betterhelp

Happy Thursday. Be sure to RSVP for our live show this morning as we deep dive the very latest on stimulus and new jobs numbers out today. Set a reminder right here.

 

Grover and I are hoping you have a great morning.


credit: Clayton Morris

In Case You Missed It. 

👎🏻 Costco is not giving away boxes of free food on Facebook. That is a scam. Please don’t fall for it. 

📦 UPS had to slow down pickups to major retailers because they are just too busy. 

🥶 Niagara Falls is frozen solid

Coronavirus Update: 😷 Total confirmed U.S. cases as of 3:15 p.m. ET Tuesday: 13,805,573 — Total deaths: 272,052 — Total recoveries: 5,226,581

  • Covid hospitalizations reach 100,000 in the U.S. while deaths near 3,000 per day. 
  • CVS and Walgreens are prepping to give Covid shots in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 
  • A couple was arrested for reckless endangerment because they boarded a flight after testing positive for Covid. 
  • Beverly Hills City Council unanimously overturned a Los Angeles County ban on indoor dining. 
  • Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing died from Covid at the age of 94. 

INTEREST RATES

 
CONFIRMING LOAN
Program Rate Change APR Change
30 year 2.77%  0.11% 2.82%  0.11%
15 year 2.63%  0.07% 2.74%  0.07%
 

The Lead: The Stranglehold of Student Loan Debt


credit: ap

New data shows that the families that take on the most debt for college loans are not the Ivy League fancy schools. In fact, it is the smaller arts schools, private schools, and Black colleges where parents have financed upwards of $100,000 in tuition. 

The U.S. Department of Education released annual college financial data and this data showed just how much parents were borrowing in the hopes of a better future for their children. At the top of the list is Spelman College, a historically Black women’s college with the median debt amount was $112,127. Consider that these are high-interest loans and that the average payment amount on a loan of that size is over $1,200 per month.


Even low-income families had massive debt. At Spelman, the median debt for those families was $83,894.


According to the Wall Street Journal, these loans require “only a scant check of a parent’s credit history before extending loans, and it performs no assessment of the ability to repay. The result: Some parents have taken on amounts they have little hope of repaying, student-debt researchers say.” 


Why it matters

This is predatory. It preys on parents’ innate propensity to dream of the best possible future for their children while sacrificing their own financial health. President-elect Joe Biden has hinted at canceling up to $50,000 in student debt but this move would not prevent students from racking up more. It is a bandaid on a larger problem of for-profit education and predatory loan industry. Consider that the European Union offers free or nearly free university for all members without requiring students to redo core classes that they did in high school. It can be done. The U.S. just doesn’t.

Stimulus Moves Ahead


credit: bloomberg

The stimulus is picking up speed in Congress. Leaders met on Wednesday and then went out to say nice words about their meetings to the press. Not committed words, just encouraging words.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that they believed that “with good-faith negotiations, we would come to an agreement.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that they were showing “a new willingness to engage in good faith.” 

The price tag of the bill still stands at $908 billion for health care and will run until March of 2021. It includes #88 billion for small business relief, including more Paycheck Protection loans, $16 billion for vaccine distribution, $82 billion for schools, $25 billion for rental assistance, and $180 billion for unemployment insurance, which would result in $300 per week for unemployed workers. It also will give $17 billion to airlines.


Congress is hoping to have an agreement before December 11 when the current government funding runs out. 

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You don’t have to do this alone. 

Cotton Returns to Slave Labor


credit: getty

The Trump administration placed a ban on cotton imports from a Chinese state-run factory due to labor conditions.


The ban applies to imports from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), one of the largest cotton producers in China. This will affect a lot of American goods as the U.S. imported $11 billion in cotton textile and apparel from China just last year alone, 80% of that from XPCC. It is estimated that ⅓ of U.S. apparel comes from China.


Americans have come to expect cheap clothing with “Made in China” labels but that cheap price tag has a human cost. XPCC uses an ethnic group called Turkic-speaking Uighurs in forced labor to produce this cotton.


The ban could also apply to other countries if they use cotton produced from XPCC supply chains. It would seem the US is not kidding around with this one and it is something both the President and the President-elect agree on. President-elect Biden has called these factories “genocide,” and President Trump has long since had a stink-eye for economic dependence on cheap Chinese goods. 

News By The Numbers


credit: live science

8 miles. That is the size of a stone canvas painted with prehistoric animals that was found in the Amazon. Yes 8 miles long! It is approximately 12,600 years ago. Many extinct animals are depicted including mastodons and giant sloths. 

$85 million. That is how much LeBron James will make for an extra 2 years of play with the Los Angeles Lakers.  

26. That is how many wasp-related incidents were reported from the Brisbane Airport between 2013 and 2019. The Australian airport calls this a “serious threat to aviation safety” because they build nests on important airplane equipment.  

Cannabis Is Officially A Medicine


giphy.gifcredit: getty

The United Nations voted to remove cannabis from a list of drugs with no medical benefit. The United States and the United Kingdom voted in favor of this removal. Russia, China, Pakistan, and Nigeria voted against this, wanting the drug to remain on the naughty list.


Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years but because some people use it for recreational purposes, governments have been wary to legitimize it. Even though it has been lifted from a UN ban for medical use, it is still illegal for non-medical use. 

Dreaming of a Vanilla Sky


giphy.gif credit: spencer sheehan

A lawyer in New York is tired of products that are falsely labeled “vanilla” when they are actually made with a chemical synthetic. He has filed almost 100 lawsuits against companies that do that.


Something made with vanilla beans is not the same as something made with factory-made vanillin. Spencer Sheehan is a purist and he wants companies to stop the deception. His latest suit is against Wegman’s vanilla cake mix.


“It is misleading to describe a vanilla-flavored food as ‘naturally flavored’ where it contains vanillin from non-vanilla sources because consumers will understand this to mean it is flavored with natural vanilla, from the vanilla bean,” claims the suit. 

Vanillin is cheaper to make than actual vanilla beans are to grow. If you’ve ever bought a vanilla bean, you know it is expensive, mostly because it is not grown in the U.S. Sheehan is asking about $5 million per suit filed in several states for a total of $500 million.


“I will likely not be winning $500 million. And that’s not the point,” he said. 

Next he can take on “pumpkin” foods that contain no actual pumpkin. 

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