WBEZ | News iPad http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-ipad Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Detroit's Education Rehab: Are Charters A Solution? http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-11/detroits-education-rehab-are-charters-solution-86402 <p><p>In the past two years, Detroit has closed 59 schools and cut 30 percent of the school system's workforce. But the district is still staring at a deficit of more than $300 million, and thousands of students continue to flee every year.</p><p>"If you do the math and you look at the numbers, the question is: Do we continue to close schools here in the city of Detroit to have more vacant and burned-out buildings? Or do we take a bold step forward to create DPS as a service provider of education?" asks Anthony Adams,<em> </em>president of the Detroit Board of Education.</p><p>The "bold step" Adams wants to see would convert as many as 45 of the district's traditional schools to charters.</p><p>Financially, this transition would help the district shed staffing expenses, including costly pension obligations. It would get management fees and lease revenues from charter operators. And it wouldn't have to shoulder the costs associated with shutting schools down, securing them and demolishing them.</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>Academically, the hope is that charter operators would be able to turn around schools with low achievement. Robert Bobb, the state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools, proposed the charter idea.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong> </strong>"Let me be clear," he says. "We will only accept proposals from those that have been successful in terms of student achievement."</p><p>Jose Afonso says his company's schools have that track record of success. He's with SABIS Educational Systems, which operates charter schools in nine cities across the U.S.</p><p>Afonso attended a bidders' conference the district held recently to answer questions about the plan. He says SABIS is interested in taking over more than one Detroit school. But he says getting a school ready by this fall won't be easy.</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"There just is not a whole lot of time to recruit staff, to diagnose the students, to enroll the students," Afonso says. "It's doable, but it's going to be challenging."</p><p><strong>The Right Context For Charters?<br /></strong></p><p>Some charter school experts say Detroit could have problems attracting the kind of high-caliber charter outfits that are familiar names on the national scene.</p><p>For one thing, many of those companies focus on starting schools from scratch. And there's also the question of who will lead Detroit Public Schools after June, when Bobb's contract with the state expires.</p><p>That question is also on the mind of Keith Johnson. He's the president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, which opposes the charter school conversion plan.</p><p>"It sounds to me and it looks to me like this is planned liquidation," he says. "And let's face it: The emergency manager, when he leaves on or before June 30, he will no longer be held accountable for whatever ends up happening with DPS. So what does he really have to lose?"</p><p>As for parents, many aren't sure what to think of the plan. Some say they'd rather see their children's school convert to a charter than close.</p><p>Others, like Nicole Chapman, are more skeptical.</p><p>Chapman's two boys are each in a school that's targeted for closure or charter conversion. She volunteers five days a week in her older son's special needs classroom.</p><p>Chapman says she worries her sons might not get the special education services they need in a charter school. And she also wonders whether they would continue to get bus service.</p><p>"I don't have friends that have cars, and family that have cars," she says. "So my kids don't have options. Every school's closed. So walking distance is not an option."</p><p>No matter what, though, Chapman's sons will find themselves in new schools this fall. They'll find out by June whether their schools will close or convert to charter. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305144431?&gn=Detroit%27s+Education+Rehab%3A+Are+Charters+A+Solution%3F&ev=event2&ch=1013&h1=News+iPad,Education,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136206552&c7=1013&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1013&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110511&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 11 May 2011 15:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-11/detroits-education-rehab-are-charters-solution-86402 Case Against WikiLeaks Part Of Broader Campaign http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-10/case-against-wikileaks-part-broader-campaign-86365 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/0" alt="" /><p><p>A federal grand jury in Virginia is scheduled to hear testimony on Wednesday from witnesses in one of the government's biggest criminal investigations of a national security leak.</p><p>Prosecutors are trying to build a case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose website has embarrassed the U.S. government by disclosing sensitive diplomatic and military information.</p><p>The WikiLeaks case is part of a much broader campaign by the Obama administration to crack down on leakers.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>A Worrisome Development</strong></p><p>National security experts say they can't remember a time when the Justice Department has pursued so many criminal cases based on leaks of government secrets.</p><p>Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists has been following five separate prosecutions, part of what he calls a tremendous surge by the Obama administration.</p><p><strong>"</strong>For people who are concerned about freedom of the press, access to national security information, it's a worrisome development," says Aftergood, who writes for the blog <a href="http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/">Secrecy News</a>.</p><p>Aftergood says some of the most important disclosures of the past decade, including abuses by the U.S. military at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, came out because people concerned about overreach blew the whistle on the government.</p><p>"Leaks serve a very valuable function as a kind of safety valve," he adds. "They help us to get out the information that otherwise would be stuck."</p><p>The Obama Justice Department doesn't agree.</p><p><strong>Other Cases </strong></p><p>With the investigation into disclosures by WikiLeaks, a federal grand jury in Virginia is exploring possible charges including conspiracy to transmit national defense information; knowingly accessing a computer without authorization; and stealing from a federal agency, according to a subpoena and related documents first made public by <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/wikileaks/index.html">Salon.com</a>. The documents say the latest grand jury session is scheduled for Wednesday.</p><p>Aside from the ongoing WikiLeaks investigation, federal prosecutors have brought criminal charges against four other people, including former State Department employee Stephen Kim; former CIA operative Jeffrey Sterling; one-time National Security Agency analyst Thomas Drake, who's going to trial next month in Baltimore; and former FBI translator Shamai Leibowitz, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to almost two years in prison.</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><strong>More Action Sought By Congress</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>Aftergood says despite the burst of activity within the Justice Department, there are still calls for more action against leakers.</p><p>"As aggressive as the Obama administration has been in pursuing and prosecuting leakers, the signal that the administration is getting from Congress is, why aren't you doing more?" he says.</p><p>At a pair of oversight hearings last week, Republicans blasted the Justice Department for deciding not to prosecute Thomas Tamm, former government lawyer who admitted to telling the New York Times about a secret electronic surveillance program.</p><p>Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley says the case raises questions about whether prosecutors went soft on leaks.</p><p>"I am concerned that the decision not to prosecute anyone related to this specific leak may indicate a reluctance to enforce the law. Leaks of classified information threaten the lives of our agents and allies in the field," Grassley says.</p><p>The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have proposed directing the intelligence community to create new computer systems to detect leaks and give government officials the power to yank away the pensions of suspected leakers.</p><p><strong>Low Hanging Fruit</strong></p><p>Abbe Lowell is a Washington defense attorney at the Chadbourne & Parke law firm. He's defending Kim, the former State Department employee, in an ongoing leak prosecution.</p><p>"Going after leakers of classified information if you will is low hanging fruit to show that you're tough in national security issues," says Lowell. "Other than the media, who are willing recipients of this material, there's not a constituency out there who basically is outraged when you go after a leaker."</p><p>Lowell outlines some of the defense arguments that he's been making in court: first, that government employees have First Amendment rights to share information or talk to people as part of their job.</p><p>Lowell adds that many federal employees shake their heads at double standards, where bosses can leak information to favorite reporters with no punishment, but federal workers face a crackdown if they do it.</p><p>"It is so arbitrary and capricious for the prosecutors to decide that some leaks are criminal and other leaks are what we actually want to have happen," Lowell says.</p><p>Advocates for open information say the government should use less severe tools, such as financial penalties or removing a worker's security clearance, before pulling out all the stops and bringing an indictment.</p><p><br />Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said that federal workers can't take the law into their own hands.</p><p>"There are specific, authorized ways for a government employee to report possible concerns about classified programs, which include notifying inspectors general, specific Congressional committees and other specified entities," Sweeney said in a written statement. "It is never appropriate, however, for government employees who are trusted with the nation's most valuable and sensitive information to mishandle classified information in any manner that puts the nation's security at risk." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305098828?&gn=Case+Against+WikiLeaks+Part+Of+Broader+Campaign&ev=event2&ch=1070&h1=News+iPad,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136173262&c19=20110511&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 10 May 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-10/case-against-wikileaks-part-broader-campaign-86365 A Young Hitchhiker's Guide To The Road: Smile http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-09/young-hitchhikers-guide-road-smile-86269 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/0" alt="" /><p><p>I'm not in the habit of picking up hitchhikers, but the one I approached on Interstate 10 in west Texas not long ago looked different. He was a friendly-faced lad with his thumb out, a cardboard sign propped against his rucksack read "West," and he was playing a fiddle.</p><p>The day was overcast and traffic light. He was standing beside the road just beyond the city limits of Junction, a ranching town surrounded by limestone hills and dull-green junipers.</p><p>I pulled over.</p><p>He said he'd been waiting for a ride for only about 10 minutes. His name was Dereck "Chip" Williams, 23, from Duluth, Minn. Where was he going?</p><p>"I'm heading to British Colombia to grab up the most amazing woman I've ever met, go to Alaska, buy a sailboat and sail the world," he said with a big grin.</p><p>"Oh, and I've only been playing violin for 12 hours, I think that's important to mention," he added, laughing. He traded his guitar for a fiddle in the last town.</p><p>Chip was wearing a gray hoodie given to him by a Christian evangelistic team. He had $27 in his pocket, and his lunch was a bagel and a jar of peanut butter. He said everything he needed was in his backpack — minus the e-tablet, on which he was keeping a journal. He left it in a truckstop bathroom.</p><p>I gave him a reporter's notebook and a pen to start a new diary.</p><p>"My philosophy of life is basically to live life. Do what you do, love what you do, and don't listen to naysayers," he said. "I'm really content with being a minimalist. So as long as I got my coffee in the morning, a pouch of tobacco in my pocket and a couple bucks for whatever, I'm happy."</p><p>Chip didn't care for the names assigned to him by social service agencies and the police: homeless, hobo, tramp and vagrant. "Traveler is the one I use most often," he said as we rolled westward together.</p><p>He said he's been on the road for three years during which time he has crisscrossed the country five or six times coast-to-coast. Along the way, he met other travelers who schooled him in the proper way to hop a freight train and thumb a ride.</p><p>"A train-hopper kid showed me to be big on safety. You should not hop a freight train. It's dangerous and illegal. He taught me how to scope out the yards, what's coming in and out, which cars are ride-able and which ones are the suicide cars," he said.</p><p>What did the veteran hitchhikers teach him?</p><p>"Probably the most important rule of hitchhiking is to smile. You don't want to be a bucket of misery on the side of the road. Nobody wants to pick up a bucket of misery," he said. "So you want to have a good air about you, you want to stay clean."</p><p>And you want to have good props, he added — like a cool sign and a fiddle.</p><p>They worked with me. I gave Chip Matthews a ride all the way to El Paso, Texas, where he planned to spend the night with a friend in the Army, then head north to Canada and find his girl — who's name is Angela.</p><p>A postscript: I met Chip on March 19. On May 9, he called me in Austin (His mother had given him a cell phone for his birthday) to report that he was turned back at the Canadian border because he didn't have enough money. "But it's all good!" he insisted. He ended up in Bellingham, Wash., where he was currently sleeping in a tree — that's what he said — and where he landed a job on a fishing boat headed to Alaska. There, he planned to finally hook up with Angela. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1304973427?&gn=A+Young+Hitchhiker%27s+Guide+To+The+Road%3A+Smile&ev=event2&ch=1930200&h1=News+iPad,Reporter%27s+Notebook,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136137420&c7=1003&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1003&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110509&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c31=1930200&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-09/young-hitchhikers-guide-road-smile-86269 A 51st State? Some In Arizona Want A Split http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-09/51st-state-some-arizona-want-split-86278 <p><p>The state of Arizona is taking the fight over its controversial immigration bill to the U.S. Supreme Court.</p><p>Gov. Jan Brewer asked the high court Monday to overturn a lower court ruling that put key parts of measure on hold.</p><p>SB 10-70 enjoys widespread support in Arizona. But that support is by no means unanimous. In Southern Arizona some people are so unhappy with the direction the state has taken that they want to create their own state.</p><p><strong>'Not Everybody In Arizona Is Crazy'</strong></p><p>Inside the Shanty, a favorite bar for Tucson Democrats, you can find people who don't like Republican-controlled Arizona government.</p><p>David Euchner is set-up just inside the door to catch patrons before they have a drink after work: "Hi, would you like to sign a petition?"</p><p>Euchner is having no trouble getting people to sign a petition declaring Baja Arizona the 51st state. Organizers will have to get 48,000 signatures to put it on the local ballot in Pima County. Then, if it passes, statehood will have to be approved by the Arizona legislature and the governor — and then Congress.</p><p>It's most likely an insurmountable hurdle.</p><p>But Start our State co-chairman Paul Eckerstrom says he'd be satisfied if just the local resolution passed. Eckerstrom is the former chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party.</p><p>"If we do this vote, at least we can send a message not only to the state legislature, but also to the rest of the nation to tell the rest of the nation that not everybody in Arizona is crazy," he says.</p><p>Politically, the Tucson metro area has long been more moderate than other parts of the state. The University of Arizona plays a big role. So do government workers. And Southern Arizona was part of Mexico until 1854. So Eckerstrom says it's more culturally integrated.</p><p>"We have a long history in terms of our Native American and Spanish colonial and Hispanic culture that we celebrate here, while up in Phoenix they don't seem to have that," he says.</p><p><strong>Frayed Relations</strong></p><p>Baja Arizona supporters say there's a serious side to their quest to create a new state. They say Arizona is headed in the wrong direction — cutting education and health care funding and hurting the state's reputation and business climate with laws like SB 1070. And they say Republicans in the legislature are punishing Pima County for its opposition.</p><p>The legislature tried to deny money to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik because he doesn't support SB 1070. It passed a law trying to change the way Tucson holds city elections, and another bill dictating how the city can bid public works projects.</p><p>Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh helped pass many of those laws. He says the legislature is doing what it thinks is right.</p><p>"We pass laws based upon what we believe the people of Arizona want," he says.</p><p>Kavanagh says the effort to split the state is just Democratic sour grapes.</p><p>"Democracy can be a real pain, especially when you're in the minority position," he says. "But that's the way it goes, majority rules."</p><p>It may be majority rule, but some Tucson students and activists say the state is trampling minority rights. They've been protesting another state law proposing changes to Mexican-American studies classes, which the state claims are anti-American.</p><p>Activists like Salomon Baldenegro say Arizona in 2011 is becoming more like Mississippi in the 1960s with Hispanics replacing blacks as the focus of discrimination.</p><p>"It seems like an exaggeration, but if you're in our shoes — same attitude," Baldenegro says. "They're not lynching us but the attitude toward blacks that was existing then is the atmosphere that's here now."</p><p>That's strong rhetoric. But it's a sign of how frayed the relations have become between Tucson and Pima County — and Arizona state government in Phoenix. The effort to become a separate state is another sign of that animosity. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1304977027?&gn=A+51st+State%3F+Some+In+Arizona+Want+A+Split&ev=event2&ch=1091&h1=News+iPad,Around+the+Nation,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136145402&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110509&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 13:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-09/51st-state-some-arizona-want-split-86278 Need A Coat Of Arms? First Pass The Test Of Eminence http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-27/need-coat-arms-first-pass-test-eminence-85781 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/0" alt="" /><p><p>It takes a lot to prepare for a wedding and even more when you're marrying royalty.</p><p>Because Kate Middleton is a commoner she needed to get herself an official coat of arms before she could marry Prince William.</p><p>So, Middleton and her family went to see Thomas Woodcock, Garter Principal King of Arms at the College of Arms in London.</p><p>But, not just anyone gets a coat of arms. For starters, you have to be a subject of the British crown. And then there's a test — the test of eminence — that determines if you deserve one. To pass, you basically just need an important job or a university degree.</p><p>Once your eminence has been determined, Mr. Woodcock asks you what you want on your coat of arms.</p><p>"The Middleton family wanted to have acorns on it, particularly as a reference to fact that the part of Berkshire in which they brought their children up, there are a lot of oak trees," he tells <em></em>Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag of <em>Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!</em></p><p>They wanted acorns, but really, they could have asked for anything.</p><p>And people do ask for weird things.</p><p>"I once did a coat of arms for a surgeon who particularly wanted to have a colon on it ... he didn't really see, as it was his speciality in surgery, why he shouldn't have it. But it's not a very attractive design, the colon, and it looks rather like a red worm," he says.</p><p>Mr. Woodcock designed a shield for the Middletons with the acorns. There's also a chevron — which is like an upside down V — to represent the mountain.</p><p>It's much simpler than Prince William's, which is the shield of the House of Windsor. That coat of arms has a harp, at least three lions, some fleur de lis and at the bottom, another lion, and then a unicorn.</p><p>"That's what's known as the supporters, where you have the lion and the unicorn supporting the shield," Mr. Woodcock says.</p><p>And here's the important part: Once Katherine and William are married and she becomes a princess, their shields merge.</p><p>Then they will get a new shield, with all of his stuff on the left and her stuff on the right, and they lose the unicorn.</p><p>"So the lion will stay there holding up one side of the shield, and then they will have to think of some animal to replace the unicorn, something relating to her," Mr. Woodcock explains.</p><p>So to recap, the way you get a coat of arms is first, be a subject of the British crown. Then prove your eminence and finally, give Thomas Woodcock a call.</p><p><em>Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag are producers for </em>Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! <em>You can follow more of their adventures on their podcast, </em><a href="http://howtodoeverything.org/">How To Do Everything.</a> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1303974431?&gn=Need+A+Coat+Of+Arms%3F+First+Pass+The+Test+Of+Eminence&ev=event2&ch=135550285&h1=William+And+Kate%3A+The+Royal+Wedding,News+iPad,Europe,Games+%26+Humor,World,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135776737&c7=1052&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1052&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110428&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c31=135550285&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-27/need-coat-arms-first-pass-test-eminence-85781 A Business That Helps Prostitutes Bloom In Recovery http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-26/business-helps-prostitutes-bloom-recovery-85721 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/0" alt="" /><p><p><em>Last in a three-part series.</em></p><p>For prostitutes looking to get drug free and off the streets, the Magdalene program in Nashville, Tenn., provides a model for healing. Magdalene offers housing, therapy and a self-sustaining small business that allows the women it serves to make money and gain respect.</p><p>That business is Thistle Farms, and the recovering women who run it make body care products by hand and paper made of thistle.</p><p>If you open the door at Thistle Farms and ask a woman about becoming a prostitute, you hear about a world of pain.</p><p>There's Nina Phillips, who turned her first trick at 13 years old when she was a dancer at a gentleman's club in Atlanta. And Tara Adcock, whose mother left when she was 5. Adcock started stripping at a club in Nashville at 17 using a fake ID. Valerie Williams, who before coming to Magdalene, would be on a crack high for sometimes 5 or 6 days straight.</p><p>Then there's Penny Hall, a stocky woman in a perpetual flannel shirt, whose girlfriend's name is tattooed on her neck. Her voice is like burled wood.</p><p>"I am 47 years old. My family disowned me. And I started living on the streets up on the bridge and that's what I called home for about 10 years," Hall says.</p><p>Between manufacturing, sales and administration, 32 graduates or residents of Magdalene work at Thistle Farms. Hall is one of a couple dozen women currently making bath and body products there.</p><p>"I never thought I'd be at a place making healing oil," she says as she stirs a plastic bowl of bath oil with a whisk.</p><p><strong>A Life Transformed</strong></p><p>Thistle Farms makes lotions and balms, products intended to heal others, and these women.</p><p>After the oil is mixed, the bottles are wrapped in a special paper the women make from thistle they collect on roadsides and fields. Hall says thistle is their emblem.</p><p>"Like a rough weed, like we are, when we're out there on the streets. We was rough and tough, went through hell and back, got into situations and we just survived the cold and the drought like the thistle does. It don't need no water. It comes up out of the concrete, and it transforms into a beautiful flower," Hall says.</p><p>Hall's life before Thistle Farms was bleak and hopeless. And then one day, she said she just couldn't live under a bridge any longer. And a judge who said he'd send her to Magdalene or prison — and then gave her $10 for a bus ticket — gave her a nudge.</p><p>"I woke up and I guess something must have hit that morning. I said 'This has got to go.' I took a good hard look at my life, and I said 'I'm never gonna have nothing as long as I stay here,'" Hall says.</p><p>She turned to her buddies under the bridge — they called themselves the Alley Cats — and told them goodbye.</p><p>"The people said 'What do you mean <em>bye</em>?' I said 'I ain't coming back.' They said 'Yeah, you always come back.' I said, 'Well this time it's different,'" Hall says.</p><p>The bridge is actually a highway overpass. The homeless campsite is still there. There were — and still are — mattresses and blankets where Hall and the others slept at night. It's a trash-strewn, filthy, rat-infested scene, freezing cold in winter and baking in summer. But they'd still have to put blankets over their heads.</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>"And the mosquitoes are so bad in the summertime it's unreal. You can't even sit nowhere without being bitten up. You'd have to cover up and sweat to death," Hall says.</p><p>She kept a CB radio to meet men for prostitution, usually truckers at a nearby truck stop. When Hall left that environment, she says it was the first time she'd slept in a real bed in three years.</p><p><strong>'Survival By Brutality'</strong></p><p>The founder of the Magdalene program and Thistle Farms is Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest. She started Magdalene in the late 1990s, dreaming of a refuge that would change women's lives. Over the next 15 years, she raised $12 million in private funds.</p><p>More than 150 women have completed the program, which offers women with criminal histories of drug addiction and prostitution a free intensified program of housing, counseling and training.</p><p>And she wanted to start a business to give them skills and income. The idea came to her: sell body balms — healing products — and make paper from the thistle flower. To her, a half-dead field of thistle is a field of gold.</p><p>"It grows in the places that are abandoned and kind of forgotten, and it also has a history of survival by brutality," she says. "But it also has this beautiful deep purple center."</p><p>Prostitution, Stevens says, demands a horrible powerlessness most people don't see.</p><p>"It is unsafe, it's illegal and it's harmful and it is violent for a lot of people over the years," she says. "I've been with women who have been stabbed in the act of sex and I have presided at funerals where women have been shot execution-style in a cab of a truck after having sex. I've presided over funerals where women have been thrown in the river after having sex. Some of those things you think 'My God.'"</p><p><strong>Love Heals</strong></p><p>It's a grace that the women in Magdalene are unlikely to wind up that way. It's quite possible that could have happened to Penny Hall — who says she could only perform sex acts if she was high. She's going to hold on to Magdalene.</p><p>"Well, what I do is when I think about situations like that, I play the tape out: If I walk away, leave where I'm at, where is it gonna take me to? Back under that bridge? No. I don't want to go back," Hall says.</p><p>Her mother, who used to take her to the bar she owned, wasn't a role model. Her mother has passed away, but Hall thinks she'd be proud, and she has made good with the rest of her family.</p><p>"My family, they love me. They wouldn't used to let me in their house, 'cause they was scared I was gonna steal. Today they give me the key and leave me there," Hall says.</p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>Hall says she doesn't want to return to the streets.</p><p>"I just don't want to go back out there and try to live and have to turn a trick, wonder if I'm going to wake up in the morning without being beat up or raped or going to jail," she says, choking back tears.</p><p>Thistle Farms and Magdalene have attracted interest from other non-profits from around the country and around the world interested in replicating their success. Stevens wants the thistle flower to be a symbol for a woman's rising up from the degradation of prostitution.</p><p>The motto at Thistle Farms is "love heals." The women say that's not because it's a happy ending. It's their vow to themselves and each other.</p><p><em>Audio for this story was produced by Rolando Arrieta.</em> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1303887690?&gn=A+Business+That+Helps+Prostitutes+Bloom+In+Recovery&ev=event2&ch=135746975&h1=Rising+Up+From+Prostitution+In+Nashville,News+iPad,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135702451&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110427&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c31=135746975&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 26 Apr 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-26/business-helps-prostitutes-bloom-recovery-85721 Reaction To Budget Deal Is Mixed; More Fights Loom http://www.wbez.org/story/governing/2011-04-09/reaction-budget-deal-mixed-more-fights-loom-84983 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-09/lincoln.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Barack Obama signed a short-term continuing resolution spending bill that will pay for the federal government to continue operating through Friday. The measure is the first piece of a bipartisan agreement to cut billions in spending and avoid the first government shutdown in 15 years.</p><p>Obama signed the temporary extension in private Saturday; the White House announced it with a news release.</p><p>The measure will keep the federal government running long enough for Congress to hold a vote later this coming week on the budget deal reached hours before Friday's midnight deadline by Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).</p><p>If approved, the budget compromise would keep the government open through the remaining six months in the 2011 budget year, while cutting $38 billion in federal spending.</p><p><strong>Pushing For Further Cuts</strong></p><p>Boehner has been credited with a victory for getting Democrats in Congress and the White House to agree to more cuts than they had initially proposed. Still, some Republicans think the deal falls short of their goals.</p><p>Freshman Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), who was elected with support from the Tea Party, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/04/09/135266043/a-tea-party-backed-representative-in-the-budget-battle">tells NPR's Scott Simon</a> that he's not sure he'll vote to approve the full spending bill.</p><p>Saying that the bill doesn't go far enough to reduce federal spending, Huizenga said, "We had outpatient surgery last night. What we need is a heart transplant. We have got to get more serious about this."</p><p>Huizenga said that he voted for the short-term resolution for two reasons.</p><p>"One, because it pays our troops," he said. "I think it's absolutely an abomination that our troops are having any doubt in their mind" about whether they would be paid.</p><p>The other reason for approving the measure, Huizenga said, is to give both him and the American public time to review the larger legislation.</p><p><strong>The Democratic Reaction</strong></p><p>The budget compromise was hailed by Reid for containing a "historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year." Still, not all Democrats are giving their full support to the deal.</p><p>Early Saturday, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) <a href="http://georgemiller.house.gov/2011/04/miller-statement-on-budget-agreement.shtml">released a statement</a> saying, "The American people have been told the agreement contains both 'historic' and 'painful' cuts. The question will be painful for whom."</p><p>And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she and her colleagues "look forward to reviewing the components of the final funding measure" to determine how it will affect the middle class, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704503104576250541381308346.html">according to <em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a>.</p><p>In his weekly radio address Saturday, Obama called the budget deal "good news for the American people."</p><p>The president said that after the budget issue is resolved, "it's my sincere hope that we can continue to come together as we face the many difficult challenges that lie ahead."</p><p><strong>Coming Next: Debt Limit, And 2012</strong></p><p>Two of those challenges will demand Washington's attention in the coming months. The U.S. Treasury has told Congress it must vote to raise the debt limit by this summer — Secretary Tim Geithner says the federal government will hit its limit on borrowing by May 16.</p><p>And soon, Congress will turn to the 2012 budget.</p><p>Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says the budget compromise is relatively small change compared to the fights ahead.</p><p>While the current reductions deal with numbers in the billions, McConnell said, "Once we get through this process, by the end of next week, we will move on to a much larger discussion about how we save trillions."</p><p>Republicans say they hope to use the debt limit issue to force Obama to accept their measures to reduce the deficit.</p><p>Of those upcoming debates, fiscal policy expert J.D. Foster of the conservative Heritage Foundation <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/04/09/135251034/the-shutdown-matchup-a-preview-of-bouts-to-come">tells NPR's Liz Halloran</a>, "The middleweight fight is going to be over the 2012 budget resolution. And the heavyweight match will be over the debt limit."</p><p><em>NPR's Ari Shapiro contributed to this report, which contains material from The Associated Press.</em> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1302381131?&gn=Reaction+To+Budget+Deal+Is+Mixed%3B+More+Fights+Loom&ev=event2&ch=135246600&h1=The+Federal+Budget+Crunch,News+iPad,Governing,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135271474&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110409&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=135246600&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Sat, 09 Apr 2011 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/governing/2011-04-09/reaction-budget-deal-mixed-more-fights-loom-84983 VA Officials Try To Ease Disability Exam Backlog http://www.wbez.org/story/afghanistan/2011-04-07/va-officials-try-ease-disability-exam-backlog-84903 <p><p>Hundreds of veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with disabilities that make it hard or impossible for them to get a job. Many are eligible for disability benefits, but with a wait time that can last months or even years, the veterans are at risk of serious financial trouble.</p><p>The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a backlog of thousands of disability claims, and it can take months to even get the physical exam required to start the process. Faced with a long waiting list, officials in North Carolina are trying to find a way to speed things up.</p><p><strong>Living On $800 A Month</strong></p><p>Iraq veteran Evan John, 24, is so afraid of crowds that he shops only at Walmart in the middle of the night. He spends most of his time in his small apartment in Charlotte, N.C., reading or playing soccer video games.</p><p>"I imagined I would be able to transition into civilian life a little bit better than I did, you know?" he says.</p><p>In 2007, John returned from a second deployment to Iraq with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines Weapons Company. An explosion that killed another Marine left John with multiple injuries.</p><p>Post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety make him unable to hold a job. His medical file is inches thick; it includes findings for both traumatic brain injury and PTSD.</p><p>As soon as he got home from the war, John applied for disability benefits from the VA. But it took nine months for the $1,400 monthly checks to start coming. In the meantime, he lived on $800 a month in military separation pay — and his credit cards.</p><p>John says that at one point, he was almost $15,000 in debt, "just because I wasn't able to sustain, as far as income was concerned."</p><p>Asked if he felt like nine months was a reasonable time to wait, John answers, "No, no, no. And I've heard it's so much worse now."</p><p><strong>Claims Process Hits Bottleneck<br /></strong></p><p>"I tell people that I work with that they're going to wait 18 to 24 months before they have their first adjudication," says veterans advocate Jim Strickland, who runs the site <a href="http://www.vawatchdogtoday.org/">VAwatchdogtoday.org</a>.</p><p>In the last year, the backlog of disability claims at the VA has grown from 500,000 to more than 800,000. Officials at the VA point to two main reasons: the wave of young veterans coming home injured; and new rules allowing Vietnam veterans to apply for more compensation from Agent Orange exposure.</p><p>The claims process hits a bottleneck at VA hospitals. That's where veterans who are making a disability claim need to undergo a <a href="http://www.va.gov/CBO/cbo/cpep.asp">compensation and pension exam</a>, or C&P.</p><p>Dr. Miguel LaPuz at the VA Medical Center in Salisbury, N.C., says the exam is no ordinary physical.</p><p>"A compensation and pension examination is a forensic examination," he says, "for example, [to] establish when the condition came about."</p><p>Every detail of a veteran's medical record and service history is analyzed, LaPuz says; it can take hours.</p><p><strong>Setting Up A 'Blitz' <br /></strong></p><p>Last summer, the number of veterans in the VA's Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network who were waiting for a C&P exam doubled.</p><p>That means that there were "7,000 veterans waiting for an exam — and that was wholly unacceptable," says Dan Hoffman, who directs the network, which covers North Carolina and Virginia.</p><p>The backlog was one of the larger ones in the country, partly because North Carolina has so many large military bases.</p><p>"The number was so high for us, we had to try something very, very different," Hoffman says.</p><p>He settled on a blitz. For one full week in March, the region's VA hospitals and clinics dedicated 80 percent of their appointments to C&P exams, clearing 2,000 cases.</p><p>Hoffman is hoping for similar results from another blitz next week and another in May. If that happens, the strategy could eliminate the region's C&P backlog.</p><p>Strickland says he was skeptical at first.</p><p>"But the more I thought about it," he says, "the more I thought that they were at least trying to do something."</p><p>Still, he warns, veterans won't get their disability checks any faster if the results of their C&P exams just go back into the larger claims backlog.</p><p>The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs has made fixing the backlog a priority. There are a number of pilot programs under way nationwide — but the list of veterans who are waiting grows longer by the day. Copyright 2011 WFAE-FM. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.wfae.org">http://www.wfae.org</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1302254833?&gn=VA+Officials+Try+To+Ease+Disability+Exam+Backlog&ev=event2&ch=1078&h1=News+iPad,Afghanistan,Around+the+Nation,The+Impact+of+War,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135218770&c7=1078&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1078&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110408&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=380&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 08 Apr 2011 03:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/afghanistan/2011-04-07/va-officials-try-ease-disability-exam-backlog-84903 Kentucky, Tennessee Give Justice Dept. Execution Drugs http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-01/kentucky-tennessee-give-justice-dept-execution-drugs-84622 <p><p>Kentucky and Tennessee have reportedly become the second and third states to turn over their supplies of an increasingly rare lethal-injection drug to the Justice Department.</p><p>The drug, sodium thiopental, is one of three drugs that most states that enforce capital punishment use in their lethal injections. But when a company in Illinois stopped making the strong sedative, supplies ran short — and federal officials believe some states may have gone outside the law to acquire it.</p><p>The shortage has forced many states to put executions on hold; some are switching to a new drug, pentobarbital.</p><p>In a report for Newscast, Kathy Lohr says the events in Kentucky may be linked to an <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/03/17/134604308/dea-georgia-may-have-broken-law-by-importing-lethal-injection-drug">earlier investigation of sodium thiopental in Georgia</a>:</p><p></p><p><blockquote></p><p>In March, the DEA seized Georgia's supply after lawyers raised questions about whether officials broke the law when they imported it from England.</p><p>Now Kentucky officials — who bought some of Georgia's drugs — say they've handed over their supply to federal officials.</p><p>Spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Jennifer Brislin says state officials are cooperating with the DEA and that the drug is being used as evidence in another jurisdiction. She would not say where.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>The AP says it has obtained records related to how states are acquiring sodium thiopental. Citing those documents, the AP says that "Tennessee officials purchased the drug from an overseas supplier last year. Kentucky bought 18 grams of sodium thiopental in February from a Georgia company at a cost of $1,616.83."</p><p>The news agency says it has reviewed records showing that at least four other states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Nebraska — have also followed Georgia's example and obtained the drug overseas. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1301690238?&gn=Kentucky%2C+Tennessee+Give+Justice+Dept.+Execution+Drugs&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=capital+punishment,News+iPad,Government,Illegal+Drugs,Legal,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135046554&c19=20110401&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=132104660,128010892,127842497,127603218,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 01 Apr 2011 14:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-01/kentucky-tennessee-give-justice-dept-execution-drugs-84622 Unemployed Need Not Apply: State Bans Want-Ad Ploy http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-04-01/unemployed-need-not-apply-state-bans-want-ad-ploy-84614 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/0" alt="" /><p><p>They say it takes money to make money — but does it take a job to land a job? Some companies in New Jersey think so, leading the state to enact a new law that forbids employers from requiring that all new job applicants be currently employed.</p><p>The law is evidently the first of its kind in the United States. Joel Rose filed a report for Newscast:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>The law's sponsors say it has become common for businesses in New Jersey to post want ads with caveats like "must be employed" or "no unemployed candidates will be considered." Supporters of the law say that disproportionally hurts minority workers, who are more likely to be unemployed.</p><p>Lawmakers in New Jersey say they're the first to outlaw the practice. At first, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill, saying businesses in the state are already over-regulated. But Christie suggested some changes to the bill, and signed it into law this week.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>New Jersey isn't the only place where this is happening — the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is keeping an eye on companies in other states, as well.</p><p>In testimony from this year archived on the EEOC site, Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, <a href="http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/2-16-11/owens.cfm">described some examples of companies</a> using help-wanted ads to filter out anyone who didn't already have a job.</p><p></p><p>In the case of one Texas electronics company looking to hire an engineer, the ad said that its hiring managers would "not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason."</p><p>A recent <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/opinion/20sun2.html">editorial in <em>The New York Times</em></a> sought to highlight the potentially illegal effects of the practice:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Jobless workers are not specifically protected by antidiscrimination laws, but various laws outlaw hiring bias on the basis of sex, race, national origin, religion, age and disability.</p><p>Since African-Americans, older workers — especially older women — and disabled workers have been hit particularly hard in the downturn, discriminating against unemployed people in those groups may violate the law.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Our friends at the Planet Money blog have <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/04/01/135036740/6-ways-of-looking-at-unemployment">turned the national job numbers into charts</a> that highlight the age and sex of the jobless, as well as how long they've been unemployed.</p><p>Despite today's news that the <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/04/01/135035823/unemployment-rate-dips-to-8-8-percent-in-march">national unemployment numbers had dropped</a>, more than 13 million Americans are currently without work. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1301682430?&gn=Unemployed+Need+Not+Apply%3A+State+Bans+Want-Ad+Ploy&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=jobs+report,Unemployment,News+iPad,Economy,The+Two-Way,Your+Money,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135041537&c7=1017&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1017&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110401&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=130424394,129623489,127602331,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 01 Apr 2011 12:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-04-01/unemployed-need-not-apply-state-bans-want-ad-ploy-84614