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Covid19

200,000 People Have Died From Covid-19 In The US

Six months ago Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that the Covid-19 virus could kill up to 200,000 Americans if the US didn’t take the proper health and safety precautions to curve the spread. However, at that point the virus had barely impacted any major region in the county, so Fauci was accused of fear mongering by all his skeptics. Now, that prediction has become a dark reality. 

What’s even more staggering is that the US hit the 200,000 death mark even earlier than Fauci initially predicted. Since the first Covid-19 death in the US occurred back in early February, an average of more than 860 people have died from the virus every day. That’s equivalent to having the 9/11 attacks occur everyday for 66 days straight, according to the US Department of Defense and New York City medical examiner’s office. Dr. Fauci recently spoke with the media about this “staggering” new data. 

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“The idea of 200,000 deaths is very sobering and in some respects, stunning. We do have the capability to prevent the transmission with the health and safety procedures that we’ve had in place, they just aren’t being universally implemented throughout our very large country.”

The deaths have caused families and friends to experience the heartbreak of knowing their loved ones died alone in a hospital room while others weren’t even able to receive a proper burial due to health and safety guidelines. Some families have opted for a virtual funeral to honor their loved ones memories, but for many that idea is just too dystopian and sad to even fathom. 

Now, Covid-19 is officially the second-leading cause of death in the US right after heart disease; which is the number one cause of death in the world, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). 

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Unfortunately, the US government as it stands is making no major shifts in the health and safety procedures currently in place, and is remaining as open as it possibly can to keep the economy afloat. The death toll is continuing to skyrocket, and the president of the US is holding political rallies in packed stadiums with crowds surpassing 6,000.

Healthcare workers and industry professionals like Dr. Fauci are claiming that it really is up to the individual at this point. Americans need to be willing to fight this battle together since many local, state, and federal branches of government are doing the opposite. The Covid-19 virus has already killed more people in the US than Americans killed in battle during the five most recent wars combined. That’s accounting for the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Persian Gulf Wars.

Stats also show that the US death toll from Covid-19 is currently 109 times higher than the effects from Hurricane Katrina. At the current rate, if Americans keep going about their lives as they have been for the past few months, researchers predict the US will witness an additional 180,000 coronavirus deaths by the New Year. However, the IHME claims it doesn’t have to get that severe, and claims that “increasing mask use to 95% can save nearly 115,000 lives.”

Further recommendations include social distancing at all possible moments and wearing a mask in situations where that’s impossible. Make sure you’re avoiding crowds/crowded spaces in general and are practicing good hygiene; washing your hands consistently, sanitizing, disinfecting surfaces, etc. Remember, we’re all in this together unless we aren’t, so take the precautions and stay safe!

San Juan Islands

Why Travel Abroad When We Have Amazing Hidden Islands Here?

With Christmas firmly behind us many of us are looking forward and seeing where we would like to head off for our annual vacations. And while destinations such as Europe, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand are always popular for American tourists, we also have some amazing “home-grown” destinations waiting to be discovered.

While over 40 million visitors head to Seattle each year – spending roughly $7.8 billion in the city and surrounding areas – few continue to the beautiful San Juan Island.

Situated sixty miles off the northwest coast of America and a mere 40-minute seaplane journey, the island can easily make one forget the busy Seattle lifestyle and settle into a lifestyle that is more relaxing and full of neighborly spirit.

While many coastal areas have been built up over the years to accommodate tourists, the 20-mile main island has remained unspoilt. Traffic is also a rare sight with no traffic lights and few other drivers meaning you have less stress as you navigate your way around the island.

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You can also visit the island via one of the cruise lines that stop off, including UnCruise and American Cruise Lines, however it is worth adding the trip to any other cruise that offers it. Many head here to watch the whales that are often spotted as well as to visit the seaside villages that welcome you like a long lost relative.

Make sure you take advantage of any offers to fly into the region, as you will get to see some amazing views not just of San Juan Island but also of all the 400 islands that are located nearby, although some are far smaller than the main islands, making them look like diamonds glistening in the water.

San Juan Island is not without its history. Back in the 1800s the American army had a base on the island while the British army also had a base there, albeit thirteen miles apart. During the twelve years they were both based there they appeared to live in peace, with athletic races between the two camps. The British camp created some formal gardens and these are still open for you to visit today. The camps also remained respectful of each other’s culture with the Americans celebrating the birthday of Queen Victoria while the British attended Independence Day celebrations.

However this was to change in 1859 when a pig escaped from a British farm and headed towards a vegetable patch of an American settler, who subsequently killed it. Although he apologised to the pig’s owner a disagreement was had over the worth of the pig. With this disagreement in full flow both the British and Americans tried to declare themselves owners of the islands therefore enabling them to enforce their own laws.

When it was clear neither side was prepared to settle the dispute the American military sent in 60 troops while the British responded with a full warship. The US then sent a further 450 more troops with the British sending another two more warships. When the US president decided to send army leaders to meet with the British a decision of joint occupation was made. Kaiser Wilhelm I – an independent arbitrator – held a ‘trial’ in neutral Switzerland that decided the Americans should own the islands and the British troops withdrew from the island within the next two weeks.

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If history is not your idea of fun you could always head to Lime Kiln Point State Park, also known as Whale Watch Park. Situated between the two camps – which you can still visit – tourists are treated to sights of orcas. Head down towards the shoreside path and make your way to the charming 1919 lighthouse and you should be able to see the beautiful creatures as they swim past.

Further along the waterfront is Roche Harbor. Situated in an impressive setting, the 1886 Hotel de Haro is a major attraction for loved-up couples to hold their weddings. The island’s sculpture park is nearby and has an amazing array of strange sculptures that move with the wind.

The main town on San Juan Islands is Friday Harbor and is home to around 2,000 residents. Not only can you visit the whale museum here you can also book boat trips to see the many marine mammals in the area including seals, humpbacks and of course, orcas. However if you want to see them while eating a great meal head over to Friday Harbor House and enjoy the sights from their clifftop restaurant.

Nearby Orca island – named after a sponsor of one of the Spanish explorers who originally found and named the island – is only a short plane or ferry ride and can be reached via Friday Harbor.

With an eclectic range of restaurants, cafes, parks, boutiques and galleries, many tourists like to head to the historic village of Eastsound.

If the great outdoors is your preference then head to Lopez Island, which offers great hiking and cycling trails.

Bad Weather Traffic

Storms Threaten Holiday Travel Across US

The holidays are undoubtedly the most difficult time of the year to travel in the United States, as roughly 55 million Americans take to airports and highways to visit their families before the end of the year. This year, however, may pose even more of a travel headache than usual, as multiple storms are forecasted to hit various parts of the US this Thanksgiving. According to U.S. News, a snowstorm is expected in Colorado, Kansas, and northern New Mexico on Friday and Saturday, potentially wreaking havoc on these states’ roads. Additionally, a mixture of rain and snow is forcasted for Missouri and Maine, among other states. Much of the southeastern U.S., alongside the East Coast, is expected to be impacted by thunderstorms as well. 

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Over the weekend, the disruptive weather system is predicted to continue moving east, causing freezing rain in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Next week, rain will turn into snow in Chicago on Tuesday, and Wisconsin and Michigan will receive heavy snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Northeast, temperatures will not reach freezing, but a storm system will cause rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, thankfully clearing up in time of New York’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday.

Already, a winter storm in Denver has caused a 50 car pile-up, and this storm is moving from the Rockies toward the Northeast, according to ABC 7 NY. The central U.S. is predicted to be the area of the country most affected during the peak of Thanksgiving travel, but travel is sure to be disrupted throughout the country due to weather over the coming days and weeks. According to the AAA, travel during the holidays already takes four times longer than usual due to the increase in traffic, and weather will likely make this travel time even longer to the point of being nearly impossible in some areas. Even more people are predicted to travel this year than last year, as the AAA predicts an additional 1.6 million more people will travel in 2019 than in 2018, as a result of a strong economy.

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If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning on traveling this year, it would be wise to take some precautions to ensure you arrive at your destination safely and on time. According to a AAA report, the absolute worst day to travel is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, though roads are likely to see very heavy congestion all week. AAA predicts that it will receive more than 368,000 calls from motorists in need of help this holiday season, with dead batteries, lockouts, and flat tires being the most common issues. While gas prices are predicted to stay at a relatively low $2.57 per gallon this holiday, this means that more people will be motivated to drive, making congestion worse.

Many people travel to warm-weather areas during the holiday season, and this year will be no different. According to the AAA, the top three travel destinations for Thanksgiving will be Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; and New York, New York, with theme parks being a major attraction during the holidays. In addition to car and plane travel, travel by train, bus, and cruise ship is also expected to peak during the holiday season, though not to the same degree as the other, more popular forms of travel. Air travel in particular will be more difficult this year than last year, as the AAA predicts that air travel will grow by 4.6% this year, a substantially higher margin than any other form of travel. The most important thing to consider when traveling during the holidays, especially when weather conditions are projected to cause difficulties, is the personal safety of yourself and your passengers. As such, you should take steps to prepare for the event of an emergency if you plan to travel.

Impeachment 2

Formal Impeachment Announcement Largely Symbolic, but Captures Nation’s Attention

In the past several days, news emerged that a whistleblower from the federal government observed disconcerting behavior from the President, who reported this news to the Director of National Intelligence, who considered the complaint to be urgent and serious. The Director of National Intelligence, by law, was supposed to hand over this information to Congress, but was blocked from doing so by the White House. As such, the full content of the complaint is currently unknown to Congress and to the American people, but what has become known is deeply troubling to lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who yesterday publicly announced that Congress would be holding impeachment inquiries and investigations.

Less than a day after reports of the existence and circumstances of the complaint emerged, sources spoke to the Washington Post to reveal some, but crucially not all, of the details. According to several news outlets, in July President Trump had a phone call with the newly-elected president of Ukraine during which he asked the Ukrainian government to investigate unfounded claims concerning political corruption of the son of Joe Biden, whom Trump considers his main political opponent. While doing so, Trump had also taken the highly unusual step of withholding aid funds from Ukraine, suggesting the possibility of a quid-pro-quo of restoration of funds in exchange for “dirt” on Joe Biden. Yesterday, Trump admitted to reporters while standing next to Air Force One that he had spoken with the President of Ukraine and discussed Joe Biden and corruption concerns, but downplayed the seriousness of his conduct, describing the call as “largely congratulatory” and “perfect.”

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Despite the President’s comments, however, many Democratic lawmakers, particularly those who have backgrounds in national security and the military, considered these allegations to be an unprecedented breach of a President’s constitutional responsibility, as asking a foreign power for help in winning a domestic re-election campaign threatens to undermine the system of democratic governance around which American political life is built. If left unchecked, this conduct could set a precedent that enables presidents to engage in unconstitutional conduct with impunity, fatally threatening the security of the country. As such, Nancy Pelosi yesterday publicly announced the beginning of formal impeachment proceedings in Congress, a risky political move considering the fact that the Senate is controlled by Republicans who are unlikely to convict the President and remove him from office, which could be seen as an embarrassing defeat for the Democrats and vindication for the Republican party. Following the announcement, several dozen Democratic congresspeople proclaimed their support for impeachment, bringing the number of House Democrats favoring impeachment past 200, close to the 218 representatives necessary for an impeachment vote to pass in the House.

According to reports from various news outlets, yesterday Trump called Pelosi in advance of her announcement, asking whether they could work out a deal concerning the whistleblower complaint, to which Pelosi replied he could authorize the release of the complaint to Congress as is required by law. Reportedly, Trump was surprised by Pelosi’s announcement, and took to Twitter to complain about it, even as he attends a U.N. summit. In response to the growing calls for his impeachment, Trump announced he would release the transcript of his call with the Ukranian President, claiming that it would exonerate him, and did so today. Democrats, who insist upon receiving the entire complaint and not just the transcript of the call, were expecting this transcript to be unremarkable, edited heavily or perhaps even falsified to create the impression that there was no wrongdoing. However, the transcript clearly shows Trump asking for an investigation into Joe Biden, as he said “there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, … whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.” While it is not the full complaint that Democrats are demanding, the transcript is surprisingly damning for the President, suggesting he perhaps does not recognize the extent and nature of the crime he just presented evidence of himself committing. Though the transcript shows no direct evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement, as Republican lawmakers were quick to point out, such an arrangement is irrelevant to the charge of asking a foreign power for assistance winning an election.

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Despite the groundbreaking and unprecedented news, however, little is likely to change in the immediate term. This is because several investigations into the President’s conduct, including his connections with other governments and his finances, are already ongoing in the House, but the word “impeachment” had not been used to describe these investigations until now. And even if the House does vote for impeachment, which is growing ever more likely by the day, the President is only removed from office after a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate. However, recent developments expand the scale of the already-quite-serious allegations of misconduct by the President, as this is the first time Trump has been known to proactively seek assistance from a foreign power to improve his re-election odds, whereas previously he had only expressed an openness to the idea.

The times have found us

That being said, this is an undoubtedly tumultuous period in American history, as the political establishment is dealing with issues for which there exist no precedent and for which the outcome is difficult to predict. Nevertheless, the President’s conduct serves as a vital test of our country’s system of checks and balances, a self-correcting mechanism established deep within the core of the philosophy constructing this country’s politics. This system, comprised of three independent and co-equal branches of government, is designed to withstand and undo bouts of corruption and other internal threats to democracy, but only functions by the action of elected officials. In her announcement yesterday, Nancy Pelosi reiterated a phrase used by the country’s founders, proclaiming “the times have found us.” Indeed, the circumstances influencing political corruption have called upon elected officials to act in service of restoring the soul of the country, or witness the gradual undermining of the country’s founding principles and the dissolution of the rule of law and the rights of citizens.