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5 things to know for May 18: Coronavirus, policing, abortion, Gaza, Havana Syndrome

Help is around the corner for lots of American families. About 39 million households with children will start getting monthly enhanced child tax credit payments on July 15 as part of the government’s Covid-19 relief plan.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

The National Nurses United union president is criticizing CDC guidance that vaccinated people can largely forego masks, saying it’s confusing and could endanger health care workers. One problem? It relies on an honor system in which unvaccinated people still mask up. At least one local leader has already said such a system just isn’t working. President Biden says there will be enough Covid-19 vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of this month, and his administration is pledging millions more vaccine doses to other countries on top of the 60 million already committed. We’re also learning more about a coronavirus variant first detected in India that has now gone global. The B.1.617 is a “variant of concern,” which means it could be more transmissible, cause more severe disease or evade tests and treatments. Experts think the variant is driving the recent waves of infection in India.

2. Abortion

The Supreme Court agreed to take up a key abortion case next term that could pose a major challenge to Roe v. Wade. The case concerns a controversial Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks. A federal judge struck down the law in 2018. Now that the court has a 6-3 conservative majority, it could set a new precedent that emboldens other states to enact similarly strict abortion laws. Several already have: South Carolina, Oklahoma and Idaho codified so-called “heartbeat bills” this year. Arkansas and Oklahoma enacted near-total abortion bans, and Montana banned the procedure at 20 weeks. None of these bills is in effect yet, with some tied up in court. For the record, polling reveals a majority of Americans want Roe v. Wade to stay in place.

3. Policing

Fifteen unions that represent law enforcement officers across the US have endorsed a policing plan that includes an unprecedented shift in the way unions protect bad police officers. Under the plan, law enforcement officers and those in adjacent professions would be encouraged to act as “active bystanders” and intervene when another union member is doing something wrong. Meanwhile, a North Carolina DA is set today to reveal the findings of a state investigation into the police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. What bodycam footage of the April incident, in which deputies shot and killed Brown, actually shows is in dispute. In South Carolina, two deputies involved in the in-custody death of Jamal Sutherland in January have been fired.

4. Mideast violence

Biden has expressed support for a ceasefire in the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. The President mentioned his position on a call yesterday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and floated the possibility of international diplomatic involvement. Some Democratic leaders want Biden to be more forceful with US engagement in the conflict. Netanyahu, meantime, has vowed to continue strikes against Hamas targets. The US has been in touch with foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, Egypt and Pakistan, but demands from Israel and Hamas have so far stymied any solutions. Meanwhile, the volley of rocket attacks and airstrikes continues.

5. Havana Syndrome

The US is investigating two cases of a mysterious illness that affected White House officials late last year. The cases are consistent with “Havana Syndrome,” an inexplicable combination of sensory experiences and physical symptoms that have sickened more than 100 US diplomats, spies and troops around the globe. One of the latest incidents began after the 2020 election when an NSC official passed through a White House gate. Now, the government has revealed it’s investigating a second, more serious case from weeks later near another White House entrance. The intelligence community still isn’t sure who is causing the strange array of nervous system symptoms or if the episodes can even be called “attacks.”


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That’s the estimate of how many people died in 2016 as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week, according to a global analysis from the World Health Organization.


“Does my client have information that could hurt an elected official? I guess this is must-see television. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Fritz Scheller, attorney for Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and close confidant of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz. Greenberg formally pleaded guilty to six federal charges and admitted he had knowingly solicited and paid a minor for sex.


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It’s time to learn, once and for all, what goes on during the mysterious, magical process of dry cleaning. (Click here to view.)



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