Good morning. It can be easy to forget which day of the week it is after spending an extended amount of time at home due to quarantine. Taco Bell is doing its best to keep Americans up to date by designating today, March 31st, as nationwide ‘Taco Tuesday’ – each drive-thru customer will receive one free Doritos Locos taco as a reward for continued social distancing.
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”
– Robert H. Schuller
Senator Stock Sale Under Scrutiny
The Department of Justice has reportedly begun an inquiry into a series of stock sales by members of Congress and their affiliates ahead of a historic downturn in the market. First reported by CNN, the probe is in its early stages – so far, the FBI has only reached out to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC).
A deeper dive… ProPublica reported last Thursday that Senator Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million in stock on Feb. 13.
Burr’s Intelligence Committee reportedly received periodic briefings on the coronavirus in January and early February as it continued to spread. A source told CNN there were no briefings the week Burr made the sale.
Review Crew The 2012 STOCK Act explicitly bans lawmakers and their staff from using nonpublic information for financial gain, although currently there is no evidence that Burr’s stock moves violated any law. Burr last week called upon the Senate Ethics Committee to fully investigate his trades, and it is routine for the FBI (in coordination with the SEC) to review lawmakers’ stock trades when the public calls them into question.
But Wait, There’s More… Other senators disclosed stock sales leading up to the coronavirus-induced market crash. None of these lawmakers have reported being contacted by the FBI.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and her husband (the Chairman of the NYSE) sold between $1.275 million and $3.1 million in stock over 20 days beginning Jan. 24 – the same day the Senate was briefed on COVID-19 by health officials in a closed-door meeting. The couple also purchased $450,000 to $1 million in a work-from-home software company that has since gained more than 15%.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) also disclosed stock selloffs (~$6M and ~$400k respectively) in the weeks following the Jan. 24 closed-door Senate meeting, but both senators have said they were not present at the briefing.
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Global cases rose above 785,000 yesterday with more than 37,800 deaths. The number of confirmed U.S. cases rose to more than 164,000 with 3,164 confirmed deaths.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) became the first member of New York’s congressional delegation to test positive for the virus.
The 2020 Olympic Summer Games have been rescheduled to take place from July 23- August 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Prince Charles is now out of self-isolation after spending seven days in self-quarantine following a positive coronavirus test result and mild symptoms.
A Tampa megachurch pastor was arrested after up to 500 people attended his Sunday service despite a county-wide ‘stay at home’ order.
The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived at New York Harbor on Monday to assist NYC’s overwhelmed health care system (video).
Several more U.S. locations (including Washington, D.C.) issued stay-at-home orders to their residents, bringing the total number of states up to 30.
Missile Strikes Target Yemen Capital
A Saudi-UAE coalition reportedly carried out more than a dozen missile strikes against Houthi rebels located in Sanaa – the capital of Yemen – on Monday, with no reported casualties. The airstrikes were in retaliation for two Houthi missiles launched Saturday that were intercepted by Saudi Arabia.
More: Saudi’s ambassador to Yemen on Monday invited Houthi representatives to meet with Yemeni government officials in peace talks despite the escalating violence.
Several members of the Islamic State reportedly escaped jail in Northern Syria after provoking a prison riot and temporarily overwhelming the guards. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported four missing prisoners (whom they said were all later captured), while Syrian state media put the number at twelve.
U.S. stock indexes rose about 3.5% Monday, with futures for Tuesday trending slightly up.
Oil prices fell 6% to reach their lowest point since 2002, trading under $20 per barrel for portions of the day.
Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Gap are furloughing a majority of their combined 376,000 employees and providing health benefits at least through May.
Delivery and supermarket employees at Amazon, Whole Foods, and Instacart have held/are planning to hold strikes to call for hazard pay during the pandemic.
Economists at the Fed’s St. Louis branch on Monday projected the total number of unemployed persons in the U.S. could reach 47 million, translating to a ~32% unemployment rate.
Airbnb announced Monday that guests who booked a trip prior to March 14 that was scheduled to begin on or before May 31 will receive a full refund, with Airbnb paying hosts 25% of the normal cancellation fees.
Microsoft’s Major Monday
Microsoft announced a new subscription service, called Microsoft 365, that will replace their current Office 365 suite of products. Beginning April 21, the new service will offer additional functionality to Office 365, with features such as a Family Safety App and Teams for consumers to be unveiled later this year.
Guess Who’s Back…
HQ Trivia on Sunday night broadcast its first live show in over a month after the company had previously announced it was shuttering operations mid-February. According to the WSJ, the live-trivia mobile app was provided emergency funding by a benefactor who wished to remain anonymous.
For those of us looking to watch something other than The Office for the third (or tenth) time, John Krasinski has teamed up with Steve Carrell to put a new positive-themed show on the air.
The SomeGoodNews YouTube channel, operated by Krasinski, is a news show dedicated entirely to good news – check out their first episode featuring user-submitted stories and a five-minute interview with Carrell.
When four-year-old Evelyn ‘Vadie’ Sides wandered away from her nanny into the Alabama woods last week, her family was devastated. They searched frantically, but Vadie – along with Lucy, the family hound dog – could not be found.
Two days later, a local rescue team came across the young girl after hearing Lucy’s barks and following them to the source. Vadie was found safe and sound (WRBL reports she acted “like it was no big deal”), while her family was overjoyed to be reunited once again.
Crocs Knocks Their Socks Off
While not often a stylistic choice, comfortable Crocs brand shoes are a favorite among health care workers, who often have to spend entire shifts on their feet.
Crocs has pledged to donate a pair of shoes to every doctor, nurse, or other medical staff in the U.S. who are on the front lines fighting against coronavirus – their recently launched program will donate up to 10,000 free shoes per day.
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🎨 Grand Theft Art-o… art thieves have stolen a Vincent Van Gogh painting of unknown value – called “Parish Garden in Nuenen, Spring” – from a Dutch museum early Monday morning.
🎥 Mr. Quarantino… during his extended time confined at home, director Quentin Tarantino has published nine comprehensive reviews of classic shows and movies (including Gunsmoke) – you can check them out here.
📜 Going To Plan V… a team of scientists at MIT has developed and posted free plans online for an emergency ventilator that can be built using about $100 worth of parts.
📱 Hack N’ Track… a whistleblower has accused the Saudi government of tracking its citizens overseas in the U.S. by exploiting network flaws the FCC has reportedly failed to fix for years.
the DONUT’s Dibs
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Who was the first and only U.S. president with a Ph.D.?
A) Barack Obama B) Warren G. Harding C) Gerald Ford D) Woodrow Wilson
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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