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Why is Joe Biden campaigning in Virginia?



As Joe Biden campaigns in Virginia, Ticker News US political contributor Bruce Wolpe reflects on the future of his presidency. Wolpe is a Senior Fellow at the United States Studies Centre.

Friday evening, just before escaping to his beloved Delaware for the weekend (his, wife, the First Lady, was in Japan for the Olympics), President Biden slipped across the Potomac River into Virginia. Here, he headlined a campaign rally for Terry McAuliffe, who is running for governor. The election is in November.

Biden keeps learning – and applying – some critical lessons from when he was in the White House 12 years ago, serving as Vice President for Barack Obama. Their first year in office was dramatic, exhilarating, dynamic – and very challenging.

America (and the rest of the world) was reeling from the Global Financial Crisis. Obama and Biden won a key early victory in passing a massive economic recovery program. Obama proposed landmark universal access to health insurance – it would ultimately become Obamacare – and comprehensive energy and climate legislation to tackle global warming.

Biden learns lessons from the Obama era

2009 was also an election year for two governorships, in Virginia and New Jersey. By that November, Obamacare was still tied up in bipartisan negotiations in the Senate; it would not enact it for another 5 months. The energy and climate bill passed the House but would ultimately die in the Senate.

The economic recovery was underway, but jobs gains across the country were very slow to lock in. That August, “Tea Party” activists held raucous protest rallies against Obama’s health care proposals across the country. By that November, the political mood was quitter uncertain.

In this odd-numbered year, 12 months after the presidential election, voters in Virginia and New Jersey hold their state elections. And like by-elections in Australia, citizens can read them as a referendum on how the party that controls the White House is doing. And November 2009 was bad news for Obama, Biden, and the Democrats. Republicans won both governorships. And it was a shock.

“Tea Party” activists protesting against Obamacare

Lesson #1: go big and go fast

The pundits were in overdrive that night, saying, Democrats in big trouble! Obama took it on the nose! Too much change we cannot believe in! And this was critical because the centrist independent voters in New Jersey and Virginia voted for the Republicans. Obama
won those independents only a year before.

Biden keeps applying the lessons he learned from those days. First, go big and go early and go fast. He passed the pandemic response and vaccination program within his first 50 days in office together with the $2 trillion economic recovery initiative – more than twice as large as Obama’s in 2009.

Second, don’t focus on futile negotiations in the Senate. Pending in the Senate right now is another $4 trillion on infrastructure, health care, education, climate, childcare, and other priorities. The make-or-break moment to move on it is coming now – not after November.

A double-header victory remains on the cards

So Joe Biden was in Virginia on Friday to help his good friend Terry McAuliffe win his election against a Trump-endorsed candidate – and he will do the same in New Jersey to support the popular Democrat running for re-election there. A double-header victory would signal to the country that voters support the Biden agenda.

As the Washington Post reported last week:

“Among the questions Biden is confronting are whether the Trump base will turn out when the former president is not on the ballot, whether Biden’s ambitious economic plans will be seen as a boon or a driver of rising prices and whether voters will continue to give the president high marks for his handling of the pandemic.”

Biden has zero intention of letting anyone stop his momentum in Virginia this year.

Read more by Bruce Wolpe here.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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



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



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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Team USA to require vaccination for 2022 Winter Olympians



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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