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Disaster Capitalism ‘Hits New Heights’ as Wall Street Profiteers Cash In on Recovery Loans

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KENNY STANCIL, CommonDreams

Critics of post-crisis profiteering responded with disgust to new reporting that private financial institutions in the U.S. are taking advantage of the federal government’s failure to respond swiftly to disasters by providing loans—to be repaid, with interest, by taxpayers—to landlords affected by floods, wildfires, and other catastrophes that are growing in frequency and intensity due to the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency.

“A few profit and the rest of us pay.”

The New York Times reported Tuesday that disaster “victims often wait years for help to get back into their homes because money for repairs moves so slowly.” 

The recovery process often exacerbates class and racial inequalities, as renters—who are more likely to have low incomes and are disproportionately people of color—typically wait longerthan homeowners for aid. A new initiative seeks to reduce the amount of time tenants are forced to wait, but instead of expediting public assistance, it creates a profit-making opportunity for Wall Street.

According to the Times, “The program, funded in part by the financial giant Morgan Stanley, will pay owners of apartment buildings to rebuild more quickly, so they don’t have to wait for federal funds.”

The newspaper explained:

Enterprise and Morgan Stanley said they will begin loaning money to owners of multifamily rental buildings to repair the damage to those complexes, making it quicker for renters to move back home.

The loans are to be paid back with interest using disaster money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to Enterprise. The department provides the bulk of federal disaster recovery money through its Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery [CDBG-DR] program.

Morgan Stanley declined an interview request. Joan Tally, managing director for community development finance at Morgan Stanley, said in a statement that the program would “accelerate the flow of capital for affordable rental housing in communities impacted by natural disasters.”

Natalie Bennett, a British parliamentarian from the Green Party, criticized the program—which is beginning in Iowa, Louisiana, and Oregon—for privatizing federal disaster relief. 

With a nod to author Naomi Klein—who coined the term in her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine—Bennet said, “Disaster capitalism hits new heights.”

According to research from the Urban Institute, HUD’s CDBG-DR program starts distributing funds 20 months after a disaster, on average, and is typically still allocating money two years after that.

“The amount of damage inflicted by disasters is a choice. If Congress wanted to make it easier and faster to rebuild, it could do so.”

“The delay in distributing the money reflects the ad hoc nature of HUD’s disaster recovery spending,” the Timesreported. “Congress has never given the department permission to establish a permanent program for disasters. Instead, lawmakers must decide after every disaster whether to give HUD money to help victims.”

While noting that investment banks are treating “administrative burdens as rent-seeking opportunities,” Donald Moynihan, a public policy professor at Georgetown University, argued that congressional lawmakers deserve most of the blame for the slow disbursement of post-disaster recovery funds.

Citing a line from the Times‘ article that has since been cut—in which an unnamed HUD official said that the agency “could reduce the time it takes to provide disaster money by as much as 90% if Congress made the disaster-recovery program permanent”—Moynihan noted that it “seems a lot easier and cheaper to make an emergency fund permanent rather than pay private lender fees.”

“In the absence of fixes to the disaster recovery program, climate experts said the new lending arrangement from Enterprise and Morgan Stanley was useful,” the Times reported. “That program ‘responds to a real need,’ said Liz Koslov, a professor in the urban planning department at the University of California, Los Angeles. But she said it was nonetheless problematic, part of a broader trend of private companies that profit from disasters.”

Christopher Flavelle, the Times journalist who wrote the story, tweetedWednesday: “I’ve been covering climate adaptation for a while, and what I think most people don’t realize is that the amount of damage inflicted by disasters is a choice. If Congress wanted to make it easier and faster to rebuild, it could do so.”


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After COP26, US President Under Fire for ‘Failing to Act on Fossil Fuels’

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“We’re in a five-alarm fire, but Biden refuses to use a firehose.”

JESSICA CORBETT, Common Dreams

As climate campaigners worldwide on Saturday slammed the United Nations summit in Scotland and its resulting Glasgow Climate Pact as betrayals of the Global South by rich countries that have polluted the planet, U.S. President Joe Biden faced growing pressure to improve both his national and global policies.

“Failing to act on fossil fuels is beyond climate denial, it’s climate atrocity.”

The fresh demands built on previous comments and calls throughout COP26—such as a Friday statement Food & Water Watch, whose policy director Mitch Jones saidthat “this White House should fulfill its campaign promise to stop oil and gas drilling on public lands, put an end to oil and gas exports, and stop approving new dirty energy power plants and pipelines.”

As the summit ended a day late with the pact that critics worry won’t lead to the international community meeting the Paris agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal for this century, Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity, highlighted U.S. failures.

“We’re in a five-alarm fire, but Biden refuses to use a firehose,” Su said in a statement. “President Biden can use his unique set of executive powers to stop fossil fuel project approvals and declare a climate emergency, but he isn’t. Failing to act on fossil fuels is beyond climate denial, it’s climate atrocity.”

Su’s group pointed out that declaring a national climate emergency “would allow the president to reinstate the crude oil export ban and use military funds to deploy just and distributed energy systems in the communities most harmed by the fossil-fueled energy system.”

Although Biden attended the summit last week and his administration is backing global efforts to cut emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane, end public financing of fossil fuels, and halt deforestation, the center’s statement noted lack of U.S. support for a pledge to phase out coal-fired power plants and a “groundbreaking” new alliance.

“In Glasgow President Biden showed he’s content with the status quo of relentless fossil fuel pollution punishing people and the planet,” said Su. “Real climate leadership came from countries like Denmark and Costa Rica who led the historic Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, committing to ending the fossil fuel era.”

The United States also joined with the European Union and the United Kingdom—which hosted the conference—to quash the proposed creation of a new mechanism to make rich nations pay for the devastating climate impacts that global frontline communities are already enduring.

“As the largest historic emitter of climate-heating pollution, the U.S. must reach into its deep pockets to pay its fair share to the people who suffer from a crisis they did little to create,” Su said. “Paying that climate debt of loss and damage is a matter of fundamental justice. The U.S.’s blockage of loss and damage finance is a betrayal of the communities most impacted by the climate catastrophe.”

“There’s still time for Biden to unlock his climate superpowers by stopping fossil fuel project approvals and declaring a climate emergency,” Su said. “He can start by canceling the giant lease sale scheduled for the Gulf next week, and making that a transformative moment for putting people over polluters.”

Over 250 advocacy groups are pushing the president to stop the sale. In a letter to Biden, they wrote that “you promised to address the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves, and in Glasgow, you assured the world that your plans to cut emissions are a fait accompli, not mere rhetoric. Selling more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas development just days after the international climate talks makes a mockery of those commitments.”

“There is still time to keep your promise to end new leases on public lands and waters and address environmental racism,” the groups’ letter added. “Please utilize your existing authority and defer Lease Sale 257 to reckon with the latest evidence and properly estimate and acknowledge the full range of impacts from lease sales in this region.”

There are also numerous other campaign promises that Biden hasn’t yet delivered on—many of which are contained in the Build Back Better budget reconciliation package that Democrats are aiming to send to the president’s desk as early as this coming week.

“Quickly securing the Build Back Better Act is a crucial step for the United States to meet its domestic and international clean energy and climate goals.”

However, fears have mounted over the the Build Back Better Act’s future since right-wing Democrats in a U.S. House of Representatives convinced party leadership to decouple the broad climate and social package from a Senate-approved bipartisan physical infrastructure bill. Now that both chambers have passed the latter, some progressives worry select Democrats will try to further weaken or fully kill the former.

Rachel Cleetus, a policy director and lead economist in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said Saturday that “quickly securing the Build Back Better Act is a crucial step for the United States to meet its domestic and international clean energy and climate goals while addressing environmental injustices and delivering benefits to working people.”

“Moreover, the U.S. Congress and the Biden administration must galvanize the funding needed to meet U.S. responsibilities to climate-vulnerable developing countries, including for loss and damage,” Cleetus added. “Countries must also seize the numerous bilateral and multilateral opportunities to raise their collective ambition in the lead up to COP27, slated to take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022.”

Black cyclist brutally beaten by white man who says he’s ‘making people nervous’ in the neighborhood

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Rebekah Sager, Daily Kos Staff

It’s been over a week since 50-year-old Black cyclist Elliot Reed was mercilessly beaten by a racist white man while riding through his neighborhood in Seabrook, Texas, a suburb of Houston. 

The white man has been identified as 25-year-old Colin Fries, who according to Reed, stopped his car next to Reed on Oct. 29 at a stop sign and began to berate him, telling Reed he didn’t belong in there. 

“He’s just looking at me at the stop sign,” Reed told KPRC2. “He said, ‘You need to get out of this neighborhood because you’re making a lot of people nervous.’ He said, ‘You don’t live here, and if I catch you, I’m gonna do something to you,’” Reed says. 

Reed tried to ignore Fries, but when Fries got out of his pickup truck, Reed took out his cell phone to record the encounter. 

“I asked him, ‘Are you the law, sir? What’s going on?’ He said, ‘You’re just making people nervous,’” Reed said. When Fries got out of the car he began using the N-word, Reed says. 

Bystanders reported to police that Fries began chasing Reed, and when he caught up to him on the sidewalk, he started punching him until he passed out. According to witnesses, Fries punched Reed over a dozen times, even after he fell unconscious. 

The savage attack left Reed with cuts on his face, a broken tooth, a fractured cheekbone, and a burst blood vessel in his eye.

But, of course, this is Texas, so the Harris County District Attorney’s office has only charged Fries with a misdemeanor for aggravated assault. 

Reed’s wife, Angie Reed, says she believes her husband was attacked for one reason and one reason only: “because he Black.”

She says when went to see her husband after the attack and walked into the hospital room, “I started crying and the nurses started crying.” She says her husband will need surgery to repair the damage to his eye and the attack could have cost him his life. 

“It was the witnesses who told the police that he was hit about 12 times after he was already unconscious,” she said.

She added, “I don’t care where you live, you don’t deserve to be disrespected by the color of your skin.”

Fries reportedly was arrested and released on a bond of $100 after being charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault, a charge Angie Reed called “insulting and disrespectful.”

A representative from the attorney general’s office said in a statement, “We are still in the initial stages of reviewing this incident … What happens in relation to an increase in the charge or an addition to a hate crime will depend on the entirety of the evidence.”

According to KPCR2, Seabrook Police Chief Sean Wright said the incident didn’t appear to be a hate crime, citing previous “conflict” between neighbors. 

The Reeds say they don’t know Fries. They never met the man. 

“I don’t feel safe in my own neighborhood where I pay taxes and am a law-abiding citizen of Seabrook,” Reed said.

*Since some folks in the community asked: If you’d like to help Mr. Reed, his wife launched a GoFundMe for his medical expenses

This story first appeared on DailyKos.

Judge Fired After Saying George Floyd ‘Got What He Deserved’

ATLANTA DAILY WORLD — Nearly eight months ago, a 78-page complaint was filed against Talladega County Probate Judge Randy Jinks. In the lengthy complaint, former county employees alleged Jinks called George Floyd “just another thug” and “he got what he deserved.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with the police killing him,” Jinks said, according to the complaint.

Black Information Network | Atlanta Daily World

A judge in Alabama is out of a job after making comments that many found to be deeply offensive.

Nearly eight months ago, a 78-page complaint was filed against Talladega County Probate Judge Randy Jinks. In the lengthy complaint, former county employees alleged Jinks called George Floyd “just another thug” and “he got what he deserved.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with the police killing him,” Jinks said, according to the complaint.

The 78-page complaint also claims that he mouthed the word, n—–, at a former deputy clerk and threatened to fire an employee if they continued to participate in social justice marches. In another instance, Jinks is accused of insinuating that a Black worker sold drugs because they had a nicer car than him.

“I’m the judge and I can’t even afford a Mercedes. What you doing, selling drugs?”

Jinks has denied the allegations made against him. Instead, he claims that his “remarks were taken completely out of context.”

“Judge Jinks remarks were taken completely out of context and cast in a light calculated to besmirch the Judge’s character and further the accusatory employees attempts to remove him from office. Racism was imputed into the statements he made. His every action and utterance was documented and interpreted in the worst possible light,” Jinks’ attorney, Amanda Hardy, told AL.com.

“A few employees made this very serious public allegation against a public official based on pure speculation and that is what the evidence showed. Closer scrutiny should have led to a more measured response to this case.”

Ultimately, a nine-person panel was compelled by the 78-page report and voted unanimously to remove him from his position. Not only did the panel take issue with the statements Jinks is accused of making, but the panel also determined that he displayed “a sexually inappropriate demeanor.” The panel also determined that he “showed a subordinate a sexually explicit video in the workplace.”

Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264

The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001

For more mental health resources, click HERE.

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The post Judge Fired After Saying George Floyd ‘Got What He Deserved’ appeared first on Atlanta Daily World.

CarePlus Introduces Medicare Advantage Plan to Benefit Floridians with Chronic Lung Conditions, Including COPD

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In addition to its new CareBreeze (HMO C-SNP) plan for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic lung disorders, the company also offers the CareComplete (HMO C-SNP) plan for people with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

MIAMI — 

CarePlus Introduces Medicare Advantage Plan to Benefit Floridians with Chronic Lung Conditions, Including COPD

In addition to its new CareBreeze (HMO C-SNP) plan for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic lung disorders, the company also offers the CareComplete (HMO C-SNP) plan for people with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

MIAMI — CarePlus Health Plans, Inc., Florida’s largest* Medicare Advantage plan rated 5 out of 5 stars for 2022, is expanding its chronic condition plan offerings, adding CareBreeze (HMO C-SNP), a new 2022 Medicare Advantage plan designed to enhance quality of life and optimize disease treatment for people living with chronic lung conditions, such as COPD.

The Florida Department of Health reports that 14% of Floridians have been diagnosed with a chronic lung disorder. The CareBreeze plan is offered to benefit people living with pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and COPD, which encompasses asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

The new CareBreeze (HMO C-SNP) Medicare option will be available during the Medicare enrollment period –which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2021, for plan coverage taking effect Jan. 1, 2022. People eligible for Medicare may also make a one-time switch from a plan rated less than 5 stars to a plan with a 5-star rating during the 5-star Special Enrollment Period, which takes place from Dec. 8 to Nov. 30 of the following year.

“We’re excited to deepen our commitment to Florida Medicare beneficiaries who live with chronic conditions,” said CarePlus Vice President of Health Services Dr. Madeleine Rodriguez. “Not only are these plans designed to help people better manage their health conditions and, hopefully, improve their quality of life, but they’re also designed to make managing these conditions more affordable.”

According to Dr. Rodriguez, chronic lung diseases may:

  • Cause the feeling of being “air hungry” from the lungs having to work harder to obtain oxygen for the body
  • Impact essential tasks, such as grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments
  • Limit social activities, like attending family gatherings, leading to isolation.

CareBreeze provides additional health benefits that specifically help people who have chronic lung disorders. It includes access to physicians who specialize in treating chronic lung disorders, as well as health programs designed to serve the specialized needs of people with these conditions.

“Our goal is to work with our CarePlus members and their primary care physicians to create the optimal treatment plan, which includes comprehensive assessment, creating goals, treatment options, prescription management, education and encouragement,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

CarePlus also offers CareComplete, a chronic condition special needs plan (HMO C-SNP) for people living with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which is also available during Medicare’s enrollment period.

CarePlus is a recognized leader in healthcare delivery that has been offering Medicare Advantage health plans in Florida for over 20 years. On Oct. 8, for the fourth year in a row and for the fifth time overall, CarePlus Health Plans achieved 5 out of 5 stars – the highest possible rating – from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the 2022 plan year.

Benefits of the CareBreeze and CareComplete (HMO C-SNP) plans include:

  • Prescription drug coverage – even during the coverage gap
  • Affordable copay on select insulins with the Insulin Savings Program
  • An allowance to order covered over-the-counter products
  • $0 copay for routine dental, vision, and hearing coverage
  • $0 copay for primary care physician visits
  • Transportation to approved locations
  • $500 yearly allowance for CarePlus Flexible Care Assistance, if coordinated and authorized by a care manager for primarily health related additional needs.

Florida residents seeking more information about enrolling in a CarePlus Medicare Advantage health plan can visit www.careplushealthplans.com or speak with a licensed CarePlus sales agent by calling 1-855-450-1352 (TTY: 711).

CarePlus currently serves approximately 200,000* Medicare members throughout Florida.

About CarePlus Health Plans

CarePlus Health Plans, Inc. is dedicated to improving the lives of Medicare beneficiaries in Florida. We provide affordable, reliable healthcare and prescription drug coverage that helps our members maintain and improve their health so they can enjoy happy, active, and independent lives.

CarePlus offers Medicare Advantage plans with comprehensive benefits designed to meet a variety of needs. We partner with and support our physicians, pharmacists, dentists, and other healthcare providers who we trust to take good care of our community. Through our partnership with the ACCESS Florida Department of Children and Families, CarePlus Health Plans, Inc.’s Social Services department assists members to apply for public assistance through a variety of state and federal programs. This assistance and guidance is completely voluntary and offered at no additional cost.

CarePlus has supported Florida residents with their Medicare options for over 20 years. Based in Florida, with corporate offices in Miami and Tampa, we serve approximately 200,000 members across South Florida, West Florida, Central Florida, and Atlantic Coast.

For more information, visit CarePlusHealthPlans.com

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system.

*According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Advantage (MA) Membership Reports, September 2021.      

CarePlus is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in CarePlus depends on contract renewal. Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system.

, adding CareBreeze (HMO C-SNP), a new 2022 Medicare Advantage plan designed to enhance quality of life and optimize disease treatment for people living with chronic lung conditions, such as COPD.

The Florida Department of Health reports that 14% of Floridians have been diagnosed with a chronic lung disorder. The CareBreeze plan is offered to benefit people living with pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and COPD, which encompasses asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

The new CareBreeze (HMO C-SNP) Medicare option will be available during the Medicare enrollment period –which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2021, for plan coverage taking effect Jan. 1, 2022. People eligible for Medicare may also make a one-time switch from a plan rated less than 5 stars to a plan with a 5-star rating during the 5-star Special Enrollment Period, which takes place from Dec. 8 to Nov. 30 of the following year.

“We’re excited to deepen our commitment to Florida Medicare beneficiaries who live with chronic conditions,” said CarePlus Vice President of Health Services Dr. Madeleine Rodriguez. “Not only are these plans designed to help people better manage their health conditions and, hopefully, improve their quality of life, but they’re also designed to make managing these conditions more affordable.”

According to Dr. Rodriguez, chronic lung diseases may:

  • Cause the feeling of being “air hungry” from the lungs having to work harder to obtain oxygen for the body
  • Impact essential tasks, such as grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments
  • Limit social activities, like attending family gatherings, leading to isolation.

CareBreeze provides additional health benefits that specifically help people who have chronic lung disorders. It includes access to physicians who specialize in treating chronic lung disorders, as well as health programs designed to serve the specialized needs of people with these conditions.

“Our goal is to work with our CarePlus members and their primary care physicians to create the optimal treatment plan, which includes comprehensive assessment, creating goals, treatment options, prescription management, education and encouragement,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

CarePlus also offers CareComplete, a chronic condition special needs plan (HMO C-SNP) for people living with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which is also available during Medicare’s enrollment period.

CarePlus is a recognized leader in healthcare delivery that has been offering Medicare Advantage health plans in Florida for over 20 years. On Oct. 8, for the fourth year in a row and for the fifth time overall, CarePlus Health Plans achieved 5 out of 5 stars – the highest possible rating – from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the 2022 plan year.

Benefits of the CareBreeze and CareComplete (HMO C-SNP) plans include:

  • Prescription drug coverage – even during the coverage gap
  • Affordable copay on select insulins with the Insulin Savings Program
  • An allowance to order covered over-the-counter products
  • $0 copay for routine dental, vision, and hearing coverage
  • $0 copay for primary care physician visits
  • Transportation to approved locations
  • $500 yearly allowance for CarePlus Flexible Care Assistance, if coordinated and authorized by a care manager for primarily health related additional needs.

Florida residents seeking more information about enrolling in a CarePlus Medicare Advantage health plan can visit www.careplushealthplans.com or speak with a licensed CarePlus sales agent by calling 1-855-450-1352 (TTY: 711).

CarePlus currently serves approximately 200,000* Medicare members throughout Florida.

About CarePlus Health Plans

CarePlus Health Plans, Inc. is dedicated to improving the lives of Medicare beneficiaries in Florida. We provide affordable, reliable healthcare and prescription drug coverage that helps our members maintain and improve their health so they can enjoy happy, active, and independent lives.

CarePlus offers Medicare Advantage plans with comprehensive benefits designed to meet a variety of needs. We partner with and support our physicians, pharmacists, dentists, and other healthcare providers who we trust to take good care of our community. Through our partnership with the ACCESS Florida Department of Children and Families, CarePlus Health Plans, Inc.’s Social Services department assists members to apply for public assistance through a variety of state and federal programs. This assistance and guidance is completely voluntary and offered at no additional cost.

CarePlus has supported Florida residents with their Medicare options for over 20 years. Based in Florida, with corporate offices in Miami and Tampa, we serve approximately 200,000 members across South Florida, West Florida, Central Florida, and Atlantic Coast.

For more information, visit CarePlusHealthPlans.com

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system.

*According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Advantage (MA) Membership Reports, September 2021.      

CarePlus is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in CarePlus depends on contract renewal. Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system.

COMMENTARY: Why Won’t Democrats Fight?

By Julianne Malveaux, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Not a day goes by that I don’t get a text or three from the Democratic National Committee asking for contributions. Sometimes they come from Vice President Harris. Sometimes, from President Biden himself. Occasionally, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or DNC Chair Jaime Harrison. Not to mention the texts that come from Congressional candidates all over the country, looking for $10, $17, or $27. I don’t know where they get these odd numbers from, nor do I know where they got mine. I suppose someone I donated to, sold their list, and I am likely to be cyber-panhandled indefinitely.

I sometimes contribute to Democratic political candidates, as well as to the Democratic party. I’m not so in the mood to contribute these days because Democrats are so busy fighting each other that they won’t put up an aggressive fight for people’s economic rights. They seem willing to streamline the Biden Build Back Better plan instead of insisting that our human infrastructure – childcare and elder care, school improvement – is as critical as our physical one.

To be sure, politics is the art of compromise. Someone needs to send Mitch McConnell the memo. He does not want to raise the debt ceiling, putting a vote on that off until December. He does not want Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure repair plan. He does not want to guarantee voting rights. And few Republicans are willing to stand up to him, instead of hiding behind party unity, even when they know better.

But I’m not worried about Republicans. I’m angry about the dithering Democrats who can’t seem to get off their rusty duffs and do what they were elected to do. I’m mad at the amount of power that has been ceded to West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Krysten Sinema, who would cut the Biden proposal by more than half. If Manchin had his way, the Biden plan would be whittled to $1.5 trillion from the initially proposed $3.5 trillion. Manchin’s colleagues need to invite him to a small room to have an impactful conversation about his role. He also needs to be reminded that many of his constituents in one of our nation’s most impoverished states would benefit mightily from the Biden plan.

While Republicans don’t seem to roll their sleeves up and get into the trenches, some Democrats behave as if they are sipping tea and munching on scones at an afternoon garden party, a portrait in civility. Dems seem reluctant to call some Republicans the liars, hypocrites, and scalawags that they are. While name-calling can be perceived as uncivil, so can lying, cheating, and stealing. Civility plus the filibuster will get the American people nothing. It is time for Democrats to play hardball.

Younger Democratic members of Congress get hardball. They’ve been playing hardball with the older Democratic establishment, vowing not to vote for beneficial legislation if it does not honor their demands, especially for human infrastructure needs. They’ve dug their heels in and have threatened to withhold votes until their demands are heeded. I like their fighting spirit, but not the likely results. Are they prepared to walk away with nothing? A pared-down infrastructure bill? No legislation at all?

President Biden and Vice President Harris, along with other members of the Biden-Harris team, need to take this to the people and the streets. Most people support most provisions of the Build Back Better legislation. West Virginians and Arizonans need to get in Manchin and Sinema’s faces and demand flexibility from them. And Republican senators also need to face a deluge of telephone calls, emails and more, demanding that they budge and put some infrastructure money in the economy.

Democrats are imperiling their chances to keep Congress and the Senate in 2022. Their inaction lets indifferent voters know what going out on a limb for Democrats may not have the desired results when we live with politics as usual. The filibuster elevates the minority over the majority and favors predatory capitalism over fairness.

To be sure, the Biden-Harris Administration has been productive in their short nine months in office, with appointments, regulatory corrections, and more. They’ve also committed too many unforced errors and exposed themselves to public ridicule because of the mistakes (Afghanistan, Haiti, and more). And Dems have allowed themselves to be portrayed as weak quislings who won’t fight for people’s rights.

In some ways, Dems are great at fighting, especially when we are fighting each other. Memo to Dems: Fight enemies of progress, not each other. And don’t expect either votes or contributions if you are unwilling to fight for the people who voted for you.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author and Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State LA.

The Beast Bank Conspiracy

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THE GANTT REPORT, by Lucius Gantt
     Black people all across America are seeing the Black communities they grew up in turning to white neighborhoods.
     There’s no problem with anyone of any race moving into the neighborhood they desire.
     One of the problems with so-called gentrification is the unequal ability to acquire home and property loans.
     There is a devilish plan to move as many Blacks out of the inner cities as possible.
     Whites are tired of the bumper-to-bumper traffic they see trying to get from the suburbs to their downtown office towers.
     So, good bankers have their hands tied when trying to be fair and honest lenders.
      “Redlining” is real and is in full effect.
      In 2021, it’s just like being in 1921. Bubba and Becky, that have a 500 credit score, who live in the trailer park can get a new home loan faster than a Black couple, with a 700 credit score, that lives in a prominent neighborhood [and]can’t go to sleep and dream about getting a home, property or business loan.
      Let me show you how the financial devil works. First thing they do is conspire with each other. The beast bank plan is a group plan. The banks plan with the credit unions, they both have deals with the hard money lenders and all of the financial companies pool money to hire lobbyists to influence politicians to draft laws that will help them to keep Blacks from accumulating property and wealth.
      Well, you may ask, how can beast bankers and other conspirators get you to move from Black communities if you don’t want to?
      Grandma on a fixed income can answer the question for you. When your politicians need money to give out incentives to builders and developers, they jack up the taxes sky high on the family’s houses and the homestead becomes unaffordable.
     If, you can’t see it, feel it. The credit reporting agencies are accomplices to financial crimes.
     Can I prove it? In my mind, yes!
      Imagine having a mortgage for 12 years and making 144 consecutive payments. If you paid your note by check and the lender gets the check on time but lets it sit on a desk for a week, the wicked lender reports to the credit reporters that you were late paying.
      Another example, say you had a catastrophic injury or illness that caused you to be late a few times, lenders won’t lend to you but late payments never disqualify most white borrowers from getting a loan.
     Credit reporters will never consider years and years of “paying as agreed,” instead they will search for the smallest reason to deny you a loan.
     Understand, Black borrowers across America were victims of predatory lending perpetrated by financial predators that were penalized, reprimanded or jailed.
     Don’t act like the money crooks disappeared. They are alive and still predatory.
      Alleged criminal lenders like Litton, changed their name to Ocwen. They are the same people doing the same wicked things. They just changed their name.
      In million and billion dollar transactions, no one believes anyone. Every comment, statement or document has to be vetted.
     No crook, financial or otherwise, can say anything without having proof to back it up.
     When beast bankers and lenders deal with Blacks, instead of looking for reasons to loan to Blacks, they look for reasons to prevent people of color from getting access to capital.
      If you have $30,000 in the bank, banks will decline, in most instances, an opportunity for you to borrow less than the money you have on deposit even if you use your own cash as collateral.
     Listen to modern day neocolonialists or listen to me, African Americans in a capitalist society will never be free until we are financially free.
     Rich Blacks need to try and help poorer Blacks. We need to employ each other, lend to each other, we need to contract with each other and we need to love and take care of each other.
     We cannot depend on lending and financial equity to drop from the sky. Revolutions are fought for land and we can’t buy land to build Black communities if we don’t have financial unity and togetherness.
      How about Black churches and big Black business removing their money from banks that don’t lend to Blacks as a start to show unfair financial companies that people of color are not playing with our money.
      Be fair or we’ll be gone! Hopefully.

Nearly All-White Jury Selected. Can Justice Still Be Done in Arbery Case?

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Time. The great equalizer. No matter how entrenched the emnity, no matter how engrained the system of belief, time has a way of correcting the ship’s course in even the most turbulent of circumstances. Even with an almost all-white jury (eleven white and one black) empaneled in the murder trial of the three white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery for jogging in the “wrong” place at clearly the wrong time, justice remains a real possibility.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that out of 65 prospective jurors, one Black and eleven whites were selected to serve on the jury that will hear the case against Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. Four alternate jurors were also seated. All are white.

There will be those who at first blush will see this jury selection result as another monumental failure of the criminal justice system, after all, the county where Arbery’s killers are being tried is nearly 27% Black. In a perfect world, though, even if thirty percent of the jurors seated were black, the white jurors could still frustrate a unanimous guilty verdict if they were so inclined.

Dripping water will wear away a stone over time. The injustices to which blacks have been treated have become more acutely in focus in recent years. Once rejected out-of-hand by even well-intentioned whites, the fact of disparate treatment applied systematically in the “sacred and hallowed” halls of justice is harder now for anyone to deny– even those determined to justify it.

What used to be hidden is fully in the light, and over time whites have come to accept, however begrudgingly, that justice must indeed become blind if it to exist at all. As Sarah Dessen, in her book, Just Listen, opined: “There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart.” 

Consider also that blended families are everywhere today– and not the type that existed back when “Massa” was sleeping with the slaves. We’re just far enough away from the days of black codes and the KKK for whites to begin saying “No” to other whites who would disrespect and kill blacks with impunity. A lot of them have grandchildren of mixed parentage who look to them for counsel and advice.

Call me naive, but I believe that the the evidence will show the three defendants to be guilty of capital murder, and I fully expect that the jury will do the right thing and return with the proper verdict. But I have no mystical crystal ball. As is always ultimately the case, time will most certainly tell.

OP-ED: Senate Republicans Block This Generation’s Voting Rights Act: Will President Biden Meet the Challenge? 

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By Ben Jealous Across the country, Republican state legislators have been busy imposing new voting restrictions and devising corrupt redistricting schemes to give their party more power than they could win under a fair system. Republicans in the U.S. Senate protected that wrongdoing again in October by using filibuster rules to stop federal voting rights legislation from coming up for debate. This is political obstruction of justice, and President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats must not allow it to stand. One day before Senate Republicans made it clear that they have no interest in protecting the right to vote or a healthy democracy, 25 religious and civil rights leaders and voting rights activists were arrested in front of the White House. Hundreds more joined us in solidarity as we marched, sang, prayed, and demanded stronger leadership from President Biden. We know that President Biden is a supporter of voting rights. His stirring speech at the National Constitution Center called voting rights the test of our time and brought moral clarity to our cause. Now we need presidential action that matches the urgency of Biden’s words and the urgency of our time. In the eight years since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, dozens of states have erected new barriers that target voters who are Black, brown, female, and young. A flurry of new laws was introduced this year after record voter turnout contributed to the defeat of President Donald Trump and the loss of Republican control in the Senate. The new wave of voter suppression is a direct response to last year’s expansive voter participation. These laws do more than undermine democracy. They defile it. Rather than celebrating efforts to broaden citizens participation, they seek to squelch it. Rather than expand the franchise, they seek to narrow it.   The Freedom to Vote Act would reverse many of the new anti-voter laws. It would expand access to voting by mail and early voting, make voter registration automatic, and make Election Day a federal holiday. Together, these measures will increase access to voting for working people, Black and brown voters, women, and people with disabilities. The bill will also end abusive partisan redistricting and help stop billionaires from buying our elections. All 50 Senate Democrats support the Freedom to Vote Act, as does Kamala Harris, our nation’s first woman Vice President, who is prepared to cast the 51st vote. But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has demanded that his colleagues keep that vote from happening. They are preventing the will of the people from being realized.  With voter suppression and partisan redistricting threatening next year’s elections, we don’t have time to wait. . The Freedom to Vote Act must become law now.  President Biden must use all his personal influence and the power of his office to protect voting rights. He must publicly call on Senate Democrats not to let Republicans’ resort to the tactics of Jim Crow succeed in blocking voting rights protections for our generation. Those of us who have gathered at the White House are keenly aware of the generations of activists who put their bodies on the line to secure and expand the right to vote—including suffragists who faced beatings for having the audacity to demand the right to vote for women, and activists who risked and sometimes gave their lives to protect Black Americans’ right to vote. And we know the essential role that presidential leadership has played in overcoming resistance to voting rights. This is a time for the “good trouble” that the great John Lewis called for at the height of the civil rights movement. We will be back at the White House throughout the fall, in greater numbers, to demand that President Biden do what it takes to get voting rights legislation onto his desk and signed into law this year. Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way. Jealous has decades of experience as a leader, coalition builder, campaigner for social justice and seasoned nonprofit executive. In 2008, he was chosen as the youngest-ever president and CEO of the NAACP. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and he has taught at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania

Know Your Religion

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The Gantt Report, By Lucius Gantt

     I’ve been writing editorial and opinion columns for most of my life. My writing longevity has endured because I’m smart enough to know to stay away from writing about “hair” and “religion”.

     Well, today I’ll try to give readers an impartial view on Christianity, Islam and Black people.

      First, let me say I have always been interested in worship and religion. As a child, Sunday School was enjoyable to me. Bible stories intrigued me.

     In college, I majored in Journalism but people don’t know I also had enough credits to have a major in Philosophy where I focused my studies on theology and ethics.

     In my professional career, I worked for or with many so-called religious leaders of various faiths. I interacted with Christians, Muslims, Santeros, Yorubas, Hebrew Israelites, Jehovahs and others. I worshiped at churches, mosques, Kingdom Halls, ceremonies and enjoyed myself at all of these and other different places.

      So, today’s column has been on my mind but difficult to express or explain.

      Let’s get to it!

      Africa is, and has always been, the center of the world. Africa was first to practice religion. Religion didn’t originate in the caves of Europe and slide down to the Motherland, it came from Southern Africa and traveled north.

       These words of former Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta has significance to me today. Kenyatta said, “When the missionaries came, Africans had the land and missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened our eyes, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

      If you don’t know, Christianity and Islam both have African origins. We taught them about God and religion in the beginning but today we imitate them and believe their methods of worship and their way to get close to the Heavenly Father.

     Now, don’t twist what I’m writing. All religious beliefs and all religious practices deserve some respect. We all have to reach God in our own way.

      My question is in this time of Critical Race Theory, why can’t we consider our history as it relates to how we people of African origin have related to Christians and Muslims.

      Not only do Christians and Muslims have a history of enslaving, exploiting and oppressing our ancestors, some religious factions treat us differently today and you can add the actions of Jews, and Judaism, that mimic the faiths mentioned previously.

     In my mind, good people that worship God should do some good things like love God and love your neighbors.

     You don’t bomb Black African countries, you don’t bomb Black churches, you don’t gun down Black parishioners attending Bible study classes and you don’t burn crosses in the yards of Black community activists.

     Don’t act like all believers in certain faiths act the same. Some religions and their leaders don’t even treat members of their own congregations the same way.

     The wealthy members attending churches and mosques don’t get treated like the homeless, mentally ill or struggling members of the congregation.

     White Evangelicals and white Muslims usually vote differently than Black Christians and Black Muslims.     

      All Muslims should know Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi, an African that was the first mu’azzin (prayer caller). Why Muslims, like Christians, sold Africans as slaves over several centuries, I don’t know.

     Back in the day, Jesus and Prophet Muhammad lived, dressed like and associated with their Believers.

     When doing media work for Rev. Henry Lyons at a past National Baptist Convention in Denver, Colorado I never saw so much gold, so many diamonds and so many luxury vehicles.

     Today, we have to study the religions we choose to practice. We had religion before missionaries, peace core workers, civilization bringers and democracy bringers came to Africa and we had religion before our ancestors were kidnapped and brought to Arabia and America.

     Our religion must recognize us, consider us and assist us. God deserves all of the honor, praise and glory. In most religions you praise God, not the messenger, the preacher, Imam or religious leader.

     It’s not a mystery why so many crooks and criminals find God after being incarcerated. Spending time in the chapel may help you get out of jail but you have to change your own mind and your own heart.

     Obviously, it is important to have a good relationship with God. God protects His soldiers.

     You know how tricky the devil is. Don’t be fooled by uninformed opinion writers or by devils in Angelic clothing. KNOW YOUR RELIGION!