LGBT Month, Minimum Wage, Chemical Warfare, Joy Rides, and Tiananmen – Get the Scoop!

President Barack Obama Releases Proclamation Declaring June LGBT Pride Month

Pres. Obama

By James Nichols, Huffington Post

President Barack Obama has released a proclamation declaring June as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Check out the excerpt below.

As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect — our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.

Last year, supporters of equality celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling which, at long last, gave loving, committed families the respect and legal protections they deserve. In keeping with this decision, my Administration is extending family and spousal benefits — from immigration benefits to military family benefits — to legally married same-sex couples.

Continue reading here.  Photo credit courtesy of the Associated Press and Susan Walsh.

Seattle raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

By John Bacon, USA Today

AP_Waiter (minimum wage)

Martina Phelps says the Seattle City Council’s historic vote Monday to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour could change her life.

Phelps, 22, earns $9.47 per hour working for a McDonald’s restaurant near downtown. She wants to move out of her mother’s South Seattle home, and she wants to go back to school. She says those things could happen now that the city will have the nation’s highest minimum wage.

“It’s hard right now,” she told USA TODAY hours before the midafternoon vote. “I have been trying to save up for school, but I just can’t do it. This would mean a lot.”

The council unanimously approved the measure before a packed house.

Continue reading here.  Photo of waiter Spencer Meline at Ivar’s courtesy of the Associated Press.

Woman Not Guilty of Chemical Warfare; Constitution Saved

mailbox

By Garrett Epps, The Atlantic

The Supreme Court Monday stepped back from the abyss.

By a vote of 6-3, it refused to invent limits on the federal government’s power to make and enforce treaties.

The case was Bond v. United StatesThis is the second installment of the soap opera of Carol Anne Bond. Bond’s husband and her best friend conceived a child. When she found out, Bond, a trained laboratory technician, turned to the hostile use of 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine and potassium dichromate, both deadly poisons. She smeared them on various doorknobs and car doors at Hayes’s house, on one occasion giving Hayes’s thumb a nasty burn. She also unwisely smeared them on Hayes’s mailbox, which is by law part of the U.S. Postal System. Postal inspectors posted security cameras and caught her on video.

Federal prosecutors proclaimed this “a very serious, scary case,” because Bond had stolen four pounds of potassium dichromate from her workplace. They charged her with theft of the mail—and violation of 18 U.S.C. § 229, the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998.

On Monday a six-justice majority, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, told the government it had misread the statute to “sweep in everything from the detergent under the kitchen sink to the stain remover in the laundry room,” and “make[] it a federal offense to poison goldfish.” Roberts was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. All nine justices agreed that the government had gone too far in prosecuting Bond. The majority said the indictment violated the statute; Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito would have held the prosecution unconstitutional.

Continue reading here.  Photo credit courtesy of Eric Thayer & Reuters.

Locked Up and Locked Out: How a three-minute joy ride cost one foster youth his AB 12 benefits

Bakkhit brothers

By Brian Rinker, The Chronicle of Social Change

When Terrick Bakhit turned 18 while incarcerated in a juvenile correction facility, the foster care system that had watched over him for the previous five years abruptly cut him off.

On June 13, 2012, Bakhit emerged from San Diego County’s Camp Barrett homeless and broke.

“After being locked up for 11 months I felt free, but in the wrong way,” said Bakhit, who was left to fend for himself on the streets of downtown San Diego. “I slept in the rain. I slept on the street. No roof. No house. No nothing. I was stealing food.”

California state law ensures that youths who turn 18 in foster care are eligible for support up to the age of 21 if they choose, to help the transition into adulthood and self-sufficiency. But a small percentage of foster youth can become ineligible for extended benefits if they happen to turn 18 inside a correctional facility without a foster care placement order waiting for them on release.

“If you are incarcerated and don’t have a placement still intact on your 18th birthday, you can’t get benefits,” said Amy Lemley, policy director at the John Burton Foundation, referring to to the benefit foster youth can get after extended foster care benefits.

The problem seems to be rooted in the varying interpretations of state law among counties and the lack of inter-agency communication. Because of the confusion, kids like Bakhit struggle to make ends meet while eligible foster youth continue to receive benefits.

Continue reading here.  Photo of Terrick brothers, Terrick, left, Matthew, middle, Joseph, right; Photo credit courtesy of Terrick Bakhit.

Voices from Tiananmen

soldiers from Tiananmen

By South China Morning Post

[Today] marks the 25th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on pro-democracy protests led by students and residents in Beijing. Hundreds of people were killed and many more were wounded when People’s Liberation Army units rolled into Tiananmen Square, ending more than a month of peaceful protests seeking political reforms.

In the following pages, former government officials, student leaders and other eyewitnesses revisit the momentous events of spring, 1989. These personal accounts, gathered from recent video interviews, as well as memoirs, shed new light on the hope and despair left by those days, which continue to haunt China a quarter century later.

Click here to continue reading.  Photo credit courtesy of South China Morning Post.