What Now?! – April 26, 2020

Media outlets in Japan and Taiwan are reporting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has died. This has not been confirmed by the North Korean government or by sources in South Korea. Earlier in the week, a South Korean site that specializes North Korea news indicated that the “Unique Leader” was gravely ill following cardiac surgery. On Friday, Japanese weekly Shukan Gendai reported that Kim was in a “vegetative state.” On Saturday, the South China Morning News reported that sources in China indicated that country had dispatched a team of medical experts in an effort to save Kim. The Korea Herald and other English language papers in Seoul continued to report that Kim has not been seen in public since April 11, but did not confirm rumors of his death.

Kim Jong Un has disappeared for extended periods in the past, including being out view for months in 2014. The monitoring project 38 North had reported that Kim’s “special train” was spotted on the side rails near a North Korean resort town, but it’s unclear if this is related to Kim’s location. The last statement from North Korea called rumors around Kim’s health “spurious clickbait-driven reports” that “should be quickly disregarded.” North Korea also described the reports in more familiar terms—“fake news.”

New York Times: “Several White House officials said they shared the view that Mr. Trump had been taken out of context, even as they acknowledged that his comments were problematic.”

“But they acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s delivery was too sloppy for a president in the middle of managing the response to a pandemic that has killed over 45,000 Americans. Some said it was one of the worst days in one of the worst weeks of his presidency.”

“Donald Trump’s top aides are fiercely debating a question their boss rarely confronted during his decades of jousting with tabloid newspapers, starring on reality TV shows and running a media-soaked presidential campaign: whether there’s such a thing as too much Donald Trump,” Politico reports.

“A series of missteps during Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is triggering fears among some advisers that the president is damaging his reelection prospects with his communications during the crisis.”

“Televangelist Pat Robertson agreed that abortion and same-sex marriage are partly to blame for the novel coronavirus that has caused massive social and economic upheaval in the U.S.,” the HuffPost reports.

“The 90-year-old Christian Broadcasting Network founder suggested that God won’t end the coronavirus pandemic until people ‘turn from their wicked ways.’”

“The economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic is opening up a rift in the Republican Party — as the Trump administration and some GOP senators advocate for more aggressive spending while senior party leaders say now may be the time to start scaling back,” the Washington Post reports.

“President Trump is promoting costly ideas such as infrastructure investment and a payroll tax cut as his top economic official plays down the impact of additional virus spending on the national debt. But at the same time, senior Senate Republicans are increasingly warning about the effect on the nation’s liabilities, even as some of their own members lobby for expensive proposals to rescue an economy still in a free fall.”

San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told MSNBC that the U.S. territory is still waiting on stimulus checks. Said Cruz: “No one in Puerto Rico has received their $1200 coronavirus stimulus checks from the federal government.”

“President Trump and his top aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the World Health Organization on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body,” the Washington Post reports.

NBC News: “Of the roughly 50 press conferences on the health crisis so far, Fauci had only missed a handful. But now, for the first time since regular press conferences began on the topic, Fauci was only present for one of seven briefings this week.”

Or maybe this had something to with it: Dr. Fauci said the U.S. should at least double coronavirus testing in the coming weeks before easing into reopening the economy, Politico reports. Said Fauci: “We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks, and I think we will.” He added that adequate testing should “get those who are infected out of society so that they don’t infect others.”

“It was at a midday briefing last month that President Trump first used the White House telecast to promote two antimalarial drugs in the fight against the coronavirus,” the New York Times reports.

“By that evening, first-time prescriptions of the drugs — chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — poured into retail pharmacies at more than 46 times the rate of the average weekday, according to an analysis of prescription data by The New York Times. And the nearly 32,000 prescriptions came from across the spectrum — rheumatologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, psychiatrists and even podiatrists, the data shows.”

New York Daily News: “An unusually high number of New Yorkers contacted city health authorities over fears that they had ingested bleach or other household cleaners in the 18 hours that followed President Trump’s bogus claim that injecting such products could cure coronavirus.”

“The Poison Control Center, a subagency of the city’s Health Department, managed a total of 30 cases of possible exposure to disinfectants between 9 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Friday.”

Washington Post: “With the world distracted by the coronavirus pandemic, China has carried out a power grab in the former British colony, whose way of life it had pledged to preserve until 2047.”

“In recent days, authorities have said for the first time that Beijing’s representative offices in the territory can ‘supervise’ Hong Kong’s internal affairs — a step that legal experts say violates its constitutional firewall with the mainland. The Basic Law stipulates that the city should run its own affairs, including the police and immigration system, apart from defense and foreign relations.”

“This is much bigger than 2008. 2008 was a massive heart attack that happened suddenly to the financial markets. You could identify the problem and apply emergency remedies and revive the patient quickly. This is not just a financial stop. This is infection all over the body, damage to virtually every limb and organ. The body was already so fragile. Those of us who have had the privilege of studying failed states have seen this before, but never in a big country like the United States, let alone a global economy.”

— Investment strategist Mohamed El-Erian, quoted by the New Yorker.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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