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Top 10 Important Things That Happened This Week (04/24/20)
Another week has gone by in what stands to be remembered as the longest year in human history. Much of the world remains in lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus, while world economies grow stagnant and hover within reach of a potential depression.
Not everything that goes on is about the virus, as there were several horrible and not-so horrible events that happened this past week. Of course, the virus does touch on most news stories these days, but life goes on, one way or another, as a pandemic continues, and the world watches.
10 Nova Scotia Rampage Left 22 Dead
On Sunday, a man disguised as a police officer went on a shooting rampage across the province of Nova Scotia for more than 12 hours. The rampage spread from a single neighborhood out across the province, seemingly choosing victims at random. The gunman also disguised his vehicle to resemble one driven by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and his victims include a police officer. The rampage stands as the worst the North American nation has ever witnessed, and it wasn’t long before calls for stricter gun laws were being made throughout Canada.
The massacre is the biggest mass shooting since the 1989 Montreal Ecole Polytechnique college shooting, which killed 14, and saw an overhaul of Canada’s strict gun-control laws. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signaled that new regulations would likely be on the horizon following the latest shooting, which saw 22 victims killed; the gunman was also killed. No motive has been discovered for the senseless assault, which began around 2230 on Saturday and continued to around Noon the following day. The massacre left bodies in the communities of Wentworth, Debert, Shubenacadie/Milford, and Enfield, which is also where police shot and killed the gunman.
9 Large Companies Bled The Small Business Loan Fund Dry In Two Weeks
The United States government recently passed a COVID-19 stimulus package, which included $349 billion in funding for small business loans. The money was meant to help small businesses continue paying their employees while keeping the bills at bay, but in less than two weeks, the program was out of money as of Thursday last week. By Monday, it became clear how this happened, and it wasn’t the result of a plethora of small businesses; it turned out that some hotel and restaurant chains applied for money, and received it, leaving many small business owners with nothing.
Some of the companies that took money from the program included Shake Shack, Potbelly, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House and another subsidiary of Ruth’s Hospitality Group. That company took $20 million from the fund, while Shake Shack managed to get half as much. Since the news came out that large businesses, some of which are publicly traded, drained the fund dry, they have given their loans back. Shake Shack did so almost immediately, and after constant delaying tactics, congress is finally set to pass legislation to boost the fund by an additional $310 billion to ensure the money gets to the businesses that truly need it.
8 Pet Cats Aren’t Immune To COVID-19 Infections
There’s still not a lot known about the nature of COVID-19 and exactly where it originated, but it is known to be a zoonotic virus, which means it can jump from animals to humans and vice-versa. It likely came from pangolins in a Wuhan food market, but it turns out it can hop from a human host to a pet cat, as was confirmed in two separate cases in New York City on Wednesday. The two cases are the first known pets in the United States to test positive for COVID-19, though they had mild respiratory illnesses and are expected to recover.
The first cat to be tested was diagnosed by a veterinarian after it began showing sings of a mild respiratory infection. None of the people in the house were confirmed to be carriers, so it’s unknown how the cat came in contact with the virus. The second cat tested positive across the city, though a different cat in the same household remains uninfected. The new finding doesn’t conclude that cats can transmit the virus to humans once they’ve become infected, as that would be a concern, seeing as cats run rampant through many parts of NYC, and could potentially be vectors for the disease.
7 Protests Erupt Over Coronavirus Shelter-in-place Orders
As infection numbers begin to fall from various “stay at home” orders across the United States, more and more people are defying those orders in protest. Across the country, people left their homes to demand the state governments allow them to return to work, and while some in the crowds wore masks and observed social distancing guidelines, many more didn’t follow that guidance. While this was happening, President Trump Tweeted in support of the protesters, calling for the liberation of Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota.
One media outlet saw the rise in tension as “America on the brink” of insurrection, as tensions continue to rise. Right-wing groups have organized rallies in Texas, Indiana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Maryland, Utah, Wisconsin, Washington, and Colorado. While nothing reached the level of armed insurrection, the defiance of stay at home guidance from state governments has elevated the risk of increasing the spread of COVID-19. Dan Patrick, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, was quoted as saying, “There are more important things than surviving” in reference to the nation’s economy, which somewhat mirrored prior comments he’s made about risking health over economic stability.
6 Deal Extends Netanyahu’s Rule as Rival Accepts Israeli Unity Government
The political unrest in Israel may be coming to an end following an agreement made between Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival on Monday. The agreement between the embattled Prime Minister and his rival, Benny Gantz, came as the two came together to combat the spread of COVID-19. Israel has been in political limbo for over a year, resulting in three elections, which have failed to form a government. The new agreement keeps Netanyahu in place as Prime Minister through to 2021, at which time he will step down in favor of Gantz.
Gantz had been Netanyahu’s challenger, but the agreement to establish a unity government dissolves the yearlong political impasse, though critics quickly pointed out the advantage the move gives to the embattled Prime Minister. Netanyahu has been the target of prosecutors intent on removing him from power over charges of corruption, which he will be able to fight from a position of considerable strength as the sitting PM. Gantz argued that given the public health crisis, it was the only responsible move they could make, saying on Twitter, “We prevented a fourth election. We will preserve democracy. We will fight the coronavirus and take care of all of Israel’s citizens.”
5 Oil Market Completely Crashes To Negative Territory
Monday was a historic day in the world of oil trading, as the price for a barrel of crude dropped to $0, and then continued its downward fall to -$37.63 a barrel. That’s the lowest price for crude oil since the NYMEX opened up oil futures for trading in 1983. The drop resulted from a massive sellout, which came as customers ceased buying oil for lack of anywhere to put it. Storage locations have almost completely filled all over the world as more and more people cease activity due to social distancing and stay at home orders due to the spread of COVID-19.
Last week’s deal to slash oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day in May and June may have been the deepest cut the organization ever agreed to, but it was just a drop in the barrel compared to total production. The move didn’t help oil futures trading at all, as the need for energy has continued to plummet. President Trump ordered the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to “put as much as 75 million barrels into the reserves themselves” in the hope of repairing the trading deficit. With the cost of barrels in the negative, buyers would be paid to take delivery off the producers’ hands instead of the other way around.
4 Unconfirmed Study Finds Hydroxychloroquine Has No Benefit
Medical teams around the world have been testing the possible effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a drug capable of helping patients suffering from COVID-19, but a study released on Tuesday contradicts all the data thus far, stating that the drug doesn’t just offer no benefit in fighting the disease, but it also causes more harm. The study, which was made from a review of veterans’ medical charts, was posted on medrxiv.org and has yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal. That type of review and formal publication will come later, and there are additional studies being conducted at present to determine the drug’s effectiveness in treating patients with COVID-19 infections.
The study in question analyzed 368 patients, 97 of whom suffered a death rate of 27.8% after taking the drug, while the 158 who didn’t had an 11.4% fatality rate. “An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone. These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs.” The study was conducted by researchers at the Columbia VA Health Care System in South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Virginia.
3 Something May Be Wrong With Kim Jong-Un’s Health
Kim Jong-un, the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, is rumored to be gravely ill, though information about the leader’s health and status have long been classified at above Top Secret levels for the traditionally secretive nation. News… or rather, the lack of news surrounding the rogue nation’s leader began spreading after it was reported that he underwent an unspecified cardiovascular procedure on April 12th. He missed an annual celebration of his grandfather, the father of the DPRK, which gave rise to the belief that something may have gone wrong in the leader’s care.
On Tuesday, as rumors about his condition continued to spread online, President Trump commented about the situation. “Well, these are reports that came out, and we don’t know. We don’t know. I’ve had a very good relationship with him. […] I wish him well. Because if he is in the kind of condition that the reports say… that’s a very serious condition. […] If somebody else were in this position, we would have been, right now, at war with North Korea. And we’re not at war. And we’re nowhere close to war with North Korea.”
2 Iran Successfully Launched Its First Military Satellite
On Wednesday, Iran launched its first military satellite, which U.S. Space Command confirmed at 4:03 PM with a Tweet. The 18th Space Control Squadron Tweeted that it was tracking two objects, NOUR 01, the satellite, and the rocket body that brought it into a stable orbit. Iran didn’t stay quiet about its success with Iranian State TV, reporting that “Iran’s first military satellite, Noor, was launched this morning from central Iran in two stages. The launch was successful, and the satellite reached orbit.”
The satellite was placed 264 miles above the Earth’s surface, according to the Revolutionary Guard, which was responsible for launching the two-stage satellite from Iran’s Central Desert. Around the same time news of the launch began making the rounds online, U.S. President Trump Tweeted that he ordered the “United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” It’s unclear if the two incidents are related, though tensions between the two nations have been on the rise of late. Iran’s gunboats routinely harass U.S. vessels in international waters off the coast of Iran.
1 YouTube Censoring Videos Not Supported By The WHO
On Wednesday, in an interview with CNN, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, described changes in the site’s policy, which would bring about the removal of all manner of videos. Specifically, she described anything that was “medically unsubstantiated,” and elaborated with examples of people claiming that taking vitamin C or turmeric as a possible cure for COVID-19 were being removed. She also said that any information that wasn’t backed up by the World Health Organization’s recommendations regarding the virus would be removed from the platform. Needless to say the implications of that as it pertains to the Chinese government’s influence in the WHO is concerning, considering Google’s already checkered past when it comes to supporting the Communist government of China against the people of China.
YouTube regularly removes videos from the website when they violate the site’s community guidelines. The practice has kicked into overdrive with new policy changes to ensure that information that could go against Google’s views doesn’t make its way to or remain on the site. Another example she provided of videos taken down recently were those pertaining to claims that new 5G cell towers were spreading the virus. Ms. Wojcicki didn’t go into details as to the number of videos being removed under the new policy changes, but she did acknowledge that the changes were being implemented much faster than they had in the past, which she attributed to the ongoing pandemic.