September 12, 2019

John Bolton and President Trump had many differences, but his acrimonious exit as national security adviser Tuesday seemed inevitable after he broke "the president's sometimes Kafkaesque management style — an unusual set of demands and expectations he sets for those in his direct employ," The Washington Post reports. Trump, for example, "tolerates a modicum of dissent, so long as it remains private; expects advisers to fall in line and defend his decisions; and demands absolute fealty at all times."

There's only one person who can survive in Trump's orbit, and it's Trump, former advisers tell the Post. "You're there more as an annoyance to him because he has to fill some of these jobs, but you're not there to do anything other than be backlighting," said former communications director Anthony Scaramucci. "There's one spotlight on the stage, it's shining on Trump, and you're a prop in the back with dim lights." A Republican in close touch with Trump agreed: "He really doesn't believe in advisers. ... John [Bolton] saw his role as advisory, but Trump thinks he's his own adviser, and I don't think people fully appreciate this."

"There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long-term," a former senior administration official told the Post. "The president doesn't like people to get good press. He doesn't like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blamed the ousted aides. "Anybody who thinks they're smart enough to manipulate Trump, they're very foolish," he said. "People mistake a willingness to eat cheeseburgers and drink Coke with being a buffoon, and he's not a buffoon." Read more Trump rules, plus the four categories of doomed Trump advisers, at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

4:59 p.m.

A Chinese county that was largely unscathed by the novel COVID-19 coronavirus went into lockdown Wednesday, signaling fears of a possible second wave in the country where the virus originated, The South China Morning Post reports.

The county of Jia in Henan province, home to 600,000 people, is now in lockdown after infections reportedly spread at a local hospital. There were previously only 12 confirmed cases in Henan, despite it being situated just north of Hubei province, where China's epicenter, Wuhan, is located. However, U.S. intelligence reportedly believes China under-reported the actual number of cases.

Either way, the new lockdown, which shuts down all non-essential business and requires people to carry special permits to leave their homes, and wear face masks and have their temperature taken when out and about, comes at a time when the country clearly wants to get its economy up and running again. It's unclear if such measures will be limited to the county or if it's a sign of things to come for the rest of the world's most populous country, but President Xi Jinping has warned that China must return to normal gradually in the hopes of preventing a full-scale COVID-19 return. Read more at The South China Morning Post. Tim O'Donnell

4:21 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden isn't afraid to reach across the aisle during this national crisis.

In a press gaggle on Wednesday, Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump, snapped at Biden's apparent "criticism" of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus. "Why doesn't Vice President Biden call the White House today and offer some support?" Conway questioned — and so Biden offered to do so.

"I think it's really disappointing to have President Obama's number two ... out there, criticizing, instead of saying 'hey, here is what we did that we thought was effective,' Conway said Wednesday. She repeated the criticism on Fox News and in a tweet, even though Biden had offered up both his and former President Barack Obama's advice on MSNBC Tuesday night.

Biden's deputy campaign manager fired back with another statement on Wednesday, saying Biden "has been extending his advice for months" — Fox News agreed that was true. "The Obama-Biden administration even wrote a literal playbook for pandemic response, but unfortunately Trump's administration left it on the shelf," the statement continued.

Now, the ball is in Trump's court. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:16 p.m.

Yet another big movie is clearing out of 2020 completely.

Universal announced Wednesday its animated sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru, which was originally set for release this summer, has been delayed one year and will now hit theaters in July 2021, per The Hollywood Reporter.

It had previously been announced that Minions would not make its previously-scheduled release date because Illumination's studio in Paris was forced to temporarily close amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, though it was unclear at the time whether the film could still hit theaters sometime in 2020. The first Minions, a Despicable Me prequel, took in more than $1 billion worldwide in 2015 and was one of the highest-grossing films of that year.

This is just the latest example of a major 2020 film being delayed all the way until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic after Sony on Tuesday delayed Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was scheduled to hit theaters this July, to March 2021. Universal also previously moved the ninth Fast & Furious film from May 2020 to April 2021, while Disney postponed Black Widow indefinitely.

The summer movie season typically brings in major business for Hollywood, but fewer and fewer films remain on the calendar for that period this year as theaters throughout the United States remain largely closed in accordance with social distancing guidelines. A rare blockbuster to be postponed to another date this summer was Wonder Woman 1984, as Warner Bros. moved the DC sequel from June to August 2020 in hopes theaters would widely reopen by then.

Whether they will, and whether audiences will quickly return if they do, isn't clear. AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron on Tuesday told CNBC he "would love to think" there can still be a summer movie season this year, but as far as when the chain's theaters can begin resuming operations, he said at this time, "nobody knows." Brendan Morrow

3:24 p.m.

Experts are now convinced a February Champions League soccer game between the Italian club Atalanta and the Spanish club Valencia was at the forefront of an explosion of COVID-19 cases in Italy's Lombardy region, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, The Wall Street Journal reports.

More than 40,000 people crammed into San Siro stadium in Milan to watch the contest, a 4-1 victory for Atalanta. Then, two weeks later Bergamo, where Atalanta is based, experienced a major spike in cases, with scientists pinpointing the match as a crucial petri dish. "Two weeks after Feb. 19, there was an incredible explosion of cases," said Dr. Francesco Le Foche, an immunologist in charge of infectious diseases at Policlinico Umberto I in Rome. "The match played a huge role in disseminating coronavirus throughout Lombardy and in Bergamo in particular."

To put it in perspective, 35 percent of Valencia's traveling squad tested positive for the virus after the team returned to Spain. Only one Atalanta player tested positive, but the club has published death notices on its website for five people linked to the virus who were close to the club within the last two weeks, all of whom were present for Atalanta's victory over Valencia.

The match shows the type of role sporting events can play in furthering the spread of the virus, further explaining why nearly every professional league has shut down operations, and casting doubt on whether some sports will come back at all this year. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

3:16 p.m.

Everyone wants to write the great coronavirus anthem but — apologies to Bono — there can only be one John Mayer.

On his Instagram Live program this weekend, Mayer premiered a parody song called "Drone Shot of My Yacht," in which he skewers billionaires sitting out the pandemic on their luxury boats. It was such a hit, Mayer then reposted a minute-long version later in the week, Variety reports:

"This weekend's 'Not Now' goes to David Geffen, who posted an Instagram photo of himself on his boat saying he was isolated in the Grenadines," Mayer had told fans of his inspiration. "And I gotta tell you, I don't know where the Grenadines are. The most offensive thing to me in this post is assuming that I know where the Grenadines are." Jeva Lange

3:10 p.m.

The effects of the coronavirus shutdown are being felt everywhere, even in the Earth's crust.

The decrease in activity and transportation have led to a noticeable drop in seismic noise — the usual "hum of vibrations in the planet's crust." This quietude could help seismologists detect smaller earthquakes and more closely monitor volcanic activity, Nature reports.

Moving vehicles and industrial machinery usually cause vibrations that can get in the way of researchers looking to detect signals at the same frequency. A drop in activity of this size is typically only seen briefly at Christmastime, Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels, told Nature.

"There's a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements," Lecocq said. This includes a better chance at finding the locations of aftershocks, said Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology. During the shutdown, seismologists are hoping to "squeeze a little more information on those events," he said. Read more at Nature. Taylor Watson

3:04 p.m.

Florida is getting a statewide stay-at-home order after its governor previously held off on taking the step.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday he's issuing a stay-at-home order for all of Florida that will go into effect at midnight on Thursday and last for at least 30 days amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.

In a press conference, DeSantis said he's ordering Floridians statewide to "limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities." It "makes sense to make this move now," he added.

Florida had previously been among the last large U.S. states without a statewide stay-at-home order, and DeSantis was under mounting pressure to issue one; he previously ordered residents of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Monroe counties to stay at home, The Hill reports. The state has confirmed almost 7,000 coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, DeSantis said that President Trump and his coronavirus task force "has not recommended" that he issue a statewide stay-at-home order but that if they did, "obviously that would be something that would carry a lot of weight with me." His announcement Wednesday came after he spoke over the phone with Trump, who recently extended the federal government's social distancing guidelines until the end of April, The New York Times reports.

"When the president did the 30-day extension, to me, that was, 'People aren't just going to back to work,'" DeSantis said Wednesday, per the Times. "That's a national pause button."

Asked in an appearance on Today on Wednesday about whether Florida should have a stay-at-home order, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams responded by describing the current federal social distancing guidelines as amounting to a "national stay-at-home order."

Brendan Morrow

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