The Senate passed the $1.9 trillion relief bill on Saturday
, but it needs to go back to the House for one more vote before it reaches President Biden’s desk and gets put into action. That House vote is set for tomorrow, and it’s expected to pass once more along party lines. Biden would sign it shortly after, and people could start getting stimulus checks within days. If all goes according to plan, it would be a big win for Biden
, especially since the President has had to rein in partisan drama on the Hill and convince moderate Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin
, to stay in line. More importantly, lawmakers hope it will be a big win for the American people. When it comes to those $1,400 stimulus checks, recipients with information on file with the IRS will probably see payments first. Others could get paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.
The US could be in the “eye of the hurricane,” according to one expert, instead of riding a steady pandemic decline. Cases have stopped dropping and are now plateauing
at very high numbers, with the country averaging roughly 60,000 new cases daily in the past week. Loosened restrictions and mass spring break events right around the corner
could spell serious danger. Plus, the B.1.1.7 variant, first found in the UK, could fuel more infections over the next six to 14 weeks. It’s also important to note that the pandemic is still tough in a lot of places. Brazil just recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases
in two months, with 80,000 new infections in a single day.
Online platforms directed by Russian intelligence are spreading disinformation about two coronavirus vaccines used in the US
, a State Department spokesperson confirmed. The agency’s Global Engagement Center identified three Russian outlets that are playing up risks and doubt, including one sharing exaggerated reports that the Pfizer and Moderna shots carry a high risk of a rare side effect. The GEC also found the outlets were sowing more disinformation over military conflicts, protests and “any divisive issue that they can exploit.” Experts say the reason for the anti-vaccine disinformation is to promote Russia’s rival Sputnik V vaccine. The Kremlin denied that its intelligence services were spearheading the disinformation campaign.
4. South Korea
The US and South Korea have come to terms on a cost-sharing agreement for US forces based in South Korea
. Negotiations over this deal had badly strained the alliance during the Trump administration after then-President Trump demanded Seoul pay up to 400% more for the presence of the 28,500 troops on the peninsula. The new benchmark fits into President Biden’s goal of returning to “regular order,” namely repairing alliances and engaging with them through established structures. One of the next items on the agenda with South Korea will be deciding on a joint strategy to handle North Korea — not an easy task. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make his first international trip as the top US diplomat to South Korea and Japan next week.
5. Royal interview
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry sat with Oprah for a highly anticipated interview that is now threatening to rip open a racism scandal around Buckingham Palace
. Meghan, who is half Black, told Oprah that “concerns” were raised by an unnamed family member while she was pregnant about how dark their baby’s skin would be. Harry confirmed the conversation, saying he was a “bit shocked” by it. Meghan also said her life as a British royal was so isolating that at one point she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
The accusations come at a delicate time for the royal family
, with Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, recovering after a heart procedure. How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has remarried
Team LeBron won the NBA All-Star game, but the real winner was HBCUs
Here’s a full list of the Critics Choice Award winners
Did the critics get it right? Judge away.
Grammys 2021 performers will include Taylor Swift, BTS and Billie Eilish
The full list contains basically every artist you’ve ever heard of
(and definitely some you haven’t).
You can buy the first-ever tweet. The current bid: $2.5 million
Hmmm, we’ll stick to making them for free
A landmark case moves forward
Jury selection is set to begin today in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer
Derek Chauvin, one of the officers charged in the killing of George Floyd last May.
That’s how much money Elon Musk lost last week
as tech stocks got hammered and Tesla shares’ stunning rise quickly unraveled. Musk has do-si-doed with Jeff Bezos atop Bloomberg’s list of richest people in the world since January and is now a distant second to Bezos’ fortune.
“(Hope is) more powerful than hatred and peace more powerful than war.”
, while leading prayer amid the rubble of the Iraqi city of Mosul
. The Pope’s trip marks the first-ever papal visit to Iraq and the Pope’s first visit outside Italy since the pandemic began.
Meet the world’s smallest owl
Let’s all be as industrious this week as this little elf owl. (Click here to view