August 1, 2020 News Summary
US Politics and Economics
The CARES Act stimulus package of 2 trillion dollars was passed in March and over 30 million unemployed Americans received this 600-dollar-per-week federal unemployment benefit. However, this benefit expired yesterday, July 31, yet both Democrat and Republican congressional lawmakers have not yet reached an agreement on whether to extend this benefit, with millions of Americans’ financial lifelines at a serious risk. This stimulus package’s effect on America’s shrinking GDP has yet to be seen.
Due to the nationwide lockdown in order to downtrend COVID-19 cases, lay-offs since April are resulting in a loss of over twenty-two million jobs and millions of Americans filing for unemployment benefits. Additionally, consumer spending has declined, forcing businesses, large and small, to struggle and file for bankruptcy; hence, causing the U.S.’s first recession in 11 years. Despite economic activity seeming to rebound in June and July as several states lifted lockdown mandates, the resurgence in COVID-19 infection rates in states such as Texas, California, and Florida led to tight restrictions on travel and commerce. For the government to reconsider reopening businesses and rejuvenating the economy with the virus still active and spreading, they must question whether it is better to keep the economy running or lower the risk of causing more infections.
White House officials are hopeful and optimistic in search for a quick national GDP recovery; however, business owners and stock market analysts assert that it will take years for the economy to return to its pre-COVID state.
As COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket, more and more families begin to face a looming economic challenge. In response to this crisis, gov.texas.gov announced that the US Department has allowed for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to extend food benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to 185 million dollars. HHSC orchestrates SNAP, which provides food assistance to around 1.4 million eligible low-income families or individuals living in Texas. Governor Greg Abbot affirmed that “continuing these allotments is an important component of our continued response to COVID-19,” and the “SNAP benefits will help Texans purchase foods that provide nutrition to their families.”
As of Aug 1, 2020, 12:15 PM, there are a total of 4,542,579 COVID-19 cases in the United States. A deterrent for this crisis are several orders regarding mandatory masks; however, the number of symptoms increase as time passes by. Researchers have linked the increase of symptoms to the distinct traits of the virus, including its chance of causing blood clotting or coagulation. Per hermatology.org’s report, coagulation is a natural process that “prevents excessive bleeding when a blood vessel is injured.” After the injury, the body generally dissolves the coagulation; however, if a coagulation does not dissolve, it travels to another place in the body, or becomes abnormal. If this were to transpire, medical attention would need to be acquired immediately.
Science and Technology
Yesterday night, President Trump announced that he will ban the popular short-form video app TikTok from operating in the United States, rejecting a potential deal for Microsoft to buy the app from its Chinese-owned parent company. While aboard Air Force One, President Trump stated to reporters, "As far as TikTok is concerned, we're banning them from the United States.”
Meanwhile, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, the first ever astronauts to travel into orbit aboard a commercially developed spacecraft, are aiming to return to Earth this weekend. If an incoming hurricane does not delay those plans, the two astronauts will board their Crew Dragon spacecraft and leave at 7:30 EDT to begin their 19-hour journey home with the help of Artificial Intelligence.
World Politics and Economics
In Germany’s capital, Berlin, thousands of people gathered to take part in a protest against measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the use of face masks. Protesters held up banners featuring slogans namely, “Corona, false alarm” or, “We are being forced to wear a muzzle”. The police broke up the protest, asserting that these organisers did not respect coronavirus hygiene regulations, involving regulations to wear face masks and observe the required 1.5 meter social distancing order.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched operations at the Arab’s first nuclear power plant, Barakah plant, on its Gulf Coast east of the country Qatar. The oil-rich UAE hope that the plant will meet up to 25% of its energy needs, since the UAE wants to adopt more supportable energy sources, including solar power and nuclear energy. Nuclear fission has begun in one of the Barakah Plant’s four reactors (which were expected to open in 2017 but delayed due to various safety issues); however, several experts question the logic of Barakah. They argue that solar power is cleaner, cheaper and are more effective in a region contaminated by political tensions and terrorism. In the past, Qatar, a competitor against the UAE and Saudi Arabia, vehemently called the Barakah plant a "flagrant threat to regional peace and environment". In addition, Iran, with its contentious nuclear program, is also against the UAE’s nuclear energy with Qatar, as they are subject to US sanctions. On the other hand, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear industry's main oversight body, congratulated Barakah in a tweet, stating that the plant's Unit 1 had "achieved its first criticality."
Southeast US Weather
Hurricane Isaias faces an uncertain future as it strengthens and weakens from time to time, but forecast models have stayed the same as of yesterday. While some sources believe that this storm has been the most difficult storm to track and forecast, the National Hurricane Center remains steadfast in believing that Isaias will maintain Category 1 status and simply brush by Florida. Simultaneously, a tropical disturbance in the Atlantic now has a 60% chance at a formation and could shatter another record in the history books by becoming the earliest named storm.
US Politics and Economics: Dylan, Miranda, and Yijia
Texas Politics: Stephanie and Vicki
Health: Matthew, Megan, and Allison
Science and Technology: Bryan, Andrew, and Yiqi
World Politics and Economics: Joseph, William, and Jake
Southeast US Weather: Jade and Aiden
Editors: VIA and Susanna
(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)