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April 21, 2020: AOC Plans Protest Vote
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

The conspiracy-driven, coronavirus-denial protests across the country have spread, and with the President’s support, led to three southern states partially ditching their social distancing guidelines.

Meanwhile, President Trump announced a drastic executive order to suspend all immigration to the United States, and is expected to block new green cards or work visas from being issued.

And lastly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking a stand, indicating that she won’t vote for the second half-measure stimulus package, rejecting incrementalism and saying quote: “I’m not here for a five dollar bill. And I won’t insult my community with one.”

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The dumbest possible future is coming to pass before our eyes: after a weekend of misguided, anti-science and conspiracy-fueled protests around the country, several Republican governors are going ahead and ditching some essential social distancing guidelines under pressure from the president to get people in their states back to work.

The protests, it’s worth noting, were mostly small and pitiful affairs, although sometimes organized by troubling factions like hard-line gun enthusiasts or conspiracy nuts like Alex Jones. But Trump has lent his support to governors and protestors alike who want to disregard the advice of almost every medical professional and end isolation prematurely. His own coronavirus task force, for the record, is mostly trying to ignore him, according to a new report by the Daily Beast.

Unfortunately, some state leaders aren’t. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that gyms, salons, bowling alleys and many other businesses can reopen on Friday. South Carolina allowed retail shops to reopen on Monday afternoon as well, and Tennessee is expected to see a similar situation at the end of the month when Gov. Bill Lee’s stay-at-home order is allowed to expire.

There’s no way any of this happens without drastically increasing the virus’s spread across the state, but clearly Kemp doesn’t care, and his constituents will be the ones who pay the price.

Elsewhere in the country, death rates appear to be falling again -- but as we’ve seen time and time again with the virus, a decline in infection and death rates can go away in a flash as the highly contagious disease flares up again. It’s a tragedy the fate of many states is being left to the whims of their respective governors while the president continues to shout nonsense from the bully pulpit.

Trump Bans All Immigration

President Trump turned, predictably, to his favorite brand of fascism on Monday night, announcing over Twitter that he would temporarily suspend all immigration to the United States.

It’s unclear how exactly this executive order will work -- expect to see the details trickle out over the course of the day today.

Trump’s justification is that cracking down on immigration will help stop the spread of the virus, but anyone with a working brain can tell that he’s really just using the crisis to shut down the asylum system and further persecute all immigrants, regardless of their legal status.

The New York Times reports that a formal temporary order could be out anytime in the next few days, which would temporarily suspend the government from issuing new green cards or work visas, a move which will throw thousands of families into a limbo as they try to secure a life for themselves and their loved ones.

The Times reports that some workers in critical industries may be exempt from the ban, but who knows? Like most of Trump’s immigration orders, it’s almost certain to face a legal challenge in the courts, so one of the biggest real-time effects is just adding more chaos to a country already grasping at straws. How’s that for leadership?

AOC Plans Protest Vote

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is once again planning a protest vote against the second major coronavirus stimulus package, arguing that she can’t support a bill that leaves behind her working class constituents once again. She previously was the only Democrat in Congress to vote against the first relief bill.

The bill includes more money for small businesses as well as much needed funding for hospitals and testing, but other than that, stops well short of some of the meaningful changes the American people need, like rent and mortgage suspension and hazard pay for frontline workers.

Ocasio-Cortez went off on the bill’s deficiencies in a conference call with other progressive leaders on Monday, saying quote:

"Incrementalism is not helpful in this moment. It's like putting a Band-Aid on an enormous wound. I'm not here for a $5 bill. And I will not insult my community with one."

Progressives are demanding big, sweeping relief changes targeted at everyday Americans, not big businesses, including $2000 per month stimulus payments and a suspension of rent, mortgages and debt collection while the crisis goes on.

But the future bill is still shrouded in secrecy, as many lawmakers only know the details of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s dealings across the aisle from news reports.

Still, it’s unlikely that a leadership-negotiated bill will fail, meaning Ocasio-Cortez’s decision is more a rejection of the party’s tactics than an actual impediment to the bill’s passing.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

A new report by Business Insider found that Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods is using a complicated scoring system to monitor its employees and construct a “heat map” for which workforces are most likely to try to unionize.

Late on Monday night, CNN reported U.S. officials were monitoring reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was seriously ill following heart surgery he underwent last week. The South Korean government, however, says there are quote “no unusual signs” coming from the North, so who knows what’s going on? Maybe he just celebrated 4/20 a little too hard up there.

Oil prices absolutely cratered on Monday, dropping so low that they were actually negative, meaning oil producers would have to pay their customers just to take the oil off their hands. The blame for the absurd price swing lies on both the coronavirus panic and a new oil war started last month between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Aren’t you glad we’re still using this stuff to power the majority of our society?

And finally, a shocking study on media consumption and COVID cases shows the toll of Fox News’s blend of deadly disinformation. The study suggests that regions that preferred to watch pandemic-denier Sean Hannity over pandemic-realist Tucker Carlson suffered far more deaths, up to 21 percent per standard deviation.

That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie. Stay tuned for the full show later this afternoon.

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Jack Crosbie

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn