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A Sobering Infographic for Transgender Day of Remembrance

A Sobering Infographic for Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, the day when we remember all of the lives lost to transphobic violence. This year has been especially deadly for trans women; Aniya Parker’s murder last month in Los Angeles was just one of growing list of women who’ve been violently killed this year because of their gender identity. Over the summer, 28-year-old Zoraida Reyes’s body was found in a parking lot behind an Orange County Dairy Queen. In total, 12 transgender women have been killed in the United States in the past 12 months.

Statistics show that trans women of color were the victims of 67 percent of all hate-motivated homicides of LGBT people in 2013. Over at BuzzFeed, Dominic Holden detailed the frightening scenario in Ohio, where four transgender women have been killed in just 20 months. 

transohio_112014.jpg 

Tiffany Edwards, 28, is one such woman who was killed in June. And as Holden explains:

Though violence against transgender people is widely considered a national epidemic by LGBT advocates, the state of Ohio has seen a particularly disturbing trend. Tiffany Edwards was the fourth transgender woman killed in Ohio in the last 20 months. Three of the victims were transgender women of color. The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) also reports 14 incidents of non-fatal hate-motivated attacks on transgender people throughout the state in 2013. Many attacks go unreported. Most recently in Ohio, on Nov. 3, Candice Rose Milligan, 33, was hospitalized after being beaten in broad daylight by a group of men who allegedly yelled, “That’s a dude in a dress,” the Toledo Bladereported.

Read more at BuzzFeed

The Obama Years, in Two Budget Charts

The Obama Years, in Two Budget Charts

You wouldn’t know it by the tenor of the recent gubernatorial elections, but states’ pockets have grown fat under President Obama. That’s because his two signature economic initiatives—the 2009 Recovery Act and the 2010 Affordable Care Act—pumped tens of billions of dollars into state coffers, giving state leaders the chance to bolster services without raising revenue. At least at the local level, you’d think fiscal conservatives would love the guy. 

The National Association of State Budget Officers published a report today outlining spending trends. To my eye, here’s the takehome: States have largely stopped making new investments in services, so what their residents do and don’t get from government has been driven primarily by federal choices. First, take a look at this graph from the report, which shows federal and state spending trends over the past three fiscal years.

 state_budgets_graph1.jpg

So overall state spending fell in fiscal year 2012—marking the first decline in total state spending in the 27-year history of this annual report. That was a big, historic change. It corresponed with the gradual sunsetting of the 2009 Recovery Act. Remember that? The reviled stimulus spending that eked out of Congress at a level much lower than economists of all stripes recommended? Well, the initial surge of stimulus spending ran out, federal funding to states plummeted by nearly 10 percent and overall state spending fell for the first time in a generation. The White House and others have argued that the stimulus averted a full-on depression. But imagine if it had been funded at the levels economists recommended? 

Anyway, that didn’t happen. But in fiscal year 2014, total state spending shoots back up. This coincides with the onset of Obamacare—or specifically, the expansion of Medicaid, which has put an additional $41.8 billion into state budgets this fiscal year. Here’s what that looks like for Medicaid programs themselves, again in a graph from the state budget directors’ report.

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This is important not only because it has allowed more than 8 million poor people to get health insurance. That’s happened while barely affecting state spending on the program. Understand that Medicaid has been and remains the biggest ticket item in any state’s budget. It accounts consistently for roughly a quarter of overall state spending; K-12 education comes in second, at about 20 percent. Every dollar the states don’t spend on Medicaid, is money they can invest elsewhere—in higher education, transportation, tax breaks. 

So the Obama years have been very good to state budgets. The feds have financed massive public investment in local services that have staved off collapse for both the overall economy and for residents in the greatest need. But they have done so over the kicking and screaming objections of a great many local elected officials. Funny, that.

Could Pres. Obama’s Action on Immigration Help the Fight for $15?

Could Pres. Obama's Action on Immigration Help the Fight for $15?

It hasn’t been lost on observers that Pres. Obama will announce his executive action on immigration reform tonight, at the same time as the Latin Grammy Awards are getting ready to broadcast live on Univision. As a result, the network is delaying the start of the event in order to carry the speech live. And “chances are high,” writes TIME’s Michael Scherer, “that the leading lights of Latin pop will follow up [Obama’s] words with on-stage celebrations of the President’s actions.” That’s not serendipity; that’s great marketing.

Less obvious though is the fact that Obama’s executive order is also coming at a time when, in the face of a stalled Congress, municipalities and states are moving on their own to increase the minimum wage. Four Republican states were the latest to capitulate, due to citizens’ ballot demands. And protesting Walmart workers who previously demanded an unspecified “living wage,” now demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage—like fast-food workers. 

So how do these local, people-powered fights for a higher minimum wage dovetail with Obama’s executive action on immigration reform? The details of Obama’s plan aren’t yet known but NYU economist Daniel Altman and others have argued that increasing the minimum wage requires immigration reform, including bringing undocumented workers into the formal labor force. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez touted a similar argument in an October speech, linking immigration reform with raising the wage floor for all Americans (or at least, stalling its downward push). But the impact of immigration (and, reform) on wages remains a contested point, certainly among the GOP. Some are considering another government shut down as one response to Obama’s immigration reform.

Look for Obama’s remarks tonight to include making as many as 5 million people eligible for work permits, the AP reports. Morgan Winsor of International Business Times explains the economic impact on states like California, New York, Illinois and Texas in particular. 

How to Watch President Obama’s Immigration Announcement

How to Watch President Obama's Immigration Announcement

President Obama will be making a big statement on immigration Thursday night from the White House’s East Room. On Friday he will be going to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to rally support. But major English language networks won’t be airing the announcement—CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox will all air their scheduled programming. 

If you’re online, you can tune in to White House Live at 8 p.m. Eastern. If you’ve got cable, don’t worry, because MSNBC, CNN and Fox News will be airing the announcement. And, if you speak Spanish, you can tune in to Univision—which is postponing the Latin Grammys (Calle 13—who’s up for nine awards—will be performing, so you might want to stay tuned to Univision afterward!).

President Obama took to Facebook Wednesday to confirm his schedule:

It’s likely that the President’s move will potentially benefit nearly five million people on a temporary basis, without a pathway to citizenship. The president will also be seeking to expand security on the southern border. 

FSU Shooting, Buffalo Braces for More Snow, Jobless Claims Continue to Drop

FSU Shooting, Buffalo Braces for More Snow, Jobless Claims Continue to Drop

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

  • Republicans are pretty livid over Obama’s expected announcement on immigration this evening. 
  • NASA publishes a rather gorgeous video that simulates how carbon dioxide spreads in the atmosphere. It almost makes something so deadly look a little too beautiful. 

*Post has been updated since publication to indicate that TV Land, not NBC, will stop running reruns of “The Cosby Show.” 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Ferguson’s Black, Non-Black Arrest Rate Disparity Isn’t the Worst in the U.S.

Ferguson's Black, Non-Black Arrest Rate Disparity Isn't the Worst in the U.S.

Blacks in Ferguson are arrested at three times the rate of those who aren’t black, but according to a USA Today analysis of FBI arrest data, nearly 1,600 police agencies in the U.S. actually have higher arrest rate disparities than the St. Louis suburb. 

Those statistics point to larger systemic social issues and don’t provide smoking gun evidence of racial discrimination on the part of police, USA Today reporter Brad Heath writes, but they do beg explanation. 

USA Today’s Heath writes of the paper’s findings:

• Blacks are more likely than others to be arrested in almost every city for almost every type of crime. Nationwide, black people are arrested at higher rates for crimes as serious as murder and assault, and as minor as loitering and marijuana possession.

• Arrest rates are lopsided almost everywhere. Only 173 of the 3,538 police departments USA TODAY examined arrested black people at a rate equal to or lower than other racial groups.

Read the USA Today story for more.

Obama Order May Give DACA Parents Some Relief

Obama Order May Give DACA Parents Some Relief

President Obama will make his much-awaited announcement to take executive action on immigration Thursday, according to two Congressional aides speaking under the condition of anonymity. The aides say that he’ll head to Las Vegas on Friday. He’ll present more details of the order at Del Sol High School in front of an audience of immigrants and their advocates.

This won’t be the first time Obama addresses immigration at Del Sol High School. The president was there nearly two years ago outlining another reform plan. He promised then that he would introduce his own legislation if Congress didn’t move quickly. The House did introduce and pass a bill—which eventually died in the Senate in 2013.  

The president’s plan may expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, by widening age requirements for eligibility. Although DACA isn’t a path to citizenship, it protects immigrants from deportation for two years at a time and it provides work permits for that time. Obama may also outline a plan to extend deportation relief to the parents of children who are U.S. citizens or Green Card holders. It’s unclear whether the parents of DACA recipients will be eligible. According to one immigration advocate who spoke on condition of anonymity, DACA recipient Astrid Silva and her father have been invited to attend Obama’s primetime address on Thursday, a signal that deferred action may be cover parents. The president is also expected to expand visas for high-skill tech workers and increase security along the southern border. Obama’s plan is expected to benefit up to five million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. 

The president’s plan will likely fall far short of what immigrant advocates have been demanding. In a statement, National Day Laborer Organizing Network head Pablo Alvarado said, “100% of immigrants deserve equality, and regardless of what the President says or when he says it, we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to defend and advance our rights.”

But Obama’s plan is already being dogged by Republicans. According to Reuters, House speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, has resorted to implying that Obama is governing as a reigning monarch: “If ‘Emperor Obama,’” said Steel, “ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue and many others.” 

Want to Know When the Wilson Indictment Decision Comes Down?

Want to Know When the Wilson Indictment Decision Comes Down?

An online document created by @nettaaaaaaaa and @deray will tell you how to get a direct text to your phone when the St. Louis grand jury announces its decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown.

Framed by an open letter, noindictment.org provides a wealth of resources for activists, including a link to planned protests in the St. Louis area. Here’s a quick look at the linked map for just some of what’s planned:

11-18-14-ferguson-3.jpg

Noindictment.org site features a list of safe spaces in the St. Louis area, a link to proposed rules of engagement for police, a list of local hospitals and clinics, and a lot more. 

Keystone XL Defeated (For Now), Airbag Recall, Another Accusation Against Cosby

Keystone XL Defeated (For Now), Airbag Recall, Another Accusation Against Cosby

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

  • Six die as frigid temperatures grip the United States.  
TAGS: Morning Rush

75 Planned Actions for Darren Wilson Grand Jury Decision

75 Planned Actions for Darren Wilson Grand Jury Decision

There’s still no announcement on whether a St. Louis grand jury has decided to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Mike Brown—although the Missouri governor’s decision Monday to declare a preemptive state of emergency may signal that an announcement will be made soon.

There are going to be at least 75 planned actions in response to the grand jury’s decision, and the Ferguson National Response Network Tumblr is aggregating them. Most actions are taking place in public parks, outside of courthouses and on college campuses; users can click on individual actions for more information.

So far, the site’s listing actions in the following states and the District of Columbia:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • D.C.
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois*
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Organizers planning additional actions submit details on a separate document

*Post has beeen updated to include Illinois.

Keystone Vote in Senate, Bob Marley Brand Weed, Cosby Rape Joke

Keystone Vote in Senate, Bob Marley Brand Weed, Cosby Rape Joke

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

  • In an attack condemned by Palestinian President Abbas, four Israelis (including three from the United States) were killed inside a synagogue by two Palestinians.
  • I don’t know what Prana energy is, but Willow Smith and Jaden Smith are pretty into it
TAGS: Morning Rush

Gov. Jay Nixon Orders State of Emergency in Missouri

Gov. Jay Nixon Orders State of Emergency in Missouri

Missouri governor Jay Nixon this afternoon issued a 30-day state of emergency ahead of a St. Louis grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. Read the full text of the order, here, which charges the St. Louis County Police Department with Ferguson’s security. The executive order is fueling speculation that the grand jury will not indict. According to reports, representatives of Ferguson police did not attend today’s press conference.

For Trans Immigrant Detainees, Deportation Is Sometimes the Better Option

For Trans Immigrant Detainees, Deportation Is Sometimes the Better Option

On any given day, some 75 transgender immigrants are locked up in immigration detention, Fusion found. For some of those individuals, their experiences while in detention—including rampant sexual abuse, solitary confinement and a lack of access to medication—make life so intolerable that some choose expedited deportation over fighting to stay in the U.S., despite the fact that many immigrated to the U.S. to flee violence and discrimination in their home countries.

Transgender detainees account for 20 percent of confirmed cases of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities, Fusion found in its six-month investigation. Fusion reporters Cristina Constantini, Jorge Rivas and Kristoffer Ríos told the story of Bamby Salcedo:

When immigration authorities took Bamby Salcedo to the San Pedro Detention Center in Southern California, she worried about staying safe and healthy. Salcedo was taking T20, an HIV antiretroviral drug that she injected twice a day. It was critical she didn’t miss a dose because she would build resistance to the drug, she says doctors told her.

As soon as she arrived at the facility, she alerted the center’s medical staff to her needs. The drugs were a matter of life and death, she says. It took the the medical staff two weeks to get Salcedo the antiretroviral treatment she needed.

According to police and medical reports obtained by Fusion, Salcedo experienced abuse and harassment like many other transgender women experience in detention. When a male detainee forced himself on her in a bathroom stall, Salcedo defended herself. He punched her and fractured her nose.

But when Salcedo speaks about her nightmare in detention, she considers herself lucky and says it could have been worse. She remembers her friend Victoria Arellano who was held at the same San Pedro facility and died after she was allegedly denied AIDS medication during her time in detention.

Read the rest at Fusion.

After Corrections Commissioner’s Indictment, Mississippi Private Prisons Under New Scrutiny

After Corrections Commissioner's Indictment, Mississippi Private Prisons Under New Scrutiny

Mississippi’s longest serving corrections commissioner, Chris Epps, has been indicted on 49 counts of bribery, money laundering and more over at least a seven-year period. The indictment, details of which were publicly disclosed in early November, threatens to cast wider scrutiny on the state’s prison system and private prisons in particular. In 2012 according to The New York Times, a federal judge called the conditions at one privately run facility “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions.” 

Mississippi has the second highest incarceration rate in the country.

hThe Epps story is developing. Read the latest in The New York Times.

UNC, Harvard Sued for Discriminating Against Asians in Admissions

UNC, Harvard Sued for Discriminating Against Asians in Admissions

Edward Blum, the one-man shop behind attacks on voting rights and affirmative action, is back with his latest lawsuit. Under a newly formed non-profit called Students for Fair Admissions, Blum’s Project on Fair Representation has filed suit against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Harvard University over their use of race in their admissions policies.

Both universities, the suits allege, discriminate against Asian applicants in favor of lesser-qualified African-American and Latino students. According to the complaint, Harvard violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by intentionally discriminating against applicants on the basis of race, and by engaging in a practice the suit refers to as “racial balancing.” Year after year, Harvard’s racial composition between whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians stays roughly the same, “even though the application rates and qualifications for each racial group have undergone significant changes over time,” the complaint reads (PDF). The suit argues that this is “the deliberate result of systemwide intentional racial discrimination.”

According to the complaint (PDF), UNC fails to comply with standards set forth by the latest affirmative action case to come before the Supreme Court—Fisher v. Texas. Incidentally, Blum’s Project on Fair Representation is the group that located Abigail Fisher, the white plaintiff who sued the University of Texas when she was denied admission. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided against re-hearing Fisher’s case. The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Fisher v. Texas compels UNC to end its current race-conscious admissions process, the lawsuit filed today argues.

This spring, Blum put out a call for plaintiffs who’d been denied admission to UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvard and the University of Wisconsin. His websites prominently featured Asian faces, though in an interview with Colorlines, Blum denied that he was targeting Asians or using them as a wedge to divide different groups of color in a thorny race issue.

Watch: Darren Wilson Arrests Man for Recording Him

Watch: Darren Wilson Arrests Man for Recording Him

In a video posted on YouTube Friday, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is heard refusing to divulge his name on camera—while telling the man who’s recording him, “If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I’m gonna lock your ass up.”

The video was shot in 2013 and posted by Mike Arman. It ends abruptly, after which Arman was, indeed, arrested. The Guardian reports that Ferguson Police Department’s spokesman issued an e-mail stating that he didn’t think the officer in the video was Wilson. The accompanying police report, however, lists Darren Wilson as the reporting officer—and illustrates several discrepancies. In a separate case, a St. Louis jury is deciding whether to indict Wilson in connection with killing Mike Brown in August.  

Photographing or filming police officers in the line of duty is a constitutional right

Doctor Dies of Ebola in Nebraska, DEA Raids NFL, Norovirus Aboard Princess Cruise Ship

Doctor Dies of Ebola in Nebraska, DEA Raids NFL, Norovirus Aboard Princess Cruise Ship

Here’s what I’m reading up on:

  • The Sierra Leonean doctor, Martin Salia, who was being treated for Ebola in Nebraska dies
  • Unclassified e-mails from the State Department are hacked
  • One hundred seventy two travelers aboard a Princess cruise ship are infected with norovirus aboard the exact same ship where 129 people were infected just seven months ago. 
  • What are you doing tonight? Might I suggest watching the Leonids (if you’re not on the East Coast). 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Obamacare’s Racial Justice Wins, by the Numbers

Obamacare's Racial Justice Wins, by the Numbers

The Supreme Court and John Boehner not withstanding, open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange resumes this weekend. And if outreach workers around the country recreate last year’s enrollment success, the rates of uinsured among blacks and Latinos in particular will have been dramatically reduced.

More than a fifth of African Americans and nearly 42 percent of Latinos lacked coverage in 2013, according to one survey the federal government cited in a recent progress report on the Affordable Care Act. The two communities account for nearly half of the nation’s uninsured.

African Americans have seen the most dramatic change since the health law launched. As of June 2014, the uninsured rate among African Americans had dropped by nearly a third. More than 1.7 million people got covered, either through Medicaid or through the exchange.

Progress among Latinos is also impressive, if a bit more complicated. More than 2.6 million Latinos gained coverage, which cut the community’s uninsured rate by 18 percent. Latinos, however, continue to represent a far disproportionate share of the uinsured. The health law bars undocumented immigrants from participating in the exchange, but the real challenge has been for mixed-status families. People who qualify for coverage but have undocumented workers in their families have both been confused about eligibility and, frankly, terrified of engaging a government that has deported more than 2 million people under President Obama’s watch.  

The survey did not break out data for other non-white communities due to the small sample size.

Open enrollment begins on Nov. 15 and continues until Feb. 15. For more information on buying new coverage or renewing existing coverage for 2015, check out HealthCare.gov or your state’s own insurance portal.

States Offer Varying Protection for Youth to Put Juvenile Records Behind Them

States Offer Varying Protection for Youth to Put Juvenile Records Behind Them

The juvenile justice system in the United States was first conceived 115 years ago as an alternative to the adult criminal justice system, one that emphasized rehabilitative support over punitive discipline. Privacy for young people involved in the system was prioritized. That meant limited access to juvenile records, and options for youth to embark on adulthood without being held back by acts they committed as children. The original goal was to protect children from being branded as criminals and importantly, juvenile adjudication has been considered as distinct from a criminal conviction. 

In 2014, the landscape varies greatly across the country, but by and large, states have moved away from those founding ideals. A new report released today by the Juvenile Law Center (PDF) offers the first nationwide evaluation of its kind of how states handle juvenile records. The Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia-based public interest law firm which advocates for young people in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, found that many states not only provide members of the public—including employers, media, schools, and government agencies—access to juvenile records, some states also even force youth to proactively inquire as to whether or not they may expunge their records.

While most states protect confidentiality and access to juvenile records while proceedings are ongoing, once a juvenile is adjudicated as delinquent—the juvenile justice equivalent to being found guilty of an offense—access broadens. In Arizona, for example, report authors wrote, “all juvenile records are public unless a court order is issued to protect a particular record.” Just nine states—California, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Rhode Island—shield juvenile records from public access.

When it comes to sealing, which broadly refers to who beyond youth courts have access to juvenile records, and expungement, which refers to the destruction of records, policies and practices also vary widely. 

“There is a misperception that juvenile records are confidential and automatically destroyed when a youth is no longer under court supervision. The reality is that juvenile records are widely accessible long after a young person has become an adult,” Juvenile Law Center attorney and report author Riya Saha Shah said in a statement. Not only that, argues the Juvenile Law Center, but limiting young people’s options to put their pasts behind them doesn’t improve public safety and only makes it harder for young people to move on to productive adult futures. 

Go to the Juvenile Law Center for its interactive scorecard and read their review in full here (PDF).

Remezcla’s New Video Explores the Politics of the Dance Floor

Remezcla's New Video Explores the Politics of the Dance Floor

A new video published on Remezcla features music by Mexico City’s Fvded and the Cyborg Dance Collective—a group borne out of Haiti’s Cite Soleil, one of the poorest slums in the poorest country in the Americas, which is also home to dubious foreign aid schemes.

An accompanying essay authored by senior editor Andrea Gompf explains some of what’s at stake:

[T]he dancers needed a demo reel, and D.F. producer Fvded (aka Jesus Torres) needed a music video for his track “Barreto.” At first glance, the artists may seem like strange bedfellows, but in a way they make sense — both Cyborg Dance and Fvded belong to a generation that understands that the dance floor can be just as political as any protest. That a fight to change the world can take place at a party, with a bottle of mezcal or Betancourt rum.

Check out the video, which was directed by Daniel M. “Luky” Torres, and read Gompf’s entire essay over at Remezcla

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