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Dispatches Human Race

Man knows not his time

Lowery speaks at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1972. (Charles Bennett/AP)

Died

Joseph E. Lowery, activist and assistant to Martin Luther King Jr., died on March 27 at age 98. Lowery was born in Alabama and, after attending several colleges, was ordained as a Methodist minister. Not long after, he led his first protest, a successful, one-day boycott of segregated buses in Mobile, Ala. He then joined King in leading a similar boycott in Montgomery. He would be by King’s side from then until King’s assassination, marching in protests, facing death threats, and gaining a reputation for his strong speeches. Lowery led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for 20 years, helping win renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. President Barack Obama would later acknowledge Lowery’s accomplishments by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Seized

Federal agents in California seized nearly $30 million worth of drugs after uncovering a smuggling tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border. The tunnel began in a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico, and ended in another in San Diego. It was more than 2,000 feet long with a rail system, lighting, and ventilation shafts and an average depth of around 31 feet. San Diego authorities issued a statement citing a Drug Enforcement Administration estimate that the tunnel has been in use for several months. Authorities  found 4,400 pounds of drugs inside the tunnel, including fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Exposed

The chief executive at Zoom has apologized for the site’s security issues in a blog post and promised to address the concerns that have surfaced about the platform. Eric Yuan wrote that the company had an unexpected surge in Zoom users in the last weeks, from around 10 million daily users in December to more than 200 million in March. This, he said, revealed unexpected problems, including Zoombombing, where uninvited guests are able to join meetings by guessing the passwords or accessing insecure links. Other issues included a flaw that could leave webcams on Macs open to hijacking, a feature that allows hosts to track attendees, and unauthorized data sharing with Facebook. Yuan outlined a security plan and promised weekly updates on its progress.

Unemployed

A record 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment claims near the end of March. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to slam the U.S. economy as more states enforced stay-at-home orders closing nonessential businesses. Jobless claims between March 21 and March 28 more than doubled from the previous week’s record of 3.3 million, according to a government report. The economic rescue package signed by President Donald Trump expanded the pool of workers who are eligible for unemployment benefits to include independent contractors, “gig” workers, and self-employed individuals.