COVID’s ‘crucial’ week / ‘Truth tribunals everywhere’ / Kmart blues

COVID’s ‘crucial’ week. As the nation flies blind into what could be another pandemic surge, Poynter’s Al Tompkins says the federal government faces a big decision on the April 18 expiration of the Transportation Department’s mask mandate for planes, airports, trains and buses.
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests people should cast a wary eye on “big dinners … like the White House correspondents’ ball, or  … the Gridiron Dinner.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is the third Cabinet member to catch COVID.
Author and Deadspin founder Will Leitch, who has yet to get it: Don’t be like New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who “just last week … boasted to reporters how he never got COVID-19” and then tested positive four days later.
The Pentagon’s reflecting on lessons learned for the next pandemic.

‘An attempt to buy your vote.’ That’s how Illinois Republicans are portraying the Christmas-in-April budget Democrats rammed through the General Assembly in a Friday-Saturday overnighter …
 … that portends more than $1.8 billion in tax relief …
 … including a gasoline-tax holiday—with a provision that is pissing off station owners.

‘Truth tribunals everywhere.’ Columnist—and former Tribune Moscow correspondent—Charles Madigan says those would better “serve the cause of history” in Russia’s assault on Ukraine than war crime trials.
A Ukrainian returning to a home looted by Russian forces: “They took away all the clothes—literally everything, male and female coats, boots, shirts, jackets, even my dresses and lingerie.”
The BBC: Ukrainian troops in the besieged city of Mariupol are bracing for a “last battle” against Russia.
In Kyiv, Ukraine’s president tells 60 Minutes he feels safe: “When we get the air-raid evacuation signal we head downstairs.”

Cards on table. Axios sums up last week’s pitches by the three finalists for a Chicago casino project.
Lisa Simpson on last night’s episode of The Simpsons: “The lottery is a tax on people who can’t calculate the insanely low odds of winning. … They trick poor dopes into buying tickets they can’t afford.”
Homer Simpson to Lisa: “Please do not waste your time chasing lost causes. The environment? It’s over. Democracy? Hanging by a thread. Broadcast television? Only losers still watch that.”

A ‘fucking creepy’ exposé. On last night’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver revealed that he’d legally paid brokers for lawmakers’ digital histories—and he threatened to reveal them if Congress doesn’t take action to make such privacy invasions illegal.
Oliver says lawmakers seem “not entirely aware just how easy it is for anyone—and I do mean anyoneto get their personal information.”
From January: Mashable’s seven ways to improve your digital privacy.
The world’s wealthiest biped, Elon Musk, won’t be joining Twitter’s board after all.

Kmart blues. After it closes a New Jersey store this week, the once-ubiquitous retailer will be down to just three stores.
Amazon has a massive problem: A rapidly growing glut of returned products—whose estimated total value for all U.S. sellers last year exceeded the U.S. national defense budget.

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Correction. The third item in Friday’s Square misidentified Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson.
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