March 29, 2013
HALFWAY houses have been part of the landscape of the state-prison system for so long, we tend to take them for granted. We shouldn't. They aren't cheap to operate. It costs taxpayers $108 million a year to place offenders in 51 so-called community corrections centers around the state. This year, there will be 4,700 men and women released from state prisons to spend time in these halfway houses, at a cost of about $23,000 per inmate. Halfway houses are supposed to ease the transition from prison to the streets, providing job training and substance-abuse treatment for soon-to-be-ex-prisoners.
March 24, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Senators working on a sweeping immigration bill scrambled Friday to sketch out a deal before Congress takes a two-week recess, even as a last-minute dispute over wages for lower-skilled workers flared between business and labor groups. The public clash between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO over wages for lower-skilled workers underscored the high stakes involved in legislation that would dramatically reshape the U.S. immigration and employment landscape, putting 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship while allowing tens of thousands of new high- and low-skilled workers into the country.
March 18, 2013 |
Sure, they faced famine in their homeland and early prejudice in this country, but here's the bottom line on the Irish: They're doing pretty darn well. They're better-educated and earn higher salaries than average, their rate of poverty is lower, rate of home ownership higher, and job status solidly managerial. "It is very good to be Irish," said Siobhan Lyons, executive director of the Irish Immigration Center in Upper Darby. In the United States, nearly 35 million people claim Irish ancestry, more than five times the population of Ireland itself, and on Sunday they'll celebrate the quasi-national holiday of St. Patrick's Day. What began as a religious observation to honor the man who introduced Christianity to Ireland - supposedly using a three-leafed clover to teach the trinity of father, son, and holy ghost - has evolved into a green-and-orange celebration of all things Irish.
March 14, 2013 |
DENVER - Fiercely debated ammunition limits cleared Colorado's Democratic legislature Wednesday and were on their way to the governor, who has said he will sign the measure into law. The 15-round magazine limit would make Colorado the first state outside the East Coast to ratchet back gun rights after last year's mass shootings. Colorado's gun-control debates have been closely watched because of the state's gun-loving frontier heritage and painful history of mass shootings, most recently last summer's movie-theater attack that killed 12 and wounded 70. "I am sick and tired of the bloodshed," said Rep. Rhonda Fields, sponsor of the ammunition limit and a Democrat whose Denver-area district includes the theater.
March 8, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would make it a federal crime to purchase firearms for someone else. The anti-gun-trafficking bill is one of the first pieces of legislation formally introduced in Congress to limit gun violence after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., last year. The panel's 10 Democrats were joined by one Republican in approving the measure, and Republicans who don't serve on the committee are cosponsoring the bill, suggesting that it could earn bipartisan support in the full Senate.
March 4, 2013 |
LISBON, Portugal - Many thousands of demonstrators held marches in more than 20 cities in Portugal on Saturday to protest against government-imposed austerity measures aimed at lifting the ailing country out of recession. Tens of thousands of people filled a Lisbon boulevard leading to the Finance Ministry carrying placards saying "Screw the troika, we want our lives back. " The troika is a reference to the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the lenders behind the country's financial bailout.
March 1, 2013 |
CITY COUNCILMAN Mark Squilla plans to introduce legislation Thursday to phase in over four years the jaw-dropping changes in homeowners' property taxes that come with the Actual Value Initiative. Squilla, the latest Council member to try to blunt the impact of the city's new property-tax system, said the measure also would give the city's Office of Property Assessment time to address concerns about some home values. "I think there's a lot more mistakes than OPA realizes," Squilla said.
February 28, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Several years in the future, fathers will take sons to their first spring training games at Bright House Field and they'll share the story of the ball Domonic Brown hit that may have never actually landed. The home run ball Brown hit on Tuesday afternoon off New York Yankees righthander Zach Nuding cleared the batter's eye in dead center. The distance from home plate to the wall is 401 feet, so tack on at least another 50 feet. At least. The ball may have very well landed on Route 19 and hitchhiked out of town.
February 24, 2013 |
PITTSBURGH - A legislator has drafted a resolution that would be the first step in the possible impeachment of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin following her conviction on six counts of corruption, the lawmaker said Friday. Rep. Glenn Grell (R., Cumberland) said he would confer with fellow lawmakers Monday about whether and when to file the resolution, which would be unnecessary if Melvin resigned. If approved by the House, the resolution would give a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee authority to take testimony and issue subpoenas as part of an investigation.
February 15, 2013
A pair of bills recently introduced in City Council are welcome chances to close two troubling loopholes in the city's campaign-finance laws. Although the 2015 mayoral and other local races may seem a long way off, preparations are under way, including the early-and-often ramping up of fund-raising. The new campaign-finance proposals are a potentially beneficial by-product of the already heated competition among possible mayoral candidates, including Councilmen Bill Green and James Kenney.