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Lawmakers Highlight Tragedy of Food Assistance Cuts

In an op-ed for Politico, two Representatives highlight the recent cuts to food assistance programs, and the damaging effects they will have on the state of the nation: 

The House gutted $16.5 billion from food stamps — our nation’s most important anti-hunger program, which gives low-income families modest aid during tough times. These cuts mean up to three million low-income Americans – largely families with children – can’t buy food.

These cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also eliminate free school meals for 280,000 children. School breakfast or lunch is too often the only complete meal a child can eat all day. We expect our students to compete in a global economy. We expect them to come to school ready to learn — but we conveniently ignore the facts.

Poor nutrition negatively affects students’ academic achievement. Children who are hungry often miss more days at school and, when they do attend, they may have more trouble concentrating. They often have lower test scores.

Right now, 46 million Americans live in poverty, and more than 32 million adults and 16 million children live in food-insecure households. These families struggle every day to make ends meet — particularly as food prices continue to rise. As more and more families are getting by on less and less, food stamps help make groceries more affordable, so parents have more money to pay the rent, gas up their car and meet their children’s other basic needs. Food stamps kept 4 million Americans over the poverty line in 2010, including 2 million children, and lifted another 1.3 million kids above 50 percent of the poverty line. More than any other benefit program.

Read the full article here

 

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Drone Strike Kills 5 in Yemen

The Long War Journal, citing AFP, reports that the first known U.S. drone strike in Yemen in more than a month took place Saturday:

“The U.S. killed five al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters in a drone airstrike in eastern Yemen. The strike is the first in Yemen in more than a month.

The unmanned Predators or Reapers fired a pair of missiles at a vehicle in Al Qotn in Hadramout province earlier today, AFP reported. Five AQAP fighters were killed in the strike.

No senior AQAP leaders or operatives are reported to have been killed in the strike. The identities of those killed have not been disclosed.”

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On Africa Visit, Clinton Focuses On Tackling AIDS

From The Washington Post:

If this small nation, with a per capita income of less than $3 a day and a life expectancy of 53, offers a hopeful model for fighting the scourge of AIDS in Africa, then large and relatively prosperous Uganda shows how quickly progress can run off track.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton saw Malawi’s more promising example Sunday as part of an eight-nation African visit. Last week in Uganda, she highlighted an alarming rise in infection rates there after years when the country was a leader in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. About 23 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are believed infected, and the United Nations has estimated that the region had 1.2 million AIDS-related deaths in 2010.

Read more here

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America Wants Great Equality

Duke professor Dan Ariely writes for The Atlantic

The inequality of wealth and income in the U.S. has become an increasingly prevalent issue in recent years. One reason for this is that the visibility of this inequality has been increasing gradually for a long time--as society has become less segregated, people can now see more clearly how much other people make and consume. Owing to urban life and the media, our proximity to one another has decreased, making the disparity all too obvious. In addition to this general trend, the financial crisis, with all of its fall out, shined a spotlight on the salaries of bankers and financial workers relative to that of most Americans. And on top of these, and most recently, the upcoming presidential election has raised questions of social justice and income disparities, bringing the issues into focus even more.

Check out the piece for more insight 

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How Private Prisons are Profiting From Immigrants

As reported by The Associated Press last week:

Locking up illegal immigrants has grown profoundly lucrative for the private prisons industry, a reliable pot of revenue that helped keep some of the biggest companies in business.

And while nearly half of the 400,000 immigrants held annually are housed in private facilities, the federal government — which spends $2 billion a year on keeping those people in custody — says it isn't necessarily cheaper to outsource the work, a central argument used for privatization in the first place.

The Associated Press, seeking to tally the scope of the private facilities, add up their cost and the amounts the companies spend on lobbying and campaign donations, reviewed more than 10 years' worth of federal and state records. It found a complex, mutually beneficial and evidently legal relationship between those who make corrections and immigration policy and a few prison companies. Some of those companies were struggling to survive before toughened immigrant detention laws took effect.

Read more here

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Details Released for DREAMer Relief Process

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided additional information on Obama’s DREAMer relief process in preparation for the August 15 implementation through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency. Items discussed included:

  • Requestors – those in removal proceedings, those with final orders, and those who have never been in removal proceedings – will be able to affirmatively request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals with USCIS.
     
  • Requestors will use a form developed for this specific purpose.
     
  • Requestors will mail their deferred action request together with an application for an employment authorization document and all applicable fees to the USCIS lockbox.
     
  • All requestors must provide biometrics and undergo background checks.
     
  • Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances.
     
  • The four USCIS Service Centers will review requests.

To read details on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process (DREAMer relief) visit USCIS website HERE.

For a great account on what Obama's move means in real terms for DREAMers, read Mariella Saavedra's post HERE

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Global Warming 'Converted Skeptic' Explains the Switch

Last weekend the New York Times published an op-ed by University of California-Berkeley physics professor, Richard Muller, who said he has changed his professional opinion on the cause of global warming:

“Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

Muller’s announcement sparked a media flurry throughout the week, and NPR’s Science Friday host, Ira Flatow, interviewed him today.  You can listen to the audio recording HERE.

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Millennials and the 2012 Presidential Election

Eboo Patel on Millennials and the 2012 Presidential Election

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DRONE WATCH: An Emerging Drone Culture

Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post takes a look at an emerging “drone culture.”

“There has been far too little discussion of the moral calculus involved in using flying robots as tools of assassination. At the very least, the whole thing should leave us uneasy. Collateral damage — the killing of innocents — can be minimized but not eliminated. And even if only “bad” people are killed, this isn’t war as we’ve traditionally understood it. Drone attacks are more like state-sponsored homicide.”

After also looking at proposals for the domestic use of surveillance drones, and urging a “much-needed debate,” he concludes,

“The idea of robots acting as guardians of public order has become a staple of dystopian fantasy — “Terminator,” “Minority Report,” “The Matrix.” It is our duty to keep that stuff in the movies, where it belongs.”

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DRONE WATCH: Mapping Drone Strikes.

Using data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Guardian has created an interactive map of drone strikes in Pakistan, showing the location of known strikes. Each is marked with a red dot, clicking on it shows the date and number of casualties. According to the data, there have been more than 330 strikes, with estimates of up to 3,247 casualties — including up to 852 civilians. The map is a useful and educational tool.

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