By Julian Brave NoiseCat for The Guardian. North Dakota – Just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, water protectors set their makeshift and traditional structures ablaze in a final act of prayer and defiance against Energy Transfer Partner’s Dakota Access Pipeline, sending columns of black smoke billowing into the winter sky above the Oceti Sakowin protest camp. The majority of the few hundred remaining protesters marched out, arm in arm ahead of the North Dakota authorities’ Wednesday eviction deadline. An estimated one hundred others refused the state’s order, choosing to remain in camp and face certain arrest in order to defend land and water promised to the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation, in the long-broken Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.
By Marissa Higgins for The Establishment – Recognizing this potential, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced trial programs in seven states that will allow recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs to order their groceries from participating vendors online, including FreshDirect, Amazon, and smaller local vendors. The delivery program is being piloted in Maryland, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington this summer. If implemented nationwide, it could benefit the one in seven Americans who receive SNAP, including those who are disabled, elderly, and living in food deserts where access to brick-and-mortar shops is limited.
By Chris Kanthan for Nation of Change. If we want to create a vibrant middle class, we have to abandon slogans and simplistic solutions and understand the bigger picture. There is no doubt that majority of Americans have gotten poorer over the last few decades even while the top 10% or so have done extremely well. In a world of slogans and minuscule attention span, the media and the pundits either completely deny this fact or justify it by focusing on advancements in technology or turn it into a partisan blame game. The reality is that multiple developments contributed to this decline of prosperity, much of it due to deliberate but gradual social and financial engineering. Without assigning ranking or weight, here is a look at twelve major reasons why Americans became poor.
By Paul Kirk Haeder for Dissident Voice. Constitutional checks and balances were put in place to prevent citizens from succumbing to undue and unfair prosecution, and the courts have upheld many times the right of individuals who have served their time in prison to move on, move ahead. However, times have changed, and there has been a huge push to privatize prisons, and to place filing fees, court costs and even the daily maintenance, upkeep and staffing of these halls of justice on the financial backs of the accused. It’s sometimes called a punishment society, and on top of that, when we start looking at African-Americans and Latinos in this snapshot of Mass Incarceration, we have the respective stats – black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, and Latinos 2.5 times more. The cost of their crimes also increases with the color of their skin.
By Whet Moser for Chicago Magazine – Inger Burnett-Zeigler, a psychologist and professor at Northwestern’s medical school, went to a community-based health clinic on the South Side as part of a study to bring mental-health treatments grounded in mindfulness to the patients there: simple meditation and yoga, body visualizations, and talking about stress and how it manifests in the body. “It’s really getting people to understand the connection between mind and body, empowering people with the tools that they need in order to, as I describe, respond versus react to stressful situations,” Burnett-Zeigler says. It’s something a lot of people are trying right now in communities with lots of stressors…
By Greg Kaufmann for Talk Poverty – About a month ago, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at Harvard with a group of about 20 scholars and reporters. Many of them have worked for decades examining poverty-related issues—from hiring discrimination to segregation in housing and education, criminal justice reform to immigration, deep poverty to homelessness. I was nervous about the trip.
By Bob Hennelly for Salon – Just like their Republican counterparts in Cleveland, the delegates to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia will be sequestered far away from the daily misery and despair that’s the experience of their host city’s extreme poor. This growing cohort of folks are overwhelmingly people of color and include tens of thousands of children who find themselves living in neighborhoods in the “City of Brotherly Love” pock marked with 40,000 vacant lots and zombie homes.
By Ann Garrison for Counterpunch. It was a struggle but we were adamant and told the ACLU over and over again for 48 hours that we would not change our permit request, and we have won the right to march on the south side of city hall at 3:00 o’clock, going all the way up Broad Street to the front door of the Democratic National Convention. And so we’re hoping that anybody that was afraid before will turn out in droves and join us. Our march has turned into a real symbol of the fight for political independence from the two corporate controlled parties. And I think we’re gonna look back and see this as an important historical marker. It’s really important that people understand that our march begins at 3:00 on the south side of city hall, because the Democratic Party is going to stop at absolutely nothing to make sure that the voices of poor and other front line communities are not heard in the Democratic National Convention.
By Ashish Kothari for Local Futures for Economics of Happiness – In India, economic development and modernity have transformed livelihoods into deadlihoods. They are wiping out millennia-old livelihoods that were ways of life with no sharp division between work and leisure, and replacing them with dreary assembly line jobs where we wait desperately for weekends and holidays. Economic progress, we are told, is about moving from primary sector jobs to manufacturing and services. And so the livelihoods that keep all of us alive – farming, forestry, pastoralism, fisheries, and related crafts – are considered backward.
By Sputnik News. Last week, Bill Gates, listed as the world’s richest person, with a net worth in excess of some $79.4 billion, turned heads when he proposed that those living on less than $2 per day should invest in chickens, fancying that he could heroically survive such an austere life of extreme poverty. In a piece titled, “Why I Would Raise Chickens,” the tech magnate, who earns more per year in interest alone than the poorest 45 countries in the world, lectured humanity’s most economically-depressed on surviving hardship. Wealthy American liberals heaped praise on the mega-billionaire for his humanitarian mission, without asking how people living in extreme poverty, in societies with endemic corruption and a constant threat of violence, would feed their flock.
By LaDonna Pavetti for CBPP – In their poverty plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues placed great stock in the ability of work requirements to reduce poverty. But, as we’ve explained, an array of rigorous evaluations show that work requirements don’t do that. Instead, the research shows: Employment increases among cash assistance recipients subject to work requirements were modest and faded over time. Employment among recipients subject to work requirements rose significantly in the first two years of programs that mandated participation in work-related activities…
By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – Matthew Desmond’s book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” like Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed,” is a heartbreaking snapshot of the rapacious exploitation and misery we inflict on the most vulnerable, especially children. It is a picture of a world where industries have been created to fleece the poor, and destroy neighborhoods and ultimately lives. It portrays a judicial system that has broken down, a dysfunctional social service system and the license in neoliberal America to carry out unchecked greed, no matter what the cost.
By Joy First for National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance. As we prepared for trial, we knew that Judge Gardner has jailed activists found guilty in the past, and so we knew we must be prepared for jail time. We also knew that the government prosecutor had not responded to our latest motions, and so we wondered if that was a sign that they were not ready to proceed with atrial. With this uncertainty in mind,for the first time ever I got a one-way ticket to DC, and it was with great sadness that I said goodbye to my family. And what was my offense that brought me there? On the day of Obama’s last State of the Union address, January 12, 2016, I joined 12 others as we exercised our First Amendment rights attempting to deliver a petition to President Obama in an action organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. We suspected that Obama would not tell us what was really going on, and so our petition outlined what we believed to be the real state of the union along with remedies to create a world we all would want to live in. The letter outlined our concerns regarding war, poverty, racism, and the climate crisis. As about 40 concerned citizen activists walked toward the US Capitol on January 12, we saw the Capitol Police were already there and waiting for us.