3.27.2020

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Need to Know
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Record Unemployment Claims
Editor's note: We typically run three top stories but the breadth of the coronavirus impact has overwhelmed the news. Below is our summary of the key events.

The US Labor Department reported an estimated 3 million Americans made initial unemployment claims last week. The surge brings total weekly unemployment claims to a record-shattering 3.3 million people - nearly five times than during the peak of the 2008-09 recession. The whopping numbers reflect the suddenness with which the pandemic has stopped wide swaths of the economy. 

The report came as the total number of cases globally soared past 500,000, while the US claimed the dubious distinction of leading the world in total cases, passing China (where the virus first emerged). The US has reported 85,991 cases with 1,296 deaths (real-time map).

Markets boomed again despite the news, capping the biggest three-day increase since 1931. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1,352 points (6.4%), followed by the S&P 500 (6.4%) and the Nasdaq (6.2%). The rise was fueled by the prospect of a historically large stimulus package, though analysts warned that a "tsunami" of dire economic data was on the horizon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA-12) will bring the Senate-approved stimulus bill up for a vote today. She is aiming for a voice vote ($$, WashPo), a procedure that could speed up voting so long as no members call for a roll call vote. At least one lawmaker, Rep. Thomas Massie (R, KY-4), has signaled he may object, though the bill would still likely be approved over the weekend. See details of the current bill here.

Congressional leaders have already teased a possible fourth coronavirus stimulus bill. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized the bill, saying it doesn't go far enough to cover state costs. New York would receive $5B under the bill while projecting a $15B loss. Meanwhile, medical officials in New York City are worried hospitals may run out of beds beginning next week; go inside a Brooklyn hospital here.

Down in Louisiana, officials think last month's Mardi Gras celebration may have been an epidemiological disaster. New Orleans now accounts for about half of the state's 2,305 cases.  

China, now seeing more cases originate from foreign visitors than citizens, closed its borders. Mexican protesters shut down a crossing near Arizona, demanding Americans be screened before entering. Overseas, the virus appears poised to ravage Pakistan and its struggling medical infrastructure. In Iran, hundreds of people reportedly died after ingesting poison in a belief it would kill the virus.

To end the week on a positive note, we want to recognize the random acts of kindness that are popping up everywhere, including a national moment of applause for British healthcare workers.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Meghan Markle to narrate new Disney nature documentary film “Elephant”; will be her first return to show business since departing “Suits” before marrying Prince Harry (More) | Markle and Prince Harry reportedly move to Los Angeles from Canada (More)
> Lori Loughlin asks judge to dismiss charges against her and dozens of other parents in college admissions bribery case, alleging government misconduct and entrapment (More)
> Fred "Curly" Neal, a legendary member of the Harlem Globetrotters for 22 years, dies at 77 (More)
Science & Technology
> National Science Foundation to be allocated $75M for targeted coronavirus research and development in $2T stimulus package (More) | A look at how illnesses rise and fall with the seasons (More, w/video)
> Great Barrier Reef suffers its third mass bleaching event in five years; assessment finds the most widespread damage due to warming waters in memory (More)
> UC Berkeley, University of Illinois, Microsoft, C3.ai, and other partners launch the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute, with goal of applying artificial intelligence to large-scale social challenges (More)
Business & Markets
> The US government could receive equity stakes in US airline companies in exchange for $25B grants as part of rescue package (More)
> NCAA says financial distributions to Division I schools will be reduced by over $375M due to cancellations to March Madness and other revenue-generating events (More)
> Facebook names former deputy secretary of US Treasury as independent director after board shake-up (More)

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Politics & World Affairs
> US officials charge Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, alleging him of intentionally flooding the US with drugs to undermine American health; while Maduro remains in power, the US considers opposition head Juan Guaidó to be country's official leader (More)
> Suspect who killed 51 people in 2019 mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand changes plea to guilty; officials had worried he would plead innocent, using trial to espouse racist views (More)
> Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti becomes first world leader ousted over their country's response to the coronavirus pandemic (More)
Weekend Reads
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Cities After the Coronavirus
The Guardian | Jack Shenker. From the development of sewer systems to rebalancing social dynamics, pandemics have always changed the way cities are structured and operate. What will the lasting effects be in a post-coronavirus world? (Read)

Editor's note: This article from the Atlantic on how the pandemic may play out also received a lot of press this week.
 Watch 
'Tiger King'
Netflix | Eric King, Rebecca Chaiklin. Many stories are billed as too wild or unbelievable to be true. This docuseries about flamboyant zoo owner Joe Exotic, an obsession with big cats, and a murder-for-hire plot actually is. Don't start watching until you have time to finish this one. (Watch)
Propaganda Machine
ProPublica | Jeff Kao, Mia Shuang Li. How China built a massive Twitter propaganda machine, capable of infecting and hijacking user accounts around the world - and then turned it loose on the coronavirus pandemic. (Read)
 
 
Etcetera: Best of March 2020
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Editor's note: More than 750,000 monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular, non-coronavirus focused stories we ran in March. Enjoy!

(3/9/20) Divers capture a blanket octopus unveiling her billowing membrane.

(3/13/20) It's been a rough week, have this bucket of puppies.

(3/23/20) A cat knocks over a domino (it's mesmerizing).

(3/3/20) Top economists reveal what happens when you stop using Facebook.

(3/17/20) Here are 450 Ivy League courses you can take online for free.

(3/11/20) Watch a cartoonish array of animals cross a log bridge.

(3/9/20) When your best friend of two decades turns out to be your sister.

(3/12/20) Our favorite Photoshop troll has returned.

(3/16/20) Egg McMuffin rat is the newest rodent star of New York.

(3/9/20) NASA's Curiosity rover takes a stunning panorama of Mars. (w/video)

(3/2/20) Icy weather transforms Lake Erie homes into a real-life "Frozen."

(3/25/20) Ranking the best books released so far in 2020. (via Thrillist)

(3/2/20) This animation explains how the world would fall apart without a leap year.

(3/26/20) Out-of-work sports commentator applies his talents to real life.

(3/4/20) Clickbait: Brother crashes sister's wedding with a llama, as promised.
Historybook: HBD Quentin Tarantino (1963); RIP Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space (1968); HBD Mariah Carey (1970); Tenerife Airport Disaster, worst accident in aviation history, kills 583 (1977).
You made it. Have a great weekend (and wash your hands).
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"A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying, 'Tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here.'"
- Quentin Tarantino
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