☕ Cover Shot: Vice President Mike Pence talks to members of the press Thursday, March 5, 2020, at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tacoma, Wash. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
We’re certainly living through unprecedented times. As we head into the weekend, we’d like to tell everyone to stay safe and stay healthy. Look out for one another and be kind. Outside of the mayhem, we have some fun updates for you all next week. See you then.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
On Thursday California Gov. Gavin Newsom released a sweeping executive order that allows the state to commandeer hotels and medical facilities to treat coronavirus patients and permits government officials to hold teleconferences in private without violating open meeting laws. Meanwhile, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure will close from the morning of March 14 through the end of the month. On the east coast, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will ban all gatherings of 500 or more people. In Washington President Trump will not be tested for the coronavirus after coming into contact with a Brazilian official who tested positive for the virus just days after a Mar-a-Lago visit, the White House said. So what’s next? Well, President Trump said Thursday that it’s a “possibility” that the administration could impose travel restrictions within the US to limit exposure to the coronavirus if certain areas get “too hot.” Here’s a map of where cases have been confirmed across the country. It is continuously updated as data comes in.
The Coronavirus Crash of 2020: The Worst Day Since 1987
The midweek stock selloff that ended the Dow Jones’ 11-year bull run continued on Thursday. The losses caused the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes to join the 30-stock bellwether in bear market territory. Despite an unprecedented EU travel ban implemented by President Trump and rate cuts by central banks around the world, stocks in virtually every sector traded sharply lower. The overarching theme is uncertainty. As the closing bell tolled on Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2,352 points lower, or 10%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Indexes also lost 9.5% and 9.4%, respectively. Both the Dow and S&P 500 had their worst day since the “Black Monday” market crash in 1987. One Fun Fact: Today is Friday the 13th. According to Time Magazine, stocks actually rise about 57% of the time on these calendar days, compared to 52% on any other date. It is interesting to note, however, that the S&P 500 has historically dropped by about 0.5% on Friday’s when they fall in October. On Friday, October 13, 1989, the index sank 6.1 percent and to this day Wall Street still refers to it as a mini-crash”.
ACLU Sues U.S. for Records of Facial-Recognition Use at Airports
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing federal agencies for records about the use of facial recognition at airports and other places where travelers enter the US, the WSJ writes. Background: The Department of Homeland Security has been expanding the use of facial recognition to identify people entering the country at airports, and in August 2019 told Congress it had processed 20 million travelers using the technology. Airlines have also partnered with the government to scan faces to identify travelers in place of boarding passes.
- Supporters: U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the technology is helping to shorten airport lines and to catch impostors traveling with someone else’s passport.
- Opponents: The ACLU and other groups say deploying facial recognition at airports is a slippery slope toward more invasive surveillance.
🌎 WORLD NEWS
How Hong Kong and Singapore Are Beating the Virus
Hong Kong and Singapore were hit early with the coronavirus. But each now has fewer than 200 cases, while France, Germany, and Spain, which were hit late, all have more than 10 times that number. So what’s the secret? NPR’s Jason Beaubien writes that it’s all about being extremely aggressive. Both Hong Kong and Singapore quickly set up systems to try to identify and treat every case in their territory. Hong Kong developed diagnostic tests and rapidly deployed them to labs at every major hospital in the city. Singapore’s prime minister called for calm and assured residents that all health care related to the disease would be free. Reality Check: Both Hong Kong and Singapore continue to find a few new cases each week, but they’ve avoided the explosive outbreaks that have occurred elsewhere.
Syria: Is the End Game Approaching?
Eight years of war in Syria have come down to an epic struggle in a northwestern province the size of Delaware John McLaughlin writes for Ozy. What’s Happening: Idlib is the last piece of territory standing in the way of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regaining control of the country. Why it matters: Probably no comparable piece of real estate on Earth is at this moment an active battleground closely engaging the interests of at least four major powers — Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United States, the first three with fighting forces on the ground in Idlib. Big Picture: History’s judgment of all this is likely to be harsh. From a humanitarian standpoint, the tragedy of Syria far exceeds the Balkan wars and in some respects approaches the scale of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. – Ozy
Iran’s Hard-Liners Are Poised for Political Dominance
Iran’s parliamentary elections last month were an unmitigated success for conservatives and hard-liners, Mohsen Milani writes for World Politics Review. What’s Happening: Aided by unprecedented low turnout and the disqualification of thousands of their opponents, they won 221 of the legislature’s 290 seats, while reformists and moderates took only 19—down from 121 in the 2016 elections. So what does that actually mean? The outcome profoundly changed the balance of power in Tehran, which will have serious repercussions for Iran’s domestic and foreign policies. Big picture: there is now more anti-American sentiment in power which may cause further hurdles for US-Iran relations in the coming years. – World Politics Review
The Boeing Crisis, One Year Out
Following two deadly crashes within a five-month span, Boeing’s 737 MAX plane was grounded one-year ago today. Since then, the stock has dropped by roughly 50%. Shares continued to slide yesterday as airlines bear the brunt of the fallout from the coronavirus. Elsewhere: the negative sentiment on Wall Street crept into the cryptocurrency market on Thursday. Bitcoin tumbled by as much as 15%, reaching $6,160 during the trading day. Roughly one month ago one bitcoin was selling for over 10,000.
Following the NBA’s lead on Wednesday, the NHL, MLB, and MLS suspended operations on Thursday. Additionally, the NCAA called off March Madness. Meanwhile, The NFL said Thursday it has “no plans to move the start of the league year” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom out: the big question is still the Olympics. – ESPN
G Suite Hits a Major Milestone
Google’s G Suite, the upstart challenger to Microsoft Office, surpassed 2 billion monthly active users at the end of last year. What’s next for G Suite? The Google brand is looking to double down on it’s smart compose feature, expanding it into other products outside of Gmail and Docs. Elsewhere: Shares of Snap were upgraded to a buy on Thursday by Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley. The analyst wrote that he believes the company is “best positioned among midcap advertising names to both weather the coronavirus storm and in terms of upside to shares in an eventual recovery.” – Axios / MarketWatch
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1933: FDR broadcasts first ‘fireside chat’ during the Great Depression
On March 12, 1933, eight days after his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his first national radio address—or “fireside chat”—broadcast directly from the White House.