New York Man Cleared After 25 Years In Prison Plans $162M Suit

New York Man Cleared After 25 Years In Prison Plans $162M Suit

Jonathan Fleming, 51, did nearly 25 years for a 1989 murder in New York City that he did not commit. He was in Disney World on a family trip at the time. Now, according to his attorney, he plans to sue the city for $162 million. According to an early May Guardian article, Fleming was released with $93. He “doesn’t have a permanent place to live, a job or a clear path forward. The state of New York did not compensate him for his wrongful conviction…”.  An Indiegogo campaign, since closed, has raised $50,000.

(h/t Associated Press)

Is $10.10 An Acceptable Minimum Wage?

Is $10.10 An Acceptable Minimum Wage?

A higher federal minimum wage may be a pipe dream in a stalled Congress but with cities and states increasingly raising their own minimums and more workers protesting nationally, President Obama had to get in on the action. For workers employed by federal contractors only Obama issued an executive order this February raising the minimum wage to $10.10. But is that enough? Some of those workers didn’t think so. And now a new report from progressive think tank Demos is asking the president to issue another more expansive executive order. Many in America want a raise. Even the IMF is asking the U.S. to increase wages. The growing consensus opens the door to a new debate that takes on more importance with 2016 on the horizon: what’s a meaningful raise?

The report’s main ask echoes Good Jobs Nation’s: instead of proposing a number, like Seattle’s $15, the new executive order should require a living wage and that private employers “respect” collective bargaining among workers. Those estimated to benefit: 8 million workers in the “federally-dependent” low-wage economy who are largely women (61 percent) and people of color (35 percent).

Read the report, which defines the “federally dependent” economy as private sector employers where more than 10 percent of annual revenues depend on federal purchasing. Roughly 21 million people or 8 million workers and their families comprise this economy, it says, and stand to benefit from the proposed executive order. The president’s current executive order, according to the labor secretary, will affect an estimated 200,000 federal contract workers.

Is $10.10 an acceptable minimum wage? Or is collective bargaining the prize?

Iraqi Military Claims to Push Back ISIS, Hillary Clinton on Immigration, and St. Ochoa Memes

Iraqi Military Claims to Push Back ISIS, Hillary Clinton on Immigration, and St. Ochoa Memes

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Video: John Oliver Takes On That Washington NFL Team Name

Video: John Oliver Takes On That Washington NFL Team Name

Inspired by the “Proud to Be,” commercial last aired during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, John Oliver says, “The strongest possible pushback you can have after watching something amazing like that is, Yeah, well, but, ahh, you’re right.” 

Check it out.

Video: Muslim Woman Asks Question, Provokes Outburst At Heritage Foundation Panel

Video: Muslim Woman Asks Question, Provokes Outburst At Heritage Foundation Panel

Law student Saba Ahmed, who wears a head scarf, prefaced her question during a Heritage Foundation panel on Benghazi yesterday by saying, “We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam. We have 8 million plus Muslim-Americans in this country and I don’t see them represented here.” Then she asked, “How is it possible to fight and win an ideological war against jihadists?” Reaction took an instructive turn, beginning at 4:15 with panelist Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! for America whose central theme—“The peaceful majority is irrelevant”—earned earnest rounds of applause. 

Watch above for Ahmed’s reply.

The clip ends with a question from panel moderator and conservative talk radio host Chris Plante to Ahmed: “Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” 

(h/t Washington Post)


Dallas Hospital Gives Workers Raise—Using Exec Bonuses

Dallas Hospital Gives Workers Raise--Using Exec Bonuses

Low-wage workers at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas are getting a raise—with money normally used to fund executives’ annual bonus packages. The minimum wage increase to $10.25-an-hour will impact about 230 employees working in “environmental, linen and dietary services.” Parkland’s wage increase puts it in line with Dallas County’s, which raised its minimum wage this March to $10.25—echoing similar increases being implemented by municipalities nationwide.

Whether the new $10.25 minimum wage will also be a living wage for a low income Dallas household is unclear. The hospital increase takes effect July 1. About 6 percent of all Texas workers earn $7.25 an hour or less, giving it one of the highest shares of low wage workers in the country. 

Seattle recently approved $15-an-hour, the highest minimum wage in the country.

(h/t ThinkProgress)

New York Lawmakers Propose ‘State Citizenship’ for the Undocumented

New York Lawmakers Propose 'State Citizenship' for the Undocumented

Congress is as yet unable to muster the will to face immigration reform. So New York state lawmakers are mulling an alternative. The New York Is Home Act would grant some rights and responsibilities of citizenship to some undocumented immigrants who’ve paid state taxes for at least three years, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Josh Eidelson reports:

It would grant state citizenship to some noncitizen immigrants, including undocumented residents, allowing them to vote and run for office. Under the New York Is Home Act, noncitizen residents who have proof of identity and have lived and paid taxes in the state for three years could apply for legal status that would let some qualify for Medicaid coverage, professional licensing, tuition assistance, and driver’s licenses, as well as state and local—but not federal—voting rights. The responsibilities of citizenship would also apply, including jury duty.

The bill, an admitted long shot, could be vulnerable to legal challenge because its language borrows the term “citizen,” typically the exclusive purview of the federal government.

Notably, the notion of state citizenship only goes so far. States can’t guarantee protection from deportation. 

Escalating Violence in Iraq, Maternal Mental Illness, Malia Obama’s Summer Job

Escalating Violence in Iraq, Maternal Mental Illness, Malia Obama's Summer Job

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

  • The first signs of sectarian reprisals are breaking out in Iraq. 
  • We’re finally hearing more about maternal mental illness. The stories, like this one in the New York Times, are heartbreaking. 
  • City College of San Francisco could get a two year reprieve on accreditation. 
  • The United States beat Ghana in a thrilling World Cup match on Monday.
  • McDonald’s — yes, McDonald’s — is opening up a so-called “tech hub” in San Francisco.
  • Malia Obama has a really, really cool summer job
  • New Emoji’s are on the way for all of your texting needs. 

Prisons’ Fastest Growing Population: Mentally Ill, Aging Inmates

Prisons' Fastest Growing Population: Mentally Ill, Aging Inmates

Aging inmates and those with mental illness constitute the bulk of the fastest-growing segment of prison populations, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. In a story about Marvae Dunn, a 64-year-old man who allegedly shot and killed his sister-in-law in 2007 but who spent years in declining health languishing behind bars, the Inquirer’s Melissa Dribben delves into the shifts in today’s prison population, which today function as “society’s psychiatric institutions,” she writes.

That shift has been driven by a lack of mental health care outside of prison:

In terms of his mental illness, Dunn was not unusual. Of the county’s 8,500 inmates, about 35 percent are mentally ill, 15 percent of whom are seriously impaired with schizophrenia, bipolar disease, or psychosis. If you include personality disorders, Herdman said, the percentage would be, perhaps, 80 percent.

Among women, he said, the percentages are even higher. About 80 percent of the women at the county’s Riverside facility are on psychiatric medicines, he said, and half have been diagnosed with serious mental illness.

“Nationwide, you will see similar figures,” said civil rights attorney David Rudovsky.

“Virtually everybody who has looked at this problem of seriously mentally ill people in prisons agrees that many are there as a result of a lack of mental-health care in the community,” Rudovsky said. “Despite the enormous cost of using prisons as the last mental-health catchment area, we don’t see much change in the system.”

h/t The Crime Report

Bank Denying You A Basic Account? Here’s One Reason Why

Bank Denying You A Basic Account? Here's One Reason Why

For the first time banks are being scrutinized for blacklisting vulnerable consumers from opening a basic checking or savings account. Alternatives to mainstream banking generally open consumers to predatory or more costly services with less consumer protections. New York’s attorney general this week becomes the first government authority according to The New York Times, to go after banks for using the ChexSystems database to weed out consumers who’ve bounced checks or overdrawn an account—mistakes frequently made by young people just starting out or those who are financially struggling.  The move signals increasing interest on the part of regulators to examine the many ways that companies are using Big Data to hurt consumers who often aren’t aware data is being collected, by whom and for what purpose. 

New York’s interest in at least six banks’ Big Data practices, including Capital One, comes little more than a month after the Obama administration drew attention through its first-ever report on companies’ data collection practices. It calls for increased privacy laws.

Says NYC’s consumer affairs commissioner to The Times about how banks are using ChexSystems data, “We are extremely concerned about it because people who have made small errors are driven onto the margins of the financial system, where they really can’t save for the future.” 

The ChexSystems database was originally intended to weed out serial fraudsters. Most people don’t even know they can order their ChexSystems report. Learn more using this handy Fool guide—and order a copy of that report.

Bloodbath in Iraq, Starbucks Offers Workers Discount Online Degrees, and Cali’s Whooping Cough Epidemic

Bloodbath in Iraq, Starbucks Offers Workers Discount Online Degrees, and Cali's Whooping Cough Epidemic

Here’s what I’m catching up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Sacramento Airport Bans Billboard Pushing Healthcare for the Undocumented

Sacramento Airport Bans Billboard Pushing Healthcare for the Undocumented

In Sacramento, Calif., a billboard similar to more than 100 like it that have gone up around the state has been banned from the state capital’s airport, reports Sacramento’s NBA affiliate KCRA. The billboard, a project of the California Endowment’s #Health4All campaign, is pushing for healthcare for all California residents, including undocumented immigrants who are excluded from Affordable Care Act coverage. 

“In-terminal advertising at Sacramento International Airport is managed by Clear Channel Airports under a contract with the Sacramento County Department of Airports,” the airport told KCRA 3 in a statement. “The California Endowment ad was declined because it did not meet the advertising display policy set forth in the agreement we established with Clear Channel, which requires that under no circumstances shall advertising be displayed that would ‘involve the country or the airport in controversial, social, moral, political or ethical issues.’”

According to estimates from the UCLA Labor Center, 1 million Californians remain ineligible for healthcare because of their immigration status. More than 100 #Health4All billboards have gone up around the state, and have been accompanied by radio and TV ads as well.

The campaign includes the faces of some of the most high-profile young undocumented immigrants, including Sergio Garcia, the state’s first known undocumented attorney; Steve Li, who was detained in Arizona amidst the 2010 federal DREAM Act fight before his own parents were deported to Peru; and Ju Hong, a prominent Asian-American immigrant rights activist who interrupted President Obama during a speech in San Francisco last fall.

(h/t Immigration Prof Blog)

Text and Phone Service Directs Callers to bell hooks Quotes

Text and Phone Service Directs Callers to bell hooks Quotes

Ladies, you’ve been there. Some man insists on getting your phone number. He’s annoying and the only thing that might make you feel safe is just giving him a fake number. But some self-absorbed men are left wondering why. 

669-221-6251—a feminist phone intervention project—is a quick solution that gets a point across. A phone call or text to the number acquires a bell hooks quote in return.

So the next time you’re rolling your eyes from some mactivist trying to talk to you, remember that 669-221-6251 can help. You can also donate to the feminist phone international project; all proceeds raised beyond the cost of the phone bill will benefit The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. 

Labor Secretary Responds to Federal Contract Workers Demands

Labor Secretary Responds to Federal Contract Workers Demands

The Department of Labor moved yesterday to implement President Obama’s executive order increasing the wage floor for federal contract workers to $10.10 beginning Jan 2015. While some workers are pleased, others are not. The new agency rule came as more than 200 self-identified worker leaders represented by Good Jobs Nation yesterday described $10.10 as poverty wages. Instead, they’re calling on the administration to require that contractors engage in collective bargaining with workers in return for a commitment not to strike. Yesterday’s action for low-wage federal employees signals growing momentum for an across-the-board increase in the federal minimum wage, although many disagree as to how much. A CNN poll cited on the labor secretary’s blog says that more than 70 percent of Americans favor a wage hike—but less than 40 percent think $10.10 is the right number.

When asked about Good Jobs Nation demands, The Wall Street Journal reports that labor secretary Thomas Perez said collective bargaining is not part of the February executive order and is therefore not a part of yesterday’s proposed rule. According to the Journal, Perez didn’t answer whether the issue of collective bargaining is under discussion at the labor department.

Obama’s new $10.10 minimum wage, according to Perez, will impact 200,000 federal workers. 

Futbolistas 4 Life Follows Youth Bringing a Soccer Field to Oakland’s Fruitvale

Futbolistas 4 Life Follows Youth Bringing a Soccer Field to Oakland's Fruitvale

World Cup fever is officially upon us. But what about soccer played a little closer to home?

What happens when Latino youth from Life Academy in Oakland’s Fruitvale, where homicide is the leading cause of death for young people, turn to soccer as a refuge from the streets? They put together a campaign to turn their “prison playground” into a soccer field. Futbolistas 4 Life is a documentary about their story, and the filmmakers have put together a Kickstarter campaign to help finish the film.

The filmmakers write

In 2012, there were 131 homicides across all of Oakland - the highest in six years. Soccer becomes a uniting force for the high school students in this film, who come to call themselves “Futbolistas 4 Life.” By bringing the community together around a new soccer field, they are determined to stop the cycle of violence in their community with courage, willpower and optimism. 

 In the last few years, these teens have lost four young people to gun violence in their small public high school. Their soccer club has become a space where they discuss their experiences with violence, poverty and immigration while strategizing ways to support their community. The film shows the passion and resiliency of these teens who create a legacy for future generations. 

Check out more at their Kickstarter.

Bergdahl in Texas, Cops Stay Quiet about Surveillance, and World Cup Surprises

Bergdahl in Texas, Cops Stay Quiet about Surveillance, and World Cup Surprises

It’s Friday! Here’s what I’m reading this morning: 

  • Bowe Bergdahl arrives in Texas, where he will continue his reintegration process. 
  • The Obama administration pushes local police to keep cell phone surveillance technology secret. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Active Military Post Prepares to Detain Immigrant Children

Active Military Post Prepares to Detain Immigrant Children

A U.S. Army base outside of Oklahoma City, Okla., is preparing to detain undocumented minors who were recently apprehended crossing the southern border without a parent.

Fort Sill—an active base built during the Indian Wars in the late 1800s—will take between 600 and 1,200 minors. The children mostly arrived from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, often fleeing violence in hopes of reuniting with parents already in the United States. Many of the migrant children, usually referred to as unaccompanied minors, are girls under the age of 12.

The minors may be held at Fort Sill for up to four months, but it remains unclear what will happen to the children after that time. Equally unclear is whether the use of Fort Sill as a detention center for minors is temporary, or whether new child migrants will be placed there in the future. 

Oklahoma’s KSWO-7 has been reporting on the issue locally:

Fort Sill is the third military base that will hold undocumented minors. Texas’s Lackland Air Force Base and California Naval Base are already holding migrant youth. 

Federal Contract Workers to Obama: $10.10 Not Good Enough

Federal Contract Workers to Obama: $10.10 Not Good Enough

A letter sent to the White House today from federal contract workers tells President Obama that his freshly ordered wage increase to $10.10 isn’t good enough. The letter, signed by 216 self-identified worker leaders representing over 50 private companies, ratchets up worker demands in a federal policymaking environment where $10.10 appears to have gained acceptance as the new ceiling. This February, Obama signed an executive order requiring companies contracting with the federal government to increase workers’ wages to $10.10. And while Senate Republicans this spring filibustered a bill naming $10.10 as the new federal minimum wage, Mitt Romney has urged Republicans to get behind it.

Federal contract workers’ dissatisfaction with $10.10 comes amidst cities enacting higher increases. Seattle is still celebrating (or lamenting, depending on point of view) its increase to $15, the highest minimum wage in the nation. And copycat calls from other municipalities to implement the same are gaining ground.



Vergara Trial Ruling Could Help Educational Equality in the Long Run

Vergara Trial Ruling Could Help Educational Equality in the Long Run

The dust is starting to settle around the landmark Vergara trial, which upended California’s teacher tenure statutes. While teachers unions mull a potential appeal, others are looking to the potential upsides in the ruling, which promises to have far-reaching impacts beyond the Golden State. 

Kevin Welner, director of the National Center for Education Policy, blogging over at Valerie Strauss’ The Answer Sheet, argues that sure, Judge Treu issued a sweeping decision by relying on a narrow strip of hotly contested evidence to rule that teacher tenure policies saddle primarily poor students and students of color with “grossly ineffective teachers.” But by shifting his interpretations of earlier cases, Judge Treu lowered the standard plaintiffs must meet in order to prove that an educational policy infringes students’ fundamental rights to education. If an appellate court agrees with Treu, that could potentially help other legal fights for educational equity. It’s a provocative line of thought for people still reeling from this week’s ruling. But follow along.

Welner gives a key example: academic tracking.

There are likely hundreds of thousands of children in California who are enrolled in low-track classes, where the expectations, curricula and instruction are all watered down. These children are denied equal educational opportunities; the research regarding the harms of these low-track classes is much stronger and deeper than the research about teachers Judge Treu found persuasive in the Vergara case. That is, plaintiffs’ attorneys would easily be able to show a “real and appreciable impact” on students’ fundamental right to equality of education. Further, the harm from enrollment in low-track classes falls disproportionately on lower-income students and students of color. 

This means that the burden would fall upon those who engage in tracking practices (e.g., school districts). They would have to show a compelling state interest in maintaining low-track classes, and they would have to show that their particular practices are necessary in order to further that compelling state interest. Since the plaintiffs will be able to point to highly successful schools that do not track, the defendants would not be able to meet that burden.

This type of analysis could be repeated for a wide array of other policies and practices, such as transportation, school choice, buildings, funding formulas, access to computer technology, enriched curriculum, testing and accountability policies, and segregated and stratified schools. If the relatively anemic facts and evidentiary record in Vergara support the striking down of five state statutes, it’s almost mind-boggling what the future may hold for education rights litigation in California (again, if the appellate courts use similar reasoning).

Read the rest of Welner’s piece, and Judge Treu’s ruling (PDF).

ISIS in Iraq, World Cup Kicks Off and Recession Suicides

ISIS in Iraq, World Cup Kicks Off and Recession Suicides

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush
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