3.18.2020

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Need to Know
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White House Backs Direct Payments
The White House backed a proposal yesterday that would send direct payments to Americans in an effort to cushion the economic shock of the new coronavirus outbreak. While the details are being negotiated with Congress, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled support for an existing proposal allowing $1,000 checks to be sent to nearly every American (those with higher incomes may be exempted). Such a program would require legislation and could be wrapped into a massive "Phase 3" aid package with up to $850B in economic stimulus programs. Separately, the Senate passed a smaller "Phase 2" aid package that includes 10 days of paid sick leave for some workers. The smaller package comes with a $100B price tag.

The administration also announced a 90-day extension on federal income tax payments (taxes must still be filed by April 15) and a short-term loan program by the Federal Reserve for businesses to pay workers. After a historic drop Monday, markets rose sharply on the news of fiscal stimulus; the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,048 points (5.2%), with the S&P 500 (6.0%) and the Nasdaq (6.2%) following suit. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio foreshadowed a shelter-in-place order that would require residents of the country's largest city to stay indoors. NBA superstar Kevin Durant became the latest high-profile celebrity to contract the virus (see list). In Germany, one of the top contenders to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel tested positive for the virus. Iran, home to the Middle East's largest outbreak, issued a dire warning as religious faithful overran security barriers at two popular shrines. In Brazil, hundreds of prisoners escaped four jails ahead of an expected lockdown. 

There were 6,496 confirmed cases in the US as of this morning, with 114 deaths (real-time map). 
Brady to Leave Patriots
Superstar quarterback Tom Brady is set to leave the New England Patriots, a bombshell revelation likely to reverberate throughout the NFL offseason. The 42-year-old quarterback made the announcement in a series of Instagram posts yesterday, but did not hint at where he prefers to play next season. Almost assuredly a future Hall of Famer, Brady has played in nine Super Bowls and won six - both records - and was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player three times. Based on his accolades, all of which were compiled during his 20-year career with the Patriots, many sportswriters consider him to be the greatest quarterback in the history of the league. Brady, who likely has just a few years left to play, has reportedly asked for roster input and control over offensive play calling; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are rumored to be his most likely destination. 

Keep up with free agency news - including QB Cam Newton likely to part ways with the Carolina Panthers - here.
Manchester Bombing Conviction
The brother of the bomber responsible for the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since 2005 was sentenced to life in prison yesterday. Hashem Abedi was not present when his brother, Salman, detonated a homemade nail bomb at a May 2017 Ariana Grande concert in the city of Manchester, killing 22 people. Despite his absence, a jury found Abedi guilty on 22 counts of murder for his role helping build the explosives and planning the attack, along with one count of attempted murder - a symbolic count representing more than 260 people injured in the blast. Abedi was also absent from the verdict itself, having fired his legal team earlier in the week and refusing to participate in the trial. 

Read an in-depth look at how the conspiracy was planned here.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay to begin next week (March 26) as planned (More) | International Olympic Committee calls on athletes to continue preparing for Summer Olympics, commits to move forward with games for now (More)
> Stuart Whitman, Oscar-nominated actor best known for westerns, dies at 92 (More)
> Euro 2020, the European soccer championship, postponed until 2021 (More) | The cost of cancellations and postponing American sports due to the coronavirus is estimated at $5B (More)
Science & Technology
> Scientists map out how the body's immune system fights the coronavirus, show the body recovers from COVID-19 in a way similar to the flu (More)
> Chemists discover new catalyst that enables the "magic methyl" reaction, which trades hydrogen atoms on molecules for methyl groups; difficult process allows many drugs to better find and bind to their targets (More)
> Prototype AI-driven chip inserted in the sole of shoes gives real-time analysis of a person's gait; tech may replace expensive motion-capture camera systems to analyze musculoskeletal issues (More)
Business & Markets
> Sources say SoftBank may walk away from part of October WeWork investment, would not complete $3B tender offer but still plans to invest $5B debt (More)
> Boeing may seek up to $60B in government assistance as the company faces a liquidity crisis (More)
> Amazon partially suspends certain shipment services to prioritize household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products (More) | Facebook to donate $100M to help 30,000 small businesses (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Joe Biden wins primaries in Arizona, Illinois, and Florida, increasing delegate lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to 1132 to 817 with precincts still reporting (More)
> China expels a number of US reporters from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post; Beijing says move is in response to the US restricting Chinese media operations in the country (More)
> Former House Rep. Duncan Hunter (R, CA-50) sentenced to 11 months in prison for misusing campaign funds (More) | Eight-term House Rep. Dan Lipinski (D, IL-3) loses primary race to progressive businesswoman Marie Newman (More)
Etcetera
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It was a historically quiet St. Patrick's Day in Dublin.

There's a pandemic of fake news about the coronavirus sweeping across WhatsApp.

Why flattening the coronavirus curve may not be enough.
Ten misconceptions about the 1918 Spanish flu.
The outbreak spurs kind Canadians to begin caremongering.
Watch a randomized swarm of robots self-organize into letters.
This mysterious ancient structure was made from the bones of 60 woolly mammoths.
The 50 best travel films of all time.
Two bombs from 1935 were found in a Hawaiian volcano.
 
Clickbait: Police remind you to not call 911 if you run out of toilet paper.
Historybook: President Grover Cleveland born (1837); Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes first person to walk in space (1965); HBD Queen Latifah (1970); RIP rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry (2017).
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- Chuck Berry
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