Coronavirus, President Trump, India: Your Thursday Briefing

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This newsletter will often start with coronavirus news. And you’ll always find plenty of news about it below. But the virus isn’t the only story we’re going to cover in depth.

Today, we’re going to start with another one of the world’s vital stories: the battle over climate policy.

Shortly after taking office, President Trump and congressional Republicans found an innovative way to reduce business regulations, one of their top policy priorities. They began using a 1996 law — called the Congressional Review Act, and rarely used before — that allowed them to reverse rules enacted by the Obama administration in its final few months.

Now that Trump’s first term is winding down, administration officials realize that the same law could undo some of their policies — if the Democrats win in November. So the administration has been hurrying to finish as many regulations as possible this spring, to make sure they are not vulnerable to reversal under the Review Act.

And the administration has been particularly focused on the environment. As Nadja Popovich, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Kendra Pierre-Louis of The Times report: Trump’s drive to dismantle major climate and environmental policies is now mostly complete.

The most likely explanations are the rise in unemployment and the interruption in school meal programs. “I’ve eaten a lot less just to make sure they get what they need,” said one Ohio woman, who is trying to make $170 in monthly food stamps go far enough to feed her grandchildren.

Of the 30 states that have moved toward a lifting of their lockdown, nearly a third do not have a declining percentage of virus tests that come back positive, which is one of the criteria:

“I felt like there was an anvil sitting on my chest.”

“Doing anything other than laying in bed and sleeping was difficult.”

What was this experience like?

Adam: The good: improving my time management. The bad: everything else.

Is it every boss’s dream to be able to track your employee’s every move?

Pui-Wing: Absolutely not! Reporting involves building trust with sources and conversations with people — not editors looking over a reporter’s shoulder. It would kill the vibe for sure.

Does this kind of software change the balance of power between remote workers and their employers?

Adam: Definitely. Employees have little leverage to resist this monitoring if a company insists. And there are few safeguards; the tech gives managers too much discretion. The power dynamic is out of whack.

Pui-Wing, you agreed not to “fire, judge or blackmail” Adam based on what you saw. Was there anything that tempted you to break that promise?

Pui-Wing: I will never tell.

What is the right way to cut a piece of toast? Diagonally, insists the narrator in Nicholson Baker’s novel “The Mezzanine.” It creates “a triangularly cut slice” which in turn yields “an ideal first bite.” With rectangular toast, you must “angle the shape into your mouth, as you angle a big dresser through a hall doorway.”

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. The Times added more subscribers in the first quarter of this year than in any previous quarter. In response, Jodi Kantor — one of the reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein story — had this to say: “To the new subscribers, the blue-bag loyalists, and the folks who argue with our coverage but subscribe anyway: THANK YOU. I cannot tell you what your support means to one tired reporter sitting here in her pajamas, and to our whole newsroom.”

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