Pope calls on Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism

Pope Francis on Sunday called on “Muslim leaders … (to) say clearly that they condemn” terrorist acts because “one cannot say that all Muslims are terrorists.” “If that is said, it gets me very angry,” said Francis, who was asked on his return flight from Turkey to Rome about the relationship between Islam and terrorism as well as how to combat Islamophobia.

Selena Gomez Looks Just Like Her Mom In Side-By-Side Instagram Photo

Like mother, like daughter.

Selena Gomez shared a side-by-side photo on Instagram on Saturday that made us do a double take. On the left side of the collage is a throwback shot of Gomez’s mother, Mandy Teefey, striking a pose in a lacy red tank. On the right side, Gomez strikes a similar pose in a bodysuit with a keyhole cutout. “Werk momma #igetitfrommymomma,” the 22-year-old singer captioned the photo:

Werk momma ☺️ #igetitfrommymomma

A photo posted by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:30pm PST

Good genes aren’t the only thing the two ladies have in common, either. Teefey occassionally performed in plays in Dallas, Texas, which inspired her daughter to become a child actor.

California Pushes To Expand Health Care For Immigrants

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama’s executive order to spare some immigrants from deportation has galvanized Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates in California to push for expanding health coverage to a segment of the population that remains uninsured.

The president’s action excludes immigrants who came to the country illegally from qualifying for federal health benefits. But California has its own policy of providing health coverage with state money to low-income immigrants with so-called “deferred action” that allow them to avoid deportation. Immigrant and health care advocates say that means Obama’s executive order will enable hundreds of thousands of low-income immigrants in California to apply for Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid. Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said allowing this expanded group of immigrants to participate in the Medicaid program will enable people to get primary and preventive care, “rather than just at the emergency room.”

The California Department of Health Care Services, however, has yet to receive formal guidance. A state official said it’s too early to tell how the immigration program will impact the overall Medi-Cal program, which is consuming an increasing share of state funds.

Medi-Cal is a health program for the poor paid for by the federal government and the state. It has grown by about 3 million people in California under federal health care reform and now covers more than 11 million Californians, about 30 percent of the state’s population. The federal government is paying for the expansion, but the state will eventually pay 10 percent of additional costs to cover low-income adults, many of whom are childless.

The state is expected to spend more than $17 billion of its own money on the program this year, up 3.5 percent a year ago, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“We are assessing what some of the potential impacts could be, but it would be premature for us to comment until we have more specific information available,” said Norman Williams, a spokesman for the Department of Health Care Services.

The president’s action has also emboldened a Democratic lawmaker to revive a bill that would provide health coverage to all Californians, regardless of their immigration status.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, plans to reintroduce his Health4All bill on Monday to open Medi-Cal to immigrants, as well as extending subsidized health benefits in a new insurance marketplace for those without legal status. The proposal, which previously carried a cost as high as $1.3 billion a year, stalled in a legislative committee last cycle and Republicans had criticized the cost of the expansion.

“The president’s action covers almost half of California’s undocumented population, but that still leaves over a million people with no access to health care. We can do better. The bill will cover those remaining uninsured that will not benefit from Obama’s action,” Lara said.

According to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C., the president’s action lifts the threat of deportation to as many as 1.2 million immigrants living illegally in California. There are an estimated 2.6 million people living illegally in the state.

The issue of benefits for immigrants who are illegally in the United States is a sensitive one.

Joe Guzzardi a spokesman for Californians for Population Stabilization, a Santa Barbara, California-based group that advocates for lower population, said the state is already more generous toward immigrants than most states and adding health coverage may attract more people to cross into California illegally.

“There are millions of Californians who don’t have health care insurance or have to pay for their health care insurance out of their own pockets. So it seems unfair to have legislation that provides for people who came to the United States unlawfully to be rewarded with a health care plan,” Guzzardi said.

Gabrielle Lessard, a health policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, said it will be months before immigrants can apply for the program and fewer will apply or qualify for Medi-Cal. She said it’s also unlikely that immigrants would overwhelm the Medi-Cal system because many would be able to get health coverage through work or school.

People With Felonies, Criminal Records and Gang Affiliation Are Our Friends and Family

Every single bit of positive change that comes from President Obama’s executive order on immigration is a testament to directly affected grassroots organizers who have been creative and relentless. The activism of radical “undocumented and unafraid” people, particularly civil disobedience and direct actions including taking over Obama for America offices and infiltrating detention centers, and the courage of the “Bring them Home” and “Not One More” campaigns are major interventions that embarrassed the administration — the first efforts pushing President Obama to first grant DACA and now temporary relief to an estimated 3.7 million “deserving” people, potentially. At the same time, after years of risky activism, the parents of brave young undocumented organizers will not be covered — that’s a cynical, willfully cruel choice by the President and a blow to the heart of the movement. Their exclusion is unjust. The exclusion of individuals with criminal convictions continues. Families for Freedom members have convictions, many of them felonies and we continue to be labeled as undeserving. So while we are glad for our friends and allies who fought with integrity and achieved temporary relief, the spirit of “celebration” is not what our families are feeling, but rather the spirit of resistance and revolution. We celebrate organizing and creative action — we celebrate the activism and self-determination of people who fight for the human rights they are denied — we celebrate fierce love in the face of hate.

Families for Freedom (FFF) is comprised of current and former detainees/deportees and their loved ones. Our lives have been directly affected by the intersection of the criminal legal system and the U.S. deportation machine. We believe everyone has the right to remain and reintegrate into their communities and be reunited with their families with their human rights intact — we believe the same is true for those who were born with U.S. citizenship and had contact with the penal system and we also believe that for people who were not born in this country. People are born with human rights — these must not be denied or bestowed upon people by nations under the guise of citizenship.

President Obama, the son of a black man from Kenya, who is part of a mixed status family who had an undocumented aunt and has a formerly undocumented uncle with a conviction, says, “If you’re a criminal — you’ll be deported… Felons, not families … Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.” We denounce the President’s statement and the insensitive and criminalizing language that needlessly pits people, families, communities and movements against one another. People with felonies have families. People with criminal records have children. Working mothers and their children have been criminalized through gang databases. We are all family and friends.

Blacks and Latinos disproportionately represent the largest number of people apprehended, convicted and incarcerated in the criminal legal system. Nearly 95 percent of all felony cases result in guilty pleas. More than one in four adults in the U.S. have an arrest or criminal record that shows up in routine criminal background checks. In the era of mass criminalization and incarceration, dubbed the “New Jim Crow”, there are more black people convicted and locked up now than there were enslaved before the civil war. It’s known the world over that due to mass incarceration the United States’ human rights record is shameful. The “New Jim Crow” and the normalization of such suffering hinges upon the language championed by President Obama. It is the shaming language of respectability, and it denies both redemption and the context in which people of color are criminalized in the U.S.

Sadly, President Obama’s recent speech fits a historic and racist framework through which we can describe the exclusion and banishment of people with felonies who are detained and deported. It is simply felony disenfranchisement that further strips people of their human rights. Felony disenfranchisement has been normalized in the United States denying “one in every 13 black persons of the right to vote — a rate four times that of non-blacks nationally.” According to a New York Times article, state felony bans championed by white supremacists exploded in number during the late 1860s and 1870s, particularly in the wake of the Fifteenth Amendment, which ostensibly guaranteed black Americans the right to vote. Today, people with felonies do not have meaningful access to housing, employment, and education, and they are denied the right to actively and safely participate in social, economic and political life. And now non-citizens with felonies are denied the right to remain with their families and to reintegrate into their communities. Even while some parents of citizens will be eligible for relief through Executive Action — parents with felonies and their families will remain vulnerable.

President Obama’s speech and policy are completely regressive and disconnected from reforms happening in the criminal justice system. The nation is making some progress on reintegrating the formerly incarcerated into communities, supported by the Justice Department’s Second Chance Act. The directly affected people leading the criminal justice movement are assisting individuals to reenter society after incarceration by gaining back voting rights and access to education and curbing discriminatory hiring and housing practices. The criminal justice movement is fighting back against blatant violations of civil and human rights. We will not let the President’s words break our solidarity.

If more of us build and organize based on confronting the root causes of oppression our work will just look much different. It will be difficult, but it is already difficult now. For example, we should return to the conversation of repealing the 1996 immigration laws; we can denounce mass incarceration and the corporations that profit from it; we can organize globally against policies that displace us from the global south. We must denounce further criminalization and banishment and remain focused on creating a human rights agenda with our own solutions that address lasting systemic change.

College Presidents Promise To Help The Poorest, Then Do The Opposite

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Decked out in black tie and formal dresses, guests at Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball finished their salmon with horseradish sauce just as the band lured them onto the dance floor with classics including “Shout” and “My Girl.” Some of the people who paid up to $400 a couple to attend the event in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Mayflower Hotel joined in the Electric Slide.

The ball was more than just another Friday night party to ease Washington into the weekend. It had the commendable purpose of raising money for scholarships to the University of Virginia.

But not the kind of scholarships that go to low-income students based solely on their financial need. The proceeds from Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball are destined for merit aid for applicants who have the high grade-point averages and top scores on entrance tests that help institutions do well on college rankings. Merit aid can also attract middle- and upper-income students whose families can pay the rest of the tuition bill and therefore furnish badly needed revenue to colleges and universities.

As institutions vie for income and prestige in this way, the net prices they’re charging the lowest-income students, after discounts and financial aid, continue to rise faster on average than the net prices they’re charging higher-income ones, according to an analysis of newly released data the universities and colleges are required to report to the U.S. Department of Education.

This includes the 100 higher-education institutions whose leaders attended a widely publicized White House summit in January and promised to expand the opportunities for low-income students to go to college. In fact, the private universities in that group collectively raised what the poorest families pay by 10 percent, compared to 5 percent for wealthier students, according to the analysis by The Dallas Morning News and The Hechinger Report based on information the U.S. Department of Education released this month covering 2008-09 to 2012-13, the most recent period available.

prices

Not only did the White House pledge schools raise their net prices faster for the poorest than for higher-income families on a percentage basis, the new figures show; nearly a third increased the actual dollar amount more quickly for their lowest-income than their higher-income students.

At the University of Virginia, for instance, the poorest students saw their net price climb $4,313 over that period, compared to $2,687 for students in the top earning bracket.

“Institutions need to remain vigilant in making sure that the students with the highest need have the highest access to aid,” U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said when asked about the disparity between the promises made by institutions and their real-world performance.

The White House has scheduled a follow-up summit for Thursday on the issue of keeping college affordable for the lowest-income students.

At the first summit, UVA President Teresa Sullivan was among the leaders who pledged to help poor families afford the price of college. From the start of the economic downturn through 2013, however, UVA raised the net price for its very poorest students by 69 percent, more than three times faster than for wealthier students, whose tuition increased 21 percent, the federal figures show. And even since January, beginning with the class that entered this fall, the public university dropped a policy of meeting full need for the lowest-income students without requiring them to take out loans and now asks in-state families to borrow up to $14,000 over four years and out-of-state families up to $28,000.

“All too many elite, extremely wealthy colleges and universities that should be operating as engines of socioeconomic mobility are instead calcifying inequality,” said Michael Dannenberg, director of higher education at the nonpartisan think tank The Education Trust.

What’s “Net Price”?

Colleges are required to annually report their average net prices—the total cost of tuition, fees, room, board, books, and other expenses, minus federal, state, and institutional scholarships and grants — to the Education Department. They must also break down those prices based on students’ family income, from the lowest — $30,000 or less — to the highest — $110,000 or more.

There are limitations to the data. They cover only full-time freshmen who get federal grants, loans, or work-study jobs. The most recent figures cover the period ending more than a year before that January White House summit. And some schools dispute how net price should be determined and use their own calculations that are different from the federal formula.

But the figures give the only available picture of what students from different income brackets pay to study at the same university or college. The data also make clear that, while lower-income students at many of the institutions represented at the White House summit still pay less than higher-income ones, their net prices are rising faster on an inflation-adjusted percentage basis than the net prices charged to students more able to pay. In some cases, costs for the wealthier families are actually falling.

Even at the 36 taxpayer-supported public universities that signed the White House pledge, poor students paid an average net price of about $8,000 in 2008-09 and almost $10,000 in 2012-13. That’s a 25 percent increase. During the same period, wealthier students at those schools saw their average net price go from about $18,000 to $21,000, a 16 percent increase. The figures have been adjusted for inflation.

Universities “are giving lots of merit aid to kids who don’t need it,” and less financial aid to those who do, said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan think tank The Century Foundation.

In fact, Kahlenberg said, “There are powerful incentives for universities to avoid admitting and enrolling low-income students. The way that universities compete is on prestige and on the U.S.News & World Report rankings, and you get no credit for having a generous financial aid program that brings in more low-income students.”

Colleges Respond

A UVA spokesman stressed that Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball is run by an independent foundation of alumni and other supporters, not by the university itself. He also said the elimination of the no-loan policy for low-income students was unavoidable because the cost of assisting them exclusively with grants had nearly doubled since 2008. Requiring all students to borrow is projected to save the university more than $10 million through 2018.

“UVA has committed to providing the necessary need but also needs to ensure that the program is sustainable,” the spokesman, McGregor McCance, said.

Heated protests over the changes, however, brought attention to the fact that, even as it was cutting the cost of providing financial aid to its poorest students, UVA was spending $12 million on a new squash facility and increasing its marketing budget by $18 million annually. Since then, a member of the Board of Visitors, Blue Ridge Capital president John Griffin, has pledged $4 million for scholarships for high-achieving low-income students and to seed an endowment for financial aid for top low-income undergraduates.

A few other universities and colleges that were represented at the White House “Improving College Opportunity” summit said their net prices for low-income students appeared to be increasing more quickly than they really have because they use different formulas than the federal government does to calculate whether or not a student has financial need.

For example, while the government takes into account only the income of the custodial parent in the case of a divorce, these colleges also factor in the income of the parent who does not live at home, and often the value of real estate and other holdings. This means they do not necessarily regard as low income the same students the federal government does, and may not provide them with much financial aid.

That’s one reason Claremont McKenna College said it appeared to have more than doubled its net price for its poorest students — 10 times as fast as for their richer classmates — in spite of also signing the White House pledge, spokesman Max Benavidez said.

“Moving from one formula in reporting aid to another completely different methodological formula may account for the misimpression of a large increase,” Benavidez said, though he would not provide the formula the college uses.

Another White House-pledge college that uses its own formula to calculate need, Oberlin, did provide specifics. While federal figures show it doubled the net price for its poorest students at a rate 10 times as fast as for the highest group, Oberlin’s own calculations — which include the earnings of both parents in cases of divorce, making fewer students qualify as low income than the federal method—show that the net price for the poorest students hardly budged in the last three years and fell in 2012-13, said Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid.

Nor are seemingly wealthier families always necessarily able to afford tuition without help. Some may live in places with high costs of living, leaving them less disposable income, or have children close in age who go to college at the same time.

“You might be making $200,000 a year, but you just got divorced and that’s a factor and this is a factor and there are other factors,” said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University.

Another president, Patrick Leahy of Wilkes University, said, “There’s plenty of aid going to the $80,000 [earners] and below, but once you get to $80,000 it’s not like it’s some magic number and you can suddenly afford tuition.”
Other universities and colleges at which the net price for low-income students has shot up faster than for higher-income ones conceded that financial aid based on merit, as opposed to need, is increasingly important to their bottom lines.

“Tuition-driven schools like UVM must think holistically about the entire undergraduate population and use more merit aid than in the past,” said Enrique Corredera, spokesman for the public University of Vermont, another school that signed the White House pledge but has more than doubled the net price for its poorest students, from $4,500 in 2008-09 to $11,000 in 2012-13. Meanwhile, the net price for students in top income group stayed flat at $21,000 a year. “We do this to attract academically talented students, who play a significant role in determining our ability to attract other students.”

Corredera said wealthier students, whose families can afford to pay at least some of the tuition, also subsidize financial aid for their poorer classmates.

That subsidy is under attack in some states. The board of governors of North Carolina’s public universities, for example, is considering capping the proportion of tuition revenue that could be applied toward financial aid for low-income students, arguing that more affluent students shouldn’t be forced to cover the costs of their less affluent classmates. Iowa has already stopped its universities from using any of their in-state residents’ tuition toward financial aid.

Cuts in state allocations for higher education have also reduced the money available for financial aid for low-income students, said some other public universities, including the University of Arkansas.

“People who come from at-risk families are just as smart, just as talented as anyone else, and should have the same opportunities,” the university’s chancellor, G. David Gearhart, said at the time that he, too, signed the White House pledge. “A flagship, land-grant university should take this responsibility. It’s a big obligation but it’s one that is part of our heritage.”

Yet the University of Arkansas raised its net price for the poorest families by 9 percent while lowering it 6 percent for wealthier ones between 2008-09 and 2012-13. The lopsided changes in cost there came even before the Arkansas State Lottery Scholarship was cut last year by more than 50 percent, said university spokeswoman Laura Jacobs, threatening to reduce even more funding reserved for low-income students.

“There’s a glaring lack of political leadership around this in the states,” said Michael McLendon, professor of higher-education policy at Southern Methodist University. Rather than in need-based financial aid, McLendon said, “It’s politically popular to invest a lot of state money in merit-based aid. It’s very appealing to the middle class.” But, he said, “It’s not helpful for boosting higher-education access or completion for the poorest kids.”

There’s at least one glimmer of promise for critics of current aid practices. As the heat on this matter is being turned up, states, on average, slightly increased the share of financial aid they allocated for low-income students, as opposed to other students, in 2012-13, the latest year for which that figure is available, according to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs.

On the other hand, the inflation-adjusted total amount of aid declined.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University, in collaboration with the Dallas Morning News and the Education Writers Association.

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