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April 20, 2020: New Aid Package Still Underwhelming
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

Sixteen people are dead after a gunman went on a 12-hour shooting spree in Nova Scotia, Canada on Saturday and Sunday, one of the country’s worst instances of mass gun violence in recent history. The gunman was killed after a confrontation with police, who did not specify how he died.

Meanwhile, Congress is approaching a deal on a new coronavirus relief bill with big bucks for small businesses, hospitals, and testing -- but once again the Democratic leadership has failed to push through several key measures, like hazard pay for frontline workers and an increasingly popular rent freeze.

And lastly, a brave response to the virus that has gone overlooked: many school cafeterias across the country have now become de facto community kitchens, serving adults and children alike even though school is canceled. But despite their selfless work, many public schools need more support to keep feeding the needy.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

A gunman killed sixteen people including one police officer during a 12-hour shooting spree and manhunt in Nova Scotia, Canada this weekend. The mass shooting was one of the bloodiest mass killings in Canada’s recent history, as the country has been plagued by gun violence far less than the United States.

Canadian authorities identified the shooter as 51-year-old Gabriel Worthman. His motive is still unclear, although authorities said he had a relationship to some of the victims, and the killing spree did not begin as a random act of violence.

The shooter may have posed as a police officer and driven a vehicle made to look like a Royal Canadian Mounted Police car. He evaded authorities for nearly 12 hours, killing victims along the way in several locations and reportedly setting fire to several structures.

The suspect died shortly after being apprehended by police, who did not specify a cause of death. Witnesses reportedly heard gunfire where the suspect was arrested.

The shootings began in the small town of Portapique [PORT-A-PECK], but spanned over a 31-mile stretch of the province. We still don’t know what kind of weapon the shooter used, or whether it was registered.

According to the New York Times, authorities said they would be investigating whether the coronavirus pandemic had anything to do with the shooting.

New Aid Package Still Underwhelming

Congress is nearing a deal on a second coronavirus stimulus package. That’s good news! The bad news, of course, is that it doesn’t go far enough.

The new bill, which Democratic and Republican leaders said they were nearing a compromise on, would include $400 billion in loans for small businesses, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for expanded virus testing across the country.

It’s a significant step, but still doesn’t go nearly far enough -- there’s no hazard pay for first responders and frontline workers, no bailouts for states and cities which have been hardest hit, and most crucially, no mention of a nationwide rent freeze or rent suspension.

The blame for this, once again, falls partly on Democratic leadership: Nancy Pelosi has a majority in the House, and failed to use it to push forward some of these more drastically needed provisions.

There are politicians giving it their best shot, however: Rep. Ilhan Omar unveiled legislation on Friday that would cancel all rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the crisis, which would amount to a massive bailout of the average American. A new poll by Data For Progress shows the majority of Americans support this: if only their views were accurately represented in Congress!

The money for testing, however, is crucial. Trump was forced to relent over the weekend by resounding criticism to actually do something about the gap in testing, saying he’d use the Defense Production Act to get an unspecified facility to produce 20 million tests per month and adding, quote: “You’ll have so many swabs you won’t know what to do with them.”

We’ll see if he actually follows through.

Schools Closed, Kitchens Open

In schools around the country, the classrooms may be closed, but the kitchens are still open. As schools have closed down, their food service departments have kept working, often turning into de facto soup kitchens to serve communities struggling to cope with the effects of the disease and mandatory lockdowns.

The programs were initially supposed to keep children who rely on a free school lunch fed during the shutdown, but have often expanded to include adult meals or full days worth of food for hungry students.

And schools are largely accommodating for these changes out of their own pockets.

It will cost the nation’s 12 largest school districts somewhere between 12 and 19 million dollars to keep their pandemic meal operations running through June 30, according to the Urban School Food Alliance, which represents major districts in some of the biggest cities in the country. The Urban School Food Alliance is begging Congress and the Department of Agriculture for help, but has still set up a fundraising campaign on its website.

The work they’re doing is monumental: L.A.’s school district, the second-largest in the country, will serve its 10 millionth meal this week. Superintendent Austin Beutner did not mince words, saying quote: “This is not a school meal program. It’s a relief effort.”

Time for the federal government to recognize it as such, and start giving it some support.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

Conservatives and conspiracy theorists in over a dozen states and cities spent the weekend protesting stay-at-home orders by, well, not staying at home and holding public rallies near government buildings. On Friday, the President openly encouraged these protests in two states, tweeting LIBERATE MICHIGAN and LIBERATE MINNESOTA in all caps. Very helpful, thank you Donald!

Chile will become the first country to issue quote “immunity cards” to its citizens, which will allow them to move freely and return to work, provided they can prove they have antibodies to the novel coronavirus and are symptom free for at least two weeks. However, experts still aren’t sure if coronavirus survivors are fully immune, and for how long -- meaning the immunity cards may not be worth the paper they’re printed on.

Members of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill say that their recommendations are not being taken seriously, especially by the Trump administration, placing the U.S. in danger of and unprepared for another catastrophic spill. Who would have thought the administration’s complete disregard for environmental protections would be a problem? Crazy how that works out.

Shake Shack, the international burger chain started by celebrity Chef Danny Meyer is doing the right thing and returning $10 million it got as a quote “small business,” through Trump’s sloppy stimulus slush fund. Maybe it’ll make its way to an actual small business this time!

That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Hope everyone’s stay well out there. Sam will be with you this afternoon with the full podcast.

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Jack Crosbie

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn