Categories
Business Insider

Trump: 1918 Spanish Flu ‘probably ended’ WWII, which began in 1939 – Business Insider – Business Insider

COVID-19IndiaCases: 2.21MDeaths: 43.3kRecovered: 1.48M

COVID-19WorldCases: 19.46MDeaths: 722kRecovered: 12.06M

COVID-19USACases: 4.89MDeaths: 159kRecovered: 1.65M

Read More

Categories
Business Insider

CDC: Coronavirus spreads to hundreds of youth at overnight summer camp – Business Insider – Business Insider

  • At least 260 campers who attended an overnight summer camp in Georgia have been infected with the coronavirus, the CDC reported Friday.
  • 51 of the campers are between the age of 6 to 10 and 180 are between 11 to 17 years old, according to the report.
  • The CDC stated that the age demographics of the results “add to the body of evidence” that demonstrates “all ages are susceptible” to the coronavirus.
  • The overnight camp was able to operate in the state of Georgia under Governor Brian P. Kemp’s executive order that stated overnight summer camps must require campers and workers to test negative for the coronavirus.

At least 260 campers who attended an overnight summer camp in Georgia have been infected with the coronavirus, the CDC reported Friday.

The CDC stated that on June 17, staff members arrived for a four-day orientation for at an overnight summer camp unidentified by the report. Four days later, on June 21, 363 campers and three senior staff members joined these staff members, adding to a total of 597 Georgia residents who attended the camp, according to the report. The camp attendees lived in cabins and participated in indoor and outdoor activities including “daily vigorous singing and cheering,” the CDC said.

In less than a week after arrival, on June 23, a teenage staff member left the camp “after developing chills the previous evening,” according to the CDC. The staff member tested positive for the coronavirus the very day after, the CDC said. Advertisement


According to the report, the camp started sending campers home immediately the day the staff member tested positive and ultimately shut down a few days later on June 27.

Out of the 597 Georgia residents, 260 campers tested positive – although this number is “likely an underestimate” because of those who were not tested or did not report test results, the CDC said. Out of the 260 who tested positive, 51 were between the age of 6 to 10 and 180 between 11 to 17 years old, according to the report. The CDC also stated that the age demographics of the results “add to the body of evidence” that demonstrates “all ages are susceptible” to the coronavirus.

Unlike camp staffers, campers were not required to wear cloth masks while at the camp, according to the report. In addition, it was not possible to “assess individual adherence” to such prevention measures like social distancing guidelines.

Advertisement


The overnight camp was able to operate in the state of Georgia under Governor Brian P. Kemp’s executive order issued early June that stated overnight summer camps must require campers and workers to test negative for the coronavirus within twelve days in advance of attending. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Read More

Categories
Business Insider

NASA’s new Mars rover to record ‘7 minutes of terror’ descent in HD – Business Insider – Business Insider

  • NASA is preparing to launch its Perseverance rover, a car-sized nuclear-powered robot, to Mars on July 30.
  • After reaching Mars, the rover will perform a harrowing descent to the surface that will require a heat shield, supersonic parachute, and rocket-powered crane.
  • NASA is hoping to record much of the descent and landing with six high-definition cameras — possibly returning the first video footage of a spacecraft landing on another planet.
  • Perseveance is also packing an experimental helicopter, called Ingenuity, microphones, and high-tech instruments to look for signs of past alien life.

One out of every two spacecraft that humanity rockets toward Mars for a landing never makes it.

Those are the rough odds facing NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 mission and Perseverance rover, which is currently scheduled to launch from Earth on July 30 and reach the red planet on February 18.

The mission’s $2.4 billion cost, eight years of development, and work by thousands of people will come down to a recurring nightmare for aerospace engineers called the “seven minutes of terror” — the entry, descent, and landing phase that all Mars spacecraft must survive in order to explore the world’s surface.Advertisement


“We’ve got literally seven minutes to get from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of Mars, going from 13,000 mph to zero in perfect sequence, perfect choreography, perfect timing,” Adam Steltzner, chief engineer of the Perseverance mission, said in a 2012 NASA-JPL video about its predecessor robot, the Curiosity rover (which is still going strong). “The computer has to do it all by itself with no help from the ground. If any one thing doesn’t work just right, it’s game over.”

Like the Mars missions before it, Curiosity took some still photos of part of its descent, though no interplanetary spacecraft has ever recorded bonafide video of its landing phase, let alone in high-definition.

With Perseverance, however, the team behind the car-size, nuclear-powered robot is hoping to change that.

Advertisement


“We have something new this time: We’ve taken some ruggedized commercial cameras, and we’ve dispensed them around the spacecraft,” Matt Wallace, deputy project manager of the Mars mission, said during a June 17 press briefing. “Those those cameras will be taking high-definition video of the spacecraft during entry, descent, and landing activity. So we should be able to watch this big parachute inflate supersonically, we should be able to watch the rover deploy and touch down on the surface.”

He added: “This is going to be very exciting; it’s the first time that we have ever been able to see a spacecraft land on another planet.”

Off-the-shelf cameras for a $2.4 billion rover

An artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Perseverance (or Mars 2020) rover exploring on the surface of the red planet.NASA/JPL-Caltech

Advertisement


The entry, descent and landing camera or “EDLCAM” system on Perseverance is what NASA calls a “discretionary payload.”

The project is effectively a bonus addition to the robot’s main suite of instruments. Those primary tools include a Martian weather-monitoring station, 3D camera, organic compound detectors, percussive rotary drill, and even a device to store the first-ever Martian soil samples (for rocketing back to Earth on a future mission).

Engineers settled on EDLCAM when they realized they had the room and power to add them without cramping the mission’s overarching goal: digging in the Martian dirt for signatures of past microbial alien life.Advertisement


“They take up very, very little mass and volume,” Wallace told Business Insider during the briefing. “They’re essentially unnoticeable at the spacecraft level.”

Managers of the mission did not custom-build the EDLCAM hardware, though: They ordered some.

The equipment purchased included five 1.3-megapixel and one 3.1-megapixel USB cameras from Point Grey (now owned by FLIR), lenses from Universe Kogaku, a 480 gigabyte solid-state drive, and a small computer that runs Linux, according to Andrew Good, a spokesperson for NASA/JPL-Caltech. Advertisement


Good noted the cameras are not designed to either fly through the vacuum of

space

or descend through the atmosphere of another planet. However, the completed spacecraft and its components passed a final review that hinged on vibration, vacuum chamber, and thermal exposure tests before it was tucked into a 15-foot-wide aeroshell and put on top of a rocket.

“Assuming they work as they should, we will have some amazing video from Mars, but we’ll have to see how they work,” Good said of the cameras in an email to Business Insider.

An unprecedented recording of a harrowing Mars landing

The heat shield (left) and back shell (right) that comprise the aeroshell for NASA’s Perseverance (or Mars 2020 rover) mission.Lockheed Martin Space via NASA/JPL-Caltech

Advertisement


After Perseverance launches and finishes its roughly 200-day cruise to Mars, it will begin the feared seven minutes of terror, which is formally known as the entry, descent, and landing phase of the mission.

About 17 minutes before landing, Perseverance’s protective two-piece aeroshell — the top, or back shell, contains a parachute, and the bottom is a heat shield — will disconnect from a rocket-powered cruise stage.
Ten minutes later, the top-shaped capsule will start plowing through and slowing down in the Martian atmosphere, which is about 1% as thick as Earth’s. However, braking a spacecraft traveling at 13,000 mph generates incredible temperatures ahead of the heat shield that may reach 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit.Advertisement


After the capsule has bled off most of its speed, and when it’s about 7 miles from the Martian surface, a parachute will pop out from the top of the capsule and further slow it down to about 1,200 mph. Just before this point, Good said, three parachute up-look cameras — part of the six EDLCAM system cameras — will begin recording.

Five miles off the ground, the heat shield will drop off the capsule, exposing a rover down-look camera, which will start recording.

An animation of photos that show the deployment of the Mars Curiosity rover’s heat shield during its descent and landing phase on August 6, 2012.NASA/JPL-Caltech; Malin Space Science Systems (via Spaceflight101)

Advertisement


Eighty seconds later, the rover — attached to a rocket-powered descent stage called the “SkyCrane” — will drop away from its back shell. Just before that moment, a down-looking camera on the SkyCrane will start recording, as will an up-looking camera on the rover itself.

A radar system will tell the SkyCrane precisely when to start firing its rocket engines, with the goal of slowing down Perseverance enough to dangle it — like a robotic marionette doll — from a series of cables. Once the rover contacts the surface, the cables will detach, the SkyCrane will fly away, and Perseverance will begin its year-long mission.

“When people look at it, it looks crazy. That’s a very natural thing. Sometimes when we look at it, it looks crazy,” Steltzner said in the 2012 video about Curiosity, which proved the system works. “It is the result of reasoned engineering thought. But it still looks crazy.”Advertisement


Beaming the footage back to Earth may take several weeks

The solid-state drive on the rover will record HD camera footage for as long each device is connected. NASA expects to record about 25,000 images in total, and at frame rates ranging from 12 to 75 images per second. (Standard cell phone footage ranges from 30 to 60 fps.)

“The images will be compressed and returned as video files back to the rover, in a video format similar to that of a typical cell phone,” Good said.

After stashing gigabytes’ worth on unprecedented footage, NASA doesn’t expect to see it on Earth very quickly. “We’ll bring that imagery back over the first couple weeks on the surface,” Wallace said.Advertisement


Only the rover’s up- and down-looking cameras will remain attached after it lands. However, NASA doesn’t expect to use those cameras — or for them to survive on the red planet.

“[T]hey were not designed to survive the harsh temperature extremes of the Martian surface and thus may not last very long into the surface mission,” Good added.

This artist’s concept shows the Ingenuity helicopter on the Martian surface.NASA/JPL-Caltech

Advertisement


Perseverance is also packing an experimental helicopter, called Ingenuity, which it will drop off in hopes of attempting the first-ever aerial flights on Mars.

The rover will also harbor two microphones, which engineers will turn on once the robot safely lands. If the devices work, NASA could record the first bonafide audio of Mars, including gusts of wind, the rover’s wheels rolling over soil and rocks, the sounds of drilling, and more.

As Nancy Atkinson wrote for The Planetary Society, previous Mars missions also brought microphones with them, but — what one planetary scientist told Atkinson was a “huge let-down” — they either failed or never activated.Advertisement


Read More

Categories
Business Insider

China warns UK it will ‘bear the consequences’ of defying Beijing – Business Insider – Business Insider

  • China’s UK ambassador has said that Boris Johnson‘s government will ‘bear the consequences’ if it does not stop interfering in China‘s affairs.
  • It comes after the UK said it would not extradite anyone to Hong Kong after China imposed a draconian security law there.
  • Tensions between Beijing and London have increased dramatically in recent weeks, amid tussles over issues including Huawei and Hong Kong.
  • The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in London on Tuesday, with plans to press the UK to take further action against China.

The UK will “bear the consequences” for scrapping its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, China’s ambassador has warned, adding that Boris Johnson’s government had “contravened international law and the basic norms governing international relations.”

Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, on Monday said the UK would no longer extradite anyone to Hong Kong after China imposed a contested security law there which has already seen hundreds of pro-democracy protestors arrested. He also said the UK would stop selling arms to Hong Kong.

China’s ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming responded by saying that the UK had “blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs” and threatened unspecified consequences.Advertisement


Chinese Communist Party officials indicated last week that Beijing could respond by placing economic sanctions on British firms which operate in China, including Jaguar Land Rover and GlaxoSmithKline.

The escalation in tensions comes as Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, arrived in London to discuss issues including how to counter China’s growing economic and diplomatic power.

Last week, Johnson said he would ban Huawei equipment from the UK’s 5G network amid concerns that the tech giant shares information with the Chinese state. Boris Johnson has also angered China by offering visas to 3 million Hong Kong residents amid concerns over the new security law.

Advertisement


“We welcome news that the UK will prohibit new purchases of 5G equipment from Huawei and phase out existing Huawei equipment from its 5G telecommunications networks,” said the US State Department in a statement about Pompeo’s visit to London.

“The UK made this important decision to protect its national security interests, just as countries around the world are doing.”
“Allowing untrusted, high-risk vendors, such as Huawei, into any part of 5G networks makes critical systems vulnerable to disruption, manipulation, and espionage, and puts sensitive government, commercial, and personal information at risk.”Advertisement


Read More

Categories
Business These

These business owners got a PPP loan. It may not be enough – CNBC

Robert Miller, a Pittsburgh area restaurateur, has watched with sadness as some of his favorite local eateries closed for good in recent weeks.

Union Standard, Pizza Taglio, Spoon — just a handful of the businesses lost in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They’re all places people would know by name,” Miller said.

Miller, 45, expects his restaurants would have been among the wreckage if it weren’t for aid received as part of federal coronavirus relief.

His three establishments — Sidelines Bar and Grill, Sidelines Beer House and The Fire Side Public House — collectively got about $212,000 in funding through the Paycheck Protection Program and $775,000 from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

But the PPP money has been gone for weeks, sales are down at least 50% from last year and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf curbed bar and restaurant activity again this week due to rising Covid-19 cases.

Miller fears his restaurants can only make it another six to eight months absent more federal aid or a resumption of normal business.

“It’s been difficult,” he said. “You could talk to 1 million people who have the same story as me.”

Funding issued through the Small Business Administration has been a financial lifeline for millions of small businesses during a recession that hit faster than any other in American history.

The Paycheck Protection Program, created by the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion relief measure enacted in March, offered low-interest loans of up to $10 million to small businesses.

Entrepreneurs who use the funding a certain way, like allocating the bulk toward employee wages, don’t have to repay the loan — a huge draw for businesses forced to shut due to government fiat and through no fault of their own.

Lisa Hess at Lucy’s Coffee in San Luis Obispo, California.

Shannon McMillen Photography

But now that business owners have used up their PPP funding, they’re facing uncomfortable questions amid the possibility of further shutdowns.

“How long will this last?” asked Lisa Hess, founder of Lucy’s Coffee in San Luis Obispo, California. The firm took a PPP loan of about $23,000 and used up the cash in approximately six weeks.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently closed bars and indoor dining across the state amid a resurgence of Covid-19 in the Golden State. 

The shop has adjusted to the post-Covid-19 world by moving its service outside, setting up tables and purchasing umbrellas to make more seating available.

Hess has a second lifeline through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, a federal loan for small businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis. She is reluctant to continue borrowing, especially since cash flow is tight.

“If this goes on for a year and I use this money to pay the rent, then am I taking on a crazy amount of debt to keep the doors open?” Hess asked. “How much do you put into it before enough is enough, if I keep getting in debt to keep up?”

Emergency aid hobbled by delays, confusion

A man walks his dog past a placard stating “ALL SMALL BUSINESS IS ESSENTIAL” outside Atilis Gym on May 20, 2020 in Bellmawr, New Jersey.

Mark Makela | Getty Images

In addition to establishing the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government opened its existing disaster-loan program to businesses in all states due to the crisis.

Nearly 5 million businesses have gotten $518 billion in cumulative PPP funding, with an average loan of $105,000, according to the SBA.

Another $135 billion was issued through the disaster loan program, with an average loan of about $60,000.

Both programs were marred by administrative delays, changing rules and limitations that made it difficult for some businesses to take advantage.

We’re revisiting whether you can defer rent, how much do you need to retain a skeleton crew, who can you lay off assuming you don’t get a second round of funding.

Dan Herron

CPA and principal of Elemental Wealth Advisors

“I think clearly there were some mistakes,” said Chester Spatt, a professor of finance at Carnegie Mellon University and former chief economist at the Securities and Exchange Commission from 2004 to 2007.

Chief among them were rigid rules around how PPP funds could be spent, Spatt said. They created an inherent tension between employees and the continuation of the business itself, he said.

The program’s original framework required business owners to spend the funds over eight weeks or risk losing full loan forgiveness — which would essentially forfeit one of the program’s main draws.

The federal government later broadened that timeline to 24 weeks, but by then it was too late for many who’d gotten a loan early on.

More than just payroll costs

A customer wearing a protective mask receives a takeaway meal from a restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic on May 20, 2020 in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Michael Tullberg | Getty Images

Robert Miller, for example, had already spent seven out of eight weeks’ worth of PPP funding on his restaurants by the time that update was announced.

“Eight weeks was nothing, considering we’re on month No. 4 [of the pandemic],” Miller said.

Due to another early limitation of the program — that at least 75% of funding be used for payroll — Miller, like many other businesses, didn’t have much left over for other costs. (Lawmakers eventually lowered that threshold to 60%.)

Miller has been spending more than $500 a week on Covid-19-related items (e.g., gloves, masks and cleaning supplies) alone. Items like umbrellas, tables and chairs for outdoor dining cost extra, too, all adding to the bottom line.

More from Personal Finance:
Coronavirus unemployment claims are worst in history
Treasury canceling stimulus checks to dead recipients
‘Jumbo’ loans may be harder to get. Here’s what to expect

Luckily, his disaster loans have helped supplement other business costs as sales have lagged — though the prospect of being indebted to the federal government for 30 years, the term of the disaster loans, isn’t a welcome thought, he said. 

For entrepreneurs along the coasts, rent expenses have also devoured their loan proceeds. Landlords, whose pocketbooks are also squeezed, are reluctant to give much of a break.

“Payroll is the biggest expense, but the rent?” said Hess. “I don’t know what the solution is here.

“I talked to my landlord about it, and he pretty much said no because he can’t afford it, either.”

Scraping more funding

Around 84% of small businesses that received a Paycheck Protection Program loan will have exhausted their money by the first week of August, according to a recent Goldman Sachs survey.

Under current law, companies can’t get a second bite at the apple. The Senate will start debating the contours of another round of coronavirus relief when the chamber reconvenes on Monday, but it’s unclear whether it will contain more aid for small businesses.

Even then, lawmakers have hinted that future aid for businesses would be more targeted than in the CARES Act. 

In the meantime, tax professionals working with business owners have been scrounging for additional ways to free up cash flow.

“We’re revisiting whether you can defer rent, how much do you need to retain a skeleton crew, who can you lay off assuming you don’t get a second round of funding,” said Dan Herron, CPA and principal of Elemental Wealth Advisors in San Luis Obispo, California.

It’s been difficult. You could talk to 1 million people who have the same story as me.

Robert Miller

Pittsburgh area restaurateur

Another strategy to consider is tapping the disaster loan after PPP funding runs out. Entrepreneurs with access to both can’t use them concurrently for the same costs.

“There’s nothing that says you can’t use one after you’ve used up the other,” said Albert Campo, CPA and managing partner of AJC Accounting Services in Manalapan, New Jersey. “If you have some suppliers you owe money to, you can use the disaster loan money for that.”

Other sources of liquidity may become scarce.

“Banks are a little more conservative when lending,” said Campo. “Restaurants have a harder time getting funding due to their failure rate.

“It’s very nuanced and specific to each client, depending on their credit and liquidity.”

‘Bit of a boom’

Some entrepreneurs may not require additional aid, though.

Alyssa Nix, owner of Posh Boutique, a women’s clothing boutique in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, got about $10,000 in federal funding — half through the PPP and the rest from a disaster-loan grant program

The timing of the loans was “crucial” for the business, she said. They gave her capital to stock up on product for the spring and summer seasons — money she hadn’t had due to the store’s closure. 

Her sales are now up about 10% to 15% over where they were a year ago, partly attributable to the state’s relatively low prevalence of coronavirus cases and crowds at big retailers pushing people to seek out less heavily trafficked stores, Nix said. 

“We’ve had a bit of a boom after things started opening up,” said Nix, who doesn’t anticipate needing additional federal aid. 

“Right now, I’m comfortable with where I’m at,” she said. “Things have been going well.”



Read More

Categories
Business Insider

Trump falsely claims Biden wants to defund the police – Business Insider – Business Insider

  • President Donald Trump falsely claimed that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is seeking to abolish and defund the police.
  • The claims were made in an interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace.
  • Trump paused the interview to have aides search for comments on defunding the police in a summary of a charter between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • Wallace said Trump couldn’t find any such statements because there weren’t any.

President Donald Trump falsely claimed that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is seeking to abolish and defund the police on an interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace — and he got some pushback from the reporter.

—Peter Wade ‍♂️ (@brooklynmutt) July 17, 2020

When Wallace corrected Trump that Biden was not in fact in favor of defunding the police, he got angry and paused the interview to ask aides to search through a charter on the topic between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“…and Bident wants to defund the police, Trump said. Advertisement


Wallace responded: “Sir, he does not.”

Trump then claimed that the charter uses words such as “abolish” and “defund.”

“Oh, really? It says ‘abolish’ — let’s go, get me the charter, please!” Trump said motioning to aides to bring him the charter.

Advertisement


Wallace then said the president had aides go through the summary of the charter. “He went through it and he found a lot of things that he objected to that Biden has agreed to, but he couldn’t find any indication — because there isn’t any — that Joe Biden has sought to abolish and defund the police.”

Biden did sign a charter with the former and more progressive Democratic presidential candidate which highlighted some more progressive policy ideas but that charter did not call for defunding the police. According to the New York Magazine, the agreement stops short of any calls for abolishing the police force, which many advocates have made pleas for following protests over the death of George Floyd after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes until he became unresponsive. Advertisement


The agreement between the two teams endorsed police reform and included things like federal oversight and restrictions of racial-profiling.

Biden has repeatedly voiced his opposition to defunding the police.

“Well I think there are a lot of changes they can take place, period, without having to defund the police completely,” Biden told Trevor Noah in an interview in early June. Advertisement


On Friday, the Trump campaign released a press release addressing alleged anti-police rhetoric in the Biden campaign. The statement was in response to Fox News story that reported that a Biden staffer mocked police officers as being worse than pigs.

—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2020

Trump doubled down on his claims with a tweet later on Friday night that while Biden “may use different words,” the charter he signed still “wants to defund out police.”

Read More

Categories
Business China

US warship challenges China in South China Sea after claims rejection – Business Insider – Business Insider

  • A US Navy destroyer challenged China in the South China Sea with a freedom-of-navigation operation on Tuesday.
  • The USS Ralph Johnson sailed near the disputed Spratly Islands, the Navy said, adding in a statement that “unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas.”
  • The operation, one of at least six such operations this year, comes after the US State Department officially rejected most of China’s sea claims, declaring its maritime efforts to assert sovereignty unlawful.

After the US State Department declared Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea and efforts to assert dominance unlawful, the US Navy destroyer USS Ralph Johnson further challenged China with a sail-by operation Tuesday.

The Navy released a couple photos on Tuesday of the destroyer sailing near the contested Spratly Islands, and a Navy spokesman confirmed the ship conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the area.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) steams near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Ralph Johnson is deployed conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts for a free and open Indo-Pacific.U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Collier

Advertisement


“This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in

international

law by challenging the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan,” the Navy said in a statement.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas,” the service added.

“The United States upholds freedom of navigation as a principle,” the Navy said later in its statement. “As long as some countries continue to claim and assert limits on rights that exceed their authority under international law, the United States will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of the sea guaranteed to all. No member of the international community should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms.”

Advertisement


The US is aligning its South China Sea policy with a 2016 international arbitration tribunal ruling and officially rejecting many of China’s claims to the contested waterway, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.

“Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Pompeo said, adding, “The PRC’s predatory world view has no place in the 21st century.”
While China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei all have overlapping claims to the strategic South China Sea, China is among the most aggressive in enforcing its claims. Chinese military outposts can be found in the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands, despite a 2016 arbitration tribunal ruling that discredited many of China’s claims.Advertisement


Beijing rejected the ruling by the international Permanent Court of Arbitration, which made the decision at the request of the Philippines after China’s seizure of Scarborough Shoal, and has continued to pursue its interests.

Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Paul Vance, from Lilburn, Ga., assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), scans the horizon using a telescopic alidade, July 14, near the Spratly Islands in the South China SeaU.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Collier

Much to China’s frustration, the US routinely challenges Beijing’s restrictions on innocent passage and excessive claims through regular freedom-of-navigation operations.Advertisement


The Navy has conducted at least six such operations this year alone, as well as multiple presence operations. The Air Force also routinely conducts bomber overflights in the region.

Earlier this month, the US sent two carrier strike groups into the South China Sea to conduct dual carrier operations at the same time the Chinese military was conducting exercises in the area.

In recent months, the US military has stepped up its activities in the South China Sea in response to what the Pentagon described as “increasing opportunistic activity by the PRC to coerce its neighbors and press its unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea while the region and the world is focused on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” a global crisis that has triggered an apparent escalation in US-China tensions.Advertisement


David Stillwell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, strongly criticized China’s efforts to enforce its will in the South China Sea as “gangster tactics” at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event Tuesday. He said the US “will not let China claim the South China Sea as its own,” USNI News reported.

Pompeo’s statement Monday provided clarity on the US position in the South China Sea, where Stillwell said the US will not remain neutral. The statement clears the way for potentially tougher US responses.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the US statement on the South China Sea “irresponsible.”Advertisement


“It violates and distorts international law, deliberately stokes territorial and maritime disputes, and undermines regional peace and stability,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said Tuesday.

He later stated: “We strongly deplore and firmly oppose the wrong move by the US and urge it to stop stirring up trouble on the South China Sea issue and stop continuing down the wrong path.”

Read More

Categories
Business Insider

Trump says he’s withdrawing from WHO, but he can’t without Congress – Business Insider – Business Insider

  • The Trump administration has begun the process of formally withdrawing the US from the World Health Organization.
  • The president has accused the UN’s health agency of being too China-centric, even though he praised Beijing’s handling of COVID-19 in the early months of the initial outbreak.
  • Legal scholars and global-health experts say President Donald Trump cannot unilaterally withdraw the US from the WHO, and requires congressional approval.

President Donald Trump has sent letters to both the United Nations and Congress informing them he’s formally withdrawing the US from the World Health Organization over its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, who routinely praised Beijing’s handling of coronavirus early on and has overseen the world’s worst outbreak, has accused the WHO of being too China-centric and botching its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The United States’ notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO,” a senior Trump administration official told Insider on Tuesday.Advertisement


But it’s a complicated process and experts say Trump does not have the legal authority to withdraw from the WHO without congressional approval. Meanwhile, critics say that withdrawing from the WHO amid a pandemic that’s already killed over 131,000 Americans is counterintuitive.

“Trump’s withdrawal letter formally triggers a year-long countdown for the US departure from WHO. It places the WHO, the US, and the global health community into a critical period of uncertainty when the world needs leadership and unity to fight COVID-19,” Dr. Jack Chow, a former WHO assistant director-general who also served as a US ambassador for global HIV/AIDS during the George W. Bush administration, told Insider.

“As the complex process moves forward, I would expect Congress to weigh in on the wisdom of divorcing the entirety of US global health policy from the network of disease fighting programs that the US helped to build over decades, with the aid and cooperation of WHO and other countries,” Chow added.

Advertisement


Trump has to pay up if he wants to leave

Based on the terms of a joint resolution approved by Congress in 1948 that authorized the president to accept membership in the WHO, the US has to give 12 months’ notice and meet all its financial obligations before it can withdrawal.

The WHO is funded through assessed and voluntary contributions from governments and other donors.
Assessed contributions are mandatory dues governments agree to pay upon becoming members of the WHO. Congress doesn’t specifically appropriate funds to the WHO, but has authorized appropriations to the State Department to cover US obligations to the UN’s health agency. The US government’s assessed contributions to the WHO for fiscal year 2020 amount to $122.6 million, and it still owes roughly $60 million. Advertisement


“Congress has conditioned withdrawal from the WHO on fulfillment of US financial obligations. Thus, it appears that a formal notice to withdraw may not take legal effect until the United States satisfies its current financial obligations,” according to a Congressional Research Service report released last month.

In short, Trump has to pay up if he wants to leave.

FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 file photo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses a press conference about the update on COVID-19 at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The European Union is calling for an independent evaluation of the World Health Organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, “to review experience gained and lessons learned.” (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, File)Associated Press

Advertisement


Scholars: Trump ‘lacks the legal authority to withdraw’ without Congress

Given Congress controls the power of the purse, and it has conditioned US withdrawal from the WHO on the fulfillment of financial obligations, legal scholars also contend that pulling the US from the UN’s health agency requires congressional action.

“The United States’ departure from the WHO is not as simple as Trump assumes … Try as he might, Trump can’t skirt Capitol Hill when attempting withdrawal from a vital multilateral organization such as the WHO,” Harold Hongju Koh, an international law professor at Yale Law, and Lawrence Gostin, a global-health law professor at Georgetown, wrote in Foreign Affairs last month.

In late June, 750 scholars and experts in global public health, US constitutional law, and international law and relations wrote to Congress in opposition to US withdrawal from the WHO.Advertisement


The letter explicitly states that Trump “lacks the legal authority to withdraw” from the WHO “without congressional participation and approval.”

The letter says that unilateral withdrawal from the WHO raises “significant separation of powers concerns.”

“With the Constitution silent on the process of withdrawing from a treaty, the best understanding of the Constitution is a ‘mirror principle,’ under which the same process the US government uses to enter a treaty is required to withdraw from it. The United States joined WHO through a 1948 joint resolution of Congress. Therefore, a joint resolution would be required to withdraw,” the letter adds. Advertisement


Democrats oppose withdrawing from WHO and Biden could easily reverse the move if elected

When Trump announced plans to cut funding to the WHO in April, congressional lawmakers said it would be illegal without their approval. “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the time.

Last year, in a move that would ultimately be central to the impeachment proceedings against him, Trump withheld congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine. The US Government Accountability Office, an independent watchdog, announced in January that the White House broke the law when it withheld the aid.
Congressional Democrats have contended that withholding aid from the WHO would violate the same law, known as the Impoundment Control Act, which limits when a president can defer congressionally approved spending, by substituting “his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.”Advertisement


Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has also said he’d reverse Trump’s decision if elected president.

“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage,” Biden said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Given it takes at least 12 months to fully withdraw from the WHO, the former vice president could win the election and be inaugurated long before the process is complete, granting him ample time to reverse the move. Advertisement


“A new Congress and potentially a new president could choose to reverse Trump’s decision in time for the US to retain its participation in WHO,” Chow said.

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, leave Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran’s Memorial Park after paying their respects to fallen service members in Newcastle, Delaware, May 25, 2020.OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

‘A global Covid-19 vaccine policy without US and WHO cooperation risks confusion and disorder’

Beyond the legal and practical hurdles Trump faces in withdrawing from the WHO, there are widespread concerns among public-health experts that pulling from the UN’s health agency amid a pandemic is a dangerous, self-defeating move. Advertisement


There’s broad agreement among experts that the WHO is a flawed organization, but they also say that retaining membership is essential to global health and the best means of having a say in improving it as an institution.

The WHO plays a vital role in assisting and advising developing countries on public-health crises. The US is the largest contributor to the WHO, supplying about 15% of the organization’s biennial budget. Along these lines, public-health professionals and experts are concerned that US withdrawal could exacerbate the coronavirus pandemic.

“One area where US and WHO must cooperate in some way is the question of how to distribute any working vaccine against COVID-19,” Chow said.Advertisement


“As many of the leading vaccine makers are American, or American-related, a just and equitable system of making and sharing a vaccine must involve WHO as most poor countries rely on it for advice and aid. A global Covid-19 vaccine policy without US and WHO cooperation risks confusion and disorder.”

Gostin in tweets on Tuesday said it was “unethical” for the US to withdraw from the WHO, saying that the UN’s health agency is “vital” because “an outbreak anywhere could rapidly spread to US.”
“We also owe duty to our fellow citizens worldwide. We owe a duty to other nations, while they have reciprocal duties. We’re in this together,” Gostin added. Advertisement


Hilary Brueck, Sonam Sheth, and Eliza Relman contributed reporting.

Read More

Categories
Business Insider

8 states and cities are slowing or pausing coronavirus reopening plans – Business Insider – Business Insider

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott just paused his state’s reopening plan. It was the latest in a series of leaders’ decisions to delay lockdown lifts.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott just paused his state's reopening plan. It was the latest in a series of leaders' decisions to delay lockdown lifts.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott displays COVID-19 test collection vials during a press conference on March 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Abbott announced the pause on Thursday, saying businesses that have already reopened would be allowed to continue operating at limited capacity.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” he said in a statement. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”

Texas was one of the first states in the country to start reopening from its coronavirus lockdown in early May. The state has seen a surge in cases since then.

On Tuesday alone, more than 5,000 new cases were reported in Texas — a number Abbott described as a “massive outbreak.” Then on Wednesday, the state reported more than 6,500 more cases.

Dr. Peter Hotez, who is working on developing a COVID-19 vaccine, called Texas’s situation “absolutely horrifying.” He told the BBC that what’s unfolding there is a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Louisiana postponed its next reopening phase by a month.

Louisiana postponed its next reopening phase by a month.
A worker stands outside of Mambo’s on Bourbon Street, after lockdown restrictions were eased in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 16, 2020.

Kathleen Flynn/Reuters

The state will continue in phase 2 — which allows most businesses and places of worship to operate at half capacity with social distancing — for at least another 28 days, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Monday. He added that officials would do “another deep data dive” in two weeks to determine whether the state was ready to move on to phase 3.

“This is not the direction we want to be headed in,” Edwards said, according to WWL-TV. “We need to do a better job of wearing masks when we aren’t at home.”

Edwards added that the rise in cases is “more than can be fairly attributed to the growth in testing,” especially since hospitalizations have risen steeply alongside case counts.

Louisiana has reported more than 53,400 cases and 3,100 deaths as of Thursday.

North Carolina, too, has paused its plans to move to phase 3.

North Carolina, too, has paused its plans to move to phase 3.
Protesters hold signs at a ReOpenNC rally against the state’s shutdown in Raleigh, North Carolina, April 21, 2020.

Rachel Jessen/Reuters

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state would remain in phase 2 for another three weeks. He also mandated face masks in public places.

“North Carolina is relying on the data and the science to lift restrictions responsibly, and right now our increasing numbers show we need to hit the pause button while we work to stabilize our trends,” Cooper said in a statement.

Advertisement

Nevada is also waiting a few more weeks before considering phase 3.

Nevada is also waiting a few more weeks before considering phase 3.
John Landin of Las Vegas celebrates after winning a hand of blackjack during the reopening of The D hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 4, 2020.

Steve Marcus/Reuters

Since the state reopened its casinos in early June, Nevada’s seven-day average case count has risen steeply, quickly outpacing previous months.

That showed the state was “not ready” for phase 3, Gov. Steve Sisolak said when he announced the phase’s postponement on June 15.

According to White House guidelines, phase 3 could allow employers to bring staff back into work without restrictions, reopen senior care facilities and hospitals to visitors, increase occupancy for bars, and allow sporting venues and movie theaters to reopen.

“Nevadans have made enormous sacrifices to get us to where we are today,” Sisolak said in a press conference. “I don’t want to let that all go for naught by us having to take a giant step backwards.”

Nevada’s case count has risen by 41% in the last two weeks.

Maine has postponed the reopening of indoor bars.

Maine has postponed the reopening of indoor bars.
A bartender wearing a face mask and gloves makes drinks at Eight Row Flint in Houston, Texas, on May 22, 2020.

Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

The state’s initial reopening plan called for bars to resume indoor service starting July 1. But on Monday, Gov. Janet Mills put that plan on the back-burner “until further notice.”

Bars in Maine can continue outdoor service, and restaurants that have bars can continue seating guests inside with proper social distancing and capacity limitations.

“Indoor bar service typically features crowds, often in close contact with one another, often without tables or other ways of keeping people apart,” Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said of the announcement, according to the Portland Press-Herald. “Smaller spaces in many bars makes physically distancing very difficult. Further, individuals may be less likely to wear cloth face coverings in bars.”

Coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan, Idaho, and Louisiana have been linked to indoor groups of patrons at bars.

Oregon halted all new reopenings for a week in mid-June, and recently mandated face masks in indoor public places for most residents.

Oregon halted all new reopenings for a week in mid-June, and recently mandated face masks in indoor public places for most residents.
A nurse holds a sign at the ReOpen Oregon rally on May 2, 2020 in Salem, Oregon.

Terray Sylvester/Getty Images

“This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light,'” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement when she announced the temporary pause on county reopenings. “This one-week pause will give public-health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus and determine if we need to adjust our approach to reopening.”

As of Wednesday, people in seven of Oregon’s most populous counties are required to wear face masks in stores and other indoor public places.

Idaho is “tapping on the breaks,” Gov. Brad Little announced on Thursday.

Idaho is
A truck with an upside-down American flag in the parking lot during an Easter Sunday church service organized by libertarian activist Ammon Bundy, in Emmett, Idaho, April 12, 2020.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

The state did not meet its own criteria for the final stage of reopening, Little said in a press conference.

The state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Christine Hahn, said emergency rooms in Idaho are seeing more and more patients with coronavirus-like symptoms. She added that more healthcare workers are testing positive as well.

Twice this week, Idaho’s daily new case count has surpassed its previous peak from April, with hundreds of new people testing positive.

Idaho will remain in Stage 4 for at least two more weeks, ensuring that businesses maintain social distancing protocols and employers make accommodations for workers vulnerable to severe infection.

In two weeks, Little said, “we’ll examine the numbers again.”

Boise and its surrounding county had already reversed course, reverting to an earlier stage of the reopening plan and shuttering bars and nightclubs.

Boise and its surrounding county had already reversed course, reverting to an earlier stage of the reopening plan and shuttering bars and nightclubs.
Metal horse sculptures are fitted with face masks in the town of Hailey in Blaine County, Idaho, April 13, 2020.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Ada County, which encompasses the city of Boise, broke course with the rest of Idaho and reverted to stage 3 on Monday.

The reversal forced bars and nightclubs to close again, reinstated work-from-home recommendations, and limited gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

The area has seen little transmission of the virus in the last few months, with fewer than 10 people testing positive each day, but that changed abruptly in recent weeks. Ada County has seen

Read More

Categories
Business Insider

Europe travel ban could hurt US airlines even more during pandemic – Business Insider – Business Insider

The European Union’s move to bar American travelers will likely come as a disappointment to quarantine-weary globetrotters looking to get back out into the world.

For some US airlines, the ban could portend a slower, more painful slog as they try and recover from their pandemic woes.

With much of the world still in the early phases of reopening from early pandemic lockdowns, the most robust travel activity is happening domestically in the United States. Despite a resurgence of the virus in parts of the country, the uncertainty has been more manageable compared to other parts of the world.Advertisement


Meanwhile, most of that stateside demand has come from leisure travelers, and people looking to visit friends and relatives after months spent quarantining apart.

For some airlines, this has been easy to capitalize on.

Southwest, for example, is primarily a domestic airline, and its few international destinations are largely within the greater region, such as Central America or Mexico.

Advertisement


Allegiant Air, similarly, flies mostly within the United States. It operates with a point-to-point model, eschewing hubs, which allows it to adjust quickly as demand pops up in new places during the recovery — or as demand drops for certain areas due to spikes in cases.

For the so-called “big three” — American, Delta, and United — the situation is bleaker.
Each of the airlines operates a substantial domestic network, and have been adjusting their plans and business models to focus on maximizing those.Advertisement


However, those airlines are still largely reliant on revenue from international flying, and often use those domestic networks to feed into international hubs.

“The domestic and international businesses have diverged meaningfully, Vasu Raja, who heads network and route planning for American, said in an earlier interview with Business Insider. “Though we’re increasingly more optimistic about the sustainability of domestic, international looks like a much different proposition.

“While we’re still early in our planning, we are planning for a much different and much more reimagined international network for

American Airlines

,” he said.Advertisement


Based on rising domestic demand, American will operate 55% of its domestic capacity in July, compared to the same month in 2019. In April, the airline flew about 20% of its domestic capacity, and in May, it flew about 25%, according to Raja.

However, American will only fly 20% of its international capacity, and load factors are expected to be low.

While the airlines can certainly continue to court domestic flyers, a true recovery would be impossible without international travel.Advertisement


Part of this is that airlines enjoy higher margins by selling premium cabin seats on international flights than any other type of ticket. Ticket sales in premium cabins like business class on international flights offer significantly higher returns than economy cabin seats, whether domestic or international.

Additionally, upsells and other ancillary fees generate significant revenue for airlines, and more opportunities exist on the longer international flights, which are usually flown with bigger planes. For instance, Delta earned $15 billion for premium products and upgrades in 2019, while the big three made almost $3.4 billion in checked bag fees in 2019, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Another related concern: obstacles to traveling internationally could mean it may take even longer for business travel to resume.Advertisement


Business travel is crucial for the bigger airlines. Despite business travelers only making up 15-20% of the airlines’ traffic, they account for about half of their revenue, analysts say.

A large part of that is because people who are traveling on the company dime tend to be less sensitive to price than leisure travelers. They’ll often buy tickets closer to the travel date, when fares go up, if an in-person meeting or appearance is essential.
Other than a relative handful of wealthy leisure travelers and honeymooners splurging on a special treat, the majority of business class passengers are business travelers, whose companies are willing to pay for them to be more comfortable and better rested after a flight. It’s an effort to keep worker productivity high.Advertisement


So far, corporate travel has not begun to meaningfully return, and is not expected to for some time, according to Andrew Didora, an airline analyst with Bank of America, in a recent research note.

Business travel has been slow to return in China, which, being two months ahead of the US in terms of the pandemic and the recovery, suggests a slow return here.

Additionally, concerns about exposure or liability are likely to continue holding back business travel until there’s a vaccine for

COVID-19

. Even a partial return is unlikely before offices fully reopen, Didora wrote. Advertisement


If a multitude of travel bans happen alongside an apparent hestitation within companies over employee travel, this crucial segment for American, Delta, and United could take even longer to recover.

The possibility of additional travel bans, or an escalating tit-for-tat between countries, has industry insiders concerned.

“The public health is still the number one concern around the world right now,” Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the trade group US Travel, told Business Insider in an emailed statement. “But bans like these have a tendency to devolve into cycles of political retaliation, which is the last thing the global economy needs as we’re trying to start a recovery.”Advertisement


Spokespersons for American, Delta, and United referred to Airlines for America, an industry trade and lobbying group representing most major airlines, for comment.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the trade group stressed that carriers were eager to return to their normal schedules.

“The US airline industry is anxious to resume service to Europe and internationally at large,” Katherine Estep, a spokesperson for the group, said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to work with governments globally to restore service in a manner that prioritizes the wellbeing of our passengers and employees.”Advertisement


Experts have predicted that it will take up to five years for airlines to fully recover to 2019 levels of flying and demand.

Ultimately, airlines that have built their business models around international travel will continue to struggle, even as domestic travel returns.
“While the recovery is good, we are far away from anything that can sustain the business over a long time,” Raja, the head of network planning at American, said in the earlier interview.Advertisement


Read More