Environment, Global Warming

U.N. Climate Talks End With Few Commitments and a ‘Lost’ Opportunity.
By Somini Sengupta Dec. 15, 2019

In what was widely denounced as one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations, United Nations talks ended early Sunday morning with the United States and other big polluters blocking even a nonbinding measure that would have encouraged countries to adopt more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions next year. Because the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, it was the last chance, at least for some time, for American delegates to sit at the negotiating table at the annual talks — and perhaps a turning point in global climate negotiations, given the influence that Washington has long wielded, for better or worse, in the discussions. The Trump administration used the meeting to push back on a range of proposals, including a mechanism to compensate developing countries for losses that were the result of more intense storms, droughts, rising seas and other effects of global warming. The annual negotiations, held in Madrid this year, demonstrated the vast gaps between what scientists say the world needs and what the world’s most powerful leaders are prepared to even discuss, let alone do.

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class, Economy, Minimum Wage, poverty, Social Problems

Opinion: Double the Federal Minimum Wage. State and local governments are proving that higher minimum-wage standards are good for workers. Congress should take the lesson. By The Editorial Board The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom. Dec. 30, 2019

Opponents of minimum-wage laws have long argued that companies have only so much money and, if required to pay higher wages, they will employ fewer workers. Now there is evidence that such concerns, never entirely sincere, are greatly overstated. Over the past five years, a wave of increases in state and local minimum-wage standards has pushed the average effective minimum wage in the United States to the highest level on record. The average worker must be paid at least $11.80 an hour — more after inflation than the last peak, in the 1960s, according to an analysis by the economist Ernie Tedeschi.

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class, Housing, Social Problems

Opinion Only Washington Can Solve the Nation’s Housing Crisis. The federal government once promised to provide homes for every American. What happened? By Lizabeth Cohen Dr. Cohen is the author of the forthcoming “Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age.” July 10, 2019

In recent months America’s affordable housing crisis, a long-simmering issue for people of low and moderate incomes, has burst onto the front page. Rents are rising much faster than income, while the median home price in some 200 cities is $1 million. After a decade of decline, the number of homeless Americans is ticking back up. The private market is clearly failing. Although many city and state governments are motivated to take action, they have limited tools at their disposal, and few of them equal to the task. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, at least under its current leadership, is hardly stepping up.

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Healthcare, Social Problems, Social Safety Net

Medicaid Covers a Million Fewer Children. Baby Elijah Was One of Them. Officials point to rising employment, but the uninsured rate is climbing as families run afoul of new paperwork and as fear rises among immigrants. By Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz . Oct. 22, 2019

HOUSTON — The baby’s lips were turning blue from lack of oxygen in the blood when his mother, Kristin Johnson, rushed him to an emergency room here last month. Only after he was admitted to intensive care with a respiratory virus did Ms. Johnson learn that he had been dropped from Medicaid coverage.

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African-Americans, Education, Race, Wisconsin

The video was created to show off the University of Wisconsin. Instead, it set off a furor, and a reckoning over what it means to be a black student on campus. By Julie Bosman, Emily Shetler and Natalie Yahr. Jan. 1, 2020 MADISON, Wis.

— The video was just two minutes long: a sunny montage of life at the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus in Madison. Here were hundreds of young men and women cheering at a football game, dancing in unison, riding bicycles in a sleek line, “throwing the W” for the camera, singing a cappella, leaping into a lake. “Home is where we grow together,” a voice-over said. “It’s where the hills are. It’s eating our favorite foods. It’s where we can all harmonize as one. Home is Wisconsin cheese curds. It’s welcoming everyone into our home.” Advertisement Continue reading the main story Days before Homecoming Week, the student homecoming committee, tasked with producing the video, posted it online. The outrage was almost instantaneous. Virtually every student in the video was white.

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Banks, Economy, poverty, Social Problems

Opinion: Changing Rules to Help Bankers and Hurt Poor Neighborhoods. The Community Reinvestment Act needs a renovation. The Trump administration instead is proposing a partial demolition. By The Editorial Board. The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom. Jan. 10, 2020

Banks don’t like lending in lower-income neighborhoods, even as they profit from deposits taken from those same communities. Since 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act has forced the issue, requiring banks to provide mortgages, small-business loans and other services in all areas where they operate. The current crop of federal banking regulators, picked by President Trump, is now proposing to let banks pump less money into lower-income communities, and even to claim credit for lending that does not benefit those communities. One egregious example: Banks could count loans for improvements to stadiums that happen to sit in poor neighborhoods. Yes, you read that right: Under the proposal, the banks that financed the new sound system at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore could claim credit for investing in the community.

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class, Family, Social Problems, Social Safety Net

What Happened When a State Made Food Stamps Harder to Get. In West Virginia, tougher work requirements for receiving food stamps complicated life for poor people, but did not result in increased employment. The most visible impact in the changes in work requirements for the food stamp program in nine West Virginia counties was at homeless missions and food pantries, which saw a substantial spike in demand that has never receded. By Campbell Robertson Jan. 13, 2020 MILTON, W.Va.

— In the early mornings, Chastity and Paul Peyton walk from their small and barely heated apartment to Taco Bell to clean fryers and take orders for as many work hours as they can get. It rarely adds up to a full-time week’s worth, often not even close. With this income and whatever cash Mr. Peyton can scrape up doing odd jobs — which are hard to come by in a small town in winter, for someone without a car — the couple pays rent, utilities and his child support payments. Then there is the matter of food. “We can barely eat,” Ms. Peyton said. She was told she would be getting food stamps again soon — a little over two dollars’ worth a day — but the couple was without them for months. Sometimes they made too much money to qualify; sometimes it was a matter of working too little. There is nothing reliable but the local food pantry.

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