Posts by Liz Goodwin
Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 15 days ago
FLINT, Mich—When Janay Young received a free Brita water filter earlier this month from the state government she immediately called the company’s customer service line to ask if it filtered out lead. (It does, but Young still has her doubts.) And though the city and state promise Flint water is now safe for bathing, Young, a nurse’s assistant, still heats up 10 bottles of water on the stove to give her toddler a bath every day.
“Over the past two years the government has said it’s safe to drink this water. But all along the water was testing high for certain things. And they were lying to us,” Young said.
Why should she believe them now?
But few in Flint believe anything the government says to them anymore.
Edwards started a web site with his students to provide the people of Flint with information about the water, since residents’ trust in what government is telling them is “seriously broken.”
Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 18 days ago
FLINT, Mich — Jennifer Mason was running a bath for her toddler son, Oliver, when her eyes began to sting. The tub smelled like an over-chlorinated swimming pool.
It was just a couple of days after the city of Flint switched from importing its water from Detroit to using the nearby Flint River for its water source to save money in April of 2014. “We could immediately tell the water quality was different,” Mason, a high school English teacher, said. Some days the tap water smelled earthy, like a lake. The next day it would give off a burning chemical odor. Another time it reeked of rotten eggs.
Local and state officials kept insisting the water was safe, ignoring complaints from residents that it smelled and tasted bad and in some cases looked red or brown. Despite these official assurances, Mason and her husband, Tim, bought filters for the bathtub, shower and kitchen tap. They began drinking only bottled or filtered water, and made sure their kids, 2-year-old Penelope and 4-year-old Oliver, never tasted a drop of the Flint River.
“The only thing I really do with the water now is wash clothes and flush the toilet,” Young said.
The two were among the more than 50 journalists who stood in a slow-moving line at the United Nations in New York to obtain media passes to see former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answer questions at a hastily arranged press conference with what wound up being a delayed start time. Some reporters waited more than two hours in a corridor in a side building before reaching the lone, overwhelmed U.N. employee issuing passes permitting entry into the U.N., which has stringent media access policies and can take days to credential reporters under normal circumstances.
That Clinton would choose to have her first press conference in nearly six months inside such a fortified citadel — and on just a few hours' notice — could be seen as emblematic of the pre-campaign she’s run so far. Her zeal for privacy — and control — has repeatedly landed her in hot water over the course of her public life and is once again at issue in the revelations about how she structured her email during her time as secretary of state.
The other half of her correspondence — more than 30,000 emails that Clinton and her aides deemed private — she deleted.
The argument centers on whether four words in the more than 1,000-page act should be interpreted literally, which would render millions of people who live in the dozens of states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges ineligible for federal subsidies to help them purchase insurance.
Wednesday’s oral arguments were filled with dry technical analysis of specific passages in various indices of the law — but they also contained some fireworks. The liberal justices battered the lawyer challenging the subsidies, Michael Carvin, while conservative justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia took on Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
The chief justice, however, stayed away from the fray. He spoke only a few times. Once, Roberts told Carvin that he was giving him 10 additional minutes to speak. At another time, he jokingly defended Carvin from the liberal justices’ attacks.
“That’s not what you said previously when you were here last time in this never-ending saga,” Kagan said to laughs.
Roberts stepped in. “Mr. Carvin, we’ve heard talk about this other case. Did you win that other case?” he asked to laughter. Carvin said he did not, and the issue did not come up again.
In recent weeks, media reports have raised questions about whether the four men and women from Virginia who were recruited by a libertarian think tank to challenge the law have the right to do so. The plaintiffs’ shaky footing could prove a mark against them on Wednesday — if any of the justices decide to pursue it.
Petitioners must show they are suffering direct harm from a law in order to sue, which is referred to as standing. In this case, all four plaintiffs said the federal subsidies available to them from Obamacare pushed them over the law’s income threshold and forced them to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. They want those subsidies struck down, based on their literal interpretation of the Affordable Care Act, which suggests tax credits should have gone only to people who live in states that set up their own health care exchanges.
Assuming at least one of the four has standing and the case can go forward, it’s still possible that the doubts and questions swirling around them will hurt their cause, according to some legal experts.
“I would be surprised if somebody doesn’t raise it,” said David Levine, professor at UC Hastings College of Law.
A new strategy that will be tested out in the Twin Cities of Minnesota this fall uses a “community intervention team” of religious and business leaders to respond to concerns of radicalization—not law enforcement.
The nascent plan is one of many experiments supported by the federal government’s Countering Violent Extremism strategy. Leaders from the federal program’s three pilot cities — Boston, Los Angeles and the Twin Cities — are meeting for a three-day summit at the White House this week to discuss how best to fight back against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) and other terror networks’ increasingly sophisticated recruiting techniques.
Last year in Minnesota, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger spoke to relatives and friends of a few of the 20 young Somali men who had left the country to become foreign fighters and asked them what they thought went wrong. Everyone’s stories varied, except for one key detail: They had sensed a change in their loved one before he left the Twin Cities to fight with terrorists. They just didn't know whom to tell, or were scared to involve law enforcement officials.
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Only one issue in Washington right now could bring together the Koch brothers’ top lawyer, an environmental activist, the former head of the NRA and Sen. Al Franken.
Criminal justice reform.
In a city best known for dysfunction and discord, the issue has stood out as a rare area of common ground between Democrats and Republicans.
And at a panel on reforming the criminal justice system hosted by the Constitution Project advocacy group on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the bipartisan array of speakers seemed genuinely nonplussed by the harmony across an otherwise gaping political divide.
Van Jones, the former Obama administration official and liberal commentator, was seated next to Mark Holden, Koch Industries’ general counsel and the face of the conservative mega-donors’ efforts to lower incarceration rates in the country. (The Koch brothers are planning to spend a reported $889 million during the 2016 election cycle, a figure that puts their operation in the same financial ballpark as the two political parties themselves.)
Likely 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul delivered his own populist response to the State of the Union Tuesday night, calling for term limits for Congress, lower taxes for everyone and help for impoverished Americans in inner cities.
“The best thing that could happen is for us to once and for all limit the terms of all politicians,” Paul began, after declaring that America is "adrift."
The Republican from Kentucky quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying he has observed “two Americas” living separately in the nation, divided by poverty and race. “My trips to Ferguson, Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago revealed what I call an undercurrent of unease. There is a tension,” he said.
But Paul said strengthening social programs — the president’s suggestion — would not help that problem. “Those of us actively pursuing the American dream simply want government to get out of the way,” the senator said.
He also promised to put forward a constitutional amendment that would prohibit Congress from passing any law that exempts members of Congress.
“We have set up a privileged class in Washington, and Americans are sick and tired of it,” Paul said.
Any New York City police officers refusing to make arrests or issue traffic violations to express their dissatisfaction with Mayor Bill de Blasio will face forceful consequences, the department’s top cop said Monday.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a press conference that while he is not convinced the NYPD's rank-and-file is engaging in an organized work slowdown, he is actively investigating a dramatic drop in arrests in recent weeks and will deal swiftly with any intentional slacking off.
“We’re watching that very closely,” Bratton said Monday of the dip in summonses and arrests. He’s ordering a “comprehensive review of what has been happening,” drilling down to the precinct and squad car level to determine who is working and who may be dropping the ball.
The number of summonses in the city is down 90 percent for the week ending Sunday, according to the Daily News, while arrests are down 56 percent compared to the year before.
“We’re not in a public safety crisis in New York City, by any stretch of the imagination,” Bratton said.
In the wake of the murder of two New York City police officers and a national debate about policing, the National Fraternal Order of Police is asking for the Congressional hate crimes statute to be expanded to include crimes against police officers. The union has more than 300,000 members.
Violence against police officers that is motivated by anti-police bias should be prosecuted as a hate crime, the nation’s largest police union is arguing in a letter to President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders this week.
“Right now, it’s a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their skin, but it ought to be a hate crime if you attack someone solely because of the color of their uniform as well,” said Jim Pasco, the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police.
“Enough is enough! It’s time for Congress to do something to protect the men and women who protect us,” Chuck Canterbury, the president of the union, said in a statement Monday. The group has long lobbied for harsher punishment for those who harm law enforcement officers.
According to FBI statistics, the majority of hate crimes are motivated by racial bias.