5 things to know for August 7: Coronavirus, Beirut, Saudi Arabia, TikTok, police

The pandemic is stressful to everyone, but a new study suggests Americans are suffering more coronavirus-related mental health consequences than others.

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1. Coronavirus

More than 19 million cumulative cases of coronavirus have now been recorded worldwide. India has become the third country after the US and Brazil to record more than 2 million cases, and Africa has now recorded more than 1 million cases across the continent. The US is poised to reach 5 million cumulative cases soon, and a new model predicts the US death toll could reach nearly 300,000 by December; it’s now about 160,000. Meanwhile, countries are jockeying over who controls the most important preventative measures. President Trump just signed an executive order directing some federal agencies to prioritize buying certain drugs and medical materials when made in the United States. China dominates the personal protective equipment market, and India makes a lot of generic prescription drugs. Meanwhile, Australia’s Prime Minister said any country that finds a vaccine, including his own, must share it with the world to end the pandemic.

2. Beirut

At least 16 employees of Beirut’s port have been detained as part of an investigation into Tuesday’s catastrophic explosion, and more details are coming out about the dangerous substance that was being held there. Newly released documents suggest several government agencies in Lebanon, including the Ministry of Justice, knew about a shipment of ammonium nitrate housed at a warehouse in the port. Lebanon’s economy was already in crisis before disaster hit this week, and now the prognosis is even more bleak. European and Gulf countries, along with the US, have promised financial and military aid, but others may be dissuaded from helping because of widespread corruption and mismanagement in Lebanon.

3. Saudi Arabia

A former top Saudi intelligence official says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent an assassination squad to murder him just days after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by members of the same group in 2018. Dr. Saad Aljabri says he fell out with the Crown Prince, known as MBS, and fled the country in 2017. But threats from MBS followed Aljabri to Canada, he claims in a legal complaint filed in federal court in Washington DC, and his son was warned by FBI agents that Saudi operatives were trying kill him. Officials on Capitol Hill could not corroborate the intelligence behind the claims, but a staunch MBS critic in Congress called the assassination allegations “credible.”

4. TikTok

The clock is ticking on TikTok. President Trump signed an executive order banning the popular app from operating in the US if it isn’t sold by its Chinese-owned parent company in 45 days. Microsoft has already said it wants to buy the app, which boasts about 100 million American users. Trump added that any TikTok deal would also need to include a “substantial amount of money” coming to the US Treasury. TikTok isn’t the only platform on the chopping block. Trump issued a similar declaration for WeChat, a Chinese-owned social media app that lets users transfer funds to each other. The Trump administration says such apps threaten national security by collecting user data.

5. Police

The Minneapolis City Council’s proposal to dismantle the city’s police department is going to take more time to figure out, which means it won’t be on the ballot in November. The city’s Charter Commission voted this week to take 90 more days to review the council’s proposal to replace the police department with an agency with a broader public safety approach. It’s one of several local debates in the wake of high-profile cases of police violence in recent months. In Louisville, Kentucky, the police chief and chief of public services walked out of a city meeting on recent protests this week because they said pending investigations kept them from answering questions about the death of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old EMT who was killed by police during a raid in her home.


E! News is being canceled after 29 years on air 

Blame the coronavirus, as usual.

Manhattan apartment sales plunge while suburbs boom

People really DO want to get away from it all.

Hollywood projects are getting back underway — in bubbles

Eventually there’s going to be a name for this uber-isolated format that sports leagues and media productions are using, right? Bubbletainment? 

Nintendo profits jump 400% because of Nintendo Switch and ‘Animal Crossing’ 

Pretend to move to a remote island to fish and farm with your animal villager friends? Sign us up. 

Prehistoric ‘hell ants’ hunted their prey with unusual headgear

Let’s go ahead and leave those critters in the past.



That’s about how many people were arrested illegally crossing the US-Mexico border in July. Arrests along the border are continuing to rise, and US Customs and Border Protection says economic conditions in Mexico are partly to blame.


SPAC (n):

A special purpose acquisition company, also known as a shell company or blank-check company. Start-ups can merge with these companies in so-called blank-check or reverse mergers so they can go public without raising the money themselves. Such deals used to be more controversial, but the shaky economy and increasing number of big names entering them has erased a lot of the stigma.


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A loaf of refreshment

It took a long time to convince my brain that this delicious-looking Mediterranean ice cream wasn’t sausage. (Click here to view.)