Investors give thanks, but Americans are going hungry

People line up for food during the Catholic Charities annual Thanksgiving meal distribution event at the Kennedy Center in Harlem, New York on November 24, 2020.

This was adapted from the October 19 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)Investors have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday completed a 125-year climb to 30,000 points. Many Americans checked their fattened market-linked pension funds and President Donald Trump popped up for a bizarre one-minute news briefing to claim credit and "congratulate everybody" for a century-and-a-quarter of compounding interest.

Just a few miles from where Wall Street fat cats prowl, a different Thanksgiving tableau played out in Brooklyn. Scores of Great Depression-style food lines have sprung up all over the country, amid the pandemic induced economic nightmare that's deprived millions of Americans of work.
Waiting in the winter chill to receive food aid from a church, Miranda Mazyck told Meanwhile she had lost her job and seven family members to the virus, including the uncle who used to support her financially. "The funny thing about it is, I used to be a volunteer at the soup kitchen and at the pantry. When I got in (financial) trouble, it was the same people that I had to go right back to for help," said Mazyck, who says the wait for handouts can be hours long. The 53-year-old struggles to look for work while caring for her son, who can't go to school because he is at high risk of complications from Covid-19.
    Waiting next to her in line was retired Salvation Army worker Nancy Lugo, 52, whose mother Carmen died of Covid-19 earlier this year. "This President we have says he's doing something good. And he doesn't see all these people that are dying. You know, we don't have the money to get those drug cocktails or anything like that. Right? I had to bury my mother and now I have my father who's dying of a broken heart," she said.
      "For Thanksgiving, it's just Zoom. I'll be crying, preparing the turkey. Like come on. These are the holidays and everyone's supposed to be happy and there's just darkness. There's darkness over everything."
        America's inequalities are deepening. When President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20, he needs to find a way to unblock the months-long logjam in Congress that has failed to bring extended unemployment benefits to Americans hit by lockdown layoffs. In the long-term he must tackle a much harder issue — how to mitigate the widening economic inequality that has left millions of Americans feeling hopeless.

        'Once again, sit at the head of the table'

          Biden introduced Americans to his picks for key national security and foreign policy posts on Tuesday. "This team behind me, they embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies (...)," he said in Wilmington, Delaware. "And it's a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Once again, sit at the head of the table.

          Postcard from Paris

          Back when shaking hands was a thing, and French president Emmanuel Macron first met Trump, he seemed like a new, young champion of the multilateral, liberal world order standing up to an America First populist who preferred despots to democrats.
          But as Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House, Emmanuel Macron -- himself 17 months from an election -- is being accused in France of charting an increasingly illiberal course. In particular, two bills that he has championed are raising hackles even with his own party.
          One, an "Islamist separatism" bill, would ban home schooling and target funding for mosques among other things. The government says it aims to defend France's secular values, but has been interpreted by others as an attempt to repress Islam. The other controversial "global security" bill includes a controversial article 24 that would penalize publishing images of the police if done "with the intent to cause harm." In the words of Amnesty International, the restriction would make France an "exception amongst democracies" for restricting citizens' ability to hold the police to account.
            One thing that Macron and Trump had in common was that they were both newcomers, outsiders who upturned their respective political establishments.
            Now Macron's party -- barely older than his presidency -- will soon find itself facing the electorate again. His most powerful opponent is once again likely to be far-right leader Marine Le Pen. He may hope that his veer toward authoritarianism will neutralize her. But could it also cost him the left-wing voters who put him into power? -- CNN's Saskya Vandoorne writes to CNN from Paris