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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

🚨 Trump makes HUGE miscalculation against special counsel

Biden poised to make Avi Kwa Ame a national monument in Nevada - The Washington Post

Biden to honor tribes with Nevada national monument, his biggest yet

"Tribes, environmentalists and many local officials support protecting nearly 450,000 acres around Spirit Mountain, but some developers warn it could hamper renewable energy projects

November 30, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST

The night sky looms over the Knob Hill area of the proposed Avi Kwa Ame national monument in Boulder City, Nev.
The night sky looms over the Knob Hill area of the proposed Avi Kwa Ame national monument in Boulder City, Nev. (Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post)

SEARCHLIGHT, Nevada — From the highway, Spirit Mountain — a 5,642 foot-high peak — appears gray. But at times, it glows a majestic pink. For the Fort Mojave and 11 other tribes, these mystical rocks are the site from which their ancestors emerged.

“There’s a spiritual connection that makes us Mojave people,” said Tim Williams, chair of the tribal council. “If it’s not protected, our generation will not have done our job.”

Two decades ago, Congress preserved the mountain — called Avi Kwa Ame (ah-VEE-kwah-may) in Mojave — and 33,000 acres around it as wilderness. Now the Biden administration is readying a proclamation that could put roughly 450,000 acres — spanning almost the entire triangle at the bottom of the Nevada map — off limits to development under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

President Biden will commit on Wednesday at the White House Tribal Nations Summit to protecting the area, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision was not yet public.

The transformation of this 700-square-mile wedge between California and Arizona is likely to rank as the largest act of land conservation that Biden will undertake this term. The designation enjoys the support of tribes, local officials, environmental groups and the rural business community but has frustrated some renewable energy advocates, who warn it could undercut the nation’s climate goals.

Sitting between the Mojave National Preserve on the California side and Lake Mead National Recreation Area along the border of Nevada and Arizona, the monument will provide an expanse that will allow desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and dozens of other species to live and migrate uninterrupted.

“This is the missing link connecting the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Plateau,” said Neal Desai, a senior project manager for the National Parks Conservation Association who has been working for more than a dozen years to protect the area.

Wind and solar companies, Desai said, will have to stay on the other side of the monument boundaries.

When it comes to having a chance to protect this much land, he added, “This really doesn’t happen very often. Not at this scale.”

In mid-November, nearly 250 people gathered at the Aquarius casino resort in Laughlin, Nev., for a two-hour public hearing with officials from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management to discuss the prospective monument. A little more than two months before, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland had visited the area and held a roundtable on the topic with Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.).

Amid a standing-room-only crowd at the casino, only about half of the monument’s backers got time to speak.

“Today is special,” Williams said. “We’ve established a map. It’s been a collaboration of a lot of different people, a lot of organizations … This is something that you don’t see every day, especially in this day and age, in this type of political environment, you don’t see this type of collaboration. And it’s here, and it’s now.”

Tribes spread out along the Colorado River have adopted resolutions endorsing a monument, including 27 of 28 tribes in the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada and all 21 in the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona.

Several sent representatives to Laughlin, offering their two-minute testimonies about how ancient sites in the area are still an active part of their lives. Artists, environmentalists, birdwatchers, dark night-sky preservationists, hunters and off-road-vehicle enthusiasts also showed up to voice support for the monument.

Frank DeRosa, vice president for policy and public affairs for the solar energy firm Avantus, said he supported the creation of a monument, but asked BLM to consider “a modest request” for a small adjustment to the map — a “sliver,” he called it, that “avoids all cultural and environmentally sensitive areas” so renewable energy companies can access transmission infrastructure from a long-decommissioned coal-fired plant in Laughlin.

This expanse of Nevada offers some of the best prospects for clean energy development in the country. The canyons here produce tremendous wind, and the sun shines 292 days per year, usually without any cloud cover. The area also boasts dozens of mining claims for rare earth elements, now coveted by the clean tech sector.

Four massive solar farms loom along U.S. 95 between Las Vegas and Searchlight. More than 100 turbines from the White Hills wind farm in Arizona are visible from some of the higher points within the proposed monument.

The Avi Kwa Ame map, as it’s been drawn, prevents similar projects from breaking ground. In previous negotiations between the town of Laughlin and Avantus — then called 8minute Solar Energy — the tribes agreed to exclude 23,000 acres from their proposal so a large solar project at the southern tip of Clark County could continue. But they would not make similar concessions for an area abutting California’s Dead Mountains Wilderness, on the grounds that the area is sacred.

Redrawing any portions of the plan now, Williams said, was not an option. “All the resolutions, all the agreements, were based on that map being presented as final.”

A week ago, according to an individual familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, the chief of staff toNevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) met with an official from the White House Council on Environmental Quality to discuss the coming proclamation. Sisolak’s aide raised concerns about whether hunters and had sufficient input into the process, this person said, and what impact the designation would have on renewable energy development.

Biden officials assured the governor’s office that hunters could continue to sustain artificial water sources, known as guzzlers, to attract bighorn sheep, according to the senior administration aide. The officials added that the state would be allowed to access and maintain existing infrastructure — including water resources and electric transmission lines — under any monument designation.

Sisolak hasn’t taken a public position on the monument. The Democrat-controlled Nevada legislature passed a joint resolution in 2021 supporting it, and the lieutenant governor, who is also a Democrat, has been championing the economic benefits of Avi Kwa Ame since the spring.

For decades, activists had been working to safeguard key tribal, cultural and ecological lands in this region in a piecemeal fashion. But that strategy changed in 2017, when President Donald Trump scaled back three national monuments and voiced his support for industrial development.

“This was a big shift for the whole environmental community,” Desai said. “Not only did the Trump administration have a different outlook on public lands use, but we were seeing site-specific threats.”

In 2018, Crescent Peak Renewables — the American subsidiary of a Swedish wind power company, Eolus Vind AV — sought to build 248 wind turbines on 32,500 acres of BLM land in southern Clark County. Trump administration officials rejected the proposal, dubbed the Kulning Wind Energy Project.

Crescent Peak tried again last year, seeking access to just 9,300 acres to erect 68 turbines in a scaled-back version of the project. But BLM designated the application as “low priority,” effectively killing it.

“If we don’t do something, we’re going to lose this landscape,” said Alan O’Neill, a retired former superintendent for the Lake Mead National Recreation Area who consults for the National Parks Conservation Association.

The Fort Mojave tribe passed a resolution in September 2019 calling for protections of their ancestral lands extending far beyond Spirit Mountain, in a 381,300-acre national monument. By the time Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) introduced a bill supporting the plan this year, the proposed size had expanded to 443,671 acres.

Monument supporters got a boost when Interior laid out a 10-year plan for locally led efforts to restore and conserve the country’s lands, water and wildlife in May 2021. The “America the Beautiful” initiative promised to protect 30 percent of the country by 2030.

That’s when Kim Garrison Means, an artist, curator and college art instructor who lives in Searchlight (population 348), began going door-to-door to talk to residents about the proposed monument and to find out what it would take for them to support it

Garrison Means, who lives a mile away from her nearest neighbor, said she talked to nearly everyone in town, making the case that people who loved their rural way of life needed to support this measure.

“It was still pretty covid-y at the time. Some people hadn’t seen other humans for quite some time,” Garrison Means said. “We did a lot of listening.”

She said she found strong support for protecting the land around Searchlight from industrial development. “You don’t appreciate what you have until people want to make changes to it.”

While wind and solar companies promise good-paying construction jobs, the Avi Kwa Ame activists contend that having this national monument on their doorstep will welcome what Garrison Means calls “gentle economic growth” — businesses related to camping, hunting, birding, hiking, stargazing and other forms of outdoor recreation.

“It was surprising how together our community was,” she added. “It didn’t matter what flag they were flying outside their house, people wanted to protect this land.”

Biden poised to make Avi Kwa Ame a national monument in Nevada - The Washington Post

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Oath Keepers Leader Found Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Case - The New York Times

Oath Keepers Leader Convicted of Sedition in Landmark Jan. 6 Case

"A jury in federal court in Washington convicted Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right militia, and one of his subordinates for a plot to keep Donald Trump in power.

Stewart Rhodes wearing a hat that reads “Oath Keepers,” a blue shirt and an eye patch.
Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, in 2016.Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, and one of his subordinates were convicted on Tuesday of seditious conspiracy as a jury found them guilty of seeking to keep former President Donald J. Trump in power through a plot that started after the 2020 election and culminated in the mob attack on the Capitol.

But the jury in Federal District Court in Washington found three other defendants in the case not guilty of sedition and acquitted Mr. Rhodes of two separate conspiracy charges.

The split verdicts, coming after three days of deliberations, were nonetheless a victory for the Justice Department and the first time in nearly 20 trials related to the Capitol attack that a jury decided that the violence that erupted on Jan. 6, 2021, was the product of an organized conspiracy.

Seditious conspiracy is the most serious charge brought so far in any of the 900 criminal cases stemming from the vast investigation of the Capitol attack, an inquiry that could still result in scores, if not hundreds, of additional arrests. It carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Mr. Rhodes was convicted of sedition along with Kelly Meggs, who ran the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers at the time of the Capitol attack. Three other defendants in the case — Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell — were found not guilty of sedition.

Mr. Rhodes was acquitted of two different conspiracy charges: one accusing him of plotting to disrupt the certification of the election on Jan. 6 and the other of plotting to stop members of Congress from discharging their duties that day.

A charge that traces back to efforts to protect the federal government against Southern rebels during the Civil War, seditious conspiracy has been used over the years against a wide array of defendants — among them, far-right militias, radical trade unions and Puerto Rican nationalists. The last successful sedition prosecution was in 1995 when a group of Islamic militants was found guilty of plotting to bomb several New York City landmarks.

The Oath Keepers sedition trial began the first week in Federal District Court in Washington in early October when Jeffrey S. Nestler, one of the lead prosecutors in the case, told the jury in his opening statement that in the weeks after Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the election, Mr. Rhodes and his subordinates “concocted a plan for an armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy”: the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

Mr. Nestler also closed the government’s case last week, declaring that the Oath Keepers had plotted against Mr. Biden, ignoring both the law and the will of the voters, because they hated the results of the election.

“They claimed to be saving the Republic,” he said, “but they fractured it instead.”

In between those remarks, prosecutors showed the jury hundreds of encrypted text messages swapped by Oath Keepers members, demonstrating that Mr. Rhodes and some of his followers were in thrall to outlandish fears that Chinese agents had infiltrated the United States government and that Mr. Biden — a “puppet” of the Chinese Communist Party — might cede control of the country to the United Nations.

The messages also showed that Mr. Rhodes was obsessed with the leftist movement known as antifa, which he believed was in league with Mr. Biden’s incoming administration. At one point during the trial, Mr. Rhodes, who took the stand in his own defense, told the jury he was convinced that antifa activists would storm the White House, overpower the Secret Service and forcibly drag Mr. Trump from the building if he failed to admit his defeat to Mr. Biden.

Prosecutors sought to demonstrate how Mr. Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper with a law degree from Yale, became increasingly panicked as the election moved toward its final certification at a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. Under his direction, the Oath Keepers — whose members are largely former law-enforcement officers and military veterans — took part in two “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, providing event security and serving as bodyguards for pro-Trump dignitaries.

Throughout the postelection period, the jury was told, Mr. Rhodes was desperate to get in touch with Mr. Trump and persuade him to take extraordinary measures to maintain power. In December 2020, he posted two open letters to Mr. Trump on his website, begging the president to seize data from voting machines across the country that would purportedly prove the election had been rigged.

In the letters, Mr. Rhodes also urged Mr. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, a more than two-century-old law that he believed would give the president the power to call up militias like his own to suppress the “coup” — purportedly led by Mr. Biden and Kamala Harris, the incoming vice president — that was seeking to unseat him.

“If you fail to act while you are still in office,” Mr. Rhodes told Mr. Trump, “we the people will have to fight a bloody war against these two illegitimate Chinese puppets.”

As part of the plot, prosecutors maintained, Mr. Rhodes placed a “quick reaction force” of heavily armed Oath Keepers at a Comfort Inn in Arlington County, Va., ready to rush their weapons into Washington if their compatriots at the Capitol needed them. Mr. Caldwell, a former Navy officer, tried at one point to secure a boat to ferry the guns across the Potomac River, concerned that streets in the city might be blocked.

Mr. Rhodes tried to persuade the jury during his testimony that he had not been involved in setting up the “quick reaction force.” But he also argued that if Mr. Trump had invoked the Insurrection Act, it would have given the Oath Keepers the legal standing as a militia to use force of arms to support the president.

On Jan. 6 itself, Mr. Rhodes remained outside the Capitol, standing in the crowd like “a general surveying his troops on the battlefield,” Mr. Nestler said during the trial. While prosecutors acknowledged that he never entered the building, they claimed he was in touch with some of the Oath Keepers who did go in just minutes before they breached doors on the Capitol’s east side.

Even with the convictions, the government is continuing to prosecute several other Oath Keepers, including four members of the group who are scheduled to go on trial on seditious conspiracy charges on Monday. Another group of Oath Keepers is facing lesser conspiracy charges at a trial now set for next year, and Kellye SoRelle, Mr. Rhodes’s onetime lawyer, has been charged in a separate criminal case."

Oath Keepers Leader Found Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Case - The New York Times

Man Charged In Brookhaven Antisemitic Graffiti Case: Police | Brookhaven, GA Patch

Man Charged In Brookhaven Antisemitic Graffiti Case: Police

"Brookhaven Police said graffiti images were spray painted on various buildings throughout the area of Dresden Drive.

Brookhave Police investigate after receiving repeated calls of graffiti displaying antisemetic remarks.
Brookhave Police investigate after receiving repeated calls of graffiti displaying antisemetic remarks. (Shutterstock)

ATLANTA, GA — A 25 -year-old Peachtree Corners man is being charged in connection with two antisemitic graffiti incidents near Dresden Drive, Brookhaven Police said Tuesday.

Anthony Freshwater is being charged on suspicion of four counts of criminal damage to property-hate crime, vandalism at a place of worship and three counts of loitering and prowling, police said.

An investigation into the incidents began on Nov. 1, when officers responded to Dresden and Apple Valley Road due to antisemitic graffiti found at multiple locations, police said.

Various comments were spray painted on the side of a private townhome near Apple Valley, underneath an overpass on Dresden, University Baptist Church and on exterior windows of local businesses, police said.

The Brookhaven public works department removed the graffiti, police said.

Brookhaven investigators used close-circuit TV to locate a suspect, who was seen walking along Dresden overnight on Nov. 11, police said.

Freshwater was arrested Monday at his home in Peachtree Corners, police said. He was booked into the DeKalb County Jail.

“There is no place for hate in Brookhaven, whether it is antisemitic graffiti or any other kind of divisive rhetoric which seeks to target, marginalize or stigmatize any racial or ethnic group," Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said in a news release. “We have come too far collectively to allow the actions of one or more persons to try to reverse the progress we have made. I commend the Brookhaven Police Department for their tireless work and dedication, which led to an arrest of this heinous crime.”

Man Charged In Brookhaven Antisemitic Graffiti Case: Police | Brookhaven, GA Patch

🚨 Herschel Walker's campaign dealt fatal blow days before election

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Opinion | Supreme Court ruling on Trump's tax returns is correct - The Washington Post

Opinion Congress gets to see Trump’s tax returns. It shouldn’t have taken so long.

Former president Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 18. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP) 

"After a Tuesday Supreme Court ruling, the House Ways and Means Committee will, at long last, get former president Donald Trump’s tax returns, nearly 1,400 days since the panel started asking for them.

It was a proper reading of a law, passed in 1924, that requires the Treasury Department to turn over any tax records that are requested by certain congressional committees for legitimate legislative purposes. (The IRS also handed then-President Richard M. Nixon’s tax records to the Joint Committee on Taxation amid the Watergate scandal in 1973, although an important difference was that Nixon himself had asked the committee to review them, famously asserting: “I am not a crook.”)

Alas, the court’s decision does not assure that Mr. Trump’s tax records will ever become public or that future presidents — or presidential candidates — will not follow his lead in refusing to voluntarily disclose their own.

Restoring the norm under which presidential contenders voluntarily disclose their tax returns — followed by nearly every major-party nominee since Nixon — is important. Voters should expect to know what financial conflicts of interest they might bring to the job. And in Mr. Trump’s case, those records were especially relevant, given that he headed a sprawling and secretive privately held business. In addition to his tax records, he should have provided a detailed accounting of his holdings and interests. His refusal to do so became glaring as Mr. Trump pressed to reform the tax code in 2017. Americans could only guess how its provisions might personally enrich the president and his family.

If presidential candidates do not voluntarily share their returns, Congress might try to impose new rules. So could state lawmakers. In response to the Trump tax return saga, for example, New York legislators passed a law in 2019 allowing state officials to give congressional investigators the tax information they have on file. State lawmakers could also write laws that mandate the automatic release of candidates’ state tax returns after they claim major-party presidential nominations.

But it should not come to that. It would be healthier for the country to see candidates once again perform essential acts of honesty and transparency — not because they have to but because voters deserve it."

Opinion | Supreme Court ruling on Trump's tax returns is correct - The Washington Post

Friday, November 25, 2022

This Holiday Season, the Poor Buckle Under Inflation as the Rich Spend

This Holiday Season, the Poor Buckle Under Inflation as the Rich Spend

Even if policymakers achieve a gentle economic slowdown, it won’t be smooth for everyone.

Langham Hotel in Boston has plush suites and conference rooms.
People on a line outside a brick building, bundled up in winter clothes.
Across town, in Dorchester, people line up for Thanksgiving turkeys at Catholic Charities.

November has been busier than expected at the Langham Hotel in Boston as luxury travelers book rooms in plush suites and hold meetings in gilded conference rooms. The $135-per-adult Thanksgiving brunch at its in-house restaurant sold out weeks ago.

Across town, in Dorchester, demand has been booming for a different kind of food service. Catholic Charities is seeing so many families at its free pantry that Beth Chambers, vice president of basic needs at Catholic Charities Boston, has had to close early some days and tell patrons to come back first thing in the morning. On the frigid Saturday morning before Thanksgiving, patrons waiting for free turkeys began to line the street at 4:30 a.m. — more than four hours before the pantry opened.

The contrast illustrates a divide that is rippling through America’s topsy-turvy economy nearly three years into the pandemic. Many well-off consumers are still flush with savings and faring well financially, bolstering luxury brands and keeping some high-end retailers and travel companies optimistic about the holiday season. At the same time, America’s poor are running low on cash buffers, struggling to keep up with rising prices and facing climbing borrowing costs if they use credit cards or loans to make ends meet.

The situation underlines a grim reality of the pandemic era. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and temper demand, hoping to cool the economy and bring the fastest inflation in decades back under control. Central bankers are trying to manage that without a recession that leaves families out of work. But the adjustment period is already a painful one for many Americans — evidence that even if the central bank can pull off a so-called “soft landing,” it won’t feel benign to everyone.

“A lot of these households are moving toward the greater fragility that was the norm before the pandemic,” said Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.

Many working-class households fared well in 2020 and 2021. Though they lost jobs rapidly at the outset of the pandemic, hiring rebounded swiftly, wage growth has been strong, and repeated government relief checks helped families amass savings.

But after 18 months of rapid price inflation — some of which was driven by stimulus-fueled demand — the poor are depleting those cushions. American families were still sitting on about $1.7 trillion in excess savings — extra savings accumulated during the pandemic — by the middle of this year, based on Fed estimates, but about $1.35 trillion of it was held by the top half of earners and just $350 billion in the bottom half.

At the same time, prices climbed 7.7 percent in the year through October, far faster than the roughly 2 percent pace that was normal before the pandemic. As savings have run down and necessities like car repair, food and housing become sharply more expensive, many people in lower-income neighborhoodshave begun turning to credit cards to sustain their spending. Balances for that group are now above 2019 levels, New York Fed research shows. Some are struggling to keep up at all.

“With the cost of food, the explosive cost of eggs, people are having to come to us more,” said Ms. Chambers of Catholic Charities, explaining that other rising prices, including rent, are intensifying the struggle. The location planned to give out 1,000 turkeys and 600 gift cards for turkeys, at its holiday distribution, along with bags of canned creamed corn, cranberry sauce and other Thanksgiving fare.

Tina Obadiaru, 42, was among those who lined up to get a turkey on Saturday. A mother of seven, she works full time caring for residents at a group home, but it isn’t enough to make ends meet for her and her family, especially after her Dorchester rent jumped last month to $2,500 from $2,000.

Daily business updates  The latest coverage of business, markets and the economy, sent by email each weekday. 

“It is going to be really difficult,” she said.

The disproportionate burden inflation places on the poor is one reason Fed officials are scrambling to quickly bring price increases back under control. Central bankers have lifted interest rates from near zero earlier this year to nearly 4 percent, and have signaled that there are more to come.

But the process of lowering inflation is also likely to hurt for lower-income people. Fed policies work partly by making it expensive to borrow to sustain consumption, which causes demand to decline and eventually forces sellers to charge less. Rate increases also slow down the labor market, cooling wage growth and possibly even costing jobs.

A woman handing a bag of frozen food to someone.
Catholic Charities has seen a surge in demand for food.
Two sets of hands are shown at a hotel counter, with one person handing a room key to another.
November has been busier than expected at the Langham Hotel.

That means that the solid labor market that has buoyed the working class through this challenging time — one that has particularly pushed up wages in lower-paying jobs, including leisure and hospitality, and transportation — could soon crack. In fact, Fed officials are watching for a slowdown in spending and pay gains as a sign that their policies are working.

“While higher interest rates, slower growth and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said at a key Fed conference in August. “These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation.”

Central bankers believe that a measure of pain today is better than what would happen if inflation were allowed to continue unchecked. If people and businesses begin to expect rapid price increases and act accordingly — asking for big raises, instituting frequent and large price increases — inflation could become entrenched in the economy. It would then take a more punishing policy response to bring it to heel, one that could push unemployment even higher.

But evidence accumulating across the economy underscores that the slowdown the Fed has been engineering, however necessary, is likely to feel different across different income groups.

Consumer spending overall has so far been resilient to the Fed’s rate moves. Retail sales data moderated notably early in the year, but have recently picked back up. Personal consumption expenditures aren’t expanding at a breakneck pace, but they continue to grow.

Yet underneath those aggregate numbers, a nascent shift appears to be underway — one that highlights the growing divide in economic comfort between the rich and the poor. Credit card data from Bank of America suggest that high- and middle-income households have replaced lower-income households in driving consumption growth in recent months. Poorer shoppers contributed one-fifth of the growth in discretionary spending in October, compared with around two-fifths a year earlier.

“This is likely due to lower-income groups being the most negatively impacted by surging prices — they have also seen the biggest drawdown of bank savings,” economists at the Bank of America Institute wrote in a Nov. 10 note.

Even if the poor feel the squeeze of elevated prices and higher interest ratesand pull back, the economists noted that continued economic health among richer consumers could keep demand strong in areas where wealthier people tend to spend their money, including services like travel and hotels.

At the Langham, a newly renovated hotel in a century-old building that originally served as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, there is little to suggest an impending slowdown in spending. 

In “The Fed,” the hotel bar named in a nod to the building’s heritage, bartenders are busy every weeknight slinging cocktails with names like “Trust Fund Baby” and “Apple Butter Me Up” (both $16). When guests come back from shopping on nearby Newbury Street, the hotel’s managing director, Michele Grosso, said, their arms are full of bags. He sees the fact that the Thanksgiving brunch sold out so fast as emblematic of continued demand.

“If people were pulling back, we’d still be promoting,” he said of the three-course, family-style meal. “Instead, we’ve got a waiting list.”

The consumption divide playing out in Boston is also clear at a national level, echoing through corporate earnings calls. American Express added customers for platinum and gold cards at a record clip in the United States last quarter, for instance, as it reported “great demand” for premium, fee-based products.

A man on a street with a luggage trolley cart.
The $135-per-adult Thanksgiving Brunch at the Langham Hotel sold out weeks ago.
A truck piled with boxes of food.
Food to be distributed at Catholic Charities, which has been giving out Turkeys, cranberry sauce and other Thanksgiving fare.

“As we sit here today, we see no changes in the spending behaviors of our customers,” Stephen J. Squeri, the company’s chief executive, told investors during an earnings call last month.

Companies that serve more low-income consumers, however, are reporting a marked pullback.

“Many consumers this year have relied on borrowing or dipping into their savings to manage their weekly budgets,” Brian Cornell, the chief executive of Target, said in an earnings call on Nov. 16. “But for many consumers, those options are starting to run out. As a result, our guests are exhibiting increasing price sensitivity, becoming more focused on and responsive to promotions and more hesitant to purchase at full price.”

The split makes it hard to guess what will happen next with spending and inflation. Some economists think the return of price sensitivity among lower-income consumers will be enough to help overall costs moderate, paving the way for a notable slowdown in 2023.

“You get more promotional activity, and companies starting to compete for market share,” said Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives.

But others warn that, even if the very poor are struggling, it may not be sufficient to bring spending and prices down meaningfully.

Many families paid off their credit card balances during the pandemic, and that is now reversing, despite high credit card rates. The borrowing could help some households sustain their consumption for a while, especially paired with strong employment gains and recently fallen gas prices, said Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro.

As the world waits to see whether the Fed can slow down the economy enough to control inflation without forcing the country into an outright recession, those coming to Catholic Charities in Boston illustrate why the stakes are so high. Though many have jobs, they have been buffeted by months of rapid price increases and now face an uncertain future.

“Before the pandemic, we thought in cases,” Ms. Chambers said, referencing how much food is needed to meet local need. “Now we think only in pallets.”

Thursday, November 24, 2022

It’s the guns’: violent week in a deadly year prompts familiar US responses

‘It’s the guns’: violent week in a deadly year prompts familiar US responses

Visitors hug Wednesday at makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Visitors hug Wednesday at makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photograph: David Zalubowski/AP

“It was the final hour of extended store opening on Tuesday at the Walmart Supercenter in the commercial heart of Chesapeake, Virginia’s second-largest city. Shoppers scrambled to make last-minute purchases for Thanksgiving. Then shots rang out.

Shortly after 10pm an employee, said to be a manager, entered a break room at the back of the store where staff were gathering at the start of the overnight shift, and according to an eyewitness “just started spraying”. The gunman used a pistol to shoot his victims and then turned the weapon on himself, all within minutes.

Donya Prioleau, a worker at the store, captured on Facebook the horror of the moment. She expressed not only her own trauma at seeing three friends killed by a silent gunman right in front of her, but also a wider despair at yet another mass shooting two days before a holiday meant for reflection and celebration.

She wrote: “Somebody’s baby, mom, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparents … whoever did not make it home tonight! Thanksgiving is a holiday we celebrate with friends and family … there are those who cannot. I cannot unsee what happened in that break room.”

It is not just the families and friends of the dead and injured who will not be celebrating on Thursday. Three days before the Walmart shooting, a man armed with a long rifle entered an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs and opened fire.

As a result, the families of five people who were killed and 25 injured have also been left with nothing for which to give thanks. And it doesn’t end there.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been seven mass shootings in the US in as many days. In addition to the bloodletting in Chesapeake and Colorado Springs, four people were killed at a marijuana farm in Oklahoma on Sunday; a mother and her three children were shot dead in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday; and mass shootings – defined as four people or more killed or injured with a firearm – occurred in Illinois, Mississippi and Texas.

All in all, Thanksgiving week has seen 22 people killed and 44 injured, all through the barrel of a gun.

By the archive’s definition, there have been 606 mass shootings in the US this year. That means that 2022 is shaping up to be one of the worst years in recent memory, on a par or exceeding the bloodletting of 2020 which recorded 610 such incidents and last year which saw 690.

The painful collision of so much tragedy in a week of national rejoicing would perhaps be cause for widespread soul-searching. But the public response has fallen quickly and predictably into patterns all too familiar to observers of America’s gun crisis.

In Virginia, the Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, marked the second of the week’s mass shootings with the time-worn refrain: “Our hearts break with the community of Chesapeake this morning … Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities.”

As one of the most astute gun control advocates, Shannon Watts, noted, the governor’s response lacked two poignant words: “gunman” and “shooting”. In her own analysis of a devastating week, Watts was more forthright.

“It’s the fucking guns,” she tweeted. “If more guns and fewer gun laws made us safer, America would be the safest nation in the world. But 400,000,000 guns in the hands of civilians coupled with weak gun laws have given us a 25 times higher gun homicide rate than any peer nation.”

In Colorado, the suspect in the Club Q shooting has been discharged from hospital and is now being held in the local county jail. Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, was expected to appear in court for the first time on Wednesday, facing possible murder and hate crime charges.

The suspect’s name was changed six years ago from Nicholas Franklin Brink. In court filings, the suspect’s defense lawyers said they are nonbinary and use they/them pronouns.

The suspect appears to have had possession of deadly weapons before the shooting despite an incident 18 months ago in which their mother was threatened with a homemade bomb. There is no indication that authorities invoked a state red flag law that allows the seizure of weapons from anyone considered a danger to themselves or others.

Colorado Springs has a reputation as one of the most conservative US cities. It is home to several prominent evangelical Christian and anti-abortion groups.

In 2019, El Paso county, which covers the city, declared itself a “second amendment sanctuary”. The measure referenced the constitutional right to bear arms, wielded in protest against attempts to tighten gun controls in the state in the wake of several gruesome mass shootings.“