Behind the Dark-Money Web That Put Barrett (and Kavanaugh and Gorsuch) on the Supreme Court (DonkeyHotey)
From Salon: “The three new justices of the Trump era have been accused of blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. But the fact that they arrived at such positions of power is perhaps less concerning than exactly how they did. As with so much in conservative politics, their ascension was facilitated by a byzantine web of right-wing dark money, operating with little to no accountability.”
Against the Odds, Cuba Could Become a Coronavirus Vaccine Powerhouse (Dan)
The author writes, “Cuban leader Fidel Castro vowed to build a biotech juggernaut in the Caribbean, advancing the idea in the early 1980s with six researchers in a tiny Havana lab. Forty years later, the communist island nation could be on the cusp of a singular breakthrough: Becoming the world’s smallest country to develop not just one, but multiple coronavirus vaccines. Five vaccine candidates are in development, two in late-stage trials with the goal of a broader rollout by May. Should they prove successful, the vaccines would be an against-the-odds feat of medical prowess — as well as a public relations coup — for an isolated country of 11 million that was added back to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in the final days of the Trump administration.”
The Biggest Tax Cheats and How They Get Away With It (Reader Steve)
The author writes, “It’s widely assumed that the biggest tax scofflaws are those with the most money. A new study by a team of IRS analysts and academic economists, however, tells us that things are much worse than anyone suspected. The 1% conceal as much as 21% of their income from tax collectors, the study estimates. Of the unreported income, about 6 percentage points is hidden by ‘sophisticated evasion that goes undetected in random audits.’ The unreported income for the 1%, households with more than about $420,000 in annual income, is as much as one-third higher than previously estimated, the authors wrote. For the 0.1%, households with at least $7.5 million in annual income, it’s 80% higher.”
California Water Battle ‘Woke Me Up’ (Mili)
The author writes, “The name Erin Brockovich has become synonymous with those who investigate and hold corporations to account for polluting people’s water. Actor Julia Robert’s sassy film portrayal of the single mum’s key role in winning the largest settlement ever awarded at the time for a direct-action lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), made her a household name. She did this without legal, medical, or scientific training. The case alleged contamination of the water with the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, in the southern California town of Hinkley. ‘Hinkley woke me up,’ says Brockovich.”
The New Shortage: Ketchup Can’t Keep Up (Dana)
From the Wall Street Journal: “Supply chain problems are reaching into a far corner of the business universe: Ketchup packets. After enduring a year of closures, employee safety fears and start-stop openings, many American restaurants are now facing a nationwide ketchup shortage. Restaurants are trying to secure the tabletop staple after Covid-19 upended the condiment world order. Managers are using generic versions, pouring out bulk ketchup into individual cups and hitting the aisles of Costco for substitutes.”
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