You are browsing the archive for 2015 February 12.

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Rick Perry’s Absurd Healthcare Claim: Texans Like Being Uninsured!

February 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Luke Brinker, Salon

The former governor wears his state's uninsured rate as a badge of honor.

With 22 percent of residents uninsured, the Lone Star State bears the dubious distinction of having the nation’s highest rate of people without health insurance, but former Texas Governor Rick Perry wears that ranking as a badge of honor.

Appearing in the Granite State ahead of a potential 2016 bid for president, Perry told the New Hampshire Journal that Texans like their lack of healthcare quite well, thank you very much — and please serve that with a side of freedom fries.

“Texas has been criticized for having a large number of uninsured,” Perry said. “But that’s what Texans wanted. They did not want a large government program forcing everyone to purchase insurance.”

While Perry’s political base may be perfectly content to scrap the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate, the governor conveniently glided over his role in denying coverage to 1.5 million Texans — with a median income of $833 — when he rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion funds. Under Texas’ stringent Medicaid rules, non-disabled parents must earn less than 19 percent of the poverty level — an estimated $4,500 for a family of four — to gain coverage under the program.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 70 percent of uninsured Texans are in working families, with 40 percent living below the poverty level. Kaiser does not have statistics on how many consider their lack of coverage just another part of being liberty-loving Texans.


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Why Has Obama Declined to Comment on Chapel Hill Murders?

February 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

He didn't hesitate to speak out after other high-profile shootings.

As the nation continues to soul-search after the killings of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, the Muslim-American community is looking to public officials to provide leadership to combat rising Islamophobia and ensure the safety of all citizens. 

Some politicians have been quick to offer condolences, such as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim-American elected to Congress. Even former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney offered his remarks in a brief tweet on Wednesday, saying the victims were “with the angels.”

One voice that has been missing is President Obama's. The White House has not issued any statements on the matter. On Thursday, a reporter questioned Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the case:

REPORTER: One is, has the President been briefed on the situation in Chapel Hill with the shootings and the deaths of those Muslim students? And does he have any reaction—does the White House have any reaction?

JOSH EARNEST: There’s no specific reaction from the White House. I know that this is something that local law enforcement is investigating. I know that they, based on published reports, they have a suspect in custody. And I know that part of that investigation will include the circumstances that may have led to this act of violence and that will also include the investigation of questions about what motivation this individual may have had. So this is the very beginning of an ongoing local law enforcement investigation, and we’re going to await the results of that investigation before we say anything.

REPORTER: So he’s not been in touch with the families or anything at this point?

JE: No, he has not.

The underlying principle is that the President has not commented on the matter because it's under investigation, and the administration is waiting for the investigation to conclude. But Obama showed no such hesitation after a number of other high-profile murders.

Here's a selection of his remarks after the Aurora, Colorado massacre:

“We’re still gathering all the facts about what happened in Aurora, but what we do know is that the …read more


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Five Transgender Women of Color Have Been Murdered in the Past Five Weeks

February 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Anti-trans violence is killing young black and Latina woman across the country.

We are just five full weeks into 2015, and in that short time, there have been five murders of transgender women of color. These young women’s deaths have been made even more tragic through mainstream media’s silence. In cases when news outlets have taken notice, misgendering of the victims—that is, wrongly identifying them as male—has been another problem. In response, trans and LGBT activists and allies have taken to the streets in protest.

The most recent victim, Penny Proud, was a 21-year-old black trans woman from New Orleans. Proud was found shot to death on February 10; her killer remains unidentified. The other victims include Lamia Beard, age 30, a black trans woman from Virginia; Ty Underwood, age 24, a black trans woman from Texas; Yazmin Vash Payne, age 33, a black trans woman from Los Angeles; and Taja DeJesus, age 36, a Latina trans woman from San Francisco.

On Tuesday, four San Francisco city supervisors ended a weekly meeting early to give 20 minutes of recognition to DeJesus and other trans women who were recently murdered. The local legislators, who Fusion identified as “[r]epresenting historically black, Latino, Chinese-American and gay neighborhoods,” urged swift action to support and protect the trans community.

The same day, Bay Area trans activists staged a die-in in front of San Francisco City Hall. The rally was organized to raise awareness about violence against trans women, especially those of color, and to bring media attention to the slayings. In the midst of the protest, dubbed Trans Liberation Tuesday and organized under the hashtag #TurnUp4TransPeople, those present were suddenly alerted to the tragic news of Proud’s murder.

Violence against trans women of color is an underreported and often unrecognized epidemic that should command nationwide attention. Following a year in which there was more discussion of transgender issues than ever before—with Janet Mock, Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera rising to mainstream recognition—the issue still remains largely unaddressed.

As Autostraddle, a feminist LGBT site reports, “The National Coalition of Anti-Violence [found] …read more


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Shocking Video: Homeless Man Throwing Rocks Killed by Hail of Police Bullets

February 12, 2015 in Blogs

By David Edwards, Raw Story

Witnesses claim the suspect was trying to run away.

Police in Washington state said they were forced to kill a man who was armed with rocks, but witnesses claim the suspect was trying to run away.

The Bellingham Herald reported that “more than a dozen witnesses” watched Pasco police officers confront a man outside Vinny’s Bakery and Cafe on Tuesday. The man was observed throwing a rock at a passing vehicle before police arrived.

According to the witnesses, the suspect was holding a rock, and appeared to threaten officers. 

Ben Patrick said that he was just yards away when he saw officers try to shock the man with their Tasers. “The guy was trying to pull the Taser [prongs] out of his arm,” Patrick said.

Cellphone video posted to YouTube shows the man confronting police before the officers fire three shots and then begin chasing the suspect. The officers appear to corner the man in the blurry video, and about 10 more shots are fired.

“It was just a rock!” one of the witnesses yells at the officers.

In the video, a motionless body can be seen lying next to a building with officers standing over it.

“He’s already dead!” a witness says, as the officers handcuff the suspect.

Patrick told the Bellingham Herald that the man’s back was turned to officers when he was shot to death. “I really thought they were just going walk up and tackle or tase him,” he explained. “But they opened fire. His back was turned.”

Patrick’s wife, Shannon, witnessed the shooting, and told a similar story. “He turned around to take off running and the cops just shot him,” she said. “All he was trying to do was walk away.”

But police spokesperson Capt. Ken Roske insisted in a statement that the officers were forced to open fire because they had been threatened.

“He [didn’t] comply with their commands as far as we know right now,” Roske said.

In at statement released later in the evening, the Pasco Police Department said that “officers were assaulted by the suspect and …read more


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Broken Hearts Club: 6 Allies America Needs to Divorce

February 12, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

It’s hard to get out of a bad relationship. The good times may be over and the once vibrant connection may be dead, but people just can’t admit that it’s time to say goodbye.

Countries have the same problem, especially the U.S. Washington has spent decades collecting allies like many people accumulate Facebook “Friends.” Virtually never, irrespective of the changed circumstances, does America drop an ally. Indeed, the less relevant the ties the more insistent U.S. officials become in demanding that the relationship be “strengthened” and “expanded.”

With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, the Obama administration should take an unsparing look at the ever-growing crowd of American allies and ally-wannabes. It’s time for Washington to send the equivalent of a “Dear John” letter to a half dozen foreign capitals.

Where to start? There are so many undeserving deadbeat friends.

Saudi Arabia

U.S. officials make much of shared values while issuing military guarantees and writing lavish checks to scores of nations. No one can mistake Saudi Arabia as a country that America has much in common with other than commerce in oil and the occasional common enemy, such as Osama bin Laden.

However, no alliance is necessary for the two states to cooperate when their interests coincide. Indeed, the Saudis must sell oil to survive:  they will cash anyone’s check, friend or foe. And when the monarchy is under threat, it will respond vigorously, even ruthlessly, without outside prodding.

When it comes to values, Riyadh is an extraordinary embarrassment to the United States. Essentially a totalitarian state, the monarchy plunders people, brutalizes political opposition, suppresses religious expression, and even exports Sunni tyranny—to next door Bahrain, for instance. The late King Abdullah was hailed as a moderate and modernizer, but that was only in the context of one of the least free societies on earth. And his successor King Salman seems determined to halt if not reverse the minuscule progress of the last two decades.

It’s time send Riyadh a text message breaking up. The two governments can still cooperate where appropriate.  But there should be no more presidential visits to pay respectful obeisance to the Saudi throne. There should be no more intimate, hand-holding meetings at the president’s retreat. The U.S. military no longer should be treated as an inexpensive bodyguard for the al-Saud family, ready to do Riyadh’s bidding.

South Korea

If ever there was an alliance made irrelevant by circumstances, it is America’s defense guarantee for the Republic …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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One Connecticut Public School Student Was Restrained Over 700 Times in One Year

February 12, 2015 in Blogs

By Annie Waldman, ProPublica

A new state report found that Connecticut schools pin down and restrain a ‘staggering’ number of kids.

Connecticut public schools are far too quick to restrain or isolate unruly children against their will, leaving hundreds with injuries and many others with unmet educational needs, a state report released last week found.

The report cited “significant concern” that schools are overusing restraints and so-called seclusion, particularly on kids with emotional or intellectual disabilities. Over the past three years, Connecticut has recorded more than 90,000 instances of restraint and seclusion in public schools and more than 1,300 injuries – at least two dozen of them serious.

The report found one child was restrained more than 700 times over the course of a year.

 ”The numbers are staggering,” Mickey Kramer, the Associate Child Advocate for Connecticut and one of the authors of the report, told ProPublica. “We realize that this is a pervasive, widespread problem.”

The report, which explored the cases of 70 students, described a 9-year-old student with autism who was placed in seclusion after refusing to say “hello” to a visitor and a 4-year-old boy with a developmental delay who was restrained after throwing puzzle pieces on the floor and across the room. The younger boy's school plan said he could be shackled to an orthopedic chair that is not supposed to be used for restraints.

And one fourth grader with autism was repeatedly secluded behind closed doors despite making repeated suicidal gestures while there, including wrapping items such as a sock, shoelace and coat around his neck and stating “I want to die.” In 2004, a 13-year-old Georgia boy died after hanging himself while in seclusion.

Excessive use of restraint and seclusion goes far beyond Connecticut schools. An investigation last year by ProPublica and NPR based on government data showed the practices were used at least 267,000 times nationwide in just one school year.

The actual number of incidents is almost certainly much higher. Several of the nation's largest school districts do not report the actual number of restraints to authorities despite the count being mandated by …read more