Julia Harte

Writings & wanderings.

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Trump administration reduces support for prisoner halfway houses

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October 13, 2017, Reuters

The DOJ logo is pictured on a wall after a news conference in New YorkThe administration of President Donald Trump has been quietly cutting support for halfway houses for federal prisoners, severing contracts with as many as 16 facilities in recent months, prompting concern that some inmates are being forced to stay behind bars longer than necessary.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long confirmed the cuts in response to an email inquiry from Reuters, and said they only affect areas with small populations or underutilized centers.

“The Bureau remains firmly committed to these practices, but has had to make some modifications to our programs due to our fiscal environment,” Long said.

Halfway houses have been a part of the justice system since the 1960s, with thousands of people moving through them each year. For-profit prison companies such as Geo Group Inc have moved into the halfway house market, though many houses are run directly by government agencies or non-profit organizations.

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Written by juliaharte

October 13, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Health and safety rules targeted as Trump begins to slash red tape

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October 1, 2017, Reuters

rsz_2017-09-29t200156z_704044538_rc115a9154f0_rtrmadp_3_usa-trump_1When disaster hits the chemical plants in Port Arthur, Texas, triggering fires like those that flared in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Hilton Kelley is the man fielding panicked calls from neighbors unsure whether they should evacuate their homes.

Kelley, 57, is a well-respected figure in his community but is not a government or plant safety official. For 18 years, he has led a non-profit group based in Port Arthur that advises residents on air safety and dispatches a crew in emergencies, helping people to safety in more than 30 major fires or explosions.

More than 1,500 accidents at chemical plants have been reported in the United States since 2007, and amendments to the Clean Air Act issued in the last days of former President Barack Obama’s administration would have forced plants handling risky chemicals to coordinate emergency plans with local responders.

Kelley says those changes would have made his job easier by, for example, obliging plant owners to tell first responders what chemicals were on site. That would help them decide what equipment and training would be needed to help people.

President Donald Trump’s administration suspended the regulations, placing them in a two-year review. Trade associations argued the new rules were inconsistent with Trump’s pledges to cut regulations and with his executive order issued in January requiring federal agencies to offset each new regulation with two deregulatory actions.

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Written by juliaharte

October 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Stricter building rules, rejected by Trump, helped Harvey-hit communities

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September 1, 2017, Reuters

downloadAs Hurricane Harvey pummeled the Gulf coast in Texas, the city of Seabrook had an edge over flood-swamped nearby towns and the devastation in Houston, just a half-hour drive away.

Years ago, the city imposed higher elevation standards for buildings that were stricter than existing federal guidelines on construction in flood-prone areas. Before leaving office, President Barack Obama sought to toughen those national rules, to bring them more in line with those in communities like Seabrook. President Donald Trump, however, revoked Obama’s executive order last month.

Harvey, which has displaced around a million people and flooded swaths of Houston, has proven an early test of that decision. Floodplain experts wrote to Trump this week, urging him to rethink his reversal of Obama’s order.

”As we come to the conclusion of Harvey, we have suffered some damage to our community, but not to the extent that some of our neighboring communities have. That is partly because of our (elevation) requirement,” said Seabrook deputy city manager, Sean Landis.

Although Obama’s order had not yet come into effect when Trump rescinded it, some communities had been concerned about the cost of elevating existing buildings to comply with the new rules. But Landis said more stringent rules have paid off in Seabrook. “We feel more resilient,” he said.

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Written by juliaharte

September 1, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Campaign urges U.S. public pension funds to divest from owner of Trump hotel

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July 19, 2017, Reuters

FILE PHOTO: CalPERS headquarters in SacramentoAdvocacy groups launched petitions and sent letters on Wednesday urging two of the biggest U.S. public pension funds to divest from an investment fund unless it stops paying one of President Donald Trump’s companies to run a New York hotel.

Reuters reported on April 26 that public pension funds in at least seven U.S. states periodically send millions of dollars to an investment fund that owns the upscale Trump SoHo Hotel and Condominium in New York City and pays a Trump company to run it, according to a Reuters review of public records.

Two legal advocacy groups sent petitions to half a million of their members and letters urging state officials who oversee the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the New York State Common Retirement Fund to reconsider their investments in CIM Fund III, which owns the Trump SoHo.

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Written by juliaharte

July 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Turkish envoy urges U.S. to search cleric Gulen’s communications

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July 14, 2017, Reuters

U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in SaylorsburgU.S. authorities should search through any intercepted communications of Fethullah Gulen to seek evidence backing Turkey’s accusation that the U.S.-based Muslim cleric orchestrated last year’s failed coup, Turkey’s envoy to Washington said on Friday.

In an interview with Reuters almost a year after the coup attempt, Ambassador Serdar Kilic expressed frustration over the halting U.S. response to its request for Gulen’s extradition and urged Washington to use its data-collection capabilities to help prove Ankara’s accusations against him.

“They should help us in this regard. We don’t have national intelligence authority in the United States,” he said at the Turkish embassy.

President Donald Trump’s administration is taking Turkey’s extradition request “more seriously” than Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, Kilic told a news conference later on Friday, but he did not elaborate.

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Written by juliaharte

July 14, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Cleric Gulen says he would not flee U.S. to avoid extradition to Turkey

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July 11, 2017, Reuters

File photo of U.S. based cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in SaylorsburgFethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused by Turkey of instigating last year’s failed coup, says he has no plans to flee the United States and would accept extradition if Washington agrees to a request by Ankara to hand him over.

In an interview in his gated compound in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, Gulen, 79, denied a Turkish government allegation from February that he was preparing to leave for Canada to avoid extradition.

“The rumors aren’t true at all,” he told Reuters.

“If the United States sees it appropriate to extradite me, I would leave (for Turkey),” he said, sitting in an ornate meeting room, its walls lined with Islamic scripture.

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Written by juliaharte

July 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

U.S. senator asks ethics office to review Trump hotel payments

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May 22, 2017, Reuters

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks to reporters on following a policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in WashingtonThe top Democrat on the U.S. Senate committee overseeing pensions on Monday asked the U.S. Office of Government Ethics to assess whether President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution and federal bans on conflicts of interest.

Reuters reported on April 26 that public pension funds in at least seven U.S. states periodically send millions of dollars to an investment fund that owns the upscale Trump SoHo Hotel and Condominium in New York City and pays a Trump company to run it, according to a Reuters review of public records.

“Trump may be profiting from the retirement plans of millions of our nation’s public servants,” Senator Patty Murray of Washington state wrote in a letter to Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, citing the Reuters report.

The Office of Government Ethics is the U.S. agency that oversees conduct within the executive branch and supervises ethics officials to ensure they are preventing conflicts of interest and other violations.

“This looks like exactly the type of monetary flow prohibited by the Constitution,” said the senator.

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Written by juliaharte

May 22, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized