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The number of Americans living on less than $2 a day is skyrocketing

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The World Bank and other global institutions use a very specific measure to record global poverty rates. They gather data designed to record the number of people in a country who live on less than $2 a day, and then use the information to make a “poverty headcount ratio”— the percentage of people in a country who live under this standard. In most recent data, Sierra Leone, for example, had a staggering 82.5% of its citizens living in poverty by this count.

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What is less known is that millions of Americans are living in situations of similar poverty. A new book$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, explores the status of Americans who face this extreme level of poverty

“Most of us would say we would have trouble understanding how families in a country as rich as ours could live on so little,” Kathryn J. Edin, who co-wrote the book with H. Luke Shaefer, said in a conference call recorded by CBS News. “These families, contrary to what many would expect, are workers, and their slide into poverty is a failure of the labor market and our safety net, as well as their own personal circumstances.”

According to her research, the number of Americans living on $2 a day or less has “more than doubled since 1996, placing 1.5 million households and 3 million children in this desperate economic situation.”

1996 is an important marker, because that’s the year the Clinton administration, working alongside Republicans in Congress, eliminated the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program, which provided a guaranteed safety net for the poor. In its place they created Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), a much more meager and temporary safety net. CBS News notes that the two authors of the book cite this change as harming the poor:

TANF isn’t working, Shaefer and Edin said. Since the program was created in 1996 to replace a 60-year-old welfare system, the number of families living on less than $2 a day has more than doubled. In 2012, only one-quarter of poor families received TANF benefits, down from more than two-thirds in 1996, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to $2.00 a Day, the welfare program reached more than 14.2 million Americans in 1994, but by 2014 only 3.8 million Americans were aided by TANF.

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The authors’ research, which includes data analysis and interviews with ultrapoor families in four regions, found that many families aren’t even aware of TANF. “One person said, ‘They aren’t just giving it out anymore,'” Shaefer said. “In fact, in Appalachia it has, in some ways, disappeared. We asked, ‘Have you thought about applying for TANF?’ and they said, ‘What’s that?’


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‘American shame’: Doctors spit fire at Trump’s ‘sinful incompetence’ on COVID-19 pandemic

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Stat News this week interviewed a dozen different doctors from across the United States, and they all said that the federal government had failed to act in a timely manner to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, minced absolutely zero words when asked to evaluate the Trump administration's response to the crisis.

"The American public doesn’t know that a large portion of this catastrophe was preventable, if not for the sinful incompetence of our leaders," he said. "It didn't have to be like this."

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8 Capitol police test positive for coronavirus — 2 weeks after lawmakers flooded the Hill

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The coronavirus has made it's way to the Capitol Police, those responsible for security around the U.S. Capitol and lawmakers. Thus far, eight have tested positive, according to CNN and the gestation period of the virus could be concerning for many lawmakers.

"The health and well-being of USCP employees is the Department's top priority," Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki said. "We are implementing a number of proactive measures to respond to the pandemic."

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Russian trolls start hyping COVID-19 misinformation — and Rudy Giuliani’s crazed rants about the Bidens

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Russian trolls recently have started hyping a mix of misinformation about the coronavirus and crazed conspiracy theories posted by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

The Daily Beast reports that one of the trolls' main information operations revolves around blaming the United States Department of Defense for purportedly creating the coronavirus, even though all credible epidemiologists agree it originated in China.

"The story, posted to Russian-language blogs and Reddit by multiple fake personas, tries to pin the blame on the COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S. and Kazakhstan by casting the virus as the byproduct of a U.S. nonproliferation program in the country," the publication finds. "The trolls pointed to social media posts by a group of hackers calling themselves 'Anonymous Kazakhstan.'"

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