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Kenyan factory transforms into a surgical mask assembly line
Max Bearak - Washington Post - A week ago, Josephine Wambua spent her days stitching gardening clothes. This week, the factory where she works transformed into an all-out effort to make 30,000 surgical masks a day in a country that barely produced any before.
“To sit here and do something that is useful to the world is a dream,” said Wambua, 24, who never went to school. “I never thought I would be part of something that has the potential of saving millions from dying.”
Payroll employment falls, unemployment rises in March
OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy lost 11,100 jobs in March and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for March increased from 3.8 percent to 5.1 percent according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).
“The impacts of COVID-19 may not be fully captured in the March report and are more likely to be evident in the April Report”, said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Although we have seen widespread closings of schools, restaurants, and theaters, these actions largely took effect starting the week of March 16th, after most workers would have been counted. As a result, even if some firms started laying off workers as early as the second week of March, many still would have worked or received pay for at least part of the payroll period including the 12th, and thus their loss of employment is not yet fully reflected in the March report.”
The Employment Security Department released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.
The department also announced that February’s previously reported unemployment rate of 3.8 was confirmed. February’s preliminary estimated gain of 3,500 jobs was revised to a gain of 3,900 jobs.
The national unemployment rate (preliminary) rose from 3.5 percent in February 2020 to 4.4 percent in March 2020. In March 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.8 percent.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 185,458 people in March.
Labor force decline is by far the largest month to month decline since 1990
The state’s labor force in March was 3,889,700 – a decrease of 72,800 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 31,900 over the same period.
From March 2019 through March 2020, the state’s labor force grew by 27,700 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 200.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
From February 2020 to March 2020, the number of people who were unemployed statewide increased from 151,500 to 197,600. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed increased from 44,700 to 93,400 over the same period.
Five industry sectors expanded and eight contracted
Private sector employment decreased by 11,700 while the public sector increased by 600 jobs in March. This month’s report shows the largest private job growth occurred in construction up 2,500 jobs and professional & business services up 1,500 jobs. Also posting increases were information and retail trade, both up 600 jobs. The industries that posted the highest losses were leisure and hospitality down 12,300 jobs, financial activities down 1,500 jobs and, manufacturing down 1,400 jobs. Also posting losses were other services down 700 jobs, wholesale trade down 500 jobs, transportation, warehousing & utilities down 300 jobs and mining & logging and education & health services both down 100 jobs.
Year-over-year growth in payroll employment still up for now
Washington gained an estimated 64,400 jobs from March 2019 through March 2020, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.0 percent, up an estimated 56,400 jobs, while public sector employment rose 1.4 percent with a net gain of 8,000 jobs.
From March 2019 through March 2020, eight out of the thirteen major industries added jobs while five sectors contracted.
The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
Professional & business services with 18,000 new jobs
Construction with 12,900 new jobs
Retail trade with 12,600 new jobs
The three industry sectors with the largest employment losses year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
Manufacturing down 1,600 jobs
Leisure & hospitality down 1,200 jobs
Other services down with 1,100 jobs
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had impact on the March 2020 survey data. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment by industry. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it. However, it should be noted that the March survey reference periods for both surveys predated many coronavirus-related business and school closures that occurred in the second half of the month.
March data from the establishment and household surveys broadly reflect some of the early effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market. We cannot precisely quantify the effects of the pandemic on the job market in March at this time. However, it is clear the decrease in employment and the increase in unemployment can be ascribed to effects of the illness and efforts to contain the virus.
What It’s Like to Have COVID-19
These observations by University of Washington Physicians are a good summary of how to respond to possible infection.
(Adapted from University of Washington Medicine.)
Seeking Arts Editor and Contributors
Feeling the urge to review and describe the art scene in your community? This would be a good time to become a contributor to AABL Digest. Right now the rewards are limited to the satisfaction of seeing your by-line on articles, but we're working to improve on that.
We also need an Arts Editor. If you have the desire and the experience, please consider stepping up. As we grow and add languages we'll need to expand that editorial function, so stay tuned.
Is your device safe from ad-hackers?
Cybersecurity researchers discovered malware earlier this year that was draining people’s Android smartphones and ballooning their data bills by secretly racking up video play requests. The dicovery cast a spotlight on a big and growing problem for the mobile ad industry: sophisticated invalid traffic, or SIVT.
Digital ad fraud costs consumers, advertisers, and publishers billions of dollars per year. One estimate suggests that digital ad fraud will cost advertisers $44 billion globally in 2022, more than double the $19 billion estimated for 2018.
The problem is described more fully in the article linked below.
USNIH reports progress in sickle cell disease treatment
NPR Reported 19 December: Scientists report progress using gene therapy to treat sickle cell disease, a common and devastating genetic blood disorder. New genetic technologies offer promise to treat it. Scientists are also renewed interest in older DNA techniques to help people with this common, devastating blood disorder.
One approach involves giving sickle cell patients' cells a new gene to compensate for the defective one, to make their bodies produce a healthy version of a protein called hemoglobin, and that's what red blood cells need to carry oxygen in the body. Another strategy is sort of similar to the CRISPR gene-editing approach that (a US patient) got; it involves using gene therapy to make cells produce a different kind of hemoglobin called fetal hemoglobin to make up for that defective hemoglobin.
Experts Provide Solutions to End Discriminatory Real Estate Practices
WASHINGTON—December 19, 2019—Following a Newsday investigation revealing widespread discrimination by Long Island real estate agents against people of color, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released a report this week offering a broad set of solutions to address discriminatory real estate and housing practices throughout the country.
The recommendations enumerated by the National Fair Housing Alliance receive strong support from the nation’s premiere civil rights leaders, real estate industry groups and Walter Mondale, co-author of the Fair Housing Act
“The problem of discrimination in real estate sales is not going away on its own and it is not exclusive to Long Island. It’s time for real estate associations and state and federal regulators to step up and implement actions that will fix what is clearly a broken industry,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA. “The number of housing discrimination complaints is at its highest in years. The good news is that we have the tools to make changes, but we need industry officials, real estate agents, and enforcers to be willing to use them.”
In the report, Fair Housing Solutions: Overcoming Real Estate Sales Discrimination, NFHA proposes a wide range of solutions for both the industry and governmental agencies, including:
The following civil rights and industry leaders have given their support for the recommendations included in NFHA’s report.
Security guard assault on teen characteristic of Brazilian racial history
Social media recently carried video footage of a black teenager being whipped by security guards at a supermarket in Brazil. Commentators asserted that the event was no surprise in a large country still tormented by legacy of slavery.
White Supremacist Sentenced for Killing of Black Teen
In one of those times when justice prevails, it has been reported that a white supremacist who killed an Oregon teen in a hit-and-run attack has been found guilty of intentional murder and sentenced to life with a minimum term of almost 30 years.
ABC News Chicago reported that "Russell Courtier's sentencing came after jurors in March found Courtier, 40, guilty of murder, hit-and-run driving and the hate crime of second-degree intimidation in the death of 19-year-old Larnell Bruce, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
"Courtier and Colleen Hunt were in a Jeep driven by Courtier in August 2016 when he was encouraged by Hunt to drive into Bruce after the two fought outside a convenience store in the Portland suburb of Gresham, authorities have said. "
Useful Review of Uganda Politics and Economy
This is not news but does cover in useful detail the situation in Uganda in 2017.
Black Home Ownership Lag Worst in Years – Market Watch
Market Watch reports "The home ownership rate has plunged since the (2008 financial) crisis, and blacks have disproportionately lost ground compared to other racial groups. The black homeownership rate stood at 42.3% in the second quarter, the Census Department said last week, while 72.2% of whites are homeowners, marking one of the biggest gaps by race in decades."
Uganda Equator worth a visit
The equator that crosses through Uganda approximately 72 kilometers south of Kampala, along the Kampala – Masaka road, which has become a famous visit destination for visitors and tourists visiting Uganda. It has also become a booming hub made up of several craft shops and art galleries that sell souvenirs and handmade products about the equator including T-Shirts with words “I crossed the Uganda Equator”. Besides, there are nice restaurants with delicious food and good coffee.
The equator traverses the land and territorial waters of 14 countries and seven of them are in Africa. Uganda is one of the few countries in the world that the equator intersects. It must be noted that equator is one of the five notable circles of latitude on earth, the others are– the two polar circles and the two tropical circles – the tropic of cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. Fascinatingly, the equator is the only line of latitude that is a great circle.
While at the Equator, tourists have a chance to see an experiment of how water drains straight down at the Equator. You can stand on the Equator with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere and be in both sides of the world. Because the Earth bulges at the Equator due to the effects of rotation, gravity is reduced. Thus one weighs about three percent less than normal, but of course upon leaving the Equator one's weight returns.
At the equator, the sun rises and falls quickly, with equal number of hours in day and nighttime. The weather and temperature around the equator is stable throughout the year making it a nice place to be at. Water runs down in sinks clockwise in the Northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern hemisphere and right on the line the water goes straight.
Scientists say that areas on the equator experience the quickest sunrises and sunsets. Since the sun rises and sets almost vertically throughout the year, the length of a day from `sunrise to sunset` at the equator is almost constant during the year. Each day is about 14 minutes longer than night because of atmospheric refraction.
March 21 and September 23 are equatorial equinox days where the sun rises and sets directly above the equator line at midday on these two days; you will not see your shadow because the line is straight up.
African art evades Africans as popularity, recognition increase
Writing in the NY Times, Chika Okeke-Agulu emphasized the dilemma of African art, which is being more appreciated and valued than ever, bringing record prices, at the same time it is becoming ever less available to the peoples of the continent. The need for national and regional museums to bring home-grown art to the public from whom it sprang is a key requirement for recycling Africa's creative talents into new generations.
(Thanks to JGC for calling this to our attention via Facebook.)
Training and arming classroom teachers as school guards; costly, bad idea
Donald Trump, ever our protector, has proposed arming 20% of school teachers as part-time guards. That's 600,000 teachers. We can evaluate the proposal superficially rather quickly (fearless analysis: this article has taken longer to write than DT has thought about the issue).
Average teacher salary in US (2014) is $56,383 plus benefits. With est. fringe of 25% = $70,000.
Average training period for a sworn police officer is six months; we might assume three months for limited-duty training. There is ample reason to doubt that police-training agencies could gear up for this effort, but we won't count that for now.
Cost of training = one-fourth of a teacher's annual salary plus cost of training a police officer. Averages $7,000 across the US. Total with three months teacher salary $18,500 approx. The trainees might reasonably ask for a bonus for giving up their summer vacation, but we won't count that.
Presumably the teachers accepting the risk would get combat pay, let's say 25% bonus for half their career span. Figure 25% of $70,000 for 20 years or $300,000. Of course that would raise their pensions by a commensurate amount; est. 10% rise in pension cost; we won't try to calculate that permanent cost either.
So to summarize.
Ban and collect all "assault" weapons (define it yourself).
Government(s) might reimburse owners @ $400 each (currently advertised price of used AR-15 on 26 Feb 2018). (This is a good deal for most owners, whose guns are mostly hidden in closets, improperly maintained and rusting away.)
This would put a lot of money into circulation, almost entirely at a scale conducive to re-spending, which could be a boost to the economy, or perhaps equally to savings, which has lagged in recent decades.
If 10M are in circulation the one-time cost would be (400*10M)=$4 billion — about one-fifth of the armed-teacher plan — with no annual incremental cost.
To assuage anti-"Big Gub'mint" fears, there could be a federal license to carry with reasonable qualifications, e.g., an age limit; training requirement and certification; documentation while in possession; storage and protection obligations... Such a license might carry fees roughly equivalent to a passport, around $200 initially plus a periodic renewal. Further open and honest dialogue could work that out. Thus we protect the Second Amendment, as we should for a host of reasons.
Summary of Alternative
The nay-sayers are probably right that nothing can entirely eliminate the possibility of mass shootings, but this is about probabilities, not metaphysics, and imperfection is no excuse for inaction.
WA Secretary of State Cautions RE Non-profit Fraud Scheme
WA Secretary of State Kim Wyman is cautioning Washington business owners to be aware of a misleading and potentially fraudulent mailing that purports to be an official bill related to business registration requirements, according to a press release today from Washington Non-profits, a statewide service organization. Nonprofits are targets of this phishing scheme and we caution all nonprofits to be on the look out for this letter. As other states may be seeing the scam, too, we are reproducing the warning here.
"“We’'re working with the Attorney General’s Office – the agency that investigates and prosecutes consumer fraud – to see if further action should be taken to protect businesses in Washington,"” said Wyman, whose office includes the Corporations and Charities Division.
A mailing sent recently to an Edmonds business requested $121.86 be sent to an Olympia post office box by July 31. It warned that “your state annual report will not be filed until payment is received.” However, the mailing does not mention the Office of Secretary of State or include its logo, which can be found on all official correspondence.
Wyman added that any business owner who receives a registration-related bill from an unknown third-party company should contact the Attorney General’s consumer protection division or file an online complaint at atg.wa.gov/fileacomplaint.aspx.
Similar solicitations in the past several years have resulted in an investigation and legal action taken against the senders of the fraudulent letters. Businesses and charities in Washington can always verify their filing status with the Office of Secretary of State by visiting the website, sos.wa.gov/corps. Registration-related questions can be answered at (360) 725-0377 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Other states have similar provisions.
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