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Pandemic

Tens Of Thousands Threatened With Property Tax Foreclosures In Detroit

March 31 has been designated as the deadline for Wayne County residents to pay back property taxes from 2019 and before despite the failure of the relevant authorities to provide adequate assistance to working and impoverished households. For the last two years, Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree has not foreclosed on properties due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a disproportionate impact on area residents, particularly African Americans who make up approximately 80 percent of the Detroit population. This issue is not a new one in Detroit and Wayne County. Since 2005, there have been tens of thousands of homes and small businesses seized due in part to over assessments which grew out of the mortgage crisis during the first decade of the century.

The Coming Medicaid Purge

Since the start of the pandemic, Medicaid, the federal and state program to provide health insurance to low income Americans, has been far more generous than in the past. Enrollment is higher than ever, at 77.8 million. This isn’t because of some nationwide change of heart in state governments; it’s because states were paid to stop cutting people from their Medicaid rolls. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the first coronavirus relief bill passed in March 2020, states received a 6.2 percent boost in federal Medicaid funding in exchange for halting disenrollments. The usual process of conducting “redeterminations,” in which states redetermine whether a beneficiary’s income levels or other factors still qualify them for Medicaid, has been paused for almost two years.

Profitable Utility Company Shut Off Electricity To Homes During Pandemic

During the early stages of the pandemic, Michigan’s largest power company leaned in to a chance to show its charitable side, helping buy laptops for Detroit’s public school children and publicizing that it would not disconnect the gas and electric service of people who could not pay their bills. DTE Energy said it was on “high alert to help those customers whose lives are being disrupted.” But the relief from the threat of a shut-off ended quickly for DTE’s customers, who pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country. DTE’s moratorium on disconnections lasted just over three months. An analysis by ProPublica and Outlier Media shows the extent to which one of the nation’s poorest cities and other communities across Southeast Michigan have been impacted by electric service disconnections since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Pew Survey: Workers Who Quit A Job In 2021

The COVID-19 Pandemic Set Off Nearly Unprecedented Churn In The U.S. Labor Market. Widespread Job Losses In The Early Months Of The Pandemic Gave Way To Tight Labor Markets In 2021, Driven In Part By What’s Come To Be Known As The Great Resignation. The Nation’s “Quit Rate” Reached A 20-Year High Last November. A New Pew Research Center Survey Finds That Low Pay, A Lack Of Opportunities For Advancement And Feeling Disrespected At Work Are The Top Reasons Why Americans Quit Their Jobs Last Year. The Survey Also Finds That Those Who Quit And Are Now Employed Elsewhere Are More Likely Than Not To Say Their Current Job Has Better Pay, More Opportunities For Advancement And More Work-Life Balance And Flexibility.

Boris’s Garden Party – A More Pressing Issue Than Yemeni Genocide

Over the past several days, the news story that has dominated British news headlines, and consequently, the news headlines of the rest of the Western world, is controversy over a leaked email confirming Boris Johnson’s attendance at a Downing Street garden party in May 2020 – a time when the Summer weather is usually at its peak in Britain, and incidentally, the same time when the entire country was under stringent lockdown measures. In spite of offering an almost immediate apology in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson has faced intense calls to resign from his position from not only the opposition of Keir Starmer’s Labour, Ed Davey’s Liberal Democrats and Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, but also from prominent members of his own Conservative Party such as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

Comparing The COVID-19 Responses In Cuba And The United States

With fundamental differences in health systems structure and organization, as well as in political philosophy and culture, it is not surprising that there are major differences in outcomes. The more coordinated, comprehensive response to COVID-19 in Cuba has resulted in significantly better outcomes compared with the United States. Through July 15, 2021, the US cumulative case rate is more than 4 times higher than Cuba’s, while the death rate and excess death rate are both approximately 12 times higher in the United States. In addition to the large differences in cumulative case and death rates between United States and Cuba, the COVID-19 pandemic has unmasked serious underlying health inequities in the United States.

With Rising COVID-19 Cases, US Bases In Japan Come Under Scrutiny

The United States’ extensive military presence in Japan is coming under strong political scrutiny after a surge in COVID-19 infections. On Saturday, January 8, Japan reported more than 8,000 cases in a single day, the second time since September 2020, compared to just 456 reported on January 1. Local officials and Japanese opposition groups have blamed the US military bases in the country for being largely responsible for the rise in cases. Unlike previous waves that affected major metropolitan cities like Tokyo and Osaka, a significant number of the new infections are being reported from regions that house US troops stationed in Japan. On Saturday, when Japan recorded the highest daily reported numbers in months, the Okinawa prefecture which houses over 70% of all the US military personnel in Japan reported over 1,700 cases.

Inaction On Tax Credit Condemns Millions Of Children To Poverty

Working-class families are faced with an extra burden as the new year begins – the expiration of the expanded child tax credit. The expansion provided support for families struggling during the pandemic by changing some key factors of the already existing credit. Namely, the expansion increased the annual amount per child from $2,000 to between $3,000 and $3,600, it paid the credit in monthly installments rather than in one lump sum, and it expanded the full benefits of the credit to families who previously had been ruled ineligible due to their income being too low.  On the same day that the CTC expansion expired, there were almost 450,000 new COVID cases reported, almost double the number reported at the same time in 2021.

Ending The Pandemic Is Not An ‘Individual Responsibility’

After a year and a half, the ravages of the pandemic show no signs of slowing down. The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly around the globe and is now the dominant version of Covid in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 73 percent of new cases. The U.S. is now averaging over 213,751 new Covid cases per day, which is equal to 85 percent of the number of cases during the peak when the highest daily average was reported on January 7, 2021. While it is still unclear if Omicron causes more severe symptoms than other strains of Covid, it’s clear based on the variant’s high transmissibility1 that the sheer number of infections puts the most vulnerable members of the population at serious risk of illness. In just six weeks there has been a 39 percent increase in Covid-related hospitalizations all over the country, likely from the spreading of both the Delta and Omicron variants.

Richard Wolff: US Capitalism Has Peaked And Is On The Way Down’

For the end of the year, Clearing the FOG speaks with economist Richard Wolff about the current state of United States capitalism. Wolff explains that the United States is experiencing the greatest crisis in its history - a severe economic crisis at the same time as a pandemic, as well as the climate crisis. This is unprecedented. Unlike the great depression in the last century, when the wealth divide shrank, inequality is worsening. On top of that, US empire is in decline. Wolff discusses the current state of inflation and supply chain disruption and the forces behind them. Instead of facing up to these realities and learning from the experiences of other countries, such as China, and even our own past, the ruling class is in denial and continues on the same path that created the current situation. Wolff talks about what we need to focus on going forward.

The Year In Inequality

A year ago we had such high hopes. We expected the Covid vaccine rollout to bring a swift end to the pandemic, opening a window for pushing bold solutions to the long-standing economic, racial, and gender divides that had grown even wider under Covid. Where are we as 2021 comes to a close? These 10 charts highlight major inequality developments of the year, covering some steps back and some important steps forward. The combined wealth of the 745 U.S. billionaires surpassed $5 trillion in 2021, up 70 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness analysis of Forbes data.

The Dangerous Misuse Of ‘Natural Immunity’ Against Covid Vaccination

One particularly pernicious myth going around in the US is the notion that “natural immunity,” gained from contracting Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is preferable to getting vaccinated. One prominent politician, Sen. Rand Paul (R.–Ky.), has declared that he refuses to get vaccinated, because of his belief that he has “natural immunity” since he’s “already had the disease” (Slate, 5/23/21). Now, the Republican Party is officially embracing its position as the anti-vaccine political party, advocating what they call “natural immunity” as an alternative or substitute to getting vaccinated, as the Associated Press (11/21/21) reported: Republicans fighting President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandates are wielding a new weapon against the White House rules: natural immunity.

Most American Homeowners Are ‘House Poor’

In a recent survey, 40% of homeowners with mortgages said they work second, full-time jobs to afford housing expenses. A majority of the 1,002 people surveyed by Consumer Affairs feel like they can't afford their housing expenses, and did not anticipate the extra costs of upkeep when they bought their homes. The report comes amid record surges in US home prices, also finding that more than a third of respondents are incurring extra credit card debt to pay their bills. Despite these challenges, homeowners ultimately prefer owning a home to renting one. The survey found that although 40% of people rely on second, full-time jobs to ease the costs of homeownership, nearly 100% of "house poor" homeowners have taken on side gigs to offset home costs.

Barbados: The Long Road To The Republic

On November 30, 2021, on the 55th anniversary of its political independence, Barbados will become a republic. It is commonly assumed this was some sudden decision by Mia Mottley’s government. The most bizarre suggestion came from British voices, who asserted this had to do with Barbados tilting to China. But the roots of this change go back decades, and are anchored in the politics of the wider Caribbean. Forbes Burnham’s decision in 1970 to proclaim the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, and Eric Williams’s push towards the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 1976, are the key precedents. Both were underpinned by the politics of what I have called ‘secondary decolonization’, for which, in the long 1970s, the global Black Power moment was central.

WHO Stands With African Nations And Calls For Borders To Remain Open

As a growing number of countries impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new Omicron variant, World Health Organization (WHO) urges countries to follow science and the International Health Regulations (2005). Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations. This week, nations will be joining a special session of the World Health Assembly, organized by WHO to discuss how to collectively prepare and respond better to pandemics, building on their commitments to the International Health Regulations.
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