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Tea Party Gov. takes welfare money intended for families — and uses it to fund Christian summer camps

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Paul LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, has sparked a new controversy in his home state by taking welfare money that’s supposed to go directly to poor families and diverting it to different programs intended to help at-risk youth, including a Christian summer camp.

The Bangor Daily News reports that LePage’s administration this year is spending “$1.7 million on after-school programs that once would have gone to low-income families with children in the form of cash assistance.” This development is particularly troubling, say critics, because it’s occurring at a time when the percentage of Maine children being born into poverty is on the rise.

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“After-school programs don’t pay the rent, and they don’t keep kids in underwear, they don’t keep the parents in underwear,” Luke Shaefer, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan, tells the publication.

LePage’s administration is diverting money given to the state as part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant that it receives from the federal government to offer financial help to poor families.

In lieu of giving money directly to families, LePage’s administration has funded after-school programs intended to teach kids how to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancies, as well as an after-school program for local high school students run by Fair Haven Camps, which during the summer serves as a Christian summer camp.

It is technically legal for LePage to send money to Fair Haven Camps so long as the camp doesn’t use the money to fund “inherently religious activities.”

Regardless, even Samuel Hammond — a poverty and welfare policy analyst at the libertarian Niskanen Center think tank — believes that LePage’s actions are troubling because he’s treating the program like a “slush fund.”

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“To the extent that Maine has diverted money that’s earmarked for poor people and for cash assistance to other things and treated it like a slush fund, it actually harms the longer-term conservative project of federalism,” he tells the Bangor Daily News. “It signals that the state is not a credible steward of federal money.”

Read the whole report at this link.


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75 years ago: When atomic scientist Leo Szilard tried to halt dropping bombs over Japan

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As this troubled summer rolls along, and the world begins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation, and use, of the first atomic bombs, many special, or especially tragic, days will draw special attention.  They will include July 16 (first test of the weapon in New Mexico), August 6 (bomb dropped over Hiroshima) and August 9 (over Nagasaki).   Surely far fewer in the media and elsewhere will mark another key date:  July 3.

On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman's march to using the atomic bomb--still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity--against Japanese cities.

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‘Insane’: Park ranger shoots unarmed man through his heart and then handcuffs his dead body

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A ranger at Carlsbad Caverns National Park tased and then fatally shot a man during a New Mexico traffic stop and then handcuffed his lifeless body.

Charles "Gage" Lorentz was traveling March 21 from his work site in Pecos, Texas, to his family's home in southwest Colorado when he detoured at the national park to meet a friend, and that's where he encountered National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell, reported KOB-TV.

The ranger stopped the 25-year-old Lorentz for speeding on a dirt road near the park's Rattlesnake Springs area, and Mitchell's lapel video shows him ordering Lorentz to spread his feet and move closer to a railing.

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Former Trump administration official refers to a renowned Black scholar as ‘some criminal’

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President Donald Trump's former Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to renowned Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "some criminal" in an interview with The New York Times Magazine.

Sessions, one of Trump's earliest supporters who was later fired after years of attacks from the president, is currently attempting to reclaim his old Senate seat in Alabama. Sessions has desperately tried to tout his Trumpist credentials on the campaign trail, even as the president has waged a campaign aimed at sabotaging his primary bid.

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