“For years, St. Paul police officer Heather Weyker was swamped. She gathered evidence, cultivated witnesses, filled out the police reports, testified under oath—all in connection with an interstate sex trafficking ring run by Somali refugees. But perhaps most impressive is that she did all that while fabricating the same ring she was investigating, which resulted in 30 indictments, 9 trials, and 0 convictions.
Hamdi Mohamud, then a 16-year-old refugee from Somalia, found herself caught up in that scheme in 2011, when one of Weyker’s witnesses, Muna Abdulkadir, tried to attack her and her friends at knifepoint. Mohamud called the police, and Weyker intervened—on behalf of Abdulkadir. She arrested Mohamud and her friends for allegedly tampering with a federal witness, and Mohamud subsequently spent two years in jail before the trumped-up charges were dismissed.
While Mohamud lost those two years of her life, Weyker has not paid any price—not in spite of her position, but because of it. Since the officer conducted her investigation as part of a federal task force, she is entitled to absolute immunity and cannot be sued, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled last year.”
“The last two COVID relief bills passed by Congress in December 2020 and March 2021 collectively appropriated $46 billion to cover the massive amount of unpaid rent that tenants have accumulated during the pandemic.
By the end of January 2021, the federal government had released close to $25 billion of that money—including about $1.2 billion to New York state’s ERAP. Subsequent federal grants and state money would fund the program to the tune of $2.7 billion, according to City Limits.
And yet by the end of June, New York had, per U.S. Treasury Department data, managed to spend $0 of its rent relief funds. A month later only $1.2 million had gone out the door.
A major reason for the slow dispersal of funds is that the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA)—which is responsible for administering the program—took until June 2021 to start accepting applications. When it did get an online application portal up and running, tenants and landlords were met with crashing websites, and requests for documents they didn’t have.
Applications would take hours to complete, yet the online web portal lacked a feature allowing people to save their progress and try again later. People who called into a hotline to report problems said that staff often had no answers for them.”
“most state governments have done a pretty poor job of getting their rent relief programs off the ground. (The speed at which places like Virginia and Texas have managed to disperse funds shows that success wasn’t impossible.)
Nevertheless, New York has earned the distinction of being the slowest. As of Monday, the state has spent $100 million on rent relief, or about 4 percent of total ERAP funds.”
““False information, misinformation and misunderstanding might have created a false sense of hope,” said Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that works with migrants.
Biden’s term has coincided with a sharp deterioration in the political and economic stability of Haiti, leaving parts of its capital under the control of gangs and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. The assassination of Haiti’s president and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake this summer have only added to the pressures causing people to leave the country. Shortly after the assassination, hundreds of Haitians flocked to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, many carrying packed suitcases and small children, after false rumors spread on social media that the Biden administration was handing out humanitarian visas to Haitians in need.
Most of the Haitians in Mexico — a country that has intercepted nearly 4,000 this year — were not coming directly from Haiti, but from South America, where, like Mackenson, they had already been living and working, according to a top official in the Mexican foreign ministry. The number of Haitians heading northward across the border that separates Colombia and Panama — often by traversing the treacherous jungle known as the Darién Gap — has also surged in recent years, increasing from just 420 in 2018 to more than 42,300 through August of this year, according to the Panamanian government.
“We are dealing with this really new type of migration, which are these Haitians coming from mainly Brazil and Chile,” said Roberto Velasco, chief officer for North America at Mexico’s foreign ministry. “They are mainly looking for jobs. They come from third countries, so repatriation is difficult.”
Following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of Haitians headed southward to Chile and Brazil in search of jobs in two of South America’s richest countries. To get there, many undertook an arduous overland journey across the continent through the Amazon and the Andes.
Many were offered humanitarian visas in both nations, which needed low-wage workers, but that welcoming stance withered as economic instability in the region rose in tandem with a growing backlash toward immigrants.”
“”In countries like Vietnam and Australia, Chinese agents have simply abducted their prey, whether the targets were dissidents or people accused of corruption,” ProPublica reported after its own investigation.
While “China conducts the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world,” according to Freedom House, it’s hardly alone. Russia’s overseas effort “accounts for 7 of 26 assassinations or assassination attempts since 2014, as catalogued in Freedom House’s global survey”; former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were targeted in the United Kingdom in 2018 in an attack that resulted in the death of a local woman. Saudi Arabia’s government plotted what a UN special rapporteur described as “a premeditated extrajudicial execution” of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Turkey, in turn, has developed a reputation for leaning on other governments “to hand over individuals without due process, or with a slight fig leaf of legality,” in the words of the report.”
“The numbskulls who stormed the Capitol, some of whom are facing modest prison sentences for their role in the clownish putsch, didn’t show up by happenstance. “All of them—all of them were telling us, ‘Trump sent us,'” according to recent testimony at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing by a U.S. Capitol police officer who fought back the insurgents.
Not every participant in the day’s sordid events engaged in violence or vandalism, of course, and whatever punishments the courts mete out should fit the particular crime. But this was no tourist visit gone awry. Not every person who joined in left-wing attacks in Portland committed crimes, either, but I don’t suppose Trump supporters would cut those folks slack.
The Trumpsters’ silliest argument is that Antifa, the fascistic “anti-fascists” who turned portions of U.S. cities into rubble, were behind the Capitol event. Conservatives touted that narrative immediately after January 6. Apparently, that loose-knit movement runs so meticulously that it recruited thousands of volunteers who acted exactly like Trump supporters.
Why believe your own eyes? Sure, a few lefties might have infiltrated the pro-Trump mob. That doesn’t make it an Antifa riot. The Portland scene wasn’t a right-wing event because a few right-wing infiltrators may have joined in the action. I’ve attended many protests and guarantee that they attract all sorts of nut jobs. It’s not hard for anyone to gain admission.
Despite GOP efforts to rewrite history, my eyes confirm the conclusion drawn by conservative writer David Frum: “The January 6 attack was incited by the head of the American government, the man who had sworn to protect and defend that government. It was the thing most feared by the authors of the U.S. Constitution: a betrayal of the highest office by the holder of that office.”
Here’s the problem. It portends dangers for the future if so many conservatives refuse to cop to the obvious truths of that day. If we can’t all agree on basic, obvious facts about an event that unfolded before our eyes, then we’re headed toward a well-trod path of internecine struggles where we just pick a side and fight to the bitter end.”
“My problem is with the political right’s movement toward, well, authoritarianism, exemplified by its refusal to embrace facts that don’t conform to their alternative reality—and their unwavering support for a man rather than a set of ideas. It’s ironic that the man they’ve chosen to follow seems to embody moral characteristics they’ve long railed against, but go figure.
Even GOP leaders who know better and occasionally speak out against Trump’s disinformation—House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.)—always end up toeing the party line. They dare not defy Trump or his base voters.”
“Four years later, Clinton delivered on that promise, signing the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The bipartisan legislation transformed the old federal welfare system, known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), into a new program, Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF).
A decade after signing welfare reform into law, Clinton took a victory lap in The New York Times. “Welfare rolls have dropped substantially, from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million today,” he wrote in 2006. “At the same time, caseloads declined by 54 percent. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found work, far surpassing predictions of experts.”
Most important, poverty, and especially child poverty, had declined. In 2000, the share of children living in households earning less than the official poverty threshold was 16.2 percent—still too high, but the lowest rate since 1979. The decade after welfare reform passed saw the sharpest drop in child poverty for kids living in homes headed by single mothers since the 1960s.
That improvement was partly a product of the late ’90s economic boom. But much of it could be traced to welfare reform legislation, in particular its time limits and its requirement that beneficiaries eventually find a job.
For the most part, those gains have endured. In the last two decades, child poverty rates have fluctuated somewhat with the economy but have generally trended downward. In 2019, the child poverty rate was down to 14.4 percent—and that figure arguably overstates the number of children living in poverty. A separate figure, known as the Supplemental Poverty Measure, put child poverty at 12.5 percent in 2019, down several points from the turn of the 21st century.”
“Coronavirus relief legislation already has weakened links between government benefits and work in several ways. Democrats seem poised to weaken those links even further.”
“The Biden administration is racing to rebuild senior agency roles depleted by the previous president, hiring at the fastest rate in decades, a POLITICO analysis found.
In the first three months of 2021, the Biden administration hired more than twice as many senior government executives than Donald Trump did in the same timeframe, a staffing spree aimed at rebuilding agencies rocked by turmoil during Trump’s war on the so-called “deep state.””
“Too many tenants across the country are living in apartments with unpaid rent piling up, and landlords are facing their second straight year unable to evict people who don’t pay them. The stakes are enormous: a recent study by professors at UCLA and USC estimate that tenants owe $3 billion in back rent in Los Angeles County alone. A recent survey from the Urban Institute noted that a total of 28 percent of landlords have deferred maintenance during the pandemic, the majority citing financial reasons for doing so. Further, 27 percent of tenants reported their maintenance requests were being ignored completely.
In theory, Washington has allocated billions of dollars for rent support for both tenants and the landlords hurt by the moratorium. But in practice that money isn’t going where it needs to go. As of the end of June, only 12 percent of the originally approved $25 billion in rental assistance had reached tenants in need. Still, even if all of the dollars allocated for rental assistance were currently in the hands of renters in need, it still won’t be enough. As Urban Institute researchers concluded that $50 billion is the minimum needed and a CityLab report suggests that it could be over $70 billion.”
“The cleanest solution would be a government-financed loan program that would benefit both tenants and landlords. It needs to be federal. At this point, only Washington has the scale and scope to head off a crisis whose costs have the potential to tick into the tens of billions with far-reaching, long-term impacts on renters. It needs to provide landlords an immediate guarantee of the recovery of a substantial portion of back rent so that the rental market will restabilize. And a loan program, rather than additional rental assistance to tenants or landlords, solves several of the underlying issues: Tenants do owe back rent, and to pretend otherwise could invite moral hazard on a huge scale. It’s politically more viable, in part, because directly footing a future bill that remains unknown would leave American taxpayers with additional Covid debt beyond the direct costs of the pandemic.”
“American companies were glad to see Biden review Trump’s trade policies toward China, but eight months later, they have seen little change on tariffs or other issues bedeviling their business in the world’s second-largest economy.”