Jobless benefits running out / St. Cloud, Owatonna and Muslim students / Lori Berenson / Jamaica


Unemployment benefits are running out at the end of the month and extension is far from certain. A House vote could come as early as today, May 26. Without the bill, millions of unemployed workers will lose both their unemployment benefits and support for COBRA health insurance extension, at a time when there are with 5.6 unemployed workers for every job opening.

A graph from the Economic Policy Institute shows the number of unemployed workers who will run out of unemployment compensation benefits with and without passage of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (AJCTLA):

AJCTLA also provides for loan guarantees for small business, business tax credits for capital investment and research and development, funding to states for Medicaid, renewal of individual tax credits, closing some tax loopholes, and funding for summer jobs for youth and expansion of the TANF emergency jobs fund.

House Democrats say they have enough votes to pass the bill, but are not certain that it will get through the Senate, according to Reuters.

Harassment of Muslims in Minnesota schools has sparked an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education-Office of Civil Rights. The investigation will look at St. Cloud and Owatonna schools, says the Council on American Islamic Relations. Reports of increasing tension between Somali and white students in St. Cloud and Owatonna schools hit the front pages in April. St. Cloud schools conducted their own investigation and decided that school actions regarding harassment had been appropriate. According to the St. Cloud Times:

Most of the incidents reported are at Apollo, but Tech was included as well. St. Cloud school district completed an internal investigation this month of incidents at Apollo that showed that taunting did occur, leading to discipline. The investigation was unable to confirm incidents involving pork bacon, staff conduct and bus drivers.

Violence exploded in Jamaica Tuesday, as the government fought followers of alleged drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke. According to BBC and AFP, hospitals reported 60 dead, with most of the victims identified as civilians. (Other estimates said 31 dead.) Coke claims to be a legitimate businessman. The Field Negro blog noted:

Mr. Coke has been charged with leading an international drug ring by the authorities in New York. He fled to the rock where a government that is friendly to his political leanings is in power, and where he has been sheltered ever since. Even with the United States threatening all sorts of sanctions, Bruce Golding, the Jamaican Prime Minister, has refused to extradite the man to Uncle Sam. They have even paid a firm to lobby on his behalf. ..

Chrisopher Dudus Coke is the latest in a long line of powerful political Dons from the rock who would moonlight as drug dealers. (Google Claude Massop) They were paid well by politricksters in charge to do their dirty work, which often involved killing entire families in the areas that were populated by political rivals. It’s still going on, and it’s as brutal as ever.

In Peru, Lori Berenson has been released on parole, after serving 15 years in a high security prison, accused of helping the leftist Tupac Amaru (MRTA) rebels. A U.S. citizen, Berenson studied at MIT before traveling to Central and South America. She has maintained her innocence since her arrest. Her parents, both university professors, also have insisted on her innocence and lobbied for her release.

BBC reports that:

In 2003, Ms Berenson married fellow prisoner Anibal Apari, who was serving 13 years for his affiliation to the same rebel group. She gave birth to their son a year ago. Mr Apari is also her lawyer.

See Democracy Now for a complete chronology of the case and more than a decade of close reporting.