Magma News | August 31, 2020
Aug 31, 2020
08:20 PM



Chadwick Boseman was doing more than just putting on a brave face during his 4-year battle with cancer -- the guy was actively visiting and inspiring kids while privately suffering from the same disease.

St. Jude Children's Hospital paid tribute to the fallen star, reminding folks he popped into their facility in 2018 to meet with patients ... bringing gifts and words of inspiration for the kids.

They write, "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Chadwick Boseman. Two years ago, Chadwick visited the St. Jude campus and brought with him not only toys for our patients but also joy, courage and inspiration." The organization sang his praises, adding ... "He was an incredible role model for our patients and children from all around the world. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."

@StJude on Twitter
@StJude on Twitter

At the time, St. Jude's posted more photos from the face-to-face ... and it's clear the guy made the rounds and met with a bunch of kids who couldn't have looked more overjoyed to meet a Marvel superhero. The fact he was right in the thick of his own cancer battle just makes this gesture all the more heartbreaking, especially considering he didn't utter a word about his battle.

Chadwick discussed meeting some of these kids and how much of an impact it had on him -- he even broke down during the Sirius XM interview while talking about two terminally ill children who passed before the next Marvel movie could come out. Dude was a true saint.

As we reported ... Chadwick succumbed to his illness and died Friday, shocking the entertainment world -- scratch that, shocking the entire world. He was just 43 years old.


High school students getting their temperature checked before entering their school in Harvey, La., on Monday.
High school students getting their temperature checked before entering their school in Harvey, La., on Monday.

U.S. Surpasses Six Million Reported Covid-19 Cases

Still, the pandemic is showing signs of easing in hard-hit states including California and Florida

Allison Prang & David Hall | The Wall Street Journal The U.S. surpassed six million confirmed coronavirus cases, roughly three weeks after the toll reached five million.

Still, this reflects a slowdown in the number of new daily reported cases— the rise from four million to five million cases happened over a period of about 2 1/2 weeks. However, the number of daily confirmed infections remains elevated compared to June.

The U.S. reported more than 35,000 new cases for Sunday, the smallest daily increase since Aug. 23, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. death toll topped 183,000.

The pandemic showed signs of easing in states including California and Florida. California, which has the highest number of confirmed cases in the country, reported fewer than 4,000 new infections Sunday, its lowest daily total since July 4, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Florida, which has struggled to contain outbreaks this summer, also reported a decline in new cases to under 2,600, its lowest daily total in six days, and well below the peak of more than 15,000 fresh cases reached on July 12, according to Johns Hopkins.

At the same time, the number of tests in Florida has also declined. The state recorded roughly 24,400 tests Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. On July 12, Florida reported 98,708 tests.

Meantime, Texas reported over 2,800 new cases, while Illinois reported nearly 2,000. Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina all reported over 1,000 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins data.

In 32 states, the seven-day average of new cases was above the 14-day average, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data, which suggests new cases are increasing there. However, in 10 of those states, the difference between the two averages was less than 10 cases.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday on Twitter that indoor dining could reopen Sept. 4 at 25% capacity. Tables will be required to be socially distanced. The state had 291 new cases and four deaths for Aug. 30, according to Johns Hopkins.

Across the Hudson River, New York City has yet to allow indoor dining to resume. “It would take a huge step forward to get to that point,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

The State University of New York in Oneonta on Sunday said it was moving to remote learning after the school tested students on campus and found more than 100 cases. The school has over 6,000 undergraduate students.

Colleges and schools across the country are trying to balance the desire to return to in-person classes with the spread of the virus on campuses.

In Miami, the start of the new school year on Monday hit a snag when the school district’s data center encountered internet connectivity problems, according to the district. The Miami-Dade County system, which has about 350,000 students, said the problem had been identified and the district was working to resolve it.

School districts across Florida have been reopening in the past few weeks with a mix of in-person and remote learning. In Miami-Dade County, instruction will remain online-only for now, but the district will re-evaluate that at the end of September. Meanwhile, the state teachers union filed a lawsuit, which is moving through the courts, challenging a state order requiring all districts except those in South Florida to offer students the option of in-person instruction.

Companies such as Sonora Quest Laboratories LLC and Abbott Laboratories are racing to bolster Covid-19 testing as schools reopen and flu season approaches, saying they aim to avoid a repeat of July when overwhelming demand for testing led to long delays for results.

Doctors are concerned about a potential swell of people this fall with respiratory symptoms who might seek testing to figure out which virus they have, stressing capacity and supplies of components needed for both kinds of tests.

Tests that can detect several pathogens such as the flu and Covid-19, called multiplex tests, are also slowly coming to market and might help doctors avoid diagnostic trial and error.

Outside the U.S., many countries are struggling to contain the virus.

In Africa, a paucity of data on coronavirus cases, combined with reports from several nations of increases in deaths from respiratory illnesses, is raising fears that a silent epidemic could be raging in parts of the continent.

Official coronavirus cases in sub-Saharan Africa have doubled in the past month to more than one million, but the official death rate—at 20,000—remains significantly lower than those of less-populous Europe and the U.S., according to World Health Organization data.

In India, new infections continued to surge. The country reported 78,512 new cases, pushing the total to more than 3.6 million, according to the Health Ministry. India reported 971 new fatalities, as the death toll approached 65,000.

India has reported more than 75,000 new cases for the past four days. In the national capital of New Delhi, daily infections rebounded, breaching the 2,000 mark on Sunday for the first time in more than 50 days. Health experts have blamed the surge on the easing of restrictions by the Indian government.

Twitter Removes Claim About CDC And Covid-19 Coronavirus Deaths That Trump Retweeted

Bruce Y Lee | ForbesWhen you see “only 6%” trending on Twitter, the next obvious question is “only 6% of what?” Only 6% of dogs wear shoes? Only 6% of cats are plotting to stage a coup d’état in your house? Only 6% of what Tinder profiles say is true?

Nope. Various Tweets were pulling the 6% number from the following passage on the “Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:

“Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

For example, a Twitter account named Mel Q (not to be mistaken as a sixth member of the Spice Girls along with Mel B and Mel C) tweeted out the following:

Yeah, the Q doesn’t stand for “quahog” or “quick, say Yosemite.” It seems to stand for QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that claims among other things that a network of Satan-worshiping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and supposedly engaged in a “secret war” versus U.S. President Donald J. Trump, as Mike Wendling described for the BBC News.

Speaking of Trump, is that the Donald J. Trump that retweeted the Mel Q tweet? Looks that way because the account is called @realDonaldTrump as opposed to @notreallyDonaldTrump. So if the President retweeted the Mel Q statements then it’s got to be credible, right?

One itty bitty problem with the @littellmel Tweet though: it does not accurately portray what the CDC said on its web site. That’s why if you search for the original Tweet now, you will get a message that says, “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules.” Umm, whatcha doing Mr. President?

If you want to know why the original Tweet was inaccurate or misleading, just read the rest of what the CDC indicated after the 6%: “For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.” Take a gander at what these additional conditions or causes are. They include things such as adult pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome, respiratory failure, respiratory arrest, other diseases of the respiratory system, and sepsis. Hmmm, these sound very much like the things that Covid-19 can lead to and what can ultimately kill people with severe Covid-19.

So, for example, say a person gets a Covid-19 coronavirus infection, which eventually progresses to pneumonia, ARDS, respiratory distress, other organ failure, and death. Then there’s a decent chance doctors will indicate more than one of these conditions as a cause of death. After all, when you go to the grocery store, come back with a bunch of food and 5,000 rolls of toilet paper, and are asked, “where have you been and what have you been doing,” you don’t tend to just say, “I got into the car.” Instead, you tell the whole story (and maybe share some of the spaghetti, banana bread, and toilet paper that you had purchased).

This is a reminder that the virus can trigger a series of events that can ultimately take a person’s life. In fact, with Covid-19 leading to all sorts of problems in the body, the probability is high (say over 90%) that something else will then be recorded as a cause of death in addition to Covid-19. It would actually be unusual to simply put Covid-19 as a cause of death without specifying what led to the patient’s demise.

Thus, the 6% did not mean that “only 6%” of the 161,392 deaths (as of August 26) recorded by the CDC were actually from Covid-19 as Mel Q suggested. No, Covid-19 has killed far more people than that, over 183,000 in the U.S. according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center as of August 30.

@drdavidsamadi mentioned that “many men have been affected by Covid-19,” just in case you didn’t know that, and that he’s a “men’s health expert.” It’s probably better than someone else saying “as a clothing expert, many people wearing clothes have been affected by Covid-19,” and then rendering an opinion about the CDC data. Nevertheless, what the CDC said on its website did not necessarily mean that “94% of the deaths were in cases with pre-existing conditions,” as @drdavidsamadi stated.

Other people (or Twitter accounts in case they were not real people) suggested that people no longer need to take recommended public health precautions.

“It just looks like a bomb went off:” Louisianians on recovering from Hurricane Laura

The storm’s winds tore off roofs and toppled trees — and one Confederate monument.

Jen Kirby | VOX

The winds shook the whole building. The fire alarm went off. Sometime, between about 2 am and 4 am Thursday, the roof of the building curled away. The rainwater came in, soaking the ceiling of the second-floor apartment, dripping down the walls.

Bailey, who’s 26 and lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana, emerged from the apartment at sunrise, after riding out the storm with her boyfriend, her dad and their two pets, a Persian cat and a French bulldog-Boston terrier mix. Outside, she saw the metal awning of the building’s roof rolled up like the end of a toothpaste tube. Debris, planks of wood, and pieces of soggy paper were scattered everywhere. The windows of the Lake Charles City Hall blew out, and the documents went with them. (Bailey and some others interviewed for this story asked to be identified by their first names only for privacy reasons.)

That scene was replicated across Lake Charles and the surrounding towns in Calcasieu Parish, in southwestern Louisiana, the morning after Hurricane Laura swept through. The storm made landfall on the Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 4 storm, one of the strongest to ever hit the region.

Meteorologists and officials had warned of “unsurvivable” storm surge ahead of Laura’s arrival, urging residents to evacuate. But in Lake Charles, about 50 miles inland from where the hurricane made landfall, the winds — which were gusting up to 130 miles per hour — caused much of the devastation. They sliced away rooftops, pulled apart homes, flipped trees, smashed windows, and took down the power lines. At least 10 people died in Louisiana, many from falling trees.

“It just looks like a bomb went off,” Jean Paul Duhon, a 50-year-old teacher and coach at Sulphur High School, in Sulphur, Louisiana, told me. “I don’t know how many trees are left standing. Buildings are gone. Trees snapped everywhere, power lines. It’s just massive destruction all over Sulphur, Lake Charles, Carlyss, all over the place.”

The recovery is beginning, slowly. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, as of Friday, water outages were affecting more than 200,000 residents. Hundreds of thousands are without electricity in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. On Thursday, a chemical fire at a plant in Westlake, just outside of Lake Charles, forced officials to issue a shelter-in-place order, though not everyone had a place they could shelter in.

Those who hunkered down during the hurricane came outside Thursday to assess the scope of the damage for themselves, and for their neighbors who evacuated.

A tree fell through Duhon’s house, the chimney was ripped out, the roof tore away and had, by storm’s end, settled in his neighbor’s yard. A tree also squashed his truck — which he says he might be the most mad about — and so he spent Thursday driving around in his side-by-side, fielding texts and Facetiming friends and fellow coaches and students and checking in on their homes or their parents’ homes and offering status updates.

Local Facebook groups were also filled with messages asking for information on various streets, or requests for food, water, or gasoline. Others posted links for assistance, and local businesses offered their services: tree clearing, damage estimates, trash removal.

Patrick, 21, and his family evacuated to Mississippi, and then moved a little closer, to Port Allen, Louisiana, before returning back to the toppled trees in Lake Charles on Thursday. His grandmother’s carport was crushed. “It’s basically like a movie, it’s crazy,” he said. As we spoke, he was cleaning out the fridge and deep freezer, deciding what to salvage and what to throw away.

Bailey and her family loaded their luggage and other belongings from her dad’s apartment, and drove over to check on her own house Thursday morning. On the way, they passed the South’s Defenders Memorial Monument, a Confederate statue that had been a source of tension that summer in Lake Charles as some residents called for its removal. Earlier that month, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury voted to keep it. But the morning after the hurricane, it wasn’t there. Laura barreled through and tore down the monument herself.

“The Lord did one good thing,” Bailey told me. “This is one good thing that came out of it. Everything else is absolutely awful and devastating.”

A natural disaster meets all the other disasters

Frankie Randazzo, a restaurateur who owns businesses in Texas and Louisiana, said he was watching the local meteorologist doing a Facebook Live from Broad Street in Lake Charles, and realized he was seeing parts of his building flying past on the screen.

They belonged to the Panorama Music House, a 102-year-old historic building, whose facade crumbled and roof caved in. Another of his restaurants in Lake Charles, Rikenjaks Brewing Company, fared slightly better, but the winds still damaged the roof as tree branches crashed in.

For Randazzo, it was the latest disaster in a year of them. “We’ve just been punched in the face all year, I can’t even begin to tell you,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic and the shutdowns that followed upended small businesses, with restaurants, bars, and venues for mass gatherings put in the most precarious position. In March, Randazzo shut down his establishments. He missed all the big holidays: St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, much of crawfish season. Then they began to reopen when restrictions were lifted in May.

But as cases spiked this summer in Texas this summer, the governor reimposed restrictions, including limiting restaurant capacity and shutting bars. Louisiana closed bars again too, though Panorama and Rikenjaks followed different rules, as restaurants. At that point, though, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan that helped Randazzo pay his employees and keep his businesses afloat had run out.

“It’s an absolutely insane time to be in the restaurant business in the South,” Randazzo said.

But he said, he always looks for a silver lining, and he sees one in how Hurricane Laura destroyed and battered his businesses in Lake Charles. If the insurance pays out for the storm damage, it might actually offer him a respite from the economic uncertainty of the pandemic. “This could actually be a helpful thing for us, and allow us to close and cease operations under the Covid guidelines, rebuild, remodel, and reopen in six to eight months, when hopefully all of this is done.”

Covid-19 delivered Louisiana a one-two punch. At the start of the pandemic, Louisiana was among the nation’s hot spots, led by a spike of cases in New Orleans. The case count decreased, only to surge again across the state this summer. Southwest Louisiana, specifically Lake Charles, had some of the highest positivity rates in the state at the beginning of August. Cases are now steadily trending down, but the economic fallout is still acute. Businesses like Randazzo’s are struggling, and tens of thousands of people are unemployed across the state. The total number of jobs lost to Covid-19 in Louisiana was already double that of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, people already struggling to find work, pay their rent, mortgages, and insurance bills, may now have to rebuild.

“I think it also makes it worse, though, that people lost their jobs and insurance and they don’t have places to stay,” Bailey said of the hurricane arriving during the pandemic.

And there are concerns that the chaos of Hurricane Laura could spread the coronavirus, especially as people evacuate to places like Texas and other parts of Louisiana, either taking Covid-19 with them or bringing it back when they return. About 1.5 million people were under evacuation orders in Texas and Louisiana. Officials tried to avoid putting evacuees in large shelters, instead sending them to hotels where it would be easier to isolate.

Sarah Bonvillain, a 22-year-old recent grad, had evacuated and sheltered in a hotel in Austin, Texas, with her girlfriend. Sarah’s parents’ home in Lake Charles was badly damaged: flooding, broken windows, the roof half gone. Her girlfriend lives in the dorms at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, and can’t go back there. Bonvillain texted, while waiting for her laundry, that they are trying to stay in Austin, but it’s financially draining. She said FEMA says it can’t help yet, so they were heading over to the Red Cross, after the laundry was done, to see what options they had.

Bonvillain said, as for Covid-19 concerns, right now, the biggest problem is the elevator at the hotel. They’re on the fifth floor, and the elevator is tiny, so she tries to wait until she can ride alone. Other people who evacuated, like Patrick, told me they took precautionary measures, like wearing masks.

But some questioned what the rebuilding would look like in the pandemic without electricity, in oppressive heat and humidity — if social distancing, for example, was even possible. The hurricane itself pushed people together. When sheltering with her dad, Bailey said, they exchanged one of their first hugs in she doesn’t even know how long.

“It’s like merging, really,” Bailey said of the coronavirus and the hurricane. “I think that’s why it also just makes everything worse, because everybody’s been so socially distant.”

“We stay in these houses for months and then suddenly the houses are taken away from us,” she added.

People are used to hurricanes down here in the Gulf. They’ve seen Ike, and Rita, and Harvey, and Imelda. Now Laura, another middle-of-the-alphabet wallop that’s set them back again. But Duhon said it’s going the best it can, and this storm, or anything else, isn’t going to knock them down. “We’re going to get back up and we’ll be stronger than it was before,” he said. “It’s part of living in the South, and living in America.”

Stuff happens, and you just have to deal with it, he said. But, he like everyone else I talked to, would like a little less stuff to happen. “I told somebody the other day,” Duhon said. “I think we should take 2020, crumple it up, throw it away, and start over again.”

Jared Kushner speaks after disembarking from the Israeli flag carrier El Al’s flight LY971 at the airport in Abu Dhabi.
Jared Kushner speaks after disembarking from the Israeli flag carrier El Al’s flight LY971 at the airport in Abu Dhabi.

Kushner hails first direct commercial flight between Israel and UAE

Flight marks first fruits of US-brokered deal to normalise relations between two countries

Rosie Scammell | The Guardian

A high-ranking American and Israeli delegation has landed in Abu Dhabi on the first direct commercial airline flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, marking the implementation of a US-brokered deal to normalise relations between the two nations.

Upon arrival, the White House adviser Jared Kushner said he came with greetings from Donald Trump.

“On the plane we asked the pilots to fly faster because there is great urgency between the people of both countries to break down old barriers, to get to know each other, to form new and hopefully very deep friendships,” he said. “While this peace was forged by its leaders, it’s overwhelmingly desired by the people.”

Announced on 13 August, the normalisation deal is the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in more than 20 years and was catalysed largely by shared fears of Iran.

Palestinians were dismayed by the UAE’s move, worried that it would weaken a longstanding pan-Arab position that called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory – and acceptance of Palestinian statehood – in return for normal relations with Arab countries.

Israeli and US flags were on the tarmac beside a red carpet leading to the plane, which had the word “peace” printed in Arabic, English and Hebrew above a cockpit window.

The plane flew over Saudi Arabian airspace in another first for Israel that signalled at least an acquiescence by the kingdom for the UAE’s move. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has maintained his country’s boycott of Israel in support of Palestinians obtaining an independent state. Any long-term flights between Israel and the UAE would require Saudi clearance to be profitable.

The deal makes the UAE the third Arab nation to have full relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. But unlike those two nations, Israel has never fought a war against the UAE and hopes to have much warmer relations.

On an overnight visit to Abu Dhabi, officials will explore bilateral cooperation in areas such as commerce and tourism, and Israeli defence envoys are due to visit the UAE separately. The UAE minister of state for food and water security, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, said on Sunday she had had her first conversation with Alon Schuster, Israel’s agriculture minister.

The advent of open discussions follows years of cooperation behind the scenes, but no other Arab state has followed Abu Dhabi’s lead.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, led a lightning trip last week to Israel, Sudan, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman, but failed to win immediate support for future peace deals.

Abu Dhabi claimed its deal stopped Israel from annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, although the unilateral step touted by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was widely seen as already off the agenda.

Annexation was outlined in a US peace deal unveiled in January, which paved the way for a Palestinian state with limited autonomy and was wholly rejected by the Palestinian Authority.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, accused the US administration of using the UAE deal to try to secure votes for Donald Trump in his re-election bid.

“It must be quite demeaning for Arab leaders to be asked to join a meaningless White House spectacle,” she tweeted, amid reports a formal signing ceremony would be held in Washington next month.

China Throws a Wrench Into Trump’s Plan to Force TikTok Sale.

Bloomberg News

Zhang Yiming’s plan to sell the U.S. operations of his short-video app TikTok to avoid a shutdown was thrown into jeopardy after China asserted authority over a deal already under scrutiny by the Trump administration.

Beijing on Friday added uncertainty to already thorny negotiations over the sale of ByteDance Ltd.’s prized asset, claiming the ability to block a sale to foreign suitors Microsoft Corp. or Oracle Corp. with tighter restrictions on artificial intelligence exports. The commerce ministry added speech and text recognition and personalized recommendations to a list of products that require approval before they’re sold abroad.

These new areas cover the very technologies ByteDance employed to make TikTok a viral teen sensation from America to India. The company is now required to seek the government’s sign-off on any deal, though it doesn’t mean an outright ban, according to a person familiar with the matter. TikTok is dissecting the new regulations and thinks they will make securing a deal more difficult, a second person familiar with the matter said.

Shares of Oracle and Microsoft were each down more than 1% in early trading Monday. Walmart Inc., which has said it will partner with Microsoft on a bid, was down about 2%.

For China, the move helps gain leverage to prevent what state-run media called the “theft” of technology while underscoring to the U.S. it has intellectual property worth protecting. It also increases the likelihood a deal could get held up and Trump will then move ahead with a TikTok ban ahead of November’s election, depriving millions of teenagers of any updates to the app though they may still be able to use the current version.

“AI is a foundational technology and is one of the key sectors that China aims to lead, competing with the U.S.,” said Rebecca Fannin, founder of Silicon Dragon Ventures. “This pushback by Beijing could be seen as part of the growing U.S.-China tensions and tech cold war.”

China’s opaque regulations introduce more unknowns into an already delicate process involving multiple corporations, agencies and federal court, all converging days before Donald Trump’s executive order banning TikTok takes effect ahead of November elections. It could take up to 30 days for ByteDance to get the greenlight to export AI, said Zhaokang Jiang, a trade attorney and managing partner of GSC Potomac.

Read more: ByteDance Said to Need China Nod for TikTok Sale Under New Rules

The involvement of Beijing, which has denounced Trump administration bans on TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, muddies the waters as American corporations and investors vie to hammer out a deal by the Trump administration’s deadline. Microsoft and Oracle have submitted rival bids to acquire TikTok’s U.S. business, while Centricus Asset Management Ltd. and Triller Inc. made a last-minute pitch on Friday to buy TikTok’s operations in several countries for $20 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“We’ve been seeing U.S. restrictions on China on a daily basis. We can’t expect China to have no response at all,” said Wang Huiyao, an adviser to China’s cabinet and founder of the Center for China and Globalization.

China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the American government’s moves again on Monday.

“We are opposed to the U.S. abusing the national security concept and state power to suppress specific businesses of other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing. “The U.S.’s attempt to take economic bullying and political manipulation against non-American companies, whether it is politically coerced transaction or government enforced transaction, is no different from plundering.”

Beijing’s new curbs on technology mirrors American sanctions against the sale of U.S. software or circuitry to a plethora of Chinese firms. Apart from giving it a say in any imminent deal, the seemingly innocuous changes provide another bargaining chip in the U.S.-China tech cold war.

“Beijing’s responses to Washington over the past five months have largely been designed to appear retaliatory, but are in fact carefully calibrated to place Beijing on equal footing with the U.S. while not escalating tensions — yet,” said Kendra Schaefer, head of digital research at consultancy Trivium in Beijing. “This move is no exception: it may give Beijing more equal footing so that decisions can’t be made by the U.S. unilaterally, but doesn’t necessarily indicate Beijing will move to nix the deal.”

China Just Called Trump’s Bluff on TikTok Sale: Tim Culpan

ByteDance has become one of several Chinese companies at the heart of Washington-Beijing tensions. Trump accuses the company’s app of being a threat to national security, echoing charges against telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. The White House has now ordered Zhang’s company to sell the app’s operations in the U.S. and several other countries, with a valuation estimated at $20 billion to $50 billion.

Read more: Centricus’ 11th-Hour Bid Adds Intrigue to TikTok Waiting Game

It’s unclear how the bidding process will now play out. Zhang has said the company, whose TikTok is also banned in India, is working rapidly to resolve its geopolitical headaches. But Beijing’s insertion into the process raises the chances that it may just decide to veto or at least delay a deal, with unknown ramifications.

Those outcomes may appeal to Zhang, the 37-year-old founder who built ByteDance into the most valuable startup in the world with a $140 billion valuation, according to CB Insights. He had long resisted giving up control of TikTok because he thinks the service is evolving into one of a handful of major online advertising businesses, alongside Facebook Inc. and Google.

His instincts may be to fight: He has scrapped with authorities in Beijing over politically sensitive content and with Chinese publishers over allegations of copyright infringement.

TikTok has asked a federal judge to block the Trump administration from enacting a ban on the fast-growing social media network, bringing a geopolitical fight over technology and trade into a U.S. courtroom.

Read more: Combative TikTok Founder Races to Save App Before Trump Ban

Even before the latest regulations, Microsoft or any other American owner faced the difficult task of hiving off TikTok U.S. from ByteDance’s much larger Chinese business.

ByteDance runs TikTok in various regions, often employing code from, the progenitor to the app that ByteDance acquired in 2017. With ByteDance engineers in China still working on TikTok, it’s unclear how Microsoft could split the code and the underlying technology to ensure it’s free from Chinese interference -- or determine the value of a standalone operation that may not have access to ByteDance’s technical wizardry.

The rule revised Friday would cover cross-border transfers of restricted technologies even within the same company, while the impact and consequences of failing to make appropriate applications would be very different if an international business is spun off, said Cui Fan, a trade expert who’s a professor at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics.

“We are studying the new regulations that were released Friday. As with any cross-border transaction, we will follow the applicable laws, which in this case include those of the U.S. and China,” ByteDance General Counsel Erich Andersen said in a statement.

NASA Tracking Asteroid Twice As Big As Great Pyramid Heading Towards Earth


NASA is currently tracking an asteroid said to be twice the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The large asteroid, said to be up to 270m in width, is reportedly hurtling towards Earth at 31,400mph.

Known as 465824 (2010 FR), this asteroid will reportedly collide with Earth’s orbit on September 6, 2020, passing within 7,412,769km of our home planet.

It is thought to be ‘probably between 0.121 to 0.272 kilometers in diameter’, making it nearly twice the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Not exactly the sort of thing you’d like to picture whizzing by above your head.

First spotted by astronomers back in 2010, this asteroid has been classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEA), term used to refer to any comet or asteroid which comes within 1.3. astronomical units (AU) from the sun. AU refers to the average distance between Earth and the sun.

Although 465824 (2010 FR) has been classed as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) due to how closely it is predicted to pass by Earth, fortunately scientists at the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) have determined that it does not pose a risk to human life.

It has also been classed as an Apollo asteroid, meaning this is an asteroid which crosses Earth’s orbit. This is in comparison to Amor asteroids that cross the orbit of Mars but not Earth’s orbit.

As per NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Objects, 465824 (2010 FR) will pass by Planet Earth at approximately 8.08am EST, or 1.08pm for Brits.

According to NASA, the term NEO refers to ‘comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood’.

At the time of writing, astronomers are tracking almost 2,000 asteroids, comets and other such objects which pose a threat to our planet.

Earth hasn’t seen an asteroid of an apocalyptic scale since the one which killed the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago.

Earlier this month, a space rock the size of an SUVE zoomed past Earth in what has been the closest flyby on record.

NASA didn’t spot the rock coming ahead of the close-shave, with the small asteroid coming within 1,830 miles (2,950km) of Earth on Sunday, August 16.

What could Kim Jong Un's latest power moves mean?

Will Ripley | CNN

In a rare move, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has raised alarm over three crisis facing the country; sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and a looming typhoon. The urgent calls come amid unusual political movements.

Fords newest all electric: Mustang Mach E
Fords newest all electric: Mustang Mach E

Ford Bronco And Mustang Mach-E Can Navigate To Open Street Parking Spots

Liane Yvkoff | Forbes

Ford is giving drivers a reason to put away their smartphones go native when it comes to navigation.

The upcoming SYNC 4 infotainment system will be equipped with INRIX Parking that can provide drivers with routes to the closest street and garage spot, including rates, restrictions and real-time occupancy. Off-street parking data is available for nearly 20,000 cities in 150 countries, and is updated hourly to identify streets with the best chances of finding a parking spot. Garage parking data is accessible for 80,000 off-street parking locations in Europe and North America, and includes pricing and availability information, ability to compare locations by distance and price as well as locate the nearest entrance.

Experts estimate up to 30 percent of traffic in congested urban areas where street parking is in high demand results from driverslooking for parking, according to Inrix, and waste an average of 55 hours per year searching for parking. The time and fuel spent driving in circles looking for an open spot can cost consumers and local economies nearly $600 million, and contributes to air pollution in urban centers.

The automaker is bringing parking-spot level directions to its Sync 4 infotainment system starting with the all-new Mustang Mach-E, Bronco two- and four-door models, and F-150.

Ford has also added Telenav’s specialized route suggestions for towing and off-roading in the redesigned F-150 and Bronco navigation systems. In these vehicles, Sync 4 will offer hybrid navigation that stores maps locally and continues routing when drivers are out of cell coverage. When towing, drivers can use the system to find routes best-suited to the dimensions of their trailer and avoid sharp turns, narrow bridges and overpasses.

Divers For the Environment: Fighting For Sunshine.

Silvana Porceddu | Issuu

Embark on a journey with Florida native and documentarian Wilson McCourtney on a mission to protect wildlife in the Sunshine State. Fighting for Sunshine is an eye-opening, environmental film that celebrates the natural beauty of Florida while promoting shark conservation and exposing the abuse of Florida’s natural habitats and precious resources.

Growing up in a coastal gem like Sarasota, Florida allowed McCourtney to witness the ebb and flow of the tides on a molecular level. Issues that have plagued the gulf coast are completely unknown to people living in other seaside regions of the United States, proving to be hyper local issues that only affect the residents. Now that Florida has become the top growth state in America with approximately 1,000 people moving there per day, the numbers are unsustainable and with the population continuing to boom, so do the environmental issues. There is a great opportunity to create change and make Florida a shining model of conservation for the rest of the world. With such lush wetlands teaming with birds and reptiles, immense biodiversity, and an abundance of marine life, Florida attracts adventure seekers and animal enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. However on the flip side of that coin, there is also tons of corporate greed exploiting the natural resources, party animals and polluters, algae blooms, irresponsible fishermen, trophy hunters, shark finning, and wildlife abuse.

Following the devastating 2018 outbreak of Red Tide (toxic algae bloom), Fighting for Sunshine introduces us to a wide array of environmentalists and ocean warriors who are fighting to bring awareness to the water crisis and loss of marine life while highlighting the beauty from coast to coast. This film carries us through a celebration of nature as well as exposes the underbelly of shark fishing, the international fin trade, herbicides, rapid construction, water quality and much more.

Florida’s great city of Miami has now replaced Houston as the new American hub for the international shark fin trade as millions of fins from Central and South America move through the port every year en route to Asia. As divers and ocean explorers, we all agree the fin trade is a global crisis that must be stopped in order to maintain the health and balance of our oceans. In Florida alone, there are 1.2 million sharks killed every year by the recreational and commercial fishing industry which target them for trophies, thrills, meat, fins, and livers. The act of shark finning is illegal in the US but the trade is not. The trade is only illegal in 13 states and we are fighting to make Florida the 14 th . Lead by the courageous team from Shark Allies, watch the efforts put forth by local ocean and shark enthusiasts as they tirelessly fight to pass Senate Bill 680, also known as the Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act to stop this pillaging of our ocean’s top apex predators. We lose an estimated 75-100 million sharks a year, that’s 11,000 sharks per hour and 3 per second. These numbers are devastating and pushing many shark species to extinction. Each state that has successfully passed these fin bans have not only outlawed these barbaric practices but also removed the ability to trade fins being smuggled internationally. Luckily these efforts have pushed the needle forward in raising awareness and shifted the mindset to protection over extermination and now it’s Florida’s turn to step up and become a powerful voice for shark conservation.

The economic impact of shark diving and eco tourism is exponentially more financially beneficial to the Florida economy than the fin trade. Florida alone brings in $221 million a year for their shark diving industry, in comparison to the $1 million a year in shark fin sales throughout the ENTIRE United States. This also translates to nearly 4,000 full-time Florida jobs in the eco tourism industry driven by shark encounters. Quite simply, Sharks are worth more alive than dead and Wilson McCourtney’s film sets out to prove that.

One shark encounter can truly change the way these creatures are viewed and spring board a path from voyeurism to conservation. For McCourtney, upon experiencing the spellbinding presence of sharks in their environment, he was immediately fascinated by these misunderstood creatures and knew that they not only deserved our respect but our efforts to protect them. The experience educated him on the incredible injustice that sharks have suffered for decades and this film follows his journey to raise awareness and pass the fin ban, all of which are stepping stones towards his ultimate dream of turning Florida into a shark sanctuary similar to what the Bahamas have done.

Throughout the filmmaker’s quest to highlight and expose Florida’s natural beauty, the sunshine state was hit with a devastating outbreak of Red Tide on the gulf coast. This toxic algae bloom ravaged the fish populations and killed large mammals that have previously been unaffected by this naturally occurring phenomenon, turning the beaches into graveyards and the ocean into a polluted wasteland. The growing nutrient pollution (nitrogen and phosphorous) of Florida’s waterways from agricultural runoff, excessive use of fertilizer, waste water treatment facilities, and a failed aquatic plant management programme fuel these issues that cost the tourist industry hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. For McCourtney, the most devastating aspect was witnessing the staggering loss of wildlife which included 2,000 tons of dead fish, dozens of dolphins, 300 endangered sea turtles, 150 manatees, countless birds, and even a 27 foot whale shark. With a heavy heart, he reacted quickly and joined water quality experts to document the outbreak and dig deeper into the source of the nutrient pollution problems which act as steroids for Red Tide, leading him to the smoking gun – a state sanctioned chemical armada of air boats hell bent on spraying every lake, pond, and storm water ditch to death with poisonous herbicides in the name of controlling invasive plants.

As a mecca for many people, Florida is losing more and more of its green spaces to concrete jungles popping up in every pocket of the state and the water quality continues to worsen. All of these dismal issues facing Florida can be remedied with efforts that Fighting for Sunshine will discuss from small changes to senate bills that anyone can support with minimal effort. We are currently on the precipice of sustainability and have a great opportunity to move towards progressive change on many fronts that will protect the peninsula of Florida. McCourtney illuminates the need for conservation and illustrates small changes that every Floridian family can make in order to keep Florida beautiful with thriving ecosystems that act as safe havens for the breathtaking wildlife.

TO LEARN MORE, VISIT: or follow on the social media channels: @dreamreefcinema @fightingforsunshinefilm

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