5.11.2020

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Need to Know
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Pence Aide Tests Positive
Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend. Miller becomes the second White House staffer to test positive in recent days, following one of President Trump's personal drivers. There were mixed reports as of this morning as to whether the vice president, who tested negative, would self-isolate

The news did prompt three of the administration's top public health officials, each of whom had interacted with Miller, to enter some form of self-isolation. Dr. Stephen Hahn, head of the US Food and Drug Administration, will self-quarantine for two weeks, while Dr. Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Dr. Robert Redfield will reportedly mix telework, facemasks, and other forms of social distancing. 

Overseas, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a modest loosening of restrictions while leaving the bulk of the country's lockdown in place. Meanwhile, South Korea, one of the first countries to control its outbreak, is grappling with a second wave of infections. The new cluster of cases has been linked to a single 29-year-old who visited a string of Seoul nightclubs last weekend.

The total number of confirmed cases worldwide passed 4 million yesterday, with more than 282,000 deaths (real-time map). The US accounts for 1.3 million of those cases, and has reported 79,528 deaths as of this morning.

Finally, you may have seen (or heard someone mention) "Plandemic," a conspiracy theory video that made the rounds on social media over the weekend. It includes a number of questionable assertations and implies the coronavirus pandemic was orchestrated for certain organizations to profit from a vaccine. You can find background here, a look at the discredited researcher Judy Mikovits here, and more fact-checking here.

We've added a number of new items to our expert-curated coronavirus resource page. Check it out here.
The Architect of Rock & Roll
Richard Penniman, better known by his stage name of Little Richard, passed away over the weekend at the age of 87. Family representatives said the cause of death was bone cancer. The legendary musician's uptempo rhythm and flamboyant falsetto shrieks broke open the genre of 1950s rhythm and blues that laid the groundwork for future generations of soul, rock & roll, and more. In doing so, he also sliced across racial barriers for millions of young fans.

Stacking up numerous accolades throughout his six-decade career, Little Richard was part of the first class of artists inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He is credited with having influenced musicians ranging from Elvis Presley and the Beatles to David Bowie and Prince (among many others).  

His hits included "Tutti Frutti," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Rip It Up," and more; listen to the 20 most popular songs here.
A Cold (and Warm) Mother's Day
Nearly 100 million Americans woke up to chilly temperatures over the weekend as an Arctic air mass brought rare May snow in many spots across the upper Midwest and Northeast. Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New York City all saw record lows set for the date Saturday morning. More than a dozen states saw snowfall, with isolated pockets (w/video) in the Northeast blanketed by up to 10 inches. 

Meanwhile, the West Coast has seen summer-like heat. Connecting the two is a break in the polar vortex - a mass of low-pressure, cold air that rotates above the Earth's polar regions. The mass is usually held in place by the jet stream (see the science), but a bulge in the jet stream that pushed warm air north in the western US forced chilly Arctic air down in the east.

The extreme temperatures on both sides of the country will even out this week.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Roy Horn, half of Las Vegas show staple Siegfried & Roy, dies at 75 from COVID-19 (More) | Andre Harrell, music mogul and founder of influential Uptown Records, dies at 59 from unknown causes (More) | Grammy-winning singer Betty Wright dies at 66 from cancer (More)
> Henry Cejudo retires from mixed martial arts after defending bantamweight title over Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 (More) | Justin Gaethje upsets Tony Ferguson to win interim lightweight title (More)
> Judge denies Lori Loughlin’s motion to dismiss her case in college bribery scandal over alleged government misconduct; trial is set to begin Oct. 5 (More)
Science & Technology
> New study shines light on the infection and reproduction mechanisms of giant viruses, those between 200-400 nanometers in size; exotic species are 10 times bigger in size than the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold (More)
> Researchers demonstrate artificial chloroplasts, the cellular machinery that uses sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce sugars; prototypes produce glycolate, which can be used to make useful organic products (More)
> Scientists pinpoint a single gene that allows Cape honey bees to reproduce without having sex; thought to be the first time a genetic basis for virgin births has been found (More)
Business & Markets
> Elon Musk states Tesla plans to move headquarters and operations out of California and files lawsuit against Alameda County - the location of its Fremont, California Gigafactory - after factory reopening dispute (More)
> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.6%, Dow +1.9%, Nasdaq +1.5%) as investors hope the worst of the pandemic has passed; gains come despite unprecedented 14.7% April unemployment figures announced Friday (More)
> US Postal Service continues to see deteriorating revenues, warns it may not survive without near-term government assistance (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Georgia attorney general requests federal probe into how the shooting case of Ahmaud Arbery was handled by local prosecutors (More)
> Iran hits own ship during a military training exercise in the Gulf of Oman, killing at least 19 and injuring 15 (More)
> Poland holds "ghost" election after a dispute over whether to delay national elections splits governing party; a new mail-only vote likely to be scheduled in near future (More)
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Etcetera
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Not all of those coronavirus animal stories are true.
Seattle permanently closes 20 miles of streets so residents can exercise
The 10 most popular dog breeds in America.
Explore the world's most beautiful lakes.
Why stop there? These forests are straight out of a fairytale.
Magnolia Earl becomes the first adopted Gerber baby.
In the world of working from home, bookshelves are the real stars.
Banksy donates new painting of a superhero nurse.
Clickbait: The robot dystopia has arrived in Singapore
Historybook: Composer and songwriter Irving Berlin born (1888); Salvador Dali born (1904); Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is founded (1927); RIP Bob Marley (1981); Deep Blue becomes the first computer to defeat a world champion in chess (1997).
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