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Newsflash: Obama on Overtime Pay, SCOTUS Rules on Abortion and Redistricting, DOJ Faults Ferguson Protest Response

Uprising’s guest expert Robert Jensen, author and a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, analyzes today’s news headlines:

President Obama, in an op-ed in the Huffington Post just announced his proposal to raise the pay threshold for overtime wage protections. Under the current and outdated law, workers who make $23,660 or less are automatically eligible for overtime pay protections. Only 8% of all workers fall into that category. Under Obama’s proposal, those making $50,440 a year or less would be protected, or at least 44% of the workforce. The President wrote, “In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.” He plans to discuss the proposed bill in detail in Wisconsin this week. Predictably, the US Chamber of Commerce complained that Obama’s plan was, “completely divorced from reality and adding more burdens to employers and expecting them to just absorb the impact.” Click here for the President’s op-ed in the Huffington Post, and here for a Reuters article analyzing it.

The Supreme Court issued two more rulings yesterday that progressives are cheering. First, by a 5-4 vote, Justices temporarily halted the implementation of a Texas law that would have effectively shuttered a majority of reproductive health clinics offering abortion services. The reprieve will enable Texas clinics to continue operating while the court decides whether or not to take up the case later this year. And, in a separate ruling the Supreme Court decided that Arizona voters had the right to create an independent redistricting commission, despite the GOP-dominated state legislature’s argument that only lawmakers had the right to draw district lines. Arizonans voted 15 years ago on Proposition 106 to create such a commission. The justices who ruled in favor of the commission argued that voters have the ultimate authority to decide on methods of democratic decision-making. Arizona’s lawmakers have often governed far to the right of the state’s population. Click here for a Washington Post article about the Texas Abortion ruling, and here for a New York Times article about the Arizona Redistricting ruling.

A newly revealed Justice Department report on how police handled last year’s unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, concluded that law enforcement badly mishandled the situation. The St. Louis Post Dispatch obtained the DOJ report and found that police “responded with an uncoordinated effort that sometimes violated free-speech rights, antagonized crowds with military-style tactics and shielded officers from accountability.” Among the tactics that the report denounced was “a failure of commanders to provide more details to the public,” after Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, the “use of dogs for crowd control,” and the fact that “tear gas was sometimes used without warning and on people in areas from which there was no safe retreat.” Also inappropriate was the practice of “positioning an officer atop an armored vehicle to monitor the crowd through rifle sights,” and the arbitrary nature of arrests and use of force. Click here for a St. Louis Post Dispatch article about the story.