March 27, 2015

Plenty of churches contain relics of saints, but not many of those relics were found in excavations from sixth-century churches.

Archaeologists at a medieval fortress site in Burgas, Bulgaria, found a lead vessel, which contains some of the ashes from the alleged grave of John the Apostle, in a reliquary that dates to the sixth century C.E. The reliquary, which was once part of an early Christian basilica, is named for Saint John the Theologian, who is considered one of Jesus' apostles. The vessel, which is less than an inch long, is decorated with crosses.

Milen Nikolov, director of the Burgas Regional Museum of History, said that early Christians would have believed the relic had healing properties. John the Apostle's grave in Turkey was also a pilgrimage site for early Christians seeking healing, Ancient Origins reports. Nikolov said the reliquary was "one of the most important discoveries" in the museum's history.

In addition to the relic, the archaeologists also uncovered a 10th century Bulgarian royal seal at the fortress site. Meghan DeMaria

11:33 a.m.

At this point, Natalie Shure writes in The New Republic, the "ongoing ubiquity" of outdoor masking has turned into "meaningless political theater," even as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson seems to concur, writing that "mandating outdoor masks and closing public areas makes a show of 'taking the very seriously,' while doing nothing to reduce indoor spread,'" adding that such rules may actually backfire in that it forces people to gather inside, which is much riskier. Slate's Shannon Palus joined Shure and Thompson in arguing that outdoor masking makes little sense anymore, given how much more information there is about COVID-19 transmission these days.

Shure, Thompson, and Palus were quick to clarify that they're still very much in favor of wearing masks indoors, but they all pointed to several studies that found the risk of passing on the virus outdoors to be very small, and the rare cases that do occur tend to "involve considerable close contact," as opposed to, say, "passing someone maskless on the street or in the park," Shure writes.

The counterargument is that wearing masks outdoors reinforces the idea that people should wear them indoors, but Thompson notes that Julia Marcus, a Harvard Medical School epidemiologist, found through some anecdotal interviews with mask skeptics that people became more open to adhering to indoor mandates when they learned outdoor masking wasn't as important. "The purpose of mask wearing isn't to send a message," Shure writes. "If it were we could just iron whatever slogan we wanted to onto a T-shirt. The point of mask-wearing is to reduce infection, and there's simply no reason to believe that wearing a mask while walking to the grocery store accomplishes this." Read more at The Atlantic, The New Republic, and Slate. Tim O'Donnell

10:53 a.m.

Meet the latest addition to Earth's mightiest heroes.

Marvel Studios on Monday debuted the teaser trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, its very first superhero movie centered around an Asian lead.

Simu Liu stars as the titular Marvel superhero. In the film, Shang-Chi is living in America after training to become an assassin under his father but walking away from it all, "only to find himself sucked back into his father's sinister domain," Entertainment Weekly writes.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton explained to Entertainment Weekly that the film tells a story about Asian identity and that its crew was a "big mix of Asian cultures coming together," while star Awkwafina added that she saw a "level of Asian representation that I haven't seen" while working on it. Liu also told Entertainment Weekly that although Shang-Chi draws from Marvel's comics, it avoids some aspects of the character's portrayal dating back to the 1970s that "could feel a little stereotypical."

For Liu, it's surely a bit surreal debuting as the character after tweeting at Marvel calling for an Asian superhero all the way back in 2014 — only to himself become the very hero he was looking for. Besides, today just so happens to be Liu's birthday. As far as birthday presents go, this was surely a pretty good one, and Liu could hardly contain his excitement as he tweeted, "THIS IS THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to hit theaters in September. Brendan Morrow

9:49 a.m.

Things are complicated in the world of European soccer at the moment.

The continent's most powerful clubs — Manchester United, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and several others from England, Italy, and Spain — are attempting to form their own "Super League," much to the chagrin of their domestic leagues and UEFA, the sport's European governing body.

Basically, it comes down to money; the venture would be lucrative for the clubs, and not so lucrative for the UEFA, leaving the two sides in an apparent standoff. The whole thing may wind up being a bluff by the clubs to get more money from UEFA's Champions League, an annual continent-wide competition featuring the best teams from several domestic leagues, but right now it's unclear just how serious either side is.

If no one blinks, the world's most famous competition, the FIFA World Cup, may wind up in the middle of the dispute. On Monday, UEFA's president Aleksander Čeferin confirmed that any players who participate in the Super League "will be banned" from playing in the World Cup or the European Football Championship. "They will not be allowed to play for their national teams," he said, adding that sanctions against the clubs and players would come "as soon as possible," per Italian soccer journalist Fabrizio Romano. FIFA has also previously said the players would be ineligible for international competitions, suggesting players from non-European countries would be affected.

The World Cup would go on as planned, but if the threat is ultimately realized, many of the world's greatest players would be absent, which, it's safe to say, is not a desirable outcome and could potentially greatly diminish the event. That scenario would have consequences for the U.S. men's national team, as well, considering several of its young stars, most notably 22-year-old Cristian Pulisic (who plays for Chelsea, a would-be Super League participant), would be subject to the ban. Read a full explainer of the situation at CBS Sports. Tim O'Donnell

9:24 a.m.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been taken to a prison hospital after his team warned his health is deteriorating and he could die "in a matter of days."

Navalny, the prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was moved to a hospital in a high security prison by Russian authorities on Monday, The New York Times reports.

"With the patient's consent, he was prescribed vitamin therapy," Russia's federal penitentiary service said, per The Washington Post.

Navalny for three weeks has been on a hunger strike, which he began to protest authorities not allowing him to see his personal doctors, according to The Associated Press. He was hospitalized last year after being poisoned with a nerve agent, which he has blamed on Putin.

Physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin has warned that test results show Navalny may be at risk of cardiac arrest due to increased levels of potassium, per NPR. On Friday, Ashikhmin wrote on Facebook, "Our patient could die at any moment." The U.S. has said that Russia will face "consequences if Mr Navalny dies."

After news of his transfer to a prison hospital was announced, top Navalny strategist Leonid Volkov dismissed this step, per The Associated Press, saying, "Until the lawyers locate him, we won't know where he is and what is up with him." Brendan Morrow

8:02 a.m.

The United States has reached a key milestone in its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, as every adult in the country is now eligible to receive a vaccine.

As of Monday, all adults in each U.S. state, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, were eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to The New York Times. The final states to open up eligibility to their entire adult population on Monday were Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, per Axios.

"It's truly historic that we have already reached this milestone," the University of Washington Medical Center's Dr. Nandita Mani told the Times.

President Biden announced in March he was directing states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by May 1. But as states increasingly moved to open up vaccinations to all adults sooner than that, Biden later moved the deadline up to April 19, and the goal of meeting this earlier date was successfully met on Monday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of American adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, and about 32.5 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. At this rate, according to the Times, the U.S. is on pace to have 70 percent of its population vaccinated by the middle of June. Brendan Morrow

7:21 a.m.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully flew its remote-controlled helicopter on Mars early Monday. "We can now say that human beings have flown a rotor craft on another planet," MiMi Aung, project manager for the Ingenuity helicopter, told her cheering crew after the data confirmed the test flight's success Monday morning. "We have been talking so long about our Wright Brothers moment on Mars, and here it is!"

Ingenuity, a solar-powered helicopter that landed on Mars on the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover, flew 10 feet into the air, hovered for about 20 seconds, then landed, JPL confirmed. Ingenuity's down-facing camera transmitted a black-and-white photo of its shadow on the Martian surface and Perseverance beamed back color video of the test flight. The proof-of-concept experiment proved that humans can fly aircraft remotely on planets with a tiny fraction of the Earth's atmosphere. A normal helicopter's blades rotate at about 400 revolutions per minute, NASA said, while Ingenuity's spin at about 2,500 rpm to overcome the thin atmosphere. Peter Weber

6:23 a.m.

When Oregon legalized recreational marijuana in 2015, much of conservative Eastern Oregon did not join the green rush. Ontario, a town of about 11,000 people on the Idaho border, voted against allowing pot sales in 2016 — and then the smaller town of Huntington, 30 miles northwest of Ontario and 30 minutes farther from Boise, allowed dispensaries to open and was flooded with cash from Idaho weed tourists, Politico reports. "Huntington was soon receiving $100,000 in tax revenue from a single marijuana shop — half the 400-person city's annual budget." Ontario approved pot sales in 2018.

Now, Ontario — best known as the home of Ore-Ida and the birthplace of the tater tot — is a weekend destination for residents of Boise and Idaho's Treasure Valley, who congregate mostly in a shopping center with a Home Depot, Walmart, fast food restaurants, and four cannabis dispensaries, Politico's Natalie Fertig reports. City Manager Adam Brown tells Politico that Idahoans make about 1,600 "unique trips" to Ontario every day, for tax-free shopping at the big-box stores but mostly for the weed, which is totally prohibited in Idaho.

Ontario had $92 million in cannabis sales in 2020, according to Portland Business Journal, or $2,857 for every resident of Ontario's Malheur County. Multnomah County, which encompasses most of Portland, sold only $378 in weed for every resident in 2020, Politico reports. The $1.5 million in tax revenue Ontario raked in from marijuana last year was about 4 percent of the city's annual budget, and the town is expecting close to $3 million in weed taxes this year.

"Ontario is just one of dozens of border communities around the country that have been transformed into marijuana boom towns thanks to the country's patchwork quilt of cannabis laws," Politico says. "Eighteen states now embrace full legalization, and all of them but California and Alaska share a border with at least one state where cannabis is illegal." In the last five months alone, New York, Virginia, New Mexico, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota have legalized marijuana, motivated in part by the weed windfalls in neighboring states, Fertig notes. "Those new laws have created more than 20 regions potentially rich with border-crossing cannabis business." Read more at Politico. Peter Weber

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