Farmers in India protest over new bills as a new lawsuit by the US government is trying to break Facebook up

Rajya Sabha on India Today

The Parliament of India passed three bills to reform the agriculture sector but the farmers are protesting against them. The US government is trying to break Facebook up in a groundbreaking lawsuit. American Youtuber Logan Paul to fight one of the greatest boxers of all time, Floyd Mayweather. FDA approves Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in the USA. Carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 7% due to the Pandemic. Here are this week's top stories.

1. Farmers in India protest over new bills

Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

Tens of thousands of farmers are protesting in India over new rules that were made with the intention to benefit farmers. The Parliament of India passed three agricultural bills referred to as the Indian farm reforms 2020 in September 2020. They include the 1. Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2. Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and 3. Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. Currently, farmers have three ways of selling their products. They can sell at local markets, sell to the government at minimum support price (MSP), or they can sell at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC). Local markets are where the consumer directly buys from the farmer. In MSP, farmers can directly sell their products to the government at a minimum support price. In APMC, licensed traders purchase products from farmers, and then the trader sells to retailers and whole sellers. This does not let farmers sell directly to the retailers, causing licensed traders to take a huge chunk of profit. The first act, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, will allow farmers to directly sell to retailers and whole sellers which should increase the money the farmer makes. They can set up their own trading halls that are apart from APMC. The second act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, allows contract farming. Farmers will be able to sign agreements on the price beforehand with corporates. The third act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, will remove some items like cereals, pulses, potatoes, and edible oils from The Essential Commodities bill which was passed in 1995. That bill set limits on the storage of items to prevent hoarding. These three bills are leading India’s agriculture sector towards free trade and in all likelihood should benefit the farmers but farmers and some state governments are protesting against these bills. When farmers set up their own trading hall with the retailers, they don’t have to pay state taxes and many state governments do not want to lose that money. Punjab alone made over $500 million from that tax last year. Leaders from the Farmers’ side worry that APMC will die out due to lack of popularity and then corporates will start the exploitation of small scale farmers. They want the government to confirm that MSP and APMC will be always available. As of now, the government and the farmers are negotiating with each other, which is causing a lot of friction, but I am hopeful they will reach a mutual agreement. Once that happens, this should lead to much-needed deregulation in the highly regulated agriculture sector, which should lead to raise in farmers’ income and at the same time benefit the end customer by removing in between traders. Additionally, this should also lead to improvements in the overall storage capacity which will reduce large-scale food wastage.

2. The US government is trying to break Facebook up in a groundbreaking lawsuit

Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp

The Federal government and many states sued Facebook on Wednesday for dominating the social media market and eliminating competition. This is going to be a tough challenge for Facebook and it could potentially lead to Facebook breaking up into multiple companies. The social media giant is being accused of abusing its dominance and engaging in anti-competitive behavior. The government and regulators are trying to break it up into 3 parts, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram. Facebook bought Instagram back in 2012 for $1 billion to eliminate competition. The company also bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 so they could expand their userbase and collect more data. Currently, Facebook and all its apps have a combined userbase of over 3 billion users. Mark Zuckerberg is fighting back and saying that the government allowed the company to get this big and there is no do-over. They are also arguing that people are choosing them not because they have to, but because they want to. Furthermore, they are arguing that if the company gets broken up, it will fall behind social media giants like WeChat giving China an advantage. “We compete hard and we compete fairly, I’m proud of that,” Zuckerberg said in an internal memo to employees soon after the lawsuit was announced. Many experts are also warning that breaking up Facebook won’t help. Instead, we need to change structural reform of the economy itself which involves two things, interoperability, and data portability. Interoperability will allow social media users to post and share content between different social networks without problems. Data portability would allow users to easily transfer their data between two social media platforms. This would allow many social media platforms to run on different interfaces but they all can show the same contact.

3. American Youtuber Logan Paul to fight one of the greatest boxers of all time Floyd Mayweather

Retired boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., the undefeated boxer with 50 wins, a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics, 15 major boxing world titles, and three U.S. Golden Gloves championships, will fight YouTuber and part-time boxer Logan Paul, who has fought two matches with one draw and one loss by split decision. They both had a dispute on Twitter and decided to settle it in the ring. Although this might seem like a joke, they are actually pretty evenly matched. Floyd Mayweather will be 44 at the time of the fight while Logan Paul will be 25, 17 years younger. Logan is 6' 2" (188cm) while Mayweather is 5' 8" (173 cm). Mayweather is only 150lb (68kg) while Logan is 200lb (90 kg). Physically, Logan Paul is in better shape than Floyd Mayweather but Mayweather has a lot more experience. Most people are predicting that Mayweather will win but it’s not impossible for Logan to win. The fight will be pay-per-view. It currently costs $24.99 but that price will rise all the way to $69.99 as the fight approaches. According to rumors, Mayweather is getting paid $5 million upfront and 50% of all sales. Logan is only getting paid $200k and 5% of all sales. I don't think Logan Paul is doing it for the money. He currently has no financial problems and this opportunity is too big to pass on.

4. FDA approves Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine

The FDA finally approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine as the US reports over 250,000 cases and 3,000 deaths a day. The first 3 million doses are to be shipped to every state and vaccinations will start on Monday. Chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed and U.S. Army General Gus Perna says that 636 sites will receive doses of the vaccine on Monday and an additional 425 sites on Tuesday. Vaccine doses will be stored in Pfizer’s specially built deep-freeze suitcases and will be shipped via FedEx and UPS. This is a big win for Pfizer and its ts German partner BioNTech. Vaccines usually take years, if not decades, to develop but they were able to do it in under a year. The US government is trying its best to convince people to take the vaccine and they also plan to have the vaccine available to everyone by spring. Health workers will most likely receive the vaccine first and then seniors will receive it second. About 20 million people will receive the first dose of the vaccine in December and an additional 100 million doses will be available by March.

5. Carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 7% due to the Pandemic

Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

The lockdowns caused by the Coronavirus helped the world cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 7%, the biggest drop ever recorded. We put over 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the air in 2020, which is down from 40 billion tons in 2019. The main cause of this drop was the lockdowns. People weren't traveling or going to work which helped cut emissions. Emissions dropped 12% in the United States and 11% in Europe, but only 1.7% in China. China’s data shows that it had a very small first wave and the virus didn't impact the country that much. Even with this big of a drop in carbon dioxide emissions, 2020 was still the third hottest year on record behind 2016 and 2019. Emissions are expected to rise dramatically in 2021, but many believe that 2019 might have been the peak of carbon dioxide emissions. For the past couple of decades, carbon dioxide emissions usually rise by about 3% year over year but emissions only increased by 0.1% from 2018 to 2019. The pandemic is expected to have long-lasting effects on how we work and travel, and hopefully, this will help us with our fight against climate change.

Above were my top stories for the week ending December 13, 2020, hope you liked them. Please leave your feedback or point of view in the form of a comment.

Thanks, see you next week!

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Lakshya Jain

Lakshya Jain

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I share unique stories that are not widely reported in the media. Veritas! Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com