Retired CIA analyst Ruth Washington is one of the lucky ones. She says she could survive for six months if the US Congress fails to reach a debt deal and her social security payments are cut off.
However, she and other senior citizens are not optimistic about the near future — they say their loved ones could suffer and they are angry at lawmakers on Capitol Hill for allowing politics to endanger their livelihoods.
“I’m fine. I live well, not beyond my means. It just frightens me to think what all those people on social security are going to do without money. What’s going to happen if they don’t receive a check?” asked Washington, 83. “If the government delays my pension, I have about six months that I could survive on my own.”
Washington spends some of her days at the Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center, a gathering place for retirees in a predominantly black neighborhood in the northwest section of the US capital.
She knits, listens to jazz and talks politics with her friends. These days, the battle of attrition between Democrats and Republicans over a plan to avert a calamitous US debt default is the hottest topic on the agenda.
The world’s top economy has said it will no longer be able to borrow funds to pay its bills on Tuesday if a deal is not reached — potentially depriving the 54 million Americans on social security of their much-needed payments.
Donald Gaines, an 81-year-old retired US Treasury legal expert, said he too could “survive for quite a while” without his pension payments, but worried about his loved ones.
“I own my house, I own my car, I have comfortable savings,” Gaines said.
However, Gaines said his son is in trouble. After banks allowed him to borrow two and a half times the value of his home, he lost his job and his house went into foreclosure.
“I’m sure I’m going to have to maintain the position of helping my relatives and my close friends — I couldn’t sit back and watch them,” Gaines said.
Disabled veterans have taken their cause to Facebook, organizing a virtual march on Washington this week to push the government to “honor its moral obligations to those who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom.”
Preston Lee, a 78-year-old former civil servant and accountant, is not alone in voicing frustration at the political deadlock over how to raise the nation’s US$14.3 trillion debt limit and curb the ballooning US budget deficit.
“Most of the people I talk with feel that the politicians are really not doing their job,” Lee said. “Do I trust them? I don’t have the choice but to trust them.”
Washington said she was “angry” and accused Republicans of having ulterior motives.
“I don’t think it’s about the debt ceiling — it’s about Obama. They want him to fail and this is a way of getting him to fail. They could have solved this problem a long time ago,” she said.
Gaines agreed, calling the situation “outrageous and completely unnecessary.”
“It’s strictly politics. The Republicans do not want to see Obama succeed in anything. Their whole program is designed to keep him from going a second term,” he said. “One sentence and a bill could solve the whole problem, but they go so far as to put the whole country in jeopardy just to keep the president from being re-elected.”
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications