🌞 Schweddy – June 20 2022




Happy Monday. Heatwaves set records in the U.S. last week. Also the UK. And Spain. And France. When do we stop calling them heat waves and just call it hell? 

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In Case You Missed It. 

βš–οΈ The U.S. Justice Department filed multiple federal hate crimes charges against the alleged Buffalo, NY, mass shooter.

βš•οΈThe American Medical Association is prepping for the Supreme Court’s possible overturn of Roe v. Wade with a new policy to seek legal protections for patients and physicians punished around reproductive health services.

🏊🏻‍♀️ FINA, the global governance body for swimming, banned transgender women from participating in high-level women’s swimming events. The idea behind it, according to FINA, is to maintain a level playing field. 

🏁 NASCAR announced it is partnering with the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce. This is a first for the auto racing organization, which will be the chamber’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion partner for the 2022 term.

Coronavirus Update: 😷 

  • The U.S. is now offering Covid vaccines for children six months old and up after the FDA authorized three Covid shots for kids under five Friday and the CDC followed suit Saturday. It is the 8th country to vaccinate children under five. 
  • A new study shows that Omicron is about half as likely to lead to long Covid as Delta is.
  • After intense negotiations, World Trade Organization members have agreed to a partial patent waiver for Covid vaccines in an effort to get more shots to developing countries.















*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 5:00am ET. .


The Lead: Ukraine's Fast Track

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Ukraine could soon be taking the first official step toward EU membership.

Last Friday, the European Commission gave a big recommendation to granting Ukraine EU candidate status. The commission also recommended Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova. The 27 nations in the EU will meet on Thursday and Friday to discuss.

EU candidate status does not mean EU membership—Turkey has been a candidate since 1999—and no one is rushing into this with blinders on. There will be strict conditions that Ukraine must comply with, and its legal system will be heavily scrutinized.

“Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration and the country’s determination to live up to European values and standards,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels. “The entire process is merits-based. It goes by the book and therefore, progress depends entirely on Ukraine.”

Though there is some hesitation, the EU is expected to approve Ukraine’s candidate status at the summit this week. This fast-track is happening because of Russia’s advance into Ukraine. Prior to this, Ukraine’s application was on hold due to government and banking corruption. Ukraine is listed as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that NATO membership for Ukraine was a red line but will he take kindly to EU membership? That is TBD. 

U.S. Prepares to Introduce Taiwan To Its Parents

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The U.S. is set to nudge its downlow relationship with Taiwan toward the open.

On Friday, Senators Bob Menendez (a New Jersey Democrat) and Lindsey Graham (a South Carolina Republican) introduced the Taiwan Policy Act. The legislation lays out a framework for an explicit relationship with the democratic island moving forward, which includes: 

  • $4.5 billion in security assistance over four years
  • The designation of Taiwan as a Major Non-NATO Ally, which would give the island defense, trade, and security support
  • Support for Taiwan’s participation in the international community

“We live in dangerous times. China is sizing up America and our commitment to Taiwan,” Senator Graham said in a statement. “The danger will only grow worse if we show weakness in the face of Chinese threats and aggression toward Taiwan.”

The legislation is a signal that Russia’s war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call for some, who now see that it might be time to more clearly define the U.S.’ officially unofficial “strategic ambiguity” approach to Taiwan.

The clock seems to be ticking.

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Juneteenth Holiday

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Many people in the U.S. have a day off from work today, to commemorate the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally got word that they were free (June 19, 1865, aka 2.5 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.)

President Biden made Juneteenth a national holiday last year, so today is the observed/paid time off date for federal and other employees. But not all employees. 

Almost every state in the country recognizes the date in some way, but some stop at a simple proclamation while sticking with their holidays commemorating Confederate events and people.

"I asked many people in my district over the last few days, well over 100 people, if they knew what Juneteenth was and only two of them knew," said Tennessee State Senator Joey Hensley, who voted against a Juneteenth state holiday proposal. “I just think we're putting the cart before the horse making a holiday that people don't know about.”

That is a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever heard one. As NPR notes, Tennessee “currently designates special observances for Robert E. Lee Day, Confederate Decoration Day, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.”

I did not know who that last guy was until I lived in Tennessee. And I still don’t know (and don’t want to know) what Confederate Decoration Day is. 

The important thing is that you know about it now and hopefully have a way to commemorate freedom! Let’s remember the people who didn’t know they were free, the people who still aren’t free, and the people who are working to set us all free.

Self-Check Out Crime

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A self-checkout shopper is seeing the true price of crime.

Self-checkout is becoming increasingly common, because it’s an easier option for all involved. It is also, apparently, a great way for people to steal without human eyes watching them.

One woman pulled a “switcheroo” at a Walmart in Kentucky, putting barcodes from a toothbrush holder on a children’s rug and slipcover. The difference in price was $80.80. A store employee caught her, so Walmart was fine. 

The woman wasn’t. While shoplifting theft of less than $500 is usually a misdemeanor, a grand jury indicted this woman with "unlawful access to a computer," a class C felony that carries a sentence of five to ten years.

This whole thing is bad news. First, because humans apparently can’t be trusted to be honest. Second, because if this becomes a common felony charge, it could lead to a whole new source of inmates to overcrowd already bursting prisons. Third, if stores have to get rid of self-checkouts, it will be bad for stores and for customers.

Though maybe it will be good for employees, who stores would have to hire more of if they can’t use automated checkouts.

Nah. Self-checkouts are here to stay. And maybe next armed robots to keep a watchful eye. (Please no!)

News By The Numbers

40 feet. That is how far former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was from rioters on January 6. Rioters who very much wanted to hurt him.

300 points. That is how much Argentina’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate Thursday, for a total rate of 52%. 

Almost 400. That is how many crashes automakers reported involving partially automated tech vehicles over a 10-month period in the U.S. One way or another, computers will kill us all.

50. That is how many years it has been (as of Friday) since the people who broke into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office got caught

What's Trending?

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Father’s Day is trending because that was yesterday in the U.S. Happy belated!

#RoyalFamilyLied is trending. Buckingham Palace said there was an investigation into evidence Meghan Markle bullied her former royal staff, but are now refusing to release the findings of said investigation, which no one thinks found anything. 

Bitcoin is trending because the crypto winter is icing over. The price of Bitcoin fell below $19,000 Saturday, which hasn’t happened since December 2020.

Joe Biden is trending, because he followed in President Bartlett’s footsteps Saturday by falling off his bike near his home in Delaware. He’s fine.

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