Today the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s execution law, calling it unconstitutional. The Court ruled the current law, passed in 2009, is unconstitional because it empowered the Department of Corrections to make execution policy, and under the Arkansas constitution only the legislature can make execution policy. Arkansas has not put anyone to death since 2005, and it is not immediately clear how today’s ruling will affect the 40 men currently on death row. The state could rely on a 1983 law, which adopted the lethal injection for executions, or amend the current law. –Alex Brown
Former State department official Anne-Marie Slaughter?s piece in the Atlantic, entitled ?Why Women Still Can?t Have it All,? has set off a fire-storm of discussion about women and men in the work force. Whether you agree with Slaughter, Salon writer Rebecca Traister (who takes on Slaughter?s arguments), or facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg (who has provided advice on this topic), there are certainly policy solutions that would address the problems facing parents in the modern workplace. Here are four policy ideas that could help America’s government and businesses keep up with its families:
1) Paid Family And Medical Leave Insurance: In spite of the fact that all of the adults in most families are employed, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee workers paid parental leave, and one of only a handful that does not provide other types of paid caregiving leave. The Center for American Progress’ proposal for paid family and medical leave would increase women?s employment and promote gender equity.
2) Paid Sick Days: Nearly 4 in 10 working women do not have access to paid sick days and female-dominated industries are the least likely to offer paid sick days, in spite of the fact that women are the most likely to need to miss work to care for a sick child, partner, or parent. The Healthy Families Act would provide workers with the right to earn paid sick days to recover from their own short-term illnesses or to care for an ill family member.
3) Right To Request Workplace Flexibility: Discrimination against workers with family caregiving responsibilities is illegal throughout Europe, but not in the United States, where workers also lack the ability to request workplace flexibility without retaliation. Modeled on similar legislation in the U.K. and Australia, the Working Families Flexibility Act would allow workers to request flexible working conditions without fear of negative consequences, and would ensure that employers take those requests seriously.
4) Equal Pay: Women are more likely than men to withdraw from the workforce to provide family care, in part because they tend to earn less money than their male partners. Some employers justify paying women less because they fear their female workers will leave in order to stay home. The Paycheck Fairness Act would help empower women to demand equal pay, and would make it harder for employers to discriminate against women.
73 percent of the country’s moms are working, and it is about time that policy took into account this important change in the makeup of the workforce.
In tomorrow's New York Times, Annie Lowrey has an interesting story about a study researchers were able to do in Oregon when the state had to hold a lottery to give people Medicaid coverage, leading to the perfect conditions for a randomized field experiment on what effect obtaining insurance could have. The results were pretty encouraging:
In a continuing study, an all-star group of researchers following Ms. Parris and tens of thousands of other Oregonians has found that gaining insurance makes people healthier, happier and more financially stable. The insured also spend more on health care, dashing some hopes of preventive-medicine advocates who have argued that coverage can save money ? by keeping people out of emergency rooms, for instance. In Oregon, the newly insured spent an average of $778 a year, or 25 percent, more on health care than those who did not win insurance. For the nation, the lesson appears to be a mixed one. Expanded coverage brings large benefits to many people, but it is also more likely to increase a stretched federal government?s long-term budget responsibilities.
The newly insured of Oregon were more likely to describe their health as good, and to say that their health was getting better, according to self-reported data that researchers are now combining with objective measurements. The uninsured reported being in worse physical and mental shape and were less likely to describe themselves as happy. Getting insurance also had powerful financial effects, the study showed. The insured were 25 percent less likely to have an unpaid medical bill sent to a collection agency and 40 percent less likely to borrow money or skip paying other bills in order to cover their medical costs.
So, getting on Medicaid, despite its weaknesses (mostly related to underfunding that limits your choice of providers, since many doctors won't accept Medicaid because of its low reimbursement rates), nevertheless makes you happier, healthier, and wealthier. And what about the fact that people with that insurance spent more on health care overall? It would be great if the ledger came out positive on that one. But look at the figures again. The price for transforming somebody's health, finances, and peace of mind is a whopping $778 a year. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
This is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that we are the only highly developed country in the world that considers it acceptable that any of its citizens live without health insurance. Even if Medicaid isn't the best thing going, this study shows just how spectacularly better it is to have insurance, even imperfect insurance, than to have no insurance at all. And for all the Affordable Care Act's compromises, it will enable about 30 million more Americans to get on Medicaid. That coverage isn't free for the country to provide, but given what's gained, it's a bargain.
That is, unless Anthony Kennedy decides that those 30 million people can go jump in a lake, because government shouldn't make you eat broccoli.
When people donate more than $200 to a candidate or committee, they are required to provide a bit of personal information for the Federal Elections Commission: name, address, occupation and employer go along with how much money they donate. [...]I know when someone asks me who Mitt Romney is (note: this never happens) I immediately think, "Oh, he's that author." The one that writes, you know, stuff.
Ann, who has been outspoken about her stay-at-home-mom status, not surprisingly lists herself as a "homemaker."
Romney, however, lists himself as "self-employed." His occupation? "Author."
On the other hand, I feel for him; those forms can make for some awkward times. He certainly doesn't want to list "unemployed" because the entire free world would make fun of him (again). I don't know if there's a category for "people who live off their pile of money," but it probably would be worse than saying "unemployed," and nobody ever seems to list their primary occupation as I'm running for office, for Pete's sake.
Still, it doesn't feel right. Maybe he just should have said that his career is in a blind trust right now, and he's not allowed to know what it is until after the election.
The government is pursuing a "selective" and "vindictive" prosecution against former CIA agent John Kiriakou, according to a defense motion to dismiss charges recently cleared for public release and posted by Secrecy News. Kiriakou was indicted in April[...]
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The Gold Report: In a recent edition of Investment Insights, you charted the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS (Basket of Unhedged Gold Stocks) Index (HUI) of senior gold stocks, gold itself, the TSX Venture Exchange as a proxy for junior mining stocks and a specific company, Temex Resources Corp. (TME:TSX.V; TQ1:FSE), from Dec. 29, 2000. All four were equalized to $100 to make the comparison accurate. What did they show?
Ian Gordon: I wanted to look at relative performance since 2000, when gold bottomed out at around $250/ounce … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Ian Gordon: Why Gold Stocks Outperformed Other Gold Investments
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I think if you're making this argument you're not having a good day.From Evan McMorris-Santoro's piece from earlier today ...Despite Romney campaign protestations that the Post article doesn't make the distinction between "off-shoring," in which American[...]
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File this under "N" for Not Surprising: Which states have the fattest kids? Go ahead, click it. Then scroll all the way to dead last. There we are in all of our confederate flag glory, weighing in with 44.4% of our children as obese or overweight. So not only are we not teaching our kids about safe sex, which leads us to having the highest percentage of STDs in the country, we're making them fat.
Saudi officials are preparing to pay the salaries of the Free Syria Army as a means of encouraging mass defections from the military and increasing pressure on the Assad regime, the Guardian has learned.
The move, which has been discussed between Riyadh and senior officials in the US and Arab world, is believed to be gaining momentum as a recent flush of weapons sent to rebel forces by Saudi Arabia and Qatar starts to make an impact on battlefields in Syria.
Some seem to forget that Syria (like its neighbors Lebanon and Iraq) are artificial states, lines drawn on a map by European diplomats when they dismantled the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Indeed the same is true of much of Africa, carved up at the 1884-85 Berlin Conference. Borders were decided on the basis of European interests, not local ethnic/political dynamics. In the Middle East, there are only three entities that have historically been states/empires: Egypt, Turkey, and Iran.
The potency of ethno-nationalism as a political driver has been on display since the moment the USSR dissolved in 1991 and suddenly fifteen ethnic-based new republics, from Armenia to Uzbekistan, emerged. Then there was the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the Balkans wars of the 1990s, which is relatively calm thanks to a NATO interventions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996 to 1999, now sustained by EU forces) and Kosovo (ongoing since 1998 and extended again just yesterday) . Even Czechoslovakia split in two.
The contemporary reality is that local political identity, defined by kinship, language, and culture has assumed a growing importance, in part as an embrace of political identity in response to the complex and sometimes overwhelming forces of globalization.
Note: As for the video, it’s the entire film “Lawrence of Arabia,” because it’s Friday, I love movies, and it’s fitting due to the insanity swirling around the Syrian drama. Enjoy.
For reasons which can only make sense at the TSA, the TSA believes the Gumby-scanners will solve all of their problems. Maybe they won't be the same porno-scanners that are now used to send attractive women through multiple times, but they still don't resolve the fundamental problems that have been shown in 2010 and then in 2012.The Gumby-scanners also don't change the silly policies of...