STATEWIDE – First, the alarming news: Another 25,000 New Jerseyans filed for unemployment this week. But a silver lining: The numbers are down by 12,000 applicants from last week. NJ Spotlight reports that there have been more than 1.4 million claims filed in this state since the pandemic started – pretty daunting when you recognize there are less than 9 million people of all ages living in the state. There’s also been an unbelievable $11.6 billion in benefits paid out in the state, to date, with around 75% of the cash coming from the feds – at least for now. 

STATEWIDE - Say what you want to say about New Jersey. (And there is plenty to say.) But there is one fact that no other state can claim: New Jersey is the only state in the union that has seen its number of COVID-19 cases drop for the last two weeks, The Hill reports. In comparing the week of June 28-July 5 to the following week, July 5-12, just six states saw their number of new coronavirus cases drop. And then compare July 5-12 to July 12-19: Only nine states had a new caseload below that of the prior week. It means that something is being done right here, whatever that is. Now, for this weekend, if we can just try to keep the hordes off the beach to keep the streak alive.

DOWN THE SHORE – Here’s the thing to keep the hordes away from the Shore this weekend: distribute copies of “Safe for Swimming — Pollution at Our Beaches and How to Prevent It.” A guaranteed deterrent for anyone who peruses this must-read document, as they unpack the swimsuits, the sunscreen, the cooler, the towels — and the kids. Especially the kids. That’s because, as NJ Spotlight explains, the report has the queasy details of bacterial contamination at New Jersey beaches last year. We’re talking fecal bacteria. Turns out a third of beaches here exceeded federal limits at least once in 2019 and some notched many more days when the limit was exceeded. Runoff after rainstorms gets a lot of the blame, plus overflowing and leaking septic systems. Perhaps we’ll hang at Backyard Beach (again) this weekend, currently poop-free. 

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Americans are responsible for 20% of the garbage generated on Earth.

TRENTON – With COVID-19 heating up again and stay at-home orders a certain possibility in our near future, here’s a suggestion: Get high. You can’t though, legally, of course. NJ.com reports there are more hazy pleas to finally legalize weed, as we teeter on a financial crisis and the Treasury could use all the money it can find. There are millions of dollars in potential tax revenue out there, just waiting to be collected from all those people stuck at home, with truly nothing to do, as the bong sits idle. There’s a ballot question in November to address legalizing weed, but the state has already lost so much green by not selling bud over these long, stressful months.

CARTERET – And here we go. In a smart and obvious move, Carteret is the first school district in the state to throw in the towel for its fall football sports. Yeah, of course we all want to see our kids on the field (and out of the house.) But expect Carteret to be the first in a steady stream of schools that give up efforts to secure the safety of student athletes before the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association finally adopts a uniform policy to cancel a season that has already been shortened. Sadly, there is just no way to safeguard the students. And – as we all sacrifice many of the glories of living to try to control the spread – are high school sports worth it? (A football coach may disagree.)

PERTH AMBOY – The mayor suddenly ousted the business administrator, the city’s sixth since she took office in 2008. On the same day, Mayor Wilda Diaz had all of City Hall’s locks abruptly changed. The Home News Tribune says her actions Tuesday stunned the City Council and are fueling criticism from Diaz’s adversaries. Councilman Helmin Caba, one of several mayoral candidates, says these impulsive behaviors are “examples of the turbulence and poor leadership” that must change. However, the city’s law director claims Diaz did not fire the BA; it was “an amicable separation.” Changing the locks? Just bad timing done to restrict City Hall access for COVID-19 safety. Uh, sure. So far, Diaz has kept mum if she’s seeking a fourth term. But, the city attorney says: “It’s political season, so whatever happens, one side or the other (will) try to make a big thing out of it.” 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ALLENHURST, Ga. – For this speck of a town, it was immediately considered the crime of the century. The body of an attractive woman was found on the railroad tracks last week. Liberty Corner deputies gathered at the scene, chewed on some grass, spit some tobacco and waited for the coroner. They were told not to poke at the body with sticks, or touch it in any way. So, they stood around, talked about heat on that day in southeast Georgia and kicked a rock or two. Then, the coroner arrived for the grand inspection, WSAV-TV reported. It didn’t take long to figure out the cause of death. There wasn’t one. That’s because the victim was actually a sex doll. Anatomically correct, yes. With clothes, yes. But Liberty Corner deputies were able to confirm that, yes, this victim was never alive. Just discarded. The only criminal charge: Littering.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1988 that Mindy Duncan, 16, of Oregon was crowned the sixth Miss Teen USA. (Thus confirming that no important news ever happened on July 24.)

WORD OF THE DAY

Gyre – [JYRE] – noun

Definition: A circular or spiral motion or form

Example: I think I will spend Friday night studying the effects of ocean gyres on North America's climate. You?

WIT OF THE DAY

“You've made this day a special day, by just you being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” 

-Fred Rogers

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream.”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Changing