MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Friday Cat Blogging - 1 July 2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Whenever we leave the house via the front door&mdash;usually to take a walk&mdash;the cats wait patiently for us. I don't know how long they'd wait for us before falling asleep, but longer than 20 minutes, anyway. This is what we always come back to: a pair of cats keeping watch out the window, waiting for our return. The only variation comes from Hilbert, who sometimes waits next to the front-door window, hoping he can make an escape when we open the door. He never seems to realize that staring out the window gives the game away.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2016_07_01.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 130px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 Jul 2016 18:56:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 308166 at Here's How To Do Free Trade Right <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jared Bernstein says that Donald Trump has a legitimate point about <a href="" target="_blank">the problems with American trade agreements:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The process by which they&rsquo;re negotiated is undemocratic, they uplift investor rights over sovereign rights, they reverse the order in which certain challenges should be tackled, and they fail to deal with currency issues. But globalization cannot nor should not be stopped. Done right, it delivers great benefits to advanced countries through the increased supply of goods, and it helps improve the living standards of workers in developing countries <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_panama_canal_ship.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">through profits made from trade with wealthier nations. Trump&rsquo;s tariffs would undermine all of that.</p> </blockquote> <p>Most liberals agree with this criticism. Until Trump, in fact, opposition to trade deals was mostly limited to liberals&mdash;and still is, <a href="" target="_blank">judging by the number of Republicans who oppose Trump's trade agenda.</a> But as Bernstein says, international trade is basically a good thing. So what should we do to make it fairer? Tariffs and trade wars aren't the answer. Here are Bernstein's five recommendations:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Take action against those who suppress the value of their currencies relative to the dollar.</strong></p> <p><strong>Change the sequencing of labor and environmental rights.</strong> Any benefits to partners in terms of market access must be <em>preceded</em> by confirmation that labor and environmental rights are enforced. That means that countries we enter trade agreements with must offer sustained evidence that conditions on the ground have improved, and that we withdraw trade benefits when there&rsquo;s evidence of backsliding.</p> <p><strong>Relocate risk in investor disputes.</strong> The current Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process is set up in such a way that investors in countries that are signatories to trade deals can, through non-elected tribunals, override the sovereign laws of developing countries....The answer to this problem is to shift this risk away from the broader public and back to the investors themselves. The way to accomplish this is by taking ISDS out of future trade agreements and insisting that investors privately insure themselves against investment losses.</p> <p><strong>Take a public welfare stance toward patent and copyright protections.</strong> Trade agreements should not increase protectionism. They should not extend patents or limit the competition that reduces prices and increases access to needed medicines.</p> <p><strong>Sunlight disinfects trade agreements.</strong> The trade agreement process is uniquely secretive and exclusive &mdash; and as a result non-representative of the views of millions of people affected by the deal....This level of secrecy must end. We&rsquo;re not talking about nuclear codes but about the formulation of policies that will affect the everyday economic lives of every American. US-proposed text and then the texts of agreements after each negotiating round ought to be made publicly available.</p> </blockquote> <p>Personally, I think the second point is the most important. We talk endlessly about protecting labor in these agreements, but nothing much ever really happens. The only way it will is to insist that labor rights come first, before markets are opened up.</p> <p>Conversely, I've never been convinced that ISDS is quite the villain it's made out to be. I'm open to argument on this score, but trade agreements always need some kind of enforcement authority outside the nation states themselves, and ISDS is one of them. It's been around for a long time, and really doesn't seem to have done any harm to US interests.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 Jul 2016 18:44:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 308161 at Why Is Donald Trump Trying to Raise Money From Legislators in Iceland? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The latest weirdness from the Donald Trump campaign is its June fundraising efforts. Trump is apparently having trouble raising money from the usual Republican suspects, but wants to avoid the embarrassment of yet another FEC report showing that he has no money. So he's turning to small-dollar fundraising via email. This shouldn't have been a problem. Conservatives mastered this approach to raising money a long time ago, so all Trump had to do was hire<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="225" src="" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> one of the many firms who have accumulated gigantic email lists and specialize in wringing donations out of ordinary citizens.</p> <p>But apparently he didn't do that. For the past few days, reports have come in of people overseas being spammed with Trump fundraising emails. And not just any foreigners: members of foreign parliaments. This is peculiar, to say the least. First, it's illegal. Foreigners aren't allowed to contribute to presidential campaigns. Second, it's easy to avoid. Just purge your email list of addresses ending in .uk, .dk, etc. Any experienced email shop would already have done this. So where did Trump's email list come from?</p> <p>Josh Marshall has been following this for several days, <a href="" target="_blank">and he has a theory:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>So Tim Watts is my new best friend in the Australian federal parliament. MP Tim Watts.<strong> Needless to say, we're pals now because he's getting bombarded by the Trump campaign asking for money to fight 'Crooked Hillary'</strong>....When I chatted with Tim last night (US Time) he said he'd gotten two more Trump emails in the last 7 hours hours. But when he showed me the emails, something pretty weird was immediately apparent.</p> <p><strong>They weren't actually just from Trump. One was from the Trump campaign. The other was from a pro-Trump Super Pac called Crippled America PAC.</strong></p> <p>Now, normally (i.e., completely separate from anything to do with Trump) it would be entirely unremarkable that someone was getting fundraising emails both from a campaign and also Super PACs supporting the campaign. They're likely both buying lists from the same vendor or even different vendors of likely Trump voters.</p> <p>But remember, Tim is a foreign citizen and part of the government in another country. We've already speculated about the various ways all these foreign legislators could have ended up on Trump's list. The more we've looked into it, it seems increasingly implausible that he got this list from a list vendor. Not impossible just not likely at all. <strong>It now seems more probable that the Trump Organization simply had these emails in some business related database and decided to dump them into the email hopper for the fundraising blitz</strong> or just found some site that had a zip file of foreign government officials and used that.</p> <p>....<strong>Given what I've said above, the existence of this list almost has to originate in Trump Derpland. A virtual certainty.</strong> So how did the same list end up in the hands of a Trump SuperPac? I looked up Crippled America PAC and as of their last filing just a couple weeks ago, they're total budget was $40. No <em>m</em> or <em>b</em> after that $ sign, forty bucks, the price of a fancy dinner. So obviously CAP was just stood up and actually started operating just now. And now they're showing up in Tim's inbox.</p> </blockquote> <p>Marshall believes that this is a pretty obvious sign of coordination between the Trump campaign and a Trump Super PAC, which is a big non-no. What's more, they didn't even bother trying to hide it. There are undoubtedly ways <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_email.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">they could have coordinated while still passing legal muster, but either they didn't have time for that or didn't know they weren't allowed to coordinate or just didn't care.</p> <p>Wherever the list came from, I guess it's a pretty lousy one: I've gotten several Trump fundraising emails too, and I'm pretty sure there's nothing in my background that suggests I'd be soft touch for a Trump donation. Conversely, I never received a Ben Carson email while he was busy with his campaign grift. Apparently he at least cared enough to hire a decent vendor.</p> <p>A sample from Monday is on the right. It comes from, whatever that is. I got another one from, which I suppose originates from the Republican National Committee? All very strange.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 Jul 2016 18:08:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 308151 at Another Loss This Week for Anti-Abortion Advocates—This Time in Indiana <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After a <a href=";contentCollection=U.S.&amp;module=RelatedCoverage&amp;region=Marginalia&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">bruising week in the Supreme Court</a>, abortion opponents were dealt another blow on Thursday when a federal judge blocked Indiana from enforcing a new law banning abortions motivated by the race, gender, ancestry, or disability status of the fetus.</p> <p>The abortion restrictions were set to go into effect on Friday, but US District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's Thursday ruling <a href=";SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">resulted in a preliminary injunction </a>that will temporarily block the law. The injunction comes after Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union <a href="" target="_blank">sued Indiana in April</a>, arguing that banning certain abortions and<strong> </strong>requiring women to disclose their motivations for undergoing the procedure were unconstitutional and violated women's right to privacy.</p> <p>"The State attempts to accomplish via HEA 1337 precisely what the Supreme Court has held is impermissible," Pratt wrote in her ruling. "The State has not cited a single case where a court has recognized an exception to the Supreme Court's categorical rule that a women can choose to have an abortion before viability&hellip;which, of course, leaves no room for the State to examine the basis or bases upon which a woman makes her choice."</p> <p>In addition to barring doctors from performing any abortions sought on the basis of "the fetus's race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability," Indiana's law also required that all fetal remains be buried or cremated, a provision that would have resulted in a significant increase in costs for abortion providers in the state. Women were required to visit their abortion provider to undergo an ultrasound and listen to the fetus' heartbeat at least 18 hours before having an abortion. The law also mandated that abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals. A similar provision in Texas <a href="" target="_blank">was struck down on Monday</a> by the Supreme Court's ruling in <em>Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt</em>.</p> <p>North Dakota is the only state<strong> </strong>with a similar law, passed in 2013, which bans abortions sought due to fetal genetic abnormalities.</p> <p>In March, Indiana's move to enact new abortion restrictions drew national attention after a GOP-led majority in the Indiana General Assembly voted to pass the<strong> </strong>measure, despite objections from some legislators about the limited amount of time the bill had spent in committee. Opponents of the legislation argued that the bill had been rushed to the floor without proper vetting, a move that <a href="" target="_blank">drew criticism even from conservative legislators</a> with reliably anti-abortion voting records.</p> <p>Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, defended the controversial legislation after <a href="" target="_blank">signing it into law in late March</a>, saying it was "an important step in protecting the unborn."</p> <p>But Pratt disagreed with that assessment, saying the state does not have the power to bar women from seeking abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb.</p> <p>"Today's decision shows Gov. Mike Pence that he cannot force his religious ideology on Hoosiers," Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a> released shortly after the injunction was granted. "It is further compelling recognition by the courts that legislation interfering with women&rsquo;s reproductive rights will not be tolerated."</p> <p>Thursday's ruling is only temporary, however, and gives the federal court more time to decide the permanent fate of the Indiana law.</p></body></html> Politics Reproductive Rights Fri, 01 Jul 2016 16:31:14 +0000 P.R. Lockhart 308116 at FCC's Attempt to Kill Set-Top Boxes Looks Doomed to Failure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A few months ago the FCC&mdash;or its three Democratic commissioners, anyway&mdash;proposed doing away with set-top boxes. They're basically a rip-off, doing next to nothing in return for a monthly rental that lasts forever. The FCC's proposal was for cable companies to make all programming information available in a standard format, so anyone could use it. You could replace your cable company's box with Roku or Apple TV or an app or just buy a box from someone else.</p> <p>The cable companies all went ballistic, of course, and now the FCC is backing down in the face of an alternative proposal from the cable industry. The proposal itself <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cable_consumer_app.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">isn't too bad&mdash;it relies on "Consumer Apps" downloaded from the cable companies&mdash;but the question is whether the industry is serious about it. <a href="" target="_blank">The <em>Register's</em>&nbsp;Kieren McCarthy is pretty skeptical:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The cable industry's first target will be to ensure nothing is agreed for six months until after the presidential elections in November. Tom Wheeler's term as FCC chair doesn't officially end until 2018 but traditionally, the FCC chair steps down when a new president comes into office.</p> <p>Adding to that, and helping to explain her sudden dislike of the cable box plan she voted in favor of, Jessica Rosenworcel's term officially ends this week&nbsp;&mdash; 30 June 2016. Even though she has been approved for a second term by President Obama, Congress is dragging out her confirmation in an effort to force Wheeler to resign early. If he resigns, Senate Republicans have said, they will confirm her. Wheeler so far is refusing to blink.</p> <p>If the Senate doesn't approve Rosenworcel by the end of the year&nbsp;&mdash; December 31, 2016&nbsp;&mdash; she has to leave the FCC: a casualty in partisan warfare fed by cable company dollars.</p> <p>With the FCC taking on the cable industry in so many other ways&nbsp;&mdash; net neutrality rules and data privacy rules being just two&nbsp;&mdash; it looks as though the regulator has bitten off more than it can chew with its cable box plan.</p> </blockquote> <p>It was a good idea while it lasted. Unfortunately, Republicans, as usual, are inexplicably opposed to any regulation that increases competition in the TV world. It's unclear why they so consistently take the side of a monopolistic industry hated by consumers, but there you have it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 Jul 2016 15:51:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 308126 at Saez: Income Inequality Up, But Bottom 99% Doing Fairly Well <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Good news from Emmanuel Saez:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The latest IRS data show that incomes for the bottom 99 percent of families grew by 3.9 percent over 2014 levels, the best annual growth rate since 1998....</p> </blockquote> <p>But you knew there had to be a but, right?</p> <blockquote> <p>....but incomes for those families in the top 1 percent of earners grew even faster, by 7.7 percent, over the same period.</p> </blockquote> <p>So income inequality continues to increase. Still, over the past two years, the non-super-rich have finally made some gains after seeing their incomes crater during the Great Recession. That's good news as far as it goes. The remaining question is whether this increase is mostly confined to the top 10-20 percent, or if workers in the bottom half of the income distribution also made gains. The chart below, which shows that hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers have increased about 3.2 percent over the past two years, suggests that the working class has done about as well as the overall bottom 99 percent. The gains of the past two years appear to be fairly widely spread.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_production_nonsupervisory_wages_2014_2016.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 70px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 01 Jul 2016 15:00:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 308121 at Can Bernie Sanders Take Yes for an Answer? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Bernie Sanders has won. Not the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Another candidate in the race collected millions more votes and secured a majority of delegates. But Sanders, the independent socialist senator from Vermont who has spent most of his political career running <em>against</em> Democrats, has achieved a tremendous ideological triumph. He has pushed&mdash;or pulled&mdash;Hillary Clinton, that other candidate, and the entire Democratic Party in a progressive direction, while proving that his anti-corporate, big-money-bashing populism of the left can inspire millions.</p> <p>That's a big deal. A two-term senator who had a small national following and not much influence on Capitol Hill prior to his presidential crusade has become a policy kingmaker. He now must ask whether what he has accomplished is good enough to allow him to turn to the task of defeating Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. Or does Sanders really believe he should continue his fight against Clinton and the party?</p> <p>On Tuesday, Sanders <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> <em>USA Today</em> that he was preparing for a clash at the Democratic convention next month&mdash;that is, if the party does not embrace his more progressive stances on the minimum wage, trade, and climate change. He was essentially threatening at least three more weeks of intra-party squabbling, while the Clinton campaign and the Democratic establishment want to devote their attention and resources to the existential battle against Trump. In another <a href="" target="_blank">interview</a> that day, Sanders, who has said he will vote for Clinton, declared that Clinton has not yet passed the litmus test to win his endorsement.</p> <p>Sanders, though, has said he will do whatever it takes to prevent Trump from reaching the White House. But that does not yet include ending efforts that might distract Clinton and the party from that goal. And here's the thing: Sanders is still issuing something of a threat after he has succeeded in ensuring that the Democratic Party's platform will be the most progressive it has been in decades.</p> <p>Last weekend, the party's platform drafting committee&mdash;which included representatives from the Clinton and Sanders camps&mdash;approved its final version of the platform, which will be presented to the full platform committee in a week and then to the full convention in Philadelphia. By any measure, it was a win for the Sanders crowd. True, Sanders' crew did not prevail on all fronts; it failed to convince the committee to call for a fracking ban, a full repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and certain changes in US policy toward Israel. But Team Sanders bagged several impressive wins.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">draft platform</a> calls for raising the hourly minimum wage to $15 and abolishing the death penalty. (No previous Democratic platform has taken this position on state executions.) It urges the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and a "modernized version" of Glass-Steagall, the tossed-aside law that once prevented traditional banks from engaging in risky actions that threaten the wider economy. It proposes a surtax on multi-millionaires and an expansion of Social Security. It reaffirms that health care is a right. It commits the United States to running entirely on clean energy by mid-century and champions Planned Parenthood. It calls for ending the "era of mass incarceration" and for supporting states that choose to decriminalize marijuana.</p> <p>The platform is not entirely The World According to Bernie. But it's a helluva lot closer to that than any political observer would have guessed a year ago. The influence of Sanders' folks on the drafting committee&mdash;including scholar Cornel West, environmentalist Bill McKibben, and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota&mdash;is rather obvious. They have steered the party to the left.</p> <p>Sanders now faces a stark calculation: Are the policy gains that could be obtained by continuing the fight to Sandersize the platform worth the potential discord that could come from not closing ranks with Clinton to combat Trump? To pocket additional wins, Sanders has to threaten floor fights and debates that could suck up time and attention at the convention. It seems probable that Sanders will eventually come around and lead as many of his supporters as possible to vote for Clinton. Yet he is drawing out this process and needling the Clinton camp. To what end? Will he win platform fights on trade, the Middle East, and other matters at the convention? Maybe, but he won't have a majority of the delegates. And what will be the cost of such battles? Also, to what degree does the platform truly matter? How many presidents or legislators feel beholden to a platform? It is also conceivable that should Sanders lead an all-out battle on these subjects, the final outcome could be disappointing to his supporters. If Sanders does not win these squabbles, some of his voters might then feel less inclined to be with her.</p> <p>Sanders has reshaped the party and its platform in a stunning fashion, and he deserves much credit for that. But he appears to want to go further. At this stage, attempting that could hinder the effort to unify the party and focus it on the No. 1 job of stopping Trump. Clinton partisans are <a href="" target="_blank">obviously eager</a> for Sanders to declare victory and to fixate on defeating Trump. That's natural; they've had enough of Sanders and don't want to be bothered further. But he has his own reasons to claim success and to become a full partner in Clinton's anti-Trump endeavor. <a href="" target="_blank">With Trump posing a serious threat</a> to much of what progressives hold dear, Sanders and his backers, as they weigh whether to keep fighting the Dems for additional policy gains, might want to keep in mind that doing so could become a drag on the campaign against Trump and also tarnish the brilliant win Sanders has already attained. After all, a more progressive Democratic Party platform will mean little if Trump seizes the White House.</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:00:13 +0000 David Corn 308081 at Trump Delegates: We're Bringing Guns to Cleveland <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As the Republican convention in Cleveland approaches, several delegates from Pennsylvania who support Donald Trump say they are planning on bringing their guns with them to the GOP gathering. Why? They say they are worried about possible violent protest and even an attack from ISIS.</p> <p>James Klein, a pro-Trump delegate from the Harrisburg area, notes that guns won't be needed inside the convention hall and that delegates won't be allowed to bring in weapons. "But," he adds, "there's the hotels. There's going to be dinners."</p> <p>So Klein, an insurance executive and economist, has decided to come armed to Cleveland, and he has urged his fellow delegates to do the same. "We're talking about ISIS," he remarks, citing the recent shooting in Orlando and the bombings at the Istanbul airport. Referring to protesters outside Trump rallies, he adds, "We're talking about people who have shown a propensity for violence."</p> <p>"There are a whole bunch of things happening: You go to various events, receptions, whatever, outside the convention hall," says Ash Khare, a delegate from the northwest corner of the state who applied for a concealed carry permit in preparation for Cleveland. "And you walk on the streets and, you know, people know that you are a delegate, and who knows what the crazy people are going to do? So you've got to be vigilant about what's going on and prepare yourself."</p> <p>Marc Scaringi, another Trump delegate from the Harrisburg area, says that during the past few weeks there have been many emails exchanged among the Pennsylvania delegates discussing whether to bring weapons to Cleveland.</p> <p>A lifelong member of the NRA who carries a gun every day, Klein notes he is particularly concerned about the threat of international terrorism. "I'm not a terrorist, okay, but I'm an academic and a theorist, and I would think that if I were an ISIS guy that I might want to attack the Republican National Convention," he says.</p> <p>Klein continues: "People will attack you at your weakest, at your softest." That is, he explains, attacks are not likely to occur at the convention hall but elsewhere in the city where police and Secret Service officers are unlikely to stop an attack.</p> <p>Khare expects to receive his concealed carry permit in a few days. Then he plans to obtain training from the local sheriff's department before buying a gun. But he stresses that having a concealed carry weapon is not about stirring up trouble: "You gotta have a proper mindset and the proper training. You don't go out to act like a warrior&hellip;This is just in case you get into a situation where you can make a difference."</p> <p>Scaringi hasn't yet decided if he will bring his gun, citing logistical concerns about where to store it. "If you can't have the firearm in the convention, then you really can't take it, because what do you do with it?" he says. "I don't think there's going to be any firearms locker room. That's really the only thing preventing me from saying, 'Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and carry.'"</p> <p>Scaringi also points to the <a href="" target="_blank">violence</a> that occurred at a Trump event in San Jose, California, in early June. Anti-Trump protesters punched the candidate's supporters, jumped on cars, and <a href="" target="_blank">threw eggs</a> at a female Trump supporter. "I think this is going to be the most riotous political convention since 1968, and maybe even more so," he predicts. "In addition to just your average political protester, you're going to get serious people here who want to do harm and want to create mayhem."</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Donald Trump Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:00:13 +0000 Pema Levy 308086 at Watch: Former Guards and a Prisoner Recall Life in a Private Prison <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In December 2014, <em>Mother Jones </em>senior reporter Shane Bauer started a job as a corrections officer at a Louisiana prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country's second-largest private prison company. Read Bauer's gripping firsthand account of his four months as a prison guard <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. His investigation is also the subject of a <a href="" target="_blank">six-part video series</a>.</p> <p>Below are three extended interviews that go deeper into the lives of two former guards and a former prisoner that Bauer met at Winn Correctional Center. In the first video, Jennifer Calahan talks about the challenges she faced and sacrifices she made when she worked long hours as a prison guard:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src=";showinfo=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Life in prison was a matter of survival, explains "Corner Store," a recently released Winn inmate. (He asked that his nickname be changed.) He sits by the Mississippi River and recalls the violence and sexual assaults he witnessed behind bars.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src=";showinfo=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dave Bacle, who was Shane Bauer's work partner when he was at Winn, explains why guards felt unequipped to confront dangerous incidents inside the prison:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src=";showinfo=0" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Politics Video Investigations Prisons Top Stories Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:00:12 +0000 James West 308076 at The ACLU Is Suing to Bring Abortion Rights to Migrant Girls <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The American Civil Liberties Union <a href="" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> against the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the Administration of Children and Families last<strong> </strong>week, alleging that the government agencies knowingly gave millions of dollars to religious organizations with a record of denying contraception and abortion services to unaccompanied minors&mdash;most of whom are fleeing violence&mdash;in their care. This is the latest in a string of lawsuits the ACLU has filed against HHS and several Catholic organizations over the last year for refusing to provide access to reproductive services, despite government rules mandating them to do so.</p> <p>Under federal law, HHS is <a href="" target="_blank">required to ensure</a> that unaccompanied minors are "promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child,"<strong> </strong>a program that is managed through the agency's Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Immigration officials refer minors arrested at the border to ORR, after which ORR places them in facilities throughout the state and is supposed to provide them with a <a href="" target="_blank">number of services</a>, including access to legal help, education, and physical and mental health care. If children experience sexual assault while in federal custody,<strong> </strong>the ACLU notes, HHS is also required to provide "unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis."</p> <p>That turns out to be a problem, because religiously affiliated organizations that receive grants from HHS, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which issues grants to Catholic charities across the country, have explicitly objected to and forbidden their subcontractors from providing access to abortion and contraception. This isn't the first time HHS and USCCB have come under scrutiny over the religious organization's refusal to provide reproductive health services to women. In 2012, <a href="" target="_blank">USCCB lost one of its human trafficking grants</a> with HHS because it refused to comply with new regulations requiring it to provide contraception and abortion. In December 2013, the ACLU <a href="" target="_blank">filed suit against USCCB</a> on behalf of a woman who had a miscarriage and was denied treatment at a hospital operating under one of USCCB's directives. Nonetheless, HHS approved grants of nearly $30 million to USCCB in fiscal year 2014, according to federal audit filings, of which nearly $10 million was for unaccompanied minors.</p> <p>In one case presented in the ACLU's <a href="" target="_blank">complaint</a>, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, a charity that operates a number of federal programs for unaccompanied minors and refugees, stated in its 2014-15 grant application that it did not discuss family-planning practices with its clients and, <a href="" target="_blank">due to its philosophy and policies,</a> encouraged abstinence. HHS approved the grant anyway, according to the ACLU. Federal audit filings show that from 2012 to 2014, HHS gave the group more than $16 million for its unaccompanied-minors program alone. &nbsp;</p> <p>The ACLU argues that by continuing to give grants to USCCB and its subcontractors, HHS is favoring religious institutions and allowing them to flout these minimum requirements for the care of unaccompanied minors. Additionally, it's also authorizing practices with "extraordinary consequences" for young women in federal custody.</p> <p>"These young women in particular have an acute need for reproductive health care because they've experienced abuse and torture on their way to the country and in the US," Jennifer Chou, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, told <em>Mother Jones</em>. "When they arrive, they're alone and afraid and abused, and the very last thing we should be doing is denying them critical medical services."</p> <p>More than 30,000 unaccompanied minors were referred to ORR custody during the last fiscal year. Most of them were boys over the age of 14, but the number of girls crossing the border has <a href="" target="_blank">steadily increased</a> over the years. Girls now account for about <a href="" target="_blank">a third of all unaccompanied minors</a> in detention. Though there are no exact numbers on the prevalence of sexual assault among unaccompanied minors, nonprofit groups such as Amnesty International have reported that <a href="" target="_blank">girls are at serious risk</a> of being sexually assaulted or raped during their journeys over the border.</p> <p>Chou says at least 24 women have requested abortions over the last five years, but that the number only reflected cases where women were referred to ORR for reproductive services. Michelle Bran&eacute;, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the <a href="" target="_blank">Women's Refugee Commission</a>, a New York-based nonprofit focused on women and children's rights, says these numbers are not insignificant. "Reproductive services are really critical for this population," said Bran&eacute;. "We know that many encounter gender-based violence on their journey and are at risk for it when they get here." Timing is also an important factor, says Bran&eacute;, since girls often discover that they're pregnant only once they're in custody, and "you don't know how long it's been since they became pregnant."</p> <p>"They really have no outside support, and they don't have access to much outside services, so limiting their access can be really problematic," she continued.</p> <p>Through a FOIA request, the ACLU obtained documents that revealed several instances of women being shuttled from one ORR facility to another because they had requested abortions. In one example, the ACLU described "Rosa," a 17-year-old woman who was raped on her journey to the United States. After discovering that she was pregnant, Rosa threatened to commit suicide and was hospitalized for suicidal ideation, but upon her release she was denied re-entry to the Catholic Charities facility that had initially housed her. Another religiously affiliated charity also refused to accept her. Rosa was eventually transferred to another facility and received an abortion, according to the ACLU's complaint.<strong> </strong></p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-305373">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><noscript> <a href="">View note</a> </noscript> <p>In another case presented in the complaint, ORR wanted to transfer one 17-year-old to a facility on the East Coast, Youth for Tomorrow, so she could be near her siblings. ORR decided against it because of the group's religious stance. "YFT would be unable to take this youth," one ORR official <a href="" target="_blank">stated</a>. "YFT is a religious organization and is pro-life. I just had a UAC [unaccompanied alien child] who requested that she wanted to terminate her pregnancy and I had to transfer her due to YFT's position on abortion."</p> <p>By transferring women to other facilities, the ACLU argues, HHS facilitated in "<a href="" target="_blank">the ostracization of young women</a>" and uprooted them from their support networks and legal representation. When abortion became an issue, providers placed women at shelters based on her request for the procedure, rather than her best interests, which might be informed by other, long-term needs.</p> <script src="//"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//'); </script><noscript> <a href="">View note</a> </noscript> <p>Bran&eacute;<strong> </strong>acknowledged, however, that ORR was in a "difficult situation" because "Catholic contracts are a big percentage of the beds that they use, of the spaces they have to care for the kids." The organization faces<strong> </strong>"increasing pressure to get more space as numbers have gone up, and it's tricky for them to potentially not have those contracts," she said.</p> <p><em>Read the ACLU's full complaint</em>:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-2902668-06-24-16-Doc-1-Complaint">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("", { width: 630, height: 500, sidebar: false, text: false, container: "#DV-viewer-2902668-06-24-16-Doc-1-Complaint" }); </script><noscript> <a href="">ACLU Complaint-HHS-06-24-16 (PDF)</a> <br><a href="">ACLU Complaint-HHS-06-24-16 (Text)</a> </noscript> <p>A spokeswoman from USCCB says the organization does not comment on pending litigation. Mark Weber, a spokesman from HHS, also said he could not comment on the suit, but noted that HHS partners with faith-based organizations because "they have years and years of demonstrated services in helping people in different situations, with infrastructures in place."</p> <p>"Anyone in this country is allowed to apply for a grant, and if your applications meet the grant requirements, the grantees are selected," Weber says. "It's a standard approach for many government programs."&nbsp;He says that USCCB has provided residential services to HHS since 2003, and that so far this year, HHS's current network "has provided safe and healthy environments that includes access to nutritious food, clean clothes, education and medical services."</p> <p>Chou,<strong> </strong>from the ACLU, says the ACLU isn't trying to prevent USCCB from applying for grants or providing services in the future: "What we're asking from the court is that all federal government grantees follow the law and provide all the necessary and required care that they're supposed to. We understand freedom of religion is an important constitutional right, but religious liberty does not give you the right to impose your beliefs on a vulnerable population."</p></body></html> Politics Fri, 01 Jul 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn 307981 at