Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Does Obama need congressional approval to bomb Syria?

    If President Barack Obama chooses to unilaterally launch a military attack against Syria in retaliation for the government's alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians last week, he is certain to face criticism that he's overstepping his executive authority.

    The president has already run up against resistance from some members of Congress, who argue that under the 1973 War Powers Resolution and the U.S. Constitution he must seek the body’s full approval before taking military action against the country.

    The disagreement is part of a larger and thorny constitutional and legal argument over how far Congress can go to check the chief executive's war powers and what types of military actions constitute war.

    Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., has said it would be “unquestionably unconstitutional” for Obama to bomb the country without Congress’ approval, and he has authored legislation to withhold funds from the effort. Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia also has suggested the president

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  • Obama outlines plan to stem skyrocketing cost of college

    President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to tackle the skyrocketing cost of college by tying billions of dollars in federal student aid to how well colleges rank on affordability and other measures at a speech at the University at Buffalo on Thursday morning.

    “Too many students are facing a choice they should never have to make: Either they say no to college . . . or you do what it takes to go to college but then you run the risk of not being able to pay it off because you've got so much debt,” Obama said.

    The rise in college costs has far outpaced the growth in middle-class wages, especially at public four-year universities, where costs have gone up 250 percent in the past 30 years, according to the College Board. Obama’s plan, which would require authorization from a deeply divided Congress, would tie $150 billion each year in federal student aid to a ratings system the Department of Education will develop by 2015.

    Colleges that are more affordable, serve more students from poorer

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  • NYC mayoral candidate De Blasio runs ad against ‘stop and frisk’ featuring his son

    Surging liberal New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio released an ad on Monday opposing the city police force’s “stop and frisk” policy, saying he worries his own son would be a target of the stops.

    De Blasio, who is white and is married to a black woman, says in the TV ad that he and his wife have counseled their teen son that he could be stopped by New York City police officers and searched.

    “Chirlane and I have talked to Dante many times about the fact that some day he will be stopped,” De Blasio says in the 30-second ad.

    He says that even though “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers” do not know what it is like to be stopped and searched by police, he and his family understand the experience.

    A federal judge recently ruled that the city’s "stop and frisk" program is unconstitutional because it leads to “indirect racial profiling.”

    The city is appealing the decision and says that stopping and searching millions of predominantly black and Hispanic people has led to a big drop

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  • New research: College ‘hook up’ culture doesn’t lead to more sex

    Are today’s college students operating in a sex-fueled romantic wasteland, where casual, loveless sex has entirely replaced candlelit dinner dates with a special someone?

    That’s the picture painted by some recent news stories on the campus “hook up culture,” which is loosely defined as students engaging in casual sex with people they don’t expect to become serious romantic partners. But a new nationally representative study casts doubt on that interpretation, suggesting that contemporary college students actually have sex slightly less frequently than they used to, albeit with partners they’re not as likely to have a relationship with.

    “It is by now pretty well understood that traditional dating in college has mostly gone the way of the landline, replaced by ‘hooking up’—an ambiguous term that can signify anything from making out to oral sex to intercourse — without the emotional entanglement of a relationship,” wrote the New York Times’ Kate Taylor in a recent 5,000-word cover story

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  • Scott Walker fires state official for comparing unauthorized immigrants to 'Satan'

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dismissed a state official this week for saying unauthorized immigrants reminded him of Satan in a Facebook rant that involved other politicians.

    Steven Krieser, a top official at the state’s Department of Transportation, wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post (saved here by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that “a stream of wretched criminals continues to flow unabated to the north” and that illegal immigration is crushing the social safety net system of some Southern states.

    “You may see Jesus when you look at them,” Krieser said. “I see Satan.”

    Walker fired Krieser within two hours of being informed of the post, according to the Journal Sentinel, saying his views were unacceptable.

    "Effective immediately, he has been removed from his position at the Department of Transportation," Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement provided to Yahoo News. "These comments are repugnant, completely unacceptable, and have no place in Governor Walker’s

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  • UConn bans professor-student relationships

    Trysts between students and professors are no longer allowed at the University of Connecticut.

    The state university adopted a new policy this week that bans romantic relationships between undergraduates and faculty, as well as between graduate students and faculty members who have influence on students' careers, for fear the relationships could become exploitative.

    “The power difference between faculty and staff as compared to students means that any romantic relationship between a faculty or staff member and a student is potentially exploitative or could at any time be perceived as exploitative,” UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement.

    It’s unclear how many other universities explicitly bar the relationships. The American Association of University Professors endorsed such policies in 1995, saying that sexual consent from students is “suspect” because of the power differences between them and professors.

    Any professors currently in relationships with their students have three

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  • What makes people cross the border illegally?

    Fear of being caught and deported does not appear to have a significant deterrent effect on people who are considering crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, a new study finds.

    The study, published in the American Sociological Review’s August issue, raises questions about the central premise of some immigration reformers’ arguments that putting up more border barriers and enacting stricter punishments for illegal immigration will prevent future waves of migrants.

    The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform package backed by President Barack Obama in June that would legalize most of the country’s unauthorized immigrants and increase security spending on the southern border by about $46.3 billion over 10 years. It’s unclear if the Republican-controlled House will take up similar legislation.

    The study, which relies on surveys of Mexican men from 2007 and 2008, shows that people’s conception about how likely it is that they would be caught by immigration authorities is not a

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  • The perils and perks of speaking out as a juror

    Only two of the six jurors in the controversial George Zimmerman trial have spoken out so far about their experience, despite intense public interest in how and why they declared the neighborhood watchman not guilty in the death of unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But jury experts say the panelists' hesitance to step forward makes sense, given the intense emotions kicked up by the racially charged case and the risks associated with going public as a juror.

    On Friday, the Zimmerman trial's sole nonwhite juror, who identified herself only as "Maddie," told Good Morning America in an interview that she believes the neighborhood watchman "got away with murder," which is sure to anger the 32 percent of Americans who said in a recent poll that they strongly disagreed with the jury's not guilty verdict. Florida Judge Debra Nelson forbade the media from reporting the names of the all-female panel in part for their own protection, but the jurors are allowed to step forward on their own
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  • Unlikely snag for D.C. Circuit Court nominee: Abstinence sex ed

    Cornelia Pillard, a Georgetown law professor who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is facing a campaign to tank her nomination from a group that boosts abstinence-only sex education for young people.

    Pillard was questioned closely by Republicans during her first confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning about an article she wrote in 2007 that suggested that abstinence-only sex education may violate the equal protection rights of women.

    The federal government provides millions of dollars each year to fund abstinence-only sex education that tells young people not to have sex until marriage. The government also funds so-called comprehensive sex ed, which encourages the use of contraception.

    "You were arguing that if a state decides to teach abstinence-only, that that decision by state and local officials in your judgment may well be unconstitutional and it is an

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  • Steve King: Most young immigrants aren't valedictorians, have 'calves like cantaloupes' for drug smuggling

    House immigration Hawk Steve King, R-Iowa, argued in a colorful interview that the nation's unauthorized immigrants should not be legalized because some of them are drug mules.
    King said in an interview last week with Newsmax that he does not buy the argument that unauthorized immigrants are often stellar students who were brought to the country illegally through no fault of their own.
    "It's true in some cases," he said. "But for every one who is a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they have calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
    King added, "Those people would be legalized with the same act."
    The tea party conservative said he doesn't believe it's possible to distinguish between immigrants who are criminals and those who are not, so he will not accept an immigration reform bill that legalizes anyone. (Studies suggest that first generation immigrants, regardless of their legal status, are
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