Updates: Fall pandemic surge continues unabated in U.S.

Updates: Fall pandemic surge continues unabated in U.S. (Source usatoday.com)

The U.S. set a record this week for new COVID-19 cases over a seven-day period with more than 500,000 infections. Daily U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations surpassed 45,000 for the first time since mid-August this week as the autumn surge continues unabated. Wisconsin is on track to run out of ICU beds, and nurses to staff them, in as little as two weeks as the state reported 5,200 positive COVID-19 cases Tuesday with only 187 beds available. Two “superspreader” events in New York, a wedding and birthday party, left 56 people infected with the virus and nearly 300 in quarantine.

Something Wicked this Way Comes: Anarchy Is Being Loosed Upon the Nation

Something Wicked this Way Comes: Anarchy Is Being Loosed Upon the Nation (Source globalresearch.ca)

How much longer we can sustain the fiction that we live in a constitutional republic, I cannot say, but anarchy is being loosed upon the nation. We are witnessing the unraveling of the American dream one injustice at a time. Day after day, the government’s crimes against the citizenry grow more egregious, more treacherous and more tragic. And day after day, the American people wake up a little more to the grim realization that they have become captives in a prison of their own making. No longer a free people, we are now pushed and prodded and watched over by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked armed guards who care little for the rights, humanity or well-being of those in their care.

The death toll is mounting. The carnage is heartbreaking. It doesn’t take a weatherman to realize when a storm is brewing: clouds gather, the wind begins to blow, and an almost-palpable tension builds. It’s the same way with freedom. The warning signs are everywhere. “Things fall apart,” wrote W.B. Yeats in his dark, forbidding poem “The Second Coming.” “The centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned … Surely some revelation is at hand.”

Exxon, Chevron to cut US jobs as oil industry struggles

Exxon, Chevron to cut US jobs as oil industry struggles (Source Associated Press)

Exxon Mobil is slashing 1,900 jobs from its U.S. workforce, and Chevron plans to cut a quarter of the employees at its recently-acquired Noble Energy as the pandemic saps demand for fuel. Exxon said Thursday the reductions will be both voluntary and involuntary and will largely come from its management offices in Houston. The Irving, Texas oil giant had about 75,000 employees worldwide at the end of 2019. The oil industry was already struggling before the pandemic struck, with a weakened global economy decreasing demand for energy and producers flooding the market with cheap fuel. Then prices fell well below what producers need to break even. A barrel of the U.S. benchmark crude was selling for about $35 Thursday, and most producers need at least $50 a barrel to make ends meet. As the pandemic gripped the U.S. economy and demand for fuel plummeted, Exxon announced in March that it would cut expenses by 30%.

President declares emergency in Mississippi

President declares emergency in Mississippi

(Source Associated Press) President Donald Trump has declared an emergency exists in Mississippi and ordered federal assistance be expedited to aid state, local and tribal efforts to recover from Hurricane Zeta. The president authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the state and provide help to save lives and protect property. A statement on the declaration released Wednesday evening said the steps were ordered for the counties of Clarke, Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jones, Lamar, Pearl River, Perry, Stone, and Wayne. It added that FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide equipment and resources to deal with the emergency caused by Zeta’s passage.

How 5G Ultra Wideband can help fast-track self-driving cars

How 5G Ultra Wideband can help fast-track self-driving cars (Source Verizon.com)

Autonomous vehicles will produce an estimated 30 terabytes of data daily, roughly the equivalent of 3,000 people’s data usage. It is estimated that this could potentially increase global wireless traffic 40 times over current levels. A connected car requires a network capable of transmitting these massive amounts of data at unprecedented speeds. Unacceptably high latency over the network could lead to a wrong turn, a missed signal or even a crash. It’s a clear use case for Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband. According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Internet of Things Tracker service, more than 125 million connected passenger cars with embedded connectivity are forecast to be shipped during 2018-2022. Today, internet-connected cars rely on 4G LTE technology to stream music and engage other connected services, but 5G will usher in a step change not only for in-car connectivity, but for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. The implication is clear: Cars will not only “talk” with one another in near-real time, but also with sensors installed in streets and traffic lights, sharing information on roadways and weather conditions, and alerting drivers on the same stretch of highway to potential hazards. Connected vehicles will be able to crowdsource near-real-time routing information to avoid backups and streamline traffic flow. Next-generation networks should also lead to improvements in driver safety by helping mitigate the unknown—a truck, for example, sensing that its driver is about to run a red light and alerting other vehicles approaching the intersection of the hazard. The National Highway Safety Administration has concluded that the introduction of systems to prevent collisions at intersections alone could save 1,300 lives a year.

U.S. approves use of Bayer weed killer for five years

U.S. approves use of Bayer weed killer for five years

(Source Reuters) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday it will allow farmers to spray crops with weed killers based on the chemical dicamba that are sold by Bayer AG and other companies, after a U.S. appeals court blocked sales in June. The decision is a boost for Bayer, which has been hammered by lawsuits over various chemicals in the United States since acquiring seed company Monsanto in 2018. Critics said it was another example of the Trump administration favoring business interests over regulations, just a week before the presidential election. The EPA re-approved for five years Bayer’s XtendiMax, a popular dicamba-based herbicide that is sprayed on soybeans and cotton genetically engineered to resist it. It is known to drift away and damage other crops that are not resistant to it. The EPA will implement new restrictions on dicamba products that will “take care of the drift issues that we have witnessed in the past,” Administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters on a call. The agency also re-approved BASF SE’s dicamba herbicide Engenia and extended an approval for Syngenta’s Tavium. Environmental groups have sought a ban on dicamba products, arguing they harm nearby plants and wildlife.

Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis

Struggling Rental Market Could Usher in Next American Housing Crisis (Source The Wall Street Journal) Fallout from missed rent payments is threatening a swath of the U.S. population, as the expiration of eviction bans draws near. A large number of renters have been unable to pay some or even all of their rent since March, when the pandemic temporarily shut down most businesses. Many businesses remain closed or only partially open, pushing renters into unemployment and draining their savings. Federal and local eviction moratoriums have protected many of them from losing their homes if they missed payments during the pandemic. But the national eviction ban and some state and city protections are set to expire by January or sooner. Renters then will be on the hook for months of missed payments, which even those who have jobs could struggle to pay. Estimates of total outstanding rent debt vary widely. Yet by any measure, the effects of missed rent payments are bound to imperil millions of renters and wash over the broader economy.

World’s biggest money manager is shorting the US dollar against yuan

World’s biggest money manager is shorting the US dollar against yuan, rupee, rupiah, regardless who the Oval Office occupant is(Source South China Morning Post) The world’s biggest money manager is shorting the dollar on expectations that unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus will prolong its losses – regardless of who wins the US election. BlackRock holds a “modest” short in the US dollar against the likes of the Chinese yuan, Indian rupee and Indonesia rupiah, said Neeraj Seth, head of Asian credit in Singapore. The three Asian nations are among those best positioned to benefit from a weakening dollar as investors seek out higher-yielding assets and growth. “My base case is that we still have at least one- to three years of more moderate dollar weakness on the cards – that’s not going to change,” Seth said in a phone interview on Thursday. “Regardless of the election outcome, some of the policy actions have already happened.” The US$7.3 trillion giant joins global peers including Goldman Sachs and UBS Asset Management that favour selling the dollar with just a week to election day.

China threatens retaliation over US-Taiwan arms sale

China threatens retaliation over US-Taiwan arms sale (Source AFP) China on Thursday threatened to make a “legitimate and necessary” retaliation over the US sale of $1 billion worth of missiles to Taiwan as Beijing becomes increasingly strident over its claims to the self-ruled island. The US State Department said on Wednesday it had approved the sale of 135 air-to-ground missiles to Taiwan in a move Taipei’s defence ministry said would build its combat capabilities. Democratic and self-ruled Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, whose leaders view the island as part of their territory. They have vowed to one day seize the island, by force if necessary. China’s foreign ministry on Thursday accused the United States of violating agreements signed by Beijing and Washington in the 1970s establishing diplomatic relations between the two governments. The sale is “sending a very wrong signal to separatist forces advocating for Taiwan independence, and seriously damages China-US relations,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing.

Locust swarms spread across Ethiopia aided by heavy rains and Covid pandemic

Locust swarms spread across Ethiopia aided by heavy rains and Covid pandemic (Source cnn.com)

The locust invasion is Ethiopia’s worst in 25 years, United Nations food agency FAO says. It has damaged an estimated 200,000 hectares of land there since January, threatening food supplies — a single square kilometre swarm can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people — and the livelihoods of millions. It is part of a once-in-a-lifetime succession of swarms that have plagued East Africa and the Red Sea region since late 2019, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating the crisis this year by disrupting the FAO’s supply chain of pesticides and other equipment to fight them off.

“The biggest challenge now in the region is here, in Ethiopia and we are working on that together with our partners like the FAO,” said the Desert Locust Control Organization’s Eastern Africa Director for Eastern Africa Stephen Njoka.