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Activists Want Rent Relief For NYC Residents Without Power Post-Sandy

Activists Want Rent Relief For NYC Residents Without Power Post-Sandy

Elderly and special needs residents living in New York City Housing Authority high rises were stuck inside their apartments for weeks after Hurricane Sandy. A New York Times examination published on Sunday found 77,000 public housing residents were without power, heat or running water — some for up to three weeks.

The New York Times found that while the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) moved aggressively to evacuate residents before the storm, they were “woefully unprepared to help its residents deal with Hurricane Sandy’s lingering aftermath.”

An excerpt from the NYT:

The city, which did not enforce its mandatory evacuation order, could not assess the medical needs of residents stuck atop darkened, freezing towers until nearly two weeks after the storm. It relied on ragtag bands of volunteers who quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the task of reaching, comforting and caring for trapped residents. And the seemingly simplest things, like towing portable lighting towers into the Red Hook public housing complex, took 11 days, all because the housing authority had not properly prepared for a major disaster.

Again and again, city officials publicly predicted that the crisis in public housing was on the verge of being resolved, contributing to a perception at City Hall that there was no need to mobilize an extensive effort to provide medical care.

The report included accounts of tenants in wheelchairs who had no way of getting downstairs, diabetics who needed insulin, others who were simply short on food or using stoves to stay warm.

ColorOfChange, the nation’s largest online black civil rights organization has launched a petition urging NYCHA Chairman John Rhea to grant immediate rent relief to storm-impacted public housing residents.

NYCHA Chairman Rhea has pledged to refund rent to storm-impacted residents at least for those days spent without essential services — but not until January 2013.

“35,000 mostly low-income Black and Latino children, families, and elderly and sick residents of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) were left to suffer — in cold, pitch-black apartments without running water — for up to three weeks,” read an email sent to ColorOfChange members on Monday.

“Before Sandy hit, NYCHA residents were already among the lowest-income folks in the five boroughs and, due to lost work hours caused by business closures and massive transit disruptions, many are now coping with even less,” [the email continued.](http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/NYCHA_rent/

The ColorOfChange email ends by pointing members to the petition. “Now that the storm has passed, John Rhea should be working around the clock to abate the needless suffering NYCHA has caused residents — not taking steps to compound it.”

Visit ColorOfChange.org for more information on their campaign.

Jenni Rivera Fought For Women, Immigrants and LGBT Youth

After hours of speculation Mexican officials announced late Sunday that a plane carrying Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera was found and that they believed there were no survivors.

Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s transportation and communications minister, said authorities found what remained of the plane in mountainous terrain in northeastern Mexico, just south of Monterrey, on Sunday night.

Rivera’s makeup artist uploaded a picture to Instagram shortly before the plane took off. Rivera is believed to have boarded the aircraft with her publicist Arturo Rivera; stylist Jorge Sanchez; makeup artist Jacobo Lienares; attorney Mario Macias; and the pilots. “We getting Back To Mexico City…..jenni Rivera ,Arturo , Gigi and Me.. Los Amooo!”

“My son Lupillo told me that effectively it was Jenni’s plane that crashed and that everyone on board died,” her father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home. “I believe my daughter’s body is unrecognizable.”

Rivera’s family will travel to Mexico on Tuesday to help identify her remains and they plan on transporting the body to Los Angeles for services, according to Televisa.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rivera was born and raised in Long Beach, California. She was fluent in Spanish, English and Spanglish and had fans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

For many Latinos she was a symbol of successfully straddling two cultures. She grew up in a Spanish-speaking home with Mexican traditions and attended Long Beach Unified School District schools that taught in English. And she believed that both the English and Spanish language were equally as important.

Rivera gained notoriety singing a traditional style of music usually reserved for men and was succesful in both Mexico and the United States. She was a judge on Mexico’s version of “The Voice” and most recently signed a deal with ABC to star in her own television show on the U.S. network. Rivera was supposed to star in the show as a “strong, middle-class, single Latina woman working to raise a family” while fighting the cultural perception that she needed a man to do it.

The new show looked promising and included big names behind iconic sitcoms like Designing Women, Full House and Family Matters.

Rivera was someone who stood up for what she believed in. She never held back and oftentimes she found herself in the center of controversies. Most recently a divorce and a very public flight with her oldest daughter made headline news.

But Rivera also stood up for several causes that were close to her heart, most notably the rights of those who have experienced domestic and sexual abuse.

While attending Long Beach Poly High School, Rivera became pregnant with the first of her five children, and eventually married the child’s father, José Trinidad Marín in 2006. Marín was later convicted of raping Rivera’s daughter and a sister-in-law.

That experience lead her to champion the rights of single mothers, young mothers and those who have experienced sexual violence. Her songs became anthems for many women.

On August 6, 2010, Jenni Rivera was named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Battered Women and Domestic Violence in Los Angeles. “In her life, Jenni has fought for women’s rights, for protection of children subject to abuse, and had dedicated herself to the empowerment and protection of battered women everywhere,” read a press release announcing Rivera’s appointment.

That same day, the L.A. City Council officially named August 6th Jenni Rivera Day in honor of her work in the community.

Rivera was also outspoken about other political issues.

She was one of the first celebrities to call Arizona’s SB1070 law “racist” and attended marches in Arizona.

“[SB1070] is an injustice, it’s discriminatory, it’s hate, it doesn’t respect humanity and it’s racist,” Rivera told reporters at a 2010 march in Arizona. Rivera marched with immigrant rights groups for five miles in 110 degree heat and would end up in an emergency room that night as a result.

To express her support for LGBT youth and to stand up against bullying Rivera participated in Spirit Day in 2011. GLAAD points out Rivera performed in a purple dress at the Billboard Awards for Mexican music to honor those young people who lost their lives to suicide and to take a stand against bullying.

Rivera is said to have been excited about her new show with ABC because she would travel less.

Univision’s lead entertainment (and gossip) reporter Raul “El Gordo” De Molina said Sunday Rivera had expressed fear that something would happen to her because she was traveling so much. “She told me ‘Raul, I’m putting my life at risk every weekend traveling so much, I don’t want to keep presenting myself at all these places because I don’t know what’s going to happen.’”

The fear of dying was something she had felt years before.

After a 2003 car accident, Rivera wrote a song titled “Cuando Se Muere Una Dama” which translates to “When a Lady Dies.” The song is about how she would like to be remembered. 

An excerpt from “Cuando Se Muere Una Dama” is below:

I want one last celebration at my funeral 

all those who loved me will have to celebrate

remembering my smile and the way I cry


I was a strong guerillera 

I fought hard for my children 

Remember well that in life 

Your mother didn’t break

With my head held high 

With honor say goodbye

Jenni Rivera Was One of First Stars to Call Arizona’s SB1070 Racist

On Sunday morning Mexican officials confirmed a small plane carrying Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera went missing shortly after it took off. The Associated Press reported the plane left Monterrey, Mexico about 3:30 a.m. and went missing 10 minutes later.

Televisa Mexico reported Sunday afternoon officials located Rivera’s plane and no survivors were found. An NBCUniversal spokeswoman confirmed to the LA Times that Rivera was aboard the plane.

The news comes days after Rivera, a mother of five, closed a deal to star in her own sitcom with ABC titled ‘Jenni.’

Rivera, 43, was born and raised in Long Beach, California, is best known for her interpretations of Mexican regional music known as nortena and banda.

Rivera has also spoken about the rights of immigrants and was one of the first celebrities to join activists in Arizona after SB 1070 was introduced.

“While other artists have contributed their names, Jenni has offered to present herself on May 29, 2010, at the Capitol stage at the culmination of the march that will bring thousands of people together to join in Jenni Rivera’s plea to end this vicious attack on the immigrant and Latino community as whole,” read a press release sent out by AltoArizona shortly before a 2010 march.

Below are three clips of Rivera speaking out for immigrants:

“[SB1070] is an injustice, it’s discriminatory, it’s hate, it doesn’t respect humanity and it’s racist,” Rivera told reporters at a 2010 rally in Arizona.

Neat Freak Alfreta Sailor Wants You To Know ‘Bleach is Your Friend’

Neat Freak Alfreta Sailor Wants You To Know 'Bleach is Your Friend'

Alfreta Sailor says she uses three big bottles of bleach a week to clean her apartment. And she wants you to remember one thing: “Bleach is your friend, people!”

Millionaire Marc Paskin’s Billboard for ‘Latina Girlfriend’ is Now Half Gone

Millionaire Marc Paskin's Billboard for 'Latina Girlfriend' is Now Half Gone

San Diego millionaire Marc Paskin, 62, purchased a billboard on the I-5 and 28th Street in Barrio Logan that states, “All I Want for Christmas is a Latina Girlfriend.” But just a day after the billboard was posted half of it disappeared.

And it may not be vandalism. Take a look at San Diego 10news.com’s report:

The lower portion of the billboard has ripped off, which seems strange since it was put up the day before.

10News contacted Paskin, who declined to comment but said he will gladly talk to 10News when he returns from a business trip next week.

At this point, it’s unclear if the sign could be part of another TV show.

So maybe it was all part of a stunt?

Public records show the Barrio Logan neighborhood has a population of about 47,000—about 35,000 residents are Latino.

Undocumented Youth Take Over the National Mall With Kites [Photos]

Undocumented Youth Take Over the National Mall With Kites [Photos]

CultureStrike, the national arts and activism group, teamed up with undocumented youth and NY-based artist Miguel Luciano to hold a kite-based symbolic public art project in Washington D.C.

The kites were flown over the National Mall and the White House by a group of undocumented youth and self-described DREAMers on Friday. Organizers say the kite project embodies a simple statement: “The desire for freedom and dignity is universal, and the natural human need to migrate can’t be suppressed.”

The Puerto Rican-born Luciano worked with a number of undocumented youth to create large-scale kites emblazoned with their life-size self-portraits, to soar symbolically over a political arena where immigration issues have still not been humanely addressed.

“While the kites can physically transcend a fence or border from the sky, they can also address non-physical borders metaphorically,” Luciano told the CultureStrike blog. “It is a symbolic action to raise our own images into the sky and celebrate our dreams, desires, and indeed our right to fly and be free. These are universal desires, and can be applied to community struggles throughout the world.”

Michigan Poised to Become 24th ‘Right-to-Work’ State

Michigan union supporters flooded the state capitol yesterday, outraged over a fast moving and unexpected move by the legislature to pass sweeping anti-union legislation. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he’d sign the the bills into law when it arrives on his desk next week. Once he does, Michigan, the symbolic center of American manufacturing and unions, will become the 24th so-called, right-to-work state. The laws bar unions from collecting mandatory dues directly from workers. New employees get the benefits of union contracts without paying dues and, unions say, as fewer workers join, collective bargaining agreements slacken and wages fall.

The Associated Press reports:

Just hours after they were introduced, both chambers approved measures prohibiting private unions from requiring that nonunion employees pay fees. The Senate quickly followed by voting to impose the same requirement on most public unions.

Although rumors had circulated for weeks that right-to-work measures might surface during the session’s waning days, the speed with which the GOP-dominated Legislature acted Thursday caught many onlookers by surprise. Details of the bills weren’t made publicly available until they were read aloud on both floors as debate began.

The chaos drew raucous protests from hundreds of union supporters, some of whom were pepper-sprayed by police when they tried to storm the Senate chamber.

Because of rules requiring a five-day delay between votes in the two chambers on the same legislation, final enactment could not take place until Tuesday at the earliest. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who previously had said repeatedly that right-to-work was “not on my agenda,” told reporters Thursday he would sign the measures.

The Michigan law is just the latest blow to unionized manufacturing work in the United States, which has been losing numbers in general for decades. Nearly 40 percent of private sector manufacturing workers were unionized in the early 1970s. Now, about ten percent of these workers belong to a union.

The news from Michigan comes on the heels of several major union losses in the midwest. Earlier this year, Indiana became a right-to-work state, and in 2011, Wisconsin passed laws restricting union rights for public workers.

George Zimmerman Sues NBC Over Edited 911 Tape

George Zimmerman Sues NBC Over Edited 911 Tape

George Zimmerman sued NBC on Thursday for broadcasting an edited version of his 911 call to make him sound racist, the lawsuit says. Zimmerman is charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The video above, which includes both the original and edited audio clip, was produced by the conservative media group PJMedia.

The Associated Press reports:

The former neighborhood watch volunteer filed the lawsuit seeking an undisclosed amount of money in Seminole County, outside Orlando. Also named in the complaint were three reporters covering the story for NBC or an NBC-owned television station.

The complaint said the airing of the edited call has inflicted emotional distress on Zimmerman, making him fear for his life and causing him to suffer nausea, insomnia and anxiety.

“NBC saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain,” the lawsuit says.

“Because of NBC’s deceptive and exploitative manipulations, the public wrongly believes that Zimmerman ‘use(d) a racial epithet’ while describing Martin during the call to the dispatcher on that fateful night,” the suit says.

NBC Universal disputed the accusations Friday.

“There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly,” the company said in a prepared statement. “We intend to vigorously defend our position in court.”

Prison GEO Group Exec Threatened to Deport Daughter-in-Law

Prison GEO Group Exec Threatened to Deport Daughter-in-Law

Some shocking video footage was uploaded to YouTube Tuesday that claims it shows a high ranking official with the GEO Group testifying that he indeed threatened to deport his daughter-in-law. In the video, Thomas M. Wierdsma, a Senior Vice President for Project Development at GEO confirms he said he would use his position of power to deport his son’s Hungarian wife.

Wierdsma threatened to deport Beatrix Szeremi after she went to the police to report a long history of domestic abuse. Wierdsma’s son, Charles Wierdsma was accused of multiple drunken beatings, almost drowning Szeremi in a bathtub, and an attempted suffocation with a pillow. According to court documents there were 20 incidences in all during the short marriage.

GEO Group is the country’s second largest private prison company. GEO also manages 9 immigration detention centers in the U.S. plus other immigration facilities abroad, including the Migrant Operations Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Wierdsma Sr. was upset Szeremi wouldn’t leave a property he says he owns.

The Daily Camera reports the details obtained through interviews and court documents:

The Hungarian-born Szeremi, who came to the United States six years ago and got permanent legal residency, or a green card, received an email from Thomas Wierdsma, a senior vice president with the GEO Group, that sent chills down her spine. GEO is one of the largest private prison companies in the world — with $1.6 billion in revenues and 20,000 employees across 115 facilities — and the company operates several immigration detention facilities for the federal government, including one in Aurora.

“I understand that you currently have no plans to move out of our home,” the elder Wierdsma wrote on June 21, 2011. “I will be copying the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement with this and other information. As you know, I funded the legal work and processing fees for you to become a citizen but am now disappointed in your actions which now require legal proceedings.”

In July 2012, a Boulder County jury awarded Szeremi $1.2 million after a weeklong civil trial. The jurors found that both men had exhibited “outrageous conduct.”

Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigative reporter, wrote about the GEO group in September. He noted “GEO Group’s prisons and immigrant detention centers have a track record of abuse, deaths, sexual violence and medical neglect of inmates and detainees.”

According to the company’s website The GEO Group, Inc. is also the world’s leading provider of correctional detention, and residential treatment services with 108 facilities, approximately 75,000 beds, and 20,000 employees around the globe.

Wendy Williams Presses Gabby Douglas To Talk About Seeing Her Dad At Olympics

Wendy Williams Presses Gabby Douglas To Talk About Seeing Her Dad At Olympics

Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas stopped by the Wendy Williams Show to talk about her new book this week.

Williams pressed Douglas on a question few TV hosts venture to: Gabby’s father.

Photos: The Christmas Tree and The Obamas Over the Years

The Obama family illuminated the National Christmas Tree Thursday night during a celebration on the White House’s Ellipse.

Check out the pictures below of the First Family over the past four years.


2009 

2009-xmas-trees.jpg

U.S. President Barack Obama presses the button to light up the National Christmas Tree with daughters Malia and Sasha, and first lady Michelle during the annual National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse December 3, 2009 in Washington, DC. Lighting the National Christmas Tree is a yearly tradition for the President of the United State during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Tim Cook Values ‘Diversity With a Capital D,’ But Execs Are White Males

Tim Cook Values 'Diversity With a Capital D,' But Execs Are White Males

Bloomberg Business Week published an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday morning. In the interview Cook said his company really valued “diversity with a capital D.”

But what kind of diversity? Because the top 10 executives at Apple Inc. are all white males.

“If you look at the top 100 people at Apple, you’re going to find very different people, very different personalities, very different styles. We’re not a Chiclet company,” Cook told Bloomberg Business. “We don’t put people through a machine where they come out and talk the same, look the same, think the same. We really value diversity with a capital D.”

Even if Apple’s top 100 people are a diverse mix, can you say you value “diversity with a capital D” when the 10 people who actually make the decisions all look the same?

“Apparently at Apple, you’ll find many kinds of diversity but not much racial or gender equity at the top considering the top ten executives are all white men,” said Rinku Sen, president of the Applied Research Center and Colorlines.com’s publisher.

Sen went on to illustrate the difference between diversity and equity.

“Without equity you get diversity lite, where lots of people can come to the party but only a few - of the same kind - can change the music. Pursuing equity isn’t about politics; it’s just about taking a hard look at your practices and seeing reality.”

There you have it folks. It’s time Apple starts to think different and consider equity too. Equity with a capital E.

Apple’s Board fo Directors scores slightly better in the diversity report card. The board ncludes eight members: seven white males and Andrea Jung, the executive ‘chairman’ of the board at Avon, who happens to be Asian American.

In more positive news, Cook announced on Wednesday that Apple plans on building a Mac in the United States in the coming year.

Cory Booker Feeling ‘Hunger Pains’ Because He’s Under-Eating

Cory Booker Feeling 'Hunger Pains' Because He's Under-Eating

On Wednesday evening Newark Mayor Cory Booker said he is growing concerned about running out of food before his food stamps challenge is over. The mayor is now on day three of a seven day challenge to see if he can survive on a food stamp budget of about $30 a week, roughly the same amount provided to people in New Jersey who take part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Booker, 43, says he regrets not thinking through his food purchases before going to the grocery story. As a result, the 6’3 200+ pounds mayor has been forced to have peas and corn for lunch. (My analysis found he’s not even getting a third of the USDA daily recommended caloric intake, we’ll come back to this.)

“The second day on the #SNAPChallenge, I ate salad for breakfast, a can of peas and corn mixed together for lunch, and cauliflower, broccoli and a sweat potato for dinner,” the mayor wrote on his blog.

“I am regretting not thinking through some of my food choices for the week. In hindsight, investing more of my SNAP budget in eggs, and perhaps some coffee might have helped me later in the week. I am growing concerned about running out of food before this is over - especially as I try to resist the urge now to have another sweet potato before I go to bed tonight.”

Booker went on to point out he’s physically struggled with the challenge also.

“The constrained food options I have for this one short week highlight for me (with the hunger pains I felt today between small meals) what many hardworking families have to deal with week after week.”

Booker is probably experiencing the ‘hunger pains’ because he is seriously under the USDA suggested daily caloric intake for someone with his stats.

A 43-year-old male that is 6’3 and 230 pounds should be having at least 3,612 calories a day to maintain his current weight, according to the USDA. (I estimated 230 pounds because that’s what Booker says his goal weight is.)

Using information compiled from Booker’s #SNAPChallenge blog and pictures he uploaded to Instagram I estimate he’s having less than 1,000 calories a day—that’s less than a third of what the USDA recommends for a man his age and size.

Take a look at the charts below:

That Subway Rider Who Didn’t Recognize Jay-Z is Actually Artist Ellen Grossman

That Subway Rider Who Didn't Recognize Jay-Z is Actually Artist Ellen Grossman

Earlier this week, the Internet’s were buzzing with an adorable clip from a new mini documentary of an anonymous subway rider who didn’t recognize Jay-Z. The rapper was on the train to help promote his last concert to inaugurate the Barclay’s Center, home to the team that he kinda owns and really reps. Turns out that subway rider wasn’t anonymous at all, but was actually Ellen Grossman, a 67-year-old New York artist who’s known for her drawings and sculptures.

Grossman later told New York Magazine that she loved the experience. “As the conversation evolved, I realized, ‘He’s really famous!’” Grossman told Daily Intel. “So I said, ‘What was your name again?’”

TAGS: Brooklyn Jay Z

Los Angeles Sheriff Will No Longer Turn Over Low-Level Offenders to Immigration

Los Angeles Sheriff Will No Longer Turn Over Low-Level Offenders to Immigration

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Wednesday he will no longer honor federal requests to hold undocumented immigrants arrested for low-level crimes, the L.A. Times is reporting.

A spokesman for the Sheriff confirmed Baca’s decision to the LA Times:

A Baca spokesman said the change was prompted by a legal directive issued by California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday indicating that compliance with the federal requests is at the discretion of sheriffs’ and police departments.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Tuesday law enforcement in the state can ignore Obama administration requests to hold undocumented immigrants. “In the interest of public safety, it is our recommendation that those chiefs and sheriffs make a decision about whether or not they will detain an illegal immigrant based on their priorities,” Harris said.

The state of California boasts the largest number of Secure Communities deportations. L.A. County sends an estimated 20,000 immigrants over to ICE each year, according to a Justice Strategies report released earlier this year.

“Sheriff Baca’s change of policy ought to come with an apology letter,” Chris Newman Legal Director at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) told Colorlines.com. “First and foremost, there’s no way to repair the damage for the approximately 20,000 people who were held beyond their release date. More immigrants have been deported through his jail than through Sheriff Arpaio’s jail in Arizona. And he owes an apology to the state of California.”

“His belligerent and clearly misguided opposition to the TRUSTAct undermined what was otherwise a statewide consensus. At this point, only a bright line statewide policy can undo the damage he has caused,” Newman said.

In October, NDLON and other organizations filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Baca. The lawsuit alleges that detaining people in County Jails on the basis of voluntary ICE holds is unlawful.

Colorlines.com reached out to the Sheriff Baca’s press office but our request had not been answered by the time this story was published.

A new version of the TRUST Act was introduced on Monday.

Senate Approves Defense Bill That Authorizes Abortions at Military Facilities

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a Department of Defense authorization bill (S 3254) that includes an amendment allowing the military’s health plan to cover abortion care in cases of rape or incest, Reuters reports. The measure also authorizes DOD to provide abortions at military facilities.

Akiba Solomon, Colorlines.com’s Gender Matters blogger wrote about intra-military sexual assaults last month. An excerpt from her story is below to provide some history and context:

In 2010 alone, there were at least 19,000 intra-military sexual assaults, according to the Defense Department. Further enhancing the trauma, there remains a ban on military insurance coverage of abortions even in the case of rape and incest.

I haven’t seen sexual assault reports broken down by race. What I can say is that a disproportionate number of servicewomen on active duty are black. They make up a whopping 31 percent of the active-duty population compared to the 15 percent they comprise in the general population. (Fifty three percent of women on active duty are white, compared to 78 percent of female civilians.)

In the coming days or weeks, Congress will take up the National Defense Authorization Act and it has the opportunity to lift the ban on military insurance coverage of abortion in the case of sexual assault. It’s way past time to get rid of class-based restrictions on abortion access, including those for military women and Medicaid recipients via the Hyde Amendment. Now that “women’s issues” are all the electoral rage, we should make that demand, straight no chaser.

The Senate and House (HR 4310) versions of the bill have to be reconciled before a final measure can be sent to President Obama.

California A.G.’s New Position on Deportation is a Win for Immigrant Rights

California A.G.'s New Position on Deportation is a Win for Immigrant Rights

California Attorney General Kamala Harris jumped in to the immigration debate on Tuesday by announcing law enforcement in the state can ignore Obama administration requests to hold undocumented immigrants. Harris said law enforcement agencies were not obligated to comply with the federal law called Secure Communities.

Harris’ announcement is seen as a win for immigration reform because she is the chief law officer of the state that boasts the largest number of Secure Communities deportations.

Harris said her office has received dozens of inquiries from sheriffs and police chiefs confused about whether they must comply and hold detainees for up to 48 hours after they otherwise would have been released, the Associated Press reported.

“In the interest of public safety, it is our recommendation that those chiefs and sheriffs make a decision about whether or not they will detain an illegal immigrant based on their priorities,” Harris said.

“Kamala Harris’ announcement yesterday that local police departments may ignore federal immigration detainers is a blow to the Obama Administration’s leading deportation program, said Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigative reporter.

“The announcement is among the biggest victories for immigrant-rights advocates who have said for years that the program does not target hardened criminals as the government claims, but instead leads to the deportation of any undocumented immigrant who has contact with the criminal justice system,” Wessler said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics indicate that 2,388 undocumented immigrants with no convictions were detained and deported after arrests in California under the program between March 1 and June 30, according to the AP.

Romney Campaign Manager Says He Regrets Immigration Stance

Romney Campaign Manager Says He Regrets Immigration Stance

Mitt Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades wishes his team hadn’t taken such a far-right position on immigration. The Romney campaign chief made the comments at the Harvard University Institute of Politics over the weekend.

The New York Times reports the details:

When asked directly whether Mr. Romney regretted tacking to the right on immigration to appeal to conservative primary voters, the room fell silent.

Stuart Stevens, a senior strategist to Mr. Romney, shook his head no. But after pausing for several seconds, Mr. Rhoades said, “I regret that.”

He went on to explain that the campaign, in hindsight, had been too worried about a potential threat from Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who jumped into the race to challenge Mr. Romney as the jobs-and-economy candidate. For weeks in fall 2011, Mr. Romney hammered Mr. Perry on Social Security, particularly his calling the program a “Ponzi scheme” that should be overtaken by state governments.

“In retrospect,” Mr. Rhoades said, “I believe that we could have probably just beaten Governor Perry with the Social Security hit.”

Other interesting bits from the conference:

  • Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said that the “real hidden story from our side” came from the number of white men who did not vote in the election in some key states:

“We weren’t surprised by racial composition; we were surprised by the partisan composition. … The real hidden story here on our side, the number of white men who didn’t vote in this election compared to four years ago was extraordinary. And these white men were replaced by white women. We were taking a group we won by 27 points and replacing them with a group we won by 12-14 points.”

  • And no surprise here but a low point for the Romney campaign came in September when Romney’s 47% remarks went viral:

“There was a lot of negativity about our campaign as a whole, but he’s a person who takes personal responsibility,” Mr. Rhoades said. “He would tell me: ‘You didn’t say 47 percent, Matt. Stuart didn’t say 47 percent. I did.’ “

The Harvard University Institute of Politics “2012 Campaign Decision Makers Conference” runs every four years, in the weeks following Election Day. The Institute brings together campaign managers and analysts from major presidential campaigns to examine the electoral process.

Recordings of the talks are available on IOP.Harvard.edu.

Cory Booker’s First Day on Food Stamps: Can’t Afford Coffee and Long Periods Without Food

Cory Booker's First Day on Food Stamps: Can't Afford Coffee and Long Periods Without Food

Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he went without food for long periods throughout his first day on the SNAP Challenge. The normally caffeinated mayor also complained he couldn’t afford coffee or Diet Pepsi.

Booker started a weeklong Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) challenge Tuesday, testing his ability to survive off a $30 food budget for a week.(The average weekly food stamps assistance for someone in New Jersey is $30.)

Booker’s decision to live on food stamps for one week came after someone on Twitter told him that “nutrition is not a responsibility of the government.” Booker challenged her and volunteered to take the SNAP Challenge.

Booker will have to survive off 17 cans of beans, seven yams, two bags of frozen vegetables and two apples for the next seven days.

“For the first time, in a very long time, I am considering every meal and the cost of the food I am eating,” Booker wrote on his SNAPChallenge blog.

“I am unable to afford coffee or other caffeinated beverages on the SNAP budget. I cannot remember the last time I started the day without a cup of coffee,” Booker went on to write. He also can’t afford his other signature vice, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Because many people don’t have social safety nets, the guidelines of the SNAPChallenge don’t allow Booker to accept food from family or friends.

Booker is only on day two but he says he’s already learned a lot.

“If I could go back and do it over again, I definitely would have gotten a dozen eggs and I would have clipped coupons,” Booker told NJ.com.

Ben Jealous to Donate Part of $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize to Troy Davis’ Nephew

Ben Jealous to Donate Part of $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize to Troy Davis' Nephew

On Monday evening, The Nation Institute and The Puffin Foundation awarded the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship to Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.)

The Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship goes to individuals who have “challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, and socially responsible work of significance.” The prize comes with $100,000.

“I’m humbled to be recognized with The Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship and honored to join a distinguished list of past honorees, all of whom have inspired me with their enduring commitment to justice and human rights,” Jealous said in a statement. “Our work carries on the legacy of the tremendous visionaries who founded the NAACP — with the support of The Nation — more than a century ago. I am proud to stand on their shoulders, along with thousands of NAACPers and our allies, in the fight for racial equality, human rights, and a brighter tomorrow for all Americans.”

Jealous plans to use the prize money for a college fund for his own children, as well as De’Jaun Davis-Correia, the nephew of Troy Davis. In 2011, Davis-Correia lost his grandmother, his uncle was executed and his mother died of cancer.

Jealous is the 13th winner of the award. Previous winners include playwright Tony Kushner; Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards; environmental activists and authors Van Jones and Bill McKibben; Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman; and labor activist Dolores Huerta.

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