October 29, 2020

America just posted its biggest annualized and single-quarter GDP growth of all time. It isn't that impressive.

The U.S. GDP jumped at a 33.1 percent annualized rate in the third quarter, a growth of 7.4 percent from Q2, Commerce Department records released Thursday reveal. But as Gregory Daco, the chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, put it in a tweet, that growth is both "record-breaking and meaningless at the same time."

It's true that the 7.4 percent GDP rise from Q2 to Q3 is a record. But it also comes after a record contraction from Q1 to Q2, and a total loss of 10.3 percent throughout 2020, so it doesn't even come close to making up what was lost amid the pandemic. In fact, the 3.5 percent total GDP shrinkage during 2020 "means we are still down almost as much as we were during the height of the Great Recession," tweets Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton.

Economist Justin Wolfers meanwhile debunked the 33.1 percent growth rate the entire Trump family was touting Thursday morning. Looking at annualized growth reveals how much bigger the economy would be if it "grew at this rate for the next three quarters," Wolfers tweeted. "But there's no chance that will happen, so the annualized rate answers a question no one is asking." And if that wasn't convincing enough, Wolfers had another way of looking at it. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

4:29 p.m.

Elon Musk's tweets regarding the Tesla car crash may be raising more questions about the accident than they're answering.

Authorities are investigating a fatal weekend crash in Spring, Texas, involving a Tesla vehicle that apparently had no driver. Musk, the CEO/Technoking of Tesla, stated in a Monday night tweet that the company had already ruled out the use of the autopilot system via data logs recovered from the accident.

But Harris County Constable Precinct 4's Mark Herman told Reuters that Tesla has not informed him of any data relevant to the accident. "If he is tweeting that out, if he has already pulled the data, he hasn't told us that," said Herman. "We will eagerly wait for that data."

Immediately before the crash, Musk tweeted accident data stating that Tesla's Autopilot feature makes its vehicles 10 times less likely to be involved in an accident than the average vehicle. After the accident, Musk tweeted that Autopilot relies on roads with lane lines, which were missing from the road where the accident took place.

Musk's tweets have previously gotten him and Tesla into some hot water, and this latest tweet has apparently sparked a search warrant. Reuters reports that Texas police will follow up on his Twitter claims by serving search warrants to secure the data from Tesla. Anne St. Jean

4:10 p.m.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) moved to censure Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Tuesday in response to comments she made about the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The House is expected to vote on the resolution later in the afternoon.

Last week, Waters joined protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, for a demonstration related mainly to the recent police shooting of Daunte Wright, though George Floyd's death and the Chauvin trial served as an undercurrent. While there, the congresswoman said that if Chauvin was acquitted, demonstrators should "stay on the street" and "get more confrontational" so "they know we mean business."

Her words didn't sit well with Republican lawmakers, who saw it as inciting violence. Additionally, Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the Chauvin trial, suggested to Chauvin's defense attorneys that her remarks could be grounds for an appeal.

The situation escalated a bit on Tuesday, with Democratic and Republican lawmakers going back-and-forth. At one point, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters that McCarthy should "sit this one out" and "clean up [his] own mess," referring to some of the more controversial or scandal-ridden figures in the House GOP, including Reps. Laura Boebert (R-Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

McCarthy clearly didn't heed Jeffries' advice, but Democrats, who hold a slim majority, are reportedly confident they'll kill the censure. CNN's Manu Raju reports that one of their main arguments is that Republican lawmakers, like Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who many considered to have played a role in riling up the pro-Trump mob that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, weren't censured for their remarks, making it unfair to single out Waters. Tim O'Donnell

3:36 p.m.

Bad Bunny is stepping out of the ring and onto the stage in 2022, and he's already breaking records.

Pre-sale tickets for the Grammy winner's 2022 tour, El Último Tour del Mundo, went live on April 15, and set the record for the fastest-selling tour on Ticketmaster since 2018's Beyoncé and Jay-Z On the Run II.

Eager fans bought more than 600,000 tickets in a week, and the scalping market is booming, with tickets selling for an average of $2,400 — that's 10 times their original price, Billboard reports. Fans joked it was more difficult to get Bad Bunny tickets than a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, citing long queues and a Ticketmaster crash.

After a year without concerts, live music is inching closer. A March stadium concert in Barcelona was safely attended by 5,000 people, and Ticketmaster has reportedly been working on a way to vet vaccination status and COVID test results for concertgoers.

But a full-scale return of concerts depends on vaccination levels and COVID-19 variants, experts told Rolling Stone. While outdoor concerts may work this summer, industry insiders aren't expecting a full-scale return until early 2022, which is when Bad Bunny's 35-city North American tour kicks off. Billboard reports the tour is projected to make between $63 million and $84 million, and the scalping market could make double that. Taylor Watson

3:16 p.m.

Emilia Clarke is trading in dragons for Skrulls as she heads to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Game of Thrones star is in negotiations to join Marvel's upcoming Disney+ series Secret Invasion, according to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. The show is set to revolve around the infiltration of Earth by shape-shifting aliens and will see Samuel L. Jackson reprise his role of Nick Fury from Marvel's films. Ben Mendelsohn is also returning as Talos, his Skrull character from 2019's Captain Marvel, while Kingsley Ben-Adir will play the main villain, per Variety.

This would be Clarke's first role in the Marvel universe after she played Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's Game of Thrones for eight seasons, though she's no stranger to non-Thrones franchises, having also starred in Terminator and Star Wars films. She'll also be another Thrones cast member to head into Marvel's world, as Jon Snow actor Kit Harington and Robb Stark actor Richard Madden are set to make their MCU debuts in Eternals this November.

It hasn't been revealed who Clarke might play in Secret Invasion, but her reported casting comes just a day after it was revealed that the show was adding another major star: Olivia Colman. At this point, the day when it's simpler just to keep track of who isn't in the Marvel universe rather than who is might be fast approaching. Brendan Morrow

3:13 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is calling on investor Leon Cooperman to come face her and other lawmakers in a Senate Finance Committee hearing next week.

Cooperman, a billionaire investor and one of Warren's most prominent critics, is considering her invitation, which he received via a letter from Warren on Monday, reports CNBC. The subcommittee, chaired by Warren, has titled the April 27 hearing "Creating Opportunity Through a Fairer Tax System" in hopes of discussing the senator's wealth tax proposal.

Warren and Cooperman clashed during Warren's presidential campaign as a wealth tax became a central pillar of her campaign. Warren's latest Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act proposal seeks to "level the playing field and narrow the racial wealth gap" through increased taxes for the top 0.05 percent, she says. With a net worth of over $2 billion, Cooperman would be affected by the bill, which proposes a 3 percent annual tax on wealth exceeding $1 billion.

Cooperman previously argued Warren had no regard for the American Dream, and participated in an emotional 2019 interview with CNBC decrying her proposal and her "vilification of billionaires." In return, Warren's campaign created a mug with the tagline "BILLIONAIRE TEARS."

In a March 2021 interview, Cooperman told CNBC that if Warren's tax proposal passes, Americans should buy gold as a way of "hiding their wealth," and said while he believes the wealthy should pay more, Warren's strategy is an idea with "no merit." The saga may come to an end if Cooperman agrees to face lawmakers in the congressional hearing, where Warren plans to allow Cooperman to voice his concerns about her bill. Warren has requested he RSVP by Thursday. Anne St. Jean

2:21 p.m.

Johnson & Johnson is set to resume shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine in Europe as the pause in the U.S. continues.

The European Medicines Agency on Tuesday said that "unusual blood clots" should be "listed as very rare side effects" of Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, but it determined the vaccine's benefits "outweigh the risks of side effects," Axios and The New York Times report.

The agency, after reviewing eight cases of rare blood clots among the millions of people in the United States who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, found a "possible link" between the vaccine and the blood clots, but it said the "risk of having this side effect is very low."

"Healthcare professionals and people who will receive the vaccine should be aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within three weeks of vaccination," the agency also said.

U.S. health officials last week called for a pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while they examined these rare blood clotting cases. Johnson & Johnson says it will now resume shipment of its vaccine in the European Union, Norway, and Iceland. Meanwhile, the Times notes that an expert panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is set to meet later this week, and Dr. Anthony Fauci has predicted the vaccine's pause won't extend beyond this Friday. Brendan Morrow

2:09 p.m.

Archaeologist Julie Schablitsky believes she has found the site on Maryland's Eastern Shore where Harriet Tubman lived with her family during her teenage years, state and federal officials announced Tuesday, per The Washington Post.

Schablitsky, who works for Maryland's State Highway Administration, had been searching in the isolated area in Dorchester County for signs of the long-vanished cabin for some time when she found a coin from 1808 with her metal detector that suggested she had finally hit the jackpot. After that, officials said, bricks, pottery, a button, and a slew of other household items — all dated to the right time — further pointed to the location being the site of the property owned by Tubman's father, Ben Ross, whose enslaver freed him and granted him the piece of land. Tubman and her siblings were still enslaved (and their parents were far from safe) while they sheltered there.

The discovery is likely a crucial one and should help provide a lot of context to the famed abolitionist's story, experts told the Post. The wooded area where the cabin stood became Tubman's "classroom," biographer Kate Clifford Larson told the Post, explaining that it's likely where, with the help of her "committed" father, Tubman learned how to survive in such terrain and "read the night sky," skills that aided her during her days as a clandestine Underground Railroad conductor. Read more about the discovery at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

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