July 9, 2010 1 Comment
June 28, 2010 Leave a comment
State spending on prisons has been growing and eating away at other priorities, like higher education. Now that’s beginning to change.
Faced with a $19 billion budget deficit this spring, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he was taking a cleaver to state health and welfare programs for the poor, the disabled, and the elderly. And rather than removing another slice from the state’s vaunted higher education system—which had already experienced years of reductions in state aid, ensuing tuition hikes, and student protests in response—budget cutters took more than $1 billion out of the state corrections programs, particularly prison health care.
It may seem odd that state funding for college kids often competes with money for prisoners, but if you track spending in California over the past 30 years, you’ll see evidence of a long-standing tug of war between these two very different constituencies. Over much of the past decade, funding for corrections has gone steadily up, while spending on state colleges has tumbled. “The state seems to be saying we have more of a future in prisons than in universities,” University of California president Mark Yudof said in a recent speech.
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June 8, 2010 Leave a comment
WASHINGTON, DC (Herald de Paris) – EXCLUSIVE – Researchers have revealed the first images from the Caribbean sea floor of what they believe are the archaeological remains of an ancient civilization. Guarding the location’s coordinates carefully, the project’s leader, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, says the city could be thousands of years old; possibly even pre-dating the ancient Egyptian pyramids, at Giza.
The site was found using advanced satellite imagery, and is not in any way associated with the alleged site found by Russian explorers near Cuba in 2001, at a depth of 2300 feet. “To be seen on satellite, our site is much shallower.” The team is currently seeking funding to mount an expedition to confirm and explore what appears to be a vast underwater city. “You have to be careful working with satellite images in such a location,” the project’s principle researcher said, “The digital matrix sometimes misinterprets its data, and shows ruins as solid masses. The thing is, we’ve found structure – what appears to be a tall, narrow pyramid; large platform structures with small buildings on them; we’ve even found standing parallel post and beam construction in the rubble of what appears to be a fallen building. You can’t have post and beam without human involvement.”
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May 31, 2010 1 Comment
Kanye West has joined a musical boycott of Arizona’s new immigration law, which has caused a firestorm of controversy.
Zack de la Rocha has issued a statement on behalf of an organization called the Sound Strike urging music fans and fellow artists to boycott Arizona “to stop SB 1070,” which he labels an “odious” law. Among those artists joining de la Rocha’s boycott are Conor Oberst, Kanye West, Rage Against the Machine, Rise Against, Cypress Hill, Serj Tankian, Joe Satriani, Sonic Youth, Tenacious D, Street Sweeper Social Club and Michael Moore.
De la Rocha said their boycott of the state was comparable to the legendary boycott of the Montgomery Bus system in the 60’s, which sparked the Civil Rights Movement.
“When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, they arrested her. As a result, people got together and said we are not going to ride the bus until they change the law. It was this courageous action that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott,” a statement read. “What if we got together, signed a collective letter saying, “we’re not going to ride the bus”, saying we are not going to comply. We are not going to play in Arizona. We are going to boycott Arizona?!”
May 28, 2010 Leave a comment
The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners has instructed its chief investigator to review policies, procedures and standards, and whether they were followed, not followed or inadequate when 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was fatally shot during a police raid early May 16, the chairman said Thursday.
“We will determine if new policies need to be created or installed,” Chairman Mohamed Okdie said at the board’s weekly meeting at Detroit police headquarters.
Before the meeting began, just more than a dozen people gathered outside the building to protest what they called military-style tactics by police, including the use of a flash-bang grenade in the raid on the Lillibridge duplex where Aiyana lived.
“We have to stop the violence now,” Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality said as he led the demonstrators in a chant. He said the coalition wants police to join with it in “Peace Zones for Life” efforts to mediate conflict in the city’s neighborhoods.
During the board meeting, Police Chief Warren Evans refuted claims the coalition made at an earlier meeting that there were eight police-related fatalities in 2009. Evans said there were no police-related deaths in 2009, and asked the board to demand that Scott provide documentation.
Scott had agreed earlier to provide evidence for the board, but so far, there has been no supporting documentation, Evans said. “We have yet to see it,” the chief said.
Evans — who has been in a war of words with Scott since the May 3 shooting of Officer Brian Huff and a heated debate on Fox TV’s “Let it Rip” shortly afterward — also questioned Scott’s claim that complaints against the department’s gang squad have gone up 300%.
The police distributed a news release at the board meeting that compared the first four months of 2010 with the same period last year. It showed that complaints per 1,000 citizen contacts against the Gang Enforcement Unit were down 22%, and complaints against the Tactical Mobile Unit down more than 74%.
“We have made all those complaints available to the coalition,” Evans said.
Okdie asked Scott to speak, but it was after Evans had left the meeting. Scott confirmed that he will be meeting with Evans at 1:30 p.m. next Thursday. He said he intends to use the meeting to go over information the coalition has that it believes shows police responsibility in eight fatalities last year.
Okdie urged both sides to talk.
May 20, 2010 Leave a comment
African-American farmers hoping for government settlement money in a racial bias case met with lawmakers Wednesday and called on Congress to come up with a way to fund the $1 billion deal.
Litigation known as the Pigford Case established a longstanding pattern of discrimination at the U.S. Agriculture Department against African-American farmers who had applied for farm loans and support from federal programs.
Under the terms of an involved process overseen by a federal judge and dating to 1999, qualified farmers could receive $50,000 each to settle claims of racial bias. In addition, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said those farmers may pursue a claim for actual damages from the bias and potentially receive up to $250,000.
Ralph Paige, executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, said Wednesday that he believed that Congress was “very close” to coming up with a way to pay the settlement, which covers as many as 80,000 African-American farmers.
“These farmers have suffered much, much too long, and it’s time that this thing get behind us. We can settle Pigford once and for all and send a clear message to the country that we are on the right track as a nation,” Paige said at news conference.
“We’re talking about much more than the money. We are talking about remedying past discrimination,” Paige said.
A March 31 deadline to appropriate the funds has passed, and farmers now may withdraw from the settlement and pursue independent litigation against the government. Congress now has a target date of the end of May to come up with a plan.
“We spend a billion dollars on a jet to go bomb somebody. We’re talking about a billion dollars to help feed our country, and I just don’t see why Congress and the president can’t go ahead and find [the funds]. It is an emergency,” said Gary Grant, with the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina, said there is a “total commitment” from President Obama and the majority party in the House and Senate to make sure the settlement is taken care of. Butterfield represents his state’s First Congressional District, which is home to Timothy Pigford, who filed the class-action lawsuit more than a decade ago.
Butterfield said lawmakers need to work out how to pay for the settlement under the PAYGO rule, meaning Congress must balance any increased spending with equal savings elsewhere. The other option would be to designate the settlement as an emergency, which would be exempt from PAYGO.
Lawmakers are looking for an appropriate piece of legislation in which to include the settlement to avoid adding to the deficit, Butterfield said.
“If we cannot find the appropriate vehicle, then I would certainly support declaring this settlement as a national emergency and adding it to the next supplemental that may be on the House floor,” he said.
Farmers have until May 31 to withdraw from the pending class-action settlement and pursue an independent claim against the government if they feel their chances would be better for a payout. If they choose to stay in the class, they will wait as a group to apply for the promised monetary damages.
Vilsack has said there’s no question the damages are due for African-American farmers. In a statement last week, he said, “I have met with and talked to key stakeholders and members of Congress reiterating the administration’s ongoing efforts to close this chapter in the history of the department.”
CNN’s Paul Courson and Kristi Keck contributed to this report.