Good morning. It's Thursday, Sept. 17, and residents along the Gulf Coast were left underwater yesterday by Hurricane Sally, the Fed makes a historic move, and college football will return to the Midwest. Have feedback? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 540,000 homes and businesses in Alabama and the Florida panhandle were without power overnight, and at least one person died, as an extremely slow-moving Hurricane Sally moved onshore yesterday morning. Now a tropical storm, Sally brought 105 mph winds to Gulf Coast communities while dropping torrential rains at a near standstill.
Officials in Pensacola, Florida, said 30 inches of rain fell—equivalent to four months worth—in just four hours. Nearly 400 people required rescue in the surrounding area, with water levels in the city peaking at five and a half feet above sea level. The storm knocked out a portion of the city's bay bridge and ripped loose a number of construction barges. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned flooding threats would continue as the system causes rivers that drain to the Gulf to swell in coming days.
The nearly stalled storm has accelerated to a slow crawl,
and is expected to drop 5-15 inches of rain across the Southeast as it moves toward the Carolinas. See photos of the damage here.
Fed Zeros Out
The Federal Reserve announced yesterday it would likely hold interest rates near zero through 2023, a move meant to provide longer-term stability for an economy struggling to dig out of the coronavirus-induced downturn.
Because commercial banks generally use money borrowed from the Fed to make loans to individuals and businesses, near-zero interest rates make it incredibly cheap for consumers to finance large purchases or start new businesses; in theory, jump-starting
economic activity (see 101). Near-zero interest rates were historically rare—the Fed's sweet spot is 2%-5% in normal times—but were used as a de facto stimulus measure for about six years following the 2008-09 recession (see data).
Kind of know what the Fed does, but kind of don't? Start here.
In related news, federal health officials told lawmakers distribution of a vaccine, once approved, wouldn't be widely available until the middle of 2021 (President Trump later contradicted the comments).
Big Ten Reverses Course
The Big Ten Conference announced yesterday they would hold an abbreviated college football season beginning Oct. 24, reversing an earlier decision to cancel the season. The change of heart follows intense pushback from coaches, players, and fans—and a decision by the ACC, Big 12, and SEC to play, leaving the Big Ten on the outside looking in. In a unanimous vote, league officials pointed to more widely available rapid testing. Players and coaches will undergo daily coronavirus testing; those testing positive will be held out for at least 21 days. Team and local positivity rates will also
be considered (more details).
Each team will play nine games—eight regular-season games, with a conference championship and a unique slate of consolation games. The truncated season ends Dec. 19, making teams eligible for the College Football Playoff. The decision puts pressure on the Pac-12, which canceled the same day as the Big Ten.
In related news, men's and women's college basketball will return Nov. 25.
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YOU ARE FEELING VERY SLEEPY
Some toss, some turn, some lie awake deep in thought, some sit mindlessly waiting for time to pass. We’re no somnologists—which we just learned is the medical term for sleep doctors—but we know a bad night’s sleep when we see (or experience) it.
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Science & Technology
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not a vaccine, but mimics the body's immune response (More)
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Politics & World Affairs
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The Billionaire Who Wanted to Die Broke
Forbes | Steven Bertoni. Chuck Feeney, the founder of retail giant Duty Free Shoppers, spent decades giving away roughly $8B to charity. He's finally down to about $2M—and he couldn't be happier. (Read)
Who Owns Florida’s Beaches?
Sarasota Magazine | Isaac Eger. Unbeknownst to many Floridians, roughly 60% of the state's coastline is in private hands, and in many areas—Sarasota County, for example—that number can reach as high as 80%. Ownership often extends to a fuzzy (and submerged) boundary, threatening many residents' right to stroll. (Read)
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Historybook: US Constitution is signed (1787); Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery for first time (1849); Actress Anne Bancroft born (1931); Camp David Accords signed providing framework for Egypt–Israel peace treaty (1978); Vanessa Williams becomes first Black woman crowned Miss America (1983).
"There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other."
- Harriet Tubman
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