Jobs Jump | Toxic Fireworks | Not Throwing Away My (COVID-19 Vaccine) Shot
July 3, 2020
“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” ― James Baldwin
“America is so vast that almost everything said about it is likely to be true, and the opposite is probably equally true.” ― James T. Farrell
Job Well Done … For Now
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics June jobs report paints a brighter picture than economists predicted. It says “employment rose by 4.8 million… and the unemployment rate declined to 11.1 percent.” The report continues: “improvements in the labor market” are due to “continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the…pandemic and efforts to contain it.” President Trump was quick to hail the numbers as “spectacular news for American workers and American families and for our country as a whole.”
It’s certainly good news, but it’s only part of the story. The Bureau collects its data some three weeks before the report comes out; whatever happens in the interim isn’t reflected. As the report suggests, “improvements in the labor market” occurred because the economy was reopening. Jobs weren’t necessarily being “created” — many furloughed workers were simply returning to jobs they’d left during lockdown.
Importantly, while the unemployment rate dropped 2.2 percentage points, “the jobless rate and the number of unemployed are up by 7.6 percentage points….” In other words, although the number of unemployed people on temporary layoff decreased by 4.8 million in June, the “number of permanent job losers continued to rise.” Furthermore, 8.2 million individuals who want a job — but haven’t been “actively looking for work” during the last month — aren’t counted as unemployed.
New COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed recently across the country, leading states to close businesses again. Economists worry that layoffs could accelerate. One said: “We’re in a very deep hole, and we just set ourselves back again. It’s difficult to climb out of that hole.”
- A breakdown of where the jobs are coming back and where they may never fully return (CNBC)
- Trump administration has no regrets about reopening push, says Mnuchin (Guardian)
- Are Unemployed Americans About to Fall Off a Cliff? (NYT, $)
It’s Worth a Shot
- Countries around the globe are racing to come up with a vaccine against COVID-19. Earlier this month, the WHO said a number of coronavirus vaccines were in various stages of clinical evaluation, and 125 were in preclinical evaluation. Of at least 17 vaccines currently being clinically evaluated, eight are being developed in China.
- Recently, a Phase 3 clinical trial on humans was launched by China and the United Arab Emirates, the University of Oxford has a vaccine in Phase 3 trials, and the US company Moderna plans to start its Phase 3 trial in July. The Chinese government also announced that one of its experimental vaccines is approved for use by the country’s military.
- The vaccine — Ad5-nCoV — was jointly developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and vaccine company CanSino Biologics. CanSino announced in May that the Canadian government was allowing human trials of the vaccine. Meanwhile, President Trump is pinning his hopes on having a cure at least by year’s end.
- The Trump administration has pumped $10 billion into Operation Warp Speed, the joint project of the departments of Health and Human Services and Defense to accelerate development of a COVID-19 vaccine. But the goal of distributing 300 million vaccine doses by January is a feat that requires shaving years off the normal development process.
- Outside health experts caution against expecting too much too soon and say federal officials need to level with the public. As one virologist pointed out: “The White House has consistently looked for magic solutions — hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, now vaccines — but that’s not how it works.” (CNN, Politico)
- The Risks of Rushing a COVID-19 Vaccine (Scientific American)
- Moderna stock falls by as much as 9.4% after report says late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial delayed (CNBC)
- Coronavirus vaccine tracker: How close are we to a vaccine? (Guardian)
- Is the US-China rivalry tangling a coronavirus vaccine with geopolitics? (Deutsche Welle)
- The US, Brazil and others lifted lockdowns early. These charts show just how deadly that decision was (CNN)
- Study confirms new version of coronavirus spreads faster, but doesn’t make people sicker (CNN)
Additional World News
- As China Imposes New Hong Kong Law, U.S. And Allies Take Steps To Retaliate (NPR) & ‘Liberate Hong Kong’ slogan banned as protesters lie low (Guardian).
- Taiwan slams Hong Kong national security law, opens office to help city’s residents (CNBC)
- Slain Singer Is Laid To Rest After Days Of Deadly Turmoil In Ethiopia (NPR)
- 5G Was Going to Unite the World—Instead It’s Tearing Us Apart (Wired, $)
- When Police Are Hackers: Hundreds Charged After Encrypted Network Is Broken (NYT, $)
- Teetering Independence of Ukraine’s Central Bank Tests a Key I.M.F. Demand (NYT, $)
- Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro is denied control of gold in London bank (NBC)
- Mysterious Explosion and Fire Damage Iranian Nuclear Enrichment Facility (NYT, $)
- Mexican drug rehab centre stormed by gunmen (BBC)
- Italy marines ‘have immunity’ in India fishermen shooting case (BBC)
- 60% of fish species could be unable to survive in current areas by 2100 – study (Guardian)
- UN staff in Israel sex-act video suspended without pay (BBC)
- U.S. reports 55,000 COVID-19 cases in single day, hits new global record (Reuters)
- ‘We feel absolutely abandoned’: How the pandemic in Russia tanked the economy and plunged families into crisis (WaPo, $)
- Delay pregnancy for two years: Papua New Guinea doctor delivers coronavirus warning: Fears over COVID-19 have seen pregnant women turned away from hospitals, leading to the death of at least one baby, as national army barracks go into lockdown (Guardian). This is one of the biggest dangers of COVID-19: not just the direct effects of the virus on people, but the possibility of overwhelming healthcare facilities. With thousands of new cases every day, hospitals lose capacity for other patients facing non-virus health problems.
- Trump administration moves ahead with plan to open new pandemic office as coronavirus crisis intensifies (CNN)
- Americans Don’t Get How Badly They’re Handling COVID-19 (Atlantic, $)
Mountain of Boom
(Scott Olson via Getty Images)
- The National Park Service and local fire marshal officials have warned for years about the dangers of fireworks displays at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. In fact, for the past decade, there’s been a ban on pyrotechnics at the iconic spot because of concerns about public health, environmental and safety risks.
- The memorial is surrounded by 1,200 acres of forested lands, and lies next to the Black Hills National Forest’s Black Elk Wilderness. Dry conditions make the area vulnerable to wildfires that can easily be sparked by fireworks.
- Regardless, President Trump will host a massive fireworks display there on July 3. Even though the country is in the middle of a pandemic, neither federal nor state officials have imposed social distancing or mask requirements at the gathering. The state tourism department, which is distributing 7,500 tickets for the event, has estimated that it has had requests for at least 125,000 tickets.
- The leaders of seven Sioux tribal governments in South Dakota plan to protest the event, arguing it violates Native Americans’ claim to the Black Hills and could worsen the state’s coronavirus outbreak. (WaPo)
- How Mount Rushmore Became Mount Rushmore: The South Dakota landmark has drawn criticism over the land it occupies, the main sculptor behind it and the legacies of the men it memorializes. (NYT, $)
- FedEx asks the Washington Redskins to change their name after pressure from investor groups (CNN)
- For This Fourth of July, Officials Say Celebrate Freedom by Staying Home (NYT, $)
- Why this 4 July will be unlike any other (BBC)
Partner in Crime, Doing Time
- Ghislaine Maxwell, former girlfriend and longtime associate of the late disgraced financier and accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested by the FBI Thursday on multiple criminal counts related to procuring and transporting minors for illegal sex acts, as well as perjury.
- Maxwell is said to have recruited and groomed underage girls for Epstein so that he could sexually abuse them. Before the 58-year-old was arrested, she was hiding out in a million dollar luxury home on 156 acres in rural New Hampshire which was paid for in cash through a limited liability company.
- Maxwell is the daughter of defamed London newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell and has been “close friends” with Prince Andrew since she was at Oxford University. She introduced the Duke of York to Epstein in 1999. (Guardian, NBC News)
- Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? The woman at the center of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal (CNN)
- Ghislaine Maxwell arrest throws spotlight back on Prince Andrew (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- Supreme Court Acts To Postpone More Controversies, From Mueller Report To Abortion (NPR)
- FBI Says It Conducted A Record-High 3.9 Million Gun Background Checks In June (NPR)
- ‘Spectacular Incompetence’ Deals Blow to Virus Response, Summers Says (Bloomberg, $)
- Mary Trump’s book finally finds its way out of courtroom limbo: Judge gives go-ahead to tell-all Trump book (BBC)
- Would you have a bond with a politician if they were okay with another country paying insurgents to kill you? Trump is more pro-Russia than he is pro-military: Trump’s bond with veterans starts to fracture over Russian bounty plot (Guardian)
- What if we treated Confederate symbols the way we treated the defeated Nazis? (Guardian). One of the most underrated American generals of all time was Ulysses Grant’s right hand man: William Tecumseh Sherman (he’s also one of our favorite West Point alum). Sherman was hated by southerners during the Civil War for his march to the sea where he burned down much of the south. Given how fast the remnants of the Confederacy quickly grew back, it could be argued that he didn’t burn enough of the Confederacy down. Additional quote: War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.” – Sherman
- War is indeed hell: Soldiers who served under Clint Lorance in Afghanistan see Trump’s pardon as betrayal (WaPo, $)
- This is real leadership: Senator Puts Rare Hold On Military Promotions Over Ousted Army Officer (NPR). And we agree that we think she’d make a great Vice President: Tammy Duckworth is Biden’s Best Running Mate Pick (NYT, $)
Lead, White and Blue
- Those brilliant fireworks displays you may be taking in this weekend could be hazardous to your health. Modern fireworks use a wide range of metals, which naturally oxidize when exposed to air, to produce all those colors. Gunpowder supplies a sudden burst of oxygen, causing rapid and intense oxidation and making the burning metals throw off light.
- In an exploding firework, lithium makes red, sodium makes yellow, and aluminum makes silver. But what if a manufacturer is also tossing in illicit metals, like lead, that make toxic smoke? In a recent study, researchers showed that the smoke from some common consumer fireworks is toxic to both human respiratory tract cells and to mouse test subjects.
- 10 different products were sampled — two in duplicate. Smoke from two of the 12 fireworks contained lead. Five of the 10 different products produced smoke that caused the human cells significant oxidative stress, a common theory as to how particles damage lungs.
- “I was surprised by the level of metals in the particles,” said one of the authors. “One had a super high level, 40,000 [parts per million] lead, which was just totally unexpected, very high.” The smoke from the fireworks containing the super high lead levels was 10 times more damaging to cultured human respiratory cells, and also caused severe inflammation in the lungs of lab mice.
- A word of warning: your neighborhood fireworks show is actually releasing metals of all kinds into the air. An inhaled toxin like lead can cause problems all over the body, including neurological issues. (Wired)
- He Was Playing With Fireworks. One Flew Into His Home, Video Shows. (NYT, $)
- Ashoka’s moral empire: Being good is hard. How an ancient Indian emperor, horrified by the cruelty of war, created an infrastructure of goodness (Aeon)
- I feel fine: fans of world-ending films ‘coping better with pandemic’ (Guardian)
- It’s the summer of road trips. Here’s how to do it right. (National Geographic)
- We are so glad we left Facebook a long time ago: The hate Facebook fosters destroys lives. Here’s what it did to me (Guardian)
- Mark Zuckerberg: advertisers’ boycott of Facebook will end ‘soon enough’ (Guardian)
- This is an interesting perspective that we feel ambivalent about: How the Facebook Boycott Could Just Make Facebook Stronger (Politico)
- Silicon Valley Elite Discuss Journalists Having Too Much Power in Private App: In leaked audio from an invite-only app, venture capitalists pondered everything they think is wrong with journalism. (Vice)
- These are nice luggages but apparently not so nice leadership team: Away says co-CEO Steph Korey will step down this year after her attacks on the media (Verge)
- Colleges Rescinding Admissions Offers as Racist Social Media Posts Emerge (NYT, $)
- They climbed Everest seeking to solve mystery of Sandy Irvine’s fate (National Geographic)
- Canada’s Sparrows Are Singing a New Song. You’ll Hear It Soon. (NYT, $)
- Elk Return to Kentucky, Bringing Economic Life (NYT, $)
- Jim Carrey, Unmasked (NYT, $)
- How Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos Get More Done Every Morning: The Law of First Things (Inc)
- Every dog year not equivalent to seven human years, scientists find (Guardian) At least all dogs go to heaven.
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