Fires that Keep on Raging

Good morning. Yesterday’s quote was the front cover of the late Christopher Sign’s book, Secret on the Tarmac. Today PG&E warns California regulators; Novavax produced a fourth US vaccine; presidents continue to attack the press; and an Illinois chemical plant explodes. Here is today’s quote:

Rockton is the kind of Village that people fall in love with.  A treasure nestled on the northern edge of Winnebago County, it is history, with a future. Whether you come because of the schools, the culture, the countryside, the business opportunities, or just to be a part of its small town charm, Rockton offers a million reasons to stay.

Business

PG&E warned California regulators: new, stricter rules for shutoffs in the summer ahead are inbound. The electric company emerged from bankruptcy just one year ago and remains hampered by tough regulations that forced it into such dire financial straits. Regulations increased the cost of providing customers with cheap, reliable energy in favor of more green technology. While that is, arguendo, a desirable goal, it prevented PG&E from investing in its half-century old infrastructure, which caused many of California’s largest wildfires over the past few years.

COVID-19

Yet another COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution in the United States: the Novavax vaccine. In a 29,960-person study, the United States’ fourth vaccine was effective against garden-variety COVID-19 and its variants. In sum, it is on track to be the US’s fourth coronavirus vaccine—pending a bureaucratic blessing—in the months ahead. The final tally: the United States, 4; the rest of the West, 0.

Politics

Yesterday, I wrote an obituary for the Clinton/Tarmac reporter Christopher Sign. He blew the whistle on a meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the husband of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Some tongue-in-cheek theories floated around the internet claiming that his suicide was more of a Clinton hit job. That, if true, would be a literal attack on the free press. But there’s no need to theorize about Presidents who undermine the press because most do it out in the open. The Obama Administration, for instance, threatened to jail members of the Associated Press; President Trump’s DOJ took phone records from reporters at the New York Times. And now President Biden looks to pick up where his predecessors left off: he’s asked to pre-approve quotes from the AP and placed a gag order on 4 reporters at the New York Times. But Biden, unlike his predecessors, caught flack for other attacks—this time for attempting to subpoena sources in the USA Today—and appears to be backing down. It is a small win for the free press. And at a time when the White House needs to pre-screen reporters’ questions, little victories are about all you can hope for.

United States

There were 43 people shot in Chicago over the weekend; last weekend, that number was 55. This kind of news is not widely reported because the news cycle does not tend to include things that happen all the time. But when a chemical plant exploded in the Northern part of the state, that news could be found everywhere. At around 7am yesterday morning and some 80 miles North of the Windy City, residents within a one-mile radius of a Chemtool Incorporated plant had to evacuate the Rockton, Illinois, area due to dangerous chemical pollution. As the fire rages on, a one-mile mandatory-evacuation radius and a three-mile mask-mandate radius remains in effect. The fire can be seen from 40 miles away and the first responders expect the fire to continue burning for several more days.

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