4.14.2020

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Need to Know
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USS Roosevelt Sailor Dies
A sailor from the USS Theodore Roosevelt died after contracting the coronavirus, Navy officials announced yesterday. It marks the first death out of nearly 600 cases identified aboard the virus-ravaged ship, whose former captain, Brett Crozier, was fired after stepping outside the chain of command to plea for help with the escalating outbreak among his crew. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly sparked criticism after audio of him criticizing Crozier in a speech to the ship's crew surfaced, leading to Modly's resignation last week. Four other sailors from the ship are said to be hospitalized in stable condition.

Health officials have reported more than 580,000 coronavirus cases across the US, with 23,649 deaths as of this morning. Seniors are particularly susceptible to developing severe symptoms from the virus; more than 15% of total US deaths have been nursing home patients. In New York, the country's epicenter, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the "worst is over," with hospitalizations plateauing despite deaths in the state passing 10,000. 

Cuomo also said governors of Northeast states would coordinate a gradual reopening of the regional economy, while West Coast states announced a similar pact. No specifics on timing or strategy were given. The move puts the governors at odds with President Trump, who tweeted the authority to reopen the economy rests with the federal government. The tension underscores the challenge of restarting an economy halted by patchwork restrictions by city and state officials across the country. 

Separately, the White House pushed back on reports that Trump was considering dismissing Dr. Anthony Fauci after the president retweeted a post containing the hashtag #FireFauci. The administration's top expert on the outbreak has drawn ire in some conservative circles for implying the US did not act fast enough in slowing the spread of the virus. Fauci also downplayed a fissure with the White House.

Finally, Johns Hopkins University has updated its widely-used dashboard with county-level data for the US. 

If you haven't seen the chart breaking down the worst conspiracy theories and fake news about COVID-19, check it out on our coronavirus resource page, along with a huge range of expert-curated resources, from real-time maps to day-by-day stats on the pandemic. You can visit the main page here.
Southern Storms Kill Dozens
At least 30 people were killed and more than 1.3 million people left without power as deadly storms left a trail of destruction, stretching from Texas to the lower Appalachian Mountains. Beginning Sunday, the storms forced state officials to suspend social distancing rules, encouraging residents to take refuge in shared safety spaces when needed. At least 40 tornadoes were reported, including one in Georgia that deposited a house in the middle of a road after lifting it off its foundation. By yesterday, the storms had moved into the Carolinas before dropping up to 4 inches of rain in a few hours in some areas of the mid-Atlantic. The system managed to trigger tornado watches all the way up to New Jersey while bringing wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour to New York City before heading out to sea.

See photos of the damage here.
Troubled Waters in China
Chinese dams withheld surplus water from the Mekong River last summer even as downstream countries suffered from a devastating drought, according to a new study released yesterday. Beginning in the Tibetan Plateau and draining into the South China Sea, the river is the lifeblood of nearly 60 million people as it courses through China and downstream into Laos, Thailand, and other Southeast Asia countries. While the river typically rises dramatically with the wet season, its water levels dropped to their lowest in nearly 100 years last summer. China, which does not share data on its 11 dams along the Upper Mekong, claimed waters were lower than average; however, satellite imagery in the study revealed a wetter-than-average season. The report stopped short of accusing China of intentionally worsening the drought, but will likely intensify debate ($$, Foreign Affairs) over the country's use of the Mekong to influence the region. 
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Fit and focused at home.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> ABC News and "Good Morning America" anchor George Stephanopoulos tests positive for the coronavirus (More) | “Trolls World Tour” breaks digital rental opening weekend record (More)
> Ex-NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson dies in car crash at age 36 (More) | NASCAR suspends driver Kyle Larson indefinitely for using racial slur during virtual race (More)
> Rapper Drake becomes first male artist to debut three No. 1 songs on Billboard Hot 100 (More) | Quibi, newly launched mobile streaming app, pulls in 1.7 million downloads in its first week (More)
Science & Technology
> Amid security concerns, researchers say credentials for more than 500,000 Zoom accounts are being sold on the dark web (More)
> Researchers create carbon nanostructure that is stronger than diamond; materials hold promise for applications that need high strength-to-weight ratios (More)
> Borrowing concepts from evolution, Google Brain creates an artificial intelligence program that can design and test wholly new AI programs from scratch (More)
Business & Markets
> US stock markets mixed (S&P 500 -1.0%, Dow -1.4%, Nasdaq +0.5%) as big banks kick off earnings season today (More)
> Japanese tech giant SoftBank expects more than $16B loss from deterioration of $100B Vision Fund investments (More)
> Class-action lawsuit accuses McDonald’s of widespread sexual harassment against female employees in Florida (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Supreme Court to hear at least 10 cases during May term by telephone, with live audio available for the public; decision marks the first time in history the court will hear cases remotely (More)
> Election 2020: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorses Joe Biden, with Biden seeking to unify the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic party (More) | Biden beats Sanders as delayed Wisconsin results are announced (More)
> Israel President Reuven Rivlin softens Monday deadline, grants 48-hour extension to prime minister candidate Benny Gantz to form governing coalition (More)
In-Depth
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America's Doctor
New Yorker | Michael Specter. Dr. Anthony Fauci has run the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through six administrations and viral outbreaks that include HIV, Ebola, and SARS. Now he's emerged as the preeminent trusted voice on the coronavirus - while walking a tightrope between politics and public health. (Read, $$)
Journey Into the Arctic Winter
ScienceNews | Shannon Hall. Life during the Arctic winter is mostly a mystery, largely because the North Pole turns into a fortress of ice. Now, the largest Arctic expedition in history will allow unprecedented access to the ecosystem, but leave researchers locked in a drifting ice floe for the next year. (Read)
 
 
Trigger, thought, action, consequence.
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Etcetera
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Wildlife is quickly reclaiming Yosemite National Park.
How consumer spending has changed during the crisis.
The shutdown is forcing farmers to waste millions of pounds of food
... but the country's urban rat populations are going hungry.

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Having strange dreams during quarantine? You're not alone
British bakers have reintroduced World War II bread.
Twenty of the most ridiculous face mask designs
A 64-year-old man accidentally ejects himself from a fighter jet.
Clickbait: A grandmother's quarantine plea is heard ... by Coors Light
Historybook: Webster’s Dictionary is first published (1828); President Abraham Lincoln is mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth (1865); RIP marine biologist and environmentalist Rachel Carson (1964); Human Genome Project is completed (2003).
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"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life."
- Rachel Carson
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