May 4, 2021: Biden Boosts Refugee Cap; Scientists Say We Blew Our Shot at Herd Immunity; EPA Cracks Down on Gas
The Biden Administration announced that it would increase the country’s refugee admissions cap after weeks of criticism for continuing Trump’s barbaric policies.
Meanwhile, experts believe that thanks to vaccine skeptics and dangerous variants of the disease, the U.S. is unlikely to ever reach herd immunity from COVID-19.
And lastly, the EPA makes a bold move to limit the use of toxic greenhouse gases in the Biden administrations first major step against climate change.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
After weeks of pressure, the Biden Administration is backing down from its horrible stance on immigration.
The White House announced on Monday that it would raise the national cap on refugee admissions from just 15,000 to 62,500.
For reference, 15,000 was the minuscule number of people the Trump administration allowed in. When Biden took office, he promised to change Trump’s brutal immigration policies, but for months still maintained the Trump quotas, despite widespread criticism.
Now, Biden says he’s raising the cap, and will set it at an even higher number of 125,000 next fiscal year. But his administration also noted that he doesn’t think they’ll actually reach even the 62,500 cap this year, which is all the more embarrassing considering how many refugees other countries have taken in.
What he didn’t mention, however, is that other key Trump policies are still in place, such as the freeze of the asylum system under a legally-shaky provision of U.S. law.
It’s pretty obvious we’ve got a long way to go to care for less fortunate people looking to make a better life in this country.
Scientists Say We Blew Our Shot at Herd Immunity
Our response to coronavirus has been building toward one thing: the point when enough people are vaccinated that the disease can’t reliably spread.
This is generally known as “herd immunity,” but unfortunately, scientists have bad news. With the way things are going, we may never get there.
The biggest issues facing us right now are the prevalence of coronavirus variants and slipping vaccine rates. In other words, the disease is mutating and people aren’t getting vaccinated fast enough to wipe it out.
Together, those are enough that scientists have a quote “widespread consensus” that we’re not going to make it to the herd immunity threshold, according to the New York Times.
That means the virus is going to continue to spread through the country in the future, albeit at levels the scientists are calling a manageable threat. The new goal isn’t to completely wipe out the disease, but just mitigate its spread and protect people from whatever variants may crop up.
The government has stayed away from herd immunity messaging for a while now because of these issues, and it didn’t help that the right wing anti-maskers coopted it into a theory that the disease would go away on its own.
But without widespread immunity to the disease through vaccinations, we simply aren’t going to get there. COVID will be around for a long time to come.
EPA Cracks Down on Gas
The Environmental Protection Agency moved on Monday to take one of its boldest actions against greenhouse gases.
The agency proposed strictly regulating hydrofluorocarbons [HYDRO FLURRO CARBONS], or HFCs as they’re called. HFCs are man made chemicals that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming. They’re commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
The EPA’s new plan would begin to take effect in 2022, and would seek to reduce the production and importation of HFCs by 85 percent over the following 15 years. The agency estimates that by 2050, that change will eliminate the equivalent of about 3 years worth of emissions from America’s power sector.
Biden is clearly hoping that this aggressive policy will make a dent in his goal of cutting U.S. emissions in half by 2035. Of course, he won’t be president by then, and there’s no guarantee a more cut-throat capitalist won’t shove us right back into the arms of natural gas. And while a
crackdown on dangerous refrigeration gases is certainly important, it’s far from the biggest driver of climate change.
Still, if this is the kind of plan the EPA is going to lead with under Biden, it could be a sign of good things to come.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were getting divorced on Monday, in what would usually be a non-story but in this case could have profound repercussions for the future of scientific research and the entire nonprofit sector. Makes you think that maybe relying on the whims of billionaires to finance public goods isn’t the best system!
The FDA is expected to authorize children as young as 12 to receive the Pfizer vaccine by early next week, letting another block of school-age kids get protected over the summer holidays before returning to the classroom in the fall.
Facebook’s oversight board has finished deliberations as to what they’re going to do with Donald Trump’s account, which was banned four months ago. They’ll announce the decision at 9am on Wednesday.
A new study showed that patients who received a combination of the drug MDMA and talking therapy reported a dramatic improvement in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which could be a major boon as advocates seek widespread medical approval for the drug.
MAY 4 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn
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