May 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barack and Michelle Obama to take part in virtual commencement ceremonies for class of 2020

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama announced Tuesday that they will participate in a set of virtual graduation ceremonies amid the coronavirus crisis.

The state of play: The former president will deliver a nationwide commencement address to high school seniors on May 16 as part of The LeBron James Family Foundation's "Graduate Together," which will be aired by all major networks in primetime. Both Obamas will speak during YouTube's "Dear Class of 2020" event on June 6.

  • The YouTube event will feature other headliners like Korean boy band BTS, Lady Gaga, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
  • President Obama will also speak during an event for graduates of HBCUs on May 16.

What he's saying: "I’ve always loved joining commencements — the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. Even if we can’t get together in person this year, Michelle and I are excited to celebrate the nationwide Class of 2020 and recognize this milestone with you and your loved ones," President Obama said on Twitter.

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Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

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