- Created on 20 September 2013
Dejun Jackson, who has been working at Walgreen for three years, protested this summer for higher wages.
Here's what it takes to raise a family on three minimum wage jobs.
Five days a week, Dejun Jackson wakes at 4:30 to get to the Chicago Chick-fil-A in time to start his shift at 5:45.
He works behind the counter until 1 pm, when he walks to his second job as a cashier at Walgreens. He starts there at 1:10 or 1:15, and is on his feet until his shift ends at 9 or 9:30. He heads home, crashes, and wakes up to do it all again.
Jackson, who is 23, has a five year-old son and four-year-old daughter. The kids are asleep when he leaves in the morning and have already gone to bed by the time he gets home. The only real time he gets to spend with them is on weekends.
"Their mom is doing it all," he said. "I work to put food on the table. My money is needed, but so is my time, and all I want to be able to do is give them more time."
Between the two jobs, Jackson is working about 70 hours a week. He makes $8.75 an hour at Chick-fil-A and $10.22 at Walgreens, where he's been working for three years. He's also studying to get his bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology so that one day he only has to work one job, one shift.
His children's mom works at Walgreens, too, making $10 an hour. The kids are in daycare all day, which costs them $150 each month, until she gets off work at 6:30.
One job helps him cover the cost of school, and the other helps him pay the bills. Already, he owes his college $7,000. On top of the daycare fees, he's paying $575 each month for rent, as well as transportation costs to-and-from work and hundreds of dollars for groceries.
What's left over isn't enough to cover the cost of health insurance. When Walgreens said this week it would stop offering insurance directly to its workers in 2014, he shrugged it off as something else he couldn't afford.
Between his two jobs, Jackson makes about $60,000 a year. The bottom line is he couldn't get by with just one. Even if he worked full time at Walgreen Co. (WAG, Fortune 500), making what he makes now, he would bring in less than $21,000 a year. The Census Bureau's poverty income threshold level is $23,000 for a family of four.
This is why workers like Jackson have been walking off work and protesting for a "living wage" for the last ten months. Jackson himself has participated in a few of the demonstrations in Chicago.
"You have to hope and pray for a raise," he said. "I want a job that gives me good hours, good money and lets me come home at night so I can take care of all of my responsibilities with my family."
Until then, Jackson said he has no choice but to keep working these hours. He says it's just something that he has to do.
- Created on 19 September 2013
In the wake of Monday's Navy Yard shooting where 13 people were left dead and eight others injured, the Commander-in-Chief is asking for Congress to take "basic actions" to toughen the nation's gun control laws.
"You know, I do get concerned that this becomes a ritual that we go through every three, four months, where we have these horrific mass shootings," President Obama said in a recent interview with Telemundo. "Everybody expresses understandable horror. We all embrace the families — and obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those families right now as they're absorbing this incredible loss. And yet we're not willing to take some basic actions."
The President made a similar call for action after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December, however his proposal for tighter background checks was blocked by Congress in April.
"You have a majority of the American people and even a large percentage of Republicans who are ready to move the country forward," he explained, "and yet we keep on getting blocked."
"It's a challenge that I'm speaking out on, but ultimately we're also gonna meet pressure from the public to see if we can change how they do business up there," he concluded.
- Created on 16 September 2013
Source: Theguardian via Myeisha Essex on BPNEXT
Despite multiple racist attacks — including a banana-throwing incident at a recent political rally — Italy's first black is defending her adopted homeland, insisting the country is not racist.
"Italy is not racist, it is not xenophobic," Integration Minister Cécile Kyenge said during a recent conference. "There are episodes of racism, but this doesn't allow you to label an entire country."
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kyenge joined the Italian Cabinet on April 27th and "has been greeted in her official duties with strong anti-immigrant and even racist pushback, including epithets and slurs," reports Arab News.
An eye doctor who is now an Italian citizen, she was likened to an orangutan by a senior party member of the far right Northern League and had bananas thrown at her at a recent political rally. Far-right militants even hung nooses in a town where she was due to speak earlier this month.
Kyenge said "that acts of racism directed at her and other immigrants stem from 'a lack of memory' in young Italians, who have forgotten that Italy is a 'nation of immigration and of emigration.'"
We admire her strength and courage!
- Created on 17 September 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders say food stamps serve too many Americans and the almost $80 billion-a-year program needs to be slimmed down.
This week, the House is expected vote on a bill that would cut almost $4 billion a year from food stamps. The bill, opposed by most every Democrat, would let states put broad new work requirements in place for many recipients and permit drug tests for people who apply. And it would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults who don't have dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.
A look at some of the arguments being made by the GOP's House majority as the chamber prepares to take up the bill:
THE CLAIM: One in 7 Americans is on food stamps, according to a memo to GOP colleagues from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., explaining the reasoning behind the bill.
THE FACTS: True. Around 47.8 million Americans were using food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in June of this year, a little more than 1 in 7. The program's cost has more than doubled since the Great Recession, going from roughly $38 billion in 2008 to almost $78 billion last year. The 2009 economic stimulus bill increased benefits and loosened some eligibility requirements.
THE CLAIM: "Middle-class families struggling to make ends meet themselves foot the bill for a program that has gone well beyond a safety net for children, seniors and the disabled," McCarthy's memo says.
THE FACTS: It depends on how you define "well beyond." Some 87 percent of SNAP participants live in a household with a child, a senior or a disabled person, according to Agriculture Department data. Around 45 percent of recipients are under age 18 and 9 percent are older than 60. Only about 10 percent of recipients are able-bodied adults under age 50 without dependents.
THE CLAIM: Those able-bodied adults are "the very group that is supposed to be subject to a work requirement, (but) the requirement has been waived in almost every state," the memo argues.
THE FACTS: True. Starting with enactment of the 1996 welfare law, able-bodied adults were limited to only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period unless they were in a work or workfare program for 20 hours or more each week. Those work requirements were waived as part of the 2009 stimulus, and the Agriculture Department later allowed states to continue to extend those waivers if they meet certain economic requirements. All but a few states have met the requirements and are still taking advantage of the waivers.
THE CLAIM: Speaking to constituents over the August congressional recess, many GOP lawmakers focused on restoring the work requirements. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, for example, told constituents that GOP plans won't harm "any individual child" but are aimed at "able-bodied adults who refuse to work."
THE FACTS: While some may simply refuse to work, other able-bodied adults can't find jobs. They may be sick or disabled but don't qualify for disability payments, suffer from undiagnosed mental illness or live in economically depressed areas. Judy Toelle, South Dakota's SNAP administrator, says that some people on South Dakota Indian reservations are not able to find jobs because there aren't any. "There is a whole category of individuals who are unemployable for various reasons," Toelle said.
Cathy Sykes, who heads the SNAP program in Mississippi, agreed. "I think we have some who are taking advantage of the system, and I think we have others who are disabled and don't meet the criteria," she said.
THE CLAIM: The McCarthy memo says "newscasts tell stories of young surfers who aren't working, but cash their food stamps in for lobster."
THE FACTS: One dude did. But surfers aren't known to be hitting the lobster shack waving food stamps. Fox News interviewed a California surfer who proudly spoke of not working and using his monthly $200 in food stamps to eat. In response to the report, the Agriculture Department wrote to the state's Department of Social Services saying it was assessing the surfer's certification. USDA's Kevin Concannon said in the letter that the surfer was not a typical recipient, but acknowledged that "such an individual is technically and legally able to access nutrition assistance."
THE CLAIM: According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican leading the push for the bill, "No law-abiding beneficiary who meets the income and asset test of the current program and is willing to comply with applicable work requirements will lose their benefits under the bill."
THE FACTS: The Congressional Budget Office says that if the bill were enacted, as many as 3.8 million people could lose their benefits in 2014. Around 1.7 million of those would be able-bodied adults who would be subject to the restored work requirements after three months. The other 2.1 million would lose benefits because the bill would largely eliminate so-called categorical eligibility, a method used by many states that allows people to automatically qualify for food stamps if they already receive other benefits. Some of those people who qualify that way do not meet current SNAP income and asset tests. Republicans argue that anyone who does qualify for SNAP can just reapply for SNAP directly.
THE CLAIM: The McCarthy memo says "the federal government has embarked on an unprecedented advertising and recruitment effort to expand the number further" of food stamp beneficiaries.
THE FACTS: "Embarked on" is a stretch. The Agriculture Department has long conducted such outreach under both Democratic and Republican administrations, saying that some advertising is necessary to make sure the benefits are being delivered to the right people. The department says its outreach has focused on groups that are eligible under the law, and its message is that food stamps are supposed to be temporary. The department says it discontinued advertising for SNAP last year, but states can still decide to produce ads if they want to.
- Created on 13 September 2013
A rare instance of accountability after a botched drug raid:
As Natasha Allen walked away from the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse Friday, 18 months after her oldest son was gunned down by a New Orleans police officer, she said that she might, finally, find some rest.
Former cop Joshua Colclough admitted Friday that he shot her unarmed son dead, during a botched drug raid that ignited racially charged tensions across the city.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and accepted a four-year prison sentence . . .
On March 7 of last year, Colclough was among a group of officers who raided her home on Prentiss Street in Gentilly, looking for evidence of drug dealing.
As they marched up the stairs, 20-year-old Wendell Allen appeared at the top of the staircase. He was shirtless, wearing only pants and a pair of sneakers.
He had nothing in his hands, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Friday. He was unarmed.
But Colclough fired his weapon once. The bullet tore through Allen's chest, into his heart and his lungs. He fell on the landing and died within seconds.
The video of the raid was just released last week. It's chilling. Note that the cops took down the door with a battering ram and stormed the place even though there were children inside.
I can think of only a few other cases where a police officer was held criminally liable for killing someone during a drug raid, and in those cases the police had engaged in other egregious misconduct. In the killing of Kathryn Johnston in 2006, for example, the cops had also lied on the search warrant affidavit and attempted to cover up their mistakes.
As District Attorney Leon Cannizarro explains in the clip, the pin-camera video from one of the raiding officers was critical to his decision to bring charges. Which is why, if these raids are going to continue, every one of them should be recorded in a format that cannot be altered or tampered with, and those videos should be archived and subject to open records laws.
I've been critical of Cannizarro in other contexts, so I should add that it's good to see a prosecutor impose some accountability. But let's be clear here. Throwing cops in jail for making split-second mistakes under unimaginably perilous circumstances isn't going to prevent future Wendell Allens. The problem is that bad policy keeps creating those unimaginably perilous circumstances in the first place. Over 100 times per day in America, police officers break into private homes to serve search warrants for consensual, nonviolent crimes. They aren't preventing violence, they're creating it. They aren't saving lives, they're putting lives at risk.
Until that stops, there will be more bodies.
To see a report from Fox 8 that includes the video, go here.