Kate Sheppard

Kate Sheppard is a political reporter at Grist, and a former Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

MUKASEY AND MERITS....

MUKASEY AND MERITS. Since his nomination was announced yesterday, many writers have been fairly gleefully touting Michael Mukasey 's independent streak (see: Lithwick , Greenwald , NYT , WaPo ). Heck, even Chuck Schumer likes him . But despite his laudable ruling that Jose Padilla had a right to a lawyer, he also determined that American citizens detained in the U.S. can be considered "enemy combatants" and don't have to be charged with any crimes. There are also questions about his role in secret detentions and his suggestion that we create " national security courts " outside the federal court system and not necessarily beholden to the same standards. So even if Mukasey far outshines Alberto Gonzales as AG, it's not like we're going to see daisies and sunshine coming from the DOJ if he is appointed. --Kate Sheppard

DEAL OR NO...

DEAL OR NO DEAL. Robert mentioned it this morning, but another important aspect of the Blackwater issue is that the company was awarded a no-bid contract to work in Iraq. Blackwater USA is (well … was) a private firm providing security for U.S. Embassy personnel in Iraq. There had been multiple complaints about the firm over the past years, and a recent incident in which at least eight Iraqi civilians were shot to death after a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy prompted the Iraqi government to revoke their license to work in the country. But as others have delved into before, Blackwater's contract was a no-bid deal awarded to a major Bush supporter, pretty much on the virtue of being a major Bush supporter. The firm was granted a no-bid contract worth tens of million of dollars at least in part because the owner, Erik Prince , has been a donor to the Bush 's campaigns, as well as those of other leading Republicans. Naomi Klein gets into this in her new book , The Shock...

DODDMENTUM. Heading up...

DODDMENTUM. Heading up the line-up of Democratic presidential candidates slated to speak at today's Service Employees International Union Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., today, Senator Chris Dodd took the opportunity to highlight his labor-related achievements in his 26 years as an elected official and called for a renewed commitment to middle class America. "The middle class was built by a vibrant labor movement who believed that opportunity was not the right of the wealthy and privileged - it was the right of every single person who lived in this country," said Dodd. "The middle class was built by the blood, sweat and heart of workers who stood up and stood their ground fighting for employee rights, for higher standards, greater equality, and security in work and retirement." The next president must undue the damage done to both unions and the middle class over the past seven years. In his speech, delivered more with more fiery zeal than I've seen from Dodd before,...

BANKING ON IT....

BANKING ON IT. Bank of America, the giant bank everyone hates but is joining resentfully, has announced that they are further penalizing those who haven't submitted to their dominance yet by increasing non-customer fees on ATM withdraws to $3. The $1 increase was introduced quietly over the summer, and is sure to prompt other banks to follow suit. Of course, those who will be most affected by the hike are low-income, working families. In many areas, Bank of America is the only option for cash, especially if you're out of town or otherwise unable to get to your home bank to make a withdrawal. And for working-class Americans, getting to a bank during lobby hours just isn't possible, and neither is shelling out $3 just to get cash. In a joint statement from Americans for Fairness in Lending, California Reinvestment Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Service Employees International Union, and the Woodstock Institute write: No one disagrees that consumers can-and...

ESTIMATES, FOR WHATEVER...

ESTIMATES, FOR WHATEVER THEY'RE WORTH. A British polling agency released a new study this week that suggests that even the highest estimates of Iraqi deaths so far have been far below the actual toll. The poll, conducted by a group called ORB, asked 1,462 adult Iraqis, "How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003?" Based on their responses, researchers believe that the death toll so far in Iraq is around 1.2 million. While the U.S. military has claimed a 55 percent reduction in the number of civilian deaths resulting from sectarian violence since the surge, neither the U.S. nor the Iraqi government have provided figures on the total number of deaths in the country. A study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet last year estimated that 600,000 Iraqis had died since the U.S. invasion. The U.N. estimates that 34,452 civilians were killed in 2006 alone, while the Iraqi government put the total at 12,357 for last...

Pages