A newlywed South Korean couple say they are undergoing counselling after being told that the windows in the luxurious spa of their five-star resort hotel were of one-way glass – only to discover on the final day of their stay that they had been walking around naked in full view of other guests. The husband posted a complaint online about the Grand Josun Jeju Hotel, on the island of Jeju off the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. He claimed that his wife had used the sauna on several occasions during their stay and had not bothered to use a towel to cover up because they had been told that the windows of the second-floor sauna were mirrored. “While taking a walk around the hotel on the last day of our stay, we discovered the interior was visible from the outside”, the Korea Times quoted the man as saying. “We could even see the writing on a thermometer inside the sauna. “There were a number of other guests using the facilities, including minors”. The guests, who have not been named, added that windows onto the showers and toilet facilities were also not protected by one-way glass. “My wife and I are currently undergoing psychotherapy as we were so shocked after realising that we had taken a shower and used toilets that were visible from the outside”, the man said. Staff at the £520-a-night hotel compounded the problem, the man said, by claiming that blinds in the sauna had been rolled up “by mistake” and calling the police when they complained, accusing them of obstructing the property’s business. In response to criticism online, the operator of the hotel admitted to making “mistakes during operations”. In a message on the hotel’s website, Josun Hotels & Resorts said: “We deeply apologise for causing inconvenience to customers due to the omission of glass barrier coatings … in some areas of the women’s sauna”. The sauna has been closed until the situation can be remedied, it added.
After a campaign in which Joe Biden expressed supreme confidence that he could bring an end to, or at least substantially curb the damage wrought by, the coronavirus pandemic, his administration’s handling of the pandemic has left much to be desired. Rewind back to last fall. Biden was giving speeches about how while he trusted vaccines in general, he didn’t trust Donald Trump, and was thus skeptical of the coronavirus vaccines in particular. Biden’s running mate, then-senator Kamala Harris, said that she’d be hesitant to take a vaccine that came out during Trump’s term. When pressed about whether she would do so if Dr. Anthony Fauci and other reputable health authorities endorsed it, she doubled down: “They’ll be muzzled; they’ll be suppressed.” By December, it was clear that the vaccines were in fact on the brink of FDA approval, and that by the time Biden and Harris took their respective positions atop the executive branch, distribution would be well underway. Biden received the Pfizer vaccine mid-month, and Harris got it just before the year’s end. It was only right that the principals of the incoming administration should be protected. But it remains the case that Biden and Harris, without basis, undermined confidence in a medical miracle for their own political benefit and then jumped to the front of the considerable line for it. After receiving the vaccine, Biden moved into the White House with a mandate to get the pandemic under control. He announced his moonshot plan for national vaccination: administering 100 million shots by his 100th day in office. This was a dishonest PR ploy. During the week of Biden’s inauguration, the U.S. averaged 983,000 vaccinations a day, meaning the administration was setting itself a benchmark it could already be assured of hitting. Naturally, the public noticed, and almost immediately Biden was forced to increase his goal: He would now be aiming for an average of 1.5 million vaccinations a day at the end of his first 100 days. Already, we’ve reached that higher target, and not because of the Biden administration’s novel efforts. As National Review’s Jim Geraghty has reported, the Biden administration’s vaccination plan includes new federal sites, but no more doses of the vaccine. This presents not an opportunity to expand vaccination efforts — there are already plenty of places where people can be inoculated — but a bureaucratic obstacle that has made things harder on the states, some of which were not even aware that additional doses would not be made available at the new sites. Even worse, yesterday’s Morning Jolt noted that there’s still a substantial gap between the number of vaccines provided by Pfizer and Moderna and the number of vaccines actually being administered: As of this morning, according to the New York Times, Moderna and Pfizer have shipped more than 70 million doses to the states, and somehow the states have gotten only 52.8 million of those shots into peoples’ arms. The Bloomberg chart has a slightly better figure, showing states have administered 54.6 million doses, out of roughly the same total. That leaves anywhere from 15.4 to 17.2 million doses either in transit or sitting on shelves somewhere. The country is vaccinating about 1.67 million people per day according to the Times data, 1.69 million per day on the Bloomberg chart. Not great. The Biden administration has been similarly lackadaisical in its approach to school reopenings. White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced last week that its goal was to have 51 percent of schools open “at least one day a week.” This target suffers from the same problem as the vaccination target: It’s already been met, and exceeded. Around 64 percent of school districts were already offering some kind of in-person instruction when Psaki spoke. The objective, given the enormous costs of virtual instruction on students, should be to open up the remaining 36 percent and turn partial reopenings back into full-time ones. To some extent, Biden walked Psaki’s stunningly slothful goal back during a CNN town-hall event on Tuesday, saying “I think many of them [will be open] five days a week. The goal will be five days a week,” and calling Psaki’s statement a “mistake.” Questions remain, though: If it was only a mistake, why did it take a week for it to be corrected? And why is the correction so vague as to leave room for fudging? How many, exactly, constitutes “many” to the Biden administration? Biden’s expectations game is a symptom of a greater problem: He never had the plan for handling the pandemic that he said he did. His campaign-season contention that he did was always a smoke-and-mirrors act that had more to do with tone and messaging than it did policy. To cover up the absence of tangible changes that it’s brought to the table, the new administration has tried to flood the zone with already achieved objectives and then tout their achievement as accomplishments. Dishonesty has many forms, and the Biden administration has proven itself no more forthright than its predecessors, even if its deceptions are sometimes more artful.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz flew to the Mexican resort city of Cancun with his family, Fox News reported on Thursday, as millions of his fellow Texans struggled through a deadly deep freeze, sparking a slew of criticism. The Republican lawmaker, 50, faced widespread criticism as photos circulated on social media showing him in an airport line, in a passenger lounge, aboard an airliner and departing an airport in Mexico. It was unclear when the photos were taken and Cruz’s Senate office did not respond to multiple queries.
Texas is nearing the end of what Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called “a once-in-every-120-year cold front,” but that doesn’t entirely explain why more than a million households still had no electricity early Thursday, after three full days of below-freezing temperatures. Plenty of places in the world keep their power on in prolonged arctic weather, and so did parts of Texas. Those edges of Texas, including El Paso, “are primarily in areas outside of those supported by ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the electric grid for 90 percent of the state and operates separately from federal oversight and regulation,” KHOU 11 Houston reported Wednesday night. After the 2011 winter freeze, El Paso Electric, on the Western Interconnect grid, spent heavily to “winterize our equipment and facilities so they could stand minus-10 degree weather for a sustained period of time,” Eddie Gutierrez, an El Paso Electric spokesman, told KHOU. So this year, “we had about three thousand people that were out during this period, a thousand of them had outages that were less than five minutes.” On the other side of Texas, near the Louisiana border, the city of Beaumont also appears to have weather the storm without massive outages. Entergy, which powers Beaumont on the Eastern Interconnect grid, told KHOU it also winterized its infrastructure after the 2011 storm. Weatherizing power generation and extraction equipment is voluntary in Texas, though the state legislature will probably revisit that strategy when it dissects ERCOT this year. More stories from theweek.comTrump comes out of hidingTexas governor walks back Fox News comments on Green New Deal, says gas, coal failed in Texas freezeMalia Obama will reportedly help write Donald Glover’s new TV series
Mike Donilon, senior adviser to President Biden, argues in a memo to White House senior staff that GOP opposition to the COVID rescue package would shrink the party’s already declining national support. What they’re saying: “There seems to be a growing conventional wisdom that it is either politically smart — or, at worst, cost-free — for the GOP to adopt an obstructionist, partisan, base-politics posture,” Donilon writes in the two-page memo, obtained by Axios. “However, there is lots of evidence that the opposite is true: … this approach has been quite damaging to them.”Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.Between the lines: The memo cites a Morning Consult poll showing a Biden approval rating of 62% with registered voters. Just 23% of registered voters think the Republican Party is going in the right direction, while 63% say the party is on the wrong track.Other data points: Tens of thousands of Republicans across the country have switched party affiliation since the Capitol riot, the N.Y. Times reports. The Economist/YouGov polling finds a decline in voters calling themselves Republicans since November (from 42% to 37%).”[Y]ou see a party shrinking its appeal in this country — not growing it,” Donilon writes. “Opposing President Biden’s American Rescue Plan only exacerbates Republicans’ predicament. … [T]he GOP is putting itself at odds with a rescue package supported overwhelmingly by the American people.”Polls put support for Biden’s American Rescue Plan at 68% (Quinnipiac) or more.Donilon called opposition to the plan “politically isolating”: “The country is looking for action. For progress. For solutions. On COVID. On the economy. You see it and hear it all over the country. Voters are hurting.”Read the memo. More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday, and both his opponents and admirers are remembering how he shaped today’s conservative movement. After Limbaugh’s wife announced his death, some of his critics on the left brought up how his show promoted racism and homophobia, and how he emphasized that bigotry within the conservative movement. Rush Limbaugh had a segment called “AIDS update” set to music where he mocked dying gay people so I don’t really want hear about ‘speaking ill of the dead’ today — Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) February 17, 2021 But some liberals acknowledged that while they spent years fighting against Limbaugh, he still succeeded in “la[ying] the groundwork for [former President Donald] Trump and Trumpism,” as former Obama administration adviser David Axelrod put it. Whether you loved him or hated him-and there are very few people in between-Rush Limbaugh was indisputably a force of historic proportions.Over the past three decades,he did as much to polarize our politics as anyone and laid the groundwork for Trump and Trumpism. — David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 17, 2021 MSNBC’s Chris Hayes similarly put Limbaugh in the conservative hall of fame. I think Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump are three of the five most important and influential conservative figures in American life over the past three decades. (along with Ailes and Murdoch) The conservatism we have is the conservatism they have forged. — Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 17, 2021 Rich Lowry, the conservative editor of the National Review, meanwhile focused on what he saw as Limbaugh’s unmatched sense of humor… He was always a humble man who was incredibly personally generous. Her performed countless acts of kindness that we’ll never hear about — Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) February 17, 2021 … While other right-wing tweeters repeatedly called out anyone who criticized Limbaugh after his death. If you are celebrating the death of a 70-year-old man with cancer just bc you didn’t like his radio show, you might just be in a hate cult — Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) February 17, 2021 More stories from theweek.comThe parts of Texas not on its ERCOT power grid appear to have weathered the freeze with few outagesTrump comes out of hidingTexas governor walks back Fox News comments on Green New Deal, says gas, coal failed in Texas freeze
Illinois state Rep. Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who virtually set Illinois’ political agenda as House speaker before he was ousted last month, announced Thursday that he is resigning his seat in the Legislature. Madigan, who was elected speaker in 1983 and served 36 of the next 38 years at the helm, was tarnished by a federal investigation of Statehouse bribery announced last summer that implicated him. In a statement Thursday, Madigan, 78, said he was resigning as state representative at the end of the month.
A CNN spokesperson told the Washington Post that a rule prohibiting anchor Chris Cuomo from interviewing or covering his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, “remains in place today.”Why it matters: Chris Cuomo hosted his brother for numerous segments of “Cuomo Prime Time” to discuss the coronavirus last year, when New York was at the epicenter of the pandemic and the governor was winning plaudits for his crisis management. Gov. Cuomo is now facing a federal probe and calls to resign over his handling of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeChris Cuomo’s show has not covered the controversy surrounding Gov. Cuomo — who was accused on Wednesday of threatening a Democratic state lawmaker over the alleged nursing home cover-up — despite other CNN programs reporting on the issue, according to the New York Post.It raises questions about whether the governor should have ever appeared on “Cuomo Prime Time,” given the conflict of interest.What they’re saying: “The early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time,” a CNN spokesperson told the Washington Post. “We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest.” “As a result, we made an exception to a rule that we have had in place since 2013 which prevents Chris from interviewing and covering his brother, and that rule remains in place today. CNN has covered the news surrounding Governor Cuomo extensively.”Go deeper: Cuomo allegedly threatened a state lawmaker over nursing home scandalLike this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.