Chinese authorities officially lifted the ban on travel in the city of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak was first reported. The city's 11 million residents spent 11 weeks on lockdown under the government's effort to contain the virus. Wuhan residents still can only leave the city if they have official authorization confirming that they are healthy and have had no recent contact with an infected person. The government uses a mandatory smartphone application to track people's status. Restrictions have been gradually relaxed in Wuhan over the last few weeks, including the reopening of public transportation and businesses after weeks under a strict stay-at-home policy. [The Washington Post]
Former Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred "Curly" Neal died Thursday in Houston. He was 77. Neal, who played in more than 6,000 exhibition games from 1963 to 1985, was easy to spot on the court due to his shaved head and playful banter, but what really made him the face of the clowning basketball team was his ball handling ability. Neal dribbled circles around opponents, often sliding on his knees without losing control. "Oh my gosh, he revolutionized ball handling," said Nancy Lieberman, who played for the hapless Washington Generals against the Globetrotters in 1988. "Everything you see Kyrie Irving doing and Steph Curry doing now, all of it started with the Trotters. The Trotters made dribbling a show." [ESPN, The New York Times]
Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed new applications for jobless benefits last week as businesses nationwide shut down or limited their operations to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. The figure smashed the old record for weekly initial jobless claims of 695,000, which was set in 1982. Two weeks ago, only 282,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits. In an interview Thursday morning shortly before the release of the Labor Department's report, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the United States "may well be in a recession" already but argued that "there's nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy," so there could be a "good rebound" when the COVID-19 coronavirus' spread is under control. [CNN, The Associated Press]
Senators unanimously approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill late Wednesday, despite a last-minute delay after Republicans made objections to jobless aid they said could encourage layoffs, or give workers incentives to collect unemployment benefits instead of returning to work. The House plans to vote on the legislation Friday, and President Trump has vowed to sign it. Under the bill, Americans earning up to $75,000 would get $1,200 in the form of checks or direct deposits to their banks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said families should receive the money "within the next three weeks." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the aid for his state would be a "drop in the bucket" given the cost of confronting the outbreak in the hard-hit state. [The New York Times, CNBC]
A local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Saturday night at a crowded wedding party in Kabul, Afghanistan. The blast killed at least 63 people, including women and children, and another 182 were injured. The Taliban, which is negotiating an end to an 18-year conflict with the United States, condemned the violence and denied any involvement, though Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani did not absolve them of blame. The attack occurred in a neighborhood in the western part of the city that is home to many of the country's Shiite Hazara community. ISIS, whose members follow Sunni doctrine, have frequently claimed responsibility for attacks targeting Shiites. The militant group's statement said a Pakistani ISIS fighter seeking martyrdom targeted the gathering.
Source: The Associated Press, The Washington Post
New Orleans music legend Dr. John, born Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., died of a heart attack Thursday. He was 77. The six-time Grammy winner's eclectic music brought together the varied cultural influences of his home town. He grew up playing piano, switched to guitar, then returned to piano after he was shot in the finger in 1960. After serving prison time on drug charges, he moved to Los Angeles and became a studio musician, adopting the Dr. John persona in solo work in the late 1960s. His albums Gris-Gris and Dr. John's Gumbo appear on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 best albums. Rebennack, whose best-known single was "Right Place Wrong Time," was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Source: The Times-Picayune
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has reached a tentative $44 million settlement with women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, creditors, and the New York attorney general. The Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy last year, and lawyers told a bankruptcy court judge on Thursday that a deal has been reached in which the alleged victims, former Weinstein Co. employees, and studio creditors would receive $30 million, with an additional $14 million going toward legal fees. The money would reportedly come from various insurance policies. Weinstein is set to go on trial in September on rape and other sexual assault charges. He denies ever engaging in nonconsensual sex.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times
Former Monkees bassist Peter Tork died Thursday of complications from a rare form of cancer, his son, Ivan Iannoli, said. He was 77. Tork was a struggling musician when he was thrust into stardom with the Monkees, a band manufactured by Hollywood producers in the 1960s. The quirky group starred in an NBC sitcom, The Monkees, that ran from 1966 to 1968 as part of an effort to capitalize on the popularity of the Beatles. At 24, Tork was the oldest member of the band. He was presented as the band's goofiest member. His bandmates were Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith. They recorded a string of hits that included "Last Train to Clarksville," "Daydream Believer," and "Pleasant Valley Sunday."
Source: The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter
The U.S. government is getting ready to start building more walls and fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Monday. Heavy construction equipment is arriving early this week, with the work likely to take place on federal land dedicated as wildlife refuge. The nonprofit National Butterfly Center posted a photo showing an excavator parked next to its land. Congress last March approved a plan for 33 miles of new barriers in the area, at a cost of $600 million. President Trump and Democrats remain deadlocked on his demand for $5.7 billion for his promised border wall, which resulted in the recent 35-day partial government shutdown.
Source: The Associated Press
Federal border agents on Thursday made the largest seizure of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in U.S. history. A drug-sniffing dog helped Customs and Border Protection officers find the 254 pounds of the drug — enough to kill 57 million people — in a floor compartment of a tractor-trailer truck loaded with cucumbers and trying to cross a border checkpoint in Nogales, Arizona. That was twice as big as the previous record seizure of fentanyl, which is blamed for the majority of U.S. overdose deaths; that shipment was found in a truck in Nebraska. Agents also found 395 pounds of methamphetamine. The fentanyl had a value of $3.5 million; the meth was worth $1.1 million.
Source: NBC News
About This Blog
Certain numerology has a strong connection with occultism. Various numbers from time-to-time appear in news articles, and one has to wonder if there isn't some occult significance behind this story.