Pointing the way: a lawsuit in front of the supreme court on Wednesday could determine the future of the Affordable Care Act. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Challenge with potential to fatally undermine president’s signature legislation sends Democrats scrambling ahead of oral arguments
Democratic lawmakers have launched a last-ditch bid to defend the Affordable Care Act from a looming supreme court challenge that could strip health insurance from millions of Americans.
The court is due to hear an appeal on Wednesday that seizes on what appears to be a drafting error in the original legislation to question a key plank of Barack Obama’s health insurance reforms.
Plaintiffs led by Virginia limousine driver David King sued health secretary Sylvia Burwell on the grounds that the error means they were compelled to pay for health insurance they did not want and would otherwise have been exempted from because it was too expensive.
This seemingly perverse argument rests on the way the law allows for tax credits to bring down the cost of health cover in states that run their own insurance exchanges.
But the original language in the legislation does not appear to include states like Virginia which rely on the federally administered exchange instead, threatening millions that have already benefitted from the tax credit in this way…………………..
Police stand guard in front of a smouldering squad car after it was set on fire by demonstrators during a protest in November in Ferguson. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Report will charge that police disproportionately use excessive force against black residents and that black drivers are stopped more often than white drivers
Black residents of Ferguson, Missouri, routinely had their constitutional rights violated through unjustified arrests, traffic stops and other actions carried out by a racially biased police department, the US Department of Justice has concluded.
A federal review of Ferguson’s police force found officers disproportionately used excessive force against black people, who were also subject to arrests without probable cause and stops when driving without reasonable suspicion, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the department’s findings.
Racist emails sent by Ferguson officials – including one doubting Barack Obama’s ability to serve a full term as president because “what black man holds a steady job for four years?” – were also unearthed and are expected to be released to the public.
According to the law enforcement official, the department detected in Ferguson a pattern of racial bias in violation of federal laws and the 14th amendment to the US constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law.
These police practices are blamed by the Department for causing serious distrust between residents and police officers. Investigators found that law enforcement was widely viewed as illegitimate and in some areas was effectively nonexistent……………………
Prexy Nesbitt had a gun pointed to his head by a Chicago police officer in the 1960s. ‘The class position of my family was the only reason I wasn’t thrown in jail.’ Photograph: Supplied
Ordinary Chicagoans say Homan Square facility, where suspects are interrogated and detained without legal access, fits within a broader tradition of police abuse
He would go on to investigate torture for a distinguished religious group, become an anti-apartheid campaigner and even an adviser to his city’s mayor. But before all that, in the early 1960s, Prexy Nesbitt was just another young black man thrown over the hood of his car by one of Chicago’s notoriously brutal police.
Nesbitt, then in his late teens, had put his Checker Marathon between a police cruiser and the vehicle of a woman he saw a cop harassing. The white officer, evidently dissatisfied, drew his gun and pointed it at Nesbitt’s left temple. Later taken to a police station, Nesbitt ultimately got out of the situation unharmed, he remembered, because his schoolteacher father and pediatrician uncle were well respected in their Lawndale neighborhood – where, then as now, the red brick towers and warehouse complex now known as the Homan Square police facility marks the skyline.
“The class position of my family was the only reason I wasn’t thrown in jail,” Nesbitt, now 70 years old, remembered. “Otherwise, I might even not be here telling the story.”…………………
Barbed wire fence outside inmate housing on the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP
New York City corrections department confirms incident in which group of inmates tore away plastic glass to rescue female corrections officer
A group of inmates at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island prison tore away plastic glass from the outside of a watchpost to rescue a female corrections officer who was being assaulted by another inmate.
The New York City corrections department confirmed on Tuesday that the incident occurred late on Saturday evening at the Anna M Kross Center within the jail. “The inmate was arrested. The matter is under investigation.”
The New York Daily News, which first obtained the story, reported that the accused inmate – 27-year-old Raleek Young – was able to get inside the watchpost after saying he needed to pick up a mattress from within another unit and needed to pass through.
According to a criminal complaint, Young began choking the officer. Young is serving a five-to-10 year sentence for rape, according to the Daily News………………
Israeli prime minister received loud applause in Congress and Barack Obama issued a stinging rebuttal saying Netanyahu had said ‘nothing new’
Binyamin Netanyahu has urged a packed US Congress to resist an emerging deal to contain Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in a fiery speech that may significantly complicate ongoing international negotiations in Switzerland.
Despite a boycott by up to a quarter of House Democrats and eight senators, the Israeli prime minister received loud applause from both sides of the joint meeting of Congress when he pleaded with them to block any lifting of economic sanctions in return.
The White House insists a deal is still far from certain, but Netanyahu claimed that terms outlined yesterday by Barack Obama would “inevitably lead to a nuclear armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to a nuclear war”.
“The foremost sponsor of international terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons – and this with full international legitimacy,” he said.
“That’s why this deal is so bad: it doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”………………….
Kandahar’s police chief Abdul Razziq was praised by Kabul and Washington despite claims of extrajudicial killings, according to the Human Rights Watch report. Photograph: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images
Human Rights Watch accuses high-ranking officials of allowing extrajudicial killings and brutal practices to flourish after fall of Taliban
Top Afghan officials have presided over murders, abduction, and other abuses with the tacit backing of their government and its western allies, Human Rights Watch says in a new report.
A grim account of deaths, robbery, rapes and extrajudicial killings, Today We Shall All Die, details a culture of impunity that the rights group says flourished after the fall of the Taliban, driven by the desire for immediate control of security at almost any price.
“The rise of abusive political and criminal networks was not inevitable,” the report said. “Short-term concerns for maintaining a bulwark against the Taliban have undermined aspirations for long-term good governance and respect for human rights in Afghanistan.”
The report focuses on eight commanders and officials across Afghanistan, some of them counted among the country’s most powerful men, and key allies for foreign troops. Some are accused of personally inflicting violence, others of having responsibility for militias or government forces that committed the crimes…………………..
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