The Monday Politics Thread Was Done at Little Expense at the Last Minute

CDC Admits the Coronavirus Is Airborne, Can Be Transmitted More Than 6 Feet Away

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finally acknowledging something that health experts have been saying for a while now: COVID-19 spreads through the air and can be inhaled by someone who is more than six feet away. The CDC said in a document published Friday that it has “repeatedly documented” instances of the virus spreading through the air to people who were more than six feet away “under certain preventable circumstances.” This marks a change for the agency that previously said most infections took place through “close contact, not airborne transmission.”

“COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected,” the CDC now says on its website.

Slate

Beyond India, a growing number of Asian countries are being ravaged by fresh coronavirus waves

As India’s coronavirus catastrophe worsens, new waves of infections are fast engulfing a growing number of nations across South and Southeast Asia — with some grappling with their worst outbreaks since the pandemic began.The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that India had accounted for nearly half of all global infections and a quarter of deaths reported in the past week.But cases have also skyrocketed in countries around India, from Nepal in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south. And it’s not just India’s neighbors — further away in Southeast Asia, infections are also surging in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.

“The Southeast Asia region reported over 2.7 million new cases and over 25,000 new deaths, a 19% and a 48% increase respectively compared to the previous week,” the WHO said on Wednesday. “India is currently driving the vast majority of this upward trend.”

CNN

Texas GOP’s voting restriction bill passes House

Texas has become the latest Republican-dominated state to advance sweeping new limits on voting, despite no evidence of any problems with last year’s vote and a coalition of state and federal officials calling the 2020 presidential election the most secure in history.

The GOP-led restrictions cleared the Texas House on Friday, starting with the a key vote at 3 a.m. It followed hours of debate that started the day before, and lawmakers are now likely to begin negotiating a final version of the legislation that will need approval before heading to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who signaled an eagerness to sign it.

“One step closer to my desk & making it TX law,” he tweeted Friday.

From Florida to Georgia, Iowa and now Texas, Republican lawmakers have used unsubstantiated claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies to justify new voting restrictions. They argue the new limits, which largely target mail voting, are needed to boost public confidence and improve security. In some cases, the rules also create onerous requirements and penalties for local election officials.

In Texas, Democrats have virtually no path to stop the bill in the GOP-controlled Legislature, but they warned of legal fights ahead.

“You have your vote, you have your majority. But guess what? I look forward to seeing you in federal court,” said Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer before a final procedural vote Friday afternoon that sent the bill back to the Senate. He added that “history is on our side.”

AP News

‘It’s derogatory’: one man’s four-decade fight against his town’s Native ‘mascot’

On a recent Friday evening, the teenage daughter of the then mayor-elect of Morris, Illinois, about 60 miles south-west of Chicago, led her high school’s marching band on to the football field wearing a headdress, face paint and clothes resembling Native regalia.

As the band played the “war cry” for the pre-game event, the student, with her reddish blond hair in braids, stood in a wide stance in the middle of the field with her arms crossed.

It was a familiar scene for Morris Community high school, a school of about 850 students, none of whom are Native, according to a 2019 Illinois report card. Its mascot has long been “the Redskins”, a term widely considered a racial slur against Native Americans.

Current and former students told the Guardian most home football games involve a white student who has been named “chief” dressed in an outfit meant to resemble Native regalia.

But it is this practice, along with the school’s mascot, that Ted Trujillo – considered the only enrolled tribal member of a federally recognized tribe living in the small city and an alumnus of the school – has been fighting against for nearly four decades.

“It’s racist. It’s derogatory. It stereotypes a whole race of people,” Trujillo, 51, told the Guardian. “It appropriates our sacred culture and traditions. A headdress has meaning in the Native world; the regalia, everything has meaning.”

The Guardian

Afghanistan girls school bombing death toll soars to 50

The death toll in a horrific bombing at a girls’ school in the Afghan capital has soared to 50, many of them pupils between 11 and 15 years old, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

The number of wounded in Saturday’s attack has also climbed to more than 100, said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.

Three explosions outside the school entrance struck as students were leaving for the day, he said. The blasts occurred in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in the west of the capital. The Taliban denied responsibility, condemning the attack.

Fox News

To Bridge The Digital Divide, Biden Administration Launches Vaccine Hotline

In the early months of the vaccination campaign, Internet access was essential to the search for a vaccination appointment.

But given that more than 14 million people in the U.S. lack reliable access to high speed Internet, technology has been a barrier for some Americans.

To help overcome this digital divide, the Biden administration has launched a new vaccination assistance hotline for people who would prefer to get information via telephone. It’s part of the administration’s push to get 70% of adults in the U.S. vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.

NPR

Florida reports more than 10,000 COVID-19 variant cases, surge after spring break

Variant COVID-19 infections skyrocketed following spring break in Florida and there have been more than 10,000 variant cases reported throughout the state, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported based on data from the Florida Department of Health.

A total of 753 variant cases from three strains — the B.1.1.7, the P.1, and the B. 1.3.5.1. — were reported on March 14, according to variant infection data shared with ABC News. The Florida Department of Health does not disclose variant cases on its public dashboard.

That number swelled to 5,177 cases from five types of variants on April 15. Just two weeks later, the number of variant infections exploded to 9,248 on April 27, according to local ABC affiliate , WFTV.

The surge falls in line with mid-March into April spring break celebrations, when college students and vacationers flock to the sunshine state.

Florida is home to the most variant COVID-19 cases in the country. State health officials reported more than 11,800 cases of COVID-19 variants on Wednesday, according to the Sun Sentinel.

ABC News

Biden says he no longer understands Republicans. He has a chance to figure the GOP out this week.

President Joe Biden used a fleeting handshake moment below Air Force One this week to pitch two Republican senators on his plan for infrastructure.An airport tarmac in New Orleans wasn’t really the setting for a full debate on his $2.3 trillion plan, which Republicans have uniformly deemed too big. But walking away, neither Biden nor his GOP greeters believed anything was off the table.The impromptu meeting, described by people familiar with it, came as Biden is preparing to enter what he views as a critical stretch for testing the bounds of bipartisanship. Though he confessed recently he doesn’t quite “understand” Republicans anymore, Biden will have ample opportunity to try figuring them out in the days ahead.

He plans to meet Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, and a selection of Republicans of her choosing to hear out a roughly $600 billion counterproposal to his infrastructure plan. And on Wednesday Biden will sit down with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate to gauge just how much they can work together to advance his agenda.

CNN

The PRO Act: What’s in It and Why Is It a Labor Movement Priority?

For the past few months, all eyes (or at least those belonging to the majority of members of the U.S. labor movement) have been focused on Bessemer, Alabama, where workers at an Amazon warehouse have been fighting to unionize their workplace. The campaign started with one man, Darryl Richardson, whose past union experience and determination to improve conditions for his coworkers led him to place a call to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), thus kick-starting one of the most consequential, closely watched union drives in recent history. 

By choosing to organize, Richardson and his coworkers took on one of the most powerful corporations in the world, one that has enjoyed record profits during the COVID pandemic; its now-former CEO, Jeff Bezos, increased his personal wealth by $70 billion over the past year. It was truly a David and Goliath story, and though Amazon prevailed in the union vote, some workers have already made it clear that they won’t be backing down.

Teen Vogue

At Least 4 Transgender Women of Color Were Killed Within 10 Days

At least four transgender women of color were killed in 10 days, as anti-trans violence continues to rise amid a legislative assault on the community’s right to exist. The deaths of two Black transgender women were reported this week, and counting the two trans women of color who were killed in the U.S. last week, this year continues to be on pace to surpass 2020 as the deadliest year for transgender Americans.

In Dallas, 38-year-old Tiffany Thomas was shot and killed at a car wash on April 24, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Thomas’ friends and family have described her as a funny person with a big heart who was always laughing.

Thomas was misgendered by the local press following her death because her family denies that she was trans, according to Planet Transgender. Officers at the scene initially told the press that the victim was a transgender woman, but the Dallas Police Crime Blog identified Thomas by her deadname. After inquiries by LGBTQ+ advocates and reporters, the entry was updated to clarify that the victim “also identifies as Tiffany.”

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