Daily Bread for 5.23.20

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with scattered afternoon thunderstorms, and a high of seventy-three.  Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:19 PM, for 14h 56m 17s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 0.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred ninety-second day.

 On this day in 1934, infamous American bank robbers and murderers Bonnie and Clyde meet their end in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

Recommended for reading in full —

Anna Nemtsova writes Vladimir Putin Is in Deep Trouble:

Russian President Vladimir Putin is suddenly seen to be weaker than he has been in years, and economic pain from COVID-19 is one big reason, but not the only one.

“Putin’s approval rating began to decline even before the coronavirus crisis, with oil prices collapsing and the economy deteriorating—and I don’t see what can stop this perfect storm this year,” says Denis Volkov, deputy director of the Levada Center, which does independent polling.

“We see the public mood is changing the way we saw it during the crisis of 2008. (About 25 percent of our respondents say their salaries have been cut.),” Volkov told The Daily Beast. But Putin, like U.S. President Donald Trump, has die-hard fans, and “there is still a big group of people who say there is no alternative [to him].”

Putin’s biggest challenge is poverty, that old Russian disease. During his best years, when oil prices were astronomical and revenues were very high indeed, the Russian president was able to provide people with money—and with pride. He was building the armed forces, sending them abroad, overtly or covertly, to Ukraine, Syria, and Africa, and developing very expensive new weapons systems. Putin seemed able to provide, as economists say, both guns and butter.

But this year the nation’s rapidly shrinking economy has pushed millions below the poverty line, and Putin—whose approval rating was 80 percent in 2014, has seen his numbers, already in decline, drop precipitously. The current number of 59 percent would be positive in the West, but here in Russia, Putin has been used to nearly complete control over television news coverage, and he’s been losing that grip.

Susan Svrluga reports With colleges shuttered, more students consider gap years. But those may be disrupted, too:

Colleges are usually happy to let students take a year off, Hartle said, with evidence suggesting that time off is often valuable for students. But that’s in a typical year, when the number of requests is low and administrators can predict how many students will enroll in the fall. This year, he said, “the concern is what happens if 20 percent of your students request a gap year?”

Some college counselors predict students and families talking about deferring will ultimately go forward with college plans. That’s partly because the pandemic is upending gap year programs just like it’s upending the traditional college path.

Typical gap years include travel, volunteer work, paid work, some career exploration and “a free radical,” said Ethan Knight, executive director of the Gap Year Association. “Don’t over-structure your time — leave a little space for the unknown.”

But this year, international travel and hands-on volunteer work seem unlikely, and good jobs will be harder than ever to find, said Emmi Harward, executive director of the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools.

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