ALL OVER – The feds released last week’s unemployment claims this morning, showing another 3.8 million people are seeking benefits. That puts the total number of unemployed workers in the U.S. requiring benefits at 30 million, equal to the entire population of Texas.  Fifty percent of Americans say they have either lost work or hours in this crisis, mirroring the global impact.  Yet, even with America’s gross domestic product down by as high as 40%, the stock market appears to be recovering nicely, up more than 12% in April, the biggest monthly gain since 1987. How does any of this make sense?

STATEWIDE – Finally, some good news for freelancers, who are being recognized as real, struggling people desperate for help. The so-called “gig” workers are now eligible for unemployment benefits, as per the latest federal stimulus law, which means unemployment checks can begin flowing as early as tomorrow, Politico reports. This is great news for self-employed workers and independent contractors who have been falling through the cracks because they don’t have “traditional” employment. It is now up to the state Department of Labor to begin notifying eligible workers and begin pumping out checks throughout New Jersey. Perhaps a silver lining in this entire, multi-month mess is that government is finally adapting to an established shift in the way many people earn a living.

TRENTON – With beautiful spring temperatures coming up this weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy avoided a barrage of attacks by preemptively announcing that golf courses and county and state parks will mercifully reopen. This is a huge and necessary victory for residents in our more urban communities, where “going out to play” is not as simple as swinging open the back door and prancing around a half-acre of lush grass as birds chirp. Now, before we all go crazy with our spring fever, the governor wants to remind us all – yet again – that social distancing is key. Also, don’t think of packing a picnic or bringing along a barbeque. That’s still banned. And if it looks like crowds are filling these parks to capacity, they will be shut down. So, have fun. But not too much fun, ok?

NEWARK – NJ Spotlight is calling it the “Case of the Purple Plume.” That’s the color of the cloud that wafted from a trash incinerator in the Ironbound neighborhood for 30 minutes on April 7. The cause of this mauve mystery? Workers were burning iodine - not the medical waste that some Newark residents suspected, NJ Spotlight reports. No, they will never burn iodine at this facility again. But imagine the surprise of Newark residents, as they step outside their COVID-19 fortresses for a breath of fresh air and see a cloud of purple smoke hanging over their heads that just won’t dissipate. Like being locked in a Barney cartoon.

BRIEFING BREATHER

During University of Nebraska football home games, the stadium becomes the state’s largest city.

STATEWIDE – We’re looking more like shaggy dogs these days, but at least our shaggy dogs can now get professionally coiffed. Gov. Phil Murphy just declared pet groomers, pet boarding and pet daycares to be “essential businesses.” They can get back to clipping and washing Fido and Fefe. Meanwhile, pet owners and non-owners alike are desperately ordering Flowbee hair-cutters from QVC and deciphering directions for Miss Clairol hair coloring because barber shops, salons and spas are still deemed “non-essential” and remain closed. Remember, Gov. Murphy, dogs aren’t the ones who vote.

 

 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – Golden retriever puppies can certainly be a handful, but “Dustin” has proven to be a real challenge. We’re not just talking about a steady stream of pee on the new rug, but the fact that he somehow swallowed a 4-inch-long metal fork while raiding a dinner plate. That promoted a frantic visit to the puppy ER, where vets had to use an endoscope to very, very carefully pull the fork from Dustin’s esophagus. The puppy is OK now, while his owners were reminded that table food may not be the healthiest option for growing dogs.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was on this day in 1997 that 42 million people tuned in to watch “Ellen” say she is gay. And, uh, that was that.

WORD OF THE DAY

Emblem – [EM-blum] – noun

 

Definition: A device, symbol, or figure adopted and used as an identifying mark

 

Example: My long beard is an emblem of my sixth week hiding from the virus.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

 

- Thomas Jefferson

Sign Up for New Brunswick Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“I must admit that Lyin’ Brian Williams is, while dumber than hell, quite a bit smarter than Fake News @CNN “anchorman” Don Lemon, the “dumbest man on television.” Then you have Psycho Joe “What Ever Happened To Your Girlfriend?” Scarborough, another of the low I.Q. individuals!”

 

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD: Dreary

THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun