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August 21, 2020 News Summary

US Politics and Economics

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) wrapped up last night with a final round of addresses to the nation. Speeches were delivered from Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Michael Bloomberg, and Joe Biden, the official Democratic presidential nominee. The contents given prioritized the importance of electing someone who will be able to unite America and better return it to a pre-COVID stage. Biden went after the current Trump era, calling it a “chapter of American darkness” and that the election a “battle for the soul of the nation”. On the other hand, Rep. Ro Khanna commented on how the convention failed to discuss medicare for all and defunding police-- issues that many voters consider crucial, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and burst of protests this year.

Jeff Wilke, a veteran Amazon executive and top lieutenant to Jeff Bezos, announced today that he will be retiring from his position in the first quarter of 2021, and he writes in a memo, “Why leave? It’s just time. Time for me to take time to explore personal interests that have taken a back seat for over two decades.” Wilke has been with Amazon since 1999 and is widely seen as a possible successor, helping build the company’s logistic operations. Bezos writes, “Jeff's legacy and impact will live on long after he departs. He is simply one of those people without whom Amazon would be completely unrecognizable.” Wilke will be succeeded by Dave Clark, Amazon's current senior vice president of the Worldwide Consumer Unit and has been the logistic chief of Amazon since 2013. Furthermore, former vice president of robotics, Brad Porter, left last week and engineer Peter Vosshall left in February.

Texas Politics

Per Texas Tribune, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen are very earnest about stopping cities from cutting their police budgets, and they find a need to freeze property tax revenues in cities with lowered budgets. However, if this is a policy idea, the Texas Supreme Court has already ruled in 2005 that the state cannot legally cap local property taxes for schools, as the state itself is actually constitutionally prohibited from levying property taxes.


The live COVID-19 updates from the Houston Chronicle reports that Texas has surpassed 11,000 deaths from the virus. Furthermore, there are at least 582,000 cases in Texas and more than 138,645 are in the Houston region alone.

FOX News reports that a study from Duke University found that N95 masks without filters are the most effective at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and masks, such as bandannas or neck gaiters, are much less effective. Dr. Dean Winslow, infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, justifies that since COVID-19 spreads through droplets, masks that are thinner and looser “usually don’t fit snugly enough around the nose and mouth” and “the material from which they are made is not as effective as the other face coverings studied in blocking spread of small particle aerosols.”

FOX News’ article, “Avoid wearing coronavirus face masks with vents, valves, CDC says in updated guidance,” writes that the CDC has declared, “The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material. This can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.” Subsequently, a comfortable mask without a proper seal defeats the purpose of the mask.

Texas Tribune reports that within less than a week of school in UT-Austin, students and staff are encouraging officials to stop in-person classes. Anne Lewis, a professor at the school and executive member of the Texas State Employees Union, which has a petition to stop in-person classes. pleads, “I urge you to make enlightened and courageous decisions during the pandemic that will protect all of us and put the overarching humanitarian concerns ahead of short-term financial stress.”

World Politics and Economics

According to CNN, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro claims that fires in the Amazon rainforest are untrue, and during the second Presidential Summit of the Leticia Pact for the Preservation of the Amazon, he declares, "This story that the Amazon is on fire is a lie and we must combat this with real numbers.” Moreover, vice-president Hamilton Mourao insisted that the protected portion of the forest “is not burning” in a conference and criticized Leonardo diCaprio for posting about the issue on social media. However, the Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reports that since January of 2019, when Bolsonaro took office, deforestation rates have surged with a nearly 30 percent increase, mainly through illegal logging and fires. Additionally, in just this July, there were 6,803 fires, 5,318 more than last year.

Libya has been riddled with violence ever since Col Muammar Gaddafi was dethroned by forces in support of NATO in 2011. Last month, per BBC, France momentarily pulled out of a NATO security operation, Sea Guardian, accusing Turkey of violating an arms embargo against Libya, as Turkish ships allegedly targeted a French warship in the Mediterranean. Wall Street Journal writes that recently, however, the head of Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj and Aguila Saleh, representative of the eastern based parliament issued orders to all military forces to immediately cease fire and all combat operations in all Libyan territories. According to the article, this action eased “months of tensions that threatened to draw forces from Turkey, Egypt, Russia and other regional powers into a wider conflict,” and both the United Nations (UN), an intergovernmental organization, and President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt have welcomed this agreement.

Science and Technology

Per BBC’s article, "News publishers fight tech giants for better deals,” US news outlets are requesting for a better share of revenues, and the New York Times has asked Apple to reduce the cut it takes when subscriptions are made on its app store. In addition, an Australian watchdog recently clashed with Google, asking for it to pay more for the news content it uses. As Technology Giants grow bigger and faster, news providers struggle to survive.

CNN writes that Uber's former chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, has allegedly attempted to conceal a 2016 data breach from the US Federal Trade Commission. A complaint filed Thursday in the US District Court in San Francisco asserts that Sullivan "engaged in a scheme to withhold and conceal" both the hack and the exposed information of 57 million users, and Sullivan and Uber arranged to pay the hackers 100,000 dollars in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement, which falsely stated that they had not accessed or stored any company data.

Southeast US Weather

(The Atlantic) The National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) official forecast of Tropical Storm Laura reports that it has moved into the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane as it makes landfall in northwest Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Meanwhile, by the Yucatan Peninsula, Tropical Depression 14 expected to become a tropical storm later today and later strengthen into a hurricane. Houston, TX is in the official forecast cone, so please take caution.

A disturbance coming off the coast of Africa’s east coast, has a 40 percent chance of formation in the next 5 days, per the NHC.

(The Pacific) Tropical storm Genevieve has been reduced to thin air and will disappear off the radar by 11 AM (CDT) on Sunday.

The next disturbance is near Mexico and has a 30 percent chance of forming into a cyclone, which may cause a lot of damages.

Today’s high in Houston is 99 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 74 degrees Fahrenheit. There will be a few scattered clouds but the weather will mostly stay sunny. Rain is expected to appear around Tuesday and last until Sunday of next week, and the temperature will drop due to the landfall of Tropical Depression 14.

To get live coverage of the latest hurricane updates on the tropics, visit the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Tidbits, CyclonicWx, or watch Force Thirteen. Please stay safe, and for more on the weather, please visit the NOAA Graphical Forecast.



US Politics and Economics: Dylan, Miranda, Yijia, Caleb, and Eric

Texas Politics: Stephanie, Vicki, and Megan

Health: Matthew, David, and Owen

World Politics and Economics: Joseph, William, Jake, and Alexander

Science and Technology: Bryan, Andrew, Yiqi, and Amelia

Southeast US Weather: Jade, Aiden, and Simon

Editor: VIA

(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)

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