Category Archives: Politics

Soc-Media Giants Looking for Clues From Biden Team

The US presidency may have shifted parties, but social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter are in a wait-and-see pattern vis-à-vis President Biden’s approach to the social media sector .

At home, all three platforms have come under fire in recent years for allegedly violating federal antitrust statutes. In December, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit for what the Commission called “a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.” That followed a trifecta of antitrust cases filed against Google.

The companies have also run into trouble in recent months on the socio-cultural stage, with social and political conservatives accusing the platforms of censoring conservative voices, and progressives arguing that the lack of oversight has facilitated the spread of disinformation and fake news.

Here, too, the battle is likely to play out in court: Parler, a Twitter-like platform favored by many conservatives that have been banned by Twitter,  sued Amazon after the latter’s Amazon Web Services announced it would cut service to Parler.

In the international arena, too, the social media giants are facing unprecedented scrutiny and legal challenges. In Brussels, the European Commission has opened an investigation into Google’s advertising practices, while in Australia the company is embroiled in a political fight with Canberra  over paying for news articles that appear in the company’s search results.

Stocks Respond Well to Passage of Second Stimulus Bill

Despite Trump’s declared dislike for the latest stimulus package passed by the US Congress, he signed anyway, to the rejoicing of legislators, citizens, and the stock market.

The newest bill authorizes $900 billion in aid to deal with the devastating effects to individuals, families, and the economy of the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the deal is a $600 check for every adult, expanded unemployment benefits, and more money for the Paycheck Protection Program which helps small businesses to retain their employees and stay afloat.

President Trump originally threatened to not sign the bill, saying that the payment should be $2,000 and not $600. He relented and the process of getting the desperately needed money out to the population hard hit by the pandemic is underway.

The stock market reacted positively: The S&P rose by 0.87%; the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.68% to 30,403.97; and the NASDAQ composite also increased 0.74% to 12,899.42.

In other, related news, the latest COVID-19 vaccine, from AstraZeneca, is about to get emergency use authorization in the UK, with the hope that the vaccine will begin deployment the first week in January 2021.

The company said that, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are already circulating in many countries, the AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95%.

The Youngest Electorate in US History Votes for Oldest President-Elect

Joe Biden courtesy of Gage Skidmore

At 78 years old Joe Biden is the oldest president-elect in US history—but that did not stop young people from voting for him in droves. More than half of registered voters under 30 voted in the 2020 election, the largest percentage ever says the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

That historic engagement of the young, benefited Biden, since he received 60% of their votes, compared to only 36% that the incumbent, Donald Trump received. In contrast, the previous presidential election in 2016 only inspired 42%-44% of this demographic to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Trump. Four years ago, many of the same voters supported Clinton, but by a smaller spread of only 19 points: 55% to 36%.

In Colorado, Georgia, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington preliminary data are showing a large increase in youth coming to the polls to vote.

Chief Executive Officer Tom Bonier at the Democratic data firm TargetSmart, explained to The Hill that “the increase in turnout among younger voters was greater than the increase overall.”
The Biden campaign was well-aware that support for Clinton in 2016 waned in many large population centers, so they worked hard to showcase issues that are important to younger voters. Some of those issues include student debt, health care, and environmental regulations.

“In the key battlegrounds, those younger voters likely netted Biden enough votes to carry the Electoral College,” according to The Hill. “Based on turnout and exit poll data, the Tufts center estimates voters under 30 gave Biden enough net votes to carry Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.”

Young Black voters were especially supportive of Biden, with 87% voting for Biden and only 10% supporting Trump. Almost as dedicated to Biden were young voters from Asian and Hispanic backgrounds with 83% of young Asians and 73% of young Hispanics voting for Biden. Among young white voters, the support was less pronounced, with 51% supporting Biden at the polls.

China Joins International Effort to Bring COVID Vaccine to World’s Neediest

China is the latest country to add its signature to a global effort to make sure that when a coronavirus vaccine is finally developed and ready for distribution, it will be given to the neediest people around the world.

Know as the COVAX initiative, it is sponsored by the World Health Organization and has signed up 157 countries. The WHO hopes the program will ensure that 2 billion doses of this life-saving vaccine will be made available to those most in need, no matter where they live, by the end of 2021.

“We have solemnly pledged to make vaccines developed and deployed by China a global public good, which will be provided to developing countries as a priority,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, wrote on Twitter.

This is an about-face for China, which originally bowed out from joining COVAX. China is currently developing four vaccines that are in clinical trials. One of them, according to Wu Guizhen, chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, should be ready to be used on the general population sometime in November. President of China, Xi Jinping promised back in May that he would make any Chinese vaccine available for “the global good.” At that time Xi also pledged $2 billion to WHO, making China the organization’s largest donor.

In early September, the United States announced its decision to stay away from the COVAX initiative, stating that:

“We will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said at the time.

Biden Reaches Out to Small Businesses

Joe Biden courtesy of Gage Skidmore

The campaign for the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Joe Biden, will create an initiative to deploy an advisory council on small businesses and entrepreneurship. The initiative includes John Hickenlooper, who is running for the Senate in Colorado; Andrew Yang, who, along with Hickenlooper, participated in the Democratic primaries; and the owner of a Miami-based empanada company.

Biden’s campaign will also place a group of four advertisements throughout Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania that will focus on business owners who have been hurt and are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative and the ads are designed to contrast Biden’s concern with the actions of the Trump administration which the campaign believes did not do enough to help small business and handled the Covid-19 pandemic poorly.

Biden has often pointed to Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic and brought attention to the difficulties small businesses are facing with an emphasis on the challenges procuring Paycheck Protection Program loans.

“The fact is that we’re in a situation where right now an awful lot of small businesses, 50 or fewer employees, are going out of business because the $2 trillion in the acts that are passed by the Congress aren’t getting to them at all,” Biden explained at a fundraiser.