Today, the Supreme Court voted on two separate vaccine mandates. The Court voted to uphold the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, while blocking the vaccine mandate for non-healthcare businesses.
Ruling 5-4 to uphold the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, and 6-3 against vaccine mandates for large businesses. The Court's decision was split with two conservative Justices (Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Kavanaugh) joining the three liberal Justices to allow vaccine mandates for healthcare workers. All six conservative Justices voted against the mandate for non-healthcare businesses. All three liberal Justices voted to uphold both mandates.
The Department of Health and Human Services acted through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to enforce the mandate on all medical facilities which receive funding from either agency. Covered employers are required to terminate any employee who does not comply with vaccination, otherwise be fined or lose Medicare and Medicaid funding agreements. The federal mandate requires all medical staff, employees, volunteers and contractors, working in medical facilities to receive the COVID vaccines or be fired. This resulted with 10+ million COVID vaccinations in two months. Having been upheld by the Court, the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers will continue to be in effect indefinitely.
Justice Thomas stated, "These cases are not about the efficacy or importance of COVID-19 vaccines, they are only about whether (the administration) has the statutory authority to force healthcare workers, by coercing their employers, to undergo a medical procedure they do not want and cannot undo." Notably, Justice Thomas adds, "The Government has not made a strong showing that this hodgepodge of provisions authorizes a nationwide vaccine mandate." He specifies, "Vaccine mandates also fall squarely within a State’s police power, see Zucht v. King, 260 U. S. 174, 176 (1922), and, until now, only rarely have been a tool of the Federal Government."
Last September, Biden's administration ordered in accordance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) a workplace rule which demanded all private businesses with 100 or more employees must receive COVID vaccinations. Thousands of businesses and citizens refused to comply. As of today, the workplace rule is rejected by the Supreme Court, and no longer in effect.
Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented, "In our view, the Court’s order seriously misapplies the applicable legal standards. And in so doing, it stymies the Federal Government’s ability to counter the unparalleled threat that COVID–19 poses to our Nation’s workers. Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies."
Six conservative Justices voted against the workplace rule, they stated, "Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category."
"It is telling that OSHA, in its half century of existence, has never before adopted a broad public health regulation of this kind—addressing a threat that is untethered, in any causal sense, from the workplace. This 'lack of historical precedent,' coupled with the breadth of authority that the Secretary now claims, is a 'telling indication! that the mandate extends beyond the agency’s legitimate reach," states Justice Gorsuch.
Justice Gorsuch also specifies, "As the agency itself explained to a federal court less than two years ago, the statute does 'not authorize OSHA to issue sweeping health standards' that affect workers’ lives outside the workplace."
President Biden commented today saying, "I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses." Biden now says it's up to states and employers to decide whether to require workers to be vaccinated.
In a matter of hours, thousands of Colorado residents endured terrible wildfires that destroyed over 500 homes on Thursday. Fortunately no deaths have been reported.
Damages to homes and businesses are immense. The firestorm was propelled by 110+ mph winds that drove fires across roadways and into parking lots. Local Costco and Target stores were in flames.
Colorado resident Laurie Draper said, "We were home, and it was a bright, sunny day, and all of a sudden it wasn’t bright and sunny anymore." That's when fires quickly approached with gale force winds. She said, "We could smell fire, and then there was smoke coming through the neighborhood." She escaped with her family moments before her beloved home was destroyed.
Emergency responders are still surveying the wreckage. Hundreds of structures, residential and commercial, were destroyed by the wildfires, and possibly over 1,000 buildings were lost. There are no reported deaths, but many people lost everything. This is now Colorado's worst wildfire on record.
Wildfires in Colorado during the winter season are uncommon, but an extended period of drought primed the region for fires to spread more rapidly. However, wildfires of this magnitude are irregular in Colorado at any time of the year. In the United States wildfires are reported to be worse each year with greater occurrence and intensity.
From the Pentagon, Chief of U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said yesterday, "Our investigation now concludes the strike was a tragic mistake."
Gen. McKenzie said, "Having thoroughly reviewed the findings of the investigation and the supporting analysis by interagency partners, I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians — including up to seven children — were tragically killed in that strike." He continued, "Moreover, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to U.S. forces."
After the Aug. 26th attack by suicide bombers outside the Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan that killed 13 American servicemen and over 100 civilians, Pres. Joe Biden expeditiously ordered a retaliatory strike. A week later, military "intelligence" found their target, and without question, Pres. Biden and his commanding officers executed the airstrike remotely with a drone. However upon investigation, not one terrorist was verified to be in the vehicle, and instead 7 children and 3 adults were killed.
Allegedly, the target was a vehicle suspected to be loaded with explosives and ISIS-K terrorists, and the vehicle had been tracked for over 8 hours before the airstrike was approved. However, the vehicle was loaded with neither explosives or terrorists. What was thought to be explosives were water bottles, and the people killed were humanitarian aid workers and children.
Two days after the airstrike Army Gen. Mark Milley told reporters, "at least one of those people that were killed was an ISIS facilitator," but after over two weeks of investigation, it's now concluded that no ISIS terrorists or facilitators were in the vehicle. Leading news organizations and government agencies originally reported the airstrike killed only ISIS terrorists with zero civilian casualties. Contrary to those statements, the Pentagon confirms the opposite happened.
Pres. Biden is now ordering mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all companies in the United States with more than 100 employees. Employees will be required to either be vaccinated or be tested every week.
Via the White House website: "The President’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements—these requirements will become dominant in the workplace." https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/
Biden said, "the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees that together employ over 80 million workers to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week."
So according to Biden, the Department of Labor will use emergency powers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to propose a temporary rule. According to OSHA's published standards, emergency powers can only be granted when it's been determined "that workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards and that an emergency standard is needed to protect them."
Biden declared, "My job as President is to protect all Americans," by threatening millions of unvaccinated workers with losing their jobs. Biden's declaration rings quite differently than that of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which specifies, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." However, consent is being denied by Biden's administration.
States are already challenging Pres. Biden's mandate, including Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma argued, “It is not the government’s role to dictate to private businesses what to do. Once again Pres. Biden is demonstrating his complete disregard for individual freedoms and states’ rights. As long as I am governor, there will be no government vaccine mandates in Oklahoma."
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said, "Biden’s vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses. I issued an Executive Order protecting Texans’ right to choose whether they get the COVID vaccine."
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said, "I fully support continued efforts to increase vaccination rates across our nation, but the federal government mandates on private businesses are not the right answer." https://twitter.com/AsaHutchinson/status/1436084493002100738?s=20
Pres. Biden also exclaimed, "we're going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers." However, vaccinated people are still spreading and dying from the virus. Being vaccinated does not exempt anyone from being infected and transmitting the virus. In fact, a vaccinated person may be more unaware they are infected. Still the mortality rate has remained below 2%, and seems mostly unaffected by the millions of vaccinations.
In the United States, there have been over 40.5 million cases reported, and 652,480 attributed deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Currently, around 12,000 people are being hospitalized every week, most of which are reported to be unvaccinated. Of all Americans, 53.4% have been fully vaccinated.
For children ages 0-18, there are now 486 COVID related deaths as compared to over 5.1 million cases. That makes for under a .01% death rate. In 7 states, zero children have died from COVID. According to the CDC, the total number of cases for children is probably much higher, and when factored in only further lowers the death rate. CDC published this statement, "COVID-19 incidence is likely underestimated among children and adolescents because testing volume among these age groups was lower than that for adults, the rate of positive test results was generally higher among children and adolescents." https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7003e1.htm
While thousands of people gathered at entry points around the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, two terrorists moved into the crowd and detonated explosive vests, killing over 70 people. Among those killed were 13 United States servicemen and women who were helping evacuees into the airport. Another 18 Americans and over 100 Afghani civilians were injured.
According to Pentagon officials, as the attacks happened, ISIS-K Islamic State terrorists claimed responsibility. Immediately following the first bomb, ISIS-K gunmen then fired at U.S. soldiers and civilians outside the airport. Taliban forces deny any involvement with the attacks, and several Taliban soldiers were said to have died in the blast. President Biden has now ordered his military commanders to prepare for retaliatory attacks against ISIS-K.
Pres. Biden exclaimed, "To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command."
Pres. Biden is now receiving intense scrutiny from both Republicans and Democrats for his handling of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Specifically to have military leave before all American citizens and allies were secured and evacuated. Many oppose Pres. Biden's decision to negotiate with the Taliban. However last year, former Pres. Trump also negotiated with the Taliban to allow for a complete withdrawal by May 1, 2021. Upon taking office, Pres. Biden extended this deadline to Sep. 11, 2021, which is the 20th anniversary of the devastating attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. When Biden didn't meet the agreed upon deadline, Taliban militia threatened to take countermeasures, and then began forcefully retaking territories.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko published a final report on the U.S. military involvement.
He begins with stating, "The report examines the past two decades of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. It details how the U.S. government struggled to develop a coherent strategy, understand how long the reconstruction mission would take, ensure its projects were sustainable, staff the mission with trained professionals, account for the challenges posed by insecurity, tailor efforts to the Afghan context, and understand the impact of programs."
As of yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally approves Pfizer-BioNtech's COVID-19 vaccine. The approval comes after millions have already received the vaccine via the Emergency Use Authorization issued on Dec. 11 2020.
Comirnaty will be the new remarketed name for the Pfizer vaccine, and it's been approved for use in individuals ages 16 and older. For those ages 12 through 15, the vaccine will continue to be available via the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization.
Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., said, "We evaluated scientific data and information included in hundreds of thousands of pages, conducted our own analyses of Comirnaty’s safety and effectiveness, and performed a detailed assessment of the manufacturing processes, including inspections of the manufacturing facilities."
According to the FDA, effectiveness data was analyzed from approx. 20,000 vaccine and 20,000 placebo recipients ages 16 and older who did not have evidence of the COVID-19 virus infection within a week of receiving the second dose. The safety of Comirnaty was then evaluated in approx. 22,000 people who received the vaccine and 22,000 people who received a placebo 16+ years of age.
According to the FDA's statement, "FDA-approved vaccines undergo the agency’s standard process for reviewing the quality, safety and effectiveness of medical products. For all vaccines, the FDA evaluates data and information included in the manufacturer’s submission of a biologics license application (BLA). A BLA is a comprehensive document that is submitted to the agency providing very specific requirements. For Comirnaty, the BLA builds on the extensive data and information previously submitted that supported the EUA, such as preclinical and clinical data and information, as well as details of the manufacturing process, vaccine testing results to ensure vaccine quality, and inspections of the sites where the vaccine is made. The agency conducts its own analyses of the information in the BLA to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective and meets the FDA’s standards for approval."
Vaccines developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson still await approval from the FDA. However, both are still available via the Emergency Use Authorization.
Only three months after the the United States military began their full withdrawal from Afghanistan, Taliban militia have already retaken the majority of the country, entering the capitol city Kabul. Today, Afghani President Ashram Ghani fled the capitol in Kabul and relinquished government powers to the Taliban. As Taliban militia made their way into the city, Pres. Ghani announced Saturday, "I will not let the imposed war on people cause more deaths." However, he failed to mention his resignation until he was fleeing the capitol this morning.
Afghani Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal stated, "There will be no attack on the city and there will be a peaceful transfer of power to the transitional government," He added, "The safety of the city is guaranteed, there will be no attack on the city, and the agreement is such that the transition of power will take place in a peaceful manner."
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed there were talks with the presidential palace about a peaceful takeover of power. In a statement from Taliban insurgents, they said, "No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk."
Taliban militia now hold every border crossing after taking over Kabul, where the city's airport remains the last viable escape for refugees and international citizens still in the city. Thousands of refugees have fled the country since late April, as much as 30,000 leaving each week. Since the start of this year, there are over 350,000 Afghani refugees.
Earlier this week, Pres. Biden announced a redeployment of 3,000 soldiers to the embassy in Kabul. Pres. Biden then increased his order, authorizing 5,000 soldiers. According to Pres. Biden, any military action against Americans on the ground in Afghanistan "will be met with a swift and strong U.S. military response." https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/08/14/biden-us-sending-5-000-troops-afghanistan-assist-drawdown/8138113002/
Thousands of civilians have been killed during the conflict that erupted after U.S. military began their withdrawal in late April. These deaths only add to tens of thousands more who were killed in the region since American military first invaded the country following the terrorist attack on Sep. 11, 2001. According to Brown University, approx. 241,000 people have been killed since 2001, with over 71,000 of them being civilians. https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/civilians/afghan
After 15 months of restricted travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union now recommends countries to remove their nonessential travel restrictions against the United States and other countries.
The European Council said Friday, "as from 18 June 2021 member states should gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders." Including the United States on their list of 14 countries. Surprisingly absent from the list is the United Kingdom, which will be reviewed again in 2 weeks. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/06/18/council-updates-the-list-of-countries-special-administrative-regions-and-other-entities-and-territorial-authorities-for-which-travel-restrictions-should-be-lifted/
For more information regarding each specific country's travel restrictions, check here:
Individual countries are not legally bound to remove restrictions for travel, however they are advised to do so by the European Council. Each government is responsible for its own border restrictions, and following this announcement, each country will decide its own methods for allowing travelers entry.
France has moved the United States to its "green list" permitting nonessential travelers. France already officially opened its borders to Americans and others earlier this month, allowing those with a negative COVID-19 test and proof of one of four E.U. approved vaccinations to enter. Those approved vaccinations are Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
Germany announced that by tomorrow, June 20th, it will allow "unrestricted entry" to Americans and other travelers from their approved list of countries. Before the announcement, Americans arriving in Germany were required to provide a negative test and quarantine for 10 days. However, now Germany will not require quarantine for those with negative tests or vaccinations.
The United States still requires all travelers to provide a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 3 days of departure, or proof of recovery within 90 days.
Because travel to the United States from Europe is still restricted, it's expected that some European Union countries will remain hesitant to open their borders. European Council spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz expressed confidence that all countries will eventually "reinitiate safe and sustainable travel between the E.U. and the U.S."
In Hong Kong yesterday, the news company Apple Daily was raided by 500 police officers for alleged national security violations. The company is known for its criticism of Chinese government and its pro-democracy stance.
Hong Kong police arrived yesterday morning with a warrant to seize any incriminating journalistic materials, and arrested five of the company's executives. The Apple Daily's publisher and editor in chief were charged with foreign collusion. The 3 remaining executives are under investigation. https://en.appledaily.com/apple-daily-publisher-and-editor-in-chief-charged-with-foreign-collusion/6T4I6RFT7JEIBMZGPW4PVAUHNA
Apple Daily's owner, billionaire Jimmy Lai, is already in prison for similar charges.
United States Department of State spokesman Ned Price said, "Deeply concerned by Hong Kong authorities' selective use of the national security law to arbitrarily target independent media organizations." He said the motives for the police raid, "Appear to be entirely politically motivated." European Union spokesperson Manila Massrali stated the raid, "Further demonstrates how the national security law is being used to stifle media freedom and freedom of expression in Hong Kong."
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, "Freedom of the press is one of the rights China promised to protect in the Joint Declaration and should be respected." Britain formally returned Hong Kong's control to China in 1997, with protections set to maintain its own autonomy separate from Chinese government. However, for years China has undermined Hong Kong's government, warning foreign nations against their involvement in Chinese affairs.
Chinese President Xi Jinping hasn't yet provided a statement. Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee told reporters the raid on Apple Daily was against those who "endanger" national security.
Apple Daily wasted no time going back to work and increasing their efforts.
"We must press on," read their front page headline published today. https://www.news.yahoo.com/amphtml/apple-daily-hong-kong-police-103849081.html
For a 3rd time, the United States Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Decided by a vote of 7 versus 2.
Texas partnered with 17 other states initiated the lawsuit against the ACA arguing that it's "unconstitutional." Justice Stephen Breyer, who authored the Court's opinion, writes, "We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them."
According to Justice Breyer, "To have standing, a plaintiff must 'allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief.'" He writes, "No plaintiff has shown such an injury 'fairly traceable' to the 'allegedly unlawful conduct' challenged here."
Two Justices disagreed, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Alito argued the mandate is, "clearly unconstitutional, and to the extent that the provisions of the ACA that burden the States are inextricably linked to the individual mandate, they too are unenforceable."
Going forward, the ACA will be upheld as it was previously enacted by Congress and former President Barack Obama in 2010. Currently, over 20 million people obtain health insurance through the ACA, and many more benefit from its provisions for biases against ethnicity, gender, or pre-existing conditions. Former Pres. Trump's approved revision in 2017, which reduced the mandated penalty to zero for uninsured persons, appears to remain as is.
Democrats celebrated, with Pres. Biden calling the Court's decision a "Major victory for all Americans benefitting from this groundbreaking and life-changing law."
dBiden said, "After more than a decade of attacks on the Affordable Care Act through the Congress and the courts, today's decision, the third major challenge to the law that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected, it is time move forward and keep building on this landmark law."
Former Pres. Barack Obama chimed in saying, "Now we need to build on the Affordable Care Act and continue to strengthen and expand it."
Global levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are gradually increasing every year, and have been for over a decade.
Recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monitoring program, carbon levels are now at its highest since measurements began 63 years ago. According to NOAA's global report, CO2 increased by 2.89 parts per million since last year. In March 2020, the NOAA observatory recorded a mean level of 413.45 ppm, and by March 2021, CO2 increased to 416.34 ppm. Go back a decade, and CO2 recorded at NOAA's Mauna Loa, Hawaii observatory was at 394.43 ppm. So from examining the NOAA reports, CO2 increased in total by approx. 22 ppm over a ten year period, 2.2 ppm per year on average.
Methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride are three other prominent greenhouse gases monitored by NOAA observatories. All have increased continually over the past decade.
Greenhouse gases are essential to maintaining our planet's balanced atmosphere. As our planet receives energy from the Sun, it then dissipates that energy back into space. Because of greenhouse gases, some of that energy is retained in the atmosphere and reflected back to the planet's surface. According to experiments conducted by NOAA, if all greenhouse gases were removed from the atmosphere, the planet would completely freeze over in three decades. However because greenhouse gases are increasing, the problem is too much energy is retained, and the planet gradually becomes warmer. Ultimately this changes weather, climate, ocean currents, and whole ecosystems of plant and animal life.
Pieter Tans, Ed Dlugokencky, and Ben Miller of the NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory compiled this detailed analysis titled "THE POWER OF GREENHOUSE GASES"
Here it's stated, "We present a direct physical measure of the direct climate heating influence of greenhouse gas enhancements, showing how they have increased dramatically since the onset of the industrial revolution. The conclusion that humans are nearly 100% responsible is inescapable. The contributions of different greenhouse gases have evolved over time. We present tangible examples of the excess heat being retained in the Earth system, easily large enough to force global and regional climate change."
Global supplier JBS Foods was hit with a major ransomware attack this past week, severely disrupting their operations. The cyberattack targeted their computer servers which support their international operations in the United States and Australia.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo called the surge of recent cyberattacks an "urgent national security concern." Raimondo said, "This is a top priority and all of us in the cabinet and the National Security Council are focused on it and considering all possible consequences." https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/commerce-secretary-gina-raimondo-hardwire-deadline-infrastructure-deal/story?id=78105983
Information regarding the attack was passed onto the FBI, who concluded the cyber criminals responsible are based in Russia. FBI officials attribute the attack to a Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate, however they haven't yet confirmed them to be directly affiliated with Russian government.
This attack against JBS Foods is one of many in a trend of cyberattacks against global enterprises and governments. JBS is the largest food producer to be targeted by ransomware, however over 40 major food companies have been attacked since last year. Last month, fuel shortages were caused when a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline shut down systems which supplied fuel to nearly 50% of the Eastern United States. Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid a $4.4 million ransom to regain their operations. JBS hasn't yet said whether they paid ransom. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57178503
Growing risks of cyberattacks are forcing governments and businesses to fortify their counter measures, by designing new systems that better defend against the possibility. However as more companies transition to computer based systems, interlinking those systems with critical operations, the risks compound even greater. Fortunately, counter measures currently in place have been successful at preventing most attacks.
John McClurg, SVP and CISO at BlackBerry, told IndustryWeek, "While we are not sure yet of the technical nature of this incident, it follows the devastating ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the United States, — It doesn’t matter whether its logistics, fuel or food – these critical supply chains present unique and complex challenges from a cybersecurity perspective. Organizations worldwide should ensure the use of intelligent cybersecurity solutions that can prevent, detect and respond to these attacks, now and in the future.” https://www.industryweek.com/technology-and-iiot/article/21165692/hackers-getting-hooks-into-crucial-supply-chains?utm_source=IY+IW+Supply+Chain+Insights&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS210606030&o_eid=2924C2471278G8G&rdx.ident%5Bpull%5D=omeda%7C2924C2471278G8G&oly_enc_id=2924C2471278G8G
Global commodity production was significantly delayed when relative industries were forced to shutdown operations due to the pandemic. This caused many global supply shortages.
Now with pandemic restrictions being lifted, consumers are steadily buying more, and industrial demand is significantly driving prices higher for raw-materials. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), lumber prices increased by nearly 250% since last year. This caused new constructions and renovations to increase by nearly $36,000 per build.
NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke stated, "Policymakers need to examine the lumber supply chain, identify the causes for high prices and supply constraints and seek immediate remedies that will increase production.” https://www.nahb.org/news-and-economics/industry-news/press-releases/2021/04/skyrocketing-lumber-prices-add-nearly-36000-to-new-home-prices
Steel prices increased by around 270% since last year, hitting over $1,600 per ton, the highest it's been since 2008. After crashing to historic lows and possibly facing bankruptcy last year, industrial titan U.S. Steel increased over 200% since then. Investors now prepare for a global overcorrection, however steel prices continue to increase.
Semi-conductor shortages have delayed production around the world for tech companies. With so many products now dependant on computer chips, demand is through the roof. Leading chip manufacturer Intel Corp warned recently the global shortage may last several years. https://www.reuters.com/technology/intel-reiterates-chip-supply-shortages-could-last-several-years-2021-05-31/
Copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt, aluminum, and the list goes on for raw-metals which are now considered to be low supply. https://www.industryweek.com/the-economy/article/21966311/rare-mineral-shortage-could-upset-global-markets
While prices spiked last month, President Joe Biden said, "In the coming weeks, my administration will take steps to combat these supply pressures, starting with the construction materials and transportation bottlenecks."
Democrats are calling on Biden to remove tariffs on imports ordered by the former President Donald Trump in 2017 and 2018. Pres. Trump's tariffs were set to protect against unfair methods of trade. Many union officials exclaim those tariffs were significant to keeping their sectors going during the pandemic, while millions of workers were forced to quarantine.
In a joint letter, seven major steel industry groups urged Pres. Biden to keep the previously instated steel tariffs. They wrote, "Opponents of the steel tariffs argue that they should be eliminated to increase supply, given the current environment of rising prices and long lead times. This ignores the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented, but temporary, challenges to global supply chains in many industries—including lumber, semiconductors, concrete, agricultural products and cleaning products—as manufacturers respond to rapid and unpredictable shifts in customer demand and logistical difficulties."
Today, Facebook Inc. announced they will uphold suspension of former President Trump's accounts until January 7, 2023. https://about.fb.com/news/2021/06/facebook-response-to-oversight-board-recommendations-trump/
Facebook's oversight committee decided to uphold the suspension for 2 years from its initial start on Jan. 7, 2021. Trump may possibly regain permissions to his accounts on Jan. 7, 2023. Facebook further stated that, "When the suspension is eventually lifted, there will be a strict set of rapidly escalating sanctions that will be triggered if Mr. Trump commits further violations in future, up to and including permanent removal of his pages and accounts."
They stated last month, "it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension." However they now conclude a two-year suspension is appropriate. The committee noted, "If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded."
Upon suspending Trump's accounts last January, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated, "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.” https://m.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10112681480907401
After over 170 million infections and 3.5 million deaths, people worldwide continue to seek answers about COVID-19. Upon taking office Pres. Biden requested an intelligence report on COVID-19, asking whether it “emerged from human contact with an animal or from a laboratory.” On Wednesday, Biden announced, “I received that report earlier this month, and asked for additional follow-up. As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question.” According to Biden, the position of federal intelligence is split between whether the virus developed naturally or originated from labs at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Only 400 yards away from the Wuhan markets where the virus was said to have originated naturally from animals, the WIV lab is known for experimenting with new viruses, including specifically coronaviruses. Last year, any story that proposed COVID-19 was leaked from the WIV lab was publicly “debunked” by popular media and network companies. However, Pres. Biden now orders a continued federal investigation.
“We haven’t ruled out anything yet," was the White House press secretary's answer to the question Wednesday, “The language that you all use specifically mention an ‘accident.’ Does that mean that you’ve ruled out, or the Intelligence Community has ruled out, that it was deliberate or not an accident?” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/05/26/press-briefing-by-principal-deputy-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-may-26-2021/
Chinese officials defended themselves in a statement calling it “blame shifting” and a “conspiracy theory.” U.S. government intelligence has not reached a definitive conclusion on the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, and don’t have sufficient information to know yet. However, what they find may significantly alter the current relations between the U.S. and China.
Reports are surfacing that multiple researchers at the WIV lab in China were hospitalized back in November 2019, months before the COVID-19 virus was public knowledge. China initially reported to the World Health Organization their first case was in Wuhan on December 8, 2019, however these new reports tell otherwise. Federal intelligence does not know yet exactly what WIV researchers were infected with, but records of their symptoms indicate similarities to COVID-19. Director Yuan Zhiming at the Wuhan lab stated, “Those claims are groundless.”
Gasoline shortages are hitting thousands of stations across the United States, but mostly in the southeastern states. After a sudden ransomware attack struck Colonial Pipeline last week, people began frantically stockpiling gasoline. After only a few days, thousands of gas-stations in several states, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, have all reported gasoline shortages and outages.
Pres. Biden says he's in "very close contact with Colonial Pipeline" and is optimistic the gas shortage and gas prices will be brought "under control." Biden told press, "I have in the meantime made it easier for us to have lifted some of the restrictions on the transportation of fuel, as well as access to the United States military providing fuel and with vehicles to get it there."
In response to the shortages, governors of Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida each have declared state emergencies. In North Carolina over 70% of gas-stations are reported to be out of fuel. Gov. Roy Cooper said yesterday, "I have declared a state of emergency which would allow the transportation waivers for more trucks and heavier trucks to come into the state to bring gas, and we have a waiver from the EPA to increase the amount of fuel coming in."
Colonial Pipeline reinitiated operations yesterday at 5PM, and published this statement: "Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal."
According to the daily survey by AAA Gas Prices, the national gas price raised on average by 8¢ over the last week. Gas prices surpassed $3 on average, the highest it's been since 2014.
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