Vaccine Problems.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Paused

No Bull With Raging Robert.

Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Sweden temporarily paused the use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford over reports linking the shot to blood clots. The five countries join at least seven other European nations in suspending use of the drug while researchers investigate the claims. The moves have been framed as precautionary by government officials.

European regulators, the World Health Organization, and company officials say there is no evidence the incidents were linked to the vaccine. As of this morning, 37 people out of more than 17 million across Europe experienced clotting (15 cases of deep vein thrombosis, 22 cases of pulmonary embolism). Officials argue the incident rate is no higher than what would be expected in a population of that size, even in the absence of vaccines.

Britain and Canada continue to administer the drug, which is not yet authorized in the US. The claims are the latest hurdle in what has been a sluggish vaccine rollout in Europe.

Meanwhile, more than 71 million people in the US have received at least one vaccine dose. The country’s death toll stands at 535,628, with 741 deaths reported yesterday and a rolling average around 1,350 deaths per day (see data).

‘Mank’ Leads Oscars

Nominations for the 93rd annual Academy Awards were announced yesterday, led by Netflix’s “Mank,” which received 10 nods including best picture, best actor, and best supporting actress. The drama reimagines the life of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz as he develops the screenplay for “Citizen Kane” (see trailer). The film accounted for 10 of Netflix’s field-leading 35 nominations, up from just three in 2017.

Six other films earned six nods apiece (see full list), and the broader field was more diverse than in recent years. The coveted best director category will feature two women for the first time — Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Women” and Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland.” Of the 20 acting nominations, nine went to people of color, including both Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman for their roles in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

See the biggest snubs and surprises from the list here. The ceremony takes place April 25 (8 pm ET, ABC), live from Los Angeles.

London Protests

Backlash continued to grow yesterday over the handling of a vigil for a recently slain woman by the London police. The weekend memorial was attended by hundreds of people, with the crowd eventually being forcibly dispersed by officers for violating COVID-19 restrictions. Four people were arrested, with a number of photos going viral purporting to show a disproportionate response by police.

The victim in question, Sarah Everard, went missing March 3 while walking home from a friend’s house in the evening. Her body was found Wednesday, with authorities zeroing in on 48-year-old Wayne Couzens — a metropolitan police officer — as the suspect. Her murder has sparked demonstrations over violence against women in the country, which come as lawmakers debate a bill giving police broader authority to curb protests.

In related news, tens of thousands of protesters marched in Australia amid a number of high-profile rape allegations.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Grammy Awards ratings hit all-time low of just 8.8 million TV viewers, a drop of 53% from the 2020 broadcast (More) | Drake becomes first artist in history to have three songs debut in top three spots of Billboard Hot 100 chart (More)

> Buckingham Palace reportedly hires external law firm to investigate claims that Meghan Markle bullied royal staff (More)

> Stanford, University of Connecticut, NC State, and South Carolina tapped as №1 seeds in women’s NCAA Tournament (More) | Legendary UConn head coach Geno Auriemma tests positive for COVID-19, will miss opening round of tournament (More)

Science & Technology

> Study shows the gut microbiome — healthy bacteria in the human intestines — produces molecules that help fight off harmful bacteria in response to an infection; work sheds light on the role of the microbiome in fighting disease (More)

> Plant fossils found a mile beneath Greenland’s ice sheet in surprise discovery; suggests the ice sheet has melted completely sometime within the past 1 million years (More)

> Researchers identify specific brain circuit involved in reading and interpreting computer code; region is the same used for complex cognitive tasks, while the brain’s language processing center responded weakly (More)

Business & Markets

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> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +0.7%, Dow +0.5%, Nasdaq +1.1%) as S&P 500 and Dow close at fresh record highs (More)

> Payments giant Stripe raises $600M at $95B valuation, making it the second most valuable unicorn (private company worth more than $1B) in the world behind TikTok owner ByteDance (More) | Elon Musk received new title of “Technoking of Tesla” in addition to being CEO, Tesla’s CFO also has new “Master of Coin” title (More)

> Brand management company acquires controlling interest in Toys R Us, plans to reopen certain stores ahead of the holidays (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Vatican decrees clergy can’t bless same-sex unions; decision comes despite a softening stance on the issue from Pope Francis (More)

> Two men charged in assault of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who later died; specific cause of Sicknick’s death still unknown, autopsy report still pending (More) | Rep. Deb Haaland (D, NM-1) confirmed to lead the Interior Department, the first Native American to hold the position (More)

> Downtown Dallas convention center to house up to 3,000 unaccompanied migrant teens as Border Patrol facilities and shelter housing hit max capacity; more than 100,000 total border encounters reported in February amid immigration surge (More)


The Benin Bronzes

BBC | Barnaby Phillips. More than one thousand ornate sculptures once decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, each depicting a part of the former West African nation’s history. Looted by the British in 1897, the narrative pieces are now scattered across the globe — and fetching a high price at auctions. (Read)

The Tale of Two-Buck Chuck

The Hustle | Zachary Crockett. (From 2018) Grocery chain Trader Joe’s flipped the wine world on its head two decades ago, introducing its beloved Charles Shaw wine at a seemingly impossible price point of $1.99. Read the inside story of the brand that’s now sold more than a billion bottles. (Read)


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China pummeled by its worst sandstorm in a decade. (via YouTube)

The year’s best independent photography.

Discovering World War I’s infamous Winterberg tunnel.

The best shots from Alaska’s 2021 Iditarod.

Students are bailing on four-year colleges.

Facial reconstruction reveals the appearance of medieval dukes.

Twelve-year-old girl heads to college en route to NASA.

These engineers are building ridiculous foam dart blasters.

Clickbait: Never fall asleep on an iceberg.

Historybook: US Founding Father James Madison born (1751); US Military Academy is established (1802); Comedian Jerry Lewis born (1926); RIP Nobel Prize-winning author Selma Lagerlöf (1940); Dow Jones drops by 2,997, single-largest point drop in history, amid pandemic fears (2020).

“I’ve had great success being a total idiot.”

  • Jerry Lewis
  • Astra Zeneca, Covid 19 Vaccinations, Italy, London, NASA, James Madison, Broadway.



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robert massimi

robert massimi


Drama critic for Nimbus Magazine, Metropolitan Magazine and New York Lifestyles Magazine. Producer, editor and writer.