Xi Jinping Looks to Expand Redistribution of Wealth

Almost every economic structure in the world today takes a mixed approach. That means a balance of capitalism and socialism is incorporated into our daily decisions.

The United States leans more toward the capitalism side of the equation. Although wealth redistribution isn’t a formal policy, communities charge taxes for things like public schools and infrastructure that everyone uses.

In China, the pendulum swings more to the socialism side of a mixed economy. That’s because communism is the primary emphasis in most areas, although some special districts have different rules that get followed. 

President Xi Jinping put the country on notice in 2021 that wealth redistribution for common prosperity was on the table. It seems that effort is getting a new push today. 

The Ruling Party Wants to Eliminate Poverty

China has often led the world in economic growth because of its emphasis on socialism in its mixed economy. That’s because most workers don’t earn competitive wages compared to the rest of the industrialized world.

In 2021, the wealthiest 20% of Chinese citizens earned more than ten times the poorest 20%. That figure hasn’t moved since 2015. 

The ruling party wants to reduce poverty in China’s most rural areas. Although some programs have helped achieve that goal, Jinping wants the wealthy to do more. By cracking down on the technology industry and reducing the emphasis on celebrity culture, several billionaires are on notice that the government wants what is in their accounts. 

Although no idea is off the table, the two primary efforts to create wealth redistribution are through property and inheritance taxes. In a nation already stressed by COVID concerns, these economics stresses must seem insurmountable. You can track this redistribution effort through your favorite news sites.

Jeff Bezos Pledges $2 Billion for Nature Initiative

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos committed $2 billion toward transforming food systems and restoring landscapes at the COP26 conference in 2021.

Several entrepreneurs and billionaires have come under fire in recent months for spending money on what seem to be trivial endeavors, such as taking trips to space.

Amazon has also had long-term criticism directed toward it from its workforce over its environmental practices.

The money will be coming through the Bezos Earth Fund, which currently plans to spend approximately $10 billion to fight climate change. 

Climate Change Is a Pressing Problem

When today’s parents were growing up, the environmental concerns taught in school involved the hole in the ozone layer. It was once described as an unsolvable problem, but the world committed to stop using the chemicals that caused the problem.

The planet was able to heal itself faster than most experts thought was possible.

That means a similar opportunity is available for climate change. The only problem is that some countries have not fully industrialized yet, while others rely on cheap manufacturing processes from the APAC region to fuel their economies.

Society is built on being a carbon source instead of being a carbon sink. Even nature is struggling to keep up because of deforestation, drilling, and similar practices.

Many businesses are pledging to achieve zero emissions by 2030, but this effort must have everyone step up. That means you’ll want to take your Organifi, review your current habits and practices, and make changes where it makes sense.

We only have one planet. By working together, we can solve this problem. 

DNA Evidence Reveals Identity of Paris Serial Killer

For several decades, a notorious serial killer in Paris was haunting the city’s crime squad. This person’s raping and murdering spree from 1986 to 1994 shocked the community, but they remained unsolved until this year.

A former military police officer confessed to being the serial killer right before his death. DNA matching proved that he was indeed present at several crime scenes.

Although all the crimes were shocking, the most disturbing attributed to him was the murder of an 11-year-old child. Her family reported her missing after she failed to show up at her school in 1986.

A lawyer representing the affected families lamented that we’ll probably never know the true extent of the man’s crimes. The killer’s death leaves many unanswered questions. 

The Serial Killer Committed Suicide

An investigator sent letters to 750 military police stationed in Paris during the time of the killing spree. After a potential identification, the man was summoned by police in September to give a DNA sample. His wife reported him missing just three days later.

The 59-year-old was discovered dead in a rented flat along the Mediterranean coast. A suicide note was found there with him, with the DNA collected from the scene matching the evidence taken at several crimes.

In two rapes of children, the man even identified himself as a police officer. That led investigators to believe that one of their own could be committing the crimes.

Now that the killer’s identity is confirmed, lawyers want additional unsolved cases reopened to retest any collected DNA from that era. 

Venezuela Subtracts Six Zeros from Currency to Control Inflation

Venezuela has dealt with record levels of inflation for several years. It has been such a significant problem in this South American nation that the year-over-year rate from 2020 to 2021 reached 1743%. 

That means a minimum wage salary in the country right now has a value of about $2.50 per month. Most retailers are accepting American currency instead because it delivers better results for them.

In an effort to curb this problem, the Venezuelan government announced its second monetary overhaul in three years. It’s removing six zeros from the bolivar currency to simplify the accounting. 

In 2018, the Government Removed Five Zeros from Its Currency

It’s the third time that Venezuela has removed multiple zeros from their currency in a bid to stop inflation. With the six eliminated this year, that means a total of 14 will have been taken away in the past decade.

Venezuela used to be a prosperous OPEC nation. The socialist government blames American sanctions for the problems, but it is more about interventionist macroeconomics and poorly planned social spending at a time when oil prices tanked. 

The actual value remains the same with the removal of six zeros. Since most shoppers use dollars in cash for purposes, most people say they won’t be affected by the change.

Until the economic imbalances of the country get fixed, this action might need to be retaken soon. The acute problems and this single change have virtually no impact on the nation’s macroeconomics. Keep an eye on the top news sites for updates.

Merck Reports COVID Pill Reduces Risk of Hospitalization

We’ve all seen the stories where seemingly healthy people get devastated by COVID-19. There are also numerous reports of people who eat healthily, get some sunlight, and include vitamins that barely have any symptoms.

Although including Thorne Research products is a great step for self-care, the COVID virus can create problems for anyone. That’s why Merck has worked to develop an antiviral pill while others have produced vaccinations.

The Merck COVID pill reportedly reduces the risk of hospitalization by half. 

This Pill Would Join Other Antiviral Care Products

Merck’s antiviral pill joins the infused product remdesivir and a generic steroid called dexamethasone to treat severe COVID cases. The other two products are typically given to patients once they’ve been hospitalized.

With the antiviral pill, Merck hopes to change the dialogue on how to treat or recover from COVID-19. 

The results from the Phase III study caused the company’s stock to rise nearly 10%. It produced such significant data that outside monitors recommended that the study stop early so that the treatment could proceed to market.

Merck says it is seeking emergency authorization use for the antiviral pill. 

Atea Pharmaceuticals is developing a similar product. Their shares went up by more than 20% on the news from Merck. 

With over 700,000 fatalities from COVID-19 in the United States alone, any treatment option is a welcome opportunity. Drugs similar to Merck’s have been linked to birth defects in some animal studies, but indications are that it doesn’t affect mammalian DNA – of which humans are included. 

Long-COVID in Children Might Be Less Severe Than Initial Reports

As the Delta variant creates massive health and logistical issues globally, authorities have discovered that the more transmissible version of COVID causes children to get infected more often than the original strain.

Since one of the side effects of this viral infection involves long-term symptoms (called “long COVID”), health officials were concerned that this issue could impact children in multiple ways.

The results were quite encouraging in a survey of 11- to 17-year-olds who tested positive for the coronavirus in England between September and March. As few as 2% of the youth population still had symptoms 15 weeks after diagnosis.

Those with Persistent Symptoms Need Additional Support 

The research team found that the children with the most persistent symptoms often experienced tiredness, headaches, and breathing difficulties. That’s why it is imperative for them to receive the support needed to maintain their health.

It should be noted that the study has not received publication in a medical journal. It also gathered information from youth without symptoms, creating a database of more than 50,000 responses.

About 53% of those who took the survey had at least one symptom because they are common within the general population. For those with a confirmed test only, that rate went up to 65%.

Although the figures paint a potentially disturbing picture for those affected by COVID, the long-haul issues don’t seem to be as prevalent in children. That’s good news for the millions of kids who are navigating their way through a tricky school year. 

black whiskered single-cutaway electric guitar

Simple Guitar Maintenance Tips the Pros Use

Are you an amateur or seasoned musician? Have you ever thought about what makes your favorite guitarists’ performances sound so good?

The guitar picks, strings and amps they use might be part of it, but another element is having a well-maintained instrument. Like cars, guitars need periodic tune-ups to perform at their best.

You can maintain your own guitar by following some simple tips every few months. Here are some things that professionals do to keep their guitars in tip-top shape.

Keep the Body Clean

Any time your picking hand strays from its home position on the neck of the guitar, or rests against the body while not playing, wipe away any crud that has collected there. Dirty surfaces can affect guitar sound, and can change the way your guitar strings feel when you play.

Regularly check the screws in your guitar to see if they require tightening or loosening. The neck should be tightened so that it doesn’t bow under tension, but the head shouldn’t be “cranked” so tightly that it pulls away from the guitar body. Check strap buttons to ensure they are secure. For this, you might find it handy to have a special capo-like tool for guitar maintenance . These types of tools can help you torque down guitar neck bolts without causing damage to the guitar neck itself. It’s also important to regularly check on guitar nut slot sizes , because worn slots will hamper string vibration, making them harder to bend.

Check Guitar Frets

Check guitar frets regularly to make sure none are sticking out past the edge of the fretboard. This can be a sign that your guitar needs a professional set-up or some fret work, which is done by filing down any high points on guitar frets with an extra-fine guitar file.

Guitar Strings

If you notice enough wear on your guitar strings that they aren’t holding their tuning, this may mean that you need to replace them more frequently than normal—or swap them for new guitar strings altogether. Unless you play your guitar every day, guitar strings lose their freshness surprisingly quickly—even if they don’t look worn or corroded. Many pros change their guitar strings every day.

There are guitar tools that can simplify guitar maintenance projects like changing guitar strings or adjusting guitar hardware, so keep this in mind when you are shopping for guitar gear.

The guitar strings themselves need to be checked and changed periodically, according to their condition and use—it’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing this every time you change your guitar’s strings. If you don’t replace them when needed, guitar strings can stretch out and become unplayable very quickly.

You should also check guitar tuners occasionally because loose or mis-adjusted tuning pegs will affect guitar sound and playability. Check the screws on the back of the guitar headstock and tighten any that are too loose. If they are too tight, they will pull up on the guitar face causing it to bow forward when tightened down all the way. In both cases, turning the tuning key in one direction will tighten it, and turning it in the opposite direction will loosen it.

Keep the Neck Clean and Oiled

An occasional cleaning with a guitar-safe cloth is generally all that’s needed to avoid dust buildup on any guitar surface—including guitar necks, fretboards, bridges and headstocks—that will affect tone. Although there are electric guitar polishes available commercially, they should be used sparingly because they coat the surface of the guitar in various substances that have their own effect on sound quality. A better choice is to wipe down your instrument with a clean cloth after playing, along with using a chamois leather to remove excess dust. Most guitar waxes and polishes contain guitar-harming ingredients like silicones, as well as guitar-safe ones like beeswax or carnauba wax.

Check guitar waxes and guitar polishes at your local music store before you buy them to make sure they won’t damage the guitar’s finish. Most guitar polishes should be wiped off with a clean cloth after a few minutes, but some guitar polishes can leave a sticky residue that is difficult to remove from your guitar without taking the finish off first—so check guitar polish instructions carefully before using them on acoustic or electric guitars.

There are many more things you can check on your guitar, but this list is a great place to start. Keep an eye on your guitar and talk to an expert if you need to — especially if you have any vintage guitars that need more careful maintenance. If you care for your guitar, you’ll have an instrument that stays with you for the long haul.

America Ends War in Afghanistan

The United States invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in 2001. A fourth plane, likely intended to strike Capitol Hill, was crashed with the help of passengers before it could reach its target.

In 2021, the United States ended the war with Afghanistan. The Taliban quickly took over the government after the troop withdrawal, forcing escaping civilians and military personnel to guard the Kabul airport until everyone could leave. 

The United States evacuated over 120,000 people while getting out of the country.

13 Service Members Were Killed in the Withdrawal

During the final week of the withdrawal phase, terrorists from ISIS-K were responsible for killing 13 U.S. service members. Dozens of Afghan civilians trying to escape the country were also murdered by this act. 

The last C-17 military aircraft departed the airport on August 30, completing the evacuation effort.

President Biden said that anyone who wanted to get out of the country would be allowed to do so, but it turned out to be a somewhat empty promise. Hundreds of American citizens, including an educational team, were left stranded. 

In the month after the evacuation, another 85 people were helped to leave the country through airlifts or land borders, with another 100 still seeking evacuation. 

Antony Blinken, who serves as the Biden administration’s Secretary of State, blames the Trump administration for the withdrawal. “We inherited a deadline,” he said. “We did not inherit a plan.”

Although mixed feelings exist regarding the exit after two decades of fighting, the costs of staying in Afghanistan can now be directed toward other needs, such as internal infrastructure. There are numerous news sites you can consult to stay informed on further developments. 

North Korea Rejects COVID Shots from China

North Korea doesn’t record cases of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean the disease hasn’t affected the country or its economy. The secretive nation has also had strict anti-virus measures in place since the beginning of the pandemic, closing its borders in January 2020.

The country recently asked that nearly three million Sinovac shots offered under China’s development program be redirected to other nations. This Chinese-made vaccine was provided under a program that helps poorer countries get what they need to keep people safe.

It isn’t the first time that North Korea has rejected COVID shots. It also turned down two million doses of the AstraZeneca shot under concerns of potential side effects. Russia has even offered its Sputnik vaccine multiple times without success. 

How to Handle a Potential COVID Infection

If you suspect that your physical symptoms are related to COVID-19, the first step to take is to get tested. The results can let you know if you’ve caught this virus.

When you don’t have any symptoms, the best thing you can do is to take care of your immune system. That means your body needs some vitamin D, and the best place to get it is by exposing your skin to the sun.

A healthy immune system requires nutrients from our diet. When you’re unable to get this need met from eating alone, products from brands like Core Med Science can be helpful. You could take Liposomal Vitamin C or Liposomal Glutathione for that extra support. 

As a final step, consider washing your hands frequently or using safe sanitizing products.

Haiti Presidential Assassination Stirs International Attention

Gunmen killed Jovenel Moise in his home on July 7, 2021. The attack wounded his wife when it was carried out around 1 AM.

According to reports, the gunmen first tied up the housekeeping staff and the Presidential guards. Once they got to the President, they shot him a dozen times with high-caliber bullets, including one directly into the forehead.

Investigators report that the assailants even gouged out one of the President’s eyes. The first lady was flown to Florida for treatment and recovery, but she returned to Haiti ten days later.

It has become an international story because over 30 people in Haiti, Colombia, and the United States are implicated in the conspiracy to assassinate Moise. 

International Officials Suspect Drug Networks

The original explanation for the assassination was an elaborate plot to seize office. As international investigators dug into the case, even that story doesn’t add up. The true motive might not ever be uncovered.

What we do know is that Haiti serves as a significant transit point for illegal substance movement into the United States. 

Current and former officials discovered that one of the Presidential guards was heavily involved in trafficking behavior. The DEA in the United States reported that Dimitri Herard was suspected of removing up to thousands of pounds of heroin and cocaine only hours before law enforcement was set to seize them. 

Haiti is a nation in turmoil. The people detained or arrested in Moise’s death met several months before the killing to discuss rebuilding the country once he was out of power.

Could one of the Presidential guards be responsible for the assassination because of drugs? Further investigation is necessary to determine if that would be the case.