North Carolina Bill Could Boot 133,000 People off Food Stamps

  • One in six people faces food insecurity, with the system that is currently in place.

    One in six people faces food insecurity, with the system that is currently in place. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 May 2017 (5 hours 19 minutes ago)
The change could result in 133,000 people in total being booted off food assistance registries. Children would also stop getting free school meals.

More than 50,000 children could be affected by Senator Ralph Hise’s proposal to revoke the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) in North Carolina.

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The change could result in 133,000 people in total being booted off food assistance registries. Children would also stop getting free school meals.

The senator backs the senate to revoke a 2010 expansion of SNAP’s eligibility requirements. The current rules, Hise explains, allow anyone who qualifies for another North Carolina poverty assistance program eligibility for food stamps.

Hise told NBC affiliate WRAL that the program creates a “double standard” for food assistance. “You’ve got a family of four making $40,000 who can’t qualify because their children are school-aged, but you’ve got another family that maybe makes more, but who qualified for child care subsidies and therefore qualified for food stamps as well,” Hise said. “What we are eliminating is that fact that another program automatically qualifies you for food stamps.”

The policy is not unusual. It is known as broad-based or categorical eligibility and streamlines the administrative process for poverty programs whose benefits come from federal dollars. States do not pay for SNAP benefits, but instead share administrative duties with the federal government. Restructuring the program will not benefit the state’s budget, but rather generate administrative costs. State aid workers would be required to do case-by-case evaluations for families who are currently eligible.

“The elimination of categorical eligibility is additional stress on families who are already stretched incredibly thin, not sure where their next meals will come from,” Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s Jessica Whichard told ThinkProgress. “This comes at a time of year when we are already concerned about those kids who do receive free or reduced cost school lunches, being out of school for the summer and not having daily access to those meals.”

One in six people faces food insecurity, even with the current system that is in place. This statistic is likely to go up, if the suggested overhaul is implemented.

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Puerto Rico’s Oscar Lopez Freed After 36 Years in US Prison

Published 16 May 2017

Lopez Rivera was the longest held political prisoner in the U.S. from Latin America.

Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera was released Wednesday from house arrest in Puerto Rico after former U.S. President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January, days before Donald Trump was inaugurated.

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Who Is Oscar Lopez Rivera?

In early February, Lopez Rivera was transferred from the Terre Haute penitentiary in Indiana, where the leading activist spent about two-thirds of his more than 30-year prison term, to his daughter’s home in Puerto Rico.

His electronic bracelet was removed one day before his official release. He is expected to give a press conference, while various artists will perform at a party organized to celebrate his freedom on the island.

The independentist leader will finally meet with his old comrades and plans to travel to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, among others, in order to thank those who supported his release, said his lawyer to the media.

Lopez Rivera was born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and later moved to the United States. After being drafted to serve in the Vietnam War and returning to Chicago, Lopez Rivera joined the struggle for Puerto Rican rights. In 1976, he joined the fight for Puerto Rican independence from U.S. colonial rule as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, also known as FALN.

He was arrested in 1981 and charged with “seditious conspiracy” for his role in a variety of FALN activities. During his trial, Lopez Rivera and other FALN activists told the court their actions were part of an anti-colonial war against the U.S., declaring themselves prisoners of war and requesting that their cases be handed over to an international court. That request was denied, and Lopez Rivera was eventually sentenced to 55 years in prison — a sentence almost 20 times longer than those handed down for similar offenses.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton offered Lopez Rivera a pardon in 1999, but the independentista rejected it in an act of solidarity with other Puerto Rican activists who had not been offered clemency and because he refused to publicly renounce the right of colonized peoples to resist through armed struggle.

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While Opposition Riots, Venezuelan Govt. Builds Social Programs

  • A CLAP center set up to provide food for the poorest Venezuelans.

    A CLAP center set up to provide food for the poorest Venezuelans. | Photo: AFP

Published 16 May 2017 (8 hours 11 minutes ago)
The Bolivarian government is committed to supporting the people, affirmed the president to his ministers.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro highlighted the achievements of his government over the past year and launched another series of social welfare missions during the Council of Ministers held Tuesday.

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More than 6 million homes can now rely on the services of CLAP, an alternative model of food distribution funded by the Bolivarian government so the poorest can access basic products at lower prices, said Maduro, while the government has just launched a pilot plan that will deliver basic food baskets every 3 weeks in 200 towns classified as a priority.

The Barrio Adentro Mission, implemented in order to provide good-quality health care services to poor neighborhoods, is now covering the whole country. The government is now focusing on the improvement of surgical attention, approving the budget for a program that will take care of 600.000 patients that need surgical intervention, to be launched next week in over 600 health care centers.

A complementary system of currency was also launched Tuesday, designed to reduce as much as possible the level of speculation of the country’s currency and address the situation of economic war, said Maduro. Nevertheless, the government has already paid US$60 billion of the national debt without resorting to the International Monetary Fund, added the head of state.

In addition, 13,000 citizens now hold ID cards that will help to manage the system of missions across the country better.

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