Archive | Truth-out

The Radio Show Bringing Prisoners Messages From Home

(Photo: Welcomia / Getty Images)

Many of the people behind bars in central Appalachia are not locals. That means most families can’t afford to travel for visitation hours or the long-distance calls on credit, leaving those serving time in the region far from home with few resources to stay connected. “Calls From Home” works to fill that gap, providing a lifeline for the people behind bars.

(Photo: Welcomia / Getty Images)

The call comes in clear. A woman on the line tells her loved one she’s consulted with officials, and he should be allowed to light an electric menorah for Hanukkah. It’s an issue of freedom of religion, she says, so they have to let him do it.

It’s a one-way conversation, though. Her partner is not on the other end of the line. He’s one of thousands of men and women locked up in one of the many federal and state prisons and regional detention centers in central Appalachia. The caller left this message to be played over the radio on WMMT-FM out of Whitesburg, Kentucky, in the hopes her loved one would be listening from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday.

The target of her call would be just one of hundreds who tune in to the station’s “Calls From Home” program every Monday night hoping for news or greetings from family and friends, who reach across the miles through their phone lines to provide the inmates with some sense of normalcy in an otherwise completely abnormal situation.

“Ideally, there wouldn’t have to be all these other ears listening to their messages,” WMMT General Manager Elizabeth Sanders says. “Ideally, you wouldn’t even need this show. But, it’s definitely some more connective tissue than what exists.”

Many of the people behind bars in central Appalachia are not locals. Most …read more

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Stars Fell on Alabama: The Beautiful Defeat of Roy Moore

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrates his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. (Photo: Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrates his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. (Photo: Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Almost a full year into the Age of Trump and you expect me to believe Alabama would be the place where this awful Christo-fascist nationalist inertia finally gets thrown back? Yet here we sit, 51 to 49 in the Senate and Steve Bannon temporarily stuffed back into the Mercer-funded Crackerjack box he emerged from. I know Alabama. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrates his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. (Photo: Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrates his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. (Photo: Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

My heart beat just like a hammer
Arms wound around you tight
While stars fell on Alabama
Last night …

— “Stars Fell on Alabama,” Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish, 1934

Roy Moore got beat in Alabama. Roy Moore got beat by Alabama. Roy Moore got beat.

It’s not that I can’t believe it. The AP called it for Doug Jones, then Fox, then The New York Times, then NBC, then everyone. It happened in color and with the volume all the way up. I saw it. I just can’t believe it.

Jones is now the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama in more than 20 years, and the first Democrat to win any statewide office in Alabama since Jim Folsom became Lt. Governor in 2006. …read more

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As Final Tax Scam Vote Looms, Demands for McConnell to Seat Doug Jones “Immediately”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn speak to reporters about the Alabama Senate race during a news conference on Capitol Hill, December 12, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Al Drago / Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn speak to reporters about the Alabama Senate race during a news conference on Capitol Hill, December 12, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Al Drago / Getty Images)

After “bigotry and hatred were defeated at the polls” in Alabama on Tuesday, progressives turned their sights toward defeating the GOP’s attempt to deliver a trillion-dollar tax cut to the wealthy, demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “immediately” seat newly elected Sen. Doug Jones before a final vote on the Republican tax bill.

Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), said in a statement late Tuesday that Jones’s victory represents a repudiation of “the Trump-GOP agenda” and implored Republicans to “re-evaluate their support for the monstrous tax bill that will rip healthcare away from millions while raising taxes on middle class families.”

“The Senate should slow the process down and allow the nation’s newest senator to have a vote on this legislation that will affect the next generation,” Clemente concluded. “It would be inappropriate for massive legislation rewriting the nation’s tax code to be decided by a lame-duck senator who was just voted out of office.”

ATF’s call was echoed by several Democratic lawmakers Tuesday night — demands that came just hours after McConnell made clear that he has no intention of seating the winner of Alabama’s special election until next year.

Senate Republicans would be left with just one vote to spare in their push for massive corporate tax cuts if Jones were to be sworn in ahead of a final vote.

In a tweet late Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on McConnell to “listen to the people of Alabama and seat Doug Jones without any delay.”

“Doug …read more

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Much-Needed Hope for Planet Earth in “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution”

The new documentary Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution, brings good news for anyone who’s been crushed by the recent stream of headlines on climate change. Director Jamie Redford takes us on a journey to discover the green energy revolution that’s taking place in towns, cities and states across the country while underscoring issues of human resilience and social justice.

We visit places like Georgetown, Texas where the colorful Republican mayor, a self-avowed “right-wing conservative,” is leading the charge on the green revolution. Georgetown is one of the first towns in the US to run on 100-percent renewable energy. We visit an Apple facility and learn that every Apple store in America is powered by renewable energy. That should give some comfort to iPhone-addicted shoppers this season.

Redford examines how cutting-edge technology, coupled with innovative investments and political will, can have a positive impact despite a White House that denies human-made climate change. From boardrooms to town halls — and even the US Navy — people of all political stripes are finding ways to go green because it’s simply a better, more cost-efficient way to live.

We talked with Redford in this interview, which has been edited for length and clarity.

To see more stories like this, visit Moyers & Company at Truthout.

Titi Yu: So I read somewhere that you describe yourself as the reluctant star. Why were you a reluctant star?

Jamie Redford: That’s because I haven’t done a performance like this since the eighth grade when my wig fell off. So… [laughs]

Well I thought it was very effective to have you in the film.

I just …read more

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How the GOP Tax Bill Hurts Disabled People

The Republican tax bill stands to harm many US communities, but disabled people could particularly struggle thanks to a combination of cuts to vital services and the elimination of key deductions.

And the tax plan won’t just affect disabled people, who are already more likely to live in poverty than nondisabled people. It could also hit the families of disabled dependents hard, along with older adults, many of whom benefit from the same programs used by disabled people.

Understanding the harmful elements of this bill will help you better advocate for yourself and the people you care about when you contact your legislators.

The Cruelest Cuts

Republicans are fond of saying that they won’t cut Medicare and Social Security, two programs historically associated with older adults in the United States — a formidable voting block. Some have also indicated that they won’t touch Medicaid, either. And while this bill might not technically do that, the tax plan’s structure almost assures that it will happen.

Confused? Here’s how this works: In the United States, if legislation contributes to the national debt — increases the deficit — it must include offsets to address the problem. These can be achieved by raising revenue or cutting expenses. This bill contains what are known as “triggers” that would automatically cut some government programs to offset the expense of giving the rich a tax cut.

The bill would likely include cuts to Medicaid funding, along with financial resources used to provide vocational supports, education assistance and other programs that help disabled people live independently and reach their full potential.

As for Medicare, the program Republicans swear is off limits? It could see $25 billion in automatic cuts in 2018. Social Security? Also slated …read more

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The “Happiest” City in the US Has a Secret: It's White and Wealthy

This article was originally published at TalkPoverty.org.

“How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Omelas? … I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I suspect that they were singularly few.

One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Earlier this year, National Geographic published an article claiming to have discovered the 25 happiest cities in the United States. The measurements were based on a scale developed by Gallup, with input from Dan Buettner, who has spent decades traveling the globe in pursuit of the roots of happiness. Even with all that experience, Buettner’s findings (reported in the article by George Stone) seem to overlook one glaring problem: American happiness appears to be rich and white.

The city that tops Nat Geo’s list this year is Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains, known for its biking paths, clean air, and youthful population; the latter of which can be attributed to the fact that it is home to the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and Naropa University, in addition to several specialty and trade schools. Naropa University includes the writing school that was founded by beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. It’s also where I attended grad school.

Before I moved to the city, I had farewell drinks with a friend and a schoolmate he brought along, an Asian woman who spent one short academic year at CU before bolting.

“It’s the most racist place I’ve ever been,” she told me upon learning where I would soon be moving. “Everyone there is white, and if you’re not,” she swiped her hand through the air as though swatting away a bug. “It was …read more

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My Family Fled to the US to Survive. We Deserve to Stay.

This article was originally published on TalkPoverty.org.

I grew up in Los Angeles and Seattle, but my siblings used to warn me not to reveal that we were from Mexico. They were afraid that we would be persecuted, deported, and separated from one another, so they made sure I knew about the possible repercussions of being undocumented. But that doesn’t mean I fully understood it — I couldn’t really comprehend the extent to which it would impact our lives practically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I learned what it meant, piece by piece. It meant that my uncle couldn’t volunteer as a chaperone for an elementary school field trip, because a routine background check might give Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) information it could use to deport him. It meant that when my fifth-grade teacher taught us about Social Security, I learned that our family didn’t have it. It meant introducing myself as “Caesar” rather than “Cesar,” and telling people I was born in Los Angeles. It meant working for a construction company that used my immigration status as leverage to pay me less, and demand that I work more.

One experience after another reminded me that our family could not expect safety or support in this country. We were not citizens, so we had no rights.

Nevertheless, my mother took it upon herself to ensure that we had what we needed. She’d work long hours cleaning houses, and sought out any resources she could find to provide us with school supplies, health services, and food. She could not always show physical love, because she was often absent, living out her love through the sacrifices that she made for us.

***

Like hundreds of thousands of other undocumented mothers, my mother came to the United States from Mexico in search of a …read more

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Cecile Richards: VP Pence Is Installing Authorities to Repeal Women's Rights With No Public Oversight

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards says the first year of President Trump’s administration may be the worst year for women of any administration in United States history. But, she notes, it has also been a year of organizing and resistance by women and their allies.

Please check back later for full transcript.

…read more

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Meet the Miss USA Contestant Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct as Senators Call for Him to Resign

Five senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women, and 56 House lawmakers with the Democratic Women’s Working Group are calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations. This comes as three of the 16 women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment held a press conference Monday in New York, demanding that Congress take action. We speak with one of them: Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant for North Carolina when Trump owned the pageant. We are also joined by Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and we play an excerpt from the Brave New Films documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump.

Please check back later for full transcript.

…read more

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