Welcome back to a new edition of the Weekender, where we’re being met with reports of red-orange-eyed bugs emerging out of the earth for an event 17 years in the making. But, do not bug out: these critters are not so bad for the planet. While the beginning of the week started with cannabis-themed celebrations, the country witnessed one of the most significant verdicts in recent memory. Plus, some states are now seeing an oversupply of Covid-19 vaccines and are in danger of “vaccine hesitancy.” Catch up on these stories and more below. We’re glad you could join us.
THE BIG FIVE
The impact of the Chauvin verdict and the reaction across national brands.
Guilty on all three counts: it was the verdict heard ’round the world. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in a Minneapolis courtroom nearly a year after George Floyd’s death. The decision was viewed as a watershed moment in the debate on police brutality and racial injustice and spurred many reactions across industries. While many celebrated the verdict, some acknowledged the long-term challenges of tackling racial injustice and the efforts yet to be done. From studios to sports leagues, brands were just as involved in the conversations as the public was. Rarely has a public event brought out so many public statements across the spectrum: what does it mean for public policy? Officials and lawmakers have started shifting the conversation to focus on tangible police reform at both the state and national levels. It’s safe to say brands will be there too. Read more in Campaign Live
The line of “vaccine hesitancy” has been reached and what that means for the country.
The long wait for your turn in line for the Covid-19 vaccine is coming to an end. With all Americans 16 years and older now eligible for the vaccine and close to half of all U.S. adults vaccinated with at least one shot, supply may soon outpace demand. While it’s an incredible feat that millions are still receiving the vaccine daily, the slowed enthusiasm could present severe challenges in the recovery trajectory. Many experts believe between 75 percent and 80 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated or have antibodies to reach herd immunity. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department updated its travel guidelines to align more closely with the CDC recommendations, which means around 80 percent of countries worldwide will fall under a “Do Not Travel” advisory. The solution to overcoming hesitancy? To reach the end of an unprecedented global pandemic, the key may just lie in going back to the fundamentals: meeting Americans where they are, answering questions, and having clear, meaningful communication. Read more in Politico
Biden’s significant slash on emissions and what it means for the world’s climate push.
President Biden kicked off Earth Day with a two-day virtual climate summit alongside 40 foreign leaders. What was the administration’s most significant attempt to regain the U.S. focus on the climate? During the summit, Biden announced a new U.S. target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, a number twice as ambitious as the one set during the Obama administration. Meeting the target does not just entail the rapid growth of wind, solar, and storage projects; it would mean sweeping changes across the U.S. economy, including significantly increasing the number of electric vehicles, decarbonizing several sectors, and expanding buildings’ energy efficiency. Investments in solar and wind energy will also help bring down emissions. Some environmental groups say that Biden’s target is not ambitious enough, though the goal is aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement. Expect to see everything put on the table, including regulatory actions and tax credits, to help reach the goal. However, one of the biggest arguments for the ambitious goal is the market forces and technological advancements already underway: they are driving decarbonization at a much faster rate than expected. Read more in Axios
An end in sight for marijuana prohibition? It depends.
Still dazed and confused over marijuana policy in the U.S.? So are the growing number of Americans who are seeing marijuana decimalization become the norm. While red and blue states are giving the green light on recreational use, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and not seeing universal support. President Biden has shied away from the move. Still, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not – riding on a high saying Biden’s opposition will not stop the Senate from loosening restrictions. Taking the step to legalize marijuana at the federal level would allow for the development of consumer-protection laws and provide a framework for taxing and regulating it, making the U.S. go green in more ways than one. Read more in Politico
A debut 17 years in the making: what to know about the return of the cicadas.
In a matter of weeks, billions of cicadas will scratch their way to the earth’s surface and emerge across 15 states, with Washington D.C. being their main stage. Just one more thing to add to our list from the past year. This year’s periodical group, named Brood X, is expected to emerge for four to six weeks as soon as the ground hits 64 degrees or higher. These critters have been a famous feast for creatures, including dogs and cats, and have become a novelty ingredient for some humans (clearly not for all). One expert says the bugs are good for the environment and contribute to a healthy compost mix. But can we just say thanks but no thanks? We’ll marvel at nature, but pass on the upcoming cicada special. Read more in Washington Post
- 40. The percentage of Americans who now live in states that have embraced the full legalization of marijuana.
- 111. The number of years Drake University in Iowa has put on the Drake Relays. Every year is a special celebration, but this year is a big one due to Covid-19 canceling last year’s festivities.
- 91%. The number of Americans aware of the pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. This percentage is an extremely high level of awareness for a news event, showing how closely Americans follow immunization news.
- 75. The estimated percentage of total emissions reductions from the electricity and transportation sectors under the new U.S. emissions 2030 target.
- 164.1 million. The number of iPads Apple shipped worldwide last year, dominating the tablet market. In a year of virtual connection, 2020 was a record year for tech.
- 9.8%. March, bringing in $619.1 billion in retail and food services sales. Experts say stimulus checks fueled the rise in spending.
- 15 million. The number of Americans who would be completely free of their federal student loan debt with $10,000 in student loan forgiveness.
- 56%. The number of Americans who worry a “great deal” about the pollution of drinking water in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Of the six environmental problems facing America, water quality is most concerning to Americans.
- 132. The number of countries out of 180 countries included in Reporter Without Borders’ Annual Press Freedom Index that have journalistic freedoms that are deemed “seriously restricted.”
Have a great weekend. See you next week.