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.

23 Million Americans May Relocate Due to Remote Work

Up to 23 million Americans are currently planning to relocate to a new region or city because of telework, telecommuting, and freelancing.

With fewer companies requiring in-office work, families have more opportunities to explore affordable housing options. This trend is happening for organizations of all sizes, significantly widening the accessible talent pool.

Up to 50 million more Americans are employed through the gig economy, following a similar relocation trend with their self-employment.

Employers benefit from this trend. It creates more opportunities to reach talented workers where they live. With fewer overhead costs and the potential for more productivity, everyone can do more and spend less.

Over Half of Small Businesses Plan to Offer Remote Work

A recent Intermedia survey found that 57% of American SMBs intend to offer remote work as a long-term option for many employees.

As part of this trend, companies have found that employee availability has risen by nearly 20% with this change.

With people leaving places like New York City in droves to escape COVID-19 and high prices, the emerging behavior could have dramatic implicates for state and local economies. The households that remain could be facing housing price drops, tax increases, and higher expenses for utilities and daily needs.

Imagine that your daily commute involves walking downstairs to your home office. You could take your Neuroscience and Perque, work in comfortable clothes, and manage your family’s schedule with much more flexibility. That’s an inviting scenario for many people.

Approximately 1 out of 5 residents in a major city plans to move beyond the regular commuting distance with the telecommuting trend. Over 54% say that they want to be around two hours away from their current location.

Housing prices suggest the survey information is accurate. The U.S.’s top housing markets saw 13 percentage points more in rental price decreases than those in the bottom 10%.

$50 Million Sought by AMC Theaters to Avoid Bankruptcy

AMC Theaters is struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been hit on three different monetary fronts: ticket sales, food options, and exclusive movie access.

With reduced capacity seating required in most markets, the movie theater chain’s per-screen revenues are down significantly. When fewer customers walk through the door, that means less popcorn gets sold.

The movie studios have also negotiated a significantly lower exclusive run time for new films, hoping to take advantage of the new at-home market.

In an effort to counter these challenges, AMC hopes to sell up to 20 million Class A shares to bring in $50 million in new capital. This news comes on the heels of an October 2020 announcement that stated the organization was on its way toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Why Is AMC Struggling During This Time?

AMC found itself handling a lot of debt at a time when it wasn’t needed earlier in 2020. The organization had purchased competitors like Odeon and Carmike, creating a $4.75 billion obligation.

The movie theater chain has been in survival mode for quite some time. It has already looked for ways to boost liquidity while improving its overall balance sheet.

AMC wants to hold on until new content can arrive in theaters. Three titles are expected to potentially tempt customers to come to the big screen again, including “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Those hopes might get dashed with the recent announcement that Wonder Woman will simultaneously premiere on HBO Max.

In the previous quarter, AMC earned approximately $119.5 million in revenues. For the same period in 2019, the theater chain had gained $1.32 billion.

The maximum offering price for each share is $2.39, which would raise a total of $47.7 million if the fundraising offer is successful.

159.8 Million Votes Cast in 2020 Election

We will point to 2020 for many reasons once we have a few years of history between us and it. Although COVID-19 will be the obvious talking point, several unfortunate events affected people around the world.

From the death of Kobe Bryant to the Australian bush fires that ravaged 47 million acres, everyone who makes it to 2021 will feel like a survivor.

Another significant milestone for 2020 was the U.S. Presidential election. The country tallied the most votes in history, with at least 159.8 million people going to the polls, mailing in their ballot, or using other legal methods.

Voter Turnout Was the Highest Since at Least 1900

About two-thirds of eligible voters made the time to cast a ballot for their preferred candidate in the 2020 election.

It turned out that Democrats held a significant early vote advantage, gaining 43% of the absentee or initial tallies going into Election Day. Republicans were only able to secure 37% of that figure.

Texas led the way in early voting, with approximately 9.6 million ballots cast before Election Day.

The most remarkable statistic from the 2020 election might belong to Pennsylvania. After the in-person votes were counted on Election Day, Donald Trump had more than a 600,000-vote lead over Biden. After the mail-in ballots got added to that figure, there was enough for the Democratic candidate to win the state.

Although COVID-19 topped the list of voter concerns for the election, jobs, the economy, immigration, and abortion were hot-button topics that drove people out in record numbers.

Biden won the election by flipping the upper Midwest states that Trump secured in 2016 on razor-thin margins while flipping Arizona and Georgia, which have been traditional Republican strongholds.

Only time will tell if these voting numbers are a one-off because of the emphasis on mail-in voting.

$14 Billion Spent on 2020 Election

If you thought the $7 billion spent during the 2016 election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was expensive, 2020 decided to provide a shock and awe campaign.

Total election spending for the 2020 contest was $14 billion, doubling the records that happened in 2016. That figure is up approximately $3 billion from the initial estimates.

A massive influx of donations came into both campaigns at the end of the political season because of closely watched Senate races, a GOP push to win back House seats, and the Supreme Court battle that would ensue to put Amy Coney Barrett on the bench before Election Day.

Joe Biden will make history at the end of this cycle, becoming the first candidate in U.S. history to raise $1 billion from donors. Trump’s $596 million, which would have been a massive haul in any other year, looked weak compared to the excitement that Democrats achieved.

This Result Was Unthinkable a Decade Ago

Before 2010, the idea of seeing a billionaire running for the highest office in the United States was almost unthinkable. During the 2020 election cycle, we saw Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg on the campaign trail.

Although Bloomberg ran into the Biden buzzsaw during the primary season, he vowed to keep his spending levels high to defeat Donald Trump.

Bloomberg personally contributed approximately $500 million to support Democrats up and down the ticket in multiple states.

Political donations weren’t coming from the elite and wealthy alone. Even with 2020 being a pandemic year, women were crushing donation records. Small checks getting written to candidates to eight-figure checks going to super PACs all made it a record spending year.

Another trend for Americans is to donate to candidates outside of their state to support their preferred party.

If this trend continues, the idea of spending $20 billion in the 2024 election cycle is not outside the realm of possibility. That figure is significant because it represents ten times the amount spent in 2000.

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!

25 Years in 25 Weeks: Gates Foundation Warns of Global Equality Setbacks from COVID-19

The Gates Foundation is issuing a stark warning to anyone who is willing to listen. Since mid-September 2020, they’ve discussed their report on the worldwide economy that shows global health progress is regressing.

The 2020 Gatekeepers report outlines that women and children see the worst results caused by the pandemic.

One of the best indicators for how health systems function involves vaccination coverage. The rates discovered in 2020 were last seen in the 1990s.

Although global actions have been taken to stop the coronavirus pandemic, more is at stake than COVID-19. Worldwide regression in many areas, including malnutrition, HIV transmission, education, gender equality, and poverty is happening right now.

We’re left with a choice. Do we tackle these concerns, or do we take a different direction?

COVID-19 Kills Men; Poverty Kills Women

Although COVID-19 is a life-threatening disease for many men, poverty and a lack of clean resources is killing more women.

The disease diagnosis rates for pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus are at their highest levels in almost 30 years. Fewer people are completing the three doses of the DTP vaccine that stops these health issues from happening.

Newborns are also especially vulnerable. COVID-19 affects children at a disproportionate rate, but it is not the same with poverty. Infants are more likely to die from preventable causes when health systems fail, and that issue is happening in today’s world.

About 37 million people have become exceptionally poor, living on less than $1.90 per day. That means they are clawing through each day trying to stay alive. There is no way for them to get ahead because of the complete systematic breakdown happening.

How can we make a difference? It starts by supporting the organizations that have boots on the ground in these high-risk areas. A small donation can change a person’s life.

You can always share the information from the Gatekeepers report. When more people understand what is happening, we can do even more to change lives.