The numbers are arresting.
If Americans under correctional supervision counted as a city of their own, they would form the largest city in the United States after New York.
The number of people in prison, on parole or on probation, 6.9 million Americans, exceeds the populations of the second- and third-largest cities, Los Angeles and Chicago, combined. Or the size of the next four - Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Antonio - put together.
Thirty-eight U.S. states are home to fewer people than live under the corrections system in this country. There are about as many people behind bars as live in Chicago. That's one in every 108 Americans. One in 35 are under some form of correctional supervision.
Among African Americans, the numbers are even more horrifying. According to the NAACP, one in three black males born in the United States today is likely to spend time in prison at some point in his life. That's compared with one in six Hispanic males or one in 25 white males.
It would be hard to overstate the scale of this tragedy. For a nation that loves freedom and cherishes our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the situation should be intolerable. It is destroying lives and communities. FULL STORY.
(CNN) - If you took out a loan a few years ago to buy a flashy sports car, you could save buckets of money by refinancing at today's low rates.
But if you did the smart thing and took out federal student loans to pay for an education - sorry, you are out of luck! Federal student loans cannot be refinanced.
If that sounds insane to you, you will like the plan Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled in a speech recently at the Center for American Progress.
Last spring, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to lower student loan interest rates as of July 1, 2013. But they did little for people who already had borrowed at higher rates.
Say you took out a loan even a day earlier, on June 30. At that point, the congressionally mandated rate was 6.8%. You are locked into it. No matter what else Congress does to help new borrowers.
Unlike almost every other type of loan, federal student loans are set in stone even if rates change for the better. (There are private refinancing options but they have strict requirements and limited scope.) This might not constitute a crisis if college cost what it did in the 1970s. But with middle class wages flat for decades, the soaring cost of education has become a mammoth debt dilemma dragging down an entire generation.
Today, Americans hold an all-time record $1.3 trillion in student debt. It cannot be discharged by bankruptcy or even death. In some cases, Social Security benefits are being garnished to pay for a grandchild's debt if a grandparent co-signed. Parents are still paying off their own bills while contemplating putting their kids through college.
The solution is simple: Let Americans with federal student loans refinance to today's low rate. But the reason why Congress refuses to act may surprise you. FULL STORY
(CNN) - The situation in Syria would break the heart of anyone who has one. That is why progressives desperately want peace in Syria, an end to the chemical weapons attacks and aid for the millions of refugees. Additionally, most of us support President Barack Obama and want him to have a successful presidency.
But we must be consistent. We have a worldview that requires the right thing to be done - in the right way. That is why those of us who opposed President George W. Bush's war in Iraq have no choice but to oppose Obama's proposed attack on the Syrian regime.FULL STORY