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If poverty is a moral issue, then the United States is bankrupt

The federal poverty line struggles to capture the economic hardship that half of Americans face.

 by Sonali Kolhatkar and Independent Media Institute

Newspaper headlines are warning of rising inflation and the possibility that voters will respond to it by punishing Democrats in the midterm elections this fall. But there are few, if any, headlines about the enormous numbers of Americans who are low-income and poor—a travesty in one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

The problem of poverty is marked by several factors, the first of which is a deeply flawed government indicator of who qualifies as poor. Measured by the federal poverty line, about 37 million Americans live below the poverty line—that’s about 11 percent of the population.

But this leaves out many millions more Americans who live one emergency expense away from poverty. The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC): A National Call for Moral Revival relies on economic calculations showing that 140 million Americans—which is more than 40 percent of the population—are poor or low-income.

The second factor is mainstream media coverage that routinely skews in favor of wealthy elites by downplaying the extent of poverty. For example, when President Joe Biden cited the PPC’s estimate in an address in June 2019, the Washington Post engaged in a lengthy fact-checking investigation, interviewing numerous analysts who nitpicked over the difference between “poor” and “low-income” people, saying, “The two terms sound alike, but they describe different economic conditions.”

A third obstacle is corporate greed and how wealthy elites are vacuuming up every dollar they can into their own pockets, taking advantage of an economic system they helped to build in order to benefit themselves. For example, the investment giant Morgan Stanley released a report recently complaining about how rising wages were eating into corporate profits.

But of course, any wage increases are dampened by inflation rates rising much faster. This is a decades-long trend, not a new phenomenon, as any honest economist would explain.

But now that inflation is rising faster than it was before, media pundits and news outlets suggest that the fault lies with Americans earning higher wages and spending too much money.

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Afghan Central Bank Call US Theft of $7 BILLION ‘Injustice to People of Afghanistan’

“The real owners of these reserves are people of Afghanistan,” the bank declared in response to the seizure of over $7 billion by the US government.

BY JON QUEALLY

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The central bank of Afghanistan pushed back firmly Saturday against an executive order issued a day earlier by US President Joe Biden to seize over $7 billion in foreign exchange assets—a move that humanitarians have denounced as unbelievably cruel given the suffering of the Afghan people as its economy and healthcare systems teeter on the brink of collapse with millions facing starvation and freezing winter temperatures.

In a statement posted online, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) rejected the White House’s claim that the seizure of billions in Foreign Exchange Reserves (FX) was done in the name of humanitarian assistance, instead calling it an “injustice to the people of Afghanistan.”

The DAB said it “will never accept if the FX reserves of Afghanistan is paid under the name of compensation or humanitarian assistance to others” and demanded the reversal of Biden’s decision and that all seized funds be returned. “The real owners of these reserves are people of Afghanistan,” said the bank.

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The Pandemic Shows Why We Need Universal Health Care

Why does the richest country in the world have the most Covid deaths? A primary reason is that the United States does not have a free, universal health care system.

By Abdullah Shihipar

People waiting in a long line for covid test in Los Angeles

People wait in long lines at a Covid-19 testing center within the Lincoln Park Recreation Center, Los Angeles, California. (Xinhua/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The United States has just passed a grim milestone of 800,000 official deaths from Covid-19, more than in any other country, with the actual death toll likely much higher. As the nation has faced over 100 days in which more than 1,000 people have died and now faces the prospect of a more infectious variant that may weaken vaccine efficacy, it must be asked: How exactly did the richest country in the world get here? There are a number of reasons, but the primary one is that the United States does not have a free, universal health care system. The lack of a national health insurance program affects everything from vaccine hesitancy to the ability to get a test to how we manage the virus going forward.

In the US, we are so accustomed to paying out of pocket for essential health care that when it is provided for free, it is a foreign concept. A significant barrier to vaccination is that some people think they will be charged for it. That could be one of the reasons uninsured people are among those with the lowest rates of vaccination, with 56 percent reporting having received one dose in the latest survey conducted by Kaiser Health News, a lower percentage than Republicans and white evangelicals. The fear of having to pay for a service that is being offered for free isn’t irrational; thanks to loopholes in federal regulations, some people have ended up being mistakenly charged for the vaccine. This has also been the case with testing. While many cities offer free PCR testing, it is not universally free. A number of people have received massive bills after being tested at privately run labs. Pre-pandemic, a study found that 22 percent of Americans delay health care needs because of costs; they might avoid testing and vaccines for the same reason.

Cost and lack of access erode trust. In the US, while trust in the medical establishment is low, the trust individuals have in their primary care physicians is high. A CDC survey of unvaccinated adults from the summer showed that those who were unsure or were never going to get the vaccine reported that their primary care providers were their most trusted source of information. But the share of Americans with primary care physicians has been declining in recent years, and the US spends a lot less on primary care than other countries. Indeed, a significant number of Americans get their health care from the emergency room; one study found that nearly 50 percent of medical care sought at hospitals was emergency-room care.

All of this matters not just for vaccine uptake but for how we manage Covid in the future. There has been a lot of progress in the development of antiviral therapeutics that reduce the risk of hospitalization after infection; Pfizer and Merck have put out promising drugs. But for these drugs to be effective, treatment must begin soon after a person is infected, which means patients need early access to testing and a doctor who can prescribe them. For immunocompromised patients, the FDA has approved a routine antibody treatment from AstraZeneca, but once again cost and access are critical issues. That means that even after Covid has become endemic, we will likely continue to see disparities in disease and death along racial and socioeconomic lines.

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Cut US Military Aid to Israel

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May 27, 2021 

Since the Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire began this week, the Biden administration’s refrain has been that Israelis and Palestinians should have “equal measures of security, peace, and dignity,” but not a word about equal rights.

The administration’s silence on Palestinian rights is an affirmation of the Israel’s apartheid policies, which deny Palestinians equal citizenship, restrict their movement, and dispossess them of their homes and land.

We demand that the U.S. cease all military aid to Israel until it respects the human rights of Palestinians. The cutoff of US military aid to Israel is the leading demand on the U.S. of the Palestinian National BDS Committee, which has broad support in Palestinian civil society.

Biden’s Unconditional Support for Israel

The cease fire came despite the Biden administration, not because of it. Biden’s UN Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, gave Israel the greenlight to continue bombing Gaza three times by repeatedly blocking UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire. 

Biden’s unconditional support for Israel’s expansionist colonial policies was underscored in the first weeks of his administration by his decision to affirm Trump’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli-occupied territory of Jerusalem prior to a negotiated solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict. 

Biden’s unconditional support for Israeli policies was reaffirmed when he approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel in the middle of the recent Israeli/Gaza war.

Israeli Repression Continues Despite Ceasefire

The ceasefire came as we approached the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police, an event that sparked the global Black Lives Matter uprising against police brutality. Now the world is outraged by Israel’s militarized policing of Palestinians.

Even as the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza was beginning, militarized Israeli police continued to wage a campaign of fear and intimidation against Palestinians inside Israel’s own borders. 

Israeli authorities continue the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, one of the precipitating causes of the Israel/Gaza war. At Friday prayers last week, Israeli security forces again used stun grenades and rubber bullets against Palestinian worshippers outside the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem where earlier attacks on worshippers helped provoke the war.

Israeli security is now making mass arrests of Palestinians in Israel who took part in protests and defended their neighbourhoods from assaults by right-wing Israelis. Israeli Arabs face new police checkpoints and spying by plain clothes cops, while police stand by and allow racist anti-Arab gangs of Israelis to assault Palestinians. Israeli police have used violence and nighttime raids against Palestinians in mixed cities like Haifa, Jaffa, and Lod, where there has been unprecedented inter-ethnic violence between Israeli Jews and Arabs in recent weeks.

Solidarity

What is striking about Palestinian resistance in this recent conflict is the degree of solidarity among Palestinians across Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank. In protest against the Israeli campaign in Gaza, Palestinians staged a broadly-supported general strike on May 18 across Israel and the occupied territories. The Israel Builders Association said that only 150 of the 65,000 Palestinian construction workers showed up for work. 

In the United States we must demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for human rights by demanding an end to U.S. taxpayer-funded aid to the Israeli military. Since World War Two, Israel has been the largest overall recipient of US foreign aid. In 2016 President Obama signed a $38 billion 10-year military aid package. U.S. tax dollars are helping Israel to develop one of the most advanced militaries in the world and to purchase sophisticated military equipment from the United States.

We urge participation in the National March for Palestine in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, May 29, from 3:00 to 8:00 pm. The march is called by a broad coalition of pro-Palestinian organizations who are have initiated a new campagin to #SanctionIsrael.

[Source]

The Threat from Within: Inside the Right-wing Extremism Lurking in the US Military

Nan Levinson

The threat from within: Inside the right-wing extremism lurking in the US military

www.rawstory.com

It was around noon and I was texting a friend about who-knows-what when I added, almost as an afterthought: “tho they seem to be invading the Capitol at the mo.” I wasn’t faintly as blasé as that may sound on January 6th, especially when it became ever clearer who “they” were and what they were doing. Five people would die due to that assault on the Capitol building, including a police officer, and two more would commit suicide in the wake of the event. One hundred forty police would be wounded (lost eye, heart attack, cracked ribs, smashed spinal disks, concussions) and the collateral damage would be hard even to tote up.

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PETITION: Make January 6th “American Democracy Day”

January 6, 2021 was a horrible day in America.

Donald Trump tried to overthrow the democratic process, using fringe citizens, militias, and other rioters.

The day was partially an attempt to take the spotlight away from the then President-Elect, Joseph Biden, and his VP pick, Kamala Harris.

An official day to celebrate democracy, electoral voting, candidate choice, and presidential verification would remind us that January 6th is not to be remembered as a day of riots, insurrection, and lawlessness.

Instead, January 6th will annually be a day of celebrating democracy and the process for which we pick our laws and leaders.

Petition · Kamala Harris: Make January 6th “American Democracy Day” · Change.org

Fascist violence and the form of the state

By Sam Marcy posted on January 14, 2021

[T]he spread of fascist organizations takes place in a vastly different, if not wholly new, social, political and economic situation. The entire social environment in which the spread of this evil disease takes place imparts to it a significance which far surpasses the numerical strength of these organizations. It is this which adds a really new dimension to the perilous growth of this virulent disease.

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Trump coup attempt: U.S. war comes home

By Sara Flounders posted on January 14, 2021

A caustic commentary on U.S. policy that circulated on social media worldwide within 24 hours of the Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol was: “Due to travel restrictions this year, the U.S. had to organize the coup at home.”

A domestic coup on the U.S. government was indeed attempted Jan. 6 — using the false claim that the November presidential election had been “stolen” from Republican President Donald Trump. This claim was so far from reality, even in a bourgeois framework, that judges rejected it as a challenge 60 times, including twice in the Supreme Court.

Venezuelans protest aggressive U.S. interference in their country’s democratic institutions in September 2019. The red-capped person under the flag is holding a copy of Venezuela’s Constitution.

Since he could not win legally, Trump rallied an uprising of extralegal and paramilitary, white-supremacist neo-fascist troops tied into a network of far-right legislators, government officials, police, military veterans and reportedly active military, as well as business owners. These insurrectionists attacked the Capitol building at the moment that the U.S. Congress, sitting in joint session, was beginning to certify Democratic President-elect Joe Biden as winner of the election.

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Jan. 6 exposes two faces of U.S. ‘democracy’

By Monica Moorehead posted on January 12, 2021

What occurred on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol was shocking but not surprising.  

What was shocking was the sight of thousands in a majority white, neofascist terrorist mob — with no masks and no social distancing — overrunning the supposedly high security sanctuary of the offices of U.S. Congresspeople, claiming that the Nov. 3 election was stolen.  

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Unpacking the Insurrection

via People for the American Way

Unpacking the Insurrection – YouTube

To Repair Our Country After Violent Insurrection, We Must Fight White Supremacy

Bettina Ramon | January 14, 2021

Just two weeks ago, many of us celebrated the new year – and the end of an especially devastating one – with a renewed sense of optimism that perhaps the worst of the Trump presidency was behind us.

That hope came to a screeching halt on January 6 when a violent, insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Many forces at work perpetuated and exacerbated the disturbing events that unfolded that day, and immediate and decisive efforts to hold Trump legally accountable have already begun:

  • On January 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump a second time for inciting insurrection, an effort People For fully supported.
  • In addition to Trump’s impeachment, we have also called for the resignation of every senator and House member who voted to reject certification of the Electoral College results, and censure for Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Josh Hawley, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise.
  • In addition, we believe the Justice Department should undertake an investigation into Trump’s potential criminality in inciting the riots, as well as potential criminality of the actions of Trump cronies and rally participants, including Rudy Giuliani, Mike Flynn, Peter Navarro, and Rep. Mo Brooks.
  • And we have called for a full investigation of the law enforcement response for fraternizing with rioters and potentially even facilitating the violent attack, and for the stark disparity in their response to the pro-Trump mob and their history of needlessly aggressive policing tactics at Black Lives Matter protests, during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, and other events.

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