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Leading the News
Tesla To Build New Plant In Austin, Texas
The Wall Street Journal (7/23, Higgins, Subscription Publication) reports Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s plan to build a fourth assembly plant is part of an effort to prepare the automaker to boost electric car production each year. According to the Journal, Musk’s announcement that Tesla is preparing the construction of a new plant outside Austin, Texas is one of the first car assembly plants to be built in the US in the past 10 years, and comes at a time when the auto industry is struggling as a result of the pandemic-induced recession.
Elon Musk Urges Miners To Produce More Nickel. Reuters (7/23, Sun, Burton) reports Tesla CEO Elon Musk has “urged miners to produce more nickel, a key ingredient in the batteries that power the company’s electric cars, warning the current cost of batteries remained a big hurdle to the company’s growth.” He said on Wednesday during an earnings call, “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”
Tesla Sues Rivian For Allegedly Poaching Talent, Encouraging Theft Of Trade Secrets. TechCrunch (7/23, Korosec) reports Tesla is suing rival electric-vehicle company Rivian and four of its employees who used to work for Tesla, over “allegations of poaching talent and stealing trade secrets.” Tesla claims Rivian sought out Tesla employees and welcomed the idea of their taking company information with them on the way out. The Tesla suit claims Rivian was seeking information about Tesla’s hiring strategy and salary offers. The suit alleges that in one case, “As Tesla now knows, Rivian instructed one recently departing Tesla employee about the types of Tesla confidential information that Rivian needs. Both Rivan and the employee knew full well that taking such information would violate the employee’s non-disclosure obligation to Tesla. Nonetheless, the employee expropriated for Rivian the exact information Rivian sought – highly sensitive, trade secret information that would give Rivian a huge competitive advantage.”
Study: Colleges Aim For Hybrid Instruction This Fall
Education Dive (7/23, Busta) reports that according to the College Crisis Initiative, based at Davidson College, “colleges’ plans so far for the fall term show an emphasis on in-person instruction, particularly at schools focused on undergraduates.” Around “480 schools plan to be hybrid this fall, while 693 expect to be mostly online, according to the database,” while “627 aim to instruct primarily in person.” The study was “compiled the plans of more than 2,900 institutions, including community colleges.” Four-year schools “can be sorted by variables such as sector, Carnegie classification and NCAA division.” Around a quarter of the schools “haven’t announced how they will start the academic year, though the researchers expect more colleges to do so in the next few weeks.”
Concerns Growing That Pandemic Has Severely Damaged Appeal Of US Universities Internationally
The Washington Post (7/23, Berger) reports concerns “over health care, immigration and visa status are drivers behind an expected drop in enrollment among international students at US institutions, and have struck a blow to the standing of the United States as a coveted destination for overseas study, according to initial data gathered by organizations in the global education sector.” While “in April and June surveys of international students found that the majority still wanted to continue with their courses abroad,” the US “ranked last among its English-speaking competitors for perceived welfare of international students and showed the highest rate of students hoping to defer.” As such, the US “could see a 25 percent drop in international enrollment in 2020, by one estimate.”
How Colleges Can Stop Spread Of COVID Among Students
The Chronicle of Higher Education (7/24, Mangan) reports on colleges that are working on plans to “punish students for hosting large gatherings” as a means to control coronavirus spread. In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases “have exploded among people in their 20s and 30s. Public-health officials say that’s partly because of so-called superspreader events, including gatherings of college students in off-campus houses, fraternities, and bars.” The Chronicle reports on the different ways colleges are attempting to stop the spread of the virus on their respective campuses.
State Travel Advisories Add Additional Hurdle For Reopening Colleges Campuses
Education Dive (7/23, Schwartz) reports that “as colleges prepare for the fall, some are dealing with yet another barrier to bringing students back to campus.” Around one-third of US states “have quarantine orders or recommendations affecting certain groups of people entering their borders, according to one count.” While several states “merely recommend that certain out-of-state visitors quarantine upon arrival, others are mandating they do so and have penalties for noncompliance.” Such orders “could affect colleges, which may need to give students time and space to quarantine or test them for the coronavirus.”
Students Weigh Options Of Attending Ivy League Schools Online
CNN (7/23, Bahney, Business) reports on “students who had already made tough decisions about which school to go to and how much they were willing to pay for it, are now faced with even more complicated and confusing choices: Which option should they participate in – taking online classes while living on a campus or staying at home? – and is college even worth the expense right now?” Families and students “are going to agonize over paying full-freight for online classes, said Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid and student loan expert and publisher of Savingforcollege.com.” Kantrowitz adds. “It’s between the health and safety of your child versus delaying your education for a year, and families have to decide if the cost is worth it. You can get just as good an education at a public college for a quarter of the cost of a private college. But many people still perceive attending an Ivy League or an elite institution as yielding additional value.”
North Carolina Professor Dead Weeks After Retirement Due To Backlash
The AP (7/23) reports that “authorities on Thursday discovered the body of a white North Carolina professor who recently announced his retirement amid backlash over his comments on social media, in which called the state’s governor ‘Massa Cooper’ and compared coronavirus restrictions to living in a ‘slave state.’” Lieutenant J.J. Brewer “of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said deputies found the body of University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor Mike Adams, 55, while performing a wellness check at his home, according to The News & Observerof Raleigh.” Deputies were “conducting a death investigation, but investigators did not release additional details about the circumstances of Adams’ death.”
California State University System To Conduct Most Fall Classes Remotely
The Chronicle of Higher Education (7/23, Leckrone) reports that the California State University system “will conduct the majority of its classes online this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, its chancellor said on Tuesday.” With experts “forecasting more waves of COVID-19 infections in the summer and fall, Chancellor Timothy P. White told California State trustees that it would be irresponsible to bring the system’s nearly 500,000 students back to its 23 campuses in the fall.” Anything done “on a campus this fall won’t be as it was in the past.”
University Of California Irvine Funds Projects To Advance Equity Amid Pandemic
Diverse Issues in Higher Education (7/22) reports the University of California Irvine (UCI) “announced that it will fund 19 projects aimed at advancing equity in the age of COVID-19.” An initiative by the Office of Inclusive Excellence’s Confronting Extremism Program, “the awards will support interdisciplinary approaches to inequities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.” Dr. Douglas M. Haynes, chief diversity officer and vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, said that UCI sought out projects that “explore the meaning(s) of the pandemic from a broad cross section of fields, disciplines, methodologies or theoretical perspectives. Using COVID-19 as a lens through which to explore fault lines of inequities, proposers are therefore encouraged to interrogate the uneven effects and realities of the pandemic on people, communities, societies, nation-states, state systems or global or planetary conditions.”
University Of Nevada, Las Vegas Hires First Black President
The AP (7/23) reports that “a university administrator and African American families researcher from Detroit has been hired as the new president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, university officials announced Thursday.” Keith Whitfield, “a psychology professor and provost at Wayne State University in Michigan, was signed by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board to a four-year contract.” Regents noted Whitfield “is the first Black president in UNLV’s 63-year history.” He begins Aug. 24, replacing Marta Meana, who served as acting university president since June 2018.
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Research and Development
Washington University Couple Design Holographic Display For Use During A Cardiac Ablation Procedure
Irish Tech News (7/23) reports a “team of engineers and physicians from Washington University in St. Louis have displayed for the first time that using a holographic display improves physician accuracy when performing a procedure to treat an irregular heartbeat.” Jennifer N. Avari Silva, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, and her husband Jonathan Silva, associate professor of biomedical engineering, “were in charge of a team that tested the Microsoft HoloLens headset with custom software during cardiac ablation procedures on patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.” The system, the Enhanced Electrophysiology Visualization and Interaction System (ELVIS), “provides a 3D digital image of the patient’s electroanatomic maps that provide a picture of the inside of the heart, which they can measure and manipulate during the procedure.”
NASA’s Perseverance Rover Passes Flight Readiness Review, On Track For July 30 Launch
SPACE (7/23, Wall) reports that NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is on track to launch July 30 after passing its flight readiness review (FRR) Wednesday, NASA officials announced. Agency officials wrote in a Wednesday update that the FRR “was an opportunity for the Mars 2020 team and launch vehicle provider United Launch Alliance to report on the readiness of the spacecraft, along with the Atlas V rocket, flight and ground hardware, software, personnel and procedures.” The next step for the mission team is the launch readiness review, which is scheduled for July 27. The launch window for the mission is between July 30 and August 15, and the rover is expected to arrive on Mars on February 18, 2021. Perseverance will land “inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, which harbored a lake and river delta in the ancient past.”
BBC News Online (UK) (7/24, Rincon) reports that the Perseverance rover will be tasked with searching for ancient life on Mars. The rover “will drill into Martian rocks, extracting cores that are about the size of a piece of chalk. These will be sealed away – cached – in containers and left on the surface” until they are retrieved by the Mars Sample Return mission, which NASA is undertaking together with ESA.
Russia Launches Cargo Ship To ISS
The AP (7/23) reports that Russia launched an uncrewed cargo ship to the ISS Thursday. The Progress MS-15 “is carrying about three tons of fuel, water, food, medicine and other supplies.”
Spaceflight Now (7/23, Clark) reports that the cargo ship launched aboard a Soyuz-2.1A rocket at 10:26:21 EDT from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Completing a “fast-track, three-hour pursuit of the International Space Station, a Russian Progress supply ship overcame a last-minute misalignment and autonomously linked up with” the ISS.
CBS News (7/23, Harwood) reports that “carrying out an autonomous approach, the Progress MS-15/76P spacecraft docked at the Earth-facing Pirs module at 1:45 p.m. ET.” On board Progress was “1,102 pounds of propellant; 220 pounds of oxygen and air; 926 pounds of water; and 3,351 pounds of crew supplies, spare parts and research equipment.”
Lockheed Martin Expects Lower Production Rate Of F-35
Aviation International News (7/23, Donald) reports that during an FIA Connect event, Lockheed Martin Vice President of F-35 production Darren Sekiguchi said that the company expects to see a reduced production rate of the F-35 aircraft as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sekiguchi said, “At this time, we expect to see impacts of 18 to 24 aircraft in 2020. However, we will accelerate production when we return to pre-Covid-19 conditions to recover as many delayed aircraft as possible. This year’s delivery target is 141 aircraft, and we continue to work towards that goal.”
EmbraerX Conducts First Simulator Flight Test Of Its New eVTOL Aircraft
Aviation International News (7/23, Alcock) reports that EmbraerX “recently made the first flight in a simulator it is using to develop its planned new eVTOL aircraft.” Embraer’s advanced technologies division also has “flown scale models of the new design and has conducted wind tunnel testing, but has yet to say when it expects the all-electric, four-seater to enter service.” The “new design shows eight propellers installed on four beams attached to two narrow, parallel wings protruding from the top of the fuselage to provide vertical lift. At the rear of the aircraft, there are a pair of ducted fans for cruise flight.”
Bombardier Delivers First Global 5500 To US Customer
Aviation International News (7/23, Lynch) reports that the first US-bound Bombardier Global 5500 aircraft was delivered to Unicorp National Developments. The delivery “comes within a month of entry-of-service for the latest edition of the Global line, a follow-on to the Global 5000 that joins the Global 6500 and 7500 in the ultra-long-range family.”
NASA Targets September For Launch Of Crew-1 Mission
SPACE (7/23, Wall) reports that on Wednesday, NASA said that the launch of the Crew-1 mission, which will send four NASA astronauts to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, will be conducted “no earlier than September.” The mission had been scheduled to launch August 30. The mission will send NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi to the ISS where they “will spend about six months aboard the orbiting lab.”
CNN Business (7/23, Wattles) reports that Crew-1 “will follow SpaceX and NASA’s Demo-2 mission,” which “carried NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the ISS after launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on May 30.” Behnken and Hurley, “both test pilots chosen specifically to fly Crew Dragon on its first-ever manned mission, are expected to return home from the ISS on August 2.” NASA “is waiting until the Crew Dragon vehicle that brought them to the ISS can safely return Behnken and Hurley to Earth before certifying the capsule worthy of human spaceflight missions.”
NASA Plans To Send Telescope Aboard Balloon In December 2023
CNET News (7/23, Al-Heeti) reports that NASA “is working on a new mission where it’ll send an 8.4-foot telescope high into the stratosphere aboard a football stadium-size balloon, the space agency said Thursday.” The Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths (ASTHROS) “will observe wavelengths of light not visible from the ground.” The telescope is scheduled to launch in December 2023 from Antarctica. ATHROS will “reach an altitude of around 130,000 feet, or 24.6 miles,” which is “still below the boundary of space, but it’ll be high enough to see light wavelengths that are blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, NASA says.” The mission “will examine four key targets, including two star-forming regions in the Milky Way. It’ll also map the presence of two types of nitrogen ions, which can ‘reveal places where winds from massive stars and supernova explosions have reshaped the gas clouds within these star-forming regions,’ NASA said in a release.”
Engineering and Public Policy
White House, Senate GOP Fail To Reach Agreement On COVID Stimulus Package
The Washington Post (7/23, A1, Werner, Kim, Stein) reports, “The White House and Senate Republicans on Thursday failed to reach agreement on a broad coronavirus legislative package to offer Democrats as part of negotiations, stumbling over numerous provisions as factions in the GOP bickered over the path forward.” The AP (7/23, Taylor, Mascaro) reports President Trump “reluctantly dropped his bid to cut Social Security payroll taxes as Republicans stumbled anew in efforts to unite around a $1 trillion COVID-19 rescue package to begin negotiations with Democrats who are seeking far more.”
The New York Times (7/23, Cochrane, Tankersley, Rappeport) reports, “The snag in negotiations delayed until Monday the rollout of what will effectively be Republicans’ opening bid in negotiations with congressional Democrats over a new stimulus package. Republicans have said they would support a package of around $1 trillion for this round of stimulus, while Democrats are demanding $3 trillion.”
Politico (7/23, Levine, Bresnahan) reports, “Senate Republicans and the White House wasted a week at the worst possible time. Amid a series of crises – with 30 million Americans unemployed and coronavirus cases spiking nationally – White House officials and Senate GOP leaders couldn’t even come to an agreement among themselves on a starting point for a new relief package, let alone begin bipartisan talks with Democrats.” The Washington Post (7/23, Rosenberg) reports, “Layoffs are beginning to spike again across the country – the number of new unemployment claims rose last week for the first time since March – as coronavirus cases soar, spurring cities and states to backtrack on reopenings only a month after appearing to turn the corner.”
The Washington Post (7/23, A1, Werner, Kim, Stein) reports that Mnuchin, “sensing the potential economic calamity of pulling back these benefits for up to 30 million people all at once...suggested Congress should consider a smaller bill to keep these benefits in place while other details are negotiated on Capitol Hill.” However, according to the Post, both “Democrats and Republicans roundly dismissed that idea immediately.”
USA Today (7/23, Collins), Bloomberg (7/23, Davison, Litvan), the Wall Street Journal (7/23, Restuccia, Duehren, Subscription Publication), The Hill (7/23, Carney), and CQ Roll Call (7/23, Krawzak), among other sources, also have reports.
Weekly Jobless Claims Rise For The First Time Since March
Reuters (7/23, Mutikani) reports that the Labor Department revealed on Thursday that “the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week for the first time in nearly four months, suggesting the labor market was stalling amid a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases and depressed demand.” According to Reuters, “The weekly jobless claims report...the most timely data on the economy’s health, also showed nearly 32 million people were collecting unemployment checks in early July.” Reuters adds, “Relentless labor market weakness puts pressure on the U.S. Congress to extend a $600 weekly jobless benefit supplement, which expires on July 31.”
The Washington Post (7/23, Rosenberg) reports that “for the week ending July 18, about 109,000 more jobless claims were filed compared to the week prior.” However, “the number of workers continually claiming unemployment insurance went down...to 16.1 million workers for the week ending July 11, from 17.4 million for the week ending July 4.” The Post adds, “In addition to the 1.4 million seeking unemployment nationwide last week, another 980,000 new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims were filed, the benefits offered to self-employed and gig workers.”
Politico (7/23) reports that “more than 30 million Americans are currently on unemployment and several states have delayed reopening plans in recent weeks – shrinking the already small pool of available work.” According to Politico, “The data will fuel the urgency in Washington to extend the enhanced federal pandemic unemployment benefits set to expire this weekend, as lawmakers debate another economic rescue package.”
The AP (7/23, Rugaber) reports “the weakening of the labor market has raised fears the economy will shed jobs again in July, after two sharp hiring gains in May and June.” The Wall Street Journal (7/23, A1, Morath, Subscription Publication), Bloomberg (7/23), Reuters (7/23, Schneider), and the New York Times (7/23, Cohen) have more on Thursday’s jobs numbers.
Also in the News
US Unveils Plans To Build Quantum Internet
The Washington Post (7/23, Whalen) reports that US officials and scientists “unveiled a plan Thursday to pursue what they called one of the most important technological frontiers of the 21st century: building a quantum Internet.” The Energy Department didn’t “announce a funding figure for the project Thursday.” Paul Dabbar, the Energy Department’s Under Secretary for Science, “said the federal government invests about $500 to $700 million a year in quantum information technology, suggesting some of that money would fund the new Internet.” He “said there would likely be further funding announcements for the project in the future.” Panagiotis Spentzouris, head of quantum science at Fermilab, “said in an interview that more resources, and a clearer project structure, will be needed to carry out the blueprint published Thursday.”
Thursday's Lead Stories
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