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Florida Continues For-Profit Juvenile Prisons After Years Of Abuses, Corruption

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has finally decided to terminate its relationship with the for-profit prison company, Youth Services International, whose name couldn’t be more misleading. For years the company has been embroiled in controversies involving covering up youth sex abuses by staff, falsifying records , and starving inmates, among a litany of other allegations occurring over the past few years.

The company settled on paying the state of Florida $2 million to get a lawsuit thrown out, which they continue to deny has any merit.

Florida’s entire Juvenile Prison system is privatized, exposing it to abuse and corruption so the companies who hold the government contracts can squeeze out as much profits as possible. Despite the rampant problems with Youth Services International, the state of Florida is merely accepting new applications from other for-profit prison companies.

“These private prisons interfere with the administration of justice. And they’re driving inmate populations skyward by corrupting the political process,” wrote Senator Bernie Sanders in a Huffington Post article last year. “No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars — whether they’re inmates in jail or immigrants held in detention centers. In fact, I believe that private prisons shouldn’t be allowed to exist at all, which is why I’ve introduced legislation to eliminate them.”

Senator Sanders went on to explain how the for-profit prison system facilitates prisoner abuses, harms minorities, victimizes immigrants, influences prison policy and immigration policy while corrupting politicians to favor the interests of the for-profit prison industrial complex. The state of Florida has clearly seen the problems posed by placing the management and control of their prison system in the hands of a private company, yet they are continuing to place the livelihood of thousands of teenagers who need help in the hands of companies who just see them as profit. The Justice is not for Sale Act proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders would ban private prisons in America, but in the meantime, states, such as Florida need to start taking action on prison reform by not using the criminal justice system as a means for profit.

This post originally appeared on AddictingInfo.org.

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Bernie Sanders on Voter Suppression: “What Happened in Arizona Is a Disgrace”

The conditions for voters in Arizona on Tuesday were a classic example of what not to do if one is trying to foster a free and open Democracy.

Hardworking, law-abiding citizens were prevented from exercising their right to vote because the state decided it wanted to cut corners to save money and in the process, made it nearly impossible to cast a ballot in some parts of the state.

The worst of it was in Maricopa County which reduced polling locations from 200 in 2012 to just 60 in 2016. This resulted in gigantic lines at polling locations which forced people to wait as long as five hours to cast their vote, if their schedule would allow for such a massive delay.

Bernie Sanders made this statement on Wednesday in response to the unfair conditions for Arizona voters:

“In the United States of America, democracy is the foundation of our way of life. And what happened in Arizona is a disgrace. I hope that every state in this country learns from that and learns how to put together a proper election where people can come in and vote in a timely manner and go back to work. Whatever the cost of that problem is people in the United States of America shouldn’t have to wait five hours in order to vote. We do not know how many thousands of people who wanted to vote in Arizona did not vote.”

This is the real issue: a voter who is forced to wait up to five hours to vote is most likely a voter who goes home without casting a ballot. We will never know how many people were unable to contribute to the Democratic process on Tuesday because of Arizona’s negligence.

This post originally appeared on trofire.com.

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Big Night For Bernie: Big Wins In Utah and Idaho

The stakes for the Bernie Sanders campaign going into Tuesday’s primary and caucus events were incredibly high: win big or go home.

While Sanders suffered a loss in the largest delegate share of the night in Arizona, his strong wins in Idaho and Utah may just been the forward momentum he needs to further inspire voters and turn the tide toward the underdog.

The victory for Sanders last night was not one focused entirely on delegates, but on proving to voters that Sanders still has support and a way forward in this primary race. After Bernie’s loss in the most recent Super Tuesday, many began to write the senator off and encourage him to begin pivoting his attacks against the GOP to set up a unified Democratic base for Clinton.

Bernie said it was “absurd” for people to suggest he drop out now, and his strong showing on Tuesday night has proven that. Many have said that these later states favor Sanders while most of the Clinton-favoring states have already cast their ballots.

The delegate count, not including Superdelegates which are fluid and can change their vote at anytime, is now 901 for Sanders and 1,214 for Clinton. This is a gap of 313 delegates between the two.

This post originally apeared on trofire.com.

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Mitt Romney Endorses Ted Cruz To Defeat “Trumpism”

On Friday afternoon, failed 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced that he will be voting for Ted Cruz during the Utah caucus on Tuesday in a last ditch effort to defeat “Trumpism.”

Romney has come out strongly in recent weeks against current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, attempting to remove his lead and instill instability in his campaign. Romney has tried to portray Trump as untrustworthy and Romney was the first to call on the real estate mogul to release his tax records. By all accounts, Romney’s condemnation of Trump had absolutely no effect.

Romney made the announcement about his reluctant endorsement of Cruz on his Facebook page, saying that while he likes Kasich as well, a vote for the man would only further contribute to “Trumpism,” which he feels is in a battle with Republicanism. Romney also says that he is “repulsed” by everything that Trump stands for. Strong words.

 

This week, in the Utah nominating caucus, I will vote for Senator Ted Cruz. Today, there is a contest between Trumpism...

Posted by Mitt Romney on Friday, March 18, 2016

This post originally appeared on trofire.com.

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Breaking: Last Known At-Large Paris Massacre Terrorist Captured Alive In Brussels

In a triumphant coordinated effort by French and Belgian police, the last at-large terrorist who took part in the tragic Paris massacre has been captured alive.

Salah Abdeslam has been at-large since the attack on November 13, 2015 when he and nine others took to the streets of Paris and succeeded in murdering 130 people and injuring 368 others. Police suspected that Abdeslam was the one who drove the vehicle which dropped off the nine others. Police also suspected that Adbeslam was wearing a suicide vest which he did not detonate and instead discarded in the trash.

The other nine attackers have already been killed by police authorities, and Abdeslam had been evading police since the attack. Investigators disagreed about where Abdeslam was hiding, with some believing that he was in Paris, others in Brussels, and some believed that he had fled to Syria to join up with ISIS militants.

Officers discovered Abdeslam’s whereabouts almost by accident, spotting his fingerprints in a raid in Brussels intended to gather more information about the group.

The news broke on Friday afternoon that police had Abdeslam in custody and that he suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, though the full chain of events leading up to his capture has not yet been released. The news was then confirmed by a Belgian migration official’s Twitter account which declared, “we’ve got him.”

This post originally appeared on trofire.com.

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Warren Counters GOP Rep. Who Called Her “Darth Vader”: “I’m More of A Princess Leia Type”

When Republican representative Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri attacked Senator Elizabeth Warren for her strong stance on finance reform and her dogged determination to hold Wall Street accountable, the Senator hit back with a challenge.

Luetkemeyer said that Warren was the “Darth Vader of the financial services world,” and said that someone should “find a way to neuter” the senator. The representative’s comments drew strong condemnation from his colleagues, but when Senator Warren was asked to respond, she ignored the personal insults and challenged the Representative to put up his political dukes and fight it out over financial regulations.

“Look, if Wall Street and their buddies in the Republican party want to launch an assault on financial regulations and they want to say ‘let’s roll back Dodd-Frank’ all I can say is ‘let’s have that fight,’” she said. “I’m ready. You can make it with words or anything else you want, but I am not backing down.”

Then, on Thursday evening, the Senator followed up with a letter to her supporters in which she responded to Luetkemeyer’s Star Wars-themed insults with her own “force”-ful response.

“My first thought was Really? I’ve always seen myself more as a Princess Leia-type (as a senator and Resistance general who, unlike the guys, is never even remotely tempted by the dark side). Clearly the Force is not strong with Congressman Luetkemeyer (maybe he’s a Trekkie).”

Warren then doubled down on her previous challenge to Luetkemeyer, charging that the Missouri representative was attacking Warren for her big name and his own financial crony backers.

This exchange teaches us two things: 1. That politicians can be massive nerds, and 2. Elizabeth Warren is not a lady you wanna mess with.

This post originally appeared on trofire.com.

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Oregon Takes In Jaw-Dropping Amount Of Tax Revenue From Legal Marijuana Sales

One of the many benefits of legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use is all the new tax revenue that states are taking in. Oregon is now reaping the financial benefits of legalizing the sale of the marijuana. Reports show that just after one month, Oregon has taken in $3.48 million dollars in new tax revenue.

This is incredible news for the state of Oregon. The state initially expected to bring in a total of $2 million dollars of new tax revenue from marijuana sales – for the entire year. Not every county and city in Oregon has chosen to allow the sale of marijuana. That means 19 counties in Oregon will receive a share of the tax revenue.

Oregon Live reports on some of the details of the state’s marijuana tax policy:

“Oregon’s medical marijuana stores have been allowed to sell a limited amount of cannabis flowers, as well as starter marijuana plants and seeds, to anyone 21 and older since last October. The state’s temporary 25 percent tax didn’t kick in until Jan. 1.

That tax will eventually be replaced with one ranging from 17 percent to 20 percent once the Oregon Liquor Control Commission assumes control over recreational marijuana sales later this year. The Legislature set the base tax rate at 17 percent, but cities and counties may adopt ordinances that add up to 3 percent more.

Next year, the first full year of sales under the liquor commission, state economists expect recreational cannabis sales to generate $10.75 million in tax revenue after the state covers startup costs. That number is expected to climb to $62.42 million for the 2017-2019 biennium.”

Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana have received similar tax windfalls. Colorado, the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana, took in $135 million dollars in taxes and fees in 2015. Colorado is pumping most of their new tax dollars into schools and other education initiatives.

The state of Washington raised $67.5 million dollars in tax revenue from recreational marijuana in 2015. They are expected to raise more than $1 billion dollars over four years. This money goes into Washington’s general fund and to help fund health services.

Of course, marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. So far, the federal government has decided to respect state’s marijuana laws. The federal government’s attitude towards recreational marijuana can change, for better or worse, depending on the whim of the administration in charge.

This post originally appeared on AddictingInfo.org.

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Alabama GOP Bill Would Ban Poor People From Having Food Stamps If They Own A Car

Once again, Republicans have found another cruel way to punish poor people who need government assistance to prevent themselves and their children from starving to death.

Alabama Republicans passed a bill in committee last week that would significantly hammer families who rely on food stamps to get by. Yet Republicans still expect those people to have jobs, which is kinda hard if they have no mode of transportation to get to work every day.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser,

The legislation would cut eligibility for Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) from five years to three. It would also require TANF recipients to sign a paper acknowledging they would stick to the requirements of the program, including those related to work. The bill would also prevent the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) from seeking work waivers for those receiving SNAP, and would also require EBT cards for recipients of public benefits to have photos on them…The bill would also change asset calculations, which currently allow those receiving benefits to own items like cars. The legislation would end that.

In short, if you’re poor and you own a car, you have to choose between feeding your family or having transportation. And if you’re forced to choose, more than likely you would choose feeding your family and ditch the car. However, Republicans also want food stamp recipients to sign a promise that they’ll get a job, and that’s the catch. If the only job a poor person can find is miles away, how the hell are they supposed to get to work on time every day to fulfill the requirements Alabama Republicans are forcing upon them, especially if they live in a rural area where there is no public transportation? And what if you’re family is so poor that your car IS your home? Then Republicans would be forcing families to choose between food and shelter.

That’s the precise reason why Democratic state Senator Rodger Smitherman blasted the bill and sponsor GOP state Senator Arthur Orr during the committee vote last Wednesday.

“I’m going to do whatever I can to stop this,” Smitherman angrily declared. “I am not going to let you do this to these people. I am not going to let people starve. There’s no provisions in there that guarantee employment if you go through those steps.”

The committee passed the bill by a 10-3 vote and it will now go to a full vote in the Senate where it is likely to pass the GOP-dominated body and could very well become law if the Republican-controlled House passes it as well and the Republican governor signs it.

And once it becomes law, children are going to be the ones who feel the hunger pangs the most since 77 percent of TANF recipients in the state are kids, giving further credence to the charge that Republicans only care about children until after they are born.

The Republican war against the poor continues on.

This post originally appeared on AddictingInfo.org.

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Oregon Passes Highest Minimum Wage In The Nation

They whined and fear mongered, but in the end, Republicans had to sit and watch as Oregon took action to help struggling workers make a fair living.

On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a bill into law raising the state minimum wage to the highest in the country, but in a unique way that takes into consideration the differences between urban and rural business growth.

According to The Oregonian:

The bill gives Oregon the highest statewide minimum wage rates in the nation, to $14.75 inside Portland’s urban growth boundary, $13.50 in midsize counties and $12.50 in rural areas by 2022.

The law was agreed upon by labor unions and businesses in a compromise that should stand as proof that both sides can work together for the common good of the hardworking people who are trying to feed and cloth their families.

Governor Brown expressed pride at what Oregon Democrats have achieved for families across the state with the help of unions and businesses.

“I am extremely proud of the collaborative spirit of the stakeholder groups that worked to develop this legislation. Oregon has not only avoided a number of potentially problematic ballot measures, we have taken a very smart approach in a way that makes sense for workers and for businesses no matter where in Oregon they are.”

On Facebook, Brown wrote that the new law will “ensure hard-working Oregonians get a much-needed raise in order to keep up with rising costs of rent, food, and other necessities.”

Even President Obama praised the new wage hike in a statement via the White House, and called upon Congress to do the same for the rest of the nation.

I commend the Oregon Legislature and Governor Kate Brown for taking action to raise their state’s minimum wage. Since I first called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage in 2013, 18 states and the District of Columbia have acted on their own. These efforts will boost the paychecks of hardworking Americans and help support millions of workers trying to make ends meet. Today, more than half of our states guarantee their workers a wage higher than the federal minimum. That’s progress. But Congress needs to keep up with the rest of the country. They need to act, and finally give America a raise. And until they do, I’ll continue to encourage states, cities, counties and companies to act on their own to support hardworking families.

This is a great day for Oregon workers, who must be a little more excited than usual to go to work now that they know they’ll be taking home much more needed income to provide for themselves and their families.

The same cannot be said for most of Republican-controlled Alabama and other red states. Republicans there recently passed a law banning counties and cities from increasing the minimum wage within their own boundaries, making clear that they have no intention of raising the minimum wage in that state for the foreseeable future.

So while people in Oregon can have hope that the future will be financially brighter, people in Alabama are struck and that’s why it doesn’t make sense for people to vote for Republicans.

This post originally appeared on AddictingInfo.org.

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Old NYT Article About Early Rise of Hitler Sounds Eerily Familiar

When The Wall Street Journal Reporter Jon Ostrower dug up the first mention of Adolf Hitler in the New York Times in 1922, he most likely had no idea just how relevant the article fragment would be in 2016 American politics. But when he posted the snipped to Twitter, it quickly gained traction from people who saw an eerie similarity to modern day.

Many have scoffed at our reference to Donald Trump as being a “fascist” or even calling him “little Hitler” but the proof is in the pudding. If only we could step back and end this dangerous and ugly strain of American politics before it goes too far.

This post originally appeared on trofire.com.

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