August 22, 2020 News Summary
US Politics and Economics
1.1 million jobless claims were made last week, causing economists to feel that economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is slowing. Lawmakers are unsure whether to extend or reduce unemployment benefits as aftereffects are still uncertain. On a positive note, however, unemployment rates decreased faster than expected, and the number of claims is at its lowest point since the first week of April.
An analysis by NPR reports that at least 358,032 ballots have been rejected in this year’s presidential primaries, compared to 318,728 in 2016. However, not all states have published the amount of ballot rejection yet; therefore, the number is not for certain. Also, concerns about possible delayed ballot delivery due to budget cuts in the U.S. Postal Service are quickly increasing. In response, election officials are attempting to limit the number of ballot rejections and several states have detailed instructions on their websites, taken legal action to give voters the opportunity to fix rejected ballots, and/or extended the deadline for mail-in voting.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many searching for jobs to replace ones lost, and, since March, more than 3.2 million Texans have applied for the unemployment program since March. In addition, the stimulus check includes 300 dollars a week to help them adjust. Texas Tribune writes that this decision leaves states with the option to provide 100 extra dollars from their own pockets if needed; however, Texas doesn’t seem to plan on doing so.
The Democrat party’s campaigning is more intense than ever in Texas this year. Per Inside Texas Politics, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar warns, “...y’all are going to be getting a lot of phone calls. So you’ll be getting texts. You’ll be getting phone calls. You’ll be getting mail.” As there are limited options to reach people during the pandemic, Democrats will be, reportedly, using everything they can.
According to CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, as of August 22, 2020, 12:15 PM (CDT), there are a total of 5,598,547 cases and 174,645 total deaths recorded in the United States. California remains the state with the most cases at a 650,336, and Florida follows with 587,023 cases. USA TODAY writes that at least 23 million people have been infected and 8 million deaths worldwide.
Both CNN and the Washington Post reports that Trump has tweeted, “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics.” The message, "Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives,” seemingly targets and accuses FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn of postponing much-needed reports. However, STAT News’ article, “Drugmakers rebut Trump tweet that FDA ‘deep state’ is delaying COVID-19 vaccines and drugs,” writes that Trump has not brought forth any evidence. John Maraganore, the chief executive of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, announces, “Politics must stay out of the conduct and interpretation of clinical trials aimed at evaluating the efficacy and safety of COVID vaccines, as public trust in the results is paramount to ending the pandemic.”
World Politics and Economics
Per CNBC's report, hopes for a V-shaped recovery from a record economic downturn in the Eurozone were crushed after the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data was published on Friday. The composite reading fell from 54.9 in July to 51.9 in August-- considerably lower than analyst expectations.
The ailing Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, arrived in Germany from Siberia for medical treatment. He is, accordingly, comatose after drinking what is surmised as poisoned tea, and multiple authorities are being accused of attempting to conceal the crime. Earlier this Friday, doctors treating Navalny in Omsk, Russia insisted that he was too sick to be moved, but his b0dy was eventually stable enough for transport. On Saturday morning, Navalny's medical evacuation flight, paid by the Cinema for Peace, a German organization, landed at Tegel airport in Berlin and the politician is being treated at the Charité hospital. Navalny's doctor, Anastasia Vasilieva, asserts that she is hopeful that he can recover.
The darker-skinned people in the city of Hong Kong are experiencing segregation and their experiences are similar to those who lived in the age of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Zaran Vachha, a 34-year-old man who has roots in India, Iran, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, declares that he has never been welcome in his city despite being born and raised there. Vachha tells CNN, “I've always considered Hong Kong my home, but I've always felt like an outsider. Being a person of color in Hong Kong, you get looked down on, no matter what...The darker you are, the worse you're treated.” Hong Kong passed an anti-racism law in 2008, but it, allegedly, is a flawed document that fails to hold authorities accountable. According to Puja Kapai, a professor at the Universit of Hong Kong, nothing substantial has yet to be done to solve this problem.
Science and Technology
CNN writes that on Friday, Facebook announced the creation of a real-world sound simulator that will let researchers train Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems in virtual, three-dimensional spaces with sounds that mimic those that occur indoors. This opens up the possibility that an AI assistant may track down a smartphone ringing in a distant room or recall details about indoor spaces, such as how many chairs are in a dining room, through an indoor mapping system.
According to BBC, 750 million genetically modified male mosquitoes are to be released in a two-year period in Florida. Their aim is to reduce the number of reproducing, female mosquitoes that carry diseases. The article explains, “The males carry a protein that will kill off any female offspring before they reach mature biting age. Males, which only feed on nectar, will survive and pass on the genes.” However, activists warn of possible damage to ecosystems and the creation of a hybrid mosquito. Nevertheless, the company involved claims that there will be no risk to humans or the environment and points out several government-backed studies.
Southeast US Weather
(The Atlantic) According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), both Tropical storms Laura and Marco are expected to be category 1 hurricanes by the time they reach the Gulf of Mexico. However, heavy wind shear over land and both systems are expected to weaken when nearing landfall. Unfortunately, Houston currently in both official forecast cones of both storms.
(The Pacific) Tropical storm Genieneve has dissipated, but two new possible cyclone formation alerts have appeared in the eastern Pacific. The first, where Genieneve first formed, is a disturbance with an 80 percent chance of forming into a tropical depression as it moves westward. On the other hand, another disturbance formed a few hundred miles from the first disturbance has a 60 percent chance of forming while moving north. Additionally, the remnants of tropical depression 10-E, which is located around 1000 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, has a 30 percent chance of restrengthening as it slowly moves westward,.
Today in Houston Texas, the high is 97 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Chances of rain are at 30 percent with about 0.15 inches of precipitation. Due to two tropical storms moving in the area, heavy rain showers and lowered temperatures are to be expected on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Lastly, the wind is blowing eastward and goes up to 26mph.
US Politics and Economics: Dylan, Miranda, and Yijia
Texas Politics: Stephanie, Vicki, and Megan
Health: Matthew and Owen
World Politics and Economics: Joseph, William, Jake, and Alexander
Science and Technology: Bryan, Andrew, Yiqi, and Amelia
Southeast US Weather: Jade and Simon
(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)