It’s Earth Day, and while conversations about the climate crisis and global emissions may feel overwhelming, there are also plenty of people and organizations doing incredible work to restore Earth’s biodiversity.
Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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1. Police reform
Guilty verdicts in the George Floyd case have renewed hope of tangible police reform at state and national levels. The Senate’s top GOP negotiator has floated a compromise on the divisive issue of qualified immunity, which protects officers who don’t break the law against personal liability in civil suits. Sen. Tim Scott has proposed shifting accountability from officers to their departments. Democrats want some sort of reform deal done by the anniversary of Floyd’s death on May 25. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a police reform bill with more deescalation training and better record-keeping. His announcement followed yet another fatal police shooting, this one in Columbus of a Black teen, Ma’Khia Bryant, who charged two people with a knife. Many are asking why she couldn’t have been subdued with nonlethal force. Meanwhile, the Justice Department launched a federal civil probe into policing practices in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed. And today is the funeral of Daunte Wright, a Black man killed by police in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
The risk of fully vaccinated people getting Covid-19 remains extremely low. In a new study, only two of these so-called “breakthrough infections” were reported out of hundreds of vaccinated people. We know no vaccination fully protects against a disease, but this high protection rate is reassuring. New research about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also shows they do not appear to pose any serious risk during pregnancy. The CDC is putting together new guidance for vaccinated Americans, and the White House has announced new efforts to boost plateauing vaccination rates by offering incentives for businesses to allow their employees to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, the pandemic continues to ravage India. The country reported 314,835 new Covid-19 infections today, the highest daily increase in cases worldwide since the pandemic began.
3. Voter suppression
Progressive activists are calling on big names like Ford, Target, Google and other major companies that have pledged to support voting rights to cut ties with the US Chamber of Commerce over the body’s opposition to the Democratic-backed For the People Act, which would counter efforts by states looking to impose voting restrictions. That includes states like Arizona, where the House passed a bill that would stop some voters from automatically getting mail-in ballots. In Texas, the state’s House has passed legislation that would allow election judges, who essentially operate as poll workers, to carry a gun in most polling places. Supporters say the bill is about safety, but Democratic critics say it will contribute to voter intimidation.
4. White House
President Biden kicks off a two-day virtual climate summit today with 40 of his foreign counterparts to discuss ways to combat the climate crisis. The White House is hoping the event will reassert America’s climate credibility, which was fractured in recent years. Biden will back up the efforts by revealing an aggressive new pledge to halve US carbon emissions, hoping other countries will follow. Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general after Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski broke ranks to join Democrats in the 51-49 vote. And Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote related to a Biden administration nominee, voting to advance the nomination of Colin Kahl as the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy.
Biden is preparing to declare the massacre of an estimated million or more Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a “genocide.” This may fracture relations with Turkey, but it will fulfill a promise set by Biden to put a name to the killings when a series of his predecessors stopped short. He will likely make the announcement during Remembrance Day on Saturday. Turkey’s government has often complained about foreign powers using the term “genocide” to describe the mass killings that began in 1915. They contend it was wartime and there were losses on both sides, and they put the number of dead Armenians at a far lower count of 300,000.
There’s a new busiest airport in the world, at least for now
Sorry, Atlanta, your bump from the top is probably only temporary.
LeVar Burton lands guest host gig on ‘Jeopardy!’ after more than 246,000 fans sign online petition
From “Reading Rainbow” to “Jeopardy!” … it’s a perfect fit!
After monster hits like ‘Bridgerton,’ Netflix needs a new big thing
And the public needs something new to wholly consume their imaginations for weeks on end!
Amazon is opening a hair salon in London
If Alexa suggests you should get bangs, don’t trust her.
Nervous about socializing in the office again? Here’s how to break the ice
“Hey, how was your, um, … global pandemic?”
That’s the proportion of companies that are falling short on commitments to the goals of the Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.
“We really don’t want to burn bridges. But if someone perceives our intentions as indifference or weakness and is ready to burn or even blow up bridges, then Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and harsh.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual address to the nation. Putin also warned foreign powers not to cross Moscow’s “red lines” as Russia continues to square off with Western powers over issues like the occupation of Crimea and the treatment of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
This little jellyfish goes for an unexpected spin around an air ring but doesn’t seem too fazed by it in the end. (Click here to view.)