Good morning. Let’s start this Friday off with a blast from the past – and then a look to the future.
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied forces defeat over Nazi Germany (Victory in Europe Day).
Stanford researchers have successfully demonstrated a practical way to use magnetism to wirelessly charge electric cars, robots, drones, and more.
“No greater gift there is, than a generous heart.”
Look To The East
The U.S. military made moves this week that officials say are a sign of a shift in focus away from the Middle East and towards the Asia-Pacific region.
The Patriot Act The U.S. removed four Patriot missile batteries from Saudi Arabia yesterday, along with dozens of personnel that deployed following a series of attacks on Saudi oil facilities last year.
Two U.S. jet fighter squadrons also pulled out of the region, according to U.S. officials, who said they are considering further Navy withdrawals from the Persian Gulf.
The Pentagon is reportedly reducing operations based on the belief that Iran no longer poses an immediate threat after the U.S. killed Iranian commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a January airstrike.
At the same time, officials say they believe the military’s limited resources – such as warships and Patriot missile systems – should be devoted to other priorities, like policing China’s military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.
From Middle East To Far East White House budget requests published Wednesday – paired with Congressional testimony from March – show the Pentagon intends to arm Marines in the Asia-Pacific with Tomahawk cruise missiles, a new development in the region.
For years, the U.S. had been constrained by a Soviet-era arms treaty (INF Treaty) that banned the use of most land-based ballistic and cruise missiles – until the U.S. withdrew from the pact in 2019.
Top U.S. officials say the move to arm Marines with Tomahawks is aimed at countering China’s missile advantage in the region, as they were not involved with the INF Treaty.
In a statement, Beijing responded to the latest move by urging the U.S. to “be cautious in word and deed” and “stop moving chess pieces” around the region.
So… what are people saying?
This is not the time to add to tensions in South China Sea
The FDAcut the number of Chinese manufacturers approved to make N95-style masks from 80 to 14 due to large amounts of low-quality products from these companies.
The White Houseannounced one of President Trump’s personal military valets tested positive for COVID-19; Trump and Vice President Pence have both tested negative since the discovery.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Courtdeclined to lift Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive stay-at-home order after Pennsylvania businesses asked the court to block enforcement of the order last week.
DOJ Drops Case Against Michael Flynn
The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday said it is dropping the case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security advisor, after a department review determined that a key interview was “unjustified.” In the 2017 interview, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
More: Flynn was one of the subjects of the Mueller investigation, which culminated in the Mueller report.
Even more: The House Intelligence Committee yesterday released transcripts of 57 closed-door interviews with witnesses in its Russia investigation.
A father and son were arrested yesterday in Georgia and charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was shot and killed while jogging on a residential street in March. The incident caused national outcry after a video of the shooting was made public.
**Warning – Graphic Content: The video in question can be seen here.
Neiman Marcusfiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday. Separately, property owner Brookfield Managementannounced a $5 billion revitalization program to help struggling retailers stay afloat.
U.S. unemployment claimsrose by 3.2 million last week, bringing the total up to nearly 33.5 million claims over the past seven weeks.
Uberreported Q1 earnings on Thursday, beating expectations in revenue but falling short in earnings. The company also announced a $170 million investment in scooter company Lime.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinemalaunched Alamo On Demand – a new video platform that includes a library of recent releases featured alongside well-known cinema classics.
The Nasdaqclosed Thursday up nearly 0.1% on the year to date, after being down 25% as recently as March 23. The Dow and S&P are still down significantly in 2020 (-17.1% and -11.8%, respectively).
Cable operators Virgin Media and O2 have agreed to merge in a 50-50 joint venture valued at $38.9 billion. The deal, which merges the UK operations of multinational communications giants Liberty Global (owner of Virgin Media) and Telefonica (owner of O2), is expected to close by mid-2021.
Zoom Can Resume
Zoom reached a deal with New York’s attorney general on Thursday, resolving the state’s concerns over the company’s security flaws. Under the terms of the agreement, Zoom will name a head of security in charge of keeping user information secure and confidential, and NYC’s Dept. of Education will reverse its month-long ban on teachers using Zoom.
First-grade teacher Luciana Lira is used to dealing with emergencies, but found her skills put to the test last month. The mother of one of her students (who was eight months pregnant) had just been diagnosed with COVID-19 and called Luciana asking for advice – as she was heading into labor.
Luciana stepped in and offered to take care of the newborn, a boy named Neysel, and keep him safe until his mother and father recovered from the virus. Neysel turned one month old over the weekend, and his parents are counting the seconds until they can meet their son.
Bringing May Flowers
Mother’s Day is fast approaching, though it may feel lonelier than ever for aging moms quarantined in senior homes. That’s why one U.S. company teamed up with its network of local nurseries to make this day a memorable one for elderly mothers across the country.
Over the past week, Lowe’s has been calling Ubers to more than 500 nursing homes across the U.S. to deliver $1 million worth of flower baskets to ten of America’s hardest-hit cities.
Best Foot Forward
A lack of oxygen at birth left Fatemeh Nasrabadi 85% paralyzed, but the Iranian native has managed to make the best of her unique situation. Now 31 years old, Fatemah makes a living as an artist, using a special instrument to assist her painting – her foot!
Fatemeh’s talent was recognized and encouraged by her teachers in middle school, who helped hone her craft. Today, Fatemah’s artwork (photos) hangs in various Tehran galleries, with 100K+ Instagram followers tracking her every brush stroke.
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