Monday, July 6, 2020

Record jobs gain of 4.8 million in June smashes expectations; unemployment rate falls to 11.1%

Nonfarm payrolls soared by 4.8 million in June and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1% as the U.S. continued its reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department said. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting a 2.9 million increase and a jobless rate of 12.4%. The jobs growth marked a big leap from the 2.7 million in May, which was revised up by 190,000. The June total is easily the largest single-month gain in U.S. history. The numbers capture the move by all 50 states to get activity moving again after the virus seized up much of the U.S., particularly service-related industries. (CNBC)


The portraits of a high-society couple painted by a Renaissance artist have been reunited after being separated for more than a century

The portraits of Jakob and Elisabeth Omphalius stared at each other for over 350 years before being sold to different owners at a London auction in 1896. From then on, the paintings, by Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder, were sold several times and ended up in different collections or museums. Elisabeth’s portrait ended up at the Mauritshuis museum, in the Netherlands. It has taken 20 years of painstaking research for a curator at the Mauritshuis museum, to find Jakob’s portrait, which was owned by a private art collector. With the help of several donors, the Mauritshuis museum recently bought the portrait for $280,000. “We had an obligation to reunite them,” the curator said. (The Guardian)


Using 425 million high-resolution images taken by one of its spacecraft, NASA has produced a video that captures the surface of the sun over an entire decade

The video shows most of the sun’s 11-year cycle, during which the star’s north and south poles flip, triggering sunspots. The images were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which was launched in February 2010. Every second of the 61-minute video represents images taken over a single day – from 06/02/2010 to 06/01/2020. The video’s soundtrack was composed by German musician Lars Leonhard. (Daily Mail)


Facebook is shutting down Lasso, a video app it launched in November 2018 to take on TikTok

Facebook is no longer betting on Lasso, an app it launched a year and a half ago, to take on TikTok. The social juggernaut’s TikTok clone is shutting down on July 10, Lasso alerted users recently. Launched in late 2018, Lasso was seen as Facebook’s answer to TikTok that’s gained ground with young users, both in China and in the West. Lasso allowed users shoot up to 15-second long videos and overlay popular songs. The app centered around an algorithmic feed of recommended videos, but also allowed users to tap through hashtags or a Browse page of themed collections. (Tech Crunch)


Russian voters passed a referendum allowing President Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036

In addition to a reset of presidential terms allowing Putin to run twice more, the referendum includes some 200 other amendments, including guaranteed minimum pensions, a ban on same-sex marriage and an affirmation of the Russian people’s belief in God. (Reuters)


Confederate bases 

The Department of Homeland Security announced a new task force to protect “American monuments, memorials and statues” as cities and states continue to contemplate the removal of Confederate symbols and references. The Protecting American Communities Task Force will also be charged with coordinating the DHS response to any potential political unrest. President Trump has shown a direct interest in the issue. Recently, he signed an executive order on protecting monuments and has threatened to veto a defense policy bill if it contains an amendment requiring the renaming of military bases named for Confederate leaders. (CNN)


Boeing and the FAA completed 737 Max test flights

The authorities are assessing the data before making a decision on what to do with a plane that’s been grounded since last year. The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing have completed certification test flights on the 737 MAX, a key milestone toward the plane’s return to service. The MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people. The FAA said it must still evaluate data from the three days of testing and has other tasks to complete. (Seattle Times)


Meanwhile, in other airline news

American Airlines said it now has too many flight attendants, and will try to reduce the headcount by 8,000. The company will reduce its international and transcontinental crew to the minimum required by the Federal Aviation Administration, plus one flight attendant, effective from Oct. 1, 2020, Jill Surdek, American Airlines’ vice-president of flight service, said in a letter to employees recently. U.S. carriers have warned that furloughs could take place in October, when the government payroll aid for the airline industry expires, but said they were hoping to avoid them. (Fox Business)


Students who knew they had COVID-19 attended parties

Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been attending parties in the city and surrounding area as part of a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first. A Tuscaloosa City Councilor said students have been organizing “COVID parties” as a game to intentionally infect each other with the contagion that has killed more than 127,000 people in the United States. She said she recently learned of the behavior and informed the city council of the parties occurring in the city. “They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” she said. “They’re intentionally doing it.” In a briefing to the City Council, the City Councilor expressed concern that in recent weeks there have been parties held throughout the city and surrounding Tuscaloosa County, “where students, or kids, would come in with known positive”.  (WBMA)


San Francisco PD Will Stop Releasing Mugshots To Combat Racial Bias

The Police Chief  has ordered the San Francisco Police Department to stop releasing mugshots of suspects in an effort to combat racial bias, according to a statement released. “This policy emerges from compelling research suggesting that the widespread publication of police booking photos in the news and on social media creates an illusory correlation for viewers that fosters racial bias and vastly overstates the propensity of black and brown men to engage in criminal behavior,” he said. In a press release, the police department said it will allow exceptions to the mugshot release policy in circumstances where the public is in “imminent danger” or when officials “enlist the public’s assistance in locating individuals, including at-risk persons.” The police department told employees in a memo that the new booking photo policy could help to “prevent bias in policing” and protect “justice-involved persons who are subsequently not charged or convicted” from the negative consequences associated with having their photo released. The policy change comes as a growing list of newsrooms across the country have also elected to stop printing mugshot galleries for similar reasons. (San Francisco Police Department)


Pay cuts are becoming rampant

While jobless numbers remain staggeringly high, those still employed increasingly face potential pay cuts, says a report using data from the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute. The data suggests that about four million workers, particularly those in white-collar jobs, have had their pay cut during the pandemic. This could signal a long-term recession. While pay decreases may avert job losses, the loss of spending power will likely ripple through the economy for years to come. (The Washington Post)


Coca-Cola is shutting down Odwalla juice

Coca-Cola is shutting down the juice and smoothie brand Odwalla at the end of July. The company made the call “given a rapidly shifting marketplace and despite every effort to support continued production,” according to the president of Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid business unit, which includes the company’s juice brands. “This decision was not made lightly,” he added. Coca-Cola acquired Odwalla in 2001. It has been assessing Odwalla’s business for the last several years, according to a company spokeswoman, who added that the decision to discontinue the brand is not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, but adding that health-conscious consumers are less interested in smoothies than they used to be. (CNN Business)


Authorities end search for naked person in Duluth sewers

First responders are searching for a person who authorities say crawled into the sewer system beneath downtown Duluth, Minnesota last week. According to city spokespeople, the person apparently entered the sewer system. Authorities found the person’s clothes outside of a manhole in the area, and they believe the individual is naked. First responders searched for the person, but were unsure of where they may be within the sewer system, but they did their “due diligience” to find them. Duluth Fire and Police worked with St. Louis County Sheriffs and rescue officials to locate the person. City spokespeople was also unsure why the person may have entered the sewer system. Authorities eventually ended their search for the person who crawled into the sewer system. According to city spokespeople, they believe the person made it out of the sewer system before first responders could locate them. (KBJR)


Monday Climbs In With:

  • Fried Chicken Day
  • Hand Roll Day
  • International Kissing Day or World Kiss Day
  • Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day



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