Monday, March 04, 2019

Thrown in jail for medical debt

Some stories are just shocking.  That's the only term for George Marlowe's WSWS report:

  Melissa Latronica is a 30-year-old healthcare worker and single mother of three who lives in La Porte, Indiana, 65 miles southeast of Chicago. On February 11, Melissa was pulled over by police in a traffic stop. She was then arrested and jailed for three days over an unpaid ambulance bill.
“I was on my way to turn in some important paperwork that would let me keep my home,” she told the World Socialist Web Site. She was heading to a county agency in nearby Valparaiso, Indiana.
“A block away from that office, I was stopped at an intersection by a police officer for forgetting to put my 2019 sticker on.” Melissa handed the officer her license and apologized for not having affixed her vehicle sticker, which happens to many drivers in the beginning of the year. Ironically, the sticker happened to be inside her car.

While the officer ran her license, Melissa waited inside her car for a long time and grew increasingly nervous. Another police car pulled up eventually. She had no idea what the problem was as she had no felonies on her record.
The police officer returned to Melissa’s car and said to her complete astonishment, “Ma’am I'm going to need you to step out of the vehicle.” The officer told her that there was a warrant for her arrest. She had apparently failed to appear in court in a 2014 civil case concerning an unpaid ambulance bill.
“I was cuffed behind my van, my vehicle was impounded, and I pleaded to them just let me turn in this paperwork, so I didn’t lose my home,” she said. The office was just down the road.
The officer did not look her in the eye and replied indifferently, “Sorry, Ma’am.”
“My kids need me to take them to school,” she pleaded to the officer. “I had no way to afford to get my van back on my own and I couldn’t afford the $1,500 bond.” He replied, “You have three phone calls.”

[. . .]

Melissa Latronica’s arrest and her dehumanizing treatment in jail for a healthcare emergency bill highlights the increasing criminalization of poverty and the growth of the social crisis in the United States. The phenomenon of debtors’ prisons, once thought to be a Dickensian nightmare of the past that was officially outlawed by Congress in 1833, at least on paper, is again on the rise.

Predatory collection agencies have colluded with the courts to punish the working class for their inability to pay onerous debts. A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that more than 77 million Americans have had their debts turned over to the private debt collection industry.
The ACLU report is a damning indictment of conditions in more than 44 states in which the justice system criminalizes poverty. Judges, acting on the request of various collections agencies, have issued bench warrants for impoverished workers for various kinds of unpaid debts—including medical bills, student loans, lagging car payments, unpaid rent and utility bills and more.
While the warrants issued are considered civil warrants, not criminal, the incarceration of workers cruelly turns their lives upside down and devastates numerous households who have unbearable levels of debt. The warrants do not cover unpaid debts but the failure to appear in court. Such civil warrants on a worker’s record can leave them vulnerable to arrest if they are targeted in a warrant sweep, including in traffic violations such as the one that Melissa faced. Tens of thousands of such warrants are issued every year, for amounts as small as $28, creating daily horrors in the lives of the working class.

This is appalling.  Is Bernie Sanders calling it out?  I have no idea because I went to  his campaign site and can't find the issues there.  Why?  I either have to donate or give my e-mail and I don't wish to do either.  It's strange because if he had a physical office here in Boston and I went into it to request issue information, they could hand it to me.  But his online office?  I'm not going to be allowed in with either handing over money or my e-mail address.  Now I could lie and make up an e-mail address but should I have to?  He wants my support, he wants  my vote.  So why is he making it so hard for me to find out where he stands on the issues?

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:

Monday, March 4, 2019.  More US bases are built in Iraq while Iraqis continue to suffer from lack of jobs in their own country.

Calls for US troops out of Iraq have been a feature of the ongoing war for over a decade now.  Typically, the Kurds call for US troops to stay.  NIQASH's Mustafa Habib says they're not the only ones calling for US troops to remain.

During a secret meeting among leaders of tribal a few days ago, they decided to reject the campaign led by Shiite parties and factions to drive out US troops from the country, they stressed the need for these forces to protect Anbar from ISIS.

Regardless of where the leaders fall on the issue, the Iraqi people's position remains the same -- all US troops -- all foreign troops period -- out of Iraq.

Despite that fact, as we noted in THIRD's "Editorial: When does the US leave Iraq?" last night,  US bases are going up in Iraq.

Search results

new Air Bases in , the first one near Al Rutba (Al Anbar Province) seems to be fully operational, sand bags on the runways have been removed. As for H-3 airbase, works are still in progress, southern runway is still sandbagged.

US Sets Up 2 New Bases in Western


"U.S. Has 31 Military Bases, 34,000 Soldiers in Iraq."

The war has been going on so long that now it is now possible to have children serving whose parents served.  Two e-mails came into the public account noting an article Saturday about a Tweet.  Didn't see that article and won't link to it.  Two Sundays ago, at THIRD, we noted the same Tweet in "Editorial: The silence is deafening:"

Editorial: The silence is deafening

It's a simple question.

My first born son was 14 months old as I talked to him the night before I deployed to Kuwait/Iraq in June of 2003. My son just received mail from a recruiter for the first time. How the f**k is it possible he could go fight in the same war I did before he could walk? ENDTHEWAR

Why aren't others asking it?

And if anyone was asking sincerely for that other site to be noted, it never will be.  I still have the January 2005 e-mail the head of that site wrote that was a racist attack on then-US House Rep Stephanie Tubbs Jones (she passed away in 2008).  That's why we don't highlight that site.  It's not that we're not aware of it, it's that we're far too aware of it.

We never highlight them.  We never highlighted Keith Olbermann even when he was our great hope supposedly.  Keith's anti-woman, sexist nature (among other things) was well known so we never highlighted him.  If there's someone we've always avoided in the 15 years of this site, there's generally a reason for that.

On the subject of Tweets,  Fadel al-Nashmi (ASHARQ AL-AWSAT) reports:

Twitter has closed the official account of the “Security Media Cell” that is affiliated with the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

The cell was initially formed under the name of the “Military Information Cell” after the ISIS terrorist organization took over large swathes of Iraqi territory in June 2014.

During the war on ISIS, the Cell played a pivotal role in disseminating combat-related military information and information from the Joint Operations Command.

It did not comment on the shutdown, but a source close to it told Asharq al-Awsat that “Twitter has suspended, not closed, the account.”

Adel Abdul Mahdi remains ineffective and ripe for removal.  Nouri al-Maliki, former prime minister and forever thug, is currently attempting to convince other politicians to support his move to remove Mahdi and step back in as prime minister.  Mahdi's inability to accomplish anything allows this to be a very real possibility.

At no time since 2003 has the president of Iraq (a ceremonial position) been elevated higher than the prime minister by the western press.  Now western outlets repeatedly report on Barham Salih and his pronouncements as though Barham is the leader of Iraq.  It as though they're preparing you for the end of Mahdi's rule.

Mahdi was, of course, the longtime choice of the CIA and his inability to rule says a lot about their poor analytics.  They pushed him hard every time starting in 2010.  He was the answer, they insisted.

He has turned out to be no answer at all.

Terrorism and violence happen for reasons.  These include economic reasons.  There are no jobs in Iraq.  That could have been addressed long ago -- and should have been.  But it's become a growing problem and one that Mahdi can't address apparently.

The graduates of universities have demonstrated in Alwai area in the middle of Baghdad to demand Baghdad government providing them with job opportunities .
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If you're not getting how bad the situation is, note this.

These stats on demographics and growth rates should keep you up at night

If the referred to article doesn't show in the Tweet, it's Chloe Cornish's piece for THE FINANCIAL TIMES which notes that overall joblessness in Iraq is at 13% but for the younger adult Iraqis it stands at 40%.  The article delves into the implications for Iraq's future as a result of the current babyboom taking place among Iraqi youth, so it's of interest for that as well.  But with protests in Baghdad over the lack of jobs, we're noting it due to the jobless rate.


The graduates of universities have demonstrated in Alwai area in the middle of Baghdad to demand Baghdad government providing them with job opportunities .

Replying to  
Sir i live in Iraq and I graduated from Computer engineering college two years ago and have no job yet, please help me sir

In Iraq, residents of Basra City protest in Bahariya Square near government council building. Demand jobs, better services, abolishment of Basra Council & accountability for the corrupt.

Again, this issue has festered for some time.  But Mahdi came to power after the protests began in Basra (July was when they started) so he should have had that on his lists of things to address in his first 100 days.  It's now around 124 days since he became prime minister and he's done nothing to address the lack of jobs.  He also still can't appoint a Minister of Defense or Minister of Interior.

Again, he's proven to be rather inept.

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