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August 9, 2020 News Summary

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

US Politics and Economics


Earlier this Thursday, President Donald Trump declared an executive order to prohibit “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd” at the end of a 45-day deadline. The order is supposed to address what he called, a “national security risk”, concerning TikTok, a Chinese video networking app and the second most downloaded app from Apple’s App Store. The specifics of enforcing this law are unknown, but with the order expected to take effect in September, multiple companies have acted upon the situation. Apple, with intent to comply with laws in foreign countries, removed 851 apps due to a legal request, and in other countries, such as India, TikTok and WeChat were immediately removed. For the 85 million active users in the U.S, the TikTok will likely remain on their devices, but there may be no further updates available in the future.

As the deadline ticks nearer, Microsoft (NASDAQ - MSFT), a “Big Five” American tech companies, has displayed an interest in buying the US operations of Tik Tok from ByteDance. This Monday, before the executive order was signed, President Trump claimed that he approved of Microsoft’s talks; although, he added that it would be easier for them to buy all of TikTok, saying, according to Fox Business, “It's probably easier to buy the whole thing than to buy 30 percent of it.” However, multiple individuals, such as Pete Navarro, Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator, have alleged that there is clearly “suspicious stuff” going on between China and Microsoft. In addition, TikTok wildly differs from Microsoft’s other innovations, such as Windows and Microsoft Suite applications.

WeChat, a social messaging platform with 19 million active users, will also be prohibited from operating in the U.S by Sept. 15 under a matching decree. This raises some concerns, as possible challenges to WeChat’s owner, Tencent, in the months to come. Tencent has multiple forms of investment in the US and is a prime stakeholder in many American companies such as Snapchat, Activision, Spotify, and Tesla. It also owns Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, a very popular videogame with over tens of millions of active users. Tencent also has an additional 40 percent stake in Epic Games, an 80 percent stake in Supercell, and owns countless other smaller stakes in major video game companies. With heightening tensions between the U.S and China, an extended ban to WeChat’s parent company could present massive challenges.



Texas Politics


COVID-19 cases have been exploding in the Rio Grande region lately. Per Vox’s report, people who live in the Rio Grande Valley have a “higher-than-average incidence of underlying conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, that put them at greater risk of complications from the virus.” Additionally, Hurricane Hanna also contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in the area. Several officials are working on a future plan to moderate the spread.


Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott released a proclamation announcing that the Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties issued on March 13th has been renewed. According to gov.texas.gov, the “Disaster Declaration provides the state a variety of resources to effectively serve Texans as the Lone Star State continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” In addition, Governor Abbott urged Texans “to remain vigilant in our fight against this virus. Everyone must do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. We will overcome this challenge by working together."



Health


According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, as of August 9, 2020, 1:15 PM (CDT), there are a total of 4,974,959 COVID-19 cases recorded in the United States. Whereas, New Jersey reported another 378 COVID-19 cases and 5 deaths (nj.com), New Zealand recently marked its 100th consecutive day without any new COVID-19 cases within the border. According to khou.com, New Zealand halted the spread of the virus by imposing a strict lockdown in March when about 100 people were infected, allowing them to maintain a clean record by imposing a strict lockdown in March when there were only about 100 people infected.


World Politics and Economics


Suspicious arises as both the governments of both Russia and Belarus claim multiple things about last week’s arrest in Minsk of 33 Russian men. Belarusian authorities later identified the men as mercenaries affiliated with the Wagner Group, a network of private military security contractors linked to the U.S Sanctioned Kremlin insider Yevgeny Prigozhin, but the mystery surrounding the men were heightened when the President of Belarus for 26 years, Alexander Lukashenko, accused Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, of writing a Kremlin plot to use Wagner Group mercenaries to overthrow his embattled government. Nevertheless, several people have speculated the arrests may have a possible connection to alleged Russian interference in Belarus’ upcoming presidential election on August 9th.


The Yangtze River in Southern China is seeing the worst flooding in decades, devastating farmlands and costing families thousands in the process, per CNN’s report. Currently, China imports large quantities of produce; however, 70 percent of the country's rice production is near the Yangtze River. China’s Ministry of Emergency Management estimates that the disaster cost 21 billion in property damages and about 55 million people have been affected. Furthermore, importing food in the future will only become more difficult with COVID-19 infections still violently rising in some countries, such as the US, and heavy rainfall expected til the end of August.



Science and Technology

Per scitechdaily.com’s report, images from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft shows that the Mars night sky pulses colors of green to white false colors three times at night during Mars’ spring and fall. According to the article, the information illuminates “complex circulation patterns in the Martian atmosphere” and “revealed unexpected waves and spirals over the winter poles,” therefore “confirming the Mars Express spacecraft results that this nightglow was brightest over the winter polar regions.” While the team which monitors MAVEN is still analyzing this new discovery, they believe that the brightening is caused by increased downward winds which enhance the chemical reaction and create nitric oxide.



Southeast US Weather


Movement is starting to pick back up in the Atlantic as the National Hurricane Center (NHC) tracks a strong disturbance off the coast of Africa. This system has a 50% chance of forming in 5 days and has a chance at becoming the next tropical system. Although this is the only tropical disturbance at the moment, more are expected form as strong waves come off the coast of Africa. In a media release by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it was predicted that this season has 80 percent of being “extremely active” season.


To get more live coverage of the latest updates on the tropics, visit theNational Hurricane Center,Tropical Tidbits, CyclonicWx, or watch Force Thirteen.

_________________________________________________________________________

Writers:

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, and Jake

Science and Technology: Brian, 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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