In the News: Week of August 2nd

What happened in the world from August 2nd to 8th

In the news this week

Democrats and Republicans have been unable to reach a deal on another stimulus bill, and President Trump may attempt to bypass Congress and issue executive orders to provide relief. Democrats are fighting to increase aid to state and local governments and extend the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit, while Republicans are fighting to keep the size of the bill low. Both sides agree on sending out another round of stimulus checks and some state and local aid, but if they can’t come to an agreement, neither will come to fruition. 

An explosion in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, killed 150 and injured thousands on Tuesday. What may have been the site of the explosion, a port warehouse, held 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. Lebanon has been suffering from hyperinflation, high unemployment, and widespread poverty. Leaders of the country were quick to point fingers, and those in positions of power have so far been reluctant to accept any blame for the blast.

TikTok, under pressure from the Trump administration, will likely be acquired by an American company. Microsoft looks to be the front-runner in negotiations, and may be looking to purchase all of TikTok, not just the U.S. operations. Facebook, always looking for an opportunity to steal their competitor’s ideas, recently released a TikTok clone called Instagram Reels.

A recent filing by the Manhattan district attorney’s office suggests that President Trump is being investigated for bank and insurance fraud. The investigation has been ongoing, but until recently appeared to have been focused on two women Trump allegedly paid off to prevent from speaking up about past affairs. Trump may have illegally inflated his net worth and the value of his property to lenders and insurers, and committed some light insurance fraud. President Trump has argued that he is immune from state criminal investigation, or above the law, because he is the sitting president. The Supreme Court disagreed.

President Trump will end census data collection a month early, which could lead to an undercount of the population. Harder-to-count communities typically include people of color, immigrants, renters, and those living in rural areas. The census is extremely important; it occurs only once every 10 years, and determines congressional districts, federal funding, and more. Four former census directors have asked Trump to delay the deadline until April of next year to ensure an accurate count. It is in the best interest of Trump and the Republican Party to undercount certain communities.

Headline of the Week: Nashville’s First Mask-Mandate Arrest? A Black Man Who’s Experienced Homelessness.

Bar owners in the city have been in violation of mandates since the pandemic began. Life continues as normal for bachelorettes and tourists. Fortunately, no pedal taverns, party buses, or house parties were jeopardized, only a Black man. Metro Nashville police officers have taken photos with tourists not wearing masks. If they wanted, police could cite thousands of people a night. Instead of enforcing the mask mandate to keep Nashville safe, they used it to harass and further endanger the life of a man who was already struggling. The mayor of Nashville, to his credit, did force the police chief to retire a few months early over the incident.

Recommended Reading: Bill Gates on Covid: Most US Tests Are ‘Completely Garbage’

The U.S. does more coronavirus testing than any other country in the world, but tests aren’t really useful if you have to wait a week or more for your results. By then, you’re likely either recovered or dead. As Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, points out, rich people get the best testing. If you can afford it, you can get results within one or two days. Poor folks can’t skip ahead in line and may end up waiting one to two weeks for a test result. 

Testing could slow down the spread of coronavirus, but only if it’s timely and free. The federal government reimburses the same amount no matter how quickly tests are processed, which means there is no financial incentive for tests to be processed quickly. (Another great advantage of our for-profit healthcare system, where nothing gets done unless there’s a profit to be made.)

Those that need fast testing the most are the least likely to have access to it. Wealthier individuals can pay extra for quicker results, but they can also afford to work from home (if they aren’t already). As we’ve seen over the last few months, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, and restaurant employees are among our most essential workers, yet they don’t have the ability to work safely without endangering others or themselves. Big employers are now required to offer paid sick leave to employees who must quarantine or otherwise not work due to coronavirus, but employers with less than 50 employees are exempt. Over 20 million Americans work for an employer that is exempt from providing paid sick leave during the pandemic.

As a result, many Americans are working while sick, which is completely understandable. If you only get paid if you go to work, and have bills to pay, you don’t have the luxury of quarantining for a week or two while you wait for test results. Testing accessibility has greatly improved since the beginning of the pandemic, but the speed of results must also improve for our increased testing capacity to make a difference.

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