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Armed border group shuts down camp at border in New MexicoSUNLAND PARK, N.M. (AP) — An armed group that has been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border left its post in the New Mexico desert Tuesday amid pressure from law enforcement following videos that showed militia members stopping migrants who had illegally crossed into the country.


4/23/2019 7:44:30 PM

Bernie Sanders Got It Right on CNN: Felons Ought to Be Allowed to VotePhoto Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyIn their CNN town halls Monday night, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg disagreed on whether current prisoners should be able to vote. Sen. Kamala Harris refused to endorse a plan for expanding the franchise to incarcerated people, but supported voting rights for former prisoners.Sanders was specifically asked about Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and “those convicted of sexual assault.” What sane person would want them to vote? Our political system is already run by crooks. Do we want to add murderers and rapists too?In European history dating to Roman times, criminals could be stripped of their legal personality after committing a crime. They could not sign contracts or own property. They were outlaws, banished from the city walls. John Locke and other political theorists argued that criminals broke an implicit social contract: a rule-breaker should lose the right to make rules for others. But Locke lived in a time when only white, male, wealthy landowners could vote. Today, the right to vote is enshrined in democratic constitutions and international treaties. In American history, many states’ exclusions of those with a criminal record from voting date to the post-Civil War period and were clearly aimed at denying the franchise to African Americans. Criminal justice reform advocates argue that suffering a Medieval-style “civil death” dehumanizes prisoners, prevents their reintegration into society, and perpetuates inequalities in our political system. We should not assume that prisoners are less knowledgeable about politics than those outside of prison—that’s a pretty low bar, after all. Encouraging prisoners to feel involved in the political process can have real benefits too. Isolating prisoners from the political process during and after their incarceration further stigmatizes and isolates them, and that can encourage reoffending.Prisoners lose many of their rights when they go to prison. They can’t serve on a jury from a prison cell, or own guns; both of those are probably reasonable proscriptions. They probably should not own guns. But prisoners do not lose all their rights in prison. They are entitled to practice their religion and can challenge the conditions of their confinement. Taking away prisoners’ liberty is already a heavy punishment. Allowing them to cast an absentee ballot is not an unreasonable privilege.The most important consequence of allowing prisoners to vote is that it would remove the incentives for “prison gerrymandering.” In most U.S. states, prisoners are counted by the census based on where they are incarcerated, not where they are registered to vote. Because most large prisons are in sparsely populated rural areas, prison complexes have an important effect on gerrymandering. Many prisoners are racial minorities or people who live in urban areas, which means these places lose voting population, while more conservative areas gain nonvoting population. This advantages Republican congressmen in places like upstate New York, who benefit from inflated populations for redistricting purposes, but have nothing to fear at election time. Prisoner disenfranchisement therefore contributes to a structural disparity that causes Congress and state legislatures to be more conservative than the public at large.While many states are in the process of revising their laws to allow ex-prisoners to vote, voting by current prisoners only exists in Maine, Puerto Rico, and Vermont—the latter represented by Sanders in the U.S. Senate. In addition, the trend across the developed world is to allow at least some prisoners to vote. The supreme courts of South Africa, Canada, and Israel have legalized voting for at least some prisoners. The European Court of Human Rights has also rejected blanket prohibitions on prisoner voting, though it has allowed exceptions.The policy options are far broader than a single audience question would suggest. In Germany, prisoners can vote unless they were convicted of terrorism or political violence, an exception that would encompass Tsarnaev’s marathon attack. Other European countries prevent violent criminals, those serving lengthy or life sentences, or war criminals from voting. Exceptions for crimes of dishonesty or fraud might be reasonable as well. In a few countries, only those convicted of misdemeanors can vote, rather than felonies.These are policy debates we should be willing to have. Even if we allowed only persons serving misdemeanor sentences in local jails to vote, this alone might add nearly 300,000 voters to the rolls. Prisoner voting is already underway in some states and developed countries, so it is hardly a revolutionary position. Overbroad restrictions on voting help ensure that politicians select their own voters, rather than voters electing their own politicians.Andrew Novak is Assistant Professor of Criminology Law and Society at George Mason University.Read more at The Daily Beast.


4/24/2019 3:21:31 AM

First picture of 'mastermind' behind Sri Lanka suicide bomb attacks as identity of UK student is revealedThis is the first image of Inshaf Ahamed Ibrahim, the Sri Lankan suicide bomber and alleged mastermind of the atrocity which killed 359 people. Ibrahim, 33, blew himself up at the Shangri-La Hotel at just before 9am local time in a third-floor restaurant. The hotel was full of tourists including British victims Anita Nicholson, 42, and her two children Alex, 14, and 11-year-old daughter Annabel. Ibrahim’s younger brother Ilham also killed himself when he detonated a suicide bomb at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, also in the capital Colombo, five minutes later. The father of the two dead terrorists is a senior and wealthy businessman in Sri Lanka who ran a large spice trading company. Inshaf Ibrahim was involved in the spice export company but also ran a copper factory where it is thought the bombs were manufactured. It also emerged one suicide bombers who perpetrated the Easter Sunday attacks was former UK student Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, The Telegraph has learned. A group of men claiming to be the the Sri Lanka bomb attackers appear in an Isil propaganda video Credit: Twitter Mohamed is understood to have studied in south east England at some point between 2006 and 2007 before later enrolling on a postgraduate course in Australia. He is then believed to have returned to Sri Lanka. He was one of nine terrorists who carried out a series of blasts targeting churches and hotels in the country, killing 359 people - including eight from Britain. More than 500 were injured.  His identity came to light after Sri Lanka's deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said earlier today that one of the bombers had studied in the UK. “We believe one of the suicide bombers studied in the UK and then later on did his postgraduate in Australia, before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka,” said Mr Wijewardene, without naming the suspect. He said one of the bombers was a woman. He told a press conference in the capital, Colombo, that most of the suicide bombers were “well-educated and come from middle or upper-middle class,” adding that they were “financially quite independent.” Some held law degrees,” he added. Mr Wijewardene’s comments came as the police confirmed that the death toll for Sunday’s massacre had risen to 359. The attacks were claimed on Tuesday by the Islamic State militant group, which did not give any evidence to support its claim. If true, it would make it one of the worst attacks linked to the group outside Iraq and Syria. The deputy defence minister said that 60 people “have been arrested on possible links to the attacks” and 32 of those are still in custody. All are Sri Lankan. Sri Lanka attacks - Locator map Among those assisting police, reported India’s First Post, is Mohammed Yusuf Ibrahim, a wealthy spice trader and pillar of the Sri Lankan business community, whose two sons Imsath Ahmed Ibrahim, 33, and Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim, 31 allegedly bombed the breakfast buffets at the Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La hotels. Indian intelligence sources told the website that a third son Ijas Ahmed Ibrahim, 30, was also reportedly asked about the attack. Police are understood to be investigating possible links to overseas jihadist networks and training camps that had been hidden on a remote compound near Wanathawilluwa, on the island’s west coast. The compound, believed to be linked to the chief suspects in the Easter Sunday bombings, the National Thawheed Jamaath group, was raided by police in January. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Officers found 100kg of military grade explosives and arrested four suspects, all of whom were released on bail. One Sri Lankan minister alleged on Monday that political pressure had been applied to free them. Outside the Ibrahim family home in Colombo, neighbours told The Telegraph that Imsath was the business brains and Ilham was more aloof and awkward. "Imsath was the best of the sons. He runs the business and he drives good cars and wears Western brands,” said one neighbour. "Ilham was not so bright and not well educated." At a copper factory owned by Imsath in the Colombo suburb of Wellampitiya, workers said they had not seen him for a week. Sri Lankan staff and supervisors at Colossus Ltd had been arrested for questioning leaving only abandoned Bangladeshi migrant workers.


4/24/2019 8:43:34 AM

Elizabeth Warren's plan to end student debt is glorious. We can make it a realityWe fully support the 2020 nominee’s student debt relief proposal. But to make it happen, we’ll need to kick our efforts into higher gear ‘Elizabeth Warren’s proposal is a stunning, visionary plan that would transform our educational system and dramatically improve millions of people’s lives.’ Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP This week, Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, announced a proposal to cancel student debt for millions of people and make public college free. This is a stunning, visionary plan that would transform our educational system and dramatically improve millions of people’s lives. But like every other progressive proposal now being touted by presidential hopefuls, from Medicare for All to the Green New Deal, the call for debt relief and free education first came from the grassroots. And if we want a real student debt jubilee to actually happen – to go from policy paper to reality – the grassroots will need to continue to push for it. Fortunately, it’s a battle that can be won. Raising our voices is how we got this far. Ten years ago, student debt, even as it soared, was not seen as a serious issue. Writers including Tamara Draut and Anya Kamenetz were early to sound the alarm, exposing young people’s disproportionate indebtedness as a structural issue. Scholars such as Darrick Hamilton and Tressie McMillan Cottom would later go on to document the racially disparate impact of student loans, which burden women and people of color most of all. But it took the Occupy Wall Street movement to make public how profoundly the pinch of monthly payments was felt by an entire generation. Sign up to receive the latest US opinion pieces every weekday In April 2012 a group of Occupiers organized a “1T Day” protest to mark the day student debt in America surpassed $1tn. Seven years later, that number has ballooned to more than $1.5tn. That protest represented a watershed moment, the point when student debt went from being a personal problem to a political one, the result of decades of disinvestment in public colleges and universities that turned education into a consumer product instead of a public good. Some of the organizers of that event would go on to help launch the Debt Collective, a union for debtors that I co-founded. We kicked things off with the Rolling Jubilee fund, a public education campaign that bought and cancelled more than $30m in medical, student debt, payday loans and private probation debts. Then, in 2015, the Debt Collective launched the country’s first student debt strike. Since the strike was announced, we have won more than $1bn (and counting) in student debt cancellation for people who attended fraudulent for-profit colleges. Our team accomplished this by building a membership base of for-profit borrowers themselves. These debtors, a multiracial group of working-class people from across the country, led a campaign to pressure the Department of Education to cancel their loans. Their victory – and the fact that our primary demand of a debt jubilee and free college is now on Warren’s platform – demonstrates the power of grassroots organizing. The precedent-setting significance of the Debt Collective’s work is clear and cannot be overstated: Warren knows that student loans can be cancelled because they already have been on a smaller scale for for-profit college borrowers. That said, Warren’s plan, as bold as it is, is hardly inevitable. Her proposal of canceling student debt and ensuring free college seems contingent on the passage of a millionaire’s tax that, barring a miracle, is likely to be stymied by an intransigent Congress. In order to win a jubilee, then, we will have to kick our grassroots efforts into a higher gear. Debtors must continue to fight for their rights and advocate for the best possible solutions. We are preparing to do just that. Since 2016, along with our partners at Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending, we have been working out a roadmap that would allow all federal student loans to be cancelled without waiting for Congress to act. Congress, it turns out, has already given administrative agencies the power to cancel debts. Just as the Securities and Exchange Commission can cut low-dollar deals with banks that break the law, for example, the secretary of education can settle with debtors for a fraction of what they owe or suspend the collection of student debt altogether. When it was first given the power to issue and collect student loans in 1958, the Department of Education also received the power to “compromise, waive, or release any right” to collect on them. And when the Higher Education Act of 1965 made student loan authorities permanent, it solidified their power to compromise. Nothing in the law prevents the secretary of education from using compromise and settlement authority to address the worst effects of decades of failed higher education policy. But only a movement with that as its goal can get us there. Student debt abolition and free college would be a win-win for the entire country To win a jubilee, we need a movement focused on motivating candidates to commit to using the full powers available to them in office to address this emergency and stop collections on all student loans. While millionaires and billionaires should be taxed at a much higher rate, in the short term we should not let a Congress bought off by the super-rich prevent us from doing what’s right and legal – and economically beneficial. Indeed, student debt abolition and free college would be a win-win for the entire country. Not only would debtors get relief, academic research shows it would be a significant stimulus that might “supercharge” the economy and help address the racial wealth gap. Money currently used to pay back loans with interest would be redirected to other goods and services. But the win would be more profound than just an economic boost. Education could finally be a public good and not a commodity (or worse, a debt trap). This transformation would help inaugurate a new political vision that redefines liberty as the ability to freely access the social services that we all need to survive and thrive. The Debt Collective has been leading this fight for years – and our growing membership will continue to do so. Grassroots organizing is what got us this far, and it’s the only thing that can get us to the finish line: an end to student debt and free public college for everyone, once and for all. Astra Taylor is a writer, organizer, and documentarian. Her books include the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age and Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone. Her most recent film is What Is Democracy?


4/24/2019 4:00:18 AM

Trump to sanction allies over Iran oil, causing new frictionThe United States said Monday it would start imposing sanctions on friends such as India that buy Iranian oil, in its latest aggressive step to counter Tehran that could jeopardize US relationships. One targeted country, Turkey, vowed to defy the US demands that sent global crude prices spiraling higher, although President Donald Trump tweeted that his close ally Saudi Arabia would "more than make up" for cuts in Iranian oil. In seeking to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero, the Trump administration is targeting the country's top revenue maker in its latest no-holds-barred move to crush the economy and scale back the clerical regime's influence.


4/22/2019 3:43:59 PM

Washington poised to become first state to allow eco-friendly 'human composting'Washington is expected to become the first state to legalize an environmentally-friendly burial alternative that turns bodies into soil within weeks.


4/22/2019 7:56:22 PM

Kamala Harris Vows to Tighten Gun Control Laws Through Executive Action If ElectedSenator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) said Monday that as president she would unilaterally tighten gun control laws through executive action if Congress did not pass legislation to do so within her first 100 days in office.Harris explained during CNN's town hall event in New Hampshire that she would use her executive authority to require that anyone who sells more than five guns per year conduct a background check on all sales, effectively eliminating their status as a “private seller” in a move that would be vulnerable to legal challenge.“Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws, and if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action,” Harris told the crowd.The former prosecutor's plan would also close the so-called boyfriend loophole by prohibiting dating partners convicted of domestic violence from purchasing a gun. Currently the law only applies to spouses. The plan also calls for universal background checks and a return to the "assault weapons" ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004.Harris, who recently admitted to owning a gun for self-defense, also plans to eliminate the 2005 Protection of Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun makers from liability when their products are used in criminal activity. The gunmaker Remington is currently relying on the law to defend themselves from a suit brought by the parents of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.


4/23/2019 6:01:22 AM

WWII shipwreck discovered off Australian coastThe SS Iron Crown, an Australian freighter sunk by a Japanese submarine during World War II, has been discovered.


4/23/2019 7:00:00 AM

UPDATE 2-PG&E get approval to pay employees $350 mln to meet safety goals after wildfiresPG&E Corp can pay employees up to $350 million in bonuses this year to spur them to help meet the bankrupt California power provider's safety goals to prevent wildfires, a judge said on Tuesday. PG&E's management has said the company needs to implement the bonus plan to carry out tasks such as clearing trees and branches around power lines to avert contact that triggers wildfires. While the maximum cost of the plan is $350 million, PG&E has said it expects the likely cost will be around $235 million.


4/23/2019 5:18:41 PM

Sketch of suspect in killings of 2 girls was made in 2017DELPHI, Ind. (AP) — A newly released sketch of a man suspected of killing two Indiana teenagers was created only days after the girls' 2017 slayings, but authorities aren't saying why they held onto it for more than two years.


4/24/2019 9:37:26 AM
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