Welcome to this month’s first edition of The Weekender. Former President Donald Trump will have to wait a bit longer to regain his social media presence, as the Facebook Oversight Board upheld the platform’s suspension this week. Also in the news: kids are expected to start receiving vaccines, while adults may be expected to receive vaccine booster shots as soon as July. Plus: reconciliation helped to pass the coronavirus relief bill, but can it help Democrats, particularly Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, pass immigration legislation? And finally: demand for manufacturing goods is up, but American factories face challenges filling open positions. Check out this week’s headlines and more below. We’re glad you could join us for The Weekender.
P.S. Did you see our feature in POLITICO’s Playbook this week, announcing our new team members? Over the next few weeks, we will be revealing more SE additions on our revamped website and social media pages (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook). Check us out there and follow along for exciting announcements.
THE BIG FIVE
Trump still suspended from Facebook: Oversight Board reaffirms the decision.
In a move that sets a global precedent for how social media companies could handle political leaders worldwide, Facebook’s Oversight Board decided to uphold Donald Trump’s suspension from Facebook and Instagram platforms. You may recall: Facebook banned the former President from the social network the day after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. While Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts had been suspended “indefinitely,” there was a wrinkle in the decision: the board also claimed it was not appropriate for Facebook to vary from its standard penalties and keep a user off the platform for an undefined period while allowing the user’s page to remain visible. The ruling sparks an ongoing worldwide debate on how to treat world leaders’ activity on social media, many of whom use it as a primary communication means. Instead of being a definitive decision, the ruling creates pressure for networks like Facebook and Instagram to set standards, clearly define violations, and achieve consensus when delving out the penalties. With the evolution of social media and the integration of politics, needless to say, this is uncharted territory. Read more in Axios
Market movement hints Covid-19 vaccine booster shots are around the corner.
As the nation experiences “vaccine hesitancy,” faces a surplus of Covid-19 vaccinations, and is set to distribute vaccines to kids (reportedly by next week), global market moves indicate that a booster vaccine will be rolling out soon. To brace for a spike in Fall cases, White House officials say the U.S. is preparing for booster shots to be administered six to 12 months after Americans receive their first inoculations. A recent report by IQVIA projects global spending on Covid-19 to reach $157 billion by 2025, which would be driven by booster shots expected every two years. The forecast for such rapid growth in sales for a new drug or vaccine is unrivaled, surpassing the $130 billion spent over seven years on Hepatitis C cures. Experts say the Covid-19 booster may come in the form of pills or patches, and could even be combined with the seasonal flu vaccine. Pfizer says it plans to seek full FDA approval of its vaccine booster by the end of the month, which would allow the company to market the vaccine directly to consumers and promote boosters as the new norm. Read more in Forbes.
The reemergence of the immigration debate and the citizenship question.
Following President Biden’s proposed legislation to create a path to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants, the debate is remerging in Washington D.C. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer is considering bypassing a filibuster, and instead, explore what is possible by reconciliation, allowing the bill to pass with a simple majority rather than overcoming the 60-vote legislative filibuster. Democrats have used reconciliation to pass the recent coronavirus relief bill and are likely to pass much of Biden’s $4 trillion spending plan the same way. The process could become a vehicle for passing other priority issues, but immigration is a different challenge altogether, balancing security measures with the needs of the U.S. economy. It is unlikely the immigration legislation will be enacted in the Senate via the standard legislative process, and moderate members are seeking changes to the bill before signing on. Some key Republicans argue that before Congress can address undocumented immigrants, it must handle the increase of migrants across the southern borders. To be successful, Democrats would have to confront strict budget rules that hinder what can be done under reconciliation, and not all Democrats are likely to support a unilateral approach. Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but across party lines, nearly all agree the system is broken, and reform is needed. How Congress reaches a bipartisan solution is a challenging and long road in and of itself. Read more in New York Times.
The $1 trillion manufacturing jobs problem, explained.
In the nation’s recent history, never before have we seen such a need for workers and have had so many jobs available. Now that businesses are navigating the pandemic better and opening their doors, the demand for goods is skyrocketing, and hiring is happening in overwhelming numbers. The U.S. manufacturing industry saw a 37-year activity high in March with more than half a million job openings. However, there is a huge problem: American factories cannot find enough workers, especially those who have skills for specialized roles, including machinists and welders. A recent study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute shows as many as 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will be open and unfilled through 2030. If the talent shortage continues, it will hurt production and revenue, and it will cost the nation’s economy as much as $1 trillion by 2030, the report warns. Experts say the notion that robots could completely take over manufacturing jobs someday soon has impacted the number of young Americans pursuing manufacturing jobs. While the challenge to overcome this perception and fill open manufacturing positions will be steep, experts say manufacturers should look to diversify their workforce and rebuild their talent pipeline. Read more in CNN.
How much energy does cryptocurrency really consume?
As cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity over recent years, so has the question about how much energy the transactions actually consume. An electricity consumption index reveals that Bitcoin consumes roughly 0.6% of global electricity consumption, which is equal to as much carbon dioxide emissions produced by a small country. While the number has raised some questions, the reality is more complex. CoinMetrics data indicates more than 1 million bitcoin addresses are active daily, using it as a resource to avoid inflation and capital controls. With more organizations focused on lowering their carbon emissions, renewable energy has become the latest buzzword to enter the discussion surrounding the future of cryptocurrency. Analysts are taking a closer look at the footprint digital currencies have and the sustainability around Bitcoin. As with any energy-consuming industry, it is up to the cryptocurrency community to demonstrate that the value it provides is worth the resources used to sustain it. Read more in HBR
- 12. The youngest age of Americans eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. The FDA is expected to authorize the use of Pfizer vaccines in adolescents ages 12 to 15 by early next week after clinical trial data results found it safe for young Americans.
- 2.1 million. The number of manufacturing jobs that will be unfilled through 2030 due to a goods surge and available positions. Experts warn that the worker shortage could cost the U.S. economy up to $1 trillion.
- 4%. The decrease in births in the United States since 2019. This is the sixth consecutive year the rate has dropped, reaching the lowest level since 1979.
- $52,000. The average starting price of an electric car in the United States. Eight of the 11 electric vehicles produced in the U.S. from 2018 to 2020 are considered luxury vehicles. Experts say to combat climate change effectively, the price of these vehicles must drop.
- 1,950. The number of years since Rome’s ancient Colosseum was built. The historic landmark is receiving a massive $22 million makeover and will once again have the floor with the gladiator’s view. The construction project is set to be complete by 2023.
- 106. The number of buildings completed worldwide in 2020 that are deemed skyscrapers, which is a 20% decline from the year before, mainly due to Covid-19 construction disruptions. For a building to qualify as a skyscraper, it must be 200 meters tall.
- 1.3 billion. The number of adults worldwide who are not willing to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Global vaccine willingness has ranged from 96% in Myanmar to 25% in Kazakhstan. The majority (68%) of adults worldwide are still willing to get the vaccine.
- $5 billion. The amount Apollo Global Management Inc. agreed to pay to acquire Yahoo and AOL from Verizon Communications Inc. Verizon will keep a 10% stake and $750 million of additional preferred stock in the new company.
- 19. The number of countries where the Star Wars franchise was filmed. From the U.S. and Mexico, all the way to Tunisia, Croatia, Maldives, and Australia, the real-world locations are far and wide.
Have a great weekend. See you next week.