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Thursday's Mini-Report, 2.18.21

Today's edition of quick hits.

Today's edition of quick hits:

* The latest from Texas: "As large parts of Texas woke up Thursday to another day of a power crisis amid extreme winter weather, issues with water systems added to the misery for much of the state's population."

* This really was exciting: "NASA kicked off a new era of Mars exploration Thursday with the successful landing of Perseverance, a car-size robotic explorer that will search for traces of ancient life on the planet and collect what could be the first rocky samples from Mars that are sent back to Earth."

* The fact that this took nearly a month is itself notable: "President Joe Biden had a lengthy phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, the first time Biden has spoken to a Middle East leader as president."

* Fresh trouble for New York's governor: "The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and the FBI have begun a preliminary investigation into the way New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration handled data about Covid-19 nursing home deaths."

* In related news: "A Democratic lawmaker says New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to 'destroy' him during a private phone call last week for criticizing his handling of Covid-19 outbreaks at nursing homes."

* Capitol Hill security: "U.S. Capitol Police officials told congressional leaders the razor-wire topped fencing around the Capitol should remain in place for several more months as law enforcement continues to track threats against lawmakers, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday."

* Speaking of the Hill: "The Capitol Police are investigating an incident involving allegations that Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID) had assaulted a female officer as he passed through metal detectors outside of the House chamber last month, HuffPost reported late Wednesday."

* CMS: "President Joe Biden has picked a former Obama administration official to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The agency oversees government health insurance programs covering more than 1 out of 3 Americans and is a linchpin of the health care system. If confirmed by the Senate, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure would be the first Black woman to head CMS."

* Denying the commission subpoena power would be a big mistake: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that a commission being established by the House to investigate the Jan. 6 violent attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters will have subpoena power. 'You have to have subpoena power,' Pelosi said at her weekly news conference."

* W.H.O.: "By month's end, the United States will pay off the arrears it owes to the World Health Organization as well as its current year obligations, the State Department announced Wednesday."

* A new model: "Journalists at newspapers across the United States were despondent Tuesday when they learned their parent company would be sold to a hedge fund notorious for gutting newsrooms. But at their sister paper, the Baltimore Sun, people were celebrating an apparent reprieve. The Sun was not bound for the hedge-fund chopping block like several other papers owned by Tribune Publishing. Instead, a Maryland business executive and philanthropist plans to buy Baltimore's nearly 184-year-old newspaper and preserve it as a nonprofit."

* Oh my: "Facebook took an unprecedented step on Wednesday by blocking all news articles from being shared in Australia after a new law was proposed there that would require online platforms to pay news sources for displaying and linking to their work."

* Part of the pandemic I hadn't thought about: "Earth had its quietest period in decades during 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced human activity and its impact on the planet's crust, according to scientists working on a global study."

* Seriously? "Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is asking Gov. Tony Evers to lower flags to half-staff in Wisconsin to honor the late Rush Limbaugh, who died on Wednesday."

See you tomorrow.