Category Archives: Economy

1/4 of Americans can’t pay their monthly bills

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System just published its 172-page annual Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2016.

First, the good news:

  1. “Overall, the modest improvements in financial well-being that were observed in recent years continued into 2016” with 70% of adults reporting “that they are either living comfortably or doing okay financially,” compared to 69% in 2015 and 62% in 2013.
  2. “Compared to previous years, fewer adults are ill-prepared for a modest financial disruption”.

These marginal improvements aside, the report contains some disturbing information although the U.S. supposedly is nearly eight years into an economic recovery:

  • As many as 30%, or approximately 73 million adults, are either finding it difficult to get by or are just getting by financially.
  • 13% of adults struggle to pay their bills in some months due to “income volatility” or month-to-month variability, while just under one-fourth of adults are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full.
  • 44% of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money. (In 2013, the percentage was an even more alarming 50%.)
  • 47% of adults of adults report that their income exceeded their spending in the prior year.
  • 46% of adults with a credit card report that they are carrying credit card debt.

Some other findings:

  • Education, specifically a college education, makes a big difference:
    • 40% of adults with a high school degree or less report that they are struggling financially, compared to 17% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree.
    • 82% of adults with a bachelor’s degree or more in education said last year they were “living comfortably” or “doing okay,” up from 80% the year before, as well as 69% of those with some college or an associate degree, up from 66%.
    • 79% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree vs. 52% of those with only a high school diploma said they would still be able to pay all of their other bills in full if hit with a $400 charge.
  • Whites are slipping behind other races: “Non-Hispanic white adults with a high school degree or less are somewhat less likely than those of other races and ethnicities or those with more education to report that their financial well-being improved in 2016.”
  • 28% of adults who haven’t yet retired reported to being grossly unprepared, which suggests they have no retirement savings or pension.
  • Healthcare costs continue to be a burden:
    • 23% of adults had to pay a major unexpected out-of-pocket medical expense in the prior year.
    • 1/4 of adults report forgoing one or more type of health care in the prior year due to affordability.
    • Approximately 24 million people, representing 10% of adults, are carrying debt from medical expenses that they had to pay out of pocket in the previous year.

ZeroHedge reports that commenting on the report’s findings, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard, a Hillary Clinton supporter, said:

“the survey findings remind us that many American households are struggling financially, including fully 40 percent of those with a high school diploma or less. More broadly, 44 percent of all respondents could not cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense or would rely on borrowing or selling something to do so. The survey also shows that many adults have no savings for retirement.”

~Eowyn

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Planned Parenthood Will Close 4 Iowa Clinics Due To New State Restrictions

mammograms

Don’t’ believe the fearmongering of this article from Refinery29. There are still PLENTY of health care clinics in Iowa. My quick search found the following:

The Iowa Association of Rural Health Clinics has a list of over 140 rural health clinics in Iowa. And of course, there are the countless other municipal health care clinics as well as private health care facilities.

Plenty of facilities for Iowa residents to receive “vital health services” that only Planned Parenthood can provide.

From Yahoo (Refinery29): Following in Texas’ disastrous footsteps, four Planned Parenthood clinics will close in Iowa because of the state government’s actions to partially defund the health organization. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a health and human services budget that discontinued the state’s federal Medicaid family planning waiver and replaced it with a state program that excludes any clinic that offers abortions.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced on Thursday that it will close one third of its 12 health centers in Iowa this summer, leaving an estimated 14,600 patients in Quad Cities, Burlington, Keokuk, and Sioux City without their current healthcare provider.

Iowa’s $1.77 billion health and human services budget keeps roughly the same amount of funds for family planning as the previous year, but places new restrictions on which facilities can receive money to cover low-income patients’ health care. Because the Hyde Amendment already prevents federal funds from paying for abortion, the budget change is the latest attempt by Republican politicians to shut down abortion providers.

Defunding Planned Parenthood and forcing clinics to shutter keeps low-income women from accessing vital health services such as contraception and cancer screenings, as the organization says abortions make up roughly 3% all services it performs.

Back in 2011, Texas took similarly drastic measures, cutting its family planning budget by more than $70 million and directing it away from clinics that provided abortion. Across the state, 25% of all family planning clinics closed, and about 30,000 fewer women had access to a health clinic two years later.

Clinic closures in the Lone Star State also forced women to drive four times farther to have an abortion. A Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) study found that Texas women whose closest clinic stayed open drove an average of 22 miles, while women whose closest clinic closed drove an average of 85 miles for health services. The women furthest from an open clinic had to drive more than 250 miles.

Iowa’s new regulations forced clinics to close right away, which foreshadows what will happen if the healthcare bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in May becomes law. The GOP’s American Health Care Act proposes cutting off Medicaid reimbursements Planned Parenthood currently receives for treating low-income patients for one year unless its clinics stop performing abortions.

“We have seen what happens in states like Texas, and now in Iowa, when politicians attack access to care at Planned Parenthood — it’s devastating, and sometimes deadly, for the women who are left with nowhere to turn for care,” Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement to Refinery29. “I am concerned about the health and well-being of the people in Iowa who now can no longer turn to their trusted health care provider.”

Texas has already proven that when a state cuts off Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funds, it forces clinics to close and keeps women from getting the health services they need. Now, Iowa has followed suit and essential care for women is at stake in one more state.

DCG

WHO spends more on travel costs than fighting AIDS

margaret chan UN

Traveling large: UN Health Agency Director-General Margaret Chan

Your tax dollars at work.

From NY Post: The World Health Organization is spending more money on the travel bug than on fighting AIDS or malaria, according to a new report.

The UN health agency blows around $200 million a year on travel costs so its honchos can fly business class and stay in five-star hotels — more than what it reserves for battling some of the world’s biggest health crisis, the AP reports.

“We don’t trust people to do the right thing when it comes to travel,” the agency’s finance director Nick Jeffreys was caught saying at a 2015 seminar, according to the report.

WHO last year spent around $71 million on AIDS and hepatitis, $61 million on malaria and $59 million on tuberculosis, the wire service reports — although it does allocate a generous $450 million to polio every year.

Meanwhile, the agency’s director-general Dr. Margaret Chan racked up a $370,000 travel bill in one year, and recently stayed in a $1,008-a-night hotel in Guinea, the AP reports.

WHO is nevertheless asking for more moolah to fight disease — and taxpayers will be footing the bill.

UN member countries pay for the agency’s $2 billion annual budget, and the US is the largest contributor.

The agency defended itself by saying “the nature of WHO’s work often requires WHO staff to travel” and noting that it reduced travel costs by 14 percent last year — although that came after the particularly pricey 2014 Ebola outbreak, the AP notes.

And other aid agencies manage to fly staff around on much tighter budgets — the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF spends $140 million a year and has twice the staff, while Doctors Without Borders forbids business-class travel and spends on $43 million a year despite having more than five times as many staffers, the outlet reports.

DCG

Colorado governor pardons felon to stave off deportation

hickenlooper

Obama and Gov Hickenlooper

Keep it up liberals. 2018 wont’ be so pretty for your party if you keep aiding and abetting illegal aliens.

From Yahoo: Colorado’s governor on Friday pardoned a Cuban immigrant for an armed robbery he committed 19 years ago in an effort stave off the man’s deportation after immigration authorities detained him following a judge’s ruling that he should no longer be imprisoned.

The pardon from Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was the latest twist in the saga of Rene Lima-Marin, 38. He came to the U.S. as a toddler as part of the 1980 Mariel boat lift from Cuba and had legal residency until it was revoked following his 2000 criminal conviction. Lima-Marin was sentenced to 98 years in prison for the robbery. But he was mistakenly paroled from Colorado state prison in 2008.

Lima-Marin married, had a child and got a steady job installing glass before state authorities realized their mistake in 2014 and sent him back for the remainder of his 98-year prison sentence.

A Colorado judge earlier this week ordered Lima-Marin released from state prison, saying it would be “draconian” to keep him incarcerated. But before he could return to his family, immigration authorities picked him up, citing a still-active deportation order from 2000. His lawyers said a pardon was his only chance to stave off deportation.

Lima-Marin’s case has become a bipartisan cause celebre in Colorado, as 98 members of the state Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, called on Hickenlooper to grant him clemency. Though the legal roots of Lima-Marin’s deportation order stretch back to actions of the Obama administrations, his detention comes as the Trump administration has moved aggressively to speed up deportations, sometimes sparking clashes with local officials.

“This was a question of justice,” Hickenlooper told an afternoon news conference. “This was a pretty clear example of someone who’s done all the work necessary to earn a second chance.”

It’s unclear whether the governor’s action will be enough to stop Lima-Marin’s deportation. “I’m not a lawyer,” Hickenlooper said when asked whether the pardon would be enough.

District Attorney George Brauchler, whose office prosecuted Lima-Marin, said Hickenlooper did not give prosecutors time to review the pardon application as required by state law. “The hasty decision to ignore state law was made seemingly to skirt federal law, and that is not an appropriate use of the governor’s pardon power,” said Brauchler, who is running for governor.

Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for ICE, indicated that Hickenlooper’s pardon would not be enough to stop the deportation. “Rene Michael Lima Marin currently has final orders of removal from a federal immigration judge,” he said in a statement.

Hans Meyer, Lima-Marin’s lawyer, said he’d file motions to vacate that order. “We’re incredibly grateful to the governor for a just and fair solution,” he said. “This is a tremendous first step.”

But Jason Kasperek, the assistant manager at a Blockbuster video store that Lima-Marin and an accomplice robbed in 1998, said Lima-Marin should be back in prison. “I just think that it’s scandalous how he used the system,” Kasperek said of Lima-Marin, recalling how the robbers held a rifle to his head as they forced him to open the store safe. “I think it’s completely ridiculous. It’s unjust for all victims who have been involved in it.”

The Blockbuster was one of two video stores that Lima-Marin and his accomplice Michael Clifton robbed. They were convicted on multiple robbery, kidnapping and burglary counts. Clifton is still in prison, serving his 98-year sentence.

This is not Lima-Marin’s first time in immigration detention. Though Trump has ordered immigration authorities to step up their enforcement of deportation orders, Lima-Marin’s legal jeopardy actually stems from changes made by Obama.

After his 2008 parole, immigration authorities held Lima-Marin for 180 days. But at the time, Cuba would not accept any additional people who had arrived on the Mariel boat lift as deportees. As a result, Lima-Marin was released. He continued to check in with immigration authorities regularly, said his wife, Jasmine.

But when Obama in January ended the “wet foot-dry foot” policy that had protected Cuban immigrants who arrived from the island, it opened the door to additional Cubans from the Mariel boat lift to be deported.

DCG

Socialist Seattle council member urges Seattle Seahawks to hire Colin Kaepernick

kaepernick sawant tweet

Sawant’s message to the Seahawks

Don’t hire him because of his football skills, rather it is his SJW skillz that matter.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has weighed in on issues from the minimum wage to taxing the rich. But now she’s speaking up on something new — the Seahawks.

Sawant penned a letter Friday to Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll and owner Paul Allen in support of bringing Colin Kaepernick onto the team. “I am writing to convey that Colin Kaepernick would be welcome in Seattle, and to encourage you to take the opportunity to sign him as the Seahawks’ backup quarterback,” Sawant writes.

“I am not a football expert,” she continues. “But everything I have read strongly suggests that the only reason a player with Kaepernick’s skills is still a free agent is because of the backlash against his courageous leadership last year against racism, brutality, and discrimination. If that makes other teams wary of signing him, shame on them. In Seattle, we know our communities will only benefit from his activism as well as his talents on the field.”

As the Seahawks hunt for a backup quarterback, Kaepernick’s name has been among those considered for the job. Without any official word on his chances with the Seattle team, he has already received support of teammates such as Michael Bennett. Kaepernick made headlines last year when he opted to kneel during the national anthem, drawing attention to racial inequality in America.

Sawant’s letter continues, citing social justice issues she is passionate about and relates them to the quarterback. She ends by saying that it would “be a poor message” for the Seahawks to send to young people if Kaepernick was not able to be signed to a team after taking a knee.

The rest of Sawant’s letter reads:

“As you know, Colin Kaepernick has been widely recognized as a leader amongst professional athletes for speaking out on social justice issues that are vital to the lives and livelihoods of regular working people, many of whom are Seahawks fans. His courage in openly and defiantly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is not without precedent; indeed, it is reminiscent of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s historic stance for black freedom on the podium of the 1968 Olympic Games, and Muhammad Ali’s refusal to participate in the war in Vietnam.

Around the country, ordinary people, activists, and especially young people, have been inspired by Kaepernick’s opposition to racism, and his broad support of social justice. He has supported Meals on Wheels and other anti-hunger programs, and has spoken out against bigotry and the scapegoating of Muslims. He has provided key support to grassroots social justice organizations, including Silicon Valley De-Bug, Causa Justa/Just Cause, Urban Underground, Black Youth Project 100, Mothers Against Police Brutality, Gathering for Justice, Communities United for Police Reform, and the I Will Not Die Young Campaign.

From the fight for a $15/hour minimum wage, to the struggle for affordable housing, to the movement against police brutality, Seattle’s working people and young people have led the nation in this new era of social movements. I agree wholeheartedly with Michael Bennett that Seattle is the perfect place for Kaepernick. The NFL has an influence on the ideas and attitudes of young people. As you assemble your team, it would be a poor message for you to send to young people that speaking out against racism, police violence, and economic inequality is ‘toxic’ and will be punished rather than applauded.

The working people of Seattle and our youth will be proud to welcome Colin Kaepernick. Please do everything in your power to sign him to the Seahawks. Thank you for your time and consideration.”

DCG

UK schools urged to ‘show sensitivity’ to Muslim pupils by moving revision classes and rescheduling sports days for Ramadan

islam-is-the-answer

Ain’t multi-culturalism grand?

From Daily Mail: Schools are being urged to move revision classes and consider rescheduling sports days to accommodate the needs of Muslim pupils fasting for Ramadan, MailOnline can reveal.

A new report also suggests that schools should also ‘show sensitivity’ when organising graduation celebrations and change PE lesson plans to make sure that activities are ‘less strenuous’.

Ramadan falls at the end of May this year and will last for approximately one month meaning it will clash with GCSE and A Level exams across the country.

During the period Muslims who have reached ‘maturity’ are required to go without food or drink – including water – during sunlight hours. It means that thousands of pupils could face sitting exams with empty stomachs in warm exam rooms at the height of summer when Britain gets an average of 16 hours of daylight.

The pamphlet has been published by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents more than 18,000 head teachers and college leaders. It recommends teenagers should not stay up late praying during this summer’s exam period because ‘extra devotions in Ramadan are voluntary’ and performing well at school is ‘obligatory’.

The report – which was authored by ‘inclusion specialist’ Anna Cole – warns: ‘Young people should be made aware that Islam does not require them to put their futures in jeopardy.’

It also says that despite a ‘combination of long days, higher temperatures as well as examinations’ putting extra pressure on young Muslims, many will still opt to participate in Ramadan.

The ASCL research paper concludes that primary-aged children should not fast and makes a series of recommendations to secondary school head teachers to ‘ease the pressure’ on Muslim students.

It advises invigilators to avoid suggesting to students that they have a ‘tiny sip of water’ while sitting in hot exam rooms unless there is concern that they are suffering from dehydration. Schools are also asked to provide prayer rooms as well as to make sure exam rooms are in the shade with fans and bottles of water available.

But the guidance starkly warns: ‘If a student taking an exam is showing any signs that they may be dehydrated, such as a headache or drowsiness, they should be advised to terminate the fast immediately by drinking some water.’

In this instance, staff are told to ‘inform pupils of the allowances Islam gives for them to break the fast and make it up later if they feel fasting will in any way jeopardise their performance’. They are also advised to ‘discuss with students whether they would prefer revision lessons to be in the morning or afternoon’.

It continues: ‘School and college leaders will also want to consider the possible impact fasting and late night prayers during Ramadan may have on Muslim children when setting dates for other activities, such as sports days, trips and celebrations.’

The paper – which the authors hope will be a ‘positive opportunity for engagement – was devised in consultation with scholars from across the spectrum of Islamic religion. The guidelines state: ‘Observing Ramadan may bring many benefits to individuals and communities, but also has the potential to cause the individual temporary hardship through hunger and lack of liquids during fasting hours which may impact on physical wellbeing and cognitive performance.

‘Young Muslims and families, particularly those sitting exams this summer, will need to balance their obligations as Muslims with their studies and the importance of examinations for their future, noting that the pursuit of education is also a religious and moral duty for Muslims of both genders.

There are some exemptions to Ramadan, for women on their periods, those who are ill or those experiencing ‘hardship’ – but generally all Muslims past the age of puberty take part.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

‘Clock Boy’ lawsuit thrown out in federal court

Ahmed Mohamed clock boy

Good.

From Fox News: A federal court has thrown out the civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of the Texas teenager known as “Clock Boy.”

The lawsuit alleged that the city of Irving and Irving school district discriminated against Ahmed Mohamed at Irving MacArthur High School in September of 2015.

Mohamed, a Muslim teenager who was 14 years old at the time, brought a homemade clock to school to show his engineering teacher. But an alarm on the clock went off in his English class and the teacher confiscated it. He was sent to the principal’s office.

“A.M. never stated the device was anything other than a clock, never threatened anyone with harm, never claimed to have made a bomb, and never attempted to scare or cause alarm to anyone. When he asked for his parents, he was told that he could not speak with them because he was in the middle of an interrogation,” his attorney argued according to the court’s ruling.

The lawsuit claimed Mohamed’s civil rights were violated when he was interrogated at length without his parents and arrested on hoax bomb charges.

When his father finally arrived at the school several hours later, the court documents state he “tried to explain to Officer Howman that A.M. was interested in robotics and created things, but she was unwilling to listen to his explanations.”

Police originally said Mohamed was not very forthcoming and the school as concerned that the device was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb. Officers acted in an abundance of caution.

“It was a very suspicious device. We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school. Of course we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen. We have to err on the side of caution,” Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd told FOX 4 in 2015.

The charges against Mohamed were later dropped but the school still suspended him for three days.

Read more at Fox 4 News.

DCG