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Need2Know: More AstraZeneca Setbacks, Biden Tax Plan & Masters Without Tiger

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Hideki Matsuyama, of Japan, hits from the bunker on the 12th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Thursday, April 8, 2021:

COVID-19: LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

The AstraZeneca vaccine troubles are back in the news: Britain won’t use the shot in people under 30 and the EU regulator acknowledged a “possible link” between the vaccine and extremely rare blood clots. The CDC says the UK variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S., where Michigan is ground zero of a new surge in cases and hospitalizations. The situation in Brazil, meanwhile, is downright catastrophic. That country is on the verge of breaking the global record of daily deaths set by the U.S. in January and President Bolsonaro has reiterated that there will be no lockdown measures. Brazil’s failure to control the pandemic threatens the global recovery because the virus is spreading at such a rate that new mutations are being identified every week. BBC

'BREAKTHROUGH' CASES

The three approved COVID vaccines are incredibly effective by every measure, but they are not failsafe. And as more people get vaccinated, more vaccinated people will inevitably get infected, though those infections have generally been mild. Experts say that the public -- and especially the media -- need to understand that these so-called “breakthrough” infections are rare but to be expected, and monitoring them will help determine if and when booster shots will be necessary. They also say it’s a reason to remain vigilant and wear masks while the virus is still circulating widely. KOMO

CHAUVIN TRIAL: DAY 8

The focus of the Derek Chauvin trial has turned to George Floyd’s drug use. The investigator who led the probe into Floyd’s death initially testified that he heard Floyd say on police body cam video, “I ate too many drugs,” but then revised that to say he thought Floyd actually said “I ain’t do no drugs.” A forensic scientist testified that pills found at the scene contained pharmaceutical-grade methamphetamine and fentanyl. CNN

NORTHERN IRELAND UNREST

Rioters hijacked and torched a public bus in Belfast, where street violence has been escalating all week over issues related to Brexit and coronavirus restrictions. Britain’s divorce from the EU has upset a delicate balance of power in Northern Ireland, where some people identify as British and some as Irish. Video on social media shows young people throwing bricks and gasoline bombs over the “peace walls” that separate the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods of the capital. GUARDIAN

TAXES & INFRA

President Biden says he’s open to “good faith negotiations” on infrastructure and corporate taxes but is not open to “doing nothing.” The president said he didn’t buy criticism that his infrastructure proposal is overly broad by including money for things like childcare. Republicans are arguing that the White House is defining just about everything as infrastructure as a “Trojan horse” for liberal priorities. The Treasury Dept. estimates that Biden’s tax plan would bring in $2.1 trillion over the next decade while also slowing economic growth slightly. CHEDDAR

AUDIO BOOM

Twitter was reportedly in negotiations recently to acquire the buzzy audio-based social platform Clubhouse for $4 billion, though talks are said to have since stalled. Clubhouse has also been in talks to raise funding at a valuation of about $4 billion, as it benefits from the popularity of live audio apps that let people essentially host their own radio shows and interact directly with the audience. BLOOMBERG

MASTERS WITHOUT TIGER

When the Masters tees off from Augusta today -- less than six months after the pandemic-delayed 2020 tourney -- the biggest superstar in golf will be noticeably absent. Tiger Woods is still recovering from that car accident in Los Angeles, the cause of which is now clear. Police say Woods was doing about 85 in a 45 when he lost control of his SUV on a notoriously dangerous road. He was wearing a seatbelt and did not show any signs of impairment. As for the "tradition unlike any other," ESPN handles the first two days of coverage, starting at 3 p.m ET. ESPN

'AN ABSOLUTE MONSTER'

Scott Rudin, the super-producer behind hits like The Social Network and To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway, has been accused by numerous former staffers of physical and mental abuse going back years. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to several ex-assistants who alleged that Rudin sent at least two people to the hospital and threw a baked potato at another’s head, among other incidents, and that his behavior was widely known and tolerated in Hollywood. Rudin is among the most powerful producers in the entertainment industry who is also just one of 16 people, living or dead, to reach EGOT status. THR

SPOTTED...

...Shaquille O'Neal, walking into a jewelry store and casually throwing down his black card for a young man buying an engagement ring: SEE IT
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