Good News Open Thread: Light A Candle

From the Washington Post:

Charlotte and Dave Willner had seen the pictures of migrant children crying at the border. One in particular reminded them of their own 2-year-old daughter.

The San Francisco area couple had heard — as much of the United States had by now — that President Trump’s administration has begun jailing migrant parents caught crossing the border and sending their children to shelters. The president’s chief of staff has called the new “zero-tolerance” policy a deterrent against illegal immigration.

But the Willners had also learned that a lump of cash might thwart the government’s plans.

Just like arrested Americans, detained migrant parents can often post bond and simply walk out of jail.

They can then, presumably, collect their children from government custody and live in the United States until their court hearings, which are often months away.

Or they could, if they had the money. Bonds for detained migrants typically range from hundreds to many thousands of dollars — amounts that might as well be in the billions for families that arrive here with next to nothing, and have whatever they brought with them confiscated by Border Patrol.

So the Willners created a Facebook fundraiser over the weekend to raise $1,500 — enough to free a single migrant parent with a relatively low bond.

“It was the closest thing we could do to hugging that kid,” Dave Willner told the Mercury News.

Five days later, the Willners have raised more than $8 million and climbing — overflowing all previous optimism.

“We can confirm this is one of the largest fundraisers we’ve ever seen on Facebook,” Roya Winner, a spokeswoman for the social media giant, told The Washington Post, back when the amount was less than $4 million…

In more ways than one, the surge has overwhelmed the Texas nonprofit that will receive the money, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

If donations keep up at pace — $4,000 a minute at one point — the nonprofit is likely to take in more cash than it raised in all of 2016, according to its public financial records.

It plans to use the money not only to bond parents out of immigration jails but also to provide lawyers to the parents and children as they fight in court to stay together and stay in the United States…

Much more — including one additional reason the money is so important nowat the link.

Even “skeptical killjoy” Felix Salmon is on board:

The RAICES donations are not only going to an excellent and effective cause, they’re going to an excellent and effective cause that scales. Effectiveness of donations is hard to measure at the best of times, but it’s much easier than normal in the case of RAICES, because of the way in which the funds are going to be used. To put it another way: The RAICES money will be well-spent, not because we can be sure that RAICES itself is well-managed, but rather because of what it’s going to be spent on…



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: There Are Still Heroes


As the owner of a 16-year-old rescue dog who still bolts for freedom every chance he gets, I cannot tell you how happy this story made me. But maybe you can guess!

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Olivia Nuzzi is a hero — or at least a media ninja — in her own right:

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You too can be a hero…



Thursday Morning Open Thread: The Joyful Battle

Bobby Kennedy was neither a plaster saint nor the potential savior-president that some have fantasized about since his assassination. But he surely did leave a legacy worth preserving!

(Although, given the political climate fifty years ago, I suspect he’d be astonished that a Cuban-American activist might be a “leftist”, like him. Things do change, sometimes for the better.)

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Alain has scheduled today’s “On the Road” post for 9am EDT, so I’ll share some more snippets from Tuesday’s primaries…


Read more



Saturday Morning Open Thread: A Wedding

Seems like a good day to post this:

Since Aug. 12, 2017, Marcus Martin has lost anonymity, a close friend and, at times, his coping skills.

Mr. Martin’s red-and-white footwear will be more familiar to many than his name. He is the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, taken by Ryan M. Kelly, in Charlottesville, Va., during the Unite the Right rally, which was organized by white nationalists protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. In the photo, Mr. Martin is midair, spread-eagle with his back parallel to the hot Virginia asphalt, after being struck by a Dodge Charger driven by James Alex Fields, who would later be charged with second-degree murder…

… On Jan. 31, 2017, he showed up, sweaty, at Miller Law Group with a twinkling diamond ring he bought for her at a Kay Jewelers. As proposals go, there have been smoother.

“I’ll never forget the way he was acting,” Ms. Blair said. “He was so nervous, he was sweating bullets.” As Mr. Martin got down on one knee, he didn’t notice a colleague of Ms. Blair’s, standing by the door waiting for a legal file.

Mr. Martin let his rehearsed words rip: “He was like, ‘You know I love you, right? You are everything to me. I don’t want to go another day calling you my girlfriend. Will you marry me?’”

Ms. Blair took a deep breath. “I made him step outside my office and do it all over again,” she said. This time without her colleague in the doorway. Mr. Martin’s second attempt was perfect, and she immediately said yes.

Mr. Martin had his reasons for proposing at the office. They included Courtney Commander and Heather Heyer, who also worked at the firm and were among the couple’s closest friends. Several months after the foursome celebrated Mr. Martin and Ms. Blair’s engagement, Ms. Commander, the most politically active of the group, would recruit the couple and Ms. Heyer to join her as counterprotesters at the Aug. 12 rally.

“Everybody felt strongly about what was going on,” said Ms. Commander. “Marissa and Marcus said they wanted to be there, but I wasn’t sure they would come.” Mr. Martin, still on parole and working a new job as a landscaper, told her he wanted to steer clear of trouble. She knew Ms. Blair wouldn’t come without him. But when Ms. Commander attended a July 8 march of the Ku Klux Klan in Charlottesville and sent Ms. Blair, Mr. Martin and Ms. Heyer video of the awful goings-on, they were inspired to join her in her next counterprotest.

Ms. Blair and Mr. Martin remember the early part of the rally on that Saturday afternoon as peaceful and almost enjoyable. Until 1:41 p.m. The violence, and Mr. Martin’s protective shove, “came out of nowhere,” Ms. Blair said…

On the afternoon of May 12, on the sprawling lawn of Walden Hall, an estate in Reva, Va., Mr. Martin and Ms. Blair were married under blue skies before 150 friends and family. Ms. Blair’s seven attendants included her brother Adrian Lombre. Her brother Dasan Hunt walked her down the grassy aisle to an altar draped in purple wisteria. The bridesmaids, including her maid of honor, Ms. Commander, wore long dresses in shades of lavender. Mr. Martin’s five groomsmen and best woman, Whitley Jones, wore dark suits with purple accents. The color scheme was in honor of Ms. Heyer’s favorite color…

It truly seems to have been a lovely event, in every sense. Much more detail at the link, for those who want a heartwarming story.



Insurance options after a lay-off

Fellow Juicer Cain has had a bad week and raises a good question:

So, I just got laid off and my insurance ends in June. Any suggestions on how to get into a new health insurance plan pronto?

Really good question and there are a few options. My first recommendation after yelling at the sky and then getting a cookie (how I dealt with the first 10 minutes of getting laid off in 2009), is to talk to either a broker, an agent or a certified assistance counselor at some point in the next week or two. But here are the basic options:

Go naked
The upside is no premiums. The downside is a lot of risk in case something does go wrong. Meteors happen.

Go underwritten
If someone can pass underwriting, low premiums offer some protection. These plans will become more common in the very near future. The challenge is reading the fine print well enough to make sure that the coverage is actually useful coverage. This includes the Health Sharing Ministries.

COBRA
COBRA allows someone to pay 102% of the premium to hold onto their employer sponsored coverage. Cost sharing is rolled over so you don’t restart paying your deductible. The upside is the transition is smooth as you keep the same exact plan you currently have. The downside is that this is extremely expensive. COBRA may be a good idea for people with significant medical expenses already incurred and expect to incur high expenses in the near future. COBRA, as part of an ERISA plan, is pure community rated. A 21 year old pays the same premium as a similarly situated 64 year old.
An individual losing coverage will receive a COBRA eligibility letter within two weeks of the triggering event. They have two months to elect coverage by paying premiums that retroactively initiate coverage to the date of coverage loss. This is a bit of a one way option where if someone gets a new job with coverage forty five days after the initial loss of coverage, they can effectively be covered by COBRA’s retro-activity provision without actually paying a premium.

ACA Exchange
Job loss and loss of insurance because of a job loss is Qualifying Life Event for the ACA Exchanges. Within 30 days of the triggering event (loss of insurance), you can go on the Exchange and buy a new policy. Depending on your income and family situation, you may be subsidized. Make sure you estimate your annual income as the income from the previous job, any unemployment benefits and some income from a future job so that you don’t get hit with a massive subsidy repayment next year. Out of pocket expenses start off at zero. ACA policies price at a 3:1 ratio for age. Older people will pay more if they don’t buy a plan that is underneath the bench or don’t qualify for subsidies.

ACA plans are probably a better choice for people in good health with little chance of medical expenses for the rest of the year. They are also probably a better choice than COBRA for younger people (<~45ish) than older people due to the age premium ratchet.

Now let’s see if we can help Cain and the rest of the Jackels who are or will soon be looking for work to find work.



Louise Slaughter RIP

My Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter, just died at age 88. I canvassed for her a couple times and have met her once or twice. She was a very good Congresswoman, very powerful within the Democratic caucus.

Typically, you should expect a Dem to win this district by about 15 points, so probably by 20 or more points this fall, given the likely 6 to 15 point swing we will in favor of Democrats. So this is a completely safe seat for 18.








Monday Morning Open Thread: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Some history I didn’t know, from the Washington Post“This was Martin Luther King Jr.’s most ambitious dream”:

I was 14 when my parents took my brother and me to Washington to witness the masses gathering there. It was the spring of 1968, and thousands of African Americans, American Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asian Americans and poor whites from across the country had made their way to the Mall to protest the thing they all had in common: poverty.

They came by train, bus and car caravans. Some traveled by mule carts. They came from farm towns, big cities, the Appalachian hills and Native American reservations. It was the start of the Poor People’s Campaign.

And they brought the nation’s attention to the crippling effects of poverty — and issued a demand for jobs, training, health care and affordable housing. This was the mission of Resurrection City — the final vision of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and, perhaps, his most ambitious dream.

Once they reached the Mall, they built Resurrection City. It became home for more than 6,000 people; they were there for six weeks. They built 540 tents that resembled wooden shanties, where they lived, worshiped, held meetings, set up Head Start classes and received medical care…

For all its pioneering work, the Poor People’s Campaign failed to realize its aims, in part because there is no simple solution to the nation’s economic ills. Resurrection City brought to light the country’s poverty problem but, befitting its muddy ground, found itself in a social and political quagmire — one that failed to design and construct a strategy for addressing poverty decades into the future.

Today we find ourselves in another pivotal moment in our history — one in which poverty is pervasive and knowledge of its scope scarce. Revisiting the Poor People’s Campaign offers a new vantage point into our shared story, a rich body of knowledge to inform our debates and a model for exposing injustice…

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Apart from community service, what’s on the agenda as we start the new week?