Good morning. While many people are disappointed to be stuck inside their homes for the near future, pets around the world are thrilled to be spending some extended time with their owners. Rolo, a 7-year-old dachshund from the UK, was so excited to have constant companionship that he ended up spraining his tail from wagging it too much.
“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”
– Duke Ellington
Congress Confronts COVID-19
The Senate voted to approve a more than $2 trillion emergency coronavirus stimulus bill late Wednesday night. The Senate had been set to vote on the bill Wednesday morning, but objections from rank-and-file members delayed the vote until nearly midnight. The bill still needs the House’s approval before landing on President Trump’s desk, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated a desire to pass the bill in the House via unanimous consent.
Let’s Get Down To Business The bill will allocate $877 billion towards businesses affected by the pandemic, with strong incentives towards companies that retain employees through the crisis.
Small Businesses (500 employees or less) will receive $377 billion largely in the form of forgivable loans in order to keep paychecks flowing to employees.
Big Businesses (500+ employees) distressed by the pandemic will receive $500 billion in guaranteed, subsidized loans to be distributed with oversight from a Treasury Department inspector general.
Show Me The Money The bill provides roughly $300 billion in the form of a one-time cash payment directly to Americans:
Taxpayers who earned less than $75,000 on their 2019 tax return (or 2018 if not yet filed) will receive $1,200 each.
Payments will be gradually phased out for individuals with an income between $75k and $99k. Those with an income above $99k do not receive any payment.
Those with dependents will receive $500 per child.
Last But Not Least… The remaining money will be spent on state and federal programs in dire need of funds.
Public Health Providers including hospitals, the CDC, child nutrition programs, food stamps, and transportation agencies will receive $242 billion.
Unemployment Benefits for each state will be supplemented by an additional $600 per week for up to four months (a point of partisan contention).
State & Local Governments will get $150 billion to fight the virus, with tribal governments receiving $8 billion.
More than 500,000 volunteers have signed up to assist the UK’s National Health Service in helping vulnerable people told not to leave their homes.
Turkey Indicts Saudis In Jamaal Khashoggi Murder
Turkish prosecutors formally charged 20 Saudi citizens with the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamaal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Saudi Arabia has rejected calls for the accused individuals to return to Turkey in order to stand trial.
More: Last December, a top-secret Saudi court sentenced 5 people to death over Khashoggi’s murder, a ruling which exonerated more senior members of the kingdom.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued an order to halt all U.S. military travel and movement abroad for up to 60 days, with the exception of U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The U.S. has said it remains committed to the terms of last month’s Taliban peace deal, which stipulates that the U.S. reduces its troop count in the country to 8,600 within 135 days.
More: The move comes as the U.S. pledged to withdraw $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan after Monday’s surprise diplomatic visit from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was largely unsuccessful.
Grocery delivery service Instacart announced plans to hire 300,000 workers over the next three months.
U.S. stock index performance varied on Wednesday (Dow +2.4%, Nasdaq -0.5%, S&P +1.2%) following Tuesday’s historic gains.
Aetna is waiving all copays and other out-of-pocket expenses for people hospitalized due to coronavirus.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the company has sourced and donated 10 million face masks to the U.S. medical community.
McDonald’s said it will be pulling its all-day breakfast menu in an attempt to simplify operations.
Not So Broadband
According to broadband analysis site Broadband Now, 88 out of the top 200 most populous U.S. cities have seen a significant decrease in download speeds in recent weeks. The analysis found that areas most affected by the virus were not necessarily experiencing the worst connectivity problems – cities such as LA, Chicago, and San Francisco have seen little or no disruption in service.
(Web) Surfin’ Safari
Apple on Tuesday released a major privacy update to its popular Safari web browser. With the new features enabled, Safari will now block all third-party cookies by default. Earlier this year, Google promised a similar update to its Chrome browser but said it would not be fully implemented for another two years.
On A Roll
YouTubers Justin Stuart and Andrew Scites were up to their usual antics when they bought $5,000 worth of toilet paper last October to build a giant fort. When the coronavirus crisis hit, the pair saw the drastic shortages of TP and knew they could make a difference.
Andrew and Justin first stopped by several senior living homes to make sure they were stocked up, then proceeded to hand out rolls for free at local grocery store parking lots to employees and shoppers alike.
Bad Boys, Bad Boys
Spain has been one of the countries hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, leading the government to issue an indefinite country-wide lockdown.
In a heartwarming display captured on video, the local police of Algaida, Majorca surprised a neighborhood on lockdown with an impromptu sing-along complete with musical accompaniment.
With all of the shortages created by the coronavirus pandemic, New York City has reported one of the more unique virus-created scarcities – adoptable shelter pets.
Animal organizations around the greater NYC area are reporting the shelters they work with are either nearly or entirely out of cats and dogs available for people to foster or adopt after a recent surge in applicants.
The Fitness High
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4️⃣ Fantastic Four… the Spanish government has invested in four AI-powered robots they plan on using to increase their virus testing capabilities from 20,000 to 80,000 people per day.
📷 Picture This… National Geographic documents a world put on hold by coronavirus through a gallery of photos taken from around the globe.
✔️ Kept In Check… in the face of a seemingly-never ending amount of coronavirus misinformation, fact-checking website Snopes has been forced to scale back its content to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
💡 Let There Be Light… a team of international researchers discovered a new approach to trapping light in specialized crystals that could have a ‘significant impact’ on improving the speed of online data transfer.
the DONUT’s Dibs
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