Market, Food and Policy Implications from Cyberattack on JBS

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Yellen holds virtual chat with China’s Liu; Phase 2 talks ahead?
 


In Today’s Digital Newspaper


 

Market Focus:
• Fed economic update today
• Quarles hints he may stay on as Fed governor
• Farmland prices rise by up to 15% in surging market
• Annual rate of inflation in the eurozone rose in May

• Starlink set to benefit from German subsidies
• Oil prices rise to highest level of pandemic period
• Ukraine restricts grain operations at some ports
• Ag demand
• 
Warm, dry forecast continues to lift U.S. grain and soy futures
• Processing resuming at JBS facilities in the U.S. and Australia today
• StoneX drops Brazil’s corn crop to 89.68 MMT
• Argentine farmers remain reluctant sellers of soybeans
• Bad weather interrupts operations at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports
• Cyberattack on JBS shoots beef prices even higher
• Cyberattack also slows hog processing, but lean hog futures continue to rally

Policy Focus:
• Biden meets this afternoon with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito re: infrastructure
• Another slight rise in CFAP 2 payouts

Biden Administration Personnel:

• Tim Carroll is a new deputy press secretary at EPA

China Update:
• Some Chinese manufacturers are refusing to accept new orders
• China’s Liu He, Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen in ‘candid’ virtual talks
• G7 to back green policy rival to China’s Belt and Road Program

• Possible first human case of H10N3 bird flu reported in China

Energy & Climate Change:
• President Biden suspends Arctic drilling leases
• Poet boosts ethanol output capacity by 40%
• Cargill experimenting with cow masks to trap methane
• Measuring carbon sequestration a hard task


Livestock, Food & Beverage Industry Update:
• JBS says ‘vast majority’ of its facilities will reopen today
• Market, food industry and policy implications following cyberattack on JBS
• Tyson Foods President and CEO Dean Banks has stepped down 
• GAO report finds issues with import inspections


Coronavirus Update:
• New Covid cases have continued to decline
• WHO wants $50 billion to vaccinate the world
• European countries issue digital vaccine passports
WaPo issues correction on 2020 report on Tom Cotton, lab-leak theory

Politics & Elections:
• Dem Stansbury won a closely watched U.S. House special election in New Mexico
• Fried to challenge Crist for Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination
• Biden appoints VP Harris to champion voting rights
• More pressure will be applied on two Democratic moderates
• Gov. Cuomo of New York plans to hold a $10,000-a-head fund-raiser this month

Congress:
• Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount will testify June 8

Other Items of Note:
• U.S.-Mexico border arrests and detentions at 20-year-high
• Iran deal pushed to August
• Rural-urban divide for broadband means cities are often ignored

 


MARKET FOCUS


 

Equities today: Global stock markets were mixed overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward mixed openings. Major Asian stocks were mixed by the close of trading. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.5%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.6%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8%. The Stoxx Europe 600 edged up 0.2%, on track to notch a fresh closing record.

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow managed to gain 45.86 points, 0.13%, at 34,575.31 coming out of the holiday weekend. But the Nasdaq declined 12.26 points, 0.09%, at 13,736.48. The S&P 500 eased 2.07 points, 0.05%, at 4,202.04.

     Stocks

On tap today:

     • Federal Reserve speakers: Philadelphia’s Patrick Harker on the economic outlook at 12 p.m. ET, and Atlanta’s Raphael Bostic, Chicago’s Charles Evans, Dallas’s Robert Kaplan, Minneapolis's Neel Kashkari and Mr. Harker on the economy and monetary policy at virtual event on racism and the economy starting at 12 p.m. ET.
     • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde speaks at 1:10 p.m. ET.
     • The Fed releases its beige book report on U.S. economic conditions at 2 p.m. ET.

Fed economic update arrives today. The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report will be released this afternoon and the focus will be highest on issues relative to inflation and what the anecdotal recap of conditions in the 12 Federal Reserve districts has to say about how businesses view the current price situation. The report is also expected to continue to point out that businesses across the country are having difficulty attracting workers. But the attention to comments on inflation in various sectors will be the focal point as market participants continue to expect that inflationary pressures are building in the U.S. economy and that could prompt the Fed to act sooner than they currently have signaled to adjust monetary policy. Fed officials have mostly taken the view that the inflation situation will be “transitory” but some have also noted that should the situation become more entrenched and push inflation above the Fed’s 2% target, the U.S. central bank would act as needed.

Quarles hints he may stay on as Fed governor. Randal Quarles left open the possibility that he might remain in his role as a Federal Reserve governor after his tenure as vice chair for supervision expires on Oct. 13 — a move that would reduce the openings for the Biden administration to fill. Quarles also said that he would complete his time as chair of the Financial Stability Board, which expires Dec. 1.

Farmland prices rise by up to 15% in surging market. Farmers are joining investors and other bidders to drive up prices for farmland, said the largest U.S. farm management and real estate company. “Farmland sales prices are up by 5% to 15% in the past six months with most of the increase coming since the first of the year,” said Randy Dickhut of Farmers National Co., based in Omaha. Land prices are rising in most parts of the Grain Belt and for most types of farmland. Dickhut said prices for good quality cropland were approaching the levels of 2014, at the end of the last sustained commodity boom. Farmers are bidding more aggressively for farmland than during the past six years, when U.S. net farm income, a USDA gauge of farm profitability, was in a decline following a slump in crop and livestock prices, said Farmers National. Farmers are feeling more financially secure after record-large government payments in 2020 and a recovery of commodity prices last fall, it added.

Annual rate of inflation in the eurozone rose in May to hit the European Central Bank’s target for the first time since late 2018, as energy prices surged in response to a strengthening recovery in the global economy. The pickup in price rises comes before a June 10 meeting of policy makers at the European Central Bank, which will consider new economic forecasts and whether to continue stimulus programs launched early in the pandemic.

     What

Starlink set to benefit from German subsidies. Around 200,000 households in rural areas with poor broadband infrastructure could receive a voucher to cover the costs of connecting to wireless internet. Germany would become the first large nation to subsidize the use of consumer satellite internet services such as that offered by Elon Musk’s Starlink.

Market perspectives:

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index is higher on a corrective bounce from recent selling pressure. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note has eased to trade around 1.60% and tracing with global government bond yields that are weaker. Gold and silver futures are weaker ahead of U.S. trading, with gold just under $1,900 per troy ounce and silver around $27.90 per troy ounce.


     • Oil prices rose to their highest level of the pandemic period as Brent crude futures traded at over $70 a barrel for the first time in two and a half years. The rise reflects expectations of greater fuel demands as the U.S. and Chinese economies show signs of recovery heading into the summer, and builds on the confidence of OPEC+ countries, who agreed to continue easing oil supply restrictions through July. OPEC and its allies forecast higher demand and boosted output. Crude oil futures have moved higher in electronic trade, cresting their highest marks in months. U.S. crude was trading around $68.40 per barrel and brent around $71.05 per barrel. Crude edged up in Asian trading after big gains in U.S. trading Tuesday. U.S. crude was up 14 cents at $67.86 per barrel while Brent crude was up 17 cents at $70.42 per barrel.

        Oil prices

     • Ukraine restricts grain operations at some ports. Reuters is reporting that Ukraine has restricted grain loading operations at some of its Black Sea ports due to poor weather, the country’s seaport authority said. The restrictions applied to the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk, Mykolayiv, Kherson and Olvia, the authority said without elaborating. These port restrictions typically are not long lasting and are unlikely to affect the country’s grain export capabilities.

     • Ag demand: Japan will import 4,400 MT of feed-quality wheat for livestock use via a simultaneous buy and sell auction.

Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include:

     • Warm, dry forecast continues to lift U.S. grain and soy futures
     • Processing resuming at JBS facilities in the U.S. and Australia today
     • StoneX drops Brazil’s corn crop to 89.68 MMT
     • Argentine farmers remain reluctant sellers of soybeans
     • Bad weather interrupts operations at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports
     • Cyberattack on JBS shoots beef prices even higher
     • Cyberattack also slows hog processing, but lean hog futures continue to rally

 


POLICY FOCUS


 

Biden will meet with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today to continue negotiations over a jobs and infrastructure package. The planned meeting beginning t 2:45 p.m. ET with Capito, the point person on the issue for Senate Republicans, comes as Democrats are striking a more urgent tone on negotiations. On news shows Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said a clear direction on the plan is needed by June 7, when members of Congress will return from a week-long recess. Senate Republicans last week made a revised $928 billion counteroffer to the administration’s $1.7 trillion plan.

     Timeline: White House allies expect Biden to make a decision to move forward using budget reconciliation — which would allow him to pass a bill without GOP support — by mid-June if a deal with Republicans is not reached. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Friday he plans to put an infrastructure measure on the floor for consideration sometime in July before Congress leaves for the long August recess.

     Big “bridge” between the two political parties. Republicans say that a bill needs to focus solely on traditional physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges. Republican senators are strongly opposed to Biden’s plans to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals — which would roll back the 2017 tax cuts passed under then-President Donald Trump — in order to pay for his agenda. GOP senators have instead proposed paying for an infrastructure bill through a mix of unspent coronavirus relief funds, user fees and infrastructure financing. The White House has opposed repurposing coronavirus relief funding and said that user fees would violate Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 annually. Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, and National Association of Counties said in a statement they are “adamantly opposing” any plan that would repurpose Covid-19-related funds that are “urgently needed” for economic recovery.

     Biden’s meeting follows a new memo issued by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging Democrats to promote the parts of the Biden package that are unrelated to infrastructure, which Republicans oppose. Pelosi urged lawmakers to hold events in their district to promote the “care economy.” Biden’s infrastructure package would provide $400 billion for elder care and is a major sticking point in reaching a deal with the GOP. “Investing in caregiving will help get Americans back to work, create good-paying jobs, raise wages, boost lifetime earnings, support small businesses, and grow our economy for all Americans,” Pelosi wrote to fellow Democrats. “We cannot afford to miss an opportunity to Build Back Better with millions of Americans still out of work,” Pelosi wrote to lawmakers.

— Another slight rise in CFAP 2 payouts.  Payments approved under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have edged up to $13.68 billion as of May 31, up from $13.67 billion the prior week. The payouts approved include $6.27 billion in acreage-based payments, $3.44 billion for livestock, $2.69 billion for sales commodities, $1.22 billion for dairy and $60.7 million for eggs/broilers.
 


BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL


 

— Tim Carroll is a new deputy press secretary at EPA. He previously worked in communications for the city of Detroit before working on the Elizabeth Warren and later Joe Biden presidential campaigns in 2020.
 


CHINA UPDATE


 

Buffeted by rising costs, some Chinese manufacturers are refusing to accept new orders or are even considering shutting down operations temporarily—moves that could put more strain on global supply chains and cause more inflation. Surging raw-material prices and a shortage of workers have pinched smaller Chinese manufacturers, including many that sell their products to the U.S. and other Western markets. The Wall Street Journal notes (link) that China’s factory owners hope that if they delay orders or slow production, they will be able to ride out the present period until commodity prices normalize or global demand for consumer goods cools. The more immediate impact may be more inflation across supply chains, right down to store shelves.
 

— China’s Liu He, Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen in ‘candid’ virtual talks. China’s economic tsar Liu He held a virtual meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this morning, days after Liu’s first conversation on trade issues with U.S. Trade representative Katherine Tai, in a sign observers said indicated the need for economic policy coordination between the world’s two largest economies. Both sides agreed China/U.S. economic relations were “very important,” and discussions included the macro economic situation, as well as bilateral and multilateral cooperation “in an attitude of equality and mutual respect”, according to a brief statement by state news agency Xinhua. They also had “candid” exchanges on issues of concern and agreed to keep communicating, the statement said. The Treasury Department said in a brief statement that Yellen had discussed U.S. plans to “support a continued strong economic recovery and the importance of cooperation on areas that are in U.S. interest,” while at the same time “frankly” talking about issues of concern. Yellen noted that she looked forward to further discussions with Liu, the statement said.

     Some observers are wondering if the virtual call signals the possibility of Phase 2 of the U.S./China trade agreement may be possible. Many sources signal this round would face far more hurdles than the completed Phase 1 round.

— G7 to back green policy rival to China’s Belt and Road Program. The Group of Seven (G7) nations plans to launch a green alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative when the leaders meet at a summit next week, Bloomberg News reported. The strategy, expected to be called the “Clean Green Initiative,” would provide a framework to support sustainable development and the green transition in developing countries. The initiative will also be on the summit agenda for the leaders.

— A man in eastern China has contracted what might be the world’s first human case of the H10N3 strain of bird flu, but the risk of large-scale spread is low, the government said Tuesday. The 41-year-old man in Jiangsu province, northwest of Shanghai, was hospitalized April 28 and is in stable condition, the National Health Commission said on its website. No human case of H10N3 has been reported elsewhere, the commission said.

 


ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE


 

— Biden administration suspends Trump-era oil leases in Alaska's Arctic refuge. Plans for the first-ever drilling program in the pristine 19-million-acre site are on hold. The decision is the latest twist in more than 30 years of fights over how to manage some of the U.S.' last unspoiled wilderness. Under an Interior Department order issued yesterday, the agency is temporarily halting action on nine leases spanning more than 400,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while it conducts a fresh environmental analysis of the program. The department’s Bureau of Land Management will review the potential legal deficiencies and environmental impacts of the Jan. 6 sale of oil leases in the refuge. Just two oil companies and an Alaska economic development corporation participated in buying the right to explore for oil and gas on tracts in the refuge’s coastal plain during that January auction. White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy called the move “an important step forward fulfilling President Biden’s promise to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” President Joe Biden vowed to permanently protect the refuge during last year’s presidential campaign. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy criticized the Interior Department action, and Dunleavy said the leases sold in January “are valid and cannot be taken away by the federal government.”

— Poet boosts ethanol output capacity by 40% by acquiring Flint Hill Resources ethanol business. Poet will have an ethanol production capacity of 3 billion gallons per year after its acquisition of the Flint Hills Resources ethanol business, a boost of 40% from its prior capacity. Flint Hills had been the fifth largest ethanol producer in the country with six bioprocessing facilities located in Iowa and Nebraska and two terminals in Texas and Georgia. The acquisition gives Poet 33 bioprocessing facilities in eight states and will result in the firm having 7 million tonnes per year of distillers’ dried grains (DDGs) production and corn oil production of 975 million pounds per year. Poet CEO Jeff Broin told Reuters the move came as the company views biofuels as part of the mix when it comes to climate change policies. "Biofuels are one of the best near-term solutions to climate change," Broin said. "Biofuels are here today, and we don't have decades to wait."

— Cargill is experimenting with cow masks to trap methane coming out of cow burps as a way to reduce output of emissions like methane, Bloomberg reports (link).

     Cow methane

— Measuring carbon sequestration a hard task. The White House's plan to pay farmers for sequestering carbon dioxide in soil to help combat climate change has benefits that are hard to measure, NPR reports (link).
 


LIVESTOCK, FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY



— JBS said it expected to reopen the “vast majority” of its U.S. plants today after a ransomware attack crippled its operations, forcing all U.S. beef plants to close and halting work at factories in Canada and Australia. Brazilian-owned JBS processes nearly one-quarter of U.S. beef and about one-fifth of the nation’s pork. Given the progress made in the past 24 hours, JBS said Tuesday evening that “the vast majority of our beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants will be operational tomorrow.” The firm said that on Tuesday, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s were able to ship product from “nearly all its facilities to supply customers.” (The company is also the owner of Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., the second-biggest U.S. chicken producer. William Callicott, president of the Mid-Atlantic Council of Food Inspection Locals, AFGE, said at least two Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plants in Chattanooga, Tennessee, were closed due to the cyberattack.) JBS facilities in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Texas were among those affected. JBS said it continues to make progress to resume plant operations in the U.S. and Australia and its Canada beef facility resumed production. The firm reiterated its prior assertion that they are unaware of any customer, supplier or employee data was compromised in the attack.

     It isn’t clear whether JBS has paid ransom.

     Details: At a JBS beef plant in Souderton, Pa., which the company estimates is the largest beef plant east of Chicago, workers were told no slaughtering or processing would take place Tuesday, according to Wendell Young, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents JBS plant employees. In Greeley, Colo., where JBS runs another major beef-packing plant, shifts were canceled because of the cyberattack, a spokeswoman for the local UFCW chapter said. The JBS beef plant in Cactus, Texas, also canceled Tuesday operations, with the exception of maintenance and some other functions, according to a notice posted to the plant’s Facebook page. The JBS pork plant in Ottumwa, Iowa, told employees that Tuesday slaughtering and bacon-slicing shifts were suspended, according to a separate Facebook notice. In Worthington, Minn., where JBS runs another pork plant, cutting, trimming and deboning shifts were suspended Tuesday, according to a notice posted to that plant’s Facebook page. Besides the company’s U.S. plants, the shutdowns affected 2,500 workers at a beef plant in Brooks, Alberta, according to Scott Payne, a spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 in Canada. “All shifts were canceled yesterday,” he said on Tuesday. “The morning shift was canceled today. But the afternoon shift has been rescheduled to operate today.”

     JBS informed the White House that the hack came from a criminal group likely based in Russia. “The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said, adding that the U.S. would deliver the message that “responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.” Bloomberg identified the group involved as REvil (or Sodinokibi), a cybergang with Russian links. “The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals,” said White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating the hack, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was also involved, Jean-Pierre said. David Littleproud, Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, tweeted that JBS is working closely with law enforcement agencies to restore its operations and “to bring those responsible to account.”

     Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today declined to comment on the attack, saying he had no information about it but that there were ongoing contacts between Russia and the U.S. through diplomatic channels. On June 16, President Biden is scheduled to meet the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, in Geneva. A variety of cyberattacks, many allegedly emanating from Russia, are high on the American agenda. President Biden won’t scrap his summit this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to suspected Russian cybercriminals disrupting work at a major US meat producer, the White House says “We do not regard, as you can imagine, this meeting with the Russian president as a reward, right? We regard it as a vital part of defending America’s interests. President Biden is meeting with Vladimir Putin because of our country’s differences, not in spite of them,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. Former CIA Moscow station chief Daniel Hoffman said these attacks are occurring as a show of force in the lead-up to the June 16 summit. Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence officer for Russia and author of the upcoming "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America," told Fox News the use of criminal gangs is a common tactic by the Kremlin. "The U.S. security apparatus has falsely been imagining that certain things are achievable with Russia, and every single president has tried the so-called ‘reset’ and failed," she said. "Because Russia does not view itself as a friend."

     The development comes when beef prices have risen by increased Chinese demand, pandemic-related worker shortages, and rising feed costs. Meanwhile, Argentina, the world’s fifth largest beef supplier, which halted beef exports for 30 days in an effort to tame inflation.

     Meanwhile, USDA released a statement that they have been reaching out to other meat packers and to food, agriculture and retail organizations on the matter. “USDA continues to work closely with the White House, Department of Homeland Security, JBS USA and others to monitor this situation closely and offer help and assistance to mitigate any potential supply or price issues,” the agency said. “As part of that effort, USDA has reached out to several major meat processors in the United States to ensure they are aware of the situation, encouraging them to accommodate additional capacity where possible, and to stress the importance of keeping supply moving.” As for the retail side, USDA said it has emphasized “maintaining close communication and working together to ensure a stable, plentiful food supply.” The agency also said it was encouraging food and agriculture companies to take steps in their U.S. operations to protect their IT and supply chain infrastructure “so that it is more durable, distributed and better able to withstand modern challenges, including cybersecurity threats and disruptions.” If the JBS operations are able to resume operation shortly, this should temper the impact of the cyberattack, but it comes at a time when the industry was already seeing reduced output in part due to work absenteeism.

     Market and food industry impacts: Live cattle-futures trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell on Tuesday, with the most-active cattle contract closing down Tuesday by 1.9% to nearly $1.17 a pound. Even one day’s disruption at JBS could “significantly impact” wholesale beef prices, according to analysts at Daily Livestock Report. As restaurants and retail customers have started buying beef heading into summer, the wholesale market has been “extremely tight,” the analysts for Daily Livestock Report wrote in a report released on Tuesday. They noted that a small restaurant in southern Utah had started to charge an extra $4 for dishes that contained carne asada. “Retailers and beef processors are coming from a long weekend and need to catch up with orders and make sure to fill the meat case,” the analysts wrote. “If they suddenly get a call saying that product may not deliver tomorrow or this week, it will create very significant challenges in keeping plants in operation and the retail case stocked up.” Retailers don’t always like increasing prices for consumers and may try to resist, according to Michael Nepveux, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “How long it goes on will impact to what level consumers start to see something at the grocery stores,” he said in a phone interview with Bloomberg. According to the trade group Beef Central, "supermarkets and other large end-users like the McDonald's burger patty supply network will be some of the most immediately impacted customers, due to their need for consistent supply.” Other meat market analysts say plant closures from the JBS hack could soon lead to higher consumer prices, which have increased for many cuts this year because of high demand, labor shortages and high transportation costs. It also prevented USDA from releasing daily wholesale prices for beef and pork that are heavily relied on by agriculture markets.

     Policy impacts: It did not take long for the National Farmers Union to blame consolidation on the food system as a reason consumers might be affected by the processing halts. The JBS hack is likely to increase calls for higher cybersecurity standards for private businesses in essential sectors. “Attacks like this one highlight the vulnerabilities in our nation’s food supply chain security, and they underscore the importance of diversifying the nation’s meat processing capacity,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said on Tuesday.

     BG

     JBS US

— Tyson Foods President and CEO Dean Banks has stepped down after eight months at the helm, citing "personal reasons." Tyson's Chief Operating Officer Donnie King will replace Banks, effective immediately. He first joined the company in 1982 and was elevated to COO in February.

— GAO report finds issues with import inspections. Agencies within the Homeland Security, Agriculture and Interior departments tasked with detecting invasive species and infectious diseases that could compromise U.S. agricultural products have suffered from communication issues and outdated objectives, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (link).

 


CORONAVIRUS UPDATE


 

Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 171,196,260 with 3,565,444 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 33,287,577 with 595,213 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 296,404,240 doses administered, 135,867,425 have been fully vaccinated, or 41.4% of the entire U.S. population.

— New Covid cases have continued to decline at virtually the same rate as during the month before the C.D.C. announcement, which came on May 13. Overall, daily new cases have fallen by almost 75% since mid-April and by more than 90% from the peak in January.

     New cases

— The WHO wants $50 billion to vaccinate the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for wealthy nations to contribute $50 billion to buy vaccine doses for developing nations. WHO leaders say that sum would be enough to vaccinate 60% of the world's population within the next year, allowing for $9 trillion in new economic growth by 2025. The organization also endorsed a second Chinese vaccine for distribution, meaning it can be rolled out through the WHO-backed Covax program.

— European countries issue digital vaccine passports. Seven nations began offering what they call a digital green certificate yesterday to ease travel within the EU, with the rest of the bloc adopting it by next month.

— Washington Post issues correction on 2020 report on Tom Cotton, lab-leak theory. The Washington Post has issued a correction on its 2020 report on Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and the lab-leak theory he had discussed in the media. The newspaper revised a February 2020 story with the original headline "Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked" as top public health experts have begun taking a more serious look at the origins of the coronavirus. The new headline of the story reads "Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed."

     Meanwhile, the leader of a nonprofit group with close ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology personally thanked Dr. Anthony Fauci in April 2020 for publicly rejecting the notion that the lab could be connected to the release of COVID-19. EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak’s April 18, 2020, email to Fauci was part of a 3,200-page batch of Fauci’s emails obtained by BuzzFeed News on Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. A large portion of Daszak’s email to Fauci was redacted with a FOIA exemption indicating the text could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings.
 


POLITICS & ELECTIONS



— Melanie Stansbury, a Democrat, handily won (63% to 33%) a congressional special election in New Mexico, claiming the seat previously held by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and easily turning back a Republican effort to make the race a referendum on rising crime in the Albuquerque-based district. Her campaign was closely tied to initiatives of the Biden administration. The district, which includes Albuquerque and its suburbs, is deep-blue territory. Biden carried it by 23 points in 2020 and the former incumbent, Democrat Deb Haaland, won it by 16 points before vacating the seat to become Interior secretary.

     Upon Stansbury’s swearing-in, Democrats will have 220 House seats compared with 211 for Republicans.

— Fried to challenge Crist for Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination, right to face DeSantis. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Tuesday officially entered the race for Florida governor in 2022. Fried, 43, was a student-body president at the University of Florida, an assistant public defender, a foreclosure defense attorney and a prominent lobbyist for the marijuana industry before running for state agriculture commissioner in 2018. Link for details.

— Biden appoints VP Harris to champion voting rights. President Biden said on Tuesday that he had directed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead Democrats in a sweeping legislative effort to protect voting rights, an issue that is critical to his legacy but one that faces increasingly daunting odds in a divided Senate.  

— More pressure will be applied on two Democratic moderates, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), to drop their opposition to limiting the filibuster’s reach, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hinted last week. Both also have expressed reluctance to bypassing the GOP to get some major portions of Biden’s agenda through the Senate using a legislative shortcut called budget reconciliation.

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York plans to hold a $10,000-a-head fund-raiser this month, despite an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of office, Bloomberg reports (link).


CONGRESS  



— Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on June 8 (and not June 9 as previously indicated). The hearing will examine the Colonial Pipeline hack and other cyber threats to critical infrastructure, Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said in a statement.
 


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE     


— Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) numbers for April showed U.S.-Mexico border arrests and detentions at a 20-year-high. “U.S. agents are making about 6,000 arrests and detentions along the Mexico border each day, a level of law enforcement intensity that has no recent precedent. Family groups and children needing care remain a major challenge for CBP.

— Iran deal pushed to August. Iran expects an agreement on a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear and the lifting of U.S. sanctions to be finalized in August, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said. Rabiei’s comments during a news conference on Tuesday quashed rumors of an impending deal and stretch the negotiating timeframe until after Iran’s June 18 presidential election. Rabiei said there were “no obstacles” for negotiators in the Vienna talks but that “some differences such as Trump’s sanctions and Iran’s measures need to be worked out.”

— Rural-urban divide for broadband means cities are often ignored as lawmakers focus on remote areas, according to a New York Times account (link). “Billions will be spent to extend the internet infrastructure to the farthest reaches of rural America, where few people live, and little will be devoted to connecting millions of urban families who live in areas with high-speed service that they cannot afford.” About 81% of rural households are plugged into broadband, compared with about 86% in urban areas, according to Census Bureau data. But the number of urban households without a connection, 13.6 million, is almost three times as big as the 4.6 million rural households that don’t have one.


 

 

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