• Biden hints he may create a cabinet-level post on climate if he wins the presidency: The former vice president and putative 2020 Democratic presidential nominee told donors at a fundraiser Thursday that he has given his transition team the task of deciding whether to create such a post, according to the paywalled Greenwire. The job would go “beyond the EPA,” he said. He might also put a top official on the coronavirus into a pandemic-related post in the cabinet.
• Researchers say people are having vivid dreams during coronavirus sheltering in place: At least five teams across several countries are collecting samples of bizarre dreams filled with symbolism. They say the dreams emerge from stress, isolation, and changes in sleep patterns, all of which create negative emotions that lead to something different than typical dreaming. “We normally use REM sleep and dreams to handle intense emotions, particularly negative emotions,” says dream expert Patrick McNamara, an associate professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. “Obviously, this pandemic is producing a lot of stress and anxiety.” Those symbolic dreams can help some people better deal with the intense memories and stress without acting out. These unusual dreams may also be partly generated because we are not in our usual daily environments and don’t have the usual daily stimuli, which can mean we subconsciously draw on older memories to fill our dream space.
• New unemployment insurance claims point to total jobless rate of 17%: In the past four weeks ending April 11, the Department of Labor has tallied 21.9 million initial claims for unemployment benefits. That alone would put the unemployment rate at 13.4%. But some 5.8 million Americans were already unemployed when lay-offs from the coronavirus stay-at-home, shutter-your-business orders began. That total of 27.7 million out of work would indicate an unemployment rate of 17% compared with the worst of the Great Recession at 10% a decade ago. And even that figure is almost certainly an undercount since many workers aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits even under the federal government’s expansion of who is covered during the virus lockdown.
• Town police warn people to put on their pants when getting the mail: In these days of staying home to save lives, the Taneytown, Maryland, police have issued advice on Facebook, reminding the town’s 7,000 residents: “Please remember to put pants on before leaving the house to check your mailbox.” The police didn’t identify any individual, but did end the post with a warning: “You know who you are. This is your final warning.” While the initial response was favorable, providing a good laugh to residents and at least some of 10,000 commenters, not everybody found it hilarious. “When it spreads beyond that initial context you know people understand what the department does, that’s where people take it out of context, and they start making accusations of taking away freedoms, taking away rights,” said Mayor Bradley Wantz. He said the had department received comments, calls, and emails from people claiming government overreach, going so far as to compare the department to Russia or North Korea.
• Theodore Gaffney, who risked his life photographing Freedom Riders in 1961, is dead at 92: Jet magazine asked Gaffney, then a free-lance photographer, to travel with the Freedom Riders and document their protest against forcing African Americans to ride in the back. The riders challenged segregated public transportation with a trip on Greyhound and Trailways buses from Washington, D.C., to Birmingham, Ala. Organized by the Congress on Racial Equality, the Freedom Riders wanted to make their point by having African Americans ride in the front of the buses reserved for white people, use whites-only restrooms in bus terminals, and eat at whites-only lunch counters. White Freedom Riders rode in the back of the bus where only African Americans were supposed to ride. On each bus, one pair of activists posed as an interracial couple. When they arrived in Atlanta, Alabama Klansmen secretly boarded the bus Gaffney was on and for two hours harassed, insulted, and punched Freedom Riders, pushing the African Americans to the back of the bus. The other bus was burned by a mob when it stopped in Anniston, Ala., all the passengers escaping with their lives though many were beaten by baseball bats. Arriving in Birmingham, the Freedom Riders on Gaffney’s bus were attacked by men who beat them with pipes. Police had been told not intervene immediately, giving the mob time to do its work. The next day, no bus driver would take the riders out of Birmingham, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy finally arranged to have them flown out. Gaffney said later that if they hadn’t been able to get on that plane, “all of us would have been killed that night.”
• Most of the wolves in the Alexander Archipelago were taken by legal trappers this year: A record 165 wolves were killed last season within the game management unit on the archipelago, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Recent estimates had put the number of wolves on the main island of the chain at 170, meaning 97% were killed. “This is a shocking number of wolves to have been taken, and once again there has to be concern for the viability of wolves on Prince of Wales Island,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife.