Source: CNN (Please note: clicking links in quoted text will trigger a download from CNN. The content of those links is below for you to view without download.)
It was more than four decades ago as a battle raged across the country -- and in Congress -- over sending white students to majority-black schools and black students to majority-white schools often far away from their own neighborhoods. Biden forcefully opposed the government's role in trying to integrate schools, saying he favored desegregation, but believed busing did not achieve equal opportunity.
This is a long story, so whether you like CNN or not, I would suggest reading the entire article at your convenience. The letters are below so you don't have to download them.
WTF Note: The campaign ads against this one will be lots of fun. Sadly, she could murder someone and her base wouldn't care because she has a vagina. And, as we all know, the vagina is more important than anything else. Well. As long as it's a Democrat vagina. They don't care about any others.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and a sharp critic of big banks and unregulated capitalism, entered the 2020 race for president on Monday, becoming the first major candidate in what is likely to be a long and crowded primary marked by ideological and generational divisions in a Democratic Party desperate to beat President Trump.
In an 8:30 a.m. email to supporters on New Year’s Eve — 13 months before the first votes will be cast in the Iowa caucuses — Ms. Warren said she was forming an exploratory committee, which allows her to raise money and fill key staff positions before a formal kickoff of her presidential bid. Ms. Warren also released a video that leaned on the populist, anti-Wall Street themes that are sure to be central to her campaign message.
“I’ve spent my career getting to the bottom of why America’s promise works for some families, but others, who work just as hard, slip through the cracks into disaster,” she said in the video. “And what I’ve found is terrifying: these aren’t cracks families are falling into, they’re traps. America’s middle class is under attack.”
“But this dark path doesn’t have to be our future,” she continued. “We can make our democracy work for all of us. We can make our economy work for all of us.”
New York Times
The government partially shut down at midnight after the House and Senate failed to pass a spending bill. President Trump had insisted he would not sign any spending bill that did not include $5 billion for the border wall.
The partial shutdown won't have much effect on your holiday plans. The post office will stay open, so gift and holiday card stragglers can still put them in the mail. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents would still work, and air travel would continue virtually unaffected.
Government employees who are considered "essential," such as Secret Service agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents and U.S. troops deployed at the border, will still be working. But a shutdown creates a risk for hundreds of thousands of federal workers: More than 420,000 federal employees would have to go to work without pay. More than 380,000 will be furloughed. Those who work will get paid eventually - and those furloughed likely will - but depending how long the shutdown lasts, they could miss a paycheck.
Funding that expired at midnight Saturday covers the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the State Department, the Interior Department, the Departure of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among some other federal entities.
The Office of Management and Budget -- still run by incoming acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney -- has issued guidance to each agency, and each agency would develop its own shutdown plan. Federal agencies must halt all "non-essential" discretionary work and so-called non-essential employees must stay home until new funding legislation is signed into law.
The US Supreme Court has ruled against the Trump administration's policy to deny asylum to any migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally.
The top court rejected the policy 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court's liberals.
Federal judges had previously stayed the asylum ban, ruling it tried to circumvent existing laws granting anyone the right to asylum in the US.
The government had described the policy as a way to address the border crisis.
Conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.
The court offered no opinion, just a document noting the order upholding the lower courts' ruling against the ban.
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions — to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
James N. Mattis
The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would move to make sure able-bodied Americans work to receive food stamp benefits, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said could save billions of dollars in taxpayer money each year.
The Agriculture Department unveiled expanded work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. A move to expand such requirements was included in a $400 billion farm bill recently passed by Congress, but was stripped out at the last minute.
According to the proposed rule, those who are able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) would need to work at least 20 hours per week up to age 59 in order to receive government assistance.
"Under current SNAP requirements, ABAWDs must work or participate in an employment program for at least 20 hours a week to continue to receive benefits for more than three months over a 36-month period," the USDA said. "States may request to waive the time limit in areas with an unemployment rate above 10 percent or where there are ‘not sufficient jobs,’ which current regulations primarily define as an unemployment rate 20 percent above the national average.
"With today’s strong economy, that could include areas with unemployment rates of under 5 percent – a rate normally considered to be full employment. In 2016 there were 3.8 million individual ABAWDs on the SNAP rolls, with 2.8 million (or almost 74 percent) of them not working," the USDA said.
“Long-term reliance on government assistance has never been part of the American dream,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As we make benefits available to those who truly need them, we must also encourage participants to take proactive steps toward self-sufficiency. Moving people to work is common-sense policy, particularly at a time when the unemployment rate is at a generational low.”
A specially appointed federal panel of judges has dismissed all 83 ethics complaints brought against Justice Brett Kavanaugh regarding his conduct at his confirmation hearings.
The judges concluded that while the complaints "are serious," there is no existing authority that allows lower court judges to investigate or discipline Supreme Court justices.
The complaints against Kavanaugh ranged from allegations that he had misled the Senate about some of his activities in the George W. Bush White House to his angry, partisan statements in denying charges of sexual assault in high school.
At his contentious confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh railed against Democrats, accusing them of engaging in a liberal conspiracy, a sort of payback for his onetime role as a prosecutor investigating President Bill Clinton.
"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups," Kavanaugh thundered. "This is a circus. ... And as we all know, in the United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around."
As soaring crime overwhelmed New York City’s courts in the 1970s, state lawmakers came up with a fix to speed things up. The State Legislature decided that people facing less than six months in jail would have their cases decided by a single judge rather than a jury.
That law has had the unintended effect of depriving immigrants in the city of jury trials for crimes like prostitution and harassment, even though they face the stiff punishment of deportation if convicted, advocates for immigrants said.
This week New York State’s highest court carved out an exception to the law, declaring in a 5-2 decision that noncitizens are entitled to jury trials for deportable offenses under the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right to a trial by an impartial jury.
Immigrant advocates and civil rights lawyers hailed the ruling as giving all immigrants, not just those charged with serious crimes, an avenue under the Constitution to fight charges that could lead to their removal from the country and permanent separation from their families. But critics said it gave them more rights than citizens have and might lead to bigger backlogs in the criminal courts.
New York Times
In one of his first acts in office, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has signed an agreement with his counterparts from three Central American countries to establish a development plan to stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.
The Foreign Ministry said Saturday that the plan includes a fund to generate jobs in the region and aims to attack the structural causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The mayor of Portland has plans to start a pilot program where non-sworn officers will not carry weapons and be used on non-emergency calls.
Mayor Ted Wheeler’s plan needs final approval by the City Council on Dec. 5, according to the Williamette Week.
The non-sworn officers are called Public Safety Support Specialists and will be utilized on property crimes and break-ins, according to Wheeler.
The mayor cut the city’s mounted police from the budget so he could fund the Public Safety Support Specialists, which could be hired in January, according to the Williamette Week.
The police union has been in negotiations since July with the city over the new hires.
Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner says the Public Safety Support Specialists won’t respond to calls for service without being accompanied by a sworn officer. Turner said they may provide support by working at the front desks at precincts or waiting for tow trucks at the scene of car accidents, according to the Williamette Week.
Proponents of hiring the Public Safety Support Specialists said they could build more trust with citizens.
Blue Lives Matter
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