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The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Lawmakers agree to funding deal

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To view past editions of The Hill’s 12:30 Report, click here: https://bit.ly/30ARS1U  

To receive The Hill’s 12:30 Report in your inbox, please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2UoupvN 

 

–> A midday take on what’s happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.* 

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha–breaks down crying hysterically.

 

IN CONGRESS

*Insert the Shark Tank TV set, secretive notes, tense music and dramatic anticipation* … We have a deal!:

 

Click here for the full effect –> https://bit.ly/3tKg8cY 😉 

Congressional negotiators have reached bipartisan deal to fund the government through late September. https://bit.ly/3Kt0JUV  

What Democrats are happy about: “The legislation includes what Democrats have lauded as the biggest increase to nondefense discretionary spending in four years.”

What Republicans are happy about: “The GOP has … touted a $42 billion increase for defense spending in the package, saying the deal achieves dollar-for-dollar parity for defense and nondefense increases.”   

What about Ukraine?: The bill includes $14 billion in aid to Ukraine.  

What else is in the bill: https://bit.ly/3Kt0JUV

TIDBIT — SPEED READERS, GO!:

Punchbowl News’ John Bresnahan tweeted, “The $1.5 trillion omnibus is 2741 pages long. The House will vote on it later today (meaning there’s zero chance members will have a chance to read it.)” https://bit.ly/3CvoxVn 

HERE’S THE FULL TEXT OF THE BILL:

https://bit.ly/37gXaTH

HAPPENING TODAY AND FRIDAY — HEARING FROM THE BOSS: 

President BidenJoe BidenBiden phones family of American detained in Russia Susan Collins praises Biden’s Supreme Court pick after meeting Former Bernie Sanders press secretary: proposed defense budget includes excessive amount for private contractors MORE is speaking at Senate Democrats’ caucus retreat today at 6:15 p.m. EST. Biden will also address the House Democratic retreat in Philadelphia on Friday. https://bit.ly/3hV6puW

It’s Wednesday. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook

Did someone forward this to you? Want your own copy? Sign up here to receive The Hill’s 12:30 Report in your inbox daily: http://bit.ly/2UoupvN

THE LATEST IN UKRAINE

How much progress has Russia made? And how successful has Ukraine been in fending them off?:

CNN’s Jim Sciutto has a helpful explainer on where the situation stands. https://bit.ly/3pOLBt6 

The gist: “Nearly two weeks into the invasion, the war in Ukraine has become a slow grinding conflict. Not the blitzkrieg advance the Russian military had planned and hoped for.”  

Watch the 2-minute, 42-second clip: https://bit.ly/3pOLBt6

UKRAINE’S GOAL, ACCORDING TO A SENIOR OFFICIAL — KEEP CONTROL OF ITS MAJOR CITIES FOR ANOTHER 7-10 DAYS:

 

 

Via Reuters, here’s the reasoning: https://reut.rs/375CL3I 

Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said Russia was desperate for at least some kind of victory, citing the cities of Mariupol or the capital Kyiv as the most likely targets. ‘They need at least some victory before they are forced into the final negotiations,’ Denysenko wrote on Facebook. ‘Therefore our task is to stand for the next 7-10 days.’ ” https://reut.rs/375CL3I 

GAS PRICES

‘Loss of Russian Oil Leaves a Void Not Easily Filled, Straining Market’:

Via The New York Times’s Clifford Krauss, “Oil prices were already rising fast as the world economy emerged from Covid-19 shutdowns and producers stretched to meet growing demand. International oil companies had cut back investment over the last two years … With the announcement of the American embargo on Tuesday, prices will probably climb higher, energy analysts say.” https://nyti.ms/3HVZDiU  

What percentage of global energy supply comes from Russia?: Roughly 1 out of every 10 barrels of oil.

What countries could fill that gap in supply? It gets tricky: “Only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have spare capacity, together a little more than 2.5 million barrels a day. Venezuela and Iran could contribute about 1.5 million barrels a day to the market, but that would require lifting American sanctions against those countries.” 

Does the U.S. have extra oil?: “[T]he United States could increase output by more than a million barrels a day — but doing so would take a year to achieve, and require oil companies to harness more manpower and equipment.”   

More on what this means: https://nyti.ms/3HVZDiU

HELPFUL READ — ‘WHAT DOES A US BAN ON RUSSIAN OIL ACCOMPLISH?’:

Via The Associated Press’s Cathy Bussewitz and Matthew Daly: https://abcn.ws/3vRdMvq 

‘DEMOCRATS LOOK FOR COVER ON RISING GAS PRICES’:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Democrats are looking for ways to lower gas prices, which have skyrocketed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and could rise further as the U.S. and other countries move to ban Russian imports.” https://bit.ly/3IRFRq9 

WHAT TO EXPECT WITH GAS PRICES:

 

 

Via CNN Business’s Chris Isidore: https://cnn.it/35JNbG2

GREAAAAT:

The Hill’s Niall Stanage tweeted a photo of gas prices at the closest gas station to him in Washington, D.C. Photo: https://bit.ly/3pR0AD1

LATEST WITH COVID-19

‘CDC says avoid travel to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Thailand as covid cases surge’:

Via The Washington Post’s Hannah Sampson: https://wapo.st/35JNMYi

CASE NUMBERS:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 79,370,034 

U.S. death toll: 961,993 

Breakdown of the numbers: https://cnn.it/2UAgW3y 

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 556 million shots have been given.  

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 134,885 doses 

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.  

Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH 

GETTING TRACTION

Why everyone is talking about spiders on Twitter:

Axios’s Karri Peifer writes, “Giant spiders expected to drop from sky across the East Coast this spring.” https://bit.ly/3Kuj83Y  

The longer version isn’t any better: “An invasive species of spider the size of a child’s hand is expected to ‘colonize’ the entire East Coast this spring by parachuting down from the sky, researchers at the University of Georgia announced last week.”   

The full story — sorry: https://bit.ly/3Kuj83Y  

Come on. We just had the influx of cicadas last year!

IN WASHINGTON, DC

I’m sorry, what?:

 

 

Via DCist’s Amanda Michelle Gomez, The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will shut down yellow line access from Washington, D.C., to Virginia for seven to eight months for repairs. https://bit.ly/3MFzFnE  

Specifically: Yellow line access over the Potomac River — between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations  

Soooo, what will happen?: WMATA says it will announce alternative travel options before the closure begins. 

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP:

WJLA-TV’s Tom Roussey pointed out: “And as if that’s not enough, Metro says getting the future Potomac Yard station ready will require shutting down all rail service south of Reagan National Airport from Sept 10 to Oct 22. So riders who experienced a summer shutdown in 2019 will have to do it all over again.” https://bit.ly/3CtAURR  

What timing: “So basically, Potomac Yard Metro station is expected to open in the fall, and riders at the new station on day one will be on trains that can’t cross the Potomac unless they take the Blue Line route through Arlington Cemetery.” https://bit.ly/3HXtWWH 

NOTABLE TWEETS:

This photo gives me so much anxiety:

CNN’s Kristin Wilson tweeted a photo of quite the ladder setup. Photo: https://bit.ly/3MyEQ8L  

LOL — my favorite reaction: Politico’s Sarah Ferris captioned the photo, “Me, painting my house when my husband isn’t watching” https://bit.ly/3pLN3N5  

More reactions: https://bit.ly/3CtizVc

We are in a new era:

For The Win’s Alex McDaniel tweeted, “tried to give my son cash for the book fair and he looked at me like i was a martian and said ‘just put some money in my e-wallet account.’ ” https://bit.ly/3HT7Wfn 

McDaniel then added: “you know how 8-year-olds are always like ‘paper money is such a hassle, just put it on the card’ ” https://bit.ly/3hQNcua 

ON TAP:

The House is in. The Senate is out. President Biden is in Washington, D.C. Vice President Harris is on her way to Poland.  

7:30 a.m. EST: Vice President Harris left for Warsaw, Poland.  

10 – 11 a.m. EST: First votes in the House. The House’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/3CtOchp 

11 a.m. EST: President Biden received the President’s Daily Brief. 

1:30 – 3 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House.  

6:15 p.m. EST: President Biden delivers remarks at the Democratic Senators Issues Conference at Howard University. This is closed to press. 

10 a.m. EST Thursday: The Senate meets. The Senate’s full agenda tomorrow: https://bit.ly/3CtWDct

WHAT TO WATCH:

1 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden phones family of American detained in Russia Overnight Defense & National Security — More help headed Ukraine’s way How Biden came around to banning Russian gas and oil MORE holds a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3CpLNnW  

2 p.m. EST: President Biden and Commerce Secretary Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoCabinet officials to join Biden at House Democratic retreat Live coverage – House tees up vote on Russian fuel ban, sanctions The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Sights and sounds from Biden’s State of the Union MORE meet with business leaders and governors to discuss competitiveness legislation. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3IVWUr9 

IN LIGHTER NEWS:

 

Today is National Meatball Day

And because you read this far, here’s a pup with a pretty odd sleeping spot: https://bit.ly/3CwX8CO

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Hailey Bieber Details Terrifying ‘Life-Altering’ Mini-Stroke She Suffered And Procedure To Close Hole In Her Heart

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Hailey Bieber has spoken out in her “own words” about the “life-altering,” “scariest moment” of her life she had after suffering what she called a mini-stroke, and later underwent a procedure to close a hole in her heart.

The 25-year-old supermodel and wife of superstar singer Justin Bieber took to her YouTube channel Wednesday and opened up about the terrifying experience of being hospitalized last month after she suffered a blood clot to her brain that traveled through a hole in her heart between 12 and 13 millimeters, reported People magazine.

“I had, like, a very scary incident on March 10, basically,” Bieber shared. “I was sitting at breakfast with my husband, having a normal day … and all of the sudden, I felt this really weird sensation that kind of like traveled down my arm from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. And it made my fingertips feel really numb and weird.”

“Justin [her husband] was like, ‘Are you okay?’” she added, as she explained that she tried to respond to him, but she “couldn’t speak.” “The right side of my face started drooping; I couldn’t get a sentence out.”

“Obviously, immediately, I thought I was having a stroke,” the supermodel continued. “He thought I was having a stroke. Right away, he asked for somebody to please call 911 and get a doctor.”

Hailey said that where they were, there happened to be a medic who started asking her lots of questions and testing her arms, calling it definitely the “scariest moment” of her life. The model talked about how the “facial drooping lasted for probably like thirty seconds.” Her speech did came back, but her “anxiety” about what was happening just made “everything worse.”

“By the time I got to the emergency room, I was pretty much back to normal – [I] could talk, [I] wasn’t having any issues with my face or my arm,” Bieber explained.

She said scans revealed she had, in fact, suffered a “small blood clot” to her brain which was labeled a “TIA” [Transient Ischemic Attack]. Hailey told her followers it was basically like having a “mini-stroke.”

Doctors still weren’t sure what caused it, but she said it was widely believed it was a combination of birth-control issues, recently having COVID-19, and having just traveled “to Paris and back in a very short amount of time,” calling it a “perfect storm.”

Further testing at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed Bieber had a Grade 5 PFO [a small opening in the heart that usually closes after birth]. The outlet said the hold measured between 12 and 13 millimeters. She later underwent a procedure to close the hole, and said it went “very smoothly” and she’s recovering.

“The biggest thing I feel is I just feel really relieved that we were able to figure everything out, that we were able to get it closed, that I will be able to just move on from this really scary situation and just live my life,” Hailey shared.

“If there’s anybody that watches this that has gone through the same thing or something similar, I definitely really empathize with you,” she concluded. “And I understand how life-altering and scary it is.”

Bieber, who’s the daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and Kennya Baldwin, married her husband Justin in 2018.

Related: Hailey Baldwin Credits Christian Faith For Marriage To Justin Bieber

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Wikipedia’s Left-Wing Bias

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I love Wikipedia. I donated thousands of dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Before Wikipedia, all we had were printed encyclopedias—out of date by the time we bought them.

Then libertarian Jimmy Wales came up with a web-based, crowd-sourced encyclopedia.

Crowd-sourced? A Britannica editor called Wikipedia “a public restroom.” But Wales won the battle. Britannica’s encyclopedias are no longer printed.

Congratulations to Wales.

But recently, I learned that Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger now says Wikipedia’s political pages have turned into leftist “propaganda.”

That’s upsetting. Leftists took over the editing?

Sadly, yes. I checked it out.

All editing is done by volunteers. Wales hoped there would be enough diverse political persuasions that biases would be countered by others.

But that’s not what’s happening.

Leftists just like to write. Conservatives build things: companies, homes, farms.

You see the pattern comparing political donations from different professions: Surgeons, oil workers, truck drivers, loggers, and pilots lean right; artists, bartenders, librarians, reporters, and teachers lean left.

Conservatives don’t have as much time to tweet or argue on the web. Leftists do. And they love doing it. This helps them take over the media, universities, and now, Wikipedia.

Jonathan Weiss is what Wikipedia calls a “Top 100” Wikipedian because he’s made almost half a million edits. He says he’s noticed new bias: “Wikipedia does a great job on things like science and sports, but you see a lot of political bias come into play when you’re talking current events.”

Weiss is no conservative. In presidential races, he voted for Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and Barack Obama. Never for a Republican. “I’ve really never identified strongly with either political party,” he says.

Maybe that’s why he notices the new Wikipedia bias.

“People on the left far outweigh people on the center and the right … a lot [are] openly socialist and Marxist.” Some even post pictures of Che Guevara and Lenin on their own profiles.

These are the people who decide which news sources Wikipedia writers may cite. Wikipedia’s approved “Reliable sources” page rejects political reporting from Fox but calls CNN and MSNBC “reliable.”

Good conservative outlets like The Federalist, the Daily Caller, and The Daily Wire are all deemed “unreliable.” Same with the New York Post (That’s probably why Wikipedia called Hunter Biden’s emails a conspiracy theory even after other liberal media finally acknowledged that they were real).

While it excludes Fox, Wikipedia approves even hard left media like Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, and Jacobin, a socialist publication.

Until recently, Wikipedia’s “socialism” and “communism” pages made no mention of the millions of people killed by socialism and communism. Even now, deaths are “deep in the article,” says Weiss, “treated as an arcane academic debate. But we’re talking about mass murder!”

The communism page even adds that we cannot ignore the “lives saved by communist modernization”! This is nuts.

Look up “concentration and internment camps” and you’ll find, along with the Holocaust, “Mexico-United States border,” and under that, “Trump administration family separation policy.”

What? Former President Donald Trump’s border controls, no matter how harsh, are very different from the Nazi’s mass murder.

Wikipedia does say “anyone can edit.” So, I made a small addition for political balance, mentioning that President Barack Obama built those cages.

My edit was taken down.

I wrote Wikipedia founder Wales to say that if his creation now uses only progressive sources, I would no longer donate.

He replied, “I totally respect the decision not to give us more money. I’m such a fan and have great respect for you and your work.” But then he said it is “just 100% false … that ‘only globalist, progressive mainstream sources’ are permitted.”

He gave examples of left-wing media that Wikipedia rejects, like Raw Story and Occupy Democrats.

I’m glad he rejects them. Those sites are childishly far left.

I then wrote again to ask why “there’s not a single right-leaning media outlet Wiki labels ‘reliable’ about politics, [but] Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, CNN, MSNBC” get approval.

Wales then stopped responding to my emails.

Unless Wikipedia’s bias is fixed, I’ll be skeptical reading anything on the site.

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Public Health England to blame for sending patients to care homes without Covid tests

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, Whitehall officials alleged that Prof Duncan Selbie, the former PHE chief executive, was ultimately responsible for informing Mr Hancock of the risks.

Prof Selbie is working as a senior adviser to the DHSC. Neither he nor the department responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Mr Hancock, who was replaced by Sajid Javid last year, claimed the High Court ruling had exonerated him and the had been cleared “of any wrongdoing” because PHE “failed to tell ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission”.

The High Court judges concluded that care home policies in March and April 2020 were “irrational” because they failed to advise that those discharged from hospitals “should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for up to 14 days”.

“Since there is no evidence that this question was considered by the secretary of state, or that he was asked to consider it, it is not an example of a political judgment on a finely balanced issue,” they said. “Nor is it a point on which any of the expert committees had advised that no guidance was required.”

After the ruling, Boris Johnson said he wanted to “renew my apologies and sympathies” to relatives who lost loved ones, adding: “The thing we didn’t know in particular was that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically in the way that it was.”

However, the risks of asymptomatic transmission had been highlighted by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser for England, who said it was “quite likely” as early as March 13 2020. Varying levels of risk had been outlined in papers from late January, the ruling said.

The judicial review was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers, Michael Gibson and Donald Harris, died after testing positive for Covid.

‘Opens the floodgates for potential claims’

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor at Sinclairslaw who was instructed by both women, said: “It’s possible that care home providers and relatives who lost loved ones in the first wave could bring compensation claims. The Government was found to have acted ‘irrationally’ – that’s a very high legal hurdle.”

Nadra Ahmed, who chairs the National Care Association, said the ruling “opens the floodgates for potential claims to be brought against government policy”.

“This will be especially pertinent where the individual was not given a choice,” she said. “There will be a lot of people assimilating to the information as they consider if the loss of their loved one was premature, and holding the Government to account is the only way forward for them.”

Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said that the ruling proved “the protective ring around care homes was non-existent” and that older people were “abandoned at the outset of the pandemic”.

A government spokesman said it had been a “very difficult decision” to discharge hospital patients into care homes, taken when evidence on asymptomatic transmission was “extremely uncertain”.

The spokesman added: “We acknowledge the judge’s comments on assessing the risks of asymptomatic transmission and our guidance on isolation, and will respond in more detail in due course.”


‘He was in a home and should have been safe’

They stood outside the Royal Courts of Justice, two women unknown to each other before the Covid pandemic but brought together by tragedy, writes Tom Ough.

Cathy Gardner spoke first, delivering a steely reading of a statement. Matt Hancock’s boast of a “protective ring” encircling care homes, Dr Gardner said, was “a despicable lie of which he ought to be ashamed and for which he ought to apologise”.

Fay Harris, more downcast in demeanour but no less forthright, told journalists: “I have lost precious years with my wonderful Dad.”

Both women lost their fathers in early 2020, arguing that they might still be alive were it not for hospital patients having been discharged into care homes without having been tested for Covid.

Michael Gibson, born in 1931, had been a superintendent registrar of births and deaths. “He was in a home and should have been safe,” Dr Gardner told The Independent after his death.

Mr Gibson, who had advanced dementia, had fallen ill a couple of weeks before the first lockdown. Staff at his care home were unable to procure tests for Covid, but the virus is believed to have struck him down.

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