Second Class Citizenship at US Airports

TSA Policy Pic

For Sikh Americans, humiliation is a prerequisite to air travel.  Enough said.  You can read more in The Washington Post.

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Why Unequal Pay Persists

 

Unequal Pay PICSequal pay

I published a column earlier this week with Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center on pay secrecy and how it perpetuates unequal pay in the workplace.  Women earn 77 cents on the dollar in part because a majority of private workplaces in America prohibit employees from discussing their compensation.  “Leaning in” and inquiring about pay can cost a female worker her job.  The piece was published at CNN.

Why Brazil Shouldn’t be Hosting the 2014 World Cup

Brazil Protests  Brazil-largest-protest-20-years_full_600

I published a column yesterday in USA Today on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  While I’m an avid soccer fan, I’m deeply concerned about the toll the mega-event is having on the Brazilian public.  The public price-tag for hosting the Cup is now estimated to be $13.5 billion, nearly double what was initially projected.  Moreover, tens of thousands of Brazilians have been forcibly evicted from their homes without fair notice and compensation to make way for glistening new stadiums — stadiums that will likely languish unused for years to come.  As I say in the piece:  The slogan for next year’s tournament is “Juntos num so ritmo” or “All In One Rhythm.”  But when the ball kicks off next summer, all signs point to a World Cup dancing to two different beats, one inside the stadium and one outside it.

Remembering Oak Creek One Year Later

Oak Creek pic

I have an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today on the anniversary of the Oak Creek attack.  Like any act of senseless violence, it should never have happened.  What’s frightening, however, is that our government has done nothing to prevent it from happening again.  Many continue to understate the threat posed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis while the profiling of religious minorities continues.  Also, guns proliferate because a bill calling for universal background checks failed in the US Senate earlier this year.  It’s a deadly cocktail and one that cannot be ignored.

Recent work

I recently published columns on torture post 9/11, raising the minimum wage, and children appearing before immigration judges without counsel.

One of the more regrettable moments in recent American history was the Bush administration’s decision to authorize torture as a tool for obtaining intelligence post 9/11.  In my column in Al Jazeera, I argue that President Obama’s decision “to look forward” and not investigate these crimes is a mistake.  In turning away from the past, we forfeit the chance to archive history and understand what happened and why; we surrender the opportunity to ensure that fear and its terrible consequences do not reign triumphant again; and we devalue the rule of law, and its prohibition against torture, a principle eight centuries in the making.

On raising the minimum wage, the evidence speaks for itself: America’s workers are shouldering more but receiving less.  A full-time minimum wage employee earns $14,500 a year, roughly $4,000 below the poverty line for a single mother with two children.  If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now be almost $10.60 an hour.  If it had kept pace with increases in employee productivity, it would now be $22.00 an hour.  You can read more in The Christian Science Monitor.

Despite immigration to the U.S. falling to a record-low, the number of unaccompanied minors seeking entry is at an all-time high.  Forcing these children to brave immigration court without counsel is as farcical as it is shameful.  You can read more at Al Jazeera.

Gideon at 50

An image of  Clarence Gideon. (Photo: Associated Press)
An image of Clarence Gideon. (Photo: Associated Press)

The following is an excerpt from my latest piece on the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court case which established the right to counsel for indigent defendants. This was published on March 14 in USA Today:

On June 3, 1961, a popular pool hall in Panama City, Fla., was burglarized. Clarence Gideon, a 51-year-old drifter, was charged. Unable to afford an attorney, Gideon claimed the Constitution guaranteed him the right to counsel. A state court disagreed, and he was found guilty.

Undeterred, Gideon filed an appeal written in pencil on prison stationery to the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 18, 1963, a unanimous court found in his favor.

Fifty years have since passed, yet the promise of the Gideon ruling remains unfulfilled. Poverty remains the greatest impediment to a fair trial in America. 

To continue reading, click here for the full article on USA Today.