Supercreator AM: Booster shots, Haiti update, HIV life expectancy

Plus: The Senate is up against the clock on infrastructure.

Good morning and welcome to Supercreator AM. It’s MondayJuly 12. I’m Michael, writing to you from New York City. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day:

  • Pfizer to give an update on booster shots ⇢ Fadel Allassan and Ivana Saric at Axios: Pfizer will update US health officials this week on whether a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine is needed after it announced last week its intention to request government authorization for the shot. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have pushed back against the claim that vaccinated people will need a booster.

  • Another arrest in connection with the Haitian president’s assassination ⇢ Reuters: Haitian police arrested one of the suspected masterminds in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Authorities said the man is alleged to have flown to Haiti last month with plans to take over as president.

  • Americans with HIV now have the same life expectancy as those without ⇢ Anagha Srikanth at The Hill: A new study found that mortality rates for those entering HIV care dropped “dramatically” between 1999 and 2017, from a difference of 11.1 percentage points to 2.7. The research also showed that people living with HIV are a higher risk of suicide and underscored the need for expanded access to health care.

  • TikTok upgrades its video removal technology ⇢ Sara Fischer at Axios: The short-form social video app is rolling out a new system that will allow it to automatically block videos that violate its polices — like minor safety, adult nudity and sexual activities, violent and graphic content, illegal activities and regulated goods — when they’re uploaded. It says the new system will free up its safety team to focus on more nuanced content areas, including hate speech, bullying and harassment.

  • NYC opens a first citywide cybersecurity center ⇢ Deanna Paul at The WSJ: New York City opened the first real-time operational center to protect against cybersecurity threats in a major American metropolitan city, as cyber attacks have increased across the country. Its embers range from the New York Police Department to Amazon.com Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. to the Federal Reserve Bank and several New York healthcare systems.

  • Zalia Avant-garde has colleges competing for her enrollment ⇢ Ny Magee at The Grio: Louisiana State University is one of several schools to offer the first Black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee a full scholarship. “Your academic performance reflected scholarship first! You modeled intellectual excellence,” LSU President William F. Tate IV said in a tweet to the teenager this weekend. “@LSU_Honors awaits. I write to offer you a full scholarship to attend LSU. Here for you!”

◆◇ ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN ◆◇

The Senate’s three-week sprint ⇢ Lawmakers return to Washington today with one major assignment: Pass trillions of dollars investments to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, expand our social safety net and confront the climate crisis.

It sounds easier than done though.

First, there’s the work of translating the agreement a group of moderate senators from both parties negotiated last month into the formal legislative text to vote on.

There’s also the issue of timing. The White House and Democratic leadership want this done before the Senate goes on its August recess through Labor Day. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter over the weekend warning senators that they should expect to work long nights, weekends and stick around in Washington to through the weekend until the mission is accomplished. (The threat of a shortened recess is likely to rankle lawmakers who need face time with their constituents and donors ahead of next year’s midterm elections.)

Schumer reiterated the Democrats’ strategy of passing a two-track package that includes a bipartisan infrastructure framework to modernize our roads, bridges and transit centers and a budget resolution to approve President Joe Biden’s American Jobs and Families plans, which includes provisions on aforementioned climate change, health care and the care economy.

This will require a delicate balancing act of securing enough Republican support for the infrastructure framework while satisfying both moderate and progressive Democrats since all fifty senators will need to vote for the resolution so Vice President Kamala Harris can step on the scene to break the tie.

The urgency is thick because this is likely the Democrats’ last chance to pass any meaningful legislation before the campaign season kicks off. History hints that Republicans should make gains in both the House and Senate next year since the president’s opposing party typically regains power in the midterms. But the left intends to buck this trend by showing voters receipts to remind them that shots are in arms, checks were cashed, health care was expanded, the economy has rebounded and workers have been empowered because of their efforts. We’ll see if it’s enough in due time.

◆◇ IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ◆◇

Nikole Hannah-Jones’s nemesis has no regrets ⇢ In an interview last week, Walter Hussman, the white donor who pressured the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s administration into withholding tenure from Nikole Hannah-Jones, said he had no regrets for his role in the debacle. (Hannah-Jones’s tenure was ultimately approved but she juiced UNC in favor of Howard University. Read my thoughts on the situation if you haven’t already.

It should come as no surprise that Hussman thinks he handled this unnecessary crisis with flying colors. But as I wrote in last Thursday, that doesn’t make his behavior any less abhorrent:

Hussman thinks he’s entitled to placing his thumbs on the scale to influence who gets to teach and on what terms by dint of his white maleness and wealth. (Hussman pledged $25 million to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s journalism school, which now bears his name. It’s been reported that since most of that money hasn’t been delivered, the school felt financial pressure to renege on its plan to hire Hannah-Jones with tenure.) Hussman’s outdated journalistic instincts prevented him from seeing a world where a Black woman could tell the story of this country’s founding without the rosy pretense most people accept as gospel.

Hussman isn’t alone though. We’re seeing this narrative play out across the country as parents, legislators and pundits attempt to demonize anything or anyone that challenges us to get real about who we are as a nation. But it’s the truth, as the old folks like to say, that will set us free.

◆◇ THE MORNING READ ◆◇

“The Inner Ring of the internet” Ali Montag at Divinations: “This is the price of chasing the Inner Ring. The desire to be likeable—to win entrance into the upper echelons of the attention marketplace, to be noteworthy and taken note of, to make a hit movie or write a best-selling book—provokes the same reaction from anyone who harbors it: inescapable mediocrity.

“If you want to be in the Inner Ring, you’ve already lost.

“The incentives driving creative work matter. It’s just as important why you create something as it is what you create. A story written only for profit, attention, or fame won’t be much of a story at all.”


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