Newsletter - People Act Where US Fails On Climate

Protesters march during a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on March 10, 2017 in Washington D.C. Thousands of protesters and members of Native nations marched in Washington D.C. to oppose the construction of the proposed 1,172 Dakota Access Pipeline that runs within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. 
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The climate crisis is upon us. It seems that every report on climate conditions has one thing in common: things are worse than predicted. The World Meteorological Report from the end of October shows that Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) are rising at a rapid rate and have passed 400 parts per million. According to Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “the changes we’re making today are occurring in 100 years, whereas in nature they occur in 10,000 years.” The United States is experiencing a wide range of climate impacts from major hurricanes in the South to unprecedented numbers of wildfires in the West to crop-destroying drought in the Mid-West.

World Poverty Increasing With Urbanization

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By Manipadma Jena for Toward Freedom – (IPS) – Rapid urbanization is increasingly shifting the impacts of malnutrition from rural to urban areas. One in three stunted under-five children out of 155 million across the world now lives in cities and towns. Degrading land productivity, deepening impacts of changes in climate, conflict, and food insecurity, poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities are driving mostly the rural poor into towns and cities, with projections that just 13 years from now, 5 billion people will be living in the world’s urban areas. While the urban population is forecast to double within these 30 years (starting in 2000), the area taken over will triple, increasing by 1.2 million square kilometers, says the Global Land Report 2017. Close to 90 percent of urban population and area growth is forecast in Asia and Africa, with the most dramatic changes foreseen in Asia, according to this report from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). By 2050, 56 percent of Asia’s population will be urban. China crossed the halfway mark in 2012, India will in 2050. This major shifting of the character of a population, the character of its economic activity, from being predominantly rural to becoming urban is seen to catapult – particularly China and India – to global economic leadership. But its urban growth engines could be riding on a huge malnourished rural migrant population.

How It Became A Crime To Be Poor In America

‘Exorbitant fines and fees designed to make up for revenue shortfalls are now a staple throughout most of the country.’ Illustration: Rob Dobi

By Peter Edelman for The Guardian – In the United States, a system of modern peonage – essentially, a government-run loan shark operation – has been going on for years. Beginning in the 1990s, the country adopted a set of criminal justice strategies that punish poor people for their poverty. Right now in America, 10 million people, representing two-thirds of all current and former offenders in the country, owe governments a total of $50bn in accumulated fines, fees and other impositions. The problem of “high fines and misdemeanors” exists across many parts of the country: throughout much of the south; in states ranging from Washington to Oklahoma to Colorado; and of course in Ferguson, Missouri, where, in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, revelations about the systematic criminalization of the city’s poor black residents brought these issues to national attention. As a result, poor people lose their liberty and often lose their jobs, are frequently barred from a host of public benefits, may lose custody of their children, and may even lose their right to vote. Immigrants, even some with green cards, can be subject to deportation. Once incarcerated, impoverished inmates with no access to paid work are often charged for their room and board. Many debtors will carry debts to their deaths, hounded by bill collectors and new prosecutions.

#TheseCutsHurt Day Of Action

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By Staff of Witnesses to Hunger – On October 30th, 2017, people from around the country will be speaking out to raise awareness about how proposed budget cuts will hurt their families, children, communities, and this country as a whole. By sharing their personal experiences and ideas for change, Americans can stand up together and say that THESE CUTS HURT and that they have had enough of the government refusing to prioritize our children and our families. Programs that feed millions, that house people, that provide health care – among so many others – are on the chopping block. Our country can and must do better to support families – the majority of whom are working or want to work – to make ends meet.

Yes, Half Of Americans Are In Or Near Poverty: Here's More Evidence

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By Paul Buchheit for Common Dreams – The poverty threshold is still based on a formula from the 1960s, when food expenses were a much greater part of the family budget. It hasn’t kept up with other major expenses. Since 1980, food costs have gone up by 100%, housing 250%, health care 500%, and college tuition 1,000%. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) says, “If the same basic methodology developed in the early 1960s was applied today, the poverty thresholds would be over three times higher than the current thresholds.” Three times higher! The median household income in the U.S. in 2016 was $59,039. The Economic Policy Institute’s 2015 Family Budget Calculator determined that the median budget for a two-parent, two-child family is $63,741. As CRS concluded, that’s about three times higher than the current poverty threshold. In 2014, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, median household expenses were $36,800, against income of about $54,000. But that includes very little for wealth-building investments, such as short- and long-term savings, college education, and life insurance. After accounting for annual outlays for these essential and/or typical family expenses, the median household in the lower third was $2,300 in debt.

Newsletter - Dismantling White Supremacy

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Last weekend, tens of thousands of people marched in Washington, DC in the combined March for Racial Justice and March for Black Women. Native Americans joined black and brown people to lead the march. At the march, Rev. Graylan Hagler said, “White Supremacy has been given aid and comfort by a so-called president and so-called administration, and so-called leaders of that ideology are comforted and feel that they are back as a centerpiece of American political life.” From coast to coast, it is true that white supremacists are active and are being more visible than they have in decades.

While Outrage Mounts Over Puerto Rico…

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By Whitney Webb for Mintpress News. San Juan, Puerto Rico – Since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory – which rarely garners much attention from the national media – has received widespread coverage which has focused on the Trump administration’s slow response to the disaster. The situation in Puerto Rico is undoubtedly dire, as many struggle without power and access to basic necessities more than a week after the storm struck. In addition, the Trump administration’s response has been notably lackluster in several regards, which has brought renewed scrutiny to its attitudes and performance.

Small Class Size – Reform We’re Too Cheap To Try

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By Steven Singer for Gadfly on the Wall. We’re one of the richest countries in the world, yet we treat our own children – especially if they’re poor and brown – as if they were refugees from the third world. Well, perhaps marginally better. To my knowledge no one is suggesting we send the unwashed masses back to Africa, Europe or wherever else they originally came from – at least those who can prove they were born here. But we certainly aren’t bothering ourselves too much about taking care of them. What would that look like? Nothing all that radical. Imagine a classroom where students have the space to be individuals and not nameless cogs in the system.

The Myths Of Recovery: Why American Households Aren’t Better Off

Workers pack and ship customer orders at the 750,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center on August 1, 2017 in Romeoville, Illinois.

By Constantin Gurdgiev for Market Watch – The Census Bureau data shows that bulk of the gains in real income in 2016 has been down to one factor: higher employment. In other words, hours worked rose, but wages did not. American median householders are working harder at more jobs to earn an increase in wages. Which would be OK, were it not down to the fact that working harder means higher expenditure on income-related necessities, such as commuting costs, child-care costs, costs for caring for the dependents, etc. In other words, to earn that extra income, households today have to spend more money than they did back in the 1990s. Now, I don’t know about you, but for my household, if we have to spend more money to earn more money, I would be looking at net increases from that spending, not gross. Census Bureau does not adjust for this. There is an added caveat to this: caring for children and dependents has become excruciatingly more expensive over the years, since 1999. Inflation figures reflect that, but the real income deflator takes the average/median basket of consumers in calculating inflation adjustment. However, households gaining new additional jobs are not average/median households to begin with — and most certainly not in 2016, when labor markets were tight.

Sometimes The Poor Make It Big. Usually They Stay Poor

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By Jill Richardson for Other Words – We all want to live in a country where all it takes is hard work and some talent for anyone to succeed. We tell ourselves that we do. We even see examples of people who “came from nothing” and ended up rich and famous. And it’s true that it sometimes happens. Sometimes a child born into poverty grows up to become the president of the United States, a multi-billionaire, or an Olympic gold medalist. Most of the time, however, they don’t. And it’s not because they’re bad, lazy, stupid, or immoral. Often it’s because of our system itself. Take our school system for a start. By funding schools with property taxes, we guarantee that the children from the richest neighborhoods go to the wealthiest schools. If we lived in neighborhoods that were economically mixed with families of all incomes, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But we don’t. Instead we have areas of very wealthy people whose children attend wonderful schools, and areas of concentrated poverty where children attend failing schools.

2.5 Million Fewer Poor In 2016; Biggest 2-Year Decline In Poverty Since 1969

From Popular Resistance

By David Elliot for CHN – The poverty rate declined to 12.7 percent in 2016, down from 13.5 percent in 2015 and from 14.8 percent in 2014. That 2.1 percentage point drop is the largest two-year decline since 1969. Since 2014, the number of people in poverty has dropped by more than 6 million. Children remain disproportionately poor, with 18 percent (13.3 million) living in poverty, but the proportion of children in poverty also declined steeply over the past two years (down from 21.1 percent in 2014, nearly a 2.3 million decline). In part, the improvement in poverty was related to the increase in people with earnings (up 1.2 million since 2015), and the increase in the number of people working full-time/year-round (up 2.2 million since 2015). The lowest 20 percent of households saw their incomes increase by about 9 percent over two years. Also very important in reducing poverty were government programs. As shown by the Census Bureau’s Supplementary Poverty Measure, without Social Security, the total number poor would have been more than 26 million higher (with nearly 1.5 million more children poor). Low-income tax credits such as the EITC and Child Tax Credit prevented nearly 8.2 million from being poor (nearly 4.4 million children). SNAP/food stamps lifted nearly 3.6 million out of poverty (1.5 million children). Housing subsidies and Supplemental Security Income each lifted more than 3 million people out of poverty.

Newsletter – No #NAFTA2, Yes To Trade For People & Planet

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By Daniel Cooper Bermudez. The Trump administration is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico in secret, just as President Obama did with the TPP. Over the past two decades, NAFTA has resulted in workers losing their jobs and being replaced by machinery, ruined family farms throughout the continent, displaced communities and privatized social services, environmental disasters like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a widespread attack on labor rights and unions. This week, we explain our opposition to NAFTA2 and put forward a strategy to remake trade so it is no longer corporate-driven trade for the profits of a few, but people-driven trade to benefit all and protect the planet.

Disaster Coverage Blind Spot For Low Income Victims

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By Neil Demause for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. as Hurricane Harvey has wreaked devastating flooding across southeast Texas, reporters’ ability to notice the nearly one-third of Americans living in or near poverty has again been put to the test. And though direct comparisons with Katrina are tough—Harvey is a different storm, playing out over days of rising waters instead of mere hours, and Houston chose not to call for residents to evacuate as New Orleans did in 2005—news coverage has revealed some of the same blind spots that have plagued reporting on previous natural disasters. The slow progression of floodwaters made for plenty of ready-made drama: At times, CNN seemed to have converted itself into a 24-hour rescue network, with tales of narrow escapes and heroic first responders.

Don’t Lie To Poor Kids About Why They’re Poor

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By Josh Hoxie for Other Words – Those at the bottom — and the top — deserve to know why their experiences are so different. Work hard and you’ll get ahead — that’s the mantra driven into young people across the country. But what happens when children born into poverty run face first into the crushing reality that the society they live in really isn’t that fair at all? As new research shows, they break down. A just released study published in the journal Child Development tracked the middle school experience of a group of diverse, low-income students in Arizona. The study found that the kids who believed society was generally fair typically had high self-esteem, good classroom behavior, and less delinquent behavior outside of school when they showed up in the sixth grade. When those same kids left in the eighth grade, though, each of those criteria had degraded — they showed lower self-esteem and worse behavior. What caused this downward slide? In short, belief in a fair and just system of returns ran head-on into reality for marginalized kids. When they see people that look like them struggling despite working hard, they’re forced to reckon with the cognitive dissonance.

Tax The Rich To House The Poor

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By the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Washington, DC – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released the “Reforming the Mortgage Interest Deduction: How Tax Reform Can Help End Homelessness and Housing Poverty” report today calling for Congress and the Trump administration to use mortgage interest deduction (MID) reform to end homelessness and housing poverty in America. The report identifies solutions to the homelessness and affordable housing crisis in America that would incur no additional cost to the federal government, those proposed by the NLIHC-led United for Homes (UFH) campaign. The report and UFH campaign call for modest reforms to the mortgage interest deduction (MID)—a $70 billion tax write-off that primarily benefits higher income households—and for reinvesting the billions in savings in affordable housing for the lowest income families with the greatest needs.