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  • ‘No More Survivors Expected’ Among Dozens of Tourists Caught in New Zealand Volcano

    At least five people have died and more than 20 are still unaccounted for after the White Island/Whakaari volcano off the coast of New Zealand erupted without warning Monday as tourists hiked around the rim and walked inside the crater. Authorities say an estimated 30 to 38 of those on the island when the volcano erupted were on an adventure excursion from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was docked on North Island about 30 miles away. In a statement just after midnight local time, police officials said they feared the worst for those still on the island.“The Police Eagle helicopter, rescue helicopter, and NZDF aircraft have undertaken a number of aerial reconnaissance flights over the island since the eruption,” according to a statement at 12:12 a.m.“No signs of life have been seen at any point. Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation,” it reads.“Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island.”Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise Association and Royal Caribbean cruise lines, confirmed that tourists from the Ovation of the Seas ship were involved. He said the names and nationalities of those who were on the volcano for the cruise line’s “epic adventure excursion” have been handed to New Zealand police. Authorities said they believe it may be some time before the toxic ash is cool enough to set foot on the volcano for what is likely to be a recovery mission.About 10 minutes before the volcano erupted at 2:11 p.m. local time, a crater-rim webcam owned by the New Zealand Geological Hazards Agency GeoNet captured an image of a group of tourists approaching the crater. The next image shows only crumpled hardware after the camera was damaged in the blast.John Tims, New Zealand National Operation Commander, told a news conference Monday that toxic gases, burning ash, and lava have made conditions unsafe for rescue crews to search for survivors on the island. The dead were among 23 people immediately evacuated after the eruption. All those rescued had burn injuries. Officials said the five who died were among those evacuated.Officials in Canberra told the Agence-France Press news agency they believed a “considerable number” of those involved in the disaster are Australian.Authorities say around 50 people were on the tiny 1.2 mile-square-mile island at the time it erupted without warning. Several tourists posted photos of the eruption on social media as they watched in horror as the volcano erupted, sending a plume of hot ash some two miles into the sky. Michael Schade, an engineering manager from San Francisco, posted footage of the eruption from an excursion vessel he and several others were on as it sped away. “This is so hard to believe,” Schade wrote. “Our whole tour group were literally standing at the edge of the main crater not 30 minutes before.” The active volcano encompasses all of the tiny privately owned island about 30 miles from New Zealand’s North Island. It has been in a constant state of volcanic activity for more than 150,000 years. The last major eruption was in 2001, though the volcano has spewed spouts of dangerous steam from its vents in recent years. Despite the dangerous volcanic state, more than 10,000 adventure tourists visit the island each year, paying landing license to the island’s owners. The island also hosts a mobile research station but no residential accommodation, and tourists are warned of the potential for eruption and made to sign waivers regarding the potential danger they face on the live volcano, according to several websites offering volcano tours. “White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years,” Professor Emeritus Ray Cas, from Monash University’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment in Melbourne, Australia, told The Wall Street Journal. “Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter.”New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was heading to Whakatāne in the Bay of Plenty, which is the closest safe area to the disaster zone. She told reporters the situation was still “significant and evolving.” “We know that there were a number of tourists on or around the island at the time, both New Zealanders and visitors from overseas,” she said. “I know there will be a huge amount of concern and anxiety for those who had loved ones on or around the island at the time. I can assure them that police are doing everything they can.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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  • Trump’s Economy Is Looking Better for Trump’s Voters

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- After booming in 2017 and 2018, employment growth in manufacturing all but stopped this year. And the numbers were even worse in the swing states crucial to President Donald Trump’s re-election hopes: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.As it turns out, however, reports of the death of manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt were slightly exaggerated. New data paint a rosier picture.That’s not to say employment in these states is robust. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most timely and widely cited report is its monthly establishment survey. Led by huge job losses in Michigan, that survey indicates that growth in manufacturing employment in the three most closely contested states of the 2016 election is still negative. That’s a damning indictment of Trump’s campaign promise to bring jobs back to the Rust Belt by negotiating more favorable trade deals; instead, his trade war has dented economic growth overall and manufacturing in particular.Trump won those three state by a combined total of about 80,000 votes. The establishment survey shows that those same three states have lost roughly 44,000 manufacturing jobs in 2019. At the current rate of decline, manufacturing job losses would easily exceed the president’s margin of victory.More important, the rate of job loss in all three states equals or exceeds that of the regional recession of 2016. The reasons for Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss in 2016 are hotly debated, but a strong contender is the sharp slowdown - and, in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the outright decline - in manufacturing employment just before the election.A substantial body of research shows that voters’ opinions on the economy, combined with their approval of the incumbent president, is a strong predictor of which party will win the popular vote. The Electoral College complicates the analysis somewhat. But narrowing the focus to manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin has produced results that should alarm Trump.The bright spot for the president comes from a separate report published by the BLS. The quarterly census of employment and wages, based on a direct count of unemployment insurance records, gives a far more accurate picture of job growth but comes with a significant lag. The most recent data, released last week, is from June 2019.In contrast to the monthly survey, the quarterly census shows that manufacturing held on longer, and at least in June was still recording decent levels of growth. The trajectory is still negative - but when it comes to predicting voter behavior, what counts is the absolute growth rate, and that looks substantially better in the quarterly census.The exception is Michigan, the state the president won by the smallest margin in 2016. The jobs data there is actually worse in the quarterly survey than in the monthly one, and worse this year than last. So Trump may find it hard to win in Michigan again.Things look much better for him, however, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.In Pennsylvania, the quarterly survey shows that manufacturing job growth was better in June than at any point in 2015 or 2016. It could still turn negative by Election Day, but the margin for error is larger than the monthly survey would indicate.In Wisconsin, the picture looks even better, with employment growth overall equal to what it was at the end of 2018. The trajectory is still down but that may be due in part to an unexplained surge in employment at the beginning of 2019.No matter the cause, there is no doubt that this more accurate quarterly data complicates the narrative in at least two of the most crucial states in 2016 - and for 2020. Trump’s trade war is still a clear headwind for manufacturing growth nationwide, and appears to be devastating Michigan. But in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the president may still be able to claim to some measure of success in keeping manufacturing jobs growing.To contact the author of this story: Karl W. Smith at ksmith602@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Karl W. Smith, a former assistant professor of economics at the University of North Carolina and founder of the blog Modeled Behavior, is vice president for federal policy at the Tax Foundation.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.