By Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Aditya Kalra and Euan Rocha MUMBAI (Reuters) - Controversy in India over Amazon's political drama "Tandav" has put Bollywood and global video streaming giants on edge, prompting a closer scrutiny of scripts for possible offence to religious sentiments in a key growth market. Companies like Amazon's Prime Video and Netflix are inspecting planned shows and scripts, with some even deleting scenes that could be controversial, five Bollywood directors and producers, and two industry sources said. This comes as Amazon Prime Video has become embroiled in legal cases and police...
Properties owned by former White House adviser Jared Kushner's family company have filed at least 590 eviction lawsuits since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and more than 200 in 2021 alone, putting "countless tenants" at risk of losing their homes in parts of the U.S. where Covid-19 transmission levels remain dangerously high.
"With eviction protections gone, corporate landlords like Kushner are relishing the soonest opportunity to evict the vulnerable."
That's according to a detailed analysis conducted by the government watchdog group Accountable.US, which examined public eviction filings submitted largely by properties under the control of Westminster Management, a subsidiary of Kushner Companies. In his 2020 financial disclosure, Kushner—former President Donald Trump's son-in-law—reported $1.65 million in income from Westminster Management, the only item listed in the "Employment Assets & Income" section of the filing.
In a report (pdf) provided exclusively to Common Dreams, Accountable.US compiled the publicly available eviction suits submitted by Westminster properties, including 2021 filings that have not been previously reported. The group emphasized that its list of filings is likely incomplete, given that many lawsuits may not yet be available to view online.
The analysis comes less than a month after the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court struck down a nationwide moratorium that protected millions of people from eviction for non-payment of rent—a decision that housing advocates warned could spark a devastating wave of evictions and worsen the pandemic.
"Jared Kushner is the poster child for ultra-rich landlords clamoring to boost their bottom line by kicking families to the curb, even if it comes at the expense of public health," Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, told Common Dreams. "By siding with big rental companies, the Supreme Court veered even further to the right and welcomed a homelessness crisis that will fan the flames of the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic."
"With eviction protections gone," Herrig added, "corporate landlords like Kushner are relishing the soonest opportunity to evict the vulnerable, but it's still a choice: is it worth making themselves a little bit richer in the short term while making communities where their tenants reside far less healthy? We hope they put people before profits."
According to Accountable's report, Westminster properties and other companies in which Kushner holds investments have filed at least 96 eviction-related lawsuits in New Jersey since the pandemic began, and more than 40 this year alone. All of the New Jersey filings "were in counties that appeared to be covered by the extended CDC moratorium as of August 26, 2021," the group found.
The same was true of Westminster-owned properties in Maryland and Virginia, Accountable.US noted.
The Washington Post reported last November that throughout the pandemic, "Westminster has been sending letters to [Maryland] tenants threatening legal fees and then filing eviction notices in court―a first legal step toward removing tenants."
"Those notices are now piling up in local courthouses as part of a national backlog of tens of thousands of cases... as eviction bans expire and courts resume processing cases," the Post noted at the time. "Those facing eviction proceedings once courts begin hearing cases again include a nurse who struggled financially during the pandemic, healthcare administrators, and a single mother who is currently unemployed."
The Supreme Court's ruling against the CDC eviction moratorium on August 26 removed the last line of defense for many at-risk tenants who have struggled to pay rent amid the pandemic-induced economic downturn. A dashboard produced by the National Equity Atlas and Right to the City shows that more than 5.8 million households are currently behind on rent, holding a combined total of $15 billion in rental debt.
"Given the logjam in the distribution of rent relief, there's diminishing hope that aid will reach renters' doorsteps before eviction notices will."
Kushner Companies is hardly the only corporate firm rushing to evict tenants who have been stuck waiting for federal rental assistance that's been infuriatingly slow to arrive. According to the latest data from Princeton University's Eviction Lab, landlords across six U.S. states and 31 cities have filed for 510,453 evictions since mid-March of 2020.
As Bloomberg recently reported, "owners of large apartment complexes have filed the lion's share of evictions against tenants" throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the nation's preexisting housing crises.
"Across a dozen cities and counties where data are accessible, evictions at just a small number of apartment buildings contributed between one-fifth and one-half of all pandemic eviction filings," Bloomberg noted, citing figures from the Eviction Lab. "If the evictions to come in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision follow the same course as the evictions that persisted while the moratorium was still in place, then they will disproportionately fall on Black and immigrant families living in class-B or class-C apartment complexes owned by large landlords."
Following the Supreme Court's decision to scrap the CDC eviction moratorium—which corporate landlords sued over and lobbied hard against—members of Congress faced growing pressure to enshrine emergency tenant protections into federal law. Hours after the Supreme Court's ruling, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and dozens of other House Democrats sent a letter imploring their party's leadership to "act with the highest levels of urgency to advance a permanent legislative solution... to extend the life-saving federal eviction moratorium for the duration of the deadly global health crisis."
Weeks later, Congress has yet to act. Earlier this week, Bush introduced legislation to expand access to rental aid during the pandemic, but it's not clear when—or even if—the bill will get a vote in the House.
"So how are renters expected to stay afloat amid a nationwide housing shortage and crumbling federal protections from evictions?" Sabiha Zainulbhai, senior policy analyst at New America's Future of Land and Housing program, asked in a CNN op-ed on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, the answer is not clear."
"Given the logjam in the distribution of rent relief, there's diminishing hope that aid will reach renters' doorsteps before eviction notices will," Zainulbhai wrote. "Despite federal guidance, the distribution of this aid has been too slow and ineffective to meet the scale and the pace of the need. Meanwhile, the Delta variant is still a threat, hiring has slowed to its lowest rate since January, and to top it all off, pandemic unemployment benefits have expired. The outlook for renters is not good."
In swing states across the country, former President Donald Trump is working to get individuals who attempted to overturn the 2020 election in positions of electoral leadership ahead of the 2024 election, according to CNN.
On Monday, September 13, Trump added yet another Republican candidate to his list of endorsements. Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem (R), who supported Trump's effort to overturn the election, is now running for Arizona Secretary of State and, of course, he has the former president's support.
For independent election experts, Trump's latest string of endorsements has been alarming. In Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan—three key battleground states— Trump has endorsed candidates who publicly backed his "big lie." In all three battleground states, current election officials refused to back Trump's efforts to overturn the election.
The publication highlights the concerns of election experts if Trump-endorsed candidates ultimately prevail in the next election cycle.
"If people who have sought to undermine the 2020 election are running things in 2024, when Trump might be a candidate again, experts and many Democrats fear that attempts to subvert the will of the voters stand a much greater chance of success," CNN reports.
Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, weighed in as he stressed the dangers of voters supporting g those who questions the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. "It is incredibly dangerous to support people for office who do not accept the legitimacy of the 2020 election. It suggests that they might be willing to bend or break the rules when it comes to running elections and counting votes in the future," said Hasen. "Someone who claims falsely that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump lacks credibility and cannot be trusted to run a fair election."
According to a report from Politico, the decision of popular Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) to not run for re-election in 2022 has Ohio Republicans -- as well as Republican Party campaign consultants -- fearing he may be a harbinger of things to come due to the outsized influence of Donald Trump.
Gonzalez's decision to step away came with the lawmaker pointedly calling the former president a "cancer" within the GOP and is all the more concerning because he likely would have won had he stayed in the race -- despite Trump's opposition.
Republican campaign consultants were hoping to use his re-election run as a test case to see how far Trump's influence extends over districts that are not solidly rightwing, but now that is gone and they worry his decision to bow out won't be the first as the 2022 election ramps up.
Regarding Gonzalez's decision to vote for Trump's second impeachment over the Capitol insurrection, Shannon Burns, the head of Ohio's Strongsville GOP stated the popular lawmaker, "... was an up-and-coming star, who made, I think, a terrible political calculation, and paid a price for it."
Colleague Liz Cheney (R-WY) -- also a target of Trump's ire over her impeachment vote -- said the loss of Gonzalez is a blow to the party's future.
"Anthony Gonzalez is one of … the most honorable public servants that I've ever known. And the idea that the Republican Party is going to drive people like him out tells you that the party is at a moment that is very perilous for us," she explained.
According to Politico's report, "in forgoing a bruising primary against a Trump-endorsed candidate, Gonzalez also deprived Trump — and the Republican Party at large — of what would have been one of the best test cases in the country of the full extent of the former president's dominion over the post-Trump GOP. Gonzalez, despite crossing Trump, was not dead in the water. He had been out-raising Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide endorsed by the former president. Miller has heavy baggage of his own. And with the primary not scheduled to take place until next year, at least some Ohio Republicans did not view the outcome as a foregone conclusion."
One campaign consultant, Ohio's Ryan Stubenrauch, said the departure of the lawmaker is a blow to the party in many ways.
"Every political consultant and candidate around the country is looking for a way to measure how much Trump's endorsement would matter in a Republican primary going forward," he lamented. "Who would've won a primary between a well-funded incumbent like Anthony Gonzalez and a Trump-backed candidate like Max Miller would have provided great data for that question."
Politico reports, "For some Republicans in a GOP now ruled over by Trump, it isn't worth the fight. Roughly half of the 241 Republicans in the House when Trump took office have or will have left the chamber by 2023 — and that percentage could grow if more GOP incumbents choose to retire this cycle," adding, "While some departed to join Trump's administration or seek higher office, roughly 90 have either retired or lost reelection. And there is every reason to believe that Republicans at odds with Trump's behavior after the election — most significantly his promotion of the lie that the 2020 election was stolen — will slowly be squeezed out."
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