Daily Digest 6/30 – Cash Cliff Spells Trouble For U.S. Unemployed, The Fed Now Owns Walmart’s Debt

Economy

A cash cliff spells trouble for U.S. unemployed, and everyone else (Sparky1)

Without new support, recipients face a substantial loss of income – particularly devastating for those like the Ramirez family who worked in hard-hit sectors like hospitality where new jobs are scarce. During high unemployment and a still-raging pandemic, the end of enhanced jobless benefits could drag on consumer spending, set off a wave of missed rent and mortgage payments and translate to a slower recovery, economists said.

China passes national security law in turning point for Hong Kong (Sparky1)

The legislation pushes Beijing further along a collision course with the United States, Britain and other Western governments, which have said it erodes the high degree of autonomy the city was granted at its July 1, 1997, handover.

The United States, already in dispute with China over trade, the South China Sea and the coronavirus, began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law on Monday, halting defence exports and restricting technology access.

Powell, Mnuchin enter the lion’s den again to discuss pandemic response (Sparky1)

Treasury has been at the forefront of the $660 billion forgivable-loan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed at keeping small businesses afloat and their employees on payrolls.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee at 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT) to discuss how funds were disbursed to households and businesses.

California mandates bars close in 7 counties, recommends closures in Sacramento and others (tmn)

“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a written statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”

Sacramento health officials, who have expressed concerns about lack of social distancing in bars, said Sunday they will consider the governor’s request and decide likely Monday.

Some US states return to previous restrictions to slow surge of coronavirus cases (tmn)

The risk of keeping bars and restaurants open is exemplified by a bar in East Lansing, Michigan, where 85 people contracted Covid-19 after visiting early this month.

Even states with low case counts have readjusted their reopening plans. Monday, New Jersey decided against resuming indoor dining, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a decision on whether New York City could resume indoor dining would be made by Wednesday.

Iran issues warrant for Trump over killing of top general (Sparky1)

Alqasimehr said the warrants had been issued on charges of murder and terrorist action. He said Iran had asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” seeking the arrest of Trump and the other individuals the Islamic Republic accuses of taking part in the killing of Soleimani.

Alqasimehr said the group included other U.S. military and civilian officials but did not provide further details.

The Fed now owns Walmart’s debt. Here’s why it matters (hail)

The policy has proved “remarkably powerful” to fight this crisis, Goldman Sachs said. But it’s not clear the Fed should use it as a regular tool to fight future recessions, per the investment bank.

This crisis is expected to be severe but short, lowering the risk of propping up inefficient “zombie” firms that should be allowed to fail. That may not be the case next time around.

Airbus set to announce thousands of job cuts, unions say (Sparky1)

The company will brief unions on the status of orders and aircraft cancellations as it prepares to keep production lower than previously planned for up to five years.

Exceptional secrecy surrounds the politically sensitive restructuring affecting jobs in Britain, France, Germany and Spain, the company’s key backers in a fierce contest with U.S. rival Boeing for orders and industrial clout.

Drive-up US citizenship eases backlog, but new threat looms (Sparky1)

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you have several hundred thousand people who are not in a position to vote in this election but would have been if business had been progressing normally at USCIS,” said Randy Capps of the Migration Policy Institute. “That’s been everyone’s concern.”

Two teenagers shot in Seattle’s Chop autonomous zone (TourGuideDC)

“The male shooting victim who arrived to Harborview… at 03:30 from the Chop area on Capitol Hill in Seattle has unfortunately died,” the statement added.

Although the site was initially occupied by hundreds of peaceful protesters, this is the fourth shooting within the boundaries of Chop in the last 10 days.

The world needs more independent thinkers (Jane L.)

The result? People with a strong moral philosophy are leaders. They often end up happier, feel more in control of their own life, and less frustrated. They actively take steps to get their own freedom. (Because the government can’t do it for you.)

By being your own rock, relying on your own merit. Your decisions will be aligned with your own virtues. That constant awareness of your principles to judge each situation for yourself.

White House Blames Rise in Virus Cases on More Testing, as Experts Dispute the Claim (tmn)

Mr. Cuomo said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that New York, once a global epicenter, had reported five deaths on Sunday, the lowest number since the start of the pandemic. But he said that he was afraid that travelers from states with higher infection rates could reverse his state’s hard-won gains.

Casino workers in Vegas sue over coronavirus safety concerns (Sparky1)

Harrah’s operator Caesars Entertainment declined to comment about the lawsuit. A company spokesman acknowledged Fernandez’s death with a statement that didn’t name him. It said officials had not determined how he contracted the virus and noted that some co-workers had been placed on paid leave in self-isolation.

Representatives of MGM Grand and Bellagio owner MGM Resorts International did not immediately respond to messages.

Alarm in Indonesia over high number of Covid-related deaths among children (Sparky1)

Local health officials said the tiny infant, who has not been publicly named, probably contracted the killer virus at just 28 days old, and died two weeks later after suffering high fever, coughing and laboured breathing.

“Based on the contract tracing we carried out, the baby contracted Covid-19 from neighbours who visited him soon after he was born,” Syaiful Hidayat, the local Covid-19 taskforce chief, told the Jakarta Post. He said many visitors had embraced the newborn.

Serious coronavirus-linked condition hit 285 US children (Sparky1)

At least 35 states have had cases, and they seem to crop up a few weeks after local COVID-19 activity peaks, said Dr. Adrienne Randolph of Boston Children’s Hospital. She is a lead researcher for a multistate study that includes CDC scientists. The second paper involved 99 children in New York state, where the first U.S. cases occurred.

Combined, the papers show 285 cases from March thru mid to late May but Randolph said additional U.S. children have been diagnosed in June.

Swine flu strain with human pandemic potential increasingly found in pigs in China (Sparky1)

When multiple strains of influenza viruses infect the same pig, they can easily swap genes, a process known as “reassortment.” The new study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on an influenza virus dubbed G4. The virus is a unique blend of three lineages: one similar to strains found in European and Asian birds, the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 pandemic, and a North American H1N1 that has genes from avian, human, and pig influenza viruses.

Prevalent Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine influenza virus with 2009 pandemic viral genes facilitating human infection (Sparky1)

Pigs are considered as important hosts or “mixing vessels” for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses. Systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is essential for early warning and preparedness for the next potential pandemic. Here, we report on an influenza virus surveillance of pigs from 2011 to 2018 in China, and identify a recently emerged genotype 4 (G4) reassortant Eurasian avian-like (EA) H1N1 virus, which bears 2009 pandemic (pdm/09) and triple-reassortant (TR)-derived internal genes and has been predominant in swine populations since 2016.

World’s dominant strain of coronavirus ‘is 10 TIMES more infectious than the one that jumped to humans in China’ because it mutated so its vital spike protein doesn’t snap as often in the body, scientists say (Sparky1)

As a result the virus appears to be approximately 10 times more infectious than it was when it first jumped to humans in China at the end of the year, scientists say.

The mutated version of the virus, dubbed G614 – a change from D614 – is a tiny change in its genetic make-up that scientists weren’t sure what to make of when they found it.

U.S. Deposits of Rare-Earth Elements Are . . . Not So Rare, after All (TourGuideDC)

Right now, the only U.S. domestic source of rare-earth minerals is the Mountain Pass mine in California. As I noted back in December, the United States is sitting on a massive supply of rare-earth metals. We just haven’t worked out a way to access it in a way that environmentalists find acceptable: “According to mining experts, Bear Lodge is home to one of the richest and highest-grade rare-earth deposits in the U.S., with an estimated 18 million tons of rare earth inside.” A U.S. Geological Survey report completed last year detailed the potential of nine other deposits around the country.

Shell to write down up to $22 billion after coronavirus hit (Sparky1)

In its update before second-quarter results on July 30, Shell said upstream oil and gas production was expected to average 2.35 million bpd in the three months to June, down from 2.71 million bpd in the first quarter.

Shell, which has a market value of $126.5 billion, said it would take an aggregate post-tax impairment charge of $15 billion to $22 billion in the second quarter.

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