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Love in the time of COVID-19

03 matt collamer 8UG90AYPDW4 unsplashIf you are unaware of regular and thorough handwashing, personal disinfecting and social distancing, then you must not be on planet Earth. In what feels like only days, lives of Americans have gone from our own normals to self-quarantine and worry, more intense in some places but present everywhere. Will our families and those we love get sick? Will we get sick? Will our jobs continue? Will we ever be “normal” again?

Most of us are going to use best practices faithfully, both for ourselves and for others. Still, for many of us, anxiety now hovers at all times and requires management, and a cottage industry has sprung up to address our fears. Included in strategies offered from various quarters are reaching out to others not in person but by phone, text, email to make sure people we know and love are managing. Gratitude journals are springing up to remind us of the good times in our lives and looking ahead with hope. Experts remind us to control what we can — to eat well, to exercise even if it is in our own homes during self-quarantine, to meditate as a way of easing stress and to remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can.

It is hard to know what to say about people, both young and mature, who behave as if there were no worldwide pandemic or that they are invincible. At some point, they will have to come to terms with having hastened community spread to other human beings, sickening some and possibly killing some. That is a burden no one should seek, especially when health-care workers and other service providers are risking their lives for the rest of us — literally.

Most of this is beyond our individual control, but we can take and implement the advice given by those on the front lines. Each of us has a choice to make as a human being. Are we part of problem or part of the solution? Are we helping to stop the pandemic or are we promoting it? These are profound and private decisions for each of us.
The following comes from the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Cincinnati, and it speaks to people of all faiths or no faith at all.

“May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making
their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle for quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.”

Amen.

Offering help in troubled times

02 N1705P26001CFriends,

By now, we’ve all become familiar with the term social distancing. I know many of you are sitting at home scared and frustrated, as restaurants, gyms and other businesses came grinding to a halt last week due to coronavirus. I share your concerns. That’s why I’m working every day listening to folks on the ground and finalizing legislation to boost our response efforts. Thankfully, there is good news. While coronavirus continues to impact our state and country, the U.S. Small Business Administration delivered some needed relief to small businesses last week by approving a disaster declaration for North Carolina.

This declaration means small businesses in every county in our state may now apply for low-interest economic injury disaster loans (EIDLs) as a result of the ongoing effects of COVID-19 (coronavirus). To apply, you can visit my website at Hudson.house.gov or Disasterloan.sba.gov.

In addition to my office, the N.C. Small Business & Technology Development Center can help small businesses through this process free of charge. The closest physical locations to our district are on the campuses of Fayetteville State University and UNC Charlotte. However, staff is available to assist over the phone at 919-715-7272.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and I’ll continue to fight to make sure they, and all workers, have the assistance they need.

That’s why I joined with Senator Thom Tillis and Representative David Price on a bipartisan effort to urge swift approval of Governor Cooper’s request for this declaration. I also led a bipartisan effort with Representative G.K. Butterfield to request more aid for small businesses struggling with cash flow while they must pay bills, payroll and other expenses.

In addition to our small businesses, I’ve been leading efforts to ensure our agriculture industry has access to the temporary workforce it needs to protect our domestic food supply, as well as to increase funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to handle an influx of patients and strain due to coronavirus. I am happy to report the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that became law last week included $82 million for the Department of Defense and $60 million for the VA to cover the costs of testing for veterans. Following my request for increased funding, I was glad to see President Trump’s latest coronavirus aid proposal includes an additional $8 billion for the Department of Defense.

As we now continue negotiations on a third coronavirus bill, I’ll continue advocating for any and all resources that our health care providers, workers, small businesses, farmers and schools need at this time. My priorities have been shaped directly from feedback from people on the ground. Just last week, I led calls with school superintendents in our region, VA medical center directors in Fayetteville and Salisbury, and small business owners. As always, my offices are also open to take phone calls and emails and hear directly from you about any questions you might have.

As I remain focused on legislation in Congress to address this unprecedented public health challenge, President Trump has also taken action to move the tax filing deadline to July 15, suspend student loan payments, give states flexibility on K-12 testing and remove red tape for the FDA to approve new treatments for coronavirus. By working together across local, state and federal governments, I am confident we can overcome this challenge and come out stronger than ever. Please stay tuned for rapidly changing updates and guidelines and never hesitate to let me know anything I can do to serve you and your family.

Hysteria versus caution

05 49652410896 e9411075ba bLet’s put things in perspective.

Coronavirus 2019, coming from Wuhan, China,  is the latest incarnation of the war between viruses and humanity. Viruses and bacteria have existed for Millenia, viruses being robotic molecules and bacteria being live one-cell creatures; both want to inhabit, multiply and damage or kill the human body. It is a drama worthy of zombie movies. 

The good news: Mankind is winning. Observation and human intelligence via the microscope, which was invented in 1590, and the electron microscope, which was invented in 1931, have allowed these entities to be visualized, given a name and analyzed for their weak spots. Thus, antibiotics, antivirals and vaccines were born.

However, it has been a struggle and a learning curve. 

As of this writing, 63 people have died in the United States from COVID 19, whose source is the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) COV-2 virus, under research in the Wuhan Virology Lab of China. Identified city clusters are Seattle, Washington; Santa Clara, California; and New Rochelle, New York. 

Over 3,600 are now infected. The vulnerable are the over-age-60 group with underlying lung or organ disease and the immuno-compromised. 

Yet, compare that to 2009 with the Swine flu (H1N1) where the protected were the over-age-60 group and the vulnerable were the children and young people. In the course of one year, 60 million cases and 12,000+ deaths occurred in the U.S. 

Even more dramatic, compare that to 1918 with the Spanish Flu, also an H1N1 viral type. That was a devastating time. World War I was in full force. More American soldiers died from that influenza (58,000+) than perished in battle (52,000+). Deaths occurred in training camps or while serving in Europe or on their return home. Vintage war photos show nurses wearing cloth masks or gas masks while caring for the ill. Stateside, Americans could die within 24 hours of symptom onset. That such mortality was high in healthy young people of ages 20-40 was unique to this disease. Pharmaceutical measures were absent 100 years ago; simple advice was followed.

Open air was considered the healthier tactic than staying indoors; teachers held classes in front of bleacher-sitting students and religious services were held on church steps or gardens. Of course, parades and public crowds were canceled.

Globally, 33 million people died by month nine; an estimated 100 million died by month 18. Five hundred million were ultimately infected. That was one-third of the world population at the time. 

Odd that it takes a crisis to remind people of how lucky we are to live in this current century and to follow common sense like washing your hands and covering your cough. It is amazing how social etiquette — to include elbow-bump greeting, social distancing of 6 feet, e-learning and e-working, drive-by health testing — is being molded by a health crisis. We are living in historic times. Evolutionary measures that would have taken a generation are happening overnight.

So … humankind continues to win. Global cooperation and common sense will shorten this bell-shaped curve of infection. There is no need for hysteria.

This 100-nanometer terrorist molecule will be defeated.

Ironic terminology that its invasion has gone viral. 

Visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/ to learn more.

Starting a small business

06 N2003P37001CAccording to the Small Business Administration, nearly 98% of businesses in North Carolina are small businesses, and 46% of North Carolina employees work at small businesses. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, North Carolina has routinely ranked as one of the best states in the nation in    which to start a business.

One essential professional new entrepreneurs can have on hand is a business attorney. Unfortunately, many new business owners only contact an attorney after a legal problem arises. Below is a look at how new businesses can benefit from the counsel of an experienced business lawyer. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.”


Choosing a business structure

This is one of the most critical business decisions any entrepreneur will have to make. Different business structures have different liability and tax implications, which could have a drastic impact on the potential of a business to grow in the future. A sole proprietorship, for example, is very easy to set up, but comes with a large amount of liability risk, meaning that if a claim is made against the business, then the business owner’s personal assets could be at risk. A corporate structure, on the other hand, exposes the owners (or directors) to very little personal liability.


Drafting agreements and contractsMany business owners only talk to a business attorney once a dispute has arisen, usually with a fellow business partner, employee or client. Such disputes, especially if they end up in court, can be costly. Many of these disputes are the result of poorly written or nonexistent business contracts and agreements. An attorney can help new business owners draft business start-up agreements, including employment contracts, buy-sell agreements, partnership agreements, shareholder agreements, and so forth, to provide greater peace of mind. An attorney can also help draft and review any business contract. 


Complying with the lawBusinesses must comply with a maze of laws and regulations, including environmental, work safety, tax and employment laws. These laws and regulations can be notoriously complex, and most business owners may not be aware of all of their legal and regulatory obligations. However, ignorance of the law is no protection from the fines and penalties that can result from violating it. That is why business owners need a business attorney on hand to ensure they are compliant with all the rules and regulations that may affect their businesses.Entrepreneurs should focus on growing their business and protecting that business by getting good legal guidance upfront. By talking to an attorney first, new business owners will have the advice they need to set up a business for success.

A rare instance of rejecting political malleability

04 Joe Biden 48548455397 rotatedColumn Gist: We live in a time when most American politicians will say anything, promise whatever appears politically profitable, to get elected. After being elected, the normal course is to forget promises and go along with what is dictated by the established political order. Every now and then, a politician comes along who is not malleable and does not bend to the will of the establishment. 

In a recent column titled, “Malleable Politicians: As American as Apple Pie,” I assessed Mike Bloomberg as being a “malleable politician.” I contend President Donald Trump is a rare exception to the “Be Malleable” rule. Because he is an absolute exception, the political establishment, and a lot of everyday Americans, has no idea how to deal with him productively.

I do not know where former Vice President Joe Biden will stand in his run for the Democratic presidential nomination when this column is published. However, his primary argument for being nominated is that he can beat Trump. Polls show this is the No. 1 priority of most Democratic voters. Although he talks some about policies and issues, Sen. Bernie Sanders also leans heavily on the claim that he can beat Trump.

Much of the call for Trump’s defeat is driven by his refusal to bend to the norms expected of an American president and be the calm, nice-talking, noncombative, go-along-to-get-along, talk-and-do-little kind of person. Trump comes in talking tough, cussing, doing what he promised and not rolling over in the face of verbal attacks and baseless efforts to force him from the presidency. He is not politically malleable. Despite all the good he is doing for the country, that refusal to bend has brought him a level of onslaught that I cannot understand how he survives. 

This is a sad state of affairs because, by just about any measure — excluding the high level of pure vitriol — one chooses, America is at a much better place today than three years ago. The scary fact is that the opposition, sometimes reflecting pure hatred of the president, is emotional. In this regard, I had an encouraging conversation with a young black lady a week before the 2020 North Carolina primary. She encouraged me to vote for Mike Bloomberg. I told her that was not going to happen. Then she wanted to know who I was supporting. After a bit of hesitation on my part, I told her I was a Trump supporter. I did not have the time nor the energy to go through the question, given that I am black, of how I could support Trump, which (to many) makes me a sell-out to my race. Then would come the part about me being stupid and a bunch of similar characterizations. Even further, she might pick up on my being Christian, and that would open the door for questioning the genuineness of my faith. 

To my absolute surprise, this young black lady said to me, “I don’t have a problem with Trump. If people would get beyond their emotions and look at what he is doing, they would appreciate him.” 

She went on to list some of the president’s accomplishments. I confessed my surprise, told her how encouraging it was to hear what she said and that she did so with conviction. I thanked her and we parted ways. In my estimation, that young lady understands how to move beyond emotion to the examination of facts. 

A prime example of how emotions and thought manipulation push reasoning aside showed up in the 2016 presidential race. Candidate Trump encouraged black Americans to vote for him. Then he asked the question that reverberated across the length and breadth of America, “What the hell do you have to lose?” 

The outrage from most black Americans, and many others, was deafening. This was seen as an affront, disrespectful and maybe even racist.

 My response was to ask three questions. First, what did Trump mean by I had “nothing to lose?”  It was clear to me that he was saying Democrats have done nothing of substance for blacks in America and, therefore, I put nothing at risk by voting for him.

Secondly, given that understanding of his point, is it true? My position is that Democrats, throughout my life, have done absolutely nothing of substance to help blacks in this country. Consequently, I saw his “nothing to lose” as accurate.

The third question was: Should I disregard his argument because his language was a bit coarse? No, I went right past the coarseness of his language to the truth of the facts supporting his statement and the accuracy of his assessment. Forthrightly, transparently, stating facts and accurately assessing them is not a common practice in American politics. It follows, then, that this kind of conduct by Trump is a turn-off for some people, and it definitely puts him at odds with the American assemblage of so many malleable politicians.

With Trump in office, black Americans have, and are, realizing tremendous gains.

The examples of Trump refusing to follow the rules that govern American political conduct are almost without end. Roger Stone is a Trump supporter who was involved in his 2016 presidential campaign but not officially on the staff. In November 2019, Stone was found guilty on seven counts, including perjury, witness tampering and obstruction. Robert Mueller’s investigation prompted this prosecution. Note that none of these charges were connected to misconduct or criminal actions in connection with the actual premise of the Mueller investigation. All these crimes allegedly happened because of, and in the course of, Mueller’s investigation.

Before Stone’s sentencing, the prosecutors recommended that he serve 7-9 years. Trump spoke out against this recommended sentence, arguing that it was excessive. He also (I think with good reason) pointed to Democrats and FBI personnel whose conduct was similar to that for which Stone was tried, yet no charges have been brought against them. There was tremendous condemnation of the president because he spoke up before the sentencing. Again, this is a case of people disregarding the facts, refusing to do transparent and honest assessing of facts and seeking political advantage while expecting that a president would be quiet in the face of injustice. 

Beyond what has not been done to Democrats and FBI personnel, how what was recommended for Stone compares with sentences for others should be considered. An article by Joe Carter titled, “7 Figures: How long do criminals spend in prison?” states: “By offense type, the median time served was 13.4 years for murder, 2.2 years for violent crimes excluding murder, 17 months for drug trafficking, and 10 months for drug possession.” 

Granted, this speaks to state prisons, while Stone’s offenses were federal. However, even if federal statistics are a bit higher, 7-9 years for what Stone was convicted of is excessive, and that is what the president contended.

There was much more fallout from the Stone case, but the point here is that Trump did not follow the American political norm and keep quiet in the face of injustice. He was not malleable. 

I hope there are more people than I think who follow the approach of that young black lady. Americans who move beyond emotion to examine facts and reach conclusions based on accurately assessing those facts. As she said, for those who oppose Donald Trump based on emotion, this approach might lead to an appreciation of him.

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