Archive | Fuck the Poor

More banks were using scams. Imagine that.

THE WELLS FARGO SCAM............

I figured as much, especially the rearranging of debit card charges for overcharge fees. I’ve had that happen to me:

Most Americans were shocked when they learned that thousands of Wells Fargo employees had opened millions of fake accounts.
People who work at other banks weren’t surprised at all.
Nearly a dozen current and former employees at large and regional banks such as Bank of America (BAC), Citizens Bank, PNC (PNC), SunTrust (STI), and Fifth Third (FITB) tell CNNMoney that a sales obsession pervades their banks. They say they too are under immense pressure to get customers to open multiple accounts.
They described a focus to push as many different products — think debit cards or new online accounts — as they can, an industry practice known as cross-selling.
“Wells Fargo is not the exception (with its) absurd sales culture,” said one former manager of two large regional banks.
Related: 5,300 Wells Fargo workers fired over 2 million phony accounts
‘Industry-wide problem’
No other major banks have been accused by regulators of widespread opening of phony accounts like Wells Fargo (WFC) has been.
But Thomas Curry, one of the country’s chief banking regulators, said that “banks are under enormous margin pressure. That could be a bad environment.”
Curry, the head of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, told a Senate panel this week that the agency is investigating whether other banks have employed high-pressure sales tactics that led to fake accounts.
One former banker at a regional bank told CNNMoney he witnessed the practice at his company.
“The customers wouldn’t even know,” said the banker, who insisted his name not be used. “Wells Fargo isn’t the only one. This is an industry-wide problem.”
Another scam this banker witnessed involved employees rearranging debit charges on customer accounts to maximize the size of the overdraft fees they experienced.

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New PA bill to pay reparations for wrongful incarceration

I guess I just assumed this wasn’t a problem:

In Pennsylvania, people who have been wrongfully incarcerated for crimes they did not commit do not receive any reparations for the damages that resulted from years spent in prison.

This was the case for a former inmate named Tony Wright who served twenty-five years in jail for a murder he did not commit. He was wrongfully convicted in 1991, just avoiding the death penalty in a jury trial that voted 7 – 5 against it. On August 23, 2016 he was finally able to return to his life after the charges were dropped during a retrial in which the jury’s deliberation took under an hour to decide he was innocent.

The National Registry of Exonerations found that Wright’s case is one of fifty-four in Pennsylvania in which prisoners were later acquitted of criminal charges after serving out part or all of a prison sentence.

PA is one of only a handful of states that provide zero compensation to exonerated prisoners upon their release and is one of twenty states that requires a person to go through the judicial process of a civil lawsuit for hardships and damages that resulted from the years spent in jail.
Continue Reading →

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How poverty changes the brain

Varal 001

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 →

Maine’s wingnut governor breaks the law

Gov. LaPage, Freeport Flag Ladies and Susan Collins

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.

Wonderful news

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.

Woo hoo, Texas! You’re No. 1!

We Texans Honor Our Flag

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.

Another day in deregulated paradise

I wrote earlier this week about Sam Brownback’s deregulated paradise and how it contributed to the decapitation of a 10-year-old boy. (By the way: Thanks to that state’s “tort reform,” the family’s potential damages are limited to $250K. It’s even possible his father, a Kansas GOP state legislator, voted for the cap.

I just don’t have the heart to look it up, under the circumstances.

Anyway, this is a less awful situation than decapitation in North Carolina — but bad enough. Just as in Kansas and Wisconsin, the Koch crowd has taken over down there and immediately began to dismantle government services, cut taxes, and make it harder to vote if you’re black. It is hopeful only in the sense that this year’s gubernatorial race is has Roy Cooper slightly ahead of Gov. Pat McCrory. (If you have any money to spare, I’d send it to Cooper.)

The Dems have had their own shortcomings in NC, but it’s a new day. Anyway:

But what many people don’t realize is that over the past few years, state lawmakers have drastically cut funding for classroom supplies – forcing teachers and parents to pick up the slack. On top of that, politicians eliminated a back-to-school sales tax holiday that used to save North Carolina families an estimated $15 million each year on school supplies. In fact, some parents and teachers are even road-tripping to states like South Carolina and Virginia this weekend to take advantage of the sales tax holiday savings!

According to the Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina spent $59 per student on instructional supplies before the Great Recession began in 2008. But in the 2016-17 school year, that number will be down to about $30 per student. Proper funding for classroom supplies should be a top priority for our state lawmakers. Unfortunately, parents and teachers are being forced to fill an irresponsible funding gap created by the politicians in Raleigh.

When I first started teaching at Millbrook Elementary over a decade ago, teachers received $100 each year to buy classroom supplies. A couple years later, that was reduced to a $75 store credit at a local teaching supply shop. A couple years after that, the amount teachers could spend depended on how much their classrooms raised for the PTA. Then last year, teachers got nothing.

That’s why every year I’m forced to spend hundreds of dollars of my own money on classroom supplies for my students. If we’re doing a special project that requires anything other than construction paper and glue, I have to buy it. If we run out of soil during our plant unit, I have to buy it. In fact, a recent survey found that the average teacher spends about $500 of his or her own money on classroom supplies each year – but many spend much more than that, especially teachers in low-income areas. And when politicians cut funding for classroom supplies, it hurts our low-income students the most.

Nearly 70 percent of students at our school receive free or reduced-price lunch, and some are even homeless. But we try hard to make sure every student is able to succeed, no matter what their living circumstances are like. I’ve bought shoes for a student. I’ve kept crackers in my desk in case a student misses the bus and doesn’t get to eat breakfast. I’ve even bought extra pairs of underwear in case a student has an accident during class. We’re not certainly required to do this – it certainly doesn’t show up on the standardized test scores our lawmakers use to “grade” us on – but if going the extra mile for my students will help them reach their fullest potential in life, how can I not?

‘White Trash: The Original Underclass

Just roll on in

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 →

Another day in Killadelphia

As I’ve mentioned before, the Republicans who control the PA statehouse refuse to give Philadelphia permission to enact its own tighter gun laws. Laws can’t stop all shootings, but they can stop some of them.

Got that fire from my homie @chrisRWK !! Always good to see you bruddah- amazing show! #respect #killadelphia #rwk #chrisrwk #philly #phillyConnect #phillyRepresent #playfulgorilla #artshow #arthustle

Only two! That was a good day.

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