Supreme Court Decision in U.S. v. Castleman Will Save Women’s Lives

doctor_patientOn the week of march 28th, the Supreme Court decided a case that will save women’s lives.

Back in 1996, Congress made it a crime for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to possess a gun. As Vice President Biden has often noted, there is a direct connection between gun violence and domestic violence: when a domestic abuser has a gun, a victim is 12 times more likely to die than when he doesn’t.

Some courts, however, have set a high bar for what counts as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” – which has meant that many domestic abusers have been allowed to keep their guns.

But in United States v. Castleman (written by Justice Sotomayor), the Court changed all that. It recognized that domestic violence is a unique kind of crime that doesn’t always fit everyone’s idea of what’s “violent”: often, it can involve pushing, grabbing, shoving, scratching, or hair pulling – and which, over time, can “subject one intimate partner to the other’s control.” The Court also recognized that, in a number of states, these acts are prosecuted as crimes of “offensive touching” – which, before this week, meant some courts didn’t consider them to be domestic violence. But now, according to the Court, that’s enough to subject a convicted domestic abuser to the federal gun ban.

This is a landmark opinion. As so many abused women know, what happens to them is a far cry from “offensive touching.” It is terrifying and debilitating, and can rob her of all manner of trust, security, and hope. It can make her – as the Vice President has also said – a prisoner in her own home. But at least now, the law recognizes that those who are convicted of these crimes have no business having a gun.

Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women.


Surging retail sales signal an economy on the upswing

economic-recoveryAmericans rushed out to shop as frigid weather lifted in March, propelling retail sales at the fastest pace in a year and a half.

The gauge from the Commerce Department surged 1.1% last month from February in its biggest leap since September 2012. Sales boomed 3.8% from March 2013.

The strong sales, which beat economists’ expectations for a 1% increase, bolstered hopes that the economy would continue to gain momentum after struggling through an especially harsh winter.

“One month doesn’t answer all the questions, and it’s not like we have all-over-the-place exploding growth,” said NPD Group analyst Marshal Cohen. “But we’re beginning to see that the recovery is no longer segmented — it’s broader.”

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It Saves Millions To Simply Give Homeless People A Place To Live

homelessIt is cheaper to give homeless people a home than it is to leave them on the streets.

The latest analysis to back up this fact comes out of Charlotte, where researchers from the University of North Carolina Charlotte examined a recently constructed apartment complex that was oriented towards homeless people.

Moore Place opened in 2012 with 85 units. Each resident is required to contribute 30 percent of his or her income, which includes any benefits like disability, veterans, or Social Security, toward rent. The rest of the housing costs, which total approximately $14,000 per person annually, are covered by a mix of local and federal government grants, as well as private donors.

In the first year alone, researchers found that Moore Place saved taxpayers $1.8 million. These savings comes from improvements in two primary areas: health care and incarceration.

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Wind Farms Flourish Across The U.S. As Interest In Renewable Energy Skyrockets

windmillsIn New York and many other cities across the U.S., you’re likely to have access to a program that will allow your home to be powered with wind energy through your local utility, reducing your home’s reliance on climate-changing fossil fuels for electricity.


But where are the wind farms that produce that energy? Two new online interactive maps produced by the federal government show where the nation’s wind farms are, how quickly they were built and what impact they may have on the landscape.


Wind energy is expected to make up about 4.6 percent of total U.S. electric power generation by 2015, totaling about 77,000 megawatts of wind power capacity nationwide, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show. That’s up from 3 percent in 2012, when total U.S. wind power generation capacity was about 60,000 megawatts. One megawatt of wind power is enough energy to provide electricity to roughly 300 homes.

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Austrailian Man Turns Wrenches into Art

John Piccoli is a 70 year-old man. He is also restricted to a wheelchair because he had polio as a young boy. But those two facts aren’t the most important things about this man. John is an artist. Not only is he an artist, but a very unique one at that. The Australian man doesn’t use paints or clays to create his pieces. Instead, he uses a small crane and a pile of scrap metal.

You won’t believe the outcome.




Survivors Of Domestic Violence Now Have Better Access To Obamacare Benefits


obamacareSurvivors of domestic violence who are living separately from an abusive spouse will now be able to claim tax credits to help them afford an Obamacare plan, thanks to new rules being developed by the federal government. Before the change, these individuals were locked out of federal assistance for health care unless they filed joint taxes with their abuser.


Obamacare’s tax credits are intended to ensure that insurance plans on the new marketplaces are affordable for the Americans who may otherwise struggle to pay for health care. Early estimates suggest that up to 80 percent of the people signing up for Obamacare will qualify for some type of federal assistance, allowing some Americans to pay less than $100 per month in premiums for their health insurance.


But in order for married people to qualify, the health law requires them to file their taxes jointly. If they file separately, they lose out on the federal assistance altogether. Domestic violence prevention advocates argue that policy ends up harming victims of abuse — particularly because domestic violence is more concentrated among low-income households, and the victims who are financially dependent on their abusers are less likely to be able to extricate themselves from the relationship.

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The Power Of Compassion To Drive Your Bottom Line

handsIs kindness the missing piece of your brand—the ingredient that can allow your organization to stand out in an age in which consumers long to be treated as more than a nuisance?

Lloyd H. Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, one of the nation’s five largest healthcare providers, tells a story about a member of Dignity’s housekeeping staff, who in the course of cleaning a breast-cancer patient’s room took the time to listen and share her own personal experiences and encouragement. Later, the patient wrote to say, “The clinical care was excellent … but it was the housekeeper who saved my life. She gave me hope.”

Dean draws a conclusion: “Compassion and kindness aren’t expensive,” he says. “But the yield is priceless.”

The Obamacare Benefit That Gets No Respect The uninsured aren’t the only ones who benefit. The underinsured do too.

aca-obamaEverybody wants to know whether the Affordable Care Act will significantly reduce the proportion of Americans without health insurance. It’s an extremely important question. It’s also not the only one that matters.

Obamacare’s goal isn’t simply helping the uninsured. It’s also supposed to help the “underinsured”—people with policies that are so expensive to maintain, or leave such large gaps in coverage, that paying for health care is still a devastating burden. This problem hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves. A new report, just out from theCommonwealth Fund, seeks to change that.

According to the report, which became public early Tuesday morning, some 32 million non-elderly Americans were in households that spent a “high share of income on medical care” during 2012. That’s a little more than one in ten non-elderly Americans. The majority, though by no means all, are poor or near-poor. (See graph above) Add them to the number of Americans without insurance at that time, and you end up with about 79 million people, or nearly one-third of the non-elderly population, that was at risk of not being able to pay for their medical care before the Affordable Care Act became law.

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Tiny Wireless Pacemaker Shows Early Promise

MONDAY, March 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A new wireless pacemaker appears safe and feasible for use, potentially advancing the technology that cardiologists use to maintain heart rhythm in patients, according to results from a new clinical trial.

Doctors successfully implanted the device in 32 out of 33 patients. Of these, two people who received the pacemaker developed side effects — a complication-free rate of 94 percent. Complications for the patient with unsuccessful implantation, however, proved to be severe.

“This is an advance that will have a huge impact on the field,” said Dr. Bradley Knight, a cardiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a spokesman for the American Heart Association. “This opens up a whole bunch of new potential opportunities for pacing a patient’s heart.”

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