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Ultra-wealthy Americans want you to think their philanthropy will change the world. They should just pay their taxes instead.

Businessinsider - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 13:02
Author Anand Giridharadas says charitable giving is a 'smokescreen' for the ultra-wealthy.
  • Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the "Pitchfork Economics" podcast.
  • In a recent episode, author Anand Giridharadas explained how wealthy Americans use philanthropy to avoid taxation.
  • He says it's a relatively cheap way the ultra-wealthy can "do bad things in the billions and wipe it out with gifts in the millions."

In this week's episode of "Pitchfork Economics," journalist Anand Giridharadas, author of the excellent book "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World," explains how billionaires use philanthropic giving to whitewash their reputations - and avoid taxation.

"We're living in this time in which you cannot walk down the street in certain ZIP codes of this country without bumping into a plutocrat trying to change the world," Giridharadas said. It seems as though every billionaire in America has at least one nonprofit foundation focusing on one social ill or another.

But aren't these splashy hundred-million-dollar-plus donations a good thing? Aren't these billionaires creating positive change with their charitable donations? Giridharadas argues that the charitable giving is a smokescreen to disguise the fact that the richest humans in the history of world "benefit from a near-monopoly on the fruits of the future" in which they have "essentially rigged the society to function as a casino in which the house - i.e., them - always wins."

"You've got a whole class of people who have cause to be resented," Giridharadas said, "who are, in many cases, manipulating their company books so they don't pay taxes, who are underpaying workers." For those wealthy few, he said, philanthropy is "a relatively cheap, bargain-basement way of changing your name. You can do bad things in the billions and wipe it out with gifts in the millions."

Despite their splashy press releases touting huge donations, the fact is that the super-rich's charitable giving is a drop in the bucket compared to their ever-growing fortunes. Zara Khan points out for Datawrapper, "charitable donations by the richest 20 Americans account for less than 1% of the total wealth of the donors."

If you are an average American taxpayer, the 400 wealthiest families in America now pay a lower tax rate than you. Imagine all the programs and projects we could have built had the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans stayed at 91%, where it was in the US from 1951 to 1964 (PDF), when the economy was growing at its fastest.

That's why "Pitchfork Economics" host Nick Hanauer this week wrote an editorial for the New Republic calling on Congress to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans - including Hanauer.

"It drives me crazy when I hear Democrats say that 'for the sake of the economy' we have to cut back on the $3.5 trillion spending in Biden's Build Back Better legislation, or that we can't possibly raise taxes on the wealthy and huge corporations as much as Biden proposed," Hanauer wrote.

"Those folks have it totally backward," Hanauer continued. "Taxing the rich is the only plan that would increase investment, boost productivity, grow the economy, and create more and better jobs." He's right - raising taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations would pay for the $3.5 trillion in spending over the 10 years of the Build Back Better plan, and the mammoth scope of that legislation, from greening the economy to investing in childcare to increasing educational opportunities for children and adults, would more significantly transform the economy than any plutocratic philanthropy ever could.

That's because there's another benefit to raising taxes on the super-rich: Their money would no longer be hoarded in the kind of offshore accounts that we learned about last week in the bombshell Pandora Papers. Instead, once it was invested in ordinary Americans, that money would circulate through local economies from hand to hand, creating jobs, spurring small business growth, and strengthening local communities through increased consumer demand. It's a much simpler system than elaborately disguising ostentatious wealth through philanthropic giving - and it has the added benefit of being better for everyone in the long haul.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I'm a pharmacy student working at Walgreens. Most people getting the COVID booster shot are excited, but our pharmacy is severely understaffed.

Businessinsider - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:57
"The line kept growing - some people were picking up their medications, others were asking for refills. The phone calls never ended," said a pharmacist of her recent Sunday shift.
  • Jennalynn Fung, 19, is a pharmacy student who works at a Walgreens in New York City.
  • She says her location has been overwhelmed between giving out the COVID vaccines and flu shots and filling regular prescriptions.
  • Despite being on the front line, Fung says she rarely feels respected by patients or treated like a healthcare worker.

I started working at Walgreens during the spring semester of my first year in New York City. As a pharmacy student, I wanted to start working to develop my skills and understanding of medicine in a practical setting.

My first few months at a Walgreens in Queens were stressful to say the least - I was hired in March 2020, when the pandemic began to take over. New York quickly became the center of the epidemic, but having just been hired, I didn't want to leave.

Jennalynn Fung, 19, is a pharmacy student in New York. When the vaccines were approved for emergency use, our responsibilities doubled, but our staff size stayed the same.

During most shifts, we only had one pharmacist available, which often meant there were only one to two immunizers. At that point, we were just trying to keep up with workflow.

Eventually, I switched to a pharmacy in a different neighborhood, but it was also severely understaffed. We spent all day just trying to get everything done, with little leeway to provide attentive, patient-centered care like we normally would.

Now, most people are coming in for the Pfizer booster shot are eager to get it.

One patient, a woman born in the early 1940s, told me she remembered receiving the polio vaccine as a teenager. As a result, she'd never contracted the illness, and believed the COVID vaccine would give her the same protection. Another older man suffering from chronic heart disease said that for him, the third shot was necessary for his own peace of mind.

We've also had patients under 65 with health conditions come in for the third dose. One young high school teacher who was immunocompromised said the moment she heard the Pfizer booster shot was approved, she wanted it. Schools in New York City shut down in September due to outbreaks, so she felt she was at high risk of contracting the virus. Since the booster is voluntary right now, most people coming in for it have been relieved - and even excited - to get it.

The long hours and lack of available pharmacists mean we're all working back to back shifts.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine.

We're giving vaccinations all day long as well as keeping up with the steady flow of prescriptions coming from local clinics and hospitals. Since flu shots are also walk-in, there are long lines of people waiting for different vaccinations. This is especially tough on a single immunizer who must keep track of who is getting what shot and what version (flu shots for babies, children and adults, and the elderly).

In spite of what we do, we're rarely respected as healthcare workers.

Staff pharmacists have consistently come in at 6 a.m. and stayed until 9 p.m. throughout the pandemic. Had there been one more technician or pharmacist at each store, things might be different - we would be able to catch our own breath and think more deeply about the health of our patients.

Walgreens' own treatment has made me feel like they didn't value me as a pharmacy worker. Many days I dread coming into work - every work shift is exhausting, from the rude patients to the constant influx of prescriptions. I continue to wonder: Why am I studying for six long years to be a pharmacist if people are going to treat me with no respect?

With the booster shots, Walgreens hasn't gotten any better - in many ways, it's worse.

Just a month ago on a Sunday, we had a family of six walk in for their flu shots. There was already a line of six elderly and immunocompromised patients waiting for the COVID booster. The line kept growing - some people were picking up their medications, others were asking for refills. The phone calls never ended.

Worst of all was, it was just me and the staff pharmacist working that day. We didn't close on time that night, but in order to keep to hourly budgets, my pharmacist told me I could leave and that she would stay behind. She spent another hour scanning in vaccine forms, filling more prescriptions, and cleaning.

Being understaffed puts patient safety at risk. There was a memo by "WAG Justice" circulating in Walgreens emails about a walkout - this was when pharmacists were doing up to 100 vaccinations by themselves in a day.

In pharmacy school, I've learned how crucial and indispensable a pharmacist's drug knowledge is for public health. For that reason, I hope people continue to get vaccinated - and that treatment of pharmacists giving the vaccinations will improve.

Read the original article on Business Insider

SpaceX astronaut says she was sick for the first 2 days of Inspiration4's mission and thought the spaceflight wasn't long enough, a report says

Businessinsider - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:50
Dr. Sian Proctor, on the far right, told National Geographic she felt sick during the first part of her mission.
  • Dr. Sian Proctor, a SpaceX astronaut, told National Geographic she felt sick for two days in space.
  • Proctor also said SpaceX's three-day mission around the Earth wasn't long enough.
  • She said her head was "a little stuffy" on the second day, National Geographic reported.

A SpaceX astronaut who took part in the company's Inspiration4 mission a month ago said she was sick for the first two days in space, National Geographic reported Friday.

Dr. Sian Proctor, one of the four crew members onboard SpaceX's first all-civilian mission, told National Geographic that she started feeling unwell on the first day.

"Space sickness is one of those things that a lot of people suffer from," Proctor said in the interview. "You're just not on your game."

Astronauts can experience motion sickness when they're in space due to the weightlessness which they feel with zero-gravity.

Proctor told National Geographic that she felt better on the second day but her head was "a little stuffy."

"But man, I woke up the third day, and I was humming, and everything was perfect," Proctor told the publication. "I had adapted, I was good, and I was like, 'What? I have to come home?! No, no, no!'"

The Inspiration4 mission launched on September 16, sending four civilian astronauts into orbit for three days onboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.

"I would go for longer. Three days was not enough," the geoscientist and science communication specialist told National Geographic.

"I think, ideally, a five-day mission in the Dragon capsule with the cupola would be perfect," Proctor added.

The cupola is a glass dome roof located at the nose of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which the astronauts looked out of to see Earth from space. Proctor told National Geographic that this was "the best feature of our spaceflight."

The toilet, which malfunctioned mid-flight, was also located in the cupola. Proctor said in the interview that it was "a waste fan issue," which the crew members quickly fixed. "I think it was made into an event that was bigger than it actually was," she added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why discount stores can survive when the supply chain falls apart

Businessinsider - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:35
Discount retailer Dollar General could be less vulnerable to supply chain pressures because of its business model.
  • Discount chains such as Lidl or Dollar General have more flexibility to manage supply chain issues.
  • These stores stock fewer items and carry more own-brand goods.
  • This means fewer products to keep in stock and more flexibility to switch manufacturers.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The global supply chain network is on its knees and retailers across the world are scrambling to keep shelves stocked as the busy holiday shopping season approaches.

Experts say that empty shelves and long delays are expected to be a guaranteed part of our winter shopping this year. However, some stores, namely the discount chains, could be less vulnerable to pressures because of their unique business models.

The Aldis, Lidls, Dollar Generals, Dollar Trees, and to some extent, the Costcos of the world, stock a large amount of own-brand goods and have a limited number of product stock keeping units, or SKUs, in their stores. This approach reduces costs and streamlines supply chains.

At the core of the dollar store or discount grocery chain business model is keeping business costs as low as possible in order to keep prices down for the shopper. This means these stores have far fewer types of products on offer than you would find in your typical Walmart supercenter, for example.

In normal times, buying fewer products in bulk gives these stores greater bargaining power with suppliers but this setup also has its benefits during the ongoing supply chain crunch: these stores have a smaller assortment of items to worry about being in stock and most likely fewer suppliers to deal with, something Lidl's UK and Ireland CEO flagged in a recent interview.

By not being a store of everything, the discount chains have more flexibility to swap items in and out. Dollar General has been vocal about this advantage in recent earnings calls. As prices have risen over the past two quarters, the retailer said it has had the flexibility to drop items that have been most impacted by inflation.

And just as shoppers don't mind if the assortment changes, they also wouldn't be shocked to see bare shelves, Dave Marcotte, longtime retail and supply chain expert from Kantar Consulting, said in a recent conversation with Insider.

"Shoppers don't go to dollar stores for an experience ... They are not expecting to see full shelves, and when they come in and see two to three meters of holes in the shelves, it doesn't affect them," he said, adding: "If they are out of what they're looking for, that's ok too."

Marcotte said that shoppers generally make dollar or discount stores their first port of call, if the item they want is there and they can get it at a cheap price, great. Shoppers depend on these stores for discounts rather than a large assortment.

Then there's the own-brand aspect. Discount chains stock large amounts of private-label goods, as does Costco through its Kirkland range, which gives them greater flexibility to switch manufacturers without the consumer noticing.

"Shoppers are not aware of who the real manufacturer is," Marcotte said. "The actual manufacturing behind it can be anything as long as the quality is there ... they don't have the perception that they are being traded down."

While private-label manufacturers are still subject to the same supply chain challenges, the discount retailers have more flexibility to shop around by selling fewer national brands.

Still, it's not all plain sailing. Dollar stores in particular are some of the largest importers of products from Asia, as is Costco, making these stores particularly vulnerable to the current freight supply chain issues.

Additionally, discount stores have less room to raise prices without the consumer noticing, something Dollar Tree was forced to do last month.

Read the original article on Business Insider

As student violence surges, educators say mental health issues are 'absolutely through the roof' and draining teachers

Businessinsider - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:34
First day of school for students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, scene of 2018 mass shooting that killed 17
  • Schools around the country are reporting an increase in student violence, some targeting teachers.
  • Educators told Insider it's likely linked to mental health issues that worsened over the pandemic.
  • One counselor said students are showing symptoms of PTSD with depression rates "through the roof."

At a Florida middle school, 87 students have gotten in physical fights since school began last month.

At an Illinois high school, 70 students have been suspended for violent altercations, the superintendent said.

At a New York high school, two students were cut during an altercation, causing parents to demand more safety agents.

At a Kentucky lower school, a counselor said she has assessed 26 students ages eight through 10 for suicide risk since May.

And it's only October.

"We just confiscated a gun from a 10-year-old," Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union in Florida, told Insider.

"First-graders slapped a teacher in the face, second-graders slapped a teacher in the face, middle schoolers corralled around a teacher and shoved her," she said. "Every single day I get a story from an educator."

On Friday, the nation's largest teachers union said social media has "helped create a culture of fear and violence with educators as targets," in a letter addressed to Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter that was shared with The Wall Street Journal.

Union leaders referenced the "devious lick" challenge that led students to vandalize and steal school property, as well as the "slap a teacher" challenge. TikTok removed hashtags and content related to devious lick in September.

School staff members across the country told Insider they are seeing surges in student outbursts, from vandalism and verbal altercations to gun violence and slashing.

Fusco said teachers have been trained on "how to handle a shooter when he comes in," but not on preventing violence long-term.

"All our districts care about is getting the curriculum, pounding on the academics," she told Insider. "There's nowhere near the level of training that can really make a vast difference in a student."

Now, school counselors are sounding the alarm on what they believe to be a main driver behind the violence: student mental health.

"The number of suicide threats in my own school has skyrocketed since COVID," Amy Riley, a school counselor at Mercer County Intermediate School in Kentucky, told state lawmakers on Tuesday. "Just this morning, I had to do a suicide risk assessment on a 9-year-old in my school before I came to this hearing today."

Riley told Insider that she's assessed 26 students ages eight through 10 for suicide risk since May, many of whom were then hospitalized or enrolled in therapy.

Before the pandemic, she said she would only have one or two suicide assessments a month. Now she sees two or three students every day.

Even still, Riley said she feels lucky, since many rural schools in Kentucky have just one counselor, and some have none at all. Including Riley, she said, Mercer County has a total of three.

"At least they were in school and we were able to talk to them and get them the help that they needed," she said. "What we are finding is that a lot of the symptoms of PTSD ... are being mirrored in our students who are going through this pandemic."

TaRael Kee, an assistant principal at Collinsville High School in Illinois, told Insider that there has been a "significant increase" in both student violence and student mental-health issues across the state.

Kee said they've doubled the number of school counselors since he started. Despite the additional hires, he said teachers are constantly struggling with students' emotional challenges, contributing to burnout and low morale.

"Some of our staff members are almost in a state of crisis themselves," he said.

To prevent students from resorting to violence as a result of poor mental health, Fusco said schools need more trained staff.

"What's most needed is bodies," she said. "People that are properly trained to take on this extra toll of the students with social-emotional situations."

"But if you don't have the funding for it, then you can't do it," she added. "And that's one of the biggest problems."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Meet the woman who traveled to every country in the world. Here's what she learned as she navigated all 196 nations by boat, plane, and train.

Businessinsider - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:23
Lexie Alford pictured with her Guinness World Record.
  • Lexie Alford, 23, recently made history as the youngest person to travel to every country.
  • Alford used a combination of boats, trains, and planes to obtain the world record.
  • She particularly enjoyed train trips, which allowed her to watch stunning landscapes whizz by.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Lexie Alford from Nevada City, California, recently broke the Guinness World Record to become the youngest person to travel to every country in the world.

At the age of 23, she visited 196 countries in an effort to challenge herself and push the limits of what she believed was possible for a female solo traveler.

Lexie primarily used planes, boats, and trains to get around. She highlighted the latter mode of transport as her favorite, "since you can stare out the window at the ever-changing landscapes," she told Insider.

Commuting on trains is almost a form of "slow travel," Alford said. "You can watch entire countries go flying past."

Alford said it took her three years to travel to every country and break the world record. She started traveling when she was very young because her mother owned a travel agency in California.

"I grew up joining my mom on her work trips around the world - in more than 70 countries - and after saving up for more than six years and graduating from college at 18, I decided to embark on my own adventures," she said.

Indonesia was a treasured spot for Alford because of its underwater diving experiences.

It was not all plain sailing, however, and there were many obstacles Alford encountered, including arranging visas to enter some countries. It took months to obtain them for Venezuela, Pakistan, and others, she said.

But the challenges were outweighed by the memorable experiences Alford enjoyed on her solo adventures. "There's so many incredible experiences that can come out of traveling alone because you are more open to the hospitality and interactions with locals than you would be when you are in a big group of people," she said.

"For the most well-preserved history in the world, I love Egypt. For the kindness of locals, I had an amazing experience in Northern Pakistan," she said.

In Libya.

She added: "The most unique island in the world, in my opinion, is Iceland: the land of fire and ice. For the most incredible natural beauty, I loved visiting Angel Falls in Venezuela."

When it comes to other modes of transportation Alford used on her journey, she said traveling on planes has been both a good and bad experience.

In Iran.

"I've traveled with an extremely wide variety of airlines around the world and for the most part, they all had terrible food!" she said.

Alford said she typically traveled on airlines like Delta and KLM. "I've absolutely loved the quality of these airlines and I always look forward to flying with them," she said. In particular, the overall quality of the seats and cleanliness was superior, she added.

Alford had the pleasure of meeting a variety of people and encountering different cultures on her trip. But the most valuable experience of all was discovering a new sense of independence, she said.

There are also several life lessons she's learned. "When it comes to traveling alone, especially as a woman, it's extremely important to use common sense," she said.

When traveling to countries that are perceived as dangerous or unstable, Alford said she learned to remember that things can change at any time and that's something you have to accept going into these kinds of experiences. "The only thing you can control is your mindset," she said.

For Alford, nothing beats traveling, which she described as her favorite part of being alive. "But I would be lying if I said I wasn't enjoying taking time over the past year to recover from all the wear and tear I've done to my body over the past few years," she added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Banisadr, dies in Paris at 88

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:21
Banisadr became Iran's first president months after 1979 revolution, but was later impeached and fled the country.

Messi says still lost in France but joining PSG was no mistake

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:12
The 34-year-old joined Paris St Germain after being told by the Catalan club they could not afford to keep him.

Abolhassan Banisadr: Iran's first president after revolution dies at 88

BBC News - World - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 12:02
Abolhassan Banisadr was impeached amid a power struggle with clerics and fled into exile in France.

In Tanzania, Gurnah’s Nobel Prize win sparks both joy and debate

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 11:49
Many Tanzanians acknowledge recognition of Gurnah’s work but others question whether they can claim author as their own.

US, Taliban hold first talks since Afghanistan withdrawal

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 11:43
Humanitarian situation and the implementation of the 2020 US-Taliban agreement on agenda in talks held in Doha.

Outages, leaks and bad headlines: Facebook’s nightmare week

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 11:37
At Facebook, a whistleblower goes public amid a disastrous service outage. And in Egypt, online influencers under fire.

Over 50 dead, more missing after boat sinks on Congo River

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 10:48
DRC provincial authorities say 51 bodies recovered and nearly 70 believed to be missing after makeshift vessel capsizes.

Spain: La Palma volcanic eruption intensifies, engulfs more homes

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 10:31
Volcano that began erupting on September 19 has destroyed over 800 buildings, forced evacuation of about 6,000 people.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi: Is the Taliban 2.0 any different?

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 10:29
The spokesman for the Taliban’s ministry of foreign affairs discusses the group’s rise to power in Afghanistan.

Why plans to buy Asia’s coal plants will benefit Wall Street

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 09:30
The Asian Development Bank and the UK's Prudential are developing a $120bn plan to buy coal plants in Asia.

‘Horrific milestone’: Brazil surpasses 600,000 COVID deaths

Al Jazeera - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 09:13
President Bolsonaro continues to face widespread criticism and anger over his government's handling of the pandemic.

China-Taiwan tensions: Xi Jinping says 'reunification' must be fulfilled

BBC News - World - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 08:53
Taiwan dismisses the Chinese leader's remarks, saying its future lies in the hands of its people.

Texas abortion: US appeals court reinstates near total ban

BBC News - World - Sat, 10/09/2021 - 07:38
It comes two days after a lower court blocked the law, which bans abortions at six weeks of pregnancy.