Saturday, September 23, 2023
Friday, September 22, 2023
“The clock is ticking for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to find a compromise to keep the federal government running and sidestep a costly shutdown.
The specter of a federal government shutdown, which would begin on October 1 if a solution isn't found by then, is raising questions for Social Security recipients about how a stoppage might impact their monthly benefit checks. Experts said there's some good and bad news for the 66 million Americans on Social Security.
Would a government shutdown affect Social Security checks?
First the good news: A shutdown won't impact Social Security checks, according to Kathleen Romig, director of Social Security and disability policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.
"Social Security and [Supplemental Security Income] benefits will be paid without interruption," Romig told CBS MoneyWatch. Social Security Administration "field offices and phone lines will be open to take applications and help beneficiaries."
She added, "Generally, applicants and beneficiaries should experience the same service as usual."
That's because Social Security is funded through permanent, rather than annual, federal appropriations, which means the checks will still go out.
The Social Security Administration said last month that it will continue with "activities critical to our direct-service operations and those needed to ensure accurate and timely payment of benefits" in case of a shutdown.
Would a government shutdown affect Social Security services?
Now for the bad news: Yes, some services might be impacted by a shutdown, although recipients will continue to receive payments even if other government agencies close. That's because about 15% of the Social Security Administration's staff would be furloughed if there's a government shutdown, Romig noted.
"A few customer service activities will be suspended, such as benefit verifications and replacement Medicare cards, but SSA is allowed to keep on staff that ensure the payment of Social Security and SSI benefits" because the checks are guaranteed by law, she explained.
Another trouble spot could be state disability determination services, which make medical decisions on whether people applying for Social Security disability payments qualify for them, Romig said.
The Social Security Administration "urges states to continue their work during a shutdown, but the decision lies with state governments and in the past some have closed," she noted.
Because there are already huge backlogs in disability decisions, a government shutdown could worsen delays, Romig said.
How is this different from the debt ceiling crisis earlier this year?
Earlier this year, the U.S. was facing a funding crisis as President Biden and Republican lawmakers were at loggerheads over whether to raise or suspend the nation's debt limit.
While that crisis was ultimately averted, the nation at the time was close to reaching the so-called "X date," the fiscal limit when the U.S. would run out of money to pay its bills unless Congress raised or suspended the nation's debt ceiling. If the U.S. had crossed that point, the Treasury Department would have defaulted on its obligations, something that has never before happened.
Under that scenario, a default could have affected Social Security recipients by delaying their checks.
However, the current crisis is about appropriations bills that must be passed by Congress and signed by the president ahead of the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. If the funding deadline passes without new authorization from Congress, the government must fully or partially shutdown, depending on the funding.”
Rupert Murdoch Turned Passion and Grievance Into Money and Power
"The retiring Fox leader built a noise-and-propaganda machine by giving his people what they wanted — and sometimes by teaching them what to want.
The polite way to describe the legacy of a man like Rupert Murdoch is to leave aside whether his accomplishments were good or bad and simply focus on how big they were. It is to eulogize him like Kendall Roy memorializing his father, Logan, in “Succession,” the HBO corporate drama none too slightly based on the Murdochs, among other dynasties. Maybe he had “a terrible force,” as Kendall put it, but “he built, and he acted. … He made life happen.”
But the polite way is exactly the wrong way to assess Mr. Murdoch, who on Thursday announced his retirement from the boards of Fox and News Corporation. Mr. Murdoch achieved nothing the polite way. His style and his work were direct and blunt. Let us take his measure his way.
Rupert Murdoch’s empire used passion and grievance as fuel and turned it into money and power.
His tabloids ran on the idea of publishing for readers as they were, not according to some platonic ideal of how one wished them to be. That meant pinups and prize giveaways and blaring scandal headlines.
Over years and decades, Mr. Murdoch’s properties shifted their definition of “elite” away from people with more money than you and toward people with more perceived cultural capital than you, something that would be essential to nationalist politics in the 21st century and Fox’s dominance. (He did all this while living the life of a jet-setting billionaire.)
He translated this model to America in the 1970s with his acquisition of The New York Post. But that was a warm-up to his larger project of acquiring 20th Century Fox and applying his tabloid skills to the entertainment and broadcast business.
Fox gave Mr. Murdoch a movie studio and allowed him to create the Fox broadcast network in 1986; he would add publishers and more newspapers to his empire as well. But his news philosophy and his conservative politics were most fully expressed in Fox News Channel, which he launched with the former Republican consultant Roger Ailes in 1996.
Like Mr. Murdoch’s tabloids, Fox had an aesthetic that was key to its appeal. Where news programs once sought to project stability and gravitas, it had flash and energy. It had the tone and political attitude of conservative talk radio and the rah-rah spirit of TV sports (as well as the blinding graphics).
But Fox was not a style phenomenon alone. It branded itself “Fair and Balanced,” implying that other outlets were unfair and unbalanced. “We Report, You Decide,” it said, implying a they who were making the decisions for you.
Fox promised news but its cash crop was feelings. Making viewers feel — feel angry, feel betrayed, feel threatened — was vital to keeping them tuned in for hours. The particulars of Fox’s mood, and its conservatism, adapted and evolved with the eras. It was jingoistic during the wars of the George W. Bush era. As Barack Obama emerged, it fed suspicions that he was alien, other, a malign un-American force. (Its morning show, “Fox and Friends,” gave airtime to a bogus story that he had attended a madrasa.)
When conservatives were losing, Fox held an audience by appealing to their sense of siege. Winning, they could find ways to feel besieged anyway, as with “The war on Christmas,” a Fox staple.
On Fox, the news was a serial drama filled with enemies and heroes, victory and peril. But like on a long-running thriller, each new twist had to top the last. The stakes had to heighten. Bushian Republicanism gave way to the string-on-a-bulletin-board theories of Glenn Beck, until, eventually, Tucker Carlson was mainstreaming racist “replacement theory” for one of cable TV’s biggest audiences.
That is not to say that Mr. Murdoch’s creation was simple or without contradiction. The formula that Murdoch applied to his tabloids — cheap-seats entertainment combined with right-wing populism — led, in his larger media empire, to the Fox paradox. The entertainment wing of the company produced, indeed specialized in, the kind of moral offenses that the commentators of the news wing would decry.
On the Fox broadcast network, the outsider ethos and need to stand out led to brilliant inventions and tawdry disasters: “The Simpsons” and “The X-Files,” “Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?” and “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?”Entertainment TV may not have been Mr. Murdoch’s core passion, but much of Fox network’s inventiveness came from the same principle of prodding strong feelings and reactions.
Provoking reactions and sustaining attention would also define the candidacy and presidency of Donald J. Trump, Fox’s loyal viewer, longtime guest (he had a regular segment on “Fox and Friends” for years) and — if unintentionally — its most successful product.
Mr. Trump used Fox as a platform, intuited what its viewers wanted, then wrested them away by giving them a purer, more thrilling version of it than Fox itself. Fox could play footsie with Islamophobia; he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Fox had to ultimately call the results of elections that disappointed their viewers; he could declare the whole thing stolen.
If, as has been reported, Mr. Murdoch eventually came to hold Mr. Trump in disdain, it is an irony of his late career, which found Fox ensnared in the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s election loss. The network paid a $787.5 million settlement for a lawsuit over its coverage of the stolen-election lies. Shortly afterward, it fired Mr. Carlson, a star turned liability, and lost many of his viewers in prime time. All the while it was under pressure from right-wing networks and platforms with an even fuller MAGA sensibility and looser relation to reality.
There is a Frankensteinian fittingness to Mr. Murdoch and his network’s losing control of the very passion, fury and sense of righteous injury that Fox News conquered the ratings by encouraging. It is one thing to stoke that flame, another thing to try to turn it down like a burner on a stove.
A man who made his fortune giving the people what they want has no business being surprised to learn what they inevitably want next: More.
Why Kevin McCarthy Can’t Do His Job
"The speaker of the House is the only congressional officer mentioned in the Constitution, other than a temporary Senate officer to preside when the vice president can’t. The speaker’s job isn’t defined, but surely it includes passing legislation that keeps the federal government running.
But Kevin McCarthy, the current speaker, isn’t doing that job. Indeed, at this point it’s hard to see how he can pass any bill maintaining federal funding, let alone one the Senate, controlled by Democrats, will agree to. So we seem to be headed for a federal shutdown at the end of this month, with many important government activities suspended until further notice.
Why? McCarthy is a weak leader, especially compared with Nancy Pelosi, his formidable predecessor. But even a superb leader would probably be unable to transcend the dynamics of a party that has been extremist for a generation but has now gone beyond extremism to nihilism.
And yes, this is a Republican problem. Any talk about dysfunction in “Congress,” or “partisanship,” simply misinforms the public. Crises like the one McCarthy now faces didn’t happen under Pelosi, even though she also had a very narrow majority. I’ll come back to that contrast. First, let me make a different comparison — between the looming shutdown of 2023 and the shutdowns of 1995-96, when Newt Gingrich was speaker.
If you had told me back then that I’d someday hold up Gingrich as a model of rationality, I wouldn’t have believed you. But hear me out.
Back in 1995, while Gingrich’s tactics — his willingness to employ blackmail as a political strategy — were new and dangerous, he had an actual policy goal: He wanted to force major cuts in federal spending.
Furthermore, Gingrich tried to go where the money was. The federal government is an insurance company with an army: The great bulk of nonmilitary spending is on the big safety-net programs, that is, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And Gingrich in fact sought deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.
He didn’t get them, and the government’s role in promoting health insurance coverage eventually expanded greatly — although Medicare has been surprisingly successful at containing costs. Still, Gingrich’s goals were at least coherent.
McCarthy, in his desperate efforts to appease his party’s hard-liners, has acted as if their refusal to approve federal funding is a Gingrich-like demand for reduced federal spending. He tried to pass a continuing resolution — a bill that would temporarily keep the money flowing — that involved deep cuts to certain parts of the federal government.
But there are three notable aspects to this attempt. First, even if he had managed to pass that resolution, it would have been dead on arrival in the Senate.
Second, unlike Gingrich back then, McCarthy tried to go where the money isn’t,slashing nonmilitary discretionary spending. That’s a fairly small part of the federal budget. It’s also a spending category that has already been subject to more than a decade of austerity, ever since President Barack Obama made concessions to Republicans during the debt ceiling confrontation of 2011. There just isn’t any significant blood to be gotten out of this stone.
Finally, even this extreme proposal wasn’t extreme enough for Republican hard-liners. I liked what one representative told Politico: “Some of these folks would vote against the Bible because there’s not enough Jesus in it.” The point is that the party’s right wing isn’t actually interested in governing; it’s all about posturing, and the budget fight is a temper tantrum rather than a policy dispute.
If the G.O.P. were anything like a normal party, McCarthy would give up on the right-wingers, gather up the saner Republican representatives — it would be misleading to call them “moderates” — and make a deal with Democrats. But that would almost surely cost him the speakership, and in general more or less the whole G.O.P. is terrified of the hard-liners, so the party’s positions end up being dictated by its most extreme faction.
As I said, all of this is very different from what happens on the other side of the aisle. You still sometimes see analyses that treat Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right as equivalent, but they’re nothing alike. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is, in fact, interested in policy; it tries to push the party’s leadership in its direction, but it’s willing to take what it can get. That’s why Pelosi, with only a narrow majority during Biden’s first two years, was nonetheless able to get enacted landmark bills on infrastructure, climate and technology, while McCarthy can’t even keep the government running.
Now, a protracted shutdown would be highly disruptive, and if past confrontations are a guide, the public would blame Republicans — which is what led Gingrich to back down in the 1990s. But it’s not clear that McCarthy, or whoever replaces him if he’s overthrown, would be willing or even able to make a deal that reopens the government. How does this end?
Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a distinguished professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography." @PaulKrugman
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Hundreds gather to protest housing migrants at former Staten Island school as legal battle underway in court - ABC7 New York
Hundreds gather to protest housing migrants at former Staten Island school
"UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- As more asylum seekers arrive in New York City each day, the battle is growing over where to house them.
City officials are pointing a finger at the Biden administration while federal officials are calling on the city and state to do more.
There were more angry protests on Staten Island on Monday night over a shelter that opened inside a former Catholic school.
Elected leaders filed a lawsuit against the city, but as of right now, and amid some legal back and forth, migrants are allowed to stay there.
But community members and local leaders are making it clear they do not want the migrants in their neighborhood.
Hundreds gathered once again in front of the former St. John Villa to protest the city's decision to use it to house 300 migrants.
The school closed back in 2018 and the city bought the property.
People who live nearby say it's a safety concern, since the property is in the middle of a neighborhood and there are two schools nearby.
"This cannot stand. This is not right. This must end now. St. John Villa is the worst place you can possibly put individuals," said Vito Fossella, Staten Island Borough President.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is responding to the city and state's pleas for help, though it isn't in the form of immediate resources.
In a letter, the DHS provided suggestions for how the city and state can better handle the ongoing crisis including things like improving data collection, planning, case management, communication and other day-to-day aspects of the operation.
"Here we have the White House saying, 'No, we aren't going to give you the right to work, we are not going to give you any places to be able to house, we are not going to do an emergency declaration, we are not going to fund this, New York, this is your problem,'" Mayor Eric Adams said. "This is wrong on New Yorkers."
This comes after a Biden administration team visited the city for a week-long assessment earlier this month.
And just last week, Governor Kathy Hochul directly criticized the administration, saying the migrant crisis originated with the federal government and therefore it should be up to them to help fix it.
In response to the Department of Homeland security's letter, Mayor Adams said the city is grateful for the collaborative process, but that it did not address the situation on the ground.
In the meantime, a court date is set for September 6 to try to put the brakes on the migrant shelter on Staten Island."
Stolen Girls: The untold story of the Leesburg Stockade Girls
"In July 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, teenager Shirley Reese joined a peaceful protest here in Americus, Georgia, with other young Black girls.
Together, they walked to the Martin Theater and tried to buy movie tickets at the window designated for White customers. The police were called, according to Reese. But few could have predicted what would happen next.
“All of you are under arrest,” Reese remembers the officer telling the children, all of whom, she said, were between the ages of 12 and 15.
And then, without much ceremony, several of the girls were rounded up and taken to a stockade in Leesburg, Georgia, 23 miles outside of town. They would remain jailed there nearly 60 days.
To their parents and loved ones, the girls had simply vanished. It would be weeks before anyone would learn what happened to them, Reese said.
Reese, now 75, returned to the stockade with CNN’s Randi Kaye to mark the 60th anniversary of the girls’ arrest.
“It was filthy,” she recalled, surveying the small cell. “Some blankets was in there with bloodstains on it.”
The stockade was surrounded by thick woods, and in the summer heat it was extremely humid in the cell. The girls were kept there without beds, a working shower or toilet, she said. And when night fell, they were plunged into the inky darkness of rural Georgia.
“We couldn’t see each other,” Reese recalled. “So, you know, you hear a lot of sniffling and stuff like that, but nothing, nobody could do nothing.”
‘Children took the front line’
Americus is a small town whose name evokes the promise of this country. But for Black residents in the 1960s, the name had long belied a dark, racist reality.
During the Civil Rights Movement, children often protested in the town because it was thought they were less likely to face retaliation. Civil rights groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized youth-led sit-ins and marches across the South to demand an end to segregation.
“(Adults) didn’t participate a lot because they had to work and take care of families,” said Carol Barner Seay, one of the Leesburg Stockade Girls, as they became known. “And if they got involved in any part of it, they would have lost their jobs. How would they survive?”
“It was the children that took the front line.”
But things changed during the summer of 1963. A few days before Reese was taken into custody, Seay, then 13, was also arrested during a march in Americus. She told CNN she remembers demanding an explanation from officers who led her away.
When asked if the officers ever explained why she was detained, Seay gestured to her brown skin as if that were reason enough to jail a child.
“Look at me … somebody owe me an explanation?! They going to give me an explanation?!”
Seay said she was briefly moved to a jail in nearby Dawson, Georgia, before eventually being taken to the Leesburg Stockade.
“We had no idea where we were,” she said. “We didn’t know we was in Leesburg.”
If the girls had been told their whereabouts, Seay said, it likely would have evoked even more fear.
“Leesburg was known as Lynchburg … They lynched Black people on the trees,” she said.
For almost 60 days, the girls were unable to bathe, forced to remain in the clothes they were wearing when they were arrested. Reese said they were fed hamburgers that were delivered by a stranger daily. They used the hamburger wrapping for toilet paper, she said.
“I’d miss my mom. I missed my siblings … my mother’s good food,” Seay said.
We didn’t think we would ever get out, Reese said.
“We started praying together,” Reese said. “So, we would gather some time and pray. And then we would pray individually, and cry individually.
The Stolen Girls
Reese and Seay remember the day, nearly a month into their imprisonment, that a White photographer showed up. Danny Lyon was a 21-year-old photographer with the SNCC.
“(Lyon) come around the building, I said, ‘Who are you? What’s your name?’” Reese recalled. “He said, ‘Be quiet!’”
Then she noticed his camera.
“I said, ‘Take my picture, right here!’” she recalled. “I knew if he was there taking pictures and they were going to go somewhere. So, that’s why I wanted to make sure that he got me.”
Seay remembers him signaling to the girls with the peace sign and a single word: Freedom.
“If you was living segregation, born in segregation, slept segregation, ate segregated, went to church segregated, freedom meant everything to you,” she said.
“You wouldn’t have a reason to use that word if you was (White). But if you was my color, it meant a lot. OK? That was a symbol to us, that he was there to do us no harm.”
At first glance, the photos Lyon took that day seem joyful. The girls, still wearing the dresses and they donned for the protest, smile at the camera as if to signal to the families desperately searching for them that they were OK.
But a second look reveals they were surrounded by bars.
That juxtaposition – of smiling children in their Sunday best standing behind bars – captured national attention. Lyon’s photos were published in the SNCC newspaper and Jet Magazine; the press dubbed them The Stolen Girls. The photos were eventually seen by New Jersey Senator Harrison A. Williams who entered the images into the Congressional Record.
Amid the outcry, the girls were freed in September 1963. They were never charged with a crime.
But the story of the Leesburg Stockade Girls was soon eclipsed by the relentless drumbeat of racist violence in the American South. The same week the girls were released, Ku Klux Klan members bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four little girls.
For years, many of the Leesburg Stockade Girls refused to speak about their harrowing experience. Some of the girls and their families remained in Americus, Reese said, and kept their heads down to avoid further retribution.
But after being released, Reese said she struggled to process all that had happened to her.
“It was just like I didn’t … I didn’t exist,” she said.
Decades later, Reese said she now feels the experience made her stronger. She would go on to earn a master’s degree, as well as her Ph.D.
“My mother wanted me to get an education. And as strong as I was at that time as a child when I there, I was broken … I really didn’t want to do anything. But I had to refocus my mind,” she said.
Seay said she still remembers the moment she reunited with her family.
“My mom, you know, she hugging on me,” she said. “We’d been gone for two months and we haven’t had a bath.”
She said the time she spent in the stockade “should have made me bitter. But I stand here today to tell you it made me better and it continues to make me better.”
New Communities Inc. 50th Anniversary Celebration
The mission of New Communities is to become a thriving organization that is a global model for community empowerment.
New Communities Inc.
New Communities is widely recognized as one of the original models for community land trusts in the U.S. Today, the founding members, including Charles and Shirley Sherrod, are dedicated to empowering the community through agribusiness and economic development.