Happy Friday. We’d like to extend an apology for sending out the incorrect date on yesterday’s email, as well as a big thank you to our eagle-eyed subscribers who pointed it out. These days are really all starting to blend together…
You can rest assured that today is, in fact, Friday, April 24th. Have a great weekend y’all.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday published the World Press Freedom Index 2020, which ranks 180 countries and territories on their media independence and transparency. This year’s rankings were heavily influenced by each country’s handling of the media during the coronavirus crisis, with several nations losing points for their suppression of media freedom.
China: Ranked 177th China is notorious for the most extensive internet censorship in the world, which the country has leaned on heavily in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a Human Rights Watchreport, China has been detaining people who posted about a mysterious pneumonia-like illness since early January.
Their official reported numbers have also been called into question – a study published Tuesday in The Lancet estimated that, by Feb 20, total Chinese cases were likely more than four times higher than official figures.
Iran: Ranked 173rd In late February, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern that Iran was withholding the true extent of the virus’s impact.
Media outlets were reportedly warned, under threat of arrest, not to publish statistics other than government figures.
An April 15 report from Iran’s parliament said the country’s death toll is likely twice as high as the official total.
Russia: Ranked 149th In November 2019, Russia’s “sovereign internet” law came into effect, giving the government the power to block access to content that it sees as a security threat.
Earlier this month, Russia said it would start blocking access to “fake news” social media posts that criticize the quarantine measures undertaken by the city of Moscow.
Health officials have warned that Russia’s testing capacity is hampered by bureaucracy, and the country’s true number of cases is much higher than reported.
Philippines: Ranked 136th The Human Rights Watch has documented several instances of Philippine authorities arresting citizens for posts on social media that the government deems “fake news,” including one prominent screenwriter who was arrested and detained without a warrant after posting on Facebook.
Journalistsexpressed outrage in March after the government required all media members to apply for a limited number of passes to exempt them from lockdown.
Hungary: Ranked 89th The Hungarian parliament approved a bill in late March allowing Prime Minister Viktor Orban to rule the country by decree, meaning he does not need to consult with other lawmakers to make decisions.
Many rights activists have questioned the move, since there is not a specific deadline for when Orban’s powers will be removed – rather, it is up to his discretion.
A jail term of up to five years for spreading false information about the virus is also outlined in the bill.
So… what are people saying?
Don’t let free speech be a casualty of coronavirus. We need it more than ever
Questions about the rating system we use? Learn more
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Global cases rose to nearly 2.72 million yesterday with more than 190,600 deaths. The number of confirmed U.S. cases rose to more than 880,200 with 49,845 confirmed deaths.
Members of the House reconvened in Washington yesterday and voted to pass the $484 billion interim coronavirus relief bill, which President Trump is expected to sign shortly.
Gilead’s hopeful coronavirus drug, remdesivir, failed to have an effect on patients in a human study in China. The company said the study didn’t provide a statistically significant enough sample size and was stopped early due to lack of patients.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomosaid an estimated 13.9% of the state’s residents have likely had the virus, according to preliminary antibody testing results.
A former HHS director will reportedly file a whistleblower complaint alleging he was fired from his position for resistance to promoting a drug treatment touted by President Trump.
Africa has seen a 43% increase in cases over the past week, with the director of the African CDC saying the numbers are likely much higher due to lack of testing.
A suburb in Connecticut is reportedly testing a police “pandemic drone” equipped with a speaker that allows for verbal warnings to citizens who violate social distancing.
Warships Gather In South China Sea
Malaysia on Thursday called for a peaceful resolution to the growing stand-off between Chinese, Malaysian, and Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea. Earlier this week, warships from the U.S., China, and Australia joined to monitor the dispute, which is centered around control of the oil-rich body of water.
Severe storms continued to sweep across much of the Southern U.S. on Thursday, with scattered reports of tornadoes damaging buildings and causing minor injuries. On Wednesday, at least seven people were killed in a system of storms and tornadoes that struck Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
More: This week’s weather follows a tornado outbreak last Monday that left 30 people dead across five Southern states.
4.4 million Americansfiled for unemployment last week per the Labor Department, bringing the total to a record 26 million over the past five weeks.
Ruth’s Chris on Thursday said it will repay the $20 million loan it received from the PPP. The Treasury Department has requested all publicly traded companies repay loans received from the PPP by May 7.
Tyson Foods on Thursday closed a beef plant in Washington state, bringing national meatpacking plant closures up to 12. About 10% of all U.S. beef production and 25% of pork production has now been halted.
Zoom yesterday announced their number of daily users has grown by 50% (from 200M to 300M) over the past month.
Instacart will hire 250,000 additional shoppers to meet rising consumer demand and help adhere to the company’s “one-hour and same-day delivery” policy.
Pants On Fire
According to a WSJ investigation, some Amazon executives used data on individual third-party sellers to develop and sell competing products under the company brand. These findings directly contradict testimony one executive gave to Congress last July.
More: Amazon general counsel in July told Congress: “We don’t use individual seller data directly to compete” with businesses on its platform.
Who Goes There?
Google on Thursday announced it will begin a policy of requiring all advertisers to verify their identities before being able to purchase ads through its Display & Video 360 software. Google’s ad business is the largest in the world, bringing in nearly $135 billion last year.
More: According to CNBC, Google is planning to slash its marketing budget by as much as half and institute hiring freezes for both full-time and contract workers.
Even More: In other digital advertising news, Facebook has removed “pseudoscience” from the list of categories advertisers can use to target people.
Run, Ernie, Run!
World War II veteran Ernie Andrus is not your typical 96-year-old. Nearly a decade ago, Ernie heard about a UK man who ran across every single country, which inspired him to begin a journey of his own.
At 93, Ernie completed his first three-year trip running across America – from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Fast forward to today and the nonagenarian has committed to yet another coast-to-coast journey to raise money to restore his old WWII battleship.
As an Afghan refugee, Nemat Azizi of Bellevue, Nebraska knows that life can be tough sometimes. As an insurance agent, Nemat also feels a sense of duty to help out those in his community who are struggling to make ends meet.
Nemat got the ball rolling with a personal donation of $500, then reached out to local businesses and nonprofits to prompt them to donate as well. To date, Nemat has given out hundreds of free food vouchers – each worth $150 – to Bellevue families in need.
Play It By Ear
At 12 years old, Quin Callander of British Columbia, Canada is not the type of person you’d expect to be making a difference on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.
Quin was inspired to begin 3D printing plastic “ear guards” after a family friend who works at a hospital showed off the marks behind her ears due to the elastic straps on her face mask. Since then, Quin has created and distributed hundreds of ear guards to hospitals across the world.
What is art?
Per Wikipedia, art is “the expression of imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.”
And that describes Steve Tate’s work perfectly Twenty years of experience with paints and applications gives his work a sophistication and elegance that is unparalleled. The end result? A relationship of thoughts, feelings, and emotion on canvas.
🏈 Draft Day… the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft was held online last night for the first time in history – check out a recap of all 30 picks here. The second and third rounds of the draft will take place today starting at 7 pm ET.
🎮 Put Me In, Coach… in the midst of the coronavirus-induced lockdowns, learn how the video-game coaching industry – already worth $1 billion annually – is only increasing in popularity.
🤝 You’re Hired… some small businesses whose loan applications were granted found their employees dismayed to be ‘rehired,’ since their paychecks pay less than unemployment benefits.
💣 Bombs Away… one of the oldest known recorded uses of the ‘F-bomb’ was discovered in a 16th century Scottish manuscript, which was written while on lockdown due to a plague.
Out Of This World
What was the first planet to be visited by spacecraft?
A) Mercury B) Mars C) Venus D) Jupiter
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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NASA’s Mariner 2 space probe became the first craft to fly by Venus in Dec. 1962. Eight years later, the Soviet Union’s Venera 7 spacecraft became the first to transmit data from Venus’ surface in Dec. 1970.