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In a nutshell News from the week of 3/2

More from the coronavirus, a recap of super tuesday and a deal in afghanistan

Rachel, Caroline, Beth and Ellen break down the news

Coronavirus cases rise outside of china

Pictured: A microscopic image of a sample from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. The blue spheres are viral particles. [Source: CDC/Hannah A Bullock and Azaibi Tamin]

As of Thursday, the number of reported global COVID-19 cases surged to 95,333 with over 150 in the U.S. across 18 states, including a confirmed three in Illinois. The majority of cases were a result of overseas travel and subsequent person-to-person spread — a significant example being 46 Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers returning from quarantine in Japan.

According to the World Health Organization, 3.4% of the global cases have resulted in 3,110 reported deaths, compared to the less than 1% of those infected and then killed by the seasonal flu. However, unlike previous epidemics, like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), COVID-19 has less severe symptoms — common coughing, fever and shortness of breath — making it harder to diagnose and isolate. While the risk of catching COVID-19 in the U.S. is relatively low, the disease has already impacted international business and U.S. stocks and bond yields continue to drop, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling more than 900 points.

The disease, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread rapidly in Italy and Iran with death tolls of 148 and 77 respectively, and has led schools like the University of Illinois and Loyola University to bring students home from their study abroad programs. Japan and South Korea, which have the largest amount of cases outside of China, are also considered areas with ongoing transmission of the virus; the Center for Disease Control recommends avoiding non essential travel to the countries’ affected regions and monitoring health in the two weeks following travel. Federal health officials announced Wednesday that coronavirus tests are available for anyone who wants one with a doctor's agreement. On Thursday, Congress approved a $8.3 billion spending package for fighting the virus.

The Fed cuts interest rates amid virus downturn

Pictured: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at a press conference following the announcement of the interest rate cut. [Source: The Federal Reserve]

On Tuesday, the Federal Open Market Committee unanimously voted to lower the interest rate by 0.5%. This is the largest cut since the 2008 financial crisis, largely made in reaction to the global economic downturn from the coronavirus.

Interest rates are the cost of borrowing. In other words, they are how much one has to pay after borrowing money from the bank.

This can broadly affect:

  • The housing market
  • Businesses
  • Exchange rates
  • Rates of borrowing

Fear regarding the spread of coronavirus continues to cause global economic concern for the risk of recession and flow of the market. As many begin to stay home and quarantine themselves, the global economy is seeing major repercussions. Rates were lowered with the intent to encourage money to move more freely. By doing so, this typically results in more money in the economy, allowing businesses to invest and consumers to spend and borrow, keeping the money flowing through the economy. The Federal Reserve wants to re-establish consumer confidence that, months ago, was relatively high.

Democratic field narrows After Super Tuesday

Pictured: Democratic Presidential Candidate, Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia at Booker T. Washington High School. [Source: Carter Marks, Royals Media]

Super Tuesday, the day where 14 states vote for a Democratic nominee, yields crucial delegates for a candidate — one who wins 1,991 delegates wins the nomination and the amount one can win can change the course of the race. .

Before Super Tuesday:

  • On Saturday night, billionaire hedge fund investor and environmental activist Tom Steyer dropped out of the presidential race following a disappointing third-place finish in the South Carolina primary.
  • On Sunday, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg announced the suspension of his presidential campaign after his significant loss in South Carolina.
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar soon followed suit, dropping out Monday and joined Buttigieg in endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden.

Super Tuesday Results:

  • Biden passed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with a total of 610 delegates over 541 as of Thursday, after winning the primaries in Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
  • Sanders won in Vermont, Colorado, California and Utah.
  • Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg won the majority in American Samoa.
  • However, following Tuesday, Bloomberg announced the suspension of his campaign after a poor showing, despite the $500 million he put toward his efforts. He followed suit with Buttigieg and Klobuchar in endorsing Biden.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who brought in low numbers of delegates and won no states, dropped out of the race on Thursday.
  • Three candidates remain, the third, Sen. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii received one delegate from American Samoa. Some commentators have questioned the motivation of Gabbard’s campaign, with some speculating that she is preparing to run as third-party candidate.

Votes will continue to be counted in the upcoming weeks. The next primary election is March 10, when voters in Michigan, Idaho, Mississippi, Washington State, Missouri and North Dakota will cast their ballots.

From the weekend...

The united states and taliban strike a deal — By ellen yandel

The U.S. and Taliban signed an agreement Saturday to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan and allow the U.S. to remove all troops in just over a year. The deal seeks to allow U.S. troops to withdraw from the region without causing further instability or violence by holding the Taliban to certain peace standards, which include not attacking U.S. forces or important Afghan cities and an overall reduction of violence in the region. The U.S. government said that a complete withdrawal of troops relies on the Taliban’s adherence to these standards.

Will it work?

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected a proposed timeline for a prisoner exchange between the Taliban and Afghan government in the agreement, saying that it was only a decision for his government to make. The Afghan government was not directly involved in the agreement, the primary purpose of which is to remove the U.S. from fighting and establish guidelines for the Taliban’s future actions in Afghanistan. Talks between the Afghan government and its rival political groups are currently planned for next week.
  • Some fighting also resumed after a week of reduced violence, raising concerns that the deal can’t bridge ideological gaps between Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban.
  • The U.S. launched what officials called a “defensive strike” against Taliban forces in retaliation to their continued violence against Afghan targets, which they were supposed to reduce under the conditions of the peace deal.
  • U.S. officials said they do not expect complete success, with many mentioning the challenges of reconciling Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban, whose opposing views on social and political issues are a large part of political tension in the region.

Background:

  • The deal comes after an 18-year war following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that has costed the U.S. nearly two trillion dollars and killed over 40,000 American troops and Afghan civilians.
  • This is not the first time the U.S. and Taliban have sought an agreement: the Obama administration made plans for troop withdrawal that eventually fell through.

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Image Attribution

  1. "Coronavirus" image from Hannah A Bullock and Azaibi Tamin via the CDC.
  2. "The Fed" image from the Federal Reserve via Flickr.
  3. "Super Tuesday" image by Carter Marks, Royals Media via Flickr.