Congresspeople’s kids’ don’t need to pay student loans: truth or myth?

A myth gets recycled from time to time which factcheck.org boiled down into the the following question and answer:

Q: Is it true that members of Congress, their staffers and their family members do not have to pay back their student loans?

A: Not true. Some congressional employees are eligible to have up to $60,000 of student loans repaid after several years — just like other federal workers. But that’s not the case for members of Congress or their families.

A Snopes article covers the same topic and says pretty much the same thing.

Much evidence points to Tulsi Gabbard being a conservative shill and Russian sympathizer – but is it credible?

Tulsi Gabbard

Is she going mad? #Hillary's accusation that @TulsiGabbard is a Russian asset is made laughable by her accusation that @DrJillStein is also an asset #LosingHerMind #p2

Posted by Kimi Wei on Sunday, October 20, 2019

When I made light of Hillary Clinton’s allegations that Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein are Russian assets, a friend sent me this list of reports that seem to point to Gabbard not being the staunch defender of democratic principles that she purports to be, which really surprised me. What do you think?

Hat tip to Dvd Avins for the list of links.

Is running the US government based too much on ‘norms’ –  and not enough on rule of law?

Vox article heading

I read the Vox article Are We In a Constitutional Crisis Yet? with a mix of interest, curiosity and concern. While all of the 13 law professionals interviewed agree that we’re in a difficult situation in regards to how the United States government is being run today, some say we’re not in a Constitutional crisis until the president refuses to obey a court order – an order which could be issued if Congress’ demands for information relating to its task of rounding up materials needed to impeach government officials are ignored.

The article’s easy to read format helped me understand the subject of impeachment much better, and appreciate the difficulties inherent in handling proceedings against a sitting president who has little apparent respect for the laws and procedures which form the norms by which America lives and works. Note: Impeachment is a process known by the term ‘indictment’ when charges are made in a court setting, rather than a government one.

The legal opinion voiced in the article that best captured my attention, points out that a central problem which has repeatedly arisen in regards to Donald Trump’s flouting of the rules governing the behaviour of top US government officials, may stem from the fact that many of the rules are more guidance and suggestion – what NYU law professor Melissa Murray calls ‘norms’ – than they are codified legal requirements.

Prof Murray writes:

It seems like we’ve been careening from constitutional crisis to constitutional crisis as this administration has repeatedly refused Congress’ oversight requests. The fact that this involves an impeachment inquiry — Congress’ ultimate check on the Executive — amplifies the sense that this is different from what preceded it. “THE LETTER FROM THE WHITE HOUSE IS A POLITICAL STUNT THAT MISINTERPRETS THE CONSTITUTION, IGNORES RELEVANT PRECEDENTS, AND DEFIES COMMON SENSE”

So does this leave us in a constitutional crisis? Maybe. But to my mind, the thing that is most concerning about all of the administration’s frequent clashes with Congress is that they make clear how much we rely on norms, rather than rules (whether constitutional or not), for the government to operate effectively and efficiently. 

In the past, when the administration and Congress disagreed over oversight requests, they negotiated a mutually agreeable outcome, and failing that, resorted to the courts to resolve the dispute. The norm of interbranch negotiation and resolution has fallen by the wayside with this administration. It’s unclear whether it can be resurrected going forward. The abrogation of the norms on which the exercise of constitutional powers depend might be the real constitutional crisis here.

Congress clearly does not require the president’s permission or agreement to impeach him. Georgia U law professor Diane Marie Amann points out, “…the White House cannot just refuse across the board to cooperate with subpoenas. Persistence may result in a finding of contempt of Congress, a federal crime punishable by up to a year in prison.” But it is also not clear at all whether there exists an individual in any branch of the US government or judiciary who would feel him/herself empowered to arrest and jail the POTUS.

Our deepest problem may be more the enforcement of law, when it comes to high-profile government official, than it is a matter of identifying either legal violations – or their remedies.

Pacifica Radio ignores court order and continues dismantling WBAI

WBAI homepage screenshot
WBAI fights a hostile shutdown by its parent company, Pacifica Radio.

WBAI is fighting a hostile shutdown by its parent company. WBAI radio was abruptly shut down by the Pacifica Foundation. Employees were fired, locked out and Pacifica has ignored a Manhattan Supreme Court order to restore WBAI’s operations.

WBAI Eco-Logic Host/producerr Ken Gale circulated this letter on Tues, 08 Oct 2019.

At 9am Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, all staff at WBAI was fired, management and non-management alike. All programs were canceled and replaced with “a network source called Pacifica Across America.” These plans seem to have been in the works for a while and there are many theories and rumors about why and who. Responses are still being planned as I write this. The Pacifica Foundation said it was a cost-cutting measure only.

Judge Frank P. Nervo of the Supreme Court of the State of New York granted a restraining order to WBAI, and against Pacifica. The Pacifica Foundation is ordered to show cause. All staff and programming to be restored.

Eco-Logic will apparently continue today, but might be internet only afterward, possibly on the Eco-Logic web site, possibly on another site. But there will be an announcement on http://www.ecoradio.org.

Pacifica has taken down all WBAI archives. This seems to be an act of hostility, not a cost-saving measure. They also timed their move for the second week of a fund drive that was going well,replacing programs that were raising money with California programs that do not. Pacifica has also replaced www.give2wbai.org with a single page reading “THE WBAI ONLINE DONATION SITE IS NOT ACCEPTING PLEDGES AT THIS TIME.”

Ken will be speaking at the “EcoJustice & Joy” event and potluck in Reidy Hall at All-Souls Church on Thurs. 10 Oct 2019 from 7 to 9 pm. Lexington Ave between 79th & 80th streets. Visit the Eco-Logic Facebook page.

WBAI staffers found their Brooklyn studio torn apart Tuesday morning even after a judge ordered the beloved community radio station’s owner to let it back on the air, station representatives said…

The order “means the station is legally back in the hands of WBAI’s personnel,” station General Manager Berthold Reimers said in a statement Tuesday morning, adding his thanks for the “enormous support that we had from our staff and broad sectors of the listening community.”

Stephen Pankowicz in a BoingBoing report on 07 Oct 2019 writes

This morning, WBAI volunteers received a short, abrupt note informing them that the station’s operations were being “discontinued” effective today, due to “ongoing and continued projections of further financial losses” which “jeopardize the survival of the entire network.”

…. This is sad and terrible news. I listen to WBAI whenever I’m in the city, and have appeared on Hour of the Wolf, Off the Hook, and other WBAI programs. My condolences to all the volunteers and listeners who’ve lost something wonderful and precious today.

Pacifica Radio is part of the Pacifica Network owned by the NGO Pacifica Foundation.

More from PacificaWatch (helping to make the Pacifica Radio network more transparent, making it easier to hold decision-makers to account)
NY Times article
Gothamist article

Ivy League candidate’s hopes are dashed by police in Dear Martin (book)

Dear Martin, a New York Times bestseller by Nic Stone: When a young black man is racially profiled by the police, his hopes for an Ivy League future disappear. Review: “Absolutely incredible, honest, gut-wrenching. A must read” (Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give).

Teen/Young Adult book featured for Nook Sept 29 2019 only for $1.99 (regular price $9.99).

In NYC you can still hate immigrants – but now it’s illegal to say so

Times Square, NY via Wikipedia

If you’re the type who enjoys hating on immigrants, telling people, “Go back home!” or threatening to call immigration on somebody, well, a word to the wise. Whilst in New York City, best keep those thoughts to yourself, ’cause now it’s illegal to speak them.

If you really can’t stop yourself from hating immigrants out loud, there’s a remedy for that: be prepared to pay the city a fine of up to $250,000 smackeroonies.

If you have the urge to scream at a 16 year old, you may need The Greta Helpline

Some people are outraged that a 16 year old child is the only global citizen courageous enough to stand up to world leaders and explain the facts about climate change. They don’t want anyone talking about science, or obligations, or the fact that the world will come to an end if we don’t make some serious changes. And if anyone is going to talk about these things, it sure as heck should not be a child.

Luckily for the outraged, salvation has arrived! The Greta Thunberg Helpline has been set up just for adults angry at a child and needing to vent.

Watch this clip to see how satisfying the helpful has been for callers, so far:

OTH if you’re a Greta admirer wanting to see her socking it to world leaders at the UN, here’s that clip as well.

Bus stops in one Dutch city now have bee-friendly green roofs

Source: BrightVibes

Dutch city Utrecht has transformed 316 bus stops into shelters with green roofs that work to improve health and the environment. The roofs capture fine particulate matter to keep it out of lungs, absorb rainwater to prevent flooding, cool down the shelters – and they’re also planted with flowers that bees love.

Don’t worry about getting stung. Bees are interested in flowers, not people.

Free summer meals for NJ youth through age 18 – find your location

Free summer meals are available to youth ages 18 and younger across New Jersey. Many meal sites also offer fun activities so kids and teens can enjoy healthy meals, be active and enjoy spending time with friends. No need to apply, show I.D. or proof of income.

To locate free meal sites:

For more information, visit njsummermeals.org. Please share this information with everyone who can help spread the news!

Bee Venom Therapy – a new cure for Lyme Disease?

honeybee stinging man's back
Honeybee held to sting man’s back. From Fox2 Now St. Louis video report

Warming temperatures in North America have caused a great expansion in tick populations, especially in the northeast. And because deer who host these pests have few natural predators left, deer populations have exploded as well. More deer and more ticks mean more people falling victim to Lyme disease. But a new treatment involving honeybee stings promises hope.

Since a scientist with the disease stumbled upon Bee Venom Therapy and successfully cured herself of Lyme, others have sought treatment and also been cured. Fox2 Now St. Louis reports on how the therapy works.

New HUD policy would separate immigrant families living together in their own homes

Source: keepfamiliestogether.org

HUD Secretary Ben Carson continues to set and seek policies geared to make life more difficult for United States society’s most vulnerable residents. The website #keepfamiliestogether reports on a recent HUD ruling proposal that could lead to mixed-immigration status family members either being separated from one another or losing their HUD housing subsidy if they remain together.

On May 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposed rule that would prohibit “mixed-status” families from living in public and other subsidized housing. Mixed-status families are households that include both members who are eligible and ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. Both statute and regulation allow families to live together in subsidized housing even if one family member is ineligible so long as the housing subsidy is decreased to exclude the ineligible person from the assistance. Importantly, just because a household member is an “ineligible” immigrant, it doesn’t mean that they are undocumented. Immigrants can have legal status and still not be eligible for public housing and Section 8 programs.

The rule would further require all residents under the age of 62 to have their immigration status screened through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE), which is operated by the Department of Homeland Security. Families with members who are deemed “ineligible” will be evicted from subsidized housing after 18 months or sooner.

‘Searing’ eyewitness account found chronicling the destruction of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa massacre

Franklin’s typewritten Tulsa massacre account

The grandson of a survivor of the Tulsa massacre is a senior program manager at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where now resides the manuscript detailing the Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre and its impact on Black Wall Street residents. It is a first person account written by attorney Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960), who survived the massacre although his law practice was burned to the ground.“I could see planes circling in mid-air. They grew in number and hummed, darted and dipped low. I could hear something like hail falling upon the top of my office building. Down East Archer, I saw the old Mid-Way hotel on fire, burning from its top, and then another and another and another building began to burn from their top,” he wrote. 

Franklin writes that he left his law office, locked the door, and descended to the foot of the steps … “The side-walks were literally covered with burning turpentine balls. I knew all too well where they came from, and I knew all too well why every burning building first caught from the top,” he continues. “I paused and waited for an opportune time to escape. ‘Where oh where is our splendid fire department with its half dozen stations?’ I asked myself. ‘Is the city in conspiracy with the mob?’”

More by the Smithsonian

On May 28 students will rally for a millionaires tax to provide more school aid

This prom season, New Jersey high school students are demanding that our state no longer cater to millionaires at the expense of our schools and our futures. 

On Tuesday, May 28th, at 3:30 p.m. at 42 Broad Street in Elizabeth, students will be distributing handmade #schoolsnotmillionaires corsages and boutonnières to students to pose with at their respective proms to raise awareness for a New Jersey millionaire’s tax NOW.  All high school students and allies are welcome to attend!

RSVP to the event on Facebook.

If you know of any high school students attending prom this year who are interested in sporting a #schoolsnotmiionaires corsage or boutonnière, please contact Nedia at 908.967.3478 or nedia.morsy@maketheroadnj.org