What all those people selling instant results won’t tell you.

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source: philm1310; via pixabay (CC0)

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that self-help books promise the world. Peruse any online bookstore for a while and you’ll soon stumble upon their extravagant boasts. Transform your life! Quadruple your productivity! Unlock the secret to success!

They make it sound so easy, don’t they?

It feels like every week someone releases a new system or a new set of principles that people can use to achieve their dreams. Self-help is now a massive, multi-billion dollar industry. One that offers videos, seminars and online courses — and all for a reasonable price.

Every time, these products are marketed as the keys to personal fulfillment. And every time next year they are joined by yet more products promising the exact same thing.

In spite of a worsening pandemic, the GOP is ready to scale back unemployment benefits.

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source: Chronomarchie; via pixabay (CC0)

When Congress approved the CARES Act back in March, they helped millions of Americans weather the fallout from Coronavirus.

Among other things, the CARES Act greatly enhanced unemployment benefits for those who had recently lost their jobs. It gave them an extra $600 a week for the living expenses their paychecks had previously covered. And it was a particular boon for the working poor whose industries count among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

But these extra benefits are set to end on July 31. …

Though Bernie Sanders lost, younger progressives are poised to continue the fight.

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Modified Image. Sources: Sanders — Gage Skidmore via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0); Ocasio-Cortez — Matt Johnson via flickr (CC BY 2.0); Booker—Breadwin via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When Bernie Sanders won the Nevada primary back in February, there was a palpable sense of excitement among the American Left.

Young progressives set social media ablaze with their celebrations. The Democratic Socialists of America were ecstatic. Writers over at the Jacobin Magazine boasted that Bernie was on his way to win the White House. And the analysts at FiveThirtyEight seemed to confirm this prediction, giving Sanders the best chance of winning the primary out of any candidate.

For a second, it seemed like a self-described socialist pushing universal healthcare, reduced military spending and radical climate action would become the Democratic nominee. …

From LGBT rights to Black Lives Matter, mass opinion can see rapid shifts.

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Source: Gerry Lauzon; via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Black Lives Matter movement did not always enjoy a great deal of support. In fact, it was not until recently that more than 50% of registered voters expressed their solidarity with the organization and its attendant protests.

Unsurprisingly, this dramatic spike in public approval came shortly after the death of George Floyd. An unarmed black man whose murder has been laid at the feet of the police who held him in custody.

Since then, this shocking event has been amplified by protests, media attention and political discourse. And at the forefront of this tragedy, the Black Lives Matter movement have made their voices heard, calling for justice to be served and an end to police brutality. …

Right now we are seeing just how effective mass demonstrations can be.

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Source: David Geitgey Sierralupe; via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Last Sunday, something unprecedented happened in America.

The Minneapolis city council vowed to dismantle their local police agency and create a new model of public safety in its place. Indeed, its president went so far as to declare that “efforts at incremental reform have failed” and that the council would “end policing as we know it”.

It is certainly rare to hear this kind of rhetoric from any government body. New paradigms typically emanate from activists and radicals, not the dusty hallways of local governance. …

Something is rotten with American law enforcement as a whole.

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source: StockSnap; via pixabay (CC0)

The protests first began on May 26 in Minneapolis. Following the death of George Floyd, a black man who suffered a heart attack after a white police officer placed him in a chokehold, hundreds of people took to the streets and expressed their outrage.

Since then, more than 140 U.S. cities have witnessed a mix of peaceful protests, riots and looting. The recurrent use of excessive and unjustified force against black civilians has spurred a great number of people to take a stand. …

As always, it is the working class who bear the brunt of a crisis.

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Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York; via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

When the Coronavirus descended on America, it found a country ill-equipped to deal with the fallout. Its public health infrastructure was anemic and underfunded, its congress beset by gridlock and its president more concerned with his electoral prospects than the lives of the populace.

The result was a wave of mass suffering.

So far, over 100,000 Americans have died from the pandemic. The national unemployment rate has reached its highest level since the Great Depression. And more than 16 million workers have likely lost their employer-provided health insurance.

But the people who still have jobs are hardly more fortunate. They must now labor under the shadow of a deadly disease, with unemployment benefits denied to them if they dare turn down “suitable work” for fear of catching the Coronavirus. That is, so long as they’re working a high-contact, low-paying job. …

The outcome of this year’s election is still anybody’s guess.

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Source: Gage Skidmore; via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Among high-profile media pundits, there is no shortage of those who believe Donald Trump’s political career will soon come to an end.

James Carville, a former strategist to Bill Clinton, boasted that the Democrats would wipe out the Republicans come November. Ben Rhodes, who served under Barack Obama as Deputy National Security Advisor, is convinced that the president will lose to Joe Biden. And even Pierce Morgan, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, has predicted his doom should he continue to bungle the Coronavirus response.

Their confidence is not entirely without basis either. National polling aggregates — a fairly reliable metric when it came to the popular vote in 2016 — show Joe Biden leading the president by 5.5 points. And the former vice president is much less reviled than Hilary Clinton was at this point in the election cycle. …

The New York Governor’s excuses have no grounds in reality.

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Source: Zack Seward; via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Andrew Cuomo has won a fair amount of praise for his aggressive response to the Coronavirus and his sombre, televised speeches to the public. When the disease began spreading through his state, the New York Governor quickly announced containment measures and signed a $40 million emergency management authorization to pay for the necessary staff and equipment.

To say the least, it was a noticeable contrast to President Trump, whose sluggish reaction and bald-faced lies only worsened the situation.

That being said, Governor Cuomo’s recent actions are much less deserving of applause. On the 3rd of April, his administration unveiled a new state budget, complete with massive cuts to Medicaid and $400 million in reduced hospital payments. …

But humanity should take heed of this widescale tragedy for the future.

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source: geralt; via pixabay (CC0)

The COVID-19 pandemic is the stuff of nightmares. That fact cannot be ignored.

Having spread to the far corners of the world, its death toll could end up exceeding one million. Its economic effects will prove dire, with a global recession likely and a massive increase in the national debt certain. And it has brought a terrible new fear into the lives of everyday people, as they are forced to reckon with the threat it poses to their families and themselves.

Faced with such a staggering crisis, it is difficult to avoid invoking images of Armageddon. The end of the world — or at the very least, some kind of social collapse — now weighs on many minds. Doctors in New York City have described their situation as “apocalyptic”, self-styled prophets have pointed to the pandemic as a sign of the end times and stores that cater to doomsday preppers have seen an unprecedented spike in website traffic and bulk purchases. …


Francis Taylor

Fiction writer and freelance political commentator. Proudly left-wing. Check out my work at www.francistaylor.net.

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