Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News
- Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News at Yahoo News5 days ago
Starting in 2012, the leader of the most prominent American anti-gay marriage organization unexpectedly began adding a ton of stamps to his passport.
As federal judges struck down gay marriage bans left and right at home, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown appeared at meetings and marches for various anti-gay rights causes in France, Trinidad and Tobago, Russia and Australia — a surprising uptick in travel for the stateside activist. The result: In June, Brown’s group began discussing rebranding itself as the International Organization for Marriage, according to materials from a “March for Marriage” meeting in Washington, D.C.
- Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News at Yahoo News9 days ago
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, singled out a small sheriff’s department in Oklahoma as an extreme example of the over-militarization of local police forces in a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
“I want to make sure we are clear about how out of control some of this is,” an outraged McCaskill said at the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which has given billions of dollars of excess military equipment to local police over the past two decades. “In Dr. Coburn’s state, the sheriff’s office has one full-time sworn officer. One. They have gotten two MRAPs since 2011.”
The jarring image of one small-town police officer lording over two enormous Pentagon-provided armored vehicles ended up in news reports on the hearing, perfectly illustrating concerns about the 1033 program that have been raised since police in Ferguson, Missouri, quelled protests with the help of an armored vehicle armed with a machine gun last month. President Barack Obama announced he’d be reviewing the federal programs that arm local police to address concerns that they are turning local cops into soldiers.
But it turns out the data the senator was relying on was wrong.
- Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News at Yahoo News10 days ago
On a May morning more than two years ago, Rita Lasar and Debra Burlingame waited in silence as the lights dimmed in a movie theater on an Army base deep in Brooklyn, N.Y. The hundreds of seats in the Fort Hamilton theater are, on other occasions, filled with soldiers and their families watching blockbusters. But today, the nearly empty theater has been repurposed to show close family members of 9/11 victims the opening day of the long-awaited trial of the five men accused of masterminding the attacks that killed their loved ones.
Both Lasar and Burlingame lost adored brothers in the Sept. 11 attacks and had waited more than a decade to see the men accused of their murders face justice. Lasar’s brother, Avrame Zelmanowitz, died while waiting for paramedics to rescue his wheelchair-bound co-worker in the North Tower — he didn’t want to leave his friend alone. Burlingame’s brother, Charles Burlingame, was the captain of the American Airlines plane that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon that morning.
- Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News at Yahoo News18 days ago
One freezing day last November in the tiny town of Palestine, Ark., a young man named Jamie Hart climbed into the police department’s Humvee, turned it on, and drove off on a joy ride. The 28-year-old spun the military vehicle around in donuts outside his house on Thanksgiving Day, according to a neighbor.
“It never crossed my mind” that anyone would do that, Palestine Police Chief Stanley Barnes said Wednesday of the incident. The Humvee, which the town of fewer than 700 people got for free through a controversial Pentagon program that gives old military equipment to local police departments, doesn’t have keys. But it’s easy to look up how to start one.
The possibility that the 5,000-pound Humvee might be stolen was so far from Barnes’ mind that it took a week before anyone on the small force noticed it was missing from the police station’s parking lot.
Once Barnes noticed it was gone, he sprang into action.
“We just do what police officers do — we find out who done it,” Barnes said. “People talk.”
- Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News at Yahoo News1 mth ago
Police officers responding to protests in a St. Louis suburb Wednesday night were outfitted in fatigues, wore gas masks and body armor, carried military-style rifles, and were backed by tanklike armored vehicles as they sought to clear the streets.
Tear gas, smoke bomb explosions and the pop-pop-pop of nonlethal projectiles added to the picture, as photographs and video from Ferguson, Missouri, depicted a scene more reminiscent of a war zone than a civil rights protest against the police shooting Saturday of an unarmed teen in the largely low-income Midwestern town of about 20,000 people.
The military appearance of the St. Louis County police prompted an outpouring of responses from veterans and policymakers on social media and in statements. Brandon Friedman, a U.S. Army veteran, tweeted a photo of himself deployed in Iraq next to an image of a police officer in Ferguson. “The gentleman on the left has more personal body armor and weaponry than I did while invading Iraq,” Friedman wrote.
Thousands of federal prisoners set to be released early thanks to a change in drug rules will most likely be quickly deported to their home countries next year.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, a group that controls advisory sentencing guidelines for federal judges, voted last week to shave an average of two years off the sentences of up to 46,000 inmates jailed for drug crimes. The first ones will be released on Nov. 1, 2015.
The group has begun to reverse older policies that sent people away for decades for nonviolent drug crimes, part of a larger criminal justice reform push that has attracted bipartisan support. In 2007, the group lightened sentences for crack offenders. Inmates will have to apply for the sentence reductions with the help of public defenders, and federal judges will have a year to decide who qualifies for early release.
LAWTON, Okla. — Fred Fitch, the three-term mayor of this small city in Southern Oklahoma, has a lot of questions about the 1,200 undocumented immigrant children who arrived at the Fort Sill Army base just north of town last month. He’s a friendly, seemingly reasonable guy, but on a recent Wednesday afternoon, he couldn’t help but indulge in a little gossip about the hottest topic in Lawton.
“Where are these kids getting the money to get to the U.S. border?” he asked in an interview in his loudly decorated office in City Hall, complete with leopard-print couch and shag carpet. “We know that the United States is saturated with drug cartel people — are they the sponsors?”
Fitch, who has a shock of white hair atop a deeply tanned face, adjusts his neon-green tie as he chats about the rumors that are swirling around the kids in Fort Sill. He says he's heard that many are carrying diseases. “You won’t believe the amount of drugs [they’re buying from pharmacies],” Fitch said. “Scabies, head lice — all these kinds of things running rampant in these installations.”
FORT SILL, Okla. — Plastered on the walls of an old Army barracks in Oklahoma are childish drawings depicting the American dream.
One crude picture showed a brown building with an American flag flying on top. The building was labeled “high school” in English with “God Bless America” written next to it in an uncertain scrawl. Another featured a school with a big sign that said "Welcome" next to a smiley face. Other children drew pictures of flowers or messages about Jesus.
But the nearly 1,200 teenagers detained on this military base on the dusty plains of southern Oklahoma aren't likely to realize those dreams any time soon. They are awaiting deportation hearings after having crossed the border on their own, unaccompanied by adults, fleeing their violence-torn home countries in Central America. The Obama administration says that most of them will be deported as soon as the backlogged immigration courts get around to hearing their cases.
Justice Anthony Kennedy had some helpful advice for the White House about how it could still provide birth control to women even after the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the law on Monday.
But the problem is, the Obama administration isn’t interested.
The swing-vote justice sided with the conservative majority on Monday, which ruled 5-4 that craft chain Hobby Lobby and other “closely held” for-profit companies do not have to provide contraceptives to their employees if doing so violates their religious beliefs. The decision means that thousands of the company’s female employees will not have access through their insurance to intrauterine devices and other forms of contraception their bosses object to. The case is the first to uphold a religious freedom right of a for-profit corporation.
Spend more than 40 years running for office, and you get pretty good at it.
Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York likely won himself a 23 rd term in Congress Tuesday night, despite an ethics scandal that’s caused some Democratic politicians to keep their distance, and a recent shake up of the boundaries of his district that has shifted his constituency to be majority Hispanic, instead of African American.
The 84 year-old Harlem powerhouse beat his main primary challenger, state senator Adriano Espaillat by 3 percentage points, the AP reported Wednesday afternoon. The city will continue to count outstanding absentee ballots next week, but it appears Espaillat cannot win even if they go his way. (The state senator says he won't concede until every vote has been counted.) The pair was at times neck and neck in polls in the 13 th district, and Rangel appeared to sweat it on the campaign trail. He told reporters Monday that he would cry himself to sleep if Espaillat pulled off a victory.