Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News
- Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News at Yahoo News5 days ago
Police officers responding to protests in a St. Louis suburb Wednesday night were outfitted in fatigues, wore gas masks and body armor, carried military-style rifles, and were backed by tanklike armored vehicles as they sought to clear the streets.
Tear gas, smoke bomb explosions and the pop-pop-pop of nonlethal projectiles added to the picture, as photographs and video from Ferguson, Missouri, depicted a scene more reminiscent of a war zone than a civil rights protest against the police shooting Saturday of an unarmed teen in the largely low-income Midwestern town of about 20,000 people.
The military appearance of the St. Louis County police prompted an outpouring of responses from veterans and policymakers on social media and in statements. Brandon Friedman, a U.S. Army veteran, tweeted a photo of himself deployed in Iraq next to an image of a police officer in Ferguson. “The gentleman on the left has more personal body armor and weaponry than I did while invading Iraq,” Friedman wrote.
- Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News at Yahoo News28 days ago
Thousands of federal prisoners set to be released early thanks to a change in drug rules will most likely be quickly deported to their home countries next year.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, a group that controls advisory sentencing guidelines for federal judges, voted last week to shave an average of two years off the sentences of up to 46,000 inmates jailed for drug crimes. The first ones will be released on Nov. 1, 2015.
The group has begun to reverse older policies that sent people away for decades for nonviolent drug crimes, part of a larger criminal justice reform push that has attracted bipartisan support. In 2007, the group lightened sentences for crack offenders. Inmates will have to apply for the sentence reductions with the help of public defenders, and federal judges will have a year to decide who qualifies for early release.
LAWTON, Okla. — Fred Fitch, the three-term mayor of this small city in Southern Oklahoma, has a lot of questions about the 1,200 undocumented immigrant children who arrived at the Fort Sill Army base just north of town last month. He’s a friendly, seemingly reasonable guy, but on a recent Wednesday afternoon, he couldn’t help but indulge in a little gossip about the hottest topic in Lawton.
“Where are these kids getting the money to get to the U.S. border?” he asked in an interview in his loudly decorated office in City Hall, complete with leopard-print couch and shag carpet. “We know that the United States is saturated with drug cartel people — are they the sponsors?”
Fitch, who has a shock of white hair atop a deeply tanned face, adjusts his neon-green tie as he chats about the rumors that are swirling around the kids in Fort Sill. He says he's heard that many are carrying diseases. “You won’t believe the amount of drugs [they’re buying from pharmacies],” Fitch said. “Scabies, head lice — all these kinds of things running rampant in these installations.”
FORT SILL, Okla. — Plastered on the walls of an old Army barracks in Oklahoma are childish drawings depicting the American dream.
One crude picture showed a brown building with an American flag flying on top. The building was labeled “high school” in English with “God Bless America” written next to it in an uncertain scrawl. Another featured a school with a big sign that said "Welcome" next to a smiley face. Other children drew pictures of flowers or messages about Jesus.
But the nearly 1,200 teenagers detained on this military base on the dusty plains of southern Oklahoma aren't likely to realize those dreams any time soon. They are awaiting deportation hearings after having crossed the border on their own, unaccompanied by adults, fleeing their violence-torn home countries in Central America. The Obama administration says that most of them will be deported as soon as the backlogged immigration courts get around to hearing their cases.
Justice Anthony Kennedy had some helpful advice for the White House about how it could still provide birth control to women even after the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the law on Monday.
But the problem is, the Obama administration isn’t interested.
The swing-vote justice sided with the conservative majority on Monday, which ruled 5-4 that craft chain Hobby Lobby and other “closely held” for-profit companies do not have to provide contraceptives to their employees if doing so violates their religious beliefs. The decision means that thousands of the company’s female employees will not have access through their insurance to intrauterine devices and other forms of contraception their bosses object to. The case is the first to uphold a religious freedom right of a for-profit corporation.
Spend more than 40 years running for office, and you get pretty good at it.
Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York likely won himself a 23 rd term in Congress Tuesday night, despite an ethics scandal that’s caused some Democratic politicians to keep their distance, and a recent shake up of the boundaries of his district that has shifted his constituency to be majority Hispanic, instead of African American.
The 84 year-old Harlem powerhouse beat his main primary challenger, state senator Adriano Espaillat by 3 percentage points, the AP reported Wednesday afternoon. The city will continue to count outstanding absentee ballots next week, but it appears Espaillat cannot win even if they go his way. (The state senator says he won't concede until every vote has been counted.) The pair was at times neck and neck in polls in the 13 th district, and Rangel appeared to sweat it on the campaign trail. He told reporters Monday that he would cry himself to sleep if Espaillat pulled off a victory.
Robert Shellmyer was relieved to see last week at his hometown’s 175th anniversary celebration that the local police department’s new prized possession was not driving alongside the tractors and floats in the parade.
That’s because a 45,000-pound, explosion-resistant vehicle from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might spoil the mood.
Shellmyer, a 78-year-old city councilman for the small town of Washington, Iowa, was the sole local politician to vote against the department of 12 police officers getting the free MRAP — short for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle — from the Defense Department three months ago. Washington is one of hundreds of towns and cities to get a recycled MRAP from the Pentagon over the past year and a half.
“Here’s the thing,” Shellmyer says. “Washington, Iowa, has 8,000 people. We have an MRAP now. We have a SWAT team. We have [police] dogs, and we have a SWAT team transportation vehicle that’s not armored.”
The city councilman began to think: “Goodness, this is overkill.”
Just a few months after announcing a sweeping presidential clemency program for drug offenders, the Obama administration has backed another sentencing plan that would shave off an average of two years of prison time for as many as 20,000 federal inmates.
For this program, the Justice Department, led by Eric Holder, doesn’t need the presidential pardon power or Congress. It only needs the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which controls advisory sentencing guidelines for federal judges.
Last April, the independent agency voted to dramatically reduce the amount of prison time judges are told to mete out to defendants based on the amount of drugs they had on them when they were arrested. Now, the independent agency is weighing whether to make its earlier reductions for drug crimes retroactive. If it votes to do so, inmates serving time for dealing or possessing drugs can apply through a public defender for a reduction in his or her sentence. Judges would decide whether to grant the reduction or not.
President Barack Obama had some tough love for young people in a discussion on student loans hosted by Tumblr on Tuesday afternoon, warning them not to waste their time while in college and reminding them that they might have to take a job they don’t like to pay off their debts.
Obama told the audience of Tumblr users gathered at the White House that despite skyrocketing tuition costs, college is still worth it for most people.
“Is this a good investment? It absolutely is,” the president said in response to a question from a Tumblr user about sky-high loans. “It continues to be a very smart investment for you to go to college.”
But the president also added that college is not for everyone and suggested that some young people might prefer to try trade school. He also said they should remain “practical” about choosing a career that will actually pay off their loans.
“I worked for a year in a job I wasn’t interested in, because I wanted to pay off my loans,” he said of his time at a law firm. “You know, work is not always fun. And you can’t always follow your bliss right away.”
President Barack Obama stressed that he believes paying for college is worth it Tuesday afternoon in a discussion with Tumblr users on student loans and skyrocketing college costs.
“Is this a good investment? It absolutely is,” the president said in response to a question from a Tumblr user. “It continues to be a very smart investment for you to go to college.”
But the president also stressed that college isn't for everyone: encouraging students to look into trade schools and be practical about making sure they are studying for a profession that there is actually demand for.
The discussion is moderated from the White House by the microblogging site’s 27-year-old founder David Karp. (Karp skipped college in favor of the startup world.) Tumblr solicited questions from its users — 40 percent of whom are between 18 and 34 years old — beginning last Thursday. Yahoo acquired Tumblr on May 20, 2013.