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Politicians Warn Of Recession If Debt Limit Is Hit In Coming Weeks

Numerous democratic politicians have taken to addressing their concerns that if the debt limit is hit in the coming weeks, it could spell a crippling recession for the U.S. economy.

Speaking with CNBC, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explained that she sees Oct. 18 as the deadline for the debt ceiling to be addressed by Congress. If the ceiling isn’t dealt with, the U.S. would default on their debt for the first time in history.

“I do regard Oct. 18 as a deadline. It would be catastrophic to not pay the government’s bills, for us to be in a position where we lacked the resources to pay the government’s bills.”

The debt limit had previously been suspended back in 2019 until July 31 of this year. On Aug. 1, the debt limit reset to $28.4 trillion.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY.) has echoed Yellen’s sentiments, and announced on Twitter that he has filed cloture on legislation passed by the House in order to suspend the debt ceiling, and that the Senate will be voting on moving forward Wednesday.

Schumer had previously attempted to gain approval of a debt ceiling increase multiple times, but failed due to the filibuster blockade that the GOP put in place back in June, which requires 60 majority votes.

Yahoo! Finance explains that as of now, the 100 votes are split evenly between the two parties. The Democrats have been able to reach just 51 votes thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

Schumer expressed his desire to “avoid irreparable economic harm to people and families.” Schumer also called for Republican senators to show they don’t have to “link arm in arm with those extreme members of their conference” by voting in favor of suspension.

The tense situation has been muddled with mudslinging between the two parties, with President Joe Biden accusing Republicans on Monday of playing “Russian roulette” when it comes to the debt ceiling, and that the GOP needs “to get out of the way” in order for the U.S. to avoid a financial crisis.

Biden also explained that the Trump administration is at fault for the need to raise the debt limit because of “the reckless tax and spending policies” that occurred during that time. “In four years, they incurred nearly eight trillion dollars,” Biden said.

In his press conference, Biden gave America an idea of what economic problems would arise if the government is forced to default on its debt.

“Defaulting on the debt would lead to a self-inflicting wound that takes our economy over a cliff and risk jobs and retirement savings, social security benefits, salaries for service members, and benefits for veterans.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) has shown no inclination for the GOP to help Democrats through their votes in order to raise the borrowing limit, while also accusing Democrats of “sleepwalking” towards a debt default.

Yahoo! Finance discussed a majority of ways this debt ceiling bout could end, one of which is the filibuster being lifted by McConnell if Schumer continues his strategies. Another involves Schumer moving to ban to the use of the filibuster in regards to the debt ceiling, although it is noted that maneuver would carry some risks with it due to the senate containing a number of filibuster advocates.

While the general belief is that a positive resolution, no matter what party it comes from, is more likely to occur as opposed to a debt default, the latter is still an intimidating possibility that could send the U.S. financial status spiraling.

Pentagon Announces Vaccine Mandate For Troops Starting In September 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo this week detailing his request to president Joe Biden to require all US troops to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by mid-September. 

“I have every confidence that Service leadership and your commanders will implement this new vaccination program with professionalism, skill, and compassion.” 

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Austin said that he will be working to make the vaccine mandatory by mid-September or immediately upon the FDA’s full approval. As of right now vaccines in the military are voluntary when under emergency use authorization by the FDA; which all Covid-19 vaccines in America are currently being distributed under. 

President Joe Biden has the ability to waive the rule and make the vaccine a requirement for any government personnel, and in a recent statement Biden claimed he “strongly” supports Austin’s decision to make the vaccine mandatory. 

“I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe.”

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John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the president’s message of support is appreciated but doesn’t necessarily constitute for the approval of a waiver over the vaccine requirement. The Pentagon itself will still have to go through the process of requesting a waiver and receiving approval from the president. 

“You can consider this memo today as what we would call in the military a warning order – a warning order to the force that this is coming, and we want you to be ready for it as well. Obviously we’d prefer that you get the vaccine now and not wait for the mandate,” Kirby explained. 

Military services are already working on preparation and implementation tactics for whenever the vaccine becomes a requirement for military and government personnel. FDA approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is likely to occur within the next few weeks. 

The Department of Defense released a statement in which they explained that Austin would be consulting with medical professionals and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to best determine how to implement these required vaccines among government groups.

Chinese Billionaire Sun Dawu Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison 

Billionaire Sun Dawu is a vocal critic of the Chinese government. Now, Sun has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” according to an official statement published by the court. 

Sun was arrested back in March, he owns the company Hebei Dawu Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Group, which owns farming operations in China and employs about 9,000 people in poultry processing, pet food production, and other industries. 

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Sun was found guilty of “gathering a crowd to storm state institutions, obstructing public service, picking quarrels and provoking troubles, disrupting production and operation, conducting coercive trade, illegal mining, illegal occupation of agricultural land, illegal absorption of public deposits,” the People’s Court of Gaobeidian said in a statement. 

Dawu was also fined 3.11 million yuan ($480,000) as a part of his sentence. He’s one of very few powerful figures in China who has remained outspoken against the ruling communist party. He publicly accused the government of attempting to cover up the extent of the African swine flu outbreak in 2019, which killed more than 100 million pigs in the nation. 

There have also been local reports that claimed Sun was in the midst of a land dispute with a local government owned farm. Dawu claimed dozens of company employees were injured after a 2020 fight with the police when a group led by Dawu attempted to stop state farm staff from tearing down one of its buildings. 

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Chinese Human Rights Defenders is an advocacy group that recently claimed Sun was “being put on trial as a blatant attempt to punish him for his support of human rights.” 

“Sun Dawu has made extraordinary contributions to improving the life of Chinese citizens living in rural China. His support of rights defenders was an extension of his concern for the welfare of people on the margins of the Chinese economy,” said Ramona Li, senior researcher and advocate for CHRD.

Private enterprises in China have been subjected to multiple restrictive guidelines from the government in recent months. The Communist Party recently said that all private sector entrepreneurs need to be “politically sensible people who will firmly listen to the party.”

Chinese billionaire Ren Zhiqiang was also imprisoned for 18 years back in September 2020 on corruption related offenses. Ren was widely attributed to an essay that referred to Chinese president Xi Jinping as a “clown” for his coronavirus prevention strategy.

9 Arrested Over Plot To Plant Bombs Around Hong Kong 

This Tuesday Hong Kong police arrested nine people due to suspicion that they were engaging in terrorist activity. The officers made the arrest after it was uncovered that the group was attempting to make explosives to allegedly plant around the city. 

Hong Kong is currently rather politically divided, and the past two years have been especially futile. Massive pro-democracy protests have erupted all throughout the city, as well as China in general, and these arrests come just one year after Beijing imposed strict security laws. 

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Of the nine individuals arrested six of them are secondary school students. The group was attempting to make the explosive chemical triacetone triperoxide (TATP) in a homemade laboratory hostel, according to police reports. 

Police claimed “the group planned to use the TATP to bomb court buildings, cross-harbor tunnels, railways, and even planned to put some of these explosives in trash bins on the street to maximize damage caused by society.” 

The authorities said they seized an apparatus and raw materials that would typically be used to make the TATP, as well as trace amounts of the explosive as well. Operating manuals and about 80,000 Hong Kong dollars in cash was also taken in at the scene. 

Police froze around 600,000 Hong Kong dollars worth of assets that may also be linked to the bombing plot. The group was allegedly planning on setting off all the explosives as they left the city of Hong Kong for good.

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TATP is unfortunately a very common chemical among terrorist organizations and groups. Since 2019, Hong Kong police have made multiple arrests over alleged bomb plots and for making TATP illegally. 

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam spoke at a news briefing this week to discuss the threats of violence that Hong Kong is facing. 

“I hope members of the public will openly condemn threats of violence. They should not be wrongly influenced by the idea that there is only government tyranny. They should not be influenced into thinking that they can find excuses to inflict violence.”

Lam claimed that an envelope of white powder had been sent to her office but police concluded this Tuesday that the substance didn’t initially seem to be dangerous, but further tests would still be performed to make sure.

Social Media Apps on iPhone

CEO’s Of Google, Facebook, And Twitter To Testify In Front Of Congress On Misinformation

This marks the first time the chief executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter will be appearing before lawmakers since the Capitol riots and Covid-19 vaccine distributions.

California Shutdown Is Causing Restaurants And Other Businesses To Struggle Greatly

After an intense second-wave of Covid-19 infections, California Governor Gavin Newsom shutdown the state with measures that yet again restricted a multitude of businesses and restaurants from making an income.

America Coronavirus

Biden Continues To Dominate Trump In Electoral Polling Numbers As Pandemic Worsens

A record number of Americans have reported their disapproval of President Trump for his mishandling of the pandemic and protests throughout the country.

Unemployment Claim

Unemployment Rates Continue To Rise Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in April alone, 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs, making this the most sudden and largest decline in employment since the government began tracking the data in 1939. Those losses also account for the 870,000 Americans who lost their jobs in March as well. For comparison, during the financial crisis in 2008 around 8.7 million Americans lost their jobs, total. 

The loss in employment is an obvious result of the coronavirus pandemic and multiple quarantine policies that have been enforced because of it. The unemployment rate went up by 14.7% in April, again, breaking the record for the highest level of unemployment the Bureau’s seen since it began recording monthly employment rates in 1948

Once businesses began closing and stay-at-home orders were being enforced in late March millions of Americans began losing their jobs. According to reports the leisure and hospitality industry has been hit the hardest so far with a loss of over 7.5 million jobs, and retail follows it with a loss of over 2 million jobs. 

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Historically speaking, the hardest part of a recession is rebuilding what gets lost. It took the United States the past ten years to create over 20 million new jobs for the American people after the 2008 recession, and now, all of that hard work was diminished in a matter of weeks. However, some big business owners are confident that this situation will be different, since the economic/job losses have been a result of a worldwide health pandemic. 

The larger issue is for industries that involve a more face-to-face consumer experience, such as restaurant workers, hotel employees, and local businesses. There’s going to be less of a demand for businesses like that because it’s going to be more difficult to convince customers to actually leave their homes when it’s not fully necessary. 

So what’s the government currently doing to help ensure our economy can recover from this pandemic and it’s huge economic impact? While it’s easy to make comparisons to our countries current situation and the Great Depression, we also have to understand the US lacked any sort of safety net in the 1930’s. 

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Once this pandemic began, local, state, and federal governments began acting to expand unemployment benefits and extend funding to small businesses. Stimulus checks have been dealt out to every American adult earning less than $99,000 a year, and while these programs have received quite a bit of backlash and have been viewed as not nearly enough action from the government, they have provided some relief to workers and employers across the country.

Congress has expanded unemployment benefits to include an additional $600 a week for the next four months and they also expanded who is eligible to file for unemployment benefits; contractors, self-employed individuals, and workers in the gig economy can now apply. 

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo claims that the state was able to hire 1,000 new employees specifically for sorting through unemployment claims. Government workers in New Jersey are also looking for experienced workers to help them work with decade-old computer programming for this process. So in a sort of sad ironic twist, the decline in the economy is simultaneously helping it rebuild itself, slowly. 

Overall, however, many Americans are disappointed in how long it’s taking all levels of government to respond to the many needs of the people right now. More than half of all Americans still haven’t received their stimulus checks, and even when they do they know it won’t be able to help much. Obviously, it’s going to take time for the US labor market to recover, but for now, the least we all can do is support one another, and continue to demand that the government does it’s job to protect its citizens.

Switzerland

Top 5 Greenest Countries In The World

Climate change is obviously the largest issue regarding the health of our planet and its rapid deterioration. In the same regard, it’s just as obvious that the only way to reverse even a small percentage of the extensive damage that has already been done would be through serious systematic change brought on by our world leaders. In certain areas of the world, government bodies have finally begun listening to the outcries of the millions of individuals who are fighting for the survival of our planet and all its inhabitants, so much so that they’ve even seen a real shift in their natural environments. Here are some of the greenest countries on the planet currently, maybe we all can learn a thing or two from them. 

Iceland has always taken conserving its environment very seriously, even before climate change became as extreme of a threat as it is today. According to “Conserve Energy Future” a company that’s all about the many ways in which our planet can be more sustainable, Iceland was graded a 93.5 out of 100 on the Environmental Performance Index. They have such a high score due to the fact that they use geothermal landscapes to produce electricity and heat, as well as the fact that they’ve implemented multiple laws and policies that prevent their local waters/the ocean surrounding them from becoming polluted. 

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Switzerland is close behind Iceland on the Environmental Protection Index, with a solid score of 89.1. Switzerland has taken on a multitude of “green projects” within the past decade, such as creating a whole new national park known as Alpine Park, as a means of making the whole country much more sustainable. Multiple bans on industrial and infrastructural expansion into farmland has also allowed the country to maintain clean air and preserve multiple bodies of water. 

Costa Rica scored 86.4 on the Index and if you’ve ever taken a vacation there, you’re sure to know why; there’s a reason those beaches remain so clean and pristine. Costa Rica citizens all use renewable energy for power as a means of reducing their individual carbon footprints, and meeting their goal of being the first carbon neutral country in the world. 

Sweden is up next with a score of 86 exactly. Sweden has a goal of eradicating all fossil fuel use by the end of this year as a way of reducing pollution, and so far they’re on the right track. They’ve also adopted multiple forms of renewable energy to help power their citizens homes and cities, and have passed multiple laws that work to protect the ecosystems/wildlife habitats within the country.

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Norway is one of the few European countries that makes the cut with an index score of 81.1. In Norway residential and commercial facilities are not allowed to release any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by law. Instead, like many other countries on this list, they use renewable energy resources, and also have a goal of being completely carbon neutral by 2030. Norwegian culture has also always emphasized the importance and sanctity of our natural world. Children from a young age are literally taught in school to protect the planet at all costs as it’s the only home we all have. 

As we look down this top 5 list of the greenest countries in our world, according to Conserve Energy Future, there’s a lot of obvious similarities. They all use renewable energy sources to a certain degree, and have adopted an overall attitude as a country to prioritize the environment over anything else. Within the past ten years especially, the planet has seen an intense increase in natural disaster, endangered/extinct species, and general planetary destruction. These countries were able to unite together and create policies that are leading them all on a path of becoming completely carbon neutral. 

However, it won’t matter unless the rest of the world catches up and joins them in the fight to save our planet, so make sure that when it comes to climate change you’re not blaming your friends for using a plastic straw, and instead voting for a greener future when it comes times to hit the polls. Regardless of who you support we can all agree that we’d like to see Earth survive the next 100 years, so reflect that the next time you have a say in your countries policies. 

Wealth

Study Finds 22 Men Own More Wealth than All Women in Africa

One of the major topics of political concern both in the United States and around the world is the problem of economic inequality, which continues to increase by the day. Oxfam International, a charity that focuses on alleviating global poverty, has released a study that found that economic inequality has become so severe that the world’s richest 22 men own more wealth than all 326 million women who live in Africa. According to Oxfam, much of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few billionaires, whose fortunes contribute little to society even as women and people of color are excluded from the economy because of biased economic systems. To address the problem, Oxfam has called on governments around the world to institute policies that ease the financial burden on women who care for children and the eldery, often without pay. Oxfam recommends that governments increase taxes on the wealthy in order to fund programs to support child care and health care.

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The report included a number of surprising statistics that highlight just how bad economic inequality has become. For example, it found that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people; that the world’s richest 1% have over twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people; that the value of unpaid care work by women is $10.8 trillion annually; and that the number of billionaires in the world has doubled over the past decade. The report links economic inequality with gender inequality, arguing that economic policies that have been instituted around the world are biased towards men, allowing them to dominate in business in government. As a potential remedy to this problem, Oxfam recommends that governments recognize the unpaid yet essential care work performed predominantly by women by expanding the public sector’s role in providing care to children, the elderly, and others who cannot care for themselves. As populations age and governments around the world cut access to public services, this problem is expected to worsen with time.

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Oxfam believes that the influence of the super-rich on governments is too great, as the wealthy have the power to influence governments to enact policies that benefit themselves at the expense of the world’s poor, which disproportionately affects women and people of color. There is much disagreement around the world as to whether or not the existence of billionaires is good for society. Some argue that the fact that billionaires exist is evidence of the success of the capitalist system that has raised millions of people out of poverty, whereas others say that increasing taxes on the super-wealthy would lead to a more fair, just, and equal world where fewer people suffer unnecessarily. According to Oxfam, the capitalist system is broken because of the massive and growing economic inequality it generates and how it allows wealth to essentially be taken from the poor and given to the rich.