Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Twist in Obamacare Supreme Court case: Weak plaintiffs

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 20 hrs ago

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Minnesota tries softer approach in battling Islamic State

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 13 days ago

    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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  • Unlikely bedfellows unite on criminal justice reform

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    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.)

  • Rand Paul rebuttal: America is 'adrift'

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    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.

  • NYPD work slowdown will be dealt with ‘very forcefully,’ Bratton says

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    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.

  • Police union pushes for cop killings to be included in federal hate crimes law

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    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.

  • NYC mayor Bill de Blasio gets both boos, applause at NYPD graduation ceremony

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio faced a mix of boos and applause as he took the stage to address a graduating class of 884 newly minted NYPD recruits Monday. The speech at Madison Square Garden comes at a tense moment between the mayor and the NYPD. Hundreds of police officers turned their backs on de Blasio at the funeral of slain officer Rafael Ramos over the weekend, a sign of continued tension after police unions pinned blame for the murders of two cops on the mayor’s support of recent protests pushing for police reform. The unions have criticized the mayor for supporting protests in the city after a grand jury decided not to indict a NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island. Ramos and a second officer, Wenjian Liu, were murdered Dec. 20 by a man who appeared to be angry and seeking revenge for the police-involved deaths of Garner and Ferguson teen Michael Brown.

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  • NYC's Mayor Bill de Blasio weathers blowback on police reform after cop slayings

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    In the wake of two cop slayings in Brooklyn this weekend, police unions and their allies are blaming recent calls to bring more accountability to America’s police forces from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Obama administration.

    Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, were shot dead while sitting in their patrol car Saturday afternoon by a man who officials say was out for revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The men’s deaths at the hands of police have caused nationwide protests against police brutality and sparked calls for reform from de Blasio and the Obama administration. These protests intensified after two separate grand juries cleared the policemen of charges of wrongdoing in both cases.

    New York City and national police unions quickly blamed the push for reform — and certain politicians’ rhetoric — for inflaming tensions toward police. De Blasio said after the Staten Island grand jury declined to bring charges against the police officer in the Garner case earlier this month that it was a “painful day” for many New Yorkers, leaving some police officers feeling thrown under the bus.

  • Barbara Scrivner’s long journey to clemency

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    Barbara Scrivner, 48, was called into the warden’s office Wednesday morning in a federal prison in Northern California and given life-changing news.

    Twenty years into her three-decade sentence for selling small amounts of meth, President Barack Obama had decided to let her out of prison, her lawyer told her in a brief and emotional phone call. She started to cry.

    The warden said that she’d be transferred to a halfway house close to where her daughter lives in Fresno, Calif., as soon as possible, to await her June 12 release date.

    “I’m actually real excited,” Scrivner, who was 27 when she started serving her sentence, said Thursday.

    Scrivner did not apply for relief through Clemency Project 2014 — her clemency petition was already pending when it began — but advocates say thousands of federal inmates have similar stories to hers and should qualify for shortened sentences. On Wednesday, Obama also shortened the sentences of seven other drug offenders who met the criteria the clemency project is looking for, and an administration official said more would be on the way.

  • Obama to free 8 nonviolent drug offenders

    Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    President Barack Obama will shorten the sentences of eight prisoners serving time for nonviolent drug crimes and pardon 12 ex-convicts, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

    The act of presidential clemency is traditional around Christmastime, but Obama’s action is part of his administration’s broader push to roll back harsh mandatory drug sentences that imprisoned people for decades for nonviolent drug crimes. The “tough on crime” drug laws contributed to America’s record of locking up a larger share of its population than any other nation in the world.

    Scrivner’s attorney, Sam Kauffman, said his client cried when he called her to tell her she had received the commutation from the president. She still had more than four years of her sentence left to serve.

    “It should have happened a long time ago, but what are you going to do?” Kauffman said.

     In April, Scrivner told Yahoo she wanted to get out of prison to be there for her daughter, Alannah, who was just a toddler when she was sentenced.

     "Ten years is a long time to be in prison. And now it’s been 20 years," Scrivner said at the time. "It just doesn't seem real to me.”