News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: COVID-19: Beefing, Brazil Investigation, and Why Pants Exist

A shopper wearing a surgical mask, center, looks at looks at packaged meats at a Trader Joes in Brooklyn, New York.
Getty Images
April 29, 2020


The Story

So...meat is apparently part of the US's critical infrastructure.

People do like their meats.

Right. Yesterday, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to require meat processing plants to stay open during the pandemic. It's not the first time he's invoked the 1950s law. Last month, he used it to order GM to produce ventilators. Now, he's using it for the food supply chain.

What's at stake?

Potential meat shortages. Some processing plants have become coronavirus hotspots. More than 5,000 meat and food processing employees have been infected or exposed to COVID-19. Over a dozen plants have shut down, and production is down by at least 25%. Meat shortages could hit grocery stores as soon as the end of this week.

That's soon.

It is. The admin ordered the factories back open to protect supply chains. But unions and worker advocates are concerned the move will endanger employees' health. That's because workers at these plants are often required to stand shoulder to shoulder, even as the CDC recommends keeping them six feet apart. As one union president said, "We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork, and poultry products."

What does the admin say?

That it wants workers safe. It's rolling out new guidelines, including recommending that employees 65 and older, and those with pre-existing conditions, stay home. And if companies follow these guidelines, the admin is reassuring them the gov could side with them in lawsuits workers might bring for exposing them to the virus.


As the US begins to open up for business, there's tension between companies trying to make it work...and employees concerned for their health. In this case, the admin appears to be putting the security of the food supply chain front and center.


Who people are remembering…

Irrfan Khan. The Bollywood star passed away this morning after being admitted to the hospital in Mumbai, India, with a colon infection. He was 54. Khan had been diagnosed with a rare cancer in March 2018 but continued to push through with acting after receiving intensive care. The actor had achieved success in both Bollywood and in western cinema – and was known internationally for his roles in "Life Of Pi," "Slumdog Millionaire," and "The Namesake." Tributes came from people around the globe, including from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said Khan's death is a "loss to the world of cinema and theatre." RIP.

What's sounding a brazillion alarms...

Brazil's Supreme Court. This week, it greenlighted an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro, setting off a political crisis. Last week, the country's justice minister resigned, accusing Bolsonaro of trying to interfere with federal police investigations involving his family. For context, two of Bolsonaro's sons are being investigated for corruption. One is being accused of leading a disinformation campaign. The former minister says Bolsonaro replaced the police chief so he could have someone in place who would share classified info with him. Bolsonaro denies wrongdoing. But the Supreme Court is saying 'let's find out, shall we?'

  • And the Portuguese word for 'impeachment' is: Impeachment. If charged with obstruction of justice or other crimes, Bolsonaro would become the second president to be impeached since 2016 – when President Dilma Rousseff was impeached over allegations that she violated Brazil's budget rules. But this is...

  • Não-t the only problem: Bolsonaro's faced criticism for downplaying the coronavirus, which he calls a "little flu." Earlier this month, he fired the country's health minister after the two disagreed on how to handle the pandemic. Now, experts believe Brazil could be the next coronavirus "hot spot," and that those infected could be closer to 1 million, versus the 68,000 reported.

Who has big election energy...

Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI). Yesterday, the congressman basically announced he's running for president as a Libertarian. Amash – a former tea party Republican elected in 2010 – left the GOP last year as he called for President Trump's impeachment. Now, the third-party candidate says he's forming a presidential exploratory committee...political-speak for 'I'm already running for president. Though rare, third-party candidates have the potential to shake up elections. TBD if Amash has the power to draw votes away from the expected showdown between Trump and former VP Joe Biden.

Former VP Joe Biden. Yesterday, he was the projected winner in the Ohio Democratic primary. The state's primary was pushed back from the March 17 date because of COVID-19. And was done almost entirely by mail. Although some say they were confused by the process, there wasn't much widespread disruption – a change of pace from what voters in Wisconsin experienced earlier this month.

...Oh and speaking of Biden, Hillary Clinton said 'I'm with him.'

Why people want to ET phone home...

The Pentagon. Earlier this week, it declassified and released three videos of "unidentified aerial phenomena." The videos show US Navy pilots coming across flying objects, and had been floating on the web for over a decade. Now, the Pentagon is saying 'yes, these videos are real.' But before you start mass ordering tin hats on Amazon, they don't prove aliens exist: scientists say the visuals could be caused by bugs in fighter jet code, among other explanations.

What's missing from this news report…


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