Sleeves up / ‘I am embarrassed’ / You’re welcome, New York

Sleeves up. The FDA has approved a fourth COVID-19 shot for people over 50.
Axios Chicago’s Monica Eng, who tested positive after leaving the Midwest for the first time in two years, says antiviral drug treatment for COVID is woefully hard to find.

Signs of hope. Updating coverage: In what The Associated Press describes as “potentially a significant concession,” Russia’s military announced plans to “fundamentally ... cut back military activity” near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city.
Turkey’s foreign minister reports “the most meaningful progress” since the start of the negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators.
President Biden isn’t backing down from his assertion that “Putin cannot remain in power” …
 … but he says it wasn’t a call for “regime change,” but “like, you know, bad people shouldn’t continue to do bad things.”
A Tribune editorial: “Biden slipped up, but he was right. The world isn’t safe with Putin in power.”
Stephen Colbert: “When you’ve already called someone a butcher and a war criminal, it would seem weird if you also thought they should keep their job.”

‘I am embarrassed.’ A day later, actor Will Smith has publicly apologized on Instagram to Chris Rock for slapping him onstage at the Oscars Sunday night, acknowledging that his behavior was “unacceptable and inexcusable.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is considering what consequences Smith should face—including ejection from the organization.
NPR critic Eric Deggans: “ When the moment came for the Oscar show’s producers to step up and say that someone who commits violence on live television doesn’t get their moment in the winners’ circle, the producers blinked. Hollywood royalty won.”
Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, who’s endured the same hair-loss disease that has afflicted Jada Pinkett Smith and that triggered the joke that drove Will Smith to violence: “What Smith did … sent a terrible message. This kind of behavior leads to the violence that occurs every day on the street.”

‘The Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.’ That’s a federal judge in California ordering lawyer John Eastman to turn over 101 emails from that time.
CNN calls it “a startling acknowledgment by a federal court that Trump’s interest in overturning the election could be considered criminal.”
Washington Post columnists say the judge’s finding “reinforces the darkest reading of Trump’s coup effort.”
Read the order here.
The House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is reportedly missing eight hours in the official records of Trump’s phone calls that day.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin wants Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife was in the thick of efforts to overturn the election, to recuse himself from cases related to the Capitol attack.
The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet: Illinois Rep. Mary Miller, who demanded an investigation of voter fraud in the 2020 elections, is taking cash from a political action committee headed by a woman suspected of voter fraud.
A joint PBS/ProPublica investigation traces the origin of the “stolen election” myth.

Higher taxes for the rich? That’s a cornerstone of Biden’s plan for the federal budget to begin in October.
Popular Information: Biden’s proposed increase in defense spending “is roughly equivalent to the UK’s entire defense budget.”
A Sun-Times editorial rejects Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to suspend the city’s 3-cents-a-gallon fuel tax because it would cripple spending on bridge maintenance, street paving and snow removal.

In 20-hundred-and-22, Columbus’ statue may return to you. Lightfoot says she “fully expects” a controversial monument to Christopher Columbus back in Grant Park—with more security.

After fence-sitting for weeks in the run-up to the law’s passage, Disney—one of Florida’s biggest employers—says it’ll work for repeal.
A Chicago rally yesterday to honor dead Black transgender women didn’t end well.

Pritzker’s parole puzzle. Two of the governor’s nominees for the Illinois Prisoner Review Board are out amid criticism of their votes as interim members to free two men accused of killing police officers.

You’re welcome, New York. Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin—who’s out to defeat Pritzker (February link)—is kicking in $40 million for an addition to New York’s American Museum of Natural History designed by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang.
A WTTW investigation: An Aurora company that donated big to Griffin’s favored gubernatorial candidate, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, got millions in Aurora city contracts.

‘A Google billionaire’s fingerprints are all over Biden’s science office.’ Politico flags Eric Schmidt’s unusual influence over government policy.
 Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility warns that Biden’s “hopelessly vague” scientific integrity initiative is stuck in limbo.
 Daily Beast turns a spotlight on a “clean” energy company preying on eco-conscious consumers in Illinois and elsewhere with misleading promotions.

Walmart butts out. It’s going to stop selling cigarettes in at least some stores.
A seventh Chicago-area Starbucks is the scene of a unionization push.

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