04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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Both of Mailee Wang's parents were incarcerated for part of her youth, her father for two years and her mother for much of her life. Now 30, she recalls what it was like, particularly after her mother was released.

"Having a prison mentality is real … It doesn't shut off and that's what I lived though with my mom," says Wang. "The trauma that [the incarcerated] experience, it's chaos when they return home."

After her father was released from prison, he had the support of his family, which Wang says made a difference in his reentry. Because of his family, he knew he would have a place to live; he was also able to find employment. Her mother, though, suffered from mental health problems, was not employable, and did not have the help of her family.

"I know what worked with my dad. I know what's possible," she says. "Having family there is so important."

Children and youth who go through the experience of having an incarcerated parent are forced to become parents themselves at an early age, according to Wang; they have to figure out how to take care of not only themselves, but also their parents after they are released.

Today, Wang is the program and policy director of Project WHAT!, part of the advocacy organization Community Works based in Oakland, which provides training for service providers on how to effectively serve children and youth who have or have had an incarcerated parent. She spoke at a community forum on Friday held by New America Media that put a spotlight on the experiences of "children of reentry" – children and youth whose incarcerated parents have returned home.

The forum showcased a series of video portraits of parents coming home, as viewed through the eyes of their children. The filmmakers included Jean Melesaine, Daniel Zapien, and Andrew Bigelow of Silicon Valley De-Bug, David Meza and Anthony May of Richmond Pulse, and Valerie Klinker of New America Media.

Melesaine's video profiles Steeda McGruder, age 30, and her two daughters; McGruder gave birth to her daughter Malaysia while incarcerated. McGruder now runs a support group for formerly incarcerated women in Santa Clara County called Sisters That Been There.

"I had painted a vision of what it was going to be like. I got the house ready, I stocked it with food," says Steeda, who is African American, of preparing to be reunited with her children. "And then they came home, and they ate the food, and then the toys were played out … I only thought to that point. And now we're beyond that point and we're struggling."

More than one in ten children nationwide have a parent under criminal supervision (meaning that they are in jail or prison, or on probation or parole). One in fifteen African American children has a parent who is currently in prison, as opposed to less than one percent of white children.

Responding to the film about McGruder at the forum, Jessica Flintoft, a division director of the San Francisco Probation Department, said that the justice system "probably could have not sent [McGruder] to prison," especially when she was pregnant with her daughter.

"The criminal justice system is nothing but a series of decisions, and we can make different decisions at every turn," she says.

She points to programs that work with the Probation Department to help parents stay connected to their kids, like Cameo House in San Francisco, which provides transitional housing and support to single mothers who have recently been released from prison and have children under the age of 7.

Flintoft says that children of parents in the criminal justice system are three times more likely than their peers to become involved in the criminal justice system themselves, which points to a need for alternatives to incarceration, as well as more services and programs that address the needs of children of reentry.

Nell Bernstein, who coordinates the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership and is the author of "All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated," says that "post-prison punishments" are instrumental in high recidivism rates that keep parents separated from their children. Felony drug offenders, for example, are banned from receiving General Assistance or living in public housing; there's also a "huge array" of jobs from which reentering offenders are legally restricted, she says.

The California Department of Corrections reported in 2012 that the recidivism rate (the number returning to prison within three years of release) for the formerly incarcerated in California was 65 percent.

"Before we start helping, we just have to stop hurting," says Bernstein.

Carpentry Professionals

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