Plea Bargains in the Criminal McJustice System

Philadelphia D.A. Lynne Abraham

In Philadelphia, it is time for a new district attorney. The current D.A. Lynne Abraham is retiring, and none too soon – after 18 years in the position, she has been called “America’s deadliest D.A.” for her exceptionally voracious appetite in seeking the death penalty. Without question, most of the people sentenced to death were [...]

Interpreting the Failure of Prop 1A

california-budget

Immediately after the election, the Governor announced that the “voters had spoken” and that the defeat of Prop 1A “clearly” meant that Californians stood adamantly against any new taxes or fees. He must have been reading the leaves in the bottom of his tea cup in order to come to a favored conclusion, however, because [...]

Baucus Tells Single-Payer Advocates No

Senator Max Baucus

Montana Senator Max Baucus met Wednesday with advocates for single-payer healthcare, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and told them that he might drop criminal charges against 13 people arrested for speaking up in his hearings, but that he would not include any supporters of single-payer health coverage in any future hearings. According to one report, [...]

Why Do We Tolerate a Massive Prison System That Produces 70% Recidivism Rates?

day-in-court

In Part 1 of this two-part Q&A, UC Berkeley Law Professor Jonathan Simon talked about criminal sentencing and parole as practiced today in California. He concludes here by discussing the social and fiscal impacts of our approach to crime and punishment, the current opportunity for prison reform, and some ideas for meaningful change. Q. California’s [...]

Breaking LA’s Auto Dependency

streetcar

The Greater Los Angeles area has long been plagued by a thought that individual neighborhoods don’t add up to a whole. And the good of that whole (the Greater Los Angeles area) is the largest micro situation in the macro dependency on foreign oil there is. With the dependency on cars that Los Angeles has [...]

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Nomination: Obama Gives the Nation Another Teaching Moment

sotomayor-gop

President Barack Obama has done a symbolically extraordinary thing by nominating for the first time in U.S. history a person of Latino descent to the Supreme Court. The president has stayed true to the theme of his long campaign when he adopted “Si Se Puede” from the legendary Latina leader, Dolores Huerta. Right-wing talk show [...]

Why Parole Does Not Work in California

woman-in-prison

California’s criminal justice system was thrust into the national spotlight recently after the shooting deaths of four Oakland police officers by a recently released state prisoner. In this two-part Q&A, the NewsCenter speaks with UC Berkeley Law Professor Jonathan Simon about a system he has studied since the 1980s. The associate dean of the campus’s [...]

A New Study Reinforces Growing Influence of Second Generation Latinos

Photo by the Danbury Public Library

A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that Latino children now make up 22% of all children under the age of 18 in the U.S.—a huge increase from 9% in 1980. A majority of these kids (52%) are “second generation,” meaning that they are the U.S.-born children of at least one foreign-born parent. [...]

A Simple First Step Towards Universal Health Care

kennedy-baucus

The New York Times reported Saturday morning that a major split between Senator Ted Kennedy – back on the Hill as he fights brain cancer – and Senator Max Baucus over the shape and form of universal health care. Kennedy, long a proponent of a single-payer system, is teeing up against Baucus who is negotiating [...]

Single-Payer Health Care versus Individual Mandates: A Dilemma for Democrats

vaccination

A wide array of labor unions, health care providers, and consumers–including the California Nurses Association and the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) favors a single-payer (SP) “Medicare for All” system as the most cost-effective, comprehensive, and outcome-effective health care proposal. “Everybody in, nobody out” is the principle. By reducing or eliminating the role [...]

A Tip Without An Iceberg: Americans, Not Canucks, Are The Real Medical Refugees

border

Once the Senate puts aside the irrational fracas over Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court – she eats spicy food, her name doesn’t sound American, she can be quoted out of context, she’s a secret socialist – and confirms her nomination, Congress can turn its attention to dealing with genuine problems such as providing [...]

California Needs a New Constitution

sonoma

In his most recent piece in the New York Times Paul Krugman asks: “Who would have thought that America’s largest state, a state whose economy is larger than that of all but a few nations, could so easily become a banana republic?” Here in Sacramento I’ve watched the disaster unfold before my eyes like a [...]

Can Obama Build A Grassroots Health-Care Movement?

plouffe

As insurance companies and health-care conglomerates ramp up opposition to real reform, activists must build a real grassroots movement that forces Congress to do the right thing. On June 6, the Obama Administration is launching an effort to accomplish this. It is making its greatest push yet to use its “Organizing for America” operation to [...]

The Only Sure Way to Fund Universal Health Care

healthcare1

During the presidential campaign, I thought Obama made only one big policy mistake. He criticized John McCain for proposing to tax all employer-provided health benefits. McCain’s overall health plan was regressive – he would have turned the savings into tax credits for purchasing health care – but he was right about where the revenues should [...]

Save $1 Billion in Five Years—End the Death Penalty in California

prison

In the market for a prime piece of real estate? Governor Schwarzenegger has the deal for you! Facing a $21.3 Billion budget deficit in California, Schwarzenegger has offered to sell state-owned property to make up the difference. The crown jewel of the proposed fire sale is San Quentin State Prison, home to California’s death row [...]

Can We Fight the Healthcare Industry

According to the experts in this video, you can’t have a healthcare system that works if it’s modeled after the one used by the medical insurance industry today in the United States. They contend that the current system in the U.S. is a system that is guaranteed to waste money and ensures that the sickest [...]

Budget Baloney

taxes

The shrill attacks on government spending — “it’s always wasteful! it *never* invests!” — have already begun. The anti-tax crowd has begun its triumphal victory dance, spinning the defeat of proposition 1A’s rather modest extension of taxes as an endorsement of their prejudices. But this is one voter who turned down the convoluted logic of [...]

The Health Care Cave-In

healthcare

“Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the better” is a favorite slogan in Washington because compromise is necessary to get anything done. But the way things are going with health care, a better admonition would be: “Don’t give away the store.” Single-Payer Plan Is Ideal Many experts have long agreed that a so-called “single-payer” [...]

Decrying California’s Double-Digit Student Fee Hikes

happy-students

The California Board of Trustees’ action last week shows an increasing dependency on annual, double-digit student fee hikes to cover for declining state support. It is a dependency that must be broken to maintain access and affordability for students. Student Fees Hiked More Than 100 Percent Student fees have climbed more than 100 percent in [...]

Arnold’s Legacy: Driving the State Towards Bankruptcy

arnold09

Governor Schwarzenegger’s May “budget revise” last week – which proposed more mass layoffs, more painful cuts and more reckless borrowing – had all the makings of the end of a Shakespearean tragedy, where the protagonist has run out of options due to troubles of his own making. One could also view it as the definition [...]

Sheila Kuehl: My Take on California’s Propositions

capitol

It seems pretty obvious that, whether the propositions pass or fail, they create a significant, but different, problem for the state. The total monies brought into the current budget by all the propositions together is about 6 billion dollars. However, over $5 billion of that revenue comes from the sale of the lottery. This makes [...]

The Republican Contract on California

arnold

We get to vote, again, on May 19. This time we have a bunch of ballot initiatives that the Republican Party demanded as a condition of reaching a budget “compromise” last winter. The commercial media tell us that most of these measures are failing in polling, but still have a chance at passage. Still have [...]

AB 56 Would Require Health Insurance Cover Mammograms for Screening or Diagnostic Purposes

mammogram

Existing California law mandates that health insurance companies that are regulated under the California Insurance Code (PPOs) must provide coverage for mammograms to screen for breast cancer according to a woman’s age as specified in statute. AB 56 will require these health insurance companies to cover mammograms for screening or diagnostic purposes for breast cancer [...]

Marcy Winograd Campaign Kick-Off Speech

Congressional candidate Marcy Winograd

My name is Marcy Winograd and WE are running for Congress. Thank you, all, for joining me today for the historic kick-off of the Winograd for Congress 2010 campaign to unseat Jane Harman in the 36th congressional district. We stand here today just miles from the neighborhoods of West LA and Mar Vista, Playa Vista, [...]

How the U.S. Empire Contributed to the Economic Crisis

obama-mounted

A few—and only a few—prescient commentators have questioned whether the U.S. can sustain its informal global empire in the wake of the most severe economic crisis since World War II. And the simultaneous quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan are leading more and more opinion leaders and taxpayers to this question. But the U.S. Empire helped [...]

Why We Risked Arrest for Single-Payer Health Care

margaret_flowers

On May 5, eight health care advocates, including myself and two other physicians, stood up to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the Senate Finance Committee during a “public roundtable discussion” with a simple question: Will you allow an advocate for a single-payer national health plan to have a seat at the table? The answer was [...]

Keep on Keeping on with Universal Healthcare

kuehl_1

Tempering the universal healthcare movement’s idealism with calls for pragmatic approaches, retired State Senator Sheila Kuehl preached persistence at last Saturday’s “Single Payer Solution” conference. “Our job is to convince California person by person, church by synagogue, worker by workplace by employer, that single payer is the right answer,” she told the packed sanctuary at [...]

The Consent of the Governed

one vote

“… to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men [and women], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” — Declaration of Independence “Your people, Mr. Jefferson, are a great beast.” So said Alexander Hamilton, the leader of America’s first conservative party, to the author of the Declaration of Independence and the [...]

A Philly Tragedy Reminds Us of America’s Gun Lust

An Oakland police officer pauses by his patrol car near the scene of a police involved shooting on MacArthur Boulevard where two police officers were shot, Saturday, March 21, 2009 in Oakland, Calif.(Xinhua/AP Photo)

here’s a story out of Philadelphia that’s enough to break your heart. On April 21, a man shot his girlfriend to death in front of her 11-year old daughter, then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Aleen Ali, 45, a supervisor at the city’s Department of Human Services (DHS), walked up to the [...]

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