August 13, 2020 News Summary
US Politics and Economics
Both of the main political parties have secured their respective candidates-- incumbent Trump and former vice president Biden-- for the 2020 Presidential Election. Prior to such, the Democratic National Convention is scheduled to take place on August 17th and the Republican National Convention will take place the following week, on the 24th. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the generally large crowds will likely be more inclined to watch from the safety of their own homes as the conventions are expected to be virtual. Multiple politicians, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Elizabeth Warren are expected to give speeches along with Biden’s pick for Vice President, Kamala Harris.
The rise in COVID-19 cases over the past few months is flattening the economy as resources dissipate and the unemployment rate skyrockets over the past few months. Earlier this summer, 1.6 million Texans received 600 dollars weekly, but that ended in July and the US Congress has not been able to reach a final deal for the next few months. According to Texas Tribune, President Trump declared in an executive order that recipients in need of economic benefits will receive a total of 400 dollars weekly, but on the condition that the states contribute 25 percent, or 100 dollars, while also keeping track of the money. Many are unsure how President Trump’s plan will unfold, and debt.org wrote, “When several states balked because their budgets were already shredded by the COVID-19 crisis, Trump’s aides reinterpreted the order to say that workers get $300...even if the federal government followed through with the promise of $300-a-week supplement, the funding would run out after just six weeks.”
Per Texas Tribune’s article, multiple colleges and universities in Texas are preparing for college football to be cancelled, which could have a devastating impact on businesses that rely on home games. However, much support has driven students and teachers to fit plans to continue playing football under health and safety guidelines. Governor Greg Abbot asserts, “This impacts the players as much as anybody else, and what I am seeing in the Big 12 conference, as well as elsewhere, is that the players really want to play", Moreover, Waco City’s deputy city manager, Bradley Ford, proclaims, “If we weren't gonna have football this year or had significantly lower attendance, certainly, you'll see some of that ripple through the local economy and tourism and restaurants and things of that nature.”
Today, the U.S. reported the most COVID-19 related deaths in one day despite the fact that the most populous states have shown signs of decline in confirmed infections and hospitalization rates. In an USA Today article, a news release issued by the Labor Department, shows 963,000 new jobless claims filed, which is the first time that number dropped below one million since March of this year.
Fox News writes that a recent report published by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that patients who originally recovered from COVID-19 tested positive again, but weren’t infectious in their second bout. According to the article, “The researchers stated in a news release that the viral material collected in the test was found to be dead virus. The study also found that most patients who recovered had neutralizing antibodies that may protect a person from getting sick again.”
CBS News reports that a sample taken of chicken wings imported from Brazil to China have been confirmed to contain the virus. In addition to the frozen wings, an outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp also tested positive for the virus. Yet, while CDC states that it is possible to contract the virus from just touching surfaces that contain the virus, there is no evidence that suggests consuming virus contaminated foods would lead to contracting Corona itself.
World Politics and Economics
Colombia’s former president, Alvaro Uribe, was ordered by the Columbian Supreme Court to be put under house arrest. This news came unexpectedly last week, sending shockwaves across the country as, over the past two decades, Uribe’s political role was controversial and great in magnitude. To some, the former president is a hero who saved the nation; on the other hand, he is a murderous villain who trampled human rights. Nevertheless, Uribe was, and still might as well be, an outsized political force in Colombia. He seemed untouchable.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to normalise relations, and Israel will suspend its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. The UAE's ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, claims that it is "a win for diplomacy and for the region,” and “a significant advance in Arab-Israeli relations that lowers tensions and creates new energy for positive change.” Contrastingly, a senior Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, critisizes the deal by claiming that the UAE has "come out in the open on its secret dealings/normalisation with Israel," and tells Crown Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia, "May you never be sold out by your 'friends'." In the following weeks, representatives from Israel and the UAE will meet to sign deals regarding investment, tourism, and other areas of mutual benefit. The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, announces that the UAE's recognition of Israel was "a very bold step" to stop the "ticking time bomb" of Israel's annexation of the West Bank. He also believes that the US and UAE will work with Israel to "focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world.” The three countries are looking to launch a "Strategic Agenda for the Middle East", and the leaders note that they "share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security coordination."
Science and Technology
CNN’s article, “Xbox Series X is coming in November while 'Halo Infinite' will be delayed to 2021,” explains that the release of “Halo Infinite,” a shooter game starring protagonist Master Chief, was planned for release alongside the Xbox Series X but is now postponed until next year. Chris Lee, the studio head of “Halo Infinite,” wrote in a blog post that the delay was "to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a 'Halo' game experience that meets our vision." Lee also cited challenges including Covid-19, which “is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday."
Engadget.com writes that YouTube will remove videos that encourage election interference, such as creating long voting lines to make it harder for others to vote, or including “hacked information” about a candidate.
Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are showing that there was unexpected dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse, which is claimed to be caused by an immense amount of hot material ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocks light from Betelgeuse's surface. Hence, the giant star is aging and swelling while evolving its nuclear fusion furnace at the core. For a comparison, if Betelgeuse replaced the Sun at the center of our solar system, its outer surface would extend past the orbit of Jupiter. Betelgeuse began losing its brilliance back in 2019, but by February of this year, the red supergiant had lost more than two-thirds of its original light, and multiple astronomers believe that the sudden dimming may be a pre-supernova event. With this new information, Andrea Dupree of the Center for Astrophysics plans to observe a possible outburst from Betelgeuse next year with the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) when the star expands outwards in its cycle.
Southeast US Weather
Atlantic Tropical Storm Josephine is still fairly disorganized but can still be expected to peak with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. However, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) believes that if conditions become more favorable, the storm may even evolve to a weak category one hurricane. The official forecasts state that Josephine will head towards the east coast and weaken starting early Monday of next week. Currently, maximum sustained winds are 45 mph and minimum central pressure is 1006 millibars (Mb). Also, a weak disturbance has formed off the east coast, but it will not pose a major threat to the US, as it only has a 20 percent chance at development, according to the NHC.
To get live coverage of the latest updates on the tropics, visit the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Tidbits, CyclonicWx, or watch Force Thirteen.
In Houston Texas, the high will reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit today with a heat advisory inbound covering most of Texas early this evening, and the low temperature will dip below a cooling 78 degrees Fahrenheit at around 5 AM (CDT) tomorrow morning. Precipitation chances are at 9 percent with no drizzles, per graphical.weather.gov’s weather map. Later this week, with the heat moving along, there will possibly not be any rain until Sunday at around 2 pm (CDT) with a light drizzle around and in Houston. The heat should be gone by Friday night and the wind, at most, blows at 10 knots directed towards the south and southwest.
Stay safe and for more live coverage on weather, please visit NOAA 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 Isabel
(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)