March 31, 2020

Three-quarters of the U.S. and about two-thirds of the world's people have been asked or ordered to stay home in a bid to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The result is a mixture of boredom, anxiety, hardship, and binge-watching TV and other screen-based entertainment. While doctors and nurses risk their lives to treat the sick, grocery workers toil to keep shelves stocked, and other essential workers keep society from breaking down, entertainers are trying to do their job, too.

It isn't always entertaining — at least not in the way they probably intended — but the quality of the performances has improved as actors, musicians, and other performers adapt to broadcasting themselves from home. On Monday night — the beginning of Week 3 of the quarantine for many Americans — late night TV hosts started beaming in musical guests, most of whom performed from their own living rooms. At best, the result is an intimate show to fill the time and even stir the heart.

The Late Late Show's James Corden, taping from his garage, checked in with performers around the world — BTS in South Korea, Dua Lipa in London, and tenor Andrea Bocelli in coronavirus-ravaged Italy. "Andrea, is there a message that you'd like to send to the people of Italy or any of the people around the world that are watching this right now?" Corden asked. "I would say, be positive," he said, and hope that "soon everything will be finished." Then he played and sang a lovely rendition of his first hit, "Con Te Partiró."

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and his sons Sammy and Spencer performed their song "Evergreen" from their family bathroom for Jimmy Kimmel, and it might just inspire you to try and teach your family to sing in harmony.

John Legend performed a stripped-down version of a new song, "Actions," from his living room for Corden.

OneRepublic was not social distancing when they preformed "Didn't I" for Corden.

And Jon Bon Jovi called in to The Tonight Show from his home studio in New Jersey to talk with Jimmy Fallon about feeding the needy and his crowdsourced coronavirus-crisis song "Do What You Can." Watch below. Peter Weber

4:59 a.m.

China's National People's Congress approved a controversial bill Thursday that, once enacted, will allow Beijing to exert its power more overtly in semi-autonomous Hong Kong. The 2,878-to-1 vote was expected and it moves the legislation, handed down from China's central government, back to the Standing Committee of the Communist Party. Once the committee finishes writing the law, it could be in force by August or September.

The legislation criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference in Hong Kong, and it says that "when needed, relevant national security organs of the Central People's Government will set up agencies in Hong Kong to fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law." That has been interpreted as allowing Beijing to set up its own security agencies in Hong Kong, adding a parallel police force. Hong Kong pro-democracy protests have resumed in response.

The new law, and another proposed bill that would outlaw disrespect for China's national anthem in Hong Kong, have fueled concerns about the future of the city as an international financial hub. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the Trump administration no long considers Hong Kong autonomous and may revoke its special trade status. Peter Weber

4:01 a.m.

The U.S. passed 100,000 recorded COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, by far the highest official death toll in the world. "It's a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be," said Kaiser Family Foundation health policy expert Josh Michaud. "The experience of other countries shows that death at that scale was preventable."

President Trump did not mark the sad milestone, tweeting instead the number of tests the U.S. has conducted with the exhortation: "Open safely!" His presumptive Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, gave a eulogy for the 100,000 dead and attempted words of comfort for their loved ones. And The Daily Show just compiled a super-reel of Trump, his media allies, and members of his administration praising the Trump administration's response, with patriotic music playing in the background. There is, perhaps appropriately, no punch line at the end. Peter Weber

3:16 a.m.

A protest outside the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct police station tipped into violence for a second night on Wednesday as demonstrators demanded justice in the police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, on Monday night. Looting was seen at a nearby Target, Dollar Tree, Cub Foods, and AutoZone, and as night fell, fires broke out in the street and the auto parts store, The Associated Press reports. Police, who fired tear gas and stun grenades Tuesday night, stood guard outside the station but did not appear to intervene to stop the looting.

Police did apprehend a suspect after finding a man shot dead on a sidewalk near the protests. Police spokesman John Elder said the shooting was being investigated as a homicide and the events that led up the death are "still being sorted out." Police Chief Medaria Arradondo urged calm as evening fell, noting that Floyd's death is under several investigations, including one by the FBI. "Justice historically has never come to fruition through some of the acts we're seeing tonight, whether it's the looting, the damage to property, or other things," he said on KMSP-TV.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for the arrest of the white officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck for eight minutes, even as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe. That officer and three others involved were fired Tuesday. There were also nonviolent protests outside the officer's house and the home of the Hennepin County prosecutor who will decide whether to file charges in the case. Surveillance footage appears to show Floyd cooperating with police, CNN reports, though the public has not yet seen the officer's body-camera.

Police forces around the country have enacted polices in recent years to limit excessive use of force, especially against black and brown people, and Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy said as far as he's concerned, the video of Floyd's final moments speaks for itself. Peter Weber

2:15 a.m.

"It seems like every day we're learning something new while we're in quarantine," Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. For instance, "did you know Hitler had an alligator? Well, he did, and now that alligator is dead."

"The president and his space poodle were in Florida today for the big NASA/SpaceX launch — this would have been the first time ever that a private company sent astronauts into orbit, which would have been a big deal," Kimmel said. "Unfortunately, the mission had to be scrubbed at the last minute due to weather. ... People online are blaming the president for jinxing this thing because he showed up to see it, just like they say he jinxed Alabama by showing up their home game, or how he's jinxed everything he's ever touched, but this is not his fault."

"It's been an all-caps kind of week for our dear mis-leader — Twitter yesterday, for the first time ever, flagged his tweets as potentially misleading," Kimmel said. "I guess this is good, but I don't know. Do we really need Twitter to tell us our fake president tweets fake things? Is that their job? The president, of course, was displeased. He took to Twitter to lash out at Twitter." He read Trump's tweetrum and said he wasn't sure what it meant.

"I guess it was only a matter of time before Donald Trump would be in a Twitter feud with Twitter," Kimmel said. "But this new kick he's on, trying to stop voting-by-mail, is actually very scary, because it's pretty clear he's setting the stage to claim he was cheated if he loses the election, which could potentially result in real violence in this country. And to help him push our democracy toward the edge of a cliff, Kellyanne Conway spoke to reporters today to say: pandemic, schmandemic, real American voters wait in line." At least for cupcakes.

Late Night's Seth Meyers presented a cartoon mashup of Trump's family quarantine and The Shining, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

1:38 a.m.

Scientists were able to capture rare audio of narwhal vocalizations as several swam through a fjord in Greenland, and they discovered that these elusive whales make some familiar sounds underwater.

Known as the unicorns of the sea, narwhals live in the Arctic waters. Evgeny Podolskiy of Japan's Hokkaido University, who studies the sounds of glaciers, realized that to get a fuller picture, he needed to understand what noises the narwhal makes. Last summer, he led a team of geophysicists to Greenland, where they worked with Inuit hunters to record the different noises of the narwhal. Their study was published Tuesday in the AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

The team was able to capture narwhals whistling, clicking, and buzzing. Narwhals use echolocation to find food, and the researchers found that the closer a narwhal gets to its prey, the faster it clicks, and the buzzing noise sounds like a chainsaw. When narwhals want to communicate with each other, they whistle. The researchers said the recordings have helped them better understand narwhal behavior and how they find food in the summer. Catherine Garcia

1:08 a.m.

It is unclear why President Trump, who voted by mail in March, is suddenly so vehemently opposed to voting by mail. But he could have easily voted in person in March, CNN reports. Trump spent March 7-9 in Palm Beach, Florida, his new legal residence. Early voting started in Florida on March 7, and there were 15 early voting sites in Palm Beach, including eight within 15 miles of Mar-a-Lago, CNN notes. One of those sites, Main Palm Beach County Library, is literally across the road from the entrance to Trump's golf club, which he visited three times that weekend.

When asked why he votes by mail, Trump says "absentee" voting is fine. "As an example, I have to do an absentee because I'm voting in Florida, and I happen to be president," living in the White House, he said Tuesday in the Rose Garden. "If you're president of the United States and if you vote in Florida, and you can't be there, you should be able to send in a ballot," Trump said in Michigan last week.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who voted by mail in Florida at least 11 times in the past decade, said last week that Trump is "unable to cast his vote down in Florida," so "that's why he had to do a mail-in vote. But he supports mail-in voting for a reason, when you have a reason that you are unable to be present." She tweeted Wednesday that "absentee voting" means "you're absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person." Florida, like many states, doesn't require an excuse to vote by mail — all registered voters have to do is ask.

"Trump's hard line appears to be driven by his personal suspicions and concerns about his own re-election prospects," The Associated Press noted last month. He has said he thinks expanding vote-by-mail would increase participation in the 2020 election and doom Republican candidates nationwide — a study from Stanford University last week was the latest to find no partisan advantage from mail-in voting, or perhaps a slight boost for Republicans — and he falsely claims it increases vote fraud. Twitter's flagging of Trump's false claims was the proximate cause of Trump's threat to take unspecified actions against his favorite micro-blogging platform. Peter Weber

12:53 a.m.

American Airlines told employees on Wednesday that it plans on cutting its management and administrative staff by 30 percent, as the company struggles with low demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

American has about 17,000 management and support workers, and the move will eliminate more than 5,000 jobs. Because of the pandemic, the number of passengers on planes plummeted in March and April, and airlines believe it could take years before travel is back to where it was pre-pandemic.

In a letter to employees, Elise Eberwein, American's executive vice president of people and global engagement, wrote that the company "must plan for operating a smaller airline for the foreseeable future." Volunteers will be able to take buyouts through June 10, but if not enough people step forward, forced cuts will be made.

American will keep the employees on its payroll through the end of September, as this was a requirement for airlines to receive billions in government aid. The company has received $5.8 billion to cover labor costs and has applied for an additional $4.75 billion government loan. Catherine Garcia

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