5 things to know for April 1: Campaign 2020, Amazon, aid cut, Venezuela, Slovakia

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A cold snap with below average temperatures to start the first full week of Spring for the eastern US as the Gulf Coast and West Coast brace for more rain.

Posted: Apr 1, 2019 6:45 AM

Keep your guard up -- it's April Fool's Day. Don't worry though, we won't pull any funny business. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Campaign 2020

The horses are out of the gate for the 2020 presidential race, and we're already seeing several stumbles. Over the weekend, probable Democratic candidate Joe Biden had to answer to allegations from Nevada Democratic politician Lucy Flores that the former VP made her feel uneasy by smelling her hair and kissing the back of her head at a campaign rally 2014. Biden responded, saying he's never felt as if he's acted inappropriately. Elsewhere in crisis management, Pete Buttigieg was chided by Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager for remarks he made in January about her campaign, seemingly criticizing Clinton for implying America was "already great" in her messaging. Buttigieg defended the comments, saying he has "enormous respect" for her and she was "ill-served by a strategy and media environment." Meanwhile, Beto O'Rourke recently had to explain unearthed patterns of policy reversals. "Listening to people, seeing things from a different perspective, owning when you've made a mistake" is "part of who I am," O'Rourke told CNN.

2. Amazon

The fight between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and The National Enquirer just got even uglier. If you recall, earlier this year Bezos vowed to launch an investigation into how the tabloid got hold of text messages that confirmed an extramarital affair that allegedly played a part in the recent dissolution of his marriage. Now, an investigator working for Bezos has claimed that Saudi Arabia had access to information on Bezos' phone before the photos and texts were leaked. The investigator didn't offer any evidence, but the intense claim definitely raises the stakes of this scandal. Bezos has previously implied that AMI, the National Enquirer's parent company, tried to extort him to please either President Trump or the Saudi government. Bezos owns The Washington Post, a perceived political adversary of both Trump and the Saudi government.

3. Aid cuts

The State Department announced this weekend that the US is cutting off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, just one day after President Trump claimed the countries "set up" migrant caravans for entry into the United States. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney elaborated on the decision on Sunday, saying the countries "could do more" to mitigate the "humanitarian crisis" at the southern border. The President has long placed the blame for the migrant crisis at the southern border on the Central American countries from which many of the migrants come. In October, he tweeted a threat to cut off aid from the same countries, saying they "were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the US." It's not clear how much money would be withheld, but some experts say halting aid isn't effective in reducing the number of migrants heading toward the US.

4. Venezuela

The ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsened over the weekend when another major blackout hit the country. While smaller blackouts have become a daily occurrence across Venezuela, this one marked the third major blackout in the month of March. The outages don't just affect power -- they halt transit, put hospital services at risk and diminish supplies of clean water. Embattled President Nicolas Maduro and his government blame the United States and its allies inside the country, accusing them of sabotaging power plants and the electricity grid. Juan Guaido, the president of the country's National Assembly, who is recognized by many countries as Venezuela's interim president, says the blackouts are another example of Maduro mismanaging the income from the country's massive oil reserves and failing to maintain public infrastructure.

5. Slovakia

The small Central European country of Slovakia just elected its first ever female head of state. Zuzana Caputova is sometimes called "Slovakia's Erin Brockovich" because of a 14-year legal battle she waged against a controversial businessman who wanted to build an illegal landfill in her hometown. However, Caputova's election is about far more than glass ceilings and Hollywood nicknames; it is a big vote against the rising tide of populism in Europe. During her campaign, Caputova voiced support for minority communities in her country and called for more LGBT rights (same-sex marriage is illegal in Slovakia).


Rapper Nipsey Hussle has died at 33 after a shooting in LA 

Fellow artists and LA city leaders are mourning the inspirational rapper.

The NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four is set

If you didn't pay attention to March Madness, now's the time to care.

Fox News apologizes for graphic referring to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras as "3 Mexican countries"


New York will probably become the second state to ban single-use plastic bags 

And with it, the Herculean task of carrying 245 grocery bags into the house at the same time so you don't have to make a second trip.

A mom of a male college student wrote a letter urging female coeds to stop wearing leggings because they are "too suggestive"

Yeah, it went over about as well as you think it would.


"What the hell was he thinking? From now on I ain't never gonna (say) no Jussie -- you're a Jessie from now on. You don't get the 'u' no more. That 'u' was respect. You don't get no respect from me."

Chris Rock, joking about "Empire" star Jussie Smollett at the NAACP Image Awards. Smollett was accused of faking a hate crime before charges against him were dropped last week.



The final selling price of a rare Harry Potter book recently bought at auction. That's going to be quite a trip to Gringotts!



Sssoooo sssoothing

Not to blow your mind, but this video of people making art is, in and of itself, art. I KNOW. HAPPY MONDAY. (Click to view)

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