August 30, 2020 News Summary
US Politics and Economics
CNN writes that after the Republican National Convention (RNC) the 10 point lead of the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, has fallen to about 8 points, due to a shifts in “swing states” such as Florida. Nevertheless, Biden remains ahead in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but is neck-to-neck with Republican candidate Trump in North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas.
Portland, Oregon has been a consistent region for protests. On Saturday night, supporters of President Trump clashes with counter-protesters, leading to a the death of a man. According to the New York Times, the man, believed to be Joe Bishop, wore a hat with the insignia of the Patriot Prayer, a far-right group which seeks to combat “corruption, big government and tyranny, using God for strength and the power of love.” The police have not yet been able to verify the identity of the one who shot a fatal gunshot wound to the chest, despite the videos and accounts. Eight days ago in Portland, a site where multiple protests have turned violent, another clash between Black Lives Matter protesters and right-wing demonstrators brought about a brawl in front of a U.S. courthouse. President Trump countered with tweets criticizing the mayor of Portland and calling for the federal forces in the city.
A budget document obtained by The Texas Tribune reports a proposal to cut nearly 3.8 million dollars in funding for multiple women’s health programs. A COVID-19 ravaged economy has left Texas in a 4.6 billion dollar deficit; henceforth, requests for state agencies to cut spending by 5 percent have been driven by Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Among those with decreased expenses are clinics that provide reduced-cost contraceptives, family planning, and health screenings. However, advocates allude that this move may be “pound-foolish,” as the same programs saved Texas an estimated 19.6 million dollars per year. Nonetheless, organizations deemed crucial to public health, including the “Alternatives to Abortion” program, which promotes childbirth, financial counseling for parents, and referrals to social services programs, are exempt. Bonnen defends against critics that agencies are being asked to provide “access to care without compromising out priority to protect the lives of the unborn.”
According to Worldometer’s Coronavirus Update, as of 9:32 AM (CDT), there are over 25.2 million cases and nearly 848k deaths in the world. The U.S. ranks first at more than 6.14 million cases and almost 187k total deaths. Brazil follows suit.
Per the New York Post, a study detailed that kids without COVID-19 symptoms may still infect others. Roberta L. DeBiasi, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Diseases and Co-Director of the Congenital Zika Program at the Children’s National Hospital, analyzed the cases of 91 kids in 22 hospitals across South Korea, where patients are not released until full-recovery. 20 percent were asymptomatic, and 4 percent of the entire group, or 20 percent of the asymptomatic group, were capable of spreading the virus up to three weeks after infection. In addition, another 20 percent only developed mild symptoms later on.
In an interview with The Financial Times, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn declares, “The chief of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is prepared to bypass the full federal approval process in order to make a COVID-19 vaccine available as soon as possible.” This implies that phase three clinical trials may be skipped if the benefits outweigh the consequences, and, possibly, creators may soon apply for authorization to publicize the vaccine. During his speech on Thursday evening at the RNC, U.S. President Trump hopes assures that the nation “will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner.” Meanwhile, Sarah O’Brien details in CNBC, “Already, China and Russia have each approved vaccines without waiting for the completion of phase three trials, which come with the most rigorous testing for a potential new drug. Public health officials in the U.S. and elsewhere have warned that the move could be unsafe.”
Nevertheless, NBC News reports that around 30,000 volunteers have enrolled in two major COVID-19 vaccine trials in the U.S on Friday. The manufacturers, Moderna and Pfizer, aim to enroll a total of 60,000 volunteers for phase 3 trials, and Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, notes that enrollment is only halfway complete.
AstraZeneca, which is in partnership with the UK’s University of Oxford, has also begun phase 3 trials on its COVID-19 vaccine.
World Politics and Economics
Tens of thousands of people in Belarus are still protesting against the allegedly rigged elections and advocating for the resignment of President Alexander Lukashenko. Per BBC News, Lukashenko announces that he has no intention of stepping down and denies accusations made from the opposition. Streets have been blocked off by riot police to prevent people from reaching the main protest areas, and the Belarusian ministry reports 125 arrests so far.
Daniele Obono, a Gabonese-French politician serving as a member of the National Assembly for Paris's 17th constituency, was depicted as a slave in an article from Valeurs Actuelles, a far-right French magazine. CNN reports that Obono declared that the article “crossed a line” and it was an “insult to my ancestors,” as the article depicted an image of Obono with chains around her neck.
China has agreed on Japan’s plan to name Hideo Tarumi, former deputy minister at the foreign minister’s Secretariat, as ambassador to China. The time when Tarumi, age 59, will assume his duties is subject to cabinet approval. Despite speculation that Beijing may not agree on Tarumi’s appointment, but the agreement prevented further ties with Tokyo from worsening amid an escalation in tensions between China and the U.S.
Southeast US Weather
(The Atlantic) Currently, there are four disturbances in the Atlantic-- two of which have a high chance of forming into a tropical cyclone. Moving north-northwest in the Caribbean, Disturbance 99L is developing a lower level of circulation and has an 80 percent chance of forming in the next 48 hours. The second disturbance, also moving northeast, is near the southwest coast of Florida and has a 70 percent chance of forming in the next 5 days. While the other two disturbances have a relatively low chance of forming, both came off the coast of Africa and they have a 20-30 percent chance in 5 days. Wind shear is decreasing as the sea surface temperature rises over 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
(The Pacific) As tropical storm Iselle has been sheared by the wind to the point of dissipation, a small disturbance in the East Pacific moves west with a low chance of growing to be a tropical cyclone. The other disturbance in the Central Pacific has only a 19 percent chance of forming into a tropical cyclone. In addition, despite the sea surface temperature looking fairly warm, wind shear is high so a break in tropical activity may be forthcoming.
(Local: Houston, TX) The high today is 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Houston will stay fairly sunny for the next 10 days, although rain can be expected on Tuesday.
Quick Query: Name the tropical storm which devastated Houston in 2001. Answer in the comment section below!
Tropical Storm Cindy
Tropical Storm Allison
Tropical Storm Cristobal
Tropical Storm Nestor
Yesterday’s answer: [Hurricane Rita]
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 local weather, visit the NOAA Graphical Forecast.
US Politics and Economics: Dylan, Miranda, Yijia, and Caleb
Texas Politics: Stephanie and Vicki
Health: Matthew, David, and Owen
World Politics and Economics: Joseph, William, Jake, and Alexander
Southeast US Weather: Jade and Simon
(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)