The early returns on COVID-19 vaccinations have largely been positive in the United States and elsewhere. There have certainly been so-called "breakthrough" cases, in which fully vaccinated people have been infected, but The New York Times' David Leonhardt notes that statistics so far indicate the chances of that happening are about one in 11,000, and the rate dwindles even further when it comes to the chances of developing anything worse than a mild infection.
Still, many people who have been vaccinated remain nervous. This is understandable, Leonhardt writes, given the novelty of the virus and the toll it's taken. The risk of dying from COVID-19 post-vaccination is probably more akin to "high profile," but "extremely rare dangers" like plane crashes, lightning strikes, or shark attacks. Getting in a car, on the other hand, is a "bigger threat," Leonhardt writes.
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver and data scientist David Shor also made this point, and Shor estimated that the "per hour risk of killing somebody driving sober is at least 33 times higher than the per hour risk of killing somebody from [COVID-19] hanging out maskless post-vaccination."
That's where sociologist Zeynep Tufekci jumped in. Tufekci generally agrees that COVID-19 vaccination leads to a "dramatic risk reduction." She does, however, think the risks of driving and doing certain activities while vaccinated are not completely comparable. That's because car accidents are generally more individualized, while spreading COVID-19 can lead to a transmission chain, which is why Tufekci thinks government agencies need to be explicit about how effectively the vaccines curb transmission to determine what the true risk factor is. Tim O'Donnell
(Car crashes also affect others but car crashes do not have transmission chains. Do the vaccinated initiate transmission chains to the degree we need to think about it? Is it so blunted that this is no longer a big enough risk?That should be the explicit CDC discussion).
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has had enough of the Arizona state Senate's audit of the November presidential election, and all of the baseless conspiracy theories that go along with it.
The Republican-led state Senate hired a firm called Cyber Ninjas to carry out an audit of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in November. Using subpoenas, the state Senate was able to get the ballots, voting machines, and private and public voter information. Former President Donald Trump has been following along from Florida, and on Saturday, released a statement falsely claiming that the "entire database for Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!"
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, tweeted that Trump's comment was "unhinged," and he was "literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen. Right now. We can't indulge these insane lies any longer." On Monday, Richer told CNN's Erin Burnett that Trump's statement left him "exasperated," and was "tantamount to saying the pencil sitting on my desk in front of me doesn't exist."
He's not the only GOP official in Arizona at their breaking point. Four of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisor's five members are Republicans, including Chair Jack Sellers, who on Monday accused the state Senate of running a "grift disguised as an audit. This board is done explaining anything to these people who are playing investigator with our constituents' ballots and equipment, paid for with real people's tax dollars. People's ballots and money are not make believe. It's time to be done with this craziness."
Richer wrote a letter rejecting claims that files were deleted, and Sellers said he will "not be responding to any more requests from this sham process. Finish what you call an audit and be ready to defend your report in a court of law. We all look forward to it."
The audit was being conducted at Phoenix's Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, but is now on pause because the venue is being used for high school graduations. Election technology expert Ryan Macias told CNN he's "never seen anything like it," adding that Cyber Ninjas has no "auditing experience" or "election technology experience." By moving the ballots in and out of the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, "the more likely the chain of custody will be broken and the less likely that the data is reliable," Macias said. Catherine Garcia
This comes as 60 percent of Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. Despite the gains, "we're still losing too many Americans" to COVID-19, Biden said, and people who refuse to get vaccinated "will end up paying the price."
Biden also revealed that in June, the United States will send 20 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines abroad. "We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that's raging globally is under control," he said. "No ocean's wide enough, no wall's high enough, to keep us safe." Catherine Garcia
Cyclone Tauktae made landfall in India's western state of Gujarat on Monday, bringing with it heavy rain and winds.
The cyclone was classified as being "extremely severe" — the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane — and has already killed 12 people since the weekend. About 150,000 people who live in low-lying areas were evacuated ahead of the cyclone making landfall, and are now in shelters. BBC News reports Tauktae is the strongest cyclone to hit the region since 1998.
The cyclone comes as India deals with a catastrophic surge in COVID-19 cases, with hospitals running out of oxygen and beds for patients. There are concerns that by moving so many people to shelters, this could lead to coronavirus outbreaks in the next few weeks. Catherine Garcia
President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, and during their call expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and encouraged Netanyahu "to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians," the White House said.
Over the last week, Israel has been conducting airstrike after airstrike in Gaza, and in return, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel. This is the worst fighting between the two sides since 2014, and so far, at least 200 Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed.
Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to broker a ceasefire, but have yet to make any progress. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said any "diplomatic initiative that advances that prospect is something that we'll support," but "ultimately it is up to the parties to make clear that they want to pursue a ceasefire."
The Biden administration said it is focusing on "quiet, intensive diplomacy," but some Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), are calling on the president to "push harder" on Israel and Hamas to stop the violence. "We can't continue to see this loss of civilian life," Schiff said on Face the Nation Sunday. "It's got to come to an end." Catherine Garcia
Just as Americans finished filing their 2020 taxes, the president released his.
President Biden shared his tax returns on Monday evening, which Press Secretary Jen Psaki pointedly noted was restoring the time-honored and "transparent" presidential tradition ignored by his predecessor, President Donald Trump. Vice President Kamala Harris' taxes were released Monday evening, as well.
From the White House: "Today, the President released his 2020 federal income tax return, continuing an almost uninterrupted tradition."
Notably, both Biden and Harris reported lower incomes than in 2019; they would, however, still "end up paying higher tax rates under Biden's American Family Plan based on their incomes this year," Bloomberg reports. The president's income fell to $607,336 in 2020, while Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff reported a federal adjusted gross income of $1,695,225.
The big reveal came on the heels of Monday's other tax-related news, in which the Biden administration shared it would "kick-start advance payments" of the American Relief Plan's child tax credit on July 15, per Insider.
"It was tiny and intimate — less than 20 people," the representative said. "The room was so happy and full of love. The couple and both families couldn't be happier."
The wedding reportedly took place at Grande's home in Montecito, California, though TMZ writes that "there was no real 'ceremony'" and that they "said their 'I dos' in an informal way." The "thank u, next" singer, who was previously engaged to comedian and actor Pete Davidson, announced her engagement to Gomez in December after the two started dating in early 2020.
Per the Times, administration officials have begun evaluating clemency requests, and activists have said they feel they're getting the sense pardons and commutations may be signed by the president within the next year or two. "We asked them not to wait to the end of a term to execute pardon and commutation power for photo ops, and they definitely assured us that is not this administration's plans," DeAnna Hoskins, the president of the criminal justice group JustLeadershipUSA, told the Times. Hoskins participated in a Zoom call between White House officials and formerly incarcerated citizens last month.
While Biden appears to be getting the ball rolling early, the process itself will be quite deliberate and in conjunction with the Justice Department, which oversees a "rigorous application vetting process," the Times reports. That differs from former President Donald Trump's pardon approach, the Times notes, which often bypassed the Justice Department and instead relied on "an ad hoc network of friends and allies."
Not everyone loves that idea, though. Desmond Meade, a voting rights activist who is seeking a federal pardon for a decades-old military conviction for stealing liquor and electronics on Navy bases while he was serving in the Army, said the Justice Department's application is "way too bureaucratic" and "daunting." He tried to convince the Biden administration to move the process outside the department, but it appears they are not inclined to do so, the Times reports. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell