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Intensive Care Doctor Diagnosed With Coronavirus Says It Felt Like 'Drowning in My Lungs,' Made Video to Say Goodbye to Family
"I was so short of breath and I couldn't breath, and I just wanted to tell my kids that they are the most important thing in the world to me," Dr. Julie John told CNN.
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newsweek.com
Jamie Dimon predicts a 'major recession' is on its way
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon used his annual shareholder letter to detail just how bad he thinks the US economy can get from the coronavirus pandemic.
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edition.cnn.com
Swiss resort offering ‘quarantine apartments’ that includes a $500 coronavirus test
There’s more than one way to quarantine. A hotel and resort in Switzerland is offering luxury apartments for quarantine during the COVID-19 outbreak. Aside from the typical amenities, the apartments include several coronavirus-themed amenities, including an in-room coronavirus test. Not surprisingly, quarantining in luxury is a bit pricey. Le Bijou Hotel and Resort is charging...
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nypost.com
Japanese leader declares state of emergency as COVID-19 spreads
"We need your cooperation to prevent an explosive surge," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his nation, as the number of confirmed infections rises sharply.
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cbsnews.com
Supreme Court declines to hear case concerning DC transit agency's restrictions on religious ads
The Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear a dispute concerning a Washington, DC, transit agency's ban on allowing religious ads to be placed on the sides of city buses.
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edition.cnn.com
Chelsea Bieker distills the fire and fury of the parched Central Valley
Chelsea Bieker's 'Godshot,' a surreal debut novel set in the parched Central Valley, depicts a fundamentalist rain cult and sex worker resisters.
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latimes.com
No Test, Minimal Contact: How One Abortion Clinic Is Adapting to Coronavirus Concerns
In late March, Leah Coplon, the program director at Maine Family Planning, watched as a young mother parked her car in front of the building. Carrying her baby, the mother was greeted by staff in the foyer and handed a brown paper bag that looked like a lunch sack. Then she loaded the bag and…
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time.com
Why ‘Bachelorette’ Clare Crawley kept her Juan Pablo Galavis breakup dress
"It was the most empowering moment of my life."
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nypost.com
Biden to Trump: Here’s how to act like a president
Biden offers us a breath of fresh air.
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washingtonpost.com
Dow rallies more than 1,000 points
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edition.cnn.com
Teens charged with hate crimes for attacking a woman on a bus and saying she caused coronavirus, NYPD says
Teen girls were charged with hate crimes after police said they attacked a woman on a New York bus, made "anti-Asian statements" toward her and told her she caused coronavirus.
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edition.cnn.com
April Full Pink Supermoon: How and When to Watch Biggest and Brightest Moon of 2020
The moon will be 7 percent larger and 15 brighter than an average full moon tomorrow, according to astronomer Gianluca Masi.
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newsweek.com
Persecuted Christians at greater risk during coronavirus outbreak: ‘From bad to worse’
The living conditions for Christians and other religious minorities around the world are worsening due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a watchdog group that operates in more than 60 countries.
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foxnews.com
With Worst Expected to Come, 3 out of 4 U.S. Hospitals Are Treating Patients With COVID-19
(WASHINGTON) — Three out of four U.S. hospitals surveyed are already treating patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, according to a federal report that finds hospitals expect to be overwhelmed as cases rocket toward their projected peak. A report due out Monday from a federal watchdog agency warns that different, widely reported problems are feeding…
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time.com
'Money Heist' Part 4 Ending Explained: What Happened At the End of 'La Casa De Papel' Season 4?
"Money Heist" Part 4 ends with the Spanish government in crisis and the final episode setting up a rogue Alicia Sierra as the main villain of the next season.
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newsweek.com
Hoda Kotb opens up about loneliness amid coronavirus pandemic
"I don’t think any of us recognized just how profoundly how each and every one of us would be personally affected," Kotb said.
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nypost.com
Jimmy Failla: Coronavirus — To help beat this, drop 'Me society’ and join 'We society' on social media
Time to acknowledge that the superficial wars we’ve waged on social media the past few years mean nothing in the overall scheme of things.
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foxnews.com
Inside NYC hospital: "Like something out of the Twilight Zone"
Doctors told CBS News that it's not just older people who are in critical condition.
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cbsnews.com
Critical week ahead to fix initial roadblocks to coronavirus relief package
The success of the multi-trillion-dollar life raft that was floated into the cascading waves of business closures, job losses and the virtual shutdown of the US economy will likely be determined this week.
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edition.cnn.com
Meghan Markle's real name leaves fans stunned: 'Mind blown'
Even though Meghan Markle has officially stepped down a royal family member, she's still making headlines.
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foxnews.com
Florida, Nevada may be hit hardest by coronavirus economic shock: study
Florida beaches remained packed with partying college students as the coronavirus crisis gathered force, and the Republican governor was slow to impose social distancing in a tourist-dependent economy.
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reuters.com
Rwanda finds genocide grave that could contain 30,000 bodies
KIGALI, Rwanda — A valley dam that authorities in Rwanda say could contain about 30,000 bodies has been discovered more than a quarter-century after the country’s genocide in which 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed. The discovery is being called the most significant in years and 50 bodies have...
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nypost.com
Peter Navarro spars with CNN host over potential hydroxychloroquine coronavirus treatment
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro had a heated interview with CNN host John Berman on Monday over his stance on hydroxychloroquine and later went on “Fox & Friends” to clarify his thoughts.  
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foxnews.com
What Is Dalgona Coffee and How To Make This Whipped Coffee Treat at Home With Ease
You probably already have the four ingredients.
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newsweek.com
Washington returning 400 ventilators for use in New York, other states struggling in coronavirus battle
Washington state will return more than 400 of the 500 ventilators it received from the federal government so they can be used in New York and other states fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday.
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foxnews.com
Acting U.S. Navy chief says fired ship captain may have been 'stupid': officials
Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, in a surprise speech aboard a coronavirus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier, told the crew that their fired captain may have been "stupid," officials told Reuters on Monday.
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reuters.com
For the Union Dead
Editor’s Note: Read an interviewwith Daniel Mason about his writing process. Last summer, in late July, I received a phone call from my father notifying me of the death of my uncle Teddy, and asking me to come to San Francisco to help him sort through his brother’s belongings before the movers came.My uncle had no children. He had never married, and his girlfriend of many years had gone her own way for reasons—I would later learn—related to the story that will come. He was a quiet figure, my father’s only brother, and overshadowed by my mother’s sprawling clan of six siblings. Indeed, when I first heard of Teddy’s death, I couldn’t remember when I’d last seen him. By then, our weekend family trips to San Francisco were very much a thing of the past. Even to this day, I can’t recall the surname of that girlfriend, an apricot-hued woman who chain-smoked his Camels and who, in contrast to my Aunt Deborah, my Aunt Judith, my Uncle Michael, etc., we all knew just as Donna. Nor did I remember any discussion of why they hadn’t married, or why they had no kids. For me, it was just one of Teddy’s particularities, like the Technicolor fuchsia of the borscht he drank each morning, or the elastic suspenders he wore over his off-white dress shirts, or the background drone of professional wrestling on his bedroom television, which seemed to cycle on some eternal loop.In the beginning, it was the television that helped break down my resistance to those long visits. At home, my mother had banished ours to the bedroom closet, but at some point, in one of the backroom negotiations I now know make up much of parenthood, my parents must have decided that TV at Teddy’s was permitted. So for a time, on a weekly basis, my sister and I would squeeze into the sofa chair of worn yellow corduroy that sat just inches from the screen. This was during the reign of Hulk Hogan, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and my uncle’s favorite, Andre the Giant, who, he reminded me on several occasions, though French by birth, was Polish by extraction, and who I thought—for quite some time, and not without some degree of perplexity—was the same Andre as the one in Louis Malle’s My Dinner With Andre, a film I often heard discussed among my parents’ friends. The television, a Sony Trinitron—part screen, part speaker—had 12 channels, accessed by a row of plastic buttons that gave off a satisfying ping when pressed. My father had given Teddy a VCR, yet I don’t remember him watching anything but wrestling. Why this was, I never stopped to wonder. Only later would I consider that something about the cartoon violence functioned as a parody of all violence, and, perhaps, as a catharsis for the real kind that he’d been through.For a living, my uncle ran a small convenience store on Geary, about half a mile from his apartment, purveying a mixture of American junk food and canned Eastern European imports to a motley group of Poles, Armenians, and Russians, alongside a smattering of patients and patients’ families who wandered down from Mount Zion. I can still see it, and from the height of someone no taller than my uncle’s waist: the pair of American flags taped to the cash register, the powdered Kool-Aid and the Cadbury Creme Eggs beside the bonneted baby on the imported Alenka chocolates, the jars of hard candy in their squeaky cellophane, the storeroom with boxes—boxes!—of Topps wax packs. If we were lucky enough, my uncle would allow my sister and me to select a toy or sweet, an act that, at the time, seemed less a demonstration of avuncular affection than evidence of untold wealth. Such was the stockroom bounty that it never even occurred to me that my father, a general practitioner with a growing private practice, was more financially secure of the two. I grew up in an Eichler in the suburbs 50 miles south of the city, with a backyard spanned by two great redwoods that littered their feathered leaves across the insulation tarp on the small, unheated pool. It was hardly great wealth—this was the pre-dot-com days, when a doctor could still buy a house in Silicon Valley—but we certainly had much more than Teddy, for whom financial planning consisted of bribing his homesick Russian landlord with jars of pickled herring that he brined himself.Of course, the differences between my uncle and my father—differences, one could say, between the two Andres—might just have been a product of their difference in age. Teddy was 19 when my father was born in a Queens emergency room, a gap accounted for by years of war and statelessness, and their mother’s steadfast refusal to bring another child into a world that could take everything away. By the time my father arrived, the family’s story—the flight, the work camps, the loss of a first son to Red Army conscription—was all part of a past not often spoken of. My father knew the map: Warsaw, Białystok, the gulags outside Arkhangelsk, then Tashkent, Kherson, Kyiv, and back to Poland when the war was over. There, finding nothing, no one, they’d continued on to Paris, where they lived until they followed their sole surviving cousin to New York. By then Teddy spoke five languages, and none of them well. His vulgar Russian of the gulag nursery, his market Uzbek, his Ukrainian, his singsong French with its pungent Belleville curses—they all served him primarily to play with other children. His Polish started to dissolve soon after they arrived in Queens, and my grandfather suddenly decreed that the family speak only “American,” which remained for years a patois of pantomime and guessed-at words. Hence: the accent (“huishy-huashy,” “Daffy Dug”), the trouble with articles (absent in Polish, also Russian and Uzbek), the seemingly random employ of his or her (such distinction missing in French). Even 30 years later, when I came to know him, he still spoke tentatively. He was afraid, my father once told me, that others would think his imperfect English might suggest ingratitude. It was safer not to speak.My father was taller, stouter, his face tan from tennis and our vacations. Teddy, who probably would have been tall if not for the childhood hunger, gave a fainter, paler impression. Years later, I would often find that my memory of him conjured the unexpected image of driftwood, which, buffeted enough, grows gray and indistinct. Even in his 40s, he wore black old-man slacks, their polyester polished to a sheen around the seat and knees. He walked with a limp, and though it was a limp from childhood—hip dysplasia, unrepaired, my father told me—it added to my sense of his age. Even the apartment I arrived at that Sunday after Teddy passed away seemed to belong to someone of a prior generation. A short hallway gave onto a dining room scarcely larger than the circular table at its center. Then clockwise: kitchen; living room; a second, tiny hallway leading to closet, bedroom, bath. The wall-to-wall carpeting was still the dun of memory, as was the haphazard mix of “Turkish” rugs. The walls were empty but for a mounted set of commemorative plates from the U.S. bicentennial and some scattered oils—horn of plenty, mountain sunset—purchased over the years at flea markets and neighborhood sales.On my father’s suggestion, we began in the living room. The old gray couch would go, of course, as would the dark credenza, pine stained to look like chestnut, filled mostly with issues of Time dating from the ’80s. There were some old Sears catalogs, some shoeboxes organized on unclear principles: paperweights with watch parts, and keys to far more houses, cars, and lockboxes than my uncle possessed. While they seemed to me completely anonymous, my father lingered. Yet when I wondered aloud whether there was a story to any of these artifacts, he shook his head. It was striking, he told me, how little reminded him of his brother, indeed, how little of the apartment reflected his brother’s inner life at all, unless of course one realized that one feature of that inner life was to keep itself hidden. Rather, he was thinking, he said, what he’d been thinking for days: namely, how much he regretted that he had not pressed Teddy to accept more of his charity. I probably didn’t know, he told me, but his brother had supported him during medical school, had moved with him to the Bay Area; it was only fair to pay him back. But Teddy always refused. While at first my father attributed such stubbornness to personal dignity, over time, as the two of them had separated in station, he’d come to understand it differently. Teddy never seemed to begrudge my father’s success. He was drunk and expansive at my parent’s wedding, laughing even at the inside jokes he didn’t understand. He gave a wedding gift, a set of crystal glasses from Neiman Marcus, completely inconsistent with his tastes and far too generous. Long before I was walking, he gave me a bicycle, just as he bought ballet shoes for my sister, as if to stake a claim on milestones to come.Over time, my father said, he’d come to wonder whether such extravagance was Teddy’s recognition of the diverging paths their lives would take, something he saw long before my father did. And it happened: my father often in the clinic, or attending an art-house-film series with friends, or taking us on summer camping trips. Trips to which, he added, he frequently invited his brother and Donna, knowing full well that they would refuse. What the Malle film was to “The Giant,” Arches National Park was to Reno, where Donna gambled and my uncle, I assume, must have spent his time doing something other than eating, and yet returned only with photos of himself (dressed in that eternal off-white dress shirt, his arm slung over Donna’s shoulder) against the bounty of the buffets.They were an odd couple. Now I suspect he was drawn to her for the sheer volume of her Americanness—for her big American hair and white patent-leather heels, for the brooches, bracelets, and earrings that jingled out her presence well before she entered a room. Even her bust, hammocked in polyester pink-and-chartreuse blouses, seemed somehow American in the brash way it called attention to its size. She was of stone-fruit farming stock; the family went as far back in California as anyone could go, she’d say, “without being Miwoks.” She had a history of epilepsy, and though it had been decades since she’d had a seizure, she never learned to drive, and so my uncle chauffeured her everywhere. For as long as I knew him, he drove a Pontiac Bonneville, a model from the early ’70s that reminded my sister and me of the cars driven by kidnappers in those ominous school educational videos that taught us not to talk to strangers. For Donna’s part, aside from the chauffeuring, it was hard to say what she saw in my uncle. He was handsome, or appeared to have once been handsome, and I can recall the occasional waitress, checkout girl, or, later, nurse who was quite charmed by his courtly European manners and his accent. But Donna showed no interest in where he’d come from. She hated the herring and the borscht, and not once did I hear her ask him about Europe. Indeed, she seemed to have almost no awareness of Teddy’s story at all. My father didn’t know whether this was because his brother didn’t want to tell her, or she didn’t want to know; his guess was both, which might go some way toward explaining their compatibility. Or maybe it was this, he said: To Teddy, Donna knew she was uncommon, and we all want to be uncommon, and the moment she realized the error of this understanding was the moment she left.Anyway, my father said, he now regretted the distance that had grown between them, particularly as time went on, and my sister and I grew older, and our weekends filled with sports and friends. They still spoke, but then my father got an affiliated position at the university and began to teach and travel more, and sometimes weeks would pass before he saw his brother. It was because of this, he said, that he wasn’t really certain how my uncle had developed his interest in the war—the Civil War, he clarified—save that it had begun with Donna. At the time, he didn’t think it was remarkable. He had seen his brother go through a similar period of interest in his adopted country earlier, at the time of the bicentennial, though that had a seeking, sad quality to it, as if the commemorative plates, the flag placed on his balcony, were ways of trying out an identity he didn’t possess. My father could remember how on that Fourth of July, he and my mother had gone with Teddy and Donna to watch the celebrations. Parades were not something my father went to regularly—they were, he felt, only for children or for fascists. But Teddy was different. He never spoke of the connection between his observance of certain holidays—the Fourth, Memorial Day, Veterans Day—and the fact that, due to his hip, he had been turned down when he had tried to enlist for Korea. My father wasn’t even born at the time of those rejections, but in later years, he sensed that the sole thing his brother ever envied him for was his two years of service as a doctor with the VA. Indeed, much of his brother’s patriotism stemmed, he thought, not from pride, nor even gratitude, but rather from a kind of longing. After all, he told me, even though his parents never returned to Poland, they still had a home to carry in their memory. Teddy, meanwhile, found himself in the impossible position of missing something he’d never possessed.But yes, the bicentennial: For all my father’s suspicion of patriotism, it began auspiciously. The mood was festive. The slopes of Golden Gate Park were blanketed with drumming corps, students dressed as redcoats played war among the eucalypti, and beauties with long white gloves waved from convertibles bedecked with paper flowers. Donna was dressed in skintight striped red pants and a starry bodice. She’d purchased paper tricornes from a vendor, for my parents and for Teddy, who placed it at a jaunty angle over his thinning hair. He seemed utterly enraptured by the pageantry, my father said, by the parades, the high-school bands and floats. Only later in the day, when my father was returning from the concession stands, did he happen to see his brother at a moment when Teddy thought no one was watching, standing in the middle of the cheering crowd with a look of such raw disconsolation, such unmooring, that my father felt he was perhaps for the first time seeing his brother as he really was.And so, when Donna announced 10 years later that she and Teddy planned to visit historic sites in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, my father thought back to his brother at the bicentennial, and couldn’t help but wonder whether they should travel somewhere else. But he couldn’t bring himself to explain why, and in any case Donna’s sister had been and said it was fantastic, really, and they had already bought the tickets. As it turned out, Teddy, on his return, said almost nothing about the visit. He did not seem anguished, nor particularly thrilled. Were it not for the little Liberty Bell replicas he’d bought for me and my sister, it was as if he hadn’t even gone. All of which explained the surprise my father felt when, later that autumn, he called the shop and Donna told him that my uncle had flown east again, this time for a guided bus tour of famous battlegrounds in seven states.“Apparently it’s his new hobby,” she said.My father stayed by the phone for some time after she hung up. He didn’t know what to think, he told me. It seemed out of character; there was something even humorous about the image of his brother, in his dress shirts and suspenders, following a group of heartland tourists with their ball caps and their cameras slung about their necks. But then, not three months after his return, Teddy was on another flight, this time to Georgia. Soon my father found the dining table stacked with volumes from the Inner Sunset library: books on famous battles, biographies of Grant and Sherman, guides to uniforms and musketry. Particularly guides to uniforms, he told me, which should have been his clue, because it was around this time that the reenactments began.He asked me whether I remembered these, and I answered that I did. Like much about my uncle, I hadn’t thought of them in years, but now that they’d been mentioned, I could still recall the day my sister discovered the vintage revolver in Teddy’s bedroom closet, and the subsequent explanation that my uncle offered my enraged mother. At the time, the gun had clearly overshadowed all other aspects of the story, though in retrospect, it seems amazing that I didn’t find it at least a little odd that my uncle—who still substituted the French mais for the English but, and still referred to cornflakes and Rice Krispies as kasha, and most fruits by their Uzbek names (because in Tashkent, at the age of 10, he ate his first peach, his first plum, his first orange)—had found such purpose in dressing up with a group of strangers, to act out the battles that had burned across fields and pastures so far from his life. But I was 10 when the reenactments started, and still at the age when most adults were equally intriguing and equally dull. Teddy’s possession of a grimy Union uniform, or the image of him charging across a field with other reenactors, was about as remarkable as my Uncle Steven’s double joints, or the huge plastic trophies my Aunt Deborah had collected in her softball league, enough to cover a whole wall.I told my father this.He nodded. And yet the funny thing, he said, was that at the time, as far as hobbies went, he hadn’t found it terribly strange. It was certainly more interesting than “Wrestling Mania” or whatever those ridiculous orgies called themselves. This was the time of Glory and the Ken Burns film. He found his patients reading bookmarked copies of Battle Cry of Freedom in the waiting room; he himself had been slowly making his way through Shelby Foote. A few years later, a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg would draw some tens of thousands of spectators. The papers and TV loved to cover the events, the tone of the reporting sometimes whimsical, sometimes a bit condescending, but usually at least ending with an elegiac hopefulness that the battles could serve as some kind of ritual through which scars both new and old might be healed. Nor was he the only one to see how the reenactments might offer a baptism for those whose families had come from somewhere else. He could recall a television program that had featured extensive interviews with an expat who traveled each year from Stockholm to don the gray outfit of a Confederate soldier, and a Rhode Islander of Japanese extraction who was “serving” in a Union regiment. Both men, my father said, had testified that participation in the reenactments had for the first time in their life made them feel truly American, though whether this was so for Teddy, my father didn’t know. In any case, he said, he never exactly understood what it was that Teddy did at the reenactments, until a conversation with Donna, at the beginning of the end of Teddy’s life.It was August. By then Teddy had spent more than a decade making almost yearly visits to the battlefields, beginning at Bull Run in 1993, and ending that July, at the Battle of the Crater, when, the day after the reenactment, as he was waiting in the airport lounge of Richmond International, a blood clot, which had likely formed as he lay on the battleground, broke free from the deep veins of his calf. And then, on the CT scan at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital: not only the pulmonary embolism, but the tumor in his lungs.Against the doctor’s advice, Teddy flew home to San Francisco for the surgery, which was where Donna, who had remained a friend despite their separation two years prior, and her subsequent marriage, told my father about the singular nature of his brother’s devotion. They were in the waiting room, amid samovars of lukewarm coffee, and children cavorting over the laps of anxious parents, and a flickering monitor with the first three letters of the patients’ names and the status of their surgeries. It was, he said, the longest conversation he’d ever had with her. Interestingly, she had assumed that his brother had told him much more about his forays. When he corrected her, she told him Teddy was probably just waiting for him to ask.She paused, and after some consideration said, “You know he just went to die, right?”My father, who had glanced up at the monitor, thought for a moment that in his worry, he had missed something. “I’m sorry?”“To die,” she said. “In battle.”But still he didn’t completely understand. Didn’t most of them “die,” he asked?“Eventually,” she said. “But Teddy never even fought.”She clarified: Moments after the bugler opened a reenactment, my uncle would just walk toward the fighting and lie down on the ground.“Just?”“Just.”“Really?”Were his brother not on the operating table, my father told me, he might have laughed in disbelief.“Really,” Donna said.Teddy never made it to the surrender, never stayed for the fairs and dances and trivia nights that often followed. Never drank with the other soldiers, neither from the shared flasks of “authentic” whiskey, nor the anachronistic beers that occasionally appeared in anachronistic coolers as if from outer space. Not only that, but my father also had to understand the context, Donna told him. If anything unites the reenactors, it is the desire to remain alive as long as possible, to participate in the history that they have prepared for so meticulously. It was actually a common complaint among the organizers (not to mention an apparent object of ridicule among the spectators) that none of the grown men playing soldiers wanted to die, particularly not early on. Who would? And miss the action, lying among the cow patties, while all around you, your comrades charged into history with muskets gleaming? Even when a bullet’s strike was undeniable, Donna said, most men would feign an injury, calling for comrades to transport them to the medical tent and the attention of the volunteer nurses. But not his brother. Not Teddy, who spent untold amounts of his dwindling savings on ever more authentic uniforms, not to mention flights and car rentals, and “event rates” charged by roach motels. Not Teddy, who stood on shivering mornings at Vicksburg and Spotsylvania, at Shiloh and Chickamauga, as around him thousands of fellow soldiers, rifles stuffed with paper cartridges, shifted beneath their heavy packs. Not Teddy, who—when the clarion broke across the pastures at Seven Pines and Opequon, and the smoke bombs began to fly at Franklin and Fort Stedman—lay down on the mossy forest path, or beside the bursting blooms of buttonbush, or in the fields. Always on his back and looking up, said Donna, who one afternoon, watching at Antietam, had realized that as much as she loved this man, a part of him would always remain far beyond her reach. Just as she understood that she would leave him, not out of animosity and not with bitterness—life at 75 was too short for either—but because what he was seeking was something she couldn’t provide.He would lie there for hours in that strange vigil, as around him the fighting raged, and slowly, reluctantly, one by one, the others began to fall, sprawling with cries or dramatic gurgles, tearing at hidden bladders of red coloring, tumbling theatrically from their mounts. Sometimes far away, or sometimes near him; sometimes even touching him, resting a hand or head upon his chest. And as the pastures filled, he remained unmoving, the warm sun on his face, or the cold of the winter soil of Fredericksburg seeping through his coat, his back, his aching hip. Until at last the bugle sounded and all at once, together, the dead rose from the consecrated, hallowed ground.By then it was late afternoon in the apartment, and an unexpected sun had broken through the summer fog that rolled unimpeded up and down San Francisco’s long western flank. From the living room, we moved on to a little workroom my uncle had set up in a hallway closet, with mason jars of nuts and bolts, and sundry pieces of wood gathered in the blue Danish butter-cookie tins, where one day they could be found if needed. Then the kitchen, the refrigerator empty save for a tub of sour cream and a two-liter bottle of kvass. We would leave this. Just as we would leave the simvastatin and the digitalis in the bathroom, the dress shoes with their replacement shoelaces, the pantry stocked with jars of cat food he used to mix with sugar and leave out for the strays.In the bedroom, a heating pad still warmed the sofa chair; terrifyingly, the paramedics must have left it on. The chair would go, as would the flanking oxygen stand and vaporizer, the Trinitron with its push-button channels: the Trinitron, on which, one March, Teddy played for me a copy of WrestleMania he’d purchased specially by mail order. Alone that night (my sister at a sleepover, my parents at a play), we’d watched the full three hours, fight after fight, the television’s blue light flickering over us, until the moment—to quote the jubilant words of the announcer—“the irresistible force met the immovable object,” and Hulk Hogan lifted Andre, trembling and helpless as Antaeus, and brought him thundering to the ground.The photographs were in the closet, its mirrored door now bearing a long, diagonal crack. He had kept them in a series of old wooden cigar boxes, next to the Union outfits. I suspect my father had known that we would find them there, and that he had waited because he knew that after he found them, he wouldn’t go on. The room was dark; the only window gave onto the apartment parking lot, where a couple were yelling at each other in Russian, so we brought the photos back into the living room and laid the boxes on the table before the couch. We were all there—Donna in her flowered polyester blouses, and my sister with her braces, and my uncle sitting with me at an ice-cream parlor on a day that suddenly returned to me with such vividness that I could taste (and as I write, can still taste) the cold ribbons of caramel in the melting cream. There was a pair of early photos of my grandparents, taken in a Warsaw studio; and others, of my parents’ wedding, of Thanksgivings, and bar mitzvahs, and the high-school graduation that I hadn’t remembered he’d attended. And then, at last, the photos of the war— not the one he had survived, but the one that, repeatedly, he hadn’t. In contrast to the snapshots, these were different: large-format, commemorative photographs of the reenactments, in period sepia or black-and-white, the scenes instantly, utterly familiar from the albumen prints of Mathew Brady, with their field tents and broken ramparts, their scattered cannons and bodies strewn across the field. And on every photo: a tiny arrow etched in careful blue ballpoint that showed, among the countless fallen soldiers, which one he was.This story has been excerpted from Daniel Mason’s forthcoming collection, A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth.
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theatlantic.com
Daniel Mason on the Weight of History
Editor’s Note: Read Daniel Mason’s new short story,“For the Union Dead.” “For the Union Dead,” a new story by Daniel Mason, will appear in his upcoming story collection, A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth (available on May 5). To mark the story’s publication in The Atlantic, Daniel and Oliver Munday, a senior art director at the magazine, discussed the story over email. Their conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.Oliver Munday: You’ve primarily written historical fiction. However, “For the Union Dead” is set in contemporary San Francisco and uses a historical event—the American Civil War—thematically rather than as a backdrop. Can you describe how using history in this way informed the writing process?Daniel Mason: While I’m very much drawn to history, my interest is less in reproducing a historical event and more in employing a different time and place to explore something that feels quite pressing. This story is part of a collection (A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth) that comes out in May; all the other stories from the collection are set further back in time, and farther away: a telegraph operator in the Amazon, a mother caring for an asthmatic son in polluted Regency London. But the goal feels the same: to use history to help me understand something in my life today. For some reason, I find that distance helps me think about what it means to be a person in this world. In the case of “For the Union Dead,” I think the motivating idea was the question of what it means to be an American and how people find identity in an adopted home.It’s worth mentioning that the idea for the story came from another historical period. Last year, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I found myself watching a video about An-My Lê’s photographic series Small Wars, which had been exhibited there back in 2008. These explored the mock battles staged by Vietnam War reenactors in the forests of Virginia. It was clear from the photos that some of the men were too young to have ever served in the war. I was struck by the way that Lê treated them with gentleness and respect, while at the same time posing questions about the psychological need fulfilled by participating in these events.Munday: Teddy, the main character in the story, is a refugee from World War II; he’s also a Civil War reenactor. Is there something specific to the Civil War that spoke to him?Mason: Teddy chooses the Civil War, I think, precisely because of the profound Americanness of it. At least on the surface, the Civil War was a domestic conflict, the arch-American war. It made sense to me that someone grappling with belonging would be drawn to it. At the same time, it is such a complex field for patriotic sentiment; as we see today, its wound remains a very raw one. It would have been a less complex decision for Teddy to have been drawn to reenacting the [American] War of Independence. On some level, I think he knows this, knows that the history he wishes to claim for his own is fraught and painful.Munday: “For the Union Dead” is narrated by Teddy’s nephew, who travels with his father (Teddy’s brother) to sort through Teddy’s possessions after his death. The narrator’s perspective often gives way to his father’s own stories of Teddy, which themselves contain the stories of others. Why use this technique of nested narratives?Mason: I tried different voices for a while, before the first lines came to me and the rest of the narrative followed. I can conjecture why this voice worked for me while others didn’t. On a certain level, it is a story about a person who experiences life at a distance. The “wars” that Teddy fights in are not real wars, but—to use your term—nested narratives in his life. It is quite a lovely word for this story, actually, “nested”: not only in the sense of something “placed within,” but in the sense of making a home.Munday: Teddy’s inner life remains elusive to readers, and also, to a large degree, to his family. The narrative acknowledges the futility of truly knowing someone as well as the need to try. Do you think fiction, as a form, can bring us close to intersubjectivity?Mason: I hope so? Just as I hope it can bring us closer to knowing oneself, too. At the beginning of this story, Teddy is presented as somewhat of a reduced person, of interest to his nephew mostly for his television set. It is only as the narrative continues that his complexity begins to reveal itself. And yet, in the end, I feel that the narrator is left with the sense that Teddy is ultimately beyond his reach. In the same way, I think, the narrator doesn’t know himself. He begins by downplaying any relationship with his uncle, but as we learn more, we increasingly see moments of love shared between them.This question reminds me of the previous one. A nested narrative, by definition, creates a certain emotional distance. When we tell stories about another person, much about them is lost in the process. Most people I know are familiar only with the barest outlines of the lives of their grandparents, even their parents. Often it is only when we lose them that we realize the great gaps that remain in their stories.Munday: Teddy is described as unmoored, a man who lacks a home, having fled Poland as a child with his family after World War II. We learn that Teddy spoke “five languages, and none of them well.” Does this lack of a native tongue further Teddy’s isolation?Mason: Among the many other forms of displacement, Teddy’s childhood is marked by a constant linguistic instability. Children are masters at learning language, and so he learns to speak the language of each successive home—Polish, Russian, Uzbek, French, English. But just as he is reaching the point that he might master a language, might gain the vocabulary and grammar necessary to articulate an inner life—he is torn from that place. This is true even of his name—we know it can’t originally have been Teddy, but we never learn what his real name is.And then there is this particular connection between language and belonging. Teddy can dress like an American, and act like an American, but ultimately, when he speaks, he will betray himself as foreign: There is a reason that the root of shibboleth is the actual Hebrew word. What was most poignant to me in thinking about Teddy was how he has internalized the nativism of his new home. He worries not just that he will be revealed as a foreigner—but as an ungrateful one, who has not learned English perfectly.As Teddy gets older, he tries on different trappings of American identity—literally, with the war uniforms—but in a way, and without his realizing it, I think one of the most American things about Teddy is this uncertainty. In this way, there is something profoundly American about Teddy that links him to the millions of us who have asked similar questions about what it means to call America home. The American experience for many people is the very act of questioning who we are.Munday: You describe Teddy and his brother as an odd couple. Teddy enjoys Andre the Giant, while his brother loves Louis Malle’s film, My Dinner With Andre. Teddy is often described through the objects he’s accrued: commemorative plates from the U.S. bicentennial, Sears catalogs, and VHS tapes of old WrestleManias. Can you describe how these cultural signifiers function in the story?Mason: I have always been fascinated by what the material world reveals of inner life. This may be a bit of a doctor’s bias (to use William Carlos Williams’s words, “no ideas but in things”), or just a personal love of the poetry of stuff. The quality of these objects that was most interesting to me here was how so many of them sit on the cusp between contemporary consumer good and historical artifact—between something disposable and something worth keeping. The secret joy in writing the story was looking at the junk of my childhood from the perspective of an archaeologist, with an eye toward a kind of restoration.Perhaps at no time does the question of whether an object is junk or whether it is valuable become more pressing than upon the death of a loved one. One suddenly finds oneself surrounded by things filled with tension between meaningful and meaningless. Everyone who has lost a loved one has had to contend, at some point, with this register of their existence, the stuff: the sofa chairs that held a body, the artwork prized for some unknown reason, the medicine that kept someone alive until it didn’t. In this story, even something as useless, as risible, as a VHS tape of WrestleMania 3, becomes, in a different context, deeply meaningful: a form of connection between an old man and his nephew, a symbol of violence, even a thread of connection to an old existence—because in Teddy’s private world, Andre the Giant, however wonderfully cartoonish (and I will admit to being a great childhood fan), was also a Pole by extraction and thus a link to a place and heritage Teddy never really could possess.The ritual of cleaning is thus, on some level, a vivid act of erasure. For when one dies, all this private meaning is lost.Munday: Teddy’s affinity for Americana leads him to take part in Civil War reenactments. And yet as reenactors go, he’s a uniquely ineffectual one: lying supine in the field amid these simulated battles.Mason: I agree that on some level, he is ineffectual, and yet at the same time, I think that Teddy inherently understands something about the theater of reenactment that the other reenactors don’t. The very archetype of patriotism is dying for one’s country. It is why I was drawn—why we are drawn—to Whitman’s images of strange vigils and Lincoln’s hallowed, consecrated ground, language that laces this story. These are all images and experiences that Teddy, perhaps without knowing, repeats. If we are to understand that the reenactments are on some level a rite of belonging, then I might say that Teddy, this seeming outsider, understands that dying is what ultimately might offer him a home.
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theatlantic.com
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foxnews.com
Britain Finds its Way (Helped by the Queen)
Perhaps a testament to how close Britain has come to losing its way is the fact that it took a pandemic, an emergency of foggy complexity, for the country to get back on its path. This was a weekend that felt defining, not just for the immediate story, the coronavirus, but for British politics—and for Britain itself.It was not a good weekend. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized, and Britain’s death toll jumped as another 621 people died over 24 hours. The gravity of the situation moved the Queen to deliver an emergency address to the nation, something she has done only a handful of times in her 68-year reign. This was not a weekend in which Britain reached, or even caught a glimpse of, the peak of the coronavirus outbreak—never mind found a route back down from it and off the mountain.Instead, the weekend was momentous because of the reemergence of something fundamental to the country, how it functions and sees itself—its core, institutional strength. These were 48 hours in which Britain reasserted its foundational stability, and in doing so made real change more likely once this is all over.The weekend was defined by three profoundly important moments. The first came on Saturday morning, when the Labour Party elected Keir Starmer its new leader, replacing Jeremy Corbyn as the official head of the opposition. The second and third are more obvious but no less profound, and came in disorientingly quick succession on Sunday night as the Queen attempted to reassure the nation at 8 p.m.—an hour before news broke that her 14th prime minister had been taken to the hospital.As long as Johnson recovers fully and quickly, Starmer’s election has the potential to be more consequential than either of the other two events, even if those are more immediately defining. Starmer’s elevation is of deep importance on a number of levels. First, after years of appalling ineptitude and moral vacuity under Corbyn’s catastrophic leadership, Britain’s opposition will be led by a credible alternative prime minister whose competence, professionalism, and patriotism are unquestioned. The government can now be held to account.Corbyn’s replacement is important not just for the Labour Party, but for the country. The former leader’s politics meant that effective collaboration with Johnson’s Conservative Party was impossible, even in areas where the parties shared consensus. Corbyn’s refusal to appear alongside then-Prime Minister David Cameron in the campaign against Brexit was emblematic of this, as was his subsequent refusal to play ball with Theresa May as she sought to introduce a “soft” form of Brexit with Labour’s support. That then paved the way for Johnson’s emergence as prime minister—and Labour’s crushing defeat at a general election in December.But the importance of this moment is rooted in more than effective opposition. Starmer is left-wing, perhaps radically so on the American spectrum, but he is not a teenage revolutionary. Taxes would go up under his leadership, foreign policy would be more idealistic, Britain would tilt more toward Europe. But he would be recognizable. It is hard to overstate how unrecognizable Corbyn was. For much of his life, until being catapulted into the position of Labour leader, he was a fringe figure even on the political fringes, driven by the moral anti-imperialism of the Cold War radical left, which saw him line up with every enemy of the West—and Britain—imaginable. He was a question mark over Britain. Take one small example: Corbyn had, to his eternal shame, allowed anti-Semitism to raise its head in the British left. Starmer’s first act as leader was to apologize on behalf of the Labour Party. By Sunday morning, the return to institutional normality was clear. Starmer, appearing on the BBC’s flagship political program, The Andrew Marr Show, broke with the Corbynite position, offering “constructive engagement” with the government. “We’ve all got a duty here to save lives and protect our country,” he said. A boring statement, but almost revolutionary after the Corbyn years.The leader of the opposition is a pillar of the British establishment, a role that is required for the system to work. Starmer holds special privileges, is allowed to keep state secrets, is awarded particular prestige, and gets additional funding. It is a staging post to become prime minister, though many, even most, don’t make it. It sits alongside other individual positions, instrumental to the functioning of the British state: the speaker of the House of Commons, the archbishop of Canterbury, the chief of the defence staff, the prime minister, and the monarch. On Sunday, the final two came to the fore.Longevity, the simple fact of time, gives the Queen an unmatched presence in British life. The way she has personally sought to carry out the role has added a power and solemnity to the position. Because she rarely intervenes—and never politically—each time she does carries weight. Last night, she made a special address to the nation for the first time since her diamond jubilee in 2012, itself the first time she had formally spoken out since her mother’s death in 2002. Before that, 1997 was the last time she had done so, because of an event so grave it was deemed necessary—the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. That she chose to again during this pandemic had the perverse effect of making the situation feel even more solemn.In hindsight, the two weeks of national lockdown preceding the Queen’s address were marked by an unnerving void. The prime minister, even before last night’s news, had been in self-isolation for more than a week after contracting the coronavirus. The health secretary had also caught it, along with the chief medical officer—the principal adviser informing the prime minister on his strategy. Meanwhile, the Labour Party was waiting for its interminable leadership process to reach its conclusion. All the while, the death toll was climbing ever closer to the hidden peak. The timing of the Queen’s intervention was crucial.Dressed in green and speaking from an ornate study inside Windsor Castle, the Queen set the crisis alongside the national struggle during the Second World War. She said she wanted to offer reassurance that if the country remained “united and resolute,” it would overcome this latest obstacle. “I hope in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,” she said. It was an old-fashioned call to arms. She finished, though, with hope. Although we will have more to endure in the coming weeks, she said, better days will return: “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.” The payoff was a conscious nod to what had become the anthem of the Second World War, “We’ll Meet Again,” by Vera Lynn: “Don't know where / Don't know when / But I know we'll meet again some sunny day.”The Queen is the only public figure able to personally link the current fight against the pandemic to the Second World War, the prior struggle that still defines the country, at least in its own perception. The message was well pitched, nodding to the young and old, frontline and staying-at-home. It cast her as a spiritual leader, more than merely figurative.The message would soon be overshadowed by the news of the prime minister’s hospitalization, a question mark placed at the very heart of the state’s response to the crisis. Yet, as true as that is, this weekend nevertheless offered a tentative sense that the institutions and positions of state were not jamming, but clicking into gear, even if they remain old, grinding, and archaic. The National Health Service appears to be rising to the task, the military has been deployed, the BBC has found its voice after years of unease, and the political institutions—torn apart by the financial crash, Brexit, and Corbynism—have refound something of a common set of rules and purpose.The establishment is back. And British politics has some measure of its old self back. Both will be needed again soon, for once this immediate medical crisis is over, an economic one will emerge. Real change may soon follow.
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theatlantic.com
As coronavirus swamps India, hospitals turn away other sick people
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latimes.com
U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear religious clash on Washington transit ads
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reuters.com
Anonymous donor sends $150 in gift cards to every household in 1,400-person Iowa town
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usatoday.com
The Coronavirus Crisis Threatens 2020 Voting Rights, Abortion, Other Civil Liberties, Watchdogs Say
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Lionel Richie remembers his friend Kenny Rogers in ACM concert
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'The damage was done': 89 test positive for coronavirus at Texas facility
At least 89 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Denton State Supported Living Center, a home for people with developmental disabilities.      
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usatoday.com
Coronavirus’s slow upending of our everyday lives in photos
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Anne Tyler’s ‘Redhead by the Side of the Road’ is light on drama. Not that we could handle more drama now anyway.
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washingtonpost.com
U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Could Be Highest in the World Within a Week
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Why Donald Trump's firing of the Intelligence Community IG is so, so egregious
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edition.cnn.com