April 8, 2020
Both major political parties are preparing for a state-by-state legal battle over how Americans can vote during the coronavirus outbreak. The dynamic played out in Wisconsin this week when judges initially held up Tuesday’s election, changed its rules and then put it back on shortly before polls opened. Democrats argue that states need to make voting easier and provide more opportunities to vote by mail during the pandemic to prevent the virus from spreading. They say they’re ready to sue to force that. Republicans say Democrats just want to loosen rules to help them win elections.
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared a monthlong state of emergency in Tokyo and six other hard-hit prefectures to step up the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. But it’s no European or Wuhan-style lockdown. Japan’s history of repression under fascist governments before and during World War II has left the public wary of government overreach. Abe said he was expecting widespread compliance despite the lack of legal penalties for violating calls for social distancing and other measures. But on Wednesday, it was clear that few were heeding the request. Rush hour trains were still crowded and shops were opening as usual.
BRUSSELS (AP) — European governments are struggling to agree on how best to help the region’s hardest-hit countries weather the coronavirus recession. Finance ministers couldn’t reach a deal at a meeting that started Tuesday and say they’ll try again Thursday. One big sticking point is what kind of conditions to attach to loans from the standing bailout fund available to countries that are in the 19-country euro. The Netherlands wants economic reform promises in return for the money. The deadlock between mainly northern and recalls divisions from the eurozone debt crisis of 2010-2015.
Singer-songwriter John Prine has died at 73. His family announced his death on Tuesday night. Revered for his wise and witty lyrics, he sang with a proud twang in “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello in There” and scores of other quirky original tunes. Prine’s voice was rough around the edges, particularly after throat cancer disfigured his jaw, but he kept performing for decades. He won admiration and respect from the likes of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and mentored generations of singers in Nashville. His characters were common people, facing the simple indignities, absurdities or pleasures of life.