Posts tagged with "coronavirus"

Billionaires Gain, Workers Feel Pain

Half a year into a paralyzing pandemic that has cost millions of Americans their livelihoods and lives, the nation’s 643 billionaires have racked up $845 billion in collective wealth gains, a 29% leap since March 18. America’s billionaires reached this startling milestone of wealth accumulation even as special federal relief was drying up for millions of unemployed workers and for hard-pressed state and local governments struggling to provide vital services. Billionaire figures are from Forbes analyzed in a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

Between March 18—the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were in place—and Sept. 15, the total net worth of the nation’s billionaires rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion (see table below and this spreadsheet of all billionaires). That works out to gains of $141 billion a month, $32 billion a week, or $4.7 billion a day. Forbes’ annual billionaires report was published March 18, 2020, and the real-time data was collected Sept. 15 from the Forbes website.

Needless to say, ordinary workers did not fare as well. From mid-March to mid-August, the collective work income of rank-and-file private-sector employees—all hours worked times the hourly wages of the entire bottom 82% of the workforce—declined by 4.4.%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

In fact, this billionaires’ bonanza occurred against a general backdrop of working-class pain:

The stock market in which billionaires have much of their money invested dropped sharply in the month before the pandemic lockdown. But the six months of gains that followed were not merely a reversal of those losses: billionaires are also $680 billion, or 22%, richer today than they were in February 2019, the release date of the most recent previous Forbes annual report (see table below).

“Every candidate in this campaign season, from presidential hopeful down, who’s pledging to lead us out of the coronavirus crisis must address this stark divergence between the nation’s wealthiest elite and their struggling fellow citizens,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “The answer starts with creating a fair share tax system that narrows obscene wealth gaps and raises the trillions of dollars needed to address the present emergency and invest in our families and communities over the long-term.”

“The billionaire economy has been turbocharged by policymakers who are now stalling on relief for the real economy,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program on Inequality and co-author of the report “Billionaire Bonanza 2020.” “The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. Clearly, the priorities of our elected officials in Washington, DC are completely upside down.”

DATA ON THE WEALTH OF U.S. BILLIONAIRES AT 6 MONTHS & 20 MONTHS AVAILABLE HERE

Even among billionaires, wealth is highly concentrated. Roughly $400 billion, or only a little less than half of the total gains, were captured by just the 15 wealthiest on the billionaires list. The top three gainers alone—Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk—enjoyed fully 16% of the spoils, or a collective wealth surge of $137 billion. The total wealth of these three—$403 billion today—is nearly three times the $1.5 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, or 165 million Americans. One billionaire from Michigan, Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, saw his wealth increase an astonishing 672%, growing from $6.5 billion to $50.2 billion.

The $845 billion wealth gain by 643 billionaires over the past six months far exceeds the:

Low-wage workerspeople of color and women have suffered disproportionately in the combined medical and economic crises because of long-standing racial and gender disparities. Billionaires are overwhelmingly white men.

House Democrats passed a relief bill back in May that offered a lifeline to Americans not sharing in the billionaires’ good fortune during the pandemic. Among its provisions:

All of the above data is available in one table here.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have introduced legislation for a 60% tax on the pandemic wealth gains of billionaires between March 18 and the end of the year and use the proceeds to help working Americans cover healthcare costs.

South Carolina Protects Voters During Pandemic

In a victory for voting rights, South Carolina took steps today to better protect voters in the November general election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The action follows a federal lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of South Carolina, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The groups challenged a state requirement that forced people who vote absentee to have an “excuse” to do so, as well as a witness requirement for absentee ballots.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a measure this afternoon that would allow all voters to cast absentee ballots because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Today’s action by Gov. McMaster is an important step forward for South Carolinians who want to vote in the general election without risking their health during COVID-19,” said Ali Titus, director of policy and communications at the ACLU of South Carolina.

The measure signed today does not waive the witness-signature requirement on absentee ballots, which makes voting from a safe social distance impossible for those who live alone.

“We will continue to litigate to remove this remaining hurdle to safe voting in South Carolina,” said Adriel Cepeda Derieux, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Read the statement here and find the case details here.

Turkey Hosts World’s Biggest Motorsports Events

Turkey will host two of the world’s biggest motorsports events in the upcoming two months. The 5th leg of world’s biggest rally competition, FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), will be held on September 18-20 in Marmaris and Formula 1, world’s biggest motorsports event will be held on November 13-15 in Istanbul, marking the end of a 9 year break.

The 5th race of the WRC calendar, Rally Turkey, will be organized under the auspices of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, with the participation of 130 pilots and 65 automobiles from 19 countries. The event will host world-renowned pilots in Marmaris’ amazing terrain and seascape and will be aired on 155 TV channels worldwide.

Closely followed by motorsports enthusiasts, Formula 1 is considered to be the biggest event of the world in its field and returns to Istanbul after a 9-year break. Turkey Grand Prix is planned to be the first event with spectators in the 2020 calendar and it will be run in 58 laps at the 5.3km-long Intercity Istanbul Park circuit as the 14th leg of the competition.

First introduced to the world in 2005 with its famous 8th turn, during which the pilots reach the side of the track 4 times (apex) within the same turn, Istanbul’s racing circuit will once again host 3 of the pilots who previously won victory here. British Lewis Hamilton, who is after his 7th world title, German Sebastian Vettel, who has 4 titles, and Finnish “Ice Man” Kimi Räikkönen will return to Intercity Istanbul Park after a 9-year break.

Turkey, one of the most popular countries in the world in terms of the number of visitors, promises a safe as well as an enjoyable journey for motorsports enthusiasts who wish to experience the motorsports events live on-site, thanks to the Safe Tourism Certification Program launched during the pandemic period.

About Turkey

Situated in the Mediterranean and connecting two continents, Asia and Europe which are separated by the famous Bosphorus, Turkey is a unique destination that welcomed approximately 51.7 million tourists, last year. The country that has always been a hub for cultural interaction and home to varying climates inspires the visitors today with its history, nature and gastronomy that reflect the diversity of civilizations for centuries. Located at the crossroads of cultures, Turkey has a distinctive understanding of art & fashion which is the synthesis of tradition and modernity and its extremely dynamic shopping & entertainment life also attracts the visitors from all over the world.

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, COVID-19

How States Can Combat COVID While Fighting The Flu

United States of Care Offers Suggestions to States on How To Deal With the Seasonal Flu Amid a Pandemic

(Washington, DC) Today, United States of Care (USofCare) issued a “Preparing for COVID-19 and the Flu,” recommendations to states for dealing with the seasonal flu amid a global public health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus.

“States have a long history of successfully dealing with the flu virus, encouraging vaccines and stopping a widespread flu outbreak,” said Emily Barson, Executive Director of United States of Care. “This year is different, as the nation’s already taxed health care system faces the unprecedented double whammy of influenza and COVID-19. As an organization engaging in one-on-one conversations with people, policymakers, and various health care leaders throughout the pandemic, United States of Care offers a unique view on what people need to know and what states can do to combat COVID-19 while fighting the flu.”

United States of Care’s “Preparing for COVID-19 and the Flu” breaks down how states can prepare for dealing with the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously. It includes the following suggestions:

  1. Communicate Clearly: State leaders need to be clear in their communications about why protective measures, such as mask requirements and closures, are necessary to keep people safe from the flu and COVID-19. States can play a vital role in providing people with clarity about what to do if they are infected with either the flu or COVID-19, as they have similar symptoms
  2. Prepare for Increased Health Care Demand: States need to have contingency plans in place so that health care system resources can be efficiently allocated.
  3. Address the Needs of High-Risk People: States will need to continually rely on the latest COVID-19 metrics and data on the flu’s trajectory, especially for high-risk populations to take additional measures.
  4. Develop Plans to Increase Influenza Vaccination Rates: In a typical flu season, less than 50% of people get vaccinated, and the rate is even lower among people of color. Increasing this rate is essential to minimizing the strain on our health care system. Clear communications are also vital due to people’s ongoing concerns about receiving medical care during the pandemic. States will need to develop plans to distribute flu shots in safe-settings, including at home for vulnerable populations.
Face mask illustration by maria soloman for 360 MAGAZINE article.

Anti-Mask Protest Sparked in Utah

By Payton Saso

On August 21, 2020, a protest was held in St. George, Utah that was organized in objection to wearing face masks. The debate about whether or not face masks help has been going since COVID-19 was declared a national pandemic, but one group decided to go a little further than online debates and hold a protest.

The protest came after the state governor, Gary Herbert, declared that masks would be mandated at school, USA Today reported. The marchers gathered at the Washington County School District where hundreds opposed forcing kids to wear masks saying, “safety is not as important as our freedom and liberty.”

The protest came under fire after a the news broadcast that covered the protest went viral. “A white woman earnestly attempts to explain the alleged injustice: of her situation by drawing a comparison to the killing of George Floyd,” The Cut recapped. Clearly the woman here is comparing the final words and pain of George Floyd to the minor inconvenience of getting slightly out of breath from wearing a mask, which is disturbing on many levels.

The original broadcast was covered by ABC 4 where they reported, “Up to a thousand people showed up in St. George, stating children being forced to wear masks in classrooms is illegal and unconstitutional.” Which without a Supreme Court trial, these unconstitutional claims just remain an uneducated opinion.

This protest came just a few months after a similar protest in Jacksonville, Florida where anti-maskers met at the Duval County Courthouse to oppose the mask mandate there, The Florida Times recapped.

St. George News stated that, “…rally attendee Dustin Cox, who also spoke over the megaphone, encouraged district students in attendance Friday to not wear a mask when they return to school Monday, even if it means getting expelled.”

Where if protestors make the claim that if masks are getting in the way of learning, wouldn’t getting expelled be a greater obstacle to learning?

There is not really any science accepted that masks cause more harm than good, even though that is often what anti-maskers claim. The World Health Organization has repeatedly set out initiatives for the public to wear masks. Protests like this have been seen across the world even in some of the countries where COVID has hit hard.

While it is every Americans right to free speech and that will be protected under the constitution, the timing and subject just seem to be a bit insensitive. With over 195,000 deaths and 6.5 million confirmed cases in the United States, doing anything we can to slow the spread doesn’t seem unconstitutional — especially if it is as simple as wearing a face covering.

Kaelen Felix draws Snoop Dogg for 360 Magazine

Snoop Dogg × COVID-19

On September 12th 2020, Snoop Dogg will be streaming live from his Compound in LA to millions of homes around the world to raise funds for the International Medical Corps, which is helping to fight the global pandemic and provide life-saving care around the world.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11th 2020, cases have continued to increase rapidly. The International Medical Corps works closely with international, national and local charities and health organizations, providing medical expertise, equipment, training and triage & treatment services. Its goal is to ensure that at-risk countries and regions can prepare for and respond to outbreaks of coronavirus quickly and safely.

This will be the first of many shows created by Couch Concerts Live, a new streaming platform that presents major artists’ performances in support of those suffering from the effects of global crises, from COVID-19 to climate change and more.

The partnership between TARI Global, American Artist Company, The Temple Company and Jam Management Group brings together a team with the reach, experience and expertise that will enable them to support International Medical Corps on a global level.

Nathan Tari, CEO of TARI Global, and Founder of the event, comments: “The entertainment industry has been hard hit by the pandemic. While we were staying safely at home, we put our heads together and decided to use our talent and experience to do something in support of those suffering from the outbreak of this terrible virus. We are looking to bring some fun, excitement as well as a special experience with some of the world’s most celebrated stars. This concert will be the first of many, and we are excited to have Snoop Dogg to help us launch.”

Tickets for Couch Concerts Live presenting ‘Snoopadelic in da Pandemic’ are now available to purchase on TicketcoSeeTickets or Couch Concerts Facebook. Join Snoop Dogg as he entertains us live from his Compound, with his infamous Snoopadelic Live DJ Show, expect some hits whilst hanging out with Snoop from the comfort of your own home, staying safe and raising funds for COVID-19 causes.

New York Botanical Garden Reopening

The Botanical Garden began phase 1 of its reopening plan, welcoming the general public to the grounds of its 250-acre site, on July 28.

NYBG is among the most comprehensive botanical gardens in the world, an urban oasis and integral part of the cultural fabric of New York City, anchored in the Bronx. In this next phase of NYBG’s reopening, visitors will once again be able to explore the Haupt Conservatory’s interconnected galleries, each featuring a different botanical habitat and specimens from around the globe. Outdoors, the verdant landscape is currently showcasing seasonal standouts such as striking cardinal flowers, mauve asters, and sweeping grasses among its one million plants.

Scenic paths and trails crisscross the Garden providing opportunities for discovery through encounters with nature. The gardens, outdoor collections, and natural features include the Native Plant Garden, with its meadow, woodland, promenade, and centerpiece water feature; Bronx River, with its waterfall, which runs through the 50-acre Thain Family Forest; layered and colorful patterns and plant groupings of the Perennial and Herb Gardens; lushly textured Chilton Azalea Garden; award-winning Rockefeller Rose Garden; inviting paths through the Ross Conifer Arboretum; Benenson Ornamental Conifers; and more.

Tram Tours, public programs, and group tours remain suspended temporarily as a safety precaution. The LuEsther T. Mertz Library, Edible Academy, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, and Hudson Garden Grill remain closed.

The first phase of NYBG’s public reopening was prefaced by Appreciation Week, when Garden Members, Bronx Health Care Heroes from the eight public and private hospitals in the borough, and Bronx Neighbors were welcomed with first access and complimentary tickets. Communities in the Bronx are among the most severely impacted by COVID-19 in New York City. Through this initiative, the Garden acknowledges, with gratitude, the dedication, strength, and resilience of Bronx frontline health care workers and residents. Free grounds admission for those groups, originally slated to conclude September 13, has been extended through February 28, 2021.

The Garden’s gradual reopening process incorporates enhanced safety measures based on best practices and guidance from health authorities and government agencies. New measures include requiring staff and visitors over the age of two to wear face coverings; increasing sanitization of public and staff areas; daily health screenings for on-site staff; supporting hygiene and social distancing practices; requiring timed-entry tickets purchased in advance; operating at a reduced capacity; and more.

The new, limited timed-entry ticketing system staggers visitorsߣ arrivals, promotes social distancing, and mitigates the risk of crowding in high-traffic areas. Advance purchase of timed tickets is required and will be confirmed by e-mail with the option to print or download a mobile ticket. Ticket options include the Garden Pass + Conservatory for access to the outdoor gardens and collections, the newly reopened Conservatory galleries, and the Courtyards; the Garden Pass for access to outdoor gardens and collections; and the Grounds-Only Pass, available to New York City residents only with valid proof of identification. Visitors who do not purchase advance tickets will not be guaranteed admission at this time. Garden Patrons and Members must also reserve timed tickets in advance. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website at nybg.org.

Kaelen Felix illustrates Twin Towers for 360 Magazine

Remembering 9/11

By Elle Grant

For any American, 9/11 marks an essential day of reflection and remembrance. September 11, 2020 marks the nineteenth anniversary of the historic terrorist attacks that rocked New York City, shocking the United States and the world.

19 years ago, four passenger jets were hijacked by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in an effort to strike at American symbols. One was flown into the Pentagon Military Headquarters in Washington D.C. Another two, most remembered of the four, were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City as Manhattan looked on in horror. A fourth, upon hearing news of the other hijackings, realized their plane was also under attack and chose to fight back, resulting in their plane plunging into a Pennsylvania field. In sum, roughly 3,000 lives were loss, with 2,700 of them being in New York City. The toll of lives and on the psyche of Americans was hitherto unimaginable, as was the ensuing consequences including the now infamous War on Terror.

The victims of 9/11 have been commemorated in numerous ways across the country, including at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. The memorial is located where the Twin Towers formerly stood, now marked with design features such as man-made waterfalls, a forest of white oak trees, and the inscribed names of the victims as part of the memorial. This long-awaited memorial site has since been part of the commemorations each year, with 2020 being no exception. Visitors such as Vice President Pence and Democratic nominee for president Joseph Biden were among the attendees today.

New York is especially reflective this year as the anniversary of 9/11 comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, of which the city was an early epicenter, resulting in thousands of lives lost. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was thrust onto the national stage following the New York outbreak, said “This year it is especially important that we all appreciate and commemorate 9/11, the lives lost and the heroism displayed ‎as New Yorkers are once again called upon to face a common enemy.” In NYC, the current death count due to coronavirus is placed at 23,000. This year, at the somber moments held at the September 11 memorial in Manhattan, those paying their respects wore face masks while honoring the dead, a new feature in remembering 9/11. New York remains a fixture of American culture, with eyes turned towards them during the tragedy of 9/11, as well as the current tragedy of coronavirus.

Another way victim’s families, including those killed and affected during rescue efforts, is the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, currently authorized through 2090 and worth billions of dollars. “Our nation owes each of you a profound debt that no words or deeds will ever repay,” President Trump said during the bill signing ceremony. “But we can, and we will keep our nation’s promise to you.” Certainly, monetary efforts are no replacements for the lives loss and the impacts made, but it represents Congress’ efforts to assist those left in the wake of the tragic attacks.

Vaughn Lowery of 360 MAGAZINE drops by world trade center on 9/11 in nyc.

Vaughn Lowery of 360 MAGAZINE drops by world trade center on 9/11 in nyc.

Halloween illustration by Maria Soloman for 360 MAGAZINE.

The Henry Ford’s Hallowe’en

The Henry Ford’s Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village presented by Meijer Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Reimagined Experience

The Henry Ford is excited to announce its continued 40-year tradition of Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village, presented by Meijer. Taking place over 15 nights, beginning Oct. 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29-31 from 4 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., this year’s event has been reimagined to ensure every guest’s visit is safe, responsible, and filled with spooky-fun. Tickets for members are now on sale. Non-members tickets become available September 16. All tickets can be purchased at thehenryford.org.

This year, Hallowe’en is completely taking over Greenfield Village, with a festival-like atmosphere replacing the prescribed walking path. Fans of past Hallowe’en events will still recognize many of their favorite aspects including more than 1,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns and 50-plus costumed characters from classic stories such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz, alongside newly-created storybook experiences.

Guests this year will be the first to experience a brand-new train adventure aboard the Hallowe’en Express. This ghostly journey around Greenfield Village is a ride for guests of all ages and due to high demand and increased safety procedures, requires advance timed reservations.

As The Henry Ford continues to prioritize the health and safety of its guests and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was necessary to make important program modifications including the omission of treat stations and dining experiences such as the Hallowe’en Fairy Tale Feast and Eagle Tavern Harvest Supper. Fall treats, hot beverages and craft beer will still be available for purchase.

In order to accommodate this large-scale, new experience, Greenfield Village will close its daytime operations beginning October 5, with the intention to reopen operations throughout weekends in November.

Due to limited capacities, advanced ticket purchases are highly recommended for Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village. Tickets are $14.50 for members and $17 for non-members, ages two and up. While each admission includes a ticket aboard the Hallowe’en Express train, timed advanced reservations are required. To make a complimentary reservation, call The Henry Ford’s Contact Center at 313-982.6001. Walk-up Hallowe’en Express tickets will not be available.

About The Henry Ford

Located in Dearborn, Michigan, The Henry Ford, a globally recognized destination, fosters inspiration and learning from hands-on encounters with artifacts that represent the most comprehensive collection anywhere focusing on innovation, ingenuity and resourcefulness in America. Its unique venues include Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Benson Ford Research Center and Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school. Together with its online presence at thf.org, its national television series The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation and Invention Convention Worldwide, the growing affiliation of organizations fostering innovation, invention and entrepreneurship in K-12 students, The Henry Ford inspires individuals to unlock their potential and help shape a better future.

COVID Mask Care illustration by Mina Tocalini

Study Shows State-By-State Reopenings Exacerbate COVID

As Summer vacations end in Europe and in the United States and students return to college campuses and primary schools worldwide, fresh waves of COVID infections are causing renewed restrictions after loosening in the Spring and Summer. However, a new study shows that this uncoordinated opening, closing, and reopening of states and counties, is making the COVID problem worse in the U.S., according to the authors of a new study released today. Using methods from their previous work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT PhD student Michael Zhao and Sinan Aral, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of the upcoming book The Hype Machine, have released the first comprehensive study of the impact of state-by-state re-openings on the COVID pandemic, spanning January to July, 2020 with surprising and troubling results.

After studying combined data on the mobility of over 22 million mobile devices, daily data on state-level closure and reopening policies and social media connections among 220 million Facebook users, the team found that reimposing local social distancing or shelter-in-place orders after reopening may be far less effective than policy makers would hope.

In fact, such closures may actually be counterproductive as they encourage those in locked down regions to flee to reopened regions, potentially causing new hotspots to emerge. This analysis demonstrates that travel spillovers are not only systematic and predictable, but also large and meaningful.

Arizona was one of the first states to open businesses, but in late June, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks were shut down for 30 days as the state became one of the virus’s new hot spots. One month after dine-in restaurants, bars, and gyms were allowed to reopen in California, Governor Gavin Newsom made the country’s most aggressive reopening reversal amid his state’s spike in COVID-19 cases, shuttering all indoor dining, bars, zoos, and museums in the state. Similar reversals have occurred in Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia among other states.

“We’ve seen a patchwork of flip-flopping state policies across the country,” says Sinan Aral, the senior author of the study. “The problem is that, when they are uncoordinated, state re-openings and even closures create massive travel spillovers that are spreading the virus across state borders. If we continue to pursue ad hoc policies across state and regional borders, we’re going to have a difficult time controlling this virus, reopening our economy or even sending our kids back to school.”

The new study showed that while closures directly reduced mobility by 5-6%, re-openings returned mobility to pre-pandemic levels. Once all of a state’s peer states (in travel or social media influence) locked down, focal county mobility in that state dropped by an additional 15-20% but increased by 19-32% once peer states reopened. “State policies have effects far beyond their borders,” says Aral. “We desperately need coordination if we are to control this virus.”

When an origin county was subject to a statewide shelter-in-place order, travel to counties yet to impose lockdowns increased by 52-65%. If the origin had reopened, but the destination was still closed, travel to destination counties was suppressed by 9-17% for nearby counties and 21-27% for distant counties. But when a destination reopened while an origin was still closed, people from the closed origins flooded into the destination by 11-12% from nearby counties and 24% from distant counties. “People flee closures and flood into newly reopened states,” says Aral, “we can’t avoid the travel spillovers caused by our ad hoc policies.”

These findings highlight the urgent need to coordinate COVID-19 reopenings across regions and the risks created by ad hoc local shutdowns and reopenings. In addition, the results highlight the importance of taking spillover effects seriously when formulating national policy and for national and local policies to coordinate across regions where spillovers are strong.