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Leading the News
Trump Administration To Impose Limits On H-1B Visas
The AP (10/6, Fox) reports that on Tuesday, the Trump Administration “announced plans...to sharply limit visas issued to skilled workers from overseas, a move officials said was a priority amid job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” According to the AP, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor “said new rules on who can obtain the visas and how much they should be paid would be released soon to restrict the use of what’s known as the H-1B program.” Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli “said DHS estimates that about one-third of applicants would be denied under the new rules, which include limits on the number of specialty occupations open to H-1B holders.”
The New York Times (10/6, Kanno-Youngs, Jordan) reports the new limits will “substantially” raise the wages that US companies must pay for foreign hires and narrows eligibility criteria for applicants. The changes will be published this week as interim final rules, “meaning that the agency believes it has ‘good cause’ to claim exemption from the normal requirement to obtain feedback from the public before completing them.”
The Washington Post (10/6, Miroff) reports the moves “are expected to trigger lawsuits when they take effect in 60 days.” Doug Rand, an immigration policy adviser under President Barack Obama, “said the measures would trigger a backlash from major U.S. companies that rely on the H-1B program.” These companies say the H-1B program is vital as they “struggle to find enough engineers, computer scientists and other highly skilled workers. The program has a cap of 85,000 visas per year, awarded using a lottery system and typically valid for three years.” Opponents of the program “say it incentivizes companies to replace their American employees with cheaper foreign labor, and they argue that it provides too little scrutiny of whether the specialized workers are needed.”
Also reporting are the Wall Street Journal (10/6, Hackman, Subscription Publication), San Francisco Chronicle (10/6, DiFeliciantonio), Reuters (10/6, Wiessner), and Fox News (10/6, Shaw).
Analysis: Coronavirus Testing Strategies At Colleges Are Inconsistent
Education Dive (10/6, Bauer-Wolf) reports that “only a quarter of colleges that enroll more than 5,000 undergraduates and are offering in-person classes are testing for the coronavirus on a mass scale or randomly screening students, a new analysis finds.” NPR, “working with the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, which tracks institutional responses to the pandemic, examined data on more than 1,400 schools and unearthed the testing inconsistencies.” Virus screening “has been a linchpin of colleges’ campus reopening plans, some of which have unraveled amid rising case counts.”
Survey: COVID-19 Experience Strengthens Faculty Support Of Online Learning
Inside Higher Ed (10/6, Lederman) reports that a new survey finds “fewer than half of professors surveyed in August agree that online learning is an ‘effective method of teaching,’ and many instructors worry that the shift to virtual learning has impaired their engagement with students in a way that could exacerbate existing equity gaps.” The report on the survey, “Time for Class COVID-19 Edition Part 2: Planning for a Fall Like No Other,” from Every Learner Everywhere and Tyton Partners, “also suggests that instructors’ increased – if forced – experience with remote learning last spring has enhanced their view of how they can use technology to improve their own teaching and to enable student learning.” The proportion of instructors “who see online learning as effective may still be just under half – 49 % – but that’s up from 39% who said so in a similar survey in May.”
Sacred Heart University Suspends 109 Students For Violating COVID-19 Protocols
NBC News (10/6, Li) reports that Sacred Heart University “suspended more than 100 students for violating coronavirus safety measures, officials said Tuesday, as campuses across America continue struggling to keep kids in check.” The Catholic school in Fairfield, Connecticut “has almost 10,000 undergrads and graduate students.” It took action “against 109 pupils this semester with suspensions of 7, 14 or 30 days.” Two students “have been removed from campus altogether for the rest of this term, Sacred Heart spokeswoman Deborah Noack said.”
Universities Struggle To Help Female Faculty Amid Pandemic
The New York Times (10/6, Kramer) reports that “the pandemic has laid bare gender inequities across the country, and women in academia have not been spared.” The outbreak “erupted during universities’ spring terms, hastily forcing classes online and researchers out of their laboratories.” Faculty with young or school-aged children “-- especially women – had to juggle teaching their students with overseeing their children’s distance learning from home.” Many universities “struggled to put meaningful policies in place to help faculty, especially caretakers and women.” During the summer break “ahead of this fall semester, administrators at some institutions began to reassess and develop strategies that experts say are a palatable start to stymieing crises stemming from the pandemic.”
Princeton University Agrees To Pay Nearly $1.2M To Female Professors After Federal Review Finds Men Earned More
NJ News (10/6, Heyboer) reports “more than 100 female scholars at Princeton University thought they had reached the pinnacle of their professions – a job as a full-time professor at an Ivy League university.” However, “a US Department of Labor review of salaries between 2012 and 2014 found the women were being paid less than male professors at Princeton with the same jobs, experience and credentials.” Princeton University officials “argued they were not discriminating against women.” They “said the pay differences could be explained by differences between departments, job performance and the job market for top-tier professors.” After years “of contesting the findings of the federal pay discrimination investigation, Princeton University has agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million – including $925,000 in back pay and at least $250,000 in future salary adjustments – to female professors.”
Analysis: Student Housing For College Students With Kids Are Scarce
In a analysis for The Conversation (10/6), Wellesley College research scientist Autumn Green writes, “According to a Campus Family Housing Database that I created with my colleague, Sarah Galison, just 8% of all US colleges and universities offer on-campus housing for college students who are parents.” This does not “take into consideration whether the housing is affordable, or the number, size or availability of family housing units.” Furthermore, they “found that 28 institutions closed their family housing programs between 2014 and 2019, many without announcement.” This scarcity of student housing “poses a serious dilemma for the nearly 4 million undergraduate college students in the United States – or more than one out of every five – who are parents.”
Federal Data: COVID-19 Has Pushed Hundreds Of Thousands Of Workers Out Of Higher Education
The Chronicle of Higher Education (10/6, Bauman) reports that “the work-force that serves much of higher education in America has shrunk by at least 7 percent since COVID-19 arrived on American shores – a staggering, unprecedented contraction, according to federal data.” An estimated 337,000 fewer workers “were employed by America’s private (not-for-profit and for-profit) and state-controlled institutions of higher education in August compared to February, according to a release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates industry-specific employee estimates each month.” At no point “since the bureau began keeping industry tallies in the late 1950s have colleges and universities ever shed so many employees at such an incredible rate.”
Study: Black Student Loan Borrowers More Likely To Not Be Able To Repay Student Debt
Inside Higher Ed (10/6, Murakami) reports that “Black student loan borrowers are twice as likely as white borrowers to be projected to never be able to pay off their student loan debt, a result of systemic inequities in society, finds a study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.” About 13 percent of Black borrowers “are projected to never be able to pay off their debt because they are not keeping up with their payments and their balances are increasing, said the study, which used nonidentified data from 301,583 Chase checking customers as well as Experian credit agency data.” In comparison, “6.8 percent of white borrowers and 8.4 percent of Hispanics were projected to never be able to repay their loans.”
White University Of New Hampshire Professor Accused Of Posing As Immigrant Woman On Twitter To Troll Supporters Of Racial Justice
The AP (10/6) reports, “A white male University of New Hampshire chemistry professor is accused of posing as an immigrant woman of color on Twitter to make racist and sexist comments and attack users who supported racial justice and other progressive causes.” The university did not name the alleged professor, but a spokesperson said that the person “is on leave and not in the classroom.”
Writing under the name “The Science Femme,” and claiming to be a female scientist and an “immigrant woman of color,” the user behind the account compared the Black Lives Matter movement to terrorism and wrote “an expletive-laden message about a soccer team in Sacramento,” McClatchy (10/6) reports. In addition, the user “shared explicit photos of former U.S. Congresswoman Katie Hill,” and allegedly took steps to “thwart their academic department’s efforts to release a statement in the wake of George Floyd’s death.”
Inside Higher Ed (10/6) reports the New Hampshire case is different that other recent incidents of white academics posing as people of color “in that the alleged impostor there, Craig Chapman, apparently frequently used his fake account to troll people and political causes with which he disagreed.” Suspicious users doubted the authenticity of the Science Femme account and “collected extensive evidence about similarities between the @piney_the and Chapman’s own personal Twitter account before both accounts were deleted.” Notably, both accounts “said they studied similar things, were from New Jersey, had spouses in the medical field helping COVID-19 patients, had 7-month-olds and had brothers who own breweries. At one point, Science Femme posted a photo of her elaborate coffee setup, and Chapman posted the exact same photo a few minutes later.”
Also reporting are Fox News (10/6, Genovese), the Daily Beast (10/6), and Newsweek (10/6).
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Research and Development
Texas A&M Professor Builds Neuronlike Device That Uses Less Electrical Power
R. Stanley Williams, professor of electrical and computer science at Texas A&M university, writes in The Conversation (10/5) about his research team building for the first time “a single electronic device that is capable of copying the functions of neuron cells in a brain.” His team “connected 20 of them together to perform a complicated calculation,” showing that it is “scientifically possible to make an advanced computer that does not rely on transistors to calculate and that uses much less electrical power than today’s data centers.” The researchers used the device to “look at the possible mutations that have occurred in a family of viruses by comparing pieces of their genetic information,” a small version of a problem that Williams asserts “is important in a wide range of modern analytics.” Furthermore, Williams explains this research matters because “the performance of computers is rapidly reaching a limit because the size of the smallest transistor in integrated circuits is” approaching a physical limit of 20 atoms wide.
UCLA Professor Wins Nobel Prize In Physics For Work On Black Holes
The Orange County (CA) Register (10/6, Tat) reports UCLA physics and astronomy professor Andrea Ghez on Tuesday became only the fourth woman to receive the Nobel Prize in physics. Ghez “shared half the prize with Reinhard Genzel, of UC Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, for their respective work leading to the discovery of a supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy. A third scientist, Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford, was awarded the other half of the Nobel Prize in physics for proving that black holes are the result of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.” According to the Register, Ghez now “advises young women who are considering careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to pursue their passions and to be persistent.”
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Boeing Expects Pandemic Will Lower Jet Demand By 2,000 Planes Over 10 Years
The Wall Street Journal (10/6, Cameron, Subscription Publication) reports that Boeing said in its annual forecast that the COVID-19 pandemic will reduce global demand for jetliners by 2,000 planes over the next 10 years. Boeing anticipates that global aerospace sales will be $200 billion lower than they would have been without the pandemic.
Bloomberg (10/6, Johnsson) reports that Boeing “predicted that global planemakers will deliver 18,350 commercial aircraft through decade’s end. That’s 11% fewer than the company expected a year ago, before the virus sapped demand for travel and new planes.” Airbus spokesperson Stefan Schaffrath wrote in an email that Airbus believes it is “too early...to issue a new forecast.” Schaffrath wrote, “Our analysis of the global market environment and the direct feedback we are getting from customers worldwide indicate that this crisis will go well beyond 2021, with air traffic not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels before 2023 at best, maybe even 2025.”
Boeing Lowers 20-Year Forecast By 2%. Reuters (10/6) reports that Boeing lowered its 20-year forecast from 44,040 commercial aircraft deliveries to 43,110, a 2% drop, though the company projects that the total list price of sold aircraft will remain at $6.8 trillion. Boeing also lowered its passenger traffic growth figure to 4% from 4.6%. The Associated Press (10/6) reports that Boeing “largely stuck to its rosy forecast for long-term demand,” as the company is still anticipating growth in Asia’s air travel market. Boeing Vice President of Commercial Marketing Darren Hulst pointed to the aviation industry’s ability to rebound after previous crises, such as the September 11 terrorist attacks. Boeing estimates that it will take about three years for air travel to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Mercedes To Focus On Boosting Return On Sales For Luxury Vehicles To Finance Shift To EVs
Bloomberg (10/6, Rauwald) reports Mercedes-Benz “will rethink its ambitions” about “leading the auto industry in luxury-vehicle sales” and instead “restructure operations to be more profitable in the midst of a costly shift to electric cars.” Mercedes-Benz wants its return on sales – net income divided by sales – to be “in the mid-to-high single digit range by 2025, even if market conditions are unfavorable,” but it plans “to earn a double-digit profit margin if the environment is strong.” In a statement, Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kallenius said, “We have not yet lived up to our full potential in terms of turning volume success into profit growth. We will invest where we can win, grow more intelligently, and reshape our industrial footprint.” The story says profits from its larger, more expensive vehicles will be necessary for Mercedes-Benz to pay for “restructuring costs aimed at making Mercedes more efficient” as it begins introducing more electric vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz Reveals Plans For New Electric Vehicles. The Verge (10/6, Hawkins) reports the EQS electric sedan and SUV unveiled by Mercedes-Benz, both built on the company’s Electric Vehicle Architecture platform “that will enable the automaker to tailor its products to a variety of vehicle types and shapes,” will go into production in 2021. Mercedes-Benz also announced the EQE sedan and EQA compact SUV, as well as an EQB crossover, all set to be “released over the course of the next two years.” The new vehicles are part of Mercedes’ “goal of releasing 10 new EVs by 2020.” Compared to its competition, “Mercedes is widely seen as lagging behind other major automakers in the release of new electric vehicles.”
Army Research Laboratory Invests $8 Million Into Study On Rechargeable Technologies For UAVs
ExecutiveGov (10/6) reports that the Army Research Laboratory “has invested $8M in the University of Illinois Chicago for research that would explore recharging technologies for unmanned air vehicles.” The “cooperative agreement, issued in August, would support the design of ground vehicles where UAVs would mount on to autonomously recharge, the U.S. Army said Monday.” The university “will create and provide algorithms that would shape route planning for the battery-powered UAVs and corresponding ground vehicles.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Trump Calls Off Relief Talks After Fed Chairman Stresses Need For More Stimulus
On its website, CNN (10/6, Mattingly, Raju, Foran, Fox) reports, “President Donald Trump has ordered his negotiators to halt talks over a new stimulus package, after the two sides have struggled for months to reach a deal.” Trump’s Twitter message was “a major blow to Americans still struggling with the fallout from the once-in-a century pandemic and endangers an economic recovery that for months was driven by the initial $2.2 trillion stimulus passed by Congress in the spring.”
The Los Angeles Times (10/6) reports GOP congressional leaders “had been warily watching” talks between Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Pelosi. Many Senate Republicans “had signaled they would not be willing to go along with any stimulus legislation that topped $1 trillion, and GOP aides had been privately dismissive of the prospects for a deal.”
The Wall Street Journal (10/6, A1, Peterson, Subscription Publication) reports aides said Trump had spoken earlier in the day with Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and House Minority Leader McCarthy, and CQ Roll Call (10/6, McPherson) reports McConnell “told reporters he agreed with Trump’s decision to end negotiations.” He said, “I think his view was that they were not going to produce a result and that we needed to concentrate on what’s achievable.”
The Washington Post (10/6, A1, Werner, Stein) reports Trump’s “surprising announcement stood in stark contrast with recommendations from” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, “who had said in a speech hours earlier that more economic stimulus was needed to sustain the recovery.” Bloomberg (10/6, Wasson, Mohsin, House) reports Trump’s announcement came hours after Powell’s “strongest call yet for greater spending to avoid damaging the economic recovery.” In comments to “a virtual conference hosted by the National Association for Business Economics Tuesday morning,” Powell said, “Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste. ... Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.”
Politico (10/6, Warmbrodt) reports Powell “warned of a ‘tragic’ scenario” in which “a long period of unnecessarily slow progress could continue to exacerbate existing disparities in our economy.” Powell “said too little support from policymakers” would “lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.”
In a separate story, Bloomberg (10/6, Boesler) reports Philadelphia Fed chief Patrick Harker “said at least another $1 trillion was important to sustaining the recovery.” Harker said, “We really could use that additional fiscal stimulus to get through this period.” Another Bloomberg (10/6, Roeder, Holman, Schlangenstein) report says business leaders “expressed dismay” after Trump’s announcement, “with executives from the retail and air-travel industries saying more jobs will be lost if the economy doesn’t get immediate aid.”
Additional coverage by the Wall Street Journal (10/6, Timiraos, Subscription Publication), USA Today (10/6, Wu, Hayes), Politico (10/6, Bresnahan), the Washington Post (10/6, Aratani, Laris), the AP (10/6, Madhani), Reuters (10/6, Chiacu), Fox News (10/6, Lea), The Hill (10/6, Chalfant), Axios (10/6, Treene, Basu), The Intelligencer (10/6), the Daily Beast (10/6) and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (10/6, Darnell).
Goldman Sachs Economists Offer Optimistic Predictions If Biden Elected President
CNN (10/6, Business) reports while President Trump is “predicting economic disaster” if Democrats win in November, Goldman Sachs economists on Monday pointed out that polls “suggest a ‘blue wave’ in which Democrats gain unified control of Washington is becoming more likely,” and “they’re not suggesting investors dump stocks.” Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius wrote “all else equal, such a blue wave would likely prompt us to upgrade our forecasts.” Goldman Sachs “wrote that a blue wave would ‘sharply raise the probability’ of a fiscal stimulus package of at least $2 trillion shortly after the January 20 inauguration.” In addition, the bank “cited Biden’s longer-term spending plans on infrastructure, climate, health care and education.” Goldman wrote that this spending “would at least match the likely longer-term tax increases on corporations and upper-income earnings.”
US Consumer Goods Imports Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels
The Wall Street Journal (10/6, Kiernan, Subscription Publication) reports US imports of consumer goods have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the US trade deficit in August was its largest in more than a decade as consumer goods imports reached a monthly record.
Tuesday's Lead Stories
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