offices in the Gaza strip in an airstrike, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there is no end in sight to the violence.

    Palestinian authorities say Israeli strikes have killed at least 192 people, including 58 children. Rocket attacks launched from Gaza have killed at least 10 people in Israel.

    Those numbers show just the tip of the iceberg of violence unleashed on the Gaza strip in the past week. Israeli forces have destroyed apartment buildings, damaged medical facilities, and leveled family homes, all under the familiar auspices of “fighting terror.”

    That was their excuse yet again when on Saturday, airstrikes destroyed the building that housed both the Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices in Gaza.

    Israeli officials claimed that Hamas forces were also using the structure, and warned journalists to evacuate before leveling the building. Yet Netanyahu gave no clear evidence that Hamas was in the area.

    Meanwhile, international calls for a cease-fire are mounting. The Times reports that Biden spoke to both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to broker a ceasefire, but to no avail. The U.N. Security Council met to discuss the issue, but took no concrete action. And all the while, the people of Palestine continue to suffer.

    GOP Takes Aim at Poll Workers

    The New York Times has a new story out about a disturbing aspect of the GOP’s push to kill democracy. New laws in Texas and several other states would specifically target poll workers and election officials, making any small mistake punishable by extreme fines and even in some cases jail time.

    The Times reports that poll workers say they’ve experienced a severe uptick in harassment by poll watchers and other partisan agents in recent elections. In addition to that, new voting laws across the country have started to crack down on these workers, as well as nonpartisan election officials.

    The Times reports that various laws are leveling the threat of felonies, jail time and fines as large as $25,000 over the heads of election officials who make innocent mistakes in the process. All of this is a direct result of the GOP’s embrace of election conspiracies and Donald Trump’s continued insistence that he won the 2020 election, of course.

    Listen to this quote from Chris Davis, the county election administrator in Williamson County, Texas:

    “These poll workers don’t ever, in our experience, intend to count invalid votes, or let somebody who’s not eligible vote, or prevent somebody who’s eligible from voting. Yet we’re seeing that as a baseline, kind of a fundamental principle in some of the bills that are being drafted. And I don’t know where it’s coming from, because it’s not based on reality.”

    Poll workers work extremely long hours for very little pay, often out of a sense of duty. But experts think these draconian penalties will start to scare some of the most experienced among them away. That’s bad for democracy -- or in other words, good for the GOP.

    Big Pharma Lobbies Congress to Stop Patent Waivers

    The Intercept reports that Big Pharma is up to its usual tricks: lobbying behind the scenes to make the world a more miserable place.

    Last week, the U.S. announced that it would support the World Trade Organizations’ proposal to temporarily waive enforcement of the patents on COVID vaccines, which would allow many struggling nations to develop their own generic vaccines and get them to their citizens without paying an arm and a leg to U.S. companies.

    According to new documents the Intercept obtained, Pharma lobbyists have been goading a core group of House Republicans into opposing this effort at all costs. Many lobbyists in question work for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group that represents Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and other big firms -- in other words, exactly the people who will profit from keeping a tight lock on the patents.

    Their effort was enough to convince 29 House Republicans to sign on to an as-yet-unsent letter to Biden urging him to roll back his support for the WTO plan. The letter leans into the lobbyists talking points, also obtained by the Intercept, which claim that the waiver would cost American jobs and allow China to “profit from our innovation.”

    The play they’re making is simple: try to use Chinese and Russian fearmongering to get Biden to back down. With any luck, the President is going to see right through that -- but who knows how many corporate Democrats might be susceptible to the same kind of crap. One to keep an eye on, for sure.


    Neera Tanden finally made her way into the White House, after her humiliating failure to gain an actual confirmed seat at the OMB because of her awful Twitter feed, she will be joining the Biden Administration as a senior advisor. My guess is she probably won’t be giving social media advice!

    The Military Times reports that U.S. Space Force Lt. Colonel Matthew Lohmeier [LOW MEYER] was dismissed from his post after he went on a podcast to promote his new self-published book, titled “Irresistible Revolution: Marxism's Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military." Sounds like the Space Force isn’t attracting America’s finest.

    There’s a new George Bush on the scene! Yep, you heard that right. George P. Bush, the large adult son of one Jeb Bush, is considering a run for Texas Attorney General. We will never be free from this family at this rate!

    The messy Matt Gaetz cycle continues. A new report by the Daily Beast alleges that Gaetz’s associates gave a kushy county government contract to an influencer, model, and escort that Gaetz frequently partied with, allowing her to collect thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for doing, well, not a whole lot.

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 17, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Jack Crosbie

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw


  • May 14, 2021: Fully Vaccinated Americans May Go Maskless; Hidden Camera Sting Targeted FBI; GOP States Slash Jobless Benefits

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


    If you’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the US government says you no longer need to wear a face mask in most places. That’s great news for about one-third of the population, but everyone else still needs to hurry up and get the shot.

    Meanwhile, a new investigation reveals that Project Veritas ran a secret campaign to discredit Donald Trump’s imagined enemies inside the government. With the help of a former British spy, it even targeted FBI agents for hidden camera sting operations.

    And lastly, nearly two million Americans in sixteen Republican-ruled states are facing imminent cuts to their jobless benefits. This is what they consider good government: making people suffer for no good reason.


    This cause for celebration comes from the Washington Post. Americans who are fully vaccinated can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups, federal officials said yesterday. The announcement paves the way for a full reopening of society. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy. Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated." More than one hundred and fifty four million Americans have had at least one shot and one hundred and seventeen million are fully vaccinated, about thirty five percent of the population.

    The Post says Walensky cited a growing body of real-world evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines. She noted the shots offer protection even against more contagious variants circulating in the United States. The relaxation of masking does not apply to airplanes, buses, trains and other public transportation, to healthcare settings, or where state or local restrictions still require them. Officials also noted that some business settings may require masks, especially since some workers remain unvaccinated. Walensky urged those who are immune-compromised to speak with their doctors before giving up their masks. For everyone else, enjoy feeling the air on your face.

    Hidden Camera Sting Targeted FBI

    This dive into conservative skullduggery comes from the New York Times. A network of conservative activists, aided by a British former spy, mounted a campaign during the Trump administration to discredit perceived enemies of Donald Trump inside the government, according to documents and people involved in the operations. The campaign included a planned sting operation against Trump’s national security adviser at the time, HR McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against FBI employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau’s ranks. The operations against the FBI, run by the conservative group Project Veritas, were conducted from a large home in the Georgetown section of Washington that rented for $10,000 per month. Female undercover operatives arranged dates with the FBI employees with the aim of secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Trump.

    Central to the effort, according to the Times, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy. Seddon was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. The scheme against McMaster was one of the most brazen operations of the campaign. It involved a plan to hire a woman armed with a hidden camera to capture McMaster making inappropriate remarks that his opponents could use as leverage to get him ousted as national security adviser. He eventually resigned anyway to avoid being fired by Trump. Which suggests this Project Veritas campaign was yet another bottomless pit for conservative donors’ money.

    GOP States Slash Jobless Benefits

    Republican cruelty is also bottomless. The Washington Post reports that more than one point nine million Americans in Alabama, Mississippi and fourteen other Republican-led states are set to have their unemployment checks slashed starting in June, as GOP governors seek to restrict jobless assistance in an effort to force more people to return to work. The cuts are likely to fall hardest on roughly one point four million people who benefit from stimulus

    programs that Congress adopted at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, including one targeting those who either are self-employed or work on behalf of gig-economy companies such as Uber. Beginning next month, many of these workers are likely to receive no aid at all.

    According to the Post, the looming cliff reflects an emerging campaign on the part of GOP leaders to combat what they consider a national worker shortage. Arizona and Ohio became the latest states yesterday to announce plans to scale back benefits out of a belief that the federal payments have deterred people from returning to their old positions. The reality is more complicated. The slowdown in hiring may instead reflect workers’ concern about their safety and difficulty obtaining child care, or their trouble finding suitable positions in hard-hit industries on top of mounting frustration about wages they consider too low. That means the loss of unemployment benefits over the next month threatens to inflict new financial harm on those who say they’re already struggling. Our sympathy to all those affected in red states.


    The Associated Press reports that Hamas sent a barrage of rockets into Israel yesterday as Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes and shells and called up nine thousand reservists who could be used to stage a ground invasion. And Reuters reports that individuals involved in the new eruption of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed may be targeted by an International Criminal Court investigation now under way. War criminals beware.

    According to Bloomberg News, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo this week set an audacious new benchmark in her campaign to reduce car use: a ban on most vehicle traffic crossing the city center. The plan would stop through traffic from a large zone covering Paris’ core, to cut pollution and noise and free up more space for trees, bicycles and pedestrians. Très magnifique!

    USA Today reports that a Marine Corps officer was arrested yesterday and charged with assaulting police officers at the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Major Christopher Warnagiris, forty, of Woodbridge, Virginia, is the first service member on active duty charged for his role in the deadly riot. Semper Fuggedaboutit!

    The Washington Post reports that Joel Greenberg, a Florida politician who is central to the investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz for possible sex trafficking of a minor, signaled yesterday that he will plead guilty in his own federal case. It’s a a troubling development for the congressman as it suggests prosecutors have secured a potentially important witness against him. Too bad for Gaetz that Trump pardon fell through.

    AM QUICKIE - MAY 14, 2021

    HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

    WRITER - Corey Pein

    PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw