Category : Consumer/consumer spending

(WSJ) U.S. Households Primed to Boost Spending After Brief Lull

Cold weather—including storms that shut down sections of Texas and other states—prevented many people from dining out, ordering food online or going to stores last month. Household incomes also likely fell from abnormally high levels in January, when the government distributed stimulus checks of up to $600 a person in most households under a $900 billion economic-relief plan approved by Congress late last year. That law also provided enhanced employment benefits of $300 a week for jobless workers.

A spending surge is likely in the offing. Millions of people each day are getting a Covid-19 vaccine, and many are starting to venture out in public and shop and travel. Meanwhile, the federal government this month is sending out yet another round of stimulus money—this time checks of up to $1,400, a part of another Covid-19 relief package worth $1.9 trillion signed by President Biden. The aid—along with other measures by lenders and landlords to suspend consumers’ monthly payments on debt during the pandemic—has left many households sitting on a pile of cash.

That combo—higher incomes and a rising number of people shielded from the worse effects of the deadly virus—is expected to unleash a burst of economic activity in coming weeks, as many Americans resume activities they have put off for a year.

“When they’re let out of the house, there is some pent-up demand, and they’re going to go out into the restaurants” as well as travel and shop, said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel Nicolaus & Co.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Health & Medicine

(FT) New Glencore Leader Pledges to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions dramatically going forward

At Friday’s event Glencore pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, including “scope 3” created when customers burn raw materials, to net zero by 2050.

It plans to do this mainly by placing its coal business into managed decline in which reserves are not replaced as they run down. 

By setting out a credible pathway to net zero, Mr Glasenberg believes Glencore will be able to hang on to a business it can milk for cash and not be penalised by investors. 

Coal accounts for about 10 per cent of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, and 5 per cent of revenue, so it is not a huge part of its business.

The move has met a positive response. While Glencore’s commitments require careful consideration, they are “significant”, according to Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board and co-chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology

David French–The Crisis of Christian Celebrity

A person who doesn’t trust his own virtue takes affirmative steps to protect himself from a foolish fall. You don’t have to map out a full-blown “Pence rule” or “Modesto Manifesto” to take prudent steps to guard against your own fallen nature. This shouldn’t even be a matter of religious controversy. I’m reminded of these powerful and self-aware words from one of America’s most influential and thoughtful progressive atheists, Ta-Nehisi Coates:

I’ve been with my spouse for almost 15 years. In those years, I’ve never been with anyone but the mother of my son. But that’s not because I am an especially good and true person. In fact, I am wholly in possession of an unimaginably filthy and mongrel mind. But I am also a dude who believes in guard-rails, as a buddy of mine once put it. I don’t believe in getting “in the moment” and then exercising will-power. I believe in avoiding “the moment.” I believe in being absolutely clear with myself about why I am having a second drink, and why I am not; why I am going to a party, and why I am not. I believe that the battle is lost at Happy Hour, not at the hotel. I am not a “good man.” But I am prepared to be an honorable one.

The way I’ve put it in speeches to young Christians is simply this, “Make the easy choice so you don’t have to make the hard choice.” Saying no to the extra drink is much easier than halting a drunken flirtation.

And if a person gains fame, he cannot—he must not—believe the easy laughs, the shining eyes, or the copious flattery of starstruck fans. There are reciprocal responsibilities here. It would be far better if Americans didn’t treat celebrities (including religious celebrities) like Greek gods. It would be far better if celebrities didn’t start to believe that they belong on Mount Olympus.

Christian celebrities will continue to fall. But they don’t have to fall so often.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Entertainment, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(AP) Toilet paper limits, empty shelves are back as virus surges

Looking for toilet paper? Good luck.

A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases.

Walmart said Tuesday it’s having trouble keeping up with demand for cleaning supplies in some stores. Supermarket chains Kroger and Publix are limiting how much toilet paper and paper towels shoppers can buy after demand spiked recently. And Amazon is sold out of most disinfectant wipes and paper towels.

A similar scene played out back in March, when the pandemic first hit and people hunkered down in their homes.

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Health & Medicine

(Guardian) Americans have bought record 17m guns in year of unrest, analysis finds

Americans have bought nearly 17m guns so far in 2020, more than in any other single year, according to estimates from a firearms analytics company.

Gun sales across the United States first jumped in the spring, driven by fears about the coronavirus pandemic, and spiked even higher in the summer, during massive racial justice protests across the country, prompted by police killings of black Americans.

“By August, we had exceeded last year’s total. By September, we exceeded the highest total ever,” said Jurgen Brauer, the chief economist of Small Arms Analytics, which produces widely cited estimates of US gun sales.

The estimated number of guns sold in the US through the end of September 2020 is “not only more than last year, it’s more than any full year in the last 20 years we have records for”, Brauer said.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy

UK Faith leaders make call for environment-focused economic recovery

Marking the end of the first half of London Climate Action Week, representatives from UK faith groups have signed an open letter to the UK Government urging it to ensure that its economic recovery strategy is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.

In the letter, the signatories, some of whom are members of the ‘Faith for the Climate’ network, also commit to the goals of the Laudato Si encyclical – an initiative of Pope Francis – to advocate for and model positive initiatives to continue to tackle the Climate Emergency.

The open letter [begins]:

COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.

We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.

At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.

We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most….

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(LA Times) Californians are losing their fear of the coronavirus, setting the stage for disaster

“Public health, when it does its work best, it’s not telling people what to do. It’s telling people how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe so people can make their decisions about how to do that,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

Lockdown fatigue is not a new phenomenon. During the 1918 flu pandemic, San Franciscans threw their masks into the air when they thought the pandemic was over, not realizing a new deadly wave of flu would hit within weeks, said Chin-Hong at UC San Francisco.

“People are afraid that history is going to repeat itself,” he said.

California’s exuberant optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us was fueled by the state’s early success. While many people in California might not know someone who died, Chin-Hong said, in New York, it seemingly felt like everyone knew someone who died.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, State Government, Theology

(FT) Data point to soaring US gun sales in June

A record 3.9m firearm background checks were conducted in June, according to new FBI figures that underscore the sharp rise in US gun sales since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd.

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the number of firearm background checks conducted last month in the US was 71 per cent higher compared with the same time last year. The monthly figures broke the previous record, which was set in March, when 3.7m checks were conducted.

The latest figures cover a period in which the number of coronavirus cases increased rapidly in many states across the American south and west, including Florida, Texas and Arizona. They also take into account the period of widespread antiracism protests and civil unrest after Floyd was killed in late May.

The FBI database does not convey the total guns sold, however, because background check laws and other rules surrounding firearm purchases vary from state to state. Not all gun buyers in the US are subject to background checks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy

(Moultrie News) Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, mandates face masks at select establishments, effective July 1

Mount Pleasant has joined neighboring municipalities in mandating that face masks be worn in certain public spaces, effective at noon on Wednesday. Just three days prior to the celebration of Independence Day.

On Monday afternoon, Mount Pleasant Town Council met for an emergency special council meeting that would consider requiring face covering in “certain circumstances.” Council voted in favor 6-2, two-thirds majority, to pass Ordinance 20037.

Councilmember Brenda Corley was not present for the vote. Council explained the reasoning for Corley’s absence was due to showing COVID-19 symptoms.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Reason) J.D. Tuccille–The Pandemic’s Economic Carnage Looks Worse Than Expected

If you thought the economic toll wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic was only going to be horrendous, you may have been overly optimistic. A combination of voluntary behavior changes and government-imposed lockdowns that choked-off social and economic activity are now projected to have even worse consequences than economists initially feared. Life may start returning to normal sometime next year, but there will be lasting pain even if we avoid another wave of the virus.

“Global output is projected to decline by 4.9 percent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below our April forecast, followed by a partial recovery, with growth at 5.4 percent in 2021,” Gita Gopinath, Director of the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), wrote this week.

As depressing as the IMF’s numbers are, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is actually more pessimistic. The OECD predicts that, if we’re hit by only one wave of COVID-19, global economic activity will fall by 6 percent this year, with five years of income growth lost. A second wave of infections would drive world economic output down by 7.6 percent in 2020.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(RNS) Tara Burton–How millennials make meaning from shopping, decorating and self-pampering

[Millenial]…’values hold that the self is an autonomous being, the self’s desires are fundamentally good, and societal and sexual repression as not just undesirable but actively evil. These millennials, which in my new book I called “Remixed Millennials,” are at once attracted to moral and theological certainty — accounts of the human condition that claim totalizing truth or demand difficult adherence because the challenge is ultimately rewarding — and repulsed by traditions that set hard limits on personal, and particularly sexual or romantic, desire.

That, for better or for worse, is where corporations come in. Increasingly, companies have recognized that there is a gap in the needs of today’s Remixed: institutions, activities, philosophies and rituals that manage to be challenging and totalizing while also preserving millennials’ need for personal freedom. It’s the dot-com bubble for spirituality, a free marketplace of innovation and religious disruption. No sooner does something become a viral movement than an ingenious startup finds a way to re-create it at a more profitable price point. (Columbia Business School is currently hosting an incubator for “spiritual entrepreneurs,” offering a certificate in spiritual entrepreneurship for those who complete a 20-week course.)

Consumer-capitalist culture offers us not merely necessities but identities. Meaning, purpose, community and ritual can all — separately or together — be purchased on Amazon Prime.

As journalist Amanda Hess wrote in The New York Times, “Shopping, decorating, grooming and sculpting are now jumping with meaning. And a purchase need not have any explicit social byproduct — the materials eco-friendly, or the proceeds donated to charity — to be weighted with significance. Pampering itself has taken on a spiritual urgency.”’

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Uncategorized, Young Adults

(NYT) From China to Germany, the World Learns to Live With the Coronavirus

China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block. South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations. Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds. Britain will target local outbreaks in a strategy that Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls “Whac-A-Mole.”

Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay. But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.

While the details differ, the strategies call for giving governments flexibility to tighten or ease as needed. They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by the authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.

The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other longstanding bureaucratic rivalries. Already, in Britain, some local officials say their efforts are not coordinated enough.

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Posted in Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Local Paper) As COVID-19 wallops hospitality sector, Folly Beach restaurateurs develop safety strategy

Approximately 40 restaurants in the Charleston area have now closed temporarily as a result of an employee testing positive for the deadly disease, exposure to an infected guest or concern about the spread, although industry members reiterate many more restaurants are continuing to operate in the face of known cases.

Rich says the Folly Beach meeting, scheduled for the Loggerhead’s parking lot to facilitate social distancing, will cover table spacing, bar seats and employee masks. Rich believes strongly that every restaurant in the city needs to mandate masks for front-of-house workers.

“There’s no regulation on it, so everybody is doing something different,” he says. “We’re just going to tell everyone, ‘Hey, guys, this is what we recommend.’ We need to make sure somebody’s burger or beer isn’t as important as our health.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Health & Medicine

(FT) Digital ad market set to eclipse traditional media for first time

Digital advertising on platforms such as Google, Facebook and Alibaba is set this year to overtake spending on traditional media for the first time, a historic shift in market share that has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Excluding online ads sold by old media outlets such as news publishers or broadcasters, digital marketing is predicted to account for more than half the $530bn global advertising industry in 2020, according to GroupM, the media buying agency owned by WPP.

Separate forecasts released last week by Magna, part of IPG Mediabrands, also expect 2020 to be the year traditional media is upstaged.

The digital revolution in marketing under way since the millennium, when the internet accounted for under 2 per cent of spending, has transformed the ad market at a pace and scale that far outstrips the advent of television in the 20th century.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Media

Anglican Bishops warn of ‘Environmental Racism’

The Archbishop of Canterbury together with the Bishops of Salisbury, Oxford, Truro, Dover, Woolwich, Sherborne, Loughborough, Kingston, Reading and Ramsbury, and former Archbishop Rowan Williams have joined a list of eight archbishops and 38 bishops worldwide in signing an open letter stating that black lives are predominantly affected by the effects of climate change, as well as police brutality and the spread of COVID-19.

Published by the Anglican Communion’s Environmental Network, the letter reads (extract):

The world is slow to respond to climate change, hanging on to an increasingly precarious and unjust economic system. It is predominantly Black lives that are being impacted by drought, flooding, storms and sea level rise. The delayed global response to climate injustice gives the impression that #blacklivesdontmatter. Without urgent action Black lives will continue to be the most impacted, being dispossessed from their lands and becoming climate refugees.

We stand at a Kairos moment – in order to fight environmental injustice , we must also fight racial injustice.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ) Scott Gottlieb and Yuval Levin–New Rules for Covid Summer: Be Flexible and Vigilant

…public attitudes are now as mixed and contradictory as the epidemiology data. A forthcoming survey of 3,500 Americans conducted this month by our American Enterprise Institute colleague Daniel Cox found that 58% of Americans want public officials to “take all necessary steps to ensure the public is safe even if it means keeping businesses closed longer and hurting the economy.” But that is down from 78% in late March. Some 41% supported allowing businesses to open “even if it means putting some people at risk,” nearly double the 22% in March.

That explains what’s happening around the country, and also why so many people are uneasy. And it suggests that, along with ramping up testing and tracing, public officials need to focus on building public confidence and minimizing weariness.

That means, for example, encouraging (and practicing) sensible behavior that can reduce the spread. Wearing face masks is the simplest and most effective, along with efforts to practice hygiene and distancing when possible. Officials from the president down must avoid politicizing these measures. They are neither conspiracies against your dignity nor proof of your enlightenment. They are sensible ways of reducing infection and fear.

When local hot spots arise, mayors and governors must trace the outbreaks to their origin and be ready to curtail specific activities that are sources of spread. The public is clearly willing to follow focused guidance. But broad shutdowns are unlikely to be tolerated this summer—and therefore are unlikely to be proposed, regardless of what the epidemiology shows.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

South Carolina announces 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID19+6 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 6 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 17,955 and those who have died to 599.

Four deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Cherokee (1), Darlington (1), Greenville (1), and Richland (1) counties, and two deaths occurred in middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Horry (1) counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

GRR:Discouraging short term trend continues–South Carolina today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID19+5 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 770 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 5 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 17,170 and those who have died to 593.

All five deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Aiken (1), Charleston (1), Lexington (1), Orangeburg (1), and Richland (1) counties

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Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(Wa Po) The coronavirus pandemic isn’t ending – it’s surging

As restrictions are lifted around the world, the sense of urgency surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic has weakened. Hundreds of millions of students have returned to school; restaurants, bars and other businesses are slowly reopening in many countries. In parts of Europe, vaccine researchers worry that they will not have enough sick people for testing.

But this historic pandemic is not ending. It is surging. There were 136,000 new infections reported on Sunday, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic. There are more than 7 million confirmed cases so far. The number of deaths is nearing half a million, with little sign of tapering off, and global health experts are continuing to sound the alarm.

“By no means is this over,” Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director, said Wednesday. “If we look at the numbers over the last number of weeks, this pandemic is still evolving. It is still growing in many parts of the world.”

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General

(DHEC) South Carolina announces 528 new cases of COVID19 and 7 additional deaths

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 528 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 15,759 and those who have died to 575.

Five of the deaths occurred in elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Florence (1), Greenville (2), and Spartanburg (1) counties, and 2 middle-aged individuals from Greenville (1) and Newberry (1) counties.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(The State) As South Carolina surpasses 15,000 COVID19 cases, infection rates, hospitalizations hit new highs

Following a record breaking day, Department of Health and Environmental Control officials announced Tuesday that South Carolina has surpassed 15,000 coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, 434 more people tested positive for the virus, and 11 additional people have died after contracting it, DHEC officials said. The 434 represented 14.7% of the total daily number of tests results reported Tuesday — the highest daily rate of infection the state has seen in at least the last 28 days.

Another statistic also is rapidly rising: the number of hospital beds across the state occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases or who are under investigation for the disease. On Saturday, for example, the state had 482 COVID patients being treated in hospital. In just two days, that number has rocketed up to 541.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

A Second Straight Record Day of New Coronavirus Cases in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 512 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 7 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 13,916 and those who have died to 545.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(The State) South Carolina ends record breaking week with 447 new coronavirus cases

The coronavirus has continued its speedy spread across South Carolina, with state officials announcing 447 new infections on Friday, setting a new record for the largest single-day increase in cases, state Department of Health and Environmental Control officials said in a statement.

In all, 13,453 people have tested positive for the virus across the state. Also announced Friday were an additional 13 deaths, bringing the death toll to 538.

The latest case and death statistics come near the end of a record week. Over the last week, state health officials have seen record high case numbers each day, including three days with more than 300 cases and two days with more than 400, topping the previous records set in April and May by dozens of cases.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, State Government

(The State) Coronavirus case total in South Carolina grows by 361. Officials note seven more deaths

The new cases are the latest indicator that South Carolina is seeing an increase in coronavirus activity. Over the past few weeks, DHEC officials have noted high weekly case numbers, higher seven-day average number of cases and increasing percents of tests that turn up positive.

Four of the last seven days have seen more than 300 cases, a milestone the state never reached before.

Thursday, officials said that 5.5% of tests conducted the previous day were positive.

And even those metrics don’t paint a complete picture of the coronavirus’ spread across South Carolina. DHEC officials estimate that as much as 86% of people who have contracted the virus have not been tested. As of Thursday, they estimated that a total of 92,900 people across the state had actually contracted the virus.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

DHEC South Carolina’s Latest Covid19 Update–People are Reminded to Take Actions to Limit Spread of COVID-19

As restrictions are reduced by reopenings and South Carolinians return to their workplaces and participate in recreational activities that might involve crowds, DHEC continues to urge everyone to be vigilant in practicing social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

This reminder comes amid public health experts’ concerns over the recent rise in COVID-19 data trends in South Carolina.

“The more people you expose yourself to, the more you multiply your risk of being exposed to the virus,” said Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist. “There are those who are finding ways to hold graduations and open businesses safely through careful planning and attention to crowd density and safety measures such as wearing masks. When we don’t do those things, we can put ourselves and others at risk, and case counts will rise.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, State Government

(Bloomberg) Australia’s Water Is Vanishing

The early afternoon sun was pounding the parched soil, and Gus Whyte was pulling on his dust-caked cowboy boots to take me for a drive. We’d just finished lunch—cured ham, a loaf of bread I’d bought on the trip up, chutney pickled by Whyte’s wife, Kelly—at his house in Anabranch South, which isn’t a town but rather a fuzzy cartographic notion in the far west of New South Wales, a seven-hour drive from Melbourne and half as far again from Sydney. I’d been grateful, as I pulled off the blacktop of the Silver City Highway to cover the last 10 miles or so, that I’d rented the biggest 4×4 Hertz could give me. I was on a dirt road, technically, but the dirt was mostly sand, punctuated with rocks the size of small livestock and marked only by the faintest of tire tracks.

We climbed into Whyte’s pickup, and I reached instinctively over my shoulder. “Don’t worry about seat belts,” he said, amiably but firmly. “I know it’s a habit.” His Jack Russell terrier, Molly, balanced herself on his lap as he drove.

Whyte, who has reddish-brown hair, sheltered his ruddy, sun-weathered face beneath a battered bush hat. He raises livestock, mostly sheep and some cattle, on nearly 80,000 acres. Normally he’d run about 7,500 sheep, but he was down to 2,000. There wasn’t enough water for more. “I can’t remember it being this dry,” he said. “It’s disheartening to see a landscape like this. You hate it. This is where I was born and grew up, and it means the world to me.”

He kept driving, rattling off statistics about rainfall (down) and temperatures (up). Every so often he’d stop and get out to check on one of the storage tanks dotting the property, which held what little water he had. After a while we pulled onto the crest of a small hill, and Whyte pointed out Yelta Lake, a kidney-shaped landmark that’s colored, on maps, in a reassuringly cool blue. In real life it was the same dun color as everything else. “It hasn’t had any water in it since 2014,” he said.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Climate Change, Weather, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(The State) DHEC reports 285 new South Carolina coronavirus cases and one additional death

South Carolina’s coronavirus case count continued to grow Tuesday after Department of Health and Environmental Control officials announced that tests had resulted in an additional 285 positive infections across the state.

The latest daily case count, which marked the fourth day in a row that more than 200 infections had been identified, brings the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide to 12,415.

The death toll also increased to 501 after one person who contracted the virus died. That person was elderly and from Horry County.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(Local Paper) South Carolina officials report 297 new coronavirus cases as deaths reach 500

South Carolina logged 297 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and reported six new deaths.

Across the state, 12,148 people have now tested positive for the virus, while 500 people have died.

The six newly deceased patients were people above the age of 65 from Colleton, Fairfield, Horry and Lexington counties.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

Yesterday’s NYT Front Page–Renters Out of Work, Money And, Very Soon, Their Homes

The United States, already wrestling with an economic collapse not seen in a generation, is facing a wave of evictions as government relief payments and legal protections run out for millions of out-of-work Americans who have little financial cushion and few choices when looking for new housing.

The hardest hit are tenants who had low incomes and little savings even before the pandemic, and whose housing costs ate up more of their paychecks. They were also more likely to work in industries where job losses have been particularly severe.

Temporary government assistance has helped, as have government orders that put evictions on hold in many cities. But evictions will soon be allowed in about half of the states, according to Emily A. Benfer, a housing expert and associate professor at Columbia Law School who is tracking eviction policies.

“I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly,” Professor Benfer said. Without a new round of government intervention, she added, “we will have an avalanche of evictions across the country.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance

South Carolina Daily Reported Cases of Covid19 take an encouraging turn down

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 156 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 4 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 10,788 and those who have died to 470.

The deaths occurred in 4 elderly individuals from Chesterfield (1), Fairfield (1), Greenville (1), and York (1) counties.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government