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Mapping and Deploying High-Speed Broadband

Despite claims by the Bush administration that most Americans now have access to affordable broadband, many people might disagree and would probably argue that their Internet access is to slow and to expensive.  Most analysts are nowhere near as optimistic as Bush's "Networked Nation: Broadband in America." These analysts highlight that the U.S. has fallen to 15th in world rankings for broadband connectivity and that Americans pay much higher fees for much slower speeds than most of the industrial nations in the world.  Misguided regulatory policies and substandard infrastructure have helped create a sub-parbroadband network in the United States.  

Kansas Supreme Court Protects Patient Privacy in Abortion Case

The Kansas State Supreme Court temporarily blocked a grand jury investigating an abortion provider from collecting more than 2,000 patient records, including patients who didn't end up having an abortion.  The provider, Dr. Tiller, and his attorneys objected to the subpoena of patient records as a violation of women's constitutional rights.  The Center for Reproductive Rights also filed a petition on behalf of patients to stop the subpoena's. The Court, at least for now, agreed the subpoenas raised "significant issues" about patients' privacy.  A final decision will be made by February 25th.

The Right-Wing Assault on University Campuses

Right-wing interests have been mounting a political assault on university professors they do not like, led by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which is promoting so-called "Intellectual Diversity" (ID) Legislation in various states across the country. The concept was pioneered by right-wing activist David Horowitz (see this profile site for more on Horowitz).  

Dealing with the Foreclosure Crisis at the State Level

The statistics are shocking. The current mortgage crisis is expected to result in the foreclosure of 3 million homes. In Stockton, CA, one in every 27 homes has been hit by the foreclosure crisis. And, Countryside, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, just released figures showing that foreclosures and late payments rose in December to the highest on record. Calls to helplines by homeowners facing foreclosure have skyrocketed.  As a corollary, local animal shelters are seeing a sharp increase in intake due to owners having to surrender family pets when they lose their homes.

States Call for Moratorium on Home Foreclosures

Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration's proposal for fixing the subprime lending crisis is an industry-led deal that involves completely voluntary actions to fix the current crisis and will ultimately help only a few of the millions of people who have either lost or are in danger of losing their homes.  With absolute failure at the federal level, it is again up to states to step in.  In two recent editorial pieces, the executive directors of the Progressive States Network and the Drum Major Institute called on New York Governor Spitzer to impose a six-month moratorium on foreclosures to stop the rapidly increasing rate of home loss, a policy all governors should enact. A moratorium would give lenders incentive to restructure loans on fair terms and fight back against the Wall-street backed predatory lenders.

Right-wing Ballot Scheme to Manipulate Presidential Votes in California

A new ballot measure in California would change the way that California's 55 presidential electoral votes would be allocated; not to make sure that every vote counted, but to make sure that any right-wing candidate for President could lop off a significant number of that state's electoral votes.

In Health Care, 2007 May Be the Year of the Child

To little fanfare, the New York General Assembly and Governor Eliot Spitzer enacted a budget in early April that includes health care for essentially all children.  The budget increased SCHIP eligibility for children in families with incomes up to 400% of poverty ($80,000 for a family of four) and allows families above 400% without other options to purchase the SCHIP coverage at full-cost, which is still cheaper and likely more comprehensive than private options.  Premiums for families below 400% of poverty will be set at $20, $30 and $40 per child depending on income. 

New York Acts to Restrict Improper Influence of Student Loan Companies

 

We highlighted the problems of predatory lending industry a few weeks ago and now, problems are coming to light with the student loan industry.  In one of the more egregious examples, Student Loan Express, a student loan company that is a unit of CIT Group, Inc, is alleged to have paid more than $21,000 for Johns Hopkins University's director of student financial services to attend graduate school.  Coincidentally (or not), Student Loan Express happens to be on the preferred lender list at Johns Hopkins. 

Ex-Prisoner Reentry and Reintegration

Nearly 650,000 people are released from state and federal prison every year, with larger numbers reentering communities from local jails. Over 50 percent of those released from incarceration are sent back to prison for a parole violation or new crime within 3 years.