Just under 1.5 million people filed initial unemployment claims last week, as the economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic remained stubbornly high. It marks the 14th straight week claims have been above 1 million; the prepandemic record was just under 700,000, set in 1982. Despite the figure, continuing claims—a more accurate measure of current unemployment—fell below 20 million. The government also reported a 5% drop
in GDP rate in the first three months of the year, the worst quarterly report since a fall of 8.4% during the 2008 recession.
The news comes as the economy braces for a spike in coronavirus cases, which eclipsed the April peak for new daily cases yesterday at more than 39,000. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) paused the state's efforts to reopen amid a surge in hospitalizations. Test positivity has risen more quickly than new testing capacity, indicating the virus is still spreading, though the daily death toll remains substantially lower than its April peak (see data).
Health officials estimate nearly 20 million Americans have contracted the virus, much greater than the 2.3 million reported cases. More than 124,415 deaths have been reported in the US as of this morning; see a moving three-day average here.
Light From a Black Hole Merger
Astronomers likely observed a burst of light emanating from the merger of black holes for the first time ever, researchers announced yesterday. The discovery may reveal new insights into how and where such events occur throughout the universe.
One of the enduring mysteries of science, black holes are ultradense collapsed stars whose gravitational pull is so strong even light can't escape if it travels too close. The objects don't emit light and have only been
"seen" by imaging their shadow. When two of the massive objects merge, they send out ripples in space-time (see 101)—but no light. Scientists have hypothesized that in rare instances, a merge may happen in gas swirling around a third, supermassive black hole, causing the gas to heat up and release bursts of light.
The new study marks the first time this phenomenon has been observed, and could lend support to the theory
that black holes tend to cluster in regions where gas has accumulated.
SCOTUS Strengthens Deportation Powers
The Supreme Court upheld yesterday the Trump administration's ability to deport people seeking asylum without having their case heard by a federal judge. The 7-2 decision reverses a lower court's ruling and applies to undocumented immigrants who fail initial asylum screenings and are thus eligible for immediate deportation.
Asylum applications—where migrants seek legal entry due to persecution or violence in their home country—quadrupled between 2000 and 2016, but have fallen in recent years. Roughly three-quarters of applicants pass initial screenings. However, less than 20% of migrants from Mexico and Central America, which comprise the vast majority of undocumented immigrants heading to the US, are eventually granted asylum (see data). See an overview of what happens when a migrant arrives at the border here.
Separately, the administration filed a brief yesterday urging the court to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
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FIT AND FOCUSED ALL SUMMER
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IN THE KNOW
Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
>The 2020 NYC Pride Parade, the 50th anniversary of the first NYC LGBTQIA+ celebration, will be held virtually this Sunday (12pm ET); see full details and how to watch (More)
>Australia and New Zealand selected to host 2023 Women’s World Cup, beating finalist Colombia for the soccer tournament which will expand to 32
>The Dixie Chicks change band name to The Chicks in response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement(More) | Disney’s famed Splash Mountain ride to drop “Song of the South” theme for “The Princess and the Frog”(More)
Science & Technology
>Three new studies show use of the CRISPR gene-editing tool in human embryos can cause unwanted on-target mutations near the DNA target site (More) | CRISPR 101 (More)
algorithm allows drones to learn acrobatic maneuvers like barrel rolls and flips, pushing the autonomous craft toward more human-like flying behavior (More)
>Second-worst Ebola outbreak on record declared over in the Democratic Republic of Congo after two incubation periods pass with no new cases; outbreak saw 2,280 deaths since August 2018 (More)
Business & Markets
>LeBron James and business partner Maverick Carter raise $100M for SpringHill, a new media platform for empowering Black creators and audiences (More)
>German fintech firm Wirecard files for insolvency amid $2B balance sheet inflation fraud, trading in shares halted after free fall (More)
>Pizza arcade chain Chuck E. Cheese files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure $2B debt (More)
Politics & World Affairs
>Defense authorization bill advances in the Senate, setting up a fight over a requirement for military bases named after Confederate leaders to be renamed (More) | Senate passes sweeping sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities over the country's crackdown in Hong Kong; bill heads to House (More)
>House passes wide-ranging police reform bill while negotiations stall in Senate (More) | See list of police reforms across the country since the death of George Floyd (More)
says seawater is seeping into a decaying abandoned tanker off the coast of Yemen, threatening to release an estimated 1 million barrels of oil into the Red Sea (More)
Sickle Cell Success
NPR | Rob Stein. Nine months after becoming the first person in the US to have their genetic disease treated via CRISPR, sickle cell patient Victoria Gray is thriving. (Read)
Beyond the Pain Matrix
Medium/OneZero | Emilie Friedlander, Joy Crane. Inside the DayLife Army, the social media cult convincing young people to give up everything. (Read)
Four Ideas on Police Reform
Vox | Roge Karma. Both protesters and police advocates agree that police forces are asked to do too much. Here are four ideas from experts on how to rethink policing in the US. (Read)
Editor's note: Here are five more ideas (in shorter form) from the Manhattan
Boss of the Beach
NY Mag/Intelligencer | David Gauvey Herbert. For four decades, one man has overseen one of the most unlikely rackets—the New York City lifeguarding corps (Read, $$)
TRIGGER, THOUGHT, ACTION, CONSEQUENCE
The experts at Noom help users identify the behavior chain behind their unhealthy habits: trigger, thought, action, consequence. This can help you gain a better understanding of where you struggle and how you can make positive change.
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Historybook: Francisco Pizarro is assassinated (1541); Sports great Babe Didrikson Zaharias born (1911); Berlin Airlift begins (1948); JFK delivers famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech (1963); Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in US
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