Senate races to pass stopgap funding bill – National & International News – THU 15Dec2022



Senate races to pass stopgap funding bill. Male prison employees have assaulted female prisoners in 2/3 US prisons. Peru declares police state to curb political protests.


Senate races to pass stopgap funding bill

As seems to happen every few months these days, Congress is scrambling to put together a must-pass funding bill. Before the end of this year, they hope to pass a full budget that will carry us to September 2023. However, House Republicans threatened to vote down the measure, which they claim is “trillions” in “wasteful spending” that they contend will drive up inflation. The entire proposal is $1.7 trillion which includes funding the massive $858 billion Pentagon budget which members of both parties enthusiastically passed last week. House Republicans want to put off passing the final bill until they take control of the chamber next month. At that point, they’ll have more leverage to chisel away at domestic spending.

Democrat and GOP leaders have said they have a “framework” for an agreement over the final bill. But the deadline to pass the budget to avoid a government shutdown is midnight on Friday. To buy themselves more time to work out the finer points of this “framework”, Congress is planning to pass a one-week continuing resolution, possibly as soon as today. The House has already voted on this one-week extension and it has headed to the Senate.

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Male prison employees have assaulted female-prisoners in two-thirds of US prisons

A bipartisan Senate inquiry has found cases of male prison employees assaulting female prisons in two-thirds of federal prisons. The scope of the inquiry covered the last decade. The inquiry examined the federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) internal affairs records and found a backlog of hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse of inmates by Bureau employees. 

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA), who headed the Senate inquiry called its findings, “deeply disturbing”. The report shows that the Bureau of Prisons “is failing systemically to prevent, detect and address sexual abuse of prisoners by its own employees”. Ossoff pointed to a few particularly egregious examples. In one California prison, both the prison’s warden and its chaplain had assaulted female prisoners. Even the prison’s compliance officer in charge of enforcing laws against prison rape was abusing female prisoners.

Allegations of abuse are rarely met with any official action. Law professor Brenda Smith of American University points to the lack of independent oversight within the Bureau. “We have the people who are supposed to be being audited auditing themselves, essentially,” Smith says. Even in cases where the abuse is confirmed by some means, prison workers who’ve abused the female prisoners in their care face few if any official consequences. In one example cited by Ossoff, “several officers who admitted under oath to sexually abusing prisoners were able, nevertheless, to retire with benefits”.

Colette Peters took over as head of the Bureau of Prisons five months ago. Peters says she’s examining how wardens in women’s facilities are selected and supervised. She also says she plans to update camera systems in prison, as abusers often take advantage of surveillance blind spots.

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Peru declares police state over political protests

So far, at least 7 people have died in protests in Peru since the elected President Pedro Castillo was deposed and imprisoned last week. In response, the new government has declared martial law for the next 30 days. The declaration came from the council of ministers and it’s unclear if Castillo’s VP Dina Boluarte, who was sworn in as President last week, was involved.

The emergency declaration suspends the right to “personal security and freedom” and vastly expands the powers of police.  For the next month, Peruvians will have no freedom of assembly or movement. Additionally, police can now conduct searches of homes at will, without a court order. And the military will be helping the police to keep order.

Early last week, Castillo attempted to dissolve Congress as the body mounted its third attempt to impeach him since he took office in July 2021. Peru’s Congress has broad impeachment powers which it has increasingly weaponized in recent years to bring down Presidents with whom members have political differences.

Peruvian authorities are planning a hearing to decide whether to imprison Castillo for the next 18 months while they build a rebellion case against him. The protesters are demanding Castillo’s release, Boluarte’s resignation and immediate elections to replace members of Congress.

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