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Archive for June 20th, 2014

Great White Shark Numbers Rise off East Coast

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Great White Shark Numbers Rise off East Coast
A report that scientists are calling one of the most comprehensive studies of great white sharks finds their numbers are surging in the ocean off the Eastern U.S. and Canada after decades of decline. The study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, says the population of the notoriously elusive fish has climbed since about 2000 in the western North Atlantic.

Jury Convicts Duck Rescuer for Traffic Deaths
A Montreal jury found a 25-year-old Quebec woman guilty on four charges for stopping her car on a busy highway to rescue ducklings and causing a crash that killed a motorcyclist and his teen daughter. Emma Czornobaj faces a maximum sentence of life in prison after she was found guilty on two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing death. Defense attorney Marc Labelle said Czornobaj was shocked by the verdict and questioned how she could be found guilty of criminal negligence in the absence of other contributing factors. “This was not a race. This was not a person who took a chance and drove drunk,” Labelle said. “This is not about someone who was speeding and took a risky maneuver.”


Murray could face Djokovic in Wimbledon semis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Murray could face Djokovic in Wimbledon semis
LONDON (AP) — Andy Murray will start the defense of his Wimbledon title against David Goffin of Belgium and could face top-seeded Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

Ecuador beats Honduras 2-1 at World Cup
CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Ecuador forward Enner Valencia scored twice in a 2-1 comeback victory over Honduras on Friday that kept his team in contention at the World Cup.


White House rolls out plan to deal with influx of immigrant children

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

White House rolls out plan to deal with influx of immigrant children
Administration plans to step up resources to handle immigration cases while stressing that showing up at the border is “not a ticket in”


Fox Does Damage Control For Scott Walker On Criminal Investigation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Fox Does Damage Control For Scott Walker On Criminal Investigation

Doocy / Walker

Fox News helped Republican Gov. Scott Walker (WI) rehabilitate his image following newly released details on a criminal investigation into potential coordination between Walker’s recall campaign and outside spending groups, dismissing allegations of wrongdoing as merely attempts “to trash him.”

Documents unsealed on June 19 offered details on an extensive investigation into whether the Walker campaign was involved in a “criminal scheme” to illegally coordinate campaign activities with outside spending groups during his 2011 and 2012 recall elections.

Walker took to Fox & Friends the following day for a softball interview to respond to the allegations.

Walker repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, emphasizing that the investigation was halted by a federal judge. Co-host Steve Doocy agreed, speculating “These are documents that, for a case that does not exist anymore, it’s not going anywhere, and they’re just opening it up — it looks like they’re just trying to trash you.” When Walker responded that the allegations detailed in the documents are nothing more than attacks by political opponents and the media, Doocy went on:

DOOCY: So the show’s over, but they’re trying to trash you. Are they trying to do to you what they did to Chris Christie in New Jersey?

[…]

Scott Walker, answering the charges. Not that there are any charges, just people trying to trash him.

It is true that the nearly two-year-old investigation is currently halted, and that no charges have yet been filed. But what Fox and Walker fail to admit is that the issue appears far from over. As Vox explained:

State law requires that any such nonprofits spending on election ads do so independently, without any coordination with Walker or his aides. Prosecutors are arguing that they didn’t do so — that, instead, Walker and two of his campaign consultants participated in a “criminal scheme” to “utilize and direct” the nonprofits’ behavior. The investigation is being conducted under Wisconsin’s unique John Doe law, which allows for many of the proceedings to be kept secret. The district attorney of Milwaukee, a Democrat, initiated the probe, but several other county prosecutors joined in, and a special prosecutor has since been appointed.

Importantly, no charges have been filed against anyone, and none appear imminent. Most of the legal wrangling so far has focused instead on whether prosecutors had probable cause to raid and subpoena documents from the consultants and nonprofit groups they believe to be involved.

It’s an investigation being led by both Democrats and Republicans across five counties. In January and May 2014, a state judge and federal district court judge, respectively, ruled that prosecutors issued subpoenas without probable case during the investigation, but the state judge later stayed his own order, and the matter is currently pending before a federal appellate panel, which released the new documents at the prosecutors’ request.


Dick Cheney’s Chutzpah

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Dick Cheney’s Chutzpah
E.J. Dionne, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — The infinitely valuable Yiddish word “chutzpah” is defined as “shameless audacity” or “impudence.” It’s singularly appropriate for the astonishing op-ed piece that former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz published in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. It’s not every day that a leader of the previous administration suggests that the current president is a “fool” and accuses him of intentionally weakening the United States. “President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch,” the Cheneys write. Are they charging our…

Deportrix in Chief
Debra Saunders, RealClearPolitics
“We have to send a clear message. Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay. So we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.” Who said that on CNN on Tuesday? Anti-amnesty Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas? Quick-draw Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona? No. That was Hillary Clinton, who was flogging her new book, “Hard Choices,” during a town hall meeting moderated by Christiane Amanpour. After an audience member lambasted President Barack Obama as the nation’s…

Bombing Won’t Save Iraq
Pat Buchanan, RealClearPolitics
The panic that engulfed this capital after the fall of Mosul, when it appeared that the Islamist fanatics of ISIS would overrun Baghdad, has passed. And the second thoughts have begun. “U.S. Sees Risk in Iraqi Airstrikes,” ran the June 19 headline in the Washington Post, “Military Warns of Dangerous Complications.” This is welcome news. For if it is an unwritten rule of republics not to commit to war unless the nation is united, America has never been less prepared for a Mideast war. Our commander in chief is a reluctant warrior who wants his legacy to be ending our two longest wars. And just…


VIDEO: Killing star heads to Scottish stage

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

VIDEO: Killing star heads to Scottish stage
Killing star Sofie Grabol drops the subtitles as she prepares to perform on the stage in English for the first time.

VIDEO: Do you fly county flag with pride?
Several English counties are fluttering flags of their own, picked by residents to reflect their local identity.


White House scrambles to keep up with child immigrant surge

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

White House scrambles to keep up with child immigrant surge
Officials acknowledge many people coming to U.S. think they’ll be allowed to stay.


Afghan President, in Reversal, Backs U.N. Role to Settle Election Dispute

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Afghan President, in Reversal, Backs U.N. Role to Settle Election Dispute
President Hamid Karzai’s comments revived the possibility that the international community might once more have a hand in the selection of a new leader for Afghanistan.



Quick History: In Refugee Statistics, a Stark Tale of Global Strife
The number of people around the world forced by conflict to flee their homes is at its highest number since World War II.

The Saturday Profile: Missing Israeli Teenagers Revive a Mother’s Hard-Earned Intimacy With Loss
For Sherri Mandell, whose son was killed in the West Bank more than a decade ago, the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers feels all too familiar.




No, Obama Didn’t Create The Migrant Children Crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

No, Obama Didn’t Create The Migrant Children Crisis

The latest GOP reason to halt action on immigration reform: unaccompanied child refugees.

The post No, Obama Didn’t Create The Migrant Children Crisis appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Maria Eva Casco, left, and her son Christian Casco of El Salvador, sit at the Greyhound bus terminal in Phoenix.

Maria Eva Casco, left, and her son Christian Casco of El Salvador, sit at the Greyhound bus terminal in Phoenix.

CREDIT: AP

The number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has spiked 90 percent since last year. Republicans are responding to the humanitarian situation by making it the latest excuse to halt efforts on immigration reform. While some Republicans are lining their campaign wallets using the crisis, others are trying to blame the President Obama for not enforcing current immigration laws.

House Republicans will hold a House Judiciary Committee hearing next week titled, “An Administration Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors” to drive home that point. In an op-ed published Thursday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that Obama’s “broader refusal to uphold our immigration laws [has] created a powerful incentive for children to cross into the United States illegally.”

In early June, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) also argued in a press release that the President was “personally responsible” for “incentivizing” unaccompanied children with the promise of “citizenship for anyone in the world who arrives illegally in the country by a certain age.” As a result, Sessions said, “President Obama is responsible for this calamity.”

Most children are fleeing extreme violence and a fear of individual safety in Mexico and Central America’s northern triangle of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. And there has been an uptick of these child refugees since 2009, long before either the Senate comprehensive immigration bill or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (a presidential initiative which grants temporary legal presence to some undocumented immigrants) came into public existence.

After the Obama administration announced a cross-governmental agencies plan to deal with the situation, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) released a press release stating that the surge was “an administration-made crisis” due to Obama’s supposed lax border enforcement policies. Goodlatte said in early June, “Many of the Obama Administration’s policies… have led to a surge of minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) criticized the President’s “lax enforcement at Mexico’s borders,” in a strongly worded letter to Obama Friday, claiming Obama was giving a “free pass” to immigrants heading into the United States. He requested for the President to send the National Guard and asked the State Department to begin repatriation talks. But Boehner also insisted that, “once [unaccompanied children] reach U.S. soil, they will be able to stay here indefinitely.”

In fact, the current process of dealing with unaccompanied children from countries other than Mexico was set by the Bush administration, according to Dara Lind at Vox. Under the law, the Border Patrol agency is required to take in these children, screen and vaccinate them, then turn them over to the Department of Health of Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ORR assigns children to shelters until the agency can identify sponsors and once children are placed with sponsors, their cases work their way through the immigration court. Earlier this month, Jonathan Ryan, an attorney with the immigration advocacy group RAICES, told ThinkProgress that the Bush administration “changed the treatment of how kids go through immigration court.” Ryan added that the law was a “recognition of the need to protect these kids and at the time, the need was the war that’s pushing kids out of Central America.”

These lawmakers may be drawing from a Border Patrol “survey” leaked to conservative media outlets and congressional members, which found that about 230 children and women from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador came to the United States for immigration reform. Yet the survey findings, which ThinkProgress also obtained, has massive gaps in its methodology and data results. The memo acknowledged that Border Patrol agents threw out any responses that did not fit with their “general consensus” for the main reasons to leave their countries. In many cases, children and women gave multiple reasons for entering the U.S., including an increase in gang-related violence in Central America. Other missing gaps include: Border Patrol agents are not trained to conduct surveys of people that they have just apprehended; the data set includes only answers given on one day, May 28th; and it’s unclear how many children were interviewed.

Other researchers have determined that immigration reform, or any U.S. legislation, is not behind the emigration. In a survey conducted by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, only one out of 104 El Salvadoran children mentioned immigration reform as a primary motivator for leaving. Another survey by Elizabeth Kennedy, a doctoral candidate at San Diego State University found that “in only one of 400-plus interviews did a child migrant ask about the DREAM Act and immigration reform. …Fifteen had heard that the U.S. system treated children differently than adults and wanted to know how. In all 15 cases, the child had received a threat to join the gang or be killed, and some had then been beat or raped when they refused to join.”

After children are placed with the ORR, they are put into immigration proceedings as the White House and DHS Sec. Johnson have long emphasized. The New York Times reported that the Obama administration has been responding to the crisis by accelerating the immigration adjudication process and deporting children as quickly as possible. The New York Times also found that the DHS has “expand[ed] the use of monitoring devices, such as electronic ankle bracelets, to keep track of migrants after they are released.” Even Hillary Clinton recently said to CNN that the children “should be sent back” to their home countries. Clinton added, “Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay. … We don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws, or we’ll encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”

Although the data is not limited to only children, the Department of Justice found that only 18 percent of non-detained immigrants fail to appear for their removal hearings.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the White House announced steps “to improve enforcement and partnering with our Central American counterparts in three key areas: combating gang violence and strengthening citizen security, spurring economic development, and improving capacity to receive and reintegrate returned families and children.” It will also provide $9.6 million for Central American governments to help repatriated citizens, establish a $40-million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program over 5 years to improve citizen security in Guatemala, launch a $25-million Crime and Violence Prevention USAID program in El Salvador, and provide $18.5 million to support community policing and law enforcement efforts in Honduras. The White House press release also stated that it will collaborate on “campaigns to help potential migrants understand the significant danger of relying on human smuggling networks and to reinforce that recently arriving children and individuals are not eligible for programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly called DACA, and earned citizenship provisions in comprehensive immigration reform currently under consideration in the Congress.”

Republicans has long justified inaction on immigration reform based on a revolving list of excuses, including citing the President ignoring the law in order to secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, because HealthCare.gov was broken, that the Boston Marathon bomber was an immigrant, and Obama’s refusal to negotiate during the shutdown made it unrealistic to pass immigration reform.

The post No, Obama Didn’t Create The Migrant Children Crisis appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Activists Call For UN Intervention As Government Moves To Shut Off Water For Detroit’s Broke Residents

Water rates have skyrocketed as Detroit residents’ ability to pay has fallen. The city has cut off water to thousands as a result.

The post Activists Call For UN Intervention As Government Moves To Shut Off Water For Detroit’s Broke Residents appeared first on ThinkProgress.

detroit

CREDIT: Shutterstock

As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department moves to shut off water to thousands of residents who are delinquent on their bills, a coalition of activists is appealing to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights to intervene on behalf of the bankrupt city’s most vulnerable citizens.

Their report, filed Wednesday with the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, alleges that the DWSD crackdown is part of an effort “to sweeten the pot for a private investor” to take over the city’s heavily-indebted water and sewer system as part of Detroit’s broader bankruptcy proceedings.

One of the activist groups behind the report, the Detroit People’s Water Board, notes that city residents have seen water rates more than double over the past decade at the same time that the city’s poverty rate rose to nearly 40 percent, putting the cost of basic running water beyond reach for tens of thousands of households. Earlier this week, city lawmakers voted to raise water rates by a further 8.7 percent.

Almost exactly 50 percent of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s 323,900 total accounts were delinquent as of March, according to the Detroit News (via Nexis), with a combined $175 million in unpaid water bills outstanding. The department announced at that time that it would begin an aggressive campaign of water shutoffs, and a DWSD spokesman said that it has shut off water to nearly 7,000 separate clients since the beginning of April. DWSD mailed warnings about the shutoffs in March, but the People’s Water Board report says that some residents it interviewed either never received a warning notice or had their water shut off before the payment deadline printed in the notices had passed.

One key piece of the activists’ complaint has to do with allegedly disparate treatment of residential and commercial clients by the DWSD. The People’s Water Board claims that delinquent business entities “have not been targeted in the same way as residential users,” a claim the department strongly disputes.

“There are no sacred cows. We aren’t discriminating in terms of individuals or businesses,” DWSD spokesman Bill Johnson said in an interview. “Last month we shut off about 3,600 accounts, both businesses and residential. Everybody is getting cut off who is $150 or 60 days in arrears. That is our policy and we’re ramping up our enforcement of that policy.”

The department has not yet had time to break out the data on water shutoffs by client category, Johnson said, but he hopes to be able to report exact figures on the number of business clients who have lost water access soon.

The DWSD’s roughly $5 billion in debts have turned out to be the most difficult piece of Detroit’s bankruptcy, after initially seeming to be on track for a rapid resolution. Neighboring counties have balked at absorbing the city system into a regional water and sewer authority, and subsequent plans to privatize the city’s water services have been criticized as too rapid, too costly, and too damaging to residents’ quality of life. The system’s massive backlog of delinquent bills makes it harder to convince anyone, whether private company or public authority, to shoulder the DWSD’s obligations. But if the water shutoffs were aimed at making the department look like a shinier prize in bankruptcy negotiations, they would likely be targeted at corporate clients directly, for the same reason that Depression-era gangsters robbed banks: that’s where the money is.

While the vast majority of the nearly 165,000 delinquent accounts reported in March are residential clients, those private households owe much smaller amounts than the commercial and industrial clients who are delinquent on their DWSD bills. Fewer than 11,000 delinquent accounts relate to commercial or industrial clients. But those delinquencies average more than $7,700 per business, according to the numbers published in the Detroit News in March, compared to an average debt of less than $600 per residential delinquency. Non-residential clients account for almost half of what DWSD is owed despite being less than 7 percent of total delinquencies, according to the March figures. The People’s Water Board says that it obtained a document showing similar figures, but did not respond to a request for the document by press time.

It is not clear what action the activists seek from the UN Human Rights Commission. A request for comment from the UN official to whom the report was submitted went unanswered.

The post Activists Call For UN Intervention As Government Moves To Shut Off Water For Detroit’s Broke Residents appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Will President Obama Use Executive Action to Improve Working Conditions?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 20th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Will President Obama Use Executive Action to Improve Working Conditions?
From: Michelle Chen

A new report suggests the White House could bypass Congress to improve working conditions at workplaces linked to federal programs.

For Women’s Office Wear, Who’s Making the Rules?
From: Bryce Covert

Professional dress was created with the male worker in mind, and the unclear guidelines facing women shows we haven’t fully accepted them in the workplace.

Why Scott Walker Will Never Be President
From: John Nichols

Prosecutors allege the Wisconsin governor was at the center of an “expansive” strategy to bypass campaign laws.