Sue Sturgis – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Wed, 14 Nov 2018 14:35:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png Sue Sturgis – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 Charleston church massacre puts spotlight on South Carolina’s gun violence problem http://likethedew.com/2015/06/30/charleston-church-massacre-puts-spotlight-on-south-carolinas-gun-violence-problem/ http://likethedew.com/2015/06/30/charleston-church-massacre-puts-spotlight-on-south-carolinas-gun-violence-problem/#respond Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:40:58 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=60737 5,991 Percent by which that exceeds all U.S. combat deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined: 15 Rank of South Carolina among all states for aggravated assaults with a firearm: 2 For the rate of women murdered by guns: 4]]>
South Carolina, where last week a white supremacist gunned down nine African Americans in church, has one of the highest gun murder rates in the nation. Yet state lawmakers are eager to further weaken its already lax gun regulations. (Graphic <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/SouthCarolinaGunViolence1.pdf">from the Center for American Progress</a>.)
South Carolina, where last week a white supremacist gunned down nine African Americans in church, has one of the highest gun murder rates in the nation. Yet state lawmakers are eager to further weaken its already lax gun regulations. (Graphic from the Center for American Progress.)

Flag-map_of_SC_bullet_holes

Number of people killed by gun violence in South Carolina from 2001 to 2010 alone: 5,991

Percent by which that exceeds all U.S. combat deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined: 15

Rank of South Carolina among all states for aggravated assaults with a firearm: 2

For the rate of women murdered by guns: 4

For the rate of law-enforcement officers feloniously killed with guns: 4

For gun homicides overall: 7

Percent by which South Carolina’s rate of gun murders exceeds the national average: 39

Of 100 possible points on a curved grading system, number earned by South Carolina in the latest state gun law scorecard from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: 15

Rank that puts South Carolina among the states: 34

Number of background checks South Carolina requires for private gun sales: 0

Number of proposals currently making their way through the South Carolina legislature that would change the state’s gun laws: 16

Of those, number that would roll back gun laws even further: 12

Month in which a Republican state senator from South Carolina introduced a bill to make every “able-bodied citizen” over the age of 17 part of South Carolina’s “unorganized militia”: 3/2015

Month in which the South Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill to abolish the requirement for concealed-carry applicants to undergo background checks: 4/2015

Year in which the South Carolina Senate plans to take up that legislation after deciding more hearings were needed: 2016

 

(Click on figure to go to source. Facing South intern Aidan Coleman provided reporting assistance.)

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Historic win for voting rights in Virginia http://likethedew.com/2013/06/03/historic-win-for-voting-rights-in-virginia/ http://likethedew.com/2013/06/03/historic-win-for-voting-rights-in-virginia/#respond Mon, 03 Jun 2013 19:13:14 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=51418

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) unveiled a plan this week to automatically restore voting rights to people convicted of nonviolent felonies.

The move won praise from civil rights advocates who have long called for reform in the state, one of several with unusually harsh felon disenfranchisement laws.

“For too long, Virginia has been successful in implementing a law designed to target minority voters: one in five African-American adults in the state is disenfranchised,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastañaga. “This expedited process is a move towards repairing some of this damage. We look forward to working with the Governor as he implements the new system.”

Written into the state constitution, Virginia’s felon disenfranchisement law denies voting rights for life to individuals with felony convictions, giving the governor sole power to restore voting rights for individual felons who apply after a two-year waiting period.

Percent of African Americans Disenfranchised
Map source: The Sentencing Project

Virginia is one of only four states to permanently disenfranchise all individuals with past felony convictions unless they go through the onerous process of seeking restoration of their rights. The others are Florida, Kentucky and Iowa.

On May 29, McDonnell announced a plan to automatically restore voting rights for nonviolent felons in Virginia who complete their sentence, probation or parole; pay all court costs, fines and restitution and meet all court-ordered conditions; and have no pending felony charges. The plan is set to take effect on July 15.

McDonnell said in a statement:

I got my start in state public service in Virginia as a prosecutor. I strongly believe the foremost obligation of any government is to provide for the security and protection of its citizens. When someone commits a crime they must be justly punished. That is why, during my time in the General Assembly and as both attorney general and now governor, I have championed major reforms to ensure that sentences are appropriately set by law to punish those who commit serious offenses and to ensure that those convicted of offenses serve the sentence imposed.

However, once these individuals have served their time and fully paid for the offenses they committed, they should be afforded a clear and fair opportunity to resume their lives as productive members of our society. America is a land of opportunity and second chances; a land where we cherish and protect our constitutional rights. For those who have fully paid their debt for their crimes, they deserve a second chance to fully rejoin society and exercise their civil and constitutional rights.

McDonnell asked Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly to meet with stakeholders to develop procedures for administering the program.

Among those applauding McDonnell’s action was Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a conservative Republican running against former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe to replace McDonnell in November. Cuccinelli had opposed changing the law in the past, but he changed his position after the release this week of a report from the bipartisan Rights Restoration Advisory Committee he commissioned in March.

“Many people in our communities have committed certain low-level, nonviolent offenses in the past, paid their restitution and debt to society, and have gone on to live law-abiding lives,” said Cuccinelli. “We needed to simplify the process for those who want to regain their civil rights so they can return to full participation in society.”

Nearly 6 million U.S. citizens — 4 million of them out of prison and living and working in the community — are unable to vote because of state laws disenfranchising felons. As is the case with Virginia’s, those laws have a disproportionate impact on people of color, with 13 percent of African-American men across the U.S. having lost their right to vote because of them — seven times the national average.

A study by The Sentencing Project released last year found there were three states where one-fifth or more of African Americans are disenfranchised because of felony convictions. Besides Virginia at 20 percent, they are Kentucky at 22 percent and Florida at 23 percent.

At the national level, legislation has been introduced in the last several Congresses to restore voting rights in federal elections to disenfranchised felons who’ve been released from prison. In the current Congress, the proposal is part of the Voter Empowerment Act of 2013, introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Robert Brady (D-Pa.).

While civil rights advocates are lauding McDonnell’s action, some are calling on him to go further by automatically restoring voting rights to all Virginia citizens with past criminal convictions who are living and working in the community.

“Allowing Americans with past criminal convictions to have a voice in their community will reap great benefits in terms of public safety and a more robust democracy,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

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Follow the drone money http://likethedew.com/2013/03/12/follow-the-drone-money/ http://likethedew.com/2013/03/12/follow-the-drone-money/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 19:15:52 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=49875 3/6/2013 Hours Paul spoke before he was forced to stop for a bathroom break: almost 13]]>

mq-9_reaper_drone_usafDate on which U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) launched a talking filibuster protesting John Brennan’s appointment as CIA director, and raising concerns about the Obama administration’s policy on the domestic use of unmanned aircraft known as drones against U.S. civilians: 3/6/2013

Hours Paul spoke before he was forced to stop for a bathroom break: almost 13

Days after Paul launched the filibuster that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent him a letter stating that the answer to the question of whether the president has “the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil” is “no”: 1

Date on which U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina scolded fellow Republicans who supported Paul’s filibuster, saying he doesn’t “remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone”: 3/7/2013

Amount in campaign contributions Graham has received from the political action committee and employees of Lockheed Martin, a leading drone maker: $45,600

Amount his campaign received from Northrop Grumman, Boeing and General Atomics, other leading drone makers: $38,000

Amount in campaign contributions Graham has received from defense industry PACs overall: $242,550

Amount in campaign contributions Paul has received from defense industry PACs: $0

Number of military drones the U.S. deployed in 2002: fewer than 200

Total number the U.S. has deployed since then: 11,000

Estimated number of CIA drone strikes that have taken place overseas, a policy that Paul was not protesting in his filibuster: 410 to 426

Estimated number of civilians killed in those strikes: 423 to 944

Estimated number of children killed: 170 to 199

Number of members of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, also known as the “drone caucus”: 49

Amount in campaign contributions members of that caucus received from political action committees associated with drone manufacturers from 2011 through mid-2012: $2.3 million

Between 2005 and 2012, amount in contracts the federal government awarded for drones: at least $12 billion

Factor by which the drone market is expected to grow over the next decade: 2

Number of companies that are now in the drone business: more than 1,000

Number of private-sector and government requests to fly drones that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved since 2007: 1,428

Number of police departments that have asked the FAA for permits to fly drones: 12

Number of commercial drones that the FAA predicts will be flying in domestic airspace by 2017: 10,000

Under a law signed last year by President Obama, date by which the FAA has to draw up rules regulating how law enforcement, the military and others may use drones in U.S. airspace:  9/2015

Date on which Charlottesville, Va. because the first city to pass an anti-drone resolution: 2/4/2013

Price of a drone-proof hoodie being sold by the British company Stealth Wear, which also offers drone-proof scarves and burqas: $481

(Click on figure to go to source.)

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In North Carolina, school resegregation by charter? http://likethedew.com/2013/01/25/in-north-carolina-school-resegregation-by-charter/ http://likethedew.com/2013/01/25/in-north-carolina-school-resegregation-by-charter/#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2013 20:35:49 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=49098

North Carolina could soon see a dramatic increase in the number of charter schools, with as many as 150 of the public-private hybrids opening across the state next year.

But new research from Duke University suggests the charter school boom will result in greater racial imbalance in the state’s public education system — and that can have negative educational consequences for students.

North Carolina limited the number of charter schools that could operate in the state to 100 until 2011. That’s when the General Assembly — with Republicans controlling both the House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction and embracing a school-choice agenda — lifted the cap.

Black student exposure to white students
From The Civil Rights Project at UCLA – source for the chart: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey Data. Data prior to 1991 obtained from the analysis of the Office of Civil Rights data in Orfield, G. (1983). Public School Desegregation in the United States, 1968-1980. Washington, D.C.: Joint Center for Political Studies. Click here to download the full report, “Southern Slippage: Growing School Segregation in the Most Desegregated Region of the Country” by Genevieve Siegel-Hawley and Erica Frankenberg (Published: 9/19/12).

Charter schools are K-12 schools that are publicly funded but privately run, are exempt from some regulations that traditional public institutions must follow, and are attended by choice rather than by assignment. Though operated as nonprofits, some are managed by for-profit corporations.

Since North Carolina lifted its cap, applications for new charter schools have soared, with one charter advocate recently telling The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. that the cap removal was “sort of like seeing a dam break.”

Charter school advocates, whose ranks include President Obama as well as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), tout them as bastions of educational innovation and excellence. But research raises questions about those claims.

An authoritative 2009 study by Stanford University researchers found that 37 percent of charter school students showed poorer academic gains than their counterparts in traditional public schools. Only 17 percent of charter school students experienced academic gains that were significantly better than their traditional public school students, while 46 percent showed no difference.

That study, which looked at charters in 16 states including North Carolina, also found that the learning gains of African-American and Latino charter school students were significantly worse than their counterparts in traditional public schools.

Students with disabilities have also experienced problems in charter schools. In New Orleans — the only place in the country where a majority of students attend charter schools as a result of policy changes made in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — some charters have failed to adequately serve special-needs students, which sparked the filing of a federal lawsuit against the school system.

Now new research suggests another problem with charters: They increase racial isolation, which can harm educational quality.

Last week, researchers at Duke University in Durham, N.C. released an update of their earlier study on racial and economic disparities in the state’s public school system. They found that the racial balance in North Carolina’s public schools has remained steady over the past seven years, ending the previous decade’s trend of growing racial disparity.

However, they also found that charter schools are much more likely than traditional public schools to be racially unbalanced. According to a an announcement about the study from Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy:

Whereas 30 percent of regular public school students attended a racially unbalanced school (one with less than 20 percent or more than 80 percent minority enrollment), more than 60 percent of charter school students attended a racially unbalanced school.

Mecklenburg County, N.C., whose single public school system has the highest number of students enrolled in charter schools of any county the state, is also among the counties with the greatest racial imbalance in their schools, according to the Duke researchers.

The Duke study also found that students in North Carolina schools — both charters and traditional public institutions — are increasingly separated by family income. Looking at the percentage of students eligible for free lunch in schools within each of the state’s 100 counties, the researchers discovered that imbalance by economic status has increased steadily since 1994-95.

“These disparities are important because research shows they can have negative educational consequences for students,” said Helen Ladd, a Sanford School professor and one of the study’s authors.

Schools serving a disproportionately African-American, Latino or low-income student body tend to have teachers with weaker credentials in terms of teaching experience, degrees from competitive colleges, and regular teaching licenses or National Board Certification, the Duke researchers note. In addition, students who attend racially isolated schools miss out on opportunities to interact and learn from with students from different backgrounds.

Charles Clodfelter, a co-author of the Duke study, called the disparities “among the most pressing civil rights issues of our time.”

What’s happening in North Carolina is taking place in a national context of growing school segregation. A study released last year by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA found that while residential segregation was declining nationwide, school segregation for black students remains very high across the United States.

That research also found that segregation is increasing most dramatically in the South, which in the past has led the nation in school desegregation efforts. The changes now underway in North Carolina’s public schools suggest that — without a concerted effort toward integration — that trend won’t be reversing any time soon.

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Will the Supreme Court gut the Voting Rights Act? http://likethedew.com/2012/11/20/will-the-supreme-court-gut-the-voting-rights-act/ http://likethedew.com/2012/11/20/will-the-supreme-court-gut-the-voting-rights-act/#comments Tue, 20 Nov 2012 19:56:31 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=44316 3 Number of states covered in whole by the VRA's Section 5, the target of the challenge, which requires the Justice Department to approve any changes to election rules before implementation: 9]]>

Number of days after the 2012 election that the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Shelby County, Ala.’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law that aims to protect racial minorities from discrimination at the polls: 3

Number of states covered in whole by the VRA’s Section 5, the target of the challenge, which requires the Justice Department to approve any changes to election rules before implementation: 9

Of those states, number in the South: 7

Number of specific counties covered by Section 5: 57

Of those counties, number in the South: 45

Number of townships also covered by Section 5, all of them in Michigan and New Hampshire: 12

Of the voting rules changes considered by the Justice Department under Section 5, percentage that have been denied: 1

Year in which Congress last authorized Section 5 for another 25 years in an overwhelming vote: 2006

Of the 11 states of the former Confederacy, number that passed voting restrictions since the 2010 election that would make it harder for minority citizens to cast ballots: 8

Date on which the Justice Department invoked the Voting Rights Act to block South Carolina’s new voter ID law from taking effect: 12/23/2011

Date on which a three-judge panel unanimously held that Florida could not slash the period for early voting, citing the Voting Rights Act: 8/16/2012

Date on which another three-judge panel unanimously ruled that Texas’ new state legislative and congressional districts diluted minority voting strength, thus violating the Voting Rights Act: 8/28/2012

Date on which yet another three-judge panel unanimously blocked Texas’ new voter identification law, the strictest in the nation, citing the Voting Rights Act: 8/30/2012

Number of Republican state attorneys general who are supporting Shelby County’s challenge to Section 5, which is financed by the Project on Fair Representation, a Virginia nonprofit also involved in the Supreme Court challenge to affirmative action: 6*

Number of times to date that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the VRA’s Section 5: 4

Date by which the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in the case, titled Shelby County, Ala. v. Eric Holder: 6/2013

* The attorneys general from the Southern states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, as well as those from Arizona and South Dakota.

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Impact of voter suppression efforts less than feared http://likethedew.com/2012/11/01/impact-of-voter-suppression-efforts-less-than-feared/ http://likethedew.com/2012/11/01/impact-of-voter-suppression-efforts-less-than-feared/#comments Thu, 01 Nov 2012 15:21:50 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=43492 report from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice. "Laws in 14 states were reversed or weakened. As a result, new restrictions will affect far fewer than the 5 million citizens we predicted last year."]]>

Paul Weyrich - Undertaker for the American Dream by DonkeyHoteyVoting rights advocates have successfully pushed back against a national effort to restrict Americans’ ability to cast a ballot, with far fewer people disenfranchised than feared.

“Strikingly, nearly all the worst new laws to cut back on voting have been blocked, blunted, repealed, or postponed,” according to a new report from NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice. “Laws in 14 states were reversed or weakened. As a result, new restrictions will affect far fewer than the 5 million citizens we predicted last year.”

Since January 2011, at least 180 bills to restrict voting were introduced in 41 states. Thirty-four states introduced photo ID laws, 17 introduced proof of citizenship requirements, 16 introduced bills to limit registration, and nine introduced measures to cut back on early voting. There were also numerous efforts to systematically purge voters from the rolls and to challenge eligibility of registered voters.

But citizens, voting rights groups, courts, the Department of Justice, and public officials fought back and won many critical victories.

Restrictive photo ID requirements have been blocked in three states, including South Carolina and Texas, and vetoed in five, including North Carolina.

Meanwhile, punitive regulations of voter registration drives have been permanently blocked in Florida, where cutbacks to early voting have also been mitigated.

The Department of Justice played a key role in the pushback, formally objecting to restrictive voting laws in Florida, South Carolina and Texas. It has also delayed and may challenge Mississippi’s new voter ID law.

The courts have also been a critical factor, with virtually every one that considered voting restrictions finding in favor of the voters. In all, 11 decisions in eight states including Florida, South Carolina, and Texas blocked or blunted restrictive voting laws.

There were also some surprising victories against harsh voting limits, such as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) refusing to sign restrictive voter ID measures into law and instead introducing several amendments to reduce their burden on voters without ID. The legislature adopted most of McDonnell’s proposals, which he said were important for “making sure we do not stand in the way of legitimate voting” and complying with the Voting Rights Act.

“In the end, the bulk of the most onerous laws that would have made it harder for Americans to vote will not be in place for the 2012 elections,” according to the report.

But despite the important victories by voting rights advocates, there are still new restrictions in place for the 2012 election — a total of 16 laws and two executive actions in 13 states. Among them are new ID requirements in five states including Tennessee and Virginia; limits on early or absentee voting in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia; and restrictions on voter registration in three states including Texas. In addition, Florida is one of two states where it’s now harder for citizens with past criminal convictions to have their voting rights restored.

“In short — despite the tremendous victories in public squares, statehouses, and courthouses — not all damage has been averted,” the report concludes.

It also warns that the battle over voting rights is likely to resume in statehouses across the country next year.

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Southern lawmakers earn low grades for efforts to address income inequality http://likethedew.com/2012/10/07/southern-lawmakers-earn-low-grades-for-efforts-to-address-income-inequality/ http://likethedew.com/2012/10/07/southern-lawmakers-earn-low-grades-for-efforts-to-address-income-inequality/#comments Sun, 07 Oct 2012 22:51:36 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=42734 Though the South is the region of the United States with the greatest concentration of income inequality, its representatives in Congress are doing a poor job of addressing the problem.

The Institute for Policy Studies released a report this week that grades federal lawmakers on 40 legislative actions over the past two years that either helped the most affluent or the poorest of their constituents. They ranged from a bill to establish a "Buffett Rule" minimum tax rate for wealthy Americans to legislation raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.

Of the states with the most uneven income distribution, only one -- Massachusetts -- has senators and representatives who earned an overall average "A" score. The 13 Southern states* earned an average score of C-. Of those 13 states, 10 have among the highest income inequality index scores nationwide, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.

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Though the South is the region of the United States with the greatest concentration of income inequality, its representatives in Congress are doing a poor job of addressing the problem.

The Institute for Policy Studies released a report this week that grades federal lawmakers on 40 legislative actions over the past two years that either helped the most affluent or the poorest of their constituents. They ranged from a bill to establish a “Buffett Rule” minimum tax rate for wealthy Americans to legislation raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.

Of the states with the most uneven income distribution, only one — Massachusetts — has senators and representatives who earned an overall average “A” score. The 13 Southern states* earned an average score of C-. Of those 13 states, 10 have among the highest income inequality index scores nationwide, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.

Inequality Report Card
Institute for Policy Studies‘ Inequality Report Card: Click to see how your representatives did.

“Members of Congress have the capacity to make sure all Americans, not just a privileged few, share in the wealth that we all together create,” says study co-author Scott Klinger. “With this new report card, voters can see for themselves how well their elected lawmakers are meeting that responsibility.”

Among the findings:

  • Republicans make up the entire list of 11 senators who got an “F.” They include John Boozman of Arkansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.
  • Republicans also make up the entire list of 48 representatives who got an “F.” They include Sandy Adams of Florida, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Kevin Brady of Texas, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Michael Conaway of Texas, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Renee Elmers of North Carolina, John Fleming of Louisiana, Kay Granger of Texas, Tim Griffin of Arkansas, Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Rich Nugent of Florida, Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi, Pete Olson of Texas, Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, Bill Posey of Florida, Martha Roby of Alabama, Phil Roe of Tennessee, Dennis Ross of Florida, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Austin Scott of Georgia, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Steve Womack of Arkansas.
  • Three of the six Democratic senators most friendly to the interests of the 1% most affluent Americans are from the South: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Jim Webb of Virginia.
  • Six of the 11 most 1% friendly Democratic representatives are from the South: John Barrow of Georgia, Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, and Mike Ross of Arkansas.
  • None of the five Senators who earned A+ scores by doing the most to bridge the U.S. economic divide are from the South. Of those 14 representatives who earned an A+, only three are from the South: Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, and Hank Johnson of Georgia.

“The point of this report card is not just to name and shame,” writes report co-author Sarah Anderson at Huffington Post. “We also aim to draw attention to the many creative proposals for restoring fairness that deserve more support.”

Two of the pending bills on the IPS list would raise revenue for human needs by taxing Wall Street transactions, while the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget would protect social programs by reducing military spending and raising taxes on speculative investments.

“These innovative ideas challenge the oft-asserted notion that austerity is our only viable option,” Anderson observes.

For a copy of the report, and an interactive version of the inequality report card map above, click here.

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The South faces growing school segregation http://likethedew.com/2012/09/29/the-south-faces-growing-school-segregation/ http://likethedew.com/2012/09/29/the-south-faces-growing-school-segregation/#comments Sat, 29 Sep 2012 18:07:40 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=42458 Despite declining residential segregation for black families in the United States, school segregation for black students remains very high -- and it is increasing most dramatically in the South, which has led the nation in desegregation thanks to the victories of the civil rights movement.

Those are among the findings of research released last week by the Los Angeles-based Civil Rights Project, which found persistent and serious increases in segregation of public-school students by race and poverty. The changes are most dramatic in the South and the West, where youth of color now constitute a majority of public school students.

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Despite declining residential segregation for black families in the United States, school segregation for black students remains very high — and it is increasing most dramatically in the South, which has led the nation in desegregation thanks to the victories of the civil rights movement.

Those are among the findings of research released last week by the Los Angeles-based Civil Rights Project, which found persistent and serious increases in segregation of public-school students by race and poverty. The changes are most dramatic in the South and the West, where youth of color now constitute a majority of public school students.

Black student exposure to white students, South and Nation
Black student exposure to white students, South and Nation.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey Data. Data prior to 1991 obtained from the analysis of the Office of Civil Rights data in Orfield, G. (1983). Public School Desegregation in the United States, 1968-1980. Washington, D.C.: Joint Center for Political Studies.

“These trends threaten the nation’s success as a multiracial society,” says project co-director Gary Orfield.

The project released three separate studies looking at school segregation in the nation overall and in the South and West specifically. Among the key findings for the South:

  • The South is a majority-minority region in terms of school enrollment, second only to the West as the nation’s most diverse, with whites making up 46.9 percent of the South’s students.
  • Latino students account for almost the same share of the South’s school enrollment (23.4 percent) as black students (25.9 percent).
  • In 1980, just 23 percent of black students in the South attended intensely segregated schools, defined as those with 90 to 100 percent minority students. By 2009-2010, that number had risen to 33.4 percent — close to the national figure of 38.1 percent.
  • The share of Latino students attending intensely segregated minority schools has increased steadily over the past four decades, from 33.7 percent in 1968 to 43.1 percent in 2009. Today more than two out of five Latino students in the South attend intensely segregated schools.
  • Black students experience the highest levels of exposure to poverty in nearly every Southern state, while in the rest of the United States Latino students experience higher exposure to poverty.

The report also looks at racial segregation in schools in the South’s metro areas. It found that black students in the Raleigh, N.C. area had the highest exposure to white students, though that exposure is on the decline due to the ending of a longstanding socioeconomic diversity policy by the previous school board’s Republican majority. Tampa, Fla. and Memphis, Tenn. have experienced sharp increases in school segregation, while black-white exposure in schools is on the rise in two places where it has historically been lowest: Birmingham, Ala. and New Orleans.

The researchers offer several South-specific recommendations to reverse the troubling trends, including continued or new court oversight of the region’s school districts, the development and enforcement of comprehensive post-unitary plans, and making a strong commitment to pursuing voluntary integration policies.

The Civil Rights Project is also concerned that the issue of school segregation is not getting attention in the current presidential election.

“We are disappointed to have heard nothing in the campaign about this issue from neither President Obama, who is the product of excellent integrated schools and colleges, nor from Governor Romney, whose father gave up his job in the Nixon Cabinet because of his fight for fair housing, which directly impacts school make-up,” Orfield says.

A supporter of the civil rights movement, George Romney was named secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by President Nixon and proposed an ambitious housing program to promote desegregation. But his plan was met with hostile reactions from local communities and a lack of support from Nixon, who pressured Romney to resign.

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On Appalachia Solidarity Day, remembering a mountain hero http://likethedew.com/2012/09/18/on-appalachia-solidarity-day-remembering-a-mountain-hero/ http://likethedew.com/2012/09/18/on-appalachia-solidarity-day-remembering-a-mountain-hero/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2012 18:36:49 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=42254 Larry Gibson, a renowned leader in the campaign to end mountaintop removal coal mining, passed away Sunday while working at his home on West Virginia's Kayford Mountain, the ancestral Raleigh County home he fought so hard to protect. He was 66.

Gibson died of a heart attack -- not an altogether surprising fate for someone who lived with the constant stress he suffered.

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Larry Gibson CryingLarry Gibson, a renowned leader in the campaign to end mountaintop removal coal mining, passed away Sunday while working at his home on West Virginia’s Kayford Mountain, the ancestral Raleigh County home he fought so hard to protect. He was 66.

Gibson died of a heart attack — not an altogether surprising fate for someone who lived with the constant stress he suffered.

This afternoon, activists from across Appalachia and beyond will assemble outside the White House for Appalachia Solidarity Day — an event Gibson helped organize — to call on President Obama and other political leaders to end the destructive mining practice. This evening they will gather at All Souls Church to hear from spiritual leaders from many faith traditions and from residents of Appalachia affected by mountaintop removal. Both events will also honor Gibson.

At the start of 1986, Gibson and his family were living in the woods on the lowest part of Kayford Mountain, looking up at the densely forested mountain peaks that surrounded them. But that year, the coal companies began blowing up the land to get at the coal below. Today, their home is the highest point around, surrounded by more than 7,500 acres of almost otherworldly ruin.

The coal companies say there are dozens of coal seams on his land, worth an estimated $650 million to the industry. But Gibson refused to sell the place where he was born, and where more than 300 of his relatives have been buried going back generations. In 1992, he turned his property into a land trust.

“There’s not enough money that’s been printed or made that can buy this place,” Gibson said in the Earthjustice video below. “Some things money shouldn’t be able to buy.”

But just because the land was protected doesn’t mean Gibson was. Angry coal industry supporters who wanted him gone ran him off the road, shot up his trailer, burned down his cottage, shot his dog.

Still, Gibson refused to give up. He hosted countless visitors to his property, which offered a rare view of the breathtaking destruction wrought by surface mining. He gave numerous media interviews and even testified before the United Nations. He once walked across West Virginia to raise awareness of mountaintop removal, and he was arrested many times while protesting the practice.

All the while, the violence against Gibson continued. This past April, vandals broke into his cabin, ransacked it, stole antiques and other personal items, and destroyed the solar panels that powered the place. Yet Gibson refused to take the attack personally.

“This attack is not directly on Larry Gibson, the attack is about the issue at hand,” he wrote in the newsletter for his Keeper of the Mountains foundation, which he started in 2004 to support Appalachian mountain communities. “When they attack me, they attack you — that’s what they’ve done here. You might not even know it, but you’d been attacked because of what you believe in, because you’re following the issue of mountaintop removal and coal.”

Gibson’s family members — wife, Carol, sons Cameron and Larry Jr., and daughter, Victoria — ask that anyone wishing to express condolences consider donating to the foundation; contributions can be made online here. A public memorial service is also being planned.

The short video below by Earthjustice gives a glimpse into Gibson’s life, and the place he fought for so hard. To learn more about mountaintop removal and the effort to stop it, click here.

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Chick-fil-A’s history of workplace discrimination http://likethedew.com/2012/08/02/chick-fil-as-history-of-workplace-discrimination/ http://likethedew.com/2012/08/02/chick-fil-as-history-of-workplace-discrimination/#comments Thu, 02 Aug 2012 22:28:40 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=41212 In the debate raging over Chick-fil-A's position on gay rights, some defenders of the Georgia-based fast-food chain have claimed that despite Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy's statements against same-sex marriage and the company's generous funding of anti-gay groups, the outspokenly Christian corporation doesn't discriminate against workers.

But in fact, the company has been sued at least a dozen times for employment discrimination...

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In the debate raging over Chick-fil-A’s position on gay rights, some defenders of the Georgia-based fast-food chain have claimed that despite Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy’s statements against same-sex marriage and the company’s generous funding of anti-gay groups, the outspokenly Christian corporation doesn’t discriminate against workers.

But in fact, the company has been sued at least a dozen times for employment discrimination, according to Forbes magazine.

eat more anywhere but Chick-fil-aOne of the cases involved Aziz Latif, a former Chick-fil-A restaurant manager in Houston, who sued the company in 2002 because he was fired a day after refusing to participate in a group prayer to Jesus Christ at a company training program. Latif is a Muslim. The suit was settled, but the terms were not disclosed, Forbes reported.

More recently, a former employee of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Georgia sued the company for wrongful termination, alleging she and other women employees were victims of gender discrimination.

According to the lawsuit filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Brenda Honeycutt began working at a Chick-fil-A in Duluth, Ga. 1991 and was promoted to a general manager in 1997. But Jeff Howard, the restaurant’s owner and operator, “routinely made comments to [Honeycutt] suggesting that as a mother she should stay home with her children.”

In April 2011, Howard hired a man named Bill Green as a general manager and began holding management meetings with him and two other male managers but excluded Honeycutt. In late June, Howard fired Honeycutt, telling her and other employees that he did so so she could be a stay-at-home mother.

The lawsuit alleges a pattern of discrimination against female employees at the Duluth, Ga. restaurant. A female kitchen manager was demoted after she became a mother and was later fired and replaced by a man. Four other women were also demoted, allegedly without just cause.

Honeycutt first took her complaint of gender discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigated and granted her a notice of right to sue. Honeycutt is seeking to get her job back as well as lost wages and compensation for humiliation, emotional distress and other damages.

Another lawsuit filed earlier this year against a California Chick-fil-A claims that four former employees of the restaurant were sexually harassed by their boss — and when they took their complaints to the owner, they were first ignored, then fired, then reported to immigration authorities in an attempt to have them deported.

Forbes noted that Chick-fil-A might face more discrimination lawsuits if it didn’t screen potential hires and operators so rigorously, with many job candidates going through a yearlong vetting process with dozens of interviews that can last as long as five hours. The parent company also asks people who apply for operator licenses to disclose their marital status, number of dependents, and involvement in community, civic, social, church and professional organizations.

Federal law does not prohibit employers from asking potential hires questions about religion and marital status during interviews, and companies have even wider latitude in approving franchisees.

Since Cathy made his anti-gay marriage remarks last month, the chain’s image with consumers has taken a hit. According to YouGuv’s BrandIndex, the company’s overall ratings among fast food eaters has dropped to its lowest levels in two years:

On July 16th, the day the Baptist Press published its Dan Cathy interview, Chick-Fil-A’s Index score was 65, a very substantial 19 points above the Top National QSR Sector average score that day of 46.

Four days later, Chick-Fil-A had fallen to 47 score, three points below the Top National QSR Sector average score of 50. This past Wednesday, Chick-Fil-A had a 39 score compared to the Top National QSR Sector average score of 43.

In its home base of the South, Chick-fil-A’s BrandIndex dropped from 80 on July 16 to 44 last week. Its biggest drop took place in the Northeast, where it fell from 76 to 35. And while its score in the Midwest initially jumped from 45 on July 16 to 70 two days later, it has since fallen back to 45.

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Will Southern governors sacrifice their economies by seceding from the Medicaid expansion? http://likethedew.com/2012/07/13/will-southern-governors-sacrifice-their-economies-by-seceding-from-the-medicaid-expansion/ http://likethedew.com/2012/07/13/will-southern-governors-sacrifice-their-economies-by-seceding-from-the-medicaid-expansion/#comments Fri, 13 Jul 2012 21:17:58 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=40672 Of 29 studies that looked at the economic impact of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income Americans, percent that found Medicaid spending has a positive impact on state economies: 100

Rank of Medicaid among the largest sources of federal funds for states: 1

Amount Mississippi appropriated to Medicaid in fiscal year 2012: $819.3 million

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Of 29 studies that looked at the economic impact of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income Americans, percent that found Medicaid spending has a positive impact on state economies: 100

Rank of Medicaid among the largest sources of federal funds for states: 1

Amount Mississippi appropriated to Medicaid in fiscal year 2012: $819.3 million

Amount Mississippi drew down from the federal government for its program as a result: $2.4 billion

Amount that spending generated in salaries in Mississippi: $2.365 billion

Amount that spending added to Mississippi’s general fund: $156.6 million

Rank of Mississippi among the states that would see the largest influx of federal funding from the Medicaid expansion that’s part of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare”: 1

Rank of Medicaid among the greatest economic development engines for Mississippi, according to a state representative who’s considered one of the legislature’s leading experts on the program: 1

Percent of Mississippi residents who live in poverty: 22.4

Rank of Mississippi among the states with the highest poverty rates: 1

Rank of Mississippi among the states with the highest unemployment rates: 8th

Current unemployment rate in Mississippi: 8.7

Amount Mississippi would be expected to receive between 2014 and 2019 under the Medicaid expansion: $9.8 billion

Percentage that amount represents of Mississippi’s yearly gross state product: 10

Date on which Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said he planned to resist Medicaid expansion in his state: 6/28/2012

Of the 19 states with rates of uninsured residents higher than the national average, number in the South (see accompanying chart; click for larger version): 9

Of those nine Southern states, number where the governors have said they are refusing or considering to refuse the Medicaid expansion: 7

(Click on figure to go to source. Map from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Chart from the paper “Give Me Liberty or at Least Your Votes: A Study of Governors’ Altruism on Health Care” by John Hudak with the Brookings Institution.)

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NC governor inundated with pleas to veto fracking bill http://likethedew.com/2012/06/26/nc-governor-inundated-with-pleas-to-veto-fracking-bill/ http://likethedew.com/2012/06/26/nc-governor-inundated-with-pleas-to-veto-fracking-bill/#comments Tue, 26 Jun 2012 20:31:11 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=40309 This week the Republican-controlled North Carolina Senate voted to legalize fracking for natural gas in the state, following the lead of the Republican House, which approved the measure last week.

Senate Bill 820 now goes to Gov. Beverly Perdue (D), who has been inundated with calls, emails and letters asking for her veto. She has 10 days from the bill's passage to make a decision.

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This week the Republican-controlled North Carolina Senate voted to legalize fracking for natural gas in the state, following the lead of the Republican House, which approved the measure last week.

Senate Bill 820 now goes to Gov. Beverly Perdue (D), who has been inundated with calls, emails and letters asking for her veto. She has 10 days from the bill’s passage to make a decision.

A spokesperson for Perdue told the News & Observer of Raleigh that her office has received 7,641 emails and 2,824 phone calls since the issue began getting attention, and that they are “overwhelmingly opposed to fracking with very few supportive comments.”

Perdue also heard from Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of Dish, Texas, a town at the center of that state’s fracking industry. Now an advocate for communities affected by fracking, Tillman visited Raleigh earlier this month to talk to state lawmakers about the serious environmental health problems the rural community north of Fort Worth has experienced.

In a letter sent to Perdue this week, Tillman — a conservative independent — detailed concerns about the legal questions around property rights raised by the North Carolina bill. Here is the text of his letter; to view the original signed version click here.

June 20, 2012

To The Honorable Governor Beverly Perdue,

I write to you as a former mayor and town councilman of the small conservative town of Dish, Texas, which you might say is near the epicenter of fracking in Texas.

Last week, on Tuesday June 12th, I had the pleasure to visit Raleigh and speak with many state legislators about fracking. I understand that you may soon be considering whether to veto Senate Bill 820, and I hope you’ll take a moment to read this letter to better understand what’s happening to communities where fracking is now a reality.

Fracking has turned our small rural town into an industrial zone. People in our community — including my two young boys — have been overcome at times with strong chemical odors. We’ve watched our roads be in a constant state of congestion and in need of repair due to the stress of relentless heavy truck traffic. Perhaps most importantly, fracking brings with it a complicated mess of legal questions around property rights, land use, eminent domain, and trespass law. From my review of the bill, it appears to me that S820 doesn’t prepare North Carolina well for these issues. I have serious concerns about what could happen to an individual’s private property rights in North Carolina if S820 becomes law.

I can relate one scenario that you’d imagine “would never happen in North Carolina” but that has already played out in Texas: the case of Christine and Tim Ruggiero of Decatur, Texas, people I know personally. They were surface landowners who did not own the gas under them and this excerpt about their story comes from a Pittsburg[h] Post-Gazette report:

Christine Ruggiero remembers the day vividly — Sept. 16, 2009. She had left the house at 7:30 a.m. to take her daughter to school. Two hours later, she got a phone call at work from her neighbor. “They’re out there,” the neighbor said, looking out the window. “They’ve knocked down your fence. And they’re bulldozing your pasture. And your horses are not put up.”

… Mrs. Ruggiero confronted the foreman. “You’re trespassing. And you don’t have a permit.” (She says she’d been checking the website of the Railroad Commission of Texas, an elected board that handles drilling permits, to see if Aruba had applied for its permit yet.) “And he said, ‘I don’t need a permit. I have the lease.'”

Within weeks, a drill was erected in their yard. By Thanksgiving, Aruba was “fracking” — pumping water and chemicals underground, at high pressure, to create millions of fractures in the mile-deep shale formation. By early 2010 they were done fracking and were installing condensate tanks and the two wellheads. Along the way, there were constant methane odors and, of more concern, a mud blowout that the Ruggieros caught on video. Water quality was a worry, too. The day the drilling started, Mrs. Ruggiero said, was the day her family stopped using their well for drinking and started buying bottled water instead. http://www/post-gazette.com/stories/local/marcellusshale/deep-in-the-heart-of-the-gas-drilling-controversy-what-have-texans-learned-211199/#ixzzlyBIKRsnt

The landowner protection provisions of S820 provide for surface owners in North Carolina to receive notice before the gas company comes on their land, and also place liability for some water contamination on the company. But S820 doesn’t change the basic outcome: the gas company can use as much of the surface as it needs to drill and produce the gas from underground. I understand that you also have thousands of acres of split estates, with surface owners who may not even be aware that they do not own the gas or minerals underneath them.

In addition, as in Texas, North Carolina’s eminent domain laws for public utilities could be used by fracking operators to lay down gas pipeline and take the personal property and land of your citizens without their permission. As noted by a Fort Worth paper:

The Dish area is a spider web of pipelines that converge on a bank of natural gas compressors just outside the town limits. “It is a mess. People don’t realize just how wide a 100-foot easement is, and they don’t know that once that easement is there, you can never put anything on it, ever.” Pipeline companies have been given the right to take land through eminent domain on the theory that they are public utilities, like power companies. http://freeweekly.com/2011/11/30/down-the-pipe/

As written, Senate Bill 820 does not provide for local oversight of the industry. As bad as fracking has been at times for my area, it would be immensely worse in Texas if local government controls were preempted by our state program.

Given the historical low gas prices, given the controversies around water and air contamination in other states, and the behavior of this industry in my town and state, I urge you to move slowly and cautiously. Senate Bill 820 raises more questions than it answers and I urge caution for a state like North Carolina that has no history with this industry.

I hope you will study this issue much more closely before moving forward.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Best wishes,
Calvin Tillman
Former Mayor
DISH, Texas

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Fighting nuclear power’s money grab http://likethedew.com/2012/06/04/fighting-nuclear-powers-money-grab/ http://likethedew.com/2012/06/04/fighting-nuclear-powers-money-grab/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2012 15:31:32 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=39758 Date on which the Southern Co. filed a notice with federal securities regulators reporting that its project to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Ga. was experiencing massive cost overruns: 5/7/2012

Size of the reported overruns: over $900 million

Value of the taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantee that the Southern Co. received from the Obama administration for the Vogtle project: $8.3 billion

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Date on which the Southern Co. filed a notice with federal securities regulators reporting that its project to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Ga. was experiencing massive cost overruns: 5/7/2012

Size of the reported overruns: over $900 million

Value of the taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantee that the Southern Co. received from the Obama administration for the Vogtle project: $8.3 billion

Number of times by which that exceeds the federal loan guarantee received by Solyndra, the California-based solar company that came under fire for declaring bankruptcy after taking the money: 15

Year in which the Georgia legislature passed a law allowing Southern Co. to finance the new Vogtle reactors through a scheme called “construction work in progress” (CWIP), which forces ratepayers to pay for them in advance: 2009

Number of provisions in the Georgia CWIP law allowing ratepayers to recoup their advance should the project be canceled because of regulatory or other problems: 0

Date on which a coalition of nuclear watchdog groups filed a lawsuit to pull the federal license for the Vogtle reactors, charging that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is violating federal law by failing to adequately address the implications of the Fukushima disaster: 2/16/2012

Year in which the Florida legislature passed its own CWIP law: 2006

Because of that that law, amount that Progress Energy’s Florida ratepayers already must pay for preliminary work on two reactors at a new plant in Levy County: $1.1 billion

Amount that must be refunded to ratepayers under the Florida CWIP law if the Levy County reactors are never built, which some industry experts think is a possibility: $0

Factor by which the cost estimate for the Levy County plant has grown since Progress Energy first proposed the project: 4

Amount the Levy reactors are now expected to cost: $24 billion

Year in which the North Carolina legislature passed a CWIP law at the urging of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, reversing a 1982 ban on the financing approach imposed after the failure of nuclear projects in the 1970s and early 1980s left customers footing big bills for nothing: 2007

Date on which a coalition of groups called Consumers Against Rate Hikes announced they would fight new legislation sought by Duke and Progress in North Carolina allowing the utilities to even more easily pass the costs of new reactors on to customers — an approach some have dubbed “super CWIP” or “super CWIP plus”: 5/15/2012

Date on which Vermont law professor and former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Peter Bradford visited North Carolina to make presentations to state officials about the risk such legislation presents to utility customers and the economy: 5/29/2012

Date on which a Florida state senator wrote to Gov. Beverly Perdue warning her about the disaster the “super CWIP plus” approach has turned out to be for his state: 2/17/2011

Date on which the same Florida lawmaker, Sen. Mike Fasano (R-11), wrote to his state’s Public Service Commission asking it to deny rate hikes for new reactors, saying he has “changed his mind about the wisdom of such a policy” that “socializes the risk of reactor investments while privatizing the gain”: 5/17/2012

Increase in monthly bills that Duke Energy’s and Progress Energy’s North Carolina customers could see under the enhanced CWIP law: $50

Percent of likely North Carolina voters who said in a recent poll that they oppose the legislation: 89

Percent who said they’d be less likely to support elected officials who supported the law: 81

In the same poll, percent of likely voters who said they thought the state’s energy policy should focus on building new nuclear capacity: 21

Percent who said it should focus instead on energy efficiency and renewable sources like wind and solar: 65

(Click on figure to go to source. For a copy of former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford’s presentation on CWIP to North Carolina officials, click here.)

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What’s at stake in the Supreme Court’s health-law case http://likethedew.com/2012/03/30/whats-at-stake-in-the-supreme-courts-health-law-case/ http://likethedew.com/2012/03/30/whats-at-stake-in-the-supreme-courts-health-law-case/#comments Fri, 30 Mar 2012 09:30:40 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=38285 Number of days this week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 2010 health-insurance reform law also known as "Obamacare": 3 Number of Americans who are currently uninsured, a problem ACA addresses in multiple ways: 50 million Number of states that have challenged ACA's expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled, arguing that the largely federally-financed expansion is somehow coercive: 26 Of those 26 states, number in the South: 7*

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Number of days this week the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 2010 health-insurance reform law also known as “Obamacare”: 3

Number of Americans who are currently uninsured, a problem ACA addresses in multiple ways: 50 million

Number of states that have challenged ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled, arguing that the largely federally-financed expansion is somehow coercive: 26

Of those 26 states, number in the South: 7*

Rank of the South among U.S. regions with the highest percentage of uninsured adult residents: 1

Percentage by which the rate of uninsured adults in the South exceeds that of the East: 190

Estimated number of Americans who have already used ACA provisions to get free preventative care through their insurance plans that previously would have been subject to co-pays or deductibles: 86 million

Amount saved by senior citizens because of prescription drug discounts included in the law: $1.5 billion

Number of small businesses that can now claim tax deductions for providing health insurance to employees: 4 million

Number of people who have been able to receive health care because of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan created by ACA: 50,000

Year in which that provision will apply to all adults, ensuring that people with existing medical conditions have access to care: 2014

If the Supreme Court strikes down the law’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance, estimated percentage increase in premiums for individuals who don’t get insurance through their job: 2.4 to 40

Number fewer people who would have insurance coverage without the mandate: 12.5 million to 24 million

Amount by which repealing ACA would increase the federal deficit: $210 billion

Month in which the Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision on the law: 6/2012

* Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas

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Trayvon Martin killing brings scrutiny to controversial self-defense laws http://likethedew.com/2012/03/23/trayvon-martin-killing-brings-scrutiny-to-controversial-self-defense-laws/ http://likethedew.com/2012/03/23/trayvon-martin-killing-brings-scrutiny-to-controversial-self-defense-laws/#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2012 16:10:43 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=38125 The U.S. Department of Justice announced late Monday that it would investigate the February deadly shooting of an unarmed black teen by a neighborhood watch vigilante in a gated community near Orlando, Fla.

The DOJ's announcement came in response to growing public anger over the fact that there's been no arrest in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Latino man, as Martin walked to his father's girlfriend's home in Sanford, Fla. after a trip to a nearby convenience store. The FBI is also investigating.

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The U.S. Department of Justice announced late Monday that it would investigate the February deadly shooting of an unarmed black teen by a neighborhood watch vigilante in a gated community near Orlando, Fla.

The DOJ’s announcement came in response to growing public anger over the fact that there’s been no arrest in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Latino man, as Martin walked to his father’s girlfriend’s home in Sanford, Fla. after a trip to a nearby convenience store. The FBI is also investigating.

The DOJ is looking at whether the killing — which Zimmerman said was done in self-defense — constituted a federal civil rights violation:

“The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation. The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids — the highest level of intent in criminal law.

“Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws.”

Any effort to prosecute Zimmerman will be complicated by Florida’s controversial 2005 “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law promoted by the National Rifle Association and signed by former Gov. Jeb Bush (R). The law extends the Castle Doctrine that allows self-defense inside one’s abode to outside the home, eliminating the duty to retreat regardless of where an attack takes place. The law grants immunity from prosecution or a civil lawsuit if a person is considered to have acted in self-defense, as Zimmerman claims.

Since Florida adopted the Stand Your Ground law, the number of killings by private citizens deemed justified has skyrocketed, the Orlando Sentinel reports:

From 2000 to 2005, an average of 13 killings by private citizens were deemed justified each year. Between 2006 and 2010 that average increased to 36 killings per year. The highest was in 2009 at 45.

In all, 17 states now have a version of the Stand Your Ground law, including eight in the South. Besides Florida, those states are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.

When Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was being considered seven years ago, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — which called it the “Shoot First” law — distributed fliers warning tourists to avoid disputes. The group wrote in a recent blog post that Martin’s killing “is exactly the kind of ‘unspeakably tragic act of mayhem’ that arises from the right to be armed in public places.”

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