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August 18, 2020 News Summary

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

US Politics and Economics

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) kicked off last night and is expected to continue until Thursday. The first day featured speeches and events coming from numerous people from both political parties. Speakers included Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Former 2016 Republican Candidate and Former Governor John Kaisch of Ohio, Former First Lady Michelle Obama, and Senator Bernie Sanders. The speeches boiled down to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic growth during the Trump administration, attacking Trump’s handling concerning COVID-19 and claiming that he dragged on the pandemic, which in short, cost thousands of lives. The speakers also endorsed Joe Biden and urged the nation to vote for him-- even John Kasich, a Republican who seemingly grew weary of Trump. In response, however, President Trump’s senior advisor, Jared Kushner, asserted that since Trump dealt with issues during the 2016 election, he would actively attempt to resolve the difficulties Americans are facing during this pandemic. Kushner states that, despite the already cancelled Republican conventions due to public health concerns, the public will hear “during President Trump’s convention,” “a lot of the successes that he’s had”, although several Republican conventions have had to be cancelled due to public health concerns.

Summer of 2020 has witnessed exceptionally high violent crime rates compared to previous years. While violent crimes have risen by 16 percent in major cities compared since last year, overall crime rates have gone down by around 5 percent. According to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), this has only happened four times since 1960, and may stem from unemployment rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation-wide movement to achieve racial justice within the policing system and American institutions. New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and Oregon are among the cities that have voted to defund or dismantle the police and seen a recent jump in violent crimes. While a smaller presence of police is a contributing factor, it should be noted that it may not be the sole cause. For example, Americans have been filing for more background checks, which are commonly used to purchase firearms, and the previous record of 3.7 million checks were broken earlier this March. As more people are getting their hands on guns, additional violence will be resulted, and Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University, infers that falling smaller-scale crimes could be attributed to the strain put on the illegal drug market because of current economic conditions.

Today, a Senate panel detailed and concluded that Trump’s campaign interactions with Russian intelligence services in 2016 posed a supposed threat. The panel released a 1,000 page report, with description to date of Russia’s activities, and although their findings were first investigated more than three years ago, the leaders of the panels wanted to document the election attacks as thoroughly as possible.

Texas Politics

Due to the COVID-19 world pandemic, this year has been tough for many oil companies. According to Star-Telegram, Barron Petroleum, a family-owned oil company in Fort Worth, made a major discovery of around 417 billion cubic feet of oil in a large field in Val Verde County. Albert G. McDaniel, a petroleum engineer in Fort Worth announced that “this is a major discovery because these new field designations are all going to be made from this one 13,000-acre lease. These are going to be high-volume, high-rate wells from a major new field that will be developed over the next five to 10 years.” Multiple other companies are already setting their sights on the field, which may bring hope to the industry where oil prices are hitting their highest point in over five months.


According to CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker, as of August 18, 2020, 12:15 PM (CDT), there are a total of 5,422,242 cases in the US.

Per Science Mag’s article, on August 11th, Russia claimed that it had made the first successful COVID-19 vaccine, and the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation issued a registration certificate for a vaccine candidate that has been tested on just 76 people. The certificate allows the vaccine to be mass-produced, and scientists around the world and Russian citizens have immediately denounced the certificate as premature, as the vaccine hasn’t gone through the necessary tests. Richard Kuhn, family director of inflammation, immunology and infectious disease at Purdue University explains that “the process by which Russia supposedly created the vaccine violates the ethics of scientific research by not following proper protocol.” (WISH-TV)

Texas Tribune writes that although Texas has recently surpassed 10,000 deaths, the number of hospitalizations has steadily gone downward-- likely due to establishing mandatory mask order.

World Politics and Economics

Daleba Nahounou was a university student in Abidjan, the largest city in the west African country of Cote d’Ivoire, when a disputed presidential election in 2010 sent rival militias onto the streets. The ensuing months of violence claimed 3,000 lives across the country and led to an international war crimes tribunal and extremely high tensions. Nahounou, who now helps lead a civil society organization called the Coalition of the Indignant of Côte d’Ivoire, told World Politics Review, “It was tragic,” and “we have the same feeling that it could happen today.” President Alassane Ouattara, the opposition candidate and eventual victor in the 2010 contest, announced his retirement five months ago, pledging to “transfer power to a new generation.” However, the 78-year-old Ouattara reversed course after Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the presidential candidate for the ruling Rally of Republicans party, died of a heart attack last month, and announced that he is going for a controversial third term in this year’s October 31st’s election.

As anger erupts over a disputed election, hundreds of protesters in Belarus gather outside a prison, marking the birthday of Sergei Tikhanovsky, the imprisoned husband of the country's main opposition figure, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who had fled to Lithuania in the wake of the election. Tikhanovskaya secured about 10 percent of the vote, and President Lukashenko received more than 80 percent, but since there were no observers during the polling, the election has been suspected of massive vote-rigging. Hundreds of protesters have been injured, thousands have been arrested, two have died in skirmishes with the police, and multiple people speek of torture by Lukashenko’s security forces.

Southeast US Weather

As Hurricane Josephine passes in the Atlantic, other cyclones form in the area. The first was spotted 300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, producing concentrated showers and thunderstorms nearby. It also has a 90 percent chance of becoming a major hurricane and is moving west-northwest at 15 to 20 mph. In addition, a small but quick storm is moving along South America with a 30 percent chance of forming a cyclone and blowing at 30 mph westward.

Tropical Storm Fausto of the Pacific has dissipated, but Hurricane Genevieve has gathered speed and has winds up to 130mph. Genevieve is expected to hit the tip of the Baja California peninsula with a heavy rain shower on Wednesday.

Today’s high in Houston is 96 degrees Fahrenheit, and the low is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Chances of rain is at 14 percent with no increase in precipitation. There is mostly clear sky and winds up to 9 knots to the south.

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 live coverage on weather, for more, please visit the NOAA Graphical Forecast.



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

Texas Politics: Stephanie, Vicki, and Megan

Health: Matthew

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

Southeast US Weather: Simon

Editor: VIA and Susanna

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

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