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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

National Identity Is Made Up - The New York Times




National Identity Is Made Up - The New York Times

Georgia police take teacher into custody after shots fired at school | US news | The Guardian

 

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"Police in Georgia say officers are responding to reports of shots fired at a high school and a teacher who may have been barricaded in a classroom is in custody. 

Police in Dalton tweeted that no children were hurt or were in danger, and that a teacher was in custody, but with no information about the teacher’s identity or what caused the situation.
Dalton is about 90 miles (145km) north of Atlanta.  

Georgia police take teacher into custody after shots fired at school | US news | The Guardian: ""

US housing department to spend $165,000 on own furniture as it faces $6.8bn budget cut | US news | The Guardian

 

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US housing department to spend $165,000 on own furniture as it faces $6.8bn budget cut | US news | The Guardian: ""

The Americans Left Behind by Deportation By KARLA CORNEJO VILLAVICENCIO FEB. 28, 2018




"The Americans Left Behind by Deportation By KARLA CORNEJO VILLAVICENCIO FEB. 28, 2018

In the fall, I traveled to rural Ohio to meet with the children of a man who had been recently deported to Mexico, even though he was considered a model citizen by his neighbors and had no criminal record beyond driving without a license. I had seen video footage of his three young boys and little girl saying goodbye to him at the airport. They looked like orphaned bear cubs, wandering around aimlessly in the terminal, their faces frozen in fear.

Eric, the oldest at 14, is in the eighth grade and wants the local Wendy’s to make an exception to its minimum age requirement so he can work there. “I’m the man of the house now,” he told me. When their father left, so did the only member of the family who could drive. Eric walks several miles to the grocery store and returns carrying heavy bags of food even in the snow. Their mother, who is also undocumented, is now the family’s sole source of income and works long hours at a factory, so Eric has to come straight home from school to take care of his younger siblings. (He had to scrap plans to try out for the wrestling team.) Edwin, 12, has nightmares about his father and crawls into his mother’s bed almost every night. Classmates taunt him that they hope his mother gets deported, too. Anuar, 10, who calms himself by doing equations in his head, brought me his report card with a perfect 100 in math. Elsiy, 6, has not been eating well since her father’s been gone.

America’s historic uneasiness with interracial marriage and mixed-race children has found a new incarnation in the persecution of families with mixed legal status. There are nearly six million citizen children who live with at least one undocumented parent, and perhaps millions of other Americans who are married to undocumented immigrants. Reports are multiplying of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents picking up immigrants at their green card couple interviews, while their American spouses are left speechless and powerless.

The Trump administration’s aggressive detention and removal of undocumented immigrants is not only inhumane in its treatment of immigrants, but a direct attack on the rights and wellbeing of their American family members. I recently met Jim Chuquirima, a 16-year-old American citizen whose mother is undocumented. He is bespectacled, painfully shy and builds computers out of spare parts that his mother, Nelly Cumbicos, buys him. Ms. Cumbicos is a movie-starbeautiful single mother from Ecuador who had sworn off men before she met Ramón Muñiz, a roofer and die-hard union man who lived on the first floor of the multifamily home in Meriden, Conn., where Jim and Nelly rented the third floor. He would fix Nelly’s car, pick Jim up from school while she was at work and leave unsigned love letters on the windshield of her car. They married in their home last Halloween.
An American citizen, he insisted in 2015 that she let him petition for her green card, even though she was afraid it would put ICE on her trail. She was right: When ICE became aware of Ms. Cumbico’s whereabouts, it located a deportation order from more than a decade before that she says she had never received because it was sent to a wrong address. ICE gave her a temporary stay on Feb. 5 only to inexplicably rescind it four days later. Like a botched execution, it left the family newly traumatized. Their legal fees have nearly bankrupted them. Her deportation is set for Wednesday. “I feel like this is my fault,” Mr. Muñiz said. “I put her in danger, but all I wanted was to protect her. I’m lost without her.”

In the early 1900s, American women who married foreigners lost their citizenship. Those laws are off the books now. But does that mean American citizens have the constitutional right to be protected from the deportation of an immediate family member? Lower courts haven’t thought so. In one case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decided the deportation of an American-born infant’s parents didn’t violate her right to grow up in this country because either her parents could surrender her to foster care in America before they left or she could leave with them and return to the United States as an adult. The Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has declared that a parent’s deportation has only “incidental impact” on a child. Studies, however, have shown that children with parents who are under threat of deportation or have been deported fall into depression and anxiety and are more likely to have behavioral problems and to experience drastically decreased academic performance. Couples who are separated by oceans are very likely to end up divorced.

The Supreme Court has historically declared that it is “intolerable” to force a citizen to choose between two constitutional rights. But what then of the American families of deportees? Isn’t the Trump administration forcing them to make a terrible choice, between either staying in the United States and having their families rived in two, or forfeiting their lives in America so that they can keep their families intact?

I, too, had to worry about this dilemma. I am the child of undocumented immigrants from Ecuador who brought me to this country when I was 5. I am the American dream incarnate, with an Ivy League education and a book deal. Now I am married to an American citizen, but there is no guarantee that my spouse’s status will shield me from deportation. For my own green card interview, I wore the collared pink silk J. Crew dress I wore to our wedding. I dress glamorously and wear a face full of designer makeup in any situation where I might be detained, out of pride and defiance. But this interview was not bait to detain me, the way interviews have been for so many less fortunate immigrants.

“There is nothing I wanted more than to be able to protect you from your nightmares,” my partner told me after we’d read about the tragedy that had befallen other citizen-undocumented couples. “I wasn’t thinking so much about the literal, legal rights that the green card would afford; I was thinking about what do I need to do to keep my family safe, and that meant making sure we could be a family. It was such a low bar.” I got my green card. Our marriage is real. My guilt is as well. It is so hard to imagine that Ramón’s desire to keep Nelly safe provoked the exact opposite result.

Short of comprehensive immigration reform, which seems so unlikely these days, there are ways to end these inhumane deportations. In February 2017, John Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, issued a memo essentially doing away with enforcement priorities for ICE, which generally called for not targeting undocumented immigrants if they did not have serious criminal records. The Kelly memo made all undocumented immigrants targets — even if they had spotless records, and even if they had spouses or children who were citizens.

A return to Obama-era priorities that focused on criminals and security risks would restore some level of compassion to enforcement in the short term. Though far from the best solution, that would at least protect the rights of citizens. Unless protecting American citizens was never the point of any of this. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is a graduate student in American Studies at Yale.

Corporate America Is Suppressing Wages for Many Workers - The New York Times





"Even after eight years of economic recovery and steady private-sector job growth, wages for most Americans have hardly budged. It is tempting to think that wage stagnation is intractable, a result of long-term trends, like automation and globalization, that government is powerless to do anything about.



In fact, a growing body of evidence pins much of the blame on a specific culprit, one for which proven legal weapons already exist. But they are not being used.



The culprit is “monopsony power.” This term is used by economists to refer to the ability of an employer to suppress wages below the efficient or perfectly competitive level of compensation. In the more familiar case of monopoly, a large seller — like a cable company — is able to demand high prices for poor service because consumers have no other choice. It turns out that many corporations possess bargaining power over their workers, not just over their consumers. Their workers accept low wages and substandard working conditions because few alternative job opportunities exist for them or because switching jobs is costly. In other words, in the labor market, effectively a small number of employers are competing for their labor.



Monopsony power is frequently created through noncompete clauses and no-poaching agreements and is aimed at the most vulnerable workers. Employers like Jimmy John’s have discovered that they can control and intimidate workers by putting terms in their contracts that limit their ability to find new jobs even after they leave their old one. Jimmy John’s discontinued this practice in response to public outcry and litigation, but noncompete clauses remain ubiquitous."



Corporate America Is Suppressing Wages for Many Workers - The New York Times

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Jared Kushner just lost his access to highly classified info




Jared Kushner just lost his access to highly classified info

Conservatives Blame Everything but Guns for the Parkland Shooting: The D...

If You’re a Patriot and a Christian, You Should Support the Dream Act - The New York Times



"NEWARK — The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls on us to welcome and protect the stranger. This should not be hard to do when the stranger is young, blameless and working hard to make this country a better place.

There are nearly 700,000 young men and women in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program who could soon be at risk for deportation. These “Dreamers” live in our neighborhoods, attend our schools, fight for our country and contribute to our workplaces. Our leaders in Washington, including President Trump, have a moral obligation to try to protect those who came to our nation as children with their parents, and who are Americans in every way.

The Senate recently tried to pass legislation to give them a path to citizenship, but sadly, none of the proposals gained the needed votes. The Supreme Court on Monday let stand injunctions that require the Trump administration to keep major parts of DACA in place while legal challenges against the president’s decision to end the program continue. That means the program will probably survive beyond the deadline next Monday Mr. Trump had set for its end. But time is still ticking away for the Dreamers.

Our elected officials need to stop trying to pass a large immigration bill that combines protection for Dreamers with other divisive issues, like money for border enforcement and the wall and new rules to limit immigrants’ ability to sponsor family members. Using the plight of Dreamers to introduce measures that otherwise would not pass on their own merits is especially cruel, as it leaves these young people hostage to the wider debate on our broken immigration system.

Instead we need a “clean” Dream Act to help these youths now. After all, the reason Congress is even debating immigration at this point stems from the Dreamers’ own courage in advocating a solution consistent with our best democratic traditions.

If the Dreamers are deported, it will do great harm to this country. According to the Center for Migration Studies of New York, the two million or so young people who could be covered by a Dream Act have integrated successfully into our society. Sixty-five percent work, with over 70,000 self-employed. Eighty-eight percent speak English exclusively, very well or well. Nearly 30 percent have attended college or earned a college degree. They have lived in the United States an average of 14 years and are parents to 392,000 American citizen children. Removing them would hurt our country economically and socially. It is not an option.

The American public already agrees with this. Eight-seven percent support passage of a Dream Act to let young immigrants stay here. The parties in Congress now need to work together to pass a bill consistent with the views of the American people. And the Trump administration must lead and seek consensus in Congress, not try to sabotage proposals to reach a solution. President Trump has articulated his support for “a bill of love” — exactly what we need in this situation — not a bill of discord. A just and humane bill would show that Congress can indeed promote the common good and that the legislative process need not be dysfunctional.

At this moment, however, there seems to be no sanity or progress in the pursuit of a solution for the Dreamers. That is why the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging all Catholics and others of good will to phone their senators and House members today and implore them to pass the Dream Act. Catholic teaching calls for all people to make a commitment to uphold the dignity of every person and to work for the common good of our nation. It is both our moral duty and in our nation’s best interest to guide our lawmakers in this matter.

Helping Dreamers to become American citizens is a clear moral test. Condemning them to be sent to countries they do not know would be a stain on our national character and an abandonment of our values.

That Congress and the Trump administration tried and failed once to protect Dreamers does not let them off the hook. This is not about the next election but about the family next door. We need to restore confidence in our government and in our identity as an immigrant nation by passing a Dream Act."

If You’re a Patriot and a Christian, You Should Support the Dream Act - The New York Times

We All Must Live With Mitch McConnell’s Proudest Moment - The New York Times









"nominee, Merrick Garland, the veteran federal appeals court judge, to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly two years ago this month? It was a brilliant tactical move by Mr. Obama — picking a moderate, widely respected jurist who had won the highest praise from top Republicans, and giving the court a majority of Democratic-appointed justices for the first time in nearly half a century.



Oh, right. That’s not what happened.



Let’s pause to recall once again what did happen: Justice Scalia’s body wasn’t even in the ground before Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said he would refuse to consider any nominee President Obama might put forward. The reason, he claimed, was the importance of letting Americans “have a voice in the selection” by voting in the presidential election, which at the time was nine months off. It was his coded way of saying he intended to preserve the court’s Republican-appointed majority at any cost.



Against long odds, Mr. McConnell won. Now parked for life in the seat where Judge Garland should be sitting is the ultraconservative Neil Gorsuch, who we’re supposed to believe represents the “voice” of a citizenry that preferred Hillary Clinton by a margin of nearly three million votes.



That enormously consequential swap is already having concrete effects on American society, and very likely will determine the outcome of a case the justices heard on Monday — a challenge to the ability of public-sector unions to charge nonmembers for expenses related to collective bargaining, such as negotiations over wages, hours and working conditions. The plaintiff says his First Amendment rights are violated by being forced to pay these so-called fair-share fees to a union whose political positions he disagrees with.



Legally, this should be an easy win for the unions. The Supreme Court upheld fair-share fees four decades ago in a unanimous ruling it has reaffirmed repeatedly, and on which more than 20 states have relied in negotiating thousands of contracts covering millions of public employees, including firefighters, teachers and police officers. The logic is simple: When the government is an employer, it has more control over its employees’ speech than over that of regular citizens. Any burden the fees impose on employees’ First Amendment rights is justified by the need to eliminate free riders — workers who enjoy union benefits without having to pay for them, which can deplete the unions’ resources in states where they are legally required to represent all workers, members and nonmembers alike. Anti-union advocates dismiss the free-rider concern, but it’s very real: In states that have ended the fees, more than one-third of public-school teachers are free riders."



We All Must Live With Mitch McConnell’s Proudest Moment - The New York Times

Monday, February 26, 2018

Italian Election: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Will the Supreme Court Deal Public-Sector Unionism a Death Blow? | The Nation

SCOTUS



"This year the labor movement begins a long-dreaded, yet long-overdue day of reckoning at the high court. After a brief reprieve with the death of archconservative Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s brand-new Trump-approved conservative majority will take up the case of Janus v. AFSCME, and perhaps decide how public-worker unions operate for generations to come.



The central question in Janus—concerning fees paid by workers represented by a public-sector union—isn’t new. The current system of compelling all workers covered by a union contract, even if they are not formal union members, to contribute a “fair share” fee to support the collective-bargaining process was decided only in the late 1970s with a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. These so-called fair-share fees, along with union members’ dues, have historically been seen as a basic source of funding for managing the process of collective bargaining for the workforce, and all workers in a bargaining unit are expected to contribute toward maintaining the union’s basic function. The case challenges fair-share payments as tantamount to “political” messaging, rather than a mandatory maintenance fee, which labor advocates say would effectively undermine the financial core of many public-*sector unions and weaken their membership and bargaining power.



However, in the 40 years that have since passed, the steep decline of private-sector unions and the simultaneous emergence of the public sector as the most strongly unionized segment of the workforce have made the stakes for the case against agency fees that much higher. Unlike previous legal challenges, such as the Harris v. Quinn case involving Illinois home-care workers, the Janus case centers on the First Amendment. The central argument is that fees required of workers in a collective-bargaining unit amount to a form of compelled political “speech” to the government, which should be considered a violation of the worker’s First Amendment rights. School worker Mark Janus was not a union member, and objected to being obligated to contribute a fair-share fee, even though he benefited from the union’s contract anyway. The case turns on the assumption that, whether you’re a teacher seeking smaller classes or a retiree seeking decent health care, the Court will essentially treat your union’s contract demands as ideologically lobbying your government.



Unions see Janus (along with a similar case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, that was narrowly avoided under Obama) as a “frontal assault” on labor based on the “right-to-work” concept, using a distorted interpretation of free speech to undermine the financial and institutional structure of public-sector unions. Unions have long argued that there is a clear legal line separating lobbying and activities related to managing the basic contract-negotiation process. The First Amendment case in Janus is just a fig leaf for a right-to-work agenda. In the private sector, right-to-work legislation, already enacted in nearly half of states for private-sector workers, effectively preempts “closed-shop” unionization by allowing workers to opt out of union membership and financial obligations of their own free will. The parallel attack on civil-service unions similarly threatens to destroy the legal foundation of public-worker collective bargaining under state law."



Will the Supreme Court Deal Public-Sector Unionism a Death Blow? | The Nation

These Cities Aren’t Waiting for the Supreme Court to Decide Whether or Not to Gut Unions | The Nation

Uber protest Seattle

"Today the US Supreme Court will take up a case that may pose the biggest test to the labor movement that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Janus v. AFSCME, which takes direct aim at the heart of public-sector unions, could make it much harder for working people to organize for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.



That’s not just bad news for unions. It’s bad news for all of us. Labor unions are the best tool we have to combat income inequality, a rigged economy, and systemic mistreatment of women and people of color in the workplace. Labor unions created the American middle class. Turned dangerous jobs into safer ones. Gave workers a voice against abuses. And, yes, created the weekend.



So there’s a lot at stake. That’s why, in cities throughout the country, we aren’t just waiting around. In the face of the Janus case, local elected officials across the country are renewing our efforts to help workers organize—in traditional ways, and in new ones.



Consider the case of airport workers. As these workers have organized for union recognition with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), pressing their case from Austin to Milwaukee to Washington, DC, local elected officials have stood with them. In cities where officials control airport ground leases, as in Philadelphia, they have used their leverage to push for recognition. In other cases, they have taken part in days of protest and civil disobedience, met with airport authority leadership, or called on airline executives to get involved. The result: Tens of thousands of subcontract workers have better jobs.



Meanwhile, as cable-TV giants have worked to undermine their employees’ bargaining position, we’ve held public hearings to examine whether those practices violated the companies’ franchise agreements. After a three-year struggle at Cablevision in New York City, workers organizing with the Communications Workers of America finally defeated union-busting CEO James Dolan in 2015 (Dolan also owns Madison Square Garden and the Knicks) and won a new contract. Similar hearings helped build pressure during the six-and-a-half-week Verizon strike of 2016. Now, New York City Council members are supporting the Charter/Spectrum workers organizing with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, on strike for nearly a year.



And in California and New York City, when legislators learned about pervasive wage theft and toxic working conditions facing overwhelmingly immigrant car-wash workers, we joined the fight. As workers organized with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (in New York City) and United Steelworkers (in Los Angeles), City Council members joined labor, faith, and community leaders to organize food drives for striking workers and took part in civil disobedience to help these carwasheros fight wage theft and win labor contracts. We also passed innovative new legislation requiring car-wash owners to maintain licenses to operate, as well as bonds against wage theft and environmental abuses to make sure the rules are followed.



Just as crucial, the support often goes the other way: In many states with Republican legislatures, unions have been a key source of strength to thwart state attempts to erode city power. In Philadelphia, public-school teachers led a 17-year fight against the state takeover of the Philadelphia school system, which included a years-long standoff over their contract. In 2017, not only did they win a new teachers’ contract; they also helped end the state takeover of the schools and restored them back to local control.



Our cities are also rising to help workers confront the growth of contingent, shift, and “gig” jobs that make it harder for workers to piece together a living.



We’ve helped retail and fast-food workers organize to win a fair workweek, so they aren’t stuck involuntarily in part-time jobs, forced to wait “on-call” (but without pay) for potential shifts, and subject to erratic schedule changes at the boss’s whim. San Francisco passed the first fair-workweek law in 2014. Seattle, San Jose, and Emeryville (California) followed their lead, as did New York City. As a result, workers get two weeks’ advance notice of their shifts, no longer are subject to abusive on-call scheduling, and have a pathway to full-time jobs. Just this month, advocates launched a campaign for a fair workweek in Philadelphia.



And back in New York, where some 70 percent of freelancers have been cheated out of payments they were owed, the City Council passed the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” in 2016 to protect freelancers and independent workers from getting stiffed. The law was championed by the Freelancers Union, which encourages freelancers to work together on enforcement.



Finally, cities are legislating new ways to help workers organize when the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), passed in 1935 and desperately in need of a strong overhaul to bring it up to date, does not meet the needs of their sector. Because Uber and Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors, the NLRA does not currently offer them a framework for collective bargaining. So in Seattle, the City Council passed a law in 2016 to give them a way to organize and bargain collectively. Uber and Lyft are challenging the law in federal court—but also facing a challenge of their own, via a New York Taxi Workers Alliance lawsuit that their drivers are actually employees.



Meanwhile, fast-food workers face a different challenge: Their employers are the franchise-owners, not the corporations themselves, so the NLRA has not provided a way for fast-food workers to bargain directly with McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s. (The Obama administration tried to change this, but the Trump administration’s National Labor Relations Board has reversed it.) So, in New York City, workers who came together through the Fight for $15 lobbied the City Council to create the Fast Food Worker Empowerment Act. Passed last spring, the new law allows workers to voluntarily deduct contributions from their paychecks to a nonprofit that can advocate on their behalf. The law, championed by SEIU 32BJ, led to the formation of a groundbreaking new organization, Fast Food Justice, which is empowering fast-food workers to advocate collectively not just within their individual franchises but across the industry. And they aren’t stopping with fighting for better jobs; they are also organizing on issues like affordable housing and immigration reform that affect low-wage workers and their families.



The Roberts Court may well strike a blow for the corporate elite with the Janus case, with results that could be devastating for the labor movement.



But the answer can’t be less worker organizing. If we want a fairer economy, good jobs, and more equal opportunity, there must be more organizing. In our cities, we’ll do all we can to help."



These Cities Aren’t Waiting for the Supreme Court to Decide Whether or Not to Gut Unions | The Nation

Justices Turn Down Trump’s Appeal in ‘Dreamers’ Case - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an unusual request from the Trump administration to decide whether it was entitled to shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation.



The court’s decision not to hear the administration’s appeal was expected, as no appeals court has yet ruled on the issue.



The court’s move came amid a complex political battle over immigration generally, and the program at issue in the case, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, in particular.



The program shields people who were brought into the United States as children from deportation and allows them to work. The status lasts for two years but is renewable.



In September, the Trump administration announced that it would shut down the program on March 5. But two federal judges have ordered the administration to maintain major pieces of the program while legal challenges move forward, notably by requiring the administration to allow people enrolled in it to renew their protected status.



The administration did not seek stays of those court orders, and they will remain in place for the time being, allowing much of the program to survive beyond the March 5 deadline..."



Justices Turn Down Trump’s Appeal in ‘Dreamers’ Case - The New York Times

This Trump administration health-care rule would return us to the bad old days - The Washington Post





"FOR MONTHS, health-care experts have been warily watching the Department of Health and Human Services, waiting to see whether the Trump administration would accelerate its reckless campaign to dismantle Obamacare. Last week, they got their answer: The department proposed a disastrous rule that would promote even more turmoil in health insurance markets and harm some extremely vulnerable people.



The department’s plan would allow insurance companies to sell virtually unregulated health policies. This would signal a return to the bad old days when insurers could sharply limit benefits, impose caps on coverage and discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. Obamacare was designed to eliminate the sale of junk health insurance plans that disappear when people need them. But its major reforms did not extend to short-term plans, which are meant for people between jobs and can currently run for only up to three months. So the Trump administration is telling insurers that “short- term” plans can now run up to 364 days."



This Trump administration health-care rule would return us to the bad old days - The Washington Post

This Trump administration health-care rule would return us to the bad old days - The Washington Post





"FOR MONTHS, health-care experts have been warily watching the Department of Health and Human Services, waiting to see whether the Trump administration would accelerate its reckless campaign to dismantle Obamacare. Last week, they got their answer: The department proposed a disastrous rule that would promote even more turmoil in health insurance markets and harm some extremely vulnerable people.



The department’s plan would allow insurance companies to sell virtually unregulated health policies. This would signal a return to the bad old days when insurers could sharply limit benefits, impose caps on coverage and discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. Obamacare was designed to eliminate the sale of junk health insurance plans that disappear when people need them. But its major reforms did not extend to short-term plans, which are meant for people between jobs and can currently run for only up to three months. So the Trump administration is telling insurers that “short- term” plans can now run up to 364 days."



This Trump administration health-care rule would return us to the bad old days - The Washington Post

America Is the Gun - The New York Times





By Charles Blow



"The current push for stricter gun control is aiming too low.



Sure, passage of new regulations would be a welcome change from our political intransigence and lack of response to our ongoing epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in this country.



But we often talk about The Fix, as if any half-measure that has any chance at all of making it through this group of cowards in Congress would be a magical, one-step remedy. It won’t.



There are things that we could do right now that could lessen the lethality of the guns currently available and we could ban some guns — neither of which is likely to happen.



I’m convinced that we must think big and systemically. We must treat gun violence in this country as a public health crisis, because it is.



First, we must repeal the N.R.A.-backed Dickey Amendment, named for the man who sponsored it, former Representative Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican. It reads: “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”



As Sam Roberts wrote last year in The Times, the legislation “stripped $2.6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the precise amount budgeted for a study of the health effects of shootings.”



This is a ridiculous, disastrous piece of legislation because it chokes off funding for research on this crisis and ways to stem it. We now propose policy prescriptions largely in an information vacuum.



By comparison, The Washington Post sought to provide an estimated cost of Donald Trump’s asinine proposal to arm a fifth of all teachers, and this is what they concluded: “If we assume the cheapest training and the discounted Glock, we’re at $251 million to arm 718,000 teachers. If we instead assume the full-price, more expansive training and the full-price firearm, the tab creeps past $1 billion.” By the way, the Post estimates that this would put 718,000 guns in our schools and could put hundreds of millions into the coffers of gun makers.



Where the hell are our priorities?



Even Dickey came to regret the negative impact of his disastrous amendment. He co-wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post pointing out that:



“Since the legislation passed in 1996, the United States has spent about $240 million a year on traffic safety research, but there has been almost no publicly funded research on firearm injuries. As a consequence, U.S. scientists cannot answer the most basic question: What works to prevent firearm injuries?”



The essay, co-written by the then-director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continued: “We were on opposite sides of the heated battle 16 years ago, but we are in strong agreement now that scientific research should be conducted into preventing firearm injuries and that ways to prevent firearm deaths can be found without encroaching on the rights of legitimate gun owners. The same evidence-based approach that is saving millions of lives from motor-vehicle crashes, as well as from smoking, cancer and H.I.V./AIDS, can help reduce the toll of deaths and injuries from gun violence.”



We also must allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track gun sales, and keep the data it collects electronically and also searchable. At present, it is prevented from doing so.



As Kate Irby wrote last week for McClatchy: “No one has any idea how many assault rifles are in circulation. That’s intentional.” Knowing would require a registry, and the N.R.A. and conspiracy-minded anti-government groups see this as a step toward confiscation, or at least facilitating the possibility.



As Irby put it: “The National Firearms Act forbids ‘any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established.’ Several restrictions added to congressional appropriations bills also prohibit A.T.F. from requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories to law enforcement. The effect is to prevent A.T.F. from setting up a system that would allow electronic retrieval of gun owners’ personal identification information, and from consolidating or centralizing records provided by firearms dealers.”



Still, she writes, “The N.R.A. estimates that between 8.5 million and 15 million assault rifles are in circulation, based on manufacturer data.”



Finally, we need to empower a permanent commission, possibly under the Department of Homeland Security, to bring all the data together, in consultation with law enforcement, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and any other relevant parties, to make ongoing policy and regulatory recommendations to reduce gun violence.



And yet, I know well that none of this is likely to happen. The American idea is caught up in carnage. Its very beginning is rooted in gun violence. It is by the barrel that this land was acquired. It is by the barrel that the slave was subdued and his rebellions squashed. And that is to say nothing of our wars.



We have venerated the gun and valorized its usage. America is violent and the gun is a preferred instrument of that violence. America, in many ways, is the gun."



America Is the Gun - The New York Times

The Consequences of Judicial Activism on the Supreme Court - The New York Times





"The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on one of the most impactful labor law cases in decades, but most people already know how it’s likely to turn out. In Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the court will consider whether all public-sector workers have a First Amendment right to be under so-called right to work, which allows workers to opt out of paying fees to unions that bargain on their behalf.



The Supreme Court is widely expected to rule in favor of Janus on a party line 5-to-4 basis and overturn a 1977 precedent, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Abood permitted fair-share fees, which cover only organizing and collective bargaining and do not include social or political activities in the public sector.



Why are we so sure about the Janus outcome? The court heard a similar case in 2016, and it split 4-4 after Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death. Neil Gorsuch has proved himself more conservative than Justice Scalia on most issues, so there is little hope that labor will win this time around.



Many observers have noted that if the court bans fair-share fees, it will hurt unions by, first, depleting them of funds and, second, undermining solidarity through the encouragement of free riding.



But fewer people have considered what conservatives are risking: Union fair-share fees do not exist in an employment vacuum; the same logic and legal framework that permits the government to mandate these fees allows the government to conduct itself as an employer. Janus is largely being discussed as a case that is likely to defund and disrupt labor unions, but the case cannot simply injure unions and leave everything else intact.



At last count, federal, state and local governments employed over 21 million workers, so the courts have had to develop a framework for governments to be able to manage their work forces without constantly confronting the Constitution. Imagine if a teacher called in sick, and an administrator had to procure a warrant before searching her desk drawer for a text book, or else risk violating the Fourth Amendment. Or imagine if a police sergeant who tells an officer that he didn’t have time to listen to a complaint about the break room now has to worry that he violated the First Amendment.



The Supreme Court has spent decades developing a framework for managing this tension and how the Constitution applies to the public-sector workplace. Starting in 1968, the court held that the “government has significantly greater leeway” in managing citizen employees than in “bringing its sovereign power to bear on citizens at large.”



The Supreme Court has said the First Amendment applies only when the public employee can show that she spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern. Similarly, in 1987, the court upheld a public employer’s search of an employee’s desk after balancing “the invasion of the employees’ legitimate expectation of privacy against the government’s need for supervision, control, and the efficient operation of the workplace.” In 2010, the court extended this approach to employer-issued electronic devices, allowing a public employer to search them without a warrant if the search is “motivated by a legitimate work-related purpose.”



The 1977 Abood case recognized that the government has an interest in “labor peace,” in permitting its employees to have an exclusive representative that can bargain on their behalf, and that workers who benefit from the union’s activities should pay to support this collective-bargaining function. Therefore, the court created a balancing test that weighed the government’s interest as employer in managing its work force with the employee’s rights of free speech and association. According to this balance, any employee in the bargaining unit can choose not to join the union, and as a result pays only fair-share fees that cover union activities that are germane to collective bargaining.



This test falls squarely within the line of cases that balance the government’s interest as employer against the employee’s rights of speech and association in matters of private concern. Imagine a state administrator who chooses to draft memorandums according to her own tastes rather than by office protocol, or a city hall plumber who doesn’t perform her job because she feels she shouldn’t have to pay for her own tools.



If the court overrules Abood, as the petitioners in this case are asking, it will disrupt the careful balance it has struck concerning public employees’ constitutional rights in the workplace and turn every workplace dispute into a constitutional case.



If the justices strike down Abood and rule that public employees have a First Amendment right not to pay fair-share fees, then all of these trivial matters of private concern risk becoming constitutional cases.



Perhaps this is why several of the most compelling amicus briefs in this case have come from unlikely sources. The constitutional law scholars Robert Post and Charles Fried (the latter having served as Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general) write that if the court bans fair-share fees on First Amendment grounds, then it “would set in motion drastic changes in First Amendment doctrine that essentially threaten to constitutionalize every workplace dispute and, further, to unsettle other constitutional doctrines that distinguish between the government as employer (or proprietor) and as sovereign.”



The prominent conservative legal scholars Eugene Volokh and William Baude went further and filed a brief supporting the unions. They argue that the government compels subsidies of others’ speech all the time and that there is nothing constitutionally suspect about that. Mr. Volokh and Mr. Baude point to the fact that we don’t have a right to opt out of paying a portion of our taxes for issues we disagree with.



Furthermore, the government regularly requires people to purchase speech related to services that they may not want, such as doctors and lawyers having to enroll in continuing education courses. Or even the general requirements that people purchase car insurance or vaccinations, despite the fact that some may disagree with that mandate. To recognize a general First Amendment right to not fund things that one may disagree with, despite the government’s interests in mandating such payments, would completely upend many areas of life that are necessary for our society to function.



If the Supreme Court recognizes a constitutional right to withhold payment for matters one disagrees with, or diminishes the government’s interest in efficiently managing its work force, it will turn every minor payment and every workplace matter into a federal case."



The Consequences of Judicial Activism on the Supreme Court - The New York Times

Sunday, February 25, 2018

DACA immigrants face anxious future amid political debate

DACA immigrants face anxious future amid political debate:

What Will Immigrant Advocates Give Up for DACA? - The Atlantic

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“… Attempts to pass the DREAM Act, a measure first introduced in 2001 that would allow some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to eventually obtain legal status, have stretched on for years. During his tenure, President Obama backed the legislation, but Congress failed to pass it. In 2013, the Senate passed a bill to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, but House Republicans refused to bring it up for a vote because it lacked the support of the majority of the Republican conference. Efforts have been further complicated recently as the Trump administration, along with hardline House conservatives, push for stricter immigration measures, including slashing legal immigration, in exchange for protecting the “Dreamers.”

The array of proposals puts activists in a precarious position, forcing them to decide how much they’re willing to concede to help the “Dreamers” stay. It’s not uncommon for divisions to reveal themselves in a movement of this size and scope, as one immigrant advocate told me: “I don’t think [fractures are] surprising given that there’s negotiations ongoing right now and everyone is collectively trying to advocate for their individual provisions,” adding, “At the same point, I think the question will be where folks come together in the end.”

Last month, the White House released an immigration framework that would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants, in exchange for $25 billion for border security and restricting family-based migration, dubbed “chain-migration” by some conservatives, and ending the diversity visa program. The proposals would greatly slash legal immigration levels: The libertarian Cato Institute estimated that in all, Trump’s immigration framework would bar 22 million immigrants from legally immigrating to the U.S. over the next 50 years. In the Senate, Trump’s plan fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance. But a separate measure in the House has received the president’s support: A bill by Representative Bob Goodlatte would would allow young undocumented immigrants to obtain temporary legal status and slash legal immigration levels.
Trump has insisted that he’s unwilling to relent on his “four pillars,” as he calls them, but he’s previously changed his mind about what exactly he wants in a DACA deal. While proposals to change immigration policy fell flat in the Senate, the House may take up the matter next. Advocates, for their part, are continuing to pressure Congress to pass legislation before the March 5 deadline, while considering what they’re willing to give, if anything, to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation—and how to stay united in the process.

“When I talk about unity and a movement united, it doesn’t mean carbon copy advocacy and messaging and policy,” said Cesar Vargas, the executive director of Dream Action Coalition, a pro-immigrant group. “I do mean that we all are in this together.”  

To that end, pro-immigrant groups are also in the unique position of having to defend policies that benefit the segment of the population they serve and navigate around strict immigration proposals.

Take the UndocuBlack Network, an organization that advocates for undocumented black people. Immigrants from Africa are among those who have benefited from the diversity visa program, which allocates a limited number of visas to countries that don’t usually migrate to the United States. It’s in the interest of the group to ensure the diversity visa lottery stays intact.

“There is no green card shiny enough for me to justify the devastating consequences on vulnerable communities here and abroad. So we say, not in our name,” said Jonathan Jayes-Green, the director of UndocuBlack Network and a DACA recipient, in a press call last month.
UndocuBlack Network is not alone in opposing the end to the diversity visa lottery. Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA, a Maryland-based organization that advocates for Latinos and immigrants, said he too is against it being scrapped. “In terms of the diversity visa and the family reunification, I am not going and I’m unwilling to sacrifice these two important issues for DACA,” Torres said.

The family-reunification system, which allows close relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to legally migrate to the country, has become a point of contention for other advocacy groups as well. According to the Department of Homeland Security, in fiscal year 2017, roughly two-thirds of new green-card holders had family connections to U.S. citizens. Immigrants from Asia make up a large share of visas issued under this category. The Asian Americans Advancing Justice—AAJC, a group focused on advancing civil and human rights for Asian Americans, has made protecting the system a priority in talks with lawmakers. “When you’re talking about cuts to legal migration, that’ll hit us really hard,” said John C. Yang, the president and executive director of AAAJ—AAJC.

Karin Wang, the vice president of programs and communications for Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, cited the troubled history between Chinese immigrants and the U.S. as reason for concern. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first major law restricting immigration, barred the Chinese from obtaining U.S. citizenship and suspended the entry of laborers for 10 years. “I don’t know that [problems with ending the family-reunification system are] unique to Asian Americans, but I know for Asian Americans especially, given a very explicit history where we were valued at one point as low-wage laborers but not considered human enough to be allowed to have families and communities, this feels really relevant,” Wang said…."

What Will Immigrant Advocates Give Up for DACA? - The Atlantic

CAP floats a new health care plan called "Medicare Extra" and it’s good.

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"At this point, it’s fairly clear that any Democrat who wants to run for president in 2020 with support from the party’s progressive base will have to campaign on some sort of plan that they can plausibly call Medicare-for-All.

What, exactly, counts as “Medicare-for-all”? That’s still a bit unsettled. No one serious simply wants to expand the current Medicare program, since it contains some major coverage gaps that today’s seniors are typically stuck filling with private supplemental insurance. When Sen. Bernie Sanders tried to define the term back in December, he proposed a full-fledged single-payer health care system with zero premiums, co-pays, or deductibles. That idea won over more than a dozen co-sponsors, including some other likely 2020 contenders like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand.
But many Democrats are still clearly concerned that such a rapid move to true, Canadian-style single-payer would risk a backlash from voters, who’d face new taxes and be forced to give up their employer-based coverage, whether or not they wanted to. Those Democrats, which include a big chunk of the party’s wonk class, are still looking for their own answer to Berniecare.

On Thursday, the Center for American Progress—the D.C. think tank of choice for technocratically inclined establishment Dems—took its stab at an alternative with the introduction of “Medicare Extra. ” While the name sounds like an ironic nod at teen slang, the program itself is an interesting blueprint for gradually nationalizing health care without making skeptical voters feel as if they’re being dragooned into the new system.
Like some of the other ambitious health plans Democrats have floated lately, Medicare Extra looks a lot like a bulked up version of the public option—the government run insurance plan that progressives tried and failed to pass as part of Obamacare. The new program would essentially roll together Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program into a single system with more generous benefits that all Americans would be eligible to join, with most families having to pay at least some premiums. But traditional Medicare would be left in place for change-averse seniors who want to stick with what they know, and businesses would be allowed to continue offering their employees private coverage as a benefit.
Medicare Extra’s pool of patients would then grow over time. The government would automatically enroll newborns, people turning 65, and the uninsured. After several years, businesses would be allowed buy their employees into the program rather than pay for private insurance. Many would likely jump at that chance in order to save money; Medicare Extra would be designed to keep costs down by paying providers less than private insurers do, with rates set based on an average of what Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial carriers pay today, “minus a percentage.” Eventually, the program would evolve into a more or less national insurance system. Working people wouldn’t necessarily be forced to join it. But most of them would probably want to, or at least would get a nudge from their employer.

Unlike Berniecare, Medicare Extra would not make going to the doctor free for everyone. Conceptually, this is one of the biggest differences between the two plans. Under Medicare Extra, poorer families wouldn’t face any premiums, co-pays, or deductibles. But households making more than 150 percent of the poverty line would. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs would be subsidized on a sliding scale according to income, so that well-off Americans would owe more and needier enrollees would owe less. In this way, the scheme would work much like Obamacare’s exchanges do today. But unlike Obamacare, which stops offering assistance to families with incomes four times above the poverty line, nobody would be required to pay more than 10 percent of their earnings toward the cost of their Medicare Extra premiums.

CAP floats a new health care plan called "Medicare Extra" and it’s good.: ""

The American Immigrant Detention Machine- The Atlantic - The Atlantic

"‘Maybe it is a concentration camp; I don’t want to make it look nice.’ Joe Arpaio stands by his 2008 description of his infamous ‘tent city’ jail. The former Arizona sheriff cultivates an image of toughness on immigration. In 2016, Donald Trump welcomed Arpaio’s support, saying, ‘When Sheriff Arpaio gives you an endorsement, you know you’re the king of the border.’ Rewarding Arpaio with a presidential pardon in 2017 after the sheriff defied a judge’s order to stop immigration arrests, Trump sent a clear message that the handcuffs were off Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents."

(Via.). Joe Arpaio and Trump's ICE Immigration Detention - The Atlantic - The Atlantic:

Court finds John Oliver has the right to hire giant squirrels to insult coal barons.



Court finds John Oliver has the right to hire giant squirrels to insult coal barons.

How migrant workers took on Ben & Jerry's – and won a historic agreement | US news | The Guardian

Migrant Justice activists protested outside Ben & Jerry’s stores in 16 cities – and eventually won a huge agreement.

In Vermont, activists demanded better working conditions on dairy farms – even as the threat of deportation loomed

"On a windy afternoon in March 2017, protesters singing civil rights songs circled the steps of the Vermont state capitol. It was a classic Vermont rally. There were white-haired activists; Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim clergy; young adults; and children carrying signs that said: “We All Belong Here. We Will Defend Each Other.”

At the center was a small group of dairy workers from remote mountain villages in southern Mexico. They sang songs, then chanted: “¡Ni una más! Not one more deportation!”

This was the third demonstration in four days to protest the arrest of three Vermont farmworker-activists - Enrique “Kike” Balcazar, Victoria “Zully” Palacios and Alex Carrillo-Sanchez. Detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), the three faced deportation, swept up in a nationwide crackdown ordered by President Trump.

Even before Trump’s election, farmworker organizers had been targeted and deported for years.

“We are Mexicans and immigration is always chasing us,” said Vermont dairy activist Maribel Lopes. She was arrested by Ice when she left her workplace to buy diapers for her baby.

“If it weren’t for migrant workers, our dairy products and everything else would go up higher to the point where we couldn’t afford it. So I say, let them do what they came here to do, which is to support their families,” Lyle Deida, Carrillo-Sanchez’s father-in-law, told the rally.

Carrillo-Sanchez, Balcazar, and Palacios are all activists with Migrant Justice, an organization that promotes “worker-led social responsibility” on Vermont dairy farms.

Last year, the National Education Association, the country’s largest union, awarded Migrant Justice the Cesar Chavez human and civil rights award. They have won the John Brown Freedom award. Senator Bernie Sanders hailed them as “human rights defenders”. Twenty-four-year-old Balcazar has been described as “the face of undocumented labor in Vermont”.

And that’s the problem – Migrant Justice activists are intentionally visible...."

How migrant workers took on Ben & Jerry's – and won a historic agreement | US news | The Guardian

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lupita Nyong'o - Why "Black Panther" Is a Different Kind of Superhero Mo...

Lupita Nyong'o - Why "Black Panther" Is a Different Kind of Superhero Mo...

Gun Control vs. Porn Control: Florida Takes On the Wrong Kind of Mass Sh...

Billy Graham, Cold Warrior for God - The New York Times





..."Liberal Protestants in the United States and Germany felt themselves caught in the middle of Mr. Graham’s bifurcated world. While prominent theologians like the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller and the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr supported Germany’s democratization, they protested Mr. Graham’s equation of Christianity with America, anti-Communism and free-market capitalism. If many mainline protestants had used similar language in the immediate aftermath of World War II, by the mid-1950s they had departed drastically from seeing socialism as anathema to Christianity. Mainline liberals accused Mr. Graham of raising international tensions by identifying Berlin as the beacon of the West in a sea of Communist red. His call for spiritual armament risked a new military conflict.



After the Watergate scandal, Mr. Graham withdrew from political debates and returned to his early focus on simply “preaching the gospel.” Yet his role in provoking a global debate about the shape of democracy, capitalism, nationalism and secularism in the modern world remains one of his lasting legacies. If the Cold War is gone and the evangelical culture wars have lost much of their steam, we remain ensconced in similar debates today, and — despite recanting his theopolitics in the end — the alliances that Mr. Graham forged and the battle lines he drew have endured. In this respect, God’s Machine Gun was tragically prophetic of our modern world."



Billy Graham, Cold Warrior for God - The New York Times

#HypocriteInChief Melania Trump’s parents will soon be citizens. They can thank ‘chain migration.’ - The Washington Post





Melania Trump’s parents will soon be citizens. They can thank ‘chain migration.’ - The Washington Post

Rick Gates, Trump Campaign Aide, Pleads Guilty in Mueller Inquiry and Will Cooperate - The New York Times





"WASHINGTON — A former top adviser to Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election after pleading guilty on Friday to financial fraud and lying to investigators.



The adviser, Rick Gates, is a longtime political consultant who once served as Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman. The plea deal could be a significant development in the investigation — a sign that Mr. Gates plans to offer incriminating information against his longtime associate and the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and possibly other members of the campaign in exchange for a lighter punishment. He faces up to nearly six years in prison..."



Rick Gates, Trump Campaign Aide, Pleads Guilty in Mueller Inquiry and Will Cooperate - The New York Times

Donald J. Trump's Guide to U.S. Presidents, Vol. 1

Annihilation review: the most thoughtful science fiction movie sihttps://www.theguardian.com/usnce Arrival - The Verge





"In the spoiler-sensitive environment of today’s entertainment, there may be people who resent the opening scenes of Annihilation, which gives away most of the movie’s direction. A biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) has survived a cataclysmic event. Sitting in an isolation chamber, surrounded by unnerved people in hazmat suits, she’s interrogated about what just happened to her. In the process, she reveals who among the yet-to-be-introduced cast of characters survives, and who dies. And the scene makes it clear that while some of her companions may be alive, she’s the only one who made it back to report. This framing device can’t quite be called foreshadowing: the details Lena lays out are too solid to be shadows. They’re just fore-facts. And they hang over Annihilation with a sense of leaden inevitability.



But it’s a mark of success for the film that even knowing the outcome doesn’t disperse the tension. Annihilation is a portentous movie, and a cerebral one. It’s gorgeous and immersive, but distancing. It’s exciting more in its sheer ambition and its distinctiveness than in its actual action. And by giving away so many details about the ending up front, writer-director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) seems to be emphasizing that Annihilation isn’t about who-will-live dynamics, or the fast mechanics of action scenes. It’s about the slow, subdued journey Lena and the others take into the unknown, and how it affects them emotionally..."



Annihilation review: the most thoughtful science fiction movie since Arrival - The Verge

Friday, February 23, 2018

Top Justice Dept. official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushner’s security clearance  - The Washington Post

"A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

The Feb. 9 phone call from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to White House Counsel Donald McGahn came amid growing public scrutiny of a number of administration officials without final security clearances. Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation’s most sensitive material for over a year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed."

Top Justice Dept. official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushner’s security clearance  - The Washington Post

Poland’s new ‘Holocaust law’ comes up against massacre of Jews in 1941 - The Washington Post

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"It appears that my worst fears have been realised: we have made progress in everything yet nothing has changed."  -Derrick Bell.

"...Starting in March, publicly invoking Polish complicity in Nazi atrocities will be a punishable offense. Israel has likened the provision to “Holocaust denial,” and the United States says it is an attack on “academic inquiry.” In no small fashion, the law has thrust Poland into a bitter debate over the nature of its history and, to an even greater extent, the nature of its identity.

“There is no nation that has a totally clear conscience,” said Adam Michnik, 71, the editor in chief of the Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s largest daily newspaper and a former leader of the anti-Communist opposition. “Every nation had its Ku Klux Klan, and this was ours....”

Poland’s new ‘Holocaust law’ comes up against massacre of Jews in 1941 - The Washington Post

With three months left in medical school, her career may be slipping away. - The Washington Post

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Rosa Aramburo, a fourth-year student who intends to practice obstetrics and gynecology, is on a rotation in a neurology intensive-care unit while studying at Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine. (Alyssa Schukar/for The Washington Post)

"Employers and universities that have embraced DACA recipients over the past six years are scrambling for a way to preserve the program. They are lobbying a deeply divided Congress, covering fees for employees and students to renew their permits, and searching for other legal options — perhaps a work visa or residency through spouses or relatives who are citizens. Some companies have considered sending employees abroad.
They are also awaiting the outcome of a court challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has granted the young recipients a temporary reprieve and allowed them to continue renewing work permits for the time being. The Supreme Court could decide as soon as Friday whether to intervene in the case.

Nationwide, more than 160 DACA recipients are teaching in low-income schools through Teach For America. Thirty-nine work at Microsoft, 250 at Apple and 84 at Starbucks. To employers, the young immigrants are skilled workers who speak multiple languages and often are outsize achievers. Polls show strong American support for allowing them to stay."

With three months left in medical school, her career may be slipping away. - The Washington Post

The Kids From Florida Aren't Acting. Survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are demanding to be taken seriously, while far-right adults are devising conspiracy theories to undermine them. Subscribe To "The Late Show" Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/ColbertYouTube For more content from "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert", click HERE: http://bit.ly/1AKISnR Watch full episodes of "The Late Show" HERE: http://bit.ly/1Puei40 Like "The Late Show" on Facebook HERE: http://on.fb.me/1df139Y Follow "The Late Show" on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1dMzZzG Follow "The Late Show" on Google+ HERE: http://bit.ly/1JlGgzw Follow "The Late Show" on Instagram HERE: http://bit.ly/29wfREj Follow "The Late Show" on Tumblr HERE: http://bit.ly/29DVvtR Watch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert weeknights at 11:35 PM ET/10:35 PM CT. Only on CBS. Get the CBS app for iPhone & iPad! Click HERE: http://bit.ly/12rLxge Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream live TV, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B --- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is the premier late night talk show on CBS, airing at 11:35pm EST, streaming online via CBS All Access, and delivered to the International Space Station on a USB drive taped to a weather balloon. Every night, viewers can expect: Comedy, humor, funny moments, witty interviews, celebrities, famous people, movie stars, bits, humorous celebrities doing bits, funny celebs, big group photos of every star from Hollywood, even the reclusive ones, plus also jokes.


Colbert Hits Marco Rubio With A Brutal Review For His CNN Town Hall Performance | HuffPost





Colbert Hits Marco Rubio With A Brutal Review For His CNN Town Hall Performance | HuffPost

Congressional Democrats Go Scorched Earth Against A Progressive Candidate | HuffPost





"This is the sad state of the national Democratic Party.  "A Democratic candidate running for Congress has attracted the opposite of an endorsement from her own party: A full-throated denouncement declaring her unfit for office.



Laura Moser, a U.S. House candidate from Texas’ 7th Congressional District, is one of seven Democrats running to unseat incumbent Rep. John Culberson (R). Her campaign has already garnered significant support, raising nearly $150,000 this year. But on Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee came out swinging against Moser’s bid, posting links that resemble opposition research meant to undermine her campaign, which some have called too liberal for what’s expected to be a contentious election.



“Voters in Houston have organized for over a year to hold Representative Culberson accountable and win this Clinton district,” Meredith Kelly, communications director for the DCCC, said in a statement provided to HuffPost. “Unfortunately, Laura Moser’s outright disgust for life in Texas disqualifies her as a general election candidate, and would rob voters of their opportunity to flip Texas’ 7th in November.”



Kelly then linked to a quote from a November 2014 article in which Moser said she’d rather have her “teeth pulled without anesthesia” than live in the town of Paris, Texas, where her grandparents once resided. The DCCC, did not, however, provide context to the quote or note that Paris doesn’t fall in the congressional district that Moser would represent if elected."



Congressional Democrats Go Scorched Earth Against A Progressive Candidate | HuffPost

Robert Mueller Adds New Piece To Plot With New Manafort Gates Indictment | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC - YouTube



Robert Mueller Adds New Piece To Plot With New Manafort Gates Indictment | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC - YouTube

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Billy Graham’s Missed Opportunities - The New York Times







By DAVID A. HOLLINGERFEB. 21, 2018



"As one of world Christianity’s most admired leaders, the Rev. Billy Graham, who died on Wednesday at 99, had extraordinary opportunities to affect the character of the Christian religion and to pronounce on its implications for personal conduct. He scored at the top of lists of “most respected” Americans decade after decade. He was loved by millions in the United States and abroad.



But the parochial terms on which Mr. Graham preached Christianity render his career largely a story of missed opportunities. He too often stood aloof from or actively discouraged efforts to revise traditional Protestantism to make it more respectful of the world’s racial and cultural diversity and of the findings of modern science and scholarship.



Mr. Graham led his followers to seek comfort in versions of Christianity familiar to his core constituency, the white population of the Southern, formerly slave-holding region of the United States. He offered only weak challenges to the prejudices and injustices largely tolerated by that population.



When he heard President Richard Nixon utter prejudiced remarks about Jews, for example, Mr. Graham could have challenged him. But as audio tape of their private conversation has revealed, he did the opposite, assuring Nixon that the many Jews who befriended him “don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country.”



Many of Mr. Graham’s more theologically liberal contemporaries drew upon the words of Jesus of Nazareth and the Apostle Paul to support legislative and court actions to advance civil rights. But he chose to represent anti-black racism as a sin of the individual human heart rather than a civic evil to be corrected by collective political authority.



To his credit, Mr. Graham made a production of racially integrating his revivals and rallies at a time when many white Southern Protestants found this step provocative. But again and again he failed to contest the prevailing view that religious advocacy for civil rights was “meddling” with politics while acceptance of the inherited structures of inequality in the Jim Crow South was not.



The same pattern emerged in Mr. Graham’s approach to Christian witness in the world beyond the United States. He supported a fundamentalist reading of the Bible in the mission fields of Africa and Asia, while more ecumenical groups like the World Council of Churches promoted less sectarian versions of Christianity and less conversion-centered modes of interaction with the peoples of the globe.



There is no more perfect emblem for Mr. Graham’s global legacy than the 2003 declaration of his son and designated spiritual heir, the Rev. Franklin Graham, that President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq presented Christians with a great opportunity to convert the population of Iraq from the “wicked” religion of Islam.



Liberal Protestant and Catholic leaders have long articulated and ably defended many variations on the old faith that accommodate what modern science and scholarship have discovered about our world. But Mr. Graham, who could have done the same, acquiesced in the provincial suspicions of modern intellectual life — suspicions that keep millions of the faithful away from an honest engagement with the Darwinian revolution in natural history and with historical and archaeological findings about the origins of the Bible as a human document. Never was the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr more right than when he warned in 1957 that Mr. Graham promoted childlike religious emotions and obscurantist ideas.



Mr. Niebuhr presents a revealing contrast to Mr. Graham. Mr. Niebuhr was a key leader of the so-called Protestant establishment, the complex of liberal, ecumenical denominations that dominated the public face of Christianity in the United States until the 1970s. Mr. Graham was the most conspicuous leader of the rival, evangelical Protestantism that gradually but decisively seized control of the symbolic capital of Christianity from the Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and other mainstream groups within the Protestant establishment.



From the 1970s onward the Grahams of American religion triumphed over the Niebuhrs, largely because the evangelicals continued to espouse a cluster of ideas that remained popular with the white public while the liberal, ecumenical leadership abandoned these same ideas as indefensibly racist, sexist, imperialist, chauvinistic, homophobic and anti-intellectual.



Prominent among these ideas was the assertion that the United States was a “Christian nation,” rather than one in which persons of many faiths, and of no faith at all, were civic equals. Another such idea was that claim that the heterosexual, nuclear, patriarchal family was God’s will. Yet another was that faith in Jesus was the only road to salvation.



Mr. Graham had a choice as to where he would urge his followers to come down on these issues. Consistently, he distanced himself from the efforts of ecumenists to revise Christianity in cosmopolitan directions. He encouraged his vast and devoted following to believe that God’s word was unchanging and that liberals were substituting their own ideas for those of a supernatural, unchanging deity revealed in the Bible. He dumbed down his inherited faith instead of helping it to address the challenges of modern times.



The memory of Mr. Graham is rightly honored by those who shared his values and the goals for which he mobilized evangelical Christianity. But the rest of us can surely be forgiven if we remember him differently."



Billy Graham’s Missed Opportunities - The New York Times

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Coming soon: Another showdown over Dreamers in Congress - POLITICO If Schemer had kept the shut down going and Democrats had motivated young Americans like they are now doing for the gun debate DACA would be safe.

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"A must-pass, roughly $1.3 trillion spending bill may be the last chance before the midterm elections for the two parties to achieve their top immigration-related priorities: protecting Dreamers from deportation or build President Donald Trump’s border wall. Whether they can succeed after their repeated failures is anyone's guess, but they're expected to try.

One possibility would be a scaled-down compromise that would extend protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants for an additional three years in exchange for three years of wall funding. That would punt the decision on a permanent fix past Trump’s first term as president.
Other potential scenarios are an even shorter fix for the Dreamers, or, given the chamber's track record, no deal at all.
Still, the massive “omnibus” spending package gives both sides a chance to achieve their ends. Democrats and pro-immigration reform Republicans, such as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) are looking for every possible avenue to shield enrollees in the Deferred Action for Childhood program from removal."

Coming soon: Another showdown over Dreamers in Congress - POLITICO

Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history The truth concerning the whitewashing of Billy's Graham's past and opposition to the "Civil Rights Movement". | Matthew Avery Sutton | Opinion | The Guardian



"...  In the late 1950s, Graham integrated his revivals and seemed to support the burgeoning civil rights movement. This is the Graham most Americans remember.



But as the movement grew, expanded and became increasingly confrontational, the evangelist’s position changed.



Once leaders like Martin Luther King Jr began practicing civil disobedience and asking for the federal government to guarantee African Americans’ rights, Graham’s support evaporated.



Within days of the publication of King’s famous 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Graham told reporters that the Baptist minister should “put the brakes on a little bit”.



He criticized civil rights activists for focusing on changing laws rather than hearts.



In 1971, Graham published The Jesus Generation, a book on the coming apocalypse. Looking for signs of Jesus’s second coming had become an obsession of Graham’s, as it was for millions of other evangelicals in the mid-20th century.



In the book Graham praised the wisdom of young people who rejected the federal government as a tool for rectifying injustices.



“These young people don’t put much stock in the old slogans of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society,” he said. “They believe that utopia will arrive only when Jesus returns. Thus these young people are on sound Biblical ground.”

For six decades Graham taught Americans that the federal government could not be an instrument of God to bring about justice, not on race matters and not on other significant issues. Although he believed in racial equality, his theology blinded him to what we now know was the best means for achieving that equality.



More recently, the evangelist denied the threat of global warming as well as federal efforts to stymie it..."



Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history | Matthew Avery Sutton | Opinion | The Guardian

Monday, February 19, 2018

Attacking the ‘Woke’ Black Vote - The New York Times





"One thing that is clear to me following the special counsel’s indictment of 13 Russians and three companies for interfering with our election is that the black vote was specifically under attack, from sources foreign and domestic. And this attack appeared to be particularly focused on young black activist-minded voters passionate about social justice: The “Woke” Vote.



The tragic irony is that these young people, many of whom already felt like the American political system was failing them, were encouraged to lay down one of the most powerful political tools they have, thereby ensuring an amplification of their own oppressions.



The indictment proclaims that the defendants acted as Americans to create social media pages and groups “which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues.” But that is a phrase so broad and bland as to obscure the piercing truth that the indictment reveals: Referencing actual voter suppression, it says that “in or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.”



Indeed, the indictment includes some examples of that effort to suppress:



“On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the Instagram account ‘Woke Blacks’ to post the following message: ‘Particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.’ ” Coincidentally (or not!) this was the exact same tack being taken by the Trump campaign during that time. Just before the election, a senior Trump campaign official told Bloomberg Businessweek, “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” in which Hillary Clinton’s “1996 suggestion that some African-American males are ‘super predators’ is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls — particularly in Florida.” This suppression may well have worked better against black people than other targets.



According to a May Pew Research Center report, “The black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election.” The report said that the number of naturalized citizen voters was up from 2012 and the turnout rate for women was mostly unchanged from 2012.



And while the percentage of eligible millennials who said they voted in the last election rose among every other demographic group, it fell among black millennials.



Trump even had the audacity during one of his thank you rallies to laud his voter suppression efforts and thank black voters for not voting:



“They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African-American community.”



Now, it can surely be argued that the numbers for women and other minorities might have been even higher had it not been for the suppressive efforts, but at least their turnout numbers didn’t decline. For black people, they did. It is entirely possible that many, if not most of, the black people who decided not to vote in this election would have done so even without Trump and Russian prodding. Also, President Obama wasn’t on the ballot.



Indeed, early in the primaries, Michelle Alexander, author of the acclaimed book “The New Jim Crow” — which has attained near Bible stature among some social justice activists — laid out a strong philosophical argument for “why Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve the black vote.” It hinged largely on crime and economic policies enacted when Bill Clinton was president, policies Hillary then supported.



Even after Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, rapper Killer Mike, a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, was still promoting the position that “If you’re voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton, you’re voting for the same thing.”



On Election Day, many young black people held their noses and voted, commenting on social media with the hashtag #IGuessImWithHer. But many simply abstained. Shortly after the election, The Sacramento Bee pointed out that Colin Kaepernick, now lionized as a social justice hero, had never registered to vote in any election. When asked why he didn’t vote in even the recent presidential election, the football player responded:



“I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression. I’m not going to show support for that system. And to me, the oppressor isn’t going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression.” To the contrary, it has been the triple threats of voting, legislation and court rulings, all set against the backdrop of direct action, that has inched America forward. But it is each American’s right to do with the vote what he or she chooses, including withholding it.



There is no way to know how many black people would have settled on the exact same course of action without the interference. But what we do now know with absolute certainty is that in making their electoral choices, black folks had unwanted hands on their backs, unethical and illegal ones, nudging them toward an apathy built on anger.



What happened in this election wasn’t just a political crime, it was specifically a racialized crime, and the black vote was a central target."



Attacking the ‘Woke’ Black Vote - The New York Times