Kamala Harris becomes the first Black and Indian American woman to be on a major party’s presidential ticket as President Trump tries to boost the economy with four executive orders

Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris as his running mate for the 2020 presidential elections. Trump fights back by signing four executive orders, including a payroll tax holiday. Fortnite, one of the world's most popular games, is banned from the Apple app store and the Google play store. In response, the developer, Epic Games, sues both Apple and Google. Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, known for its beaches, is devastated by an Oil spill. robots and Artificial Intelligence are helping mankind with its ambitious goal of exploring the sea floors. Here are this week’s top stories.

1. Kamala Harris, the first Black and Indian American woman, to run on a major party’s presidential ticket

Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate on August 11. Kamala Harris is the first black and Indian American woman to be on a major presidential ticket. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a breast cancer scientist who had emigrated from Tamil Nadu, India, in 1960. Her father, Donald J. Harris, is a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics, who emigrated from British Jamaica in 1961. Her views on civil rights and civic duty were shaped by her family as her mother and father were active civil rights crusaders. Her grandfather, P. V. Gopalan, was an Indian career civil servant who served as s Joint Secretary to Government of India in the 1960s. Harris credits her mother and her grandfather, as the most important influencers in her life who, along with others, inspired her to go into politics. Harris also was one of the strong contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President but dropped out in Dec 2019, citing a shortage of funds. She is a perfect pick for Joe Biden as his running mate for many reasons. She had experience in politics as an Attorney general and a Senator. She represents a younger generation of world leaders and she is the first Black and South Asian woman on a major presidential ticket. She is also from California and can influence more votes and donations from California, which is a key state. Biden’s strategy is to play it safe and she is the safest pick for Biden.

2. Trump promises to end payroll tax if he is re-elected

Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

The Democratic and Republican parties were not able to come together and agree on the next stimulus, so Trump took matters in his own hands and signed four executive orders to boost the economy. Trump has paused the 6.2% payroll tax for workers earning under $104,000, to give Americans more money in their paycheck. The payroll tax is the Social Security tax that is taken from an employee’s paycheck and also paid by the employer. The way the Social Security tax works is that 6.2% is deducted from an employee’s paycheck. That same amount is also required to be paid by the employer, making a total of 12.4%. According to the executive order, this tax holiday will start from Sep 1 and last till Dec 31. It is not a forgiveness of the taxes, and the employee and employers are expected to pay back the taxes effective Jan 2021. Trump also vowed to permanently remove the tax if he is re-elected. “On the assumption, I win, we are going to be terminating the payroll tax after the beginning of the new year,” the president said during his nightly coronavirus briefing at the White House. While this may benefit Trump in his election campaign, the total forgiveness needs to be approved by Congress even if he gets re-elected.

3. Epic Games sues Apple and Google as Fortnite is removed from app store and play store

This message was posted on the game today, trying to get customers to pay directly to the parent company, Epic Games.

Fortnite, one of the most popular games with over 350 million registered users, was removed from the Apple app store and Google play store on Thursday. The reason provided by Apple and Google is that Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, violated their guidelines by announcing a way for players to buy in-game currency without using Apple and Google’s proprietary payment systems. This allowed players to buy in-game currency at a lower rate if they bought directly from the maker Epic Game and bypassing Apple or Google. Apple and Google have a compulsory in-store payment system and they take 30% of all transactions, which has been publically criticized by many. Epic said in its complaint, “Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS in-app payment processing market,” which was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Fortnite is one of the most downloaded apps in the app store. It reached 100 million iOS downloads within 5 months. The game is free to play but around 70% of players have spent a whopping $85 on average. Epic Games also made a video mocking Apple’s famous 1984-themed television advert about fighting a police state. Google has also removed the app from its play store but it’s easy to download apps bypassing google on android devices.

4. The Mauritius oil spill

Mauritius is a small island off the coast of Madagascar. The country is currently dealing with an oil spill from a Japanese ship. The Japanese ship spilled around 1,000 metric tons of oil after hitting a coral reef on July 25. Marine life is dying and the spill has set back two decades worth of restoring plants and wildlife in the area. Most of the oil has been pumped out of the area with the help of the French and Japanese, but the ship is severely cracked and expected to break up which would release another 3000 metric tons of oil. Authorities deployed booms to help with oil absorption around the vessel. In addition, scores of local volunteers are also working round the clock on the Mahebourg Waterfront. Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organization, has warned that “thousands of animal species were at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’ economy, food security, and health.” Removing the ship from the sea and clean-up is likely to take several months.

5. Robots are helping us explore the deep sea

Humans are trying to achieve their ambitious goal of exploring the deep sea with the help of robots. A robot boat recently completed a 3-week mission to map a part of the Atlantic Ocean. With a multi-beam echo-sounder attached to its hull, the boat mapped more than 1,000 sq km of continental shelf area, down to about a kilometer in depth. The boat is very slow at a speed of only 5mph (7km/h), but it’s highly efficient. Missions like these are happening all across the globe in an effort to map the ocean floor. In 2017, only 6% ocean floor was mapped but with the help of robots and Artificial Intelligence, that number has grown rapidly and now stands at 20%. The maritime and scientific communities have set the goal of 2030 to map Earth’s entire ocean floor. In addition, robots are also helping to find unexploded bombs from World War II. These robots get updated regularly and they are controlled by satellite and Artificial Intelligence. robots are changing what we do and how we do things. They are making our lives easier, safer while helping us accomplish ambitious goals.

Above were my top stories for the week ending August 15, 2020, hope you liked it. Please leave your feedback or point of view in the form of a comment.

Thanks, see you next week!

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Lakshya Jain

Lakshya Jain

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I share unique stories that are not widely reported in the media. Veritas! Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com