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,’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,’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

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

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.

JFK Was First to Acknowledge Latino Voting Bloc, Hours Before He was Killed

JFK Was First to Acknowledge Latino Voting Bloc, Hours Before He was Killed

The night before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the president visited with Mexican American civil rights leaders at a League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) gala in Houston, Texas. Historians believe this was the first time a sitting president ever met with or acknowledged Latinos as a new voting block.

Russell Contreras, an Associated Press reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M., recently published a story that includes interviews with historians and Latinos who were at the LULAC gala.

In the excerpt below, Contreras explains Latinos have been a meaningful voting block for more than fifty years:

On Election Day in 1960, Kennedy won 85 percent of the Mexican-American vote.

But during Kennedy’s first months in office, Latino leaders expressed dismay that the president had failed to appoint Hispanics in his administration. Chavez even openly criticized Kennedy for his lack of appointments; other leaders embarked on a letter-writing campaign over the slow movement on civil rights.

Sensing another close election in 1964 and hoping to ease tensions, Kennedy visited Texas in November 1963. Advisers suggested that he at least pay a quick visit to Mexican-American activists at a Houston gala sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens, then the largest Latino civil rights group in the country.

Kennedy visited the LULAC gala in Houston’s Rice Hotel on Nov. 21, 1963. He was assassinated the next day, November 22, 1963 in Dallas,Texas.

You can read Rusell Contreras’ full story “JFK’S Last Night Recalled As Key Event for Latinos” on

Gabby Douglas, Wu Tsang Featured In New York Times’ ‘Twelve For 12’ List

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and artist/filmmaker Wu Tsang are featured in the New York Times and T Magazine’s “Twelve For ‘12″ list. The list highlights notable designers, Olympians, filmmakers, writers and innovators.

A$ap Rocky, Allison Adler, Ang Lee, Bones the Machine, Cheryl Strayed, Ciarra Pardo, D.J. Aaron, Edward Barber are also included in this year’s list.

Gabrielle Douglas was identified as an “American icon” on the list.


Gabrielle DOUGLAS Douglas’s Olympic achievement — winning gold in both individual and group gymnastics competitions, and being the first African-American to do so — has made her something of an instant American icon. She’s currently on a national tour, and her autobiography comes out this month from HarperCollins.

US Court Upholds $1 Mil for Latino Student Harassed in High School

US Court Upholds $1 Mil for Latino Student Harassed in High School

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City upheld a $1 million jury award to a Latino man who endured 3 1/2 years of racial harassment at a rural high school in New York.

Anthony Zeno transferred from Long Island to Stissing Mountain High School in Pine Plains, New York for his Freshman year of high school. A number of students used Zeno’s race as a basis to taunt, harass, menace, and physically assault him, according to court documents.

Court documents identified Zeno as a “dark-skinned,” “half-white, half-Latino.”

The town of Pine Plains, NY is close to 92% white, according to the 2010 Census. In 2005, when Zeno entered the school there were 439 white students, 8 blacks students and 6 Latinos.

Court documents show the violence against Zeno escalated over time and included his sister also:

During Anthony’s fourth year, he reported fewer incidents of harassment to SMHS authorities. When incidents did occur, however, they were serious. For example, at an SMHS football game in September 2007, a student called Anthony’s sister a “slut” and threatened to kick Anthony’s “black ass.” Anthony and this student began to fight. Anthony’s friend tried to intervene and break up the fight when another student suddenly “jumped” Anthony’s friend, choking him until he lost consciousness. Off-duty officers broke up the fight. The student who choked Anthony’s friend ultimately received a 45-day suspension.

Students continued to call Anthony a “nigger” in the hallways “all the time,” and he reported these comments to Howe. Similarly, he encountered continued racial harassment on the bus to his off-campus BOCES program.

“We conclude there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the jury’s finding that the District’s responses to student harassment of Anthony amounted to deliberate indifference to discrimination,” Judge Denny Chin wrote for the unanimous panel.

Chin continued: “He received explicit threats as well as implied threats, such as references to lynching.”

Zeno “was a teenager being subjected — at a vulnerable point in his life — to three-and-a-half years of racist, demeaning, threatening, and violent conduct,” the court said in their decision. “Furthermore, the conduct occurred at his school, in the presence of friends, classmates, other students, and teachers. The jury reasonably could have found that the harassment would have a profound and long-term impact on Anthony’s life and his ability to earn a living.”

Could San Francisco Giants’ Sergio Romo Become a Pro-Migrant Ice Cream Icon?

Could San Francisco Giants' Sergio Romo Become a Pro-Migrant Ice Cream Icon?

Ice cream for immigration reform? Maybe, just maybe, if Bay Area ice cream company Three Twins gets its way. See above for a packaging mockup of a potential new ice cream flavor—Mexican Chocolate—to join the company’s grocery store lineup. The new flavor, in a nod to Sergio Romo, the World Series-winning pitcher for the San Francisco Giants who celebrated the team’s championship win in October with a loud and proud pro-migrant fashion statement, features his cartoonized face prominently. The label gives a cheeky shoutout to Romo’s now-famous “I Just Look Illegal” t-shirt by telling customers, “It only tastes illegal.”

Proceeds from the sale of the flavor, which would mix chocolate ice cream with cinnamon, would be donated to “immigration reform,” Three Twins also said. On the company’s Facebook page, Three Twins made a public pitch Monday to try to get the official OK from the athlete to use his image, with this message:

We want to make Sergio Romo’s Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream (it only tastes illegal) and raise money for immigration reform. Are any of you pals with him and can get us in touch? And more importantly, who wants some Mexican Chocolate in grocery stores?

Few of the ice cream maker’s Facebook fans disagreed with the flavor, the political message, the Mexican flag emblazoned on the baseball, or even where the proceeds would go, but several did point out that the sombreros the twins are wearing on the label, which don’t appear on the packaging for Three Twins’ other flavors, are “culturally iffy.” So, what do you say?

In First Courtroom Battle, Gov. Jindal’s Voucher Program Declared Unconstitutional

In First Courtroom Battle, Gov. Jindal's Voucher Program Declared Unconstitutional

The legal fight is so very far from over, but on Friday, the first act for Act 2’s courtroom drama ended with a crushing defeat for private school choice and voucher proponents. A Louisiana judge declared Act 2 unconstitutional after a brisk three-day trial. The law was Gov. Bobby Jindal’s crowning 2012 education reform achievement. Among other reforms, it instituted the largest statewide voucher program in the nation to give private schools and entities money designated for public schools in exchange for educating students from low-income families.

Gov. Jindal, whose reform playbook is borrowed from ALEC and other conservative forces who have aggressively introduced market forces into the public school sphere with the ostensible goal of improving public education, vowed an appeal. “Today’s ruling is wrong headed and a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education,” the governor said in a statement on Friday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

“On behalf of the citizens that cast their votes for reform, the parents who want more choices, and the kids who deserve a chance, we will appeal today’s decision, and I’m confident we will prevail,” Jindal said. “All along, we expected this to be decided by the Louisiana Supreme Court.”

Next Dream for Immigrant Youth: Legalization for All 11 Million Undocumented Migrants

Fresh off an election year filled with historic victories, the immigrant youth movement today announced plans for 2013 and its next big fights ahead. One thing is certain: 2013 will be a very long year.

No longer content to fight just for the rights of a narrow portion of the community, and emboldened by their 2012 wins, immigrant youth are expanding their demands to call for an end to deportations and the legalization of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Also in their platform is a call to end the immigration enforcement policies like Secure Communities, 287(g), and E-Verify, which purport to look out for the national security and economic interests of the country but have had the primary effect of devastating immigrant communities.

The agenda is part of a six-point platform that was unanimously ratified this weekend during the national congress held by United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network. UWD, comprised of 47 member organizations which make up the broadest base of the immigrant youth movement, brought together what it calls the largest gathering of undocumented immigrant youth—600 activists altogether, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Immigrant youth who have been at the forefront of the immigrant rights movement “pledged to hold both parties accountable and fight for families and communities and win a roadmap to citizenship and fair treatment for all immigrants who call this country home,” said Lorella Praeli, the advocacy and policy director for UWD.

‘Undocumented Immigrants’ Could Jump to #3 Spot on TIME’s Poll, Thanks to 4Chan

'Undocumented Immigrants' Could Jump to #3 Spot on TIME's Poll, Thanks to 4Chan

Over the weekend undocumented immigrants jumped to the number four spot on TIME Magazine’s person of the year poll. The group has quickly moved to the #4 spot on their own but they could soon move up to the #3 spot and stay there thanks to 4chan users.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is currently in first place of TIME’s poll — thanks to some funny business by users on 4chan, the image-based bulletin board with 18 million visitors a month.

A 4chan user successfully encouraged the community to vote for the newly crowned leader and hours later that same user posted a script for people to download to automate the voting process.

Now that Kim Jong-un is at the top, 4chan hopes to spell “KJUGASCHAMBERS” with the first letter of every TIME candidate’s name. “KJUGASCHAMBERS” is the name of the concentration camp near the border of Russia and China, used by the North Korean government according to the Guardian.

The third letter in “KJUGASCHAMBERS” could easily go to “Undocumented Immigrants” since they’re already in the fourth place.

The Guardian once summarized the 4chan community as “lunatic, juvenile… brilliant, ridiculous and alarming.” The online community group has made national headlines before with North Korea-related pranks.

When Justin Bieber decided to allow the his fans determine his next touring destination, the folks at 4chan ensured he’d end up in North Korea. 

Voting for TIME’s person of year poll closes at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 12, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 14. You can vote on

The TIME poll clearly points out that “as always TIME’s editors will choose the Person of the Year,” so ultimately they’ll have the final say of who ends up on the cover of the magazine at the end of the month.

Legendary Blues Singer Buddy Guy Receives Kennedy Center Honors

Legendary Blues Singer Buddy Guy Receives Kennedy Center Honors

President Barack Obama presented the legendary blues singer Buddy Guy with one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors Sunday night. He called Guy “one of the last guardians of the great American blues.”

Born into a Louisiana sharecropper family, the six-time Grammy Award winner helped pioneer the electric blues with other legends including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

The president recognized seven individuals - Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant - for their lifetime contributions to the country’s culture through the performing arts.

“Each of us can remember a moment when the people on this stage touched our lives. … Maybe they inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently.” Obama said. “It is that unique power that makes the arts so important.”

After the awards ceremony former President Bill Clinton delivered a toast to Guy, saying he had traveled from a cotton patch to the concrete jungle of Chicago to emerge as the “greatest living blues guitarist.”

“From picking cotton in the field to picking a guitar in the White House, that is a long ways man,” Guy told reporters at the Kennedy Center.

Michelle Obama Stuns In Gold Gown At Kennedy Center Honors [Photos]

You could see Michelle Obama from a far at last night’s Kennedy Center Honors held in Washington D.C. The First Lady wore a gold lamé chiffon dress that reflected the lights in the room.

President Obama and the First Lady attended the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony on Sunday. The president recognized seven individuals - Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant - for their lifetime contributions to the country’s culture through the performing arts.


The First Lady’s dress was designed by Michael Kors, and is part of his Resort 2013 collection, according to “Mrs. O.”

Marvin Gaye’s Son Says Lenny Kravitz Playing his Father is ‘Shameful’

Marvin Gaye's Son Says Lenny Kravitz Playing his Father is 'Shameful'

Last week Lenny Kravitz confirmed he would be playing Marvin Gaye in an upcoming biopic currently titled “Sexual Healing.” The film that’s currently in pre-production reportedly focuses on Gaye’s life in the 1980s when the Motown legend battled drug abuse and depression.

Gaye’s son Marvin Gaye III tells TMZ his family doesn’t support the project and that he’s upset Lenny Kravitz accepted the role to play his father.

The project is being led by English film director Julien Temple who started his career with short films featuring the Sex Pistols. His credits include directing documentaries on Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston and David Bowie.

Here’s an excerpt of Marvin Gaye III’s interview with TMZ:

Marvin Gaye III tells TMZ, “The producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful … [They’re] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don’t even know the whole story.” 

 Marvin’s son says he and Kravitz were schoolmates — and remain friends to this day — so he wants to “talk to him about why he would do this.”

Marvin Jr. tells us he and other family members are meeting with lawyers to try to stop production — and added, “I would hope [Lenny] doesn’t have any idea that we are against this film being done.”

Marvin Gaye III’s criticism sounds similar to recent comments made by Nina Simone’s daughter about an unauthorized biopic on her mother. Simone’s daughter wrote an open-letter to fans in September to say “The Nina Simone Estate was never asked permission nor invited to participate” in the film titled “Nina.” The film is currently in post production.

Actor Mike Epps is playing the role of Richard Pryor in “Nina.” Epps reached out to Pryor’s widow Jennifer Pryor before signing on to play the role, TMZ reported in October.

Black Males Ages 13-24 Hit Hardest With New HIV Infections in U.S.


FIGURE 1: Number of new HIV infections among youths aged 13-24 years, by sex and race/ethnicity — United States, 2010 (CDC)



Prevalence rates of persons aged 13-24 years living with a diagnosis of HIV infection* — National HIV Surveillance System, United States, year-end 2009

Young people age 13 to 24 made up about a quarter of all new HIV infections in the U.S. during 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this week. 

In 2010, of the estimated 47,500 new HIV infections, 12,200 were among youths. An estimated 7,000 (57.4%) newly infected youths were blacks/African Americans, 2,390 (19.6%) were Latinos, and 2,380 (19.5%) were whites.

Among blacks, the study found new diagnosis disproportionately affected males: 5,600 infections were for males compared to 1,400 for females.

The following is an excerpt from the CDC report that includes more details and agency’s suggested solutions:

Based on the most recent data available from 2009 and 2010, youths represent 6.7% of persons living with HIV in the United States and account for 25.7% of new HIV infections. Of new HIV infections among youths, 45.9% were among black/African American males, the majority of which were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact. Nationwide, the percentage of youths who had ever been tested for HIV was low compared with other age groups: 12.9% among high school students (22.2% among those who ever had sexual intercourse) and 34.5% among persons aged 18-24 years.

The higher HIV prevalence among blacks/African Americans overall (nearly three times higher than among Hispanics/Latinos and nearly eight times higher than among whites) and men who have sex with men (MSM) overall (nearly 40 times higher than other men ) contributes to the disproportionate number of new HIV infections among black/African American youths and young MSM. Because of this disparity, black/African American youths are at higher risk for infection even with similar levels of risk behaviors. Other research has found that among young MSM, other factors such as stigma, discrimination, less condom use, more alcohol and drug use, and having sex with older partners contribute to even higher risk for HIV acquisition. This analysis also found that young MSM were significantly less likely to use condoms during last sexual intercourse, more likely to drink alcohol or use drugs before last sexual intercourse, and more likely to have four or more partners during their lifetime compared with young men who had sexual intercourse only with females. These behaviors are associated with substantial risk for infection. In one study among MSM, the attributable risk for new HIV infection was 29% for using alcohol or drugs before sex and 32% for having four to nine sex partners. Further, in a study of primarily young MSM, 75% of those with acute HIV infection reported sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol compared with 31% of HIV-uninfected MSM. Moreover, the risk for HIV infection doubled for MSM with a sex partner 5 years older and quadrupled with a sex partner 10 years older.

More than half (59.5%) of youths with HIV are unaware of their infection. Although the number of new HIV infections is highest among males, fewer males have been tested for HIV than females. Routine HIV testing as part of regular medical care is recommended by CDC for all persons aged 13-64 years and by the American Academy of Pediatrics for all youths by age 16-18 years and all sexually active youths regardless of age. Better adherence to these guidelines, especially for males, is needed to increase early HIV diagnosis and facilitate treatment that improves health and reduces transmission.

Lastly, before drawing any assumptions you may want to read the truth about the “down low” and HIV.


The Kids Found Someone They Love More Than Michelle Obama: Bo

First Bo Obama made a final inspection of the 2012 White House Christmas decorations before he and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families on Wednesday.

Then the kids ran in to greet Bo. And Michelle Obama was just there holding the leash.


Children run to greet Bo the dog as First Lady Michelle Obama leads him through the State Dining Room as she welcomes military families to share in this year’s White House holiday decoration on November, 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

House Says Science PhD’s Yes, Everyday Immigrants No

House Says Science PhD's Yes, Everyday Immigrants No

With their hasty post-election pivot on immigration reform, Republicans are the ones who get to act all disappointed in Democrats for a seeming failure to show up on the issue. The much-snubbed Achieve Act was a Republican concoction. As was the STEM Jobs Act, which sailed through the House on a 245-139 vote today.

The STEM Jobs Act, authored by Republican Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, would offer permanent residency to immigrants with master’s and doctorate degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering and math. Encouraging highly educated professionals in science and technology to stay in the U.S. is a bipartisan priority; Democrats and Republicans have acknowledged the economic imperative of such a move. The STEM Jobs Act has the vocal support of tech companies like Intel and Microsoft, who’ve long advocated for more friendly policy to allow the highly educated to stay in the country.

During his 2012 State of the Union President Obama called for reform to explicitly accommodate this class of immigrants who, “we send … home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else,” immediately after they receive their education in the U.S. “That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Visits Day Laborers Working in Sandy Relief [Video]

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis  Visits Day Laborers Working in Sandy Relief [Video]

From video description on YouTube: 

via National Day Laborer Organizing Network

On November 29th, Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis visited El Centro in Staten Island to see the day laborer reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Sandy. She expressed her support for their sacrifice and contribution as they work to rebuild their communities.

New York Fast Food Workers Head Back to Work With Community Escorts

New York Fast Food Workers Head Back to Work With Community Escorts

It’s 44°F and raining in New York City this morning but community members are escorting workers who walked out on their fast food restaurant jobs yesterday back to work. Community members say they’re there for support and hopes that workers don’t face retaliation when striking workers go back on the job.

The petition calling on fast food companies to pay their workers a living wage came close to getting 16,000 signatures on Thursday. Much of the attention to the petition came by way of dozens of workers who went on strike for a day to call attention to the low wages and working conditions at fast food restaurants throughout New York.

Most workers are making just $7.25 an hour and their average yearly salary is $11,000—that’s only 25% of the money the need to survive in NYC, according to the campaign.

The workers coming together to strike is a major act of courage because of likely retaliation from their employers. Among them are some who have already lost their jobs for organizing Thursday’s strike.

Community members are thanking workers who walked off their jobs yesterday by accompanying them back to work. Check out some of the updates below.

You can support the workers by signing the campaign’s petition at

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