September 24, 2020 News Summary
US Politics and Economics
As the US economy recovers from the pandemic, workers have begun returning to their jobs, thus causing the unemployment rate to drop nearly 8% from last month. However, this rate varies across all demographics, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, the unemployment rate for African Americans, which consistently rises beyond the national norm, has not gone down by a significant amount (from a peak of 17% to 13%). For comparison, the entire country’s unemployment rate nearly halved. Although the number of permanent layoffs continue to grow, for the most part, things are starting to return to normal.
Media coverage is circulating around Hunter Biden, Democratic Candidate Joe Biden’s second son, and his roles in foreign financial ties. The US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs finds that “he received a $3.5 million wire transfer from... the wife (widow) of the former mayor of Moscow.” Hunter Biden is further alleged of having “business associations with... nationals linked to the Communist government and People’s Liberation Army,” which “resulted in millions of dollars in questionable transactions.” Moreover, Hunter Biden is accused of opening “...a bank account with Gongwen Dong that financed a $100,000 global spending spree with James Biden and Sara Biden,” who are other family members. Lastly, the committee alleges that he “paid... women who were nationals of Russia or other Eastern European countries and who appear to be linked to an ‘Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.’”
In floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Beta, there have been sightings of possibly destructive ant piles floating in the water. With a video attached, LeagueCityTX tweeted, “This is one of the reasons why you should avoid walking through floodwater, floating ant piles...can form and be very dangerous.” FoxNews describes, “The...footage... shows a mammoth mound of insects that appeared to be fire ants floating together in floodwater at a city park.” Smithsonian Magazine reported during Hurricane Harvey of 2017 that these ants, which can build rafts consisting of up to 500,000 insects, sting up to 5 million people per year and send 25,000 to hospitals.
According to CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, as of Sep 24, 2020, 12:21 PM, there are over 6.9 million cases and 201k deaths recorded nationwide. California leads with the most with the most infections at 787k, and Texas follows with 719k cases.
(Click2Houston) Due to a “backlog being cleared”, Tuesday saw the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases in the Houston area at 14,687-- 13,875 of which came from Harris County. According to a pair of tweets from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a majority of those new cases were the result of an error caused by “an automated system designed to reduce some delays in reporting times moving forward.”
World Politics and Economics
According to BBC, Vatican Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the second most senior official in the Vatican's Secretariat of State, has unexpectedly resigned from office. He was one of the pope's most trusted aides as he had the role of Substitute for General Affairs and met the pope daily.
Science and Technology
Per CNN, both the new PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are proving hard to preorder amidst a shopping frenzy. Tweets report that multiple online retail stores have broken links and unavailable items. As gamers worldwide attempt to obtain the latest consoles, demand exceeds the supply.
BBC writes that a Cuvier’s beaked whale has utterly shocked scientists by staying submerged for almost three hours and forty-two minutes, the longest recorded dive by a mammal species. Cuvier's beaked whales are known “for their abilities to dive deep and they average around an hour under water.” Dr. Nicola Quick, from Duke University, explains, “Their body muscles are sort of built differently...They have sort of smaller brains, and quite a small lung volume. And they have a lot of good muscle tissues that are great for holding oxygen stores, which probably helps them to increase their dive durations.”
According to SciTechDaily, transistors made of carbon rather than silicon may help increase electronics’ quickness and reduce their usage of power by a thousandfold. Such transition is comparable to phone lasting for months. Currently, metal wires expend energy by connecting semiconducting elements in the transistors. However, a group at UC Berkeley has created both conductors and insulators, including carbon-based metal, from graphene nanoribbons, which are one-atom thick graphene. Within this new creation, the team hopes to soon conduct electrons between nanoribbons.
SciTechDaily reports that as hearing aids may be fairly expensive for those experiencing hearing loss, a one dollar hearing aid, LoCHAid, has been invented. Costly generalized hearing aids use digital signal processors to adjust sound, and, arguably, run quicker through batteries. LoCHAid, a minimalistic device driven by the common AA or lithium ion coin-cell batteries, uses “electronic filters to shape the frequency response.”
Southeast US Weather
(Atlantic) Currently, only the remnants of Tropical Storm Beta are in the outlook.
(Pacific) Tropical storm Lowell is battling dry air and is expected to dissipate soon. However, a new area of interest has appeared with a 20% chance of formation, and most models forecast a major hurricane in the Pacific.
(Local) Today is cooler with a high of 79 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 69 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite some clouds due to Tropical Storm Beta’s remnants, the rest of the week should be sunny.
US Politics and Economics: Dylan, Miranda, Caleb, and Annabelle
Texas Politics: Stephanie, Vicki, and Megan
Health: Matthew, David, and Owen
World Politics and Economics: Joseph and Alexander
Science and Technology: Bryan, Yiqi, Amelia, and Joe
Southeast US Weather: Jade, Aiden, and Simon
(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)