As the expiration of the federal moratorium on evictions looms at the end of the year, millions of working class Americans have fallen significantly behind on rent and utility payments.
According to Moody’s Analytics, 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utility payments by January 1.
A survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that 7.5 million renter households (23.5 percent) that had at least one person working in February of this year have experienced unemployment at some point between March and August. They warn that evictions will increase 50 percent next year as millions struggle to pay back months of rent and utilities at once.
So far, more than 60 million workers have filed for unemployment this year, with 11.1 million currently collecting state benefits.
With these considerable disruptions to the labor market, the International Labor Organization estimates that North American workers have lost 15.3 percent of their work hours. In the United States, two-thirds of this cut in working hours came from job losses, with half of that coming from unemployment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 159 million workers in November 2019, with an average hourly wage of $28.3 an hour. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that the American working class averages 1,779 hours worked a year per worker.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:
Monday, December 7, 2020. The Pope plans a visit to Iraq, a fluffer tries to smooth over the realities of Iraq, and much more.
The big Iraq news today? It's the Pope. CNN notes, "Pope Francis will travel to Iraq in March 2021, the Vatican press office announced on Monday." THE GUARDIAN adds, "The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said the pontiff, who turns 84 next week, would visit the capital, Baghdad, and Ur, a city linked to the Old Testament figure of Abraham, as well as Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh in the Nineveh plains, from 5-8 March. It will be his first trip in more than a year after all his overseas visits were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic." Francis became the Pope (and became Francis) March 13, 2013. He was born, in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio and took the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Prior to the pandemic outbreak, the Pope had visited many countries including Cuba, Israel, the United States, Bosnia, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates. The visit to Iraq would be the Pope's first international visit in 15 months. Devin Watkins (VATICAN NEWS) explains:
The Pope’s visit will come as the realization of a dream of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II. The Polish Pope had planned to travel to Iraq at the end of 1999. That trip never came to be because after lengthly negotiations, Saddam Hussein postponed it.
According to Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Pope Francis will receive an enthusiastic welcome to Iraq.
He told SIR news agency a year ago that “everyone in Iraq, Christians and Muslims, esteem him[Pope Francis] for his simplicity and nearness. His words touch everyone’s hearts because they are those of a shepherd. He is a man who brings peace.”
President Barham Saleh had officially invited Pope Francis to visit Iraq in July 2019, hoping it would help the country “heal” after years of strife.
About 100,000 Christians are left in Iraq following sectarian warfare after the 2003 invasion led by the United States and ISIL’s (ISIS) sweep through one-third of the country in 2014.
Joshua J. McElwee (NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER) notes some reactions to the announced trip:
His visit? It may take place. It's based on an improvement in the coronavirus cases -- counting on the numbers going down. If it takes place, it will come at a very needed time. UNAMI notes:
Reported COVID-19 cases across Iraq continue to rise but at a slightly lower rate than in previous weeks, with a regular average of 2,500 daily reported cases during November. In recent weeks, the Government of Iraq increased its testing capacity beyond 20,000 tests per day. Initial reports indicate that despite the increase in the number of tests, the daily number of COVID cases across the country is decreasing. The number of individuals who have contracted the virus as of 5 December stands at 564,200 cases, with over 62,000 additional cases in comparison to the last update. Close to 30 per cent of these cases have been detected in Baghdad, followed by Basrah, Erbil, Sulyimaniyah and Wassit Governorates, the infection rate is rising other governorates including Duhok. Similarly, the number of deaths has increased to a total of 12,432. The Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have conducted over three and half million tests.
The conronavirus takes a toll on society as a whole. It makes up stressed, depressed and exhausted. Some consider suicide. In Iraq, the suicide rate had already increased a year before the pandemic outbreak. Zainab al-Mshat (DARAJ) reported last month:
At Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Prabhat Jawla pretends to offer an analysis of Iraq's prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi:
Though born in Iraq, Kadhimi left for the United Kingdom in the 1990s,
where he worked as a journalist and eventually acquired British
citizenship. He continues to be a dual Iraqi-British citizen. After the
Baathist regime collapsed in 2003, he came back and started working as
the executive director for the ‘Iraq Memory Foundation’, (2003-10), an
organisation which documented the crimes committed by Saddam’s regime.1 Later, he co-founded the Iraqi Media Network (al-Iraqiya), served as editor-in-chief of Newsweek Iraq (2010-13) and editor of Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse (2013-16).
Kadhimi is viewed as a pro-American figure by groups that are close to Tehran, although such labelling could merely be an oversimplification. In fact, initially in March 2020, major Shia factions rejected his nomination, accusing him of being inordinately close to the US. The Fatah Coalition, composed of major Shia groups close to Iran, later accepted Kadhimi’s nomination. However, the tensions between Kadhimi and various factions have continued and exacerbated since he became the prime minister. His approach though has tended to strike a balance with Iran on the one hand and the US and its allies on the other. He has also been described as a ‘friend’ of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).2
What a cute, little piece of fluff. The first sentence alone required clarification. Dual-citizenship? Since 2015, Parliament has pushed for a law that Iraqi officials were not allowed to hold dual citizenship. It's a measure with huge support in the Iraqi street. But it doesn't even matter to the fluff head, he just types away with no awareness at all.
The fluff headed rush to pretend that all is okay in Iraq. They do that because all is not good in Iraq. For example, MENAFM -- AFGHANISTAN TIMES notes:
International Committee of the Red Cross operations in Afghanistan and Iraq face a funding crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic, chief Peter Maurer said on Saturday.
Iraq faces a humanitarian crisis where more than 1.3 million people are displaced. More than 90 per cent of those have been so for more than three years, according to the ICRC.
What's going on? Protests continue in Iraq:
And what happens when you cover the ongoing protests? Often, they shut you down. NRT reports:
Sunday was the fifth consecutive day of protest in Suleimaniya. That's the KRG and, note, protesters are treated no better in the KRG than they are in the rest of Iraq. Ruba Ali al-Hassani Tweets:
The pandemic is tough. It should never have been as tough as it has been. Jimmy Dore explains that in the video below.