Democrats Push to Break Up Tech Companies

American tech companies have been under fire in recent days because of bias perceptions against conservative lawmakers. In a rare moment of solidarity, Democratic representatives are also urging changes to organizations like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Alphabet (Google), and Twitter to prevent monopolies.

After 16 months of Congressional investigation into the issue, the official recommendation was that the firms had too much power, and it needed to be stopped to prevent future problems.

When the Democrats published their findings, the Republicans disagreed with the results. Congressman Jim Jordan said the report was partisan and advanced the proposals that would “refashion antitrust law in the vision of the far left. 

That’s after a July hearing where Jordan said, “I’ll cut right to the chase. Big tech is out to get conservatives… That’s a fact.”

What Changes Are Being Recommended to Address the Issue?

The report covers 449 pages, authored by the committee staff. It accuses the companies of charging high fees, forcing small customers into unfavorable contracts, and using acquisitions to stop rivals.

Democrats recommend using a robust enforcement protocol for the existing competitive laws to resolve these issues. They also hope to limit the areas that Big Tech can start offering products or services. By taking these steps, the goal would be to prevent an organization from operating as players in the same industries where they offer infrastructure.

Amazon is a prime example of the threat that Democratic lawmakers see from this process. It acts as a seller by producing its own branded goods while offering a marketplace for other merchants to reach out to customers.

Although the report isn’t bi-partisan, some Republicans do support some of the report’s core ideas. The most popular recommendation is to shift the burden of proof for acquisitions to become more stringent to avoid having companies buy out the competition.
With both major parties at odds with Big Tech, it is only a matter of time until changes happen. This will surely go down as one of 2020’s biggest moments. Expect to see progress on this issue in 2021.

The History and Significance of Labor Day

Labor Day occurs on the first Monday of September each year. It is dedicated to the American worker’s economic and social achievements, serving as a tribute to the contributions that people create.

Without workers operating in safe environments, the country’s strength and prosperity would not be where it is today.

The first declarations for celebrating Labor Day happened with municipal ordinances passed in the late 19th century. A movement started after, creating state legislation in New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and more. Five states would create a holiday in 1887.

Who Is the Founder of Labor Day?

No one knows for certain who the first person was that initiated the idea of celebrating Labor Day.

Many people give the credit to Peter McGuire. He was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, as well as the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.

Matthew Maguire, who worked as a machinist, also receives credit for coming up with the holiday.

What we do know is that in 1882, the Central Labor Union in New York adopted a resolution to celebrate workers. They held the event on September 5 in NYC, and they continued the tradition the next year.

Twenty-three states adopted the holiday by 1894, putting pressure on Grover Cleveland to make it a national event. 

Labor Day became official on June 28, 1894.

How We Celebrated Labor Day

The first Labor Day celebrations involved speeches and parades. The goal was to show the American worker’s strength while providing opportunities for fun and community togetherness. For some time, the Sunday before the holiday was considered a time to review the modern laborer’s spiritual aspects.

Changes in recent years have shifted the emphasis of the holiday. Although union executives and government officials still give speeches, it has become a time when workers relax, pursue family activities, and celebrate in their preferred way.

Indeed, we wouldn’t be where we are today without American workers. When Labor Day comes each year, celebrate your accomplishments!

What Milestones Does a Vaccine Need to Hit Before Approval?

The typical vaccine goes through six general stages of development before receiving approval for distribution.

1. The exploratory stage looks at the viability of a vaccine. Some diseases would not respond well to this treatment option, so the first effort must be to see if it would be effective.

2. The preclinical stage begins the developmental process so that the actual vaccine gets created. It includes the initial manufacturing to produce an item that is ready for trial.

3. Clinical development is a three-phase process that must get completed before governments can review and approve a vaccine. The first one involves small groups of individuals who receive the trial vaccination. If those results are encouraging, the second phase expands the clinical study to include people with specific characteristics. The final stage has the vaccine given to thousands of people to test for safety and efficacy.

4. Once a vaccine proves to be safe and effective, government agencies send it through a regulatory review process. The goal of this step is to review the evidence of safety and efficacy to ensure the shot doesn’t cause more harm than good. It receives approval only after this independent evaluation.

5. The manufacturing process begins after a vaccine receives approval. Some companies follow an “at risk” policy that has them produce doses before receiving authorization so that the item can get immediately distributed to the general public. If a denial happens instead, all of the vaccinations would need to be thrown away.

6. The final milestone involves quality control. The goal is to ensure that the vaccine can be as helpful as possible without increasing the risk of additional health problems.

The FDA Requires Specific Information for Vaccines

Sponsors of a new vaccine in the United States must follow a multi-step approval process that includes a new drug application, pre-licensure clinical trials, and a biologics license application. The government inspects the manufacturing facility before issuing an approval.

A presentation of findings to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is also mandatory.

The FDA also requires usability testing of the product labeling. Manufacturers can be required to provide the results of their tests for purity, potency, and safety, or be required to submit to third-party examination. 

All of this is important for the average citizen, but for those who work in the medical field, make sure to note the information here so you can pass it along. If you want more in depth information on the topic, check out our patient safety news sources you should be following.

Why States Released Prisoners Early During COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is exceptionally contagious, especially by the precedent set by other coronavirus infections. This reason is why doctors and scientists recommend keeping six feet of social distance between people whenever flare-ups occur.

Some places have very little room to provide social distancing measures. Jails and prisons in the United States were already overcrowded before the pandemic. Officials decided that the safest way to limit the infection potential was to release some non-violent prisoners early.

At-Risk Inmates Were the First to Gain Release

Prisoners do not have the option to take products from brands like Argentyn 23, Sovereign Silver, or Natural Path Silver Wings to support their health. Trying to boost the immune system when eating prison food and being in close confinement with others turned out to be an impossible task.

During the first couple of weeks of the pandemic in New York City, a cluster of cases around the Rikers Island complex had over 450 people test positive for the new coronavirus.

Illinois experienced a similar issue with a cluster around the Cook County jail in Chicago.

Once the virus arrives in a jail or prison, it spreads like wildfire because the crowded conditions don’t give people a place to protect themselves. Even Attorney General William Barr ordered at-risk, non-violent inmates who posed a minimal risk of recidivism to serve the remainder of their sentence in home confinement.

Is it Time to Rethink the Prison System?

Hygiene is not well-practiced at many jails and prisons in the United States because of other risk factors. Most institutions do not permit hand sanitizer because it can get used to make alcoholic drinks in cells.

Facilities don’t provide soap to prisoners or inmates either. It is not unusual for a charge of $1 to get instituted for a single bar, which is a significant cost for people making less than that per hour. 

The boldest measures to protect prisoners came from the state of California. The government there plans to release up to 3,500 non-violent inmates in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prisons aren’t taking inmates from county jails there anymore either as a way to free up more space.

COVID-19 doesn’t care if you are a law enforcement officer or you break the law. It doesn’t care about skin color, wealth, or what job you have. States released prisoners early because it was the best way to reduce the threat of infection.

Why PG&E Shut Off Power in California to Prevent Fires

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company is a large electric provider for northern California. The utility began to shut off the power to over 800,000 customers in early October to prevent power lines from sparking potential wildfires.

Utilities count each account as a customer, including residential and business locations. That means the number of people impacted is more than 1 million. 

This action was taken as a public safety measure that the company implemented over two phases. It impacted businesses and residences in high-risk areas over 34 counties. Some of the outages lasted for days.

It wasn’t just rural areas that felt the impacts of these blackouts. Parts of Oakland, San Jose, and Berkeley were part of PG&E’s plans.

PG&E Urged Customers to Stock Up on Supplies

Officials from the utility said that there would be no compensation given to companies for lost profits or homeowners who lose food due to spoilage.

The reason for this extreme measure is that PG&E acknowledged in 2018 that its equipment was likely responsible for the devastating Camp Fire. That event destroyed thousands of structures, killed 85 people, and is the most destructive and deadliest fire in the history of California.

PG&E is the largest electricity utility. It filed for bankruptcy protection in January because it faced an estimated $30 billion in wildfire liabilities. That figure was cut by two-thirds with a 2019 filing with securities regulators in May, but the number was still higher than $10 billion.

Even if the shutoff is a good thing that can prevent wildfires, customers are going to find themselves managing new expenses one way or another. Businesses would need to purchase a backup generator that could operate to continue serving customers. Residential customers would need to stock non-perishable items more often with their grocery runs or use a generator to prevent losses.

Are Public Safety Shutoffs Necessary?

Weather events in California can create wildfire triggers in a variety of ways. Strong Santa Ana winds or onshore flows can create gusts that rival hurricane-strength winds. Having utility equipment spark during these incidents can quickly cause a fire to burn when conditions are arid.

PG&E is not the only utility in California to contemplate safety shutoffs because of the weather events that happen during the late summer and early fall. Southern California Edison announced that it was also working on plans that would shut off electricity to over 106,000 customers in parts of eight counties – including the Los Angeles area.

The utility even employs a meteorologist to help them plan for these challenging weather events that might require the power to be shut off to protect structures. 

Turning off the power is always a difficult decision to make. Communities rely on electricity to manage their homes, employment, and more. 

It is an action that becomes a critical balancing act. Having access to power is worthless if it sparks a fire that burns down a home or business. Customers can lose their business without electricity, which might cause them to miss their mortgage payment.

Most customers only have 24 hour notice before a public safety shutoff occurs.