In 2010, President Barack Obama identified himself as an African-American when he filled out a U.S. census form.
According to The Huffington Post, Obama checked a box that read, "Black, African Am., or Negro."
However, 52 percent of Americans said in a new poll by the Pew Research Center that Obama is of mixed race, and 27 percent claimed he is black, reports The Hill.
Obama, whose mother was white and whose father was black, was identified as being of mixed race by 61 percent of Hispanics.
The Washington Post notes that 55 percent of African-Americans think Obama is black. Fifty-three percent of whites believe he is of mixed race.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee insisted yesterday that while he opposes gay marriage, he is "not homophobic."
During a speech to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, the possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate said, "I'm not against anybody. I'm really not. I'm not a hater. I'm not homophobic. I honestly don’t care what people do personally in their individual lives."
According to CNN (video below), Huckabee added, "But when people say, ‘Why don’t you just kind of get on the right side of history?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history, this is the right side of the Bible, and unless God rewrites it, edits it, sends it down with his signature on it, it’s not my book to change.’ Folks, that’s why I stand where I stand."
TalkingPointsMemo.com reports that Huckabee was upset that the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear a case of a Christian photographer who refused to provide services for a gay wedding.
"Why is it that Christians stand back and take it in the teeth time and time and time again?" Huckabee said. "But we cannot change this country if we do not rise up and vote with an informed mind and a committed spirit and if we're not willing to stand along."
James Mitchell, a CIA psychologist who is often referred to as the architect of the CIA's “enhanced interrogation” program, recently defended the use torture by the CIA on terrorist suspects.
A soon-to-be-released Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture says the CIA's interrogation methods weren’t approved by the U.S. Justice Department or CIA headquarters, and that members of the CIA knowingly impeded the Bush White House and Congressional oversight, as well as oversight by the CIA’s Inspector General’s Office, notes McClatchy DC.
The report also says that the CIA's use of waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, confinement of suspects in a box and slamming suspects into wall did not yield any useful information.
However, Mitchell told The Guardian in a recent interview, "The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time. You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the Senate report “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation" and "chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”
In response, Mitchell told The Guardian: “I’m skeptical about the Senate report, because I do not believe that every analyst whose jobs and promotions depended upon it, who were professional intelligence experts, all them lied to protect a program? All of them were wrong? All of these [CIA] directors were wrong? All of the people who were using the intel to go get people were wrong? And 10 years later a Senate staffer was able to put it together and finally there’s clarity? I am just highly skeptical that that’s the truth.”
However, the Senate report doesn't say that "every" CIA analyst lied "to protect a program" as Mitchell claims.
Mitchell still insists that the torture techniques he created did produce results, even though he couldn't present any actual proof.
Mitchell even went as far as to claim that the torture techniques used by the CIA were "not illegal based on the law at the time."
However, the torture techniques were never legal under U.S. law, but were deemed legal by a Bush administration memo in August 2002, months after Mitchell and fellow psychologist Bruce Jessen had already started creating torture techniques in December 2001 and training the CIA in torture in March 2002, noted Salon.com.
Even the FBI objected to the CIA’s interrogation of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in March 2002, calling it “borderline torture.”
Amazingly, Mitchell claims to be a supporter of Amnesty International, which has condemned the CIA and the U.S. for years for the very torture Mitchell created, trained others to do and implemented.
Mitchell denied any involvement in the torture in 2009 after a Senate Armed Services Committee report named him and Jessen.
“We didn't have a damn thing to do with that,” said Mitchell. Instead, he blamed Pentagon contractors and civilians “who wanted to help out and made some dumb mistakes."
Steven Kleinman, an Air Force Colonel who stopped abusive interrogations in Iraq, slammed Mitchell's logic.
Kleinman told The Guardian, “Why would anybody think that a model that would produce those outcomes would also be effective in producing the opposite?"
According to a new study, mass deportations are a direct result of the drug war, which sends foreign residents home on minor, non-violent charges.
A just-released report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University analyzing the effects of the Secure Communities program, a surveillance initiative by the U.S. government meant to track violent non-citizens, finds that the program has overwhelmingly targeted non-violent drug offenders.
The report examines the reasons behind the 40,000 drug-related deportations that have taken place every year since 2008. A total of almost 250,000 people have been deported for nonviolent drug offenses in the past six years.
Nonviolent drug offenses accounted for 11 percent of total deportations in 2013, and 19 percent of criminal deportations, the analysis found.
Furthermore, marijuana possession specifically proved to be a major cause of deportation. It was the most common cause of drug-related deportations, and the fourth most common for any criminal deportation. 6,600 people were deported each year the last two years for possessing marijuana.
The focus of these deportations is not on violent drug traffickers, the report notes.
“Convictions for drug trafficking accounted for only one percent of deportees recorded as convicted of a crime,” the report’s authors write, “while marijuana possession was more than three times that level.”
A series of Huffington Post infographics shows that marijuana possessions leads cocaine possession, cocaine sale, and assault in the top ten serious criminal convictions of deportees in 2013. More than three times as many people were deported for marijuana possession as for drug trafficking.
The Supreme Court ruled in April of last year that immigrants could not be automatically deported because of minor drug offenses.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her opinion that possessing a small amount of marijuana wasn’t enough to automatically send someone out of the country, siding with defendant Adrian Moncrieffe, a long-time U.S. resident from Jamaica who wanted to contest his deportation after being found with a small amount of pot.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said today that the armed militia supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy are “domestic terrorists” because they pulled guns on federal agents from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last weekend.
“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” said Reid, noted the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”
Speaking at an event in Las Vegas, Sen. Reid added, "There were hundreds, hundreds of people from around the country, that came there. They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first… What if others tried the same thing?”
Sen. Reid said there is a task force being set up to deal with Bundy.
“Clive Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Sen. Reid explained. “The United States, he says, is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”
In contrast, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) claimed today that Sen. Reid and the U.S. government were wrong (video below).
“I think there’s an opposite thing to what Harry Reid said, and that’s that the federal government shouldn’t violate the law," Sen. Paul told MofoPolitics.com. "Nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams,”
“Apparently, this is what I’m hearing,” added Sen. Paul. "The family had a lease with Clark County for over 130 years, arbitrarily in recent years the federal government thought that they were going to override the county lease and they were going to assume control of it but they never asked for permission from the rancher.”
However, in reality, the U.S. government paid Mexico $15 million for Nevada and several other states in 1848 per the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following Mexico's defeat in the Mexican-American War.
In addition to Sen. Paul, Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R) has called the armed resistance by Bundy's supporters "justified."
"This is historic," Fiore told Reuters. "This is the first time we went arm to arm with the federal government."
Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and his fellow House Republicans have voted over 50 times to repeal he Affordale Care Act.
During a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Ross was confronted by a voter who wanted to know why the GOP congressman was trying to take away the benefits of the ACA, noted ThinkProgress.org (video below).
“Why do you think it is so good to deny seniors on Part D to make them pay more, about $4,000 more for medicine, and people with pre-existing conditions get denied insurance, have 26-year-olds have a harder time getting insurance because they can’t get on their parents’ [health insurance]?” the unidentified voter asked Ross. “Why do you think those are good ideas?”
"I don’t," replied Ross. "I think one of the most unfortunate things my party did the last three years was not offer an alternative to health care. I’ve always felt that way. I think it’s absurd when I tell people that this isn’t what you should do, but I don’t have an alternative for you."
Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office released a new estimate that found health care under the ACA would cost Americans $5 billion less in 2014 than what was originally projected by the CBO.
From 2015 to 2024, the cost of health care was projected to be $104 billion less than prior projections, claimed the CBO, noted USA Today.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) recently signed a bill into law that bans cities within the state from establishing their own minimum wage, vacation days and sick-day requirements.
According to the Associated Press, Gov. Fallin signed the bill on Monday, a move that was applauded by business leaders who oppose higher wages and benefits for workers.
Opponents of the law say it is aimed at Oklahoma City where there is a movement to raise the city's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, making it higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, noted OKC Fox.
"Mandating a minimum wage increase at the local level would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers," Gov. Fallin said, reports Tulsa World.
"Most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry level jobs," added Gov. Fallin. "Many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle-class families."
However, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports those myths about minimum wage workers aren't true. In reality, 88 percent of minimum wage workers are older than 20, one third are over 40 and the average age of someone making minimum wage is 35, says the EPI.
Sources: OKC Fox, Associated Press, Economic Policy Institute, Tulsa World
San Antonio Mayer Julian Castro sent a message to the Obama administration that it should change its deportation policy to protect undocumented immigrants with family members who are citizens.
"We should look at people who have been here for more than 10 years, who do not have a serious criminal record and who have family members who are United States citizens," Castro said in an interview with EFE.
Castro, a Mexican-American, also urged the president not to abandon the DREAM act, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that was first put into effect to protect young people brought into the country illegally as children.
"My hope is that President Obama extends what he did with DACA for the DREAMers to ease deportations for people without serious criminal records who have families in the United States," said the 39-year-old mayor.
Castro voiced his conviction that the Republican-controlled House holds “the primary responsibility” to reform procedure for undocumented residents, though the president’s administration should also take measures to reduce the historically high number of deportations.
San Antonio’s population is 63 percent Hispanic, so the issue hits close to home. The San Antonio police chief has ordered officers not to inquire about immigration status, Castro said.
The mayor said he’d be staying out of national politics in 2016, but will be running for reelection in San Antonio in 2015.
"The America of 2014 is better reflected in the Democratic Party than in the Republican Party, but there is always room for more," he said about Latinos in politics. Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin Castro, is a Democratic congressman.
During a televised debate Tuesday with Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, Castro took Patrick to task over his comments about "illegal invasion from Mexico" and immigrants bringing "third-world diseases" into the country.
President Obama used his power to grant clemency for the 10th time to correct a drug dealer’s prison sentence, which was 3 ½ years too long because of a typo.
Caesar Cantu, of Katy, Texas, will now serve out a sentence of 11 ½ years instead of 15 years due to Obama’s actions, the Associated Press reports.
U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser refused to grant Cantu’s request to reduce his time because he didn’t file it within the one-year statute of limitations. Cantu’s lawyer didn’t object to the sentence in 2006, when it was handed down.
Cantu, who had no previous criminal record, pleaded guilty to trafficking marijuana and money laundering for moving 3,000 to 10,000 kilograms of marijuana. He didn’t know about the error until six years after the fact when his family sent him a copy of the presentencing report. Weber poorly represented him, he said in his motion from Louisiana’s Oakdale prison.
"Given the circumstances of this case and the manifest injustice of keeping a person in federal prison for an extra three and a half years because of a typographical mistake, the president wanted to act as quickly as possible," said Obama press secretary Jay Carney. "This is a matter of basic fairness and it reflects the important role of clemency as a fail-safe in our judicial system."
The “typographical error” came at the “base offense level” of Cantu’s presentencing report, which calculate a sentence based on federal guidelines, taking into account the crime’s severity and the defendant’s record. The report inaccurately noted which part of the grid Cantu’s sentence should fall under, leading to the prolonged time.
"None of us made that connection in seeing the difference," Cantu's former attorney, John Weber, said after Obama's announcement. "I'm happy that his sentence will be in the appropriate range of what it was supposed to be. Nobody wants mistakes."
Sources: Associated Press
Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg has announced his plans to spend $50 million on a new campaign aimed at challenging the National Rifle Association and their pro-gun stance.
“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’” said Bloomberg of the NRA. “‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”
How does Bloomberg plan to scare the NRA? By spending $50 million to target a specific audience in the hopes of spreading the truth about gun control.
"You've got to work at it piece by piece," said Bloomberg to the New York Times. "One mom and another mom. You've got to wear them down until they finally say, 'Enough.'"
The new campaign, called Everytown for Gun Safety, will specifically target women, and more specifically moms, in an effort to curb gun violence in America. According to reports, the new campaign will be an umbrella organization for two other groups that Bloomberg is involved in, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America.
“I put $50 million this year, last year into coal, $53 million into oceans,” said Bloomberg of past initiatives while expressing hope for his new venture. “Certainly a number like that, $50 million. Let’s see what happens.”
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, says that she hopes the new initiative will have more women thinking about how gun violence affects their lives and will use that while they’re voting at the polls.
“Right now, women, when they go to the polls, they vote on abortion, they vote on jobs, they vote on health care,” said Watts. “We want one of those things to be gun violence prevention.”
Bloomberg says that an advisory board for the Everytown project will include prominent members of both the Democratic and Republican parties.