Listen Up
April 1, 2020

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says there is "no question the United States missed the opportunity to get ahead of the novel coronavirus," and there are three steps that must be taken now in order to soften the blow to the economy and slow the number of deaths.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post published Tuesday, Gates said there has to be "a consistent nationwide approach to shutting down." In some states, restaurants are still serving diners and beaches are open, which is a "recipe for disaster," Gates said. "Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country's leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere." It could take at least 10 weeks to get the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases down, he said, and until then, "no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown."

The federal government also needs to do more testing, with the results aggregated "so we can quickly identify potential volunteers for clinical trials and know with confidence when it's time to return to normal," Gates said. Health care workers and first responders should have priority, followed by "highly symptomatic people who are at most risk of becoming seriously ill and those who are likely to have been exposed."

There has to be a "data-based approach to developing treatments and a vaccine," Gates said, and politicians need to stay quiet and stop spreading rumors about both. Once there is a safe and effective vaccine, billions of doses will need to be manufactured, he said, and facilities where they will be made can be built now. The country has "a long way to go," Gates said, but he still believes "if we make the right decisions now, informed by science, data, and the experience of medical professionals, we can save lives and get the country back to work." Catherine Garcia

November 21, 2019

Former President Barack Obama delivered a very blunt message to Democrats on Thursday.

During a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in California's Silicon Valley, Obama said that in a primary, a candidate's "flaws are magnified," and the "field will narrow and there's going to be one person and if that is not your perfect candidate and there are certain aspects of what they say that you don't agree with and you don't find them completely inspiring the way you'd like, I don't care, because the choice is so stark and the stakes are so high that you cannot afford to be ambivalent in this race."

Those who are worried about the candidates need to "chill out," Obama said, and "gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from this process." There will be differences in style and policy, he acknowledged, but those are "relatively minor" relative to the "ultimate goal, which is to defeat a president and a party that has ... taken a sharp turn away from a lot of the core traditions and values and institutional commitments that built this country."

Earlier this month, Obama said the Democratic candidates needed to "pay some attention to where voters actually are" and not be "diluted into thinking that the resistance to certain approaches to things is simply because voters haven't heard a bold enough proposal." Read more about Obama's remarks at CNN. Catherine Garcia

September 9, 2019

One of the reasons why Tom Hanks decided to play Fred Rogers in the new movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is because he was drawn to the beloved television host's innate kindness.

"Cynicism has become the default position for so much of daily structure and daily intercourse," Hanks told reporters at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday. "Why? Because it's easy, and there's good money to be made. Cynicism is a great product to sell, and it's the perfect beginning of any examination of anything. And part of that is conspiracy theories and what have you."

When Rogers started Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in the late 1960s, children were receiving negative messages on other programs, Hanks said. "Why would you put something that is cynical in front of a 2- or 3-year-old kid?" he asked. "That you are not cool because you don't have this toy? That it's funny to see someone being bopped on the head?" That's a poor way to treat the audience, and Rogers did the exact opposite. "We are allowed, I think, to feel good," Hanks said. "There's a place for cynicism, but why begin with it right off the bat?" Catherine Garcia

June 21, 2019

The Flowers v. Mississippi Supreme Court case has an outsized media following, and Justice Clarence Thomas thinks that majorly influenced its outcome.

On Friday, the court announced it reached a 7-2 decision to overturn the death row conviction of Curtis Flowers, saying racial discrimination played a role in his jury's selection across previous trials. Yet in his dissenting opinion, Thomas wrote that the court likely only heard the case because it "has received a fair amount of media attention," namely from the viral American Public Media podcast In The Dark.

The APM podcast spent months investigating Flowers' case, in which a white prosecutor had tried the black defendant six times for the murder of four people in Mississippi. The prosecutor had consistently used his peremptory strikes to remove black candidates from the jury pool, leading Flowers to face all-white and nearly all-white juries in every trial. The majority determined that racial discrimination played a role in these strikes and found them unconstitutional.

Thomas, the court's only black justice, meanwhile authored a scathing dissent that criticized the media as much as his colleagues, suggesting the justices just furthered the idea that "this court gives closer scrutiny to cases with significant media attention."

Thomas went on to write that if the majority opinion "has one redeeming quality," it's that "the state is perfectly free to convict Curtis Flowers again." Kathryn Krawczyk

February 23, 2019

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) argued with a group of school of children over her unwillingness to support the Green New Deal on Friday.

The Sunrise Movement, an organization which encourages young people to combat climate change, posted a video of the encounter to Facebook. More than a dozen children and adults met with Feinstein to ask her to vote yes on the proposal. Feinstein, however, informed the crowd that the resolution will never pass the senate and "there's no way to pay" for the deal.

When one girl requested she vote yes anyway, Feinstein told her that she might end up doing that, but "it's not a good resolution."

Feinstein also clashed with crowd over age and experience. A young woman told Feinstein that she was "looking at the faces of the people who will be living these consequences" of climate change. "I've been doing this for 30 years," Feinstein replied. "So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit."

Feinstein's camp released a statement about the meeting. "I have been and remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful change," Feinstein said. She said the discussion was "spirited" and she heard the children's voices "loud and clear." Tim O'Donnell

September 13, 2018

Harrison Ford made a few requests Thursday at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

The event brings together leaders from around the world to discuss tackling climate change, and while onstage, the actor begged voters to know where candidates stand on the matter before filling out their ballots. "For God's sake, stop electing leaders who don't believe in science," he said. "Or even worse, pretend they don't believe in science. Never forget who you're fighting for."

If humanity can't protect nature, "we can't protect ourselves," Ford continued, and while people work to "meet the challenge of climate change, I beg of you, don't forget nature. Because today the destruction of nature accounts for more global emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world." Watch part of his speech below. Catherine Garcia

April 18, 2018

A blast from President Trump's past had an urgent message for him on Friday: Don't trust Michael Cohen.

Jay Goldberg, Trump's former attorney, told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that Trump called him last week seeking advice, and he let the president know that on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 meaning Cohen would fully protect Trump, Cohen "isn't even a 1." Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, is under criminal investigation, and last week, FBI agents raided his home, office, and hotel room, searching for documents having to do with payments made to two women who claim they had sexual encounters with Trump, among other matters.

Cohen is known for his loyalty to Trump, but Goldberg told the Journal he let Trump know he thinks Cohen "will never stand up" for him and might even agree to wear a wire, "I don't care what Michael says." Goldberg also said he doesn't think Trump has done anything illegal, but if charged, Cohen would turn against him and begin cooperating with prosecutors. "The mob was broken by Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano caving in out of the prospect of a jail sentence," Goldberg noted. Catherine Garcia

February 5, 2018

Apple Music is on track to have more U.S. subscribers than its main competitor, Spotify, by this summer, The Wall Street Journal reports. While Sweden-based Spotify continues to dominate the global music streaming market, Apple has seen a monthly growth rate of 5 percent in America, versus Spotify's 2 percent.

Part of Apple Music's successful push in the U.S. stems from the service coming preloaded on all of the company's devices, including iPhones and Apple Watches. When Apple Music's free and discounted trial users are factored in, the service has actually already surpassed Spotify in the States, although "neither company publicly breaks out figures for the U.S. or any other single market," the Journal writes.

Both services cost $9.99 a month, with Spotify also offering a free version and a catalog of 30 million songs. Apple Music has a slightly bigger library, with 45 million songs. Spotify has almost twice as many subscribers worldwide compared to Apple, 70 million as opposed to 36 million. Jeva Lange

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