This past Saturday marked the 26th day of a City Hall sit-in by activists from Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, a protest that shows no signs of ending any time soon. The group vows to stay encamped in front of the James K. Hahn annex until Mayor Eric Garcetti fires Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck or Beck resigns.
As long as I can remember, there’s been an argument over policing in the black community. Do police patrol more intensely because the crime rate is higher there, or do higher crime statistics result from heightened levels of policing?
Sometimes knowing where someone stands on an issue is pretty straightforward. We can be sure about this: the private prison industry doesn’t share our goal of ending mass incarceration.
Co-published by Fast Company
It’s not easy being nobody, especially when you used to be somebody. But times are tough; jobs are scarce. When you’re falling straight down the financial cliff face, you reach out to grab hold of anything available to stop your descent and there, just before you land in a homeless shelter or move in with your sister, is Uber.
A sober New York Times headline last weekend described what many assume has been a dramatic change in fortune for Black Lives Matter, the de facto civil rights movement of the day. “Black Lives Matter Was Gaining Ground,” it read. “Then a Sniper Opened Fire.”
Last month millions of undocumented immigrants were left in legal limbo when a divided U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that had blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.
Of all industrialized countries in the world, we’re the only one that doesn’t guarantee full-time employees a paid break.
“Uncovered California” is a three-part series of stories and videos examining how the Golden State is trying to fill holes in its health care coverage.
Surveys suggest that somewhere in the region of one in four community college students will experience a diagnosable mental health problem at some point, but approximately 40% of them won’t seek timely help.
“Right now, I have a medicine sitting at Wal-Mart pharmacy that I can’t purchase till payday,” Jacqueline, a 55-year-old San Diegan told me during a telephone interview in mid-April. She asked that her last name not be used for this story. “I’ll go without, eight or nine days till payday. It’s for my high cholesterol.”
Five years after the Affordable Care Act became law, and more than three years after California began moving aggressively to implement its provisions, upwards of three million Californians remain without health care coverage; and millions more, like Jacqueline, have basic coverage but continue to be grievously under-insured.This is the story of how so many Californians continue to fall through the ACA’s cracks.
“Uncovered California” is a three-part series of stories and videos examining how the Golden State is trying to fill holes in its health care coverage. Sasha Abramsky’s articles look at working people who are falling through coverage cracks,
Private prison companies are extremely secretive, but in the last few weeks we’ve gotten two powerful glimpses of how these companies harm prisoners and the people that work for them.
Almost 120,000 misdemeanor crimes are reviewed for criminal filing by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office each year. This high volume of cases, coupled with reductions in court resources, make it nearly impossible to consider each person’s situation individually.
As the June 15th deadline for a California budget approaches, Kevin McCarty finds himself a power broker in a fight over billions of dollars of funding for the University of California.
In some ways, Prince was the most successful pop recording artist who wrote frankly and pointedly about sexuality in nearly every one of his songs.
Immigration has never been more in the national spotlight, with Republican presidential candidates histrionically claiming most of those who cross the Mexican border are rapists and murderers, while calling for everything from mass deportations to the building of a massive wall with Mexico. Politicians and citizens are also debating how best to deal with Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country.
But there’s a border story the majority of Americans are not hearing about.
Over the last two years, more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors — from those under 18 years old to as young as 6 — have crossed the border trying to escape the violence that plagues their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. You won’t find this mass exodus mentioned in stump speeches or discussed by pundits on the 24/7 news channels.
Herself the daughter of Cuban refugees, CalArts teacher/playwright Marissa Chibas is trying to do something about that.
Within the next 20 years, the number of Californians beyond retirement age will increase by two-thirds, to 12 million. Many of them — half, by some estimates — will have saved less than they need to subsist on after they stop working, leaving them no choice but to either work until the end of their lives if they can, or live out the rest of their years in or near poverty.
Some of those seniors of tomorrow, no doubt, were during their working lives too short-sighted to invest in their employers’ 401(k) plans, or to open Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) on their own. Or they might have been struggling to support families, pay back student loans or were so chronically underemployed that saving money for retirement was out of the question.
In 2012, state legislators recognized this looming problem of the future elderly poor and wrote the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust Act,
More than seven million people—over one-fifth of California’s population—work without a path to retirement. They have neither a 401(k) — the so-called “roller-coaster plan” tied to the stock market — nor a traditional pension that was once considered a worker’s right and which is now a rare species outside of government employment or the public education system.
There is nothing that legally compels a typical American employer to offer any kind of retirement plan to employees. But the average Social Security recipient earns about $15,600 per year in retirement benefits — a near-poverty income in the 21st century.
That could change for Californians when state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s “California Secure Choice’’ retirement savings plan takes effect. Meanwhile, as one union official put it, “Many employers’ retirement plan for their workers is that they work until they die.” Or,
Last Monday the U.S. Department of Justice announced a powerful new effort to stop local practices that unfairly target poor people by trapping them in “cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape.” Courts across the country are requiring people arrested with minor misdemeanor charges—like driving with a suspended license—to pay fines before getting their day in court. If they can’t afford the fine, they are forced to wait behind bars until they can.
In a statement and letter, the DOJ shed light on what the agency calls a “bureaucratic cover charge for the right to seek justice,” but also on another alarming practice: the use of for-profit companies to collect fines and manage probation.
On top of fines collected on behalf of courts, many private probation companies charge their own fees for things like drug testing and supervision. If people can’t pay these fees—which can be as high as the fines themselves—they can be sent back to jail.
In books, blogs and newspaper pages, Los Angeles journalist and social critic Erin Aubry Kaplan has offered astute and unforgiving opinions about America’s race and class divides. (In 2005 she became the Los Angeles Times‘ first weekly black op-ed columnist.) In Black Talk, Blue Thoughts, and Walking the Color Line, the KCET website contributor gave this cool appraisal of the Rodney King beating trial’s fateful aftermath: “The riots had broken black issues out of a glass case where they had been visible, but coiled and silent.”
Her latest book, I Heart Obama, examines what America’s first black president has meant to African Americans, and to her personally. As Obama’s final term in office winds down, she looks back on the promise and shortfalls of his watershed administration:
“Jackie Robinson had it bad for sure.
Twenty years ago a small group of Los Angeles faith leaders – both clergy and lay people – sat around a table in a church library and came up with a name for a new advocacy organization. We were convened by Maria Elena Durazo, then head of the local hotel workers union, and Madeline Janis, founding director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. The group would bring the voice of the religious community into the debate at City Hall to establish a living wage.
That idea was simple enough. If the city contracted out work to private companies, the employer had to pay more than minimum wage, something closer to what the minimum wage would have been if it had kept pace with inflation.