It’s Coming on Christmas

Talk of the Town 

Everyone, and I do mean everyone is talking about the COVID relief package that has finally passed in the House and Senate. It has taken months of off-and-on negotiations, but the Problem Solvers Caucus (and no, I didn’t make this up, that’s really what they call themselves) did their jobs. Congress agreed on a $900 billion relief bill.  What does it include?

  • $600 individual payments for adults and children
  • $300 per week bonus jobless benefit  
  • $15B for airline salaries and benefits
  • $284 B for the Paycheck Protection Program 
  • $25 billion in rental assistance
  • $15 billion for theaters and other live venues
  • $82 billion for local schools, colleges and universities
  • $10 billion for child care

First, Democrats says this is just part one and they are expecting another relief bill in the new year. I’m pretty sure this depends on the outcome of the Georgia Senate races, but we’ll see. Second, the $15B for the airlines is for employee salaries. Reuters says this will allow more than 32,000 furloughed workers to get paid through the end of March. Lastly, Congress gave another $284 B to the PPP program that was ill-managed the first time around. Time will tell if they can do this right and get the aid to the actual businesses that really need it and not the Lakers, Ruth Chris, and Shake Shake. The bill awaits Trump’s approval.

Russian Hackers

It is worse than we know. It was reported to the Senate Finance Committee that the hackers got to the Treasury Department’s senior leadership email. The Treasury Department is one of the most highly protected parts of the government because it is responsible for market economic decisions, country sanctions, and communications with the Federal Reserve. According to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the hackers used internal software keys to gain access. Wyden is not a fan of the National Security Administration and said that it was telling that the Treasury learned of the breach from Microsoft instead of the NSA. 

This is just the latest addition of the conflicting information about the cyber attacks. No one can seem to agree on the extent of the damage or who did it. Let’s hope they have all the information and get their stories straight, soon.

Let’s Work Together

According to an unredacted draft version of the lawsuit filed by 10 states against Google last week, Facebook and Google agreed to “cooperate and assist one another” if they ever faced an investigation into their agreement for online advertising. The lawsuit stated this means Google and Facebook knew what they were doing was wrong and that it could trigger an antitrust investigation. The final lawsuit contains heavy redactions as to the specifics of this cooperative arrangement. 

Google said those claims are unfounded and that the deal with Facebook wasn’t some secret thing.

“There’s nothing exclusive about [Facebook’s] involvement and they don’t receive data that is not similarly made available to other buyers.”

– Google Spokesperson

Ahhh, the plot thickens . . .

VID/VAC Update

That New Covid: In what is undoubtedly an effort to upstage the U.S.’s considerable COVID numbers, the UK has a new strain of Covid-19. Health experts say it is more infectious but, there is no evidence it is more deadly. Silver lining? “It is highly likely that BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine works against the variant detected in the UK, said the company’s CEO.” While, I have not been a part of the conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine, this claim gives me pause. First, the news comes out that there is a new strain of COVID, then very soon after, the maker of the first approved vaccine says, don’t worry, the vaccine works on the new one too.  Not so sure I believe this; how do you really know? Isn’t it a little soon? 

Britain Ban: Because of news of a new strain of COVID-19; the EU has cut off UK travelers and encouraged citizens not to go the UK. They have not, however, stopped EU citizens in the UK from coming home. The ban happened so abruptly that trucks were stranded waiting to hear if they could leave the UK. This morning there were more than 1,500 trucks along a major highway in southeast England waiting for direction on if they could leave. They were all confused because Britain is being isolated and countries from Canada to India have banned flights from the U.K. and France barred the entry of its trucks for 48 hours beginning Sunday night.

Making more sense: Reuters is reporting that BioNTech and Moderna are scrambling to test their COVID-19 vaccines against the new variant. Now that sounds more believable. So, CEOs should stay off TV telling people things are safe, if they don’t know for sure. Let’s all stop the magical thinking. 

Pot meet Kettle: The US government is considering requiring a negative COVID test from passengers arriving from Britian. They are looking at pre flight test within 72 hours of arrival to be allowed entry into the U.S. I’m not saying it’s the wrong thing to do, I’m pointing out the hypocrisy on how we try to protect ourselves from the virus. 

Happy Holidays!

As for Friday’s blog post. . . I’m off! It’s Christmas, Suckers! See You Next Tuesday.

(that’s really See with an S not a C, lol)