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April 17, 2020

Bill Gates Becomes a Target of the Right

This Day in History | 1961

The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure.

Good morning middle America, 

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is one of the biggest donors to the World Health Organization which puts him at odds with President Trump and a lot of Republicans when it comes to the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus. More specifically, the U.S.’s stance on China and their influence over the WHO. And so he has now, according to the New York Times, become the star of an explosion of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus outbreak.

It looks like Elizabeth Warren has become the Veepstakes favorite of some key swing state voters. Is Warren the best woman for the job?

Also we have a story about the impact COVID-19 is having on social security. Will the disease kill this safety net too?

Finally Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and Teslsa CEO says he’s surprised CNN still exists. 

Read all about it.

-Fraser Dixon

Bill Gates, at Odds With Trump on Virus, Becomes a Right-Wing Target

(NY Times) – In a 2015 speech, Bill Gates warned that the greatest risk to humanity was not nuclear war but an infectious virus that could threaten the lives of millions of people.

That speech has resurfaced in recent weeks with 25 million new views on YouTube — but not in the way that Mr. Gates probably intended. Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world’s richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system.

Mr. Gates, 64, the Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, has now become the star of an explosion of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus outbreak. In posts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he is being falsely portrayed as the creator of Covid-19, as a profiteer from a virus vaccine, and as part of a dastardly plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population.

The wild claims have gained traction with conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham and anti-vaccinators such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as Mr. Gates has emerged as a vocal counterweight to President Trump on the coronavirus. For weeks, Mr. Gates has appeared on TV, on op-ed pages and in Reddit forums calling for stay-at-home policies, expanded testing and vaccine development. And without naming Mr. Trump, he has criticized the president’s policies, including this week’s move to cut funding to the World Health Organization.

Find out more here

Warren tops VP appeal for Dem voters in Michigan and Wisconsin

(Axios) –  group commissioned a poll in two Midwestern swing states to test the viability of women of color to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick and found Stacey Abrams as the top choice for black voters — but Elizabeth Warren as the overall candidate to beat.

Kamala Harris was the only candidate of color to break the top three for overall support, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Warren, in this survey of Michigan and Wisconsin voters conducted for Donors of Color Action and reviewed by Axios.

But Warren reflected the most consistent support among white and black voters in both states.

Why it matters: This is one of the only publicly disclosed polls surveying likely voters on specific VP candidates at the same time Biden’s campaign is forming a committee to vet women on his shortlist. It offers some early insights into how voters in two battleground states are feeling about the 2020 ticket.

Donors of Color Action is part of the Donors of Color Network, a community of high-net-worth donors that launched in March 2019.

The group commissioned MRG Research to conduct the study, which was intended to explore the viability of a woman of color as Biden’s VP pick with voters in Michigan and Wisconsin.

The group asked likely Democratic and independent voters about eight prospective VP picks: Sens. Warren, Harris, Klobuchar, Catherine Cortez Masto and Tammy Duckworth; former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; and Florida congresswoman Val Demings.

Find out more here

Opinion: Thanks to COVID-19, Social Security’s day of reckoning may be even closer than we thought

(Market Watch) – I’ve mentioned before that Social Security is now dipping into its reserves—the so-called “trust fund”—to pay benefits. That’s because the system isn’t taking in enough cash from payroll taxes, which is how the gargantuan Social Security program—by far the single biggest source of federal spending—is financed.

Prior to the economic downturn—or collapse—that we’re now experiencing, the trust fund was projected to run out of money by 2035.

This has, practically overnight, gotten worse. Why? Because some 22 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last four weeks. This means there are a lot fewer—millions fewer—people paying those payroll taxes into the Social Security system.

And on top of a lot less money coming in, a lot more will soon be going out. That’s because people who are now out of work and eligible to draw benefits may soon do so, out of sheer economic need.

This one-two punch could mean the depletion of the trust fund sooner than 2035. How soon? Perhaps two years earlier—2033—estimates one of the country’s leading experts on Social Security, Alicia H. Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, and a MarketWatch columnist.

Read more here

Elon Musk: ‘Surprising CNN Still Exists’

(Washington Times) – Tesla CEO Elon Musk mocked CNN early Thursday over a report claiming that none of his 1,000 promised ventilators made it to California hospitals.

CNN on Wednesday quoted the California governor’s office as saying they had not yet heard of any hospital system in the state receiving a ventilator directly from Tesla or Mr. Musk, despite the CEO claiming otherwise on social media.

Mr. Musk didn’t respond to CNN’s inquiry for the report but gave plenty of commentary on Twitter, writing, “What I find most surprising is that CNN still exists.”

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