5.14.2020

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Need to Know
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Fed Calls for More Stimulus
US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned yesterday that the country could face a sustained recession in the absence of further economic stimulus measures. The statement follows the introduction of a $3T stimulus package by House Democrats, which is expected to receive a vote tomorrow. Senate Republicans have resisted calls for further support so far, saying much of the $2.8T in already-passed aid hasn't been spent. Still, a wish list for negotiations is reportedly under construction, including coronavirus liability protection for businesses.

Whether and how major universities will open in the fall remains uncertain; California State University announced yesterday most classes will be held remotely during the fall session. As the nation's largest four-year university system, the decision may have a number of knock-on effects, including foreshadowing the delay or cancellation of the college football season.

Back in Washington, DC, the newly created House subcommittee tasked with overseeing the coronavirus response held its first hearing. Separately, Rick Bright, the ousted federal vaccine chief, will testify before a House panel today. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint over the handling of the outbreak during its early stages by officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, though some colleagues dispute the account.

Meanwhile, the District said it would extend its stay-at-home order until June 8, while Wisconsin's Supreme Court struck down an extension of Gov. Tony Evers' (D) stay-at-home order. 

The US has reported 1.39 million total cases, with 84,136 deaths, as of this morning (real-time map). Deaths rose 2% since yesterday morning.   

Have more questions? Check out our expert-curated coronavirus resource page here.
Flynn Unmasking Revealed
More than a dozen Obama administration officials were granted access to classified foreign intelligence reports that revealed Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was under government surveillance during the 2016 election. The requests - a process known as "unmasking" - were approved between November 2016 and January 2017. Then-Vice President Joe Biden was among officials privy to the documents. 

Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Trump, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. Since then, critics have accused the FBI of abusing its power in an attempt to harm the Trump administration. Defenders have argued valid national security concerns for the requests existed, since Flynn was allegedly trying to act on behalf of the US before Trump took office.

Separately, a former judge has been appointed to argue against the Justice Department's decision to drop prosecution of Flynn.
Court Considers Faithless Electors
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday over whether the Constitution prohibits states from requiring members of the Electoral College to vote for the candidate who won their state's popular vote. The two cases center on a handful of "faithless" electors who refused to support the Clinton-Kaine ticket in 2016, despite Democrats winning the respective states. 

In principle, US presidential elections rely on an indirect vote made by 538 electors. In practice, these electors are chosen by the winning party and rarely violate their pledge. There have been 165 instances of faithless electors in US history, 63 of which occurred in 1872 when presidential candidate Horace Greeley (R) died after the election. Still, the nuanced legal question could potentially tip an exceptionally close race, though the court appeared to lean away from granting them protections.

One election did see a mass defection of electors; the Virginia delegation refused to support Richard Mentor Johnson (D) as vice president in 1836.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Hollywood Bowl, the iconic Los Angeles music venue, cancels its summer season for the first time in nearly 100 years (More)
> Broadway actor Nick Cordero wakes up from weekslong coma following leg amputation stemming from battle with COVID-19 (More)
> Yellowstone National Park (May 18) and Grand Canyon (May 15) among national parks to partially reopen (More) | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announces state is open for professional sports league to play, practice amid coronavirus pandemic (More)
Science & Technology
> Anti-vaccine groups on social media are more effective at convincing those undecided on the issue than mainstream pro-vaccine and public health groups, despite being outnumbered (More) | Published in Nature, study relied on novel battlefield mapping technique (More)
> New study links the microbiome in mice to symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease; results are the latest linking gut bacteria to brain health (More)
> Two patients who received ground-breaking stem cell transplant to treat heart disease revealed to be in good health one year after surgery (More)

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Business & Markets
> US stock markets down (S&P 500 -1.8%, Dow -2.2%, Nasdaq -1.6%) after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell warns the country could face a sustained recession in the absence of further economic stimulus measures (More)
> Tesla reaches deal with Alameda County to open its Fremont, California Gigafactory Monday (More)
> Uber to require all drivers and passengers worldwide to wear facemasks starting Monday (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort released from prison, will serve rest of sentence from home due to coronavirus fears (More)
> Republican Mike Garcia wins special election to replace former Rep. Katie Hill (D, CA-25), the first time a Republican candidate has taken a Democratic seat in the state in two decades (More)
> Senate amends House-passed renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, bolstering legal protections for US citizens under surveillance; bill will have to return to House once passed by the Senate (More)
In-Depth
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Failure to Protect
Anchorage Daily News | Kyle Hopkins, Greg Kim. The principal of one of Alaska's biggest rural schools dodged allegations of sexual harassment against students - until an FBI agent posed as a 13-year-old girl. With numerous reports of misconduct, how did it get that far? (Read)
The Last Days of the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Columbia Journalism Review | Anna Clark. Founded 178 years ago, Cleveland's flagship paper has been slowly dissolved by its New York-based ownership into a digital-first amalgam of national and state news. While focus has been on the end of its unionized newsroom, its decline also reflects the loss of in-depth local reporting by people who live in the region. (Read)
 
 
Etcetera
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Quarantine fatigue is real. ($$, Atlantic)
New York City breaks its own record for days without a pedestrian death.
Mapping gold productions across the US

From our partners: Here's a way to earn $650 from your couch. Make introductions to your network as a side hustle. #Ad
Watch a bobcat make a jaw-dropping leap across water.
Woman illegally enters Yellowstone National Park, falls into Old Faithful.
Antipoaching technology is helping track the coronavirus in South Africa.
Restaurant unveils one of the creepier ways to practice social distancing.
These prehistoric anchovies had sabertooth fangs.
Clickbait: Man gets hit by lightning, becomes a piano savant.
Historybook: Jamestown is settled as first successful permanent English colony in the Americas (1607); Lewis and Clark begin their western expedition (1804); HDB actress Cate Blanchett (1969); First US space station, Skylab, is launched (1973); RIP Frank Sinatra (1998).
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