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This is where the rebound begins | ticker VIEWS

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THE GOVERNOR, THE PRESIDENT AND THE CALIFORNIA REBOUND

President Joe Biden will be in California on Monday, campaigning to ensure that Gavin Newsom, the state’s governor, will not be ousted from office by the voters in an orgy of political nihilism

Guess what:  Newsom is going to win – and Biden will get a jolt to bring his political fights in Washington on his domestic agenda to a successful conclusion.

US President Joe Biden on jobs
US President Joe Biden on jobs

A century ago, California’s progressive reformers, seized with the urgency of taking on corporate barons who were exploiting their dominance over commerce and development, enacted a major legislative reform for its frontier democracy

California’s voters could recall their elected officials before an election was due.  This would hold them ever-accountable to their responsibilities of office.

However, after a wave of initial progressive power, with several officials ousted, its use lapsed.  It took until 2003 for Democratic Gov Gray Davis to be replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tumultuous recall fight.

Newsom was mayor of San Francisco and lieutenant governor for 15 years. Popular and able, he easily won the governorship in 2018 — a very strong Democratic year, with California, now a majority-minority state in racial composition, one of the bluest states in the union. And one of the most consequential, with the fifth largest economy in the world – much larger than Australia’s.

But Newsom has been tested by Covid, which has ravaged the state, kept schools and offices closed, and driven forces that further separated the wealthiest from the rest

The wildfires are also now relentless and still out of control, driving thousands from their homes and blackening the environment.   With poor health and an uneven economy, California has lost population for the first time ever.  

In a testy time, with leaders not able to hold a commanding political position, the grassroots can explode like the forests, seeking to punish those in office and find new leaders

Newsom is blessed with a field of over 40 Republicans who are essentially unknown mediocrities (radio host Larry Elder has some prominence) or, in the case of the inevitable celebrity like Caitlin Jenner, not credible.

While it really does take someone to beat someone, Newsom will win because in the face of the Biblical afflictions across California, he has been steady on the science and the public health measures necessary to bring the pandemic under control – vaccine mandates, and sensible rules on masks and commerce – and because he is leading the fight on the fires and tying their prevalence to the climate crisis.  

Newsom is capitalizing politically on the climate syllogism we felt here in the bushfire conflagration of 2019

“Climate change equals drought, equals bushfires, equals destruction, equals smoke:  Act!”  The Republicans are out of step on climate with voters in California no less than conservatives here in Australia.

There is a parallel mood on the pandemic:  enough already with the unvaccinated; we want to return to normal life.  Or as President Biden put it last week, “We have been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us. The unvaccinated minority can cause a lot of damage and they are.”

Newsome also stands – together with California’s own Kamala Harris, now Vice President, who campaigned with him last week – as a proud Democrat faithful to all the party’s ideals.

Newsom has therefore put together the triple play to win the game:  climate, pandemic, and an uprising of the middle to defeat the extremist populism embodied by Trump – a corrosive populism that suppresses voting rights and women’s rights, especially for abortion.

Biden is campaigning in California to capitalise on Newsom’s impending victory. 

Everywhere Biden has travelled over the past two weeks, from Louisiana to New Jersey and New York, he has tied the catastrophic floods to climate change.  He will do the same with the fires in California.  And he ties this new climate reality to the urgent need for his massive infrastructure rebuild for America to pass Congress.  

Biden will use Newsom’s leadership on the pandemic to buttress his own aggressive measures last week to get the rest of the country vaccinated and bring the virus under control

Biden will champion women’s rights in California so that the state will never experience what is occurring to women in Texas, which has outlawed abortion after the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

And Biden will use California to marshal all these forces to keep Democrats united and together on the offensive to pass his legislative program in the coming weeks.

With victory in California, Biden expects two other Democrats to use this same playbook to win their races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey in November.

Biden is hurting after Afghanistan, and with the pandemic not yet under control as he promised – and that is taking the edge off the economic recovery, adding to his loss of some political capital as is evident in the polls.

This is why Biden is in California, because this is where his rebound begins.

World

We’re in a global food crisis… and it’s worse than the COVID-19 pandemic

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Food prices around the world have hit a 10-year high during the pandemic – with the biggest rises affecting some of the poorest countries

According to a new world vision report, soaring food prices combined with lockdown-induced job losses and disrupted nutrition services has fuelled a global hunger crisis

World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth joined ticker to share more on World Vision’s Price Shocks report.

Thought the cost of groceries in Australia had climbed during COVID?

Well, we Australia is still the ‘lucky country’, compared to places like Syria, east Africa or Myanmar, where the cost of food has soared by more than 50 per cent since the pandemic began.

That’s the finding of a new World Vision report which has found food prices have not only hit a 10-year high during COVID, but that the biggest rises are hitting the world’s poorest the hardest.

World Vision’s Price Shocks report compared the cost of a basket of 10 staple items in 31 countries and found Australians would have to work an average of one hour to pay for the 10 items, while people in Syria would have to work three days and in South Sudan eight days.

“In many countries around the world where well, visions working, you already have environments that are very fragile. So they’re already struggling, maybe with conflict, maybe with large scale people movement in a place like Lebanon, for example,” Daniel told ticker NEWS.

He said when you put on top of that COVID, it’s plunged the World Food System in a kind of crisis, you have less food being made, because there are less workers and less ability to get into those spaces, the movement of that food into marketplaces are restricted because of COVID, the ability to process it, then the ability to take it into micro places and sell it, all of this has been threatened by COVID.

“You have 3 billion people going to bed at night without enough food.”

Price Shocks found between February 2020 and July 2021, while Australian food prices rose by just 3.5 per cent, prices increased in Myanmar by 54 per cent, Lebanon 48 per cent, Mozambique 38.3 per cent, Vanuatu 30.9 per cent, Syria 29.2 per cent and Timor-Leste 17.7 per cent – affecting mainly people who could least afford it.

Daniel said the report confirmed the aftershocks of COVID-19 had the potential to exact a greater toll on the world than the virus itself.

“Job losses and lower incomes from the pandemic are forcing millions of families to skip meals, go for cheaper, less nutritious food, or go without food altogether,” Daniel said.

The report also cites a recent study which estimated by the end of 2022, the nutrition crisis caused by COVID-19 could result in 283,000 more deaths of children aged under five, 13.6 million more children suffering from wasting or acute malnutrition and 2.6 million more children suffering from stunting. This would equate to 250 children dying each day from pandemic-related malnutrition.

“As always, children suffer the most – they are the most vulnerable to hunger because they have a greater need for nutrients, they become undernourished faster than adults and are at a much higher risk of dying from starvation,” Daniel said.

Daniel said World Vision had been responding to the hunger crisis, reaching 12 million of the world’s most vulnerable people in 29 countries with food and nutrition in 2020 alone.

And he was confident Australians would step up to help organisations like World Vision provide emergency food and cash assistance to those in need. World Vision has also urged the Australian Government to commit $AU150 million famine-prevention package to avert a worsening of the crisis.

“Generosity in the face of need is in our DNA, so I am certain Australians will respond – the same way we responded to the Boxing Day tsunami, the Ethiopia famine and the Beirut port explosion.”

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Business

Trade war fires up as U.S companies pass tariffs onto consumers

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Japan Exports

The trade war between the United States and China is continuing to heat up, but this hasn’t stopped American businesses from leaving the Chinese mainland

This all follows the US implementing tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese consumer products in a bid to bring manufacturing back to American shores.

A new report has found this is hurting the US economy and has not been successful in pressuring China to change any of its economic policies.

Meanwhile, businesses based in either China and America have remained “deeply integrated” with the other… with foreign investment into China hitting a record high of US$144.4 billion in 2020.

This comes as Joe Biden moves to review US policy towards China, including the previous policies of Donald Trump.

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Sport

Team USA to require vaccination for 2022 Winter Olympians

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Staff and athletes will be required to be fully vaccinated before the Beijing Winter Olympics, according to a policy announced by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced the policy on Wednesday.

The USOPC won’t consider unvaccinated athletes for the Beijing games, who will need to provide proof of vaccination by December 1st. The Winter Olympics will begin on the 4th of February next year.

The Associated Press obtained the letter CEO Sarah Hirshland sent to athletes and staff detailing the decision to implement the policy for future Olympic and Paralympic Games, starting with the 2022 Tokyo Winter Olympic Games.

“Effective Nov. 1, 2021, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee will require all USOPC staff, athletes and those utilizing USOPC facilities – including the training centers – to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” Hirshland wrote.

“This requirement will also apply to our full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Athletes will be given the opportunity to apply for an exemption, and Hirshland hopes most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in time for the Games.

“The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over,” Hirshland wrote.

“This step will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff, and allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and service to athletes.”

The USOPC also revealed data on vaccination rates at the Tokyo Olympics via their website, with 83% of Team USA, and 86% of international athletes at the Olympic Village being fully vaccinated.

Athletes previously weren’t required to be vaccinated by the International Olympic Committee to attend the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, although they encouraged athletes to get vaccinated.

-by Parker McKenzie

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