States can’t declare bankruptcy, but McConnell won’t back a huge stimulus package for them | Vox


As my colleague Emily Stewart has documented, state budget shortfalls could exceed $500 billion this year, an amount that easily swamps the $283 billion in lost revenue that states experienced in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

New York State alone is expecting between $10 billion and $15 billion in lost tax revenue, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has proposed slashing up to 20 percent of his state’s spending to make up for its shortfalls.

The mayor of Los Angeles announced upcoming furloughs for city workers on Sunday.

And despite this mounting pressure, efforts to include more federal aid to states and local governments in the latest stimulus package failed in congressional negotiations Tuesday night.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested states should be able to declare bankruptcy instead.

Source: States can’t declare bankruptcy, but McConnell won’t back a huge stimulus package for them – Vox

US Army to Study How Humans Team With AI | Defense One


The future of warfare—and most other human endeavors—will include the integration of human agency and decision-making prowess with artificial intelligence. At present, interactions between humans and AI tools are not always intuitive, but the Army wants to change that.

The Army Research Laboratory issued a presolicitation notice Monday for a Human-Agent Teaming Research and Engineering Services contract to study how soldiers interact with AI and improve the training regimen for humans and machines.

Source: US Army to Study How Humans Team With AI – Defense One

Coronavirus oversight lags as trillions in relief head out the door | TheHill


Democrats are struggling to monitor the Trump administration’s handling of coronavirus relief funding at a time when Congress is poised to provide an additional $500 billion in emergency aid and watchdogs warn of massive fraud and abuse.

While party leaders have demanded strict accounting of the trillions of dollars Congress has approved to address the pandemic, they’ve faced hurdles setting up oversight mechanisms, even as the massive outlays start flowing out the door.

Source: Coronavirus oversight lags as trillions in relief head out the door | TheHill

Mexico’s COVID-19 distance education program compels a re-think of the country’s future of education


Mexico began to implement distance education programs such as Aprende en Casa (Learn at Home), where primary and secondary school students can access educational content on television and the internet to continue their learning.

However, due to the lack of internet connectivity in isolated parts of the country, the Aprende en Casa program is not accessible to all students, especially girls. Because of both physical distance to schools and gender norms that keep them at home, they are in the greatest need of distance education programs that can be enjoyed safely.

In the fieldwork that I carry out as an Echidna Global Scholar in the Yucatan Peninsula in the southeast of Mexico, it is common to hear students and parents talk about the lack of access to the internet.

Source: Mexico’s COVID-19 distance education program compels a re-think of the country’s future of education

Some U.S. fund managers risk long-term bets on tanking oil sector | Reuters


On Monday, traders holding the expiring front-month May contract for U.S. crude had to pay nearly $40 per barrel to unload oil as they scrambled to avoid having to take delivery.

With supply looking like it will far exceed demand for weeks, oil contracts for June on Tuesday were at two-decade lows, with global benchmark Brent down 24%, to settle at $19.33 a barrel and U.S. crude for June down 43% to $11.57. [O/R]

The United States Oil Fund ETF was down more than 20% on Monday.

Energy stocks in the S&P 500 are down nearly 45% for the year to date, more than triple the 15% decline in the broad index over the same time.

Source: Some U.S. fund managers risk long-term bets on tanking oil sector – Reuters

Securities group asks SEC to intervene for brokers in audit-trail database fight | Reuters


Brokers must soon begin sending sensitive information derived from their clients’ trades to a new database called the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) that the Securities and Exchange Commission tasked exchange operators and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) with building and operating.

But before they begin sending the information, the brokers must sign an agreement that limits the financial liability of the exchanges and FINRA, collectively called self-regulatory organizations (SROs), to $500 per reporting firm if there is a breach of that data.

That puts the brokers on the hook for any security breaches of the database, which they have no control over, said Kenneth Bentsen, chief executive officer of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which represents banks, broker-dealers and asset managers.

“SIFMA’s guiding principle is ‘they who hold the data bear the liability,’” Bentsen said in a statement.

Source: Securities group asks SEC to intervene for brokers in audit-trail database fight – Reuters

Bankruptcy looms over U.S. energy industry, from oil fields to pipelines | Reuters


Fuel demand has tumbled roughly 30% worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, and just as the health crisis worsened a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia flooded markets with crude. The industry was already struggling to satisfy investors unhappy with weak returns, even as the United States surged to become the world’s largest oil producer in the last few years.

That perilous position was before U.S. prices crashed deep into negative territory on Monday, as much as $38 per barrel in the red. This sudden rout came despite substantial spending and output cuts having already been announced by U.S. producers, and reflected a price environment well below levels that companies and advisors had modeled in worst-case scenarios, according to energy lawyers.

Source: Bankruptcy looms over U.S. energy industry, from oil fields to pipelines – Reuters

Silence shrouds London’s deserted midnight party land | Reuters


The packed streets and teeming bars that have tended to the nocturnal needs of drunken poets, louche musicians and revellers seeking adventure have been left desolate by the coronavirus lockdown.

From the pubs of London’s West End to the hedonistic nightclubs of Shoreditch, the fun has departed the British capital, at least for now.

Gone is humanity: the crowds, the diners, the drunks, the bewildered tourists, the opera aficionados, the watchful doormen, the lovers snatching an elicit embrace.

Source: Silence shrouds London’s deserted midnight party land – Reuters

Blood-pressure drugs are in the crosshairs of COVID-19 research | Reuters


Scientists are baffled by how the coronavirus attacks the body – killing many patients while barely affecting others.

But some are tantalized by a clue: A disproportionate number of patients hospitalized by COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have high blood pressure. Theories about why the condition makes them more vulnerable – and what patients should do about it – have sparked a fierce debate among scientists over the impact of widely prescribed blood-pressure drugs.

Researchers agree that the life-saving drugs affect the same pathways that the novel coronavirus takes to enter the lungs and heart.

Source: Blood-pressure drugs are in the crosshairs of COVID-19 research – Reuters

Corona Capital: Tennis merger, Tidjane, Unilever | Reuters


Credit Suisse’s former Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam never tired of touting the Zurich bank’s transformation into a much safer institution during his almost five-year term.

The group’s first-quarter results on Thursday contained 444 million Swiss francs ($456 million) of mark-to-market losses – partly leveraged finance deals it agreed to underwrite but is yet to put to market. In the right context, the scary-looking number may prove the Ivorian’s point.

Source: Breakingviews – Corona Capital: Tennis merger, Tidjane, Unilever – Reuters