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Week In Review

La-Vaughnda A. Taylor Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, Coronavirus, and General News:

Entertainment Weinstein Faces New Charge of Sex assault in California Harvey Weinstein faces additional sexual battery charge in a California case. The charge stems from an incident that occurred at a hotel in Beverly Hills in May 2010. Weinstein faces up to 29 years in state prison if convicted in the amended complaint.

The Obies Go Online, The Money Saved Goes to Artists The Obie Awards, an annual ceremony honoring the best New York theater work performed Off and Off Off Broadway, will be virtual this year, forced online because of the coronavirus pandemic that has caused the cancellation of in-person gatherings. The American Theatre Wing, which presents the Obies, will give the money that would have been spent on an in-person event to artists whose plays could not be staged because of the outbreak. The virtual will celebrate what was, and offer relief grants to celebrate what might have been. This year will honor an abridged season with shows that opened between May 1, 2019 and March 12, 2020. The date of the virtual ceremony has not yet been determined. The American Theater Wing estimates that more than 90 Off and Off Off Broadway shows were shuttered by the pandemic.

Ticket Sellers Resist Pleas for Refunds Ticket vendors are being criticizecd for treating the thousands of live events that were called off as postponements, where many are not offering refunds. Some concerts were postponed anywhere from 7 months to indefinitely. The pandemic is triggering widespread anger at ticketing companies, like Ticketmaster and StubHub. As concertgoers see it, ticketing outlets are being greedy in a time of crisis, holding billions of dollars in consumers' cash that people now need for essentials. Their anger is being stoked by the sense that some vendors switched their refund policies mid-crisis to avoid repaying consumers. Fans have drawn attention to the fact that Ticketmaster recently adjusted the language on its website, saying now that only "cancellation" is a basis for obtaining refunds. Last week, a Wisconsin man sued StubHub after the company recently dropped its refund policy, offering instead coupons worth 120% of what customers had paid for canceled events.

Broadway Delays Opening Forty-one Broadway theaters have been closed since March 12 and will remain closed at least until June, probably longer. Industry leaders last Wednesday formally acknowledged what has been widely known: that their initial target of reopening in mid-April has become impossible because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Broadway League, a trade association representing producers and theatre owners, said that the 41 Broadway houses would remain shuttered at least through June 7. Many say the best-case scenario is reopening following the July 4 weekend and it is possible that the industry will not reopen until after Labor Day. The entire industry, like so many others, is on pause, at the cost of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars.

Arts The Philharmonic Must Reinstate 2 Fired Players The New York Philharmonic has been forced by an arbitrator to reinstate 2 players it fired over allegations of unspecified sexual misconduct. The dismissed players were principal oboist Liang Wang and associate principal trumpet Matthew Muckey. The men were dismissed in September 2018. Both denied any wrongdoing and the players' union filed a grievance challenging their dismissals. The independent arbitrator found that the players had been terminated without just cause and should be reinstated.

Kennedy Center Drops Furloughs for Musicians The National Symphony Orchestra's musicians will be receiving a pay cut, but will not be furloughed, under a new deal worked out between their union and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where they perform. The Kennedy Center had planned to furlough the musicians for an undetermined time so as to address the financial shortfalls from the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement caused a political uproar, largely because the Kennedy Center had received $25 million in emergency funding as part of the recently enacted stimulus package. However, an agreement was announced last week with the D.C. Federation of Musicians, in which the orchestra (96 musicians and 2 orchestra librarians) would see pay cuts amounting to 35% of the total payroll until early September. The union said that the furlough violated itscollective bargaining agreement.

Lincoln Center Cancels Summer Program Over Safety Concerns New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announced that it was canceling all of its summer performances and activities. In a statement, Lincoln Center said it was its "intention, when it is safe again to gather in-person, to stage a free pop-up festival in celebration of our great city, and the selfless first responders and healthcare workers who are giving so much during this crisis." It also emphasized its online offerings during the crisis. Much of the Lincoln Center's summer programming is free and its decision to cancel may be a harbinger for culturally quiet months ahead in New York City and elsewhere.

One Theatre Tries for an All-Audio Season Bobby Cannavale, Carla Gugino, and Audra McDonald will still perform for the Williamstown Theatre Festival this summer, but their shows will be on Audible, not onstage. The Williamstown Theater Festival has been grappling with the same dilemma facing every performing arts organization during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The prestigious nonprofit, known for its annual summer season that draws a stream of A-list artists to Western Massachusetts, was determined not to join the parade of cancellations this year. In a bold attempt to salvage its season, the Festival has decided to develop, rehearse, and record all 7 of its planned productions and release them in audio form on Audible. The productions will feature the same performers who would have appeared onstage. This will be the first complete theatre season released entirely by Audible, which established a theatre division 3 years ago and has since released 36 productions. Audible will pay the artists, who will include not only the actors and directors, but a battery of sound designers and audio producers as well.

A Major Comic Book Distributor Has Halted Deliveries, and Shops are Shuttered, Putting the Industry in Jeopardy Like every other business that has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, comic book publishing--a wellspring of material for countless hit films and TV shows--is in considerable jeopardy. In recent weeks, the industry has been throttled at every juncture. Comic book store owners have shuttered their shops and the distribution of new titles has been frozen. Writers and artists continue to produce work, not knowing how or when readers will be able to see it. No one sees a quick solution; it cannot be predicted whether the current calamity will eradicate only some stores and publishers or an entire, decade-old model of doing business. The proprietors of comic book shops across the country say that what once looked like a promising year of business has evaporated amid state-by-state policies that have required the closure of their stores. A devastating blow came when Diamond Comic Distributors, the company that supplies them with the comic books and graphic novels of most major publishers, announced that it would stop shipping new comics to stores beginning April 1. Though most comic books are available in digital formats, many fans value the experience of visiting stores in person, browsing the racks, and soliciting the opinions of other readers. Comics still rely on actual stores and the communities they provide.

Sports U.S. Prosecutors Charge That Bribery Helped Secure World Cup Bids According to U.S. prosecutors, bribes were allegedly paid to secure votes for Russia and Qatar bids for 2018 and 2022. A pair of former 21st Century Fox executives and several others have been charged with making illegal payments to win broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. The indictments include charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and racketeering conspiracy. The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades. Since the first indictments were announced in May 2015, there have been 26 publicly announced guilty pleas, many from former soccer officials.

Ultimate Fighting Championship Will Cancel Fight After California Expresses Concerns to Disney Dana White, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (U.F.C.) president, insisted that his plans for a 12-fight mixed martial arts showcase this month would have been safer for participants than staying at home or going to the grocery store during the coronavirus pandemic. Yet with the showcase, U.F.C. 249, just 10 days away, it was unclear how White and the U.F.C. could ensure the safety of pressing forward--despite additional objections from combat sports doctors and public health officials. Some legal experts believed that county and state officials could step in, even though the April 18 event was to be staged on sovereign tribal land.

U.F.C. 249 was finally canceled after ESPN and parent company Disney stopped White's plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic. White defiantly vowed for weeks to maintain a regular schedule of fights while the rest of the sports world halted. While the U.F.C. won't have fights in the upcoming weeks, White said that he is still pursuing his plan to build an octagon and everything else necessary to telecast small fight shows on an unidentified private island. White had planned to use the so-called "Fight Island" in upcoming months for non-American fighters who couldn't get into the U.S.

Casinos Endure a Very Bad Beat Sports betting was poised for a big moment, then the coronavirus pandemic led to closed casinos and the cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournaments. The pandemic has shuttered nearly every casino in the U.S. and gambling companies missed out on the surge in visitors and wagers they were counting on from the tournaments. Casinos have been decimated in the economic reckoning brought on by the outbreak. The stock prices for many gaming companies are down 60% or more, reflecting investor pessimism about their futures. The shutdown of sports and so much of leisure spending has been a striking turnabout for an industry less than 2 years removed from the Supreme Court decision that cleared a path for sports wagers across the country and a new generation of bettors.

Tour de France Seeks Postponement, Not Cancellation With the spread of coronavirus forcing the postponement or cancellation of major sporting events in the world, one cycling race stands strong in its resolve to run in the summer of 2020: the Tour de France. The Amaury Sport Organization still hasn't made any announcements or statements about how the world's biggest cycling race, scheduled to run from June 27 to July 19, could be impacted by the global pandemic. Right now, the Union Cycliste Internationale has halted racing until June 1. Organizers of the Tour de France say that an official decision will be rendered by mid-May. Reportedly, a month-long postponement is being considered,shifting the start into late July from the current state date of June 27.

Hacker Leaves Prison for a New Lockdown Rui Pinto, the hacker whose revelations shook soccer by shining light on its darkest secrets, has been released from prison and put under house arrest. In recent years, the Portuguese computer hacker has garnered as much attention as the country's most famous soccer stars. He revealed some of their secrets in a startling series of leaks that shook the global soccer industry and beyond for almost 4 years until he was apprehended to answer 147 charges. He had been in preventative custody in a Lisbon jail for more than a year awaiting trial. An international coalition believed he should be granted whistle-blower status for the crimes and wrongdoing his leaks had exposed. He has been released and placed under house arrest on the condition that he not use the internet.

Media/Tech A Surge It Didn't Expect Has Zoom Rushing Fixes Over the last month, the Zoom videoconferencing service has emerged as the communication lifeline of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally, the service was meant for businesses, but then consumers flocked to the video platform for school and socializing, which made it easy to hijack videoconferences and harass participants in online attacks known as Zoombombing. Now the company is scrambling to deal with privacy and security issues. The company has formed a council of chief information security offices from other companies to share ideas on best practices and announced that it had hired Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer of Facebook, as an outside adviser.

In a Crackdown on Scams, Facebook Also Hampers Volunteer Efforts As health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic plead for personal protective equipment, volunteer efforts to create hand-sewn masks and deliver them to medical professionals have quickly sprung up across the internet. However, those efforts were hampered by Facebook's automated content moderation system over the past week, according to sewing organizers who have used the social network to coordinate donation campaigns. Facebook's systems threatened to ban the organizers from posting and commenting, landing them in "Facebook Jail" and even threatened to delete the groups. Facebook has long struggled to distinguish between innocuous and malicious content on its site because of the reliance on automated systems to flag and remove posts that violate its terms of service.

Tech Giants to Team Up in Tracing the Infected Tech giants have teamed up to use Bluetooth-based framework to keep track of the spread of infections without compromising location privacy. Since the pandemic began its spread, technologists have proposed used so-called contact-tracing apps to track infections via smartphones. Now, Google and Apple are teaming up to give contact-tracers the ingredients to make that system possible--while in theory still preserving the privacy of those who use it. The two companies have announced a rare joint project to create the groundwork for Bluetooth-based contact-tracing apps that can work across both iOS and Android phones. In mid-May, they plan to release an application programming interface IAPI) into which apps from public health organizations can tap. The API will let those apps use a phone's Bluetooth radio to keep track of whether a smartphone's owner has come in contact with someone who later turns out to have been infected with COVID-19. Once alerted, that user can then self-isolate or get tested. Google and Apple say the system won't involve tracking user locations or even collecting any identifying data that would be stored on a server.

Twitter's Dorsey Plans Donation of $1 Billion for Virus Relief Twitter co-founder and Chief Executive Jack Dorsey has pledged to set aside $1 billion to fund charitable causes, starting with relief efforts toward the novel coronavirus pandemic. Dorsey says that the money will come from his stake in Square Inc., which he also co-founded and runs. The amount represents about 28% of his wealth.

COVID-19 Updates As Deaths Surge, Governors Plead with Washington As the surgeon general told the nation to brace for "our Pearl Harbor moment" of cascading coronavirus deaths this week, several governors said that their states were in urgent need ot federal help and complained that they had been left to compete for critical equipment in the absence of a consistent strategy and coordination from the Trump administration, leading many to walk a delicate path. President Trump has dismissed criticism from some governors as mere politics. Three major metropolitan areas - New York, Detroit, and New Orleans - have seen death rates rise rapidly and other states are anticipating a peak in cases later this month.

Despite Timely Alerts, Trump Was Slow to Act A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the U.S., and 6 long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing--a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives--Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation's public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action. He was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government identified the threat, sounded alarms, and made clear the need for aggressive action. The president was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy, and batting away warnings from senior officials.

App Data Strongly Links Loss of Smell to Infection Some have touted the symptom as a sign of COVID-19 but scientists have limited, inconclusive data in hand. Growing reports suggest that the loss of sense of smell, a condition known as anosmia, is a symptom of the virus. There has been a surge of anecdotal evidence from around the world. According to some, reports are mounting of people who tested positive for the disease but had no noticeable symptoms other than a mysterious loss or reduction of their sense of smell. Other experts in the medical community have pushed back, saying the coronavirus connection isn't solid. So far, neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nor the World Health Organization (WHO), has added anosmia to its lists of COVID-19 symptoms. Up to 40% of people with other viral infections, such as influence or the common cold, experience a temporary loss of smell that usually reverses itself in a couple weeks.

Preying on the Panicked, Scammers and Con Artists See a Bonanza in Covid-19 Federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities are reporting an explosion of scams as fraudsters move to capitalize on public panic over the fast-moving pandemic and the flood of federal money making its way to most Americans to help address the economic fallout. There's everything from low-tech to very sophisticated schemes. Seeking to stay ahead of the curve, the Justice Department has set up a task force to investigate price-gouging and prosecutors have been instructed to prioritize fraud cases. Other agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, have followed suit. The Federal Trade Commission has reported that the number of coronavirus-related complaints it had received from consumers this year had doubled during the previous week, reaching more than 7,800.

Trump Again Pushes Drug, Never Mind Expert Opinion President Trump's aggressive support for the unproven idea of using the lupus and malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus has puzzled public health experts, journalists, and others for weeks. The New York Times has reported one possible explanation: financial interest--his own, and that of those close to him. However, Trump's Sanofi stake is indirect and rather small, with him owning shares through a fund that includes a diverse array of stocks. The immediate intrest in Trump's financial connections is another indicator of how the president's decision not to sell off his assets or put them into a trust opens him up to allegations of impropriety. Trump's top medical experts have taken a more measured tone.

Gaps in Amazon's Response Leave Workers Feeling Exposed As millions of Americans heed government orders to hunker down, ordering food, medicines, books, and puzzle boards for home delivery, many of Amazon's 400,000 warehouse workers have stayed on the job, fulfilling the crushing demands of a country suddenly working and learning from home. Orders for Amazon groceries have been as much as 50 times higher than normal. The challenge is keeping enough people on the job to fill those orders. For all of its high-tech sophistication, Amazon's vast e-commerce business is dependent on an army of workers operating in warehouses they now fear are contaminated with the coronavirus. The surge of orders is testing the limits of Amazon's vaunted distribution system and forcing changes to the company's relationship with its employees. While Amazon's workers are not unionized, the crisis has given workplace organizers unexpected leverage to demand better pay, better sick leave, and more of a voice in how the company is run. Small groups of employees have been protesting working conditions in Michigan and New York.

Locked Down, and More Vulnerable to Abuse The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in call and online requests for help since the lockdown. Campaigners have warned the restrictions could heighten domestic tension and cut off escape routes. Police are emphasizing that those facing abuse at home during the lockdown should still report their experiences to police and seek support from domestic abuse services.

Does the Virus Hit Women Differently? The U.S. Isn't Keeping Track Data from other countries shows that more men are dying from the virus than women--a discrepancy that should inform the response and vaccine research in the U.S. Yet it isn't. Based on data, we know that older adults--aged 60 and above--are at greater risk of dying from it. Data from China, Italy, and South Korea shows we are now seeing that men seem to have higher fatality rates. However, even with ramped-up testing with reams of data, the U.S. is not monitoring the sex breakdown of the virus. This kind of information--or lack thereof--matters, because men and women are likely to have fundamentally different reactions to the virus, vaccines, and treatment, health experts say. Research has shown that the SARS, influenza, Ebola, and HIV viruses all affect men and women differently. Despite this, the coronavirus vaccine trials underway in the U.S. aren't really considering sex. Sex data blind spots can be traced back to the fact that, historically, science didn't study the female body.

Black Americans Bear the Brunt as Deaths Climb As a virus, COVID-19 does not discriminate, but a patchwork of data appears to show that the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color, several of which are reporting infection rates that outpace their populations. What it really comes down to is economic conditions and people living in highly dense areas. The lack of information has hamstrung efforts to combat the virus, particularly in communities that have had complicated relationships with health care providers or have significant language barriers. The virus has hit many Black, Latino, and immigrant-rich neighborhoods especially hard because residents there often work in essential jobs in grocery stores, delivering food, and operating public transit, leaving them more exposed to the virus, according to public health experts. They also typically live in closer quarters, making it harder to practice social distancing.

President Ousts Official Policing Relief Spending President Trump has moved to oust the leader of a new panel of watchdogs charged with overseeing how his administration spends trillions of taxpayer dollars in coronavirus pandemic relief, in the latest step in an abruptly unfolding White House power play over semi-independent inspectors general across the government. Trump has recently been making a series of changes affecting inspectors general, who are supposed to serve as a check on the government within agencies by hunting for waste, fraud, and abuse. Opponents say this appears to be part of an alarming trend by the Trump administration to remove independent inspector generals and replace them with the president's loyalists.

Parents Withholding Custody Over Fears of Infection in Front-Line Workers Doctors, firefighters, and others who risk exposure to COVID-19 are being taken to court by ex-spouses who want to keep them away from their children. This issue is arising across the country, as a growing number of parents have begun to withhold access to their children from former spouses or partners over fears of infection. For health care or other essential workers, the battles are infused with heightened controversy. Some say they shouldn't be punished for doing crucial services; their counterparts argue that the jobs pose too great a risk to other family members. Amid the pandemic, the landscape of family law, which varies across the country, has become more uneven, with few guidelines to address the current safety concerns.

WHO Faces Ire of Trump, and Warning of Defunding President Trump lashed out on Tuesday at the WHO, choosing a new political enemy to attack and threatening to withhold funding from a premier health institution even as a deadly virus ravages nations around the globe. In effect, Trump sought to denounce the WHO for the very missteps and failures that have been leveled at him and his administration. Public health experts have said the president's public denials of the virus's dangers slowed the American response, which included delayed testing and a failure to stockpile protective gear. In fact, the W.H.O. sounded the alarm in the earliest days of the crisis, declaring a "public health emergency of international concern" a day before the U.S. secretary of health and human services announced the country's own public health emergency and weeks before Trump declared a national emergency.

With the Supreme Court Sequestered, A Docket of Major Cases Sits Idle Since the pandemic started, the Justices have stopped doing the most public part of their job, hearing arguments, and the courthouse is closed to the public. The last 20 arguments of the term, which had been scheduled for March and April, have been postponed indefinitely. This has left major cases in limbo, notably ones on subpoenas from prosecutors and Congress for President Trump's financial records, which was scheduled to be heard on March 31. Those cases were going to be a test of independence of the Court even before the coronavirus complicated matters. Very little is known about how the Justices are conducting their work in the midst of the pandemic or how they plan to proceed. Chief Justice Roberts's next challenge will be how to handle the postponed arguments. Rescheduling most of them to the fall would seem harmless. However, deciding whether Trump's accountants and bankers must turn over his tax returns and other financial records is more urgent. Deferring decisions on those cases until after the presidential election would strike many as a partisan act meant to aid Trump. What to do about the postponed cases will almost certainly be resolved by the full Court, either by consensus or by majority vote, unlike ordinarily, when the Chief Justice takes the leading role in scheduling arguments.

At Least 16,780,000 Americans Have Lost Their Jobs. It Took 21 Days The harsh economic toll of the social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic was underscored last week when the Labor Department reported that another 6.6 million people had filed for unemployment benefits last week. That brought the number of Americans who had lost their jobs over the past 3 weeks to more than 16 million, which is more job losses than the most recent recession produced over 2 years. The dire figures suggested that Washington's recent $2 trillion relief package was not working quickly enough to halt the economic devastation and the hemorrhaging of jobs in nearly every type of industry.

As Multitudes Lose Jobs, Rent Comes to Forefront As the economic shutdown pares tenants' incomes, April payments have been reduced, deferred or withheld. Some landlords now see their properties at risk. Many landlords are working out payment plans and using security deposits as a stopgap while directing tenants to the emerging patchwork of local, state, and federal assistance programs, and it's only going to get worse. Nearly 10 million people have filed unemployment claims over the past 2 weeks. It's too early to gauge how broadly these numbers will translate to the loss of rent. Many tenants are within the grace period before their rent is declared late. Some can stitch things together for a while by getting deferrals, applying their security deposits or paying with credit cards. Some tenants are simply moving out. College students are breaking leases to move home. Laid-off workers are showing up at rental offices to exchange their keys for their deposits, saying they are moving in with family members.

Small-Business Borrowers Frustrated by Loan Delays There is a growing backlog of application for the U.S. program designed to funnel at least $350 billion in relief to small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The massive demand within the first week led to several time-consuming bottlenecks at lenders and with the Small Business Administration portal the companies use to get loans approved. The two biggest U.S. banks, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, had a combined 625,000 requests for $80 billion in loans as of last Tuesday. Only a small fraction has actually been paid out so far.

Minorities May Struggle to Obtain Relief Loans Minority business owners have always struggled to secure bank loans. Now, many banks want to deal only with existing customers when making loans through the government's $349 billion aid package. There are thousands of small-business owners at risk of being shut out of the government effort, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, because of limits set by lenders grappling with overwhelming demand. These loans, which do not have to be repaid if the money is used for payroll, rent or mortgage expenses, could be a lifeline for struggling businesses--if they can get them. Minority-owned businesses often have weaker banking relationships than their white-owned counterparts--one legacy of the practice of redlining, or refusing to lend to people in communities of color. Research shows that black and Latino business owners are denied loans at higher rates. Anticipating that minority business owners could struggle to tap federal aid; some lawmakers are proposing ways to earmark additional funds specifically for minority-owned businesses.

Pandemic Pushes White House to Delay Tougher Work Rules for Food Stamps Under heavy criticism for pressing for food stamp cuts during an economic meltdown, the Trump administration now says that it will hold off on stricter work requirements for adults without children during the national emergency. Initially, the Trump administration planned to appeal a court decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which issued a temporary court injunction on its work requirements rule, which were to go into effect on April 1, but it has since changed its tune. Congress then stepped in, and in one of its economic stabilization packages, waived the work requirement for the duration of the national emergency, in addition to another month. Federal and state levels need to have the flexibility to address the nutritional needs residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP.

A Wave of Hunger Hits America, and Food Banks Are Swamped Millions are flooding a charitable system that was never intended to handle a nationwide crisis. Demand for food assistance is rising at an extraordinary rate, just as the nation's food banks are being struck by shortages of both donated food and volunteer workers. The National Guard is helping out and providing safety during distributions. Feeding America, the nation's largest network of food banks, with more than 200 affiliates, has projected a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next 6 months alone. At exactly the moment when more Americans find themselves turning to food charities, the charities are facing shortages of their own.

Empty Shelves, but Farms Put Food to Waste After weeks of concern about shortages in grocery stores and mad scrambles to find the last box of pasta or toilet paper roll, many of the nation's largest farms are struggling with another ghastly effect of the pandemic. They are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can no longer sell. The closing of restaurants, hotels, and schools has left some farmers with no buyers for more than half their crops. Even as retailers see spikes in food sales to Americans who are now eating nearly every meal at home, the increases are not enough to absorb all of the perishable food that was planted weeks ago and intended for schools and businesses. The amount of waste is staggering. Many farmers say they have donated part of the surplus to food banks and Meals on Wheels programs, which have been overwhelmed with demand, but there is only such much perishable food that charities with limited numbers of refrigerators and volunteers can absorb.

Those Who Feed the U.S. Fear Their Lives Are Being Put at Risk The coronavirus pandemic has reached the processing plants where workers typically stand elbow to elbow to do the low-wage work of cutting, deboning, and packing the chicken and beef that Americans eat. Some plants have offered financial incentives to keep them on the job, but the virus's swift spread is causing illness and forcing plants to close. Smithfield foods' pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, announced last Thursday that it would close temporarily after more than 80 employees tested positive for the virus. Workers have come down with COVID-19 in several poultry plants in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Industry analysts said that the plant closures were unlikely to result in serious disruptions to the food supply. At some plants, workers have staged walkouts over concerns that they are not being properly protected.

Navy Captain Fired After Dissent Is Now Sick The military has long adhered to a rigid chain of command and tolerated no dissent expressed outside official channels. Capt. Brett E. Crozier, the skipper of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, knew he was up against those imperatives when he asked for help for nearly 5,000 crew members trapped in a petri dish of a warship in the middle of a pandemic. Colleagues say that the mistake could cost him his career. The Navy's top brass clashed about what to do with then acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly overruling and saying Capt. Crozier had cracked under pressure and needed to be relieved of duty. Those who have known and served with Crozier disagreed. Now Crozier is in quarantine in Guam. The removal of Crozier could have a chilling effect. The evacuation Captain Crozier sought for his crew is now in motion.

Acting Navy Secretary Resigned Post Day After Criticizing a Stricken Crew Acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly said that Capt. Brett Crozier was either "too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer" in a speech to soldiers on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. He has since apologized for the remarks. Crozier was relieved of his command last Thursday and in a news conference, Modly defended the decision as his own and insisted it was made because Crozier went outside the chain of command. When the transcript of his talk to the soldiers was made public, Modly first stood by his comments, but several hours later reversed course and apologized for his remarks. Modly's new statement came after Trump addressed the controversy at a news conference, saying he planned to intervene.

Lawmakers had called for Modly to leave after the profanity-laced speech was leaked to the media. The Navy has weathered its share of crises, and in the past few months saw a previous Navy secretary forced out over his handling of a war crimes case, and the man selected to be its top admiral instead retired due to an improper professional relationship with a former staffer who was accused of making unwanted sexual advances to several women. The resignation of acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, just a day after giving his scathing comments about the former Capt. of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, leaves the service lurching in the middle of a devastating pandemic that has roiled global markets, upended everyday life, and left tens of thousands dead around the world. It also projects the wrong image to America's enemies and allies, a cascading series of leadership changes calls into question the stability of America's sea service.

Gratitude, and Immunity, as the First U.S. Survivors Tiptoe into a New World The first large wave of COVID-19 survivors, likely to be endowed with a power known to infectious disease specialists as adaptive immunity, is emerging. Most Americans are still desperate to avoid contracting the virus as the number of known cases nears half a million. Many who have overcome the infection, including some of America's newly unemployed, donate blood to biotech companies and researchers seeking to manufacture treatments from their antibodies.

Some States Awaiting Medical Gear Instead Sees It 'Swept Up by FEMA' Officials in at least 6 states are accusing the federal government of quietly diverting their orders for coronavirus medical equipment. States have been making their own orders for ventilators, masks, and other personal protective equipment since Trump told them in March not to rely on the national stockpile for medical supplies. Trump has also instructed FEMA to lead efforts to distribute equipment according to priority. However state and health leaders in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas, and Florida are now accusing the federal government of intercepting and diverting their equipment orders without explaining why.

Staggering Outbreak is Showing Signs of Slowing Even as medical teams struggle to save an onslaught of gravely ill coronavirus patients and deaths hit new high, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations seemed to be leveling off in New York state. Yet early statistical signs the crisis might be peaking provided little comfort to weary doctors and nurses on the front lines of the outbreak, as hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units overflowing with COVID-19 patients. New York accounted for more than one third of U.S. confirmed coronavirus cases to date, and nearly half the cumulative death toll. Governor Cuomo has pointed to slowing rates of coronavirus hospitalizations, intensive care admissions, and ventilator intubations as signs social distancing measures imposed last month were working.

As Not Everyone is Being Counted, the Numbers Don't Tell the Whole Story The official statistics paint a partial picture and may understate the death toll. Epidemiologists, city officials, and medical personnel say that the numbers reported in the media are likely to be far below New York City's actual death toll. The data on deaths of people in their homes or on the street show that the State's statistics also don't tell the whole story. The official death count numbers presented each day by the State are based on hospital data. The City has a different measure: any patient who has had a positive coronavirus test and then later dies (whether at home or in the hospital) is being counted as coronavirus death. A staggering number of people are dying at home with presumed cases of coronavirus, and it does not appear that the State has a clear mechanism for factoring those victims into official death tallies. Paramedics are not performing tests on those they pronounce dead. There aren't really any mechanisms in place for having an immediate, efficient method to calculate the death toll during a pandemic. Normal procedures are usually abandoned quickly in such a crisis.

In Region's Nursing Homes, 'Residents Are Sitting Ducks' In New York, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, the virus has snatched lives in every part of society. The virus has perhaps been cruelest at nursing homes and other facilities for older people, where a combination of factors--an aging or frail population, chronic understaffing, shortages of protective gear, and constant physical contact between workers and residents--has hastened its spread. In all, nearly 2,000 residents of nursing homes have died in the outbreak in the region, and thousands of other residents are sick. As of last Friday, more than half of New York's 613 licensed nursing homes had reported coronavirus infections, with 4,630 total positive cases and 1,439 deaths. The actual infection rate in nursing homes is almost certainly higher than the data indicate because few homes have the capacity to test residents. The assumption among many in the industry is that every nursing home in the region contains people with COVID-19. The crisis in nursing homes is occurring in virus hot spots across the country, with infections growing in places like Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

Risking Lives to Vote On Tuesday, Wisconsin became the only state to insist on holding its primary as planned, forcing many residents to risk spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus while exercising their right to vote, as lines at polling places stretched several city blocks and wait times were upwards of 2 hours. The election was held despite warnings from public health officials that this could be the worse week of the ongoing pandemic. It also came over the objections of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who unsuccessfully sought to delay the in-person voting, only to see his executive order overturned by the state Supreme Court after Republican leaders in the legislature accused him of exceeding his authority. In addition to the primary for president, the election included a Supreme Court contest and thousands of local races and referendums. Unlike any other election, however, the outcome of the polling won't be revealed for nearly a week to allow time for processing the massive numbers of absentee ballots that voters were encouraged to cast in the weeks leading up to the vote.

Virus Raging, GOP Fights Mail-In Votes Today, even in the face of a global pandemic, the GOP seems determined to maintain its voting leverage. The rapid spread of the virus has led to numerous statewide stay-at-home orders, with more than 13,000 dead and 400,000 infected in the U.S. This will have a major impact on the 2020 election. The Democrats have sought a range of prophylactic measures, such as vote-by-mail, to ensure that the right to vote does not have to compete with the right to live. However, Republicans are trying to use the virus to suppress the vote of many and constrain the rights of American voters.

Jail in Chicago is Top U.S. Hot Spot with More Than 350 Confirmed Cases At least 1,324 confirmed coronavirus cases are tied to prisons and jails across the U.S., including at least 32 deaths. In a little over 2 weeks, the virus has infected more than 350 people at the Cook County jail, one of the nation's largest. The jail in Chicago is now the nation's largest-known source of coronavirus infections, with more confirmed cases than the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nursing home in Kirkland, WA or the cluster centered on New Rochelle, NY. 238 inmates and 115 staff members have tested positive for the virus, but those figures most likely downplay the actual problem, because the vast majority of the jail's 4,500 inmates have not been tested.

Washington State to Send 400 Ventilators Back Washington Governor Jay Inslee has said that he will return 400 ventilators so that other states, like New York, can use them for coronavirus cases. Washington received 500 ventilators from the federal government's Strategic National Stockpile. The state recently purchased more than 750 additional ventilators that will be arriving in the coming weeks. Inslee's announcement came a day after Oregon Governor Kate Brown said that her state would sent 140 ventilators to New York. Washington was the first state to report a confirmed coronavirus case in late January and at one point had the highest number of confirmed cases in the country. Inslee was also among the first governors to issue social distancing measures.

Abortion Groups Appeal Texas Restriction Ruling A federal judge has once again cleared the way for some abortions to resume in Texas despite the governor's order restricting them during the coronavirus outbreak. Judge Lee Yeakel blocked the state from enforcing the order specifically "as a categorical ban on all abortions provided by Plaintiffs" and specifically against those providing medication abortions or providing surgical abortions to abortion-seekers who would reach 22 weeks since their last menstrual periods--the cutoff to receive an abortion in Texas--by the order's expiration on April 21. The ruling would also apply to surgical abortions performed on those who, by April 21, would reach 18 weeks since their last menstrual periods, rendering them eligible for abortions only at ambulatory surgery centers, and would be "likely unable to reach an ambulatory surgical center in Texas or to obtain abortion care," Yeakel wrote. "As a minimum, this is an undue burden on a woman's right to a pre-viability abortion," he wrote Thursday.

Smokers and Vapers May Be at Greater Risk of Getting Coronavirus Early pathological studies from the pandemic have revealed some risk factors for the most severe forms of COVID-19. Among the most important: being older and having a chronic underlying illness. Smoking and vaping are also being actively investigated as risk factors A wealth of research already suggests that smoking suppresses immune function in the lungs. It is also known to increase the risk of influenza.

General News Supreme Court Blocks Extended Voting In a pair of extraordinary ruling, the highest courts in Wisconsin and the nation split along ideological lines to reject Democratic efforts to defer voting in last Tuesday's elections in the state, given the coronavirus pandemic. Election law experts said the stark divisions in the rulings did not bode well for faith in the rule of law and American democracy. Election cases need courts to be seen by the public as nonpartisan referees of the competing candidates and political parties, but these split votes make them seem just as politically divided as the litigants. This could threaten the legitimacy of both the election and the courts. When the Supreme Court rules on emergency applications, it almost never gives reasons, but the ourt's conservative majority spent four pages explaining why it refused to extend absentee voting in Tuesday's elections. It is not really known why the Court broke with usual practices. The majority called it "a narrow, technical question about the absentee ballot process."

Justices Weigh in on Traffic Stops and Age Bias The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with older federal workers, making it easier for those over 40 to sue for age discrimination. The 8-to-1 ruling rejected a Trump administration position that sought to dramatically limit the legal recourse available to federal workers. The Justices said that federal law clearly gives federal workers protection from any discrimination based on age. The Court said that Congress had deliberately given federal workers more protection than workers in the private sector or workers in state and local governments.

In a separate opinion, the Court, by an 8-to-1 vote, upheld a warrantless traffic stop by a sheriff's deputy in Kansas who based the stop on the assumption that the driver, defendant Charlie Glover, owned the car; Glover's license had been revoked. The Kansas Supreme Court had previously ruled that when a driver has committed no infractions, police need something more than an assumption in order to have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is the owner and is driving without a license.

Sanders Ends Bid as Biden Gets Set To Battle Trump U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has suspended his presidential campaign, clearing the way for rival Joe Biden to secure the Democratic nomination and challenge Donald Trump in November. The 78-year-old democratic socialist shook up the 2020 race with his relentless pursuit of "economic justice" for all Americans and a demand for universal health care. Sanders, who challenged Hillary Clinton for the party's nomination in 2016, mounted a formidable 2020 bid. He raised huge amounts of money from record numbers of donors, becoming the frontrunner early this year and earing the most votes in the first 3 state-wide contests, but he was eclipsed by a surging Biden who won the vast majority of remaining primaries.

Fired for Alerting Congress of Whistle-Blower, He Urges Others 'to Bravely Speak Up' Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, was dismissed by President Trump last week. In his resignation letter, Atkinson urged whistleblowers to "bravely speak up" and reminded them "there is no disgrace in doing so." Atkinson infuriated Trump when he alerted Congress to a whistleblower's complaint accusing the president of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, which was the catalyst for Trump's impeachment.

Inspector General Pick Casts Doubt on Powers Allowed of Congress Senators are responding to President Trump's firing of the intelligence community's top watchdog with a muddled message, with some calling for hearings and others saying that lawmakers have far more important issues to tackle. The scattershot response suggests that Congress is unlikely to urgently address Trump's decision to sack Michael Atkinson, the former inspector general, and it underscores how difficult it will be for the Senate and House to conduct oversight of the surprising firing, especially in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate is scheduled to return to regular session on April 20, but several senators have cast doubt on that timeline given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Barr Distorts Facts of Inspector General's Firing The attorney general misstated key facts in explaining the dismissed official's handling of the whistle-blower complaint that prompted impeachment. Attorney General Barr endorsed and defended Trump's firing of Michael K. Atkinson, the intelleigence community inspector general, in an interview with Fox News. While making his case, Barr made several claims that are subject to scrutiny, such as a dubious account of what happened. He also claimed that the FBI had opened its investigation into whether Trump campaign officials were coordinating with Russia's election interference "without any basis." However, they did so on the basis of certain facts. Barr has repeatedly come under fire for misleading the public about the findings and analysis of the special counsel who eventually took over the case, Robert S. Mueller III.

Change in Press Secretaries, but Handling Briefings Still Isn't a Key Role White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is leaving the job without ever having briefed the press. She is returning to the East Wing as first lady Melania Trump's chief of staff as Trump's new Chief of Staff Mark Meadows shakes up the communications team in the West Wing. Kayleigh McEnany, who served as Trump's 2020 campaign spokeswoman, will replace Grisham as White House press secretary. It became clear to aides that a shakeup in the communications team could be coming after Deputy Communications Director Jessica Ditto abruptly announced that she was leaving her job last week. With Trump and senior administration officials directly briefing the press on coronavirus each day, the question of how and when McEnany restarts briefings is much less urgent in the press shop shake-up.

Falsehoods and Facts on Voting By Mail As the coronavirus pandemic accelerates a national trend towards voting by mail, experts say it can be conducted safely, despite Republican claims of corruption. With concerns mounting over how the country can conduct elections during a pandemic and Democrats pressing for alternatives to in-person voting, President Trump has begun pushing a false argument that has circulated among conservatives for years--that voting by mail is a recipe for fraud. Studies have shown that all forms of voting fraud are extremely rare in the U.S. States that vote entirely by mail see little fraud; 5 states, including the Republican bastion of Utah, now conduct all elections almost entirely by mail. Republicans claim that voting by mail gives Democrats an advantage, asserting that easing restrictions invites voter fraud. There are also some Democrats who have also raised security concerns.

G.O.P. Senator, Under Fire for Trades, Says She'll Divest from Stocks Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler again defended her investments, denying accusations that she has tried to profit from the coronavirus crisis using inside information, but she has said she will divest from individual stocks and move her money into mutual and exchange-traded funds. As a freshman senator, she was already in a competitive race to keep her seat and has since faced weeks of attacks from her rivals in both parties and scrutiny from the news media over millions of dollars' worth of stock trades her portfolio made just before the coronavirus pandemic roiled the financial markets.

FEMA Demands Homes That Don't Flood, Towns Aren't Listening If one wants publicly subsidized flood insurance, one can't build a home that's likely to flood. Yet local governments around the country, which are responsible for enforcing the rule, have flouted the requirements, accounting for as many as a quarter of a million insurance policies in violation. Those structures accounted for more than $1 billion in flood claims during the past decade. That toll is likely to increase as climate change makes flooding more frequent and intense.

New Tactic: In Arbitration, Raise Volume There are many customers and employees who are unhappy with major corporations, but they are forced to hash out those differences in arbitration. Arbitration clauses bar employees at many companies from joining together to mount class-action lawsuits. Lawyers are now finding a possible solution by filing tens of thousands of arbitration claims all at once, because many companies can't handle the caseload. Driven partly by a legal reformist spirit and entrepreneurial zeal, lawyers are testing a new weapon in arbitration: sheer volume. As companies face a flood of claims, they are employing new strategies to thwart the very process that they have upheld as the optimal way to resolve disputes. Even as Supreme Court rulings over the last 2 decades have enshrined arbitration as the primary way that companies can hash out disputes, giving them enormous sway, consumer advocates and labor rights groups have criticized arbitration's inequities.

As Limits Ease, Wuhan Limps into New Life Last Wednesday, China ended its lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus first emerged and a potent symbol in a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of people, shaken the global economy, and thrown daily life into upheaval across the planet. The city has reopened after more than 10 weeks, but its recovery will be watched worldwide for lessons on how populations move past pain and calamity of such staggering magnitude. The trauma of the virus can linger for decades.

China Citing Fewer Cases, Tries to Rewrite Its Role in Crisis For months, the Chinese government's propaganda machine had been fending off criticism of Beijing's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and finally, it seemed to be finding an audience. In recent days, foreign leaders, even in friendly nations like Iran, have questioned China's reported infections and deaths. As the pandemic unleashes the worst global crisis in decades, China has been locked in a public relations tug-of-war on the international stage. China's critics, including the Trump administration, have blamed the Communist Party's authoritarian leadership for exacerbating the outbreak by initially trying to conceal it. Now, China is trying to rewrite its role by leveraging its increasingly sophisticated global propaganda machine to cast itself as the munificent, responsible leader that triumphed where others have stumbled. What narrative prevails has implications far beyond an international blame game.

E.U.'s Top Court Orders Poland to Suspend Panel on Discipline of Judges The European Court of Justice (ECJ) on last Wednesday ordered Poland to suspend a disciplinary chamber, which critics say would allow the government to investigate and punish judges for their court rulings. The chamber allows for too much political influence, the ECJ has argued. The ECJ cites a lack of independency and breach of EU law.

Rising Temperatures Hasten Bleaching of Great Barrier Reef The Great Barrier Reef has suffered the most widespread bleaching ever recorded due to rising temperatures caused by climate change. It is the third severe coral bleaching event for Australia's iconic reef in just 5 years. Corals along the entire 1,400-mile stretch have been severely affected. The bleaching has been caused solely by a summer of extreme heat, unlike in past years, when El Ninos contributed to the conditions. When sea temperatures spike, corals expel the marine algae, called zooxanthellae, which live inside their tissues, giving them vibrant colors and food supply via photosynthesis. Expelling the algae is what turns the coral white, and without food supply they can starve. The first recorded mass bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef was in 1998, then the hottest year on record. Since then, 4 more bleaching events have occurred, in 2002, 2016, 2017, and 2020 as the temperature records continue to be broken.

Nepalis Forced to Flee Villages as Himalayan Climate Changes Nepal is ground zero for the impacts of climate change as rising temperatures in the Himalayas threaten the survival climate migrants. The rising temperatures are causing crops to dwindle and bodies of water to dry up. As a result, migrants in northern Nepal who were forced to flee their homes because of climate change are struggling to survive. Once home to fertile farmland and crop fields, the Himalayas are now mostly barren because extreme heat has since destroyed the land and soil and threatened food security in the region.

British Leader Exists Intensive Care as Nation Faces Long Lockdown The prime minister's move from the Intensive Care Unit to a ward in a London hospital offered a ray of hope for a country still reeling from the trauma of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet the country still faces weeks of lockdown ahead as the death toll from the virus approached 8,000. Despite the good news, Raab, acting leader, appeared to be adjusting to the reality that Johnson will still be convalescing as the government faces one of the most sensitive decisions of the pandemic: When, and how, to reopen the British economy. The cabinet plans to make that assessment at the end of this week.

Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Released from Prison After Term of Nearly 5 Years Wang Quanzhang, a leading Chinese human rights lawyer, was arrested in 2015 in a sweeping crackdown on more than 200 lawyers and government critics. He has now been released from prison after almost 5 years behind bars, but has yet to return home to his family in the Chinese capital as he is being quarantined as a precaution against the coronavirus. His wife fears that Wang would be placed under house arrest despite his release and would be subject to surveillance. Wang's initial detention came as part of the so-called "709" crackdown. Wang worked for a now-closed law firm that defended political activists and victims of land seizures.

As Tourism Vanishes in African Countries, Emboldened Poachers are Moving In Official lockdowns and the loss of tourism revenue create new challenges for protecting Africa's wildlife. Conservancies depend heavily on money from wildlife safari tourism, which is a cornerstone of Kenya's economy. In normal times, travel and tourism provide more than a million jobs nationwide, but now that industry is at a standstill. Many conservationists worry that one consequence will be increased wildlife poaching--either to provide food for hungry families or for illegal sales--putting rangers in even greater danger. Conservancies are having to decrease the number of anti-poaching patrols and ask workers to agree to a 5% pay cut. They expect increased poaching by villagers for bushmeat because it is cheaper to kill animals for meat than buy it.

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