The Kansas State Supreme Court temporarily blocked
a grand jury investigating an abortion provider from collecting more
than 2,000 patient records, including patients who didn't end up having
an abortion. The provider, Dr. Tiller, and his attorneys objected to
the subpoena of patient records as a violation of women's constitutional rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights also filed a petition
on behalf of patients to stop the subpoena's. The Court, at least for
now, agreed the subpoenas raised "significant issues" about patients'
privacy. A final decision will be made by February 25th.
The statistics are shocking. The current mortgage crisis is expected to result in the foreclosure of 3 million homes. In Stockton, CA, one in every 27 homes has been hit by the foreclosure crisis. And, Countryside, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, just released
figures showing that foreclosures and late payments rose in December to
the highest on record. Calls to helplines by homeowners facing
foreclosure have skyrocketed. As a corollary, local animal shelters are seeing a sharp increase in intake due to owners having to surrender family pets when they lose their homes.
Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration's proposal for fixing the subprime lending crisis is an industry-led deal that involves completely voluntary actions to fix the current crisis and will ultimately help only a few of the millions of people who have either lost or are in danger of losing their homes. With absolute failure at the federal level, it is again up to states to step in. In two recent editorialpieces, the executive directors of the Progressive States Network and the Drum Major Institute called on New York Governor Spitzer to impose a six-month moratorium on foreclosures to stop the rapidly increasing rate of home loss, a policy all governors should enact. A moratorium would give lenders incentive to restructure loans on fair terms and fight back against the Wall-street backed predatory lenders.
A new ballot measure in California
change the way that California's 55 presidential electoral votes would be
allocated; not to make sure that every vote counted, but to make sure that any
right-wing candidate for President could lop off a significant number of that
state's electoral votes.
little fanfare, the New York General Assembly and Governor
Eliot Spitzer enacted a budget in early April that includes
care for essentially all children. The budget increased SCHIP
eligibility for children in families with incomes up to 400% of poverty
($80,000 for a family of four) and allows families above 400% without
other options to purchase the SCHIP coverage at full-cost, which is still
cheaper and likely more comprehensive than private options. Premiums for
families below 400% of poverty will be set at $20, $30 and $40 per child
depending on income.
the problems of predatory lending industry a few weeks ago and now, problems
are coming to light with the student loan industry. In one of the more
egregious examples, Student Loan Express, a student loan company that is a
unit of CIT Group, Inc, is alleged to
more than $21,000 for Johns Hopkins University's director of student
financial services to attend graduate school. Coincidentally (or not),
Student Loan Express happens to be on the preferred lender list at Johns
Nearly 650,000 people are released
from state and federal prison every year, with larger numbers
reentering communities from local jails. Over 50 percent of those
released from incarceration are sent back to prison for a parole
violation or new crime within 3 years.
Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men,
women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless
women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the
Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic
African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over
into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such
horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.
Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.