One of the most devastating effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic has been its debilitating impact on the economy and the vast changes made to the job market and wealth inequality.
The poor in the United States have grown significantly poorer, with tens of millions of Americans being plunged into unemployment, hunger, and an inability to pay rent. Small businesses deemed nonessential have been forced to shut down or trim operations to a bare minimum, and even major corporations have filed for bankruptcy protection and laid off swathes of their workforce. The effect this has had on low-income communities has been nothing short of ruinous.
In the meantime, attempts to alleviate the suffering of poor Americans have stalled, with federal support for unemployed Americans set to end just days after Christmas just as the United States faces a massive and renewed surge of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Amid the crisis, Democrats have rallied behind the updated HEROES Act, a $2.2 trillion bill passed by the House in October, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi championing the bill as an emergency funding measure that would keep community budgets afloat by injecting $700 billion into state, local and tribal governments.
And while the HEROES Act has been touted as allocating much-needed funds toward first responders and crucial community programs such as library services, public schools, and colleges, auditors at OpenTheBooks found that some $350 million in coronavirus “aid” would go toward the nation’s 50 richest communities listed in the Bloomberg 2020 Richest Places with Heroes Act coronavirus bailouts.
The watchdogs found that the average annual income in these areas ranged from $262,988 in Darnestown, MD, to $525,324 in Atherton, CA – rather astronomical sums for many Americans who are struggling to pay their electrical bills and fill their pantries with basic staple foods.
And while $350 million may seem like a paltry sum in the context of a $2.2 trillion bill, the discovery raises an important question – why should some of the poorest communities that have faced disproportionate impacts from the pandemic essentially subsidize the country’s wealthiest ZIP codes?
The discovery reveals that rather than being the progressive party that truly fights for the interests of the working poor and middle class, the Democrats may be just as beholden to their wealthy constituents as their Republican counterparts are.
Forbes published how much the top 10 wealthiest communities in the United States would receive through their HEROES Act bailouts:
#1. Atherton, CA (income: $525,324/ bailout: $3.8 million) – The exclusive Silicon Valley community has median home prices of $7.5 million and Atherton is home to tech billionaires and major professional athletes like Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who has a $31 million home in the area. Whatsapp founder Jan Koum also purchased a “mega-compound” in Atherton for $57 million.
#2. Scarsdale, NY (income: $452,041/ bailout: $8.8 million) – Lying just 35 minutes from New York City by train, Scarsdale is the richest town on the East Coast with a median home sales price of $1.2 million. Stars who have bought homes in Scarsdale include Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
#3. Hillsborough, CA (income: $430,681/ bailout: $5.7 million) – Another exclusive Bay Area community, Hillsborough has a median home price of $5.4 million. Local notables include such decidedly un-poor residents like Elon Musk, Jenny Craig and Jimmy Kimmel.
#4. Cherry Hills Village, CO (income: $406,314/ bailout: $3.3 million) – Located 10 miles from Denver, Cherry Hills Village has a median home price of $2 million. Prominent community members include NFL superstars John Elway and Peyton Manning, while diplomatic heavyweights Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice graduated from the town’s private schools.
#5. Los Altos Hills, CA (income: $405,073/ bailout: $4.2 million) – Another Silicon Valley enclave, Los Altos Hills has a median home price of $3 million. Tech oligarchs living in the town include Google founder Sergey Brin and Israeli billionaire and tech capitalist Yuri Milner, who purchased a $100 million here.
#6. Short Hills, NJ (income: $388,760/ bailout: $6.5 million) – Considered a suburb of New York City suburb, the community is home to a number of wealthy CEOs, actors, pro sports players, and authors.
#7. Highland Park, TX (income: $365,025/ bailout: $4.5 million) – The richest town in the Lone Star State lies just five miles north of Dallas and has a median home price of $1.5 million. It’s located five miles north of Dallas. Notables include Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former Texas Gov. Bill Clements.
#8. Glencoe, IL (income: $358,543/ bailout: $4.4 million) – Lying just north of Chicago along Lake Michigan, Glencoe is the richest town in Illinois. Local luminaries include Groupon founder Eric Lefkofsky and author Scott Turow.
#9. Winnetka, IL (income: $353,700/ bailout: $6.1 million) – This village neighboring Glencoe was the site where beloved Hollywood comedies of the ‘80s and ‘90s were filmed, including Home Alone, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck, National Lampoon Christmas, Risky Business, and Breakfast Club.
#10. Darien, CT (income: $352,839/ bailout: $10.7 million) – The posh East Coast town is home to a number of actors, politicians, and CEOs, and teems with at least nine country clubs.
Republicans have rightly been criticized for opposing aid for renters, student debtors, and the unemployed in favor of tax cuts for the ultra-rich and handing over taxpayer funds to transnational corporations. However, Democrats should also be held to account for their attempts to hand over taxpayer funds to those who clearly need it the least during the present crisis.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.