Category Archives: News

5 Guantánamo Detainees, Never Charged with a Crime, are Released after 14 Years

from November 19, 2015 at 12:40PM

Five more detainees from Guantánamo have been released, following 14 years of imprisonment without being charged with a crime.


All five are from Yemen, but the ongoing war there made it impossible for the U.S. to send them back home. Instead, the Obama administration convinced the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to take the men. The UAE had taken another Guantánamo detainee in 2008—one of its own citizens.


The detainees, who were captured in 2001 near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, are Khalid Abd Jal Jabbar Muhammad Juthman al Qadasi, Sulaiman Awath Sulaiman Bin Ageel al Nahdi, Fahmi Salem Said al Sani, Adil Said al Haj Obeid al Busayss, and Ali Ahmad Muhammad al Rahizi.


Four of the men had been recommended for transfer by a 2009 task force set up to review the cases of Guantánamo prisoners. The fifth had been denied transfer by that task force, but a review board later cleared him.


The notorious military facility in Cuba still has 107 detainees, 48 of which have been approved for transfer. Seventeen more “proposed transfers of lower-level detainees are in the bureaucratic pipeline,” according to The New York Times.


President Obama is expected to sign the annual defense authorization bill any day now, which contains restrictions—imposed by lawmakers—intended to freeze any additional detainee transfers through 2017, according to Defense One. That order could be the final nail in the coffin for Obama’s pledge to close the prison, unless he does so by executive order.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

5 Yemeni Guantánamo Inmates Are Sent to United Arab Emirates (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)

Pentagon Transfers 5 Guantanamo Detainees to the UAE as Battle Over Closure Heats Up (by Molly O’Toole, Defense One)

Yemeni Spent 13 Years at Guantánamo because a U.S. Soldier Confused the Name of a Village with Al-Qaeda (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Only 3 of 116 Remaining Guantánamo Prisoners were Captured by Americans…and 52 Have Already been Cleared for Release (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Read more at: News – AllGov

Texas Abortion Clinic Closures Likely Triggered Thousands of Attempted Self-Induced Abortions

from November 19, 2015 at 12:45PM

The closure of most of Texas’ abortion clinics has likely contributed to thousands of women trying to end their pregnancies themselves, according to two surveys from the University of Texas.


The Texas Policy Evaluation Project estimated that between 100,000 and 240,000 Texas women aged 18-49 have attempted self-induced abortions, based on information collected from online surveys’ representative sampling of 779 women.


In the surveys, women were asked if they had personally performed an abortion on themselves, or if they knew that a close friend had self-aborted a pregnancy. The survey results showed that 1.7% of those questioned had performed their own abortions, and 4.1% of the survey subjects said they either knew or suspected that a best friend had done so.


The surveys found that self-induced abortions were more common among women who had difficulty finding or getting to clinics that perform the procedure. Respondents cited the lack of such available services, resulting from the closure of clinics, as the reason for attempting the abortions on their own.


The drug Misoprostol (brand name Cytotec) was the most common method reportedly used by women. Other methods included “herbs or homeopathic remedies, getting hit or punched in the abdomen, using alcohol or illicit drugs, or taking hormonal pills,” according to The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan.


The news comes in the wake of Texas’ new law that forced the closure of most of the states’ abortion clinics, which went from 41 in number three years ago to 17 today. Still more are likely to close, bringing the total down to 10 clinics unless the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to review the law, overturns it, according to Khazan.


The 2013 law required the state’s abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and mandated their doctors have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.


“At the time, most of the state’s clinics didn’t meet these requirements,” Khazan wrote. “It’s too expensive for them to make the necessary renovations, they say, and there are not enough nearby hospitals for every abortion provider to gain admitting privileges.”


The average Texas county is 111 miles from the nearest clinic, a distance that is nearly double the national average, according to The New York Times’ Kim Soffen.


It’s “tremendously disrespectful” to not allow women access to services to get safe abortions, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, told The Guardian. “Abortion is legal in this country. And so every woman deserves to have access to whatever method for terminating her pregnancy safely she might choose in her local community.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Texas Women Are Inducing Their Own Abortions (by Olga Khazan, The Atlantic)

Hundreds of Thousands of Texas Women Attempted Self-Induced Abortion – Study (by Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian)

Research Brief: Knowledge, Opinion and Experience Related to Abortion Self-Induction in Texas (by D. Grossman, K. White, L. Fuentes, K. Hopkins, A. Stevenson, S. Yeatman, and J. E. Potter, Texas Policy Evaluation Project)

Texas Investigators Ordered Planned Parenthood to Surrender Private Patient and Employee Records (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Majority of Texas Abortion Clinics Promptly Close as Federal Court Backs Sweeping State Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Read more at: News – AllGov

Most Gun Owners Say the NRA Is Off Target

from November 19, 2015 at 03:00AM

A new survey of gun owners finds widespread support for universal background checks and provides new details on who does and doesn’t support the National Rifle Association. The survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Center for American Progress and Civic Action, will bolster claims that the NRA doesn’t represent the views of most American gun owners. Yet it also shows the depth of the NRA’s support among its members as well as Republicans, suggesting that taking on the NRA, as Democratic presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley are doing, is good partisan politics.  

Echoing earlier surveys, this survey finds that the vast majority of gun owners support expanding criminal background checks to cover all firearm purchases. (Currently, federal law does not require background checks for private gun sales.) Among the gun owners surveyed, 83 percent said they support universal background checks. And 72 percent of NRA members say they do.

More than 40 percent of gun owners say they are Republicans; about one-third are Democrats. (The rest are independents.) Support for universal background checks is strongest among Democrats.

Support for universal background checks is strong across racial and ethnic lines. Yet there is greater opposition to them among African American gun owners and minorities lumped into the "other" category.

The survey also asked gun owners how they feel about requirements that gun owners must obtain permits to carry concealed weapons in public. Overall, about three-quarters said they supported these laws, which have been challenged in California and other states.

Nearly a quarter of the gun owners who responded to the survey said they belong to the NRA. (This suggests that NRA members may be overrepresented in this sample. The group currently claims more than 5 million members. Considering that one-third of adults report owning a gun, there are more than 75 million gun owners in the United States. That puts NRA members at less than 10 percent of all gun owners.)

NRA membership is uncommon among Democrats, with just 8 percent saying they belong to the group. The survey also finds that NRA membership is lowest among African American gun owners, with 12 percent saying they’re members. In comparison, 35 percent of Latino and 25 percent of white gun owners say they are part of the group. 

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Bernie Sanders comments that "the NRA does not necessarily represent the views of gun owners, in general, and even their own members." He’s half right. According to the survey, a slim majority of all gun owners say the NRA does not represent their interests. However, even though 55 percent of NRA members say they disagree with the NRA’s stance against background checks, 86 percent say the group still represents them. Among non-NRA members, just 40 percent say it does.

The perception of the NRA also splits along party lines. Just 25 percent of Democratic gun owners say it represents their views, while 76 percent of Republicans—who make up the bulk of NRA members—say it does. And the group’s standing among independents is almost evenly split. This breakdown hints that attacking the NRA is probably a winner for Democratic candidates who might fear alienating gun owners in their own party. Nearly 90 percent of Democrats said they’d be more likely to support a candidate who’s in favor of universal background checks, which may help explain why the Democratic presidential contenders have seized on this issue. But will it play with swing voters? It might: More than half of politically independent gun owners say they’d be more likely to support a candidate who’s in favor of expanded background checks.

Read more at: Politics | Mother Jones

Human Rights Watch Calls on US to Stop Selling Bombs to Saudi Arabia

from November 18, 2015 at 10:38AM

This morning, Human Rights Watch called on the United States to stop selling bombs to Saudi Arabia for use in its air campaign in Yemen, which has killed hundreds of civilians and allegedly violated the laws of war.

The call comes shortly after a new arms deal was announced by the Defense Department, just days after the terrorist attacks in Paris. The $1.29 billion sale is for more than 10,000 advanced air-to-ground munitions, including laser guided bombs and "general purpose" bombs with guidance systems, which have been linked to civilian deaths in Yemen. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that eight-month fight against rebel fighters in Yemen has resulted in over 2,300 civilian deaths, the majority of them from air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition.

"The US government is well aware of the Saudi-led coalition’s indiscriminate air attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen since March," said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director, in a statement. "Providing the Saudis with more bombs under these circumstances is a recipe for greater civilian deaths, for which the US will be partially responsible."

Human Rights Watch noted that Pentagon officials have said that the United States is playing an active role in coordinating the Saudi-led air operations in Yemen. This cooperation, it said, could make US forces "responsible for possible laws-of-war violations by the coalition." Stork called on the United States to stop sending bombs to Saudi Arabia until the kingdom investigates the alleged war crimes by coalition warplanes.

Read more at: Politics | Mother Jones

Fundraising Campaign Launched for SF Mission Fire Victims

from November 18, 2015 at 09:30AM
A GoFundMe campaign that was started for the tenants displaced by the November 8 fire that consumed a tire shop and damaged a neighboring apartment building at 16th and Shotwell streets, displacing 29 tenants. The campaign has reached more than $1,210 in three days — a good start, but far short of the $100,000 goal. Though he says he’s aiming high, Raul Pacheco is also hopeful that the community will step up to help him meet this goal. “I…

Read more at: MissionLocal

Inmates Charged for being in Jail

from November 18, 2015 at 12:45PM

It is said crime does not pay, but it sure does for some jails.


A new report from the ACLU of Ohio reveals the majority of jails it examined in Ohio charge prisoners “pay to stay” fees that can reach thousands of dollars. The fees are even levied against the poor, despite state law that’s supposed to prevent it.


Of the 75 jails reviewed by the ACLU, 40 charge a one-time booking fee or a daily fee that can amount to crippling debt for those incarcerated for long periods. The ACLU found the daily fee can be as high as $66.09 a day.


Some former inmates have pay-to-stay bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars, according to the BBC. David Mahoney owes $21,000 for his stay in the Marion, Ohio, jail on drug charges. He’s now out of jail and is clean, but has a huge bill staring him in the face. “Obviously, it’s my fault I’m in the situation I am in. I’m trying to start over,” Mahoney told the BBC. “People that end up in jail are usually down on their luck anyway. They’re going through some trials and tribulations in life. Why focus on the people who are already struggling?”


The impact of charging former inmates goes even beyond the immediate financial struggle. “People impacted by pay-to-stay fees suffer financially,” the report states. “These fees are often reported to collections agencies, meaning they appear on credit reports. This narrows employment options and dashes opportunities for home ownership. These fees add additional financial stress as many people are still responsible for their monthly bills, rent, child support, school loans, and other financial obligations.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

In Jail & In Debt: Ohio’s Pay-to-Stay Fees (American Civil Liberties Union)

The U.S. Inmates Charged per Night in Jail (by Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News)

Here’s the Absurd Amount of Money Jails Charge Inmates Just for Being Locked Up (by Zeeshan Aleem, Mic)

Justice for the Poor…No Bail, Stay in Jail (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Read more at: News – AllGov

Birth Rate Decline Predicted as Rising Heat from Climate Change Puts Chill into Having Sex

from November 18, 2015 at 12:55PM

A hotter world could wind up being a less populated one, according to a new study linking climate change to birthrates.


Research produced for the National Bureau of Economic Research says this century is likely to experience more days of 80°F or higher than the 20th century, and that the increase won’t bode well for “coital frequency.”


Experts at Tulane University in New Orleans, the University of Central Florida and UC Santa Barbara concluded global warming will result in the U.S. having 64 more days above 80°F between 2070 and 2099 than during the period from 1990 to 2002, which had 31.


That’s not good news for human reproduction because they found birthrates were 0.7% lower nine months after a hot day than following cooler ones.


“Extreme heat leads to a sizeable fall in births,” the researchers said. “Temperature extremes could affect coital frequency. It could affect hormone levels and sex drives. Alternatively, high temperatures may adversely affect reproductive health or semen quality on the male side, or ovulation on the female side.”


A lower birthrate could play havoc with the U.S. retirement system. Fewer births will result in fewer people paying into Social Security for the benefit of older Americans.

The effects are already being noticed in other countries. China, which for years had a one-child policy has responded to the slowing birthrate by allowing couples to have two children.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Global Warming Could Harm Birth Rates as Hot Temperatures ‘Make People Less Likely to have Sex’ (by Tom Bawden, The Independent)

Is Global Warming Cooling YOUR Sex Life? Rising Temperatures Linked to Drop in Birth Rates (by Amanda Williams, Daily Mail)

Climate Change Kills the Mood: Economists Warn of Less Sex on a Warmer Planet (by Eric Roston, Bloomberg)

Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates (by Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, Melanie Guldi, National Bureau of Economic Research)

Read more at: News – AllGov

Supreme Court to Hear ‘Most Important Abortion Rights Case in 25 Years’

from November 18, 2015 at 07:30AM

Read more at: disinformation

SF Will Favor Local Residents in Affordable Housing Lottery

from November 17, 2015 at 06:39PM
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 today to favor local residents in affordable housing lotteries for the first time in city history. The new legislation would make it easier for residents of districts in which affordable housing projects are built to live in those projects. Currently, residents hoping to live in affordable housing projects administered by the city must win a lottery. Preference already exists for residents displaced…

Read more at: MissionLocal

‘Anonymous’ hackers’ group declares ‘war’ on ISIL

from November 16, 2015 at 05:33PM
The hackers’ collective known as "Anonymous" has apparently responded to the attacks on Paris by declaring war on ISIL in a video posted on YouTube.…

Read more at: euronews