Michigan judge awards joint custody to rapist

Rumors of a cease-fire in the War on Women are grossly exaggerated:

Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City was awarded joint legal custody by Judge Gregory S. Ross after DNA testing established paternity of the child, according to the victim’s attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, who is seeking protection under the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

“This is insane,” said Kiessling, who filed objections Friday with Ross. “Nothing has been right about this since it was originally investigated. He was never properly charged and should still be sitting behind bars somewhere, but the system is victimizing my client, who was a child herself when this all happened.”

I'll have to admit, when I first saw reports of this on Facebook, I assumed it was somewhere between Fake News or a wildly-misleading headline. But it's true. She was only 12 years old when she was raped, and it wasn't simply a statutory thing, she was kidnapped and confined. The strange thing is (okay, the whole damn thing is strange), the rapist didn't file for custody, this massive injustice was the result of conservative efforts to punish those seeking public assistance:

Monday News: No refuge here

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO CRACK DOWN ON ASYLUM-SEEKERS IN FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES: In a letter to Congress outlining its wish list, the administration called for making it significantly harder to secure asylum and easier for federal agents to deport people who claim they fear returning to their home country. “Many Americans would be surprised to know that being released into the interior of the country as an illegal immigrant is as simple as filing for an asylum petition,” Vitiello said. The administration said asylum loopholes have also contributed to a “massive” backlog in the courts, where there are more than 270,000 pending asylum cases. It’s too easy for many migrants to be released into the United States simply by claiming they are afraid to return to their home country, officials said. They want to make it easier to deport applicants back to their home country and impose penalties against those filing baseless applications.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEGISLATIVE LEADERS SEEK TO TURN NC INTO BANANA REPUBLIC: There are regimes in the world that, barring disasters, cancel elections. They are derisively called Banana Republics, run by juntas whose strongman rulers aren’t quite sure they’ve rigged the voting to come out in their favor. Unfortunately these days, we don’t have to look beyond our borders – or even our state – to see this kind of undemocratic behavior. Senate Leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, House Rules boss David Lewis are the junta and North Carolina is a banana republic. They are cancelling the 2018 judicial and district attorney primaries because their efforts at rigging the elections through their latest gerrymandering scheme might not completely do the trick. Primaries for state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will also be cancelled – even though they’re statewide votes and not connected with any redistricting.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act is still in place

But Trump is making it more difficult to enroll:

You might not know it from the political rhetoric, but the Affordable Care Act is still the law. Every American is still legally required to carry health insurance or face a tax penalty of at least $695. There will still be plans available on the exchanges in every county, and the federal government will still provide the subsidies that help more than 9 million people afford their premiums.

But while much is the same, the actual sign-up process will look very different. The Trump administration has made an array of changes that, taken together, will make the process more rushed and more confusing, consumer advocates and insurance experts told STAT.

And you can bet your bottom dollar Trump and his GOP cronies in Congress will continue to chew on this like rats nibbling on an electric cable. Aside from radically shortening the window of opportunity for enrollment, they're shutting the site down nearly every Sunday during this year's period:

Saturday News: The real handmaid's tale


TRUMP ALLOWS MORE EMPLOYERS TO NOT PROVIDE BIRTH CONTROL TO FEMALE EMPLOYEES: President Donald Trump is allowing more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections, issuing new rules Friday that take another step in rolling back the Obama health care law. Employers with religious or moral qualms will also be able to cover some birth control methods, and not others. Experts said that could interfere with efforts to promote modern long-acting implantable contraceptives, such as IUDs, which are more expensive. The Trump administration's revision broadens a religious exemption that previously applied to houses of worship, religion-affiliated nonprofit groups and closely held private companies. Administration officials said the new policy defends religious freedom. In addition to nonprofits, privately held businesses will be able to seek an exemption on religious or moral grounds, while publicly traded companies can seek an exemption due to religious objections.

Friday News: Democracy on the wane


NC GOP MAY BE PLANNING TO GET RID OF VOTER-ELECTED JUDGES: Not only does the plan do away with primary elections, it delays the period in which judicial candidates would formally sign up to run for office until June — four months after the existing schedule. The plan is included in a bill that mostly deals with easing ballot access requirements for third parties as well as for unaffiliated candidates. It also lowers the threshold for a primary candidate to win his or her party's nomination from 40 percent of the primary vote to 30 percent. But it was the changes to the election schedule that elicited the most comments. “The delay of the primary could indicate a strong possibility that we’ll be voting on whether to have a constitutional amendment to have merit selection of judges in January,” said Morey, who opposed doing away with judicial primaries. “What I think is the merit-based selection is a guise for legislative appointment of judges.”

The unmitigated arrogance of the power-mad NC GOP

Stripping more authority from Governor Cooper:

Counting the costs of substance abuse in NC communities

More funding is desperately needed from state government:

The number of children in the Person County foster care system continues to rise, primarily due to substance abuse, county officials said this week. This spring, there were 82 children in the custody of Person County Department of Social Services, and 55 were displaced due to a caregiver’s drug or alcohol use.

“Substance abuse is not just affecting people using drugs,” Person County DSS Director Carlton Paylor said during an event in Roxboro on Tuesday that was billed as a “mental health town hall” and attended by about 40 people. “It’s affecting the kids,” he said. “This is like a generational curse. It keeps going on and on and on.”

For those of you who haven't been touched by this crisis (your numbers are likely dwindling), consider yourself lucky. Most of our 100 counties have little or nothing in the form of treatment facilities for substance abuse, putting even more of a burden on what few rural hospitals still manage to operate. Something as intense as a 4-week rehab program requires a 50+ mile travel, but even worse, waiting several weeks for a bed to become available. And that wait, more than anything else, often ends up being a fatal roadblock. And here's an aspect that needs to be remembered:


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