- 20%: The percentage of children under 14 years of age who regularly take melatonin supplements
- 32%: The percentage of Americans earning at least $150,000 a year that are currently living paycheck to paycheck
- 79%: The percentage of Americans who support implementing an age limit for elected officials
- 70,000: The number of migrants Texas Governor Abbott has transported to sanctuary cities
- 3.5 Billion: The number of times the app TikTok has been downloaded
- 26.1 Billion: The number of Spotify streams Taylor Swift received, making her this year’s most-streamed artist
The Hopefuls and the Helpfuls
One of the keys to running a successful presidential campaign is having the endorsement of other leaders who bring their own strong backing… especially in the early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
While popular New Hampshire Government Chris Sununu has not yet picked a specific candidate to support, he’s helping several as they set their sights on former President Trump’s lead. He teamed up with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to hold a town hall in Hooksett. He will join former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at an upcoming town hall in Nashua. He’s also scheduled to support Florida Governor DeSantis for an event in Manchester.
In Iowa, the Chief Executive’s choice has already been made. In November, Governor Kim Reynolds endorsed DeSantis and accompanied him during several events on his trail throughout the state and is now featured in some of his TV ads. Reynolds was a Trump ally when he held the White House, but stated it’s time for the country to move forward. It’s uncommon – but not unprecedented – for an Iowa elected to endorse a candidate before the primary election. In 1996, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley endorsed U.S. Sen. Bob Dole for president, and in 2016, then-Governor Terry Branstad encouraged Iowans to vote for anyone but U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (ethanol anyone?).
South Carolina’s own Nikki Haley has an uphill battle against Trump, but there’s still a path to victory: so long as she can secure her home state. Trump still leads South Carolina by a 30-point lead, but she sits in second place. One important thing to note is that South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster already endorsed President Trump… A year ago.
The U.S. Mourns Rosalynn Carter
After former President Jimmy Carter’s first date with then-17-year-old Rosalynn Carter, he told his mother “She’s the girl I want to marry.” The two would go on to make history in their 77-year-long marriage. From dressmaker to housewife to business manager to First Lady to humanitarian activist, Rosalynn Carter held many roles supporting her family. When her husband entered politics in 1962 by winning a seat in the Georgia Senate, she played a critical role in his successful bid for Georgia’s governorship and his following presidential campaign.
Mrs. Carter brought mental health awareness to the forefront of the Oval Office and served as the Honorary Chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. She also focused national attention on the importance of the performing arts, inviting classical artists worldwide to the White House. She supported her husband as he led the country, managing routine duties, attending cabinet meetings and major briefings, and serving as the President’s personal liaison to Latin American countries.
Her funeral brought many together to mourn her passing, including four other First Ladies, Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, and Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Carter’s legacy lives on through her family, including 99-year-old Jimmy Carter who lives in hospice care, her four children, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
The TSA Soars High over Holiday Weekend
The era of virtual holidays brought on by COVID-19 is over – and the record-high travel last weekend proved it. Nearly 3 million passengers were screened by the Transportation Security Administration on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, a new record high for U.S. air travel. Despite a winter storm that traversed the country, flights largely arrived without surprise cancellations, an on-time departure from the most recent status quo.
Air travel logistics over the past few years have been somewhat of a nightmare, with American Airlines cancelling flights, Southwest’s data connection issues that halted departures, and understaffed planes and ports. It’s a blessing for travelers, who had to endure last year’s weeklong stretch of cancellations around the holidays. It looks as though the airline industry finally has wind beneath its wings, as 2023 received the accolade of the lowest rate of flight cancellations over the past five years.
Americans Facing Suicide Epidemic
America is no stranger to modern crises; the mental health crisis the country is facing is at its greatest point since 1941. Suicides were record-high in 2022, with nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. losing their lives to it. Men 75 and older experienced the highest suicide rate in the U.S., doubling the rates of people 15-24. Studies show women more consistently experience suicidal thoughts, but men are four times more likely to end their own lives than female counterparts.
There’s no single issue to blame on the epidemic, but a shortage of healthcare workers, mental distress caused by COVID-19 and little access to care to resolve it, increasingly toxic drugs, and broad firearm access (used in more than half) all have a hand to play. While experts agreed there would be long-term ramifications of the pandemic, an aggressive push to remedy the causes of suicide spikes has not yet been implemented.
There’s likely not an easy fix to help every community. Roughly 50% of the American public does not live near a mental-health professional and the U.S. would need an additional 8,500 more professionals to fill the gap. American Indians and Native Alaskans endure suicide rates double that of other Americans as well.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is subsiding, there’s never been a better time to check in with loved ones and care for yourself and others. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, or contemplating suicide, please dial 988 to be connected to the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Trading a Well-Oiled Machine for America the Beautiful?
America’s public lands are one of its greatest resources – including the vast array of materials that can be mined, extracted, and grazed. While oil and gas development has been one of the premier objectives for these lands that comprise nearly one-tenth of U.S. land, the Biden Administration is changing the tone. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now placing a stronger emphasis on conservation of public lands alongside broader clean energy adoption.
Environmentalists are on-board: they argue that by safeguarding public lands from the dual threat of climate change and fossil fuel extraction, critical ecosystems will be protected. Opponents fear the dramatic shift’s impact on domestic drilling and mining operations – a long-time priority of federal land use. Wyoming is particularly upset by the news since the state produces almost 10% of the nation’s fossil fuel supply. Governor Mark Gordon claimed the move is being imposed by “colonial forces of national environmental groups.”
BLM has already reduced solar and wind project fees on federal lands by 80%, raised the minimum royalty rate paid to the government from oil and gas production, and implemented the pro-conservation Public Lands Rule.
Swift Secures Spotify Summit
Every winter, a much-awaited gift arrives to Spotify users everywhere: Spotify Wrapped. All over social media, Spotify aficionados display their top 5 songs and artists, their most-listened to tunes, and the number of minutes they spent on the app that year. Since its inception in 2016, Spotify Wrapped has been widely used and praised as a creative way to show users’ yearly statistics for their listening habits. The app includes new statistics every year, from “listening personalities” to the percentage of top listeners for an artist.
120 million Spotify users accessed their Spotify Wrapped in 2021, which has increased exponentially from past years and continues growing in popularity. The concept behind Spotify Wrapped has been so successful that companies everywhere make their own versions, from its biggest competitor – Apple Music’s Replay – to completely different platforms, such as the Washington Post’s Newsprint.
Spotify Wrapped also reveals the year’s top artists, songs, albums, and podcasts. Taylor Swift tops global charts this year with over 26.1 billion streams, a massively successful tour, and recent billionaire status. Following in second and third place were bands Bad Bunny and The Weeknd.
The 38th Parallel Quivers
North and South Korea, divided by far more than a demilitarized zone, ended a 5-year long agreement that reduced their mutual risk over potential conflicts between them. The decision came as North Korea, led by dictatorial Kim Jong Un, continues missile testing and recently announced it launched its first orbital spy satellite this week. North Korea’s Defense Ministry released its intent to resume all military activities it had previously halted to remain in compliance of the agreement. South Korea will pick up its aerial surveillance of the border between the countries as well.
Although North Korea had been notorious for violating components of the former agreement, it provided protections against incidental encounters between the militaries. Now, live-fire drills, maritime expansion, and new troop deployments put the two countries in a heightened state of awareness. The election of the new, more hawkish South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has brought a new policy to respond more aggressively to North Korean provocations.
The geopolitics are delicate, to say the least, as South Korea allies itself with the United States and Japan, whereas North Korea is strengthening its ties to militaristic Russia and economic powerhouse China. Allied parties on both sides are hoping cooler heads will prevail, as Russia commits its resources to its offensive in Ukraine, and China and the United States stand on a new economic footing with a brighter tone.
See you next week!