– German soccer league Bundesliga returned to the pitch
– The UFC held its third Fight Night card of the pandemic
One thing they all had in common – no fans allowed. Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck has even said NFL broadcasts will incorporate fake noise and virtual fans… which got us thinking.
What would it take for you to attend a live event (sports, concert, show, etc.)? Let us know here. We’ll share the results in tomorrow’s email.
“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.”
– Pablo Picasso
This Week at a Glance
Monday: World Health Assembly meeting begins, Big Three (Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler) start reopening factories
Tuesday: Fed Chair appears before Senate, Hunger Games prequel released
Wednesday: National Rescue Dog Day
Thursday: World Meditation Day
Friday: Start of Memorial Day weekend
Congress Revisits The Patriot Act
Last week, the Senate narrowly rejected a bipartisan amendment to the Patriot Act that would forbid the government from accessing Americans’ web browsing information without a warrant. Four Senators abstained from Thursday’s vote on the bill, which fell one vote shy of the required 60 to pass the chamber.
A deeper dive… The USA Patriot Act was passed 45 days after Sept. 11, 2001, in an attempt to arm law enforcement with new tools to detect and prevent terrorism.
The failed Senate vote targeted Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This provision allows federal agents to collect any “tangible thing” from businesses as long as there are reasonable grounds to believe it is “relevant to an authorized investigation.”
Privacy advocates – most notably Edward Snowden in 2013 – have long warned that Section 215 allows for significant government overreach due to the broad interpretation of “relevant to an authorized investigation.”
Extension Granted Initially intended to expire on Dec. 31, 2005, many parts of the Patriot Act have been extended and renewed over the past two decades under the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations.
On Friday, the Senate voted 80-16 on a bill to renew the 2015 USA Freedom Act – a reworked version of the Patriot Act that includes Section 215 – after it had expired in March.
What’s next? The House, which voted in favor of a similar measure last month, will need to approve the Senate’s bill before it can reach President Trump’s desk. It is unclear whether Trump will sign the bill in its current form.
The Justice Department, which supported the House’s bill, said it opposes the Senate’s version due to an amendment that expands the influence of outside legal experts on the DOJ’s applications for surveillance.
So… what are people saying?
Surprising Senate Vote Signals New Hope for Surveillance Reform
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Global cases rose above 4.80 million yesterday with nearly 316,700 deaths. The number of confirmed U.S. cases rose to almost 1.53 million with 90,978 confirmed deaths.
Washington state officialshalted unemployment benefits for two days after a surge of fraudulent claims. Additionally, the NYT ($) reported details of a Nigerian fraud network believed to have defrauded U.S. unemployment funds out of millions of dollars (and potentially hundreds of millions more) via phony claims.
Italian PM Guiseppe Conteannounced a gradual reopening plan that allows EU citizens to enter the country without quarantine starting June 3 (among other things).
Miami will reopen work offices and restaurants today, though the city’s beaches still remain closed. See where your state stands on reopening here.
The Housevoted 208-199 – largely along party lines – in favor of a $3 trillion relief package on Friday, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the Democrats’ opening offer in negotiating a Phase Four stimulus bill.
In the same session, the House approved the unprecedented use of proxy voting and remote hearings during the pandemic.
State Department Inspector General Fired
President Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Friday. Linick was reportedly fired while investigating allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo misused a staff member to run personal errands for him and his wife.
More: Linick is the fourth IG to be fired over the past six weeks, joining Michael Atkinson (Intelligence), Christi Grimm (Health and Human Services), and Glenn Fine (Department of Defense).
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday agreed to a power-sharing deal with his challenger, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, after both declared victory in last September’s election. Under the terms of the agreement, Ghani will continue to serve as president, while Dr. Abdullah will be in charge of the interior ministry and eventual peace talks with the Taliban. Both men will elect an equal amount of ministers to the presidential cabinet.
More: The U.S. and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in late February for the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The deal was reached without input from the Afghan government.
Even More: In unrelated government news, Israel swore in its new government on Sunday after an unprecedented three general elections.
U.S. retail salesfell a record 16.4% from March to April according to the U.S. Commerce Department. (J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy on Friday, joining three other major retailers over the past two weeks).
The FDAissued an alert last Thursday saying there is early data to suggest that Abbott Labs’ rapid diagnostic test may be returning false negative results. Separately, the agency granted emergency clearance to Everlywell Inc. for its at-home nasal swab COVID-19 testing kit.
MGM Resorts is one of four casino operators (along with Caesar’s Palace, Wynn Resorts & The Venetian) to unveil reopening plans for its Las Vegas casinos once they are allowed to resume operations.
Nintendo reportedly sold more gaming console units in the month of April than any company in the past decade, per the Japanese company’s reported earnings earlier this month.
The CDC last Thursday posted six new one-page guidelines advising businesses, restaurants, schools, camps, child care centers, and mass transit systems on how to safely reopen.
New York-based private equity firm General Atlantic agreed to purchase a stake in Indian telecommunications and tech giant Jio Platforms on Sunday for $870 million. General Atlantic joins existing shareholders Facebook, Silver Lake, and Vista Equity, who invested a combined ~$8 billion in Jio over the past month.
More: Investors are reportedly betting on Jio’s access to India’s massive consumer market, as well as its potential to shake up the country’s traditional industries with technology.
Back In A Giphy
Facebook on Friday announced the purchase of animated-picture platform Giphy for ~$400 million, laying out plans to further integrate Giphy’s massive GIF library into Instagram and other FB-owned apps. Giphy is currently used by a long list of companies – including Slack, Twitter, and Apple’s iMessage – though it is unclear if FB’s acquisition will affect Giphy’s availability on other platforms.
Neither Snow Nor Rain… Nor COVID-19
Local high school graduates near Concord, NH, can be identified by the “2020 Grad” signs populating their front yards. When Josh Crowell, a USPS worker, noticed an abundance of these signs on his mail route, he felt inspired to impart a charitable twist of his own.
Josh began leaving $5 Dunkin’ gift cards in each graduate’s mailbox, along with a handwritten note of congratulations. So far, Josh has handed out at least 25 gift cards and keeps even more in reserve in case he spots a new “2020 Grad” sign on his route.
Meals On Wheels
Before the pandemic, Shalinder Singh of Detroit, MI volunteered weekly to help serve a community meal to more than 300 members at his gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship.
Since COVID-19 came to the U.S., Shalinder and his family have pivoted to providing quick and easy meals for their entire community. Since early April, the Singhs have paid for – and delivered – over 1,000 pizzas to various hospitals, fire stations, and police departments.
In The Same Boat
As the owner of the only grocery store on the remote Alaskan island of Gustavus, Toshua Parker has taken it upon himself to provide for the city’s 450 residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Each week for the past two months, Toshua and his staff have made the 14-hour round trip by boat to the state capital, Juneau, to ensure the town’s residents have access to fresh food and supplies.
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🌕 Ground Rules In Space… NASA established the Artemis Accords – 10 basic norms every country must agree to before their space agency can join NASA’s Artemis Program, which aims to put humans on the Moon as early as 2024.
✈️ In Plane Sight… the U.S. military launched its top-secret, solar-powered X-37B space plane into space on Sunday. Officials refused to disclose how long the craft will stay in orbit after its previous mission lasted a record two years.