Nineteen years after Columbine, students are walking out of school across the US today to protest gun violence. National Public Radio is sharing images and stories from walkouts, including a vigil in front of the White House, die-ins in public squares, and marches on state capitols.
A Starbucks employee called police within two minutes of the arrival of two black men who came to the coffee shop in Philadelphia for a meeting, according to 911 records. The men, who police handcuffed and arrested, spoke out about their experience for the first time on Thursday, saying they hoped it would inspire action and change. “I want to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again,” Donte Robinson said in an interview with Good Morning America. “What I want is for young men to not be traumatized by this, and instead motivated, inspired.” The men, both 23, said they had come to the coffee shop for a business meeting on a potential real estate deal. When one asked to use the bathroom, the manger refused, stating the bathrooms were for paying customers only. Soon after, police arrived, ordered the men to leave, and when they declined, stating they were there on business, arrested them on suspicion of trespassing. They eventually were released from jail without charges. The incident sparked protests against the coffee chain, which has pledged to close some 8,000 locations next month to provide a day of anti-bias training for employees. It has also said the person who called 911 is no longer employed with the company.
The House Agriculture Committee released its draft Farm Bill on Friday, April 13, which includes changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that could result in millions of people losing access to benefits. The draft propose stricter time limits and work requirements for certain recipients. The bill would make more people subject to work requirements, eventually covering ‘nondisabled’ adults without dependents ages 18-59, and applying time limits to parents of children older than age 6. The bill would also limit states’ ability to waive work requirements and time limits when the unemployment rate rises. Additionally, the Farm Bill would end ‘categorical eligibility’ for SNAP, which currently streamlines access to SNAP and free and reduced-price school meals for low-income families in 40 states.
A California bill that would have preempted local land use regulations to incentivize building multi-unit housing near transit centers failed in committee this week. Vox writes that, “without it or some comparably sweeping reform, California will continue to suffer from exorbitant housing costs that contribute to the highest poverty rate in the nation when judged by the Supplemental Poverty Measure. A natural reaction to this on the part of many people who are either comfortable, reasonably affluent California homeowners or else enjoying life in the South or the Midwest, is to wonder what all the fuss is about. Sure, California — and the entire Boston-to-Washington corridor — may be expensive, but if people don’t want to pay the price, there are plenty of other places in the country to live… Forcing the most in-demand places in the country to remain underpopulated [creates] downsides that impoverish the country and will continue to do so until we treat land use policy as a topic of broad national concern.”
Reveal News reports on the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault faced by domestic workers in the US, the unique vulnerabilities of domestic workers, from working in isolation to undocumented status, and the ways domestic workers have been shut out from protections extended to other areas of employment. “Domestic work is the crucial but unseen labor done behind the closed doors of private homes. It’s the intimate and invisible work that happens in someone else’s bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. It takes on many forms, from tending to disabled or elderly clients to cooking and cleaning and watching an employer’s kids. Some workers live in their clients’ homes, and some go home at the end of a set number of hours. But there are few fixed hours or norms in domestic work, and a caregiver can perform a multitude of tasks since the way that people run their households or realize their daily rituals is personal and particular. Its broad range of conditions collides with a lack of industry regulations, so the risk of exploitation is real in domestic work – especially because it has been purposely excluded from various federal labor laws meant to protect workers from abuse.”
USA Today’s Jayne O’Donnell writes about challenges facing the U.S. Public Health Service’s Commissioned Corps, a cadre of uniformed public health officers who are dispatched to address public health priorities around the globe. President Trump’s 2019 budget calls out the agency as failing to respond adequately to the nation’s public health needs and describes it as being in need of modernization. But Surgeon General Jerome Adams and others suggest that Corps members could play a key role in providing education and support in responding to the opioid epidemic, particularly in connection with the Surgeon General’s recent advisory for broader distribution and use of the opioid antidote naloxone. The article quotes Dana Fields-Johnson, a program manager at PI. "I don’t like the word modernization, as it's probably code for cutting them and/or their budget," she told O’Donnell. "Why would we talk about that when they have the leadership and expertise necessary to help these communities struggling to cope with the opioid epidemic?"
Politico looks at the tangled web of interests that surround former Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy, a powerful advocate for mental health treatment and prevention. Adam Cancryn examines how Kennedy’s influence and connections help advance causes like addiction treatment--and create opportunities for drug makers and other corporations that count Kennedy among their board members or help fund his nonprofit, The Kennedy Forum.
Men who do not achieve the same academic levels as their parents experience psychological distress comparable to that which typically results from undergoing a divorce, according to research out of Oxford, The Guardian reports. The study did not detect similar levels of distress among women who do not reach the same level of education as their parents. Study co-author Alexi Gugushvili offered a potential explanation: “The reason for this could be that men are more likely than women to attribute success and failure by pointing to their own merits, abilities and effort, rather than factors they have no control over.”
Senators have introduced the Farmers First Act to address elevated suicide risks among farmers, Politico reports. The bill would provide funding for suicide prevention training, helplines, and other supports. "The incredibly high rate of suicide within the agricultural community underscores the urgent need to act to address this crisis," Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, said in a statement.
Berkeley Media Studies Group examines how media coverage of gun violence has changed since the Columbine shooting: “We've started doing research to look at school shootings since Columbine and to see how coverage ebbs and flows in the week following an event. We've found that there is always a spike in coverage after shooting, but it dissipates by the following week, or even sooner. Some research shows it can drop off within a week! It seems like coverage follows an almost predictable cycle after a mass shooting: shock, grief, outrage, statements by the NRA, calls for mental health services, thoughts and prayers, decrying thoughts and prayers as not being enough — all those things happen, and then the coverage goes away. A few stories stay in the news cycle a bit longer, like the horrific tragedies in Newtown and Las Vegas, but for the most part, coverage dies out and, as we've seen, gun control measures can fizzle out when the "heat" is off. I don't have data on it, but anecdotally Parkland seems different — it's been two months, and we're still talking about it. I think the kids from Parkland are savvy, educated, and dedicated. They know how to talk to the media and how to use social media in a strategic and powerful way.”