AGR THURSDAY BRIEFS
In order to “prove democracy still works,” the government needs to “deliver for our people,” President Joe Biden told a pandemic-constrained congressional session last night, marking his 100th day in office. That means adding another $1.8 trillion package of social spending on top of infrastructure and pandemic relief for a $6 trillion total — all without Republican support. He stressed that America was “moving forward,” while still battling the pandemic — against which the government has provided 220 million vaccine doses. Republican Sen. Tim Scott said Biden “seems like a good man,” but his tax-and-spend actions are “pulling us further apart.”
2. Feds’ Raid Signals Bigger Trouble for Giuliani
He’s no longer top of the heap. Rudy Giuliani was celebrated as mayor of 9/11-era New York, where he’d been the U.S. attorney. Giuliani, most recently the personal lawyer for former President Donald Trump, had his home searched yesterday by federal agents from his old office. They seized smartphones and computers in what experts say is an escalation of a probe into his suspected unregistered work as a foreign agent for Ukraine, where he attempted to obtain damaging information about President Biden’s son, Hunter. Giuliani’s lawyer charged that anti-Trump prosecutors initiated the raid, even though the probe began during Trump’s administration.
3. India Stages Election Despite COVID Crisis
There may be no winners. In India’s West Bengal state voters stood in long lines at polling places today. While the state that includes Kolkata isn’t among those hardest hit by the pandemic, many fear allowing 11,860 polling stations to open could make it so. Nationwide cases grew by a global record of 379,257 today in what one Delhi woman called “a horror movie,” with people everywhere “asking for medicine, help with a hospital bed, food, plasma.” The U.S. State Department advised Americans to leave India as Washington pledged $100 million in supplies, including oxygen, tests and masks.
4. Apple Banks Record Profit as Samsung Regains Title
Turns out there’s an “i” in “profit.” Apple announced yesterday that its lockdown-fueled sales boom is continuing, resulting in a year-on-year doubling of January-to-March profit to a record $23.6 billion. And the reason was the California-based giant’s bread and butter — a run on its pricey new iPhone 12 models, along with continuing success selling Mac computers and iPads. But the tide’s lifting all boats: South Korean rival Samsung’s phone sales have also surged, unloading 76.5 million units in the last quarter to regain the title of smartphone king from Apple, according to market researcher Canalys.
5. Also Important …
Newly released video shows Chicago police fatally shooting Anthony Alvarez, 22, who was armed, as he ran away from them, just two days after city officers shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo in March. China has launched a key component of its space station project into orbit. And the U.S. Justice Department has indicted three Georgia men in the February 2020 shooting death of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
Yes, Google, we agree to accept them. Faced with pandemic restrictions the Girl Scouts of Christiansburg, Virginia, are getting cookie delivery help that frontiersman and onetime resident Daniel Boone couldn’t have imagined. To complete deliveries of Thin Mints, Samoas and other sugary delights, Alphabet subsidiary Google Wing is using its drones to fly the cookies to customers. Lockdowns have curtailed the usual booths outside of stores and door-to-door selling, so cookie fundraising is down 50 percent this year. And Wing, which is experimenting with other drone deliveries in the area, is also touting the scouts’ treats on its app.
2. Will Downing Street Renovation Be Curtains for PM?
An open plan might have helped. Already under a dark cloud for allegedly blurting out “let bodies pile high” rather than impose another lockdown (he denies this), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing official scrutiny for his apartment renovations. While Johnson told Parliament Wednesday that he has personally covered the $280,000 cost, questions linger about accusations that campaign donors originally paid, and may have loaned him the money to cover the cost after a Sky News exposé on the affair. Now the nation’s Electoral Commission has “reasonable grounds” to suspect election law violations and is probing the matter.
3. Bishops Would Deny Biden Communion
The blood of Christ, not for you. That’s what many U.S. Catholic bishops appear poised to say at a June doctrinal committee meeting, where they’ll likely ban lifelong Catholic President Biden from taking communion. Though he’s a regular churchgoer, Biden’s abortion rights support spotlights the faith’s divisions, in which 67 percent of U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed communion. Some bishops would rather focus on shared positions on issues like climate change, which Pope Francis has prioritized. Those governing Biden’s home churches in Washington and Delaware say he’s welcome at the Lord’s table.
4. ‘Paddington 2’ Beats ‘Citizen Kane’ as Rotten Tomatoes’ Best
“Citizen” indeed. Charles Foster Kane’s downfall was completed this week, as Orson Welles’ classic — revered as the best film of all time — fell victim to Rotten Tomatoes’ quirky pass/fail ratings system. The Chicago Tribune panned the 1941 film 80 years ago, but the review was just added to Rotten Tomatoes, canceling its 100 percent rating and its status as the site’s best-reviewed film. The new king? Paddington 2, about the Peruvian cartoon bear. Paul King, the auteur responsible for both Paddington films, vowed not to let it go to his head, and, like Kane, “immediately build my Xanadu.”
5. Lamar Jackson’s Anonymity Wins Man $100
“I don’t know what position you play, but I know you play football.” The man who encountered the Baltimore Ravens quarterback and 2019 NFL MVP on video Wednesday did his best when Jackson challenged him to name him for $100. He guessed maybe a wide receiver, but even though he came up short, Jackson handed over a crisp Benjamin. With a 30-7 record, Jackson’s a known quantity unlikely to face any upstart QB picks in the NFL draft that starts today. And the $100? A pittance from a fifth-year contract option paying $23 million next year.