August 12, 2020 News Summary
US Politics and Economics
Following multiple failed attempts to reach an agreement between Democrats and Republicans, President Donald Trump signed four executive actions acting as a stimulus relief package for economically struggling Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order places a limited ban on evictions and offers unemployment benefits of 400 extra dollars per week, being 25 percent of which are expected to be paid for by the State governments. Additionally, until the “end of the year,” student loan payments are to be postponed while a payroll tax deferral is to be added. President Trump’s decision faced criticism from Democrats, calling his decision “legally questionable” as Congress is obligated to control federal spendings. Critics have questioned whether the benefits will completely reach citizens across the nation. The opposition also notes that funding is contingent on agreement between state officials who, according to New York Times, “ are already struggling amid budget shortfalls caused by the economic crisis, and the siphoning of aid from a federal fund for disaster relief.”
New York Times reports that California Senator, Kamala Harris, was picked by Democratic Candidate, Joe Biden, to be his running mate, designating her as the “first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major political party.” Kamala Harris seemingly meets Joe Biden’s criteria, despite Harris’ heavy criticism of Biden during Democratic primary debates and public support of accusations brought forth against Biden concerning possible sexual assault. Nevertheless, both politicians appear to be united, putting aside past clashes and Harris’ radical political views to Biden’s moderate approach, such as her plans on open borders, universal healthcare for all, strict gun control policies, police reform, high taxes, and repealing of middle-class tax cuts. Biden, in a campaign tour in Iowa, addressed the possible situation where he is to be prevented from doing his job, should he become president, and replied that he would pick a Vice President fully capable of taking on his responsibilities “immediately” because “I’m an old guy,” writes nationalinterest.org.
According to click2houston.com, Fort Bend County’s Commissioners Court Judge K.P. George declared that residents will receive a property tax rate of $0.424967 per every 100 dollars, compared to $0.4447 per 100 dollars. This order, according to the article, “will not compromise public services like EMS, road and emergency maintenance and law enforcement because most of the money goes to school districts, MUDs and LIDs.” However, George believes that this reduction still does not allow citizens to receive the financial relief that they require, but he is unable to further minimize this tax. “Unfortunately,” he claims, “Governor Abbott indicated he would not call any kind of special session for tax relief, hamstringing the ability of our state legislators to act.”
Per CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker, as of August 12,2020, 12:49 PM (CDT), there are a total of 5,119,711 cases in the United States-- and Time reports that 380,000 of them are children. NBC writes that as schools have begun to reopen, a Georgia high school from the Cherokee County district closes down. The district, while still lacking necessary mask requirements, has about 30,000 students going in-person to school and ordered over 1,000 students to quarantine.
World Politics and Economics
Amidst its struggles with public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a wide-ranging reconstruction of its federal government agencies and senior personnel. The UAE’s vice president, who rules the Emirate of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, detailed the shake-up on Twitter, asserting that they aspire to craft an “agile government quick in solidifying the achievement of our nation.” Previous government reshuffles in the UAE were notable for their public relations aspects, such as the creation in 2016 of two new ministers for happiness and tolerance and last year’s launch of a new virtual Ministry of Possibilities.
A news reporter employed for Apple Daily, a tabloid-style newspaper, returns to her office in Hong Kong to see it swarmed with police. She tells The Guardian that “the place was absolutely packed with police guarding every corner and stairway. I was terrified. When I saw my boss [Jimmy Lai] being handcuffed and led away, I felt so heartbroken and helpless. I feel so angry.” Over the last two decades, Hong Kong has seen China systematically undermining its media freedoms, and the arrest of Lai is a clear sign that Hong Kong’s freedom of press is being threatened. Mak Yin Ting, veteran journalist and former chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association believes “China sees the role of the media as to serve the regime ... now it is imposing this view on Hong Kong.”
Science and Technology
Technology has already accomplished the ability to estimate eye movement by tracking a user's iris, which, for example, is something very handy for augmented reality headsets. Google AI reports that they have taken this one step further by tracking the distance between the user and the camera without the utilization of a dedicated depth sensor, which will prove useful for a variety of Artificial Intelligence developments, including computational photography, virtual glasses, hats, and even automatic font size change depending on one’s distance to the device.
Microsoft has come back to the smartphone industry with its new line, Surface Duo. This new arisen smartphone is capable of a dual screen and is expected to come out on September 10th, at a starting price of 1,399 dollars.
The Perseid Meteor Shower occurs yearly from July 17th–August 24th but peaks after midnight, August 12th. According to Earthsky.org, the Perseids tend to be bright and a large percentage being able to overcome the moonlight, allowing a viewer to see up to 40 to 50 meteors per hour at the shower’s peak-- even in the light of a vivid moon.
Southeast US Weather
The Tropical Depression Eleven that formed yesterday is expected to become Tropical Storm Josephine later today, and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects the system to peak as a tropical storm intensity or a category 1 hurricane in unfavorable conditions. The storm is predicted to head towards the East coast, while wind shear and dry air increases as it dies down over the Lesser Antilles.
Today in Houston, Texas, with the Heat Advisory inbound, the high is 96 degrees Fahrenheit and the low reaches 79 degrees Fahrenheit later tonight. The chance of rain is 23 percent, with a mostly clear sky and possible drizzle but no increase in the amount of precipitation calculated in inches. In addition, there are hazards of heat today for Houston at around 2-5 pm (CDT).
Please stay safe and for more live and weekly coverage, visit NOAA’s graphical forecast.
US Politics and Economics: Dylan, Miranda, Yijia, Caleb, and Eric
Texas Politics: Stephanie and Vicki
Health: Matthew, Megan, Allison, and Owen
World Politics and Economics: Joseph, William, Jake, and Alexander
Science and Technology: Brian, Andrew, Yiqi, and Amelia
Southeast US Weather: Jade, Aiden, and Simon
Editor: VIA and Susanna
(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)