Issue #22

Why Unemployment Paid More, No Limit Chronicles, The Battle of Portland, Gillum's Comeback

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📰 Toplines

AP: Jobless claims rise as cutoff of extra $600 benefit nears

Route Fifty: As Bans Expire, Eviction Filings Rise

NBC: FL teachers union file suit over reopening 

VOX: Judy Shelton, Trump’s troubling Federal Reserve nominee, explained

The Verge: The tech antitrust hearing is shaping up to be one for the ages

WSJ: Ebony Magazine’s Creditors Aim to Force Publisher Into Bankruptcy

Black Enterprise: The First Black-Owned Stock Exchange In U.S. History Is Opening Soon

NPR: What is Operation Legend?

Courier Journal: Opposing armed militias converge in Louisville, escalating tensions but avoiding violence

Foreign Policy: Was China’s Houston Consulate Trying to Steal the Coronavirus Vaccine?

🎥 Visual Album: Black Is King

The voyages of Black families, throughout time, are honored in a tale about a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity. His ancestors help guide him toward his destiny, and with his father’s teachings and guidance from his childhood love, he earns the virtues needed to reclaim his home and throne. 

Black is King, a film by Beyoncé, streams exclusively on Disney+ July 31.

🦠 COVID-19

The U.S. this week surpassed 4 millions cases and is fast approaching 150,000 deaths. 

With global infections rising, the U.S. accounts for 25% of confirmed coronavirus cases globally and 22% of confirmed deaths.

Meanwhile, Black Americans have an infection rate nearly 5 times that of white Americans.

📉 Unemployment for $600  

Signed into law on March 27, the CARES Act funded an additional $600 per week for people who were unemployed March 29 - July 25.

With the expiration this weekend of that enhanced benefit, 30 million people—including unemployed business owners, self-employed people and independent contractors—will find themselves without that additional boost.

Not only will the diminished unemployment benefit have a devastating effect on households whose livelihoods have been decimated by the pandemic, but the decline in consumer spending will have severe consequences for the economy as a whole.

With coronavirus cases surging in recent weeks and states either rolling back or slowing plans for reopening, one might reasonably ask why Congress doesn’t simply extend the enhanced benefit for the unemployed.

Here’s your answer: Republicans believe the additional $600 per week is a disincentive for unemployed people to find work.

Indeed, according to one study the lowest paid employees are actually getting more in unemployment relief than they were earning while working.

A superficial analysis may lead some to conclude that pandemic unemployment benefits are too generous.

However, a more considered analysis begs another question: how bad are American wages if 68% of those laid off during the pandemic make more money while unemployed than they were while working?

That’s because while U.S. workers have become more productive, the gains of that increased productivity have accrued almost entirely to the profit margins of owners and shareholders. 

This decoupling of productivity and pay explains not only the rise in income inequality, but the fact that people in their 20s and 30s are the first generation of Americans to make less than their parents did.

And we already know Black people are disproportionately represented in low wage jobs and disproportionately affected by coronavirus layoffs.

So the expiration of enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits will hit Black people especially hard.

🎧 The Michelle Obama Podcast

Through a partnership with Netflix the Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, first gave us Becoming. Now, the Obamas are partnering with Spotify to present The Michelle Obama Podcast, set to debut on Wednesday July 29.  

🎥 Master P: No Limit Chronicles

Master P’s No Limit Chronicles debuts, Wednesday, July 29 on BET at 9 pm EST.  The five-part docuseries chronicles P’s rise from an aspiring artist in New Orleans to a multimillion dollar media mogul.

For an introduction to music mogul Master P start here. You won’t regret it. 

🚨 The Battle of Portland

For weeks since Minneapolis police murdered of George Floyd, police in Portland had been out of control—indiscriminately firing tear gas and impact munitions at protesters, assaulting journalists and making a number of what can only be described as false arrests.

Ted Wheeler, the embattled mayor of Portland, defended police lawlessness as necessary for keeping the peace.

Then, after chaotic July 4, federal troops came in and upped the ante. 

While the Portland Police Bureau must announce warnings ahead of its routine escalations against civilians, the federal detachment has no such requirement.

It remains unclear as to which agencies these federal troops belong. (And to be clear, federal agents donning military camouflage and using military combat tactics against civilians can be accurately referred to as a “federal troops.”)

What is clear is that everything the federal troops are doing is perfectly legal—including patrolling the streets in unmarked vans and arresting people for unspecified charges, without probable cause

What is also clear is that the purported Black Lives Matter uprising in lily white Portland has long since transformed into a general uprising against the police state.

READ: What You Need to Know About the Battle of Portland

LISTEN: On the Front Lines of the Battle of Portland

👀 Don’t call it a comeback

In March of this year, former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum banished himself into obscurity after a particularly salacious scandal.

The scandal was quickly and completely drowned out by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. That is divine timing if we’ve ever seen it. People had all but forgotten about it…

...until now.

This week—as the nation contends with a global pandemic and civil unrest—Andrew Gillum reinserted himself into the headlines by posting an 11-minute video that can only be described as an update on his journey through rehab and therapy.

The move was as baffling as it was both ill-advised and poorly timed. The only explanation we can come up with is that some political operative must have calculated that with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ apparent quest to monkey up the state’s coronavirus response, now might be a good time for Gillum to wage a comeback.

But this was no comeback. Not even the beginnings of one. Instead, the video came across as little more than a slightly awkward and nakedly egocentric stunt to remain relevant. 

If Gillum does indeed plan to make a comeback, he needs to do more than make teasing allusions and glancing references to what happened; he must address the scandal head on. (Or, as a private citizen, decide to not talk about it at all; but that party boat has already left the dock.)

Only then can Gillum have any hope for a political future.

And only then will Florida be that much closer to having a governor who is exceedingly more competent than a circus monkey.

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