• News
    Reuters

    Number of coronavirus cases at Dutch meatpacking plant jumps to 147

    The number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus at a Dutch pork processing plant near the German border has jumped to 147 since it was closed last week and workers asked to go into quarantine. The Vion plant in Groenlo, located east of Arnhem and west of the northern German city of Muenster, employs 657 people, many of them German. Health authorities ordered it shut and the workers quarantined after 45 infections were detected on May 20.

  • Lightning Strikes Tower of the Americas in San Antonio
    Science
    Storyful

    Lightning Strikes Tower of the Americas in San Antonio

    Eyewitness video has captured the moment lightning struck the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas, on May 24.Video posted to Twitter by Robert Rubio shows flashes of light as lightning strikes the 750-foot tower.“Pardon my excitement,” he wrote.The light show occurred as a tornado warning was in effect for Bexar County and a severe thunderstorm watch for several others. Credit: Robert Rubio / @rdrubio via Storyful

  • MTV star asserts his ‘celebrity status’ during arrest
    News
    SWNS

    MTV star asserts his ‘celebrity status’ during arrest

    Watch as MTV star Kirk Medas of Floribama Shore asserts his questionable 'celebrity status' with police during his arrest for disorderly conduct in Woodstock, Georgia on Friday [May 15, 2020]. "I'm not doing sh*t," shouted Medas, 28, as three officers struggled to restrain him. "I'm on a TV show by the way," he bellowed, as bystanders giggled from a distance.

  • News
    Sky News

    Coronavirus: Cummings row 'undermines trust in government and more people will die' - scientist

    A scientist who has been advising the government during the coronavirus crisis has said the row over Dominic Cummings has undermined efforts to fight the pandemic - and "more people are going to die" as a result. The comments by Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), came after Boris Johnson backed Mr Cummings' decision to travel 260 miles to his parents' house in the North East during lockdown.

  • Reopening Hollywood: First major movie to be released since coronavirus lockdown
    Entertainment
    Sky News

    Reopening Hollywood: First major movie to be released since coronavirus lockdown

    The makers of the first major movie to be released since the coronavirus lockdown have told Sky News it is the "canary in the coal mine" for an entertainment industry looking to reopen. The film Unhinged, a road rage thriller starring Russell Crowe, will hit cinema screens in the US on 1 July, months earlier than originally planned. It bucks the trend of films being delayed or released instead on television and streaming services.

  • Business
    Sky News

    Coronavirus: 'Strategically important' companies could receive government bailouts

    Strategically important companies will be able to receive government bailouts on a "last resort" basis, it has been revealed. The Treasury has said it will step in when a company's failure would "disproportionately harm the economy" - but only once all other options had been exhausted. Under the new plan - named Project Birch - Chancellor Rishi Sunak has increased the Treasury's capacity to handle bespoke bailouts of viable companies.

  • News
    Sky News

    Coronavirus: NHS doctor threatens to resign if Dominic Cummings does not

    An NHS doctor working in a COVID-19 intensive care unit has said he will resign by the end of the week if Dominic Cummings has not done so by then - and said other NHS staff will most likely follow. Boris Johnson has backed his top aide and has refused to fire him after he was accused of breaching lockdown rules by travelling from London to Durham with his wife and young son to stay with his parents at the end of March - a week after the lockdown was imposed. Dr Pimenta said he will announce his decision to quit by the end of the week if Mr Cummings is still in his position.

  • Myanmar migrant workers return from Thailand
    News
    AFP UK

    Myanmar migrant workers return from Thailand

    After weeks of waiting at the border, large numbers of Myanmar migrant workers are returning from Thailand as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic sees factories close and tens of thousands of people lose jobs across Southeast Asia.

  • EU's top diplomat urges 'more robust strategy' toward China
    News
    Associated Press

    EU's top diplomat urges 'more robust strategy' toward China

    The European Union's top diplomat has called for the bloc to have a “more robust strategy” toward China amid signs that Asia is replacing the United States as the center of global power. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century.” Borrell said the pandemic could be seen as a turning point in the power shift from West to East, and that for the EU the “pressure to choose sides is growing."

  • 'What planet are they on?' No respite for UK's Johnson and aide
    News
    Reuters

    'What planet are they on?' No respite for UK's Johnson and aide

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced mutiny in his party and fury across Britain on Monday for refusing to sack his closest aide Dominic Cummings who is accused of flouting the coronavirus lockdown by driving 250 miles from London. Defending one of Britain's most powerful men, Johnson said at the weekend Cummings acted "responsibly and legally and with integrity" by heading from London to northern England with his son and his wife, who was ill with COVID-19 symptoms. Many believe that was hypocritical given the government's mantra at the time to avoid such movements.

  • Summer TV Preview: 50 (!!!) Shows to Watch, From ‘Hamilton’ to Ryan Murphy
    Entertainment
    The Daily Beast

    Summer TV Preview: 50 (!!!) Shows to Watch, From ‘Hamilton’ to Ryan Murphy

    “Going outside” was always overrated, right? It’s been a running joke these last few years that the tidal wave of new, great summer TV—once the scorched earth doldrums of reruns and one-off special events—has made an appealing case for hunkering down on the couch instead of seeking fun in the sun. Who needs a tan, anyway? This year, however, it’s no joke. While the situation is different state by state and, of course, evolving, we’re all going to be stuck at home, whether or not it’s because we’re just that excited to see what Peacock, the new streaming service, has to offer. The world is in differing stages of shutdown. We’re in quarantine. And, thankfully, summer is no longer TV’s No Man’s Land. There’s a hell of a lot of stuff to watch.Two major new streaming services are coming, with HBO Max getting about a six-week start on Peacock in its ploy for your subscription cash. Both are bringing massive catalogs of past movies and TV series—in the ruthless streaming wars, HBO Max boasts Friends, while Peacock is armed with The Office—but will also launch with big plays at original content. And that’s in addition to the dozens of new and returning shows coming from the channels and streamers to which you already subscribe.Week by week, the future of TV programming is changing. Premiere dates are shifting later to ensure that networks have enough content to stretch across however long production shutdowns may last. Other premiere dates are moving up earlier, with platforms hoping to capitalize on captive audiences desperate for content. And new “at home” shows filmed during quarantine, predominantly reality TV, are announced on a seeming daily basis. I can only imagine that’s going to continue. That said, we’ve perused the hundreds—quite literally—of shows, both new and returning, linear and streaming, coming to make your summer quarantine more enjoyable. From the return of critical favorites like Ramy and Search Party, to splashy new series starring Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason) and Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird), and the streaming debut of a little phenomenon called Hamilton, here’s our roundup of a mere 50—yes, 50—summer TV series worth checking out. Hannah Gadsby: DouglasMay 26 on NetflixThe new comedy special from Hannah Gadsby comes two years after Nanette opened up a Pandora’s box of taboo topics in comedy: sexuality, depression, gender identity, toxic masculinity, trauma, humiliation, and what comedy even is anymore. Douglas reckons with the world which Nanette wrought, this time with Gadsby presiding over the debate as a bonafide comedy superstar.World of DanceMay 26 on NBCNo, J. Lo isn’t breaking quarantine in order to judge a dance competition. The series wrapped production in March before the Hollywood shutdown. While these network TV talent competitions are starting to become indecipherable from each other, this one does boast some truly jaw-dropping talent. Plus, again: J. Lo.LegendaryMay 27 on HBO MaxFinally, there is a reality competition series set in the world of ballroom and voguing. A controversy surrounding the hiring of The Good Place star Jameela Jamil as emcee-turned-judge spotlighted long-standing issues when it comes to LGBTQ industry representation and how certain subgroups of that acronym are treated within the community. But if you can brush that aside, you’ll witness some serious ballroom talent. 10s across the board.Love LifeMay 27 on HBO MaxThe romantic dramedy series is the big scripted program that HBO Max is leaning on to launch the original content-portion of its new streaming service. It stars Anna Kendrick as a millennial fumbling through love and life—hey, some titles are refreshingly literal—in New York City. Her name is Darby Carter. (Seriously.) Each episode chronicles a relationship she has on her way to happily ever after. There is a very specific audience that will enjoy it. You know whether that is you, and you know if you should instead run away screaming.The Not Too Late Show With ElmoMay 27 on HBO MaxWho is this kid-friendly satire of the adults-only late-night talk show genre for? Attempting to figure that out is reason alone to watch.On the Record May 27 on HBO MaxOn the Record, which chronicles the pattern of sexual assault allegations made against music mogul Russell Simmons, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival amid controversy when Oprah Winfrey pulled her backing, calling the documentary’s credibility into question. But the powerful, determined, horrifying accounts of Simmons’ accusers overshadow any off-screen production melee.  Central ParkMay 29 on Apple TV+An animated musical sitcom from the creator of Bob’s Burgers featuring the voice talents of Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Josh Gad, Kathryn Hahn, and Stanley Tucci. Sounds pretty delightful.RamyMay 29 on HuluThe first season of Ramy was astounding, a look at a Muslim-American millennial’s attempt to navigate his religion, cultural identity, and own sexual and spiritual desires and views. The series heralded the arrival of a brilliant new auteur and actor in creator-star Ramy Youssef, and critics and award shows took note. Season two sweetens things with the addition of two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali to the cast.Space Force May 29 on NetflixThe credits list alone in a murderer’s row of comedy greatness: Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, Jane Lynch, and the late Fred Willard in a new series that re-teams Carell with The Office creator Greg Daniels. The tag line is pretty tantalizing, too. “The people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services: The Space Force.”Quiz May 31 on AMCIn 2001, a married couple in England attempted to cheat their way to the grand prize of one million pounds on the British version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The sensational true story missed the headlines stateside (the year 2001 brought some bigger news over here), but the new AMC miniseries should rectify that, as Oh My God I Love Them MVPs Sian Clifford (Fleabag), Matthew Macfadyen (Succession), and Michael Sheen (so many things) all star.Below Deck: MediterraneanJune 1 on BravoBravo is bringing us blue-sky escapism just when we need it the most. The Mediterranean installment of the Below Deck franchise has reliably brought exactly the right amount of silliness, soapy drama, and boozy distraction—and, last season, an unintentionally iconic catchphrase with “June June Hannah.” This season, a historic female-led crew is in charge as the luxury yacht becomes your quarantine TV passport.Dirty John: The Betty Broderick StoryJune 2 on USAPrestige TV and trashy soap proved a pairing far healthier than the relationship it was depicting when the Dirty John podcast got the scripted TV treatment on Bravo last year, with Connie Britton and Eric Bana starring. Season two moves to a new network—USA—with two new stars (Amanda Peet and Christian Slater) and a new, murderous scandal. Fuller House June 2 on NetflixThere are people who are going to be sad that this show is ending, to which we say to each their own. The final season begins June 2.Summer Rush June 4 on Food NetworkWe don’t care to reveal just how many hours of quarantine we’ve spent mindlessly watching the Food Network. Summer Rush adds some new flavor to that programming, a rare foray into docu-soap territory that chronicles the Foy family as they juggle running their three restaurants during the pressure-packed high season in Lake George, New York.13 Reasons Why June 5 on NetflixNetflix’s most problematic, massively popular teen drama series—Suicide! Rape! School shootings!—wraps up its hotly debated run with a fourth and final season. We’ll always have the rage strokes. RuPaul’s Drag Race: All StarsJune 5 on VH1Is there such a thing as too much Drag Race? That is evidently of no concern to VH1, which at one point this spring was airing three-and-a-half hours of RuPaul’s Drag Race programming, including episodes of Untucked and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race. Having successfully evaded bedsores during those weekly marathons, fans will be rewarded with a fifth edition of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, kicking off a week after season’s 12 finale.Queer EyeJune 5 on NetflixAs if we weren’t already crying enough during quarantine, the Fab Five returns in June with 10 new episodes. We Are Freestyle Love SupremeJune 5 on HuluThe Summer of Lin-Manuel Miranda gets a soft launch with this documentary on the 15-year journey the hip-hop improv group he co-founded took from beatboxing on the streets of New York to a splashy Broadway run last year. Consider it the warm up to the big show, with Hamilton coming to Disney+ a month later.Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!June 6 on HBO Orji gives one of the best supporting performances on TV as Issa’s best friend Molly on Insecure. But in this one-hour comedy special, it’s her story that takes center stage as she recounts what it was like to navigate her Nigerian-American identity, walking “the fine line between cursing people out and putting curses on them.”I May Destroy You June 7 on HBOIf you’re cool, you already know and love Michaela Coel, who created and wrote the British comedy series Chewing Gum. Her new series I May Destroy You on HBO, Coel tackles issues like sexual consent, liberation, and exploitation, which is not, like, fun ha-ha material, sure. But it’s frank and provocative nonetheless. LA’s FinestJune 8 on SpectrumAn offshoot of the Bad Boys franchise with Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union as the leads, LA’s Finest landed on Spectrum Originals last year with shockingly little buzz. Still, it was renewed for a second season airing this summer and will get a push this fall when Fox, starved for content amidst the shutdown, will air episodes on broadcast for the first time. More like LA’s Fine Enough, I Guess. Lenox HillJune 10 on NetflixSuffice it to say that healthcare workers are on our minds a lot these days. Netflix is hoping that you might follow up your nightly 7 pm claps of gratitude with a binge of the new docuseries chronicling the work of four doctors in the famous New York City hospital.The Bold TypeJune 11 on FreeformIs lavishing in the lives of a group of young women working at a glossy print women’s magazine in New York an exercise in diversion or masochism at a time when media companies all over the city are slashing jobs and laying off journalists? You be the judge when the second half of The Bold Type’s fourth season returns this summer.One Day at a Time Animated SpecialJune 16 on PopThe months since the coronavirus shutdown began has seen Hollywood pivot in surprising, clever ways to continue to produce new content. My favorite, and perhaps the most ambitious, is the creative team of One Day at a Time mounting an animated special featuring the series’ crack cast—Rita Moreno!—as well as guests Gloria Estefan and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Summer of Lin! Siesta KeyJune 16 on MTVMy parents groaned when my generation became obsessed with a show as degenerative as Jersey Shore. And now we groan as the kids tune into Siesta Key. Call it the Reality TV Circle of Life.Love, VictorJune 19 on HuluThis spinoff of the groundbreaking gay teen rom-com Love, Simon was originally developed for Disney+ before it moved over to Hulu when the House of Mouse decided its themes of sexual exploration weren’t suitable for the family-friendly app. So chew on that garbage, and then cleanse yourself with a journey into the very charming Love, Simon universe with Love, Victor.The Politician June 19 on NetflixSeason one of The Politician: Very expensive, not very good. But there’s a catch!!! The season’s final episode, which debuted characters played by Judith Light and Bette Midler and a juicy local politics scandal storyline, was legitimately sensational. We wanted to see more of that show. Well, now we can! The ChiJune 21 on ShowtimeThe Chi has had a rocky run on Showtime. That had nothing to do with its quality, but with allegations of misconduct made against lead Jason Mitchell that eventually led to the actor being fired. Hoping for a fresh start in season three, Lena Waithe, who created the series, joins in a recurring role as a mayoral candidate. NOS4A2June 21 on AMCThe title is pronounced “Nosferatu.” Zachary Quinto stars. His character feeds on the souls of children and deposits them in Christmasland, a twisted Christmas village in his imagination. And that is all the relevant information on NOS4A2.Perry MasonJune 21 on HBOMatthew Rhys!!!!!! That’s the big selling point in this remake of the classic TV mystery drama that starred Raymond Burr as the titular private detective. Then again, the supporting cast HBO gathered around the Emmy-winning The Americans alum is a pretty legitimate selling point, too: John Lithgow, Tatiana Maslany, Shea Whigham, Stephen Root, Nate Corddry, Lili Taylor, Robert Patrick, and Juliet Rylance.YellowstoneJune 21 on ParamountCall your dad and tell him that the new season of Yellowstone launches June 21. Search PartyJune 25 on HBO MaxThe journey to season three has been quite the odyssey for the cult favorite comedy noir. The blessedly peculiar series—part millennial satire, part thriller, a bit like a deadpan Scooby Doo—originally aired on TBS, shot its third season two years ago and, after what seemed like eons of fans wondering what the hell is going on, was finally announced to shift to HBO Max last year...and with a renewal for season four. Anyway, none of that really matters. This show is good and you should watch it!The Twilight ZoneJune 25 on CBS All AccessFor the first season of this reboot trip to the fifth dimension, Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us, Key & Peele) served as executive producer. This time around, he’s also writing an episode, and has assembled a veritable Mad Libs cast to fill out the anthology: Jenna Elfman, Billy Porter, Topher Grace, Tony Hale, Morena Baccarin, Damon Wayans Jr., Christopher Meloni, Joel McHale, and Sky Ferreira. Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2June 26 on Disney+The behind-the-scenes making-of documentary launches on June 26, and airs three times a day, every day after that in the homes of anyone with a small child across the country.Black MondayJune 28 on ShowtimeThe Showtime dark comedy, set in ’80s Wall Street, should be one of the most talked about comedies on TV, with its ace cast—Don Cheadle, Regina Hall, Andrew Rannells, Casey Wilson, Rob Corddry—and a strong start to its second season, which took a hiatus due to the pandemic shutdown. It returns June 28, which is ample time to catch up and start spreading the word.I’ll Be Gone in the Dark June 28 on HBOLiz Garbus directs this six-part docuseries on the hunt for the Golden State Killer, inspired by the late crime writer Michelle McNamara’s book. If you’re a fan of true-crime series, this is going to be a good one.HamiltonJuly 3 on Disney+In a much appreciated act of quarantine charity, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Disney have shifted the filmed version of the original cast performing Hamilton on Broadway from its planned theatrical release in October 2021 up more than a year to a streaming launch on Disney+ this Independence Day weekend. Soon, we’ll all be in the (living) room where it happens.HannaJuly 3 on AmazonA coming-of-age drama about a teenage girl, but make her an assassin? Amazon’s TV adaptation of the 2011 film starring Saoirse Ronan heads into season two.Tough as NailsJuly 8 on CBSCBS has sidelined the new season of The Amazing Race, saving it for when things might get desperate as content completed prior to the pandemic shutdown starts to dry up. But the network is not about to deprive fans of their Phil Keoghan fix in these trying times! The Amazing Race star takes on new hosting duties in Tough as Nails, a competition series featuring everyday Americans whose physically demanding daily jobs are responsible for their reality-TV-worthy strength.Expecting AmyJuly 9 on HBO MaxAmy Schumer’s stand-up special Growing, which she taped while pregnant with her son, Gene, offered frank talk about the reality of weathering a difficult pregnancy while maintaining her career and stand-up schedule. The docuseries Expecting Amy takes the camera behind-the-scenes, following her from the moment she found out she was pregnant through childbirth.Brave New WorldJuly 15 on PeacockYep, yet another new streaming service is launching this summer. Peacock, with its massive library of shows and movies, is also hoping to woo customers with original programming led by its marquee offering, Brave New World, a splashy and expensive adaptation of the Aldous Huxley classic novel that stars, in the ultimate passionate fandom mashup, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), and Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd). The Capture July 15 on PeacockTake the global hit British thriller The Bodyguard, insert some fake news-era politics, and you have The Capture, which hopes to be the next U.K.-to-U.S. obsession. IntelligenceJuly 15 on PeacockWho knows at this point when the exhaustively talked-about Friends reunion is going to take place, but David Schwimmer will be on TV screens this summer regardless, thanks to Intelligence, a workplace comedy series set at the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters in which Schwimmer plays an American interloper. I haven’t yet seen this show, so instead I’m fantasizing fan fiction about Ross back in London having an emotional affair with Emily.Sherman’s Showcase: Black History Month SpectacularJune 19 on HuluThe one-hour special of the critically acclaimed sketch series airs, perfectly, on Juneteenth. Guys, Sherman’s Showcase is so good. Check it out. Taste the Nation With Padma LakshmiJune 19 on HuluThe Top Chef host and judge travels to indigenous and immigrant communities across the country, cooking with families to gather a sense of what “American food” means today. As is tradition when Lakshmi is hosting a series spotlighting excellent culinary creations, I, who cannot cook, will watch while eating an entire sleeve of Ritz crackers.Room 104July 24 on HBOThe Duplass’ anthology series—each episode is a standalone story set in the same motel room, with different guests—has quietly been one of the weirdest and, as such, most fascinating things on TV. To be clear, that is an endorsement. The Go-Go’sAugust 1 on ShowtimeVacation, all I ever wanted. Quarantine, not gonna get one. At least there’s this documentary on the Go-Go’s to get you through!The Good Lord BirdAugust 9 on ShowtimeBallsy, audacious, Ethan Hawkish: The Good Lord Bird is based on James McBride’s buzzy, National Book Award-winning novel about a slave who unites with abolitionist John Brown. Love FraudAugust 30 on ShowtimeFor 20 years, Richard Scott Smith ran a con tricking women in the Midwest into falling in love and marrying him, before running away with their hearts—and their life savings. The four-part docuseries talks to the women, Smith’s family, and hits the road on a hunt to find the bastard.The Real Housewives of PotomacSummer TBD on BravoThe breakout gem of the Real Housewives franchise delayed its premiere in order to space out Bravo’s new content amidst the shutdown. Which is the thing where, like, times are rough and I need this wildly entertaining show injected into my veins NOW, but also, had the end of summer rolled around and Bravo ran out of content to serve us, I wouldn’t know how to process the darkness. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • News
    Sky News

    Coronavirus: Boris Johnson under pressure to sack Dominic Cummings by 15 Tory MPs, bishops and NHS staff

    Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to fire top aide Dominic Cummings as 15 Conservative MPs, bishops and NHS staff called for his resignation over suggestions he broke lockdown rules. The prime minister told the nation on Sunday Mr Cummings acted "responsibly, legally and with integrity" after his chief adviser admitted travelling 260 miles to his parents in Durham for childcare support after his wife displayed coronavirus symptoms. Members of the public also claimed to have seen him in Barnard Castle, a picturesque town 30 miles from Durham, then again in the county after he had returned to London.

  • A Fact-Based Fantasy With Drones, Robots, and Rioting on the Washington Mall
    News
    The Daily Beast

    A Fact-Based Fantasy With Drones, Robots, and Rioting on the Washington Mall

    Burn-In: A Novel of the REAL Robotic Revolution is a new form of book, a cross of a novel and nonfiction. It is a techno-thriller, following a hunt for a terrorist through the streets of a future Washington, D.C. At the same time, it is a work of research, sharing over 300 factual explanations and predictions, baked into the story, replete with the nonfiction reference endnotes to show their source from the real world. The idea is for the reader to enjoy a vivid story and characters, but also learn about everything from how AI works and its planned applications, to its likely impact on the future of politics, economics, society, and security. As a result, Burn-In has drawn early praise from a diverse mix that ranges from the current or former heads of the CIA, U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, NATO, and LinkedIn to the writer of Lost, Watchmen, and the new Star Trek movies.The following scene takes place about halfway through the story. As the forces of automation and AI leave too many in the economy behind, a series of cyber-attacks have hit various critical infrastructure systems of Washington, D.C. The investigation of FBI Special Agent Lara Keegan and her new partner has led them into the midst of a massive protest on the National Mall and a clue that points to the role of a U.S. senator in the conspiracy.Keegan stood on the roof of the FBI’s mobile command post, a converted tractor-trailer truck parked maybe 150 yards to the west of the base of the Lincoln Memorial. With one foot propped on a knee-high, mushroom-like antenna, she leaned into the breeze and surveyed the scene.She could have viewed it through video feeds, but she wanted to get the lay of the land.It was about as perfect a day as could be planned for a revolution. The weather had swung again, down from the low nineties to a pleasant and, most important to the cleanup, low-humidity 71 degrees. Under overcast skies, the slight breeze cut through the trees that surrounded the National Mall’s perimeter, feeling like soft, light touches to her skin.A voice buzzed in her earbud. “Hey, you can’t be up there!” One of the FBI support techs inside must have heard the footsteps on the roof.She ignored him and closed her eyes, going over what she had just seen. She wanted to imprint it all in her mind, something her old gunny sergeant had taught: a visualization insurance plan, in case the GPS went down mid-patrol.Just above the tree line, a flock of media drones danced up and down, their control algorithms positioning them for the best crowd shots, but also trying to block their robotic competitors’ line of sight. Flying above them was another layer of law enforcement surveillance drones from each of the agencies that had to play together for events like these. U.S. Park Police had jurisdiction over the National Mall, but they were backed up by D.C. Metro, which owned the roads that ran through it, while Secret Service had the White House side, and U.S. Capitol Police had the other end of the Mall. Hell, there was probably a drone from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing police somewhere up in there too, thought Keegan. A third layer, yet higher, was made up of air taxis, evidently diverting from their normal commutes so that passengers could post selfies of themselves above this historic gathering.Below the aerial scrum, a pair of movie screens framed the Lincoln Memorial. But there was no sign or banner draped overhead—in the augmented-reality feeds, each person would just project their own political slogan onto the screens and the building’s blank white marble. Everyone could then sell or see whatever message they wanted, contradictory beliefs occupying the same hallowed ground.A wooden speaker’s podium stood in the center of the stage, an old-model silver microphone set on it—an unmistakable link back to the past great leaders who had stood there. Whoever was advising Senator Jacobs knew their business.Before the memorial was an overwhelming crowd of people. For all the time she had lived in D.C., Keegan had never seen a protest march this big in person. Yet this was different from the photos of the anti-war, civil rights, and women’s rights marches she had only seen pictures of. Or rather, it was the crowd that was different, because they all looked different.Usually protesters shared a common look or background. Mostly teens. Or mostly women. Or mostly pissed-off farmers. But here was a skinhead geared up in leather standing next to a thin, pale man in his fifties wearing a cheap gray suit, a Treasury Department lanyard around his neck. An elderly white woman in a shawl, carrying a sign that read “Income is a Human Right,” wedged herself next to a teen with beaded LED dreadlocks that blinked an image of the American flag. The two had locked arms and punched their fists into the air at the drones overhead, as if the power of their shared anger alone could rip them from the sky.Keegan snorted at the thought—not just the fantasy that you could will an algorithm to fail, but also because she’d seen an angry crowd in Riyadh do the very same thing right before they charged her check-point. She wanted to shout back down to this crowd: You still have it pretty damn good compared to the rest of the world.It didn’t matter; Jacobs offered something that had been missing for more than an entire generation: unity. The demonstrators were discovering what it was like to join together again with fellow Americans. Distinct in their own prior allegiances and affinities, together they were discovering how being angry could become its own identity. Angry at the changes they’d seen play out on the news and up close, from the color of the water that ran past their city to the historic flood that had taken a chunk out of it. Angry at what had happened to the banks, the food, and even the air itself. Angry at whatever catastrophe was next. But most of all, angry at all the algorithms and bots marching a few Americans into the future while leaving the rest of them behind. They no longer understood how the machines worked, but they understood they were changing everything. It was one massive crowd of a people who just wanted to get things back to the way they used to be.“Agent Keegan, we really do need you to get down. Everything’s calibrated up there. You could knock us offline,” said the tech voice in her ear.She opened her eyes and saw the crowd had grown even larger in the minute she’d been going over the scene in her mind.“TAMS, estimate crowd size,” Keegan asked her partner. She’d left the Tactical Autonomous Mobility System robot below, both to keep a lower profile and to avoid freaking out the techs in the command post by putting any more weight up top.“Surveillance footage identifies 368,242 individuals presently standing on the National Mall grounds,” TAMS responded. “Washington Metro reports 96,786 additional riders on incoming trains. D.C. bus system reports 57,345 on transit buses. Share ridership services report 12,398 customers designating the Mall as their destination—”“Got it. End request,” Keegan said. “We need to get up there before he starts up. I’m coming down.”  As she climbed down, TAMS was already waiting for her, its face looking up at her expectantly. But she knew that was just her mind layering human emotions on top of the machine. Indeed, the design was designed to do that, modeled after emotional blankness of a Japanese Noh mask.When Keegan made the small jump off the last rung, her boots created small splashes, squishing into the grass. Despite the last three days of sun, the soil was still waterlogged from the flood from the hack of the upper Potomac dams and D.C. water systems. Everything behind them, from Independence Avenue all the way down to the river, looked like it could have been one big rice paddy. Even now, the FDR, Martin Luther King Jr., and Terrorism War Memorials were all still submerged under a foot of water.“Follow,” Keegan instructed the machine. It instantly projected a suggested route to the stage onto her vizglasses. She ignored it; she’d already planned her route from her perch atop the FBI trailer. TAMS’s mapping software wasn’t factoring in the trouble that could play out if a robot marched its way through the biggest anti-technology crowd in history. Keegan’s path would take a little bit longer, but they would skirt through the back edge of the crowd, where thousands of people spilled over off the south side of the rectangle of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.As they started out, a forty-ish man in khakis and an expensive neon-green running jacket was the first to turn around and notice them. Probably some out-of-work lawyer or lobbyist, judging by the expensive black loafers that he was wearing despite the muck. He eyed Keegan, wearing her blue windbreaker with “FBI” stenciled in bright yellow, and the robot, wearing a vest marked the same over its gray mottled chest plates. The man gave the robot the middle finger. Another protester standing beside him noticed him turn, a woman in her twenties wearing a tie-dye skirt, held a neatly inked cardboard sign reading “Humanity First.” She laughed and slapped the man’s back in congratulations at his success at insulting a robot oblivious to insults.The crowd thickened as they moved closer to the memorial. “Pull in tight behind me, half distance of normal-follow mode,” Keegan instructed TAMS. The corner of her glasses showed a green thumbs-up emoji signaling the bot’s compliance. The machine would be nipping at her heels, but it would make it harder for people to see what was coming through.As they passed through the back of the crowd, most ignored them. Everyone was transfixed by the setup on stage; plus the five-foot-tall TAMS was almost too short to see before it had already passed by, its humanoid form blending in. When people did notice Keegan and the machine, though, there were none of the amused smiles they’d received during their first training runs. Mostly, there were frowns and curses. A few protesters recorded videos, seeking to go viral with a post about a machine shouldering its way into their day of outrage. One big guy, wearing tan construction worker’s overalls, spat at the robot. He missed and hit the back of another protester, their eyes still on the stage, oblivious to the drama behind. Keegan kept moving. Arresting some pissed-off, out-of-work day laborer for “contempt of cop” was not why they were here.The robot kept pace with her, but Keegan noticed its feed of messages into her vizglasses was a microsecond slow. Overload. Every sensor in the area, from drones and the D.C. police surveillance towers to the heartbeat reports in elderly protesters’ pacemakers, created a massive fire hose of data that bogged it down.Keegan felt a tug on her right sleeve. Her arm tensed, ready for a strike, maybe someone not content to spit. But as she turned, she saw a pair of rheumy eyes looking up from beneath a hoodie. A young girl, maybe in her late teens. It was hard to tell. Her cheeks still had the outlines of the hip harlequin color blocks that had become the fashion for fooling face recognition software in surveillance cameras. Now, the makeup was streaked, the girl looking like a clown who had spent the last night in tears.“Hey, can you spare anything?” the girl asked. “I’m from Baltimore.” Keegan nodded and gave her a $50 bill from her wallet before moving on without a word. It was one of the bills from the big bank hack, when the ATM systems had been crashed. Hopefully, the girl would be able to use the bill to get something at one of the street vendors. A few were not yet linked into the tracking system that would take the money out of circulation.The two approached the stage’s security perimeter, a 4-foot-high temporary metal fence circling the Lincoln Memorial’s base. A line of D.C. Metro Police officers stood behind it, looking unmovable in their well-worn riot armor. The police officers warily tracked TAMS’s arrival, trying to read the crowd’s response to the machine, worried it would spark the very violence they were here to stop. Once they were through the security checkpoint, Keegan noticed TAMS had already reverted to a normal follow distance, having analyzed and projected that Keegan’s close-in order was just for the crowd environment. Always a learning machine.In the crowd, a call-and-response chant began. “Who is the future for?” a blue-jeans-wearing hype-man yelled over the loudspeakers. “We’re who the future’s for!” screamed back the crowd. It was supposed to be spontaneous, but everything was choreographed by the text on the physical screens and people’s augmented reality vizglasses feeds, which would then project an image of someone in the crowd.Keegan indicated TAMS should hang back as they approached the waiting area for the speakers concealed at the back of the memorial. “There’s Senator Jacobs,” said Keegan. “Wait here.”TAMS pulsed another green emoji at Keegan and moved to stand by one of the pillars, the bulk of the massive 7-and-a-half-foot-thick fluted white marble columns making the tiny robot look even smaller by comparison.Keegan was in no mood to draw this out; she needed to get to Jacobs before he was swept up in his own moment.As she walked up to the circle of staffers surrounding the senator, Keegan recited in her head the opening line she was going to deliver.Jacobs beat her to it.“Get that monstrosity out of here!” screamed Jacobs, pointing over the shoulder of one of his staffers at TAMS, standing back by the pillar. “Are you trying to start a riot?”Jacobs strode out to meet her, face reddening with each step. TAMS sent a query to her vizglasses as to whether she wanted assistance, which Keegan blinked away. She studied the sneering man’s face, taking in the broken blood vessels in his nose, the gray hairs in his eyebrows, the sculpted canopy of thinning hair, and the anger lines around his mouth, all the imperfections that were automatically glossed over as part of the unspoken algorithmic compact between the media and powerful people. He was a couple of inches taller than Keegan, and it seemed like he was willing himself even taller, to tower over her and intimidate.“Senator, if anybody starts a riot today, it’s going to be from that stage.”“That’s an insult—as is bringing that robot here. How dare you, after everything that’s happened. Agent, you’re supposed to be stopping terrorists, not inciting violence. Give me your name!”“Special Agent Lara Keegan, Washington Field Office.”A pause to enjoy watching Jacobs’s eyes bulge—he’d heard the name before. But in what context?“K — E — E — G — A — N.” She stepped forward and hissed in his ear. “But before you file a formal report, I have another name to share: Gregory Heath.”Senator Jacobs snapped at the name of the extremist leader, “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”Senator Jacobs is lying, read the message from TAMS, monitoring Jacobs’s facial micro-expressions from 10 meters away.Of course he is, Keegan thought. He’s a politician.Jacobs looked rattled for a second, but then a woman stepped between them. She was in her forties, wearing thick black glasses that contrasted with skin so pale it looked as if it had never been touched by the sun. As she wrinkled her snub nose and glared at Keegan, she tapped her vizglasses to ensure they were on, likely rapidly ascertaining who this impertinent person really was. “Senator, you have to make your way to the staging area. You’ll be on soon.”All it took was an audience of one, and the senator composed himself.“I have an important announcement today and this nonsense has to wait,” he said firmly. “Alicia here is my chief of staff. You can make an appointment with her. Alicia, get the agent on my calendar for next week.”Keegan knew there’d be no “next week.” The meeting would be bumped just long enough for the senator to bring holy hell down on the FBI’s leadership and budget. In the weeks afterward that it would take to officially dismiss her from the FBI, she would likely be assigned a job in the flooded Hoover Building basement, checking driver’s license numbers by hand.The woman started to ask for Keegan’s contact information, but Keegan interrupted. “No, that’s not going to work. This is urgent. I’ll wait right here to speak with the senator after he gets offstage.”TAMS sent an urgent update—not just a message icon, but a flash of bright red that washed across her whole view.“I’m sorry, the senator is not going to be able—”Keegan held up a hand for her to be silent, reading quickly.“Jared and Haley Keegan are in the operational zone, approximately 73 meters from your position,” TAMS messaged.“What? In the crowd?” Keegan said out loud at the naming of her husband and five-year-old daughter. “Here?”She turned to look at the crowd, even larger, pressed in even tighter in the minutes since she’d surveyed it earlier. A faint green arrow appeared in the field of view of her vizglass, marking her family’s location. The crowd roared, a surge of sound that caught her off guard.She turned to see that Jacobs had stepped onstage, slightly stooping, as if unsure if all this was for him. But with every step closer to the wooden podium, Jacobs stood taller, broader, the crowd’s fury a source of energy. With his chin now cocked, the senator said into the microphone, “Now. Is. Our. Time!”The crowd only got louder with each line of Jacobs’ speech. The mass of people began to press toward the metal barriers, the line of police in riot gear rippling slightly, each of the cops taking a small step back, steadying themselves in case the fencing broke under the weight of tens of thousands of people.Keegan could sense this was going to turn bad—and soon. She tried to open her personal comms app on her Watchlet to message Jared, but it froze, the network likely overloaded by the scale of the crowd.She leaped off the back of the memorial. Between the crowd and the police line, there was no way she could make her way directly to where the projected green arrow was pulsing. So she worked her way back through the edge of the crowd, reversing how she and TAMS had made their way up. Her stomach knotted tighter with each step, not knowing what she was going to say to Jared or if he would even listen to her. They hadn’t spoken since their last fight.Ducking under the signs waved by two protestors, Keegan pulled up quickly to reorient herself, and somebody bumped into her from behind, hard. “Back off,” she hissed and turned around, only to see TAMS. She’d forgotten to tell the machine to stay behind. It stared back at Keegan, pulsing a thumbs-up emoji of its readiness to her viewscreen. “That’s all you have to say?” Keegan said. “Stay close, but don’t step on my heels again.”Another green thumbs-up. It also displayed a health monitor alert that Keegan was exhibiting signs of stress and anger. No kidding.As she looked out at the crowd, she saw the Korean War Memorial, slightly to the right. The statues of the poncho-clad stone soldiers, stretched out in a patrol, broke up the tight mass of the crowd. That was where it made the most sense to wade in.For the moment, the crowd’s focus had unshakably locked onto Jacobs. The energy in the air was real, unmistakable if not detectable by actual sensors. He was pulling them in, recounting how he had long been the lonely voice, warning against the ever-increasing spread of automation. He was the prophet to whom no one had listened. But now they would listen: “Because we will make them!”As Keegan and TAMS reached the periphery of the Korean War Memorial, she saw how a few people had perched snake-bodied camera bots atop the statue soldiers’ helmets, their arrowlike heads panning from articulated rubber coiled bodies.Another cheer from the crowd reverberated as Jacobs launched into a diatribe against the president permitting all of this “so-called progress to happen” due to inattention and greed, even letting the government’s own plans for the future be developed by the “very same inhuman monsters who are destroying the country, while profiting from it.” He stopped short of naming Willow Shaw, the cloud computing magnate, but he didn’t have to; the crowd already knew who he was talking about.The green arrow in her vizglasses showed Jared and Haley 80 feet into the crowd from the Korean War Memorial. So close, yet Keegan could not figure out how to get to them, especially with the machine on her heels. And she couldn’t very well leave TAMS alone any more than Jared could leave Haley.Think. Think. Think, she willed herself.Then she saw a teenager in bright orange leather motocross gear that had hard plastic guards protecting his joints. He looked like some kind of postmodern knight, or the dissident version of the riot police. Instead of a shield and lance, though, he held two signs, dark blue reflective print on a white background, one propped on each shoulder.After telling TAMS to stay in the shadow of one of the statues, Keegan took off her FBI jacket, turned it inside out, and went over to him. “Hey, my sign got wet and ruined. Could I have one of those?”The biker looked her over, blinked a few times into his viz, and then smiled. They were all in this together. “Sure. I took two because they were giving them out for free anyway. Which one do you want? ‘Work + Glory+ God’ or ‘Damn the Machines!’?”“Whichever one’s heavier,” said Keegan.“They’re exactly the same. Here, take ‘Damn the Machines!’”“Thanks,” Keegan said. As she held it, the sign’s pole felt off. She looked down and noticed it had a woven grip etched into it, which seemed odd. The weight of the pole was also off. It was plastic, but completely solid. The paper of the poster at the top was held in place by two plastic sleeves, each 4 inches in length. She ran her hand along the thick sleeves, noting they were thicker than they needed to be.Take the paper out and you had a damn good melee weapon. With enough force, it could punch its way through skin, maybe even light body armor.TAMS preemptively sent Keegan a message, driven by its human partner’s newfound interest in the sign: “There are 2,445 “Damn the Machines!” signs presently in the protest. Stenciling and format indicate the signs were made at the same facility as the 2,456 “Work + Glory + God” posters, 2,467 “Humans First” posters, 2,473 . . .”So someone had seeded the crowd with thousands of weapons that wouldn’t be picked up by metal detectors. It was a lot like how the alt-righters back in school had weaponized flagpoles, always trying to act like they were patriotic, but really just gearing up for an unfair fight.“Cease update,” said Keegan. “Just confirm Jared’s location and join me.”“Position unchanged,” messaged TAMS. “They are 18 meters away.”Keegan started a chant to match the message on her sign—“Damn the Machines! Damn the Machines!”—lifting it up and down in front of her, working the cadence into her steps. It worked and the crowd began to part, ever so slightly, as TAMS drafted behind her.It wasn’t until she was three rows of people away from the green arrow projected onto her viz that she could finally see Jared with her own eyes. He had Haley on his shoulders, the little girl tapping on his chest with her purple rain galoshes. Keegan pushed her way through and grabbed Jared’s shoulder. He looked surprised and then mad.“What you doing here?” he said, instinctively holding Haley’s legs tighter to his chest at the sight of her.“We need to get out of here. It’s not safe for either of you,” said Keegan. “Why would you even bring her here?”“This is history in the making,” Jared said. “She’ll always be able to say she was here.”Keegan tried to figure out if this was the work stim drugs speaking. They kept him focused when the remote work grew numbing, but also had that false confidence side effect.The earnestness in his face, though, showed it wasn’t. He really did believe it.At that moment, Haley looked down and saw her. “Mommy! I can’t see the man on the stage. Can I watch through your viz?”“Sure, honey. Let’s get you and Daddy over to the side where we can have some space,” Keegan replied.“No, Lara,” Jared said. “We’re staying. You don’t get to . . .” That was when he saw TAMS standing behind her. “Did you really bring that thing here?”Just then an alert hit her viz: “Notice: Senator Jacobs . . .”Before she could finish reading the message from TAMS on her viz, she knew what was happening. Her body felt the eyes of tens of thousands of people on her.“Mommy, Mommy, that’s you!” Haley screamed in delight.Keegan looked up, and there they were: she and TAMS close-up on the two massive screens by the Memorial, Haley’s waving hand in the corner.The screens shifted back to Senator Jacobs onstage. “And they even dared to send one of their machines for me today. To stop me! This is what they do to those who speak the truth,” Jacobs roared.“Lara, what’s going on?” Jared asked. At the same time Haley cried out, “Mommy? Is that man talking about you?”Simultaneously, TAMS began flooding Keegan’s vizglasses with updates, but all she saw was the wash of red color that now painted over them. Someone had tagged Keegan and TAMS, so anybody using augmented-reality glasses within the area would see their location, a giant dark red arrow hovering over their heads.The people right around them began to turn, realizing that the arrow and the woman on the screen were literally right beside them.Over the loudspeakers, Jacobs’s speech slurred as he raged. “Don’t let them do it! Don’t let the machines win! I promise whatever you do, you will be remembered as the righteous ones. As you protect me, I will protect you!”So that was it. Jacobs wasn’t going to leave it to the bureaucracy to silence her.“My threat assessment is—” TAMS reported. “We need to go, now!” said Keegan.Just as the words came out of her mouth, someone snatched the “Damn the Machines!” sign out of Keegan’s hand and she was shoved to the ground. As she landed on her side, the fall knocked her into Jared and the two of them tumbled. Haley fell off her father’s shoulders. Keegan tried to push herself off the ground, fingers grasping at the slick grass for grip. As she pulled herself up on her hands and knees, a kick struck her on the right of her rib cage, just below the shoulder. The shock of it radiated across her whole side. She could hear Jared screaming for Haley, but the voice moved farther away as the rush of the crowd swept him up.Another kick landed on her left. This one packed the power of a football punter, the laces of a shoe connecting in the soft of her stomach and lifting her up. The impact blasted the air out of Keegan’s lungs and she fell over gasping.Fighting for breath, she thought only of Haley. Where was she? All she saw was muddy feet and legs. Somehow, over it all, she could still hear Jacobs yelling. “By taking back what is ours, we’ll show them who has the true power!”Keegan struck out with a kick, feeling her boot’s heel impact someone’s knee. She didn’t know if it was the person who had kicked her; she just needed to create space. From her right another kick came in, this one trying to stomp on her head. She managed to block it with her right forearm.Still on the ground, she drew her pistol, the bio-lock thrumming in her hand as it identified its owner. Keegan’s right arm lashed out with the gun, smashing the metal edge of its grip hard into a hand that was trying to grab her. She rolled over and, with her left hand, pushed herself up from the ground that had already been churned into mud from the fight. Three points of her body touched earth, while her right arm swung the pistol in an arc. The crowd pulled back as she panned the weapon in their direction.Keegan spat blood and wet grass as she stood. Two hands on the pistol now in a close-combat shooting posture, the stance natural from years of training, but her mind forgetting everything else but her daughter.“Haley! Haley!” she shouted, blinking away tears and mud, as her mind registered that she had lost her vizglasses during the skirmish. She continued to sweep her gun in an arc until she caught sight of an elderly woman, wearing a gray GEORGETOWN LAW sweatshirt, with Haley wrapped in her arms. The scared look on the woman’s face and the way she stroked the girl’s hair showed she was trying to protect the little girl.Haley wailed in fear, but she was safe. Keegan wanted to run to her daughter more than anything else, but she could sense movement behind her. She spun, swinging the gun barrel back and forth at the crowd that had edged closer again.“Back!” Keegan roared. “GET THE FUCK BACK!”When the crowd stepped back just a few feet, she saw TAMS sprawled on the ground, two men bashing away at it with poster poles. One was in a blue denim shirt and cowboy hat with an American flag stuck in its leather band, the other wearing a bright yellow school crossing-guard’s vest. They hadn’t even bothered to pull the poster off their weapons. The paper anti-automation signs flapped about, torn and crumpled, as the poles crashed down on the robot. As Crossing Guard hammered away, Cowboy froze, seeing Keegan and her gun. He grabbed his partner, trying to stop him.Over the loudspeaker, Jacobs was still yelling something, but the only voice Keegan could hear was Haley: “Mommy, they hurt him!” The little girl broke free of the elderly woman and ran to the machine, the muck sucking at her purple boots. Haley reached out a hand to TAMS to try to help the machine get to its feet.Keegan tipped the gun’s muzzle slightly, to signal to the two men what would happen if they moved even the slightest bit toward her daughter. But she knew that if she fired, it would be all over in this crowd. They would tear her and her family apart and nobody would stop them.The two men with poles didn’t move, but in the crowd behind them, Keegan could see an approaching line of posters bobbing up and down in tight formation. Reinforcements.TAMS stood up, mud dripping from the sensor ridges that ran down the back of its head. The two of them looked ridiculous, the 5-foot-tall robot, its chest plate now gashed and dented, and the little girl in purple rain galoshes, holding its hand. Keegan could see the robot beginning to boot back up, a bent antenna extending to begin a data download.TAMS reported in. “Agent Keegan, I am back online. Your vizglasses are nonoperational.”“Haley,” she said calmly, ignoring the machine. “Come back to Mommy.”“But they’ll hurt TAMS,” the little girl pleaded.The crowd hung back, but Keegan could see that the two men now understood who the girl was. The man she’d mentally dubbed Crossing Guard stalked toward Haley, as if toward easy prey.“Move another inch and you die!” Keegan shouted.She pointed the gun at the narrow space between the man’s eyes. It wasn’t the proper aim point that she’d been trained at Quantico, but Keegan wanted him to literally look down the barrel. There would be no misunderstanding about where the first bullet would go if anyone touched Haley. The realization that she might have to shoot a man in front of her daughter made her simultaneously want to throw the gun away, and to shoot him even more.The two men remained still, but behind them, two more protesters carrying makeshift weapons approached through the crowd. One wore digital camouflage fatigues and a matching chest rig, some militia member cosplaying soldier. The other was built like a body builder but wearing a white polo shirt. One of the alt-righter cliques. They pulled up when they saw Keegan’s gun. But Keegan knew more were on the way.“Butterfly,” she said, deliberately ignoring them, speaking in her softer, mommy voice, “Let go of TAMS’s hand.”Jared’s voice weighed in from behind her, the standoff allowing him to force his way back through the crowd. “Haley, come back to Daddy and Mommy, now.”The little girl gripped the robot’s hand tighter.“Agent Keegan, there is an important update from the FAA,” reported the machine in its normal tone. TAMS was either oblivious to the fact that it was about to be abandoned or was aware but didn’t care.“The autonomous air traffic above the National Mall is not responding to FAA airspace-management protocols. Attempted overrides have not been successful,” it continued.Keegan looked up and saw the barely controlled chaos of the earlier autonomous flight patterns had formed into a single orderly swarm of dozens of drones circling in a tornado-like swirl.Then, the whine of a jet turbine pierced through the air.An Ehang passenger-shuttle drone broke free of the swarm and swooped low over the crowd. Too low—just 20 feet overhead. It was close enough that Keegan could see the passenger banging on the clear-glass canopy from inside the drone with her fists, her mouth gaping in a silent scream. A second later, the drone pulled up slightly and then slammed into the side of the Washington Monument. A fiery blast erupted, but the solid stone held fast. The drone’s crumpled wreck then slid down the side of the monument, onto the crowd standing below.Small news drones then began to peel off from the larger swarm, one by one, diving down and then exploding into the crowd. People stampeded when they realized what was happening, the standoff between the FBI agent and the protestors eclipsed by the automated death raining down.Over the din, Keegan screamed, “TAMS! Get Haley to safety! Authorize: Riot Control Mode!”TAM’s head tilted for a microsecond as it accessed the new operating profile. At the same time, the first man in the denim shirt broke toward the machine, swinging his pole in front of him like a scythe. It wasn’t clear whether Cowboy was attacking the machine and girl or just trying to clear his way through the crowd. It didn’t matter.As the pole swung toward Haley, TAMS’s left arm snapped out, swatting the crude weapon aside. The machine then gently moved the girl behind it, bending at the knees to protect her with its body, while still holding her hand with its right hand. At the same moment, TAMS’s left limb went from rigid to flexible at the elbow and its forearm telescoped out another 6 inches. As it did, the fingers in its hand balled into a macelike sphere studded with knuckle joints. The robot smashed its fist into the man’s forearm, just above where he held the weapon he had been swinging in Haley’s direction.The man dropped the pole with a scream, his ulna and radius bones shattered. As he fell to his knees, the robot’s arm began to swing in a figure-eight motion in front of it, the flexible arm moving like a nunchaku from its elbow, almost too fast to see. The big man wearing the polo shirt then tried to tackle TAMS from the right, where the robot had been shielding Haley. But before he could get close, the machine’s torso pivoted on its frame. The figure-eight arc of its rapidly spinning left arm rotated with the turn, colliding with the man’s collarbone in a spray of blood. It next spun toward the pretend soldier, who dropped his pole and edged back.“TAMS, get us out of here,” Keegan yelled. “Get Haley to a secure location.”“OK,” the machine said calmly, its programmed order acknowledgment delivered in the very same tone as if she’d asked it to sit or stand. Just beyond them, a drone flew into the Reflecting Pool in a watery eruption of spray and sparks.“Please follow me,” it said. Keegan pulled the elderly woman behind Haley, the robot still holding her hand behind it. She motioned Jared to stand behind the elderly woman. They formed a tight line, stacked together behind their robot shield.“Go, Go, Go!” Keegan screamed, slapping the robot’s shoulder just like she would in a room-clearing tactical formation.But they didn’t run off. TAMS advanced at a walking pace, its arm swinging before them in a figure eight, arcing to the right and then left, clearing their path with a resonant hum like an airplane propeller. Most people in the chaotic stampede of the crowd flowed around the tight mass of five bodies, like river water around a stone. Every so often, though, someone got too close, and the machine’s spinning arm struck down.Packed in tight and without her vizglasses, though, Keegan couldn’t see the robot’s route. But she soon got situated. After about 150 yards, they’d made their way through the dense heart of the crowd around the Reflecting Pool, to where the terrain opened up in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Rather than going toward the FBI command truck, TAMS kept going straight. Was the machine trying to find Jacobs? Had some algorithm reranked its priorities back to the investigation? “TAMS, I said get to safety,” Keegan yelled. “Not Jacobs. Priority is safety!”“OK,” TAMS replied and kept moving in the very same direction toward the metal fence at the base of the Lincoln Memorial steps.Most of the police had fled, but a Park Police officer still crouched beneath the arched entry gate, sheltering from the crashing drones. He saw TAMS’s macelike arm swinging and pointed his shotgun right at them.“Halt!” he yelled, but the shotgun’s muzzle wavered.TAMS froze, not at the gun, but at the sight of the fellow law enforcement officer giving orders that overrode Keegan’s by coming afterwards in the timestamp. Its arm stopped spinning and it stood still.Keegan stepped out from behind the stack of bodies, holstering her weapon and putting her hands out, palms open, to show no threat. “FBI! Let us through!” she said, pulling out her badge.“Get back!” said the policeman, gaining more confidence at the sight of a bureaucratic rival. “I don’t care if you’re FBI, lady. You can’t go through, especially not with your kid.”As Keegan opened her mouth to reply, the roar of another drone’s engine drowned her out. The police officer looked up to the sky for a moment, and Keegan noticed his weapon’s strap wasn’t wrapped around his hand. Rookie move.Keegan snatched the shotgun barrel with her left hand, yanking it toward her. Then with her right, she reached over to grab the barrel, pulling it with both arms so that the muzzle now safely faced out under her arm. The policeman tried to wrestle it back, but with the gun now tucked under her arm, Keegan gave it a hard tug, feeling the snap as the man’s trigger finger broke against the guard. Swinging the shotgun by its barrel back over her head in an exaggerated version of a baseball batter’s windup, she slammed the gun’s wooden stock into the policeman’s helmet. The man fell to the ground unconscious.“Let’s move,” said Keegan.TAMS reanimated and stepped over the unconscious policeman, still leading Haley by the hand. As they dashed up the memorial’s wide steps, Keegan turned to see if anyone pursued them. Seeing no one, she tossed the shotgun aside.The podium, where just minutes ago Senator Jacobs had summoned the wrath of the crowd upon them, stood empty. He’d apparently fled at the first drone crash. Had that been his plan all along, to launch his campaign for president on a wave of victimhood and sympathy? Whatever it was, thought Keegan, it could wait. She needed to get Haley out of here now.As they entered the darkness of the interior hall of the memorial, they stopped at the base of the massive statue. A few other people and cops huddled inside, peering out around the columns at the pandemonium below. The mass of the drone swarm was visually smaller, but it still ejected drones in steep arcs into the crowd.“Agent Keegan, we are not yet secure,” TAMS said. Keegan noticed that too. For all the bulk of the memorial, the fact that Lincoln’s statue could gaze out on the National Mall grounds meant they were all still exposed to danger.TAMS pointed to a set of descending stairs. A red velvet rope stand that had been blocking them lay on its side. The robot started toward the stairs, while Jared rushed to grab Haley’s other hand and hurry her down to safety.Keegan looked back through the open side of the Lincoln Memorial as another passenger drone sped past, parallel to the building’s face. As it flew by, the marble columns broke up the image of its flight and then it disappeared from view. But the drone doubled back, flying away from the memorial, then abruptly changed direction again. When Keegan saw the aircraft in profile, she grasped that it was circling back to line up an attack run at the Lincoln Memorial itself. As the aircraft flew straight toward them directly over the Reflecting Pool, its sole passenger could be seen covering their eyes.“Run!” Keegan screamed.TAMS and Haley were already at the bottom of the curving stairs that led to the undercroft crypt below the Lincoln Memorial’s floor. The robot pushed the door open and pulled the girl through, Jared following a moment after. At the base of the steps, the elderly woman stumbled. Keegan lifted her under her armpits and dragged her through the door.The woman’s feet were not yet inside the crypt when the drone crashed into Lincoln’s statue. The explosion shook the chamber below hard enough that Keegan wondered if the roof might collapse and bury them here forever. A tongue of flame then licked down and around the curve of the stairs, but the perpendicular angle of the door kept it from entering the crypt. It did force through a scalding gust of smoke and dust, knocking Keegan and the woman to the ground. Screams filled the air and then the crypt grew startlingly quiet.Keegan lifted herself from the floor, her ears ringing as it took her a beat to find her focus again. Coughing, she pulled the older woman, whose name she still didn’t know, over to where she could sit with her back against the wall and yelled for her to stay there. She nodded silently in shock, Keegan just barely able to see the features of her face as the dust in the room started to settle.Keegan searched for Haley and Jared and found them sitting against the wall on the other side of the door, safe. Jared had their daughter hugged tight in his arms, Haley’s face buried in his shoulder. Beside them was TAMS, still holding the little girl’s hand.Keegan knelt next to them, reaching out to smooth her daughter’s hair. She turned to look the robot in its eyes, the visual sensors glowing yellow in the dim light.“Thank you.”It felt strange to say that to a machine. But it was something that, as a parent, she had to do.Excerpted from Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution by P.W. Singer and August Cole. Copyright © 2020 by P.W. Singer and August Cole. Used by permission of HMH Books and Media. All rights reserved.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Hot-smoked salmon, beetroot and grains with preserved lemon crème fraîche recipe
    Lifestyle
    The Telegraph

    Hot-smoked salmon, beetroot and grains with preserved lemon crème fraîche recipe

    Most supermarkets do own-label bags of cooked mixed grains (sometimes with lentils), but I prefer a mixture of spelt and barley for this. You could also use one based mostly on bulgar wheat. Get the dressing on to the grains quickly so they have time to soak it up a little, then get on with the rest of the preparation. Prep time: 10 minutes SERVES 4 INGREDIENTS 250g mixed cooked grains 1 tsp English mustard ¼ tbsp lemon juice ¾ tbsp white balsamic vinegar 3½ tbsp rapeseed oil 1 packet dill, leaves roughly chopped 125g crème fraiche 2 preserved lemons, plus 1 tbsp juice from the jar 1 clove garlic, grated to a purée 125g cooked beetroot 75g radishes, very finely sliced 50g watercress (any coarse stems removed) 4 fillets hot-smoked salmon METHOD Tumble the grains into a serving bowl. Put the mustard, lemon, vinegar and some seasoning into a cup or small bowl and, using a fork, whisk in the rapeseed oil. Toss the grains with this and the dill, then taste – you may want to add more seasoning. Put the crème fraîche into a small bowl. Halve the preserved lemons and remove the fleshy insides (discard) so that you are left with the skins. Slice these finely and stir into the crème fraîche, along with the preserved lemon juice from the jar, the garlic and some seasoning. Cut the cooked beetroot into slim wedges and add them to the grains along with the radishes and watercress. Toss everything together. Serve the hot-smoked salmon fillets with a spoonful of the crème fraîche and spoonfuls of the salad.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio’s Big Middle Finger to the Confederacy
    Entertainment
    The Daily Beast

    Leonardo DiCaprio’s Big Middle Finger to the Confederacy

    Grant, a History Channel miniseries airing over three nights beginning on Memorial Day (May 25), is an overt—and timely—reclamation project. His reputation having faded over the past century because, as many here assert, the South’s “Lost Cause” rewriting of Civil War history invariably downplayed his accomplishments, Ulysses S. Grant is restored by this informative and entertaining TV documentary to the prototypical modern American hero. Based on Ron Chernow’s critically acclaimed 2017 biography of the same name, it’s a stirring tribute to an individual who embodied America’s finest ideals: hard work, determination, courage, resolve, and belief in democracy and equality for all, no matter the color of their skin.Executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, and featuring participation from numerous historians, writers and servicemen, including Chernow, Ta-Nehisi Coates and David Petraeus, Grant is a non-fiction tale about the intertwined self-definition of a man and a nation. Born on April 27, 1822, Grant grew up the working-class son of an Ohio tanner and merchant, and found his first calling as an accomplished horseman. Disinterested in taking over the family business, and having garnered the nickname “Useless Grant” as a kid, he was sent—without being asked—to West Point, where a typo bestowed him with the middle initial “S” (rather than “H,” for Hiram), thereby resulting in the more patriotic “US Grant” moniker. The reconfiguration of Grant’s name would continue once he joined President Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War army, his initials eventually coming to stand for “Unconditional Surrender” Grant due to his habit of securing definitive victory over his adversaries.Lance Armstrong Proves He’s No Michael Jordan—and Still a Huge Asshole‘Barkskins’ Is the Next Great TV Epic—and Perfect for Those Missing ‘Game of Thrones.’The evolution of Grant’s handle goes hand-in-hand with the upwards trajectory of his life. Post-military school graduation, Grant entered the infantry, and soon fell in love with and married Julia Dent, the daughter of a family that owned slaves—a situation that caused some friction for Grant and his own abolitionist clan. Triumphs in the Mexican-American War proved that he was preternaturally cool under pressure, but in the years immediately following that conflict, Grant left the service and fell on hard times, to the point of taking various odd jobs just to make sure his family didn’t starve. Even at his most destitute, however, he hewed to his convictions, freeing his only slave, William Jones—given to him by his father-in-law.The Civil War altered Grant’s fortunes forever, and after establishing the man’s backstory, this series roots itself in the commander’s rise up the ranks via a series of impressive and daring campaigns that confirmed his imposing mettle, intelligence, and strategic shrewdness. On the battlefields against a Confederate Army led by his West Point classmate Robert E. Lee, Grant exhibited canny tactical acumen and equally formidable tenacity, taking immense gambits (such as at Vicksburg, hailed as his “masterpiece,” where he seized control of the Mississippi River) and often pursuing enemies into hostile territory in order to attain decisive wins. Grant began to develop into a legend in the thick of warfare, and it’s there that Grant spends the majority of its time, recounting in exhaustive detail the many clashes that marked his Civil War tenure, and the famously daring and clever maneuvers that allowed him to eventually secure victory for the Union.Melding talking-head interviews and narrated excerpts from its subject’s memoirs with copious dramatic restagings of key events in his life, Grant’s formal approach takes some getting used to, especially at the outset. Fortunately, it settles into a rhythm, with its staged sequences providing momentum and weight to interviewees’ informative commentary about Grant’s exploits and mindset. From the catastrophic victory at Shiloh, to the heroic rescue at Chattanooga, to the bloody conflict in the Wilderness of Virginia, Grant’s recreations aren’t always as grand as one might like, resorting to soundbite-y dialogue and wannabe-mythic posing. Yet they’re sturdy and coherent complements to the show’s academic speakers, and they’re augmented considerably by excellent graphical maps and diagrams that lay out the specifics of Grant’s brilliant operations.In the aftermath of his Civil War service (and his beloved President Lincoln’s assassination), Grant was elected America’s 18th commander-in-chief, and while in office, he became renowned for spearheading Reconstruction, creating the Justice Department, and using that arm of the government to battle and prosecute the Ku Klux Klan. Though slandered throughout his life as a drunk, a butcher and a corrupt would-be dictator (the last slur courtesy of an administration dogged by scandal), Grant makes the convincing case that he was, first and foremost, a noble patriot. A staunch defender of the Union, he was convinced of the necessity for emancipation for African-American slaves, and of the evil of the Confederacy, whose members he often referred to as “rebels” and “traitors” to the grand democratic experiment of the United States.In this regard, Grant is an active attempt to rehabilitate the historical record, positing Confederate adversary Robert E. Lee as a symbol of the intolerant, aristocratic, treasonous old guard, and Grant as an emblem of a more open, just, unified modern America. Grant’s disgust for the Confederacy and the rancidness it stood for is on full display throughout this series, which pointedly contends that—good ol’ boy revisionism be damned—it was slavery, not simply the more euphemistic “states’ rights,” which drove the South to secede and take up arms against the Union. At the same time, Grant’s compassion and levelheadedness also remains front and center, epitomized by the lenient terms of surrender he ultimately offered to the defeated Lee, which helped him secure support throughout the South in the years following the end of the war.Grant’s prolonged focus on the lieutenant general’s most famous wartime decisions means that the series is directly aimed at those with a fondness for in-depth military history. Nonetheless, the context it provides about Grant’s life, both as a young man and as an eight-year resident of the Oval Office, deepens its argument about the titanic nature of his achievements, and the greatness of his character—both of which make him, no matter the vantage point, one of the true, indispensable founders of the American republic.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Russia’s Pushing a Quack COVID Cure All Over Africa
    News
    The Daily Beast

    Russia’s Pushing a Quack COVID Cure All Over Africa

    ABUJA, Nigeria—U.S. President Donald Trump is not the only figure threatening the World Health Organization while endorsing dubious coronavirus treatments. In Africa, news outlets and social media posts notorious for spreading Russian-created disinformation and conspiracy theories are leveling all sorts of allegations against the WHO, ranging from incompetence to fraud.At the center of the attacks is what appears to be a coordinated campaign promoting an herbal concoction the Moscow-backed government of Madagascar claims will cure COVID-19. The attacks on the WHO intensified when the agency released a statement on May 4 warning Africans against using untested remedies for treatment of the coronavirus after the Malagasy government began to extoll—and export in large quantities—an untested herbal infusion sometimes bottled like soda that’s called Covid-Organics. The main component for the tonic is artemisia annua, known as sweet wormwood, which has been shown to have some therapeutic value against malaria (PDF).Russians Are Using African Troll Factories—and Encrypted Messaging—to Attack the U.S.The WHO announced its support for traditional medicines if they are “scientifically proven” to be effective, but warned pointedly that "the use of products to treat COVID-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention."The herbal remedy’s biggest booster is Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina, a 45-year-old media entrepreneur elected in 2018 with help from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose meddling, as detailed by the New York Times, was blatant even by Kremlin standards. (Rajoelina denies getting any assistance.)Covid-Organics has not gone through clinical trials. An aide to Rajoelina told the BBC the tonic was “tried out” on fewer than 20 people over three weeks before it was launched in April—a “test” that does not even begin to meet scientific or medical standards.Rajoelina’s response? He accused the West of condescending behavior toward traditional African therapy, telling French media that the product would have been globally accepted "if it was a European country that had actually discovered this remedy.""[Madagascar] has come up with this formula to save the world," said Rajoelina, who claims the herbal tonic cures COVID-19 patients within 10 days. "No country or organization will keep us from going forward."Rajoelina has gained lots of support in East Africa, especially in Tanzania (another country that has established deep ties with the Kremlin in recent years). Its controversial leader, President John Pombe Magufuli, has openly endorsed Covid-Organics and also insinuated recently that the WHO artificially inflated the number of COVID-19 cases in his country.All this parallels, however weirdly, the kinds of assertions and statements made by the U.S. president about miracle cures—ranging in his case from hydroxychloroquine to household bleach, thought not yet Covid-Organics—as well as the failings of a World Health Organization he says is under China’s thumb. And the similarities in the narrative are not entirely coincidental. Many of the African sites spreading these stories also are enthusiastic supporters of Trump. A number of Tanzanian newspapers have criticized the WHO for its refusal to approve Covid-Organics. A pro-government publication, Tanzania Perspective, particularly, reported that Rajoelina accused the WHO of offering him a $20 million bribe to poison the herbal tonic. A spokesperson for the Malagasy president later denied that wild claim, but not until it had gone viral on social media across the continent, including broadcasts on WhatsApp by such groups as One Africa, One Success (OAOS), a platform for African students studying in Russia that has been used to spread disinformation and conspiracy theories targeting the U.S. and defending Trump.Members of the OAOS have also claimed in their messages that Bill Gates has prevented the WHO from approving coronavirus therapies—including hydroxychloroquine—that supposedly have proven to be effective in Africa, a narrative that has been picked up by high-profile politicians in the continent and extended to Covid-Organics."Madagascar claims to have a herbal-based cure for Covid 19," tweeted Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Nigeria aviation minister and a die-hard Trump supporter. "Why is it that the @BillGates-controlled @WHO refuses to take Africans seriously even where some of these ‘cures’ have yielded appreciable positive results?"Back in Madagascar, numerous media outlets, some of which were used by Russia to publish fawning articles about Rajoelina to help him win the 2018 presidential election, have accused the WHO of ineffectiveness, claiming that the agency is being manipulated by certain high powers to undermine Madagascar's coronavirus treatment discovery."What you see mostly in the papers is that the WHO doesn't care about finding a coronavirus cure," Thierry Pam, a French freelance journalist living in Madagascar, told The Daily Beast. "No one says anything good about the WHO."One social media post that went viral across Africa in late April claimed that Putin actually ordered a million doses of Covid-Organics and called on Africans not to listen to the WHO. Agence France Presse (AFP) reported the story was totally bogus. There was never such an order, Madagascar’s authorities denied it, and, officially at least, Russia usually supports WHO efforts to address the pandemic. But disinformation campaigns often are at odds with officially stated policies because their objectives are different. The focus of Russia’s activities has been to drive a wedge between Africa and other international players, whether the U.S., European nations, or China. The Covid-Organics controversy is potentially just another tool to create resentment, as reflected in President Rajoelina’s assertions that his country’s “cure” for the pandemic is being ignored by the West because it is from Africa.Much of the news that people in Madagascar see or listen to is content created by media outlets set up by the operations of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of  Putin who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for allegedly financing the Internet Research Agency that worked to influence the U.S. 2016 presidential election.A leaked document viewed last year by The Guardian revealed that Russia “produced and distributed the island’s biggest newspaper, with 2 million copies a month.” The Russians also run a French-language news service, Afrique Panorama, based in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo, according to The Guardian's report.Madagascar is one of Africa’s poorest nations, with about 80 percent of its 25 million people living on less than $2 per day, but it has managed to ship tens of thousands of doses of Covid-Organics to several countries, including Nigeria, Tanzania, Comoros, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Chad and Equatorial Guinea. Many of these reportedly have been sent for free, leading to suggestions that Madagascar may have gotten Russia's help to produce large amounts of the drug. Since his election, Rajoelina has promoted closer ties with Moscow. Most notably, he has strengthened his military cooperation and allowed a company owned by Prigozhin, which had acquired a major stake in a government-run firm that mines chromium under Rajoelina's predecessor, to keep control of the operation. This despite protests by workers complaining of canceled benefits and unpaid wages.Meanwhile, in a country where tests have been very limited, and some of those marred by controversy,  hundreds of people are now known to be infected with the virus, and the numbers are rising rapidly. The first two confirmed COVID-19 deaths were reported just this week.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • COVID-19 Has Turned Paradise Into a Privacy Nightmare
    News
    The Daily Beast

    COVID-19 Has Turned Paradise Into a Privacy Nightmare

    When Tara Trunfio stepped off her flight from Boulder to Maui, she didn’t see the leis and grass skirts that so many visitors expect. Instead, the 23-year-old saw masked officials warning that visitors who don’t comply with the islands’ 14-day quarantine requirement would be arrested. A Hawaiian get-away sounds magical to the millions of cooped-up Americans who want to trade in their virtual beach background for the real thing. But a trip to the beach can quickly turn into a stay in jail. That’s just what happened to Trunfio, who drew national attention this month after being arrested for allegedly violating quarantine.For years, Americans have debated the shape their national borders should take, but the newest border controls have increasingly been built on state lines. We’re a long way off from Berlin Wall-style barricades along your local interstate, but in the COVID-19 era governors have issued quarantine orders for out-of-state residents and returning visitors. Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas have stopped out-of-state drivers (sometimes using the National Guard) to remind them of quarantine requirements and obtain a signed compliance agreement. But the most alarming restrictions come from a state that doesn’t have to worry about people driving into town.She Tried to Escape Her Ex—but the Courthouse Was ClosedIn recent weeks, Hawaii has rolled out the so-called “Safe Travels System,” giving officials information on how travelers comply with the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement. On its face, the plan mirrors those imposed at a growing number of national borders—the U.S. included—in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. For jurisdictions with few COVID-19 cases, forcing newcomers to quarantine in hopes of containing the spread of a deadly illness can be a perfectly rational public policy.But as lockdowns show signs of easing in some states, the system in Hawaii is bringing the potential civil-liberties pitfalls of disease detective work into clearer—and more disturbing—focus.If you forget to register before you get on a plane to Hawaii right now, you’re in for a show. If you refuse to register or provide a false contact number upon arrival, police can arrest you on the spot. Some authorities are going even further, searching property tax records to verify travelers’ lodgings. Airport personnel roll mobile kiosks from gate to gate, checking phone numbers and addresses, making 7,600 phone calls in just the first 2 weeks to ensure numbers are legit and that people are staying put.But while Safe Travels may be a practical requirement to enter Hawaii, it’s not a legal one. There’s no law or regulation requiring travelers to use the app. Even the Safe Travels website couches things in voluntary terms: “All persons traveling to or within Hawaii are encouraged to register your trip into the Hawaii Safe Travels System to expedite your exit from the airport.” But when a Washington man recently arrived in Honolulu without a confirmed address or proof he had funds to pay for a place to stay, he was sent back.For the travelers who do “volunteer” to use the Safe Travels System, it’s not enough to just register with the site. For two weeks, travelers have to check in daily, reporting their health condition and address. Safe Travels will then use travelers’ location data to confirm where travelers are. While Americans are being asked to give sensitive health and location data to Hawaii officials, those same officials are reluctant to share how that data is being used. (The Hawaii Department of Transportation and governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)Safe Travels’ FAQ website claims that data is only shared with “authorized personnel responsible for quarantine monitoring and enforcement,” but we have no way of knowing who those people are. And even if it’s just law enforcement agencies— as opposed to private entities—enforcing quarantine, that is no reassurance at all. Effectively, Americans have no way of knowing how much data a state might collect on them, how long it is held, or if Tapiki, the private firm that co-developed Safe Travels, has access to the data. (Tapiki did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)If and when the app gets it wrong, there’s reason to fear users of color will pay the price. As GPS signals are often less accurate in densely constructed urban areas, lower-income travelers might be at higher risk of a false alarm. And it’s completely unclear how individuals will navigate Hawaii’s requirements when they stay in locations without reliable internet or cell service. Many of those most at risk from COVID-19, such as the elderly and communities of color, also lack access to a smartphone. As a result, Hawaii is threatening to turn the digital divide into a criminal offense.The consequences are enormous. At a time when COVID-19 can easily turn detention into a death sentence, Hawaii authorities have already arrested approximately 20 people for violating quarantine, including a Florida man and an Illinois woman after witnesses saw them with shopping bags. A California man similarly was charged after allegedly traveling from his Hawaiian home to Costco. More recently, a second  Colorado tourist was being sought after police learned she had canceled her reservation at the hostel where she registered to stay.Here’s What Trump’s Black Male Supporters Say They See in HimEven when this surveillance web paints an accurate picture of human behavior, it erodes public trust and cooperation at a time when they are needed most. In-state residents must quarantine at the address listed on their government-issued ID, creating an acute risk for many, such as survivors of domestic violence and those living with immunocompromised relatives or roommates. For undocumented Americans, the system creates yet another tool with which people could theoretically be tracked by ICE, coming just months after the Trump Administration reportedly purchased similar location data from commercial vendors.Hawaii’s case is likely the most extreme to date, but it’s far from unique. In Washington State, civil rights watchdogs expressed alarm that the state was implementing manual contact-tracing requirements without adequate safeguards. Under the state’s effort, not only would 1,400 contact tracers be hired, but businesses would be required to keep a log of every customer they contacted. Across the country, New York City’s top civil rights watchdog expressed similar alarm at the lack of safeguards for data collected by the city and state’s combined contract tracing program, which may hire as many as 18,000 tracers. And at the same time, Silicon Valley’s effort to get into the COVID-19 tracking business has seen sharp pushback from civil rights and immigrant justice groups, including our own.America stands at a crossroads in the COVID-19 fight, and the choices we make now may impact our society for generations. For those trying to fend off a loss of life unparalleled in modern history, the call for surveillance is increasingly urgent. But surveillance skeptics not only question the privacy costs of a public health dragnet, they fear new tracking tools will harm public health instead of helping. Without safeguards and public trust, surveillance measures might drive those on the margins of our society into the shadows, undermining the very contact tracing this technology is supposed to help. For states that erect new barriers, it may provide a temporary relief from the onslaught of new cases. But it will also deeply damage the sense of national unity that we will need for our long, unrelenting fights against disease and death.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Trumpsters Are Already Revolting Against COVID Contact Tracing
    Politics
    The Daily Beast

    Trumpsters Are Already Revolting Against COVID Contact Tracing

    Donald Trump’s allies in conservative media have a new villain in the coronavirus fight: contact tracing, the rigorous efforts to track the virus’s spread that public health experts say is essential to safely restarting society. Fox News host Laura Ingraham devoted much of her show Thursday night to raising questions about contact tracing, the process where interviewers try to figure out who has been exposed to the virus by literally figuring out whom the infected had contact with. As a Fox News chyron warned that contact tracing should “concern all Americans,” Ingraham claimed that calls for more contact tracers were just an “excuse” to keep businesses closed, and compared being interviewed by a contact tracer to being groped by a Transportation Security Administration agent.“Instead of rummaging through your luggage, these contact tracers will be prying through the most intimate details of your life,” Ingraham said. A wide range of public health officials and experts have insisted that the country needs to vastly expand contact tracing, with one Johns Hopkins study calling for the hiring of at least 100,000 additional contact tracers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earlier this month that coronavirus deaths will “of course” increase without additional tracing and testing. Workplace contact tracing is included in the White House’s own reopening plan. But Ingraham isn’t alone on the right in sowing doubts about contact tracing. Conservative columnists Andy and John Schlafly—best known as the sons of late right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly—co-authored a column at Townhall.com criticizing Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) for budgeting nearly $300 million for contact tracing. The Schlaflys laid out a dystopian vision of contact tracing, comparing it to a “dark episode in the history of the communist Soviet Union” and claiming that contact tracing could be used to separate children from infected parents. They even imagined contact tracing details being used to embarrass Republican candidates. “The real goal of the contact tracing is to use COVID-19 as a pretext to monitor the whereabouts of every American, perhaps through our smartphones, and take away our liberties,” the Schlaflys wrote. “Republican political candidates will be tracked and leaks of their private information to the media would be inevitable under this scheme, while Democrats such as Joe Biden are given a pass on their far greater misconduct.” Instead, the Schlaflys called for Abbott to flood the state with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that’s become a darling of Trump supporters as a potential coronavirus treatment—even as clinical studies suggest it has no effect on the virus and actually increases mortality.“The $295 million that Abbott is spending on contact tracing could have purchased HCQ treatments for half of the entire State of Texas, to reopen the state without the need for oppressive monitoring,” the Schlaflys wrote. Emerald Robinson, the White House correspondent for conservative Newsmax TV, which is run by a close Trump confidant, compared contact tracing to “mandatory vaccination” and 5G towers, which conspiracy theorists have claimed spread coronavirus. Pro-Trump activist Tom Fitton, the head of conservative activist group Judicial Watch, put contact tracing on a list of his coronavirus grievances, declaring: “I’m done with it.”Other concerns on the fringe right about contact tracing have been driven by outright hoaxes about H.R. 6666, legislation from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-GA) that would put $100 billion into coronavirus testing and contact tracing. The bill’s number alone puts it perilously close to the supposedly Satanic number “666,” right as conspiracy theorists have become convinced that any coronavirus vaccine would be the “Mark of the Beast.” Prominent conspiracy theory outlet InfoWars declared that the bill was the “Bill of the Beast,” while rumors spread on social media claiming that the bill would authorize contact tracers to abduct children.Privacy watchdogs have raised legitimate concerns about how contact tracing data could be used, especially when the data is collected through apps. On Monday, the ACLU called for additional safeguards to protect contact tracing data. A report on a North Dakota contact tracing app found several privacy flaws. But much of the fearmongering about contact tracing seems to be driven by ignorance of what it actually is. Failed Republican congressional candidate and QAnon conspiracy theorist DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, whose call to “FireFauci” Trump retweeted in April, has urged her fans to not get tested for COVID-19. She also appears to misunderstand contact tracing, claiming that contact tracers go through phone “contact” lists, rather than in-person contacts. “I don’t want people to get tested, because I don’t want to be in their phone, in their contact list, and if you guys are all following me on Twitter and following me on YouTube, then I’m probably going to be in your contact list,” Tesoriero told her fans in a video. “So I would prefer not to be there. They specifically said if they find one person, then they’re going to make sure they call all of that person’s contacts, whether they have 5,000 contacts or 5 contacts. And I really don’t feel like being called, I want to get off the grid of this system.”On her Thursday night show, Ingraham positioned herself as perhaps conservative media’s leading contact tracing skeptic. But her guests went even further than her, with Claremont Institute senior fellow John Eastman adopting what was meant to be a German or Russian accent to imitate a contact tracing interviewer. Ingraham guest Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism, claimed that contact tracing meant that the “French revolution is attacking the American revolution.” Ingraham agreed, comparing contact tracers to radical French revolutionaries. “The Jacobins, they’re back,” she said.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Will COVID-19 Wipe Out the Tribes of the Amazon?
    Health
    The Daily Beast

    Will COVID-19 Wipe Out the Tribes of the Amazon?

    CALI, Colombia—There is nowhere left to hide from the novel coronavirus. Even the Amazon rainforest—one of the most remote wilderness areas in the world—is now riddled with infection. Tragically, COVID-19 is also devastating fragile indigenous communities in the region, putting entire cultures and population groups at risk.The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) estimates that there are at least 20,000 active coronavirus cases in the Amazon Basin, which is the world’s largest watershed and home to many indigenous communities, including isolated tribes who survive without sustained contact with the outside world.The PAHO warned last week that indigenous peoples who “live both in isolated villages with minimal access to health services, and in densely populated cities… will suffer a disproportionate impact” if steps aren’t taken rapidly to mitigate the pandemic.So far, those steps don’t seem likely to be taken soon, if at all. Regional leaders and far-right populists like Colombia’s Iván Duque and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro have modeled themselves on U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive insouciance. They’ve taken hard stands against financial relief efforts and spending for health-care infrastructure to curb the outbreak, while also downplaying the crisis for political gain. One of the regions singled out by the PAHO as particularly hard hit is the Colombian state of Amazonas, which sits on the border with Brazil, one of the world leaders in coronavirus infections. Testing in that country of 212 million is very limited and, according to the Worldometer counts, of the roughly 735,000 people who have received tests, nearly 350,000 cases (or 47 percent) have turned up positive. There have been more than 22,000 deaths, and that number is expected to increase exponentially.  Such is the spread of the disease in Brazil at the point that on Sunday the Trump administration imposed a travel ban.“South America has become the new epicenter for the disease,” Michael Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, told a press conference on Friday. Colombia has closed and militarized the frontier with Brazil to try to prevent an influx of transmissions. But ongoing boat traffic on the Amazon, as well as a vast network of clandestine jungle trails, still make for a porous boundary—and a rapidly spiraling case count. Julio López, president of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon [OPIAC], has said native tribes in the area are at risk of “extermination” due to the health crisis.“We could be faced with the disappearance of whole cultures. Our elders are dying. Our very way of life is at risk,” he told The Daily Beast. Due to the lockdown, “the fields go untended and we can’t work them. So what will we eat when the rainy season comes?” Bodies Rotting in the Street: COVID-19 Chaos Grips Ecuador OPIAC’s headquarters is in Amazonas’ capital of Leticia, a city of about 50,000 people at a juncture on the river called Tres Fronteras (Three Frontiers) where Colombia, Brazil, and Peru all meet. Because ethnic peoples lived here long before national boundaries were drawn, they typically pay little attention to such artificial divisions within their ancestral lands. Indeed, families often live on one side of the triple border and work subsistence farms on another. Such conditions have already contributed to the collapse of the health-care system in Amazonas and a scarcity of available graves in Leticia.“The government is taking precautions now, but it’s too little too late,” López says. “They put soldiers out on the streets to control the official crossings, but the frontier is immense. There’s no way to patrol it all.”   ‘NATIONAL TREASURES’Amazonas’ urban-dwelling indigenous population remains dependent on shipments of rice, grain, and other basic goods from deep inside Brazil. The cross-border traffic means Amazonas has the worst per capita infection rate in all of Colombia, while also being one of the most ill-equipped and impoverished states in this Andean nation."The situation in Amazonas is worrisome due to the concentration of cases [and] because resources are quite limited," says Dr. Alfonso Rodríguez-Morales, a senior researcher with the Colombian Association of Infectious Diseases. He says the per capita case count for Amazonas is 9.5 times greater than Cartagena district and 22 times higher than Bogotá.The lack of test kits and lab equipment in Amazonas means the true infection rate is probably much higher than government figures indicate. Similarly, the official death toll in the municipal seat of Leticia sits at 35 so far, but medical staff say there are dozens more uninvestigated fatalities that are likely linked to the outbreak. The city has just one small hospital and no intensive care units. There was a single ventilator in Leticia, according to López, but it is now broken. The growing number of victims in the city and outlying areas belong to a variety of ethnic groups, including the Huitoto, Moru, Ocaina, and Bora.“I’ve been begging Bogotá for planes to evacuate our people to other cities with working [ICU] facilities and ventilators,” says Lopez. “But they haven’t sent any help yet.”A few hours upriver from Leticia, at the village of Puerto Nariño, the local clinic has identified 46 cases. Because the clinic has only one bed, the sickest patients are sent to the district capital via an ambulance boat that can carry just two victims at a time.“My fear is that if it keeps on like this we’re going to be completely overwhelmed and run out of supplies,” says Dr. Diane Rodriguez, one of a handful of physicians and nurses on staff at Puerto Nariño’s small health outpost. “Amazonas is a paradise, and the foreign visitors love to come here,” Rodriguez says. Yet despite tourist dollars from river cruises, jungle treks, and visits to “tribal villages” flowing in for decades, state coffers are empty and vital resources are scarce and the health system dismal. “Because of that,” says Rodriguez, “indigenous peoples who should be treated like national treasures are now at great risk.”One such treasure at risk was Antonio Bolívar, a Huitoto elder who played a lead role in the Oscar-nominated film Embrace of the Serpent, and succumbed to COVID-19 on May 1. Bolívar was 72.  UNDERLYING CONDITIONSUnfortunately, the indifference of officialdom is nothing new. In fact, many of the underlying health factors that make indigenous peoples particularly susceptible to the coronavirus are the result of years of governmental neglect.“Indigenous people suffer both from lack of access to health care—with its attendant effects on longer-term illnesses, chronic issues, and co-morbidities—that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus,” says Bret Gustafson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Washington at St. Louis who specializes in Latin American indigenous movements.“[They] lack access to treatment when impacted by COVID, and lack of means to effectively self-isolate or quarantine when impacted,” Gustafson says. All of this “intensifies the impacts” of the pandemic.According to Dr. Rodriguez, some of those specific conditions include diabetes, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and even HIV.“Many households don’t even have access to potable water,” she says. “Instead of being able to self-isolate, families are often forced to sleep in the same room together, even when someone is already infected.”In the absence of modern health care, many indigenous victims have turned to traditional cures to combat COVID-19.“The elders have cures for coughs and colds, and they use these as best they can,” says OPIAC president López. “They make brews of the ginger root and other herbs, and fumigate the houses of those infected to reduce [aerial] transmission.”For Gustafson, such well-intentioned but understandably limited self-healing efforts only underscore the state’s failings to provide even basic care for at-risk populations.“Given the absence of access to biomedical treatments, facilities, or infrastructures, it is absolutely understandable that peoples might turn to the only thing they have in the form of traditional remedies.“But the lack of access to [modern] resources is precisely the problem.”Another problem is hunger. Because many indigenous communities rely on either day labor or subsistence farming to put food on the table, the pandemic often means going without much-needed calories.“Government support since the quarantine has been very minimal,” says Lilia Tapayuri, an indigenous council member in Puerto Nariño. “The risk of contagion is very high, because most people have to go out to work. They don’t have the money to buy enough food to store it for several months.” Colombian authorities have imposed strict lockdown measures since March. But without sufficient relief efforts to accompany the quarantine, such regulations have forced many rural citizens to choose between obedient starvation or risky foraging. “We can’t even go out to work our farms without breaking the law and getting fined,” Tapayuri says. “Now the rains will come and flood the fields, and we won’t have harvested anything to feed ourselves.”  THE ELDERSAll of this is taking a tremendous toll on native populations, putting vital traditions, cultures, and languages at risk, in addition to countless lives. Certain ancient dialects can be limited to very small geographic areas, making their survival all the more precarious.“Entire pueblos are at risk of disappearing,” says López . “Songs and oral stories could vanish forever, ceremonies and unique languages might be lost.”Anthropologist Gustafson shares those concerns:“To the extent that COVID seems to be affecting the elderly, this potentially represents a rapid depletion of those who generally maintain traditional languages and knowledge.” For entire histories wrought in idioms that remain largely unwritten, such a forfeiture would seem almost apocalyptic.“The knowledge of the elders means everything to us,” López says. “To lose them is to lose ourselves.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Sandi Toksvig Recalls Being Vilified By Tabloid Press After Coming Out In The 1990s
    Celebrity
    HuffPost UK

    Sandi Toksvig Recalls Being Vilified By Tabloid Press After Coming Out In The 1990s

    The ex-Bake Off host has claimed the tabloids "thought that she was Cruella de Vil" after she revealed she is a lesbian.

  • South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing
    Technology
    Reuters

    South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

    The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is courteous and swift as it seamlessly makes its way towards customers. After managing to contain an outbreak of the new coronavirus which infected more than 11,000 people and killed 267, South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules towards what the government calls "distancing in daily life". Robots could help people observe social distancing in public, said Lee Dong-bae, director of research at Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider which developed the barista robot together with a state-run science institute.

  • Broadway League President Hopes for January Reopening—with Full Theaters and Masks
    Entertainment
    The Daily Beast

    Broadway League President Hopes for January Reopening—with Full Theaters and Masks

    Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, makes clear she does not “have a crystal ball.” But her personal belief is that Broadway will reopen in January 2021, she reveals in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast. For St. Martin, Broadway’s post-pandemic reopening means safety protocols being in place to ensure audience members can sit next to each other as they did before, likely—at least in the first phase of reopening—wearing masks, with actors, singers, and dancers able to perform in the same numbers and proximity, and with the same energy, as before.“We know that we cannot socially distance within theaters with the present financial models we have,” St. Martin said. Broadway Faces the Cost of Its Coronavirus Shutdown: ‘The Impact Will Be Huge. Horrible’How Edward Pierce, Broadway ‘Wicked’ Designer, Fought COVID-19—and Made Medical HistoryMost of the “cautiously optimistic” members of the Broadway League—the national trade association for the Broadway industry, created in 1930—believe the reopening date to be the end of this year, “and some believe not till spring 2021,” she said.Broadway’s closure was first announced, effective immediately, on March 12. In May, the closure was officially extended. The League said that all Broadway tickets could be either refunded or exchanged for all shows leading up to Sept. 6. St. Martin said this date had been chosen with summer “as a big travel time” in mind. The League wanted to give people “enough notice to make other plans.” Now, Broadway will likely remain closed through the fall and early part of winter.“I actually am a little more optimistic than those who say Broadway will reopen in the spring, but I tend to be an optimistic person,” said St. Martin. “I tend to think it will be after the first of the year, in January, just because of the massive number of people who come to New York City around the holidays.” This year, she doesn’t think a Broadway that reopened before Christmas would have had enough time to acclimatize to handle the possible Christmas crowds “as things get back to normal. You can barely walk through a theater door in November or December. If Broadway was open and tourism was back, we’d be testing social distancing pretty heavily and dramatically, and we have so many phases to get through before then.”“We are at the mercy of statistics and medical information the government delivers every day,” St. Martin said. The difference of predictions around reopening depended on “where you are in the health and science area,” she said. “The Spring people believe that’s when a vaccine will be available—that’s when Broadway will reopen. But every day there is new information, like news of vaccines being developed earlier.”The League’s 700-plus members include theater owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers in North American cities, as well as suppliers of goods and services to the commercial theater industry.The impact of COVID-19 on Broadway has been measured in the closures of high-profile shows like Frozen, and the very personal stories of figures like actor Nick Cordero and leading designer Edward Pierce.How Edward Pierce, Broadway ‘Wicked’ Designer, Fought COVID-19—and Made Medical HistorySt. Martin said that in the last ten weeks Broadway has been losing an average of $35 million a week; this will remain so for however long Broadway remains closed. If this continues to January, that means a total loss of around $1.5 billion—with the sum heading towards $2 billion if the closure continues into next spring.“I’m not an economist,” St. Martin said, when this reporter asked how long Broadway could sustain such losses. Around one in four shows recoup their investments, she said, and she had heard from producers who “still believe in their products, that they can come back and do well.” Whenever Broadway does return, St. Martin said it would not financially rebound quickly.“If I use my common sense I would say Broadway will be back, but not as strong as it was when it closed,” said St. Martin. “It may take a couple of years to get back to strong attendance and profitability. And I may be wrong. It may take four years, but I have no doubt we will be back.”There has been talk of socially-distanced new ways of performing, new ways of seeing shows; of fewer performers, fewer audience members. But St. Martin sees the reborn Broadway—with as many safety protocols for audience and performers in place as possible—as much like the old Broadway as possible.“We can’t socially distance the cast and crew in these 100-year-old-plus buildings,” St. Martin said. “And we can’t afford to socially distance the audience. We have terrific theatrical employees, but they are the most expensive theatrical employees in the world.”The current financial model of Broadway, where financial margins are so tight even when shows sell well, means a socially distanced Broadway is not viable, said St. Martin, even if some shows could be solo concerts, or one man/one woman shows. Not every show needs an orchestra.“We do anticipate some loss of business when we reopen,” said St. Martin. “But we’re not going to open until we have the information that tells us it’s safe to sit next to each other, and for the cast and crew to be dancing and kissing and everything else they do, sweating on each other. We’re not going to put people’s lives at risk, at least not knowingly.”It would be “illogical,” said St. Martin, to not anticipate that fewer shows would be playing on Broadway. Of the full slate of shows scheduled to have opened this spring, three have been canceled, two postponed to the fall (“which means getting postponed again probably,” said St. Martin).The question, St. Martin said, was for the shows that had already opened and those that were planning to open, “how can they keep their casts and financing intact enough to come back? It’s going to cost $750,000 to $1.5 million to relaunch.” It would be logical” to assume not all Broadway theaters will be occupied or full. When they closed, there were two or three shows on some theaters’ waiting lists, said St. Martin. “People will always be passionate to get their projects on stage. But this is now tied to the national economy, health, and safety and things we don’t control that impact us.”Some theaters would be empty temporarily, St. Martin said. “If you have 40 theaters and 25 shows, that means 15 theaters will be closed. I don’t think there is any doubt they will return to life—and this is not a cheerleader speaking. We have temporary closures all the time when theaters go dark. A show might not be a hit and close, and the next show will not be ready for from three to six months later. I don’t think any theaters will close for good.”Whatever the League’s experts recommend, the unions representing Broadway’s 96,900 workers are also seeking expert advice. For example, the Actors’ Equity Association—whose president Kate Shindle will speak in detail to The Daily Beast in a forthcoming piece—has employed David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) during the Obama administration, to advise on post-COVID working conditions.St. Martin said the Broadway League was not yet surveying audience attitudes. “We don’t plan to until the curve is completely flattened, because why waste our money to have people tell us they’re not coming back until they feel safe? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. “Most professional researchers we talked to said, ‘You don’t do a survey during the ‘shock and panic’ phase. I know a lot of people are, and good for them. We will start that research when the virus has flattened out in New York, and some baselines have been established.”Audiences, said St. Martin, can expect to have to wear masks and go through temperature checks, as well as get firm guidance on how to enter and leave theaters (and hopefully how to circulate within them—a scrum even in older times, as Broadway-goers know from mingling at intermissions and queuing for the restrooms). In the Broadway of the future, “I think you’ll probably see a lot of contactless activities, like with scanning tickets, and no faucets and hand flushes in the restrooms,” said St. Martin. Concession servers, she said, would likely be wearing masks and gloves and “serving your drink in a paper cup that you personally throw away. New products are being developed every day, it seems.”Broadway queues were already long outside theaters, pre-pandemic. How would they work, in an era of social distancing, this reporter asked. “I hope it becomes a problem, by which I mean that the audience comes back,” said St. Martin. “There is some thinking that the side streets of Broadway would be shut down to accommodate the lines, and enable social distancing.”There are six not-for-profit theaters on Broadway. Did St. Martin want Broadway to receive the kind of city, state, or federal financial support, such as theater receives in countries like Britain and Germany?“Yes, it would be nice to get some support, seriously,” said St. Martin. “We get absolutely not one penny from the city or state or federal government unlike London and most other places. We provide a $14.3 billion economic impact in New York City alone. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little of that back?”Had St. Martin ever asked or lobbied for such money for Broadway, this reporter asked.“Of course.”And the response was?St. Martin laughed. “No,” she recalled bluntly of the response she had been given. “I think one mayor said, ‘What are you going to do? Move?’ This was a long time ago.”Could the reverberations of the pandemic lead to a new Broadway financial model constructed around less costs to take the pressure off productions to make the money they presently have to? “That’s a big ‘if,’” said St. Martin. “If wages dramatically decreased, if rent for theaters decreased, if fees for all designers decreased, we could come back and socially distance and lower prices.”Until now, St. Martin had never considered the viability of such a model, “but I also never knew there could be a pandemic could shut down the world.” The challenge would be to make a scaling down of Broadway equitable and workable, and financially sustainable, for all who work on it.“If it were possible, it would be now,” St. Martin said of this possibly radically reinvented Broadway. “I don’t know that it is. Let’s say Broadway can’t come back next January, then it can’t come back in the spring, will there be a different model? I don’t know, but we want to ask, if we want to work in theater, and if we want international tourism in New York City to come back, and if we want the city to be all that it is—then maybe. But there would be a lot of pain to go through before we ever got there.”Have those discussions around a new model started among producers? “I think it’s early for that, but I have no doubt that people are discussing it—but they are not discussing it as part of our task forces.”“I don’t think I’m going to entertain that honestly,” said St. Martin of this radical reinvention model. “I think we believe that part of theater and the experience of theater is about shared emotions, shared joy, and shared tears. It’s what makes live theater different from anything else.”So, to be clear this reporter asked, for St. Martin personally, the reborn Broadway is essentially the old Broadway—from how the audiences are able to sit to how the performers are able to perform? “Yes.” * * *“I believe we will be back, and eventually we will be back to where we were before”In order to achieve an effective and lasting reopening, the Broadway League has increased the number of task forces looking at all issues around Broadway’s rebirth from 15 to 22. “As if 15 weren’t enough,” said St. Martin, drily. “As we learn more things it creates the need for more people to do more homework.”Four task forces are working on safety protocols—as they relate to backstage and in theaters and others for tours. There are 10 marketing task forces, in order to “how we let people know what we are differently. We can do a lot to mitigate challenges, but if people don’t know about it what good will that do if the perception is it hasn’t changed,” said St. Martin.Other task forces are focused on government relief of different types, and more task forces will evolve “as we learn more.” The League is reaching out to medical experts around issues like air sampling. It was too early to make announcements, she said, principally because the advice and information “changes overnight.”St. Martin would not elaborate on the discussions the League had had with Broadway unions, following the agreement forged at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure hundreds of workers were paid for a certain amount of time through April.“Yes, we are in discussion with the unions all the time, but in order to shore up anything there has to be money available, and a lot of the shows have run out of money,” said St. Martin.The League, said St. Martin, was working with New York State officials in Albany and the federal government in Washington D.C., pushing for extended unemployment insurance and extended health insurance coverage. St. Martin is optimistic that the HEROES Act would contain a clause enabling unemployed people whose health insurance has run out to get their COBRA insurance paid for by the government.“Nobody is shoring up producers’ and theaters’ bank accounts,” said St. Martin. “This is out of the goodness of their hearts and a sincere desire to take care of all the people on Broadway.” If producers and theaters could continue to pay workers, as in the initial agreement, they would, she said. “But it’s a lot of money. Most of the shows, even big shows that had big advances, are at risk of using those advances, so where do you get the money from to pay for all of that?”Older audiences and international tourism are two significant constituencies that St. Martin concedes will be difficult to attract back.But she said she took some heart from changing audience demographics. Last season, the average age of an audience member was 42. And only 15 percent of the audience was over 65. “There will certainly be some people we lose until COVID doesn’t exist any more,” said St. Martin, “but our audience has been getting younger. Last season 25 percent of the audience was under 25 and 3 million were under 18. The area we are most concerned about is international tourists: they were 19 percent of business last season and we do believe it will be a while before they are back because of travel restrictions and so forth.”St. Martin hopes, as in previous moments of crisis, that domestic tourism to New York City increases—when visitors feel comfortable to do so—but she knows on this occasion New York has been the heart of this pandemic, which might put off domestic tourists. “We do know there are a lot of avid theatergoers who will show up the minute they are allowed to show up,” said St. Martin. “This is a time of uncertainty, but at the end of the day I believe we will be back, and eventually we will be back to where we were before.”Then there is the issue of people wanting to spend money on Broadway tickets—with unemployment at record levels, and people nervous about their personal finances, will they want, or be able to pay for tickets?“That is logical,” conceded St. Martin, “but our theater is totally commercial. We don’t get government funding. It’s a supply-and-demand pricing model. Last season was our biggest season in history. We had 14.8 million theatergoers, 75 percent of shows are under $125, 50 percent of shows are under $100. The premium pricing everyone hears about represents 3 to 5 percent of shows. And a lot of premium price shows are $140. We’re in line with professional sports, concerts, and other forms of live entertainment.“The press likes to talk about the $800 Hamilton tickets and the $1,100 Bruce Springsteen tickets, but there are 39 other shows on Broadway. I do think it’s most likely we will see some price changes. How deeply discounted they are depends on any financial model that changes. The running costs are also not cheap. Most of the musicals cost $1 million-plus in running costs. Tickets have got to be a certain price for the show to stay open.“People want to go to Broadway shows. They talk about how expensive it is, but they continue to buy tickets, to talk about it. I think we will be back. Do I think it will be the best season in history? Probably not. That will take a couple of years, but I think we will open, and find ways to doing business so we can build it.”Regional theaters may be imperiled, but St. Martin sees them akin to those department stores and businesses that have claimed Chapter 11 and bankruptcy during the pandemic. “I think they will come back under new ownership and refinancing. Theaters are job creators, and the heart of many of our cities around the country. I don’t think they’ll stay closed for long.”As for Broadway, “New York is very much like London,” St. Martin said. “Theater is a way of life in this city. Eighty percent of people who come to New York for pleasure list Broadway as a number one or two reason for visiting.People love to say, ‘Broadway is going to die, ‘Broadway is dead.’ Two years ago, we had only 15 plays, and the headlines were ‘The play is dead,’ ‘Broadway is dead.’ The next year we had the biggest play season in history. I think Broadway will survive.”“We will be back,” St. Martin vowed. “We won’t be socially distancing without a good financial model, and people will be able to return to Broadway again. I don’t see Broadway audiences sitting with masks for the rest of their lives, but if you been sitting watching TV reruns for the last few months you might be willing to risk a little bit while wearing a mask to see something new, fresh, and alive at the theater. It’s really something we will all learn together.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Idaho’s Anti-Lockdown Lieutenant Governor Has Gone Rogue
    Politics
    The Daily Beast

    Idaho’s Anti-Lockdown Lieutenant Governor Has Gone Rogue

    When the Republican governor of Idaho issued a plan to safely reopen businesses in the state, he ordered bars to stay closed until at least June 13. Last weekend, in defiance of those guidelines, Idaho’s lieutenant governor—also a Republican—reopened the tavern she owns with her family in Idaho Falls.A few days before reopening The Celt Pub and Grill, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin penned a scathing op-ed in which she slammed Gov. Brad Little’s oversight of the coronavirus pandemic. “As Lieutenant Governor, I am one heartbeat away from the governor’s chair,” McGeachin wrote. State residents, she added, were “sidelined and left to watch silently as the government closed Main Street by unilaterally deciding which businesses were ‘essential’ and which ones were not.” The definition of “essential” workers came from the White House, not the statehouse, but that was lost in the remarkable animosity between Idaho’s top leaders. According to the Idaho Statesman, McGeachin and Little have not spoken in weeks. As the country enters its third month of lockdown amid a slumping economy, right-wing protesters often funded by a network of deep-pocketed conservative groups, have called for states to be “liberated” from a patchwork of measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. But public health experts warn that reopening prematurely will only make things worse. Weeks after it reopened, Texas has experienced a surge in COVID-19 deaths.A majority of Americans, on both sides of the aisle, say the nation is reopening too quickly, but among politicians the dispute is largely split down party lines. In Georgia, the Democratic mayors of Atlanta, Savannah, and Albany are opposed to Republican governor Brian Kemp’s reopening plan, saying it is too early. The Democratic mayor of Des Moines, Frank Cownie, has criticized Iowa governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, for the same reason. However, the feud between McGeachin and Little is playing out among two conservatives in a deep red state. Idaho state representative Greg Chaney, a Republican who has been openly critical of McGeachin’s position on reopening, told The Daily Beast he hasn’t seen anything like it in his lifetime. “This particular administration has been in office not quite two years, and so their working relationship is relatively new,” said Chaney, “but historically I can't recall a similar example, even [back in the 1980s] when we had a Repubiclan lieutenant governor and a Democratic governor.”In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected individually. Little clinched Idaho’s 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary with 37 percent of the vote; McGeachin won with 29 percent. They both were voted into office with 60 percent of the vote in the general election.Neither responded to requests for comment for this story.The day after Little’s broad stay-at-home order eased earlier this month, McGeachin attended a “Disobey Idaho” protest outside the state capitol building. “Disobey Idaho” was organized by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), a right-wing group backed by the conservative State Policy Network. In a blog post, Wayne Hoffman, the IFF’s executive director, told followers that the state, country, and economy “are in a death spiral, inflicted by our elected officials and their teams of ‘health experts.’”Following her appearance at the demonstration, McGeachin flew to the town of Kendrick with Idaho GOP chairman Raul Labrador to support the reopening of the Hardware Brewery, a local brewpub, which authorities said was restricted from opening until mid-June. A week later, the Idaho State Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau warned the establishment that its liquor license could be pulled if it continued to violate the governor’s order by staying open. McGeachin accused Little of abusing his power to “harass and intimidate private businesses.” Hardware Brewery co-owner Christine Lohman took it a step further, comparing Idaho under Little’s leadership to Nazi Germany. The brewery has remained open, contrary to state orders, Lohman told The Daily Beast. She said she is unsure if the business will be fined or penalized, but that she has been in touch with the Idaho Department of Health about safety guidelines. The establishment has “met them on some of it,” including canceling events and using paper plates and disposable cutlery, Lohman explained, but said they’re still “trying to work on the social distancing.”“I don’t have so much of an issue that they want us to do it, but I don't think private businesses should be told by the government to police the public,” she continued. “Our public are critical-thinking adults, for me to say, ‘I need to check your temperature,’ or that only six people can sit together although eight or 10 came in together... I say, ‘When is it going to stop?’”Lohman and her husband have depleted their retirement savings in an attempt to keep the brewery’s lights on, she said. Little, however, “has not lost his check, he has not lost his medical.”“The lieutenant governor has more stones than the governor,” said Lohman. “Brad Little has acted like a Democrat through this whole thing, and the people know it. These are people who want their freedom. This is the perfect time for America to fight for its civil rights.”McGeachin, 57, was a delegate for Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican National Convention, and vice-chair of Idaho’s statewide committee to elect Trump. Her 2018 campaign website for lieutenant governor, which is still active, boasts a photo of her in a MAGA hat alongside Donald Trump Jr., under the headline: “President Trump Keeps Making America Great Again!” Born in New Mexico, the staunchly anti-abortion McGeachin is Idaho’s first female lieutenant governor. In addition to The Celt, which opened in 2012, McGeachin and her husband operate a successful auto transmission business. Last year, on the 24th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City by white supremacists, McGeachin administered an oath at a rally hosted by a right-wing militia called the Real Three Percent of Idaho, which the Southern Poverty Law Center says is part of an “extreme anti-government” movement. A month earlier, McGeachin was photographed posing with far-right militia members in what appeared to be a message of support for Todd Engel, who is currently serving a 14-year sentence for his part in an armed confrontation with federal agents.The escalating conflict seen now between McGeachin and Little is “emblematic of the same chaotic approach to the pandemic we are seeing at the federal level,” Craig Holman, a government affairs expert at the watchdog nonprofit Public Citizen, told The Daily Beast.“Though Trump and Pence are more or less in agreement, the constant contradicting of senior health officials by Trump has rendered the government's response to the pandemic listless at best,” said Holman. “Fortunately for some states, Trump has now decided to turn over control of the pandemic policies to the states. However, for Idaho, the state response will be as divided and chaotic as it has been at the federal level.”As a business owner, McGeachin clearly has a financial stake in reopening, though she has pushed back at the idea that her family broke any rules by re-launching dine-in and drink-in service in mid-May.Under the state order, bars don’t reopen until May 30, but McGeachin said in a Facebook post that The Celt is a restaurant and was allowed to reopen earlier. But she also put The Celt in the same category as Hardware Brewery, which has already been cited for breaking the rules.The Celt says it is taking precautions: operating at 50 percent capacity; capping parties at six people; using paper menus. But while employees are required to wear face masks during their shifts, customers are not. That endangers staff as well as other diners in the space, said Luisa Franzini, chair of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park.“There should be social distancing, wearing of masks, and so on,” even for outdoor dining, Franzini told The Daily Beast, adding that she believes indoor dining remains unsafe. “I haven't found two jurisdictions that have the same policy. It makes you feel that your health and safety are really dependent on where you happen to live.”An employee who answered the phone at The Celt told The Daily Beast that staff members were instructed not to speak with reporters.Idaho has more than 2,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date.In some parts of the state, the rate of COVID-19 infections has been low. Of Idaho’s 44 counties, 11 haven’t had a single case, Greg Chaney explained. Yet, he said, Blaine County, where the Sun Valley ski resort is located, at one point exceeded the per capita infection rate of any other place in the country, including New York City—the “hottest spot” in the U.S. “I think it’s understandable to express disagreement, or even frustration, given everything that’s going on,” Chaney said, “but I think it’s important that we all look for constructive ways to express that. “While we’re in the heat of the moment, trying to get people to work together to address what’s happening, it’s certainly poor timing to undermine the governor in charge.”“Governors across the country have proven themselves to be real leaders during this time, particularly given the dearth of strategy from the White House,” adds Democratic strategist Andrew Taverrite. “I would think Idahoans—like the rest of the country—are looking for science-based information rather than political fights right now.”McGeachin’s stance on reopening doesn’t much surprise Deborah David-Simonds, a retired RN living in Idaho Falls.David-Simonds notes that while McGeachin has actively encouraged Idahoans to disobey Gov. Little’s stay-at-home order, Little has taken a “thoughtful approach” to reopening. He has listened to advice from state health officials, further drawing criticism from the right, David-Simonds told The Daily Beast. She sees the issue as a health concern, nothing more, and can’t comprehend “why masks are seen as a violation of someone’s constitutional rights.”And although business closures have taken a great toll on people’s finances, Luisa Franzini urges people to consider the bigger picture.“Of course there is individual freedom, but the freedom ends when your freedom starts hurting someone else,” she said. “In the case of an epidemic, it’s justified to put some restrictions on people, and some just ideologically are not accepting that.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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    'Hitler's Alligator' Dies In Moscow Zoo At The Age Of 84

    Saturn the alligator was a resident of the Berlin Zoo until it was destroyed in a bombing raid in WWII.

  • New Zealand leader continues TV interview during earthquake
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    New Zealand leader continues TV interview during earthquake

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern barely skipped a beat when an earthquake struck during a live television interview on Monday morning.She interrupted Newshub host Ryan Bridge to tell him what was happening at the parliament complex in the capital, Wellington."We're just having a bit of an earthquake here Ryan, quite a decent shake here," she said, looking up and around the room."But, um, if you see things moving behind me."【ギャラリー】Pictures of the week: May 17 - 2330New Zealand sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is sometimes called the Shaky Isles for its frequent quakes.Monday's magnitude 5.6 quake struck in the ocean about 62 miles northeast of Wellington, according to the US Geological Survey.The quake hit just before 8 am and was felt by thousands of New Zealanders who were getting ready to start their work weeks.It was strong enough to rattle food from shelves and stop train services.But there were no reports of major damage or injuries.Ms Ardern continued on with her interview, telling the host the shaking had stopped."We're fine Ryan," she said. "I'm not under any hanging lights, I look like I'm in a structurally sound place."A 2011 quake in the city of Christchurch killed 185 people and destroyed much of the downtown area. The city is continuing to rebuild.