“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
🗽 NY Governor Under Federal Investigation
The Justice Department is investigating the administration of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to determine whether the state intentionally manipulated data regarding nursing home deaths, the AP reported yesterday.
The inquiry reportedly began months ago in the DOJ’s civil division, with the agency filing two separate requests for data on nursing home deaths in August and October. The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn is also involved in the probe, per the Albany Times Union.
The news comes after a 76-page report published last month by NY AG Letitia James revealed Cuomo’s administration undercounted COVID-related deaths of residents in state nursing homes by as much as 50%.
Last week, a top aide to Cuomo admitted the state held off on releasing the fuller death count in August due to fear of a federal investigation.
🤿 A deeper dive…
In recent weeks, the Cuomo administration revealed 15k long-term care residents have died from COVID-19, up from the 8,500 deaths previously disclosed.
State lawmakers have criticized a March 25 state Health Department directive that said nursing homes couldn’t refuse to admit a resident who tested positive for COVID-19 in an effort to ensure the state’s hospital network had adequate room.
A state Health Department report in July said the virus was likely introduced into nursing homes by infected staff, with spikes in infections among workers correlating with the timing of peak resident deaths.
Meanwhile… On Wednesday, NY State Assembly Member Ron Kim (D-Queens) said Gov. Cuomo vowed to “destroy” him and made other threats during a private phone call last week after Kim criticized Cuomo’s handling of virus outbreaks at nursing homes.
Administration officials maintain the governor never said he would “destroy” Kim and described their conversation as “calm.”
New York Assembly Republicans introduced a resolution yesterday afternoon to establish an impeachment commission.
In the state Senate, top Democrats advanced a proposal requiring the governor to consult with legislators before issuing emergency orders. A chamber vote is expected as soon as next week.
Nursing home coverup just part of Cuomo’s coronavirus legacy of failure
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📉 U.S. Life Expectancy Drops
The CDC released a reportyesterday showing life expectancy in the U.S. fell by one full year over the first half of 2020 (now resting at 77.8 years compared to 2019’s 78.8 years).
The agency said the statistical drop, which marks the largest year-to-year decline in life expectancy since World War II, is largely attributed to deaths from COVID-19, with a surge in drug overdoses also contributing to the decline.
📝 U.S. Citizen Act of 2021
Democratic lawmakers introduced the President Biden-backed U.S. Citizen Act of 2021 in the House and Senate yesterday. The immigration bill largely reflects goals set by Biden in an executive order signed in his first day of office, featuring a broad set of measures that, among other things, would:
Provide an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. unlawfully before Jan 1, 2021.
Allow ‘Dreamers’ to receive green cards and apply for citizenship after three years.
Replace the word ‘alien’ with ‘noncitizen’ in legal writing.
The bill is expected to meet significant challenges in a closely divided Congress.
In Other Legislative News: The governor of South Carolina on Thursday signed a bill banning most abortions in the state, prompting an immediate lawsuit from Planned Parenthood (effectively preventing the law from taking effect). (Left-Center|Right-Center)
🇳🇿 PM Jacinda Ardern announced all New Zealand schools will offer free access to period products starting in June.
🇯🇵 Japanselected Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympic athlete-turned-politician, as president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee. She replaces Yoshiro Mori, who resigned last week after making sexist remarks.
☝️ 1 Last Thing…
Image sent in from a subscriber in Dallas, TX.
More than 250k customers in Texas remained without power due to the ongoing winter storm as of late Thursday, according to PowerOutageUS.
Meanwhile, roughly 13M Texans were under a boil-water advisory due to a lack of power to run water treatment plants.
🚀 NASA Perseveres
NASA’s Perseverance rover – nicknamed “Percy” – successfully touched down on Mars yesterday afternoon following a six-month voyage from Earth (full video – timestamped to landing… the crew’s reaction is pretty cool). NASA aims to spend nearly two years using the robot to explore Mars, measuring the planet’s geology and collecting samples the agency hopes to return to Earth with a future mission.
More: Percy is tasked with searching for telltale signs that microbial life may have lived on Mars billions of years ago.
Even More: Percy is also carrying Ingenuity – a small helicopter NASA plans to use to attempt the first controlled flight on another planet.
💵 Walmart’s Wages
Walmart, America’s largest private employer, announced plans to raise the wages of 425k U.S. employees in stocking and digital positions to $13-19 an hour depending on location and market.
After the change, which takes effect March 13, around half of Walmart’s ~1.5M U.S. workers will earn $15 an hour or more.
Last month, shares of the brick-and-mortar retailer rose nearly 2,000% with the help of Reddit site ‘r/WallStreetBets’ before Robinhood and other trading apps restricted users’ ability to buy – but not sell – GameStop stock.
More: The CEOs of Reddit, Robinhood and two hedge funds testified alongside Keith Gill – a r/WallStreetBets investor better known as ‘Roaring Kitty’ or ‘DeepF—ingValue.’
⏰ Catch Up Quick:
🔊 Social audio app Clubhousereached 8.1M global downloads on February 16, according to new data from analytics firm App Annie, up from 3.5M global downloads on February 1 (+131%).
🪵 The price of lumberclimbed above $1K per 1k board feet yesterday – its highest price ever and double the price it was three months ago – as starts of single-family homes fell 12% in December, per the U.S. Census.
Earlier this month, two hikers in Ireland came across Neesha, an eight-year-old golden retriever, shivering next to some rocks in the mountains. Unbeknownst to them, Neesha had been missing for the past two weeks.
The video quickly went viral, accumulating over 500k likes and ultimately connecting the rescuers with Neesha’s owners, who recently shared this cute ‘pupdate.’
🐴 Happy Horses
Kristin and Mike Song have made it their mission to rescue animals in honor of their animal-loving son Ethan, who passed in 2018. The Song Strong Animal Sanctuary opened last spring, where they offer equine therapy courses for children and veterans suffering from trauma.
🦫 Platypus Progress
One Australian ecologist has dedicated the last five years to the restoration of 1,035 acres of wetland. As a result, wild platypuses have started to return to the rivers.
Want your pet featured in the next Furry Friends Friday? Just reply to this email with a picture and caption…we’ll share the best ones next week.
*Correction: Yesterday we incorrectly stated that the Lil’ E Cafe was the “first of its kind.” While the cafe is the first-of-its-kind in the Calgary area, there are many other coffee shops that hire employees with intellectual disabilities all over the country! Shoutout to Bridget N. for being the first to let us know.
💻 Attack of the Chrome… 2020 was the first year Chromebooks outsold Macs, with Google’s Chrome OS overtaking Apple’s MacOS for second place in market share (Microsoft’s Windows retained first place).
💰 That’s Rich… Jeff Bezos surpassed Elon Musk to reclaim the title of world’s richest person on Tuesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index (which now has Elon back in the lead) and Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires tracker. Until last month, Bezos had been the richest person in the world since 2017.
🧱 Brick by Brick… a 29-year-old engineer and biochemist from Kenya developed a method of transforming discarded plastic into lightweight and low-cost bricks stronger than concrete.
While several elements are named after countries – Americium, Francium, Germanium, etc. – Argentina is the only country to be named after an element, derived from the Latin argentum, meaning silver (abbreviated as ‘Ag’ on the periodic table).
*Correction: In yesterday’s Dose of Knowledge, we mistakenly included two correct answers, but only identified one. Contestants from both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune stand on risers to appear the same height on camera. Thanks to Jeanne W. for notifying us first.