Slog AM: Rick Bright Testifies Before Congress, 36 Million Americans Unemployed, North Carolina Senator Has Cellphone Seized

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Former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Rick Bright preparing to testify in front of Congress.

Former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Rick Bright preparing to testify in front of Congress. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Fruit growers won out over unions as Washington state approves the use of bunk beds in housing for farmworkers, despite coronavirus risk: The Seattle Times reports state officials acknowledged that bunks could lead to the virus spreading more easily among the 30,000 temporary laborers this summer, but approved the use anyway. There are some restrictions in place—like making top and bottom bunks sleep head to toe—to hopefully curb that spread, but it feels like little more than crossed fingers and a slap on the back.

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Top government virologist and whistleblower Rick Bright is testifying in front of the Subcommittee on Health for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the government response to the pandemic: The ousted director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority says he was fired from his position for pushing back against President Trump promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight coronavirus. He told the committee that “without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.” That quote will be etched in my brain for the rest of the year. Watch a live stream of his testimony here.

Predictably, the president is already maligning Bright on Twitter:

Three million more Americans filed for unemployment last week: Bringing the total number of unemployed to 36 million in the last two months, reports the New York Times. These latest numbers confirm that the rate of claims is slowing, but we’re still at unemployment levels unseen since the Great Depression.

Washington state workers filed 116,000 initial claims for unemployment last week: reports the Seattle Times.

Whew, that was a depressing run of news: So look at this baby making a pizza!

Mary-Kate Olsen is asking for an “emergency” divorce from her husband, Pierre Olivier Sarkozy: According to TMZ, the court is all backed up due to the, you know, global pandemic and won’t process her nonemergency claim. Sarkozy apparently is trying to force her out of the apartment they shared, terminating the lease without her knowledge. The emergency filing will protect the property so she can get her stuff.

Filing under “to read later”: The Rolling Stone‘s cover story on Bad Bunny.

Delta is retiring their Boeing 777s at the end of this year: The Atlanta-based airline says they want to simplify and modernize their fleet, relying instead on long-haul Airbus planes, reports KOMO.

FBI ramps up investigation of North Carolina senator Richard Burr’s seriously suspicious stock trades made as coronavirus hit the U.S.: The agency seized the Republican’s cellphone last night at his home in the Washington, D.C. area over concerns that Burr violated a law preventing Congress members from trading on insider information gotten from their jobs. The L.A. Times reports that a search warrant being served to a sitting U.S. senator would require approval from the highest levels of the Justice Department and is “a step that would not be taken lightly.”

It’s going to be gray and wet for the next couple of days: Mmmmmmm, some of that real Pacific Northwest flavor.

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Melissa Etheridge’s son, Beckett Cypher, dead at age 21: On Twitter yesterday, Etheridge wrote that she “joined the hundreds of thousands of families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction.”

Giant corporations are struggling to pay rent, too: The Seattle Times reports that Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks is demanding landlords give them a break on rent as they prepare to reopen 90% of their 8,900 stores by early June. “With more U.S. locations than nearly any other chain, Starbucks’ rent relief ask could have widespread ripple effects on commercial property and mortgage markets if implemented nationally,” writes Katherine Khashimova Long.

Something to groove to this morning: “Habla Tu Verdad” by Montreal-based band Pelada is a gritty mix of punk and house music. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. I like listening to something that makes me wanna fight when I wake up in order to shake off the sleep. “Habla Tu Verdad” means “Speak your truth.” Go forth!![embedded content]

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