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Disney movie actress dies of a brain tumor at 15

Ugandan actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa died this weekend following a brain tumor. She starred in the 2016 Disney film "Queen of Katwe."
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Woman suffers fatal heart attack at funeral for mom who died of coronavirus
A 32-year-old British woman suffered a fatal heart attack while attending the funeral for her coronavirus-stricken mother, according to a report. Laura Richards, 32, began experiencing chest pains Tuesday while her mother, Julie Murphy, 63, was being buried at Atherstone Cemetery in Warwickshire, according to The Sun. Richards’ sister Lisa Green said she, her husband...
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nypost.com
Feds release photos that Lori Loughlin used to scam her daughters into USC
Federal prosecutors have released the photos they say helped Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli scam their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, into USC.
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nypost.com
Dr. Fauci: Antibody tests are coming soon
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with CNN's Alisyn Camerota about the potential for antibody coronavirus testing, as well as opening the US back up.
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edition.cnn.com
A Son In Wuhan Wants A Moment Alone With His Father's Remains. The Government Says No
Zhang Hai's father died of the coronavirus on Feb. 1 and was cremated. Ashes can now be picked up but the government requires a chaperone for visits to the crematorium as well as for burials.
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npr.org
Coronabonds and Cancellation of Nazi-Era War Debts Fuel Debate Around $540B EU Pandemic Relief Deal
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned that divisions revealed in the negotiations may spell the end of cooperation among eurozone countries.
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newsweek.com
'Modern Family' star talks about potential spin-offs
"Modern Family" star Ty Burrell talks about potential spin-offs with characters Mitch and Cam or Haley and Dylan now that the series is over.
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edition.cnn.com
99-year-old WWII veteran who survived coronavirus gets guard of honor from nurses
Albert Chambers, 99, was given a guard of honor by nurses as he was discharged from hospital in Doncaster, northern England.
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edition.cnn.com
99-year-old WWII veteran who survived coronavirus gets guard of honor from nurses
A 99-year-old World War II veteran who survived the coronavirus has been given a guard of honor by nurses as he was discharged from hospital.
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edition.cnn.com
Europe has a rescue package. But who's going to pay for its coronavirus recovery?
EU finance ministers have approved €500 billion in stimulus measures designed to cushion the blow to their economies from the coronavirus pandemic, while leaving open the difficult question of how to pay for the region's recovery.
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edition.cnn.com
Philadelphia black communities hit hard by coronavirus pandemic
Philadelphia health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley shared new data Thursday that said African Americans are the most at-risk for COVID-19 as the city raised alarm bells over its mounting virus cases. The White House said the city could be a new pandemic hot spot, and city leaders are working to flatten the curve disproportionately affecting minority neighborhoods. Errol Barnett speaks to city and community leaders about the disturbing trend and how they are looking to overcome it.
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cbsnews.com
Doctor explains need for widespread virus testing infrastructure
President Trump said in a Thursday press conference that widespread coronavirus testing may not be necessary. That goes against the word of health experts who say adequate testing infrastructure is critical to researching the disease and making informed decisions on how to mitigate the virus' spread. Dr. David Agus joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss why testing is critical and what valuable data can be learned.
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cbsnews.com
Cowboys stars Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence giving back to community amid coronavirus pandemic
Dallas Cowboys stars Ezekiel Elliott and Demarcus Lawrence announced this week they were trying to provide some relief to Texas communities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
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foxnews.com
Day 30 without sports
What have we missed during a month without sports? And what kind of impact will the shutdown have on the future of the games we love?       
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usatoday.com
Max Lucado: Coronavirus can’t cancel Easter – nothing can, even when churches are closed
Church buildings will be vacant this Sunday. That is true. But since the tomb of Christ is vacant, Easter cannot be canceled. Ever.
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foxnews.com
Nailed It! Is the Radically Kind Show to Cure What Ails You
The Netflix baking competition sets contestants up for failure, and then embraces it.
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slate.com
Coronavirus is not just a tragedy. It’s an opportunity to build a better world.
Nekima Levy Armstrong helped pass out masks to residents of Minneapolis on April 8. | Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images “Coronavirus is a great moral drama taking place before our eyes. And the script has not yet been written.” “Epidemic diseases are not random events that afflict societies capriciously and without warning,” writes Yale historian Frank Snowden. “On the contrary, every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand that society’s structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities.” Today’s tragedy can be, sometimes, tomorrow’s possibility. According to Snowden, pandemics don’t only reflect a society’s existing vulnerabilities — they present an unprecedented opportunity for transformational change. In his new book, Epidemics and Society, Snowden explores how infectious diseases across time have altered the outcomes of wars, inspired political reform, demolished revolutions, transformed entire societies’ relationships with God, and fundamentally changed the course of human history. According to Snowden, we face a “fork in the road” as a species. We could either use coronavirus as a justification to retreat into xenophobia, ethnonationalism, and tribalism — as we’ve already seen in many places; or we could use it as an opportunity to build a better, more just world. Epidemic diseases throughout history have prompted both sets of responses, but the history of this moment is not yet written. How we respond to coronavirus will be one of the most important choices of our lifetimes. I spoke with Snowden by phone. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. Roge Karma Something you discuss in the book is that epidemic diseases, whether it’s bubonic plague or smallpox or Ebola, do not afflict societies in completely random ways. If the impact of epidemic diseases isn’t random, what factors explain how they impact societies? Frank Snowden The world of microbes is populated with an infinite number of species, all of which are in constant evolution. Each has its own qualities and therefore can find environmental niches to exploit that are quite different. Societies get the diseases that they have created the channels and the pathways for. Epidemics tend to reach our greatest vulnerabilities and exploit them. Asiatic cholera of the 19th century is the classic disease of industrialization. Society at the time was rampantly, suddenly, and chaotically urbanizing. There is no sanitation. The air is filled with foul odors. There are no sewers or toilets or guaranteed clean water. It’s in that kind of environment that a disease transmitted through the contamination of food and water with human fecal matter is able to flourish. And that’s what typhoid and Asiatic cholera were at the time. Today, in New York or in Rome or London, we don’t need to fear Asiatic cholera because we’ve had a sanitary revolution. We have sewer systems. We have water that’s pure and safe to drink. We have sanitary customs, we have paved streets, we have whitewashed buildings, we’ve got building codes. So we’re not vulnerable to that kind of disease. But that doesn’t mean that now we’re invincible — that bulwarks of civilization protect us against the natural world. Roge Karma What are the social conditions that made us vulnerable to coronavirus? Frank Snowden We’ve created a different kind of world — the world of globalization. That’s very different from the age of industrialization, and it creates different vulnerabilities. Globalization encompasses enormous population growth. We’re now approaching 8 billion people as a species, and that is accompanied by an enormous density of population. We also have a myth of infinite economic growth although the planet has finite resources. And that forms our relationship with the environment. We’re constantly invading and destroying great swaths of animal habitat. That brings us into contact with animals that we didn’t encounter very often in the past. Therefore, we are exposed to the infinite reservoirs of microbes that they carry and there is a spillover of diseases we never encountered before. Avian flu is a spillover from wild fowl. Ebola is a spillover from bats. MERS is the same story. And coronavirus today is once more a spillover via the wet markets in a place like Wuhan [the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak originated]. We’ve also created mass air travel — millions of people travel on a daily basis. So a disease that breaks out in Jakarta in the morning can easily begin its course in London or Paris or Mexico City in the evening. Those links make us enormously vulnerable to diseases that can travel on airplanes with us and then begin fresh in our overcrowded, teeming cities. Roge Karma I want to follow up on something you said there. Clearly, globalization has a lot to do with the spread of coronavirus. But I’m wondering if the problem is globalization itself, or if a deeper problem is the gap between the reality of globalization and the myths we still tell ourselves about national borders and nation-states being wholly separate entities. Right now, we don’t only have a more interconnected world; we have an interconnected world full of nationalist leaders who deny that interconnection. I wonder if that combination of a truly interconnected world and resurgent nationalism is part of what stops us from addressing global problems, like a pandemic, in a coordinated, global way. Frank Snowden I entirely agree. What is happening is not something that is ordained to happen: The ideas in people’s heads make an enormous difference. Just because we have these vulnerabilities in a globalized world doesn’t mean we have to succumb to them. There is a bright side to this story, which is that it is possible to manage this global world that we’ve created in ways that are different from those we have established. It’s true that the ideas in our heads haven’t yet caught up with the reality in which we live. You mention, for example, the idea of national boundaries. If there’s one thing that this pandemic seems to be teaching, it’s the eerie lack of reality of national borders. A disease transmitted by the air like coronavirus simply has no respect for borders — it has no respect for walls. I’m hoping that the Trumpian wall will not become the metaphor for our age because that will disarm us and make us much more vulnerable to different microbes or a resurgence of this one — all of which is more or less inevitable in our future. The most dangerous thing right now would be the triumph of the idea that the European Union should be dismantled. Coronavirus has shown that what we need is more collective action. The tragedy was not that Europe wasn’t divided into little pieces, but that it didn’t succeed in having a common response. This isn’t a disease that is affecting just part of the global world as we’re seeing now — it’s a disease of humanity. It’s going to involve everyone. And I think we need to have a consciousness that keeps up with the reality that we’re actually facing and proposes solutions that deal with the real problem. Denigrating entire ethnic groups takes us nowhere in terms of dealing with factual biological reality. Roge Karma I think what you’re getting at is that coronavirus seems to have brought us to a kind of global fork in the road. On the one hand, coronavirus could affirm the nationalist sentiment that we need a more closed world, that we need to build walls, that all of our forays into globalization were wrong. Or we could begin to recognize that a globalized world requires more global cooperation. On this point, there’s a line from the book that’s been stuck in my head ever since I read it: “One of the horrors of an epidemic of plague was that it broke the common bonds of humanity.” Is this the norm? Do epidemics tend to bring divided communities together under a banner of solidarity, or do they tend to further exacerbate existing divisions and break societies apart? Frank Snowden It’s a terrible worry. I use the analogy of epidemics as mirrors that reflect who we are back upon us. I find that helpful and also scary. It’s helpful because it does allow us to tease out what it is that we’re seeing in that mirror. It’s scary because it means that we see both our darker and our brighter selves. That does give us hope in one sense: Our destiny is what we are wise enough, collaborative enough, and willing enough to create. We have a choice here. You’re right that we’ve come to a fork in the road with coronavirus. We’re going to have a miserable, deadly period for some months now. But after that, we will have a chance to construct a better world that’s more scientific, more rational, more humane, more international. Or we can adopt pseudo-solutions that will condemn us to repeating this awful experience that we’re now going through. My hope is that our brighter selves will prevail. My fear is that there are many interested parties working day and night to make certain that we will have a more divided and hateful world. Right now, large sectors of the conservative right in our country reject the scientific explanations for Covid-19 and claim instead that this is something else — something foreign. That leads to violence and ethnic conflict. “Societies get the diseases that they have created the channels and the pathways for” Roge Karma What does it actually look like when our darker selves prevail? Frank Snowden In the era of the bubonic plague, as you mentioned, one sees this tension between pseudo-ideas and ideas that were a way forward. The pseudo-ideas included, once again, divisiveness, xenophobia, witch-hunting, blaming, finding a guilty party — the great “other” that we can attack. In Strasbourg, France, the citizens of Strasbourg rounded up the community of 200,000 Jews, brought them to the Jewish cemetery, and said that it was their religion that was leading them to poison the wells where Christians drank — and that was the source of the bubonic plague. They had either to renounce their religion or be killed on the spot. Half of the Jews held to their religion, and they were burned alive at that very moment, that very day. This is part of the violence or the divisiveness, the xenophobia that can emerge from a time of epidemic plague. The reason being that these are events that touch the depths of our psyches as human beings. They reach down and pose the questions of, what are we as mortals? What about our death? What about our bonds to our fellow human beings, to our families, our communities, our friends? What authority do we give to the political and sanitary officials who are dealing with this? All of these things are revealed by plagues and create enormous anxieties; therefore, they bring out these extraordinary responses. Either we can respond with immediate fear and anxiety or we can use our intelligence to see that if we’re going to survive, we’re each dependent on one another and we have to figure scientifically, how does this work? What are its mechanisms? That seems to me the opportunity offered by each pandemic. The history of epidemic diseases is not all doom and despair because people haven’t always chosen to go down the wrong fork. Although there have been these outbursts of horrors during times of pandemics, it’s the history of pandemic that has left enormous positive [impact]. Modern public health is something that was developed during the centuries of bubonic plague, and we’re still dependent on it today. It’s saving our lives as we speak. The potential for progress is really there. But it’s a choice that we have before us. We’re at a fork in the road. Where will we go? Coronavirus is a great moral drama that’s taking place right before our eyes. And the script has not yet been written. Roge Karma What does it look like when we choose to write that script in a positive way? Could you talk about a society that, when faced with a horrible epidemic, chose their better selves? Frank Snowden A powerful example is the sanitary movement of the 19th century, which was a real attempt to deal with the extraordinary mortality of the age of the Industrial Revolution. At the time, people in London or Manchester or Paris or Naples or New York were living in enormous, unplanned, filthy, overcrowded urban centers. There was the [emergence] of the idea that this didn’t need to result in mass death and disability, that something could be done about it. Top medical doctors started thinking about correlations between the patients they saw and the social conditions in which they lived. They began with the idea of “social medicine”: that medicine was not just about individuals, [but] also the social factors that caused the illness. This idea was channeled by the sanitary movement. They set up enormous investigation into how people live throughout Britain. Physicians went to every community and wrote back about what the exact conditions were in the places they inhabited. You had a central board of health that put it together and developed an enormous series of ways to reform this chaotic and unplanned society. Just imagine the scale of this project. It meant retrofitting every place in Britain with sewers, with clean water, with clean houses, regulated houses. For the first time, we see the state insisting on sanitary rules, on building codes, on maximum occupation requirements. It took two-thirds of a century to carry out at enormous cost. And I would argue it saved millions of lives in Britain in the 19th century. People in Britain became much healthier. And so astonishing was this example, this way of thinking about disease, that it was taken up in France. And then it spreads to Belgium and the Netherlands and United States and Italy. This was an amazing moment to which we owe broad boulevards, urban parks, all kinds of aspects of the world in which we live. I think this was our brighter angels. And it was the reaction to the legacy that was created by typhoid and cholera. Roge Karma When these European societies faced this fork in the road, I’m curious about what factors make the difference between choosing their better or worse selves. Was it leadership from the top? Was it demand from below? What was it that made the difference? Frank Snowden It needed not only cooperation from below but leadership from the top. One of the legacies of these epidemic diseases has been the molding of the modern state. Epidemic diseases required health authorities. They required great taxation. They required legislative authorities. They required administrative census data. They required hospitals. They required a navy to quarantine ships. They required police powers to quarantine people by land. We see this in the political thought at the time through the writings of people like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, the founders of modern liberalism. They argued that life was nasty, brutish, and short, as indeed it was during the time of plague, and that you needed to create an authority to make people safe. The sanitary movement helped sculpt a modern state with enormous new powers that could be used in beneficent ways. Of course, power has its own problems — it can have negative results. But we can’t survive without political power, without states, and without sanitary authorities. They’re part of our survival kit. And I think the coronavirus shows how quickly life could once again become nasty, brutish, and short without them. Roge Karma That’s interesting because a core part of our national mythos in the United States since the 1980s has been the idea that government is the problem. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton, a Democrat, got up and pronounced that “the era of big government is over.” I’ve been thinking of those words a lot today in the wake of coronavirus as the death counts continue to rise exponentially, as states bet against one another for health care resources, as we still lack a federally coordinated plan for addressing the epidemic. If anything is going to shatter that anti-government paradigm, maybe it is a global pandemic of this scale. Frank Snowden I think there is a libertarian streak in the US that’s having catastrophic effects on health. The United States had no national plan. It had refused to listen to the scientists who said that a new pandemic was an inevitability in our future. It trimmed the national government’s health budgets. So our coronavirus response has resembled the cacophonous noise that comes from a symphony with no director — in which every instrument player decides to make his own different music. The national government says one thing. Governors in states say another. The CDC says a third thing. Municipal governments have their own sound. School boards intervene in ways that are their own. It’s mayhem and pandemonium. We tend not to realize just how much we need the state until it abdicates its responsibility to keep us safe. Now, we’ve seen that. This administration’s response has been like going back to the pre-Hobbesian days of the war of all against all. I think the lack of preparedness is the great tragedy that we’re experiencing today. And that’s not just about having more ventilators, although that’s included. It really is about our minds, our hearts, and our intellects. Change has to begin there. If we try to dismantle the World Health Organization and put walls up, I think we’ll find that when the next disease comes, we could experience an even greater catastrophe than this one. Roge Karma What should we do? What does the road map after coronavirus look like? Frank Snowden We need a huge rethinking collectively, not by any single person. If anyone presents you with a blueprint saying “I know the answer,” I think we should all run as fast as we can from that person. That’s not what I’m thinking. I’m thinking we need to put our heads together collectively and devise a society that works in a different way: [one] that is prepared, that rethinks our relationship with climate, with our great cities, and rethinks this myth that we can grow infinitely in our numbers and in our economic systems until there’s only standing room and nothing but smog to breathe. That’s a mammoth collective project. It’s not doom and gloom, though. I think this actually holds its excitement — it’s inspiring. We can build a different world, a better world, a world where our grandchildren can live better. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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vox.com
UFC 249 postponed indefinitely after Dana White told to 'stand down'
The highly-anticipated UFC 249 will not happen on April 18 as previously scheduled after UFC president Dana White said he was told to "stand down."
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edition.cnn.com
Thailand's most popular island goes into lockdown as Covid-19 cases surge
Kritchai Rojanapornsatit has lived in Phuket for most of his life.
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edition.cnn.com
The week in pictures, April 4 - April 10
Here's a selection of some of the most poignant images in the past seven days, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world.
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foxnews.com
Kudlow says senators should be 'significantly punished' if they engaged in insider trading
Kudlow said on a tele-town hall hosted by Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., that if any of senators are found guilty, the justice system should come down hard on them.
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foxnews.com
OnPolitics: The 2020 presidential race is officially set
Sen. Bernie Sanders bowed out of the Democratic race, and now it's all Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump.       
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usatoday.com
Fear in salons and barber shops as Japan deems haircuts "essential"
"However scrupulous our sanitation, don't they understand we can't completely guard against infection?" said one nervous barber.
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cbsnews.com
Eye Opener: Health experts say virus pandemic curve is flattening
Health experts are hopeful that the coronavirus pandemic curve is flattening as less people are being admitted to hospitals in hard-hit areas, though they warn that it's critical to not let up on mitigation efforts. Also, New York has reported a record high number of coronavirus deaths and plans to bury unclaimed victims in a mass grave. All that and all that matters in today's Eye Opener. Your world in 90 seconds.
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cbsnews.com
U.S. prisons' virus-related release policies prompt confusion
‘It’s crazy how they’re doing this,’ one inmate’s spouse said.
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politico.com
Notre Dame Cathedral opens briefly for Good Friday ceremony
Amid a strict lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris rose from the ashes — albeit just briefly — Friday by opening to a tiny group of people for Easter. Only seven people were allowed inside the fire-ravaged landmark to attend a Good Friday ceremony. “This message of hope is especially...
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nypost.com
Ian Poulter 'sad' Masters not happening in spring
Ian Poulter, like many professional golfers this time of year, is missing the Masters.
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foxnews.com
Trump speaks of images he’s ‘never seen before.’ But they’ve existed — we just refused to look.
One early victim of the coronavirus is our old sense of safety.
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washingtonpost.com
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly sues GOP lawmakers for revoking her order limiting church gatherings
It's the latest chapter in the escalating conflict between public health and religion, coming to a head just before Easter.
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washingtonpost.com
Joe Burrow believes he can win wherever he goes: 'I'm not a loser'
All Joe Burrow is focused on is winning.
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foxnews.com
Aldon Smith details long journey that led him to Cowboys: 'I was in a really dark place'
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith detailed his journey back to the NFL on Thursday.
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foxnews.com
Fact check: Trump lies about voter fraud while states
President Donald Trump this week opened a new front in his campaign of lies about voter fraud in US elections, this time falsely claiming that voting-by-mail is "corrupt" and "dangerous," even while states embrace it as a safe alternative during the pandemic.
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edition.cnn.com
Coronavirus live updates: No travel for Good Friday, Easter; when are stimulus checks coming?; Boris Johnson needs to 'rest up'
New York reported record-breaking number of deaths, travelers are being cautioned to stay home for Good Friday, and more news about the coronavirus.       
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usatoday.com
'Fortnite' Now Playing Lobby Streams Free 'Punk'd' Episodes Every Hour
"Fortnite '' has a new Now Playing lobby streaming episodes of "Punk'd." Here's what we know about it.
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newsweek.com
Cities and states launch emergency rent relief programs
State and city governments have started announcing efforts to funnel millions of dollars into new rental assistance programs aimed at dealing with unpaid rent amid the economic downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
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edition.cnn.com
Jameis Winston responds to criticism over workout: 'Reach out to help or mind your own business'
NFL quarterback Jameis Winston struck back at criticism over his training while he attempts to latch onto a team for the 2020 season.
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foxnews.com
How Colleges Are Grading Students During Coronavirus
As colleges shift to online classes, many schools are beginning to reevaluate how they grade students. One common option: going pass-fail.
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npr.org
Miss England 2019 is reporting for hospital duty. She’s a respiratory specialist.
Bhasha Mukherjee, 24, packed up her crown and gowns and flew home to Britain, where she is now in quarantine until early next week, when she reports to the hospital for work.
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washingtonpost.com
In Oaxaca, this scientist is a hometown boy made good. The U.S. says he's a Russian spy
Héctor Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, an acclaimed microbiologist from southern Mexico, is charged in the U.S. with gathering information for Russia on a secret informant.
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latimes.com
Andrew McCarthy: Coronavirus stimulus watchdog – Trump's call to make, despite media shrieking
Another media non-story shows the double standard of presidential appointments for Republicans vs. Democrats.
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foxnews.com
We can't shelter in place forever: How the coronavirus lockdown might end
The coronavirus changed our lives. Health experts discuss how we might get back to normal.
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latimes.com
Marvel at These 10 Freaks of Nature
The world is filled with unique, breathtaking natural wonders—from boiling craters to caves full of luminescent glowworms. These 10 sites are a great place to start when looking for hope in some of Mother Nature's greatest offerings.
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newsweek.com
States do battle for coronavirus protective gear in a market driven by chaos and fear
Left to fend for themselves, states and cities scramble to buy masks, other medical supplies from middlemen and foreign manufacturers they barely know.
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latimes.com
CBS poll: Americans fear outbreak will leave U.S. in recession
But those most concerned about losing work, including those who already have, are the most likely to say the U.S. is headed for a recession, or even depression.
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cbsnews.com
The coronavirus may trigger tribal instincts. In times of crisis, people want strong leaders.
The pandemic might lead to increased xenophobia.
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washingtonpost.com
CBS poll: Views of Trump's handling of outbreak slip again
He has comparably better marks for his handling of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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cbsnews.com
Help! I Pretended My Wedding Ring Was a Family Heirloom. Now My Stepson Wants to Propose With It.
It’s actually from a pawn shop.
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slate.com
Travel bailouts: Airlines, hotels and travel agents all got them. Shouldn't the public?
The travel industry can't just pick up where it left off when the outbreak started. Customers deserve to be treated with respect, now more than ever.       
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usatoday.com
Uber drivers have fewer passengers — and face greater risks — than ever
Uber drivers are still on the road, but passengers are few and far between. | Getty Images/iStockphoto One West Virginia Uber driver describes the effect of the coronavirus on his business. In the past month, a huge number of typical Uber destinations have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Bars, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters are all shuttered, offices and commercial districts are in stasis, and citizens have canceled the housewarmings and birthday parties on their calendars. The whole country has lurched into inaction to try to flatten the curve, and that leaves a ride-share driver like Johnathan, 36, with a rapidly deteriorating customer base. He’s not sure where to turn next. Johnathan lives in West Virginia, the last state in the US that confirmed a coronavirus case, but his usual beat in Morgantown has slowed to a trickle. College towns are full of kids who rely on Uber to get around — there have been Fridays and Saturdays where Johnathan has netted four figures — but now, he’s lucky to crack $100 after a shift. The whole dynamic of the industry has changed; Johnathan hardly ever speaks to his riders now because he wants to limit their interaction as much as possible. It only takes one unlucky trip to get him sick. Johnathan expects that in the near future, he probably won’t be driving for Uber anymore. (Already, he’s started to explore other app-based contract work, like Instacart.) The economics were never great for him anyway, and he’s been unimpressed with the contingency plans offered by Uber corporate. This is a reality of so many gig contractors, who have an employment experience that flies under the radar of the emergency stimulus packages parachuted in by Congress. The CARES Act that passed on March 27 contained language allowing gig employees access to unemployment benefits, but states have reported that it may take “weeks” to set up that infrastructure for the country’s Uber drivers. Read our conversation below. When did you start noticing coronavirus having an effect on your job? It really became apparent two weeks ago, when the stock market started crashing, and as the sports leagues started closing. That’s when it became apparent and became a conversation with all the riders. Initially, we still had plenty of riders. I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, which is a college town, so it was very similar to that scene in Florida. There was this humongous party happening right before spring break. So have you noticed a slowdown with your clientele? “I expected to make at least $1,000 on St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, I only did $150.” I have noticed it, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. There was nobody going out at all. Normally, St. Patrick’s Day is one of my busiest days. My first year doing it I made $1,200 over a weekend. I expected to make at least $1,000 this year. Instead, I only did $150. Are people going to the same places when they call you up? Or has that changed? There are still people going to bars and restaurants, there were still a few that were open, though they’re now all closed on orders from the health department [on March 18]. It’s one of those things that people can’t quite believe. It’s incredible that it’s happening. I used to get a lot of people who are going to work, and there’s a lot less of that. It’s just a huge reduction. Are you worried about getting sick? Yes. It put a chill on the interactions with the customers. I talk a lot less. Just because I know it can be spread by opening your mouth, or through your mouth. I had a rider coughing the other day, and that made me freeze up a bit. I wipe down my car a lot more, I use a portable vacuum. It’s just this chilling effect. So the whole dynamic of being a ride-share driver has changed, you don’t even feel comfortable talking to your customers now? Yeah, that brings to mind one thing. I’m Asian, and one guy did have a negative thing to say. He was drunk, he asked me where I’m from, and my family is from Taiwan. He said, like, “Are any of your family coming over here?” I said no. He said, “If any of them come over I’m going to shoot them and send you the pictures.” I didn’t take it seriously. I gave him a two-star rating. It’s not a big deal, but it’s something that you remember. Do you expect the ride-share demand to continue to go down? I think that when summer comes around, people aren’t going to be able to tolerate this lockdown. I think eventually people are going to ignore these lockdowns. You have to function. You can’t live like this for a year. I can’t imagine living like this for half a year. I’m trying to tolerate a month or two, and it’s horrible. Are you considering any other jobs outside of ride-sharing to keep yourself sustainable during the lockdown? “This pandemic is forcing a reassessment of life” The fact is, the economics of ride-sharing are bad anyway. And I think this is an excuse or a reason to enact a change in my life. I’ve been doing it since 2016, and this is a time to sit back and reflect on the kind of projects I’d rather be doing. This pandemic is forcing a reassessment of life. Have you heard anything from Uber or Lyft about how they’re going to help you get through this period? They’re offering 14-day assessments, but the hoops are pretty onerous. You have to have a positive coronavirus test result and be in a city under legal quarantine. When that happens, they’ll suspend you from the app and pay you your daily average for the last six months for two weeks. They’re also not accepting new drivers from the harder-hit areas. So they don’t have a plan for people who don’t want to drive for fear of getting sick. They’re only intervening if you get sick. They have some guidelines on the website, but not much beyond that. Do you think people need to take this pandemic more seriously? I think the drivers are taking it seriously. I don’t know many drivers personally, but everything I’ve seen in the Facebook groups looks like we’re taking it seriously. I’m not as sure about the riders. The guy who was coughing was on the way to work at a restaurant. He probably should’ve stayed home. Sign up for The Goods’ newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
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