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Tennessee Governor Considering Clemency for Cyntoia Brown

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Lacey Atkins.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam revealed on Monday that he is considering clemency for Cyntoia Brown.

Brown was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for the murder of a 43-year-old man who allegedly attempted to kill her when she was 16 years old. Brown called has continues to stand by her  actions, calling her response self-defense.

Despite her plea, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered Brown to serve 51 years in prison before she’ll receive parole eligibility.

According to prosecutors, Brown is being accused with intent to rob the man, but her lawyers are claiming she was fighting for her life. She originally became involved with the victim after her abusive boyfriend forced her into prostitution. In response to being accused of theft, she appealed, stating that the money was stolen out of fear that her significant other would take her life if she came back with nothing.

On Monday, Governor Haslam discussed the paramountcy of higher education in Tennessee when Justin Lang, a member of the Black Lives Matter organization in Nashville, stepped up to the mic to pose a loaded question, bringing Brown’s case to the forefront of the conversation.

“Since we’re here talking about education, I wanted to ask a question about one of your Tennessee students and a graduate of Lipscomb University, Cyntoia Brown,” Lang asserted. Brown earned her associate’s degree from Lipscomb while in prison

“As a victim of sex trafficking and assault, this is an unjust sentence in the first place,” Lang continued. Under Tennessee law, all minors engaged in sex work are legally considered victims of sex trafficking. “She has not been treated as a victim of trafficking and not given the justice she deserves.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision that Cyntoia must serve 51 years before she can be considered for parole is a human rights issue,” Lang said. “And so I ask you, what really, functionally, is the difference between life without parole — which is no longer constitutional as the United States Supreme Court declared for minors, for any crime — and ‘you might get parole after 51 years,’ for a victim of sex trafficking?”

“And so I ask why has Cyntoia Brown been incarcerated for 14 years for enduring harm? And so I say, Governor Haslam,, you have the power and ability to grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown, and so I ask when will you grant her clemency, I ask what will be your legacy as you leave office, and how will you answer to this human rights violation that the state of Tennessee is committing by keeping her incarcerated?”

Although a moderator attempted to silence Lang, the governor thanked him for his question and stated that his office is currently reviewing her case.

“We’re reviewing a lot of cases,” Haslam said, “and while Cyntoia’s case has gotten a lot of publicity, I don’t think you want us to treat her’s any different than a whole lot of cases that I think people want us to review.”

The court announced a decision on the clemency request before Haslam leaves office in six weeks.

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New Stimulus Package proposed by House Dems would pay Americans $2,000 a month

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 Photo illustration via iStock

Succeeding President Donald Trump green-lighting the historic $2 trillion stimulus package, House Democrats are now proposing a new bill to keep the financial ball rolling for American families plagued with hardship amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Tuesday (April 14), the Emergency Money for the People Act was introduced, aiming to provide Americans 16 and older a $2,000 stimulus check each month for the next six months. It was introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan and Rep. Ro Khanna and has 17 other Democratic co-sponsors, per  Business Insider, including Rep. Barbara Lee.

“The economic impact of this virus is unprecedented for our country. As millions of Americans file for unemployment week over week, we have to work quickly to patch the dam – and that means putting cash in the hands of hard-working families,” Ryan said in a press release. “Many Ohioans are just receiving – or about to receive – the first cash payment we passed in the CARES Act. Now it’s time for Congress to get to work on the next step to provide relief for those who have been hardest hit in this pandemic.”

Currently, the CARES Act provides one-time cash payouts to qualifying Americans. That includes singles with an adjusted gross income up to $99,000 and couples up to $198,000 with payments being reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds with restrictions on dependents over the age of 16. Under the Emergency Money for the People Act, all Americans over the age of 16 who make less than $130,000 and married couples making less than $260,000 would receive a stimulus check. It also extends payouts to those who were excluded from the CARES Act, such as college students and adults with disabilities who are still claimed as a dependent.

Singles earning less than $130,000 would receive at least $2,000 per month, with married couples receiving at least $4,000 per month. Qualifying families would receive $500 per child for up to three children. Deliverable via direct deposit, check, or mobile apps such as Venmo, the payments would be guaranteed for at least six months or continue longer until the employment to population ratio for people ages 16 and older is above 60 percent.

“A one-time, twelve hundred dollar check isn’t going to cut it,” Khanna said of the current stimulus plan. “Americans need sustained cash infusions for the duration of this crisis in order to come out on the other side alive, healthy, and ready to get back to work. Members on both sides of the aisle are finally coming together around the idea of sending money out to people. Rep. Ryan and I are urging leadership to include this bill in the fourth COVID relief package to truly support the American working class.”

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Mark Cuban’s Solution to NBA Suspension over Coronavirus

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is making arrangements to financially support the team, employees and arena workers who won’t be able to work due to the NBA’s suspended season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuban has not provided the specifics or his emergency plan, but he revealed during a press conference on Wednesday that he has “already started the process of having a program in place” to pay workers whose household income is dependent upon NBA game days.

“It’s stunning, but we are where we are,” Cuban said, according to ESPN. “We have to be smart in how we respond. This is people’s lives at stakes. This isn’t about basketball; this isn’t about the Mavericks. This isn’t about when do we start, do we start? Or how do we start? This is a pandemic, a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake. I’m a lot more worried about my kids and my mom, who is 82 years old — in talking to her and telling her to stay in the house — than when we play in our next game.”
Cuban added that the Mavericks’ program might require employees to do “volunteer work.”

“I reached out … to find out what it would cost to financially support people who aren’t going to be able to come to work.”

Amid the Mavericks 113-97 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, league officials learned that Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz had tested positive for COVID-19. The Jazz’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was subsequently postponed, and shortly after the NBA was suspending play until further notice.

During the Mavericks’ game on Wednesday, sideline cameras captured Cuban’s stunned reaction to the news that the NBA would not play games until further notice.

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CNN on-boards Andrew Yang as Political Commentator

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Credit: Saul Loeb

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is joining CNN as a political commentator, the network announced Wednesday.

“I’m excited to join @CNN to help shed light on the election and the candidates’ experiences,” Yang posted via Twitter.

“Learned a lot these past months and am glad to contribute to the public discussion.” He’ll appear on the network in his new capacity later Wednesday, he added.

The tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang suspended his campaign last Tuesday, Feb. 11 in his bid for the White House.

“We’ve accomplished so much together,” Yang said during a speech to supporters in Durham, N.H.

Thank you #YangGang.

Posted by Andrew Yang for President 2020 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Yang rose from obscurity to become a highly-visible candidate, rallying a coalition of liberal Democrats, libertarians and some disaffected Republicans to form a devoted group of followers known as the Yang Gang.

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