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Planet's 500 richest people added $1.8 trillion to combined wealth in 2020

January 3, 2021 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

Bloomberg‘s year-end report on the wealth of the world’s billionaires shows that the richest 500 people on the planet added $1.8 trillion to their combined wealth in 2020, accumulating a total net worth of $7.6 trillion.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index recorded its largest annual gain in the list’s history last year, with a 31% increase in the wealth of the richest people.

The historic hoarding of wealth came as the world confronted the coronavirus pandemic and its corresponding economic crisis, which the United Nations last month warned is a “tipping point” set to send more than 207 million additional people into extreme poverty in the next decade—bringing the number of people living in extreme poverty to one billion by 2030.

Even in the richest country in the world, the United States, the rapidly widening gap between the richest and poorest people grew especially stark in 2020.

As Dan Price, an entrepreneur and advocate for fair wages, tweeted, the 500 richest people in the world amassed as much wealth in 2020 as “the poorest 165 million Americans have earned in their entire lives.”

Nine of the top 10 richest people in the world live in the United States and own more than $1.5 trillion. Meanwhile, with more than half of U.S. adults living in households that lost income due to the pandemic, nearly 26 million Americans reported having insufficient food and other groceries in November—contributing to a rise in shop-lifting of essential goods including diapers and baby formula. About 12 million renters were expected to owe nearly $6,000 in back rent after the new year.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk enjoyed an historic growth in wealth last year, becoming the second richest person in the world and knocking Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates down to third place. Musk’s total net worth grew by $142 billion in 2020, to $170 billion—the fastest creation of personal wealth in history, according to Bloomberg.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is at the top of the list, with a net worth of $190 billion. Bezos added more than $75 billion to his wealth in 2020, as the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ted Cruz doesn't want to 'throw lit matches' into election dispute. Instead, he's pouring gas on it

January 3, 2021 in Blogs

By Aldous Pennyfarthing

Not since the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang have I been so freaked out by a creepy, middle-aged man offering candy to a bunch of wee-brained children.

But that’s what’s happening now, as Ted Cruz leads his coup caucus into a doomed—and entirely performative—fight to appear to attempt to overthrow the election so Donald Trump doesn’t get grumpy and tweet mean things about the lesser assholes in his life.

Personally, I thought we’d find 11 people under Cruz’s living room floorboards before he’d find 11 senators to join him in a feckless undemocratic putsch, but that just shows the limits of my imagination.

Of course, Republicans have become expert in playing the victim, so that’s what Cruz was doing this morning on Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo after spending Saturday strategically releasing termites into our house.

Politico:

Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday condemned those attacking him for his challenge to the certification of the presidential election for “angry language.”

Cruz and at least 11 other Republican senators have committed to challenging the certification of the Electoral College results Jan. 6, joining an unknown number of House Republicans. Cruz said he wanted to do an emergency 10-day audit of the results, though he did not explain why he expected that audit would overturn Joe Biden’s victory.

Speaking on “Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo,” Cruz responded to his critics on both sides of the aisle: “I think everyone needs to calm down. I think we need to tone down the rhetoric. This is already a volatile situation. It’s like a tinder box and throwing lit matches into it and so I think the kind of hyperbole we’re seeing, the kind of angry language.”

Oh, yes, God forbid we throw lit matches into a volatile situation—one in which a large percentage of the country disbelieves the certified election results that will make Joseph R. Biden Jr. the 46th president of the United States in a little over two weeks.

Of course, Cruz knows better. They all do, with the possible exception of Louie Gohmert and Tommy Tuberville, whose brains are seven-layer salads missing about 5.75 layers.

Anyway, has Trump really thought this through? Does he actually want to be dictator-for-life? That’s a lot of work, and he’s as lazy as they get. You know the old saying: “Absolute power requires one to get off the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Listen: Trump caught on tape threatening Raffensperger and demanding state 'find' votes to overturn Biden win

January 3, 2021 in Blogs

By Hunter

In an hour-long phone call on Saturday, Donald Trump demanded that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger commit multiple crimes in order to overturn the results of the state’s presidential election. It is the latest and most shocking yet of Trump’s efforts to retain power regardless of which laws must be broken, and it is all on tape.

The Washington Post obtained the recording of Trump’s call to Raffensberger, and reports that Trump “alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims.”

Trump urged Raffensperger to announce that he had “recalculated” the election results. There is little way to interpret the conversation other than a request by Trump for the state’s election office to commit an unambiguous act of fraud.

“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said. At another point, he said that it would be a “criminal offense” if Raffensperger and his office did not back up Trump’s false claims of ballot destruction, and a “big risk to you and [state legal counsel Ryan Germany].”

Though Trump’s conversation would appear to constitute a criminal act, lawyer Cleta Mitchell and chief of staff Mark Meadows were also on the line; neither voiced objections to Trump’s demands.

Asking that an election be fraudulently overturned is unquestionably a violation of Trump’s oath of office and an impeachable act. Trump and his top advisers have crossed every line: endorsing fraud, encouraging sedition, and demanding the toppling of government. It is unforgivable, and every Republican who stands with him is betraying this nation.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Fox News host rips 'outrageous' GOP Electoral College plot: 'It's a very dangerous precedent'

January 3, 2021 in Blogs

By David Edwards

Fox News host Jedidiah Bila on Sunday criticized Republicans who want to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory by officially objecting to the results of the Electoral College.

“I actually find it really outrageous,” Bila explained to Fox News host Howard Kurtz. “And the reason is that if you look at what’s gone on here, I think the media has actually been pretty fair, particularly the news divisions.”

“This has gone through the courts,” she continued. “Sixty cases have been brought to the courts, oftentimes widespread voter fraud has not even been alleged in court because there simply isn’t evidence to support that. If you look at the evidence that has been shown, it does not support that.”

Bila added: “There’s nothing that supports that this was rigged or stolen. And I think it’s a very dangerous precedent. Elections have consequences that I think you have to accept.”

The Fox News host reminded viewers that President Donald Trump’s own government had said that the 2020 election was the most secure in history.

“It’s not just me saying that,” she said. “That’s what the evidence supports, that this was a secure election. You don’t want people to feel that they can just say on a whim, ‘Well, it wasn’t secure,’ based on really nothing and try to overturn the will of the people.”

Watch the video below from Fox News.


Fox News host slams GOP plan to object to Biden’s Electoral College win

youtu.be

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Donald Trump's destructiveness forced us to a point of reckoning about America

January 3, 2021 in Blogs

By Paul Rosenberg

If every cloud has a silver lining, Donald Trump’s destructiveness offers this one: He has forced us to a point of reckoning about America. If we think all this chaos is just about him, we’ve missed the whole point. On that point, there’s wide agreement. Beyond that, however, there’s considerable disagreement, if not confusion. The vast majority of elite discourse sees this in terms of a challenge to liberal democracy — a challenge that’s been unfolding worldwide over the past decade or so, sometimes characterized as a “third wave of autocratization.”

There’s a large body of knowledge and experience behind this point of view (see groups such as Varieties of Democracy for a global perspective, or Bright Lines Watch in the U.S.). But such an idealized view of American democracy has always been challenged by African Americans, for instance: See Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” or Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again.“) Trump’s election, in obvious response to Barack Obama’s, has had the effect of pushing the longstanding Black critique of American democracy to the very center of our politics.

In contrast, University of Wisconsin political scientist Mark Copelovitch has been tweeting his observations of American politics under the rubric of “Today in life under competitive authoritarianism.” The term comes from Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way’s 2010 book, “Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War” (introduced in an earlier paper here.) They cite “four minimum criteria” that modern democratic regimes meet, which these “hybrid regimes” (including most of the nations in the former Soviet Union) fail to meet on a systematic basis, thereby creating an uneven playing field between government and opposition. The first three of these criteria are that executives and legislatures are chosen through elections that are open, free, and fair; that virtually all adults posses the right to vote; and that political rights and civil liberties — including freedom of the press, freedom of association and freedom to criticize the government without reprisal — are broadly protected.

By systemically violating these criteria, and possibly a fourth — “elected authorities possess real authority to govern, in that they are not subject to the tutelary authority of …read more

Source: ALTERNET