Monday Sunrise Briefing: No deal yet on U.S. economic rescue

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
The Nitehawk cinema close shortly before Gov.Andrew Cuomo's "New York State on PAUSE" order went into effect in Brooklyn, New York City, March 22, 2020.

A huge economic rescue bill in Congress careened off track Sunday.  On Saturday, Republicans and Democrats said they were nearing agreement after marathon talks on the approximately $2 trillion package to help Americans. But by Sunday night, the cooperation had slipped. The disagreement is reportedly over the balance between helping families, workers, and healthcare providers vs. helping corporations. 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the plan would give workers and businesses assistance to cover payrolls for the next 10 weeks; unemployment insurance; and a one-time “bridge payment” of about $3,000 for a family of four. Democrats pushed for food aid and small business loans, and said three months of unemployment insurance is not enough. They said the draft plan has a $500 billion “corporate slush fund” that lacks specifics, and doesn’t effectively ban corporate stock buy-backs.

Investors are hoping Washington can soften the blow of the healthcare crisis and what many economists say is a looming recession.

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, March 23, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been reading "Where the Crawdads Sing," or preparing your garden, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

[Editor’s note: As a public service, all our coronavirus coverage is free. No paywall.]

2. A helping hand? China is moving quickly to help nations struggling with COVID-19. But some analysts are skeptical of Beijing’s motives. It’s using the global crisis to build political goodwill and defuse criticism that it allowed the disease to spread, critics say. “The Chinese government's failures ... will be less harshly viewed in light of the failures of other governments to respond effectively as well,"Julian Ku at Hofstra University told the Associated Press. 

Serbia's president welcomed a shipment of medical supplies from his "brother and friend," Chinese leader Xi Jinping. China is sending 100,000 test kits to the Philippines. More than 10 flights carrying millions of masks and other supplies are bound for the Czech Republic this week. Nearly 80 countries sent supplies to China during its outbreak. “It is China's traditional virtue to repay goodwill with greater kindness," a Chinese foreign ministry official said, citing an ancient Confucian saying: "You throw a peach to me, and I give you a white jade for friendship.”

3. Master of the 4-minute story. Kenny Rogers, the husky-voiced Grammy-winning balladeer, whose career spanned six decades and multiple music genres, passed on Friday night.  “You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison,” Rogers told The Associated Press in 2015. “So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison….”

His biggest hits included “Lucille,” “Lady” “Islands in the Stream” and “The Gambler.” “Kenny was one of those artists who transcended beyond one format and geographic borders,” says Sarah Trahern, chief executive officer of the Country Music Association. 


REUTERS/Sergio Moraes
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the statue of Christ the Redeemer is lit up with the words "We pray together" in multiple languages to support the countries that are affected by the coronavirus, March 18, 2020.

Look Ahead

Tuesday, March 24

Going home: Passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship who have been quarantined on three US military bases in California are expected to be released on Tuesday and Wednesday 

Cinematic fast-forward: “Just Mercy,” a legal drama starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan, and “The Way Back,” starring Ben Affleck, are among movies that are available on video-on demand ahead of their scheduled release date.

Thursday, March 26

Historic launch: The first national security space mission for the newly minted U.S. Space Force remains a “Go.” The United Launch Alliance, a private consortium, is scheduled to launch an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a military communications satellite. 

Economic signals: The U.S. Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week.

Saturday, March 28

Earth Hour, Lights Out: Started in 2007, this annual event encourages people and businesses to turn off their lights for one hour, starting at 8:30 p.m. local time. The event aims to draw attention to climate change, sustainability, and offer  “a spotlight moment that puts nature at the center of international conversations,” according to WWF, the main sponsor. 

Inspiration Watch

Danzel Barber led a flash singalong at a Dallas, Texas apartment building on Friday, borrowing a page from Italy's lockdown solidarity playbook.

First, it was the Italians. Then, the Germans took to their balconies and rooftops to sing in solidarity with Italy. In the Bavarian town of Bamberg, they brought instruments out and sang “Bella Ciao,” an Italian resistance song, The Guardian reports.

And on Friday, residents of a Dallas, Texas building gathered a flash choir at the windows. Tenor Danzel Barber led the quarantine singalong, captured on video by KERA-TV member (and building resident) and organized by Bonnie Currie, another building resident. She chose the Bill Withers song, “Lean on me" and her neighbors responded. 

"It's an amazing moment of community," Ms. Currie told NPR. "People coming together even though we have to stay apart."

Indeed, kindness, community, and inspiration are spreading worldwide.

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Quidditch in Uganda: On this pitch, women and men are equal

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for the changing nature of capitalism, the next story in our Navigating Uncertainty series.

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. How do you do social distancing in a refugee camp?
  2. ‘I love this city to my bones’: How Mayor Jenny Durkan leads Seattle
  3. Grocery clerks get a new title: Emergency responders
  4. The next Tesla? Why Ohio’s ‘voltage valley’ has high hopes.
  5. Lemony, savory fusion: Israel's brash food revolution

This is a beta test - an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!

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