Preliminary human trials in three coronavirus vaccines were released yesterday, two in peer-reviewed studies in The Lancet and another in a pre-peer review state. Experts say all three appear promising, with strong immune responses and few side effects. One, a collaboration between the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, is set to begin phase three trials next week with 30,000 U.S. participants. Meanwhile, those concerned about recent studies showing that immunity wears off quickly are taking hope in less-studied immune cells known as T-cells, whose purpose is to kill infections.
With his poll numbers falling and the nation in crisis, President Donald Trump is preparing to send federal law enforcement to Chicago — as he’s done in Portland, where such troops have beaten peaceful protesters and arrested people in unmarked cars. Now he says Chicago, New York, Detroit and Baltimore may all be targets, citing their “liberal ” mayors and claiming such cities are run “by the radical left.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently preparing to deploy a reported 150 troops to Chicago, but says details aren’t yet finalized.
In 200 cities across the U.S. yesterday, tens of thousands of people walked off the job as part of a daylong “Strike for Black Lives” protesting systemic racism. Those who couldn’t leave their posts were encouraged to kneel or observe silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd, killed by police in May. The campaign officially demands that workplaces «dismantle racism,» though other striking groups focused on government relief and living wages for essential workers.
After five days of negotiations in Brussels — the second-longest such summit ever — the 27 EU member states agreed on the $859 billion deal early this morning, making $445 billion in grants and $411 billion in low-interest loans available to European countries slammed economically by the coronavirus. The continent is currently in its deepest recession since World War II. Most of the grants are expected to go to Italy and Spain, which had hoped for a higher proportion of grants to loans — a proposal held back by a group of mostly Nordic countries.
A St. Louis couple who waved guns at peaceful protesters have been charged with unlawful use of a weapon. Hajj is set to begin July 29 — but with only 1,000 pilgrims. And researchers expect polar bears to be nearly extinct by the end of this century.
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1. Whole Foods Workers File Suit Over BLM Masks
Put your money where your mask is. The upscale grocery chain has a mandatory mask policy for employees — but a class-action suit filed yesterday alleges that workers who wore masks with Black Lives Matter slogans were fired or otherwise disciplined. The company dress code does prohibit clothing with slogans, but the suit on behalf of 15 workers says it wasn’t enforced for other causes. The Massachusetts case could be embarrassing for the Jeff Bezos-owned chain, given the billionaire’s lip service (and $10 million pledge) in support of Black Lives Matter.
Call it a line in the sand. With COVID-19 cases rising in the U.S., American tourists have been banned from the island nation. Three weeks ago, the Bahamas reopened to tourism and has seen a spike in virus cases — though the country’s still open to tourists from the EU and Canada. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan, which has seen only a handful of deaths, is trying to attract international tourism by promising to pay $3,000 to tourists who contract COVID-19 there, as long as they can prove they were traveling with a certified sanitary tour operator.
When it comes to global warfare, the arms race has become an artificial intelligence race. The U.S. military requested $927 million for its 2020 budget on AI research alone, and it’s already developing a robotic submarine system. But it’s far from the only competitor: China, famous for using AI in policing and profiling its oppressed Uighur minority, is also investing in robot cybersecurity and combat capacity. Russia, Israel and even Iran are also jumping on the robot military bandwagon. Meanwhile, some in tech have ethical concerns about helping to design death machines.
On Saturday, President Trump retweeted a video from Dan Scavino, his deputy chief of staff for communications, featuring clips of the Trump inauguration set to Linkin Park’s 2001 hit “In the End.” But in the end, he had to take it down: The rock band protested with a cease and desist letter to the president and complained to Twitter that the video violated their copyright. It has since disappeared from Trump’s timeline and the original tweet has been disabled.
Ain’t that a kick in the head? For the first time ever, soccer’s most prestigious individual award has been scrapped, with officials saying there just hasn’t been enough game play to judge who should win it — and what has been played has been under extraordinary conditions. The Ballon d’Or has been awarded every year since 1956, though it only added a women’s award in 2018. The award committee is instead asking its juries to choose an 11-player “Dream Team” to represent the best of 2020, to be announced at the end of the year.