Scientists have found a troublesome new variant of the coronavirus in the wild in the United States. We’ll share what it means for you and yours.
Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats are outraged at the elevation by Republicans of a conspiracy-theory spouting wingnut. Meet Sandy Hook truther Marjorie Taylor Greene, who Donald Trump called a rising star of the GOP.
And lastly, Joe Biden’s Housing secretary nominee, Marcia Fudge, takes heat from Republicans for her own past comments about them. But what she’s got to say about keeping people housed during the pandemic is spot-on.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
It’s here. A highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa has infected two people in South Carolina with no travel history, the Washington Post reports. These are the first cases in the United States involving the B-One-Three-Five-One variant. The patients’ lack of travel or a connection to one another suggests that the variant is spreading in the community following an undetected introduction.
The B-One-Three-Five-One variant was first identified in South Africa in December, the Post reports. It is considered by scientists to be even more worrisome than the more widely publicized B-One-One-Seven variant first seen in the United Kingdom. The latter has been detected in more than two dozen US states. Three so-called variants of concern are spreading across the planet, and all three have been identified in the US. A variant known to scientists as P-One has been spreading in Brazil and is linked to a disastrous surge in cases.
According to the Post, there is no evidence that the B-One-Three-Five-One variant is deadlier for individuals than more common strains of the virus. But if it is more transmissible, as scientists suspect, the resulting boost to the infection rate would increase hospitalizations and deaths. At least one antibody therapy will not work against the new variants. Scientists are scrambling to create a new antibody that can block the mutation. The vaccines, scientists think, will still work as planned in the short term. The most important step the public can take
is to try to stop the spread. Vaccinations are critical, but vaccines remain in short supply. In the meantime, people should practice social distancing and wear masks. In fact, some experts now suggest wearing a fabric mask on top of a surgical mask. So there’s a crafting project for you, folks.
Pelosi Slams 'Appalling' Taylor Greene
The crank is inside the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday unloaded on House GOP leaders for elevating freshman Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene to a key panel, escalating pressure on Republicans to punish her for a long record of extremist comments, Politico reports. Pelosi said Greene should not be seated on the House Education Committee after peddling a false conspiracy theory that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 was a hoax. Pelosi yesterday called the GOP’s decision to seat Greene on that committee QUOTE absolutely appalling ENDQUOTE.
The freshman Republican from Georgia has drawn fury from across the House Democratic Caucus even before she was elected in November, Politico says. But that anger grew far more intense in recent days, after CNN and Media Matters uncovered Facebook posts in which Greene spread lies that deadly school shootings were staged. Another post showed Greene repeatedly endorsed executing top Democrats in 2018 and 2019.
According to Politico, Pelosi is putting the onus directly on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to act. But so far, there are no signs that the California Republican has any intentions of stripping her of newly-awarded committee seats. Greene’s office said she has no plans to resign, citing strong support from her constituents back home. Some Democrats aren’t waiting around for GOP leaders to act. California Representative Jimmy Gomez is introducing a resolution to expel Greene from Congress. While expulsion is unlikely, Democrats aren't ruling out additional measures against Greene. Representative Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland, Florida, and chairs the Ethics Committee, said Greene QUOTE shouldn’t have a public platform to further spread dangerous lies ENDQUOTE. Greene was also seen on video harassing a survivor of the Parkland shooting. A real charmer, she is.
Fudge Advances Through Senate
President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees continue to face Congressional scrutiny. The Associated Press reports that Housing secretary nominee Marcia Fudge told senators yesterday she would take extraordinary actions to prevent people from losing their homes due to the pandemic. Fudge championed homeownership as a classically American ticket to the middle class and endorsed federal financial assistance to expand the ranks of minority homeowners. But during her appearance before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the long-serving Ohio congresswoman said her most immediate priority, if confirmed for Biden’s Cabinet, would be protecting the millions of people who have fallen behind on rent or mortgages due to loss of income during the pandemic.
Speaking remotely from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Fudge said QUOTE Whatever it takes, we cannot afford to allow people in the midst of a pandemic to be put in the streets ENDQUOTE. Fudge also endorsed direct federal financial assistance to help prospective minority homeowners with the down payment on a mortgage, the AP reports. She said that simply ending racially biased lending or housing practices wasn’t enough. There needs to be direct assistance to make up the wealth gap created by generations of redlining and other systemic racial inequities, she said.
The hearing progressed in a largely collegial tone, according to the AP. Some of the most pointed criticism from Republicans focused not on Fudge’s policies but on the harsh things she has said about Republicans. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy challenged Fudge, a former leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, on statements she made that Republicans don’t care about people of color. When Kennedy asked her directly whether she believed Republicans cared about Black Americans, Fudge tersely answered, QUOTE I do, some, yes ENDQUOTE. Now that’s true bipartisanship!
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Thousands more New York state nursing home residents may have died of Covid-19 than Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has publicly acknowledged, ProPublica reports. A report released yesterday by Attorney General Letitia James found an undercount of as much as fifty percent. Cuomo’s office ignored a request for comment. It’s a scandal, is what it is.
The US economy shrank by three point five percent last year, making 2020 the worst year for economic growth since 1946, according to the Washington Post. But one bright spot in 2020 was that the personal saving rate hit the highest on record. A Depression will do that.
At least six people died and nine others were injured in a liquid nitrogen leak at a poultry plant in Georgia yesterday, the New York Times reports. Firefighters responded to the Foundation Food Group plant in Gainesville, Georgia, and found a large contingent of employees that had evacuated, along with multiple victims in the crowd. I wonder when was the last time this place had a real safety inspection?
A German neo-Nazi has been jailed for life for the 2019 murder of Walter Lübcke, a pro-immigration politician with Angela Merkel’s CDU, the Guardian reports. Stephan Ernst admitted to the shooting last year. Yesterday a judge handed Ernst, age forty-seven, a life sentence and acknowledged the special gravity of his crime, meaning he is unlikely to be considered for parole for at least twenty-two years.
JAN 29, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn