February 4, 2021

After a wild set of Golden Globe nominations, the race to the Oscars continued Thursday with more precursor nominees, giving a few films and performers a key boost.

The nominees for the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards were unveiled Thursday, and in Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, the nominees were Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Minari, One Night in Miami, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Among the most notable omissions in this category was Nomadland, seen as a major Best Picture contender, as well as Mank, which led Wednesday's Golden Globe nominations. But Da 5 Bloods scored a nod after it was shockingly shut out at the Globes, and Chadwick Boseman was posthumously nominated for his performance, in addition to a nomination for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

In the past, the Oscars' Best Picture winner has generally been nominated for SAG's best cast award with three exceptions, suggesting that 2021's victor may be one of these five films — though pundits observed Nomadland's absence could be blamed on its lack of a large cast compared to other contenders.

There's also often overlap between the SAG Awards and the Oscars in terms of acting winners, so Thursday's nominations dealt a blow to Da 5 Bloods' Delroy Lindo, who was surprisingly snubbed after also failing to earn a Golden Globe nod. Mank's Amanda Seyfried also lost some momentum after not earning a SAG nomination, despite being recognized at the Golden Globes.

On the other hand, Minari's Oscar prospects were raised after it came away with nominations not just for best cast, but also for stars Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung. And then there was Jared Leto, who earned another surprise supporting actor nod for The Little Things, potentially suggesting his previous shock nomination at the Golden Globes was no fluke.

The 2021 SAG Awards are scheduled for April 4, while the Oscars are set for April 25. Brendan Morrow

3:54 a.m.

Bankruptcy, especially as portrayed by bankruptcy lawyers, promises "a fresh start from your debts," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. Between 800,000 and 1.5 million Americans file for bankruptcy each year, "and many worry that once the current pandemic assistance stops, more and more people will need the type of help" bankruptcy offers. The process gives people a chance to dig out from under a mountain of debt, but it does hit your credit score, and it carries a "completely misguided" social stigma, he said.

"Bankruptcy is not solely caused by bad decisions, it's often caused by bad luck — unavoidable challenges like job loss, divorce, surprise medical bills, or perhaps even, you know, a once-in-a-century global pandemic," Oliver said. But absurdly, "a lot of people can't afford to go bankrupt," quite literally.

"Our modern bankruptcy code was enacted in 1978 — interestingly, around the same time that the credit card industry began to enjoy a period of steady deregulation," Oliver said. That "worked out very well for them, because they marketed themselves aggressively, and during this time, consumer debt began to sharply rise. And what the industry clearly wanted was people stuck in a lucrative cycle of minimum payments, late fees, and interest hikes. What they didn't want spoiling that was people cutting the cycle short through bankruptcy."

The credit card industry lobbied Congress aggressively, and a 2005 law made it harder and more expensive to file for personal bankruptcy, Oliver said. He explained the two kinds of personal bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and noted that many lawyers steer clients to the more expensive option, Chapter 13 — especially if their clients are black. "Even bankruptcy discriminates against Black people," Oliver sighed. He illuminated why people might have to file for bankruptcy twice — not, as Suze Orman suggests, "recklessness" or "moral failing" — and blamed "much of what is wrong with our current bankruptcy system" on the 2005 overhaul.

If you paid attention to the 2020 Democratic primaries, you already know President Biden was a big backer of the 2005 law and clashed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over it — and if you weren't paying attention. Oliver offered a recap. Warren now has an overhaul bill that Biden broadly supports, but it is unlikely to pass if 10 Republicans need to sign on to thwart a filibuster, he said. Oliver closed with a NSFW animated summation of his argument that also pillories mandatory credit counseling. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:45 a.m.

Michael Ellis, a former Republican operative tapped as general counsel at the National Security Agency in the final months of the Trump administration, resigned Friday after spending three months on administrative leave.

Former President Donald Trump's acting defense secretary had ordered NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone to accept Ellis' appointment as general counsel, and Nakasone agreed days before Trump left office, The Washington Post reported. The day Trump left the White House and Ellis was scheduled to start his new job, Nakasone placed him on administrative leave, citing a Pentagon inspector general investigation and inquiry into how Ellis handled classified information. The inspector general's investigation is still open, Nakasone told a House committee last Thursday.

"I have been on administrative leave for nearly three months without any explanation or updates, and there is no sign that NSA will attempt to resolve the issue," Ellis said in his resignation letter to Nakasone on Friday, the Post reports. "I therefore resign my position, effective immediately."

Ellis was general counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) before he joined the Trump White House in early 2017 as a National Security Council lawyer. His appointment to the NSA "raised concerns among Democrats and national security experts that it was an attempt by the Trump administration to install a loyalist in a sensitive and senior position — one with visibility into the activities of other U.S. spy agencies," the Post reports. The NSA general counsel job doesn't require Senate confirmation. Peter Weber

2:04 a.m.

The White House has removed Betsy Weatherhead, an experienced atmospheric scientist, from her role leading the U.S. National Climate Assessment and reassigned her to the U.S. Geological Survey, The Washington Post reports. Weatherhead was put in charge of the U.S. government's definitive report on the effects of climate change last November by Kelvin Droegemeier, director of President Trump's White House Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP). Officials at President Biden's OSTP made the decision to return her to USGS, the Post reports.

Weatherhead's appointment surprised many science policy experts, but pleasantly so, because she accepts the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and poses a serious threat to the planet and the economy, the Post reports. Despite her long experience in the field and mainstream views, the Post says, Weatherhead had clashed with other federal officials in the 13 agencies involved in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which coordinates the report.

Weatherhead wanted to bring in more authors from the private sector, include more viewpoints, and increase the number of chapters on options to mitigate and adapt to climate change, the Post says, and she has also "historically placed great emphasis on communicating scientific uncertainty." One of Weatherhead's previous bosses in the private sector, Juniper Intelligence CEO Rich Sorkin, called her "one of the world's experts on uncertainty," speculating that may have been what resonated with the Trump administration.

The Biden administration has yet to pick a replacement for Weatherhead or a new director of the Global Change Research Program. Trump removed the previous director, career appointee Michael Kuperberg, in November and replaced him with David Legates, who rejects the consensus on climate change. Droegemeier, who is not a climate change skeptic, reassigned Legate and another Trump political appointee, Ryan Maue, in January after they contributed to unapproved papers casting doubt on climate change, and both men resigned from the government a few days before Biden took office. Peter Weber

12:22 a.m.

Federal and local law enforcement were searching Sunday night for a former sheriff's deputy suspected of killing three people late Sunday morning in Austin, Texas. The suspect, Stephen Broderick, 41, was a property crimes detective for the Travis County sheriff's office until last June, when he resigned after being arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a child. After spending 16 days in jail last June, Broderick posted bail; Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said his office filed a motion Sunday to revoke Broderick's $50,000 bond.

The victims, described only as two Hispanic women and one Black man, were all known to Broderick, who is Black, interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said. "At this point, we do not think this individual is out there targeting random people to shoot. That does not mean he is not dangerous." The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service are aiding in the manhunt.

The shooting in Austin was the second multiple gun homicide on Sunday. Wisconsin's Kenosha County Sheriff's Department said Sunday afternoon that law enforcement has apprehended and charged with first-degree homicide a "person of interest" in a shooting at a Kenosha tavern early Sunday morning. At least three people died the three people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds after the shooting.

There have been about 150 mass shootings — defined as four or more people shot — in 2021, and in the 34 days since a gunman murdered eight people at Atlanta-area spas in March, an average of nearly two mass shootings have happened every day, The Washington Post reports, citing the Gun Violence Archive. CNN made a map, posted before the Austin shooting, which in any case falls one death short of that definition of a mass shooting.

In the 34 days since the Atlanta shootings, 82 people have been killed in mass shootings and 228 injured, the Post reports. Peter Weber

12:05 a.m.

He's only been painting for five months, and already, Jake Garcia's art is becoming a collector's item.

The Boston resident is a nursing student at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services, but he recently discovered a love for painting. "I just thought it would be really nice if you're walking down the street and you see this scene you really like and you look down and there was an oil painting of it," Garcia said. "That would be really cool right?"

He ran with the idea, and has left several of his original paintings in spots around Boston. "I'll see something I like, I'll set up, I'll do a painting of it, and I'll do my best to leave it somewhere in the vicinity," Garcia told CBS Boston. He lets his Twitter followers know where they can look for his latest piece, and hopes that he also inspires people to pick up their own paintbrushes.

"We've all been inside and a beautiful thing to do is to just go outside and just enjoy the sounds and the sights and the smells and just paint what you see," he told CBS Boston. "I think that's really nice and I think more people need to do it." Catherine Garcia

April 18, 2021

Rangers at Kruger National Park in South Africa on Saturday discovered the "badly trampled" body of a suspected poacher who wasn't able to escape a herd of elephants.

Kruger is one of South Africa's largest game reserves, home to elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalos. On Saturday, park rangers spotted three suspected poachers, and were able to capture one. He told the rangers one of his companions ran into a herd of elephants, and he wasn't sure if the man made it out alive. Later, the man's injured body was found.

Rangers are still trying to find a third suspect who sustained an eye injury while being chased. The three men are suspected of trying to poach rhinos, officials said, and during their investigation, rangers have discovered an axe and rifle.

"The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all of us," Gareth Coleman, managing executive of Kruger National Park, said in a statement. "It threatens many livelihoods, destroys families, and takes much-needed resources to fight crime, which could be used for creating jobs and development." Catherine Garcia

April 18, 2021

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said if an infrastructure bill is introduced with an $800 billion price tag, that's one Republicans "could pass."

"Let's do it and leave the rest for another day and another fight," he added. President Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan that would upgrade roads and bridges; invest in manufacturing and workforce development; and fund care for senior citizens and disabled Americans. On Monday, Biden will meet with lawmakers to discuss his proposal.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) was also on Fox News Sunday, and said he wants to see Democrats work with Republicans to reach a bipartisan agreement on parts of the White House plan and a broader Democratic plan. "I think in the next few weeks we should roll up our sleeves and sit down and find ways that we can support to make these critically needed investments," Coons said.

Some Republicans have criticized Biden's plan because they don't believe an infrastructure bill should include $400 billion to cover care for the elderly and disabled people; administration officials counter that this will help keep the economy going. Many Republicans also don't like Biden's plan to offset the cost of his proposal with corporate tax increases, which could raise the rate from 21 percent to 28 percent.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is standing behind Biden, tweeting last week that the country's "roads, bridges, highways, public transit, airports, housing, and electric grid are all in need of an overhaul," and the American Jobs Plan is a "big, bold bill that will create jobs, invest in infrastructure, and help combat climate change." Catherine Garcia

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