Showing posts with label Joe Biden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Biden. Show all posts

Sunday, July 24, 2022

On Our "Virtual Route 66" This Week: Out & About in Our World

It has been another challenging week in our World.     The January 6 hearings in the United States again revealed a number of startling developments.   In Califonia, fires raged on along with Europe.   The UK had to suffer through a heatwave that was unprecedented.    The Ukraine War raged on with no end in sight--A deal to export grain was signed and the Russians struck the Port of Odesa.    The Russian Leader went to Tehran to discuss Syria as Turkey attacked Northern Iraq.

As we gear up for a new week, we present a sampling of the week that was with thoughts from the UK Leader of the Opposition and thoughts courtesy of the leading media partner in the World we assess daily as part of our ongoing commitment:

8 ways the pandemic changed America

After three summers of living with COVID-19, government data reveals how the pandemic altered American life in far-reaching ways. Some of the changes have stayed; others have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Metrics from the worlds of immigration, entertainment, education, and many more provide perspective on how the nation responded to the virus, and how the virus changed life in the United States.
  • Americans quitting their jobs comprised 60% of all job separations in February 2020. Quits were 18% of all job separations in April 2020, an eight-year low. Two years later, quit rates were at a 22-year high, with 4.4 million people quitting in April 2022 — making up 73% of all separations.
  • Americans spent $75.6 billion on experiential services such as arts, entertainment, and recreation in the first quarter of 2020. Three months later, spending dropped to $37.6 billion.  
  • The State Department issued 38% fewer immigrant visas and 68% fewer non-immigrant visas in 2021 compared with 2019. COVID-19 regulations also made it more difficult for migrants to receive asylum.
  • The accommodation industry, which includes hotels and resorts, had a 62% decline in revenue between the first and second quarters of 2020. The industry earned a historic high revenue in the final quarter of 2021: $79.6 billion.
Learn more about how the pandemic has affected American lives in this new article — including how COVID-19 influenced school enrollment and even how people watch television.

What COVID-19 meant for jails

COVID-19 also hastened the release of many inmates. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics paints a picture of how the nation’s jail populations decreased in the first months of the pandemic for an overall 25% drop in 2020. 
  • Among the 50 counties with the largest populations overall, Denver County, Colo., had the largest decrease, cutting its jail population by more than half. 
  • Inmates held for misdemeanor charges were more likely to be released than those held for felony charges, decreasing by 44%. 
  • Expedited release wasn’t the only reason for shrinking jail populations: there were also fewer people admitted to jail in early 2020. Arrests fell 25% from 2019 to 2020, a time when more people started working from home and states instituted restrictions on businesses.

Track arrest data from the pandemic and decades prior with this article


The weekly quiz is back

Have you studied up on the facts in this newsletter? Test your data knowledge with the latest USAFacts quiz! 

One last fact

Which five counties gained the most residents ages 65 and older from 2010 to 2020? Orange County, Calif. gained 145,698 people in the age group, a 41.4% increase. What four counties had more new senior residents? Find out on our Instagram page, and check your county’s growth with Our Changing Population.

Newsom becomes louder Democratic voice amid Biden isolation and 2024 rumors

Newsom becomes louder Democratic voice amid Biden isolation and 2024 rumors

With President Joe Biden sidelined, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expanding his list of Republican targets as Democrats look for leadership.

Read the full story here.

Russia Following 2014 'Annexation Playbook' In Eastern Ukraine, White House Says
By Jacqueline Feldscher

Russia is preparing to annex parts of eastern Ukraine following the same “playbook” it used to illegally seize Crimea in 2014, a White House official said Tuesday. 

Read more »

July 23, 2022

Heather Cox RichardsonCommentShare

Thursday’s public hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol brought to its logical conclusion the story of Trump’s attempt to overturn our democracy. After four years of destroying democratic norms and gathering power into his own hands, the former president tried to overturn the will of the voters. Trump was attacking the fundamental concept on which this nation rests: that we have a right to consent to the government under which we live.

Far from rejecting the idea of minority rule after seeing where it led, Republican Party lawmakers have doubled down.

They have embraced the idea that state legislatures should dominate our political system, and so in 2021, at least 19 states passed 34 laws to restrict access to voting. On June 24, in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, the Supreme Court said that the federal government did not have the power, under the Fourteenth Amendment, to protect the constitutional right to abortion, bringing the other rights that amendment protects into question. When Democrats set out to protect some of those rights through federal legislation, Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly voted to oppose such laws.

In the House, Republicans voted against federal protection of an individual’s right to choose whether to continue or end a pregnancy and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services: 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 99% of House Republicans.

They voted against the right to use contraception: 195 out of 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 96% of House Republicans.

They voted against marriage equality: 157 out of 204 Republicans voted no; 7 didn’t vote. That’s 77% of House Republicans.

They voted against a bill guaranteeing a woman’s right to travel across state lines to obtain abortion services: 205 out of 208 Republicans voted no; 3 didn’t vote. That’s 97% of House Republicans.

Sixty-two percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal. Seventy percent support gay marriage. More than 90% of Americans believe birth control should be legal. I can’t find polling on whether Americans support the idea of women being able to cross state lines without restrictions, but one would hope that concept is also popular. And yet, Republican lawmakers are comfortable standing firmly against the firm will of the people. The laws protecting these rights passed through the House thanks to overwhelming Democratic support but will have trouble getting past a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

When he took office, Democratic president Joe Biden recognized that his role in this moment was to prove that democracy is still a viable form of government.

Rising autocrats have declared democracy obsolete. They argue that popular government is too slow to respond to the rapid pace of the modern world, or that liberal democracy’s focus on individual rights undermines the traditional values that hold societies together, values like religion and ethnic or racial similarities. Hungarian president Viktor Orbรกn, whom the radical right supports so enthusiastically that he is speaking on August 4 in Texas at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), has called for replacing liberal democracy with “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy,” which will explicitly not treat everyone equally and will rest power in a single political party.

Biden has defended democracy across the globe, accomplishing more in foreign diplomacy than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Less than a year after the former president threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken pulled together the NATO countries, as well as allies around the world, to stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The new strength of NATO prompted Sweden and Finland to join the organization, and earlier this month, NATO ambassadors signed protocols for their admission. This is the most significant expansion of NATO in 30 years.

That strength helped to hammer out a deal between Russia and Ukraine with Turkey and the United Nations yesterday to enable Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and Russia to export grain and fertilizer to developing countries that were facing famine because of Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports. An advisor to the Ukrainian government called the agreement “a major win for Ukraine.” When a Russian attack on the Ukrainian port of Odesa today put that agreement under threat, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink called the attack “outrageous.”

Biden has also defended democracy at home, using the power of the federal government to strengthen the ability of working Americans to support their families. As soon as Biden took office, Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to rebuild the economy. It worked. The U.S. has added 10 million new jobs since Biden took office, and unemployment has fallen to 3.6%. That strong economy has meant higher tax revenues that, combined with the end of pandemic spending, have resulted in the budget deficit (the amount by which the government is operating in the red each year and thus adding to the national debt) dropping considerably during his term.

The strong economy has also led to roaring inflation, fed in part by supply chain issues and high gas prices. During the pandemic, as Americans turned to ordering online at the same time that factories closed down, shipping prices went through the roof. In the past year or so, outdated infrastructure at U.S. ports has slowed down turnaround while a shortage of truckers has slowed domestic supply chains. Biden’s administration worked to untangle the mess at ports by getting commitments from businesses and labor to extend hours, and launched new programs to increase the number of truckers in the country.

While oil companies are privately held and thus have no obligation to lower their prices rather than pocket the record profits they have enjoyed over the past year, Biden has nonetheless tried to ease gas prices by releasing oil from the strategic reserve and by urging allies to produce more oil for release onto the world market. Gas prices have declined for the past month and now average $4.41 a gallon, down from a high of more than $5 last month.

Last month, on June 25, Biden signed into law the first major gun safety bill in almost 30 years, having pulled together the necessary votes despite the opposition of the National Rifle Association. On July 21, he signed the bipartisan FORMULA (which stands for “Fixing Our Regulatory Mayhem Upsetting Little Americans”—I’m not kidding) Act to drop tariffs on baby formula for the rest of the year to make it easier to get that vital product in the wake of the closure of the Sturgis, Michigan, Abbott Nutrition plant for contamination, which created a national shortage. The Biden administration has also organized 53 flights of formula into the country, amounting to more than 61 million 8-ounce bottles.

While we have heard a lot about Biden’s inability to pass the Build Back Better part of his infrastructure plan because of the refusal of Republicans and Democratic senator Joe Manchin (WV) to get on board, Biden nonetheless shepherded a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill through this partisan Congress, investing in roads, bridges, public transportation, clean energy, and broadband. Last Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that 1 million households have signed up for credits to enable them to get broadband internet, a program financed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Love or hate what Biden has done, he has managed to pull a wide range of countries together to stand against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian attack in Ukraine, and he has managed get through a terribly divided Congress laws to make the lives of the majority better, even while Republicans are rejecting the idea that the government should reflect the will of the majority. That is no small feat.

Whether it will be enough to prove that democracy is still a viable form of government is up to us.



Onward with the new week....