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Free speech experts call on public schools to not penalize students for sharing images of maskless classmates

  • This issue became a flashpoint this week after sophomore Hannah Watters was disciplined for posting a photo on Twitter showing many of her fellow North Paulding High School classmates in Dallas, Georgia not wearing masks while walking down a crowded hallway.
  • Des Moines Independent School District, the Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that Iowa public school officials had violated the First Amendment rights of several students after suspending them for wearing black armbands protesting the US involvement in Vietnam, according to the Middle Tennessee State University Free Speech Center's website.
  • Four students from three Georgia high schools who attended classes in person this week have tested positive for Covid-19, Columbia County School District Superintendent Sandra Carraway told CNN.
  • In Georgia's Cherokee County School District, at least 260 students and eight teachers were quarantined after several individuals have tested positive for Covid-19 during the first week of school.

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Fauci 'satisfied' with enrollment for the first week of Covid-19 vaccine trial

  • CNN has obtained part of a Friday, July 31 email from Moderna, the company running the trial, that states 1,290 people were randomly assigned to get either the vaccine or a dummy shot as of that date.
  • The email was sent to sites across the US that are participating in the Moderna trial.
  • Fauci told CNN that he expects to get an answer about whether the vaccine works in November or December.
  • But Fauci told CNN he expects the enrollment numbers to increase as the study continues.
  • At the July 27 briefing, Fauci said he hoped for much higher enrollment numbers -- but he now says he was joking.
  • More than 310,000 people have registered with the the COVID-19 Prevention Network to take part in clinical trials for a vaccine or monoclonal antibody treatment for coronavirus.

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A small town in Washington hopes vampires will revive its tourism industry

  • Forks, Washington, is home to roughly 3,600 people, many of whose livelihoods over the past 15 years have been boosted by a tourism industry powered by "Twilight," the young adult book series and multibillion dollar film saga.
  • To build its tourism industry, Forks has intentionally invested in activities for fans such as dedicating September 13 -- the day of "Twilight" protagonist Bella Swan's birthday -- as Stephenie Meyer Day to thank the author for her contributions to the community.
  • Andros, the executive director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce, says the impact of Covid-19 on the community is "scary" and she hopes that by continually inviting "Twilight" fans back and marketing the natural splendor of the region, Forks will survive the pandemic and the end to Meyer's saga.

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Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway earnings jumped 87% as it recovers from the pandemic

  • On Saturday morning, it posted $26.3 billion in net income for the most recent quarter, up almost 87% from last year.
  • Operating profit fell 10%, to $5.52 billion, compared to $6.14 billion last year, according to its second quarter report posted on Saturday morning.
  • Berkshire also reduced the value of its Precision Castparts Corp business by $9.8 billion, reflecting the challenges that industrial companies faced during Covid-19.
  • In particular, manufacturing, service and retail businesses were hit hard, posting $1.449 billion in net earnings last quarter, down from $2.487 billion last year.
  • In the year earlier quarter, for example, the firm posted what was until this year its largest loss because of difficulties at its Kraft Heinz unit, where sales were hit hard as shoppers increasingly shun processed foods.
  • The company posted a more than $25 billion net loss in the fourth quarter of 2018 as it wrote down that position.

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Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and John Kasich expected to join forces for first night of Democratic convention

  • The speakers represent a wide political spectrum of support for former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • Sanders is a key leader of the left-wing of the Democratic Party while Kasich ran for the GOP nomination for president in 2016.
  • The rest of the speaking schedule for the 2020 Democratic National Convention remains in flux as officials work to fill the schedule and adjust to the event going virtual.
  • Democrats announced this week that presumptive nominee Biden and his running mate -- who has yet to be announced -- would not travel to Milwaukee after all, due to safety concerns related to Covid-19.
  • Normally the political conventions fill four days full of programming from a jam-packed arena.
  • This year Democrats will move the event online and programming will be condensed, running for only two hours each night.

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As Democrats allege USPS 'sabotage,' a conspiracy theory in the making

  • There had already been calls for an internal investigation of cost-cutting measures that have led to slower mail delivery and suggestions that the effort by Louis DeJoy, the new postmaster general who is a donor to President Donald Trump and Republicans, is harming the agency.
  • Democrats wanted to include a one-time $25 billion check for the postal service in the CARES Act, but the Trump administration blocked the money.
  • Instead, the Postal Service got a $10 billion loan for operating expenses through the massive pandemic stimulus bill enacted during the spring, but it had to agree to terms with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the summer.
  • The Postal Service is an independent organization, but in order to access the loan, it agreed to giving information about its operations to the Trump administration, including handing over previously confidential agreements it entered into with delivery giants like Amazon.

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While Washington points fingers, out-of-work Americans feel the pain

  • The White House is still a trillion dollars short of Democrats' demands for this fourth stimulus, but Trump wants credit for helping people.
  • Rather than budge on the top-line figure and pass the big bill, Trump held a last-minute news conference in New Jersey Friday night and, with members of his private golf club looking on in a weird sort of news conference/campaign rally, he promised executive actions to extend expanded unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium and enact a new payroll tax cut.
  • Democrats are sure to challenge these executive actions as being insufficient and, in the case of the payroll tax cut, which Trump has fixated on, unnecessary, since it will give money to people currently earning a paycheck and not help those put out of work by the pandemic.

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After clashing with Trump over pandemic response, Maryland's Hogan now under fire for his own state leadership

  • Hogan began the week with a major reversal of a decision by Maryland's most populous and wealthiest county, Montgomery County, to keep private school campuses closed at the start of the school year.
  • With the backing of Montgomery County's Democratic executive Marc Elrich, the county health officer issued an order on July 31 that private schools in the county could not resume in-person learning until Oct. 1.
  • The decision to prohibit private schools from opening their campuses to in-person learning came not from the Montgomery County executive himself but from Dr. Travis Gayles, the county health officer who was appointed by Elrich.
  • Under Hogan's direction, the state is conducting its election under its existing laws, despite these poll-worker shortages and expectations that more voters than usual will choose to vote by mail.

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NASA drops racially charged nicknames of celestial bodies

  • Now, NASA is adding celestial bodies to the list that includes Aunt Jemima, the Washington Football Team and hitmakers The Chicks and Lady A.
  • In June, Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream said it was dropping the brand "Eskimo Pie" after a century.
  • The word is commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people, according to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska.
  • "This name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean 'eater of raw meat.'" People of Canada and Greenland prefer other names.
  • The renaming trend followed worldwide protests against racism and police brutality after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

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What not to do in a bear attack? Push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself, says the National Park Service

  • As people across the country visiting parks and taking trips to the mountains find themselves in terrifying encounters with bears, the National Park Service (NPS) has offered a few tips on what to do if you're face-to-face with the furry beasts.
  • Bears are not threatened when you move sideways, but like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals.
  • Another tip is to identify yourself by making noise, specifically your voice, so the bear doesn't confuse you for an animal and knows you're human.
  • While a curious bear might come closer or stand on its hind legs to examine and smell you, it is not threatening.
  • If you are attacked by a brown or grizzly bear, leave your backpack on and play dead by laying flat on your stomach with your hands behind your neck and legs spread.

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