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SHELBY COUNTY, ALABAMA — When Dr. Earl Cunningham first tried to register to vote in his hometown of Montevallo in 1953, he was asked to pay a poll tax of $1.50, answer obscure questions about the state constitution and have a white employer vouch for his character. After he did all this successfully, the county clerk told him to go buy his own pencil at a shop down the street in order to fill out the necessary forms.
“Then you know what he told me?” said Cunningham. “He said, ‘Sign your name, if you can.'”
Decades later, in 2013, Cunningham sat in the front row of the US Supreme Court as a majority of the justices decided to gut the law that put an end to those restrictive practices: the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he was one of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which argued that federal protection was still needed for states and counties — like Shelby — with a history of racism and voter suppressions.
“I remember hearing one of the justices describe the law as an ‘racial entitlement.’ I wanted to scream,” he told ThinkProgress. “Voting rights is the foundation of liberty, and Section 5 is the heart of the Voting Rights Act.”
“My neighborhood is diverse now, but it wasn’t because people woke up one day and said to Black folks, ‘Hey, you can move near me now.’ It was federal housing laws that done it,” he said. “Same with the Voting Rights Act. Why would we get rid of the laws that got us to where we are now? If the medicine is working, why stop taking it?”
Posted by deminks | Sat Mar 7, 2015, 12:39 PM (9 replies)
The tributes to Leonard Nimoy that have filled newspaper front pages and television broadcasts since his death Friday have begun to reveal a measure of the man’s remarkable reach, which extended far beyond his development of perhaps the most enduring and beloved character in modern science fiction.
He was a dedicated artist who acted on stage and screen, directed plays and films, wrote poetry and earned praise for his photography; a generous donor to the arts and many causes; a proud Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) member; and an early champion of diversity and pay equity—as was revealed in recent reports on how Mr. Spock advocated for equal pay for Lt. Uhura (actress Nichelle Nichols).
So perhaps it will not come as a surprise that, at the height of his initial fame, Nimoy was an ardent McGovern man.
George McGovern’s anti-war candidacy for the presidency in 1972 attracted a good deal of celebrity support. But few Hollywood figures worked as hard as Nimoy to advance the cause of the Democratic presidential contender.
He is not likely to be forgotten in our household. A liberal. A hero for sure.
Posted by deminks | Mon Mar 2, 2015, 06:56 PM (2 replies)
When Frank Johnston’s insurance carrier rejected his claim that flooding from Hurricane Sandy had severely damaged the foundation of his Fire Island home, the company cited an engineering report that seemed to establish his problems were “unrelated” to the storm, and were caused instead by the “long-term deterioration” of wooden piers beneath his house.
In reality, the original had reached the opposite conclusion. The engineering report, documents show, had been altered.
Mr. Johnston is part of a growing number of homeowners who suspect that their engineering reports were similarly rewritten as part of an effort to minimize insurance payments to flood victims in New York and New Jersey after the 2012 hurricane.
In November, allegations of altered reports prompted a federal judge overseeing more than 1,000 hurricane related lawsuits in the New York City area to order all drafts of the engineering reports be turned over, saying he believed such revisions could be “widespread.” Lawyers for homeowners in the suits began reviewing the documents, and say they have already identified more than 500 doctored reports.
It's a stacked deck.
Posted by deminks | Wed Feb 18, 2015, 06:11 AM (11 replies)
I wrote a piece for Salon about Jeb Bush's foreign policy. I recount the history of Poppy and Junior and their relationship to the "realists" vs the "neocons." I recapped some of the familiar stuff about the Project for a New American Century and then this:
And what does all this have to do with Jeb? Well, he happens to be the only Bush who was a card-carrying member of the PNAC. He was a neocon long before neocons were cool. In fact, one must suspect that his early defiance of his father and brother in this regard signals the act of a True Believer. He didn’t need to do it. He was Governor of Florida, not head of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He must have really thought the cause was righteous.
Trying to manage these various pulls of family loyalty and defiance with all these warring ideological constituencies would be a challenge to the most skilled politician who has been sharpening his game for years in anticipation of a presidential run. That politician is not Jeb Bush. Right now he’s being given a smooth ride because the press and the political establishment is afraid that the lunatic fringe might get a crack at the white house and they see Jeb as the only sane alternative. The problem is that Jeb’s one of the crazies too, always has been.
The bottom line is this: if you liked Dick Cheney, you’re going to love President Jeb Bush. It turns out that Jeb’s the guy W was pretending to be.
Jeb’s quiet wingnutty past: Why he has to distance himself from… himself
Posted by deminks | Sun Feb 15, 2015, 04:10 PM (5 replies)
Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report
A still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism.
Now new claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted former member of Al Qaeda, that he had high-level contact with officials of the Saudi Arabian government in the prelude to Sept. 11 have brought renewed attention to the inquiry’s withheld findings, which lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the attacks have tried unsuccessfully to declassify.
Mr. Lynch and his allies have been joined by former Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was a leader of the inquiry. He has called for the release of the report’s Part 4, which dealt with Saudi Arabia, since President George W. Bush ordered it classified when the rest of the report was released in December 2002.
Mr. Graham has repeatedly said it shows that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” Mr. Graham said last month as he pressed for the pages to be made public.
Relatives of those killed on Sept. 11 as well as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Saudi Arabia have also demanded that the pages be made public, seeing them as the vital link that they believe connects an important ally of the United States to the deadly attacks. They say the pages, Part 4 of the report, could also help in determining the source of current funding for terrorist activities.
Posted by deminks | Thu Feb 5, 2015, 07:12 AM (23 replies)
as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Tony Blair had a cough. He looked sick, pale and exhausted. “Don’t tell me it is going to be bad,” he said to the six men he had summoned to see him in Downing Street as war loomed. “Tell me how bad it will be.”
Those “six wise men” were all academics, expert in Iraq, the Middle East and international affairs. They had been called to the Cabinet Room to outline the worst that could happen if Britain and the United States launched an invasion.
This was a meeting that could have changed the course of history and, with better planning for the aftermath, saved countless lives – if only the Prime Minister and his advisers had listened and acted on the bloody warnings on that day in November 2002.
“We were heavily briefed,” says Dr Dodge, who is now at the London School of Economics. “They said, ‘Don’t tell him not to do it. He has already made up his mind.’”
The Pentagon and the White House took the decision to remove those at the top of the Iraqi army and the ruling Ba’ath Party, he says, but Paul Bremer took it much further in his role as Governor of Iraq and demolished both entirely. This opened Pandora’s box, says Professor Joffe, by removing the lid that had been in place under Saddam. “Islamic State is a direct consequence of the decision to invade.”
Posted by deminks | Sun Jan 25, 2015, 01:28 PM (2 replies)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - State and local police in the United States will no longer be able to use federal laws to justify seizing property without evidence of a crime, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday.
The practice of local police taking property, including cash and cars, from people that they stop, and of handing it over to federal authorities, became common during the country's war on drugs in the 1980s.
Holder cited "safeguarding civil liberties" as a reason for the change in policy.
The order directs federal agencies who have collected property during such seizures to withdraw their participation, except if the items collected could endanger the public, as in the case of firearms.
Read more: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/u-attorney-general-bans-asset-seizure-local-police-195542428.html#GTJVTOc
Posted by deminks | Fri Jan 16, 2015, 03:36 PM (71 replies)
For the past eight months, there has been a furious battle raging behind closed doors at the White House, the C.I.A., and in Congress. The question has been whether the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence would be allowed to use pseudonyms as a means of identifying characters in the devastating report it released last week on the C.I.A.’s abusive interrogation and detention program. Ultimately, the committee was not allowed to, and now we know one reason why.
The NBC News investigative reporter Matthew Cole has pieced together a remarkable story revealing that a single senior officer, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.—a woman who he does not name—appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment, with tragic consequences for the United States. Her story runs through the entire report. She dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.
Had the Senate Intelligence Committee been permitted to use pseudonyms for the central characters in its report, as all previous congressional studies of intelligence failures, including the widely heralded Church Committee report in 1975, have done, it might not have taken a painstaking, and still somewhat cryptic, investigation after the fact in order for the American public to hold this senior official accountable. Many people who have worked with her over the years expressed shock to NBC that she has been entrusted with so much power. A former intelligence officer who worked directly with her is quoted by NBC, on background, as saying that she bears so much responsibility for so many intelligence failures that “she should be put on trial and put in jail for what she has done.”
Instead, however, she has been promoted to the rank of a general in the military, most recently working as the head of the C.I.A.’s global-jihad unit. In that perch, she oversees the targeting of terror suspects around the world. (She was also, in part, the model for the lead character in “Zero Dark Thirty.”)
Posted by deminks | Fri Dec 19, 2014, 06:29 AM (60 replies)
In his announcement Tuesday that he would explore a 2016 presidential bid, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) promised to focus on “ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.” But he made no mention of his most controversial act during his two terms in office: his attempts to take custody of Terri Schiavo and overrule her husband Michael’s decision to remove her feeding tube, fifteen years after cardiac arrest had left her in a vegetative state.
ThinkProgress spoke with Michael Schiavo and the attorney who represented him in the matter, George Felos, about Bush’s presidential candidacy. Both expressed concern that Bush’s record was one of government interference and opposing individual liberty.
“It’s one thing to have your own personal beliefs,” Felos said, “It’s quite another to use your official powers and your official office to subvert the court and the lawful process.”
He also recalled that after Schiavo’s death, Jeb Bush went after Michael Schiavo personally, asking the state’s attorney to investigate whether he had called 911 fast enough. “It was very odd, almost like a personal vendetta the governor had towards Michael Schaivo.” The state’s attorney found no evidence against him and closed the case. “The propriety of using your office to hunt and harass people, as the governor did to Mr. Schiavo after his wife’s death, I think raises significant questions about his judgment and his character,” Felos said.
Michael Schiavo, nearly a decade later, said he believes Jeb Bush’s intervention was a purely political move and an act of buffoonery. “If you want a government that’s gonna be intrusive and interfere in your personal life, vote for Bush. If you want to live like that, want people to interfere in your personal lives, then vote for him,” he said.
Jebby and Christ Christy have that GOPer bully thing going on.
Posted by deminks | Wed Dec 17, 2014, 02:20 PM (69 replies)
Statistics guru Nate Silver simply can't understand why every single legitimate poll indicated that Democrats should have gotten 4% more votes in the midterm elections than appeared in the final count
The answer, Nate, is "Crosscheck."
Nate Silver might want to punch these numbers into his laptop:
In North Carolina, Republican Thom Tillis upset incumbent Senator Kay Hagan by just 48,511 votes. North Carolina's Crosscheck purge list targeted a stunning 589,393 voters.
In Colorado, Cory Gardner, the Republican, defeated Mark Udall by just 49,729 votes. Colorado's Crosscheck "potential double voter" list totals 300,842.
The Crosscheck purge list also swamped GOP Senate margins in Alaska and Georgia and likely provided the victory margins for GOP gubernatorial victories in Kansas and Massachusetts.
Posted by deminks | Wed Nov 19, 2014, 07:58 AM (6 replies)