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Tenants Were Evicted Between The End Of The Eviction Ban And The Pledge To Resume It

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Tenants Were Evicted Between The End Of The Eviction Ban And The Pledge To Resume It


Luis Vertentes, a tenant from East Providence, R.I., stands before Judge Walter Gorman during an eviction hearing, on Monday after the lifting of a federal moratorium on being ousted for unpaid rent plead their case in court.

Charles Krupa/AP


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Luis Vertentes, a tenant from East Providence, R.I., stands before Judge Walter Gorman during an eviction hearing, on Monday after the lifting of a federal moratorium on being ousted for unpaid rent plead their case in court.

Charles Krupa/AP

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Tenants, who crowded housing courts amid concerns about a spike in evictions, got a reprieve Tuesday after the Biden administration announced an eviction ban that lapsed over the weekend would be extended 60 days in most of the country.

The move will protect areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives, making the drama that played out a day earlier in Rhode Island, Ohio, North Carolina and elsewhere in the country short-lived.

Among them was Gabe Imondi, a 74-year-old Rhode Island landlord who went to court Monday hoping to get his apartment back. He was tired of waiting for federal rental assistance and wondered aloud “what they’re doing with that money?”

Hours later, Luis Vertentes, in a different case, was told by a Rhode Island judge he had three weeks to clear out of his one-bedroom apartment in nearby East Providence. The 43-year-old landscaper said he was four months behind on rent after being hospitalized for a time.

“I’m going to be homeless, all because of this pandemic,” Vertentes said. “I feel helpless, like I can’t do anything even though I work and I got a full-time job.”

But by Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium that would be for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.

Landlord Gabe Imondi waits outside the courtroom for proceedings to start. Imondi estimates he’s out nearly $20,000 from renters who did not pay their rents since September.

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Landlord Gabe Imondi waits outside the courtroom for proceedings to start. Imondi estimates he’s out nearly $20,000 from renters who did not pay their rents since September.

Charles Krupa/AP

The move followed protests from Democratic lawmakers over the swift end to the moratorium and concerns that the historic amount of rental assistance allocated by Congress wasn’t reaching tenants.

That assistance had been expected to avert a crisis, but the distribution has been painfully slow. Only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion had been distributed through June by states and localities. A second amount of $21.5 billion will go to the states.

More than 15 million people live in households that owe as much as $20 billion to their landlords, according to the Aspen Institute. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

In Columbus, Ohio, Chelsea Rivera showed up Monday at a Franklin County court after receiving an eviction notice last month. A single mom, she’s behind $2,988 in rent and late fees for the one- bedroom apartment she rents for herself and three young sons.

The 27-year-old said she started to struggle after her hours were cut in May at the Walmart warehouse where she worked. She’s applied to numerous agencies for help but they’re either out of money, have a waiting list, or not able to help until clients end up in court with an eviction notice.

Chelsea Rivera stands outside Franklin County evictions court in Columbus, Ohio on Monday. The single mother is behind $2,988 in rent and late fees for the one bed-room apartment she rented for herself and her three young sons.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins/AP


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Chelsea Rivera stands outside Franklin County evictions court in Columbus, Ohio on Monday. The single mother is behind $2,988 in rent and late fees for the one bed-room apartment she rented for herself and her three young sons.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins/AP

Rivera said she’s preparing herself mentally to move into a shelter with her children.

“We just need help,” she said, fighting back tears. “It’s just been really hard with everyday issues on top of worrying about where you’re going to live.”

But there was more optimism in Virginia, where Tiara Burton, 23, learned she would be getting federal help and wouldn’t be evicted. She initially feared the worst when the moratorium lifted.

“That was definitely a worry yesterday,” said Burton, who lives in Virginia Beach. “If they’re going to start doing evictions again, then I’m going to be faced with having to figure out where me and my family are going to go. And that’s not something that anyone should have to worry about these days at all.”

She was relieved to learn she was approved for assistance through the Virginia Rent Relief Program. Her court hearing was postponed 30 days, during which time she and her landlord can presumably work things out.

“I’m grateful for that,” she said. “That’s another weight lifted off of my shoulders.”

For some tenants, getting assistance has proven impossible.

After her landlord refused federal assistance to cover $5,000 in back rent, Antoinette Eleby, 42, of Miami, expects an eviction order within two to three weeks. She is sending her five children to live with her mother in another county.

“My main concern is that now that I have an eviction, how will I find another place? Some places will accept you and some will not,” said Eleby, whose entire family got COVID-19 earlier this year.

Around the country, courts, legal advocates and law enforcement agencies had been gearing up for evictions to return to pre-pandemic levels, a time when 3.7 million people were displaced from their homes every year, or seven every minute, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

Some cities with the most cases, according to the Eviction Lab, are Phoenix with more than 42,000 eviction filings, Houston with more than 37,000, Las Vegas with nearly 27,000 and Tampa more than 15,000. Indiana and Missouri also have more than 80,000 filings.

While the moratorium was enforced in much of the country, there were states like Idaho where judges ignored it, said Ali Rabe, executive director of Jesse Tree, a non-profit that works to prevent evictions in the Boise metropolitan area. “Eviction courts ran as usual,” she said.

That was much the way things played out in parts of North Carolina, where on Monday Sgt. David Ruppe knocked on a weathered mobile home door in Cleveland County, a rural community an hour west of Charlotte.

“We haven’t seen much of a difference at all,” he said.

He waited a few minutes on the porch scattered with folding chairs and toys. Then a woman opened the door.

“How are you?” he asked quietly, then explained her landlord had started the eviction process. The woman told Ruppe she’d paid, and he said she’d need to bring proof to her upcoming Aug. 9 court date.

Ruppe, who has two young sons, said seeing families struggle day-after-day is tough.

“There’s only so much you can do,” he said. “So, if you can offer them a glimmer of hope, words of encouragement, especially if there’s kids involved. Being a father, I can relate to that.”



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Hollywood crew members reach a tentative deal with major studios, averting a strike

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Hollywood crew members reach a tentative deal with major studios, averting a strike


The Hollywood sign above homes in the Hollywood Hills.

Hollywood crew members and major studios have averted a nationwide strike, according to AP. Earlier this month, crew members in the union IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, voted to authorize a strike if they couldn’t reach a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). They’d been negotiating over pay, work schedules and more since May. A strike would have effectively shut down much of the film and TV production in the country. The union announced today that they’ve reached a deal.

At issue were quality of life issues and the health and safety of those who work behind the scenes in the film and television industry. That includes cinematographers, lighting technicians, makeup artists and the food workers who feed the casts and crews.

In recent weeks, many have been sharing their stories on social media, where some have complained of grueling call times that cause sleep deprivation and little time to be with their families. Some were asking to be compensated more for productions that are streamed online and not released theatrically. They’ve been working with lower rates since 2009, when the streamers were just beginning.

The arts and entertainment industries have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. According to a recent report by Americans for the Arts, 63% of artists and creative workers were unemployed at the height of the pandemic in 2020.



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Texas School Official Apologizes For ‘Opposing’ Views On Holocaust Comment

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Texas School Official Apologizes For ‘Opposing’ Views On Holocaust Comment

A north Texas school superintendent has apologized for an administrator’s instruction that students be taught “opposing” views on the Holocaust.

The executive director of curriculum and instruction at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake was recorded earlier this month suggesting to a group of teachers that a new Texas law requires them to present “opposing” perspectives on events, no matter how horrifying they might be.

“Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing — that has other perspectives,” instructed the official, Gina Peddy, as teachers reacted in stunned surprise

NBC News published a recording of the comments on Thursday.

District Superintendent Lane Ledbetter issued a statement later on Thursday offering his “sincere apology,” and insisting that Peddy’s comments were “in no way to convey the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history.”

He added: “Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides to the Holocaust.”

Peddy was reacting to the state’s hugely controversial new curriculum law, which eliminated a requirement to teach that the Ku Klux Klan is “morally wrong,” among numerous other changes.

The law is a thinly veiled attempt to overwhelm the teaching of critical race theory in schools with requiring “opposing” views.

“The idea is to whitewash American history of any legacy of racism,” state Rep. James Talarico (D) said of the law when it passed. An additional consequence of whitewashing racism appears to be soft-pedaling anti-Semitism.

The law prohibits teachers from discussing “a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.” If a teacher does engage in such a discussion in the classroom, the educator is required to “explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

The Holocaust — namely, Nazi Germany’s murder of 6 million Jews — is not a “widely debated” or “currently controversial” issue.

Clay Robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association union, told The Washington Post that Peddy’s instruction to teachers was “reprehensible.”

“We’re saddened to hear it, but we’re not terribly surprised,” said Robison. “There is enough vagueness and ambiguity in that law that some educators are overreacting to it, as we feared that they would.”

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Joe Manchin’s objections to a clean energy program threaten Biden’s climate promises

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Joe Manchin’s objections to a clean energy program threaten Biden’s climate promises


Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speaks to members of the media while departing the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 7. Manchin has reportedly told the White House that he opposes the key climate measure in Biden’s multitrillion-dollar climate and social programs package.

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Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speaks to members of the media while departing the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 7. Manchin has reportedly told the White House that he opposes the key climate measure in Biden’s multitrillion-dollar climate and social programs package.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden had promised to halve U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, but an essential tool the administration planned to use to achieve that goal now appears out of reach.

The New York Times reported Friday that Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative West Virginia Democrat, has indicated to the White House that he opposes the key climate measure in Biden’s multitrillion-dollar climate and social programs package.

The president needs the support of all 50 Democratic senators in order to pass the measure through a process known as reconciliation.

The program in question is the $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would financially reward utilities that transition to renewable energy and penalize those which do not. Experts say that the program would sharply reduce greenhouse gas pollution tied to electricity generation — which today accounts for roughly a quarter of U.S. emissions.

Manchin is at odds with his Democratic colleagues

Manchin, who leads the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said during an appearance on CNN in September that energy companies are already transitioning to clean energy.

“Now they’re wanting to pay companies to do what they’re already doing,” he said. “Makes no sense to me at all for us to take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they’re going to do as the market transitions.”

Manchin’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Saturday.

Sen. Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat and champion of the clean energy measures, said in an interview with the Star Tribune newspaper that Manchin’s characterization is “just not right.”

“In fact, what we’re doing is we’re providing utilities with support, so that they can rapidly add clean power without raising utility rates,” Smith said.

Ties to the fossil fuel industry

Coal is a dominant industry in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia.

As of 2019, the state is the second-largest U.S. coal producer and relies on the fuel for 91% of its energy needs. The energy sector accounts for 6% of the state’s employment, compared with a national average of roughly 2%.

The senator also has personal financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Last year, according to his public financial disclosure, Manchin received about $492,000 in dividends on stock from Enersystems, Inc., the coal business he founded in 1988, which is now controlled by his son Joseph. According to OpenSecrets, which tracks political fundraising, Manchin is the top recipient of donations from the oil and gas and coal mining industries this election cycle.

After news broke of Manchin’s reported opposition to the clean energy program, Smith issued a warning to the White House on Twitter.

“Let’s be clear: the Build Back Better budget must meaningfully address climate change,” Smith said, using the administration’s branding for the legislative package.

“I’m open to different approaches, but I cannot support a bill that won’t get us where we need to be on emissions,” Smith said. “There are 50 Democratic senators. Every one of us is needed get this passed.”

Smith told NPR this month that she and Manchin have been in regular contact about Manchin’s concerns.

U.S. credibility is on the line

In two weeks, world leaders will meet in Scotland for a major United Nations conference on climate change, COP26.

President Biden and John Kerry, his climate envoy, have been working to build U.S. credibility on climate issues after years of inaction and climate change denialism.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press, Kerry said that the administration’s trouble passing its own climate policies hurts the effort to spur climate action abroad.

“I’m not going to pretend it’s the best way to send the best message. I mean, we need to do these things,” Kerry said. He said that if Congress fails to pass significant climate change legislation, “it would be like President Trump pulling out of the Paris agreement, again.”

A crucial moment for the health of the planet

Kerry also indicated that the conference talks are likely to fall short of securing the pledges that would be necessary, if met, to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, from pre-industrial levels.

Under current worldwide commitments, global emissions are expected to rise by about 16% in 2030, compared to 2010. That would put the planet on track for more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by 2100.

At that point, rising sea levels would inundate coastlines, extreme heat waves would be significantly more common and more intense floods and droughts would potentially displace tens of millions of people.

Lauren Sommer contributed reporting.



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