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NAACP Calls Out FBI's Latest Report on "Black Extremists" as Déjà Vu

Baltimore, MD- According to a journalistic investigation by the news outlet Foreign Policy (FP) the FBI's counter-terroism division has identified a new threat-black identity extremists (BIE). The FBI's assessment is that BIE's "perception of police brutality against African Americans have spurred retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement". In response to this report the interim NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson has released the following statement:

"In a time when white supremacists are marching down city streets with loaded weapons and tiki torches- organizing rallies of terror around the country - it comes as a great shock that the FBI would decide to target black identity groups protesting police brutality and their right to exist free of harm as a threat.

"Sadly, this report comes as no surprise from an organization that has a history of targeting black civil rights groups and leaders, including wiretapping Martin Luther King Jr. and others fighting for civil rights in the 1960s.

"We do have a real threat in the United States and it's the rise of right-wing extremists, white nationalists and white supremacists, who have been emboldened by this administration. In light of this report, the NAACP is resolved to double down on our efforts to advance the rights of black Americans and people of color across this country. We remain steadfast and immovable in our fight for justice and equality - and we are not afraid."

About the NAACP

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP's work and our Economic Opportunity "Game Changer" issue by visiting http://www.naacp.org/issues/economic-opportunity

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Nearly 1 Million State Tax Returns Yet to be Filed as Oct. 16 Deadline Approaches

Sacramento — The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) reminds taxpayers that Monday, October 16, is the deadline for filing 2016 state personal income tax returns to avoid penalties.

Each year, Californians file more than 18 million state personal and business income tax returns.

While most file their returns by the traditional mid-April deadline, more than 1.5 million take advantage of California’s automatic six-month filing extension. As of now, nearly 800,000 2016 state returns have yet to be filed.

Those who have yet to file are also encouraged to see if they qualify for the cash-back California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), which is designed to help low-income families.

Many taxpayers can file a return electronically free of charge. Visit FTB’s website, ftb.ca.gov and search for “Online Filing Options” for a list of both free or fee-based e-file service providers. Eligible taxpayers who have already filed this year, but did not claim CalEITC, may do so by amending their return via a Form 540X within four years.

CalEITC was created by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature as a supplement to the federal EITC. Qualifying taxpayers can receive a total of up to $6,000 through the combined state and federal EITCs. To learn more, visit CalEITC4Me.org.

Payments for the 2016 tax year were due April 18, but taxpayers who still owe tax can use FTB’s electronic Web Pay to authorize payment from a bank account. For a fee, taxpayers can pay using major credit cards by calling (800) 2PAY TAX [(800) 272-9829] or by visiting officialpayments.com.

Installment plans are available for taxpayers facing financial hardship. Those who owe $25,000 or less and can repay within five years generally qualify.

As of October 9, 2017, Californians filed more than 17.2 million personal income tax returns, 15.1 million of them electronically. The state has issued 11.8 million refunds totaling more than $11.9 billion.

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Federal Appeals Court Requires Immigration Authorities to Consider Financial Resources When Setting Bond

LOS ANGELES – In a major legal victory for immigrants’ rights, a federal appeals court today ruled that the government cannot set unreasonable bonds for detained immigrants, including asylum seekers, by failing to consider their financial resources.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stems from a class-action lawsuit, Hernandez v. Sessions, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, and pro bono attorneys from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Before this ruling, the Department of Homeland Security and immigration judges were not required – unlike in non-immigration cases – to consider ability-to-pay when setting bond for individuals facing deportation. Many immigrants remained incarcerated for months or even years simply because they could not afford the bond.

“This ruling marks the first time a federal appeals court has required immigration authorities to consider people's financial circumstances when setting bond,” said Michael Tan, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It is an important reminder that due process applies to all people in America.”

Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, in issuing the ruling, wrote, “While the temporary detention of non-citizens may sometimes be justified by concerns about public safety or flight risk, the government’s discretion to incarcerate non-citizens is always constrained by the requirements of due process: no person may be imprisoned merely on account of his poverty.”

Several prominent organizations and individuals filed amicus briefs supporting the class-action lawsuit, including the American Bar Association and nine former immigration judges.

Cesar Matias, a native of Honduras, is a named plaintiff in the case. He fled to the United States more than a decade ago to escape the persecution he suffered because he is gay. In Los Angeles, Matias worked as a hair stylist and in a clothing factory, renting a small, one-bedroom apartment. He was arrested in 2012 and locked up in the city jail in Santa Ana while his application for asylum under the United Nations Convention against Torture was being decided. Bail was set at $3,000.

But Matias had no means to pay that bond and he remained in jail for four years. His application for asylum is still undecided. He was finally released because of publicity generated by the lawsuit, but dozens if not hundreds of immigrants in Southern California remain detained, without hope of release, solely because they are too poor to post bond.

“As the Ninth Circuit found, the government should not deprive people of their freedom based on the inability to pay while in civil immigration proceedings,” said Michael Kaufman, Sullivan and Cromwell Access to Justice senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California.

The ruling is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/hernandez-v-sessions-opinion

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/hernandez-v-sessions?redirect=cases/hernandez-v-lynch

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U.S. Department of Education Awards $253 Million in Grants to Expand Charter Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that The Expanding Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Program (Charter Schools Program or CSP) has awarded new grants this week to fund the creation and expansion of public charter schools across the nation, totaling approximately $253 million.

“These grants will help supplement state-based efforts to give students access to more options for their education,” said Secretary DeVos. “What started as a handful of schools in Minnesota has blossomed into nearly 7,000 charter schools across the country. Charter schools are now part of the fabric of American education, and I look forward to seeing how we can continue to work with states to help ensure more students can learn in an environment that works for them.”

The following grants slates were awarded:

The State Entities program awarded approximately $144.7 million in new grants to nine states.

The Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools program awarded approximately $52.4 million in new grants to 17 non-profit charter management organizations.

The Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program awarded approximately $56.25 million in new grants to six non-profit organizations and two state agencies.

These grants are awarded to state educational agencies and other state entities, charter management organizations (CMOs) and other non-profit organizations and represent the first cohort of new awards under the program’s new authorizing statute, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Please see below for the list of grantees, FY 2017 funding and total recommended funding (contingent on future Congressional appropriations).

State Entity Grantees

* Eligible applicants under this program are state entities. A state entity is defined under ESSA as a state educational agency; a state charter school board; a Governor of a state; or a charter school support organization.

CMO Grantees

**State reflects where the organization is based; school expansion sites funded under this grant may differ.

Credit Enhancement Grantees

 

Additional information regarding these grant programs and awards, including copies of grantee applications, may be found at: https://innovation.ed.gov/what-we-do/charter-schools/.

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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in ACLU Immigration Detention Case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard arguments today in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a case that will decide the fate of thousands of people languishing in immigration prisons without a hearing. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ahilan Arulanantham argued the case.

At issue is the federal government’s practice of locking up immigrants for years without a hearing to determine if imprisonment is warranted. The Department of Homeland Security claims it can hold people indefinitely while they defend their right to remain in the United States. This includes lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers, survivors of torture, and others with strong claims to remain. Many of them will ultimately win their deportation cases, but the government forces them to suffer prolonged detention during the court process.

The ACLU challenged the government and won in the lower courts, including a 2015 federal appeals court decision from the Ninth Circuit that required hearings for immigrants once their detention exceeds six months. The government sought review of that decision in the Supreme Court, which first heard the case in 2016. The court ordered the case be reheard.

Following today’s arguments, Arulanantham said:

“Forcing people to languish indefinitely in detention without a hearing as they make their case to remain in the U.S. is cruel and unnecessary. We’re hopeful the Supreme Court, which has long held that the right to a hearing is a bedrock due process requirement, will agree. The rights at stake in this case are as critical as ever given the Trump administration’s pledge to lock up even more people as part of its crackdown on immigrant communities.”

This statement is at: https://www.aclu.org/news/supreme-court-hears-arguments-aclu-immigration-detention-case-0

Watch the video: https://www.facebook.com/aclu/videos/10154781296646813/

Read the blog: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/deportation-and-due-process/how-bond-hearing-saved-me-deportation

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/jennings-v-rodriguez

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SBA Disaster News - One Month Left to Apply for SBA Disaster Loans

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Director Tanya N. Garfield of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West today reminded small nonfarm businesses in six Arizona counties and three neighboring California counties of the Nov. 2, 2017, deadline to apply for an SBA federal disaster loan for economic injury. These low-interest loans are to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought in the following primary counties that began Jan. 1, 2017.

Primary Arizona counties: La Paz and Yuma;

Neighboring Arizona counties: Maricopa, Mohave, Pima and Yavapai;

Neighboring California counties: Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino.

According to Garfield, small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. “Economic Injury Disaster Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” said Garfield.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the applicant suffered any property damage,” Garfield added.

The interest rate is 3.125 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

By law, SBA makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. The Secretary declared this disaster on March 2, 2017.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance in drought disasters.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

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Aguilar to Host “Dreamers Demand Answers” Event in San Bernardino

San Bernardino, CA – Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) announced that he will host an event to answer questions and discuss concerns around President Trump’s recent decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After the conversation with DACA recipients, Rep. Aguilar will amplify the Dreamers’ concerns through outreach to President Trump and leaders in Congress.

What: Dreamers Demand Answers hosted by Rep. Pete Aguilar

When: Thursday, Septem ber 21, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Where: San Bernardino Valley College

701 S. Mt. Vernon Avenue

Room AD 208A

San Bernardino, CA 92410

The DACA program was established through an executive action taken by the Obama Administration in 2012, and allowed certain young immigrants who were brought to the US as children to acquire work permits and remain in the US without fear of deportation. On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Trump had decided to end the program in six months, leaving nearly 800,000 young immigrants, including thousands in our community, vulnerable to deportation with their futures up in the air.

As Whip of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Aguilar has been vocal in his opposition of the president’s decision to end the DACA program, and is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017, legislation to establish a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants who meet DACA requirements. In addition, Rep. Aguilar has worked throughout his time in Congress to help bring undocumented young people out of the shadows. In February, he invited Maria Barragan-Arreguin, Coordinator of the California State University, San Bernardino DREAMers Resource and Success Center to join him during President Trump’s address to a Joint Session of Congress and this summer he held a networking event for Inland Empire Dreamers before introducing an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill that would allow DACA recipients to be eligible for federal employment.

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California Parents, Administrators, Educators and Community Groups Urge NO Vote on Bill that Creates Private School with Public Funds

(Sacramento, CA) – California parents, administrators, educators and community groups are calling on legislators to oppose a bill that creates a private school with public funds. The broad coalition opposes AB 1217 by Assembly Members Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) and Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) which would establish a new, independently-run science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) school in Los Angeles County.

The authors suggest that 15 other states have a similar state STEM school, but the majority of these are voucher states and many charge money for students to attend.

“AB 1217 is another attempt to deliver our public schools into the hands of unaccountable private actors,” said Susan Henry, President of the California School Boards Association. “There are plenty of ways to establish new schools under existing law, but instead of using one of them, this bill sets a precedent that undermines local control of public schools. We encourage the Legislature to defeat AB 1217 and to focus on supporting and strengthening all public schools.”

The state STEM school would have a seven-member governing board, the composition of which is unclear and not well-defined. The timing of this bill is causing deep concerns and creating speculation.

“This is a disturbing billionaire power play at the end of session,” said Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Officer of the California Labor Federation. “No one has offered even one coherent explanation as to why the state should disregard local control that protects students and parents. Yet those pushing this bill seem intent on moving forward without any hearings, public debate or scrutiny. These kinds of last-minute shenanigans set a terrible precedent and create an even more cynical view of the Legislature. This is a bad idea with questionable motivations. We call on the Legislature to do the right thing by stopping this effort to push terrible policy under the radar.”

Additionally, AB 1217 provides no authority to shut down the school – even if the school breaks the law by charging money or weeding out certain children or families – and goes against local control. Unlike other public schools, there is no authority to shut down this school even if the school is harmful or unsafe to students. This proposed school is guaranteed to exist for five years. While the school must do reports to the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), the SPI has no authority to shut down the school or to demand that operators comply with agreements.

"Parents and communities should have a say in how their local schools are run,” said Debra Pearson, Executive Director of the Small School Districts’ Association. “AB 1217 would set a dangerous precedent of the State authorizing schools to locate in communities over the objections of local voters and taxpayers. Current law already allows for backers of AB 1217 to create their desired STEM school – they should use that process."

The Department of Finance’s analysis is opposed to this bill, stating “it would be more appropriate for the school to first seek establishment through its local school district, and if denied, go through the remaining steps of the existing process.”

Finally, this publicly-funded private school proposal could exploit a loophole to skirt good government and other statutes.

The coalition is urging parents and community supporters to call their California Senator at 855-977-0202. The bill could come up for a floor vote at any time prior to the end of the legislative session.

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Aguilar Hosts Third Jobs Fair for Inland Empire Residents

San Bernardino, CA— On Friday, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) held an Inland Empire Jobs Fair at the San Bernardino Boys & Girls Club, hosting over 300 hundred San Bernardino County residents looking for work and connecting them with 58 local employers and job training opportunities. This is the third jobs fair Rep. Aguilar has hosted since taking office in 2015.

“To get our economy back on track and put Inland Empire residents back to work, we need local assistance as much as we need policy solutions. It’s important that we utilize available community resources to directly connect job seekers with skills training and local employers looking to hire,” said Rep. Aguilar. He added, “As our region continues to recover from the Great Recession, I’ll use every tool necessary to make sure our community members have the help they need to provide for their families.”

Christina Avalos, Human Resources Recruiter for States Logistics Services, Inc., commented on the event, “Not only was it well attended, but the applicants we saw were of great quality, great caliber, and had such an eagerness to work.” She continued, “Because of this event, we were able to add six more people to our needs, which cut our need down by one-third, so we are very grateful.”

“I think that the congressman is doing a really good job bringing this many vendors out to a jobs fair,” said Colton resident Stephen Hyman. He continued, “I’d like to thank Congressman Aguilar for organizing this event.”

Rep. Aguilar has prioritized legislation to create good-paying jobs, support local businesses and invest in workforce skills training. During his first term in office, he introduced five bills to help kick-start the Inland Empire economy. Last month, he reintroduced the On-the-Job Training Tax Credit Act, a bill to help local employers expand their workforce and pay for training of new hires. Rep. Aguilar has helped over 100 residents find employment with the two previous jobs fairs he hosted in 2015 and 2016.

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HUD Director Goes on $336,000 Shopping Spree with Low-Income Housing Funds

AUGUST 18, 2017 A high-ranking public housing official charged with providing government-subsidized homes to the poor stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the agency and used it to buy furniture, alcohol, clothes, makeup and other personal items. The crooked public official scammed the government for years undetected which may seem unbelievable though not when it comes to the agency she worked for, a bastion of corruption known as Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

This is an agency that’s been embroiled in a multitude of serious scandals—under both Democrat and Republican administrations—over the years. One veteran employee at a state branch stealing a few hundred thousand bucks to go on a marathon shopping spree is no biggie. Problems go back to the Ronald Reagan administration, when an influence-peddling scandal led to the conviction of 16 people, including top aides to then HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce. Bill Clinton’s housing secretary, Henry Cisneros, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about payments to his former mistress. George W. Bush’s HUD secretary, Alphonso Jackson, was ousted after the feds launched an investigation into his plots to enrich himself and his friends by giving them lucrative government contracts. Barack Obama’s second HUD secretary, Julian Castro, misspent the agency’s federal funds as mayor of San Antonio.

Fraud and corruption has also been pervasive among HUD employees and field directors. A few years ago, an employee got busted for racking up nearly $12,000 on his agency credit card by charging personal items such as groceries, lodging, television cable, transportation and even prescription medications. A federal audit determined that the agency knew about the spending spree but didn’t bother taking action, reprimanding the employee or reporting the wrongdoing. HUD’s inspector general has also testified before Congress about the severe mismanagement at offshoots functioning independently—yet federally funded—in states across the country that have fleeced taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars. He testified that his office discovered more than $200 million in questionable spending at local public housing agencies (PHAs) since 2012. PHAs are created by states, operate at the city or county level and administer the federal program known as Section 8 to provide low-income people with affordable housing. Many of these local public housing agencies are run by people with “troubled backgrounds” that somehow manage to remain in high-ranking positions at the agencies, the watchdog told lawmakers back in 2014.

Years later, an executive director at one of those branches in Michigan gets busted for embezzling $336,000. Her name is Lorena Loren and for years she served as the executive director of the St. Clair Housing Commission, which administers a local Section 8 housing program in southeast Michigan. Section 8 is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. The program is administered locally by Public Housing Agencies (PHA) like the St. Clair Housing Commission so the cash comes from the feds though there appears to be no oversight. The idea is to subsidize housing costs, via vouchers, so the poor can live in privately owned, single-family homes, townhouses or apartments they otherwise couldn’t afford.

For eight years Loren used government credit cards as her personal piggy bank, buying items for herself and relatives, according to a federal charging document obtained by a Detroit, Michigan newspaper. She racked up around $135,000 in purchases from online retailer Amazon, $14,364 at big-box store Sam’s Club and $16,460 at various Walmart stores. The purchases included food, medicine, appliances, furniture, clothing and booze. The disgraced housing director also used $24,600 in agency funds to pay for her son’s rental unit, falsified documents—including lease agreements to use housing voucher cash to rent a home for her son—and deposited federal rental subsidy funds into family members’ bank accounts. Loren has been charged with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud and faces up to five years in prison.

Clearly, this is part of a much broader epidemic at HUD. A Michigan-area newspaper editorial blasts the agency for failing to protect taxpayer dollars and low-income families that need help. The piece cites other recent cases in which public employees stole from HUD’s Section 8 program, including a 52-person ring in Ohio and schemes in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado and Massachusetts. “It should be more difficult for housing commission directors to write checks to themselves,” the editorial states. “And the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should be keeping closer watch over its Section 8 voucher program.” Hopefully President Trump’s new HUD secretary, Ben Carson, will clean some house at the fraud-infested agency. We don’t’ need a newspaper editorial to tell us that “HUD clearly has a gap in its fiduciary responsibility.”

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