STATEWIDE – There’s now a big pile of paper stacked in your kitchen. Somewhere near the bottom, clinging to the backside of the February circulars about sweater sales, is the Census form. Of course, since March 15 or so, the task of filling out the Census form seemed about as low priority as filling out your NCAA tourney brackets. But as life slowly – and thankfully – returns to some version of normal, Gov. Phil Murphy says it is now time to put some focus on filling out that all-important form, which translates into billions of dollars in federal funding. Murphy says the state was under-counted in the last Census in 2010. As the state rebuilds, we need to squeeze every nickel out of the feds. So, find the darn form and fill it out, OK? Since you probably lost it, go to: 2020census.gov.

ON THE WATER – Every year, thousands of shore birds take a timeout from their northward migration to do a grab-‘n-go on horseshoe crab eggs in the Delaware River, fortifying themselves for the rest of their journey. Birds and humans just won’t leave these horseshoe alone to breed on the shore. The population was decimated in the late 1990s and early 2000s by over-harvesting for commercial fishery bait. The hard-luck arthropods were also grabbed by the pharmaceutical industry for a clotting agent in their blood that’s perfect for testing for bacterial contamination in drugs and vaccines. NJ Spotlight reports that environmentalists hoped Big Pharma would switch to a much-hyped synthetic alternative, but that plan has hit the rocks. And, now there could be a dramatic increase in the demand for the crab blood — for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The enviros still want the pharmaceutical industry to go with the synthetic product – before it is too late.

IN STORES – Price-gouging has become our other pandemic. Sticker-shocked shoppers have lodged more than 5,000 complaints against unscrupulous business owners looking to squeeze out big bucks from customers. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says the state Division of Consumer Affairs is scrambling to sanction shameless retailers trying to shamelessly profit from the COVID-19 emergency. The Shore News Network says, so far, businesses have been hit with 1,500 cease-and-desist letters and more than 100 subpoenas for “gross and unreasonable” prices on food and water, cleaning supplies, hygiene products and masks. And 350 hotels, health clubs and ticket agencies are being investigated for illegal refund practices. They all take a costly risk. Fines for first-time culprits are as much as $10,000 and $20,000 for repeat offenders. Got a complaint? Make it here.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

The buzz from the electric razor plays in the key of B flat.

PATERSON – Three dead people somehow mailed in ballots to be counted in the recent City Council races. While not clearly illegal (at least not in New Jersey), Passaic County’s ever-ethical board of elections tossed ‘em. The pearly gates are, after all, beyond Silk City’s borders. But, it’s more proof of May 12th’s vote-by-mail-only fiasco. So far, 3,274 mail-in ballots, a fifth of those cast, got disqualified. The Paterson Press nicely sums up the hanky-panky: Wonky (possibly forged) signatures on 1,214 ballots; scores of badly bundled and mishandled ballots; 300 ballots stuffed into a Haledon mailbox; 21 sent by people who moved away; and one eager beaver who tried voting twice. No wonder why several law enforcement agencies are examining this election; or why two candidates demand recounts, and one wants a complete do-over. Botched balloting here may also show that mail-in-only elections just aren’t ready-for-primetime in the Garden State, as the July 7 primary election looms.

ATLANTIC CITY – As the convention center goes, so goes the city. Right now, the convention center has been serving as a regional field medical center, so business has been off 20% this year, the Press of Atlantic City reports. The city’s economic activity can’t rebuild until the convention center reopens, with the hopes and prayers that many people will flock back to Atlantic City, book a few hotel rooms and maybe, who knows, spin a roulette wheel or two. No events have taken place in the convention center for two months, a mega-hit. But a basketball tournament is still planned for late July and a trade show in the first week of September – all depending on Gov. Phil Murphy and the ability to ensure social gatherings are once again deemed “safe.” Meanwhile, there’s talk the casinos can reopen for the July 4 weekend – an obvious key step to recovery.

KNUCKLEHEAD OF THE DAY

MONMOUTH BEACH – Serving booze to 25 teenagers is bad enough. Only a knucklehead does it during a statewide ban on social gatherings, risking bigger penalties and public humiliation. That’s why 51-year-old Spaulding Place man tops Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s latest knucklehead list made public on Friday. Borough police found a backyard shindig at this guy’s home when they showed up May 21 for loud music complaints. The Asbury Park Press says cops found a “drinking party” for a bunch of teens, hanging out “around a table full of beer and alcoholic beverages.” Giving alcohol to a minor usually means up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If authorities count each teen party-goer separately, this fellow faces a heap of trouble that’s 25-knuckleheads deep. Three Murphies.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA – Not only are researchers battling science in the race for a COVID cure, they also have to deal with all the damn monkeys. A group of monkeys attacked a laboratory assistant in India and ran off with three coronavirus blood test samples taken from patients. According to the Mumbai Mirror, the lab assistant was carrying three blood samples at Meerut Medical College when he was suddenly and inexplicably attacked by a troop of monkeys, who grabbed the samples and fled on foot. Of course, it was caught on video, as one monkey was sitting in a tree, chewing on these valuable samples.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2013 that Russia enacted a nationwide smoking ban – big news for the six or so people living within every mile of Siberia. 

WORD OF THE DAY

Glabella – [ɡləˈbelə] - noun

Definition: The space between your eyebrows.

Example: Joe’s unibrow has some faint signs of a glabella.

WIT OF THE DAY

“We're no longer in the Cold War. Eavesdropping on friends is unacceptable.”

-Vladimir Putin

 

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

 

“Here we go again. Fake News @CNN is blaming RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA. They are sick losers with VERY bad ratings!”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Beauty