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Clinton email controversy could open door for Democratic rivals

An Associated Press report says an email discussing secret CIA drones was sent through Hillary Clinton's private, unsecured server while she was secretary of state. It was one of two messages with top secret information sent to Clinton. The FBI took possession of the server on Wednesday. Nancy Cordes reports from Washington, where the email controversy is stirring up the presidential race.
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Petri Dishes with Alexandra Petri (April 27 | 11 a.m. ET)
Humor columnist Alexandra Petri takes your questions and comments on the news and political in(s)anity of the day.
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Russia plans to launch own space station after quitting ISS
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China reopens world's highest, longest glass bridge
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N.J. communter train crash renews calls for automatic braking
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We now have a solution to Covid-19 hotspots. Let’s use it.
A group of teenagers serving as “Covid-19 student ambassadors” joined Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Ford Field on April 6, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. | Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images There’s no reason to let cities or states suffer when the US has the vaccines. As America beats back Covid-19, it’s likely going to see more Michigans — hotspots where the coronavirus is surging in what’s hopefully a final hurrah for the pathogen that’s twisted our lives so much over the past year. But experts now say the solution for these hotspots is the same thing digging many other places out of the pandemic: vaccines. The idea is straightforward: If a place sees a surge in Covid-19 cases, it should get a surge in Covid-19 vaccinations. That doesn’t mean just more doses of the vaccine, but also more people who can actually administer the shot, resources that bring vaccines closer to workplaces and homes, and education and awareness efforts to convince more of the public to get the shot. “Why not?” Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of California in San Francisco, told me. “Luckily, we actually have quite a lot of vaccine supply. And new rises in cases in any given region will lead to hospitalizations and deaths that didn’t have to happen if we could vaccinate more quickly.” It’s the kind of solution that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for. As Michigan saw a new wave in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, she asked President Joe Biden’s administration to ramp up vaccinations for her state. But the Biden administration seemed skeptical, saying it would send more vaccinators and other treatment resources to the state but otherwise refusing to send extra doses to Michigan. Some experts were critical of the administration’s decision. They argue that not only should the Biden administration have sent more vaccines to Michigan — where an outbreak no longer seems to be getting worse yet cases, hospitalizations, and deaths remain very high — but that the administration should be ready to surge vaccines to future places, down to the local level, hit by new waves of Covid-19. That may require the federal government to even set aside some vaccines going forward exclusively for hotspots. “It’s a strategy we’ve used in public health for a long time,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told me, pointing to recent vaccine surges used against Ebola across Africa. “And we use it because it largely works.” This is not the US’s current strategy. The Biden administration is committed to a model that distributes vaccines based solely on population. The administration seems to be skeptical that some places really could use more supply, given that no state, including Michigan, has administered all the vaccine doses they’ve obtained. There’s also questions about fairness — if some states see the administration as taking away doses to give them to another state. But vaccine surges could help curb hotspots. A vaccine surge really could work If you need evidence a vaccine surge could work, look at Israel. With the speed and success of its vaccination campaign, Israel effectively surged vaccines to the entire country. About 62 percent of Israelis already got at least one shot, compared to 40 percent of Americans. That’s come with very good news: Even as Israel has almost fully reopened its economy, its daily new Covid-19 cases are down more than 98 percent from a mid-January peak. Our World in Data Israel’s example is a shot of mercy for the world and particularly the US. For the past year, America has struggled to contain its many Covid-19 hotspots. Masks are easy enough, but they didn’t seem to be enough on their own. Social distancing works, but requires a kind of sacrifice that doesn’t seem sustainable. A testing-and-tracing regime could have worked, but it seems contingent on keeping cases below a certain threshold — one the US has long since passed — to avoid overwhelming tracers. Now, we have a better answer: the vaccines. If a place gets enough of the shots, it can get back to normal and eliminate the threat of Covid-19. One lingering question is what the inflection point is for vaccine efforts: At what level is enough of the population vaccinated that cases start to truly plummet? Israel’s decline in cases appeared to begin in earnest around early February, when about 40 percent of the population had received at least one shot. Perhaps that’s close to the inflection point — though it’s likely an underestimate, because natural immunity from getting sick with Covid-19 also offers protection from future infection but isn’t counted in the vaccination numbers. Whatever the figure might be, the goal of a vaccine surge would be to get the population to that inflection point as fast as possible. That comes with a big caveat: The vaccines take a while to take effect. The two currently available vaccines require two doses, spaced weeks apart, and then the vaccines build up immunity further over at least two more weeks. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine only requires one shot, but it’s on pause due to an investigation over blood clots, and it still needs two or more weeks to take full effect. So the full effects of a surge won’t be immediate. But that doesn’t mean a surge can’t help. A Covid-19 wave can last far longer than the time it takes for vaccines to take effect — the fall-winter wave in the US lasted months. Vaccine surges could help in that time window, potentially causing a decline in cases or, if nothing else, at least speeding up the decline as vaccines kick in. And while vaccines need weeks to take full effect, the evidence suggests they produce at least some level of immunity against the coronavirus within days, even after the first dose from one of the two-shot vaccines. It’s just that immunity continues to build up further over weeks and with the second shot. So vaccine surges could still lead to short-term benefits. “This is a broader public health problem: People are continuing to underappreciate how valuable these vaccines are,” Jha said. “If three weeks ago, when a bunch of started saying Michigan should get [a vaccine surge], Michigan would be in a totally different place right now.” It’s about more than extra vaccine doses The most obvious element of a surge is flooding a Covid-19 hotspot with way more vaccine doses. After all, more doses would let more people get the vaccine — ending the outbreak. But that alone wouldn’t be enough. As the Biden administration has pointed out, the states aren’t using all the doses they’ve been given. The vast majority of states have administered less than 90 percent of their supply, and more than half are below 80 percent. That suggests other kinds of resources could be needed along with more doses. Maybe a state doesn’t have the people it needs to actually administer the shots, so a surge of health care workers or other trained personnel would be just as valuable, if not more so, than just getting more doses. Or maybe a state needs to find a way to get vaccines closer to where people actually are, so giving it vaccine vans or helping it build makeshift vaccination sites could help. Or maybe a state’s real problem is hesitancy and apathy toward a vaccine, so the best support could come through extra expertise to create and deploy public education and awareness campaigns, focused on local issues, to encourage people to get vaccinated. Or it could be a mix of all of the above. “It’s not just vaccines,” Shan Soe-Lin, a global health specialist at Yale University, told me. “It’s vaccination.” To put it another way: More vaccines have to be paired with those other resources to make sure the doses actually get used. Experts emphasized that this should be done not just at the state but the local level too. So far, Michigan’s Covid-19 outbreak in the middle of widespread vaccination efforts seems unique — and experts expect truly statewide outbreaks to happen less often, if at all, over time. But there are still going to be outbreaks at the local level, and vaccine surges could help in such settings. One concern about this concept is more political: Some states may feel like they’re losing or giving up vaccine supply to help contain outbreaks in other places. Even worse, some states may feel like they’re essentially being punished for containing the coronavirus — if they’re getting fewer doses because they have fewer coronavirus cases. When I asked experts about this, they acknowledged it doesn’t necessarily feel fair. But they pushed back on framing a vaccine surge around such rigid questions of fairness. First, there’s the practical consideration. The vaccine effort is mainly about saving lives. A place with more Covid-19 cases is obviously at greater risk of the coronavirus. So getting a vaccine to those places would save more lives. Second, there are selfish reasons for other states to want Covid-19 hotspots to get more vaccines. A coronavirus wave in one state could easily spill over to another. And if a surge system is put in place now, it could come to benefit the same states that feel they’re giving up doses today, given the above-zero chance of any state getting hit by Covid-19 in the future. “We live in a society,” Gandhi said. “We’re all connected.” There also may be a way to get around concerns about fairness: Instead of yanking supply that was meant for one state and giving it to another, the federal government could always set aside a portion of its vaccines to go to hotspots. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggested setting aside a portion of vaccine doses — perhaps 10 percent — for this kind of purpose. If those vaccines were never directed at a particular state, it’s going to be harder for that state to feel like it lost something. In some cases, a vaccine surge may not even necessarily involve extra doses. Take a state like Alabama, which is currently administering a little more than 60 percent of the doses it’s getting — the worst rate in the country. If Alabama became a Covid-19 hotspot, arguably the biggest help it would need is not more doses but help in using the doses that it already has. In that context, a vaccine surge may need to focus on the other resources above and beyond more doses. Particularly in Republican strongholds, where people are more likely to be vaccine-hesitant, a surge could come down to concentrated education and outreach efforts. Places with surges can’t ease up on other restrictions yet One point experts repeatedly emphasized: A vaccine surge doesn’t mean other precautions against Covid-19, from masking to social distancing, should be prematurely discarded. Vaccines are the way toward getting life back to normal. Israel’s experience is real-world evidence of that. But until Covid-19 cases are sufficiently suppressed nationwide, and until the US surpasses the inflection point for vaccines, there’s always going to be a risk of a coronavirus outbreak. The other precautions — the ones we’ve heard so much about in the previous year — add an extra layer of security until that point. Michigan’s current Covid-19 wave came as it eased restrictions related to the coronavirus. And Gov. Whitmer, dealing with restraints imposed by politics, the public, the legislature, and the courts, has resisted reimposing the restrictions. Paired with a new, more infectious coronavirus variant that first surfaced in the UK, the relaxed rules allowed Covid-19 to take off in the state. Some critics have argued that Michigan should have focused on the other precautions instead of calling for a vaccine surge. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, claimed that in outbreaks like Michigan’s, “the best thing to do is try to contain” the virus and “really to shut down things much more so.” But it doesn’t have to be either-or. Michigan and other parts of the US could continue with the precautions we’ve all heard about over the past year, while vaccine surges could help further in hotspots as they pop up. That applies even to hotspots with coronavirus variants, which the vaccines work against. The measures likely won’t even be needed that much longer. At current rates, the US is on its way to vaccinating every adult by midsummer. If that holds true, we’ll be able to meet people unmasked, indoors, and do all those things that were considered too risky just months prior. Until then, America should deploy every tool it has to get to the end quicker and with more people alive. That includes vaccine surges.
How climate became the centerpiece of Biden’s economic agenda
New Yorkers with the Sunrise Movement take action In Brooklyn for an economic recovery and infrastructure package prioritizing climate, care, jobs, and justice, calling on Congress to pass the THRIVE Act on April 7, 2021, in New York City. | Noam Galai/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network The politics and urgency around climate change are shifting. At long last, combating climate change is having a moment in the United States. Over the course of a few years, addressing climate went from being a backburner issue to a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, a crucial plank of his economic policy. A career moderate, Biden is an unlikely champion of the issue. But as the politics and urgency around climate change has shifted, so too has Biden. The Biden administration on Thursday formally committed to cutting America’s greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Biden’s campaign pledge on emissions was getting the US to net-zero emissions by 2050, and getting the American economy to run on 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2035. “Transforming the energy system was both essential and a tremendous opportunity,” John Podesta, the founder of the Center for American Progress and former climate adviser to President Barack Obama, told Vox in a recent interview. “It went from being a down-the-list environmental issue to the center of his economic project.” For perspective, at a 2017 climate march in Washington, DC, progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Jeff Merkley (OR) unveiled a new bill calling for 100 percent of US energy to be generated by clean and renewable sources by 2050. Four years later, Biden is speeding up the timeline significantly. Public polling from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that while a slimmer majority of voters believe the US should tackle global warming, transitioning to clean energy sources like wind and solar is broadly popular across parties. That could be a boon for Biden as he aggressively sells his $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan to Congress — a jobs and infrastructure package that doubles as a climate bill. There’s no doubt Biden was influenced by young climate activists and other progressives in the Democratic Party pushing him to embrace the Green New Deal and go big on climate. While Biden has been careful to separate his plan from the Green New Deal, he has also adopted some of its key tenets. For one, Biden recognized the ability to pair his climate ambitions with an optimistic economic message: “When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs,’” Biden said during a July campaign speech. No president of either party has so fully embraced tackling climate change before, but the hardest part for Biden is yet to come. Though White House officials have insisted they have multiple pathways to halve emissions from 2005 levels in less than a decade, it will be difficult without passing Biden’s American Jobs plan through a divided Congress. Obama’s signature climate bill, cap and trade, failed in 2010. And though the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s regulatory effort to lower emissions, largely withstood President Donald Trump’s efforts to weaken it, the Biden administration wants to implement something more ambitious. “That policy change has been driven by a significant transformation, essentially the zeitgeist of climate change,” Julian Brave NoiseCat, vice president of policy and strategy at Data for Progress, told Vox in an interview. “The conversation used to be about how the heck do we get people to care about climate change when it feel so far off.” How the public perception around climate has changed The politics around climate change — and what to do about it — have changed significantly over the past decade. Compiling data for the past 13 years, researchers at Yale and George Mason universities used to see about 12 percent of people they classified as “alarmed” about climate and the same amount who were “dismissive” about the issue. Over the years, the numbers have shifted. Those in the alarmed group have grown to about 26 percent (there’s another 29 percent who classify themselves as “concerned” about climate change), while the number in the dismissive category has shrunk to 8 percent. “The bigger question is, is public engagement in climate increasing — and the answer is unequivocally yes,” said Edward Maibach, director of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. At the same time, Maibach and his colleagues have noted there’s widespread support among voters for the US to embrace clean energy. In a December survey, Maibach and his fellow researchers found that 66 percent of registered voters said developing sources of clean energy should be a “high” or “very high” priority for the president and Congress. That number was 13 percentage points higher than the number of registered voters who said global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress, the poll found. And 72 percent of registered voters supported transitioning the US economy from fossil fuels to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. (Of course, it’s worth repeating that Biden wants to speed up this timeline.) “While there is clearly a divide in America between liberals and conservatives on the issue of climate change, that divide is much much smaller with regard to clean energy and support for clean energy,” Maibach said. “It is still true that Democrats are much more likely to support an aggressive pivot toward transitioning to clean energy; it’s also true a large majority of Republicans support the same.” As Democrats have wholeheartedly embraced climate as both an environmental and an economic issue, Republican politicians are still trying to articulate the party’s position. For the most part, Republicans are no longer the party of outright climate denial, recognizing a fundamental shift in the electorate. At the same time, their initial plans to tackle climate change revolve around planting 1 trillion trees worldwide and investing in technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere — rather than reorienting the American economy to not produce carbon in the first place. And the GOP is sounding the alarm about Biden’s decarbonization targets, saying a departure from fossil fuels will wound the economy. “I’d say there isn’t an overall Republican strategy to combat the climate crisis where it is,” said Joe Bonfiglio, president of the Environmental Defense Action Fund. “What we’re seeing now is a party grappling with a need to have climate plans that neatly fit under the policy umbrella of all of the above energy strategy that doesn’t reduce fossil use.” Republicans are also not going along with Biden’s infrastructure and climate push, releasing their own, narrower plan that deals more with fixing the nation’s roads and bridges. While Democrats can pass Biden’s American Jobs Plan through the Senate without Republican support using an obscure procedural tool called budget reconciliation, they have a limited window to get policy through Congress and shovels in the ground. The Biden White House is very aware of the potential for climate progress to be reversed by Republicans if and when they win in the midterms or the next presidential election. That’s why it is far more focused on proposing concrete changes that are “hard to roll back,” a White House official told Vox. Many in the energy industry are moving ahead When slashing environmental regulations and lowering emissions standards, Trump often cast his actions as being friendly to businesses. At the same time, many businesses and utilities recognized that the broader economy was heading toward renewable sources of energy, in large part because wind- and solar-generated energy has become much cheaper than energy generated from fossil fuels. There are about 3 million clean energy workers in America, according to the latest annual jobs report from the national nonpartisan group E2. Nearly three times as many workers are employed in clean energy, compared to fossil fuel extraction and generation workers. “It is consensus that the urgency around this is growing, so that momentum has been moving for quite some time,” said Mike Boots, executive vice president of Breakthrough Energy. “It’s always helpful to have a consistent and durable policy at the federal level.” The wild swings from Obama to Trump to Biden and a lack of stable federal policy on climate and clean energy has been difficult to contend with, experts told Vox. “Investors like certainty, and they haven’t gotten any certainty at the federal level,” Karen Wayland, policy adviser to electricity utility coalition group Gridwise Alliance, told Vox. “The utilities have embraced this decarbonization agenda, and they do long-term planning.” In the Trump years, Wayland added, utilities were “setting goals absent federal policy.” At the same time, a recent study from the Rhodium Group found that though the US is indeed on target to hit the Obama-era emissions goals, that hasn’t happened purely because of the good intentions of American business and industry. The Rhodium Group study found that the Covid-19 pandemic suddenly grinding the economy to a halt led to a 10.3 percent drop in US greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. “With coronavirus vaccines now in distribution, we expect economic activity to pick up again in 2021, but without meaningful structural changes in the carbon intensity of the US economy, emissions will likely rise again as well,” the Rhodium Group study concluded. In other words, the federal government can’t count on businesses to do the right thing. It needs to set the tone moving forward. Biden’s promise to modernize the electrical grid and invest in cleaner sources of energy is welcome to some industry groups and leaders, but there are many more who oppose the push. Oil and gas groups are not happy, and some unions are uneasy about what the transition could mean for workers who have made more, on average, from fossil fuel jobs. The 2019 median annual wage for solar photovoltaic installers was $44,890, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the median annual wage for wind turbine service technicians was $52,910. Comparatively, jobs in the fossil fuel power sector pay between $70,310 and $81,460, and tend to be more heavily unionized compared to the emerging clean energy sector. “In order for us to get where all of us want to go, we have to bring everyone along with us,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka told Vox recently. “We can’t just jettison people. That’s the transition we have to strike, and I think this administration understands that transition.”
Comedian Eric Andre says he was racially profiled at Atlanta airport: 'Be careful'
Comedian Eric Andre said he was stopped by two white officers and subjected to a 'random' drug search while he was the only person of color in line.
9/29: One dead after commuter train crashes in New Jersey; Iconic Olympic protesters honored at White House
A 34-year-old woman was killed and more than 100 injured when a commuter train failed to stop as it entered a station in Hoboken, New Jersey, Thursday morning; American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists in protest at the 1968 Olympics while standing on the medal podium for the national anthem.
House approves making Washington, DC, a state
The House on Thursday voted to make Washington, DC, the nation’s 51st state — a move that, if approved by the Senate, would hand Democrats two new senators. The 216-208 vote along party lines would make DC a state while preserving the land around the White House, US Capitol and National Mall as a federal district....
Thunberg: Not too late to act in Climate fight
Climate Activist Greta Thunberg appeared virtually before a House subcommittee Thursday to call on U.S. officials to do more, saying it's "not too late" to make real changes in the fight against climate change. (April 22)
USA Today calls Trump "unfit for the presidency"
For the first time in USA Today's 34-year history, the paper is weighing in on the presidential election. The paper's editorial board called Donald Trump "unfit for the presidency." CBSN's Vladimir Duthiers has the story."
Hurricane Matthew gains strength in the Caribbean
Hurricane Matthew is currently forming in the Caribbean. Matthew is the fifth named hurricane of 2016. WFOR chief meteorologist Craig Setzer joins CBSN to discuss the hurricane's path.
House approves bill that would admit Washington, D.C., as 51st state
Although the bill passed in the House, it's likely to fail in the Senate.
Brett Kavanaugh’s Opinion Restoring Juvenile Life Without Parole Is Dishonest and Barbaric
Without admitting it, Kavanaugh overturned landmark precedents protecting the constitutional rights of children.
Cruise ships are moving out of the US due to CDC restrictions: Will they return?
Cruise lines are moving ship after ship to other parts of the world as they continue to be barred from cruising in U.S. waters.
FCC adds photos to emergency alerts
The FCC has updated its emergency alert text messages. The FCC came under fire during the New York and New Jersey bombings for directing people to "see media for photo." CBSN's Vladimir Duthiers has the details.
Teresa Giudice shares intimate details of new romance on ‘RHONJ’
Teresa Giudice shared new details about her new romance with Luis Ruelas on Wednesday's episode of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey."