How by abandoning their vows to serve the public, American politicians precipitated the pandemic meltdown

Sanders looking up

In a brilliant New Yorker article, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor lays out the steps by which the abandonment of middle and poor Americans by both US political parties led to society’s present collapse. Although the coronavirus was the immediate trigger, the erosion of society’s wellbeing began way back in 1969. Collapse was an occurrence primed to happen at some point, and now just happened to be the time.

For 50 years, since 1979, national leaders increasingly backed away from their obligation to care for vulnerable and working class Americans. As they did, financial instability increased and the chance to acquire wealth became much more limited. Those were the perfect conditions for the meltdown known as American life in the days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Millions were driven into a state of deprivation that made happy lives impossible. And over time, the country destabilized economically. Students were still paying back college loans into their golden years. Aspiring homeowners could not afford mortgages. Urban residents live with air quality so poor that one in four has asthma and health concerns affect all areas of family’s lives. Poor health affects the’ ability to earn adequate incomes and keep up with the demands of digital life.

For years, the United States has gotten away with persistently chipping away at its weak welfare state by hiding or demonizing the populations most dependent on it. The poor are relegated as socially dysfunctional and inept, unable to cash in on the riches of American society ... The debate over the role of government in addressing income inequality, housing insecurity, debt accumulation, and health care continues, now against the grim backdrop of the raging coronavirus. It is difficult to articulate the speed with which the U.S. and, indeed, the world, has descended into an existential crisis.  read more

A report from Italy – with 10,000 cases of coronavirus and country on lockdown

Cristina Higgins writes from Italy about 10,000 cases of coronavirus having brought the country to a standstill #p2

From Consumer Reports: How to protect against coronavirus while grocery shopping

With experts saying to avoid crowded places because of the novel coronavirus, what should you do about grocery shopping?

420 pound man fired for farting too much

funny-suprised-dog-did-you-fart-picsWell, it wasn’t just farting. The Daily News points out that Richard Clem had gastric bypass surgery because extreme obesity was threatening his life. Afterwards, he spent a lot of work time in the bathroom too, as he couldn’t control his bowels. According to his employer, Clem simply stunk too much, too often.

HuffPost reports that obesity is a condition protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act so Clem’s wife filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Case Pork Roll Co. in Trenton, where 70 year old Clem had worked as comptroller for 10 years.

Thriving local economies means more health & resilience

walmart never respectsWalmart and Target say they help communities overcome health issues and the ill effects of poverty but the reverse is true.Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Stacey Mitchell writes about the difference between communities with thriving local economies and those dominated by Big Box retail giants:

study found that counties dominated by a few big firms have … less engaged citizens than those in which economic activity is dispersed across many locally owned businesses. “We find that residents of communities with highly concentrated economies (ed note: where big box stores predominate) tend to vote less and are less likely to keep up with local affairs, participate in associations, engage in reform efforts or participate in protest activities at the same levels as their counterparts in economically dispersed environments (ed note: where small businesses proliferate)…”.

Sociologists Stephan Goetz and Anil Rupasingha have linked this decline in civic participation to Walmart specifically. With each Walmart store that opens, social capital erodes, their research finds. Communities with more Walmart stores have lower voter turnout and fewer active nonprofit organizations. In their latest study, published in June, they’ve documented a correlation between Walmart and the presence of hate groups.

Still other research has linked the regional market share of large retail chains with higher rates of poverty, infant mortality, and crime.

Why is local ownership so nourishing to the social and civic fabric of communities? One (reason is) local business owners themselves. Their personal and financial interests are tied to the community’s well-being and, as a result, they are often active in various civic endeavors. While small business owners gain prestige and influence by contributing to community improvement, corporate managers garner status by advancing the company’s interest, even at the expense of the community.

Another reason is that cities with a strong entrepreneurial culture and local control of economic resources have more capacity to solve problems on their own and are more resilient and adaptable in times of distress. Those that are dependent on outside corporations have little ability to marshal resources to overcome challenges. read more

Try UCLA’s free guided meditations

Mindful awareness research ctr - UCLA
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has free guided meditations you can download from iTunes or play on your computer.

A Business Insider article on how to sleep better and why you should, points out, “Studies show that mindfulness meditation lowers stress and promotes psychological well-being.” As a newly minted practitioner, I’m learning that even a five minute meditation session is a good investment for my attention and energy levels, and my outlook.

Can you limit sleeping & sitting to 23 1/2 hours/day?

best health ROI

best health ROI
Dr. Mike Evans is a preventive medicine researcher. He found the single biggest and important health investment you can make is: be active between 20 and 30 minutes a day. Evans says, walking is a great way to get it done so take the dog out, get off your bus a stop early, get out with some friends or #walkwithmike. But you can also ride a bike (stationary or mobile), do yoga, Pilates, garden or take an aerobics class. The important thing, is just move!

In this clip Evans calls 23 1/2 hours, the doctor shows you why this is true.

Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with these hand exercises

Tendon Gliding Exercise

A few years back I had a painful bout of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Several occupational therapy sessions plus using two types of gliding exercises the therapist provided helped to reduce pain and restore strength in my hand: the exercises are shown in the pictures below, along with instructions. The CTS gradually faded away as I used the exercises, kept my wrist straight at night by resting my hand and forearm on a pillow while sleeping, and shed quite a few pounds (I had given up smoking and become enormously fat afterwards).

But, I learned recently that one of the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is difficulty grasping bottles and jars tightly. I still don’t have the strong grip I used to, so I pulled out the gliding exercises again and gee – they produced an immediate improvement to my grip. I think I should try them out again for a while. If you try them too, let me know what they do for you.

Recommended reading: my favorite books

Beyond the Messy Truth