Antonio Vanegas has worked at a pita shop in the food court of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., for three years, and recently joined 150 workers on a one-day strike to protest low wages and other labor law violations. He spoke at the protest and asked the federal government to be a “good landlord” and only house businesses that follow the laws of the land.
However, Vanegas ran into a bit of a problem: He’s an undocumented immigrant, his place of employment was housed in the same building as United States Customs and Boarder Protection and he is facing deportation after being apprehended by a federal office at work just a few days after his protest.
According to The Huffington Post.
“Vanegas said his immigration status was never an issue on the job -- at least until he claimed publicly that his boss had been violating labor law. Not long after that, he said, he was detained for four days, and now has an immigration hearing scheduled for August.
“'This country is a country of laws,’ Vanegas, 26, told HuffPost through an interpreter. ‘Regardless of my status, I should have some protections based on the labor laws that have been violated.’"
Venegas claims that he was paid under the table and below minimum wage, worked beyond federal overtime limits without compensation and simply wrote his hours on a piece of paper and was subsequently paid in cash.
The report continued, “During Vanegas' detainment, the Latino advocacy group Presente.org circulated an online petition calling the situation "outrageous."
Kyle de Beausset, senior campaigner with the group, told HuffPost he felt Vanegas was ultimately punished for doing a brave thing.
"When undocumented workers are trying to organize, they're threatened with deportation, and that keeps everyone's wages down," de Beausset said. "We're hopeful this will help people realize that when folks are here in the country and unable to organize, it hurts everyone."
Source: The Huffington Post
Well, this is pretty interesting. Rush Limbaugh visited Fox & Friends this morning where he couldn't have sounded happier with his appearance. But later, he took to his own airwaves to bitch that Fox News wouldn't let him discuss what he wanted to discuss, immigration and the GOP. (H/T Media Matters)
According to Limbaugh, he told Fox beforehand that he wanted to talk about "immigration and the state of the Republican party" but that Fox "wouldn't go there." Limbaugh added, "I had to bring it up myself to whatever extent I did." He called that "very telling" and promised, "I'm not through with this."
And yet Limbaugh acted as though he were delighted with all things Fox and Fox & Friends during his appearance. I'll post that segment as the first video below. Underneath that is the Limbaugh audio via Media Matters.
Judging from recent history, any young person who aspires to be president should be aware that certain attributes seem to be critical. You have to be male. You have to have an Ivy League degree. You have to have been a governor or senator. And, don't forget, you have to have smoked marijuana.
That is something all the presidents in the past 20 years have in common. Bill Clinton admitted it, while claiming he didn't inhale. George W. Bush refused to deny getting stoned, saying, "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."
Barack Obama said, "When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point." Presumably, Mitt Romney never did, and who knows? Maybe he'd be ahead in the polls if he had -- though, he might note, it's never too late.
Logicians will quarrel with my reasoning, arguing that drug use did not propel these men to high office. That's true. But it obviously didn't hinder them.
For decades, champions of the drug war have trumpeted the dire risks of marijuana. But millions of Americans have used and even enjoyed it -- nearly 100 million, in fact. Most of them have gone on to lead responsible, well-adjusted lives.
If anything related to pot would have kept them from being elected to office, it would be the laws against it. An arrest or a conviction could derail a political career before it even got started. Yet these presidents went on putting people in jail for something they got away with.
Their fellow citizens, however, are increasingly skeptical about the drug war. Last year, Gallup found that 50 percent of Americans now favor legalizing cannabis, with only 46 percent opposed.
The sentiment may lead to action. On Nov. 6, residents of Colorado, Oregon and Washington will vote on ballot measures to allow the regulated production, sale, and use of pot.
In Colorado, which already has a large network of medical marijuana dispensaries, familiarity has bred acceptance. One of the most noteworthy headlines of 2011 came on a news release from Public Policy Polling: "Colorado favors gay marriage, marijuana use, loves Tebow." Affection for the Denver quarterback may have ebbed since he went to the New York Jets, but the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 is leading in the polls.
Weed would remain illegal under federal law, but good luck to the feds trying to enforce that ban if a state abandons it. As the Drug Policy Alliance notes, medical marijuana has gotten established over the objections of Washington.
Critics raise the usual alarms. Obama's Office of National Drug Control Policy charges that "political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction."
But very few people portray marijuana as harmless. The claim, grounded in fact and experience, is that it is far less harmful than the effort to stamp it out.
Marijuana prohibition means the arrest of some 750,000 people every year for simple possession -- double the number 20 years ago. It means spending an estimated $7.7 billion on enforcement. It means the enrichment of urban gangs and Mexican drug cartels that depend on the illegal trade. And the whole effort has been a complete failure.
Nor does a permissive approach necessarily undermine efforts to protect kids. For high school kids, dope is just slightly harder to get than Skittles. In the Netherlands, which permits regulated sales through "coffee shops," adolescents are far less likely to try pot than here.
Marijuana use, it's true, can be damaging. A recent study found that people who begin using it heavily as teens and continue as adults can reduce their IQ. It can cause dependency. Like any mind-altering substance, it may foster dangerous behavior.
But the same things are true of alcohol, a drug that inflicts far more damage to users and the rest of us than marijuana could ever do. We accept those risks as the price of personal freedom -- while focusing law enforcement on combating abuse, not use. A similar respect for individual prerogative ought to govern in the realm of cannabis.
Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan claimed that Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has provided specifics for his tax plan, but Rep. Ryan refused to give those specifics because "it would take me too long," reports RawStory.com (video below).
Fox News host Chris Wallace repeatedly asked Rep. Paul Ryan how much Mitt Romney's tax plan would cost, but Rep. Ryan insisted: “It’s revenue neutral… Lower all Americans' tax rates by 20 percent.”
Wallace pressed Rep. Ryan for details, but he refused to do so. Finally, Wallace said: “But you haven’t given me the math."
Rep. Ryan said: “I don’t have the time. It would take me too long to go through all the math. But let me say it this way, you can lower tax rates by 20 percent across the board by closing loopholes and still have preferences for the middle class for things like charitable deductions, for home purchases, for health care. So what we’re saying is, people are going to get lower tax rates."
Disturbing details are starting to be pieced together regarding the mummified body of Pia Farrenkopf that was discovered in the garage of her Detroit home last week. Now, reports say her latest voting records may only add more mystery to this case.
Farrenkopf’s body was found in the back seat of her Jeep Liberty on March 5, and while an autopsy has yet to reveal a certain cause of death, it did show that Farrenkopf died in 2008 at the age of 49. Since then, all of the woman’s bills have been paid regularly due to automatic withdrawal, so nobody was ever alerted to her home. When the money in her account ran out last year, however, her house went into foreclosure, and because of that, a contractor hired to do work on the house discovered her body in the garage.
To add to more mystery to this case, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Farrenkopf, a German-born immigrant, was said to have voted in the November 2010 elections. Officials say that this is likely due to an administrative error within the voting system, but authorities say they will still investigate these claims.
Farrenkopf reportedly has a sister, and authorities say they are working with her to conduct a DNA test in the hopes coming closer to solving this case. The autopsy that was performed on Farrenkopf didn’t show any signs of foul play, but due to the nature of the discovery, police are treating this as a homicide.
Neighbors say that Farrenkopf was a quiet woman who lived alone. Nobody was ever alarmed that they hadn’t seen her in so long because, as they claim, she kept a very low profile. Many had assumed that she moved away, and one of the neighbors actually kept Farrenkopf’s lawn mowed all these years.
A toxicology report has been conducted, but it could take weeks to see results.
Rep. David Scott is joining the effort with NARAL Pro-Choice America to reject President Obama’s judicial nominee Michael Boggs.
Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, served as a state legislator with Boggs. He and other democrats have been slamming Boggs for his ultra-conservative record, the Huffington Post reports. Scott’s record includes votes to keep the confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag, restrict access to abortion and ban same-sex marriage.
"I'm as surprised and outraged as you are to be fighting an anti-civil rights, anti-choice, anti-marriage equality nominee put forward by Obama's White House to serve on the federal bench in my home state in Georgia," Scott said. "If we don't stop Michael Boggs, he'll be on the court for his entire lifetime."
NARAL sent an email to supporters with a letter from Scott asking them to pressure their senators to reject the Boggs nomination.
"We’re disappointed that pro-choice President Obama nominated someone who doesn’t share our pro-choice values. We agree with the president on a lot of things, but not this pick," reads the email. "Speak out now and call on your senators to oppose a nominee who can’t be trusted with our rights."
Civil rights Joseph Lowery also disagreed vehemently with the nomination, to the point that he thought it was a staff member’s oversight.
"I think [Obama] must have left it to somebody else," Lowery said. "It was a mistake."
White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler defended Boggs’ nomination, telling the Huffington Post in an interview that it was better than leaving the seat vacant and that critics were choosing not to acknowledge the judge’s criminal justice achievements.
"Of all the recent criticisms offered against Michael Boggs, not one is based on his record as a judge for the past 10 years," Ruemmler said. "What has distinguished him as a state court judge at the trial level as well as on the court of appeals is that he has taken a keen interest and leading role in criminal justice reform.”
The NARAL email urging liberal supporters to oppose Bogg’s nomination is expected to reach 500,000 supporters.
Sources: Huffington Post
President Barack Obama appeared on Funny or Die show “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis this week to discuss Obamacare, spider bites, North Ikea and diabetes shoes.
“When I heard that people actually watch this show, I was actually pretty surprised,” the president began.
"First question: In 2013 you pardoned the turkey. What do you have planned for 2014."
“We’ll probably pardon another turkey. Was that depressing for you? Seeing one turkey taken out of circulation - one turkey you couldn't eat?" Obama quipped.
When Galifianakis asked if he’d run for a third term, the president said it wouldn’t work out.
“I actually think it's a good idea. If I ran a third time, it would sort of like doing a third ‘Hangover’ movie. Didn't really work out very well, did it?” Obama asked.
The interview became tense when Galifianakis asked Obama what it felt like to be the “the last black president.”
“What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?” Obama countered.
“You know what I would do if I were president?” Galifianakis asked. “I would make same-sex divorce illegal, and then see how bad they want it.”
“I think that’s why you’re not president,” Obama observed.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) complained last week that the "gay community" was bullying the "American people."
Rep. Bachmann spoke to conservative radio host Lars Larson at the CPAC conference about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoing a bill that would have allowed business owners to discriminate against customers (including homosexuals) based on their religious beliefs.
Rep. Bachmann insisted there was "nothing about gays" in the Arizona bill, which is true, but failed to mention it would likely be used against gay people, reports RightWingWatch.org (audio below).
The Center for Arizona Policy, which wrote the Arizona bill, and the bill's sponsor, Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R) admitted its purpose was to protect businesses from serving same-sex marriages, noted TalkingPointsMemo.com.
"The thing that I think is getting a little tiresome is the gay community, they have so bullied the American people and they have so intimidated politicians that politicians fear them and so they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere." said Rep. Bachmann. "Well, not with the Constitution you don't."
"If you want take away my religious liberties, you can advocate for that but you do it through the constitutional process," added Rep. Bachmann. "You don’t intimidate and no politician should give away my religious liberties or yours."
It’s the most (non) wonderful time of the year – tax season!
With state and federal filings being submitted by the thousands daily, it’s a good time to check out which states make the most – and least – amount of money off their residents.
Conventional wisdom says Florida, with its lack of a state income tax, spends this time of the year laughing at the rest of us as we watch our dollars fly away. There’s some truth in that -- Florida collects the third lowest amount of revenue per-capita in the country at $3,974. Their neighbor to the north, Georgia, collects the least amount of money per person at $3,807. Nevada fills in the number two slot at $3,848.
Arizona ($4,195) and Texas ($4,209) round out the list of the top five states who let residents keep the most of what they earn.
So, which states are collecting the fattest checks from residents?
Number one on the list is our friends way up to the north -- Alaska. Alaska collects a whopping $17,630 per person. This number is almost $7,000 higher than number two on the list, which happens to be Wyoming ($10,694). North Dakota ($9,838), Vermont ($8,988), and Delaware ($8,091) follow suit as the states collecting the most money per-capita from residents.
The data is based on 2011 State Revenue figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. State revenue doesn’t just mean taxes. The figures here are comprised of taxes, fees, licenses, and intergovernmental revenue in each state. It excludes revenue made from government enterprises like liquor stores and utility companies.
Curious to see where your state ranks? Check out the full list, courtesy of Taxfoundation.org:
Fox News has launched another attack against President Barack Obama.
The conservative cable channel is slamming Obama for taking a vacation while Russia occupies the city of Crimea in the Ukraine (video below).
However, Fox News did not attack President George W. Bush when he went on vacation during the Russian invasion and occupation of the country of Georgia in 2008.
"In terms of optics, do you think it's helpful for President Obama to take the weekend off in the middle of what you call a crisis to be playing golf in Florida?" Fox News host Chris Wallace asked former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates yesterday, according to MediaMatters.org.
Wallace did not voice any concern when he interviewed then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Aug. 17, 2008, while Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas (video below).
Today, "Fox & Friends" co-host Greg Kilmeade and Fox News host Bret Baier also attacked Obama for his vacation (but neither mentioned Bush's vacation in 2008), noted Mediaite.com.