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January 1, Extra Unemployment Aid Expires



This Day in History | 1978

Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization is born in Manchester, England. 

Good morning middle Americans. 

We are about to find out how resilient the U.S. economy really is. For the last few months, the Treasury Department has been propping up the economy with the $1.8 Trillion from the CARES Act. A lot of people have been getting an extra $600 dollars a month to help dull the blow of losing a job, or having hours cut. That benefit has now officially expired. As the president said, things are going to get worse before they get better. He was talking about the death toll from COVID, but he might as well have been talking about the economy as well. 

Also today, A federal judge has denied a request from Oregon’s attorney general to stop federal agents from arresting people in Portland. A voting rights group founded by LeBron James is now raising funds to help Florida felons pay outstanding court debts that would otherwise prevent them from voting. The majority of Republican voters now support wearing a face covering in public. The spike in GOP support comes nearly two weeks after President Donald Trump wore one in public for the first time. And finally, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio quoted Karl Marx, author of the “Communist Manifesto,” on Friday, prompting some pushback on social media.

Read all about it. 

-Fraser Dixon

Extra Unemployment Aid Expires as Virus Threatens New States

(AP) – As public health officials warned Friday that the coronavirus posed new risks to parts of the Midwest and South, enhanced federal payments that helped avert financial ruin for millions of unemployed Americans were set to expire — leaving threadbare safety nets offered by individual states to catch them.

Since early in the pandemic, the federal government has added $600 to the weekly unemployment checks that states send. That increase ends this week, and with Congress still haggling over next steps, most states will not be able to offer nearly as much.

The extra federal aid helped keep Wally Wendt and his family afloat.

Wendt, 54, of Everett, Washington, was laid off from the fitness company where he worked for 31 years. The extra federal benefits helped him pay a loan to put a new roof on his house that he took out before the virus struck and the economy cratered.

The money also helps his daughter, who lost her restaurant job. With the boost, she can afford diapers, baby formula, rent and utilities. Without it, Wendt said, his daughter and her two children might move in with him.

“The politicians need to get their ducks in a row.” Wendt said. “The pressure’s not on them, it’s on all of us blue-collar workers who are struggling to make a living.”

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Judge Denies Request to Stop US Agents from Making Arrests in Portland

(The Hill) – A federal judge on Friday denied a request from Oregon’s attorney general to stop federal agents from arresting people in Portland as daily protests and demonstrations over systemic racism and police brutality roil the city.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman, a George W. Bush appointee, found that state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) lacked standing to sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the demonstrators’ behalf.

Mosman decided that Rosenblum failed to prove Oregon had an interest that was separate from those of private citizens and that the state relied on “purely hypothetical” arguments about the risks facing Oregonians. He also shot down the argument over the “chilling effect” on the speech rights of Oregon residents that Rosenblum cited, saying it was not a state-specific issue.

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LeBron James Helping Florida Ex-Felons Pay Fees So They Can Vote

(Huffington Post) – A voting rights group founded by NBA superstar LeBron James is raising funds to help people in Florida with felony records pay outstanding court debts that prevent them from voting, the group announced Friday.

More Than A Vote, a campaign the Los Angeles Lakers player started with other Black athletes and artists last month to fight Black voter suppression, is partnering with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), a group that helped end Florida’s lifetime voting ban for most people with felony convictions in 2018. They hope to raise $100,000.

Miami Heat Forward Udonis Haslem, who’s also a member of More Than A Vote, said in a statement that the thinking is simple: “We believe that your right to vote shouldn’t depend upon whether or not you can pay to exercise it.”

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GOP Support for Wearing Masks Climbs to 58% After Trump Wears One in Public for First Time

(Newsweek) – The majority of Republican voters now support wearing a face covering in public, a new poll suggests, nearly two weeks after President Donald Trump donned one in public for the first time.

Three out of four survey respondents, including 58 percent of Republicans, said they strongly or somewhat favor requiring Americans to wear face masks in public when they’re around other people, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

Nearly all Democrats, or 89 percent, said they were in favor of mask requirements.

The data shows an overall shift in perspective regarding the use of face coverings, which has become an increasingly politicized issue in the months since the coronavirus outbreak erupted in the U.S. in March.

Find out more here

NYC’s De Blasio Called Out For Quoting Karl Marx

(Fox News) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio quoted Karl Marx, author of the “Communist Manifesto,” on Friday, prompting some pushback on social media.

Noting that he wasn’t focused on elite interests, De Blasio told WNYC radio: “I am tempted to borrow from Karl Marx here.” According to the New York Post, he added: “There’s a famous quote that ‘the state is the executive committee of the bourgeois’ and I use it openly to say, ‘No.'”

“I actually read that as a young person and I said, ‘That’s not the way it’s supposed to be,'” he said.

De Blasio’s press secretary was apparently fine with his boss quoting the father of communism to make his point.

“Show me the lie!” he tweeted alongside De Blasio’s remarks. “Bill de Blasio’s Press Secretary appreciates the materialistic approach of his boss’s Communism,” tweeted New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz.

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