Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News
- Yahoo News6 days ago
Vice President Joe Biden proposed $35 million in grant funding on Wednesday afternoon to help clear the hundreds of thousands of backlogged rape kits off the shelves of police stations and labs.
Biden, who has made countering domestic abuse and sexual assault a cornerstone of his political career, told reporters that testing the backlogged kits helps police track down serial rapists, which provides “the ultimate closure for a woman.”
Advocates estimate that hundreds of thousands of DNA rape kits taken from victims sit in police precincts and labs, waiting to be tested. Money is often an issue, because each kit costs about $500 to test. Natasha's Justice Project spokeswoman Natasha Alexenko says her organization is raising private funds to help clear a backlog of 2,000 rape kits in Alameda County in California.
- Yahoo News6 days ago
Access to hormonal birth control hasn’t typically been a goal of the gay rights movement. But after a near miss on an anti-gay bill in Arizona last week, LGBT advocacy groups are rallying around a Supreme Court birth control case, arguing that gay people’s rights will be collateral damage if the court rules that for-profit businesses do not have to provide contraceptives to female employees.
On March 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from the Oklahoma-based crafts store chain Hobby Lobby that the federal health care law is infringing on its religious liberty by forcing the company to provide contraceptive coverage in its health plan. The case is unusual because the family owned company is arguing that for-profit corporations — not just individuals and religiously affiliated nonprofits — have religious beliefs that should be protected under the Constitution and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
- Yahoo News12 days ago
President Barack Obama will announce a $200 million commitment from nine foundations on Thursday afternoon to bolster the lives of young men and boys of color.
The funding is part of a larger initiative from the White House to bring private businesses, nonprofits and local governments together to intervene in key moments in the lives of young black and Hispanic men to ensure they stay in school and eventually train for and get good jobs.
As Yahoo News first reported, the cause will be a major focus of Obama’s — and the first lady’s — even after he leaves office. "It’s something that's deeply personal to the president and first lady,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president and the Obamas’ closest friend from Chicago. “I’m sure their commitment to this initiative will be a lifelong commitment. This is not something they simply want to do while he’s in office — it will continue.”
- Yahoo News18 days ago
Less than a week after a jury failed to convict Michael Dunn of first-degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, a bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers passed a bill out of committee on Thursday that would expand the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law.
Dunn, 47, was charged with murdering 17-year-old Jordan Davis outside a convenience store last year. Dunn said he feared for his life after he asked Davis and three other teenagers to turn down the music in their car. He claimed he saw a shotgun in their car and then fired 10 shots, three of which hit and killed Davis. No gun was found in the car.
A Jacksonville jury deadlocked on Saturday on a first-degree murder charge against Dunn, convicting him for firing shots at the car while it was fleeing the scene but not for Davis’ murder. Dunn could face 75 years in prison on the lesser charges. The state announced this week that it will retry Dunn for murder.
- Yahoo News26 days ago
Mayor Bill de Blasio has been on the job for only six weeks, but he has already thoroughly alienated one constituency.
Luckily for him, they’re not old enough to vote.
“GO AWAY NO ONE LIKES YOU” and “are u stupid?” were just a few of the angry Twitter messages blasted at the New York City public schools’ official account by the city’s school kids, after de Blasio announced late Wednesday night that schools would not shutter in the face of 14 inches of projected snowfall.
On Facebook, New York kids and others joined a newly created “Impeach DeBlasio” page, whose description is “RIP Snow days.” The page features images of cars completely covered in snow overlaid with de Blasio’s advice to travel safely.
Parents are sensing a new-found interest in the city’s politics among their young, who have been granted only one snow day by de Blasio despite braving six major snowstorms this year.
- Yahoo News29 days ago
Five-year-old Sara dreams nearly every night that she is slowly surrounded by snipers who then open fire, shooting her again and again until she finally dies. Her older sister Farah, just 8 years old, can calmly tell the difference between a rocket and a tank shell, based solely on the sound it makes when fired close to her home.
The sisters — featured in a documentary called “Children of Aleppo” airing on "Frontline" Tuesday evening— live in a rebel-controlled part of the ancient Syrian city that is under near-constant siege from dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime. More than 10,000 children have died in Syria’s bloody civil war, which is stretching into its third year, and another million have been driven from the country as refugees.
- Yahoo News1 mth ago
One-time mentors and fundraisers for President Barack Obama admonished him in an open letter on Thursday for his failure to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The president promised to shutter the prison in 2008 but has blamed congressionally imposed restrictions and diplomatic hurdles for his failure to do so over five years in office. In the letter, a bipartisan group of Chicago lawyers — many who know Obama personally — argue that the president has all the authority he needs now to transfer prisoners out and has no excuse for inaction.
Signatories include Chicago civil rights attorney Judson Miner, who gave Obama his first job out of law school, and Steven Cohen, a top bundler who raised more than $650,000 for the president during his two campaigns. Judge Abner Mikva, who offered a young Obama a clerkship and later became his mentor, also signed the letter. Some Republicans also joined, including former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson.
- Yahoo News1 mth ago
The approaching U.S. deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014 may help free a handful of Guantanamo detainees by the year’s end, with or without President Barack Obama’s blessing.
There are 17 Afghan detainees left in Guantanamo out of a total prison population of 155. Lawyers for some of these men argue that the legal basis for holding them indefinitely without charge will unravel when the U.S. draws down its troop presence from their country at the end of this year as scheduled. Human rights activists, meanwhile, are making the broader and more controversial argument that the U.S. will no longer be at war, period, at the end of 2014, and thus will be compelled to charge or release every Gitmo inmate.
The deadline is clearly on Obama’s mind. “...With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” he said in his State of the Union speech last week. The president thus far has failed to deliver on his 2008 promise to shutter the camp.
- Yahoo News1 mth ago
An unlikely alliance between tea party Republicans and Democrats in the Senate could result in relief for thousands of federal inmates imprisoned under outdated drug sentences that treated crack cocaine dealing as a far greater offense than selling powder cocaine.
But the long-awaited movement on the issue isn’t sweeping enough — or fast enough — for the Obama administration, which announced its plans to relieve crack offenders through the executive power of clemency the same day the Senate passed its bill out of committee.
The Senate bill would make the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act — which narrowed the legal disparity between crack and powder cocaine — retroactive, as well as lowering the minimum number of years drug offenders are automatically sentenced to. That means thousands of inmates hammered with lengthy sentences for dealing as little as five grams of crack under the old laws could soon qualify for release or for shorter sentences.
- Yahoo News1 mth ago
Brian Jensen and Jeromy Manke, a same-sex engaged couple in Nevada, are in the running to win a free trip to New York City, $5,000, and help from a wedding planner to fund their spring nuptials in California.
Who would bankroll their nuptials? An organization that spends far more time defending civil liberties in court than at wedding receptions.
The American Civil Liberties Union—worried that the public thinks the same-sex marriage battle is “over” after the Supreme Court’s twin decisions expanding gay rights last summer—is paying five same-sex couples who live in states that still outlaw the practice to get married.
Jensen and Manke are one of dozens of gay couples competing in the usually staid ACLU’s tongue-in-cheek online contest called “My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding.” Same-sex couples that live in the 33 states that ban gay marriage submit their wedding ideas, photos, and love stories, competing against each other for votes to win cash for their weddings. Five of them will be declared the winners after the contest closes Feb. 16, just after Valentine’s Day.