Breaking news: A tsunami alert was issued for the Alaskan coast this morning after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck just off the state's southwestern peninsula.
A bipartisan group of senators announced yesterday an agreement on the top-level details of a broad-ranging physical infrastructure package. Led by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and White House officials, the legislation cleared a procedural vote last night by a 67-32 vote.
The deal would cost $974B over five years, about $579B of which would be new spending. Early reports suggest $312B of the new spending will fund transportation projects like roads and bridges ($110B), mass transit ($39B), electric vehicle infrastructure ($7.5B), and more. The other tranche of money would fund power grid upgrades ($73B), broadband internet infrastructure ($65B), and water infrastructure ($55B), among other items.
The package is separate from the Biden administration's $3.5T "human" infrastructure plan, a bill Democrats are expected
to try to pass via a party-line budget reconciliation vote in the coming weeks.
Earth's Oldest Animal Fossils
Geologists may have found the oldest animal fossils discovered to date, according to results published yesterday. The specimen, believed to be the remains of an ancient sponge, was uncovered in Canada's remote Northwest Territories—a region that was a rich marine ecosystem roughly a billion years ago. The find is more than 300 million years older than the current earliest confirmed sponge fossil.
If confirmed, the 890-million-year-old fossil would suggest prehistoric
animals arose before conditions on Earth were considered hospitable to complex life (see timeline). It would also mark the first direct evidence of animal life prior to an oxygenation event that culminated roughly 540 million years ago and led to an explosion in animal diversity.
While animals evolved relatively recently (in geological terms), bacteria have been around much longer—the oldest-known bacterial fossil
has been dated to 3.5 billion years ago.
Vaccine and Testing Mandates
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced yesterday New York state employees must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 by next month or undergo mandatory weekly testing for the virus. The announcement followed a similar decision by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) regarding city workers. Cuomo also said patient-facing healthcare workers in state-run facilities must be vaccinated.
At the federal level, President Joe Biden is expected to announce a requirement that roughly 2 million civilian federal employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations or submit to similar testing measures. In the private sector, Google delayed a return to in-person work until October and said all on-campus employees must be vaccinated.
New US COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with the current average at 63,000 new cases per day (see data). Daily deaths have risen at a slower pace, currently hovering near 300 per day.
Overseas, the United Kingdom said vaccinated travelers from the US and European Union may enter the country without quarantine. To the surprise of health officials, cases in the UK have made a sharp decline over the past two weeks.
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Business & Markets
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Politics & World Affairs
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'Take Him to the River'
AP News | Jason Dearen. A foiled 2015 murder plot revealed insight into the nature and operations of a modern Ku Klux Klan cell. (Read)
A History of Gymnastics
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Historybook: Italian dictator Benito Mussolini born (1883); RIP Vincent van Gogh (1890); NASA is established (1958); 750 million people worldwide watch wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana (1981); RIP Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin (1994).
"I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
- Vincent van Gogh
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