Brazil's Bolsonaro makes the planet an offer it can't refuse … but they have to reject Bolsonaro

Nice planet you have there. It would be a shame if someone were to, say, burn down a region that holds the greatest biodiversity, plays host to thousands of endangered or not yet discovered species, and provides a home to ancient and isolated human cultures. 

That’s not exactly what Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said in his speech at President Joe Biden’s climate summit on Thursday, or the content of a proposal that Bolsonaro circulated to world leaders on Wednesday. But it certainly seems to be the implication. After falsely stating that he has worked to constrain the expansion of slash and burn agriculture and reduce illegal logging when his policies have explicitly encouraged the expansion of both, Bolsonaro said the world should provide “fair payment for the environmental services of our biomes to the planet.”

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Bolsonaro has put some numbers to what appears to many … Read the rest

Vast majority of Americans agree with guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin in Floyd killing

A flash poll conducted in a three-hour window following the announcement of a guilty verdict for police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd found that the vast majority of Americans agreed with the jury’s conclusion. 

In the Ipsos poll conducted for USA Today, 71% of respondents said they agreed with the finding that Chauvin was guilty, and 62% said they planned on simply accepting the verdict with no further action.

Chauvin was found guilty on all three felony counts charged against him in the death of Floyd after kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Although higher numbers of Democrats and independents agreed with the guilty verdict, 85% and 71% respectively, a 55% majority of Republicans also did.

But the public was divided on Chauvin’s motivation for the killing, with 40% saying he was guilty of murder while … Read the rest

Manchin says Republicans will help on infrastructure. Graham is busy working out how to kill it

Sen. Joe Manchin continues to insist that there will be 10 Republicans willing to help Democrats on getting anything passed in the Senate if Democrats are just nice enough to them, Republican senators are not spending their time talking to their colleagues about common ground. Even on infrastructure, the bill with the most potential for really great stuff they can bring home for their constituents. No, with the bill still in the earliest drafting phases where good-faith Republicans could be having valid input, they’re plotting all the ways to derail it.

“It’s a target rich environment,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican member on the Senate Budget Committee. “There are a lot of problems.” That’s because of Democrats’ intent to use budget reconciliation, the process that lets legislation pass with simple majority votes, not subject to the filibuster. That advantage comes with some strict procedural rules about what’s allowed … Read the rest

Biden admin cites decimated program in its refugee debacle, but signs point to political reasons

Politico reports that while the White House held a call with refugee resettlement agencies just hours after last Friday’s outrage over President Joe Biden’s decision to keep the previous administration’s historically low 15,000 admissions cap on refugees in place, it appeared that advocates continued to remain largely in the dark about why the president backed down from the proposed 62,500 cap from the first days of his administration.

“Two sources on the call said they still had outstanding questions and were not told whose decision it was to keep the cap at 15,000,” the report said. Nor did the White House explain “why it didn’t say in its initial announcement that the president would issue a ‘final, increased refugee cap’ by May 15,” it continued. But it was clearly in response to the backlash over the president’s broken pledge. Members of the administration also cited the previous administration’s dismantling of the refugee system. But that’s … Read the rest

Retail spending spiked in March as $1,400 checks hit, but don't fall for 'revenge spending' stories

Close to 160 million stimulus checks totaling more than $375 billion have reached U.S. households since the passage of the American Rescue Plan, and retail sales showed the effects in March. That means a big boost to the economy—and needed purchases for people who may have been putting them off for a year.

Many people have reported using their COVID-19 relief payments to stay housed and pay basic bills, or to pay down debt, but there was still enough left that retail sales rose by 9.8% in March (seasonally adjusted), significantly outstripping the up to 6.5% increase Wall Street analysts had predicted. Let’s be clear, though, that this doesn’t bear out the Republican messaging that people got too much free government money and now have no motivation to work or practice responsible financial planning. People are spending most of their stimulus money on paying down debt, essential spending, and saving.

According to a recent survey … Read the rest

‘Bullhorn lady’ openly mocked a judge’s order to wear a mask in public. Then a judge found out

Some people just never learn. After being released pretrial, Rachel Powell, known as “bullhorn lady” for using a megaphone during her participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, has once again gone viral for posting a picture of herself in a Pennsylvania bookstore while wearing a mesh mask. The video, originally posted to Facebook on March 31 and reported by Law & Crime, was deleted by the bookstore but re-uploaded to Twitter by HuffPost’s Ryan J. Reilly on April 9. 

In response to the video, a federal judge ordered the Pennsylvania woman to show why she should not be jailed pending trial or be held in contempt of court for allegedly violating the requirement that she wear a mask when leaving her home. “The court does not take the defendant’s willingness to flout the court’s order lightly,” U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth wrote. Lamberth added that her noncompliant mask “mocks’ her initial agreement to be released. 

Chief … Read the rest

McConnell flat-out tells Republicans to use Manchin and Sinema to obstruct Biden, Democrats

Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell strategized this week with their conferences on the filibuster, and both had as their focus the two problem children of the Democrats: Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Schumer has a plan for demonstrating to the two that Republicans really don’t want to play nice and McConnell has a plan to optimize the two as his tools to trash everything President Joe Biden intends to do.

In this week’s Democratic conference luncheon, the first in-person since the pandemic, Schumer asked Democrats to find Republican partners willing to work with them on bipartisan priorities. “Schumer is just now laying out how we want to go forward,” one of the Democratic senators told The Hill on background. “Some members of the caucus, a considerable number, they want to understand the extent of Republican obstruction to justify any action … Read the rest

House committee advances bill preventing a future president from enacting another Muslim ban

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 25-17 to advance the NO BAN Act, legislation that would block any future president from enacting another Muslim ban or similar discriminatory measure. While Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to terminate the previous president’s ban on day one of his presidency, “the threat of a future immigration ban on Muslims, Africans or other nationalities and religions persists,” advocates said.

“With today’s vote, the House Judiciary Committee has brought us closer to ensuring that this cruel discrimination never happens again,” Muslim Advocates said. “Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban was born out of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hate. Unfortunately, these forces still thrive in our politics and could easily be harnessed again to score political points by banning and separating families. That is why we must pass the NO BAN Act.”

“Muslim Advocates has worked with members of Congress to support [the] bill and also leads the NO BAN Act coalition, … Read the rest

Democrats call on Biden to prioritize citizenship for essential workers in infrastructure plan

Congressional Democrats led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Alex Padilla, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, and California Rep. Ted Lieu are calling on President Joe Biden to prioritize the inclusion of their immigration bill in his upcoming infrastructure package. “A path to citizenship for essential workers is a critical part of building our economy back better,” they note in the letter.

Their legislation, the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act, would affect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants who have been in essential roles amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. “The upcoming legislative package on jobs and infrastructure is the best opportunity to recognize and reward the sacrifices and labor of essential workers,” their letter says.

“For the past year, essential workers have further proven themselves to be a truly important part of our nation’s critical infrastructure and crucial part of the backbone of our society,” legislators write. “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security even designated essential workers as … Read the rest

Feds ask for brief hold on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations to push out new emergency guidelines

The Biden administration has announced that they are “recommending” a momentary pause in usage of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine after six U.S. patients out of 6.8 million administered doses developed a rare but “severe type of blood clot” in the weeks after vaccination. The pause is expected to last only days, but already Americans are reporting Johnson & Johnson vaccination appointments for today being cancelled. While the White House asserts that the increased supply of other vaccines means there will be little overall effect on vaccination rates, there’s no question the cancellation of appointments will disrupt many Americans’ own efforts to get vaccinated, and the news is likely to further convince some vaccine skeptics to avoid getting any of the available shots.

That’s the top line news, and what Americans woke up to this morning. The details are considerably less alarmist and the administration is already facing significant criticism for the … Read the rest