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World Military Spending Hits $2 Trillion For First Time In History 

In 2021, global military spending hit an all-time high of $2 trillion, according to a report from a leading defense think-tank in Sweden. This also marks the seventh consecutive year that collective spending on the military has increased from the previous year. 

Diabetes Deaths In The US Reach 100,000 For Second Year In A Row 

According to reports from Reuters, more than 100,000 Americans died from diabetes in 2021, marking the second straight year in which deaths exceeded that number. The new figures have been released as an expert panel continues to urge Congress to overhaul diabetes care and prevention. 

The panel is calling for broad policy change such as promoting the consumption of healthier foods, ensuring paid leave from the workplace, increasing taxes on sugary drinks, and expanding access to affordable housing and healthcare. 

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In 2019, diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in America, claiming the lives of about 87,000. The past three years alone reflect a long-running failure to address the disease and how the government can make treatment/prevention easy and affordable for those impacted. The Covid-19 pandemic has only made it harder for individuals to access care. 

According to a Reuters analysis of provisional death data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “diabetes-related deaths surged 17% in 2020 and 15% in 2021 compared to the pre pandemic level in 2019. That excluded deaths directly attributed to COVID-19. Additional deaths from 2021 are still being tallied.”

“The large number of diabetes deaths for a second year in a row is certainly a cause for alarm. Type 2 diabetes itself is relatively preventable, so it’s even more tragic that so many deaths are occurring,” said Dr. Paul Hsu, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. 

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In a new report, the National Clinical Care Commission created by Congress said that the “United States must adopt a more comprehensive approach to prevent more people from developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form, and to help people who are already diagnosed avoid life-threatening complications. About 37 million Americans, or 11% of the population, have diabetes, and one in three Americans will develop the chronic disease in their lifetime if current trends persist,” according to the commission.

“Diabetes in the U.S. cannot simply be viewed as a medical or health care problem, but also must be addressed as a societal problem that cuts across many sectors, including food, housing, commerce, transportation and the environment,” the commission wrote in a report to Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The commission said the “United States should better promote the purchase of fruits and vegetables in food assistance programs and ensure mothers have paid family leave to aid breastfeeding, which can help reduce the risk of diabetes in mothers and is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes in children.Additionally, imposing taxes on sugary drinks that would raise their shelf price by 10% to 20% and using the revenue to expand access to clean drinking water and fund similar programs.

In a statement, the CDC said the “report’s recommendations offer a detailed roadmap to addressing rising health-care costs attributed to diabetes, and reducing racial, ethnic, and income-related disparities in diabetes outcomes.”

2021 Housing Market Concludes With Price Growths, What To Expect In 2022

The winter housing market in the US started heating up again in December, potentially leading to a hot market in the first quarter of 2022. More buyers have become motivated to hop on real estate transactions due to looming mortgage rate increases as well. 

Listing prices in December returned to double-digits similar to what the market looked like during the spring/summer of 2021 when real estate was seeing some of its most competitive transactions since the start of the pandemic. 

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According to data from Realtor.com’s chief economist Danielle Hale, “December data offered a fitting finish to the frenzy of the past year. Annual listing price growth hit double-digits again nationwide and in many of the hottest markets, after four months of single-digit pace this fall.”

“Despite buyer challenges like rising prices, limited inventory and fast-paced sales, real estate activity maintained a brisk pace throughout 2021 as factors like low mortgage rates enabled home shoppers to persist. With rate hikes now on the horizon, buyers may be trying to get ahead of higher monthly housing costs, in turn driving up competition and prices,” Hale explained.

“Our 2022 forecast anticipates affordability challenges this year, but also that trends like rising incomes and workplace flexibility could offer some Americans a better shot at finding a home.”

“For those who weren’t successful in 2021, we expect better luck in the coming months as more sellers plan to enter the market – and if December’s listings are an indication, with high asking prices in mind,” she explained. 

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 In 2021 the demand for homes was much higher than the supply, which drove prices even higher and will likely continue to drive the prices up in 2022. Realtor.com is also predicting that these price increases will cause a lot of affordability issues in the new year. The average price for a home in the US is now 25% higher than it was in 2019.

Within the past two years the average price for a typical 2,000 square foot single-family home increased by 18.6% consecutively. More than 25% of the US’s largest markets saw double-digit home price gains in 2021. 

While the winter is typically a cooling off period for the market, the past two months have seen historically low listing times, as buyer activity continues to outmatch the limited inventory available throughout the nation. 

When compared to the national pace of the market, time on the market was lower in the US’s 50 largest metropolitans with an average of 48 days on the market, seven days less than last years average and 25 days less than 2019’s average. 

Inventory is expected to increase to ideally meet the demand of buyers in America. December data did show more new sellers entered the market when compared to last year’s numbers, a majority of these listings, however, are in cities. 

Tokyo Olympics

Simone Biles Pulls Out Of Olympics Due To Medical Issue 

Simone Biles has suddenly pulled out of all Olympic competitions due to a medical issue. This update comes after the US Women’s gymnastics team took silver in the women’s team final, right behind Russia. 

This marks the first time in a decade that the US women’s team has not come out of the international competition with gold. They’ve managed to win every single Olympics and World Championships event since 2011. 

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Biles’ departure from competition was a major blow to the team. She was originally expected to compete on all four apparatuses for the competition, but her teammates stepped in for her on the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. 

The final score for the Russia Olympic Committee was 169.528 and the US scored 166.096. Great Britain won the bronze overall. USA Gymnastics recently released a statement regarding Biles. 

“Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue. She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.” 

Biles remained in the arena after being pulled from the competition to cheer on her teammates and celebrate their strong performances. Biles was not limping terribly while celebrating with her team, so onlookers are hopeful that she will be able to make a recovery, but no one knows the full extent of what the medical issue even is. 

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Jordan Chiles stepped in for Biles on the uneven bars and balance beam and Sunisa Lee competed on the floor exercise. Chiles managed to land a 14.166 on uneven bars and Lee earned a 15.4, which helped the team advance exponentially. 

During floor exercise, Chiles experienced a fall that led to her receiving an 11.7, the combined scores from all the performances overall were not enough to surpass Russia. 

It’s still unclear whether or not Biles will be able to compete later on in the competition for either individual events or the all-around individual final; which she won at the Olympics five years ago. 

Biles initially qualified for all five individual finals in Tokyo. 

“I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!” she said on Instagram ahead of the team final.

Olympics

Organizing Committee Chief For Tokyo Olympics Claims Games Could Still Be Cancelled

The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, claimed that a last-minute cancellation was not off the table for the Olympic Games this year, despite the fact that the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place this Friday.

A combination of athletes testing positive for Covid-19 and major Olympic sponsors pulling out of the opening ceremony is what has so many experts worried.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Muto explained.

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“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Covid-19 cases are currently on the rise in Tokyo. The Games are set to happen with no spectators, and Japan decided this month that participants will be competing in empty venues to minimize health risks.

So far there have been 67 cases of Covid-19 in Japan among the individuals accredited for the Games since the beginning of July, when a majority of the athletes started arriving. Japan’s vaccination program overall has been delayed, and the city of Tokyo is currently experiencing a surge of new cases with 1,387 being reported on Tuesday.

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Seiko Hashimoto, who sits alongside Muto as organizing committee President, said that “safety measures introduced to reassure the Japanese public had not necessarily done so, I’m aware that popular support for the Games had dropped.”

“I really want to apologize from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics.”

Kenji Shibuya, former director of the Institute for Population Health at King’s College London, said that the Olympics bubble system was “already kind of broken. My biggest concern is, of course, there will be a cluster of infections in the (athletes’) village or some of the accommodation and interaction with local people,” he added.

“Members of the public are concerned because they feel that the current situation appears to show that the playbooks that were meant to guarantee security are not providing a sense of safety.”

55% of the Japanese population claimed that they were opposed to the Games and wanted them to be cancelled, according to a poll performed by a local media outlet.

Tokyo Olympics

Japan Declares Covid-19 State Of Emergency Two Weeks Before Olympic Games 

The Tokyo Olympics will still be happening later this month despite the fact that Japan has just entered into another state of emergency due to the spreading of the Covid-19 virus. The Japanese government announced this week that it would be reinstating strict health and safety measures that will take effect next week and last throughout the Olympic Games. 

The biggest measure that’s being taken is that no spectators will be allowed to attend the games, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced this morning. Japanese media outlets reported that all venues in and around Tokyo will be completely unattended.

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 920 new Covid cases just 16 days before the Games. This is 200 more than any other single-day total since May. This Thursday the country reported another 896 cases. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed to protect the nation as much as possible from further spreading. 

“New infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it. I vow to do everything we can to prevent the further spread of the infections.”

“I think we can all be very satisfied that the strict measures, having been established to protect everybody — the Japanese people and the participants of the Games — have proven to be successful,” said IOC president Thomas Bach. 

Olympic organizers have outlined a plan that will enforce a “complex web of Covid countermeasures that will limit contact between Olympic participants and non-participant Japanese citizens,” according to Bach. 

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The measures will force “Level 1” participants (athletes, coaches, team officials and more) to be tested daily, and other levels of participation will be tested based on how often they’re in common Olympic spaces. 

Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical advisor, warned of “continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on [Japan’s] medical systems.”

Olympic Organizers claimed that “in the event that a state of emergency or other priority measures aimed at preventing infection are implemented at any time after July 12, restrictions on spectator numbers at the Games, including non-spectator competitions, will be based on the content of the state of emergency or other relevant measures in force at that time.” It was officially announced today that no spectators would be allowed at the Games. 

 Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike promised that her city would “control the flow of people and be thorough with regard to measures to prevent infection during and around the Games.”

Japanese residents have been adamant in their disapproval of the Games still occurring this year despite the fact that so many countries have such different vaccination and infection rates.

The Rules Athletes Will Need To Follow To Participate In The 2021 Olympic Games 

The Olympics are officially going to happen this year on July 23rd in Tokyo, Japan. After the Games were postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals behind-the-scenes have been working hard this past year to make sure these Games happen as safely and efficiently as possible, which means all the athletes will need to abide by a strict set of rules to keep themselves and others safe. 

11,500 athletes are expected to travel to Japan from hundreds of countries this July. Additionally, about 79,000 journalists, officials, and staff will be in attendance. 

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The individuals working behind the scenes have created an official list of rules that all parties involved must follow to avoid being potentially barred from competing or having their credentials completely stripped. 

The International Olympic Committee announced last month that Pfizer would be donating Covid-19 vaccines to all athletes and country delegates before they travel to Japan. While taking the vaccine isn’t a requirement for attending and participating in the Games, it’s highly encouraged for obvious safety reasons. 

All competitors from outside Japan must be tested for Covid-19 twice, on two separate days within 96 hours of their flight to Japan, they will then be tested again upon arrival. Athletes will be expected to download an app that will monitor their location and be used for contact tracing purposes as well. 

Athletes will also be required to quarantine for three days after they arrive. They will be allowed to participate in Game related activities during quarantine as long as they continue to test negative; they will be tested daily. 

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Athletes will also be required to do daily reporting of their temperature and any potential symptoms that appear within the app. Temperatures will be checked upon entry to every Olympic venue. 

If an athlete does test positive for the virus, they will immediately go into isolation and their apps will be used to contact and trace any other individual they may have been in contact with. 

Social distancing protocols will also be enforced as all athletes will be competing at least six-and-a-half feet apart from each other. All physical interactions are discouraged as a means of preventing potential spreading of the virus. 

Athletes will be able to eat within the Olympic village or at specially-permitted venues and locations; they won’t be able to explore Japan during their downtime. 

Unless athletes are eating, drinking, sleeping, training, or competing, they will also be expected to wear a mask the whole time they’re at the Games. These rules will ideally keep all athletes, journalists, and behind the scenes workers safe and healthy throughout the entirety of the summer Games.

Tokyo Olympics Will Likely Be A Fan-Free Event 

The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee alluded to the strong possibility that the 2021 Summer Games will likely bar local fans from attending. Fans from abroad were barred from the event months ago due to Covid-19 risks, and the committee has less than two months to decide whether or not the locals of Japan will be able to attend. 

Regardless of what the committee decides, however, a majority of Japanese residents have been adamant about their disapproval of the Olympic Games from occurring this year. Multiple surveys have shown that more than half of the citizens of Japan want the Games to be cancelled or postponed another year due to safety concerns. 

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Beyond the obvious concerns over bringing in groups of people from every single country in the world to one small venue, the Japanese government recently extended a state of emergency until June 20th due to a rise in Covid-19 cases that’s straining the country’s medical system. 

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee are insisting that they will be going ahead with the games this year, despite the multiple polls showing 60% – 80% of Japanese residents want them called off. 

“We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said.

“There are many people who are saying that for the Olympic Games we have to run without spectators, although other sports are accepting spectators. So we need to keep that in mind. We need to avoid that the local medical services are affected. We need to take those things into consideration before agreeing on the spectator count.”

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Over 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries are expected to come into Japan for the 2021 Olympic Games. The New England Journal of Medicine recently wrote an op-ed regarding the IOC and their adamant attitude in relation to making the Games happen this year. 

“We believe the IOC’s determination to proceed with the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence. Organizers should reconsider holding the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic.”

Japan experienced around 12,500 deaths due to Covid-19, and that number has not stopped growing. The vaccination rollouts in Japan began slowly, and currently only about 5% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

Japan has spent about $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, and Richard Pound, senior IOC member, told a British newspaper that the games will take place unless “Armageddon” occurs. IOC president Thomas Bach claimed that “everyone in the Olympic community needs to make sacrifices if we want to hold the Games this year,” despite the fact that a majority of Japanese residents have made it clear that they want the opposite of that.

Couple Camping

Why The Travel Industry Thinks Glamping Will Save The Tourism Sector This Summer

Bookings for camping and glamping locations all around the nation have been reaching record levels, as more people are ready to get back to some level of safe travel this summer now that more people are being vaccinated. 

Mike Bevens is an MD at glamping specialist company Canopy and Stars; a glamping business that assists travelers with all their travel needs and luxury wants. Bevens recently spoke about the increase in business that he’s endured, along with the rest of the industry. 

“We’ve had the busiest winter in terms of bookings, but there’s also been a huge increase in the number of new sites wanting to advertise. We’re up 200% on bookings from last year and have around 100 new sites coming online for this summer.”

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Derry Green is a UK resident who spoke with the local press about how he knew he had to do something to motivate his kids to leave the house with restrictions easing up this summer, however, he didn’t think his personal quarantine project would lead to a great new business opportunity.

“My kids were watching Love Island all the time, so when I got done building my back deck (my personal quarantine project) I put up a pod with a fire pit and lights, inspired by the show. Then people started asking me if they could come and stay in it so I put it on Airbnb and it sold out for two years in advance in five days,” he boasted.

Green quickly went viral on Facebook, so much so that now he has six more glamping units currently under construction that will be made available in the coming months. He personally owns four acres of woodland, so there’s plenty of room for his new business to thrive. 

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Green is not the only one who’s taking advantage of this new glamping trend. For those who are able to set up camp sites on their larger properties, renting out these spaces on Airbnb, and other rental services, have helped them immensely in terms of making an income during the past year of economic turmoil.  

“I believe in the transformative power of camping. It’s perfect for the situation we are in. Campsites can appear quickly in a way that cottages and hotels can’t, and they tend to benefit other businesses around them.”

Mojo and Kizzy Fell joined the glamping industry by necessity, after the pandemic halted all business for them last year. Originally, the two ran a successful rental business for Airsteam caravans that they would use mainly for film locations and music festivals. So when the pandemic shut down all of those activities, they needed to rethink their business model. 

“Our income just disappeared. We had to diversify, so we put five Airstreams on our 40-acre farm and called it The Wells Glamping. The caravans sold out immediately and now we have applied to increase the number to 12, hoping to be ready for bookings by the end of April. Luxurious vans that used to accommodate stars such as Will Ferrell and Kenneth Branagh will be repurposed for family holidays – and create up to 20 new jobs at the same time,” Mojo explained.

Burberry To Celebrate The Iconic Stylings Of Stella Tennant In Newest Collection 

Stella Tennant will always be remembered as one of the most iconic British supermodels to grace the runway. Burberry and Tennant were very closely connected all throughout her 25-year-long career, and now, in their first womenswear collection since Tennant’s death, Burberry has announced that they would be using the collection as a means of celebrating her life and style. 

Riccardo Tisci is the designer who spoke to the media before the collections show, which was broadcasted on Burberry’s website this week. He claimed “Tennant was elegant and punk in a way that is very British, and completely authentic in a way that was her own.” 

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Beyond just being the highlight to numerous Burberry runway shows and advertising campaigns, Tennant also served as a consultant for the brand, and would often bring her country roots into the stylings she consulted on. Burberry’s tribute to the fashion icon follows Chanel, another house who Tennant had a long relationship with. 

This Burberry collection is full of pencil skirts, polo necks, sleeveless shift dresses, and high heels worn with bare legs and flat-ironed hair to really “channel Tennant’s minimalist 90s style.” 

“She invented an era. She looked incredible but it wasn’t about being outrageous. It might be about putting a beautiful diamond brooch on a man’s suit.” 

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The Burberry show was filmed during the last UK lockdown inside one of the brand’s flagship stores with no audience present. Initially the show was meant to premier last week, however, Prince Philip’s funeral caused them to postpone. 

Burberry is typically known for its gender fluidity in its fashion lines, so this pure focus on womenswear works to show just how loyal the brand was to Tennant. Tisci discussed on Wednesday that “fluidity and not being exclusive about gender is still part of who I am. My intention was not to resurrect barriers but rather to redress what I see as a gender imbalance at the house. When I arrived here, most of the business was about selling to women, but the icons of the brand – the trench, the car coat, the story of Thomas Burberry – were all male. So I want to make Burberry more feminine.”

“I like that now I can show a collection when it’s ready and when the consumer is ready to see it. There is more respect for creativity, instead of everything being run on a kind of industrial schedule. I actually really like working like this. And I love that everybody watches the show the same way, on the same level, with the same access – journalists, consumers, everybody.”

“My dream would be that when we go back to doing shows, we can be in an open space with everyone invited,” Tisci explained.