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The Spill: The Politics of Debates

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VP Debates: Politics as Usual

The vice presidential debate is much like a presidential debate: It is an opportunity for opposing sides to argue their points and for the American people to have a chance to see where they stand on important issues.  Recently, President Donald Trump and the Democratic Party’s nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, took to the stage to have their discussion. On Oct. 7, Vice President Mike Pence and VP candidate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) met to hold their debate.

One of the most notable differences between the two meetings was atmosphere. In the presidential debates, the president and Biden continuously interrupted each other. During the latter, however, the two candidates at least gave each other opportunities to discuss issues.

One of the main topics was the coronavirus and its effect so far on the American people and economy. She said the Trump administration was “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country” and accused the president of covering up the virus back in January. However, Pence defended Trump, pointing out how the commander in chief restricted travel to and from China in late January.

The VP talked about a COVID vaccine that may be available to the people by the end of the year, and Harris responded with “if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”

Another contentious issue was China trade and fracking. Harris accused Trump of losing the trade war with China and Pence refuted the claim. “Lost the trade war with China? Joe Biden never fought it. Joe Biden has been a cheerleader for communist China over the last several decades. When Joe Biden was vice president, we lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs, and President Obama said they were never coming back.”

On the subject of fracking, Harris declared that “Joe Biden will not end fracking, he has been very clear about that.” But Pence was having none of that, arguing, “You yourself said on multiple occasions when you were running for president that you would ban fracking. Joe Biden looked a supporter in the eye and pointed and said, ‘I guarantee – I guarantee – that we will abolish fossil fuels.’”

And so the night continued, as most debates do, with the opponents contradicting each other while trying to make their own points. Such is the nature of political debates.

The COVID Cooking Renaissance

The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot about how we are used to doing things. Now we are becoming acquainted with online classrooms, wearing masks and social distancing, the temporary closure of movie theaters and other entertainment businesses, and so much more. One of the positive trends to come about from the shutdowns, however, is the quality of food parents are starting to feed their children.

A study from OnePoll – which partnered with Sabra, a New York-based food brand – questioned 2,000 parents of school-aged children. The results showed that seven in ten American parents have been adding more fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options for their young students. This is good news considering that, for several months during the pandemic, processed foods like canned soups, macaroni and cheese, and cold cereals made the top of the grocery list.

The poll also revealed that 73% of caregivers decided to limit the amount of sugar their charges received, and 79% admitted they were stocking their shelves and pantries with other healthy choices.

Parents admitted in the study that they felt guilty for feeding their kids such unhealthy foods during the COVID-19 crisis as a way to provide comfort during rough times. In fact, four in ten of the parents surveyed said they needed to make up for feeding their children so much junk food. “With so many kids learning in a home or hybrid model, parents re concerned about providing a steady stream of healthy meals and snacks,” Jason Levin, Sabra CMO, said in a statement.

 “Many [parents] are seeking to reduce sugar intake and boost plant-based food consumption and stocking up on fruits, nuts and quick, kid-friendly foods like hummus,” Levin continued. Could it be parents want to reduce sugars to curb hyperactivity as well?

In a different survey from the firm Hunter, a food and beverage communication company, questioned 1,000 people. The results showed that more than half (54%) of Americans ranging in age between 18 and 73, said they cooked more meals at home during the pandemic; 43% reported they were baking more often, and 51% said they will continue the new trend for the rest of the year.

Parents are also reconsidering the way they’ve been stocking up on food supplies. According to the study, 79% said they have changed what they stock since spring, before the pandemic closed schools and other businesses. Instead of macaroni and cheese, for instance, parents said they plan to buy their students granola bars (36%), trail mix (34%), hummus (33%), and veggie chips (33%).

Keeping a set structure and schedule for children is important for parents because they have discovered that their kids behave better (53%), are more able to focus on schoolwork (69%), and tend to have better sleep at nights (48%) with a steady routine and good nourishment.

Every Vote Counts – Even From Space

Don’t space out on voting. Election time is near and every vote counts. Campaigns for both sides of the aisle are begging citizens to get out and vote. The 2020 presidential election is one of the most bizarre times in modern history and the nation tries to prepare for a way to vote while practicing social distancing. A much argued way to vote is mail-in ballots, which have many worried about voter fraud. However, the controversies on Earth are not going to keep astronauts from voting from space.

Some 250 miles above Earth, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will be doing her civic duty and casting her choice for president and vice president of the United States. Obviously, there are no polling booths floating around out there, so how is voting in space accomplished?

On Oct. 14, Rubins will fly to the International Space Station to cast her vote via a secure electronic ballot that will be sent to Mission Control once finished. The ballot will then be passed on to the county clerk. It works much the same as an absentee ballot.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said. “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”

This isn’t the first time Rubins or other astronauts have been able to vote from space. The ability to do so began in 1997, and the first American to cast a ballot off Earth was David Wolf while he was aboard the Russian space station Mir. In 2004, Leroy Chiao was the first NASA astronaut to cast a vote in a presidential election, which he did while commanding Expedition 10 aboard the ISS.

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins said. “We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.”

The process takes a while to complete. Depending on when a mission is launched, it could be a full year before launch date to start the procedure. Astronauts select which elections, such as local, state or federal, that they wish to participate in while they are on a mission in space. Six months before the election is to take place, the astronauts are given a Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request – Federal Post Card Application. Their address is not where they live on Earth, but rather “low-Earth orbit.”

Even hundreds of miles away from Earth, astronauts still have the ability to weigh in on and have a say in elections. This presidential year is, perhaps, the most important election in modern history, and the importance of voting has rarely been pushed harder than it is right now.

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