COVID Vaccination Rate Falls Short of July 4th Goal

In the opening days of President Joe Biden’s administration, he set a goal of having a 70% vaccination rate for eligible people before the Independence Day holiday in the United States. The country ended up falling just short of that goal, reaching 67% by July 4th.

Although the three percentage points aren’t that far off the desired number, they could have been reached or exceeded. The U.S. South has staggering low vaccination statistics, even with the Delta variant surge that happened during the summer.

Alabama had only 34% of its population fully vaccinated by the end of July. Arkansas wasn’t much better at 36%, while Louisiana had its figures at 37%.

The Delta Variant Caused a Surge of Vaccination Requests

When the Delta variant surges through the U.S. South, it became apparent that the most vulnerable people were those who hadn’t been vaccinated.

Over 90% of the registered infections came from those who hadn’t gotten a COVID shot or hadn’t completed their series. The percentage of hospitalizations was even higher.

Getting the word out about how transmissible the Delta variant is compared to the original coronavirus infections helped to push vaccination rates above 100% over the previous month. 

When all Americans are accounted for in every age group, about 50% were fully vaccinated by the end of July. 

Biden’s goal could have been reached if states like Wyoming, Idaho, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama had hit 50% instead of being under 40%. For now, the best option we have is to wear a mask, stay socially distant, and stay healthy.

For some people, products like Neurobiologix and Quicksilver Scientific can work to potentially give their immune systems an extra boost to reach that goal. 

Child Border Separations Identify 3,900 Kids

In 2018, the Trump administration initiated a zero-tolerance policy for families illegally crossing the border. Although this policy was part of Obama’s plan for border control, it was not implemented to the extent that it was from April to June 2018.

The number of kids separated from parents or guardians during those three months was over 4,300. After taking office in 2021, the Biden administration has worked to identify over 3,900 children who were taken away.

In July 2019, another 700 children were reportedly removed from their parents or guardians, with about five kids per day having this experience occur.

Care Problems Abound for Child Separations

A group of attorneys representing clients involved with fighting the Trump Administration’s border policy visited a center in Clint, Texas, in 2019.

The children told the attorneys that their meals were usually instant oatmeal for breakfast, instant noodles for lunch, and a frozen burrito for dinner. They also reported not having a bath or a change of clothing in weeks.

There were no adult caretakers available for the separated children. The attorneys reported that girls as young as ten were taking care of infants and toddlers.

Out of the 3,900 children identified by the Biden administration, about 1,800 were reunified with a parent by July 2021. Another 1,695 kids have had their parents contacted about their current status.

Many of those who have been contacted were released to the care of other family members.

The ACLU wants the reunifications to happen faster, but the organization praises the efforts of the Biden team to get the job done. Reunited families are being allowed to remain in the country temporarily.

What are the Average Costs of Moving?

brown wooden board on white surface

Moving can be a lot of things… expensive being one of them. In order to reduce the financial constraints of moving, it is advised that you do proper research and get the average cost of moving so you can properly plan and make your budget when you want to move. You may need to get a moving company to help you, and depending on who you hire, this could increase or decrease your cost of moving.

Average Cost of Moving 

The average moving cost depends on a number of factors. Using a moving calculator could help you greatly; several moving companies have moving calculators (we have one recommended below).

The average cost of moving locally often ranges from $500 to $2000. It depends on a number of factors like the size of your house, the distance of the move, the number of properties you have, total belongings, and the extra services you require from the moving company. This could add up to substantial costs. For example the average cost of moving 1000 miles could be up to $5000 if you have a two or three-bedroom apartment and your property does not weigh more than 7500 pounds.

Calculating Moving Cost 

It is easy to wonder how much moving would cost. The best way to get the best estimation of the cost of moving is by getting the moving service you want to use and having them visually inspect your properties and give you an estimate of what it would cost to move your belongings to your desired location. Using a moving calculator is also an option, and it could save you the hassle of booking an appointment and getting the movers to visually inspect your property and give you an estimate. Try a moving calculator to get a general idea of what your moving costs might be, though I still recommend getting estimates from moving companies as well.

TL/DR version is as follows:

Factors to consider

  • Cost of labor. 
  • Extra services like climbing a lot of stairs and packing; 
  • Furniture assembling. 

Factors that affect interstate moving costs

  • Packing service, if used 
  • Size of property. 
  • Storage fees where applicable. 
  • Moving date. 
  • Coverage for liability. 

Ways of reducing the cost of moving 

  • Dispose of your excess property. 
  • Get the help of family and friends when packing. 
  • Choose a cheaper moving date. 
  • Do not be in a hurry. 

Ikea Ends Iconic Catalog with a 40 Million Printing Run

Ikea decided to discontinue its annual catalog in 2020. The Swedish furniture company called the decision “emotional,” but they also said it was a rational choice to stop producing the fan-favorite publication.

That doesn’t mean the company is abandoning the concept this year. The final issue will have 40 million copies for everyone to enjoy, allowing you to flip through the pages to see the unique styles and updates offered.

When 2021 arrives, the 70-year run for Ikea and its catalog will come to an end. It’s a remarkable shifting of the consumer landscape, since it was only 2016 when Ikea published 200 million copies of its catalog.

If you were thinking about recycling your Ikea catalog this year, it might be a better idea to hold onto it. The item could become a collector’s edition!

The Decision Is a Sign of Our Digital Times

After the events of 2020 caused some people to start washing their fruits and vegetables in bleach, the idea of getting a catalog handled by multiple hands is somewhat unappealing. Even with several COVID vaccines in play, our global society is now a germ-sensitive environment.

We are moving online more with everything because the digital world doesn’t have the same physical restrictions.

Although people used the iconic catalog to see new items or think about how they’d look in their home, the company’s online sales surged by 45% since September 2019. With the website getting more hits per month than the catalog numbers printed, funneling money into that asset makes more sense.

If you still need an Ikea catalog fix, the furniture producer intends to offer a “museum” that allows fans to browse every issue ever printed.

The company will also release a catalog compendium in 2021 for the 2022 sales year for those who can’t resist the idea of turning pages.

Bob Dylan Sells Music Catalog for $300 Million

You won’t find a more prolific or successful musician on our planet. Bob Dylan continues to break records that many people thought were impossible even to reach.

Although bands like The Rolling Stones have had lasting power, Dylan has nearly six decades of industry experience after writing titles like “Blowin’ in the Wind.

He recently sold his entire song catalog, which encompasses over 600 songs, to the Universal Music Publishing Group. The whole deal is estimated to be worth over $300 million, making the deal potentially the largest investment ever for songwriting rights.

Full disclosure: Universal has not disclosed their negotiated purchase price.

Why Would Universal Pay That Much for Dylan’s Music?

Universal falls under the ownership umbrella of Vivendi, which is a French media giant. Now that the rights have transferred from Dylan to them, they’ll receive compensation whenever another artist covers a song that the musician wrote.

Vivendi also get the revenues from streamed songs, commercial sales, and broadcasts. If you hear a Bob Dylan song in a movie, this company gets paid for that result.

Songwriting rights are different than recording rights.

Dylan’s music has already been recorded by others over 6,000 times, including hits from Guns N’ Roses and Jimi Hendrix. Universal is not getting a piece of that pie. Instead, they’re receiving the portion that Dylan gets for being the author of the work.

At 79 years old, Dylan has had numerous notable accomplishments during his career. He’s won an Oscar, holds a Golden Globe, and over ten Grammy awards. Five of his songs are currently in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The deal struck by Universal includes every song, starting with his self-titled debut and ending with his latest album called “Rough and Rowdy Ways.”

Dylan has been recording music since 1962 and sold more than 125 million records.

Over $280 Billion Spent in Ottawa on COVID-19 Fight

The total spending from the Trudeau administration to fight COVID-19 in Canada is staggering. CBC News investigations found that the levels are unprecedented, averaging about $952 million per day.

That figure includes about $240 billion in transfers and payments to government entities, organizations, businesses, and individuals starting at the first lockdowns that happened on March 13, 2020.

Over 100 measures are responsible for this spending, with most of them created from scratch as a response to the pandemic.

The figures are easily available from the government, but the taxpayers don’t know who is getting most of the funds. That’s why the public is starting to push back against Trudeau’s handling of the COVID issue.

The Total Could Rise to $322.3 Billion for All of 2020

The final spending figures for the COVID fight aren’t expected until the middle of 2021. Early estimates suggest that the government could reach over $320 billion in new spending from the previous fiscal year. 

That means there isn’t a way to budget governmental needs because it is unknown what the public and private sectors will need. Although the COVID vaccine results look promising, the final groups might not get their shots until late in the year.

CBC News tracked over $105 billion sent to individuals as part of the study. They also took a look at the $81 billion sent to the CERB – the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit. It provides $2,000 monthly payments to qualified Canadians who are unable to work.

In comparison, only $9 billion was spent during the pandemic on youth employment and skills development. Just $6.11 billion went to PPE purchases.

Many people wonder what they can do to support themselves and their family during these challenging times with COVID. The first and best step is to strengthen your immune system. With products from brands like Renew Life and Enzymedica, you’ll be able to take the next step forward on your journey through 2021.

Louisville Pays $12 Million Settlement in Breonna Taylor Shooting

The city of Louisville agreed to a $12 million settlement in the botched raid that took the life of EMT Breonna Taylor. 

It is the largest figure agreed upon by government officials.

A part of the settlement includes specific police reforms that the local department will implement over the coming months and years. This structure consists of a requirement for commanding officers to approve search warrants before going to a judge.

Tamika Palmer, Breonna’s mother, said at the time that the outcome was only the first step toward getting full justice for her daughter. “Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground, so please continue to say her name.”

Taylor died on March 13 when three Louisville officers, dressed in plainclothes, used a battering ram to enter her apartment after midnight. They’d been granted a no-knock search warrant. 

The Drugs and Cash Police Sought Were Not There

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, is a licensed gun owner. He said that there was no announcement at the door. All he knew was that someone was breaking in after midnight, so he thought their lives were in danger.

Walker grabbed his gun and fired a warning shot at the perceived intruder. It hit Sgt. John Mattingly in the leg. 

That caused the police officers to respond, shooting into the apartment. Breonna Taylor was hit eight times with bullets, dying on the scene.

Walker was initially charged with attempted murder. 

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit on April 27, alleging excessive force and negligence. This settlement exceeds the $8.5 million that Louisville offered to Edwin Chandler after a police detective lied on the stand to send him to prison for over nine years.

The settlement includes incentives for police offers who agree to live in Louisville while serving the city.

Mattingly recently filed a counterclaim against Walker, requesting compensatory and punitive damages for being shot. He’s demanding a jury trial and asking that Walker cover all legal costs.

39 Nations Criticize China’s Human Rights Policies

China’s treatment of minority groups in Tibet and Xinjiang received more attention in 2020 when the United Nations gathered to criticize its human rights policies.

Almost 40 countries, mostly in the West, expressed their concerns about the national security law recently implemented in Hong Kong.

Japan and several European countries joined the United States to request “unfettered access” to independent observers. Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s human rights chief, joined that chorus, demanding that the government stop detaining Uighurs and other minorities.

55 Countries Issued a Response to That Edict

Once the 39 countries had their joint account read to encourage the rights, freedoms, and autonomy of Hong Kong and its judiciary, a rebuttal was offered by another joint statement.

Pakistan led a coalition of 55 nations that announced their opposition to interference with regard to China’s handling of Hong Kong. This group stated that the existing national security law ensures that the one country, two-system approach continues for the city.

Cuba came with a 45-country joint statement to support deradicalization in Xinjiang and other counter-terrorism activities. It was a carefully-worded piece that spoke of extremism and terror organizations within the ethnic groups of the province. Carrying out the enforcement activities was seen as a way to safeguard human rights instead of violating them.

North Korea, Russia, Syria, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Cuba signed both rebuttal statements.

Human Rights Arguments Continue Throughout the World

China isn’t the only country where human rights are in the spotlight. The United States is also on the hot seat for how they’ve handled immigration, housing children who request asylum, forced hysterectomies, and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Western countries expressed their concerns that religious restrictions and limiting the movement of people as part of the Uighur culture targeted that minority group. The widespread surveillance of the population also seems to be disproportionately targeting these groups in the mentioned regions. 

China rejected the 39-nation statement outright, accusing several countries of abusing their platform to politicize the issues and create confrontations.

15.7 Million Coronavirus Cases; Nearly 300,000 Deaths in U.S.

At the end of October, the United States set a record for its total number of COVID-19 cases with over 100,000 in a single day. That figure represents more than some countries have had over the entire pandemic.

Americans are now facing over 3,000 deaths per day because of the new coronavirus once again.

At the start of November, over 46.7 million people globally have the disease, with over 1.2 million people dying from it. Approximately 1 in 6 global deaths from COVID-19 occur in the United States.

Why Is the United States Struggling with COVID-19?

The unique governmental structures found in the United States are likely contributing to the continued outbreak and high numbers.

Each state government issues the rules for wearing masks, taking precautions, and limiting business activities. Democratic states tend to be more aggressive in these areas than Republican ones.

Some people take care of themselves better, using products from great brands like Argentyn 23 and Amazing Grass, to boost their immune system. 

The federal government didn’t help matters during the outbreak.

Federal Officials intercepted State PPE Shipments

When hospitals needed ventilators in April 2020, the federal government said the equipment stockpile was not meant for state requests. Jared Kushner said at the time that they were for the national government.

This comment trend caused state governors and hospital officials to reach out to China and other countries to secure supplies. Many of these items were overpriced. At the height of the COVID-19 worries, the federal government started intercepting shipments.

Dr. Andrew Artenstein, who is the Chief Physician Executive for a non-profit healthcare network in Massachusetts, said he had to ship PPE in food-service trucks to avoid confiscation.

While countries like New Zealand have almost eradicated COVID-19, the U.S. is on its third surge. It is clear that the Trump Administration is tired of dealing with this story, but a virus never goes away.

Over 300,000 empty chairs are around dining room tables in the United States in 2020. That’s why it is a scary time to be an American right now.

Most Popular Instruments to Learn During the Pandemic

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown rules have risen around the world. These rules and curfews have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus as well as third or fourth waves in respective countries. As a result of the lockdown, more people are working from home which gives them a lot of free time they usually wouldn’t have.

If you’re one of such people with extra time on your hands and no hobbies to indulge in, this article is for you. Perhaps you’d consider learning an instrument. This could be a hobby or an extra source of income for you. Learning an instrument is great because it occupies your time, teaches you how to focus, and also fosters creativity.

Piano

The piano is one of the most popular instruments you can learn. The best thing about pianos is that you don’t have to commit to purchasing a piano right away. There are lots of piano simulators you can get on your app store. Instead of purchasing a piano, you can try out these apps for a few days or weeks till you make your decision. Great songs for beginners to learn on the piano include the classic Twinkle Twinkle Star and do re mi from the sound of music.

Guitar

The guitar is perhaps the most popular stringed instrument. The guitar was invented in the 13th century and there have been many variations across the years. There are acoustic guitars, bass guitars, vintage guitars, and also electric guitars. Guitars are fun to learn and there are a lot of free online resources available to anyone who wants to learn how to play the instrument. If you’re considering purchasing a guitar, check out your local charity or thrift shops for vintage guitars.

Ukelele

This is one of the easiest instruments to learn. With proper focus, you can learn the basics in 15 minutes and learn how to play a couple of songs in 3 to 6 months. The ukulele is small and affordable which makes it a great choice for beginners. Once you understand the ukulele, you can also go on to learn how to play the guitar because they are in the same class of instruments.

Recorder

Everyone, at one point or another has been required to play the recorder. It’s one of the first musical instruments you’re taught in schools as a child. A recorder is a great option for adults as well as children. It’s relatively simple to learn and inexpensive to purchase.

Bongo Drums

The bongo drum is an open bottom drum with Afro-Cuban heritage. The bongo is part of drum and percussion musical family. It is very fun to play and there are no cords or strings to maneuver. It can be quite loud but it is generally a very enjoyable and simple musical instrument.

Harmonica

The harmonica is a great instrument for adults who want to get into musical instruments. Harmonicas are affordable and easy to learn. They are slightly harder than the flute but still very enjoyable.

These are our top picks for instruments to learn during the pandemic. Good luck learning a new instrument!