pandemic, unemployment benefits, enhanced programs ceasing, delta variant, economy
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Millions to Lose Jobless Aid as Claims Fall to Pandemic Low (Maria)

The author writes, “Millions of jobless Americans who have depended on federal unemployment aid are about to lose those benefits just as the delta variant of the coronavirus poses a renewed threat to the economy and the job market. Two programs — one that provides jobless aid to self-employed and gig workers; the other for people who have been unemployed for more than six months — will expire Monday. Nearly 9 million people will lose those weekly benefit payments, according to an estimate by Oxford Economics. An additional 2.1 million people will lose a $300-a-week federal supplemental unemployment payment, which also expires Monday.”

The Viral Photo of the Last Soldier in Afghanistan Is Powerful — and That’s Why It’s Deceptive (Russ)

From The Washington Post: “The last U.S. soldier to board a military plane out of Kabul on Tuesday was actually a general, Army Maj. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. He is seen in several widely circulated images taken in the final moments of the U.S. occupation, including one in which he strides up the ramp of a waiting C-17 military transport plane. He is rendered in the monochromatic green of a night-vision scope, a solitary figure, alone for a moment on hostile ground. Behind him, a few lights still shine at the Kabul airport, now controlled by the Taliban. This is the end of a 20-year war. That’s the meaning ascribed to this powerful but deeply fraught image, which has the potential to do lasting damage if we can’t separate its truth from its mythological power.”

White Supremacist Praise of the Taliban Takeover Concerns US Officials (Dan)

The author writes, “As the United States-backed government in Afghanistan fell to the Taliban and US troops raced to leave the country, White supremacist and anti-government extremists have expressed admiration for what the Taliban accomplished, a worrying development for US officials who have been grappling with the threat of domestic violent extremism. That praise has also been coupled with a wave of anti-refugee sentiment from far-right groups, as the US and others rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan by the Biden administration’s August 31 deadline.”

Hospitals and Insurers Didn’t Want You to See These Prices. Here’s Why. (Dana)

The author writes, “This year, the federal government ordered hospitals to begin publishing a prized secret: a complete list of the prices they negotiate with private insurers. The insurers’ trade association had called the rule unconstitutional and said it would ‘undermine competitive negotiations.’ Four hospital associations jointly sued the government to block it, and appealed when they lost. They lost again, and seven months later, many hospitals are simply ignoring the requirement and posting nothing. But data from the hospitals that have complied hints at why the powerful industries wanted this information to remain hidden. It shows hospitals are charging patients wildly different amounts for the same basic services: procedures as simple as an X-ray or a pregnancy test.”

USPS Has Shorted Some Workers’ Pay for Years, CPI Finds (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “The Postal Service regularly cheats mail carriers out of their pay, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation. Managers at hundreds of post offices around the country have illegally underpaid hourly workers for years, arbitrators and federal investigators have found. Private arbitration records tell part of the story. From 2010 to 2019, at least 250 managers in 60 post offices were caught changing mail carriers’ time cards to show them working fewer hours, resulting in unpaid wages, according to a batch of arbitration award summaries obtained by Public Integrity for cases filed by one of the three major postal unions.”

Loneliness: Coping With the Gap Where Friends Used to Be (Sean)

The author writes, “Almost every day for the past few months, I’ve told my husband I am lonely. Obviously I’m glad that he’s around. What I miss are my friends. In the first lockdown, we stayed in touch with Zoom dates, which were awkward, often drunk and occasionally very joyful. Those days are long gone. I’ve returned to texting, and though I’m often deep in four or five conversations at once, it isn’t the same as being together. In the past year, there was a difficult bereavement in my family, and work has been harder than normal. None of these things are unique or insurmountable but the isolation has left me feeling almost capsized by anxiety and paranoia.”

Feral Pigs Appear to Be Running Amok in This East Bay City (Reader Steve)

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “A marauding mob poured out of Mount Diablo foothills Saturday night, searching for food and drink, and ripping up at least one manicured front lawn in San Ramon. The mob was a group of wild boars — sometimes called feral pigs — and they were searching for sustenance, probably grubs in the lush suburban lawns.”

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