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Without Federal Help, Puerto Rico Will Have a Food Crisis

The Nutrition Assistance Program will run out of funds next month without federal intervention.

Chef José Andrés and team help feed residents.

About 1.4 million people in Puerto Rico depend on the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) to supplement their ability to buy food for their families. The program is set to run out of money next month.


Per an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy and research organization, one-third of the food benefits distributed to a staggering 1.3 million people will be cut, if Congress doesn't approve another block grant for NAP. It is Puerto Rico's version of SNAP (the supplemental food benefit program which functions here on the mainland). To make matters worse, 100,000 people on the island will lose the benefit altogether.

According to the analysis, the maximum food assistance for a family of four could decline from $649 a month to $410, for example.

"This isn't money that Puerto Rico is using for some vanity project. It's not like a shiny new terminal at an airport. It's literally money for the most basic of needs — which, in this case, is food," Javier Balmaceda, a senior policy analyst at the CBPP, said.

Although Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, the island and its people are often treated poorly in respect to policies. Puerto Rico used to participate in the Food Stamp Program (FSP), but that changed in 1982.

The NAP program puts Puerto Rico at an unfortunate disadvantage, though. Because the money is distributed in block grants, there are funding caps that cannot be increased, even if demand requires it.

The federal government approved nearly $1.27 billion in additional NAP funding to help meet the increased demand for food benefits, following the devastation caused by hurricanes Maria and Irma. The Puerto Rican government has requested an additional $600 million.

Although both parties in the House and Senate want to approve the funding, the White House is adamantly against giving Puerto Rico any more money.

The Trump administration has called the request "excessive and unnecessary."

Given the fact that Puerto Rico still hasn't recovered from the harrowing effects of both hurricanes, it's diabolical to think that this administration would even consider adding further stress to an already dire situation. Holding food, which is one of the three basic needs of all people, over American citizens' heads is reprehensible.

Middle School Student Arrested After Refusing to Recite Pledge of Allegiance

Ana Alvarez, a substitute teacher, asked the student why he continues to live in the U.S., "if it's so bad here."

An 11-year-old boy was arrested for not following orders and "causing a disruption" when he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in class.

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TV Station Reports on Michigan Governor's 'Curves' and Gets Slammed on Twitter

"I've got a message for all of the women and girls like mine who have to deal with garbage like this every day: I've got your back," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) gave her first annual address to the state on Tuesday focusing on infrastructure, education and bipartisanship to reach effective solutions. But a local TV station chose to focus more on Whitmer's curves in her dress. It's "a cheap, sexist and indefensible shot at a strong woman in leadership," said State Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes.

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U.S. Citizens Detained for Speaking Spanish Sue Border Patrol

"It's unconstitutional to detain people just because of their language, accent, or color of their skin," says the ACLU.

ACLU

Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez, American-born Latinas, are suing US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers for racial profiling.

They were detained at a gas station convenience store in Havre, Montana, last year, by an officer who asked the women where they were born after hearing them speak Spanish.

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Senate Backs Legislation to Make Lynching a Federal Hate Crime

"Lynching is a dark, despicable part of our nation's history and I'm hopeful this measure will swiftly pass the House," Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted.

It's 2019 and lynching still hasn't been properly outlawed. A bill, introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), was cleared on Thursday in the Senate to make lynching a federal crime. The measure will now go to the House. Harris, Booker and Scott are the only Black members of the Senate.

Harris tweeted on Thursday:

Congress has tried more than 200 times to pass an anti-lynching law, but has failed. The Senate passed a resolution in 2005, apologizing to lynching victims.

The bipartisan bill acknowledges the harms of lynching, which is a form of domestic terrorism, and the federal government's failure to stop it.

It defines the crime as "the willful act of murder by a collection of people assembled with the intention of committing an act of violence upon any person."

In December, the Senate also passed the bill. But it was days before the 115th Congress went out of business, and the measure never reached the House floor.

"It's not the first time we've come down to this body to try to right the wrongs of history," Booker said on the Senate floor.

"For too long we have failed, failed to ensure justice for the victims of history and failed to make clear in the United States of America, in this great country, lynching is and always has been not only a federal crime but a moral failure."

According to the NAACP, "From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States."

"Of the total, 3,446 of the victims were Black, accounting for approximately 72.7 percent; and 1,297 were white, which is 27.3 percent."

"These numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were ever recorded," the organization stated.

Wisconsin GOP Lawmakers Call Kaepernick 'Controversial' and Remove His Name From Black History Resolution

"Beyond outrageous that we, as the Legislative Black Caucus, had to get the permission of our white colleagues to pass our Black History Month resolution," tweeted Rep. Shelia Stubbs.

Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick is so "controversial" to GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin that they refused to include his name in a resolution to honor prominent Black Americans during February. But for members of the Legislature's Black caucus, Kaepernick, who was born in Wisconsin, is anything but controversial.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was the first NFL player in 2016 to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. Kaepernick, along with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and baseball legend Reggie Jackson, are some of the more than two-dozen names suggested by the Black caucus to include in the resolution.

Republicans refused to support a resolution naming Kaepernick "for obvious reasons," Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said during a news conference on Tuesday. He added, "Colin Kaepernick is obviously a controversial figure."

Steineke and others in the GOP are following the lead of the head of their party, who has called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem "sons of bi***es."

Kaepernick is currently pursuing a grievance against the NFL. He claims that ever since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in early 2017, team owners and executives have colluded to keep him out of the league.

Wisconsin Republicans initially blocked the Black caucus' resolution. But then they amended it to delete Kaepernick's name on a 61-34 party-line vote. Democrats had to decide whether to go against their own resolution or accept it without Kaepernick. They wound up agreeing to remove his name, and the state Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday.

For the second year in a row, the Republicans, who are all white, in the Wisconsin Legislature objected to how Black lawmakers wanted to honor — Black History Month.

One of the Black lawmakers who authored the resolution, Democratic Rep. David Crowley of Milwaukee, called the incident "a textbook example of white privilege."

Wisconsin's population is 87.3 percent white, a much less diverse population than average.

Crowley also said that Kaepernick, who is a philanthropist, was included, in part, because he gave a $25,000 donation to a nonprofit for teens in Milwaukee called Urban Underground.

Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) tweeted on Tuesday:

State Sen. Lena Taylor said on Wednesday, that she would offer an amendment to include Kaepernick to the resolution.

AccuWeather to Pay $290K in Fines Over Sexual Harassment

Barry Myers, AccuWeather's former CEO, is Trump's nominee to run the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Barry Myers, former CEO of AccuWeather

Weather giant, AccuWeather, has agreed to pay $290,000 in fines after it was found that the company subjected female workers to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

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