SPLASH! News: Bernie 2020?, Chelsea Manning’s Release, ACLU’s Fight with Sessions, and More

Dive Into the News for May 16, 2017

Kiran Opal


Texas Seeks Medicaid Money It Gave Up Over Planned Parenthood Ban

New York Times – Four years after Texas gave up millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funds so it could ban Planned Parenthood from participating in a family planning program for low-income women, the state is asking the Trump administration for the money back.

The request presents an important early test for the administration of President Trump, who recently appointed an anti-abortion official to oversee federal family planning programs. Under President Obama, federal health officials would not allow Medicaid funds to flow to the Texas program after it excluded Planned Parenthood, because federal law requires states to give Medicaid beneficiaries their choice of “any willing provider.”

If the administration agrees to restore the funding for Texas, it could effectively give states the greenlight to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid family planning programs with no financial consequences.

The ACLU’s Radical Plan to Fight Jeff Sessions

Politico – A convicted murderer is trudging up Rodman Street and the poor guy’s feet are really starting to get sore. “I really didn’t want to be out here doing this today, again,” says Mike Twiggs, shaking his head ruefully as he props up a single bleach-white sneaker on a cast iron stoop, squinting into an iPad. He’s been at this for five straight weeks. “My old legs aren’t used to this,” he chuckles. The 59-year-old gingerly steps up to the door and raps his knuckles on the gleaming white finish, his bony fists and forearms speckled with small linear scars. No one home. Twiggs rummages through a backpack, flicking out some campaign literature that showcases this week’s hot political battle: The Philadelphia’s district attorney’s race. “I guess that’s what happens when you go canvassing on Mother’s Day,” he says, stuffing the brochure into a door wedge and then moving on.

In February, Twiggs emerged from prison—where he served 41 years for murder—and got his first job doing this: Canvassing for an American Civil Liberties Union turnout drive, an effort to tilt the district attorney’s race in Philadelphia. Twiggs, who is black, is sporting baggy sweatpants, aviator sunglasses and an ACLU T-shirt as he navigates the stately carriage homes of the tony Washington Square West neighborhood. Such a collision of worlds rarely occurs in a civic life increasingly segregated by zip code. But thanks to the ACLU, an ex-convict may soon be standing at your doorstep, too.

Syrian Government Denies US Accusation of Crematorium at Prison

Reuters – The Syrian government on Tuesday denied U.S. accusations that a crematorium had been built at one of its prisons that could be used to dispose of detainees’ remains.

A foreign ministry statement published by state news agency SANA said the U.S. administration had come out with “a new Hollywood story detached from reality” by alleging the crematorium had been built at Sednaya military prison near Damascus.

Stuart Jones, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said on Monday that U.S. officials believe the crematorium could be used to dispose of bodies at a prison where they believe Assad’s government authorized the hanging of thousands of inmates during Syria’s six-year-old civil war.

Democrats Divide on Bernie’s 2020 Plans

Politico – Many top Democrats are furious that Bernie Sanders appears to be running for president again, or at least planning to drag out his decision long enough to freeze the race around him.

He’s frustrating alumni of his 2016 campaign, some of whom would like him to run again, by showing no interest in raising early money or locking down lower level staff — moves they say would indicate he recognizes the need for a different kind of campaign operation in 2020. Outside of his tighter-than-ever inner circle, friends and staffers who’d be happy to back him again say they rarely, if ever, speak to Sanders these days.

Sanders hasn’t made any decision, and he tends to dismiss the discussion about 2020 as dumb. He hasn’t even fully committed to running for re-election to the Senate next year.

Black Lawmakers Walk Off Floor After Vote on LA Confederate Monuments

CBS News – After hours of at times emotional debate, the Louisiana House voted Monday in favor of a bill aimed at protecting Confederate monuments across the state. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, advanced with a vote of 65-31. The entire Legislative Black Caucus voted against it.

Carmody’s bill bars local governments and municipalities from removing plaques and statues to military figures and events. The monuments could only be torn down following a vote by the public.

“My bill in its current posture is a perfect exercise of democracy. It allows for the people to have their input in the decision to remove military monuments from the public spaces in which they live,” Carmody argued on the House floor. Just recently, New Orleans tore down the first two of four Confederate monuments after a vote by the City Council.

What to Know About Chelsea Manning Ahead of the Whistleblower’s Release From Prison

TIME – Chelsea Manning, an ex-Army soldier convicted of leaking a trove of secret U.S. documents, is set to be released from prison on May 17, about four months after former President Obama drastically shortened her sentence just before he left office.

The former intelligence analyst was convicted of espionage after admitting to illegally sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. She received a 35-year prison sentence in 2013 and came out as a transgender woman shortly afterward.

Manning has been counting down the days until her freedom after serving more than a half-dozen years behind bars, where she has twice attempted suicide. “For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she wrote in a statement ahead of her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”

Written by Pamela Getz

Writer and Activist. Follow Pamela on Twitter @goddesspamela.

Pamela Getz is Editor of International Affairs for Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

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SPLASH! News: Bernie 2020?, Chelsea Manning’s Release, ACLU’s Fight with Sessions, and More