Why Is China Cracking Down on Tech Firms?

China recently changed its rules regarding digital payment and Internet services. The global community sees this regulatory shift as a problem for tech firms, although the government calls it a “tightening” of the local anti-monopoly guidelines.

The news rules essentially block a company from forcing sellers to choose between the leading online providers for specific needs. Before the regulatory change, this process was considered a common practice in the country.

Experts see the guidelines aimed at Alipay, WeChat Pay, Taobao, and Alibaba.

Isn’t It a Good Thing to Stop Monopolies?

When we think about monopolies, we’re looking at the business structure from a capitalist viewpoint. If one organization can set the prices, market conditions, and access for goods or services because they’re the only provider, it limits competition and innovation.

The socialist, communist government in China uses the opposite end of a mixed economy. Although there are capitalist elements to the business world, the government holds a stake in virtually all significant businesses

China sees itself in the same battle against tech companies that some conservative and liberal groups feel is happening in the United States. The only difference is that the Chinese government has the authority for immediate intervention, like when it ordered Jack Ma to scale back his expansion plans for an Alibaba subsidiary.

What set off this issue in the first place? For many outside observers, it was the criticism that Ma leveled against the Chinese government.

What Does This Effort Mean to Everyone Else?

At the moment, the rules and regulatory changes are designed to create pressure on Chinese tech firms to comply with government wishes.

The issue could come to a head in the next few months as business leaders come into conflict with political desires.

With as much control as the tech giants have in China, their information assets could trigger the government’s mood changes. Political leaders recognize this, and they are moving to stop it.

These firms aren’t backing down. With more hiring happening in legal and compliance areas, expect battlelines to be drawn soon.

This Is What Led to Alexei Navalny’s Arrest and Global Attention

Alexei Navalny was sent to a Russian penal colony to serve out a sentence for “crimes” against the Russian government. All but a handful of countries have gone on the record to declare it an unjust action since Navalny is an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

The Wall Street Journal once called Navalny the “man that Putin fears the most.”

His work as an anti-corruption activist, lawyer, and opposition leader led him to prominence for organizing anti-government demonstrations. Navalny also ran for office to advocate for new reforms in these areas.

Navalny frequently publishes content about Russian corruption, including calling the government a “party of crooks and thieves.”

Navalny Was Poisoned in 2020

Alexei Navalny was hospitalized in August 2020 after being poisoned by a nerve agent. Authorities evacuated him to Berlin to receive treatment, which took a month to complete.

Navalny accused Putin of being responsible for his actions, which was followed up by having FSB agents from the country admitting to the work they had done.

Although Navalny was reasonably safe outside of Russia, he decided to return on January 17, 2021. The local authorities detained him immediately, accusing him of parole violations that stemmed from a 2014 political conviction.

Navalny had his suspended sentence replaced with a prison term, giving him about 30 months in a corrective labor colony.

Multiple agencies and governments continue to call for his release.

Navalny Has Been Nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Price

After speaking out in support of Black Lives Matter protests, European democracy efforts, and anti-corruption rallies, multiple Norwegian parliament members nominated Navalny for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

An Internet petition in support of this effort has tens of thousands of signatures.

The European Commission on Human Rights continues to call for his release. Navalny’s wife and two children continue to live safely in Russia while he serves his sentence.

For more news like this, staying in touch with the world’s leading news sites.

What Steps Is Europe Taking to Battle COVID Resurgence?

When the United States started taking action to battle a COVID resurgence, it became a patchwork quilt of regulations and restrictions. Each state had a different approach to preventing the coronavirus from spreading over the winter months.

In Europe, the approach was a little different. Most countries adopted temporary rules that would halt the spread of the coronavirus with common-sense decisions.

There were local curfews implemented, alcohol bans, and restrictions on indoor social gatherings.

When the UK recognized that a new variant was more contagious and potentially deadlier, they put in the strictest lockdowns that matched what people experienced in March and April 2020.

We Are in a Race to Vaccinate

Global stories of rising infection rates show how critical the need is for us to find a vaccination protocol that works. Although the UK was the first western nation to start an inoculation program, the rest of Europe fell far short with ordering bottlenecks and global production shortages.

With 1.8 million people dying from COVID-19 in 2020 (and potentially many more who died from undocumented circumstances), we cannot afford to let a resurgence continue.

Each holiday creates a sharp rise in infections and deaths as people gather and the virus spreads. In Thailand, a single outbreak at a seafood market led to a countrywide spread that affected 53 of the 77 provinces.

The coronavirus moves fast. When French police booked hundreds of partygoers at an illegal rave, the risk for more infections was massive.

Even when there are outdoor environments involved, close contact can still create COVID-19 problems. Dozens of infections are directly tied to the January 6 insurgence at the US capitol building, for example, and similar issues have crept up in Europe.

What can you do to ensure that you’re staying in the fight against COVID-19? You can eat healthy foods, take your supplements daily, and keep wearing a mask.

How Russia Could Benefit from Global Warming

Although the Russian government noted that changes to global temperatures represent potential problems, they also recognize some massive economic opportunities could develop.

The Russians published a paper in early 2020 outlining action plans that could help people while attempting to mitigate a warming climate’s damage.

Although everyone faces potential challenges because of climate change, Russia is at the forefront of this battle. The country is warming up to 2.5 times faster than the planet.

What Could Russia Do to Benefit from Climate Change?

The first step Russia intends to take when battling climate change is to change its agricultural approach. The government recommends planting drought-resistant crops, preparing emergency vaccinations, and planning new evacuation routes.

They’ve included building dams as part of the plan to provide water reservoirs for communities that could become isolated with climate change.

After outlining the plans to counter the adverse effects, the Russian government acknowledges that several positives could come from a warming planet.

For starters, the households living in the country’s colder regions would use less energy to manage indoor environments. A warmer climate would encourage a longer growing season, opening new cropland development opportunities.

Russia also sees melting ice along the polar region as a chance to drill for oil or create new navigable waterways that could benefit them economically.

Over 30 Measures Are Part of the Plan

As part of this evaluation process, Russia intends to calculate the risks of domestic products becoming less competitive due to the changing climate. If their standards fail to meet global agreements for managing planetary temperatures, their economy could find itself on the outside looking in at everyone else.

The Russian government has new educational materials to offer students to start teaching about climate change.

Since many of Russia’s northern infrastructure investments are on permafrost, they must act now. The lessons they learn over the next few years will help the world understand what to expect from these changes.

2020 Was One of the Three Warmest Years on Record

Whether we want to recognize climate change or agree to disagree, the facts don’t lie. In 2020, we experienced one of the three warmest years ever recorded in our planet’s history.

The only other two years that were hotter were 2016 and 2019, respectively.

When we look at the global records that were taken starting in 1850, all six of the warmest years ever recorded have happened since 2015. The most notable changes with this climate adjustment have occurred in the Siberian Arctic, where it is about 5°C warmer now than it was a decade ago.

We also had 30 named storms during the North Atlantic hurricane season, shattering the record number of those events in 2020.

Russia Recorded a Global Record High in 2020

Although most places in the world only see a fractional degree difference because of the global warming issues, the Siberian Arctic is a different story.

Verkhoyansk recorded a temperature on June 20 of 38°C (100.4°F), which was verified independently by scientists and meteorologists outside of Russia. This temperature is the highest recorded anywhere within the Arctic Circle.

Europe also recorded its hottest period ever from January to October in 2020.

Although the heat is what creates the headlines when we talk about global warming, climate change can also cause some regions to be abnormally cool. India, Australia, Brazil, and Canada were below average in 2020.

What does this information mean? When we look at the long-term implications of climate change, the decade from 2011-2020 is the warmest ever recorded by humans. Most of the warming gases end up in the oceans, causing an acidification effect that adversely affects that biome.

When the oceans start warming up, the sea levels can rise. That means any coastal community would need to be on alert to make adjustments to their infrastructure.

Mount Everest Grows by 13 Feet

China and Nepal like to argue about numerous things, but Mount Everest’s height always inspired the greatest passions.

With the world’s tallest mountain serving as a tourism magnet, both nations took individualized measurements of Everest’s height.

China’s measurements have always been consistently lower than Nepal’s by approximately 11 feet.

In December 2020, the two countries released a joint announcement declaring that they’ve agreed upon an actual height. Mount Everest is now officially 29,032 feet high, or 8,848.6m. That means the official measurement is now 13 feet taller than China’s previous measures and about three feet taller than Nepal’s.

How Did This New Measurement Happen?

China and Nepal sent survey groups up Mount Everest from their respective sides of the mountain over the past two years. When the announcement of the height occurred, both sides pressed buttons to display the agreed-upon measurements.

Mount Everest lies on the border of China and Nepal in the Himalayas. Although the governments say that it represents their friendship, it has always been at the center of most disputes between the countries.

Some officials had concerns that the world’s tallest mountain had shrunk after the Nepal earthquake in 2015. After that event, which damaged one million structures and killed 9,000 people, it was decided that new surveys were necessary.

This research project is the culmination of one of Nepal’s and China’s most outstanding cooperative efforts. Nepal is also home to seven more of the world’s tallest 14 peaks, making it a bucket list destination for many.

When researchers first estimated Mount Everest’s height in 1856, they came to a number of 29,002 feet. That result stood until the Survey of India listed the mountain at 29,028 feet in 1954.

China’s figures were ten feet lower than Nepal’s because the government didn’t include the snow cap it felt was at the mountain’s summit.

Fauci Suggests COVID Might Be Under Control in 2021

When the first COVID-19 vaccines were distributed in the UK in December 2020, the world realized that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. All of the sacrifices made in the previous nine months seemed to be coming to an end.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has advocated for social distancing since the beginning of the pandemic. When it became clear that COVID-19 spread primarily through expelled droplets, he encouraged facial coverings.

Now, Fauci says that the pandemic can get under control by the second half of 2021 if enough people are willing to get vaccinated. That means manufacturers must make the doses widely available, which could take several months.

How to Manage COVID Before the Vaccine

Until you receive the COVID vaccine, Fauci says it is essential for you to continue proactively mitigating your exposure risks. You can accomplish that outcome by following these simple steps.

1. Limit the amount of time you spend with others outside of your household when you cannot be outside.

2. Wear a facial covering whenever you cannot be at least six feet apart from others, including outdoor venues.

3. Take care of yourself by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. If you have any deficiencies, they can be corrected by taking products from brands like Host Defense and Premier Research.

4. If you need to leave your home for work or essential supplies, only send one family member to acquire items. Everyone else can stay behin

5. Use your garage, mudroom, foyer, or entryway as an “airlock” to prevent COVID-19 from coming into your home. When someone returns from work or running errands, have the clothing stay in this spot, wear a facial covering upstairs, and take a shower immediately.

6. Don’t share utensils, glasses, dishes, or anything else with other family members.

The backside of 2021 is the target day for a return to normalcy. If we all do our part, Fauci believes that this timeline is realistic.

Why the Giant Ant Group IPO Was Ended

Financial technology giant Ant Group was gearing up to become the largest IPO (initial public offering) in history. The Chinese government recently proposed new micro-lending regulations that would require the company to hold more capital while making changes to its business model, lowering its potential evaluation by over $150 billion.

The regulatory changes would also make Ant Group look more like a bank instead of a financial technology company.

Alibaba owns one-third of the company, and it is under the control of founder Jack Ma. The initial public listing was expected to raise about $34.5 billion, which would have created a world-record valuation of $313 billion.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended the IPO 48 hours before the listings, reporting that Ant Group was experiencing significant issues.

Were the Regulations a Targeted Effort to Stop Ant Group?

Ending the Ant Group IPO was a shocking move for the financial world. It also came only a day after Jack Ma appeared to criticize Chinese regulators for the move coming from Beijing.

The draft rules released for micro-lending could directly impact Ant Group’s operations. Its most significant revenue driver is something the company calls CreditTech.

Offered loans get independently underwritten by approximately 100 partner financial institutions. Approximately 98% of the credit balance came from this process, allowing Ant Group to consider itself a light capital operation.

The change considered by Beijing would require Ant Group to fund a minimum of 30% of each loan instead of the process followed today.

That’s why the company would need to hold more capital. Instead of being asset light, it would need to function more like a bank. That’s why the evaluation got cut by more than 50%.

Another IPO is likely to happen soon once the regulations get sorted out. Ant Group offers a unique model, a strong payments base, and access to credible e-commerce opportunities. All the company needs is more certainty.

What We Know About the Terrorist Attack in Vienna

A gunman opened fire in Vienna late in the evening on November 2. He was heavily armed, targeting individuals in the Bermuda Triangle, which is a popular nightlife area in the city.

Most people were having dinner or enjoying some drinks while getting ready for a midnight curfew. Austria had recently implemented new rules in an effort to stem the growing surge of COVID-19 cases.

It took about two days before police were confident in saying that the gunman acted alone. Four people were killed in this terrorist attack, with another 23 reportedly injured.

Police officers killed the suspect to stop the attack.

Who Was the Gunman in the Attack?

Vienna authorities called the event an Islamist terror attack. The gunman was identified as a 20-year-old who had been jailed for almost two years after trying to join the Islamic State jihadists in Syria. The individual, who we won’t name here, held Macedonian and Austrian citizenship, with a previous conviction for terrorist associations.

After searching the suspect’s home, Vienna authorities had enough evidence to arrest 14 others after the deadly plot. Swiss police apprehended two others, which officials say was necessary because they had met in person with the gunman days before.

The attacker was a regular member of a mosque in the Ottakring area that the local Muslim community disavows. It is there that the authorities believe his radicalization took place.

Although the prison system says that the attacker convinced authorities that he no longer held extremist views, the local de-radicalization programming rejected that claim because no one had ever assessed him.

The victims of the attack were a 21-year-old football player and painter; a 24-year-old student working at one of the restaurants; a 39-year-old unidentified Austrian man, and a 44-year-old woman who worked for a nearby company.

Reactions from Foreign Leaders Following the U.S. Presidential Election

When the 2020 Presidential election results made it to the media, multiple states were too close to call. Although Donald Trump was initially ahead by over 600,000 votes from the day’s tallies in Pennsylvania, the mail-in vote swung heavily in Joe Biden’s favor.

This trend happened in every potential swing state except for Arizona, where Trump received a more significant percentage of the mail-in vote.

At the end of the election, Biden would secure 306 electoral votes. That’s the same amount Trump received in the 2016 election.

The difference between the two is that Biden won the popular vote by over three percentage points.

How foreign leaders reacted to the U.S. Presidential election was quite varied.

List of Foreign Reactions to the American Election

Belarus: The government declared the American election to be a mockery of democracy. They took the opportunity to question if the OSCE would call for a revote in the United States.

Slovenia: The Prime Minister congratulated Donald Trump for winning the election on November 4. He continued to support this view, even when Biden became the projected winner on November 7.

China: The government waited until November 13 to congratulate Biden on his election victory. During a press conference, the foreign minister spoke to say that the country would “respect the choice” of the American people.

Russia: The government stated that they wouldn’t congratulate anyone until the election’s certified results become available. Vladimir Putin has said he will “respect the choice” of the American people (notice the similar comment to China’s outreach).

Brazil: Although president Jair Bolsonaro said that he would wait until any “fake votes” got taken out of the American election system, the country’s vice president had an interview on November 9 when he referred to “President Biden.”

Israel: Numerous leaders in multiple political parties reached out to the Biden-Harris campaign to congratulate them on their election victory.

Palestine: A senior official of Fatah congratulated Biden, saying “Nothing was worse than Trump’s era. His departure is a gain.”

Afghanistan: The Taliban endorsed Donald Trump in the American election. They did not accept Biden’s victory, although they later called Biden the “President-elect” and wrote a note expecting the promotion of peace.

Colombia: Instead of congratulating Biden, the country celebrated Trump’s defeat.