[Weekly Review] Weekly Review | Harper's Magazine
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A “Reopen Wisconsin” protest in downtown Madison inadvertently shut down businesses that were still open.

Congress approved an additional $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a part of the stimulus package that was intended to keep businesses with fewer than 500 employees afloat but that ran out of money within days.1 2 Among the original disbursement of aid was $126.4 million for three public companies affiliated with the Texas hotelier and Trump donor Monty Bennett, who reported that his company’s share price was down 91 percent since April 2018.3 4 “I won’t apologize for being a capitalist in America, or for being reasonably successful at it,” Bennett wrote in March.5 An Illinois man filed a discrimination suit against the Trump Administration on behalf of a million Americans who will be denied stimulus checks because they are married to and jointly filed taxes with immigrants who do not have Social Security numbers.6 7 Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Georgia began reopening select businesses, and a “Reopen Wisconsin” protest in downtown Madison inadvertently shut down businesses that were still open.8 9 10 Hawaii’s tourism agency set aside thousands of dollars to remove visitors from the state.11 The attorney general of Missouri sued China for economic losses and suffering, and Arkansas senator Tom Cotton called to limit the number of Chinese students studying the sciences.12 13 “If Chinese students want to come here and study Shakespeare and the Federalist Papers, that’s what they need to learn from America,” Cotton said. A survey of pediatricians found that vaccination rates for measles, mumps, and rubella dropped by 50 percent, and diphtheria and whooping cough shots by 42 percent, since the onset of the pandemic.14 It was reported that in January, the Department of Health and Human Services’ initial pick to head the U.S. pandemic task force was a former Labradoodle breeder.15

At a daily coronavirus briefing, President Trump speculated on whether injecting household disinfectant could treat COVID-19; later, Maryland’s emergency hotline fielded more than 100 calls asking about consuming disinfectants.16 17 A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that calls placed to poison hotlines regarding accidental exposure to household cleaners spiked in March. “Common sense can take a back seat,” said one of the authors of the report, implicating overzealous sterilization. New York City shut down its social distancing “snitch line” after the 3-1-1 text line was bombarded with pictures of penises and Adolf Hitler.18 Officials in the Indian state of Uttarakhand booked a six-month-old and a three-year-old for flouting stay-at-home orders, and Indonesia punished quarantine violators by confining them in houses that are suspected of being haunted.19 20 “I know this is for everyone’s safety. Lesson learned,” said one confinee. In Taiwan, which has reported only six deaths from the coronavirus, a new baseball season began with mannequins and cardboard cutouts instead of fans.21 Claiming that women shop more carefully and thus increase the risk of transmission, the mayor of Osaka encouraged men to buy groceries.22 After stealing over 300 pounds of flour from a warehouse, a Chilean man was apprehended when the police followed a trail of flour to his home.23

A nurse in Massachusetts ran a route that was intended to spell out an inspirational message but instead read boston strog.24 A construction crew in Colorado struck an underground telephone line, cutting off service to a “call before you dig” number that utility workers are required by law to call prior to beginning work.25 Police officers in Spain fined a man for taking his goldfish on a walk; Thailand’s environment minister traveled to a zoo to demand that it stop making a chimpanzee ride a bike through the premises, spraying disinfectant; and three police officers in Stamford, Connecticut, spent 45 minutes corralling a pig.26 27 28 Because of worker shortages at slaughterhouses, farms in Delaware and Maryland announced plans to kill 2 million chickens.29 In Florida, officials removed from a highway an alligator that was “being aggressive with traffic.”30 China’s top judicial bodies issued a joint statement enjoining harsher punishment for those who steal or damage manhole covers, ruling that these crimes are maximally punishable by death.31 A court in Quebec invalidated a $500,000 debt incurred in a game of rock, paper, scissors, for which the loser had mortgaged his home, because wagering contracts are valid only when requiring skill or bodily exertion.32  Researchers announced the first credible evidence of a human having been killed by a meteorite, and new images from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico indicated that an asteroid that will fly by Earth next week has the shape of a face mask.33 34Cameron French

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