Jessica joined the Sojourners team in September 2012 as the communications assistant. Prior to joining Sojourners, Jessica spent one year as a member of the Episcopal Service Corps in Baltimore. During her year of service, she realized her passion for advocacy and activism.
Growing up as a military child Jessica has lived in many places, but calls North Carolina home. A graduate of Elon University in May 2011, she credits her college’s emphasis on service learning with sparking her interest in social justice.
Jessica enjoys traveling, reading, listening to music, and volunteering around the city.
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The Top 10 Stories of August 15, 2013
“We have reached a state of harder polarization and more dangerous division, with the social fabric in danger of tearing, because violence only begets violence. The beneficiaries of what happened today are the preachers of violence and terrorism, the most extremist groups, and you will remember what I am telling you." Mohamed ElBaradei, former interim vice president and a Nobel Prize laureate and former diplomat who had lent his reputation to selling the West on the democratic goals of the military takeover, wrote in a public letter to the president.
The Top 10 Stories of August 14, 2013
"I was always focused on negotiating for my team but never as good at negotiating for myself." Dawn Lepore, former chief executive at Drugstore.com, in a new Bloomberg report that finds that out of the top executives at each of the companies in the S&P 500 index, only 8 percent were women, and that these women at the top ranks of Corporate America earned 18 percent less than men.
The Top 10 Stories of August 13, 2013
"I feel like I’m stuck in a perpetual nightmare. I can’t seem to adjust to this life. In the Marines, we have a motto that we never leave a man behind. I feel like I’ve been left behind.” Milton Tepeyac, a deported veteran who served eight years as a U.S. Marine, scrapes by on $3 an hour in the northern Mexican city of Hermosillo.
1. Al-Qaeda expands in Syria via Islamic State.
A rebranded version of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate is surging onto the front lines of the war in neighboring Syria, expanding into territory seized by other rebel groups and carving out the kind of sanctuaries that the U.S. military spent more than a decade fighting to prevent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
2. Bulger found guilty in racketeering case.
James "Whitey" Bulger, who ruled this city's violent underworld before eluding capture for 16 years, was convicted Monday in a sweeping racketeering case, including involvement in 11 murders. Mr. Bulger stood grim-faced with his hands clasped in front of him as the verdict was read. The 83-year-old, who has been in federal custody since 2011, faces life in prison at a sentencing scheduled for Nov. 13.
(Wall Street Journal)
3. North Carolina governor signs extensive Voter ID law.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Monday signed into law one of the nation’s most wide-ranging Voter ID laws. The move is likely to touch off a major court battle over voting rights, and the Justice Department is weighing a challenge to the new law, which is the first to pass since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.
4. Racial discrimination in stop-and-frisk.
Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court in New York upheld the bedrock principle of individual liberty on Monday when she ruled that the tactics underlying New York City’s stop-and-frisk program violated the constitutional rights of minority citizens. She found that the city had been “deliberately indifferent” to police officers illegally detaining and frisking minority residents on the streets over many years.
(New York Times)
5. Two powerful signals of a major shift on crime.
Two decisions Monday, one by a federal judge in New York and the other by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., were powerful signals that the pendulum has swung away from the tough-on-crime policies of a generation ago. Those policies have been denounced as discriminatory and responsible for explosive growth in the prison population.
(New York Times)
6. U.S. retail sales data points to improving economy.
A gauge of U.S. consumer spending rose in July at its fastest pace in seven months, a sign of quicker economic growth that could strengthen the case for the U.S. Federal Reserve winding down a major economic stimulus program.
7. Hillary Clinton calls for election reform.
Potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton kicked off a series of speeches on Monday with a call to combat what she called an "assault on voting rights." She spent most of her 45-minute talk to about 1,000 members of the American Bar Association assailing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a significant part of the Voting Rights Act and discussing what she sees as "deep flaws in our electoral system" as it relates to racial discrimination at the polls.
8. Air pollution takes toll on China's tourism.
China, one of the most visited countries in the world, has seen sharply fewer tourists this year — with worsening air pollution partly to blame. Numbers of foreign visitors have declined following January's "Airpocalypse," when already eye-searing levels of smog soared to new highs.
9. Clashes break out in Cairo between pro-and anti-Mursi factions.
Clashes broke out in central Cairo on Tuesday when supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi came under attack as they marched to the Interior Ministry, a Reuters reporter said. Supporters of the new military-installed government hurled stones at the marchers and threw bottles at them from balconies. Police then fired tear gas at the pro-Mursi protesters.
10. Kerry works to shore up relations with Brazil.
Secretary of State John Kerry will seek to allay the concerns of Brazil's top leaders about U.S. surveillance in their country while highlighting the expanding relationship the U.S. is nurturing with the economic powerhouse in Latin America.
The Top 10 Stories of August 12, 2013
Editor's Note: Starting next week, Daily Digest is getting an update! Click HERE to learn more about the change.
“A vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem rather than alleviate it.” Attorney General Eric H. Holder plans to say Monday, according to excerpts of his remarks that were provided to The Washington Post.
The Top 10 Stories of August 8, 2013
"I am good, very excited. It's a big surprise. This opens a path for other Dreamers in Mexico." Maria Peniche, 22, one of the nine activists known as the Dream Nine, who have been released from federal custody after spearheading a campaign against mass deportation.
The Top 10 Stories of August 7, 2013
"Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Human-induced climate change requires urgent action." A headline in a newly released two-page statement by the American Geophysical Union, which represents some 60,000 scientists who study the Earth.
The Top 10 Stories of August 6, 2013
Quote of the Day:
"The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we’ll work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely." Jeff Bezos, in a statement to Washington Post employees after purchasing the paper.
The Top 10 Stories of August 5, 2013
Quote of the Day:
“For the past decade, the U.S. has been able to hide Bagram behind the shield of ongoing military conflict in Afghanistan. What’s happening now is that the shield is disappearing and what’s left is the legacy of the second Guantanamo, which is going to last beyond the Afghan war.” Tina M. Foster, director of the International Justice Network, which represents more than 30 detainees in the jail at Bagram air base outside Kabul, Afghanistan.
The Top 10 Stories of December 18, 2012
Quote of the Day.
"We weren't physically beaten or tortured. A lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed. They made us choose which one of us would be shot first and when we refused, there were mock shootings." Richard Engel, NBC's chief foreign correspondent, on his treatment after a Syrian militia group kidnapped two of his colleagues, him, and their security guard.
The Top 10 Stories of December 17, 2012
Quote of the Day
"Our first task, our first job: caring for our children. If we don't get that right we don't get anything right."President Barack Obama on the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School where twenty children and six adults were killed.
1. Egyptian constitution wins backing in first round.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Mohammed Morsi to power earlier this year, urged voters to approve the draft constitution in a two-day referendum, which will continue Dec. 22.
2. Gun control debate begins to simmer after massacre.
Democrats say meaningful action in the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut must include a ban on military-style assault weapons and a look at how the nation deals with individuals suffering from serious mental illness.
3. Obama, Boehner: movement along the fiscal cliff.
Sources say House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has offered to raise the top income tax rate, affecting Americans who make more than $1 million annually. President Obama, however, wants to raise the top two tax rates, covering taxpayers who make more than $250,000 a year. He says the government needs more revenue to help reduce a national debt that now exceeds $16 trillion.
4. Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels.
One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power — and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet — is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California's electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants.
5. To start immigration reform, study Texas solution.
A good starting point for a legislative package is the so-called Texas Solution. Although I don’t agree with all points on the list, it’s a start. And, importantly, it includes a verifiable, temporary guest worker program. In addition, we should start a documentation process that includes a photograph, biometric data like a fingerprint and other identifying information.
6. U.S. plans for possibility that Assad could lose control of chemical arms cache.
As Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power steadily weakens, U.S. officials are increasingly worried that Syria’s weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of Islamist extremists, rogue generals, or other uncontrollable factions.
7. A Syrian airstrike kills Palestinian refugees and costs Assad support.
Government forces for the first time hit Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee neighborhood with airstrikes on Sunday, killing at least eight people in the Yarmouk district of Damascus and driving dozens of formerly pro-government Palestinian fighters to defect to the rebels, fighters there said.
(New York Times)
8. Obama expected to nominate Kerry to head State Department.
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, sources familiar with the process said on Saturday.
9. EPA cracks down on soot pollution.
Over objections from the oil industry and power companies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued new air quality rules today to slash the amount of fine-particle soot allowed from smokestacks, wood-burning stoves, and diesel vehicles.
10. Syrians sounding alarm over growing food shortages.
With bread scarce in major cities and towns, infant formula in extremely short supply, and fuel costs skyrocketing, civilians in war-ravaged Syria face an acute food crisis that might end in starvation for many, according to activists from around the country of 22 million.
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