Your Hiatus Briefing for May 13

The CDC loosens mask rules. A cyberattack causes a gasoline shortage. Photos of Mars.

Thanks for being a part of Hiatus. Here’s what’s new in the world since last week.


The Centers for Disease Control said that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most situations, indoors and outdoors. This doesn’t change any state- and city-level mandates for now, but it’s likely many of those will be modified to match the CDC’s guidance soon. About 46 percent of Americans have been vaccinated so far. Here’s a great Washington Post interactive showing vaccination rates by state and county (with no paywall).


The FDA authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and up.


Ohio is running a vaccine lottery, giving away $1 million at random to five lucky vaccinated Ohioans. The drawings will take place over the next seven weeks. About 42 percent of Ohioans are vaccinated so far. The most-vaccinated state is Maine, at 58 percent.


Coronavirus continues to overwhelm the healthcare system in India. Here’s a look at daily cases per capita in India and its small neighbor, Nepal, compared to the trajectory in the United States.


Companies are eager to hire lower-wage workers and are increasing wages and incentives in response to a slowdown in applications for open jobs. Amazon is offering $1,000 starting bonuses in some locations in attempt to recruit 75,000 new workers, and McDonald’s is raising pay in hopes of hiring 10,000 new workers as its dining rooms reopen.


In Israel, violence has escalated dramatically. Here’s a detailed photo story from The Atlantic, and the magazine’s summary of the situation:

“Tensions have escalated in recent weeks between Palestinians and Israelis, triggered in part by recent protests related to a decades-long land dispute that could lead to the removal of Palestinian families from their homes in an East Jerusalem neighborhood. Israeli security forces confronted demonstrators on the site known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, injuring hundreds of Palestinians. Militants in the Gaza Strip began firing rockets into Israel, and Israeli forces have conducted air strikes in Gaza in response, leading to the deaths of more than 55 Palestinians and seven Israelis over the past few days.” The Atlantic’s full photo story


Texas and Arizona joined Florida and Georgia in passing new laws to make voting more difficult. The changes in the states include reduced opportunities for mail-in voting, a reduced number of days of early voting, and new rules removing some voters from automatic vote-by-mail lists.

I’ll break into opinion for a moment to suggest that all states should adopt universal mail-in voting like my home state of Colorado, where it works like a charm. (I haven’t been to a polling place since 2008 and hope never to return.) Here’s a detailed look at how Colorado votes in comparison to Georgia, from NPR.


A cyberattack caused one of the largest U.S. oil pipelines to shut down, causing gasoline shortages on the East Coast. The attack appears to have infected the pipeline’s IT systems with “ransomware,” after which the attackers demanded payment to unlock the systems. The pipeline is now operational again and will be back to capacity in a few days.


The U.S. will build its first large offshore wind farm, off the coast of Massachusetts. When completed, the facility is expected to provide enough emissions-free power for 400,000 homes and businesses.


The National Rifle Association will not be allowed to declare bankruptcy. A judge ruled that the filing was an attempt to move the organization from New York to Texas to avoid regulatory scrutiny, rather than the result of an actual financial problem for the organization.


Scotland’s pro-independence first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, won reelection, making it likely that Scotland will eventually hold a new referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. The majority of residents of Scotland voted to stay in the European Union in the Brexit referendum, so independence (though many years out, if it happens) would offer a newly independent Scotland the opportunity to rejoin the EU.


A bipartisan group of 44 state attorneys general urged Facebook not to create a new Instagram for Kids app. I will opine for a moment and add that I think we should also encourage them to shut down Facebook for adults.


Part of a Chinese rocket fell from orbit and crashed into the Indian Ocean near The Maldives. Prior to the crash, no one was sure where the rocket parts would land. Fortunately, no debris appears to have hit land and no one was hurt.


On Mars, the Ingenuity helicopter has permanently left its home base, flying for about two minutes to a new location on the red planet, from which it will continue its exploration.

Until next time, enjoy your Hiatus.