Close The video tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Pakistan who at 15 survived being shot in the head by the Taliban while riding a bus in 2012. “I want to get my education, and I want to become a doctor,” she says, adding that the Taliban throw acid on… Continue Reading →
Donald Trump’s last stand is – like everything Trump has done since he birthered his way into conservative politics – all about winning over white people. Even his recent, sour attempts to win over black voters by trafficking in offensive racial stereotypes to white audiences in white suburbs are about getting the 62 percent or so… Continue Reading →
Paul LaPage, uberwingnut, is a loose cannon who looks for any excuse to cut benefits to poor people:
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has pounced on the recent unsealing of court documents showing an Iranian refugee who resettled in Maine and later joined the terror group ISIS.
But the governor’s eagerness to use Adnan Fazeli’s radicalization here to rail against welfare benefits for refugees may have led him to run afoul of a federal law designed to protect the identities of welfare recipients and their families.
State officials have not confirmed that Fazeli, or his family, received welfare benefits when he lived in Maine between 2009 and 2013. According to federal laws governing food stamps and cash assistance, they’re not supposed to.
“It’s concerning if that was indeed reported by Maine officials because federal law is clear that people’s confidentiality should be protected,” said Robyn Merrill, director for Maine Equal Justice Partners, an advocacy group for low-income Mainers
Merrill’s concerns were raised by a report in the Boston Herald in which Maine state officials are quoted as saying that Fazeli, and his family, received cash and food stamp benefits.
Those benefits, known also as SNAP and TANF, are federal programs, funded mostly with federal tax dollars. According to federal rules, the identities of benefit recipients are confidential — only law enforcement, immigration officials and state administrators are allowed to know who receives the benefits.
Those same officials, according to the law, “must adequately protect the information against unauthorized disclosure.”
The Herald story also contained an interview with LePage, who told the newspaper that the Fazeli case prompted him to order a review of all benefit programs for refugees.
Merrill said that Fazeli’s radicalization here is concerning, but she worries about the LePage administration’s zeal to politicize it.
“It seems as though this one particular circumstance is really being exploited and used as justification to deny help to a whole group of people,” she said.
This is something that can make a real difference if they’re successful. I can’t tell you how many people are being held because they can’t afford bail:
Holding defendants in jail because they can’t afford to make bail is unconstitutional, the Justice Department said in a court filing late Thursday — the first time the government has taken such a position before a federal appeals court.
It’s the latest step by the Obama administration in encouraging state courts to move away from imposing fixed cash bail amounts and jailing those who can’t pay.
“Bail practices that incarcerate indigent individuals before trial solely because of their inability to pay for their release violate the Fourteenth Amendment,” the Justice Department said in a friend of court brief, citing the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.
Never let it be said that Republicans don’t achieve!
The rate of Texas women who died from complications related to their pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014, a new study has found, for an estimated maternal mortality rate that is unmatched in any other state and the rest of the developed world.
The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.
But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.
From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010-2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.
No other state saw a comparable increase.
In the wake of the report, reproductive health advocates are blaming the increase on Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.
At the same time, Texas eliminated all Planned Parenthood clinics – whether or not they provided abortion services – from the state program that provides poor women with preventative healthcare. Previously, Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas offered cancer screenings and contraception to more than 130,000 women.
Pay attention, because this is the mainstreaming of the far right. When you have Steve Bannon, the Koch-funded Breitbart chief, running Trump’s campaign, there are forces behind the scenes everyday people can’t even imagine.
I don’t believe Trump can win. But I do believe he can start a race war, and that might be the agenda here.
The GOP is now, officially, the white nationalist party. All hands on deck!
Arab communities in the United States are in shock after a Lebanese-American man was shot and killed by a neighbour that had allegedly used violence and racial slurs against the family for years. Khalid Jabara, 37, was shot and killed on his front porch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday. The family’s neighbour, 61-year-old Stanley Vernon Majors,… Continue Reading →
This story was co-published with the Atlantic. Sometime during the past few years, the country started talking differently about white Americans of modest means. Early in the Obama era, the ennobling language of campaign pundits prevailed. There was much discussion of “white working-class voters,” with whom the Democrats, and especially Barack Obama, were having such trouble… Continue Reading →
I imagine this also had something to due with the fact that one prisoner had a wealthy, well-connected family which could afford good lawyers:
Last week, on opposite coasts of the United States, two very different and controversial parole and release decisions were made. In one case, a grey-haired woman was denied parole after nearly fifty years in prison. In another, a sixty-year-old man was released. Both have been supervised for decades and both have lived under the scrutiny of the public and media spotlight since the day they committed their crimes.
The cases, however, demonstrate a key inequity in the criminal justice system as it exists. Disparities in sentencing, length of time in prison, and parole requirements and release decisions across the various jurisdictions in the U.S. provide significant fodder for legal scholars and policy makers alike.
On July 23, 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown denied parole to Leslie Van Houten. A former so-called Manson family member, Van Houten had been recommended for parole by the California Board of Parole Hearings. Originally sentenced to death, Van Houten has been imprisoned since her conviction in 1971.
Though she has been described as a model inmate who works with other prisoners and has earned a college degree during her decades in prison, Gov. Brown issued Van Houten her 20th parole denial. He declared that she remains an “unreasonable risk” to society. Prior to the governor overruling the board recommendation, the Los Angeles district attorney turned over 140,000 signatures petitioning for Van Houten’s continued confinement.
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[Cross-posted at Orcinus.] In the wake of the shootings of police officers by black-nationalist radicals in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La., two weeks ago, a number of right-wing pundits and political leaders have openly blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for the events. “My message has been clear from day one two years ago. This… Continue Reading →