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CCA Plans Layoffs and CEO Pay Cuts As Its Stock Keeps Dropping

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 22:30:28 +0000

The Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's second largest private prison company, announced today that it will eliminate 50 to 55 full-time positions—approximately 12 percent of the corporate workforce—at its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. As part of a new effort to restructure the company and reduce costs, CEO Damon Hininger will also forfeit stock options and compensation worth $3.7 million.

CCA, the subject of a major Mother Jones investigation, has recently faced a series of setbacks. In August, the Department of Justice announced it would phase out its use of private prisons, which resulted in a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders. The Department of Homeland Security may be reconsidering its private prison contracts. Since the DOJ's announcement, CCA's stock price has dropped 53 percent.

Public opinion also seems to be turning against for-profit prisons. In last night's debate, Hillary Clinton said, "I'm glad that we're ending private prisons in the federal system. I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn't have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans."

CCA's shakeup is part of a cost reduction plan that aims to save $9 million in expenses in 2017. In its statement, the company noted that some of the risks and uncertainties it currently faces include changes to DOJ and DHS's prison policies as well as changes in "the public acceptance of our services."


Why Did Trump and Clinton Ignore Syria Last Night?

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:50:21 +0000

Even by the already horrific standards of the Syrian civil war, the violence in the city of Aleppo during the past week has been brutal. Russian and Syrian government airstrikes killed more than 300 people, targeted the last vital scraps of medical services in rebel-held areas, and used bunker-busting bombs in what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called "new depths of barbarity." The attacks only added to the 25,000 people who have died in Syria since a temporary truce ended in April, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Yet with the carnage in Syria only getting worse, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton discussed the Syrian civil war during Monday night's presidential debate, to the dismay of analysts and activists. "The fact that it wasn't mentioned in the presidential debate is depressing, to say the least," says Kenan Rahmani, a legal and policy adviser to the Syria Campaign, an advocacy group that focuses on protecting Syrian civilians. "This [was] one of the worst weekends since the start of the conflict." Lena Arkawi, the spokeswoman for the American Relief Coalition for Syria, issued a statement on Tuesday saying her group was "deeply disappointed by the utter failure of last night's debate to even mention Syria. That oversight is far more telling than Gary Johnson's Aleppo gaffe." The candidates did mention Syria once during the 90-minute debate, but only in passing. "We're hoping that within the year we'll be able to push ISIS out of Iraq and then, you know, really squeeze them in Syria," Clinton said while talking about her plans for the anti-ISIS campaign. Trump did not speak about Syria at all. That followed the pattern of the campaign, during which the candidates have been pressed for their plans to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria but have paid little attention to the civil war between the Syrian government and the armed groups that oppose it. But Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy, says there's no way to separate these issues cleanly. "It contributes to all these other problems,"  he says. "So there's no way to fight ISIS unless you're also willing to talk seriously about Syria, the Syrian civil war being one of the main contributors to ISIS's rise. If we want to talk about Iraq, then you have to talk about Syria. If you want to even talk about the future of the European project, you have to be willing to talk about the Syrian refugee crisis." Both Trump and Clinton may have good reasons for dodging the topic. "It's difficult for Hillary, because to talk about how Syria's gotten so bad would require some serious criticism of the Obama administration," Hamid points out. "It's a complicated issue to address for someone who was Obama's secretary of state until 2013." Clinton did push for stronger action against the Syrian government while in office, which may make it easier for her to take on Obama's policies. But her support for using more force against the Assad regime may not be popular. She's notably in favor of a no-fly-zone to protect Syrian civilians, a policy that could potentially bring American aircraft into a dangerous direct conflict with Russian jets. "The last thing you want is to provoke a conflict with the Russians," Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told the Huffington Post on Monday night. "I think [a no-fly-zone is] smart policy, but Americans may not necessarily be excited about that prospect of getting more involved in Syria," Hamid says. A poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in August found that while 72 percent of Americans backed airstrikes against ISIS, support for a no-fly-zone was 20 points lower. Meanwhile, Trump wants to forge a closer anti-ISIS partnership with Russia, which has relentlessly bombed civilians on behalf of the Syrian government while targeting hospitals and potentially even a UN aid convoy last week. If that partnership carried over into the larger war, it would place him on the side of the S[...]

Climate Change Got 82 Seconds in the Presidential Debate

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 21:11:02 +0000

This story was originally published by Grist and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

One minute and 22 seconds were spent on climate change and other environmental issues in Monday’s presidential debate—and that was pretty much all Hillary Clinton talking. (Surprise, surprise.) How does that compare to debates in past years? We ran the numbers on the past five election cycles to find out.

The high point for attention to green issues came in 2000, when Al Gore and George W. Bush spent just over 14 minutes talking about the environment over the course of three debates. The low point came in 2012, when climate change and other environmental issues got no time at all during the presidential debates. Some years, climate change came up during the vice presidential debates as well.

2016 so far: 1 minute, 22 seconds in one presidential debate.

2012: 0 minutes.

2008: 5 minutes, 18 seconds in two presidential debates. An additional 5 minutes, 48 seconds in a vice presidential debate.

2004: 5 minutes, 14 seconds in a single presidential debate.

2000: 14 minutes, 3 seconds in three presidential debates. 5 minutes, 21 seconds in a vice presidential debate.

In total, over the five election seasons we looked at, climate change and the environment got 37 minutes and 6 seconds on the prime-time stage during the presidential and vice presidential debates. That's out of more than 1,500 minutes of debate. Not an impressive showing.

A note about how we arrived at these times:

We parsed questions asked of candidates and searched the transcripts for keywords like "climate," "environment," "energy," and "warming." We cross-referenced the transcripts with video of the debates. Only the mentions that pertained to fighting climate change, cleaning up the environment, and reducing emissions counted. President Obama’s passing reference to clean energy jobs in 2012 didn't count, nor did discussions of energy security, because they were in the context of the economy and not fighting climate change.


Someone Please Explain What the Hell Is Going on With This Mary J. Blige, Hillary Clinton Interview

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 03:39:32 +0000

On Monday, Apple Music announced that the first episode of Mary J. Blige's new show, The 411—an apparent reference to her 1992 debut album, What's the 411?—will feature an exclusive sit-down with Hillary Clinton. A quick teaser of the interview was released on social media, where it created far more confusion than the excitement Apple likely intended.