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More kids are going hungry. States are reopening without a declining number of coronavirus cases. And mom and dad disagree about who’s doing the home schooling. Let’s start with President Trump’s climate agenda.
Dismantling the rules
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.
This agenda, Trump and his aides say, helped to speed up economic growth (before the coronavirus lockdown) by giving companies more flexibility to behave as they want. Many climate and health experts counter that the rule changes are leading to more pollution-related illnesses and are accelerating climate change.
THE MORNING FIVE
1. More kids are going hungry
The coronavirus pandemic is creating a hunger crisis: More than 17 percent of young children in the United States lack sufficient food, according to research — a rate three times higher than during the worst of the Great Recession.
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.
2. A sign that states may be opening too soon
Most states that plan to begin reopening their economies fail to meet at least one of the basic criteria set by the Trump administration last month, according to a Times analysis. That’s another reason to be worried that the coronavirus may begin spreading more rapidly in the coming weeks.
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:
3. What it feels like to get the virus
“I felt like there was an anvil sitting on my chest.”
“Doing anything other than laying in bed and sleeping was difficult.”
4. Is mom or dad home schooling?
Forty-five percent of fathers say they are spending more time than their wives on home schooling the children. And how many mothers agree with that assessment? Only 3 percent, according to a survey.
There is no way to know with certainty whose perception is closer to the truth, but years of evidence — from time-use studies and other research — suggests that many men exaggerate the housework they do.
5. Trump’s new virus message
Peter Baker, The Times’s chief White House correspondent, writes in a news analysis: “Confronted with America’s worst public health crisis in generations, President Trump declared himself a wartime president. Now he has begun doing what past commanders have done when a war goes badly: Declare victory and go home.”
Here’s what else is happening
BACK STORY: Big Brother is watching you WFH
With millions of people working from home, companies are using surveillance software to make sure employees are doing what they’re supposed to. Two of our colleagues tested the software, with Pui-Wing Tam, a technology editor, tracking the behavior of Adam Satariano, a reporter. We talked to them about it.
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.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, CRAFT
The future of travel
In a post-pandemic world, experts predict that travel will include a boom in road trips, “smoking-hot deals” for flights, better-designed airports and the end of self-service buffets on cruises.
Breakfast, the most literary meal of the day
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.”
Dwight Garner, a Times book critic, has a new essay on the literature of breakfast food, with cameos by Ralph Ellison, Lorrie Moore, Susan Sontag and, of course, Julia Child. As Dwight notes, many of us are lingering a bit more over breakfast these days.
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.”
Ian Prasad Philbrick, Lara Takenaga, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.