Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

National

08/11/2014

Police Shooting of Unarmed Missouri Teen Provokes Outrage

Natl1

The fatal death of an 18-year-old black man at the hands of a police officer on Saturday has sparked a wave of local protest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Michael Brown, a recent high school graduate, was shot multiple times by a suburban St. Louis police officer on the street near an apartment complex in Ferguson.

John Belmar, St. Louis County Police Chief, said the struggle happened when two young men, one of whom was Brown, assaulted the police officer.

One of the men pushed the officer back into his squad car and the shooting began. At least one shot was fired from the officer's gun inside the car, but it was not clear if the man who struggled with the police officer inside the car was Brown.

The fight escalated into the street, where Brown was shot several times. All the bullets found at the scene matched the officer's gun, Belmar confirmed.

The police are still in the process of investigating the reason why the officer shot Brown, who was confirmed unarmed at the time.

Chief Thomas Jackson of Ferguson Police Department said the second person involved in the struggle has not been charged or arrested and is still being questioned.

Hours after the news of the shooting, calls for justice spread quickly. A crowd of angry protesters gathered near the scene, as did 100 police cars from 15 departments.

Local police officers said protesters came in front of them, while shouting "Don't shoot me" with raised arms. They repeatedly chanted slogans such as "No justice, no peace" and carried signs that read "Disarm the police."

Some civil-right leaders expressed their criticism over the killing, citing similar incidents like that of a 17-year-old teen in 2012 who was shot by a Florida neighborhood watchman, as well as the death of a man in New York from a police chokehold. Both were reported as racially charged incidents.

John Gaskin from National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization for African-American civil rights in the U.S., said the team was outraged because another African-American man has been killed again by law enforcement.

People joined a vigil on Sunday night where they placed candles, flowers and a teddy bear at the exact spot where Brown was killed.

Looting also occurred in several stores along a main road near the shooting scene, including a mini grocery store, check-cashing store, and boutique.

...


Riots, looting in Ferguson, Missouri after protest against police for shooting death of Michael Brown

Natl2

A VIOLENT riot and looting has erupted in Missouri, after a protest over the killing of an unarmed black teenager descended into chaos.

Crowds of protesters broke windows of cars and stores after a day of demonstrations over the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black teenager who was shot dead on Saturday by a police officer in the predominately black neighbourhood of Ferguson, located a few miles north of downtown St Louis, theChicago Tribune reports.

At the time he was shot and killed by police, Brown was unarmed and allegedly surrendering with his hands in the air on Saturday.

A police officer shot him several times, killing him.

But, the St. Louis County Police Department’s chief, which is handling the investigation into the incident, says Brown assaulted the officer and struggled over the officer’s weapon.

The officer who shot Brown is on paid leave while the shooting is under investigation.

At around 8.30pm local time on Sunday, 30 minutes before a vigil was to be held for Brown, protesters became “aggressive”, Fox2Now reports.

A riot then broke out, sending locals inside and running for cover.

“We are currently experiencing a riot,” a Ferguson police dispatcher said.

By 10pm, St. Louis County Police had called for more assistance from all surrounding municipalities including St. Louis City and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Tactical units have been deployed across the area and the St. Louis County helicopter was in the air searchnig for suspects.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported several businesses were looted, demonstrators blocked traffic and a civilian was severely beaten.

Police scanners went berserk with the news of robberies across the city, as heard in the video recordered by one local reporter below.

Police officers in riot gear and the State Trooper SWAT Unit were called out after looters targeted a petrol station and other nearby stores, including a Walmart, QuikTrip and a local beauty supply store among others, WDAM 7 reports.

At the Walmart store, employees were reportedly barricaded inside, according to CBS owned KMOX.

It is unknown how many injuries there are from the riot, but Ferguson’s police chief says at least 20 cars were damaged by thrown objects.

A liquor store was also targeted.

Local media outlets and residents have posted social media videos and photographs of the violence taking place, as more pictures emerged of looters fleeing...



07/22/2014

Kids Count report: Miss. on bottom of list again

Natl1

Mississippi youth suffer worse odds than those anywhere else in the nation, ranking dead last once again in the annual Kids Count report measuring the well-being of children and families.

It's the 24th time in the 25 years the Annie E. Casey Foundation has issued the report that Mississippi claimed last place overall, slipping back down from its spot at No. 49 the previous year. That's based on its performance in four key areas: health, education, economic well-being and family and community.

Mississippi ranked 48th in the first two areas and 50th in the last two.

"Although Mississippi saw no change in any of the four focus areas," the report noted, "the overall ranking fell due to improvements in other states."

Among the areas in which the state scored worse was its child poverty rate, with more than one-third of all youth living below the federal poverty line — the highest in the country. That rate has continued to climb here despite falling nationally as most states begin recovering from the recession.

Also troubling for Mississippi is the number of children living in single-parent homes — 49 percent, the report found.

"That's directly tied to the child poverty rate," said Laura Speer, associate director of policy reform for the Annie E Casey Foundation. "That also continued to go up in Mississippi whereas at the national level the rates have been pretty stable over the last 10 years or so."

Bright spots for Mississippi include the reduction in its teen birth rate, which fell 43 percent since the foundation released its first report a quarter century ago.

The state's youth death rate also dropped 42 percent since 1990, as has the percent of children whose parents both lack a high school diploma, from 35 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2012.

"The gains that have been made in Mississippi shouldn't be overlooked," Speer said.

"There has been investment in preschool, more kids have health insurance now than ever, and there's been a dramatic decline in the teen birth rate."

But Mississippi still lags behind the rest of the nation in nearly every other indicator.

The results come as little surprise to policy advocates who call Mississippi's challenges both daunting and intertwined.

It's hard to move the needle on low birth weight — one of the factors measured in the report — without curbing teen pregnancy first, which itself requires better...


Massachusetts kids are No. 1, but compared to whom?

It’s official. Kids in Massachusetts are number one. That’s the finding of this year’s KIDS COUNT Data Book, which looks across all 50 states and compares things like test scores, child poverty rates, teen pregnancy, and health insurance coverage.

While it’s nice to see Massachusetts children leading the nation, it’s not that surprising. We’re avery rich state, which means our government has more money to invest in schools, parents can afford more help and enrichment, and almost everyone has access to good health care. Call it the Massachusetts vs. Mississippi problem. Yes, kids in the Commonwealth are doing better than kids in the Magnolia State, which came in 50th out of 50 in the KIDS COUNT rankings. But then we have vastly more resources.

Money isn’t everything. Policy choices matter too. But if we want to tease out just how effective our policy choices have been, we might go beyond the states and compare ourselves with other, similarly wealthy countries. When we do, the picture looks different. Child poverty turns out to be relatively high in Massachusetts, and while our education system is quite competitive, it is not at the very top.

Child poverty

About 1 in 7 kids in Massachusetts lives in poverty. That’s much better than the nation as a whole, where nearly 1 in 4 kids live in poverty. But by international standards, it’s still quite high.

To make good, apples-to-apples comparisons across countries, you need to use a slightly different poverty measure. On this international measure, the US poverty rate comes out a bit better: 21 percent. Massachusetts, however, looks slightly worse, with a child poverty rate of 18 percent. That puts us nearly 30th among developed countries, dramatically higher than the UK (9.8 percent), Germany (8.1 percent), or Finland (3 percent).

Education

If there’s one thing Massachusetts kids do really well, it’s take tests. We have the best fourth grade reading scores and the best eighth grade math scores of any state in the country. On average, we perform 5 to 6 percent better than the nation as a whole.

One of the leading tools for comparing education systems around the world is a test of 15-year-olds called PISA, or Program for International Student Assessment. In 2012, US students came in 27th out of 34 on the math section and 17th in reading, behind nearly every European country and well behind the Asian leaders.

If Massachusetts...



07/14/2014

Three myths about road funding and gas taxes

Natl1

It’s time for a primer on the Highway Trust Fund, which looms as the next battle in Congress’ budget wars.

Created in 1956 to pay for the Interstate Highway System, the trust fund is both popular and controversial. To some, it’s a vast source of governmental “pork.” To others, it’s the foundation of a vital national transportation network. In 2013, the trust fund disbursed $50 billion to states — $43 billion for roads and $7 billion for mass transit, reports the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). For a typical project, the federal government covers 80 percent of the costs and states pick up the rest.

The trust fund has a problem: It’s running out of money. Spending is projected to exceed its dedicated revenues, which come mainly from an 18.4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax and a 24.4-cents-per-gallon diesel fuel tax. In the past, Congress has closed the gap by moving money from the Treasury’s general revenues. From 2015 to 2024, the CBO estimates a $167 billion gap. The debate concerns whether and by how much the trust fund should be replenished.

Not surprisingly, some myths surround the debate. Here are three.

Myth: If Congress doesn’t act, all road construction would grind to a halt. Perhaps 700,000 jobs might be jeopardized.

Not so. For starters, the Highway Trust Fund finances only a portion of road and mass transit construction. At $110 billion in 2013, state and local spending on roads is about double the level of federal spending. All or most of this spending would continue. Next, spending on the trust fund’sexisting projects would also continue, though the pace of construction might slow.

Myth: The shortfall in the trust fund’s tax revenues reflects unexpected declines in driving by Americans and improved vehicle fuel economy.

True — but the impact is overstated. In 2012, the average car traveled 11,265 miles, says the Energy Information Administration. This was 10 percent less than in the peak year of 2005. It’s an amazing change for a car-addicted society.

But the main cause of the trust fund’s revenue shortfall is this: The gasoline and diesel taxes were last raised in 1993. Since then, overall prices are up about 60 percent. The taxes’ revenues buy much less.

Myth: We’re massively underinvesting in aging highways and bridges.

This is debatable, though — superficially — it seems so. Take bridges as an example. The record looks...


A highway to success

Once again, Congress needs to act — this time to renew the Highway Trust Fund, created back in 1956 to help construct and fund our nation’s roadways, bridges, tunnels and sidewalks. The trust fund has been a complete success, but it’s about to run out of money soon if Congress fails to act.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders summarized our highway challenge: “Thirty-two percent of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 42 percent of (our) major urban highways remain congested, costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually.”

[Click Here!]

Our nation’s infrastructure needs repair. Fixing our roads and bridges should be a bipartisan affair.

Dwight Eisenhower was a young major in 1919 when he was assigned to a transcontinental Army convoy to “test vehicles and dramatize the need for improved roads.” What Ike saw (at what turned out to be an average speed of 5 miles per hour) stayed with him until he was president.

In Detroit’s Cadillac Square, in 1954, Eisenhower set forth his goal of an interstate highway system that “will take this nation out of its antiquated shackles of secondary roads. ... It will be a nation that is going ahead every day — with our population increasing at five every minute, the expanding horizon is one that staggers the imagination.”

Sixty years later, our nation’s highway system needs repair and maintenance — and expansion — if we want to keep moving ahead “every day” toward Eisenhower’s vision of an “expanding horizon” of potential and achievement.

According to the nonpartisan Pew Research firm, “Nearly half the states (24) received a third or more of their highway and transit funding from federal sources.” The government pours over $50 billion into highway maintenance and construction yearly. It’s a good deal for the states: The majority get back in federal dollars multiple times the amounts that they send.

Pew reports that Alaska gets back $7 for every dollar it contributes to the federal Highway Trust Fund. Vermont gets $5 for every $1 sent. North Dakota and Montana get $3 for every $1. Only four states (Texas, Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina) receive less than what they send, and that is only pennies less — from two cents to five cents less.

The nonpartisan research arm of Congress, the Congressional Budget Office, has reported...



07/04/2014

Richard Scaife, conservative champion, newsman and philanthropist, dies at 82

Natl1

Tribune-Review owner and philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife, whose vision and funding reinvigorated conservative politics in America, died Friday, July 4, in his home.

His death came just one day after his 82nd birthday.

Many of the nation's leading conservatives considered him to be the man who sustained the Republican Party after its crushing defeat in the 1964 presidential election and the Watergate scandal in 1972.

His support for and promotion of a conservative agenda led to Ronald Reagan's election as president in 1980 and the nation's turn toward the principles those two men shared.

He and Reagan remained friends and admirers until the latter's death in 2004.

Politics, however, was just one aspect of his many-faceted life.

“Dick Scaife was the epitome of a libertarian,” said attorney H. Yale Gutnick, who represented his close friend for more than three decades. “He resented government intrusion into our lives while vigorously defending free speech, freedom of the press, the separation of church and state, a woman's right to choose, and other individual liberties.

“The liberty to give was at the top of his priority list, and he gave to his community in abundance.”

The arts, historic preservation, universities, and community programs both large and small, in Pittsburgh and nationally, were among the many endeavors benefiting from his generosity.

In a June 3 letter to the publisher, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner touched on Scaife's other roles in America's life.

The Ohio Republican called Scaife “ever the good newspaperman” and a “patriot who can truly claim to have spent his life giving … immeasurable service (to) our country.”

In the opening to his autobiography, A Richly Conservative Life, Scaife himself gave an explanation.

“A man is lucky to be born into wealth,” he wrote. “… An inheritance comes to the person but also to his community and country. It can do powerful good” — and he always felt best “being able to put dollars to work in the battle of ideas.”

PROUD OF NEWSPAPERS

He was particularly proud of his legacy as a newspaper publisher.

In a May 18 column revealing he had untreatable cancer, he described a lifelong love of newspapers, calling them “the strong guardians of our lives.”

“The work of my newspapers gives me immense pride,” he wrote. “…...


Richard Mellon Scaife, billionaire famous for attacks against Bill Clinton, has died

Natl2

Richard Mellon Scaife, a billionaire publisher whose philanthropy helped redefine the American right-wing in the 1980s and 1990s and who helped underwrite a range of anti-liberal causes, most famously his political attacks against President Bill Clinton, died July 4 a day after his 82nd birthday.

His newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, announced the death but did not disclose the cause.

An heir to the Mellon banking, oil and aluminum fortunes, the Pittsburgh-based Scaife spent hundreds of millions of dollars of his estimated net worth of $1.4 billion to counteract what he called “the liberal slant to American society.”

He threw his financial support behind conservative newspapers and magazines, including the American Spectator and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Through those organs, his family-based funding entities and his presence on the boards of conservative and libertarian citadels such as the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution, he championed small government, fewer regulations on business, low taxes and a strong national defense.

Mr. Scaife’s conservative leanings were shaped during his youth. As a young man, he became friends with a family acquaintance, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. And in the 1964 presidential election, Mr. Scaife became a strong supporter of the small-government, anti-Communist candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who lost in a landslide to President Lyndon Johnson.

With generous donations to later candidates such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Mr. Scaife began building momentum for a conservative Republican resurgence. He also was a guiding force behind the Contract With America initiatives of House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in the early 1990s, as well as the GOP’s tea party progeny in the 21st century.

Mr. Scaife donated millions to such tea party-friendly groups as FreedomWorks, known for its anti-union campaigns and calls for reducing government regulation of business, privatizing Social Security and establishing English as the official language of the United States.

Throughout a life marked by bouts of alcoholism, two turbulent marriages and estrangement from many in his family, Mr. Scaife was, at times, an erratic shepherd of his deeply felt political beliefs. Some of his most public causes were rooted in elaborate conspiracy theories.

He was a major underwriter of the American Spectator magazine’s “Arkansas Project” to develop financial and...



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