AR-15-toting protestors want to end lockdowns in Democrat-run states, while US oil prices slump and some European countries begin lifting lockdowns

A lockdown lowdown: In American cities gun-toting protestors are clashing with authorities trying to enforce lockdowns. The protestors, encouraged by tweets from President Donald Trump, argue the lockdowns are a communist conspiracy or a front for taking liberties away. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has all but closed New York based on expert advice and because it was the hardest-hit city in the United States, said he understood the pressure.

Quote du Jour: “You don’t need protests to convince anyone in this country that we have to get back to work and we have to get the economy going and we have to get out of our homes,” Cuomo said. (Reuters).

Let God sort them out: Protesters in several US cities, but mostly those in areas held by Democratic Party leaders and which Trump needs to win in the November presidential elections, have confronted authorities and even counter-protests from medical workers. Some carrying the AR-15 assault rifle favoured by “preppers” and Second Amendment obsessives, march under “Pence-Trump” signs. (Vanity Fair)

Meanwhile in less well-armed places: Australia eased some of its lockdown provisions, including allowing people to swim and surf; Germany, Poland, Norway and Austria began to soften the terms of their lockdowns after some success in “flattening the curve”. India, having triggered an epic crisis among internal migrant workers, allowed some farm and manufacturing work to restart. (The Guardian)

Stockholm syndrome: Sweden, the thinking person’s outlier in its approach to the pandemic with a much less aggressive overall lockdown on the general population and tough measures to protect the elderly and vulnerable, reported a fall in cases, though the numbers remain much higher than its Scandinavian neighbours. (Mail Online).

Herd immunity? “We’re on a sort of plateau,” Anders Tegnell, who led the Sweden approach told Swedish news agency TT after latest figures on infection rates and fatalities indicate the situation is starting to stabilize. (Bloomberg) British site The Unherd which specialises in what it sees as a more independent take on news, carried an interview with a Swedish epidemiologist backing the less aggressive lockdown

France, Spain and Britain have all extended their lockdowns despite signs deaths may be easing. (The Guardian)

Painting by numbers: Total cases will probably top 2.5 m worldwide today and were at 2,447,920 early on Tuesday New Zealand time with 766,664 cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 tracker. Global deaths were at 168,500 and US deaths totalled 35,012.

Less than zero: Oil prices extended their extraordinary one-way journey down, with futures hitting zero for the first time in history.  Prices actually fell far below zero, reflecting the crisis in storage triggered by oversupply during the global coronavirus downturn. (Reuters)

Quote du Jour: “It’s a historic day. What it means is there’s no available storage anymore so the price of the commodity is effectively worthless. There’s no place to put it, so you’ve got to flush it basically,” John Kilduff, a partner at hedge fund Again Capital told Reuters in a quote that’s worth reading in full.

Peter Bale is a London-based journalist and media consultant who has worked for the Wellington Evening Post, Reuters, the FT Group, The Times of London, and CNN Europe.

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