How summer shipping delays could impact your holidays. Plus, the week’s top headlines.

Welcome to a new edition of The Weekender… Facial recognition is becoming increasingly popular in law enforcement agencies, but it can be faulty. How will this affect certain Americans? Also, consumer demands are up but so are shipping delays. How will the global shipping crisis impact your holidays? Plus, a new type of cryptocurrency is on the market and seems to be the best of both worlds as Gen Z and Millennials are fueling a new, eco-friendly industry. Catch up on this week’s news headlines and more in this edition of The Weekender. As always, thanks for being here.
 
THE BIG FIVE

The federal government expands the use of facial recognition despite growing concerns.

The federal government is using facial recognition without most Americans even knowing it. The Government Accountability Organization, a non-partisan “congressional watchdog,” found that 42 different government agencies are using facial recognition in some capacity and intend to expand the usage over the next few years. The scary part: these technologies can be faulty, with issues distinguishing between people of color, women, and older folks. The new technology is used by the Department of Justice for surveillance, leading to arrests. Critics fear that the mistakes can lead to false arrests and should not be trusted. It has even gone so far that some states, including Maine and Massachusetts, have put limits on its usage. On the other hand, proponents of the technology claim using it will deter crime from happening in certain places, such as airports. Nonetheless, facial recognition implementation does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Read more in The Washington Post.

The global shipping crisis is getting worse and could ruin your holidays.

The fallout of the Suez Canal blockage in March continues to affect shipping times and now faces a new problem: the world’s third shipping port is shut down due to a worker testing positive for COVID-19, and there are no solid plans to reopen. More than 35 ships are now waiting to dock and unload off the coast of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which happens to be the highest number of ships docked since the record-breaking number at 40 in February of 2021. To put this into perspective: normally, only one or two ships are waiting at any given time. This situation is not just happening within the U.S.; China’s second-busiest port had more than 50 ships docked last week. Why is this happening? A few reasons: coronavirus shutting down shipping ports; consumer demand is at an all-time high; and the ongoing typhoon warnings in the South Asian Sea. Combining these historic problems has created a bottleneck, with shipping goods continuing to pile up. Experts warn this bottleneck will likely force retailers to increase prices of goods and shipping rates, and end-of-summer sales are likely to not happen this year with major retailers due to a lack of inventory. As retailers prepare for the holiday season, hoping to make up for last holiday season’s lost revenue due to the pandemic, business owners fear not having enough items to sell to close the revenue gaps. Experts say if the shipping delays persist through October, it could impact the holiday delivery rush typically seen in November and December. Tis the season to order those Christmas presents months in advance… Read more in Fast Company.
 

What to know about stablecoins and the connection between cryptocurrencies and traditional money.

There’s a new currency on the market, and it may be the best of both worlds: stablecoin. This new type of cryptocurrency is backed by cash or other assets, which provides the stability of traditional backed currency, and it is digital, such as other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Stablecoin is not just one currency but a type of cryptocurrency—with the most popular being Tether. Since the value of stablecoin is directly tied to the value of traditional currency, such as the U.S. dollar, it lacks high volitivity. The new type of crypto opened the floodgates of concerns from the Federal Reserve and Chairwoman Janet Yellen due to its nuances and potential security issues. As the country begins to embrace cryptocurrencies, stablecoin throws another type of crypto into the mix, and along with it, raises new questions of trust and how to regulate it. However, one thing is clear: there is a demand for digital currency, and it’s higher than we thought. Read more in ABC News.

The generational gap in sustainable consumption between Gen Z and Millennials.
Gen Z and Millennials don’t always agree on everything (especially on the ongoing debate of how to part your hair); however, there is one thing the two generations have come together on: buying sustainable clothing and environmentally-conscious products. Gen Z, specifically, has grown up with every moment being shown on social media and taking their image very seriously. However, studies find that this generation also heavily cares about climate change and making environmentally friendly purchases. Many companies understand their target groups’ priorities and use them to their advantage to charge more for their products. A new report found Millennials are 73 percent more likely to pay a higher price if the clothing is made in an environmentally friendly manner. Rent The Runway, a company allowing consumers to rent high-end clothing, is valued at $750 million with projections to be even higher—completely capitalizing on this demand for sustainable clothing. It begs the question: how will large companies pivot to reach these younger generations while keeping prices low for Generation X and Baby Boomers who may not place as much value on these attributes? Read more in Statista.

Pandemic problems and signs of hope: how much longer will this go on?

The United States is almost 17 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the debates of the early days are still buzzing throughout the country. It begs the question we all want to know: Is a pandemic end in sight? For starters, vaccines have the potential to put the pandemic behind us, and local governments and large companies are doing everything they can to encourage people to get the stick. Just as students head back to school, the FDA has granted full approvals for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, hoping to push people to sign up for vaccines. The approval came for people 16 and older, meaning some high school students are now cleared by the FDA for the shot (kids ages 12 to 15 can receive the vaccine under the current health emergency). Angry parents and school administrators say the CDC has yet to recommend vaccines for children under the age of 12, leaving a massive population unvaccinated, and in many places, unmasked. With hospitals once again overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, the National Guard has been deployed to hospitals in Georgia amid the Delta variant-fueled surge. Employers are trying to encourage, cajole, and, in some cases, mandate workers to receive the vaccine. The Pentagon has also recently announced that all active and reserve military personnel must be vaccinated, furthering the precedent for vaccine mandates. On the other hand, California gave away millions of dollars in prizes for those getting vaccinated, with the food giant Tyson following suit by raffling off money to vaccinated employees. Despite vaccines being readily available for months, will these mandates and incentives be enough to finally go back to a pre-pandemic life? Only time will tell. Read more in The Atlantic.

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

More than a dozen Americans killed in one of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan.
Thirteen U.S. military members have been killed by a terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, making it the worst single attack for Americans in Afghanistan since 2011. The attack was carried out by ISIS-K and was precisely the conflict President Biden was hoping to avoid as troops began evacuation efforts earlier this month. President Biden’s response on Thursday to the attack has opened the door to a military response, declaring, “To those who carried out this attack […] We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” Biden is the fourth U.S. President to have to deal with the conflict in Afghanistan. The past few weeks have underscored the challenges and risks it continues to bring both abroad and here at home. Since the attacks, some Republicans have made moves to capitalize on the crisis, calling for President Biden’s resignation and discussing impeachment possibilities, which is unlikely to happen. Even some Democrats are putting distance in between themselves and the President, with Representative Susan Wild (D-PA) recently tweeting, “In order to move forward, we need answers and accountability regarding the cascading failures that led us to this moment. Our troops deserve nothing less than a complete and unvarnished truth.” With more calls for an investigation of the attack, this story will only continue to develop. Read more in New York Times.

DATA POINTS

18 million: The number of pieces that includes COVID-19 misinformation, which Facebook has taken down from its channels since the start of the pandemic, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg on CBC This Morning. 

35: The number of cities Simone Biles will be visiting on her “Gold Over America” tour next month. The star gymnast’s tour will feature gymnastics and dance routines, stressing the importance of taking care of your mental health. 

45%: President Biden’s approval rating as of August 15thdown 15 percent since April. The sharp decline in rating came after Kabul fell, creating an international crisis. 

73%: The amount of college students who say their schools should implement a vaccine mandate for those on campus. Eighty-six percent of those polled say they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which comes when schools across the country are struggling to determine proper protocol. 

11.74 million: The number of Americans who are set to lose benefits as pandemic jobless aid expires. Both pandemic unemployment assistance and pandemic emergency unemployment compensation are scheduled to expire on September 6th. 

6.32 inches: The amount of rain that fell in Brooklyn, NY, on Sunday. Storm Henri poured heavy rain across the Northeastern U.S. last weekend, causing considerable flash flooding over the Tri-State and New England areas. 

$10,000: The amount of money employees at nearly 50 Tyson chicken plants can win each week for the next five weeks if they’ve received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Tyson is America’s biggest meatpacker, employing 139,000 people. 

77%: The amount of ICU beds that are full as hospitals across the U.S. are struggling to keep up with severely ill COVID-19 patients, almost all of whom are unvaccinated. Arkansas and Alabama officials said this week that their states are completely out of ICU beds. 

9: The number of female governors in the U.S. after Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first female governor. Just three women of color have served as a state governor in the United States.  

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