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September 1, 2020 News Summary

US Politics and Economics


As the presidential race heads into its final ten weeks, candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden are split on multiple issues, including the recent shootings that have caused disputes on racial equality and law enforcement. The first presidential debate is expected to take place in 4 weeks on September 29th. The following two will occur on October 15th and October 22nd, while a vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will take place on October 7th. Similar to the conventions, law enforcement, economic policy, and the COVID-19 response are expected to be critical topics in the upcoming debates.



Texas Politics

According to the Dallas Observer, on September 1st, the Texas Democratic Party announced that they would be contacting 1 million Texans this week to help them register to vote ahead of November’s general election. As a part of Texas Voter Registration Week, Democrats will contact unregistered Texans and encourage them to vote by phoning or texting them. People of color, who historically lean left (people who have liberal views) will make up 75% of the people targeted, according to TDP voter expansion director Luke Warford. He said that, “Texas' electorate for a long time has not affected the diversity of the state. We know that if it did, that Democrats would win.” Republicans have influenced Texas politics for a very long time, but many believe President Trump’s low approval rating will ultimately hurt chances of a Republican victory in Texas during the general election. Democratic leaders are very confident that 2020 will be the year that Texas flips blue, but until the general election, we’ll just have to wait and see.



Health


Per CNBC, U.S. health officials predict that the COVID-19 vaccine trials, which are backed by the U.S, government, may fail to receive positive results. According to the article, “Operation Warp Speed expects to support up to seven phase three trials and it assumes four of them will fail.” Furthermore, in a study published in Biostatistics, “...vaccines for infectious diseases have a 33.4% success rate of making it through clinical trials and to regulatory approval.”


The National Public Radio reports that Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has ordered state agencies to cut ties with Quest Diagnostics, a medical laboratory that has mistakenly delayed reporting nearly 75,000 COVID-19 tests. Quest Diagnostics responded, “The issue has since been resolved. Importantly, the issue did not affect or delay reporting of test results to providers and patients.“ However, DeSantis declared, “To drop this much unusable and stale data is irresponsible. I believe that Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida that the people can be confident in. As such I am directing all executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest effective immediately.” This dilemma may result in the end of Florida's relations with one of the biggest COVID-19 testing labs.



World Politics and Economics


China and India are currently in a standoff over the border, called the Line of Actual Control, an area that surrounds the long endorheic Pangong Tso lake. China alleges that Indian soldiers have intentionally crossed the lake, which extends from Ladakh, India to the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. According to CNN, a Chinese spokesperson claims that India has "conducted flagrant provocations… [and] stirred tension in the border areas," which has been a historically contested point between China and India since 1962.


Per BBC's report, police enforcement in Belarus have attacked and arrested university students in a protest against the President Alexander Lukashenko. The rallies from the opposition have increased since Lukashenko’s re-election on August 8th. Citizens, backed by the European Union (EU) and the U.S., claim that the election was rigged, being neither “free of fair.” Moreover, the opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has been exiled and Lukashenko has blatantly refused to step down in accordance to the demands of the public.


Hong Kong’s constitution, The Basic Law, enshrines the "one country, two systems" principle, which came into effect when British rule ended on July 1, 1997, BBC explains. Although the agreement, which protects the Hongkonger’s “basic” rights (in American standards), is valid for 50 years, many argue that it has been, is being, and will be violated with consistent political interference by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, Hong Kong's current Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, claims that there is absolutely no breach in the city’s political system and that judicial independence remains clear. Lam additionally mentions that even as the Chief Executive, her administration is still subject to rules governing relationships between the executive, legislative and judicial branches.


According to Fox News, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reassures that even as COVID-19 death rate spike, he’s positive that the U.K. government will cope with outbreaks and return back to work in waves. "Of course we know there is still going to be more of this disease still to come," Johnson stated during a conference with his Cabinet, where all the ministers took part in person for the first time since March, "...we are absolutely confident that we are going to be able to deal with those outbreaks, and bit by bit this incredible country is getting back on its feet.” The government clearly yearns for civil service workers to return in an effort to rouse the economy.

In a press conference earlier today, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock asserts that trials for a COVID-19 vaccine are going well and, in a best case scenario, will be ready for mass production this year. He also stresses that it is vital for private companies to have greater access to COVID-19 testing. Lastly, Hancock announces that with funding to the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), accident and emergency treatment capacities in hospitals are being expanded for the upcoming winter in order to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections.



Science and Technology


CNN writes that the New Guinea singing dog was thought to be extinct due to habitat loss and interbreeding with feral dogs for 50 years until it was rediscovered in 2016. An expedition studied 15 wild ‘singing dogs,’ only 200 of which are in captivity. Nonetheless, scientists are eager to breed highland dogs through the use of sperm samples and further learn about the singing dogs possible through the dingo, a wild dog that also originated in Southeast Asia and are suspected to be the breed that split off from the singing dogs.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is wary about Amazon’s Ring, a “smart” doorbell used to watch over homes with a camera. BBC News reports that Ring may be used by infiltrators to spy on the U.S. police. The FBI discovered a hacked document on The Intercept from 2017 where someone remotely watched live footage of police preparing to serve a search warrant. The article adds information measures taken in the UK, where “Wiltshire police have set up a database of private smart doorbells and security cameras, and residents are being asked to register theirs.”

According to BBC, Microsoft has created a detection tool to spot deepfakes-- media that look and sound just like the real thing. BBC explains that the process feeds “...a computer lots of still images of one person and video footage of another.” Then, a generated video “featuring the former's face in the place of the latter's, with matching expressions, lip-synch and other movements” is created. Microsoft built the tool by analyzing 1,000 deepfake video sequences and testing the model against a bigger face-swap database made by Facebook.



Southeast US Weather


(The Atlantic) Concurrently, two storms and two disturbances are beginning to establish themselves. In the Caribbean, tropical storm Nana is expected to rapidly intensify into a hurricane by the time it makes landfall in Southern Mexico at around Thursday 8 AM (CDT). The official forecast cone covers the Yucatan Peninsula, causing several tropical storm watches in the area to go into effect. On the other hand, tropical storm Omar is anticipated to dissipate shortly after Nana rides into the Gulf Stream, a warm and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico. The two disturbances have a 50 percent and the other a 20 percent chance of formation in the next 5 days.


(The Pacific) A disturbance 900 miles south of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in the Pacific is unlikely to develop any further. As it slowly moves westward, it will only have a 10 percent chance of becoming a cyclone by Thursday.


(West Pacific) Typhoon Maysak is, on the Simpson Scale, a strong Category 4 storm with winds up to 130 mph and heading for South Korea. Global Forecast Models forecast that this system has already peaked and will only follow a weakening trend from here on out. Tropical Storm Haishen in the Western Pacific, poses no threat to land yet; however, the official forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center anticipates that it’s also heading for South Korea.


(Local: Houston, Texas) Currently, the high is 96 degrees Fahrenheit and the low is 82 degrees Fahrenheit. In the 10-day forecast, light rain showers and a cold front can be anticipated from Thursday to next Sunday. The temperature should begin to drop to the upper 80s on Friday.


Did you know… On this day 3 years ago, Hurricane Irma had just formed, and Harvey had also just dissipated off the Gulf Stream as well?


Quick Query: On July 17, 1943, Joseph Duckworth made history by doing what?

a. Flying his plane into the eye of a hurricane

b. Accurately predicting a hurricane's path

c. Rescuing a group of school children from a storm surge

d. Stopping a hurricane by pulling it in with a lasso


BONUS QUESTION: In 2004, what rare hurricane-related weather phenomenon occurred?


Answers in the comment section below!


Yesterday’s answer: [3. Hurricane Florence]


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.


_________________________________________________________________________

Writers:

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

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 and Mingyi

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

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