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Thursday's Mini-Report, 7.22.21

Today's edition of quick hits.

Today's edition of quick hits:

* COVID: "The Biden administration is accelerating investments in Covid-19 testing to combat a fourth wave of infections washing over states and regions with low vaccination rates as those rates stall and some people resist a return to mask mandates, three administration officials said."

* The vote on this was 407 to 16, and all 16 opponents were Republicans: "With Afghans who helped the U.S. military facing threats from the Taliban as American troops withdraw from the country, the House on Thursday voted to expand a visa program to allow them to more quickly immigrate to the United States."

* Cuba: "The Biden administration announced new sanctions Thursday against a Cuban official and a government entity that it says was involved in human rights abuses during a government crackdown on protests on the island earlier this month."

* This could prove to be a very big deal: "A four-year-old startup says it has built an inexpensive battery that can discharge power for days using one of the most common elements on Earth: iron. Form Energy Inc.'s batteries are far too heavy for electric cars. But it says they will be capable of solving one of the most elusive problems facing renewable energy: cheaply storing large amounts of electricity to power grids when the sun isn't shining and wind isn't blowing."

* Sounds smart to me: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seriously considering adding more anti-Trump Republicans to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger as the leading contender."

* A sensitive matter: "The United States has dropped its threat to block the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, officials said on Wednesday, formally setting aside a yearslong disagreement with Berlin over an energy deal that critics have warned would allow Moscow to starve Ukraine of transit fees that are crucial to Kyiv's economy."

* DOJ: "Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday he hoped the Senate would confirm the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to help front the federal effort against gun violence."

* Speaking of Main Justice: "Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday restated guidelines limiting contacts between the White House and the Justice Department about its investigations, underscoring Mr. Garland's priority for reversing what critics of the Trump White House viewed as its inappropriate political influence on some of the Justice Department's actions."

* Opioid settlement: "States unveiled a historic $26 billion settlement with drug companies to resolve thousands of opioid-crisis lawsuits, paving the way for communities across the country to secure a jolt of funding to address an epidemic in painkiller addiction that hasn't abated."

* Interesting new angle: "Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn investigating Tom Barrack, a prominent ally to former President Donald Trump, for allegedly violating foreign lobbying laws had enough evidence to bring charges last year, but held off doing so until the arrival of the new presidential administration, according to people briefed on the matter."

* This affected the site you're reading right now: "Many major websites experienced outages Thursday afternoon after a major internet services provider reported a problem with its internal systems."

See you tomorrow.