The U.S. Supreme Court rejected death row inmate Rodney Reed’s appeal Monday, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote separately to urge Texas courts to conduct a “full and fair” examination of evidence that raises questions about his guilt.“In my view, there is no escaping the pall of uncertainty over Reed’s conviction. Nor is there any denying the irreversible consequence of setting that uncertainty aside,” Sotomayor wrote in a statement accompanying Monday’s ruling.“Reed has presented a substantial body of evidence that, if true, casts doubt on the veracity and scientific validity of the evidence...
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Thousands in back wages have been recovered by the U.S. Labor Department for 274 workers employed by a popular central Texas barbecue restaurant operator who was giving a portion of tips for employee to restaurant managers, Labor411 reports.
"Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found Black’s Barbecue Inc.; Kent Black’s Lockhart Barbecue Inc. and New Braunfels Barbecue LLC – all with the same ownership and operating as Black’s Barbecue restaurant – kept a portion of the employees’ tips and shared them with managers illegally," Labor411's report stated. "The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers, managers and supervisors from keeping tips the business’ employees receive for any purposes, whether or not the employer takes a tip credit."
In a statement, Wage and Hour Division District Director Nicole Sellers said that food service industry employers "must know that tips are the property of tipped employees who earn them, plain and simple."
"If you take from them, you take from their families. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to safeguarding the rights of all essential food service workers," she added.
Progressive voices on Monday rebuked Republican U.S. lawmakers for repeatedly warning President Joe Biden that forgiving student loan debt will harm the military's ability to attract recruits with the promise of free college.
"The price of a college degree should not be bloodshed or a lifetime of crippling debt."
Nineteen Republican members of the House of Representatives last week signed a letter to Biden expressing concern over the "unintended consequences" of the president's plan to cancel $10,000 to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers in lower-income to upper-middle-income families.
The letter counts the GI Bill—which covers all in-state tuition and fees at public colleges and universities—among "some of the most successful recruiting incentives for the U.S. military" and "a driving factor in many individuals' decision" to join the armed forces.
"By forgiving such a wide swath of loans for borrowers, you are removing any leverage the Department of Defense maintained as one of the fastest and easiest ways of paying for higher education," the Republican lawmakers asserted.
"Every time I see a politician just come out and say, 'We can't forgive student debt because we'll lose one of our best military recruiting tools,' I have to stop and marvel at the absolute moral repugnance of the sentiment, and the audacity of stating it so bluntly," poet Stefan Mohamed tweeted.
"The GOP is admitting that the military relies on poor young people to keep the war machine going, and that's why they oppose canceling student debt," the group Our Wisconsin Revolution argued on Twitter. "The price of a college degree should not be bloodshed or a lifetime of crippling debt."
While Pentagon brass often tout the "all-volunteer" nature of the U.S. military, critics have noted that the poverty draft—which disproportionately affects people of color—is fueled by the student debt crisis.
Despite record enlistment bonuses, U.S. military recruiting is currently in crisis. According to Army data, up to 70% of potential recruits are disqualified in the first 48 hours due to obesity, low aptitude test scores, or drug use—an increase from previous disqualification rates of 30%-40%.
During the height of the so-called War on Terror, which was launched in 2001 and continues to this day, the U.S. military made up for recruitment shortfalls by lowering admission standards to allow people with felony convictions, gang members, and racists—but not openly LGBTQ+ aspirants—to sign up, resulting in widespread infiltration of white supremacists.
Deception, falsification of qualifying records, and outright lies were also commonly reported during recruitment by a military that, when faced with enduring shortfalls, simply extended combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan through compulsory "stop-loss" orders.
Additionally, military recruiters—who operate under mottos like "first to contact, first to contract"—have targeted children as young as 10 years old via pre-Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, JROTC, and ROTC programs from the elementary school through collegiate levels.
Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker has made waves by undermining his own intelligence, but a new column said that this is all part of his plan.
The op-ed, published Monday on MSNBC's Maddowblog by producer Steve Benen, claimed that Walker's "dumbing down" of himself is being done on purpose in an effort to pull off a come-from-behind victory.
While Walker referred to himself as a "country boy," "not that smart," and claimed his opponent, Sen. Raphael Warnock, would "embarrass me" at their upcoming debate, the blog said that Walker actually wanted people to think he was less intelligent. "In campaigns, this is what’s known as “managing expectations," Benen wrote. "Ahead of their Senate debate, it’s in Walker’s interest to set expectations so low that he’ll win just by showing up. Warnock is one of American politics’ most gifted orators; Walker struggles to speak coherently; so the Republican is deliberately downplaying his chances so that viewers will tune in and be impressed if he manages to speak in complete sentences."
While this seems like a bizarre, and somewhat backwards strategy, Benen noted that it may end up working in his favor. "As political forums go, debates tend to favor those who struggle with substantive details because, due to practical constraints, candidates are required to give short answers," he said.
Indeed, while the action at the debate remains to be seen, Walker has made numerous headlines on account of his statements and some of the things he has said during interviews.
This includes answering a question on his mental acuity by talking about bicycles and arguing against climate change by questioning the number of trees. He also reportedly falsely claimed to have worked in law enforcement three times.
A recent report from The Daily Beast claimed that Walker's own aides were concerned with the way his campaign was being handled.