Why a Senate Majority Is Critical for Democrats

After the January 6, 2021, insurgency where mostly Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building to prevent Joe Biden’s certification as the 46th President, it became more apparent than ever that a Senate majority is critical for Democrats.

The Georgia runoff election changed the tide of governing in the United States until 2022. Unless something drastic happens, Democrats now control the White House, House of Representatives, and the Senate with VP Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

If Biden wants to leverage his position and start making legislative changes, it’s much easier to do that with Chuck Schumer in the lead than it would be for Mitch McConnell. The majority party gets control at the committee level, ensuring cabinet picks and reconciliation votes can breeze through in the coming months.

It Is Still a Long Path to Follow for Legislative Change

The Senate might offer a technical majority to Democrats, but it won’t be the most comfortable place to pass legislation. With the filibuster rules in place, a minimum of 60 votes is necessary to proceed on most new bills.

That means Democrats must work across the aisle to build relationships with their Republican colleagues if they want to get anything done.

What Biden and the Democrats can accomplish involves votes for replacing judicial members. Since Republicans won’t have enough votes in the Senate to prevent a confirmation, they can work to shape the course of American justice over the next few years. If McConnell had been the majority leader still, nothing would probably have been accomplished.

What to Expect Through 2022

The first item on Biden’s agenda is to restart the American economy, which shrank at 3.5% in 2020. It was the largest contraction in the United States since 1946.

We can also expect swing votes to be unpredictable in the Senate. Joe Manchin is a Democrat, but he leans toward the conservative spectrum. Lisa Murkowski is more of a moderate Republican. Both senators are likely to cut deals in some policy areas.

Biden hit the ground running right after his inauguration. The next two years should be quite interesting in American politics.

Tech Companies Face Fines Equal to 10% of Revenue

The European Union is seeking to impose fines of up to 10% of a company’s revenues in a curb to stop the power bids made by today’s tech giants. These organizations could also face orders from the EU to divest their businesses.

These rule changes are part of a December 2020 effort to implement “gatekeeper rules” for the continent. Tech companies given this designation could face these massive fines if they don’t follow the EU’s rules on data usage.

The current companies that would receive the gatekeeper designation in Europe include Amazon, Apple, and Google. These new rules, which legislators want to work alongside antitrust laws, prevent the agencies from using customer data from business users to compete against them, or treat internal products or services more favorably.

What Defines Non-Compliance in the New Rules?

The European Union says that companies that systematically infringe on their obligations to protect business-related consumer data could face orders to make structural or behavioral changes.

This designation applies if a company receives three fines within five years.

A company must have a user count in the millions before earning the gatekeeper designation from the EU. The overall revenues of a qualifying organization must be higher than $1 billion, and the agency’s impact on the global data market will also get evaluated.

The designations get updated every two years under this proposed plan.

As part of the rules package, companies will also face responsibility for the content that users post on their platforms. Fines of up to 6% of total global revenues could apply for the social media websites that fail to comply with orders to remove illegal posts or terrorism propaganda.

This legislation aims to stop tech companies from having too much influence on global politics and international relationships. If these agencies become too profitable, consequential, or large, they could create the same issues that happened during the 2007-2008 recession in the financial markets.

Argentina Passes Levy on the Rich to Fund COVID Response

The senate in Argentina passed a levy in December 2020 to help fund the country’s COVID-19 response. It was called the “millionaire’s tax” internally because it targeted about 12,000 people living in the country.

Anyone who has assets worth over 200 million pesos, or about $2.5 million, is impacted by this legislation. It passed 42-26 in the senate vote.

Argentina has flown under the news radar with its COVID infection rate, but it is one of the world’s most devastated countries. Over 1.5 million people have caught the virus, with almost 40,000 dying when the Senate vote took place.

How Will People Get Taxed by the COVID Levy?

The COVID-19 levy charges a progressive rate of up to 3.5% for the 12,000 qualifying people in Argentina with 200 million pesos in assets.

If those individuals have foreign assets as part of their financial portfolio, those items get taxed at 5.25%.

The money that comes from this funding will get split five ways.

  • 25% gets directed toward natural gas ventures.
  • 20% will go to the purchase of medical supplies to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • 20% is headed into a relief program for SMBs who cannot operate during the country’s lockdowns.
  • 20% is directed to a scholarship fund for students.

The remaining funds from the COVID levy will go into social development programs to protect the country’s most impoverished families.

Alberto Fernandez, who serves as Argentina’s president, hopes that the new legislation will raise up to 300 billion pesos to support its efforts to fight COVID.

Critics believe that this levy will cause less foreign investment to occur, with some calling it a confiscation effort.

What can you do at home to support local COVID relief efforts? The first step is to take care of yourself by using products from brands like Source Naturals and Carlson Labs to boost your immune system. You can then volunteer with local non-profit groups who distribute food, water, and other supplies to families in need in your area.

Child Labor on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic

The global coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing the progress made in recent years to end child labor. Because of the various shutdowns, school closures, and high death rates in some communities, children are finding themselves in forced labor situations.

Kids are working on construction crews, sifting garbage, and even forced into prostitution. Not only does this action potentially harm their mental or physical health, but it also jeopardizes their future schooling opportunities.

Families in need of income, especially in the developing world, are enlisting their children to get extra cash. Most of these jobs are illegal, and many are highly dangerous. Children as young as 8 have been forced into this work.

Over 1.6 Billion Children Have Been Displaced

COVID-19 closed schools all over the world. Nearly two billion kids found themselves out of the classroom for the entire year. For those who were lucky enough to continue with online or in-person instruction, the modifications created milestone setbacks.

As the world gets a grip on the coronavirus in 2021, an estimated 24 million children may never return to school. This rate is extraordinarily high in the developing world because families often grow dependent on whatever little income they generated.

Why are kids being asked to do so much? COVID-19 disproportionally affects older adults with severe cases.

Although it can be potentially deadly to anyone, the hospitalization rate in the United States for kids 17 and under is 14.5 per 100,000 people. For those in the 30-39-year age demographic, its 121.4 per 100,000.

Hospitalization rates continues to rise by another 100 cases per 100,000 people for every ten years of age.

How Do We Stop Child Labor Increases?

During the 2010s, the world proved that it could move in a positive direction when working to end child labor.

Community awareness, social mobilization, and empowerment to create change are all ways to stop this process.

We must also render aid whenever possible. Agricultural losses, unemployment, and restrictions make it challenging for families to find income.

Together, we can be a voice that restores the gains we’ve made. Kids deserve a childhood, but, more importantly, they need the chance to attend school and pursue their dreams.

A Post-Election Retrospective: 2020 in Review

Presidents must live up to their promises. At the very least, they should create reality instead of fiction.

When President Obama said that if you wanted to keep your doctor with the Affordable Care Act, then you could – it turned into a key moment for his administration when that result wasn’t always possible.

President Trump said the same thing about COVID-19 tests early in the pandemic. That also turned out to be a false statement.

The United States has had a challenging year in 2020. Although the Biden-Harris ticket collected the most votes in election history for a single ticket, Trump holds the second-most after the election. That means the country remains divided on several crucial issues.

Consistency Is the Problem for Conservatives

The difference in the 2020 election involved consistency. People may not have liked Biden and Harris, but independents and moderates voted for them because their actions are more predictable than Trump’s promises.

With conservative evangelical Christians leading the charge for modern Republicans, the spotlight on individual beliefs and perspectives is much brighter.

Abortion is a primary concern for this demographic. Although the voting bloc campaigns against Planned Parenthood, the group actively seeks allies like Israel, the UK, and Australia that provide the same services without equal condemnation.

Everyone is entitled to hold whatever perspective they want on any subject they prefer. That’s the beautiful part about freedom! When inconsistency creates hesitation, it becomes a problem that expands beyond the subject itself.

Does Joe Biden Hold a Mandate for Governing?

If Trump called his 304-227 electoral college defeat of Hillary Clinton a “landslide,” it looks like he suffered the same feat at the hands of Biden.

What is notable about the 2020 election is the popular vote difference. Biden carried over ten million more votes than Clinton, which is a feat that Trump also achieved.

When we look back at past elections, the electorate has been relatively stable since 2008, with about the same percentage of people voting for Democrats and Republicans. George W. Bush won a majority of the votes in 2004, which was the first time since 1988.

Time will tell if Biden-Harris can hold up to their promises. If they do not, we can expect a rigorous challenge from Republicans in 2024 – and it might be Donald Trump leading the way.

Near-Record Turnout the Story of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

The Trump vs. Biden 2020 U.S. Presidential election brought out the highest number of voters ever seen in the United States. Over 150 million people participated in the event by voting early, using mail-in ballots, or visiting their local polling place on Election Day.

That created a voter turnout percentage that reached nearly 70%. That figure is the highest rating in 120 years.

Although all of that participation is good news, it is still remarkable to think that these records got set while about one in every three eligible voters decided not to participate. Some of them may have stayed home because of COVID-19, but it might also be due to not wanting either major political candidate in office.

Almost 74% of Eligible Voters Cast Ballots in 1900

The 1900 U.S. Presidential election still carries the record for the highest percentage of eligible voters participating. The contest pitted the incumbent William McKinley against William Jennings Bryan.

It was the first election since Ulysses S. Grant where the incumbent President won the election.

What is notable about this election is that it had numerous third-party tickets running, with Bryan at the head of four different nominations.

About 14.5 million people voted in the 1900 election, with Teddy Roosevelt bringing in numerous votes for the Republicans.

As with the 2020 election, the primary driver of the vote was a polarized split regarding how to progress toward the future. With McKinley’s assassination in 1901, it would end up falling on Roosevelt to carry the banner.

What Drove People to the Polls in 2020?

The central issues of the 2020 election included how COVID-19 was handled by the government, civil unrest after the death of George Floyd, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passing away, and the Republican about-face on nominating Supreme Court justices after blocking Merrick Garland four years before.

Having Kamala Harris on the Democratic ticket helped to bring back some moderate and independent voters that had gone to Trump in the 2016 election.

Will the next election provide a similar turnout? It is possible, especially if people become dissatisfied with the performance from Biden and Harris.

Coronavirus Scams Targeting Families

Whenever something terrible happens in our world, the con artists come out in droves to take advantage of that fact.

The scams they create often target the most vulnerable people in our communities. Older adults are usually the primary mark because they have money available and want to protect their interests.

What Coronavirus Scams Are Out There Today?

Home Testing Kits

Scammers sent texts or make calls offering to send testing kits to gather credit card or bank account information. Some try to make it seem as if they are affiliated with Medicare or Medicaid.

Fake Treatments

Some con artists try to take advantage of the hope people have for a cure. They’ll peddle fake vaccines, medication, or devices that prevent or treat COVID-19. The idea is that a shortage may happen in the future, making now the best time to invest.

Stimulus Scams

When the federal government issued stimulus funds to most Americans, that legislation included grants and low-interest loans. Scammers have contacted families to ask about this money to verify its deposit by requesting bank account verification.

Charity Scams

Some scammers pretend to be a charitable organization to peddle the care and compassion that people have for those in need. Before donating to any COVID-19 relief effort, please verify that organization’s credentials. You can also route your funds through known charities to avoid this problem altogether.

Insurance Scams

A few scammers call older adults to offer low-cost life insurance policies or healthcare addendums to protect against COVID-19. They’ll often talk about how free testing kits are part of the package. 

You’ll find lots of robocalls hitting cell phones right now that pose as an official contact with the Social Security Administration. These messages say that individual benefits will decrease or stop because of COVID-19 unless a payment or personal information gets sent. The reality of these scams is that they try to be believable, but the lies are transparent if you know where to look.

How Severe Was the 2020 Hurricane Season?

Tropical Storm Eta formed in the central Caribbean on Halloween Day. That made it the 28th named storm of the year, making the 2020 season tied with 2005 for the most in a single season.

This year is the first time that Eta is used for naming a storm. There were 27 named systems in 2005, with another unnamed one added to the figures after a post-season analysis of the year by the National Hurricane Season.

It’s not just the number that matters with the 2020 hurricane season, which isn’t officially over at the time of this writing. It is the number of storms that made landfall.

The United States experienced 11 tropical systems coming ashore during 2020, with six hurricanes part of the mix. That ties or beats the records for land-based activity, with Louisiana getting five of them: Cristobal, Marco, Laura, Delta, and Zeta.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

When people say that they will ride out a hurricane, that means they’re staying home while the storm blows through their community.

If it is a category 1 storm, that might be a feasible approach. When a category 5 hurricane is headed your way, an evacuation plan might be necessary.

These steps can help you prepare for those circumstances if you live along the eastern or southern U.S. coast.

  • Sign up for local warnings and alerts. You’ll need an evacuation plan to follow if you must leave your home.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies, including food, water, medication, and supplements. Order your items from Natural Ophthalmics right away.
  • Secure enough supplies for your pets. Use the items from Pet Wellbeing to supplement their needs to ensure good health throughout the ordeal.
  • Lockdown the exterior of your home. Any potted plants, patio furniture, bicycles, and outdoor decorations need to come inside. If an item must stay outdoors, wrap them in blankets or burlap for protection.
  • Move items to higher ground when possible. Store important documents in waterproof containers. You’ll want to identify a shelter room for your home and avoid any unprotected doors or windows.

Hurricanes and tropical storms can create devastating damage. If you live in an affected area, please look at insurance options and other protections to reduce the risk of long-term financial harm.

Taiwan Plans to Shift Medical Supply Chain Away from China

If you’ve got a moment, check your medicine cabinet right now. Take a minute, see what you have in there, and come back to this post.

When you looked in there, you probably saw some prescription meds. There may have been some over-the-counter options, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol.

You may even have some items from brands like Neuroscience and Pure Encapsulations to support your overall health and wellness.

What you may not know about many of those items is where the active ingredients originate. Over the past several years, China has become the global leader in pharmaceutical production. 

Although much of the research takes place in the United States, the ingredients come from China. In August, Taiwan decided to make a public show of strengthening ties with Americans by getting involved with a memo of understanding about creating more domestic medical supply manufacturing opportunities.

Why Does Manufacturing Need to Move Away from China?

When one country becomes entirely dependent on another for essential goods, what happens if the relationship sours?

If shipping disruptions create logistical challenges to deliver necessary items promptly, how can individual families get the products they need to survive?

After the COVID-19 lockdowns that started in January in China, it became clear that many countries were relying on the cheap production methods found there for many needs. If the Chinese weren’t manufacturing ingredients, the products couldn’t get made.

Taiwan shut down its Chinese ties to protect itself against COVID-19 infections. Their efforts have shown that the medical supply chain can survive when efforts are made to expand domestic supply chains.

Having a relationship with the United States for this effort makes sense. About 70% of the current biotech research and development talents in Taiwan received training in the U.S. for what they can do today.

Although China isn’t happy about this shift, its economy is one of the few growing globally. One market may sour, but another door always opens soon after because of their lower costs.

Why Did Joe Biden Choose Kamala Harris?

Joe Biden expects to win the White House. With some polls putting him at 16 points ahead nationally, the election could be a runaway victory for the long-time public servant.

One way he decided to shore up his campaign was to select Kamala Harris as his running mate. Not only is Harris one of only a handful of women nominated to a major party ticket, but she is also one of the few to campaign to become the president.

Several advantages were already in her favor when Biden needed to select a running mate.

  • She was already vetted nationally because of her unsuccessful bid to capture the Democratic nomination.
  • Biden is 78 years old, while Harris is only 55 – and looks more like she’s in her early 40s.
  • She comes from California, which provides a significant number of delegates to the Electoral College.
  • Harris is outspoken on racial issues and societal equality.
  • She doesn’t have any ties to the Michael Flynn meetings, the attacks in Benghazi, or remnants of the Obama Administration.

Although Harris is the first woman with South Asian and African-American heritage to appear on a national ticket, those traits don’t stand out as much as her qualifications as a prosecutor and legal professional.

Biden Is on His Third Run for President

Kamala Harris might be seen as a safe pick for the VP nomination, but that quality is what Biden needs for the 2020 campaign.

He wants to avoid the 2016 issues where Clinton was always on defense. Trying to get into a battle of words with Trump is like attempting to build a house in quicksand. Biden wants to focus on issues, societal change, and restoring America’s name internationally.

By taking those steps, he can distinguish his campaign from what Trump offers. 

Biden chose Harris to maximize his chances. It is the selection that a confident candidate would make.