Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: I know 500,000 Americans have died... but whaddayasay we go for a cool million?
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: "I know 500,000 Americans have died... but whaddayasay we go for a cool million?" Pool / Getty Images

Here's your daily roundup of all the latest local and national news. (Like our coverage? Please consider making a recurring contribution to the Mercury to keep it comin'!)

IN LOCAL NEWS:

• The Brazilian variant of COVID-19—which scientists say has reinfected people who were previously immune to the virus—has appeared for the first time on the West Coast in Oregon's own Douglas County. In short, WASH YA DAMN HANDS, WEAR YA DAMN MASK, KEEP YA DAMN DISTANCE.

• But here's some good news to cut that worrisome news: Oregon will be receiving 34,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID vaccine this week!

• Oregon legislators are considering loosening up lobbying rules agreed upon in 2007 when state lawmakers were publicly embarrassed by all the meals, drinks, and trips (or "graft" if you want to be unkind about it) that they were receiving from lobbyists. Now many lawmakers are saying those rules go to far... BUT DO THEY REALLY?

• Speaking of lobbyists, many of those lobbying for the Oregon timber industry are screaming for the legislature to hit the brakes on new taxes, claiming their business is "on the ropes." Question: Are the ropes made of solid gold? Because according to reports, timber profits are soaring and their prices are higher than ever.

IN NATIONAL NEWS:

• More good COVID news! President Busy Bee Biden announced today that the country should have enough doses to vaccinate ALL American adults by the end of May (that's two months earlier than anticipated). This is partially due to a Biden-brokered deal in which pharmaceutical rivals Johnson & Johnson and Merck have agreed to team up to produce and ship more vaccines. This is very promising news—unless we fuck it up by not WEARING OUR DAMN MASKS, WASHING OUR DAMN HANDS, AND KEEPING OUR DAMN DISTANCE!

• Umm.... excuse me, but what did I just say? And yet Texas dumb-butt governor Greg Abbott announced today that his state is dropping its mask requirement—even though that's currently the most effective way to slow the spread of the virus! Apparently 500,000 dead Americans isn't enough for this ghoul.

• Speaking of dangerously dumb Republicans, an attorney for Arizona GOP defended the state's restrictive voting measures in front of the Supreme Court by saying that if they didn't have them, it would be impossible for Republicans to win. (If this is the competition, why oh why didn't I go to law school?!?)

• Today in "DEFUND CHRISTIANITY": "New Orleans Archdiocese warns Catholics to avoid ‘morally compromised’ Johnson & Johnson vaccine."

• During testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Chris Wray came out swinging, calling the January 6 attack on the nation's Capitol building an act of "domestic terrorism" that was absolutely planned and carried out by Trump's own blithering followers, and not "Antifa" as some liars in the GOP and on FOX News would have us believe.

• The United States along with the European Union have dropped sanctions on the Russian government for poisoning and then imprisoning opposition leader Alexei Navalny—and unlike during ye olde "Trump puppet" days, Putin can expect even more ramifications to come.

• It looks like Biden's pick for the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, is officially out after Republicans (and a few turncoat Dems) said that they'd vote against her because of previous "mean tweets"—and yet the GOP is already looking forward to nominating Trump in 2024? Why, I do declare, that right there is something very close to "hypocrisy"!

• Today in reason # 9,821,487 to love Dolly: "Dolly Parton gets Covid-19 vaccine, jokes she got a 'dose of her own medicine'."

• RIP to Bunny Wailer, reggae pioneer and the last surviving member of Bob Marley and the Wailers, who has died at the age of 73.

• Get ready to party HARD in the third installment of the Mercury Music Series, with a livestream concert from super fun Portland rapper/singer/producer FOUNTAINE, coming at ya on March 11! Snap up those tix, babies!

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• If you love laughing your gutz out, don't miss THIS WEDNESDAY'S I, Anonymous Show, featuring lots of anonymous confessions and rants along with a murderer's row of hilarious comedians, like Shain Brenden, Arlo Weierhauser, and special guest, Matt Braunger! Get your sliding-scale tickets here!

• And now... THE WEATHER REPORT: Another mostly sunny afternoon tomorrow with a high around 57!

• And finally, I gotta say... homoerotic basketball is pretty hot.