Best Of New Orleans 2017 voting is live   

Voting is now open for 2017's Best of New Orleans readers' poll. Gambit's 31st annual poll is your chance to declare your favorites in all kind of categories, from restaurants and bars to music and media and places to shop.…
          Above the Law - Thinking Like a Lawyer : Supreme Court Betting On New Jersey   

Lost in the shuffle of big headlines at the end the Supreme Court Term was the decision to take on New Jersey's challenge to PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, otherwise known as the "why you can only bet on sports in Nevada law." But as guest Steve Silver of The Legal Blitz explains, this is a potentially huge state's rights case directly linked to the Shelby County voting rights opinion.

          Tories accuse left-wing students of ‘voting twice’ in general election   
Preview Senior Tories are accusing left-wing youngsters of breaking the law during the general election, with claims they cast their vote twice.
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          No more Mr. Nice Guy? Jeremy Corbyn sacks 3 frontbench rebels over single market vote   
Preview Three Labour frontbenchers have been sacked for defying their leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call to abstain from voting on an amendment for the UK to stay in the single market after Brexit.
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          Why does the USG need to worry about voting machines getting hacked? Trump is going to be our final president. ¯\_(…   

from my Twitter. follow me on Twitter.

posted: June 30, 2017 at 10:29AM

          The Resurgence of Matt Kemp: How He Went from $160M Bust to Potential All-Star   

ATLANTA — On a late afternoon in June, Matt Kemp settles into the right-handed batter's box at SunTrust Park to take his cuts.

The first few pitches tossed his way during batting practice end up sprinkled in the outfield grass. Then the power from the 6'4" Braves left fielder starts to show. Shots from his bat sail over the outfield wall. One flies over to the right of the 400-foot sign in right-center. Another lands in the Braves bullpen.

His swings, like his demeanor, are relaxed.

He looks comfortable. Happy. Free to be himself and free of distraction.

At 32, Kemp is having his best season since 2011, when he was 26 and playing for the Dodgers. He's hitting .309 with 12 home runs and 37 RBI—numbers that have him in the running for a starting spot in the All-Star Game. He's reminding baseball fans of the player who nearly won the National League triple crown in '11, when he led the league with 39 home runs and 126 RBI, finished third with a .324 average and also stole 40 bases.

Back then, it seemed like he would be a Dodger and a superstar for life.

But life beyond baseball was swirling around him.

There was the tabloid fodder—like dating Rihanna in 2010. There was the expectations-setting eight-year, $160 million contract extension. There were the injuries. And then there was the trade to San Diego. The weight gain. Then a second trade, this time to the Braves, and chatter about his San Diego mansion not selling at auction. He admitted in a post on the Players' Tribune that he had "let a big contract, the Hollywood lifestyle, injuries and bad relationships" get to him, which earned him a "reputation for being selfish, lazy and a bad teammate."

He was trending dangerously toward another label: bust.

But not so fast. Kemp's story wasn't finished. Not yet.

His resurgence in Atlanta—and his jaw-dropping transformation in the offseason—is eliminating any inkling of those perceptions. He's hitting. He's healthy. By all appearances, he's having fun.

And the Braves organization loves him.

"He is one of our leaders," manager Brian Snitker says. "He is a guy in the clubhouse that people respect. … He's just a great guy to have around."

The difference?

It's simple, Kemp says. He was hurt then. He's not now.

"It was just very frustrating," Kemp says. "It wasn't fun because sometimes I wasn't getting the results that I wanted. I was working hard and doing what I needed to do.

"It's hard to overcome injuries. It takes time, and once you get past those injuries, then you start to become more successful again, and the confidence level comes up, and you get that swag that you once had.

"It'd be tough to hear some of the things that might have been said, like, 'He lost it.' I didn't lose it. With injuries and things like that, it's not easy."

Kemp is in the Braves clubhouse, comfortably settled in a soft black leather chair as some teammates nearby shoot pool. Conversations surrounding him provide a pleasant hum.

He looks laid-back, wearing a black T-shirt that reads "EQUALITY" on the front and "42" on the back, in homage to Jackie Robinson.

The topic of conversation is recent incidents of racism in sports. Seventy years after Robinson broke the baseball color barrier, it remains one of the game's constants. The hate comes in various forms. Trolling on social media. Screaming obscenities from the stands. A fan in May uttered the N-word and threw a bag of peanuts at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.

Racism isn't exclusive to MLB in the realm of sports. Someone painted the N-word on a gate at LeBron James' Los Angeles home before the 2017 NBA Finals started, according to the L.A. police.

Kemp acknowledges fans have spewed hate toward him dating back to his days in the minor leagues. He declines to name the cities where it occurred, "but it definitely happens, for sure," he says.

"That's not new to me or to LeBron or to Adam," Kemp says. "It's something that you've got to deal with all the time. Like LeBron said, it doesn't matter how much people admire you, how much money you have, how famous you are. Racism is still alive. It's sad. It's disappointing. I guess it's something that I guess we have to deal with. It's tough to deal with, but it's sad."

He didn't pay attention to things like that when he was younger. Maybe it didn't exist because all he was doing was playing ball and wasn't yet famous. Maybe he just didn't recognize it. He's not sure.

"But when you get older you start to realize, like, 'Dang. They just really said that,'" Kemp says. "It's kind of crazy."

Growing up in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Kemp and his cousins were "pretty much" the only African-Americans on his teams, he says. A two-sport athlete, his basketball teammates teased him for playing baseball—"What are you doing? Why do you have the cleats and a glove? You play basketball," he recalls them saying—as football and hoops were more popular where he lived.

"[My friends] never came to games," Kemp says. "They didn't know how good I was. They didn't know that the scouts were coming to see me play."

He's shown a photo of himself from his childhood.

He says he's not sure how old he was, but the picture depicts him holding a bat and taking a mighty cut—"I don't know if I was swatting flies. Hopefully I don't swing at pitches like that now," he wisecracks—with a look of determination on his young face, long before the glitz and the glamour ever entered his life.

"You look at a picture like that, and that's like—that's me as a kid dreaming about playing baseball, and now I'm living that dream," Kemp says. "Not a lot of people can say they're living their dream."

Kemp grew up in a single-parent household, with his mom, Judy Henderson, a nurse. Even though Atlanta is more than 800 miles away, it was easy for him and a cousin to get hooked on the Braves, whose games were broadcast on TBS.

"We, like, lived for the Braves," Kemp says. "We'd come home after school, turn on the TV and watch the Braves play baseball games. It was the best thing in the world."

The dream became tangible in 2003, when the Dodgers drafted Kemp in the sixth round out of high school. Three years later, he was playing at Dodger Stadium. The lights seem to shine brighter in Hollywood, and he showed signs of becoming a budding superstar in 2009, when he hit .297 with 26 home runs and 101 RBI and won his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

His marquee season was in 2011. He finished second to Ryan Braun in the MVP race, but after Braun's subsequent PED admission, many think Kemp should have received the award. As a consolation prize, he did win his second Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards that year.

Life was fast-paced. He ascended the fashion ladder, seen as one of the best-dressed players in baseball. Paparazzi surrounded him when he dated Rihanna in 2010. His average dipped to .249 that season, but he still hit 28 home runs.

Fast forward to seven years later in Atlanta, with a reporter trying to tiptoe around the Rihanna question with Kemp. It elicits a laugh from him.

"I think that life. That's just part of L.A.," Kemp says. "You're in an industry where you meet famous people. You have famous friends. That's just part of being in L.A. I mean, that took a little getting used to, but the injuries were something I was never used to. That was harder on me that anything."

The injuries. There were many of them. A snapshot:

Kemp had two stints on the disabled list for hamstring injuries in 2012. The first one ended his streak of 399 consecutive games, which at the time was the longest streak by an active player. In late August, he injured his left shoulder after crashing into a wall at Coors Field, but he continued to play. In the offseason, Kemp underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and damage to his rotator cuff. Doctors told him not to swing a bat until January.

Kemp made trips to the DL in 2013 for a right hamstring strain and joint inflammation in the surgically repaired shoulder. His return to the lineup that July lasted for one game, as he suffered a left ankle injury when sliding into home plate, a play in which Kemp later said he wasn't running hard. He headed back to the DL.

Kemp returned in mid-September, but it was a short stay. He missed a game later in the month because of soreness in his left ankle and was ruled was out for the playoffs. Kemp had a minor surgical procedure to clean up his left shoulder and also underwent microfracture surgery on the ankle. He ultimately played just 73 games in 2013, and he would start the 2014 season on the disabled list.

Through it all, the low point was suffering the ankle injury and eventually needing surgery, Kemp says.

"My shoulder was tough, but I think the ankle was the toughest because I was used to being a speed guy, stealing bases," he says. "Now it's not as easy to do that because my ankle doesn't allow me to be as fast as I once was. But I've just got to deal with it."

In 2014, his last season with Los Angeles, then-manager Don Mattingly moved Kemp out of center field, first putting him at left and then later in right. After the season, the Dodgers traded him to San Diego. While he put up solid numbers (.265 with 23 home runs and 100 RBI in 2015, and .268 with 35 HRs and 108 RBI in 2016), he was a guy with a lengthy injury history and a huge paycheck playing for a bad team.

His mammoth 2011 campaign continued to get further away in the rearview mirror.

2011 was also the year when Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who was a rookie, first met Kemp.

"He was on another level," Freeman recalls. "Every time he got up to the plate, I was like, 'Oh no, here it comes.'"

Through a mutual friend, Melvin Upton Jr., who played for both the Braves (2013-14) and the Padres (2015 through part of 2016), Freeman and Kemp hung out a couple of times. Since Kemp arrived in Atlanta, he and Freeman have grown close. Freeman calls Kemp's personality "infectious."

"It's a great personality," Freeman says. "He draws people to him, and you just want to be around him. Every day, obviously when I'm healthy, we would go get our Starbucks together, we go out to the field together, we do pretty much everything together. ...

"He wants to win. He works hard every single day, and that rubs off on other people."

Kemp's intensity is visible. But so is the joy, which he credits to his teammate and friend.

"Honestly, you know who has a lot to do with that is Freddie," Kemp says. "I've played with a lot of guys that like to have fun and joke around, but he's just one guy that—I honestly never see him, like, mad."

The chemistry worked in the lineup, too. In the 56 games he played with the Braves in 2016, Kemp hit .280 with 12 home runs and had an OPS of .855.

"It was great," Snitker says. "You get a guy, a middle-of-the-order lineup guy like that, he was a welcome addition. It lengthened our lineup, kind of broke up all the left-handers we had going."

With Kemp on the team, opponents could no longer "pick and choose" who they pitched to. "He legitimized what we had going on," Snitker says.

But not all was perfect. At the end of the 2016 season, Kemp wasn't always finishing games, playing seven innings before being replaced for defensive reasons in left field.

"Every time that happened to him, he'd come up to me in the dugout and say, 'This is embarrassing. I don't want this to happen anymore,'" Freeman says.

Heading into the offseason, Kemp was healthy, which hadn't happened often in the last few years. He took advantage of it and got to work, saying there were "no limits."

When asked what was the catalyst for change, Kemp all but shrugged it off.

"I haven't really had too many offseasons where I didn't have to rehab anything," Kemp says. "That's a big difference. You know, if you go into an offseason hurt and you have to rehab the whole offseason, that's just very frustrating. I was pretty much able to work out and do whatever it is I wanted to do."

Snitker says Kemp told the team at the end of the 2016 season, "You're going to see a new me when I get here."

"And he did," Snitker says. "Obviously, he was very dedicated to that and worked his tail off. It was real refreshing when you came in and saw the guy's dedication to what we're trying to do, so it was really good to see, and it told you a lot about the person."

Freeman got updates from Kemp during the offseason—sometimes in mid-workout.

"I got FaceTimed every week...usually when he was on the elliptical," Freeman says. "He was doing two-a-days. He would do lifting in the morning, and he would come back and do conditioning later in the day."

When Freeman was with his wife in Bal Harbour, Florida, celebrating their anniversary, he ran into Kemp. The change was already noticeable.

"You could tell after a month-and-a-half, he was already looking different," Freeman says. "People were asking me what was he looking like, and I wouldn't tell them. I said, 'You guys can just find out for yourself,' and he came to spring training obviously so much better. I think he had lost like 25 pounds."

Kemp's work continued through spring training and into the season, and the results are evident in his numbers. He started the season 8-for-16 with four doubles and two home runs in his first four games. He made a brief trip to the 10-day DL for a tight right hamstring in April, and he missed one game in June with left hamstring tightness. Aside from that, he has picked up where he left off. On April 29 at Milwaukee, he became the first Brave to hit three home runs in a game since Mark Teixeira did it in 2008. He hit his 250th career home run on May 31.

Kemp says there's been no change in approach. It's just a byproduct of being healthy and putting in the effort.

"He was first there, last to leave, was very consistent in all his workouts, and he was always out there doing his drills, in the weight room, workout room, practices, everything," Snitker says of Kemp's spring training work. "It was really good to see—and even now. I mean, the guy shows up to play every day. That's the thing. He's signed on to play the games, so he is a guy you can depend on every day. You know he's going to be there for you."

The house in San Diego hasn't sold yet, and Kemp doesn't know if there will be another auction. These days, his home base is in Prosper, Texas, about three hours away from Midwest City.

How long he stays in Atlanta remains to be seen. Despite his production, the Braves are under .500 and are struggling to keep pace with the Nationals in the NL East. Could Kemp get dealt for a third time? Speculation is slowly heating up, with Bob Nightingale of USA Today mentioning him as one of the top 25 players who could switch teams this summer.

But even as the team rebuilds, Kemp is a good fit in Atlanta. He helped protect the Braves' cornerstone, Freeman, in the lineup—before Freeman fractured his wrist in May—and his teammates are thankful he's there.

"It's nice to be able to have a guy like him—and Freddie and some of the other guys—but he's kind of my big brother," shortstop Dansby Swanson says. "I feel like he's always got my back. He kind of, like, protects me. ... He'll take me out to dinner when we're on the road and kind of just gives you that family thing. We've been able to hit it off really well, and I feel like I can go to him and trust him with a lot of things. So he's special to have around, and I am definitely very, very grateful to have him."

Will this get rid of the critics? Even if it doesn't, Freeman doesn't think that factors into Kemp's mindset.

"We play in a game of what-have-you-done-for-me-now, and the thing is last year people said he wasn't very good, but he had 35 home runs and [close to] 110 RBI," Freeman says. "That doesn't happen. He's a superstar. He's been a superstar his whole career.

"After his 2011 year, he had shoulder surgery and he dealt with hamstring problems. It's hard to compete at a high level when you're not feeling good every day. ... I don't think he's trying to put away what people are saying; he was just doing him. And if it comes along the way that it shuts people up in the process…"

Freeman pauses, and then says, "But that's not his ultimate goal.

"He's here trying to win and get back to the playoffs because he hasn't been there in a few years either, just like I haven't. That's his main goal. It's not about shutting people up, and people can say whatever they want about him, me...that just comes with the territory.  If we go 0-for-4, then they say we should be benched and stuff like that, but if we get two hits the next day, we're the greatest people ever. That just comes with it.

"But he's not trying to do that. He's just trying to do his job and help win games."

There's another element as well, and it's visible when Kemp's megawatt smile is caught on TV broadcasts. He's having fun, reminiscent to children who are playing simply for the love of the game.

"I've been playing baseball since I was four years old," Kemp says. "It's supposed to be fun. It's not supposed to be super-duper serious. I mean, you get serious at times, and of course you get competitive and you want to win, but I think a lot of people forget about having fun."


Jill Martin is a sports news editor for CNN. Follow her on Twitter: @ByJillMartin.

Read more NL East news on

          Trea Turner Suffers Broken Wrist, Has No Timetable to Return from Injury   

Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner suffered a broken wrist during Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs

Per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, Turner broke his right wrist, and an official timetable for his return has not been determined. 

The 23-year-old left the game in the ninth inning after being hit by a pitch by Cubs reliever Pedro Strop in the bottom of the seventh. 

Turner had a breakout rookie season for the Nationals in 2016. He finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .342/.370/.567 with 13 homers and 33 stolen bases in 73 games. 

His offensive numbers have dipped this season, as he had a .277/.318/.421 slash line in 67 games entering Thursday, though he does lead Major League Baseball with 35 stolen bases. 

Injuries have decimated the top of Washington's batting order this season. Adam Eaton tore his ACL in April and is out for the rest of the year. 

With Turner sidelined for the foreseeable future, Stephen Drew will likely be given the first shot at the everyday shortstop job in Washington.

Read more NL East news on

          An Unbridled Tongue   
Norman W. de Witt, "Organization and Procedure in Epicurean Groups," Classical Philology 31.3 (July, 1936) 205-211 (at 209; discussing and translating excerpts from Philodemus, On Frank Criticism):
Proper correction will come from one "actuated by good will, devoting himself intelligently and diligently to philosophy, steadfast in principle, careless of what people think of him, immune from any tendency to demagoguery, free from spitefulness, saying only what fits the occasion, and not likely to be carried away so as to revile, jeer, belittle, injure feelings, or resort to tricks of wanton acquiescence or flattery (Ib, 2-13)." The opposite will be expected of one "with an unbridled tongue, prone to blame others, light-minded so as to be incensed at slight affronts, bickersome, truculent, or bitter (IIb, 1-7)."
See also Philodemus, On Frank Criticism. Introduction, Translation, and Notes by David Konstan et al. (1998; rpt. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 2007), pp. 92-95.
          Ranked Choice Voting Remains the Law of the Land in Maine   

A bill to repeal Maine’s first-in-the-nation adoption of ranked choice voting for all state races died in the state’s legislature on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017. This means that ranked choice voting, which voters adopted via a ballot question in November of 2016, will remain the law of the land  as the state’s 2018 elections for state and federal offices approach. Maine voters passed ranked choice voting by a margin of 52% to 48% in November with nearly 400,000 voters approving, making the referendum victory the second largest in the history of Maine. 

In May, the Maine Supreme Court issued a non-binding advisory opinion that the law passed by voters did not comply with the state’s constitution when applied to some state offices. The opinion is merely advice to the state senate; it is not binding on any court, and the Maine Supreme Court may come out differently after a lawsuit with all of its associated briefings. The opinion also only applied to state general elections. Ranked choice voting is without question constitutional for state primaries and all federal elections. Members of the Maine legislature tried to use the ruling by the Supreme Court as an excuse to repeal ranked choice voting in its entirety and overturn the will of voters, but those efforts failed this week.

“Supporters of election reform across Maine will remain vigilant over the coming weeks, months, and years to defend Maine’s voter-approved Ranked Choice Voting law,” said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. Dick Woodbury, chair of the Committee, added that “It’s time to move forward with implementation.”

The failed repeal effort is a win for voters in Maine, who spoke loud and clear on Election Day in November to adopt ranked choice voting as a means to strengthen their democracy. Those same voters had their voices heard in the months leading up to the legislature’s repeal effort, and their tireless efforts to preserve a stronger voice and greater choice in Maine elections paid off. With Maine’s 2018 elections on the horizon, FairVote looks forward to being a resource as the state moves forward with implementation and prepares voters for a new, better way to vote.


          Reform Roundup: June 30th, 2017   

Catch up on the week’s electoral reform news with our round up of folks across the country writing and talking about FairVote reform vision. This week, Congressman Don Beyer introduced the Fair Representation Act (FRA), H.R. 3057.

  • Congressman Don Beyer wrote for The Washington Post about needing to change how we elect the House of Representatives. “Applied nationally, we would have more moderate Democrats from districts leaning Republican, and vice versa, creating a type of politician — now nearly extinct — known as a ‘bridge builder.’ Many members would share constituents with members of the other major party, creating incentives to work together on legislation affecting the district.”

  • Anita Earls wrote for The Nation about how the Fair Representation Act would put an end to gerrymandering and improve representation for communities of color. “There is a way forward. If we want to stop gerrymandering, and move beyond constant litigation over how lines are drawn, we must rethink the way we do districting itself. That’s why the Fair Representation Act creates such an exciting path forward. In states like Texas, for example, where black and Latino populations live close together, those communities are often pitted against each other for the one majority-minority seat. A multi-winner district, and a genuine multi-racial slate, would decrease tension between racial minorities, while increasing their voice.”

  • FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie and Board Chair Krist Novoselic spoke to Pedro Echevarria of the Washington Journal C-SPAN about FairVote’s 25th Anniversary year and the introduction of the Fair Representation Act. “With multi-member districts, you don’t need to receive 50% of the vote, which is what you do when you’re just electing one person like president. You can lower that share to whatever is proportionate to the number of seats, so if you have 5 seats it will take about a 5th of the vote. And by doing that, it opens up every single corner of every single state to meaningful engagement and participation and representation. One party would not sweep all of the seats anywhere.” 

  • The American Prospect reported on the Fair Representation Act and its potential to end Congressional Dysfunction. "The bill would not only institute nonpartisan redistricting commissions and a new voting system designed to create a proportionally representational Congress, but also aims to dramatically reduce the number of safe seats for each party and eliminate the unopposed re-election of representatives. In 2014, 31 congressional representatives were re-elected unopposed."

  • Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and David De la Fuente of ThirdWay wrote in U.S. News & World Report about why voters need the Fair Representation Act. “If policymakers don’t offer solutions to fix our electoral system and restore faith that our representative democracy is working the way it should, voters will continue to react with anger and deliver wave elections where they “throw the bums out” every other year. As we’ve seen over the past few election cycles, these reactive waves make it even harder to govern, further contributing to the cycle of frustration that led to them in the first place.”

  • The Alexandria News reports on the introduction of the Fair Representation Act, introduced by Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia’s 8th district. “The Fair Representation Act is the most comprehensive approach to improving congressional elections in American history,” said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote. “It creates an impartial, national standard that gets at the core of FairVote’s mission: Giving voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans.”



          The Fair Representation Act has been introduced to Congress   

I’m sponsoring the Fair Representation Act because Congress is broken. It is hyper-partisan. It is far too polarized. The FRA creates a structure where members of Congress are incentivized to work together. This is the right thing to do to give voters the strong voice that they deserve in our elections.

--Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08)

On June 26, 2017, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced H.R. 3057: The Fair Representation Act. He was joined by co-sponsors Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Ro Khanna (D-CA). This is a historic moment. The Fair Representation Act is the most comprehensive approach to reforming congressional elections in United States history. It would truly realize the vision of the House of Representatives as “The People’s House.”

The Fair Representation Act

FairVote has called for expanding the use of multi-winner ranked choice voting in United States elections since its founding 25 years ago. Ranked choice voting can replace the broken, zero-sum, winner-take-all system - in which the biggest group of voters in a district are the only ones earning representation - with fair representation for all. In this era of fierce partisan divisions, nowhere needs this change more than the House of Representatives.

RCV-ballot-09.pngUnder the Fair Representation Act, every state would use ranked choice voting to elect its Representatives. Voters would be free to rank their choices without fear of “spoilers.” Instead of only one candidate winning with the most votes, several candidates would win based on how many votes they earn. For example, in a state like Oklahoma or Connecticut that elects 5 winners, 17% of voters can elect 1 of the 5 winners; 34% of voters can elect 2 of the 5 winners; and so on. A majority of voters can always elect a majority of seats, and everyone earns their fair share.

States that elect up to 5 winners will not need any districts at all. Larger states will use districts, but the districts will elect 3, 4, or 5 winners each. That means that a state like Massachusetts that elects 9 Representatives will divide into equal thirds, with each of the three districts electing 3 winners with ranked choice voting. To adopt a district map, these states will form independent redistricting commissions composed of ordinary state citizens (not politicians or lobbyists) who will operate transparently and hold hearings around the state to find the district map that makes the most sense for their state.

The use of ranked choice voting in multi-winner elections will transform the House of Representatives. The current system only allows the biggest group of voters in each district to win representation, all other voices are silenced. As a result, there are millions of voters who prefer Democrats stuck in safe Republican districts and millions of voters who prefer Republicans stuck in safe Democratic districts, women and people of color are under-represented, and everyone has too few choices. The Fair Representation Act can elevate those voices, giving them more power to elect candidates they support and who will go to Congress to work for them.

A Historic Moment

Under the Constitution, Congress has the responsibility to act when our federal elections are not working. It has acted on that responsibility many times in the past, passing laws changing how we elect Congress in 1842 (requiring single-winner districts), 1872 (equal populations per representative), 1901 (requiring that districts be “compact”), 1929 (repealing the requirement to use districts), and 1967 (re-imposing the requirement to use districts). It has been 50 years since Congress has acted in this arena, even as the current system fails to deliver on the promise of a representative House.

Representative Beyer has shown tremendous leadership in holding Congress to its constitutional responsibilities. The attention it attracted from the public demonstrates the hunger that voters have for a more empowering system. FairVote livestreamed Rep. Beyer’s press conference, which was viewed over 44,000 times and ultimately reached over 554,000 people.;overflow:hiddenno0truetrue

The day after the bill’s introduction, Rep. Beyer published an opinion piece in the Washington Post explaining why he introduced the Act. It begins “Democracy is in crisis. Even as the country is deeply divided along class and ideological lines, it seems to be unified in its frustration with our current brand of politics.” Other voices have also weighed in on the need for the Fair Representation Act, including:

As more media coverage happens in the coming days and weeks, we'll add it to the list on our website.

You Can Help the Fair Representation Act Gain Momentum

Now that the vehicle for transforming elections to the U.S. House of Representatives is a bill in Congress, you can help to move the conversation forward. Contact your Representative today to ask them to support the Fair Representation Act. You can find your Representative here, and email them a letter supporting the Fair Representation Act. A sample letter is provided here. You also could consider calling your Member, which increases their likelihood of responding. Better still would be to form a group to have a meeting with your Member and their district office staff. 

Finally, we want to keep adding names to our petition in support of the Act. We currently have over 1500 signatures. Please consider sharing the petition online and drawing people’s attention to our new video and our public resources, at

          TS259: PBS Skills, Washington Blade, A.I. Discrimination   
This week Erin uses her PBS knowledge to defeat the moths infesting her home while Bryan deals with the great lakes flowing out of his nostrils. The Washington Blade posts an article on gay partners who are voting for opposite candidates, D-R-A-M-A, and Tech companies have found in studies that people prefer young female voices as personal assistants. Happy November honeybuns!
          Nicola Sturgeon urged to bar English soldiers and students in Scotland from voting in IndyRef2   
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump's commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          Move to block Nicole’s candidacy   

Legal moves have been initiated against the Congress of the People (COP) giving the party until today to halt the candidacy of Nicole Dyer-Griffith in the party’s July 9 leadership election.

If not, court proceedings will commence to secure this, according to a pre-action protocol letter from attorney Alvin Ramroop to COP↔Leader Dr Anirudh Mahabir and COP↔general secretary Clyde Weatherhead. It was sent on Tuesday. Responses were sought from them by yesterday but a requested extension shifted that deadline to today.

Griffith -Dyer is contesting the poll along with Carolyn Seepersad- Bachan and Sharon Gopaul- McNichol.

However, attorney Ramroop, representing COP member Kirt Francis , a former executive officer, wrote the party regarding alleged unlawful ratification of new members and ineligibility of new members to vote at/ to contest leadership election.

The letter claimed COP’s ratification of Dyer-Griffith’s membership in COP↔was null and void since it didn’t meet party constitutional rules. It called for the party to bar Dyer- Griffith from contesting or voting in the election and to have systems in place for a national executive to be elected.

Mahabir said, “I’m not commenting on any letter or whether we received it..... we have no reason to postpone the election at this time,”

McNichol, who said she’d heard of the legal moves , but was not part of it , said she resigned as COP deputy leader and from the COP’s interim “lead team” on February 13 following concerns on “many matters including unorthodox” procedures.

However ,support for Dyer-Griffith has come from Opposition↔Senator Rodger Samuel who said, Her candidacy brings freshness to the party’s helm and she has the propensity to draw youths.,”

COP’s founder, Winston Dookeran, said Dyer- Griffith contacted him on Tuesday asking to speak with her and he confirmed he would be speaking with her .

On Monday, Carolyn Seepersad- Bachan indicated she had support from Dookeran. He’d endorsed her in the 2014 leadership poll.

Dookeran,who’s working overseas, told the T&T Guardian on Wednesday, “Carolyn did speak to me about her candidacy and I told her that I was happy there is a contest and that she has offered herself to stay in the politics. “

“Yesterday (Tuesday), Nicole e-mailed me a request to talk, and I will be more than pleased to do so. Other than that, I have been very much out of T&T, and do hope that the COP may again initiate a healthy, not fake, political narrative that touches the young persons of our country. Although, I am now far off, my hope is that a ‘team effort’ will emerge in our politics.”

Former leader Prakash Ramadhar said he didn’t think former leaders “should get involved in elections save in extreme circumstances , so if I have personal views, I’m not sharing them. But I won’t allow the party to fall,”

“Many clamoured for leadership for years, but weren’t willing to do the work and criticised without assisting. I saw it fit for those clamouring to take leadership to see what improvements they may or can bring until the next election.”

“ I learned we must always bring together all who are interested in improving citizens’ lives. That includes people you may not wish to befriend, but if we have a common goal, I’m willing to work with anyone on ideals COP espouses. In politics, you have the good, the bad and the ugly and you have to be able to work with as many to achieve power to make the necessary changes.”

          Warner: Why is US Soccer absolved?   

Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has told The Times that the Garcia report into corruption around the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids is “not even worth the paper it has been written on” and questioned why U.S. Soccer was absolved after he and Sepp Blatter met President Barack Obama.

The report, produced by American lawyer Michael J. Garcia in 2014 but only released in full this week, said the England 2018 World Cup bid team was found to have “accommodated or at least attempted to satisfy the improper request”of executive committee members, including Warner, ahead of the voting in 2010.

The United States’ effort to host the 2022 World Cup, meanwhile, was found to have generally followed FIFA’s bidding rules.

Warner, who was arrested and charged as part of the FBI’s probe into money-laundering in 2015 and then banned from taking part in any football-related activity for life, told the English newspaper in an email that he continues to “sleep very soundly” following the report’s release.

He wrote in an email: “For me the report is not even worth the paper it has been written on and of course not the whopping fee paid for it either. As it relates to me personally, I continue to sleep very soundly at nights for nothing in the report implicates me personally in any sleaze.”

The investigation found that Warner had requested England 2018 to find his “adopted son” Richard Sebro, a man with no obvious football credentials, a job with Tottenham, then at Wembley, before moving to Aston Villa.

Other favours granted to Warner were the waiving of a £168,000 debt owed to the Football Association by the Jamaican Football Federation and the sponsorship of a £36,000 Caribbean Football Union gala dinner.

Undisclosed “favours and benefits” were also granted by the FA to a team Warner owned — Joe Public Football Club.

Warner told The Times that all the requests he made to the English FA were “for other persons or entities and never for my family or me.”

He also questioned the decision to absolve the U.S. bidding team, citing a visit that he and then FIFA president Blatter had made to the Oval Office in 2009.

He wrote: “I have also taken note that the American investigator has absolved the US Soccer Federation and I ask myself how come? Was this not the same USSF that facilitated a visit to the White House for Sepp and me to meet Obama? How do you characterise that?

“Was this not the same USSF that arranged for [then Confederation of African Football president Issa] Hayatou and his Ex Co members to do the same? But then again this is the US that I guess determines if you fall, live or die.”

Meanwhile, the Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom is analysing the Garcia report.

The decisions to award Russia the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 edition have been dogged by allegations of bribery and corruption since they were made in December 2010.

An SFO spokesperson said: “The SFO is reviewing the Garcia Report. We can make no further comment at this stage.”

Confirmation of the SFO’s interest comes 20 months after its director, David Green, told MPs of potential money-laundering offences, including a payment of 500,000 Australian dollars (£295,000) made by the Australia 2022 bid committee to former CONCACAF president Warner, which may have gone through London.

At the time, Green, who was giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said the SFO “cannot touch FIFA with the Bribery Act as things stand” as it became law in July 2011 and most of the World Cup allegations took place before then.

In October 2015, the SFO had a team of five going through more than 1,600 documents provided by the FA relating to England’s failed 2018 bid.

          TS53:Election 2012, What Turns Women On, Anti-Gay Newspaper Ad, Channing Tatum   
We hope you voted...for Erin and Bryan to do a new podcast this week Because guess what? You won! Bryan and Erin talk voting women's sexual fantasies vs. men's, a $15,000 homophobic print ad, and the Boy Meets World reunion! In the words of not Taylor Swift, we are ALWAYS getting back together! Like, always. Subscribe and Rate on iTunes @gibblertron & @bryansafi #tspod Official Max Fun Page Facebook page RSS Feed
          Voting Fights in the States   
AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, at podium, celebrates Oregon's first year of an automatic voter registration program with a news conference, where she said that in the November election, over 97,000 ballots were cast by new voters registered by the so-called motor voter program. Hazelnuts contained in the bags in the foreground represent the 270,000 Oregonians who were registered to vote by the program. 

The national battle over voting rights and “voter fraud” will play out in Washington over the next months in relation to the Kobach-Pence commission and the resistance to it. But in the meantime, issues have been joined this spring in state legislative sessions around the country. And the resulting scorecard may surprise you.

Back in November, when the dust settled after the election, the numbers on partisan control of legislatures seemed stark and frightening for advocates of voting rights and election reform. Republicans controlled both chambers in 31 states, and had the full “trifecta,” including the governor, in 24. In sharp contrast, Democrats controlled both houses in only 13 states, and had trifectas in a mere six. Looking at these numbers, at the post-Shelby decision absence of Voting Rights Act preclearance protections, and at the radically changed posture of the Justice Department, many feared an onslaught of voter-suppression legislation that would create an even more diminished electorate for the elections of 2018.

Well, it’s now the end of June, and while some legislatures are still in session, the great majority have finished their business for the year. Several states have indeed passed bad bills. But, overall, the results are significantly better, both in staving off voter-suppression efforts and in expanding voting rights and voting access, than one might have expected as the sessions began.

First, A Few Real Successes

Perhaps the most remarkable outcome this year is in Illinois, which has a Democratic legislature and a conservative Republican governor, Bruce Rauner. Last year, the legislature passed an automatic voter registration (AVR) bill with bipartisan support, but Rauner vetoed it. 

Under automatic voter registration, people who go to the DMV, and potentially other agencies as well, are automatically put on the voter roll, unless they opt out. In Oregon, which was the first adopter, AVR has added several hundred thousand voters to the rolls.

In Illinois, an AVR bill was reintroduced this year and, remarkably, passed both chambers with unanimous votes. While Rauner has 60 days to sign the bill, all indications are that he will, joining Illinois with eight other states and the District of Columbia where AVR is being implemented, and showing that maybe, at least in Illinois, encouraging people to register and vote doesn’t seem like a partisan trick.

The victory was also the work of a broad and determined coalition of voting-rights and election-reform advocacy groups, under the rubric of Just Democracy. Brian Gladstein, Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois and one of the leaders of the coalition said:

This bill will bring over one million eligible voters into the electoral process in Illinois. During a time of heightened partisanship in Springfield and across the nation, we have demonstrated that breaking down barriers to the ballot box can be achieved and supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

AVR still has a good chance to pass in other states. In Rhode Island, an AVR bill passed the House unanimously and a positive vote in the Senate is expected shortly. Governor Gina Raimondo has said she will sign it if it comes to her desk. In Massachusetts, where the legislative session goes on all year, an AVR bill with 102 legislative sponsors has been heard in committee (23 speakers in favor and none against), and could be before the full legislature in the fall.

In some other states, AVR made headway but was eventually blocked. These include Maine, New Mexico, and Nevada. In Nevada’s case, the bill passed both houses, but was vetoed by Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. A ballot initiative on AVR now goes to the voters, who will have the chance to approve it in the November 2018 general election.

In addition to automatic voter registration, other real gains were made. Utah expanded opportunities for early voting and absentee voting. New Jersey improved its processes for military voters and Indiana improved its registration process at the motor vehicle department.

Another issue where progress was made, though halting and slow, is restoration of the right to vote for citizens with felony convictions. Forty-nine bills were introduced in 16 states to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people who have served their sentences. A real victory occurred in Wyoming, which enacted a bill providing that people who completed their sentence after January 1, 2010, do not need to submit an application for restoration of voting rights and will automatically be issued a certificate of restoration.

In Florida, where 1.7 million citizens can’t vote due to the state’s lifetime ban on voting by people with felony convictions (1.5 million have fully completed their sentences), the broad and bipartisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has made major strides. The Florida Supreme Court has approved language for a proposed ballot initiative to restore voting rights to ex-felons; now the job is collecting 700,000 signatures on the petition in order to be on the ballot in November 2018.

In Minnesota, the Restore the Vote Coalition got a bill to more effectively restore voting rights through one house of the legislature. And in Nebraska, the state’s conservative unicameral legislature passed a bill to restore voting rights to citizens upon release from incarceration by a 27-13 margin, but the bill was vetoed by Governor Pete Ricketts. (Nebraska voting-rights advocates also derailed a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voter ID.)

Now for the Bad News

To be clear, and clear-eyed, the move to make voting more difficult and restricted continues, and several states enacted laws designed to limit the vote in one way or another. The forces bent on restricting the vote have won significant victories over the last several years, though many of the laws have been successfully challenged in court. In fact, of the worst voter-restriction bills that passed this year, a majority were actually efforts to re-pass laws struck down in court, altered in order to make them more judicially acceptable.

·      Iowa enacted a law, championed by Secretary of State Paul Pate, which includes restrictions on voter-registration drives; hindrances to Election Day, early, and absentee voting; strict voter-ID requirements; and—most troublesome—the right to purge voter rolls of “non-citizen” names without any clarity on who and how such decisions to purge are made. This could lead to significant numbers of eligible voters being disenfranchised.

·      New Hampshire passed a bill restricting registration for students and low-income voters by requiring proof of residency for those who register 30 days before the election, with investigation and criminal penalties for failure to comply. (A component to eliminate same-day registration was dropped from the bill.)

·      In Arkansas, a voter-ID law, modified after courts struck down an earlier, similar law, was passed and signed. The law reinstates the requirement that a voter must provide one of a narrow choice of IDs at the polls. In addition, the legislature put a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID on the 2018 ballot.

·      In North Dakota, the only state that doesn’t require voter registration at all, the governor signed strict voter-ID requirements into law. The bill was softened somewhat, particularly in regard to the Native American community, to avoid the fate of the 2016 version of the law, which was struck down in court.

Why Less Carnage?

No one wants to be naïvely optimistic, or to underestimate how much damage has already been done in states by determined efforts at voter suppression. Racially charged and politically motivated efforts continue at every level to find ways to discourage people from registering and voting. In the wake of Shelby, these efforts have multiplied and will continue to do so.

But, overall, the results in the 2017 legislative sessions were not nearly as bad as seemed likely last November. There was not a deluge of major voter-suppression legislation. Some bad bills were passed, a number were weakened as they made their way through the legislative process, and a significant number were sidetracked along the way. Two main reasons for this seem clear.

First, the courts, both state and federal, have played a significant role in preventing extreme assaults on voting. Prodded by strong litigation efforts from voting-rights organizations, in state after state, courts have found voter-suppression efforts unconstitutional, blocking their implementation. In addition to the direct effects of the cases, their cumulative impact has been to caution and restrain advocates of restrictive legislation from overreaching.

Second, it is deeply encouraging to see the growing power, sophistication, and rapid response capabilities of the movement for an inclusive democracy. In state after state, coalitions were activated, or created, to fight back against the efforts to stifle, shrink, and bleach the vote. 

And the advocates didn’t just play defense. Despite the potentially unfavorable partisan makeup in so many states, the affirmative action for expanding the right and ability to vote continues to make headway—winning in some states, gathering momentum for future victories in others. 

And there is one other cause for optimism worth noting. I recently attended a conference of 200 legislators and election officials from around the country, co-convened by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Democracy Fund. The focus of the event was election technology and administration. There was strong and bipartisan support for improving election machinery, combating the challenges of cybersecurity, and fighting for adequate funding to run elections in the best way possible. This is one of the reasons that online registration and automatic voter registration are making real progress; they are technical improvements as well as access expansions. The election officials take their responsibilities seriously, and if legislators, state and national, would take their cues, bipartisan progress just might become more possible.

Thanks to Cecily Hines for research and perspective for this column.

          Texas Supreme Court Undermines Marriage Equality   
On Friday the Texas Supreme Court discarded a lower court’s ruling that spouses of gay and lesbian public employees are entitled to government-subsidized marriage benefits. The court argued that, although Obergefell v. Hodges requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages, it does not mandate that states “provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons.”
          Healthcare Activists Rally as Senate GOP Delays Vote   
McConnell’s June 27th announcement to delay the vote came just as healthcare advocates kicked off their three day long People’s Filibuster in an effort to put pressure on the Senators who were considering voting for a bill that would cut $772 billion from Medicaid and $408 billion from insurance subsidies in order to give a tax break to the top 1 percent of American earners and major corporations.
          Supreme Court to Hear Case Regarding Constitutionality of Partisan Gerrymandering   
The term “gerrymandering” refers to the redrawing of legislative districts in order to achieve a balance of voters that will elect a specific kind of candidate.
          @Silence: The fate of the suspended BoA member is ...   
The fate of the suspended BoA member is only inderectly known. He's still suspended. His contract has not been renewed, like his colleagues contracts.
He's on a disciplinary measure, without disciplinary procedure.
Guess how ATILO will find that?
But the contract has ended, and ATILO will be okay with the job loss.

I sincerely hope his mental health survives, because how the AC treats _their_ employee is mind-bogging.

Mr. Ernst is a lawyer, he should know better how to treat employees with a contract, even difficult employees.
I hope once he's officially in charge, he'll have a good look at the case, and find a way out. This case is extremely disgraceful for all concerned, especially EPO management and the AC.
But, seeing how the new Codexchanges were waved through ("to get it off the table"), and DE voting in favour (only four abstentions: NL, IT, IE, LI), I fear the constitutional court in Germany will finally say a word about a lack of independence and power abuse inside the EPO, and a lack of supervision...

This whole situation is like a fight: too many people are watching and waiting for someone else to step in.

The one advantage with FR and DE voting in favour is, that if their nationals get fired, tehy might have a chance with national courts and get a job in the national administration due to gross violation of their countries' law by the delegate, and the duty of care springing forth from this case. And if someone wins against their state, guess how the delegates will react next AC meeting?
          Germany Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, Angela Merkel Says Marriage Is Between A Man And A Woman   

Germany Parliament has said "Ja" to same-sex marriage in a snap vote. The bill passed 393 to 226, with the German vice-chancellor, Angela Merkel voting against the bill, however, more than 70 conservative bloc members of Merkel vote in favour of the bill.


   Volker Beck of the Green party, who is also an open gay person celebrated the new bill on his lasy day in parliament.

Explaining while she voted No on the bill, Angela Merkel said that she understood marriage to be an institution between a man and a woman, however, she said she believes the new bill will help promote "more social peace."

Merkel also said that she has come to the conclusion that same-sex couple should be able to adopt children, which is something the new bill legalizes.

Volker Beck of the Green party, who also had been a strong voice in approving same-sex marriage called the vote "a success for democracy."

80% of Germans are in support of allowing homosexuals couples to marry and adopt children.


          Bundesrat bewilligt E-Voting in Kantonen Aargau und St. Gallen   
Ab dem Urnengang vom 24. September können rund 102'000 in der Schweiz wohnhafte und 75'000 im Ausland lebende Stimmberechtigte per Mausklick abstimmen. Der Bundesrat hat kantonale Gesuche von Aargau und St. Gallen für die nächsten zwei Jahre genehmigt. Damit ist die elektronische Stimmabgabe bei eidgenössischen Vorlagen nun in acht Kantonen möglich, wie der Bundesrat am Mittwoch mitteilte. Bereits bewilligt hatte er E-Voting-Versuche in Bern, Luzern, Freiburg, Basel-Stadt, Neuenburg und Genf. Auslandschweizer, die in diesen Kantonen heimatberechtigt sind, dürfen per Mausklick ihre Stimme abgeben. In St. Gallen werden zudem ab der nächsten Abstimmung im September fünf ausgewählte Pilotgemeinden in die Versuche miteinbezogen. Bei der elektronischen Stimmabgabe kommen zwei verschiedene Modelle zum Einsatz: Genf wird sein eigenes System einsetzen. Auf dieses setzen auch Bern, Luzern, Basel-Stadt, St. Gallen und Aargau. Der Kanton Neuenburg wird das System der Post verwenden, das ...
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump's commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          We need more money in health care. Here's one way to get it   
If there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family, this bill will do you harm.” – Former U.S. president Barack Obama Even President Donald Trump called the initial House of Representatives bill “mean.” Senate Republicans recently delayed discussion and voting on their own health care bill until at least after […]
          MLB All-Star vote: Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt has on-field numbers; not the votes   
Diamondbacks star Paul Goldschmidt ranks near the top of the National League in plenty of categories and he's catching up in All-Star Game voting.

           Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data    
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - President Donald Trump's commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the...
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Global Cyberattack Seems Intent On Havoc, Not Extortion   

A cyberattack that caused indiscriminate economic damage around the world was apparently designed to create maximum havoc in Russia’s neighbor and adversary Ukraine, security researchers said. While the rogue software used in the attack was configured as extortionate “ransomware,” that may have just been a ruse. “It is clear that this was targeted indiscriminately at Ukrainian businesses, and the Ukrainian government,” Jake Williams, president of the security firm Rendition Infosec and a former member of the U.S. National Security Agency’s elite cyberwarfare group, told The Associated Press in an online chat. “The ‘ransomware’ component is just a smokescreen (and a bad one).” UKRAINE IN PAIN Although the attack was global in its reach, Ukraine bore the brunt. Computers were disabled at banks, government agencies, energy companies, supermarkets, railways and telecommunications providers. Many of these organizations said they had recovered by Thursday, although some experts suspected that work was incomplete. “There is still a lot of damage, especially in banks,” said Victor Zhora, CEO of the Kiev cybersecurity firm InfoSafe. “ATMs are working (again) but some bank operations are still limited.” He estimated damage in “the millions of dollars, perhaps tens of millions.” And that’s just in Ukraine. Microsoft said the malware hit at least 64 nations, including Russia, Germany and the United States. “I expect that we will see additional fallout from this is the coming days,” said Williams. In Ukraine, suspicion immediately fell on hackers affiliated with Vladimir Putin’s regime, although there is no direct, public evidence tying Russia to the attack. Relations between the two nations have been tense since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Pro-Russian fighters are still battling the government in eastern Ukraine. Experts have also blamed pro-Russian hackers for major cyberattacks on the Ukrainian power grid in 2015 and 2016, assaults that have turned the eastern European nation into the world’s leading cyberwarfare testing ground. A disruptive attack on the nation’s voting system ahead of 2014 national elections is also attributed to Russia. THE MOSCOW CONNECTION The malicious program, which researchers are calling NotPetya, initially appeared to be ransomware. Such malware locks up victims’ files by encrypting them, then holds them hostage while demanding payment — usually in bitcoin, the hard-to-trace digital currency. But researchers said the culprits would have been hard-pressed to make money off the scheme. They appear to have relied on a single email address that was blocked almost immediately and a single bitcoin account that collected the relatively puny sum of $10,000. Firms including Russia’s anti-virus Kaspersky Lab, said clues in the code indicate that the program’s authors would have been incapable of decrypting the data, further evidence that the ransom demands were a smoke screen. The timing was intriguing, too. The attack came the same day as the assassination of a senior Ukrainian military intelligence officer and a day before a national holiday celebrating the new Ukrainian constitution signed after the breakup of the Soviet Union. “Everything being said so far does point to Russia being a leading candidate for a suspect in this attack,” said Robert M. Lee, CEO of Dragos Inc. an expert who has studied the attacks on Ukraine’s power grid. What’s most worrisome and reprehensible, said Lee, is that whoever was behind the attack was unconcerned about the indiscriminate, collateral damage it […]

The post Global Cyberattack Seems Intent On Havoc, Not Extortion appeared first on Yeshiva World News.

          Why birds of a feather might bicker together | Letters   
Labour rebels | Remoaners | Minimum wage | Loose change | Charcoal toothpaste | Quarrelsome goldfinches

Thanks, Jeremy Corbyn, for making me feel like an utterly naive fool, after urging my first-time-voting twins that it’s worth voting for a party that will oppose a strong Brexit and protect workers’ rights (Report, 30 June). Sacking people for not agreeing: what a strong and stable example.
Elisabeth Young
Whitstable, Kent

• Your orgy of metrocentric remoaning (Letters, 30 June) overlooks once again the precariat, abandoned by socialists and liberals alike, who voted to end the mass free movement into the UK of poor east Europeans. Those leave voters aren’t racist or misinformed – they’re just ignored.
Chris Hughes

Continue reading...
          Emily Thornberry accuses Chuka Umunna of virtue signalling on EU vote   

Shadow foreign secretary calls Labour divisions a distraction and claims the manifesto, not the leader, was the real star of the party’s election campaign

Emily Thornberry accused Chuka Umunna and other Labour Brexit rebels of “virtue signalling”, and fighting “faux battles” after three of the party’s frontbenchers were sacked for voting for his amendment.

The shadow foreign secretary said the rebels’ approach had unnecessarily exposed Labour divisions at a time when the party should be presenting itself as an alternative to Theresa May’s minority government.

Related: Corbyn sacks three frontbenchers after single market vote

Continue reading...
          Justin Bieber, Ke$ha, Lea Michele Up For PETA Awards   

Peta2 is bestowing awards including Most Animal-Friendly Pop/Hip-Hop Artist to celebs for their support of animal rights.
By Jocelyn Vena

<P>PETA's youth division, peta2, is giving props to celebs like <a href="">Justin Bieber</a>, <a href="">Ke$ha</a> and "Glee" star Lea Michele at this year's <a href="" target="_blank">Libby Awards</a> for their efforts in support of animal rights. </P><P> </P><P>The Biebs, who appeared in a <a href="/news/articles/1656302/justin-bieber-peta-ad.jhtml">campaign</a> for the organization at the top of the year using Bieber-fied catch-phrases like "My world includes passion for animals, yours should too" and "Animals can make u smile. Adopt from your local shelter," is taking on fellow animal-loving pop star Ke$ha and rappers k-os and Waka Flocka Flame in the Most Animal-Friendly Pop/Hip-Hop Artist category. Ke$ha appeared in an ad campaigning against the slaughter of Canadian seals. </P><P> </P><P>Michele, who speaks out against the mistreatment of carriage horses in New York City, faces off against "Jackass" star Steve-O, Cobra Starship's leading man and peta2's Sexiest Vegetarian Gabe Saporta, and "Victorious" star Daniella Monet in the Top Animal-Friendly Celebrity category. </P><P> </P><P>The Ready Set, Tokio Hotel, Hellogoodbye and the Swellers are all up for Most Animal-Friendly Band. Ke$ha and Tokio are also up for Best peta2 ad along with Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness and Yelle. </P><P> </P><P>The Libby (as in "Liberation") Awards will be decided on January 17 by fan votes as well as peta2. Voting ends December 23. </P><P> </P><P>"Our nominees have all worked hard to shine their spotlights on a variety of important animal issues," peta2 Division Manager Marta Holmberg said about the nominees, which honors animal-friendly people and products. "As our accomplished stars demonstrate, compassion isn't just a virtue &#8212; it's also a road to success."</p>

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          Trump's voter fraud panel gets pushback after asking states for election data   

President Donald Trump's voting commission stumbled into public view this week, issuing a sweeping request for nationwide voter data that drew sharp condemnation from election experts and resistance from at least 19 states that said they cannot or will not hand over all of the data.

The immediate...

          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage, despite Chancellor Merkel voting no   

Germany on Friday recognized the right of same-sex couples to wed, a major step for gay women and men living in a country split between conservative, Christian customs and modernizing forces.

The German Parliament voted 393-226 to modify the country's civil code, reshaping the institution of marriage...

          Trump's voter fraud commission wants voting history, party ID and address of every voter   

The chair of Donald Trump's Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter role data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter...

          Voting Commissioner Kris Kobach Defends U.S. Request For Voter Information   
Kris Kobach is the vice chairman of a White House commission on voting and elections and the secretary of state of Kansas. He spoke to NPR's Ari Shapiro and defended the commission's request for voter information from across the country.
          Voting Rights Advocates Rally on Capitol Hill   

Last Thursday, League interns Allie Claman and Audra Brulc attended the #RestoreTheVOTE rally on Capitol Hill. Organized by Rep. Terri Sewell, important guests including Rep. John Lewis, Senator Patrick Leahy, Leader Pelosi, and Whip Steny Hoyer also spoke passionately about the importance of voting rights at this event.

          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Betts does it all in Red Sox's win over Twins   
Mookie Betts must have known that All-Star voting ended tonight. The Red Sox right fielder, who is sixth among American League outfielders in All-Star voting, put on a performance encompassing every facet of his game Thursday night, leading Boston to a 6-3 victory over the Twins.
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info request - CNN   


Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info request
Washington (CNN) A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state's voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President's commission on voting. The Presidential ...
Trump's voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back.Washington Post
States and Trump voter fraud commission set for showdownThe Hill
Increasing number of states reject request for personal information on voters from Trump commissionLos Angeles Times
U.S. News & World Report -USA TODAY -The Boston Globe -BuzzFeed News
all 330 news articles »

          On This Day   
June 30 ...

In 1859 French acrobat Blondin (born Jean Francois Gravelet) crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope as 5,000 spectators watched. In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act became law. In 1908 the "Tunguska event" occurred when a meteorite exploded over Siberia, completely leveling about 800 square miles of forest. In 1921 President Harding appointed former President Taft Chief Justice of the United States. In 1934 Adolf Hitler began his "blood purge" of political and military leaders in Germany. In 1936 the novel Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was published in New York. In 1962 Los Angeles Dodger Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax pitched his first no-hitter in a game with the New York Mets. In 1963 Pope Paul VI was crowned the 262nd head of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1971 a Soviet space mission ended in tragedy when three cosmonauts aboard Soyuz 11 were found dead inside their spacecraft after it had returned to Earth; also on this day, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, lowering the minimum voting age to 18, was ratified when Ohio became the 38th state to approve it. In 1984 John Turner was sworn in as Canada's 17th prime minister, succeeding Pierre Elliott Trudeau. In 1985 39 American hostages from a hijacked TWA jetliner were freed in Beirut after being held 17 days. In 2004 a federal appeals court approved an antitrust settlement Microsoft had negotiated with the Justice Department; also on this day, the Iraqis took legal custody of Saddam Hussein and 11 of his top lieutenants, a first step toward the ousted dictator's expected trial for crimes against humanity; and, after nearly seven years of travel, the international Cassini spacecraft entered Saturn's orbit.
          Reeling from Horrifying GOP Health Care Bills? Just wait till you lose your Voting Rights, just around the corner.    
While everyone is still wondering how Republicans could ever seriously fix their health care bills that drop 22 to 23 million Americans with a few more insane amendments, voting rights is about to take a huge hit:
The Republican presidential tactic of crippling agencies you don't like by putting either the incompetent or the actively hostile in charge of them (continues) ... Kris Kobach, the godfather of the national movement to suppress the votes of people the GOP would prefer not to exercise the franchise (was) named as vice-chairman of his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a snipe hunt the only apparent purpose of which is maintaining the fiction that masses of people, many of them brown, are gaming our elections. 
Here's the most damning news that might just alert us to specific Republican governors who take the bait:
Kobach wrote a letter to his fellow secretaries of state that left many jaws on the floor. From The Kansas City Star: In a Wednesday letter, Kobach asked the Connecticut secretary of state's office to provide the commission with all publicly available voter roll data, including the full names of all registered voters along with their addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information ... he sent similar letters to election officials in every state. 

Quite simply, any secretary of state who complies with this request is either too stupid to hold the job, or is in sympathy with Kobach's goal of whitewashing the electorate.  Alex Padilla, the Secretary of State for California, said, "California's participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach. The President's Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections."

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill was a bit more discreet: "The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters. Given Secretary Kobach's history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this commission."
BREAKING: Scott Walker gives up voter information to Trump's big government demands. Hey, we just had a recount too. All is well?

Wisconsin elections officials said Friday that they'll sell some voter information to a presidential commission investigating election fraud. Administrator Mike Haas issued a statement Friday saying data is available for purchase and the commission must release it to buyers, adding that the commission routinely sells the information to political parties, candidates and researchers. The commission would charge the presidential panel $12,500 for the data.
Having done a lot of research on "the right to vote," I found that despite the guarantee in the 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments...with help from the Voting Rights Act (now destroyed by activist conservative Justices), voting seems to be the least defended squishy right ever. In fact, I could make the argument that women and African Americans were definitely given the right to vote, but anyone else including white guys...nope.

What if Obama did this? Always the best test against hypocritical Republican policy:
As Vanita Gupta points out in that same K.C. Star report, if someone in the Obama administration had made this request, at the very least, there would be a full week of howler monkeys screaming about federalism from every perch in every conservative think-tank in the jungle. At the most, there would be hearing after hearing about the Obama administration's plan to seed thousands of the president's fellow Kenyans in every crucial precinct in Ohio and Florida. What's more important, though, is that the national campaign to roll back voting rights now has reached the highest levels of government, with the blessing of the president* and the president*-in-waiting. This is the final step backwards across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

          MN Sec. Of State Won’t Hand Data To Trump Voting Commission   
Trump has alleged, without evidence, that millions voted illegally in the 2016 elections.
          Comment on House Of Reps In Rowdy Session, Rejects South-east Devt Commission by Reps Considering E-voting To Determine 'Ayes' Or 'Nays'   
[…] The resolution to adopt e-voting ostensibly stemmed from the controversy that trailed the rejection …house on Thursday. […]
          Satisficing and Negotiation   
It stands to reason that devoting less time to relatively unimportant choices should free you up for more meaningful pursuits and increase your overall satisfaction. But how does the concept of satisf ... - Source:
          Trump Voter Fraud Panel Request For Information Gets Chilly Connecticut Reply   

President Donald Trump's special commission to investigate alleged voter fraud is asking Connecticut election officials for reams of personal data on all registered voters in the state and got a frosty reply from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

"In the spirit of transparency, we intend to...

          7/1/2017: BUSINESS: NZX fends off dissent as director bid fails   
The New Zealand stock exchange has fended off a rebellion at its annual meeting, with shareholders voting not to elect NZX critic Tony Falkenstein to its board. Falkenstein, who heads Auckland water-cooler company Just Water, nevertheless received...
          Global cyberattack seems intent on havoc, not extortion   
PARIS – A cyberattack that caused indiscriminate economic damage around the world was apparently designed to create maximum havoc in Russia's neighbor and adversary Ukraine, security researchers said.

While the rogue software used in the attack was configured as extortionate "ransomware," that may have just been a ruse.

"It is clear that this was targeted indiscriminately at Ukrainian businesses, and the Ukrainian government," Jake Williams, president of the security firm Rendition Infosec and a former member of the U.S. National Security Agency's elite cyberwarfare group, said in an online chat. "The 'ransomware' component is just a smokescreen (and a bad one)."


Although the attack was global in its reach, Ukraine bore the brunt. Computers were disabled at banks, government agencies, energy companies, supermarkets, railways and telecommunications providers. Many of these organizations said they had recovered by Thursday, although some experts suspected that work was incomplete.

"There is still a lot of damage, especially in banks," said Victor Zhora, CEO of the Kiev cybersecurity firm InfoSafe. "ATMS are working (again) but some bank operations are still limited." He estimated damage in "the millions of dollars, perhaps tens of millions."

And that's just in Ukraine. Microsoft said the malware hit at least 64 nations, including Russia, Germany and the United States. "I expect that we will see additional fallout from this is the coming days," said Williams.

In Ukraine, suspicion immediately fell on hackers affiliated with Vladimir Putin's regime, although there is no direct, public evidence tying Russia to the attack. Relations between the two nations have been tense since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Pro-Russian fighters are still battling the government in eastern Ukraine.

Experts have also blamed pro-Russian hackers for major cyberattacks on the Ukrainian power grid in 2015 and 2016, assaults that have turned the eastern European nation into the world's leading cyberwarfare testing ground. A disruptive attack on the nation's voting system ahead of 2014 national elections is also attributed to Russia.


The malicious program, which is known by a variety of names, including NotPetya, initially appeared to be ransomware. Such malware locks up victims' files by encrypting them, then holds them hostage while demanding payment – usually in bitcoin, the hard-to-trace digital currency.

But researchers said the culprits would have been hard-pressed to make money off the scheme. They appear to have relied on a single email address that was blocked almost immediately and a single bitcoin account that collected the relatively puny sum of $10,000.

Firms including Russia's anti-virus Kaspersky Lab, said clues in the code indicate that the program's authors would have been incapable of decrypting the data, further evidence that the ransom demands were a smoke screen.

The timing was intriguing, too. The attack came the same day as the assassination of a senior Ukrainian military intelligence officer and a day before a national holiday celebrating the new Ukrainian constitution signed after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

"Everything being said so far does point to Russia being a leading candidate for a suspect in this attack," said Robert M. Lee, CEO of Dragos Inc. an expert who has studied the attacks on Ukraine's power grid.

What's most worrisome and reprehensible, said Lee, is that whoever was behind the attack was unconcerned about the indiscriminate, collateral damage it caused – much of it within Russia itself. That's highly atypical behavior for nation-states.


Williams and other researchers said all evidence indicates that NotPetya was introduced via Ukrainian financial software provider MeDoc. It is one of just two companies in the eastern European nation that supplies required tax software, Zhora said.

Security experts believe MeDoc was the unwitting victim of something akin to a "watering-hole attack," where a malicious program surreptitiously planted at a popular destination infects parties that visit. MeDoc's user base is heavily financial – and includes multinational corporations with offices in Ukraine.

NotPetya was cleverly engineered to spread laterally within Windows networks and across the globe via private network connections. Globally, dozens of major corporations and government agencies have been disrupted, including FedEx subsidiary TNT.

Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, one of the global companies hit hardest, said Thursday that most of its terminals were running again, though some are operating in a limited way or more slowly than usual.

Problems have been reported across the shippers' global business, from Mobile, Alabama, to Mumbai in India. At Mumbai's Jawaharlal Nehru Port, several hundred containers could be seen piled up at just two of more than a dozen yards.

"The vessels are coming, the ships are coming, but they are not able to take the container because all the systems are down," trading and clearing agent Rajeshree Verma said. "We are actually in a fix because of all this."

          Relative Sadness   
University, even with 4 weeks of holidays, feels too soon.
I didn't get to finish any Christian books, and now have to spend all my time reading Shakespeare.
I didn't get to catch up with school friends, even though we "talked" about it (on FB, at least).
I ate too much, slept too much, watched too much.
I didn't do any creative things (including updating on here).
I didn't research interesting places or interesting things or interesting facts.
I ignored too much, settled too much, faked too much.

So when people ask "How were your holidays?" I want to say, "bad, bad, bad." Instead, I be polite and say "Tiring but ok".

What I should say:

"Praise God for the sustenance he provides, the words he speaks, the rest he grants, the blessings he bestows, the life he resurrects, the prayers he answers, the joy he instills."

Because, my sadness is selfish. It's not sad at all. Amazing things have happened:

1. I led on three camps. All focused on the bible. All with God doing amazing things.

2. I attended my Christian group's Annual Conference, on "God Speaks". His words are full of grace and truth, warning and judgement, life and power, comfort and hope in OT, Jesus, & NT.

3. I planned my life (at least this semester!) and committed to continue following Jesus and devoting my morning as I wake up to be immersed in his word and depend on him in prayer.

So my life is good, thank God, thank God, thank God.
          Poll Shows Low Support For GOP Health Care Bill   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: The Senate will not be voting this week on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell postponed the vote until after the Fourth of July recess once it became clear he didn't have the support he needed in his own party to pass the measure. And that lack of enthusiasm appears to match the mood of the nation. A new NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll finds fewer than 1 in 5 Americans supports the Senate bill, but Republican leaders insist they're not giving up. NPR's Scott Horsley is with us now. Good morning, Scott. SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel. MARTIN: Senator McConnell very much wanted to have this vote this week before the Fourth of July and when all the congress members go home for that recess. He was forced to backtrack. So what now? HORSLEY: Good question. This is a retreat. It's not necessarily a surrender. McConnell says he's still optimistic that he can win the
          Kris Kobach Will Make Voting Great Again! (Offer Valid For Old White Republicans Only)   
'Voting' sure was nice while it lasted.
          Comment on An Open Letter to Moderates by dhlii   
No Ron, you mischaracterize me. I have no doubt that some humans can do stupid and evil things. What I have said is that in a free market - the incentives strongly work against that, so it is less common than otherwise. Conversely in government the incentives work towards stupidity and evil. I am as worried about human misconduct as you are. I just worry more about it where I see it as far more dangerous. With respect to actual private bad behavior - our law, that "common law" with is very close to the 3 principles I keep beating on, is pretty much all we need. Can you name a single form of likely misconduct - in business or otherwise, that is not covered by laws that are atleast a century old ? If someone initiates force against others - in business or otherwise. I am opposed and our criminal law prohibits that. If one engages in fraud - that too has been illegal for centuries. And finally we have had tort law for several centuries. If someone causes you actual harm - even innocently, then you can petition government to be made whole by them. What more is it that you think is needed ? What misconduct that someone in business can engage in is not covered by that ? In most instances we are covered MORE effectively by that. One of the huge problems with torts today is that if you conform to government regulations - that is quite often an affirmative defense. You really do not grasp that businesses - particularly big businesses buy protection from government - often in the form of regulation. I would finally note - that we do not have the government resources to properly enforce the laws of a century ago - or just my 3 core principles - atleast not without excercising borad discretion. Law administration and enforcement is quite expensive - and it comes entirely at the expense of our standard of living - and sometimes Twice. You note that health insurance has a unique propensity for screwing customers. That is FALSE. Health insurance screws the insured. In most cases those are NOT the customers, and that is a major part of the problem. Health insurance in particular due to our current abysmal structure has myriads of vectors for moral hazard. On the one hand the insured ar mostly disconnected from the cost of the healthcare they receive so they have no reason to make cost constrained choices - and cost is ALWAYS a factor. If it ever is not the system is broke. From the opposite direction doctors and hospitals are paid by insurance companies (or government) not patients, and insurance companies are mostly paid by employers - not the insured. In all the above the problem is that those using the service and those paying are not the same and patients will screw insurance companies, and insurance companies will screw patients. Because neither has reason to deal with the other in good faith. The incentives are wrong. That is one of the reasons I think subscription medicine could take off. I have no doubt the first example you gave occured. At the same time - even if the employee was diagnosed with ADD - it would not be a pre-existing condition. But we do not fix this nonsense - partly because of the factors I noted above - the insurance company has no reason to want to make the employee happy - he is NOT their customer. But there is another reason - that I am surprised you did not note - that applies specifically to your example. Employer paid insurance is regulated by ERISA. The employee can not sue. The only remedey the employee has is through an ERISA process that takes over a year or more. Insurance companies are not stupid - they know that few people can afford to fight for a year or more over $30. But again this problem is caused by the bad incentives of employer mandated insurance and bad regulation. I am sure you can come up with myriads of other real world examples - but we do not have a free market in health insurance and have not in my lifetime. Even back to your example - why does insurance cover routine medicine ? That is insane. The rough equivalent of what used to be called a major medical plan is still very cheap today. Why in gods name would you want the doctor to write you a perscription, that a pharmacy fills - and collects a co-pay from you, bills the insurance company which then pays for it out of premiums it collects from your employer, who treats those premiums as part of your pay. How can you possibly expect that to be an efficient way of delivering medical service ? And how can you expect medical prices to drop - ever, if the govenrment requires you to bill them at the lowest price you give anyone else - or potentially go to jail. With respect to your example #2 - that could not have been employer paid insurance. Even so, normal contract law would say that if you paid for fire insurance, and there is a fire, and AFTER the fire you quite paying premiums, the insurance company can cancel your insurance, but it still has to repair the damage from the fire. I beleive that is typical for "claims made" insurance, which is most insurance. It basically means if you are insured at the time the claim is made - you are covered. Regardless, your examples are all of circumstances that would have been covered by ordinary law that existed 100 years ago. If as you say - and I beleive you, the insurance companies are violating my core principles - which have been codified in the law for centuries and getting away with it. Why is a regulation going to fix things ? I had this problem with the civil rights act and the voting rights act and spousal abuse laws and ...... How does making something that is already illegal and making it illegal AGAIN change anything ? I have never said the law should not be enforced. But between the self regulating nature of actual free market transactions, and the LEGITIMATE law based on the principles I keep beating on, we have more than enough to cover anything you think should be "regulated". You seem to want to solve a lack of enforcement problem by passing more laws. How is that supposed to work ?
          Trump voting commission will get limited state voter data   
          Texas Supreme Court Undermines Marriage Equality   
On Friday the Texas Supreme Court discarded a lower court’s ruling that spouses of gay and lesbian public employees are entitled to government-subsidized marriage benefits. The court argued that, although Obergefell v. Hodges requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages, it does not mandate that states “provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons.”

          PAYDAY 2: Crime Spree - New Modifiers, Rewards and more...   

The police will be stepping up its war on crime with new challenges for any heister that is trying to commit a Crime Spree in their city. Any heister that wish to claim the new rewards added to the cosmetic item pool will surely have a challenge ahead of themselves. There will be new abilities and buffs for existing enemies and even some new unit variants to be deployed against them.

The Spree system has also gotten a bit of an update. The initial buy-in cost is gone for a level 0 Crime Spree. That means you only need to pay when skipping levels in the Spree.

The modifier selector is also different with the new update. After the update there will be three modifier intervals to work with.

Loud Modifiers every 20th Crime Spree Level
Stealth Modifiers every 26th Crime Spree Level
Forced Loud Modifiers every 50th Crime Spree Level.

Stealth and Loud Modifiers will have the player choose from a set of old and new modifiers that will change the gameplay in different ways. Forced Modifiers will always increase the enemies health and damage and will be automatically applied to the Crime Spree when the appropriate level is reached.

The heist selector will no longer be divided in long, medium and short heists like before. The choice will now be stealth, short or long heists. The stealth heist may be long or short.

When downloading this update your current Crime Spree will disappear, we highly recommend claiming your rewards before downloading the update. Any unclaimed rewards will be lost when the update is installed.

Now it’s time for some good old fashioned lawbreaking.
OVERKILL - a Starbreeze Studio.

Update size: 129.1MB

The Desync Beta will be deactivated until we release a new beta update.

  • Made a slight visual update to Jacket
  • Fixed so that items will show their DLC lock again instead of "Ultimate Edition"
  • Players can no longer be downed while in casing mode
  • Fixed some advanced video options not resetting when defaulting video options
  • Players can no longer select "loud" tactic on stealth only heists like The Yacht Heist
  • Fixed players being refunded cash when default weapon parts were removed from their weapons during weapon validation
  • "Fixed some visual issues with the Beanies masks on lobby characters
  • Fixed an issue where Continental Coins on the end of heist screen wouldn't use thousand separators correctly while counting
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when switching profiles fast in the inventory

  • Fixed a portal issue
  • Fixed some floating graffiti
  • Fixed enemies running through the wall before you blow it up
  • Fixed a spot where the truck could get stuck
  • Moved a tent so that the player can't get stuck behind it
Biker Heist
  • Fixed host players being able to give the Mechanic the chrome skull, soda, or tools, even if somebody else was holding it
Diamond Store
  • Fixed so that cops can no longer shoot you through the wall in the alley
Election Day
  • The player can no longer grab the drill from another room in Breaking Ballot
  • Fixed some floating objects in Breaking Ballot
  • There are no longer 2 escape zones at the end of Breaking Ballot
  • Players can no longer get stuck between desk and chair behind the voting machines on Breaking Ballot
Framing Frame
  • Fixed so that the player can not throw a bag where he can't reach it
Goat Simulator
  • Fixed a crash when kickstarting the saw on day 1
Golden Grin Casino
  • Fixed so that there is cash in the vault on Mayhem and One Down
Hoxton Breakout
    Fixed a crash if Hoxton was on the bridge when it was blown up on day 2
New Safe House
  • Fixed so that the Goat trophy does not appear until you finish the trophy
  • Fixed a blue box in Scarface room on Tier 1
  • Fixed a sniper that would not shoot at the player during a raid
  • Fixed a lamp that was clipping with the wall in Scarface room
  • Fixed some floating money in Scarface room on Tier 2
  • Fixed so that players can no longer throw bags up on the roof
  • Fixed so that the butler no longer gets stuck
  • Fixed an issue where Dragan’s hands were clipping with the floor when he was doing push ups
  • Fixed so that Bonnie is no longer floating when she is next to the roulette wheel
  • Fixed a hole in wall between Sokol and Bodhi's rooms
Panic Room
  • Fixed an issue where one sniper could end up in a position where the player could not kill him
Scarface Mansion
  • Fixed a portal issue inside of the mansion
  • Fixed the HP of the Scarface boss
The Diamond
  • Fixed an exploit where 3 players could stand in one spot and let 1 player do the objectives without enemies
  • Fixed a floating camera

  • Fix incorrect ammo & stability values with akimbo skill and hitman perk deck

  • Fixed the icon for the "Spacegoat" skin for the Kross Vertex
  • Fixed an issue with the Santa's Helper skin on the Lebensauger
  • Fixed both barrels and the extra mag for Barbwire skin for Chimano 88 Pistol
  • Fixed so that the Donald compensator changes color depending on the skin being used
  • Fixed some issues with the color of the Flying Pelican Skin

  • Fixed an issue with the RPG rockets sometimes not being accurate for clients

          Comment on Anambra Secedes From Biafra by Alex   
please when did Referendum turn to War? lol. If you want to vote, you are free, but true Biafrans will not continue to vote for people who will enslave us. 50 years after the War, and we are still being punished! never!!! if you like, continue voting for people that has their own interests at heart. We Biafrans will not vote, period! If you like threaten us with War
          Bevin Orders Voting Rights Restored To 284 Kentuckians With Felony Records   

Gov. Matt Bevin has restored the rights to vote and hold public office for 284 Kentuckians with felony criminal records, though he says the action is pending background checks by the state Justice Cabinet. State law strips people convicted of felonies of their civil rights to vote, run for office, serve on a jury and […]

          Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info request - CNN   


Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info request
Washington (CNN) A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state's voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President's commission on voting. The Presidential ...
Trump's voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back.Washington Post
States and Trump voter fraud commission set for showdownThe Hill
States Refuse Trump Commission Request for US Voter DataU.S. News & World Report
Los Angeles Times -The Boston Globe -BuzzFeed News
all 325 news articles »

          Picking the Transfer Window That Liverpool Fans Would Love to Reboot   

Liverpool's summer transfer history is patchy, to say the least.

To borrow Isaac Newton's third law of motion, for every action, there has been an equal and opposite reaction. From the start of the Premier League era, the Reds made mistakes in the market.

From Paul Stewart in 1992 through to Christian Benteke in 2015, Liverpool have signed their fair share of flops. Signings that perhaps made sense on paper but, for whatever reason, didn't pan out on the pitch.

But what about the success stories?

If the club's fans could pick one summer window to reboot, allowing them to add that year's signings to bolster manager Jurgen Klopp's current squad, which year would they choose?

Well, we asked them on Twitter:

Of course, the poll only provided four options. It didn't allow the sadomasochists out there to vote for the summer of 2002, for example, when then-manager Gerard Houllier appeared to lose his marbles by agreeing to buy the triumvirate of El Hadji Diouf, Bruno Cheyrou and Salif Diao. Ouch.

Here is Bleacher Report's own breakdown of the best windows seen since the BBC cancelled Play School.



Third place: 2004, The Spanish Armada

Benitez’s arrival at Anfield signalled a wave of Spanish recruits. Dabbling in a market he knew ridiculously well, the new Liverpool manager signed four of his fellow countrymen during his first summer at the helm.

On reflection, he had a 50 per cent strike rate. Full-back Josemi—the first in the door—and Antonio Nunez—a makeweight in the deal that sent Michael Owen to Real Madrid—failed to make an impact during their largely forgettable time in England.

Yet if that pair were poor (and poor is putting it kindly, particularly for Nunez, the winger with the turning circle of the QE II), Benitez struck gold with the other two Spaniards he signed from La Liga.

By scoring the "Ghost Goal" in the 2005 UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea, Luis Garcia—the winger who drank Sangria—made sure he would forever be remembered fondly by the red half of Liverpool.

Having previously worked together at Tenerife, Benitez knew all about Garcia, a hard-working wide man with an eye for goal (he scored 18 in 71 appearances during his time with the Premier League club).

But it was the fourth and final Spaniard who must have heavily swayed the voting in the Twitter poll.

Such is the love for Xabi Alonso, Liverpool fans would have him back in a heartbeat, even though he’s now officially retired. Just mention the midfielder’s name to some and they will still go weak at the knees.

Alonso works in any team. In Benitez’s structured system, he flourished next to Steven Gerrard; at Real Madrid, he was part of the engine room that kept the Galacticos going; and at Bayern Munich, he continued to sparkle even in the twilight of his career. Oh, and then there was his success with the Spanish national team, as he won Euro 2008 and 2012, with the 2010 FIFA World Cup sandwiched in between.

But would he be the most beneficial of all the old boys? Probably not, no (and typing that makes me die a little inside).

While Alonso's range of passing would undoubtedly be beneficial, Klopp is not short of options to play in the centre of the park, particularly if Philippe Coutinho continues in the deeper role he occupied at the end of the last season.

Sorry to disagree with the masses, but Liverpool have more pressing concerns than midfield. A young, fresh-faced Alonso from 2004 isn't solving a problem in the current squad, he's just creating a headache when it comes to selecting the best XI.



Second place: 2007, Striking it Rich

Benitez’s summer of 2007 was a hotchpotch in terms of his transfer dealings.

Who can forget Charles Itandje, Damien Plessis and Sebastian Leto? Everyone, that’s who. The trio made about as much of an impact as a water pistol at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Other recruits did, however, make a better impression with the Reds. A young Lucas Leiva could replace the departing Lucas in Klopp’s crop, while Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun would offer contrasting options off the bench, particularly as Liverpool could do with some cover for wingers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

However, this window would be rebooted for just one man: Fernando Torres.

Signed for a then-club-record £20.2 million from Atletico Madrid, the Spanish striker didn’t take long to show he was worth every penny.

Handed the famous No. 9 jersey, Torres adapted quickly to the Premier League. The physicality and pace of English football suited him down to the ground as he became the focal point of Liverpool’s attack.

"El Nino" scored 33 goals in all competitions in his debut season. Injuries hampered him in the following years, but that shouldn’t detract from the initial impact he made.

"Torres is the nearest thing I have ever seen to Roger Hunt. When Roger was around, if there was a chance inside the 18-yard box then the ball was in the back of the net—there was no question about that," Tommy Smith said of the forward, per LFC History.

Of course, his move to Chelsea left a bitter taste. Liverpool profited financially, yet the loss of such a talismanic figure was like a gut punch from Mike Tyson (prime Mike Tyson, too, not the Mike Tyson who appears on Broadway).

The anger at the manner of his departure has faded with time. Torres struggled badly as a Blue in London and is now back home with Atletico, the club where he built such a burgeoning reputation in his early years.

But that player who dominated the 2007/08 campaign would start in Liverpool's current XI. While Roberto Firmino does a fine job leading the line, he’s not good enough to keep out a prime Torres, who could lead the counter-press and would feast on the chances that the creative players around him provided.



First place: 1999, Solid as a Rock

When Houllier took over, he talked about putting in place a five-year plan for success. Having started out at Anfield working alongside Roy Evans, the Frenchman was placed in sole charge in November 1998.

The following summer offered him the chance to put his stamp on the squad. The Reds were good at scoring goals—no surprise considering they had Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen up front—but had more issues with leaks than Julian Assange.

Houllier realised his grand plan didn’t have a hope of working out without solid foundations, so he signed two centre-backs to help plug the holes at the back.

Finn Sami Hyypia cost £3 million from Willem II in May 1999. Stephane Henchoz arrived the following month, with Liverpool paying relegated Blackburn £3.5 million to acquire the Swiss (thanks to a release clause in his contract).

Talk about hitting the jackpot.

The tall, technically gifted Hyypia meshed perfectly with the doggedly determined Henchoz. In their first season playing together, Liverpool conceded just 30 league goals as they finished in fourth position.

How supporters must wish they could pair these two together now. Just one of them would be nice, popped in alongside Joel Matip to give the Reds a more stable-looking centre-back partnership. Klopp’s public pursuit of Virgil van Dijk shows how Liverpool’s current boss sees the need for defensive reinforcements.

The German would also be ready with one of his now customary bear hugs to welcome the arrival of compatriot Dietmar Hamann, who signed from Newcastle United for £8 million on July 22, 1999.

Captain Jordan Henderson filled the holding midfield role until his 2016/17 season was cut short by a foot injury.

Hamann, however, might be an even better fit for the position. His ability to read the game, as well as kick-start attacks from deep with his excellent passing skills, would make him ideal for Klopp’s 4-3-3 system.

Titi Camara, Vladimir Smicer and Sander Westerveld arrived in the summer of 1999, although all three would do well to make the bench in the current squad.

Emile Heskey was also signed in the season, albeit he didn’t join until March 2000. He proved an excellent foil for Michael Owen in Houllier’s team that did the cup treble the following campaign. Yet for all his qualities (and he does have some, despite receiving plenty of criticism during his career), the striker wouldn't suit Klopp’s high-press, fast-tempo football.

Hyypia, Henchoz and Hamann, however, would fit right in. What Liverpool wouldn't give to repeat the summer of '99 all over again.



Rob Lancaster is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All statistics and transfer fees are from LFC History unless otherwise stated.

Read more Liverpool news on

          Fantasy Sports Bill Clears NJ Legislature   
The New Jersey Senate in a late voting session Friday gave final legislative approval to a bill that would regulate daily fantasy sports betting, a multi-million-dollar-a-year industry that has, until recently, gone largely unregulated nationwide.

          Want Something Done? Elect a Woman.   

If the voting public is frustrated with the ineffectiveness of Congress, electing women and giving them the political power they need to get things done is a two-pronged approach to changing the game.

The post Want Something Done? Elect a Woman. appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

          When adaptive tools can't adapt to students' native language   
A rapidly growing population of English language learners in the U.S. has caught the eye of the edtech market. As the demographics continue to shift, an increasing number of products are being designed to support ELL students, and a number of existing ELA and literacy products are pivoting to expand their audience to include the ELL community. Translation — whether by an in-house team of language experts, third-party translators or translation software — is often the first stop for these companies. But not all translations are created equal. So what happens when translations fail?
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Moldova gets first ‘wine airport’   

The residents of Moldova have shown their support for the country’s wine industry by voting to rename the capital’s airport, ‘Wines of Moldova Airport’.

Moldova wine airport
The 'Wines of Moldova' airport.

The 'Wines of Moldova' airport...

The post Moldova gets first ‘wine airport’ appeared first on Decanter.

          Andrew Cuomo Refuses Federal Data Request Related To Trump's "Voter Fraud Myth"   

Shortly after moving into the White House, President Trump promised a "major investigation into VOTER FRAUD" and vowed that any evidence of wrongdoing would be used to strengthen voting procedures.  The following tweets undoubtedly 'triggered' millions of liberals across the country as visions of 'racist' voter ID laws danced in their heads.


Then, just last month, that "major investigation" came in the form of an Executive Order entitled: "Presidential Executive Order on the Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity."  The Commission was to be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and it's mission was defined as follows:

The Commission shall, consistent with applicable law, study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections.  The Commission shall be solely advisory and shall submit a report to the President that identifies the following:


(a)  those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance the American people's confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections;


(b)  those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that undermine the American people's confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections; and


(c)  those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.


And, since no one would possibly argue in favor of more voter fraud rather than less, you might assume this particular Executive Order enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support across the country...of course, you could think that, but you would be incredibly wrong.

Enter New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Apparently Mr. Cuomo is so certain that voter fraud is nothing more than a right-wing "myth" that's he unwilling to even comply with a data request to make sure.  We're sure he's just trying to save Vice President Pence from wasting his time.


Of course, Cuomo's position is somewhat curious in light of the fact that New York City's own Commissioner of the Board of Elections, Alan Schulkin (Democrat), was caught on a secret video by Project Veritas openly admitting that "there is a lot of voter fraud."  At one point, Schulkin even admits that campaign officials bus minorities from "poll site to poll site" so they can vote multiple times.

“He gave out ID cards, de Blasio. That’s in lieu of a driver’s license, but you can use it for anything.  But they didn’t vet people to see who they really are. Anybody can go in there and say, ‘I am Joe Smith, I want an ID card."


"It’s absurd. There is a lot of fraud. Not just voter fraud, all kinds of fraud . . . This is why I get more conservative as I get older.”


“Voters? Yeah, they should ask for your ID. I think there is a lot of voter fraud.  You know, I don’t think it’s too much to ask somebody to show some kind of an ID . . . You go into a building, you have to show them your ID."


“They bus people around to vote . . . They put them in a bus and go poll site to poll site.”  Asked which neighborhoods, Schulkin said, “I don’t want to say.”  When the undercover mentions black and Hispanic neighborhoods, Schulkin responded, “Yeah . . . and Chinese, too.”


Alas, we assume that video is also just a 'myth'...

Of course, New York wasn't the only snowflake state to opt out of Trump's voter fraud data request. Apparently California is also quite confident that all of their illegal immigrants are voting legally...or something like that.


As The Hill notes, a total of 5 states have refused to turn over any voter data whatsoever while another 9 have said they'll only hand over publicly available data.

As of Friday afternoon, officials in New York, California, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Virginia had said they would not turn over any of their voter data to the voter fraud commission.


Other officials in Connecticut, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont, Utah, North Carolina, Indiana and Iowa said they would only turn over public information on voter rolls, but wouldn't share private information.


Wisconsin announced it would turn over public information but would charge the commission $12,500 to buy the voter roll data.

Of course, at the end of the day, you only really need to examine a couple of critical swing states to get a sense for how rampant voter fraud might be.  And, since we don't see Florida or Ohio on the lists above, we very much look forward to the data from those two states.


Britain’s Deepening Confusión

Robert Skidelsky
. theresa may

LONDON – “Enough is enough,” proclaimed British Prime Minister Theresa May after the terrorist attack on London Bridge. Now, it is clear, almost half of those who voted in the United Kingdom’s general election on June 8 have had enough of May, whose Conservative majority was wiped out at the polls, producing a hung parliament (with no majority for any party).

Whether it is “enough immigrants” or “enough austerity,” Britain’s voters certainly have had enough of a lot.
But the election has left Britain confusingly split. Last year’s Brexit referendum on European Union membership suggested a Leave-Remain divide, with the Brexiteers narrowly ahead. This year’s general election superimposed on this a more traditional left-right split, with a resurgent Labour Party capitalizing on voter discontent with Conservative budget cuts.
To see the resulting political terrain, imagine a two-by-two table, with the four quadrants occupied by Remainers and Budget Cutters; Remainers and Economic Expansionists; Brexiteers and Budget Cutters; and Brexiteers and Economic Expansionists. The four quadrants don’t add up to coherent halves, so it’s not possible to make out what voters thought they were voting for.
But it is possible to make out what voters were rejecting. There are two certain casualties. The first is austerity, which even the Conservatives have signaled they will abandon. Cutting public spending to balance the budget was based on the wrong theory and has failed in practice. The most telling indicator was the inability of George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2010 to 2016, to achieve any of his budget targets. The deficit was to have vanished by 2015, then by 2017, then by 2020-2021. Now, no government will commit to any date at all.
The targets were based on the idea that a “credible” deficit-reduction program would create sufficient business confidence to overcome the depressing effects on activity of the cuts themselves. Some say the targets were never credible enough. The truth is that they never could be: the deficit cannot come down unless the economy grows, and budget cuts, real and anticipated, hinder growth. The consensus now is that austerity delayed recovery for almost three years, depressing real earnings and leaving key public services like local government, health care, and education palpably damaged.
So expect the ridiculous obsession with balancing the budget to be scrapped. From now on, the deficit will be left to adjust to the state of the economy.
The second casualty is unrestricted immigration from the EU. The Brexiteers’ demand to “control our borders” was directed against the uncontrolled influx of economic migrants from Eastern Europe. This demand will have to be met in some way.
Migration within Europe was negligible when the EU was mainly West European. This changed when the EU began incorporating the low-wage ex-communist countries. The ensuing migration eased labor shortages in host countries like the UK and Germany, and increased the earnings of the migrants themselves. But such benefits do not apply to unrestricted migration.
Studies by Harvard University’s George J. Borjas and others suggest that net immigration lowers the wages of competing domestic labor. Borjas’s most famous study shows the depressive impact of “Marielitos” – Cubans who immigrated en masse to Miami in 1980 – on domestic working-class wages.
These fears have long underpinned sovereign states’ insistence on the right to control immigration. The case for control is strengthened when host countries have a labor surplus, as has been true of much of Western Europe since the crisis of 2008. Support for Brexit is essentially a demand for the restoration of sovereignty over the UK’s borders.
The crux of the issue is political legitimacy. Until modern times, markets were largely local, and heavily protected against outsiders, even from neighboring towns. National markets were achieved only with the advent of modern states. But the completely unrestricted movement of goods, capital, and labor within sovereign states became possible only when two conditions were met: the growth of national identity and the emergence of national authorities able to provide security in the face of adversity.
The European Union fulfills neither condition. Its peoples are citizens of their nation-states first. And the contract between citizens and states on which national economies depend cannot be reproduced at the European level, because there is no European state with which to conclude the deal. The EU’s insistence on free movement of labor as a condition of membership of a non-state is premature, at best. It will need to be qualified, not just as part of the UK’s Brexit deal, but for the whole of the EU.
So how will the shambolic results of the British general election play out? May will not last long as Prime Minister. Osborne has called her a “dead woman walking” (of course without acknowledging that his austerity policies helped to seal her demise).
The most sensible outcome is currently a political non-starter: a Conservative-Labour coalition government, with (say) Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn as his deputy.

The government would adopt a two-year program consisting of only two items: the conclusion of a “soft” Brexit deal with the EU and a big public investment program in housing, infrastructure, and green energy.
The rationale for the investment program is that a rising tide will lift all boats. And an added benefit of a thriving economy will be lower hostility to immigration, making it easier for Britain to negotiate sensible regulation of migrant flows.
And who knows: if the negotiations force the EU to re-cast its own commitment to free labor movement, Brexit may turn out to be a matter less of British exit than of an overhaul of the terms of European membership.

          LETTER TO EDITOR: Thoughts about election lawn signs   
Brantford city councillors are considering a new rule that would prevent municipal candidates from putting up lawn signs earlier than 28 days before voting day. I agree with Ward 5 Coun. David Neumann, who suggested a ban on lawn signs altogether. A

          More candidate information needed to make informed choice   
I have lived in the County of Brant’s Ward 1, on Powerline Road at the far east end almost at the border with Hamilton, for the past six years. I make a point of voting in all elections and so had to figure out who to vote for in the municipal elec

          1625 - Cliff Schecter: The Republicans Health Care Scam & Larry Murphy Does Hilarious Resistance Politics   

Cliff Schecter, explains what why Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are holding up the health care destruction bill. What's Mitch McConnell's angle. Shelly Moore Capito, shows how a Republican can be bribed to support the bill. The Republican assault on Medicaid. Ezra Klein sort of loses his innocence. The Trump and Morning Joe war and the new assault on voting rights.

Larry Murphy, talks about Trump country in Massachusetts. Trump's constant lies. The Boston bros and Trump and Larry keeps up with everything.

          Fox in the Hen House: Allowing Terrorists to Re-enter Prisons   

Recent articles by the IPT and other news organizations have addressed the growing concerns regarding the upcoming release of over a hundred inmates convicted of terrorism related crimes. Experts have spoken on the lack of a bona fide strategy that will address the unique security issues presented when a terrorist is released. The need for post release specialized supervision programs is clear.

The one idea that should not be on the table is to allow them to re-enter prisons to speak with inmates as a religious volunteer. Yet this is exactly what has happened in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) for the last two years.

Edwin Lorenzo Lemmons, also known as Asad al Salaam, is an employee of the Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia. He is licensed in the state as an Islamic clergyman authorized to perform marriages and other religious ceremonies. He has been issued a statewide pass to enter any VADOC facility and speak with inmates. He is currently teaching a class in Arabic for inmates. He is also an ex-offender. While that in itself is not unusual, many ex-offenders, in a desire to give back and help others in similar situations, have successfully done so. This particular ex-offender, Edwin Lorenzo Lemmons, (FBI # 939113RA3), is quite unique.

Lemmons' criminal history began in a small rural community in upstate New York. His parents had sent him there from Chicago in hopes of protecting him from the scourge of gang violence and drugs. His first arrest occurred when he was a teenager, and for the next two years he amassed charges ranging from DUI to Burglary, Assault, and finally, Robbery. The last charge resulted in his being sentenced to a term of 2-4 years in a New York State prison. Upon his entrance to a Reception and Classification facility in April of 1996, he declared his religion as Christian. A few months later, after meeting with several inmates of Middle Eastern descent, one, a former Colonel in the Yemeni army and the other, a member of Hamas, Mr. Lemmons informed his counselor that he was changing his religious affiliation to Islam. Following that development, he began to attend Arabic classes taught by another inmate in the Cayuga Correctional Facility. The inmate teacher's name was Abdel Nasser Zaben.

Abdel Zaben, a Palestinian, was born in Jordan in 1969. He illegally entered the United States in 1990, arrested by the NYPD in 1993 for Kidnapping and Robbery, and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Zaben was also the target of an investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force who had received confidential information that he had sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden and was recruiting disenfranchised inmates to his group for training and to fight in the Jihad. At the time he first met with Edwin Lemmons, Zaben worked as a clerk for the prison's Islamic Chaplain . For the next two years he tutored Lemmons in both Arabic and the Koran. When the time for Lemmons' release from prison drew near, inmate Zaben provided him with names and contact information of individuals in the Middle East who would assist Lemmons in his travel and studies.

Following his release, in the fall of 1998, Lemmons had his parole supervision transferred to Florida, and enrolled in the Islamic Center of Gainesville. In March 2000, Lemmons made his first trip overseas to the Middle East. Upon his return from Jordan through New York's JFK Airport and then on to Gainesville, Florida, he approached the president of the Islamic center and asked about fighting in the jihad overseas. The then-president, Mohamed Bahmaid, in an interview with members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, stated that he tried to discourage Lemmons from any future overseas travel. Lemmons did not heed his advice. Four months later Lemmons made another trip overseas, this time to Egypt. He stayed for three months and while there, according to a reliable source who knew both Lemmons and Zaben, he received "underground tactical training."

Later, while under surveillance by the JTTF, Lemmons was observed at a firing range in Melbourne, Florida with two other individuals, firing AK 47's and SKS assault rifles. They were practicing tactical maneuvers known as "cover & concealment." In addition, authorities received credible information from a reliable source that described Lemmons as someone with extremist Islamic views similar to that of the Taliban. Lemmons himself admitted to extremist views in a recorded conversation with inmate Abdel Zaben. The majority of Lemmon's conversations with Zaben were in Arabic and required the use of government translators. The translators often remarked as to the skill and scholarly approach to the language that Lemmons had acquired. That development caused concern with investigators in June 2003 when monitoring a conversation between Lemmons and Zaben. Lemmons kept saying over and over to Zaben that he needed to learn how to say "Big Truck" in Arabic. He was fluent in Arabic and knew precisely how to say those words. Why was he repeating the phrase, "Big Truck"? Investigators believed this was a coded message about a possible future attack that Lemmons was to be involved with.

That is why on September 6, 2003, members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Lemmons in the Orlando airport as he returned from yet another trip to the Middle East. He was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. But this was no ordinary gun case. This was the result of a joint investigation dubbed "Operation Hades" which included investigators from my Office, the NYPD, the NYSP, and the JTTF. The goal of the investigation was to determine the level of Islamic radicalization in the prison system both here and abroad and also to identify and neutralize any radicalizing influences.

Lemmons was only one of the many radicals we uncovered.

As a result of his plea arrangement, he received a sentence of twenty seven months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He was released from prison on May 12, 2006. He continued to have contact with Abdel Zaben and other individuals in the Middle East whom he met during his travels. He has never recanted his extremist views.

The question arises as to why the Muslim Chaplains Services of Virginia would hire someone holding such extremist views. Perhaps they were unaware of Lemmons' background, or perhaps they share the same beliefs as Mr. Lemmons. The MCSVA is a non-profit organization incorporated in 2003 whose stated mission is "to serve incarcerated individuals, ex-offenders, and their families." To accomplish that goal, MCSVA has received funding from various organizations including the Islamic Relief (IRUSA), an organization with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Its former global affiliate and current partner organization Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) was banned from operating in Israel on allegations the charity funneled funds to Hamas. Later the same year, the United Arab Emirates declared IRW to be a terrorist group.

One of the MCSVA board members, Sa'ad El-Amin, pled guilty to Tax Fraud and sentenced to 37 months in a federal prison. Adding to this, MCSVA is now employing an individual who was radicalized in prison and has spoken of fighting and dying for jihad, namely Edwin Lorenzo Lemmons, also known as Asad al Salaam

Allowing an individual with such radical Islamic views to meet, teach, and influence a particularly vulnerable group of society, incarcerated men and women, is in direct opposition to the FBI's Correctional Intelligence Initiative which seeks to detect, deter, and disrupt the level of violent extremism and radicalization in correctional institutions. It specifically speaks of preventing un-vetted religious clergy and volunteers with extremist views from any interaction with inmates. The DOJ Inspector General's Office has also spoken of this security concern. That inmates could be radicalized while incarcerated and then carry out terrorist attacks after release is a very real concern both here and in abroad.

It seems incredulous to me that, in light of the recent terrorist attacks in the UK and other European countries, carried out in part by individuals radicalized in prison, someone with Mr. Lemmons' background would be allowed to reenter a prison, let alone teach inmates.

When notified of Lemmons' well documented criminal activity since his release from a New York State prison, Melissa Welch, the Operations Support Manager for VADOC, whose office oversees religious volunteers, stated that the approval to allow Mr. Lemmons to visit and teach inmates in Virginia was granted by her predecessor in 2015. She went on to say that the agency is in the process of reviewing how Edwin Lemmons slipped through the cracks and what action VADOC will need to take to correct the security error.

Three crucial steps will be necessary to effectively neutralize this egregious security breach. First, Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold Clarke should immediately suspend Mr. Lemmons' authorization to enter any correctional facility. Second, an audit/investigation into how religious volunteers are vetted should be conducted, and changes made, to prevent individuals with prior convictions for terror related crimes to gain access to any correctional facility. And thirdly, a list of the names of all the inmates, both in custody or released, who attended any classes or services conducted by Mr. Lemmons should be forwarded to the National Joint Terrorism Task Force that has oversight for the Correctional Intelligence Initiative Program.

Failing to implement these steps will only increase the level of radicalizing influences in the U.S. prison system.

Allowing a fox into the hen house does irreparable harm to all. Allowing a terrorist back into prison will only do the same.

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          The "Crime of the Century" is Bad Journalism   

The latest propaganda piece from The Washington Post, "Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault," is based, as usual, mostly on anonymous sources determined to make former President Barack Obama look good. The gist is that Obama tried his best to punish Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 election, but he fell short and left the matter in the hands of President Donald Trump, who has done nothing.

So Trump is blamed for Obama's failure. How convenient.

The essence of the piece is that "intelligence" was "captured" that somehow proved that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave "specific instructions" that he wanted  to "defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump."

Pardon me, but I don't believe this for a moment. This "intelligence" may be what the Post seeks to expose-Russian "active measures" or disinformation.

As we reported back in January, "Looking at the election objectively, it is possible to say that Russian leader Vladimir Putin may have had a personal vendetta against the former U.S. secretary of state for some reason, stemming from allegations of U.S. meddling in Russian internal affairs. On the other hand, Putin may have preferred that Clinton become the U.S. president because her failed Russian ‘reset' had facilitated Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Syria, and he believed he could continue to take advantage of her."

This makes far more sense than the Post story.

Remember that Obama won the 2012 election after dismissing his Republican opponent Mitt Romney's claim that Russia was a geopolitical threat to the United States. Obama had also been caught on an open mic before the election promising to be "flexible" in changing his positions to benefit Russia.

"These comments provide more evidence that Obama was never the anti-Russian figure he postured as in the final days of his second term," we noted.

The Post story by Greg Miller and others is an obvious response to the observation that, if Obama thought the Russian interference was such a big deal, what did Obama try to do about it?

One can read the entire article if you are interested in how pro-Obama propaganda is manufactured by the Post. Some parts of the article are more ludicrous than others, such as this paragraph:

"Throughout his presidency, Obama's approach to national security challenges was deliberate and cautious. He came into office seeking to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was loath to act without support from allies overseas and firm political footing at home. He was drawn only reluctantly into foreign crises, such as the civil war in Syria, that presented no clear exit for the United States."

The paragraph is designed to mask Obama's indifference to Russian aggression in places like Crimea, Ukraine and Syria. In regard to the latter, Obama failed to save Syria from Russian aggression and facilitated a conflict-through secret arms shipments to the region-that now stands at 500,000 dead.

Obama's alleged "cautious" approach in the Middle East was to support jihadist groups in Syria and Libya, and back regimes such as the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, which was overthrown by the military backed by the people.

The hero in the Post account is Obama's CIA director John Brennan, who joined the agency after admitting to voting for Moscow's man in the 1976 presidential election, Gus Hall of the Communist Party USA. Suddenly, we are led to believe, as CIA director, he became anti-Russian after discovering a Moscow plot in 2016 to disrupt the presidential election.

"In political terms," the paper said, "Russia's interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy."

This is complete nonsense. There is no evidence any votes were changed as a result of this so-called "interference."

The crime of the century is bad journalism based on anonymous sources who hide behind papers like the Post to spread their self-serving and partisan propaganda.

"This account of the Obama administration's response to Russia's interference is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services," the Post said. "Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue."

One paragraph in particular tells you everything you know about the anonymous sources behind this story. "Those closest to Obama defend the administration's response to Russia's meddling," the Post said. Yes, indeed, those "closest to Obama" would certainly do so.

Then we're told that that "They believe that a series of warnings-including one that Obama delivered to Putin in September-prompted Moscow to abandon any plans of further aggression, such as sabotage of U.S. voting systems."

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for this dramatic statement. It's completely made up.

Remember, this is the same Obama who once assured Putin that after he won his re-election campaign in 2012, he would have "more flexibility" with the Russian leader and be able to offer more concessions.

Now, all of a sudden, Obama is rough and tough and gets things done with the Russian leader. What a joke.

The paper reported that "Obama confronted Putin directly during a meeting of world leaders in Hangzhou, China. Accompanied only by interpreters, Obama told Putin that ‘we knew what he was doing and [he] better stop or else,' according to a senior aide who subsequently spoke with Obama. Putin responded by demanding proof and accusing the United States of interfering in Russia's internal affairs."

Or else?

It sounds like the red line in Syria that Obama had warned the Syrian regime not to cross. But they crossed it anyway.

Obama's so-called "secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault" exists in the minds of Post reporters who are waging a not-so-secret struggle to rehabilitate the former president's disastrous foreign policy toward Russia and most of the rest of the world.

Let's not forget one more debacle-Obama's deal with Russian client state Iran to facilitate the regime's nuclear weapons program and world-wide terrorism.

That may end up being another crime of the century, on par with President Bill Clinton's deal with North Korea that was supposed to prevent the communist regime from getting its hands on nuclear weapons.

Speaking of North Korea, whose nuclear weapons program accelerated under Obama, hear the words of Otto Warmbier's father about his son being released after Trump took office: "I think the results speak for themselves."

Obama's "cautious and deliberate" approach was to let the young man languish in a North Korean prison while being tortured to near death.

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          Malloy angered by lack of vote on temporary budget   
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An angry Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he’s “dumbfounded” that lawmakers will not be voting on a temporary budget to avo…
          These Are the Top 5 Names for the New Crayola Crayon   
Voting is open through Aug. 31
          Moore and Delle Donne lead All-Star voting   

WNBA teams and players have gotten creative on social media to try and get out the vote for the All-Star Game. Whether it's making fun videos, appealing to college fan bases or even calling in a friend with a huge following on Twitter, the ploys seem to be working as fan voting is way up.

          Trump's voter commission already stirring criticism   
Donald Trump's appointment of an "election integrity" commission including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach raised red flags from the start and its activities have already spurred more concerns that it's another vote suppression ploy.

Kobach has led efforts to suppress votes in Kansas and has participated in highly flawed efforts to investigate voter rolls nationally. He's a pal of Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin.

Now he's sent a letter to all 50 states in advance of the first meeting.

The information requested includes the names, addresses, birthdates, political party v(if recorded), last four digits of the voter's Social Security Number and which elections the voter has participated in since 2006, for every registered voter in the country.

Kobach, who is also Kansas' Republican secretary of state, did not say how the commission plans to use the data other than to help it "fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting."
If history repeats, he'll drum up some bogus matching lists, heavily flawed because, for example, the fact that five or six  people with the same name, say Jose Cruz or Roosevelt Washington to give you the idea of what Kobach hopes to find, exist in several states isn't evidence of voter fraud.

Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, boiled it down to this on Twitter:

The letter @KrisKobach1787 is sending to states confirms: Pence and Kobach are laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple. 
The Kentucky secretary of state has told Kobach to stuff it.

I've asked Mark Martin's office if it intends to comply with Kobach's request. UPDATE: His spokesman, Chris Powell, says Arkansas has not received the letter.

I also sent an e-mail to former Democratic state Rep. David Dunn, now a lobbyist at the Arkansas Capitol, for his response to this. He was appointed to this panel thanks to friendship with Mark Martin. I wondered what he thought of the witch hunt in which he's been enlisted. No response as yet.

Talking Points Memo, in outlining how dubious this effort is, notes:

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D), who released the copy of Kobach’s letter sent to her, issued a statement saying that, while they’ll be turning over the data, they’ll also be requesting from Kobach’s commission “any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the Commission is looking for.”

“This lack of openness is all the more concerning, considering that the Vice Chair of the Commission, Kris Kobach, has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas,” Merrill said. “The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters. Given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.”
David Dunn, where are you?

The League of Women Voters' Chris Carson had this to say:Vir

“There is no justification for this giant fishing expedition. The Commission itself is a distraction from the real issue of voter suppression, and that efforts to ‘investigate voter fraud’ threaten our most fundamental voting rights.

“This most recent move by Mr. Kobach is an indicator that the so-called Election ‘Integrity’ Commission is not interested in facts, but false accusations and dangerous policy recommendations.

“State laws govern the release of voter registration information, and, at a minimum, election officials must follow those laws before releasing data. "
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said: "I have no intention of honoring this request." California, Massachusetts and Kentucky aren't going along either. UPDATE: Add Rhode Island. UPDATE: Add Indiana!

FURTHER UPDATE: Kobach says Kobach-led Kansas won't supply the Social Security numbers he's requested.

Mother Jones explains how this is a building block for more Republican vote suppression.

More from Talking Points Memo on this bad idea.

UPDATE: In late afternoon, Ari Berman says 18 states have refused to participate: CA, CT, IN, KY, MA, MN, NC, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, RI, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA

Good overview here including clueless comment from David Dunn. Who knew?

Even Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said on national TV that this is not a good idea

          Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info request - CNN   


Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info request
Washington (CNN) A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state's voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President's commission on voting. The Presidential ...
Trump's voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back.Washington Post
States and Trump voter fraud commission set for showdownThe Hill
Increasing number of states reject request for personal information on voters from Trump commissionLos Angeles Times
U.S. News & World Report -The Boston Globe -BuzzFeed News
all 333 news articles »

          State Lawmaker Is Eligible For District Attorney Job, Court Rules   
The Oklahoma Supreme Court says Republican state Rep. Fred Jordan of Jenks is eligible to become Tulsa County's district attorney, even though a raise for prosecutors was approved during his term in the Legislature. In a 5-1 ruling on Friday, the state's highest court ruled that a provision of the constitution did not apply to Jordan, since he wouldn't become district attorney until after his legislative term ends. Jordan's candidacy had been challenged by his opponent in the Aug. 26 Republican primary runoff, Steve Kunzweiler, who is the chief of the Tulsa County district attorney's criminal division. Kunzweiler argued Jordan isn't eligible to serve as DA because of a pay increase that was approved by the Legislature earlier this year. Jordan abstained from voting on the bill. ------------------------------------------ KGOU produces journalism in the public interest, essential to an informed electorate. Help support informative, in-depth journalism with a donation online , or contact
          Fury as students ‘openly boast of voting TWICE’ for Corbyn’s Labour - rules review called   

THE government has signalled that it will review election rules after an MP claimed students are openly boasting about voting twice in the election.
          Margarita Fest preview   
The inaugural competition is May 4.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, May 4, bartending teams from 15 Central Arkansas restaurants and bars will face off in the River Market pavilions for the Arkansas Times' Margarita Festival, presented by Don Julio tequilas, in partnership with Steve Landers Auto Group.

During the live competition, each team will provide one sample of a unique margarita to each of the 500 festival-goers, who will be voting for their favorite cocktails via text message. The team with the most votes at the end of the night wins bragging rights for having the best margarita in the land — that is, until next year's showdown. Loca Luna and Hot Springs' Taco Mama (two of the margarita competitors) will also sell food, and — lest anyone get too tequila-sodden — other beverage options, including FRIO and Captain Morgan Rum drinks will be available for purchase..

As if tequila tasting itself wouldn't be entertainment enough, there also will be salsa tunes and Jimmy Buffett standards from Club 27's Little Rock Salsa, which almost certainly means there will be dancing (or, at the very least, some hip swaying). The festival will last until 9 p.m., and River Market neighbor Ernie Biggs dueling piano bar is the unofficial after-party spot; a festival wristband will waive your cover to go boogieing into the night.

If you haven't already purchased tickets to this year's festival, you'll have to wait for the 2018 event: All 500 tickets have been sold.

This year's cocktail competition will include entries from:

109 & Co. – Derrick Hall

Craft cocktails are the bread and butter of this downtown bar and lounge, and though its signature drinks tend to be whiskey- or gin-based, the possibility of a margarita from this sophisticated outfit sparks curiosity.

Big Whiskey's – Jana Miller

The all-American vibe of this River Market staple restaurant and bar could yield a margarita that's a crowd-pleasing contender.

Bleu Monkey Grill – Ozzie Oseguera & Joey Godoy

At this family-friendly Spa City restaurant with a Caribbean-inflected menu, margaritas — including some with distinctly tropical twists — top the list of specialty drinks.

Boulevard Bistro – Summer Blake

Artisanal is the watchword at this longtime Little Rock lunch staple, which has been offering a dinner dining experience (and a full bar) for over two years now, so a carefully wrought recipe is a guarantee.

Cache Restaurant – Robby Wellborn

Cache has earned its reputation as a downtown fine-dining go-to with its exquisite business lunches and sophisticated dinner menu, but the upstairs bar, lounge and balcony offer a great atmosphere and a place to cut loose. Expect a surprise from this team.

Cajun's Wharf – Rick Flores

Any bartending team who can keep up with the droves of singles at Cajun's Big Swinging Deck parties is sure to perform well under pressure. The portions of margarita samples won't have the heft of a mason-jar-sized Play-De-Do, but we're expecting a signature twist.

Copper Grill – Stephen WIlson

Consistent quality is what keeps frequent Copper Grill diners coming back time and again. And when they shake it up, it happens behind the bar.

Ernie Biggs

Late-night crowds prove this team's mettle on a daily basis, and classic cocktail recipes are its stock-in-trade. Though margaritas aren't typically the first thing one might imagine drinking in a piano bar, the tequila does flow.

Loca Luna – T.J. Spignert

Satisfying the tastes of Little Rockers is what has made Loca Luna an institution here for over 20 years.

O'Looney's + Loblolly (Allied Forces) – Seth Barlow

What happens when a boutique liquor store hooks up with a boutique ice cream joint? An imaginative entry that is sure to blow our minds.

The Pizzeria – Dillion Garcia / The Perfect Margarita

The craft cocktails at this bar are one of Little Rock's treasures, and the skilled bar staff has earned a loyal following among regulars. Expect them to take no shortcuts and to settle for nothing less than excellence.

Revolution Taco and Tequila Bar –

In some ways, Revolution will be on home turf, as a tequila bar and music venue in the River Market district, but no one's betting on this team to play it safe.

Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill

Reading a cocktail menu isn't necessarily supposed to be fun, right? But that is somehow the case at the bar at Samantha's. Will the bartenders seek inspiration from one of their signature drinks, or will they play a wild card?

Taco Mama – Shane Bratton / Taco Mama's House Margarita

Mexican food with real culinary chops needs a house margarita to do it justice, and Hot Springs' Taco Mama does not disappoint. Let's hope that's equally true for the traveling team.

Trio's - Merrick Fagan / Grapefruit Mint Margarita

Say what you want about ladies who lunch and brunch, there's no substitute for good taste, and this Little Rock favorite has it in droves — no doubt that holds true for its margaritas, too.

          The Little Rock millage question: taxation without representation?   
Frustration with the state's takeover of Little Rock schools scrambles the usual political lines on an upcoming millage election.

On May 9, residents of the Little Rock School District will vote on a ballot measure that would allow the district to make facilities improvements totaling $160 million, if approved. According to LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore, the measure is not a new tax, since it would not raise the rate of 46.4 mills now levied on property owners. Instead, by refinancing debt on an existing bond, the district would push back the expiration date of a portion (12.4 mills) of the current tax rate by 14 years, from 2033 to 2047. The LRSD says the projects to be funded by this extension of debt would include construction of a new high school in long-neglected Southwest Little Rock, major renovations to the McClellan High School campus and improvements to almost every school building in the district, from roof replacements to air conditioner upgrades to new windows. The work could begin as early as this summer, with some efforts completed in time for the 2017-18 school year.

So why are many public school advocates — including the city's most visible African-American civic leaders — urging a "no" vote on May 9?

In a word, distrust. Since January 2015, when the district was taken over by a 5-4 vote of the state Board of Education, the LRSD has been governed not by a locally elected school board, but by Arkansas's education commissioner, Johnny Key, a gubernatorial appointee. The proximate reason for the takeover was low student performance at six schools (out of the district's 48 campuses) that were deemed to be in "academic distress" based on test scores over a three-year period. But many in Little Rock saw other reasons for the state's actions: a racially motivated animus toward the majority-black local school board, which was dissolved by the January 2015 state board vote, and a desire to promote privately operated charter schools at the expense of public ones. For those critical of the takeover, the past two years have only confirmed these suspicions.

Two charter operators in Little Rock, eStem Public Charter Schools and LISA Academy, are dramatically expanding and will likely draw many students away from the LRSD in the coming years — perhaps thousands. The state board authorized their expansion plans in March 2016 over the vocal protests of the district's erstwhile superintendent, Baker Kurrus, who was fired by Commissioner Key shortly thereafter. Kurrus had served just one year on the job, having been hired by Key in 2015. Then, in the 2017 legislative session, the Republican majority created a new law that will soon allow charters to force districts to sell or lease school buildings deemed "unused or underutilized." The LRSD will close two buildings at the end of the current school year, and the ongoing migration of families toward charters raises the possibility of more closures in the future. And more charter operators are eyeing the Little Rock market: In March, a New Orleans-based operator called Einstein Charter Schools began the application process to open a campus in the city. All of this means the district is asking taxpayers to shoulder millions of dollars in additional debt to improve public buildings at a time when the future ownership of those buildings is itself in doubt.

Those who believe racial prejudice propelled the takeover find fault both with charter growth and with the district's priorities while under state control, especially the recent closure decisions. The LRSD soon will shutter two K-5 elementary schools, Franklin and Wilson, along with a pre-K facility, Woodruff Early Childhood Center. The LRSD's alternative school, Hamilton Learning Academy, will move to the Wilson building, with the old Hamilton building likely to be used by adjacent Bale Elementary. Franklin and Wilson are located in majority-minority neighborhoods and their student populations are mostly African-American and Latino. Though many of the projects outlined in the LRSD's list of capital improvements to be funded by the May 9 vote would benefit schools serving black and Latino students — the Southwest Little Rock high school most of all — many activists are deeply skeptical the district will follow through with those promises. Because the ballot measure does not specifically state which projects will receive funding, some warn the $160 million could be directed toward schools in more affluent, whiter neighborhoods rather than those with the greatest needs.

Superintendent Poore is at the heart of this controversy. The decision to close or repurpose schools was his, and he defends it as a difficult but necessary choice. (Key, who acts as the district's board while under state control, gave final approval.) For years, the LRSD received $37 million annually from the state as a result of a desegregation lawsuit — over 10 percent of its budget — but those payments will soon end. Although both Poore and his predecessor, Kurrus, made major cuts in other areas, the district still had to trim $11 million from the 2017-18 budget.

Poore told the Arkansas Times recently that school closures were painful, but also long expected. "The reality was we had 2,300 vacant elementary seats — 4,100 when you add in the portable [buildings] — and so we took out of the mix two elementaries with maximum capacities being just under 1,000." If the LRSD doesn't close buildings, Poore argued, it would have to cut back on staff. "Yes, these two schools closing, and the preschool closing, that has an impact on our communities, but I'll tell you what could have had a bigger impact. ... When 80 percent of your business is people, now you're talking about privatizing food service, privatizing custodial. ... We could have been impacting hundreds of employees if we'd taken that route."

As for the charter school issue, Poore said he urged legislators to vote against the recent legislation, which will give charters the ability to wrest underutilized buildings away from districts. Poore has not been as outspoken as Kurrus on the potential harm that charter growth can deal to the LRSD, but he's made it clear he doesn't want the district's facilities to be colonized by outside schools. For that reason, he is moving quickly to find a new use for the Franklin and Woodruff buildings, and the district is now reviewing proposals garnered by a recent RFP.

"We're trying to be aggressive about repurposing," he said, adding later, "I don't believe we want to enhance the number of charter seats [in Little Rock] right now."

Poore argued that capital improvements are necessary if the district hopes to retain students or to win back families that have left the LRSD for charters or private schools. He pointed to studies showing modernized facilities can boost student achievement by several percentage points. "I can't control [charter growth], but what I can control is what we do. ... If you've improved academic performance and you're creating a better learning environment and it's a more pleasing building to kids and patrons, that prevents some of the issues that we're already facing right now in terms of our competitiveness. And it ties into the bigger picture of what this district has to do to have the community believe that, and, more importantly, have families say, 'I want my kid in Little Rock schools.' "

Poore also said the proposed debt extension on the May 9 ballot is "just the first phase" in a larger, long-term plan to address the full $340 million in needs identified by a 2014 study of district facilities, which will eventually require a modest millage increase. Getting the ball rolling with an initial $160 million investment will build confidence for that future vote, Poore believes. "My No. 1 target that has been given me since I came in, from the governor, the commissioner and this community, is [to] get local control back. But the No. 1 thing to do is to serve kids well, and they deserve to not have a roof that leaks. They deserve to have air conditioning that creates fresh air [and] hallways that aren't dark and dingy," he said.

Yet for many, the May 9 vote itself is a reminder that LRSD voters have not weighed in on a school issue since the September 2014 local board election — a few months before the state takeover dissolved that body. State board member Jay Barth, a Little Rock resident, recently pushed his colleagues to set a timeline for release of the district from state control, but the effort foundered.

"There are people who are critical," the superintendent acknowledged, "who say, 'Really, Mike Poore? You're coming to ask us in May to extend the debt, and you just closed schools? And really, you're coming when we don't even have local control?' Well, on the local control issue — this does allow every citizen in this whole community right now [to speak]. You can't get a truer form of democracy than everyone gets to go vote on this issue. So in that sense, it really is a deal to let the community say, 'Here's what we think.' "

And what does the community think? To get a sense, we asked school advocates on both sides to make their case.

Maxine Allen

I am a sixth-generation Little Rock residential property owner. I witnessed my parents paying a poll tax in order to vote. I am a product of the segregated and then newly integrated Little Rock School District. I attended the district at a time in which white schools received textbooks first. By the time black schools got the books, they were soiled, pages were missing and text had been marked through. In spite of all of that, I believed I received an excellent education.

I am a parent who served as a "room mother" and whose children attended Woodruff, Pulaski Heights and Williams Magnet Elementary Schools; Pulaski Heights, Horace Mann Magnet and Forest Heights Middle Schools; and Parkview and Central High Schools. I believe my children received a quality education.

I am a pastor who has served as a volunteer in public schools. I believe every child needs a great school where they are immersed in diversity, encouraged to think critically and empowered to expand their worldview. As a United Methodist, I operate within our tradition that declares education is a right of all children. This is affirmed by scripture, which calls us to "train children in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6).

However, I believe that we must regain local control of our schools BEFORE voting for any millage. The LRSD is no longer in academic distress (if it ever was, as six schools do not a distressed district make). While I have many friends on the opposite side of this issue, I cannot in good conscious vote for the millage until we have an elected LRSD board. There's just something about the basic American principle, "No taxation without representation." For these reasons, I urge you to vote against the millage!

Rev. Maxine Allen is the president of the Christian Ministerial Alliance.

State Sen. Joyce Elliott

Little Rock School District students deserve not just better facilities, but world-class facilities. So let's just stipulate that we all agree on that point and try to understand why many of us feel as if we are redlined to bear the burden of a master plan not revealed to us. For example, most of the millage extension supporters I have observed do not have schools closing in their neighborhoods.

LRSD students, parents/guardians, educators and others deserve to have their district back, not under state control. To this date, there has been no compelling reason put forth for the state to have assumed authority over the LRSD when 42 of the 48 schools in the district — 87 percent — were not in distress. The number has since climbed to 45 schools, or 94 percent. It was a raw exercise of power by folks who gave vague answers such as, "Well, something needed to be done." Yes — about the few schools in academic distress. Taking over the entire district was totally unwarranted. If I have a couple of teeth that need to be extracted, would you extract them all using the logic "something needed to be done"? Certainly not. But that's just what the State Board of Education did.

And now the extended apparatus of the board, Commissioner Key, has wielded power far beyond addressing the schools in academic distress by hiring a superintendent (Baker Kurrus), firing that superintendent, installing present Superintendent Michael Poore and unilaterally closing schools in historically underserved neighborhoods south of Interstate 630. And now, folks who advocated for the state board to seize control of the LRSD, such as the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, are leading the effort to extend the millage with glossy flyers and bright yard signs.

I cannot vote for a tax without elected, accountable representation. I want the best for LRSD students, but I am not prepared to dishonor the blood-soaked history of all those who sacrificed to guarantee me full citizenship rights. There are many voters who share my visceral feeling that a tax election imposed by one person is a betrayal of democracy. There are others, it appears, who have no problem with it and who are cheerleading to carry out a vote under conditions you might find in a developing country.

This election is a deliberate attempt to force us into a false dilemma: On May 9, choose better facilities for students, or choose to insist on restoration of our rights as citizens. Let us not choose but work together to demand both. Let's not give in to political extortion.

Will the folks who pleaded for the takeover now join in the demand to return the LRSD to us? I hope so. I am ready to join hands with you.

Joyce Elliott is a Democratic state senator representing a portion of Little Rock and a former teacher.

Bill Kopsky

For the first time in my life, I will be voting AGAINST a bond measure for important civic infrastructure. My opposition to the bond extension comes down to trust, transparency, accountability and inclusion.

A deep distrust rooted in more than a century of racial and economic segregation is the LRSD's biggest challenge, not finances. The state takeover and Education Commissioner Johnny Key, our one-man appointed school board, have made it worse.

Commissioner Key consistently refuses to meet with the community and has failed to produce any vision for the school district other than a massive, polarizing charter school expansion. He is barreling ahead despite clear data showing that charter schools fail to outperform LRSD schools with similar demographics. Those charters leave the LRSD with a more segregated student population and significantly fewer resources to meet their needs.

The greatest tragedy of Commissioner Key's charter mania is the distraction from effective education reforms we could be working on together. We should be expanding community schools, not closing neighborhood schools. We should be recruiting and developing more world-class teachers, not demoralizing and chasing them away. We should be building community partnerships to help our students meet their full potential, not alienating wide swaths of the city. We should be dramatically expanding early childhood education, summer and afterschool programs, and supports for low-income students and English-language learners.

The LRSD is attempting some of these reforms, but it is constantly being undermined by the state. In 2015, legislators attempted to hand the entire district over to private charter corporations. Then, the commissioner fired our superintendent, Baker Kurrus, for telling the truth about charter expansion's harmful effects. This year, the legislature passed a law requiring us to give closed school buildings to charter corporations while those in control of the district simultaneously shut down schools in the most vulnerable parts of town in a sham public engagement process.

Now with no trust, transparency or accountability, and no district-wide plan for the future, Commissioner Key asks for a bond extension? It's outrageous. How could anyone trust him with a blank check?

Those arguing for the bond extension rightly point out that LRSD facilities have many needs. They fail to make a case for the urgency of doing this while we remain under state control. The bond that we are being asked to extend doesn't expire for years to come.

There's no reason why Little Rock taxpayers can't make this decision once LRSD is back in local control. The schools our kids deserve are rooted in evidence-based and community-driven reforms. In the coming years I hope to vote for a transparent and accountable bond measure that unites our city. For now, VOTE AGAINST.

Bill Kopsky is a Little Rock School District parent and public education advocate.

Marion Humphrey Sr.

I intend to vote against extending this millage because I do not trust either Education Commissioner Johnny Key or the Arkansas State Board of Education.

Key was placed in charge of the district after the state board's racist and immoral vote on Jan. 28, 2015, to remove the lawfully elected and majority African-American district's board of directors. The takeover came after the district's board was notified by letter on July 10, 2014, that six out of its 48 schools were in academic distress. The district was given just one semester in which to correct the acknowledged problems with those schools. No further academic proficiency testing was done between the time of notification in July and the time of the takeover the following January. The fix was already in.

The state board simply wanted someone other than the duly elected district board members in control, even if that meant recklessly throwing the district into disarray and chaos in the middle of the school year. The majority of the state board removed a local school board composed of people whom the Walton Family Foundation and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce did not want to be in charge of the district — and especially its $330 million budget.

Yet Key has not made himself available to the general public to discuss why the millage extension is necessary. Whether he does not want to disclose what he intends to do with the additional money or whether he does not have time to be bothered with some of us, Key is simply not accessible to many district patrons. Perhaps he has targeted the voters he thinks he needs for passage of the millage extension and sees no need to waste his time with others.

I am not convinced that additional money is needed to make the capital improvements that proponents suggest, and I am not confident in the judgment of Commissioner Key. If he cared about families living south of I-630, why would he close schools such as Wilson, Franklin, Woodruff and Hamilton? After all, Wilson received an exemplary rating from the Arkansas Department of Education. If our concern is truly about a great education for the children of this district, why would an intelligent and thoughtful educator close an exemplary school and do collateral damage to its neighborhood as well?

For my first time ever, I intend to vote against a school millage.

Marion A. Humphrey Sr. is a retired Pulaski County Circuit judge and a pastor at Allison Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Anika Whitfield

It is really simple. The LRSD is currently being managed by two men, both of whom were appointed to their positions, are not natives of Little Rock, did not attend the LRSD and do not have children who attend the LRSD now or in the past. Education Commissioner Johnny Key and Superintendent Michael Poore are making decisions for our district without locally elected representation or accountability.

Key will argue that he appointed the LRSD Community/Civic Advisory Board to represent the people of this city. The problem with that argument is that Key chose persons who will serve his interest in supporting the expansion of charter schools. Key has been publicly lobbying to replace traditional public education options for students with private-public charter schools.

In addition, Key has refused to meet in public settings to engage with parents and community members who have questions about school closures, community impact studies, plans for academic improvements in schools designated to be in academic distress, ways to assist traditional public schools, and ways to help advertise, recruit and promote the great programs and opportunities for students, parents and teachers in the LRSD — just to name a few of his denied requests for public meetings.

Given the fact that Key is the sole board member of the LRSD, the only person who makes the final decisions for the LRSD, and the sole person who has the power to overrule Poore's decisions, it would be unwise to hand more tax money over to this appointed leader who has shown little to no respect for the residents of Little Rock, the students who attend the LRSD and their parents. Key has publicly said that he would not be open to yielding to the Little Rock Board of Directors and mayor to conduct neighborhood impact studies before closing schools, displacing students and school personnel and taking away public, anchoring institutions from people who fund and support them.

Voting for the May 9 LRSD millage tax extension would be like Walmart giving Target money and expecting Target to use those funds to improve Walmart's business. Not going to happen. It would be like giving a thief keys to your home and expecting the thief to protect your home and possessions. Not a wise choice. I strongly encourage voters to vote AGAINST the May 9 LRSD millage tax extension.

A better investment of taxpayers' dollars, time and resources would be to directly invest in students, schools, teachers and families in the LRSD. This way, you know that your dollars will be spent on students and teachers that need these resources, and not on brick and mortar. Invest directly in students, teachers, families and schools in a way that you can ensure is actually meaningful and not destructive to the vitality of the LRSD.

Dr. Anika T. Whitfield is an LRSD graduate, an alumna of Franklin Elementary and a volunteer in the district.

Faith Madkins

As I walk the halls of McClellan High School each day, I see a small community high school filled with Lion pride, exceptional talent and growing potential. Unfortunately, with the good also comes the bad. I have immense pride in my school, but sadly I cannot say the same about my district. I have been in the Little Rock School District all of my life since kindergarten — bouncing around from school to school — and I've seen most of what the district has had to offer.

Our buildings are older than most of our parents. In fact, most of our grandparents can remember these schools being built. That means everything in these buildings is outdated. Things that would have sufficed 60 years ago would never make the cut today.

To further explain what I mean, I want to place you in my shoes. So, here we are at the doors of McClellan. It's springtime and the flowers are blooming. The sun is out, and it is beautiful outside. The bell sounds, and it is time for first period. The main halls are so cramped that it's difficult to pass through the crowd. It's hard to not feel a shoulder or a backpack invade my personal space and even harder to not trample over someone's feet. I can avoid going to my locker; I stopped using it due to the fact it frequently jammed. There wasn't enough space in there, anyway. I finally get to class and take my seat. As my teacher is talking, I can't help but be distracted by what's going on next door. Most of our walls either (a) don't reach the floor or (b) are paper-thin. Yet I am expected to focus.

A teacher of mine once said, "You know you have a friendship when you can have a conversation with disagreements and still go out for lunch." Now that I am 18, I am able to sit down at that table with you and join the conversation. Let's establish a friendship based on the well being of the students in this district. With all of our agreements and disagreements, let's at least be able to agree that the students deserve better. I deserved better, and I had to settle. Don't force other kids to do the same. Let's go out for lunch May 9.

Faith Madkins is a senior at McClellan High School.

Mollie Campbell

I am the proud mother of two, soon to be three, young children. My oldest is in pre-K at Forest Park Elementary. My younger two will follow their big sister to Forest Park, Pulaski Heights Middle School and eventually Central High. My family is committed to being in the Little Rock School District for the next 18 years. That is why this vote is so important to me.

Schools all over our district are seriously overdue for upgrades and improvements. The buildings are on average 53 to 68 years old and have gone without any major capital investments since 2000. Our kids deserve the best possible learning environment. They should not be in buildings with leaky roofs or cafeterias without air conditioning. Every student in the district deserves modern, clean, safe facilities.

This vote will invest millions back into our schools and will impact the entire district — every school and every student. Roof repairs, window replacements, new security systems, restroom renovations and heating and air conditioning replacements will improve the lives of every student, teacher and staff member in the district. The list of improvements to be made comes from a study conducted in 2014, and the funds generated will go directly toward these capital improvements ... no surprises.

Our kids deserve better. After talking with several people about this vote, I acknowledge that some would rather wait until a local school board has control of the money. I, too, look forward to the swift return of our local school board. On this issue however, how long should we ask our kids to wait and allow their education to suffer in the meantime? We cannot let perfection be the enemy of the good when we have a chance to improve all of our kids' classrooms and learning experiences immediately. By voting FOR this ballot measure on May 9, my daughter will enter kindergarten this fall in a school that was improved this summer.

Every day, as my 4-year-old walks into school, I expect her to do everything she can to maximize her learning experience. As her parent, I know it is my responsibility to do the same for her, and right now that means supporting this investment in her school and schools across the district. The time is NOW to invest in our kids and our community, so I look forward to voting FOR our kids on May 9.

Mollie Campbell is a Little Rock School District mom.

Bobby Roberts

In 2014, the Little Rock School District commissioned a facilities study that indicated that approximately $300 million in facilities upgrades and improvements were needed. In January 2015, the school board voted unanimously to approve a $375 million facilities plan.

At that same time, the Central Arkansas Library System had just opened a new library and revitalized our facilities throughout the region. These new facilities helped bring the joy of reading and learning to thousands of students. It was amazing to see the impact that a new library could have on a community by providing a place for people to read, gather, access the internet and learn. These libraries gave students the tools and resources they needed to study, learn and excel. Many of these fine new buildings were constructed when voters approved the refunding of existing bonds. This is exactly the same funding method that the LRSD is proposing to voters.

I saw firsthand what a difference investing in our libraries made in our city and in the lives of children. I know that investing in our schools would have an even greater impact. We need to give students the tools for success, and reinvesting in our aging, outdated academic facilities is the best way to do that. These old buildings do not do that, and we are hampering our students' ability to learn by denying them modern facilities.

If we vote now to extend our bonds, we will raise an additional $160 million to begin addressing the needs of our school facilities. Every school, and therefore every community, in the district will feel the investment of this money by the 2017-18 school year. This investment in our neighborhoods will save us huge dividends by lowering the operational costs of our schools and making them more energy efficient, with better lighting and renovated restrooms and roofs.

By providing them with new facilities, modern technology and a better learning environment, we will empower our students to succeed. By improving their schools, we can increase academic achievement while also providing them with a safer and healthier learning atmosphere. Join me in supporting our kids; join me by voting FOR on May 9.

Bobby Roberts is the former director of the Central Arkansas Library System.

Keith Jackson

As the founder of P.A.R.K., I understand the importance of investing in education. We see the impact that P.A.R.K's modern facility in Southwest Little Rock has on the success of our students. By supporting this vote, you are ensuring that every student in the district will be able to learn in a new and improved learning environment.

In Southwest Little Rock, this vote means that over $95 million will be invested into the community. At a cost of $55 million, a new high school off of Mabelvale Pike would be built beginning this summer and would serve hundreds of students. This school would open in the fall of 2019 and would be equipped with the newest classroom and athletic facilities. With 21st century sports facilities that would be available for community usage, this new high school would benefit everyone in the community.

McClellan High School would also receive a $40 million investment, completely revitalizing the school. Improvements like updated HVAC, roof and window repairs, classroom remodeling and technology updates would create energy savings and enhance the learning environment for our students. This repurposing of McClellan will change the lives of every student that will go through the school.

Improved schools throughout the district can only be a good thing for Little Rock and our community. A vote FOR on May 9 will be a major boost for Southwest Little Rock. With your support, we can give our kids the modern learning environment and facilities they deserve!

Keith Jackson is the founder of Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, a nonprofit based in Southwest Little Rock that provides afterschool and summer programming for youth.

Gary Smith

There have been no new major capital improvements in our schools since 2000. That means that a student graduating this year will have gone through his or her entire academic career in schools that are outdated and in dire need of improvement. By voting to extend the debt on our bonds for an additional 14 years, we will be able to invest $160 million into rebuilding and rehabilitating every school in our district — all without raising the tax rate.

On average, district elementary school buildings are 68 years old, middle school buildings are 69 years old and high school buildings are 53 years old. A successful election will allow the district to make much-needed improvements district-wide before the start of the 2017-18 school year, including lighting, heat and air conditioning repair and window and roof replacements. These improved facilities will not only support the increased academic achievement of our students by improving their learning environment, but will also create a return on investment by decreasing energy costs. These improvements were selected as priorities after holding 46 community forums.

I'm tired of Little Rock being a donut hole. I'm tired of being surrounded by other cities that are investing in their schools and making a difference in their students' lives. We have watched surrounding districts pass millage increases, build new schools and improve existing ones, and we have done nothing for nearly 20 years. We have a chance now to make a difference.

This choice should be an easy one. We cannot have a great city and a great community without a strong, viable school district. Students are going to go to school tomorrow in a school that desperately needs help. They are going to use outdated technology and go to class in buildings with leaky roofs. This is something we can change. We need to create a better atmosphere for our students, and this vote is the way to do that.

Gary Smith is the chairman of the Committee to Rebuild our Schools Now.

          How the 2017 Arkansas legislature made life worse for you   
But it wasn't as bad as it could've been at the Capitol.

Arkansas's legislators were locked and loaded when they arrived for the 91st General Assembly this year, determined to get more guns into public places and take away voting and abortion rights, their evergreen attacks.

Thanks to the legislature, concealed weapons soon may be carried just about everywhere except Razorback games and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Unemployment benefits were cut, whistleblowers were silenced and charter schools were given advantages over regular public schools. Other legislation was symbolic but ugly, such as an act authored by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) that aims to stop Sharia, or Islamic ecclesiastical law, from taking over Arkansas's court system.

Some of the silliest bills went nowhere, such as efforts by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) to wipe Bill and Hillary Clinton's names off the Little Rock airport, to indefinitely delay implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program and to call a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Anti-immigrant legislation that would have penalized colleges and cities with so-called "sanctuary" policies withered in committee. Rep. Smith, the sponsor of the bill targeting universities, warned that rogue professors might hide undocumented immigrants in their offices and then dump their human waste on campus in the dark of night; surprisingly, this argument did not persuade his colleagues. Rep. Kim Hendren (R-Gravette) proposed banning cell phones from public schools; later, he filed a bill prohibiting teachers from using books authored by leftist historian Howard Zinn. Neither gained traction.

What was good? A little. Conservatives tried to circumscribe the medical marijuana amendment with bans on smoking and edible products, among other roadblocks, but the worst of the anti-pot legislation stalled. Evidently reassured by Governor Hutchinson's promises to make the private option more conservative (read: stingier) down the line, the annual appropriation for Medicaid passed without a major fight — a relief for the 300,000-plus Arkansans receiving health insurance through Obamacare. Pushed by Hutchinson, the ledge directed some of Arkansas's tobacco settlement proceeds to expand a waiver program for the developmentally disabled, opening the door to services for some 500 to 900 desperate families stranded for years on a waitlist. At long last, the state will stop its reprehensible practice of celebrating Robert E. Lee's birthday simultaneously with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a symbolic but important step forward that was championed by the governor.

Here's our survey of the damage:

In Glock we trust

The biggest gun-related news this session was the passage and signing of House Bill 1249, now Act 562, which creates a new "enhanced carry" permit that will allow gun owners who have undergone eight hours of additional training — including active shooter training, with a curriculum still to be worked out by the Arkansas State Police — to carry a concealed handgun in many places previously forbidden under the state's concealed carry law, including the state Capitol, public colleges and universities, bars, churches and courthouses. Concealed carry in prisons, courtrooms and K-12 schools is still forbidden, and private property owners, including bars, churches and private colleges, can still prohibit firearms if they choose.

Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville), the bill was a far piece from where it started by the time it was signed. Originally, Collins' bill would have solely mandated that public universities and colleges allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns. It was an attempt to push back against the state's public colleges and universities, which have steadfastly rejected Collins' and his colleagues' attempts to institute "campus carry" in the past. Amendments to HB 1249 soon pushed it several clicks further toward the broad "guns everywhere" approach favored by the National Rifle Association, and far beyond a potential shooting iron in a well-trained professor's briefcase. Now, anyone with the enhanced permit will be able to carry on a college campus, including into sometimes-contentious student and faculty disciplinary hearings and raucous college dorms.

The passage of the bill spawned some last minute scrambling when the Southeastern Conference expressed concerns about fans coming to college football games carrying heat, resulting in Act 859, a cleanup effort that prohibits concealed carry in college athletic venues. Also exempted by Act 859 were daycares, UAMS and the Arkansas State Hospital, an inpatient facility for the mentally ill. The bill also allows private businesses and organizations to ban concealed carry without posting a sign to that effect. If a private business decides to ban concealed carry without posting a sign, anyone caught carrying a concealed weapon on the premises can be ejected or told to remove their gun if they want to come back. If the concealed carrier repeats the infraction, they can be charged with a crime. Even after the purported cleanup, that still leaves a lot of places open to concealed carry unless those places set a policy forbidding the practice, including most hospitals, mental health facilities and off-campus high school and middle school sporting events. At the signing ceremony for HB 1249, Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said, "We believe that if you have a legal right to be somewhere, and you're a law-abiding person, you ought to have a legal right to defend yourself." For the NRA, that means the right to be armed everywhere, any time, as long as you don't have a criminal record. Notice Cox didn't say anything about pesky permits or training.

Speaking of law-abiding persons, also of concern when it comes to concealed carry is Act 486. Under the law, the Arkansas State Police is now prohibited from establishing or amending any administrative rule that would revoke or suspend a concealed carry permit unless the holder of the permit was found to be in violation of a criminal offense. While not penalizing a person if they haven't committed a crime sounds like a good idea, the problem is that people can and do go off the rails for a multitude of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with a violation of the criminal code. Before the passage of Act 486, the State Police had broad latitude to revoke or suspend concealed carry permits for a number of reasons, including serious alcohol and drug abuse, dangerous mental illness, or a mental health professional's determination that a permit holder might be a threat to himself, his family or the public. With the passage of Act 486, though, a concealed carry holder who suffers a complete mental breakdown to the point of visual hallucinations can keep on packing right until the moment he or she is admitted at the State Hospital (thanks Act 859!), even if the person's family or a doctor asks the State Police to pull their permit. Ditto with people suffering from substance abuse issues, elderly dementia patients and those who hint they might be capable of suicide or homicide. Under the law, a permit can still be revoked or suspended if the person is caught carrying into a prohibited place like a courtroom or jail, but as seen above, the list of places where handguns are prohibited is dwindling by the year. Otherwise, thanks to Act 486, we just have to wait until that person commits a crime. By then, it's too late.

In the What Could Have Been column, we have HB 1630, by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), which would have created the misdemeanor offense of "negligently allowing access to a firearm by a child" if an owner failed to secure a loaded gun or left it in a place a child could easily access. Though the bill had exemptions for hunting, sport shooting and use of firearms on a farm and had a sliding scale of penalties, with incidents involving the death or serious injury of a child at the top of the list, it went nowhere.


Traditional schools took licks, but the worst was kept at bay.

The single worst education bill passed in 2017 was probably Act 542, sponsored by Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), which requires school districts to sell or lease "unused or underutilized" facilities to competitor charter schools. Charters already had right of first refusal in the event a district decides to sell a building — but after Act 542 goes into effect this summer, a charter can force a district to sell or lease a building, even if the district doesn't want to do so. If a different entity — a nonprofit, say, or a clinic or a business — wants to buy an unoccupied school building instead, that's too bad. Act 542 requires a district to hold on to unused buildings for two years, just in case a charter comes along and wants the facility for itself.

Clark pointed to a situation a few years ago in which the Helena-West Helena School District refused to sell a vacant elementary to KIPP Delta, a charter. But there are good reasons why a district wouldn't want to hand over an asset to a direct competitor: Charter networks tend to weaken districts by bleeding away higher-performing students and public money, and they often enjoy advantages their traditional public school counterparts do not. As some opponents of the bill pointed out, the new law is tantamount to forcing Walmart to sell a store to Target. That's why school superintendents across the state fought the bill and convinced no small number of Republicans to join Democrats in opposing it. In the end, though, it passed the House on a 53-32 vote. Republican legislators also rejected proposals by Democrats Sen. Joyce Elliott and Rep. Clarke Tucker — both from Little Rock, which is seeing unchecked charter growth at the expense of traditional public schools — to impose fairer rules on charters.

Thankfully, the legislature turned down an even worse proposal. HB 1222 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville) proposed a convoluted scheme to divert millions of dollars away from the public coffers (by means of a tax credit to wealthy donors) and toward private schools in the guise of "education savings accounts" to be used for student tuition. A school voucher plan in all but name, the bill would have been devastating to public education. Dotson eventually scaled back the legislation to a pilot program with a four-year sunset, allowing a Senate version of the bill to win passage in that chamber — but many Republicans remain fond of their local school districts, and it narrowly failed in the House.

Meanwhile, legislators expanded an existing voucher program, the Succeed Scholarship. Created in the 2015 session, it uses public tax dollars to pay private school tuition for a limited number of K-12 students with special needs. Parents are required to waive their child's civil rights protections under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In the past, the scholarship was open only to kids with an Individualized Education Program, or IEP; now, foster children living in group homes will also be eligible, thanks to Act 894 by Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton). Act 327 by Rep. Carlton Wing (R-North Little Rock) will allow a nonaccredited private school to participate, as long as the school has applied for accreditation. And, the appropriation for the Succeed Scholarship rose from $800,000 to $1.3 million — an increase of 63 percent — potentially allowing as many as 200 students statewide to participate.

That bump is especially notable alongside the meager 1 percent increase in the state's overall K-12 education budget for the next two years — far less than the 2.5 percent boost recommended by legislative staff tasked with determining what constitutes "adequate" school funding. A bit more money will be directed to teacher pay and special education, and pre-kindergarten will see an overdue $3 million increase, so the money situation could be worse. Still, with state revenue squeezed hard by tax cuts, and private and charter schools knocking at the door, traditional public schools are clearly not the General Assembly's top priority.

On other fronts, school legislation was a mixed bag. Elliott's Act 1059, will limit the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for students in grades K-5 — a much-needed reform — but her bid to end corporal punishment failed in committee. (Rural Arkansas still loves the paddle.) One of the better education bills to pass this session was Elliott's Act 1039 which gives teeth to a 2013 law (also by Elliott) requiring dyslexia screening and intervention. Its reporting requirements and enforcement mechanism hopefully will force districts to deliver better reading interventions to dyslexic students. A major accountability bill developed by the state Education Department, Act 930, will overhaul how schools are monitored by the state, though it's too soon to say how the changes will play out. Act 478 by Rep. Bruce Cozart (R-Hot Springs), will require high school students to pass a civics test before graduating; an attempt by Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) to impose the same requirement on legislators and state agency heads received a cold reception. A bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle), now Act 910, will end September school elections and require them to be held concurrent with the November general or spring primary election date. That could spell trouble for future millage votes.

Finally, there's higher education: "Campus carry" dominated the news, but a major change in funding may be just as consequential. Act 148, which originated with the governor's office, creates a funding formula for colleges and universities that ties state money to metrics like graduation rate. HB 1518, now Act 563, a worthy bill by Rep. James Sturch (R-Batesville) requires the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create an action plan for addressing sexual assault on college campuses.

Benjamin Hardy


Some help for the working poor and lots of punting.

Give modest credit to Governor Hutchinson. In the 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions, Republican legislators pushed a massive cut on taxes on capital gains and reduced the income tax burden on all but the working poor. This session, Hutchinson provided some relief at the lower end of the tax bracket. Hutchinson pushed through a $50 million tax cut, directed at households with a taxable income of less than $21,000. The cut is misleading, though, as it targets taxable income, which is often far less than salary or adjusted gross income. In fact, Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families pointed out that 48 percent of the overall $50 million cut will go to taxpayers in the top 40 percent of earners, while only 5 percent will go to those making less than $18,000 per year.

Establishing a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit, tied to the federal EITC, would have been considerably more beneficial to the lower 40 percent of Arkansas earners, who often have no income tax liability, but pay a large share of their income in sales tax. An EITC would have provided a more substantial boost to the working poor at less cost than Hutchinson's cut. Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) and Sen. Jake Files (R-Fort Smith) were behind the EITC proposal, which historically has bipartisan appeal, but they couldn't get support from Hutchinson or enough other legislators.

Hutchinson also supported legislation that exempted all military retirement pay and survivor benefits from state income taxes. The first $6,000 of military retirement pay had been exempt previously. Since most veterans aren't career soldiers and eligible for a pension, the exemption will leave out many veterans (again, an EITC would have been a better avenue). But few politicians on either side of the aisle were going to stand in the way of helping veterans — even though Hutchinson unconscionably larded the measure with unrelated tax hikes. The legislation offset the eventual $13.4 million cost of the exemption by raising the sales tax on candy and soda. Completely unrelated to veterans' retirement income, the bill provided a $6 million tax cut on soft drink syrup, which it paid for by taxing unemployment benefits and digital downloads. So, veterans with pensions got a bump and corporate interests got significant help, while folks downloading books and movies, as well as people in between jobs, got screwed.

In the "could have been worse" column, more credit for Hutchinson: He held at bay lawmakers from his party such as Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) who wanted to cut $100 million or more in taxes — threatening essential state services in the process — by creating a commission to consider the future of tax policies in the state.

The commission will have to consider two issues the General Assembly punted on. A bill that would have required out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases made by Arkansans stalled in the House, with several Republicans decrying the proposal as a tax increase even though Arkansans already are required to pay the tax by law (few do because it requires self-reporting.) Still, Amazon said it would voluntarily begin collecting sales tax on Arkansas customers beginning in March. Another bill that merely would have referred to voters a proposal to increase the tax on gas to pay for bonds for highway construction failed on similar anti-tax grounds.

Lindsey Millar


Atual reform

Act 423, "The Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety Act," might be the most consequential piece of good legislation the General Assembly passed. It's a sprawling, omnibus law, with three primary components.

Most consequentially, it introduces swift and certain sanctioning, which means parolees and probationers who commit minor violations of the terms of their supervision will be sent for 45 to 90 days to Arkansas Community Correction facilities, where they will receive rehabilitative programming, instead of being sent to prison for significantly longer stints. Arkansas in recent years has had the fastest growing prison population in the country, fueled largely by parole violators returning to prison. Swift and certain sanctioning is expected to free up as many as 1,600 prison beds and save the state as much as $30-$40 million.

The law also seeks to divert people who commit nuisance offenses because they are high on drugs or having a mental health crisis in public from jail or prison. It establishes Crisis Stabilization Units, regional facilities where people in crisis could go to receive treatment for several days. The law mandates the creation of three such units, but $5 million earmarked in the state budget for the operation of the facilities, paired with significant additional federal money the state expects to draw from Medicaid, could allow for several more CSUs to open. The locations of the CSUs have not yet been selected, but Craighead, Pulaski and Sebastian counties are thought to be leading candidates. Finally, Act 423 also requires law enforcement officers to receive crisis intervention training to help them de-escalate interactions with people amid behavioral health episodes.

The law is the product of 18 months of study and presentations by the nonprofit Council of State Governments, which reported to a Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force that bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock) co-chaired. Hutchinson, co-sponsor Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) and CSG say the new law will save the state money, which can be reinvested in effective criminal justice policies. CSG's justice reinvestment program has successfully been implemented in states across the country.

Of course, whether it's successful here will depend on policymakers seeing the reforms through. One potential stumbling block: CSG recommended that the state hire 100 new parole and probation officers to better supervise the nearly 56,000 people on parole and probation. Current supervision officers handle on average 125 cases. Governor Hutchinson's budget didn't provide for funding to hire 100 new officers, though it did make temporary funding to Arkansas Community Correction permanent, which will at least allow the department to retain the 60 officers it had hired since 2015. That's not enough, Sen. Hutchinson (who is the governor's nephew) said. He hopes a future General Assembly will approve additional funding for more officers using some of the savings generated by Act 423.

A perennial stumbling block for any criminal justice reform is the inevitable violator who commits a serious crime. A significant portion of Arkansas's recent prison growth spike came because of punitive parole policies enacted in the wake of the 2013 murder of a teenager in Little Rock by a serial parole violator. It's natural to think that locking up people who commit crimes for long stretches reduces crime, but research shows it's just the opposite, Sen. Hutchinson said.

"I've had the luxury of studying this for years now. It's hard to wrap your brain around sometimes," Hutchinson said. "Longer sentences do not, in fact, result in lower crime rates. The longer [people are] incarcerated, the greater chance of recidivism they have."

Hutchinson chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and many of its members, chief among them Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest), were hostile to the idea of moving away from incarceration in certain situations. King introduced the tough-on-crime Senate Bill 177, which would have required anyone with three stints in prison to serve at least 80 percent of any subsequent sentence. Arkansas already has a two-strikes law: After someone commits a second serious violent or sexual crime, he's required to serve 100 percent of his sentence. So King's measure would have mostly targeted low-level property and drug crimes and at huge cost. According to an impact statement, it would have added 5,499 inmates at a cost of $121 million in 2026. The total 10-year cost to the state would have been $692 million, and that's not including the significant cost of building new prison housing. King let the bill die in the House Judiciary Committee after Governor Hutchinson forcefully spoke out against it.

Three other positive new laws: Act 566, sponsored by the odd couple Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) and Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), has Arkansas opt out of a section in President Clinton's sweeping 1996 welfare reform law that prevents anyone who has been convicted of a felony drug offense from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. Act 1012, from legislation sponsored by Tucker and Hutchinson, allows someone on probation or parole for an offense that did not involve the operation of a motor vehicle who has a suspended drivers license because of unpaid fines or fees to continue to drive to work or school. Act 539, sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain Home) and Rep. Rebecca Petty (R-Springdale), prevents minors from being sentenced to life without parole. Before they become eligible for parole, the new law requires minors sentenced to life terms to serve 20 years for nonhomicide offenses, 25 years for first-degree murder and 30 years for capital murder. Of course, the Parole Board could repeatedly deny parole requests and force someone sentenced to a life term as a minor to spend his life in prison.

The heartbreaker of the session in criminal justice was the failure of Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliott's proposal to require racial impact statements for new criminal justice legislation. The impact statements would have provided research on whether proposed legislation would have a disparate impact on minority groups. Similar bills failed in 2013 and 2015, and this one was substantially amended to merely provide the impact statements as an option, but it died on the House floor. It was another reminder that for many white people, there is no greater insult than suggesting that they or something they do might be racist, even if the bias was unintended. One opponent, Rep. Ballinger, said he did not believe in systemic racism.

Lindsey Millar


Risking women's health

Women and their bodies were subjected to serious new insults this year by Arkansas legislators practicing medicine without a license.

Among the most egregious laws was the so-called "dismemberment abortion" bill, now Act 45, whose chief sponsors were Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley) and Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock). The bill prohibits doctors from performing what doctors believe is the safest method of second trimester abortion: dilation and evacuation. The alternatives would be something akin to a Caesarean section, in which the belly is cut open to remove the fetus, or an induced abortion, which requires the woman to go into labor to expel a fetus killed by an injection of salt water, urea or potassium chloride into the amniotic sac. Those procedures are what doctors call "high morbidity" — meaning they have a high risk of making patients sick.

Dilation and evacuation is recommended by the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Medical Association. The difference between those organizations and the Arkansas legislature is that one group does not believe women should receive the best health care possible.

But Mayberry and Sanders and their co-sponsors think D&E, which uses a vacuum, is tantamount to butchery. But hysterectomy and induction abortions accomplish the same end as a D&E and are far less safe.

There is no exception for incest or rape in the law. And, like previous laws passed by legislators who think their particular religious beliefs give them the right to control women, the law particularly harms women who can't afford to travel to a more broad-minded jurisdiction to exercise a legal right.

Another evil of the law is that it allows a spouse, parent or guardian to bring a civil suit against the abortion provider if the woman has "received or attempted to receive" dilation and evacuation. That means, according to abortion rights activists and Mayberry himself, a husband can stop an abortion. He may have committed rape. A parent may have committed incest. Doesn't matter.

Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) brought us the bill that became Act 733, the so-called "sex-selection abortion ban." Despite the fact that there is zero evidence that Arkansas women are dashing into abortion clinics because they've determined the sex of their fetus and don't like it, the bill has the potential to create an huge burden on the doctor provider.

Say a woman has had prenatal tests to see if her fetus has a genetic disorder. She learns there is a disorder and, by the way, the sex of the fetus. Her doctor must ask if she knows the gender of the fetus. If she answers that she does, the abortion must be delayed, because this new state law requires the doctor to "request the medical records of the pregnant woman relating directly to the entire pregnancy history of the woman." No abortion may be performed until every chart for every pregnancy generated by the woman's ob-gyn (or ob-gyns) and staffs and hospitals, every record generated during every trip to the ER she may have had to make, is supplied and reviewed by the abortion provider. Not only could that take a lot of time and generate a mountain of paperwork — what if the woman already had five children? — but it would also notify, perhaps against the woman's will, her doctors and their staffs that she is seeking to obtain an abortion.

The bill does not state what information in those records would suggest that the woman was hell-bent on not having another boy or girl.

"Why are physicians and the clinic made to be an investigative party into a woman's motives to have an abortion?" asked a spokesman for Little Rock Family Planning, the state's only clinic that offers abortion up to 21 weeks.

Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) and Sen. Scott Flippo (R-Bull Shoals), like Mayberry and Sanders, introduced what's called a model TRAP law (targeted regulation of abortion providers) meant to end abortion by imposing stricter inspection regulations on clinics. The bill allows the state Department of Health to make yearly trips to inspect clinic records and "a representative sample of procedures"; to regulate all aspects of the clinic "without limitation," and to collect an annual fee of $500.

While purporting to be a bill to protect women's health, the new law, Act 383, is designed to let the state shut down a clinic for facilities violations not spelled out in the legislation. It's not clear what violation would close the clinic. Towel on the floor? Out of paper towels? Scoop left in the break room freezer's icemaker?

As it happens, Little Rock Family Planning is inspected frequently, more than the once every year that the law already called for. The health department inspected the clinic four times in 2016, citing such things as discolored ceiling tiles and a chair with rips. The clinic's spokesman said some inspections are instigated by complaints from the anti-abortion protesters that picket outside.

The vague language of Act 383 "has potential for abuse. We don't know if we would be singled out and treated differently, if our license could be suspended for even minor paperwork violations," the spokesman said.

— Leslie Newell Peacock


The public's right to know took one step forward, two steps back.

Arkansas's robust Freedom of Information Act came under assault in 2017 as never before, with legislators proposing at least a dozen new exemptions to the open records law. Thanks to SB 131, now Act 474, by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch), security plans of the State Capitol Police are no longer disclosable to the public; Stubblefield's reasoning was that someone seeking to do violence at the Capitol might request such plans, but the law is written so broadly that virtually any record of the Capitol police could fall under the new exemption. Stubblefield's SB 12 (Act 541) created a similar exemption for schools, including colleges and universities. HB 1236, now Act 531, by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould), prevents the disclosure of a body-cam or dash-cam recording of the death of a law enforcement officer.

Thankfully, though, many anti-FOIA bills failed. The most significant was SB 373, by Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), which proposed exempting attorney-client communications and work product from the FOIA if the client is a public entity. The force behind the bill was the University of Arkansas. The problem with this idea — aside from the fact that attorney-client communications can already be shielded on a case-by-case basis, by order of a judge — is that a public entity could declare almost any record exempt simply by emailing that record to its attorney. Had it passed, this loophole could have swallowed the entire FOIA.

On the bright side, Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) managed to pass HB 1427, now Act 318, to require candidates to file their monthly finance reports electronically, rather than on paper. HB 1010, now Act 616, by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) extends the same requirement to political action committees and other groups. This matters because a searchable electronic database will make it much easier for the public to track contributions made to candidates and PACs, as well as their expenditures.

However, the legislature quashed an effort to shine a light on the darkest regions of campaign finance when it rejected HB 1005, by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock). The bill would have required disclosure of "electioneering" spending, meaning advertisements by independent organizations, nominally unaffiliated with any candidate, that dodge ethics laws by scrupulously avoiding the use of phrasings like "vote for" or "vote against." A growing number of states recognize that such ads — which have proliferated tremendously in recent years and comprise hundreds of millions of dollars in spending nationwide — are de facto campaign commercials and require them to be reported as such. Not Arkansas.

Benjamin Hardy


Threats stalled.

The legislature still shows animus toward people who don't fit its definition of normal, but Arkansans lucked out when three anti-LGBT bills failed. Two so-called "bathroom bills" that targeted transgender children and adults and another that would have let doctors refuse to perform a procedure if it offended their "deeply held beliefs" did not make it into law.

But the legislature also blocked a bill that would have corrected an injustice. SB 580, by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock), would have provided for the automatic listing of both parents' names on the birth certificates of children of married same-sex couples, an important factor in establishing inheritance and other matters. In a marriage between a man and a woman, the names of both parents are listed on a child's birth certificate, even in cases of surrogacy or artificial insemination. Arkansas is the only state that treats children of same-sex parents differently in this regard, seemingly in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling that struck down bans on gay marriage nationwide. Elliott's bill would have fixed the problem, but when SB 580 came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, vice-chair Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) said same-sex parents could make a will if they wanted to ensure their kids get an inheritance.

Besides the children of same-sex couples, Collins-Smith doesn't much like transgender people, either. She introduced SB 774 to require that people had to use public bathroom or changing facilities that corresponded with the sex as listed on their birth certificates, and that the governing body of the public entity had to make sure the law was enforced. Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau director Gretchen Hall and Verizon Arena General Manager Michael Marion told Collins-Smith in a hearing on the bill said they could not see how it would be possible to know what was on the birth certificate on the thousands of people who might answer the call of nature at an event. "It's your job to find a way," Collins-Smith snarled. Collins-Smith pulled down the bill when she realized it was not going to pass.

The House passed a bill introduced by Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), who also had his mind on bathroom use, to expand the state's indecent exposure law. State law already says it is a crime to expose one's genitalia with intent to gratify sexual desire; Ballinger's bill would have made it a crime simply to expose genitalia in front of a person of the opposite sex. (Maybe it's common practice to inspect genitalia in bathrooms up in Berryville.) Though the House vote for the bill was 65 to 3, the bill went down the Senate Judiciary Committee drain, as Collins-Smith's did.

Governor Hutchinson, who did not want Arkansas to suffer economically as North Carolina did when it passed its "bathroom bill" (since partially repealed), was relieved.

Another ugly bill was introduced by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro): the Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act, which would have allowed doctors to refuse to administer health care services that offended their "deeply held beliefs." Smith had in mind both reproductive rights and transgender reassignment surgery. There was no support for the bill from medical professionals, and state Surgeon General Dr. Gregory Bledsoe spoke against it, saying, "If you're a member of any sort of minority group ... these sorts of bills send a message that threatens you."

Leslie Newell Peacock


Workers, consumers and other enemies of the state got a raw deal.

Governor Hutchinson deserves some recognition for passing a modest income tax cut for working people this session, even if it wasn't quite the boost for the poor that he claimed (see Taxes, page 15). But in almost every other way, the average Arkansan got screwed by the 2017 session.

Start with Act 986, by Rep. Laurie Rushing (R-Hot Springs), which will outlaw private class-action lawsuits under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act — a cornerstone of consumer protection law. Such suits are a powerful deterrent against businesses that intentionally scam customers in various small ways, such as false advertising or misleading promotional offers. Preventing consumers from bringing claims as a class gives the unscrupulous a freer hand to prey on the unsuspecting.

Act 606, by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio), provides a boon to corporations by allowing an employer to sue a worker who records a video or takes photos in the workplace "and uses the recording in a manner that damages the employer." In other words, it will stop whistleblowers from documenting unethical or illegal practices, such as animal abuse at factory farms. Animal rights organizations refer to it as an "ag-gag" bill.

Maybe the biggest prize for big business, though, was the "tort reform" measure that was referred to the 2018 ballot, Senate Joint Resolution 8. Sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain Home), it proposes a new amendment to the state constitution that would place ceilings on the noneconomic and punitive damages that may be awarded to a claimant in a civil suit. Attorney contingency fees would also be capped, at one-third of the net recovery. In short, this would sharply limit the ability of someone who was grievously harmed by an act of medical malpractice to seek compensation in court. SJR 8 sparked a bruising fight in the legislature, with a few Republicans breaking ranks to speak forcefully against abridging the right to a trial by jury. But business interests — especially nursing homes — have been pushing tort reform for years, and the measure proved unstoppable. Unless Arkansas voters reject it in 2018, that is.

Speaking of abridged rights, the legislature also referred a proposed amendment that would enshrine a voter ID requirement in the Arkansas Constitution. The hard truth is that House Joint Resolution 1016, by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs), will likely pass in 2018 given the state's electoral trends. Never mind that proponents of voter ID can't cite any documented instances of voter impersonation in Arkansas, and never mind the evidence that such measures elsewhere have resulted in voters being disenfranchised — voter ID has become gospel to Republicans, aided by President Trump's falsehoods about rampant fraud in the 2016 election. Redundantly enough, the legislature also passed a voter ID bill in addition to the referred amendment, Act 633 by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle).

Arkansas's status as the worst state in the nation for renters went unchallenged. A bill by Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning), now Act 159, softened but preserved the state's unconscionable, one-of-a-kind criminal eviction statute, which courts in several counties have deemed unconstitutional. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Arkansas Realtors Association, Arkansas also remains the only state in which there is no minimum habitability standard for rental property. HB 1166, by Hot Springs Republican Rushing, purported to address that deficiency, but the bill's proposed standards were pitifully weak — limited to electricity, water, sewer and a roof — and it may have limited renters' meager rights in other ways, so it's best it failed.

Legislators' sympathy for landlords didn't translate to protecting small property owners railroaded by the oil industry. House Bill 2086, an effort by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) to more carefully examine the use of eminent domain by pipeline companies, was drafted in response to the construction of the Diamond Pipeline, which will carry crude oil across the length of Arkansas from Oklahoma to Memphis. It failed to get out of committee.

Currently, unemployment benefits in Arkansas cover workers for a maximum of 20 weeks, which is a shorter span than any surrounding state except Missouri (also 20 weeks). Act 734 from Rep. Lundstrum will soon reduce that coverage time to 16 weeks ... and reduce weekly benefits checks paid to laid-off workers. This is despite the state's unemployment trust fund having amply recovered from the recession (it now contains around $500 million) and unemployment levels at record lows. So why trim benefits now? Simple: Employers want more money for themselves.

There was at least one good piece of consumer legislation, though, sponsored by none other than Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway). Act 944 aims to close a loophole exploited by payday lenders, which were driven out of Arkansas some years ago by a ban on high-interest loans but recently have been creeping back into the state by charging astronomical "fees" in place of interest.

And some bad measures failed, the most obnoxious probably being HB 1035 by Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville). The bill would have prohibited SNAP recipients from using food stamps to purchase items the state Health Department deems unhealthy, such as soda; it stalled in the face of opposition from grocery stores and others. House Bill 1825 by Rep. John Payton (R-Wilburn), which went nowhere, would have seized lottery winnings from citizens who have received public assistance from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. And, efforts to chip away at workers compensation failed this time around. Got to leave something for 2019.

Benjamin Hardy

          Voting Commissioner Kris Kobach Defends U.S. Request For Voter Information   
Kris Kobach is the vice chairman of a White House commission on voting and elections and the secretary of state of Kansas. He spoke to NPR's Ari Shapiro and defended the commission's request for voter information from across the country.
          Germany legalises same sex marriage    

German politicians have voted to legalise same-sex marriage. A total of 393 politicians voted to legalising "marriage for everybody", while 226 voted against and four abstained from voting.

The snap vote took place today, only days after Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel changed her mind to allow a free vote.

Ms Merkel, has always been against same-sex marriage, but she allowed for the vote after saying on Monday that politicians could take up the issue as a "question of conscience". As expected, she voted against the bill citing concerns over the welfare of children.

Members of Ms Merkel's conservative coalition were given the freedom to individually vote for their choice rather than follow party lines. The Chancellor said though she voted against legalising gay marriage, she hoped Parliament's approval of the measure would lead to more social cohesion.

She said: "For me, marriage in the basic law is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favour of this bill today."

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages had remained illegal. All of Ms Merkel's potential coalition partners after the September 4 election have been calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage. However, her traditional Catholic conservative bloc was not happy when she announced that she would allow politicians to vote on same-sex marriage according to their individual conscience drew the ire of some in her traditionally Catholic conservative bloc.

The "marriage for all" bill will grant gay and lesbian couples full marital rights and allows them to adopt children. It will likely be signed into law by the President some time after July 7.
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          Comment on Republican Senate restores spending in NASA budget by Cotour   
Related because its about government spending, and government spending is about taxation: I got into a political "discussion" with a lady friend the other day (Read: Loud head to head head butting that ended with a nice hug :) Her big issues? Trump and the "RICH" have too much money and her taxes are too high, and Trump is going to become Hitler! (What ?) I wrote a private little poem for her that preceded this piece but thought it not appropriate to share. "On another subject: 51.6 percent of all taxes collected by the government are from just 2.7 percent of the population, the "RICH". The rest of the taxes collected, 49.4 percent, come from the remaining 97.3 percent of the population. (2.7 % of the population the “Rich” pay 51.6 percent of all the taxes in the country, as per PEW) If you are interested in lowering your taxes there needs to be less government confiscation of it. So if you are FOR, among many other things, universal healthcare (Read: Welfare / healthcare is not a right but a service that must be paid for. Everyone should have it but someone must pay for it), open borders and illegal immigrants being supported by our social welfare systems, a culture of dependency created by political party’s in order to ensure a dedicated voting block to keep them in power, then you are insisting on higher and higher taxation. That is the Liberal / Democrat model. The Republicans have their own issues that create higher taxation. (Both party’s are by nature corrupt) Government, any government, is from its inception a corrupt and perverted operation, that is what was well understood by the Founders of America. All government can be is corrupt, the only question is to what degree. Your personal dislike of Trump is understandable, he seems to be a bore, but his kind of unique personality and skill set is perfect for Washington and its kind of corruption. He is sooo disruptive to the everyday perverted and corrupt business that goes on in Washington that in the long term he will IMO prove a net positive. What is the by design institutional counter balance to any president? The Constitution. Any president can not just do as they please, there are counter balances in the form of the Congress and the courts. Trump is no Hitler, could never become a Hitler. That is a false political narrative. Why? Because the Founders of America understood the nature of man and the nature of man as it relates to governance / government and power. And they designed mechanisms to limit the power of any and all presidents. So instead of spending time worrying about who has how much or too much $$, it might be a better idea to figure out who is spending all the money, your tax money, and limit how they can spend it. NO?"
          “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote.”   
Many young people may not realize it wasn’t until 46 years ago that teenagers gained the right to vote. The voting age started to become a controversy during World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the minimum age for the military draft to 18. Many young people felt it was unfair to be […]
          VOTER SUPPRESSION: Trump Voter Fraud Chair Wants Private Info on Every Voter   

Washington Post: “The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the […]

VOTER SUPPRESSION: Trump Voter Fraud Chair Wants Private Info on Every Voter


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          A Twitter Hashstorm: The Alt-Right Controversy at the Southern Baptist Convention   
"Southern Baptists overwhelmingly pass a resolution June 14 condemning
the racism of the alt-right movement. Photo by Adam Covington"

The Southern Baptist Convention first rejected then resurrected a resolution against the alt-right and white supremacy. This occurred at their annual meeting held in Phoenix, AZ, a couple weeks ago in June, 2017. Click here for a sequence of events. There are many different ways to understand this process, and it stirred quite a controversy.

An Outsiders Perspective

It was a roller coaster ride of emotions for me. I stand not as a member of the SBC but as a very interested observer from the Catholic Church who cares deeply about race. My colleague (a Roman Catholic priest) and I attended the Convention as representatives of the US Catholic Bishops in Christian friendship.

I spent much of the Convention glued to my Twitter feed, and I'm not typically an avid Twitter user.

News of the proposed resolution against the alt-right and white supremacy broke before the Convention. Twitter was chock full of some of the nastiest, most vile messages against it. Yet, I sensed something was awry. SBC pastors and leaders, as well as most church folks, are some of the most polite people I have ever met. They have a very Southern way of being indirect about grievances and disagreement. While they are also not shy about engaging in debate, what I saw on Twitter did not match the tone or timbre of what I have come to know as the SBC.

I suspect the #sbc17 hashtag was being rigorously trolled by alt-right activists. The vile, pornographic language and level of aggressiveness in the tweets signaled the work of outsiders. The language was so consistent in these tweets, actually, that it could have been the work of just a few (or even a single individual) using continuously new, anonymous accounts making it seems like the outcry was bigger than it really was. 

However, there were also few voices competing with these, before the Convention started. The glaring silence of others in the SBC worried me. Were there no contrary opinions? Were feelings against racism too weak or afraid of the alt-right to speak out? Was the SBC so weary from backlash against repudiating the Confederate Flag last year that it no longer had will to stand up to white supremacy this year? I wondered.

A lot has happened in one year. The campaign of Donald Trump has been associated with a significant increase in violent actions and rhetoric along racial lines. Trump received 81% of the white Evangelical Christian vote--which would soundly describe most SBC members. In the wake of Trump, many in our culture--like myself--were left wondering where do white Evangelicals--like many in the SBC--really stand on racism? Were all the apologies in the past just lip service? Most Americans understand that voters had only a couple choices for president and complex political issues had to be boiled down to a single vote. We get that. But what has been noticeably absent is  white Evangelicals holding Trump accountable since the election. They could be saying to Trump: "Yes, we voted for you, but that was in spite of--and not because of--the racist rhetoric, and we condemn that rhetoric." That outcry has been pretty minimal from the white Evangelical community, which comes across as an endorsement.

When the alt-right resolution failed to be brought to the floor on Day one of the two-day Convention, and when the messengers failed to keep any semblance of it alive after that, Twitter just blew up. It blew up in a way that raised my spirits.

I was so wound up I could barely sleep that night as tweets poured in.

I was so encouraged by the groundswell of support. SBC members simply did not want to leave Phoenix with the world unsure about where their denomination stands on the alt-right and white supremacy. It wasn’t just one Twitter account leading the charge, although there were key leaders in this effort. It was dozens and dozens of formerly silent Twitter accounts erupting all at once. At least one group organized a meeting to draft a new resolution with the resolution's original author, Texas pastor Rev. Dwight McKissic. The Resolutions Committee itself sought to find a way to remedy this. Russell Moore, president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, had a hand in drafting the revised version. 

I was grateful to witness this.  It was a pure blessing to see both the Twitter messages appearing one after the other in rapid succession and being part of conversations in the convention center hallways. Dozens and dozens of pastors and SBC members entered the fray.

It will be hard to walk away from SBC 2017 without at least a shadow of a doubt as to where the membership stands. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary, remarked that the SBC has indeed gotten a "black eye."  

Yes, the SBC stumbled and fell here. It may be hard to wash all the dirt off.  But the stumble created a moment that allowed the SBC to mobilize to make it right.  That movement was pure blessing to watch. I am not a voting member, but as a fellow Christian who cares deeply about what happens here, my heart was with the SBC every step of the way. I am optimistic about the health of the SBC after this.

My assessment: Those who want to put racism behind them are sincere and passionate. There is also a gap between SBC leadership and the membership as well as a generational gap among pastors. When the SBC messengers voted last year to repudiate the Confederate Flag, once person spoke on the Convention floor that it was a fine resolution for pastors but it may be difficult to explain to churchgoers back home. A lot of people want to believe that the SBC has put its racist past behind it, but its rank-and-file membership seems divided as to the necessity of these resolutions and the relevance of symbols like the Confederate Flag.

Some members of the SBC were upset with the headlines coming out the Convention. Those headlines may--or may not--have been unfair. Still, I would urge the SBC not to spend a lot of energy feeling like victims of sensationalistic journalists trying to exploit a controversy for juicy headlines. The hesitation of the SBC over this issue opens real wounds and makes real people wonder where the SBC really stands.  I saw African-American pastors and families shed tears on the Convention floor in shock over what they thought would be a routine denouncement of racism that was instead killed in committee--at a time when our nation cannot afford to be neutral on race.  These are sincere questions that deserve answers.

While I believe SBC senior leaders are sincere in wanting to put racism behind them, they may be guilty of tone deafness here. They underestimated what message it would send by avoiding this topic. Case in point: Alt-right groups were initially declaring this a victory for white supremacy. Perhaps SBC leaders simply wanted to avoid a difficult topic, but sometimes the best way to attract controversy is by attempting to avoid it. Still, those fighting passionately for racial equality and reconciliation are an impressive bunch, and they give the SBC a bright future.

          'A waste of taxpayer money': Trump's voter fraud commission is facing pushback from a dozen states   
  • TrumpAt least a dozen states pushed back against a broad request from the White House commission on voter fraud.
  • The states included Indiana, whose secretary of state sits on the commission.
  • The requested information has raised questions about the ways it can be used.

At least a dozen states are already pushing back against a request by President Donald Trump's voter-fraud commission to hand over registered voters' personal information to make public. 

The bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to all 50 states on Wednesday seeking registered voters' names, addresses, dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, and party registration.

It also asked for a decade's worth of voter history, information on felony convictions, and whether they have registered in more than one state. The commission said all voter data submitted by the states would be made public, and the Justice Department sent a separate letter asking states to reveal how they maintain their voter rolls.

At least 12 secretaries of state — from Indiana, California, Kentucky, Virginia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Minnesota, Utah, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee and New Mexico — have so far declined to hand over information that is not already publicly available. 

Indiana's secretary of state, Connie Lawson, sits on the commission. But she said in a statement that "Indiana law doesn’t permit the Secretary of State to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach." Only certain voter information, she said, is available to the public under Indiana law: name, address, and congressional district assignment.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement that handing over the requested information would "legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach."

“I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally," Padilla said Thursday.

Kris Kobach

Trump vowed to investigate voter fraud just days after taking office, repeating false claims that millions of illegal ballots were cast in the presidential election. There is no evidence to support Trump's repeated assertion that he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton in November's election because people voted illegally, independent experts and analysts have said.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a statement that "Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country."

"The president created his election commission based on the false notion that 'voter fraud' is a widespread issue — it is not," Grimes said. "Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the president has repeatedly spread the lie that 3-5 million illegal votes were cast in the last election."

States are already wary of accepting federal help when it comes to voting and election systems. States pushed back when the Department of Homeland Security wanted to designate their voter systems as "critical infrastructure" before the election last year, and are still reluctant to allow the government to conduct a complete digital forensics analysis of the voting machines to see if they were tampered with. 

'Serious privacy concerns' and 'laying the groundwork for voter suppression'

Election law and voter-fraud experts broadly agree that the commission's request is not only baseless, but an infringement on privacy and states' rights.

"Having all of this information raises serious privacy concerns," wrote Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. "Will the information be kept securely, or is it at risk of being hacked for identity theft purposes? Will it be used by the Trump campaign and other political officials for political purposes? How secure will this be?"

Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation who is writing a book on the history of voting rights, wrote Friday that "never before has a White House asked for such broad data on voters, and it could be easily manipulated by Trump’s commission."

Berman said the request could be a pretext to make it harder to register to vote, leading to widespread voter suppression efforts.

"Kobach has a very well-documented record of making wildly misleading claims about voter fraud and enacting policies that sharply limit access to the ballot in his home state of Kansas," he wrote. "He’s been sued four times by the ACLU for voter suppression and was sanctioned by a federal court last week for 'deceptive conduct and lack of candor.'"

Vanita Gupta, who ran the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department during the Obama administration and now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, agreed that Pence and Kobach appeared to be "laying the groundwork for voter suppression."

"The integrity of our elections is indeed under assault — just not in the way Trump claims," she tweeted Thursday. 

A 'gold mine' of voter information

There is also the question of whether making this personal information, including Social Security numbers and military status, publicly available in one place risks making it more vulnerable to manipulation and misuse by adversaries.

Russian hackers targeted election systems in at least 21 states last year, top DHS official Jeanette Manfra told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month. The hackers probed election infrastructure and successfully infiltrated a "small number of networks," said Sam Liles, the DHS's top cyber official.

The hackers stole voter-data information, which they could then use "in a variety of ways," said top FBI counterintelligence official Bill Priestap, including to affect future elections, target individual voters, and determine whether the data is something they can manipulate going forward. 

When a data-analytics firm hired by the Republican National Committee last year to gather political information about US voters accidentally leaked the sensitive personal details of roughly 198 million citizens earlier this month, cybersecurity experts called it "the motherlode of all leaks" and a "goldmine" for anyone looking to target and manipulate voters. 

That information did not even include highly sensitive information like Social Security numbers that the administration now wants to gather and, apparently, make publicly available. 

"It’s just shocking," Myrna Pérez, an expert on voting rights and election administration at Brennan Center for Justice, told Mother Jones on Friday, "that in a period where we know that there’s a risk that we have foreign interference and foreign attacks on our registration systems, that somebody thinks it’s a good idea to take the voter registration rolls in all 50 states and put them all together in one place."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A restaurant in NYC serves pizza topped with avocado

          Can I Get AIDS from Voting?   
[+7] Question by Gargamel on 11/04/08 11:06 AM Replies: 23 Views: 1,698
Tags: Voting, Aids
Last Post by ossobuco on 11/04/08 2:22 PM
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          BMW workers at Plant Swindon begin voting over 'last chance' offer   
BMW workers striking over the company’s decision to close the final salary pension scheme have begun voting on whether to accept the German car-maker's 'final offer'
          John Dubois, Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor Says Ethics Department on a WITCH HUNT. by Geniusofdespair   
Now where have I heard that before? Let me see. anyone?

'Witch hunt' and other top Trump Twitter phrases - MarketWatch

We have our own local politician that appears to mirror Donald Trump: John Dubois. According to the Miami Herald today:
County ethics investigators have released a close-out memo that says the Palmetto Bay’s vice mayor has a conflict of interest that precludes him from voting on anything involving the Palmetto Bay Village Center on Old Cutler Road — a development that has polarized the small city for months.

The report was released by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics just days before the village council is set to cast its final vote on reversing an earlier action approving the development. And despite the commission’s finding, Vice Mayor John Dubois said he’s “voting anyway” at a special meeting on Saturday.

“This is a witch hunt. To come out with an non-binding opinion three days before the vote is the typical political game — especially when there’s lot of money at stake here,” Dubois told the Miami Herald, adding that ethics report is “simply false.”
He had better hope it is false because the developer and his partner mentioned that John Dubois, before he was in office, tried to get 2 units from the developer at cost promising not to oppose the project (page 7 of the ethics complaint).

Not convinced he might be a tiny tad like Donald Trump, take a look at this 2014 video that has gotten 71 views in 3 years (remember he is said to be the only one to contribute to this non-profit):

Now you all to have to remember that the ethics commission finds very, very, very few people guilty of ethics violations. Even though John Dubois was found guilty of a violation, he still insists he will vote on the very violation he has been found guilty of.

The Miami Herald said in a headline, "Get this vice Mayor angry and he might sue."

In a deposition he admitted he has paid private investigators to follow county employees. When he has a beef he just won't let it go, like the Tweeter in Chief. More from the deposition (asking the question is as a county attorney, answering the question is John Dubois:

Q Your website also says: Miami-Dade Citizens For
14Property Rights will help you battle the dark lords of
15Miami-Dade County government.
16 Who are the dark lords of Miami-Dade County government?
17Because I've looked and we don't have a title of dark lord
18anywhere in our entire government agency.
19 A We have one sitting in the room.
20 Q Are you referring to me?
21 A No, I would never call you a dark lord.
22 Q Well, then who specifically are you referring to?
23 A The predatory enforcement agents that work for some of
24the county agencies, including Mr. Ricisak (was in charge of inspecting mangrove damage for the county)
25 Q So, it's your position that Mr. Ricisak is a dark lord
1 of Miami Dade County?
2 A Absolutely

As far as Citizens for Property Rights (not connected to Dubois' attorney who practices at Dubois's address), the non profit uses the Attorney's email:

Now look at the Email address here from Jeffrey Leary (Dubois' attorney) Bar info:

I have to say, with all due respect, that Palmetto Bay residents that voted for him appear to be assholes.

          By: Xennady   
<blockquote>Bush got the blame because the Leftist media are DNC operatives with bylines. They wanted to cover for Clinton and blame the Republican. It almost worked. There is no crime or malfeasance so large the Leftist media will not attempt to cover up or cast blame elsewhere. There is no innocent person they will not smear or even destroy in pursuit of that goal. Do not believe them on any subject. Like Jay Carney and Baghdad Bob, they are (highly) paid liars.</blockquote> This is absolutely spot on, and I agree with every word. But it is also incomplete, and I am not willing absolve Bush of events that took place on his watch. When I voted for him I thought I was voting for an end to the insane political correctness and general idiocy of the Clinton era. But no, didn't happen. Federal law enforcement had possession of Zacharias Moussoui's laptop for weeks before the attack, but never opened it for fear of being accused of profiling. What they would have found on it may have prevented the it. Later, somehow Jamie Gorelick ended up on the 9/11 commission, despite her role in causing the attack by erecting the infamous "Gorelick wall," intended to prevent the FBI and CIA from sharing info that would have revealed Clinton's illegal money trail from China. Of course, it also prevented those agencies from sharing info about terrorism. It seems to me that Bush both could and should have taken direct measures to change these two unhappy occurrences. I believe that if Bush, President and head of the executive branch, had more forcefully expressed his opposition to profiling the FBI agents involved may have been willing look at that laptop a little more closely than not at all. Plus, it was idiotic for Bush to accept the presence of Gorelick on the 9/11 commission, considering her role in causing it. Bush should have said so, plainly, openly, perhaps in a presidential speech, but in any case forcefully enough that the public would know and understand better just how the attacks were able to happen, naming names of who failed, especially Gorelick. But no, didn't happen- and the left was allowed to get away with their incompetence and treason, as well as learning that could easily roll Bush without consequence. Later, they accomplished this with great success during Iraq and Katrina, alas. The buck stopped with Bush, and that political failure is his legacy.
          This Year, I’m Not Voting “For” Anyone…   
I’m casting my vote against Donald Trump. There are countless reasons why, not least of which is that his sons are trophy hunters, responsibe for the deaths of elephants, leopards and untold other African animals. But, ‘they are not him,’ … Continue reading
          How Trump’s nationwide voter data request could lead to voter suppression   
President Trump's Election Integrity Commission is asking all 50 states to turn over all publicly available voter registration data, including highly sensitive information about voters' political affiliation, Social Security numbers, criminal history and military status. Voting rights groups immediately pushed state governors to reject the request, saying it would put a massive trove of information in the hands of […]
          Trump’s voter-fraud commission wants to know voting history, party ID and address of every voter in the U.S.   
The chair of President Trump's Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state. In the letter, a copy of which was […]
          Trump's voter commission already stirring criticism   
Donald Trump's appointment of an "election integrity" commission including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach raised red flags from the start and its activities have already spurred more concerns that it's another vote suppression ploy.

Kobach has led efforts to suppress votes in Kansas and has participated in highly flawed efforts to investigate voter rolls nationally. He's a pal of Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin.

Now he's sent a letter to all 50 states in advance of the first meeting.

The information requested includes the names, addresses, birthdates, political party v(if recorded), last four digits of the voter's Social Security Number and which elections the voter has participated in since 2006, for every registered voter in the country.

Kobach, who is also Kansas' Republican secretary of state, did not say how the commission plans to use the data other than to help it "fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting."
If history repeats, he'll drum up some bogus matching lists, heavily flawed because, for example, the fact that five or six  people with the same name, say Jose Cruz or Roosevelt Washington to give you the idea of what Kobach hopes to find, exist in several states isn't evidence of voter fraud.

Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, boiled it down to this on Twitter:

The letter @KrisKobach1787 is sending to states confirms: Pence and Kobach are laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple. 
The Kentucky secretary of state has told Kobach to stuff it.

I've asked Mark Martin's office if it intends to comply with Kobach's request. UPDATE: His spokesman, Chris Powell, says Arkansas has not received the letter.

I also sent an e-mail to former Democratic state Rep. David Dunn, now a lobbyist at the Arkansas Capitol, for his response to this. He was appointed to this panel thanks to friendship with Mark Martin. I wondered what he thought of the witch hunt in which he's been enlisted. No response as yet.

Talking Points Memo, in outlining how dubious this effort is, notes:

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D), who released the copy of Kobach’s letter sent to her, issued a statement saying that, while they’ll be turning over the data, they’ll also be requesting from Kobach’s commission “any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the Commission is looking for.”

“This lack of openness is all the more concerning, considering that the Vice Chair of the Commission, Kris Kobach, has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas,” Merrill said. “The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters. Given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.”
David Dunn, where are you?

The League of Women Voters' Chris Carson had this to say:Vir

“There is no justification for this giant fishing expedition. The Commission itself is a distraction from the real issue of voter suppression, and that efforts to ‘investigate voter fraud’ threaten our most fundamental voting rights.

“This most recent move by Mr. Kobach is an indicator that the so-called Election ‘Integrity’ Commission is not interested in facts, but false accusations and dangerous policy recommendations.

“State laws govern the release of voter registration information, and, at a minimum, election officials must follow those laws before releasing data. "
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said: "I have no intention of honoring this request." California, Massachusetts and Kentucky aren't going along either. UPDATE: Add Rhode Island. UPDATE: Add Indiana!

FURTHER UPDATE: Kobach says Kobach-led Kansas won't supply the Social Security numbers he's requested.

Mother Jones explains how this is a building block for more Republican vote suppression.

More from Talking Points Memo on this bad idea.

UPDATE: In late afternoon, Ari Berman says 18 states have refused to participate: CA, CT, IN, KY, MA, MN, NC, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, RI, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA

Good overview here including clueless comment from David Dunn. Who knew?

Even Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said on national TV that this is not a good idea

          The Group That Funded McConnells Polio Treatment Asked For A Meeting His Response Is Disgusting   
The March of Dimes, a charity started by President Franklin Roosevelt, saved McConnells life. Yet he refused to meet with them. He and others like him in DC are cold no hearts walking dead. People need to stop voting in these No Hearts.
Submitted by Dandelion G to US Politics & Gov't  |   Note-it!  |   Add a Comment

          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          Taking Stock   
Phil and I recently cleared out and defrosted our deep freezer in anticipation of our annual quarter-cow purchase from a local farmer. In the midst of organizing, using up, or throwing out Parmesan rinds that I saved in 2008 and was sure I would use to flavor soups, five bags of edamame, a large stock of beef from last year's cow, and various other treasures, I made a gruesome discovery. The chicken carcasses I'd been saving for making stock "some day" created a veritable graveyard of Ziploc-enclosed body bags stacked at the back corner of the freezer. This macabre collection needed to be used up or thrown out, and some Depression-era gene couldn't let me just toss what I felt held potential for putting up stock.

Up to this point, I'd made stock once. Using the soup bones that had amassed with our cow delivery, I followed Julia's recipe in The Way to Cook. The recipe took our biggest pot, two years of soup bones, lots of vegetables, and six precious weekend hours. For my effort, I got two quarts of stock. Lovely stock, but the thought of devoting the next eight weekends to chicken stock wore me out.

Then I found the slow cooker recipe on NourishingDays, and I've since become a stock junkie, using up the chicken bones, as well as a turkey carcass from a turkey breast also found in the freezer. The stock is now frozen (in our newly defrosted and recently restocked freezer), lined up in quart canning jars, and waiting for winter soup making. It's crazy-easy, and because it uses kitchen leftovers, virtually free. I'm tickled pink every time I make stock. Tickled. Pink.

I now keep a gallon Ziploc bag in my main freezer in our kitchen, and all the stock-appropriate scraps from vegetables and herbs go in there: onion skins, half a rosemary stalk, carrot peelings, celery that's gone limp.

Here's how to make it:

Easy-Peasy Slow Cooker Stock

Two chicken carcasses, or whatever will fit in your slow cooker
1 to 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
A couple handfuls of frozen vegetable leavin's

Put the chicken carcasses in the slow cooker, and add enough water to cover. Pour in the vinegar, cover, and let it sit, without turning on the slow cooker, for about an hour. This tip from lets you extract some of the nutrients from the bones. After an hour, add a couple handfuls of the vegetable droppings you've saved for stock, cover, and turn to low. Leave it alone for 24 hours. After 24 hours, strain through a coffee filter, paper towel, or cheesecloth, and either use the stock in a couple days, or freeze for later.

Used to be I'd buy organic stock at Costco. Six four-cup (e.g.,one quart) boxes are around $10. This recipe in my cooker usually gives me about two quarts. FOR FREE, as I keep reiterating to my long-suffering husband. Just kitchen scraps. And water. I so love this.
          Random Birthday Thoughts   
Today is my birthday. The day has been low-key. Phil has strep, and went to bed early, which left me alone, quietly, with things I love:

My Kindle, newly loaded with this month's reading group book (The Shadow of the Wind), a stack of favorite print books, my little knitting bag loaded with a knitting project (We Call Them Pirates hat in the new Amy Butler organic yarn), and a martini -- with blue-cheese stuffed olives, no less.
And Pepper:
Pepper is an 11-year-old Dachshund we're test-adopting. My uncle and aunt had to find a good home for Pepper when they moved from their house on 7 acres to a retirement condo. The family voted 4 to 1 (with Phil as the lone dissenter) to try Pepper out. So far, relatively so good. Current voting has 4 of us loving Pepper, and Phil neutral. But we'll win him over.
I worked from home for 2 days to help Pepper transition to our little family. He was a nice colleague:
Max and Pepper are becoming fast buddies:
Downloading the pictures of Pepper, I found a sampling of random happiness from the last couple months. Like dapper Tommy being ring bearer at Phil's cousin's wedding. Here's Tom hanging out with his cousin and giving himself the photo bunny ears. Goofy boy:
Tom took his role very seriously; it's unclear if this is a wedding or funeral:
Aren't the bride and groom adorable?
And here's Sylvia peeling a hard-boiled egg. Shirtless:
And helping me with the lavender harvest. Pantsless:

My new favorite thing in the world: the Pioneer Woman's Potato/Leek/Bacon/Goat Cheese Pizza. Try it if you haven't. You'll thank me. i think I was the only one eating this one:
Twenty-four more minutes of my birthday. The family's asleep. Pepper's in his cage. I might just get a little crazy.

          Midyear Oscars Forecast: What Deserves Recognition, What Will Get It   

The first half of 2017 is now behind us, and so far the year’s best movies include Michael Showalter’s touching and timely romantic comedy “The Big Sick,” Jordan Peele’s incisive horror comedy “Get Out” and Edgar Wright’s adrenalized car-chase flick “Baby Driver.”

If you throw in films that have screened for the press or been unveiled at film festivals, you can add Matt Reeves’ dazzling “War for the Planet of the Apes,” Ruben Ostlund’s Palme d’Or-winning satire “The Square,” Andrey Zvyagintsev’s searing family drama “Loveless,” Taylor Sheridan’s moody suspense thriller “Wind River,” William Oldroyd’s unsettling period film “Lady Macbeth” and David Lowery’s beautiful meditation “A Ghost Story.”

“Apes” will no doubt be a blockbuster, “Get Out” was already a hit and “The Big Sick” and “Baby Driver” have the look of breakouts, but for the most part these are indie gems that deserve nurturing and celebrating.

And that’s why it’s troubling to start examining their Oscar potential – because films like “The Big Sick” and “A Ghost Story” deserve to be embraced without pundits pointing out that the former is a dark horse and the latter probably won’t even register on most voters’ radar.

But pointing out stuff like that, I’m afraid, is part of the job. So is the annual midyear awards forecast, a bit of prognostication hampered by the fact that true awards movies are seldom released in the first six months of the year. Sure, you’ll have occasional exceptions like “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – but last year, for instance, “Hell or High Water” was the only Best Picture nominee to have publicly screened by the end of June, and that was at the Cannes Film Festival.

A few other acting awards came out of first-half festivals: Ruth Negga in “Loving,” Viggo Mortensen in “Captain Fantastic,” Isabelle Huppert in “Elle.” But at this point last year, “Moonlight” was barely a blip on the awards radar, “La La Land” hadn’t been seen publicly and the only eventual Oscar nominees to have been released were “Hail, Caesar!” (Best Production Design) and “The Jungle Book” (Best Visual Effects).

Still, it’s foolish to completely write off six months worth of 2017 films. “Get Out” and “The Big Sick,” for example, should both be strong contenders in the Best Original Screenplay race, where smaller and more adventurous films are often recognized – and while they have genre constraints that may well keep them from getting the attention they might deserve as Best Picture contenders, they can’t be written off in that category until we see what else is unveiled this year.

“Baby Driver,” given its over-the-top violence, will likely be even more hampered by its genre and tone, though it’s fun and stylish enough to overcome a lot of resistance.

In the acting categories, “The Big Sick” should be a player, though supporting players Ray Romano and especially Holly Hunter probably have a better shot than the film’s wonderful leads, Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan. Kirsten Dunst might have a shot for Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled,” Nicole Kidman perhaps less of one.

Among the film-festival entries, Jeremy Renner is as good as he’s ever been in “Wind River,” and I would love to see Florence Pugh recognized for her brilliant performance in “Lady Macbeth,” though I know that the Spirit and Gotham Awards are probably her best shot. And I would nominate Rooney Mara just for the astonishing, wordless scene in “A Ghost Story” in which she comes home to an empty house after the death of her husband (Casey Affleck) and eats almost an entire pie in one extended, harrowing sequence.

And it’ll be a real shame if the Actors Branch continues to resist Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performances even after “War for the Planet of the Apes,” which is carried not by the big action sequences but by intimate scenes between Serkis and other actors, some playing apes and others playing humans.

Beyond that, some of the year’s big movies – “Beauty and the Beast,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Wonder Woman” – figure to get consideration in the below-the-line categories.

And maybe we’ll even get to see the impact of the recent changes that opened nomination voting in the Best Animated Feature category to all Academy members. Three years ago, the smaller committee that then handled nominations snubbed “The LEGO Movie,” the year’s most acclaimed animated film. This year, the larger group will have the chance to consider “The LEGO Batman Movie,” and maybe make up for the oversight.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Big Sick' Review: Kumail Nanjiani Mostly Hits the Mark in Auto-Bio-Rom-Com

Norman Lear Sings the Praises of Jordan Peele's 'Get Out': 'I've Never Been More Touched'

Whoopi Goldberg, Larry Karaszewski Elected to Academy's Board of Governors

          Comment on Friday News: “Donald Trump is not well”; “Understanding Republican Cruelty”; TMac Tells Trump Voter Suppression Group to Buzz Off by lowkell   
<blockquote><b>McEachin Joined Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis to Reintroduce the Voter Empowerment Act</b> WASHINGTON – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) cosponsored the Voter Empowerment Act, H.R. 12, reintroduced by influential civil rights leader Representative John Lewis (GA-05) as well as House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC-06), Ranking Member John Conyers (MI-13), and Rep. Robert Brady (PA-01). “In the early days of our nation, restrictive voting laws were more obvious: literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and property laws. Just because the modern means of voter restriction are less blatant, does not make them less effective, said Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04). “Many states have enforced oppressive policies that attempt to limit voters’ rights, such as voter ID laws and limited early voting opportunities. We must keep fighting to enable every American citizen to cast a ballot regardless of their income level, race, or ability.” The Voter Empowerment Act will: · Ensure equal access to the ballot for all eligible voters; · Modernize the voter registration system to help Americans participate; and · Take steps to eliminate deceptive practices that deter voters from casting their ballots. “During my time in Virginia’s General Assembly, I fought hard for voters’ rights in the Commonwealth. I will continue this fight at the federal level because democracy is at its best when all voices are heard,” added Congressman McEachin. The Voter Empowerment Act would make it easier for Americans to vote by enabling same day registration; expanding early voting; creating a national voter protection hotline; and mandating a verifiable paper trail. Such procedures aim to enable those with non-traditional work schedules and limited access to transportation to cast their ballot in confidence.</blockquote>
          J’Accuse: How Not to Have a Political Debate about BDS   
Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions presents this essay by Lisa Rofel and Daniel Segal on the debasement of the political debate about the boycott by its most vehement opponents. Voting on the boycott resolution is open until May 31. #Anthroboycott’s voting instructions are here. Every vote counts! *** J’Accuse: How Not to … Continue reading J’Accuse: How Not to Have a Political Debate about BDS
          MLB All-Star Voting 2017: Latest Ballot Results Before Roster Reveal   

Voting for the All-Star Game starters in the American and National Leagues came to a conclusion Thursday night, and the big reveal will come Sunday night when Major League Baseball announces the final results.

There were a number of tight races, and some of the vote totals were released hours before the final votes were cast.

Perhaps the most dramatic development came at the designated hitter position, where Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays took the lead over Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners. Dickerson had moved nearly 60,000 votes in front of Cruz after trailing by nearly 100,000 votes earlier in the week. Dickerson's surge is impressive, but it would be difficult to say he deserves the start over his rival. 

The Tampa designated hitter has a .333 batting average, 17 home runs and 39 runs batted in, while Cruz is hitting .286 with 14 homers and 59 RBI.

One of the other close races in the American League is at third base, where Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano has a slight lead over Cleveland's Jose Ramirez (1,764,734 to 1,730,869). Toronto's Josh Donaldson is not far behind in third place, and it's not inconceivable that his name could be called when starters are announced at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN's All-Star announcement program.

The National League has two tight races at first and third base. As of the last release, Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals had the lead over Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs by nearly 75,000 votes.

Rizzo's teammate, Kris Bryant, was caught and passed by Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies with a big final week of voting. When the final announcement is made Sunday, it would be surprising if Arenado is not the starting third baseman. He had an advantage of more than 100,000 votes as of Thursday.

The last complete American League vote totals had been released Monday and the leaders included catcher Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals, first baseman Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals, second baseman Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros along with his teammate Carlos Correa at shortstop.

Slugging rookie Aaron Judge had a huge lead among Junior Circuit outfielders, followed by injured Mike Trout (thumb ligament) of the Los Angeles Angels. George Springer of the Astros is in third place while Michael Brantley of the Cleveland Indians is fourth. Since Trout won't be able to play, Springer and Brantley have the inside track on the other starting outfield positions.

Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants had a sizable lead at catcher in the National League, while Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals was in line to start at second base. The surprising Zack Cozart of the Cincinnati Reds has the lead at shortstop over Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bryce Harper of the Nationals is a lock to make the NL starting lineup with more than 3.6 million votes cast. He will likely receive the most votes of any player unless Judge caught him with a hot showing in the final hours.

The other starting outfielders are Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies and Marcell Ozuna of the Miami Marlins.


Predicted All-Star Game Starters

National League

C: Buster Posey, San Francisco, .344 batting average, 10 HR

1B: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington, .632 slugging percentage, 1.012 OPS

2B: Daniel Murphy, Washington, .339 batting average, 55 RBI

SS: Zack Cozart, Cincinnati, .320 batting average, 33 RBI

3B: Nolan Arenado, Colorado, 15 HR, 61 RBI

OF: Bryce Harper, Washington, 18 HR, 58 RBI

OF: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado, .314 batting average, 16 HR, 56 RBI

OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami, 20 HR, 49 RBI


American League

C: Sal Perez, Kansas City, 16 HR, 48 RBI

1B: Justin Smoak, Toronto, 21 HR, 49 RBI

2B: Jose Altuve, Houston, 97 hits, 50 runs, 11 HR, .328 batting average

SS: Carlos Correa, Houston, 14 HR, 49 RBI

3B: Miguel Sano, Minnesota, 18 HR, 53 RBI

OF: Aaron Judge, N.Y. Yankees, .333 batting average, 27 HR, 1.153 OPS

OF: George Springer, Houston, 24 HR, 52 RBI

OF: Mookie Betts, Boston, 12 HR, 12 SB, 41 RBI

DH: Nelson Cruz, Seattle, 14 HR, 58 RBI

All stats and information courtesy of, prior to Thursday's games.

Read more Baseball news on

          Comment on Bye Bye Byes by blockvoting   
okay multiple people now have expressed this so i need to comment on it too: three meets in three days (potentially) is not going to kill anyone. i get that gymnastics is very tough on the body but sometimes people lose a bit of perspective. other sports deal with tighter schedules all the time. with that said they could just put the play-ins on a thursday instead of a friday just so people will stop panicking i guess.
          Comment on Bye Bye Byes by blockvoting   
i will just address one thing that isn't immediately obvious as barely logical drama: this new format actually has more room for upsets. a top seeded team now only needs to beat a second seed and 4 other weaker teams for nationals. with this, and assuming regionals have no upsets themselves, they will need to beat another first seed and two second seeds for nationals. for weaker teams, they still need to defeat at least two stronger teams as they need right now, but those stronger teams also need to hit two meets opposed to only one. this format should see more underdogs making nationals, not less.
          Re: Best of the Triangle 2017 Voting Results - Eat & Drink   

I'm not throwing anyone under the bus.

What I'm saying should be obvious: the privileged white dudebros who own Luna and are engaging in racism against people of color and are using their liberal politics as a shield from criticism.

The Indy food editor basically admitted this . . .
Posted by Jesus Vasquez
          Obama Head of DOJ Civil Rights Division: 'Pence and Kobach Are Laying the Groundwork for Voter Suppression'   

Kobach Wants Every Registered Voter's Name, Address, Date of Birth, Party Registration, Social Security Information, Voting History, Felony Convictions, Military Status, and Overseas Citizen Information

          Twins lose game, series in Boston 6-3   
BOSTON – Mookie Betts must have known that All-Star voting ended Thursday night. The Red Sox right fielder, who was sixth among American League outfielders in the final update of the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, put …
          Mo Money Mo Problems: The NBA’s 2017 All-About-To-Be-Overpaid Team   
Nikola Mirotic and Kelly Olynyk battle it out for their next big contract. (AP)
Nikola Mirotic and Kelly Olynyk battle it out for their next big contract. (AP)

NBA general managers are smarter than ever, and they still couldn’t help themselves when gifted a ballooning salary cap last summer, spending like Montgomery Brewster (timely references, here). The Los Angeles Lakers saddled themselves with Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, the Portland Trail Blazers threw $70 million at Evan Turner, and the Memphis Grizzlies figured Chandler Parsons for $94 million in an annual tradition that will only seem more ridiculous as the salary cap continues to climb.

These five guys will cash in soon, so maybe this list will soften the blow when the news comes down.

JRUE HOLIDAY, New Orleans Pelicans (unrestricted)

Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of Holiday. I like his effort on both ends of the floor, and I love his hustle off it. He’s 27 years old, enjoyed arguably his best season since his 2013 All-Star campaign — averaging 15.4 points (53.2 true shooting percentage), 7.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game — and did it all despite missing the start of the season to tend to his wife as she recovered from brain surgery.

But he is not a max-contract player. And he will in all likelihood receive a max deal from the Pelicans, if only because they have no other choice. Pairing DeMarcus Cousins with Anthony Davis at the trade deadline meant New Orleans was entering the summer with a win-now ultimatum and no cap space.

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If Holiday walks in unrestricted free agency, the Pelicans have nobody to deliver the ball to their two stud bigs, no way of paying somebody else of his caliber, and no assets to trade for an adequate replacement, because they owe Solomon Hill, Omer Asik and E’Twaun Moore a combined $85 million.

So, when another team makes a big play for Holiday — and the Dallas Mavericks were among those rumored to be making a sweetheart offer that included the chance to play with Justin — the Pelicans have no other option but to top it. And that will get expensive. Like, $30 million a year expensive.

TIM HARDAWAY JR., Atlanta Hawks (restricted)

The New York Knicks’ No. 24 pick in 2013, Hardaway was dealt to Atlanta for another non-lottery pick two years into his career, averaged just six points on below-average shooting in 17 minutes per game during his first season on the Hawks, and then salvaged his career in the final year of his rookie deal.

A top-10 finisher in this year’s Most Improved Player voting, Hardaway submitted career-highs of 14.5 points per game and 56.8 percent true shooting this season. With more minutes and responsibility following the trade of Kyle Korver, the Basketball Hall of Famer’s son increased his output and efficiency, and Atlanta’s offensive rating rose 8.5 points per 100 possessions with him in the lineup.

I’m practically talking myself into offering him four years and $70 million this summer — the same offer teammates Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder received in restricted free agency last year. Show any general manager game tape of his 23 points in the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets, and that offer might even climb to $20 million annually. The guy is still only 25 years old.

But what if I told you Reggie Jackson gave the Detroit Pistons the same numbers last season? You’d say he was overpaid at $15 million. Hardaway is a useful player, but his inconsistent production can be approximated by any number of players, and I’d be shocked if he’s ever a starting shooting guard on a contender. If that’s the case, he should get closer to $10 million than $20 million. Which won’t happen, because he is exactly the type of player whose best nights enthrall GMs enough to throw cash at him.

Jodie Meeks advises Kentavious Caldwell-Pope about big paydays in Detroit. (AP)
Jodie Meeks advises Kentavious Caldwell-Pope about big paydays in Detroit. (AP)

KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE, Detroit Pistons (restricted)

Caldwell produced comparable offensive numbers to Hardaway (14 points per game on 35 percent shooting from 3-point range), while serving as an above-average wing defender (he even picked up an All-Defensive Second Team vote). That’s somebody you want on your roster, especially at age 24.

But the Brooklyn Nets, with a plethora of cap space, are reportedly prepared to offer Caldwell-Pope a max contract, which would mean a start salary around $25 million for the former No. 8 overall pick.

What’s more, the Pistons have their hands tied into matching it, because they are without cap space this year and next, and cannot possibly replicate a Caldwell-Pope with the mid-level exception. He was arguably the Pistons’ most important player in 2015-16, whatever that means for a 37-win team.

So, Detroit would technically be paying market value for Caldwell-Pope, but only because another bad team is desperate enough to overpay for anyone better than Joe Harris. Outside of trading one of several other cumbersome contracts, the Pistons would then be locked into a core of Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris for the next two years — with another $75 million or so due to the first three in 2019-20. That’s the same team that finished 10th in the East this year.

KELLY OLYNYK, Boston Celtics (restricted)

I’m not sure how much money Olynyk earned with his 26-point performance to beat the Washington Wizards in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but it was a lot. Millions, most likely. His next two games, in which he finished with two points and couldn’t stay on the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers, will be ignored, because that’s what GMs do. They’re an optimistic bunch, for the most part.

They will see Olynyk as a prototypical stretch big well-suited for today’s NBA — a 7-footer who can stretch the floor. He even shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range two seasons ago. They will ignore the fact he is an awkwardly plodding brute inside the arc, accidentally ripping people’s arms out of their sockets and elbowing his screen victims in the face, who doesn’t rebound or defend all that well.

They will not see him for what he is — a serviceable backup big. Somebody will throw more than $15 million per season at Olynyk for the same reason the Chicago Bulls drafted Lauri Markkanen with the No. 7 overall pick last week. They think he’s a perfect fit for the pace-and-space era, forgetting about the pace part, and the Celtics will let him walk, because they know better after four years of him.

NERLENS NOEL, Dallas Mavericks (restricted)

I like Nerlens. I like all the players on this list. Gregg Popovich could probably finish .500 with them. But to pay Noel max money — as much as $140 million over the next five years — is one heck of a risk for a 7-footer whose knees (plural) have cost him a total of 135 games over his first four NBA seasons.

And reports indicate there are multiple teams willing to pay the max for Noel, because he is a 23-year-old rim-protecting, rim-running athletic freak who is capable of stuff like this, over Draymond Green:

The Mavs have reportedly made re-signing Noel their top priority this offseason, and they can match any offer in order to keep him part of a core that now includes Harrison Barnes, Seth Curry and Dennis Smith. Noel might even be worth that money if he stays healthy. But big men with multiple ACL surgeries in their recent past aren’t a safe bet. Not at an average annual rate of $28 million until 2022.

You’re also paying 25 percent of the salary cap to a guy who can’t shoot beyond eight feet in a league that’s increasingly requiring its big men to space the floor. This sounds contradictory to also having Olynyk on this list, but it’s really the same argument: You’re paying in full for half a complete player. Even on the lottery-bound Mavs and Philadelphia 76ers, Noel only managed 20 minutes per game.

I hope he succeeds. I really do. I hope they all do. I just wouldn’t bet on them. Or these guys, either …


Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors (unrestricted): After trading Terrence Ross and a first-round pick for Ibaka, the Raptors seemed intent on keeping him long-term. If Kyle Lowry returns, the Raps’ only option to stay in the East hunt will be to outbid Ibaka’s suitors. If Lowry goes, and Ibaka follows suit, the dearth of free-agent big men with Ibaka’s range and rim-protection means someone will still pay up for him, even if he’s a third or fourth option who couldn’t get Toronto out of the second round.

Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz (restricted): Once one of the league’s most underrated players, too many people started to notice, and now a team will ruin it by making the 30-year-old Australian overrated.

James Johnson, Miami Heat (unrestricted): The 30-year-old posted career-highs across the board as a super-sub, but we have seven more years of evidence he won’t be worth the deal he’ll get as a result.

Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs (unrestricted): Projecting production in San Antonio over more minutes elsewhere is always a difficult proposition, but with several teams in need of help at the point guard position, someone is sure to be conceived they can get even more out of Mills than Popovich did.

Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls (restricted): Olynyk, only better, and more expensive. So, Olynyk.

Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets (restricted): There’s a rule that a Plumlee always has to be on this list.

Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards (restricted): Similarly to Holiday and Caldwell-Pope, in that high-paying suitors will drive up his price tag, knowing the Wizards can’t afford to lose him.

Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Thunder (restricted): If OKC matches Roberson’s best offer, it’ll cross the luxury-tax line, and that’s nowhere for a small-market team to be. On the other hand, if Roberson goes, the Thunder will be even shallower on the wing. So, the bidding could get fierce for the All-Defensive Second Teamer, and the final offer will seem like a lot for a guy who teams dare to shoot.

Tony Snell, Milwaukee Bucks (restricted): He’s 3-and-D, without the D, but NBA teams sure love the 3.

Dion Waiters, Miami Heat (unrestricted): I figured Waiters for an overpay last summer, when he turned out to be a bargain at $2.9 million, and the market overcorrection should come after his career year.

– – – – – – –

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

          NBA Free Agency Shopping Lists: Southeast Division   
Is Paul Millsap pointing to the exit. (AP)
Is Paul Millsap pointing to the exit. (AP)

Free agency is a complicated time full of misdirection, brief opportunities and a whole lot of persuasion. We’ve put together these shopping lists to ensure every team stays on track.

Atlanta Hawks

2016-17 record: 43-39, eliminated in the first round

Unrestricted free agents: Paul Millsap, Ersan Ilyasova, Thabo Sefolosha, Kris Humphries, Jose Calderon

Restricted free agents: Tim Hardaway Jr., Mike Muscala

Millsap is testing the free-agent market, and with every other member of the 2015 starting five that won 60 games together now gone, the 32-year-old may pursue greener NBA pastures, too. Atlanta might as well have posted an “under construction” sign outside Philips Arena after trading Dwight Howard for some Charlotte Hornets debris last week, so the Hawks aren’t really hard-selling Millsap.

(Ironically, the Hawks quite literally revealed plans for a Philips Arena renovation on Wednesday.)

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If Millsap walks, there’s not much sense in Atlanta making any serious commitments to veterans Ilyasova, Sefolosha, Humphries and Calderon. In which case, the Hawks will have money to spend in free agency, but the problem is finding big-name talents who will commit to a team that has almost half its salary cap tied up in Kent Bazemore, Dennis Schroder and Miles Plumlee stock through 2020.

After a banner year, Hardaway will receive significant offers in restricted free agency, and Muscala will have suitors to a lesser degree, so the Hawks must decide whether either is worth adding long-term to an already overpaid young core. Sans Millsap, this group is headed for the lottery, and new GM Travis Schlenk would be best suited filling out the roster with short-term deals and a flier or two on still-young free agents with high upside, maintaining cap flexibility and collecting pingpong balls.

Charlotte Hornets

2016-17 record: 36-46

Unrestricted free agents: Ramon Sessions, Brian Roberts

Restricted free agents: Christian Wood

With Howard’s $23.5 million salary added to a swarm of Hornets making between $12-24 million for the next two seasons — Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller and Kemba Walker (who, believe it or not, is the lowest-paid member of that sextet) — Charlotte also enters free agency over the salary cap. So, owner Michael Jordan and GM Rich Cho will do their best to recruit reclamation projects with non-taxpayer mid-level and bi-annual exceptions and minimum contracts.

The addition of Howard means Charlotte will more than likely continue its tradition of making the playoffs (and being eliminated in the first round) every other year since 2013. Jeremy Lamb is under contract for this year and next, and recent first-round picks Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk are under the Hornets’ control moving forward. Their core is set, for better or worse, so they can take free agents Sessions, Roberts and Wood or leave them. None of that trio contributed much to last year’s roster.

Depth at any position isn’t as much of an issue as top-end talent, but the Hornets could use help behind Walker and on the wings. Charlotte has had mixed success with journeymen Al Jefferson, Lance Stephenson, Jeremy Lin and Roy Hibbert in free agency over the years, and Jordan has a certain allure for veteran players looking to resurrect their value. How many they hit on this season will determine how frisky they are as a road playoff seed, but best not to commit long-term to anyone else.

Dion Waiters raised his profile this past season. (AP)
Dion Waiters raised his profile this past season. (AP)

Miami Heat

2016-17 record: 41-41

Unrestricted free agents: Udonis Haslem, Luke Babbit, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Willie Reed

Restricted free agents: None

With Chris Bosh off the books, Pat Riley has max cap space in Miami, and that’s generally a dangerous proposition for the NBA. The Heat will primarily compete with the Celtics in trying to lure Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin from the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, selling South Beach and a chance to vie in the East to every big-name player looking for a change this summer.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who finished second in Coach of the Year voting, and a roster that finished the second half of last season with a 30-11 record are some strong selling points. That roster also got significant contributions out of Johnson and Waiters, who will be in high demand after career years.

Because the Heat do not own full Bird Rights on Johnson or Waiters, the decision on them comes down to signing both to eight-figure salaries or letting them walk and chasing a star. Riley will chase the star every time. Committing the available cap space to a pair of non-stars for several seasons wouldn’t be prudent in Miami, where the Heat can always get a meeting with anyone who matters.

The Heat will hope to add Hayward or Griffin to a core that already includes Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and a handful of under-25 talents led by Justise Winslow. Regardless of whether they land a big-name free agent this summer, Riley will seek to sign the next Waiters and Johnson willing to come to Miami for below market value and let Spoelstra do the rest until it’s time to chase the next star.

Orlando Magic

2016-17 record: 29-53

Unrestricted free agents: Jodie Meeks, Jeff Green

Restricted free agents: Damjan Rudez

Back in early April, when the Magic signed Argentine wing Patricio Garino, Orlando’s offseason plans were broadcast to the world in a picture on Twitter. A week later, the Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan, so we may never know whether he would have pulled off that Aaron Gordon for Dario Saric trade, sought Luol Deng’s contract(!) or landed any of the many hybrid and spread bigs on his list.

New GM John Hammond has experience building veteran-laden middle-of-the-road teams coached by Scott Skiles, which was also Hennigan’s Magic plan over the past several years, but Hammond is also an architect of one of the NBA’s grandest experiments — a freakishly long, athletic young squadron that appears on the verge of real contention in Milwaukee — so there may be hope for Orlando yet.

There’s work to be done, and the only thing they should absolutely not do is exactly what they did last year: Trade their young talent and draft picks for Serge Ibaka’s expiring contract and two years of Jodie Meeks, then sign vets Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green and D.J. Augustin for a combined $40 million per season. That is nowhere close to a long-term plan for success. I’m not even sure what that is.

Instead, the new Magic brass has to evaluate what they can salvage from the wreckage. That means showcasing Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Nikola Vucevic and Biyomobo — all of whom are signed for the next two years — in hopes of unloading their contracts for pieces that might still be around when (if?) Orlando is good. It also means heavy minutes for recent first-round picks Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja and Elfrid Payton, to determine whether they’re worth keeping around or trade bait as well.

The only untouchable is this year’s No. 6 overall pick Jonathan Isaac, who should also see significant playing time. So, preserve what little cap space you have, try to create more for the future, stockpile picks, ensure your own is a high lottery one in 2018 and for the love of all things basketball do not spend your money on high-priced low-ceiling free agents who might win you a couple extra games.

Otto Porter Jr. will have a lot of zeroes on his next contract. (AP)
Otto Porter Jr. will have a lot of zeroes on his next contract. (AP)

Washington Wizards

2016-17 record: 49-33, eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals

Unrestricted free agents: Brandon Jennings

Restricted free agents: Otto Porter Jr., Bojan Bogdanovic, Trey Burke

The Wizards are cash-strapped with borderline All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal signing a max contract last summer, definite All-Star point guard John Wall now eligible for a super-max extension and the bruising frontcourt tandem of Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris due another $20 million combined next season. Last year’s $64 million deal for Ian Mahinmi didn’t help the bottom line, either.

That leaves general manager Ernie Grunfeld with few options in free agency beyond the taxpayer mid-level and bi-annual exceptions. And while Wall may be pushing to trade for Paul George, Washington’s dearth of talent beyond its starting five leaves precious few assets for the Wizards to offer in return.

All of which makes the decision on Porter’s impending free agency a difficult one. The former No. 3 pick enjoyed a career year in his fourth NBA season, and now at worse looks to be a talented 3-and-D swingman with a long career ahead of him. He will have suitors driving up his salary on the open market, and the Wizards have little choice but to match the highest offer, because they do not have the money to find a commensurate replacement in free agency, and to lose him would be a step back.

At the same rate, signing Porter to a market-value salary locks this group in for at least two more seasons, meaning Grunfeld will once again be scrambling to fill out a bench that even Wall conceded was the team’s “downfall” in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Boston Celtics.

Second-year wing Kelly Oubre Jr. showed promise, the Wizards added capable backup point guard Tim Frazier for a second-round pick on draft day, and they will hope to retain Bogdanovic, who they dealt their first-round pick for at the trade deadline. That still leaves an awful lot of work to do with little money to spend, which unfortunately means relying on Grunfeld to find cheap depth at all positions. Regardless, I’d just as soon let Brandon Jennings walk, because he was abysmal in Washington.

More NBA Free Agency Shopping Lists:

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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          General Election Voting By Newspaper Readership    


-- this post authored by Niall McCarthy

According to research from YouGov, voters in the UK generally stuck to the party allegiances of their favourite newspapers during the 2017 general election.

Read more ...

          Even red states not eager to share voters' personal information with voter suppression commission   

Campaign Action

State election officials are not rushing out to bow down to the massive information demand from Donald Trump’s voter suppression commission, a commission that just got another member whose life’s mission is to keep people from voting. In fact, the rush is in the opposite direction—a constantly growing number of states have said they won’t hand over part or all of the information that the commission’s vice chair, the notorious Kris Kobach, wants.

A few states, like Virginia, California, New York, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Massachusetts are just saying no. “NY refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election. We will not comply with this request,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted, with similar statements coming from officials in other states.

Many other states—a rapidly growing number—are saying they will not give Kobach any information that is not already publicly available, like the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, for instance. Connecticut, GeorgiaIndianaIowa, North CarolinaOhio, OklahomaRhode IslandUtah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin are on that list. Vermont’s secretary of state, slammed the commission itself: “While it gives me pause to enable the work of this Commission in any way, I am bound by law to provide our publicly available voter file.” But you may notice that this is not a list of blue states. It turns out that even some secretaries of state who are themselves major voter suppression fanatics are not eager to turn over people’s personal information. Some are particularly surprising:


The list of states saying no to everything or no to everything that’s not already public continues to grow. But nothing is going to dent Kobach’s determination to disenfranchise as many Americans as he can.

          Challenger says Blue Dog Democrat voted to 'support the Trump agenda' after anti-immigrant vote   

Goal Thermometer

On the same day that Daily Kos endorsed his primary challenger, Blue Dog Democrat Dan Lipinski made clear why it’s so important to defeat him. Lipinski voted for the anti-immigrant “Kate’s Law,” which the American Civil Liberties Union described last year as “an ultimately shortsighted and ill-conceived response to the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco in July 2015.”

While passing such a law may sound or feel productive,it would not have saved Kate Steinle’s life had it existed at the time of her death. A new mandatory minimum sentence will not stop illegal reentry any more than mandatory minimum drug sentences have stopped the opioid health crisis impacting our country now. We cannot incarcerate our way out of this country’s drug problems, or its immigration problems. [...]

Getting more people working here legally is good for business, the economy, and free markets. Indiscriminately imprisoning large portions of those who have illegally reentered the country for at least five years will negate the benefits of any other criminal justice reforms Congress may enact, do nothing to enhance border security or implement humane and sensible immigration reforms, and will increase the burden on taxpayers and law enforcement without increasing public safety.

I second the ACLU in their characterization of Kate’s Law,” Lipinski’s opponent, Marie Newman, said in an emailed statement. And:

“This is another instance of Congressman Lipinski voting to support the Trump agenda,” said Newman.  “I am beyond disappointed with Lipinski’s anti-immigrant, xenophobic views.  They’re not consistent with our American and Democratic values,” continued Newman. [...] 

“This legislation is outrageous in that it unilaterally treats all people who have entered this country illegally twice, as criminals – whether they are fleeing persecution, aiming to be reunited with their family members, or attend to a sick family member,” said Newman.  “I of course support keeping criminals and people who are intent on doing harm out of our country. But this legislation is the wrong approach – it’s anti-immigrant and anti-American and another example of how Dan Lipinski is out of step with this district,” declared Newman.

Please give $3 to Marie Newman today to help her give the boot to a truly terrible Democrat.

          Trump finds perfect hire for his voter fraud panel: a consummate advocate for voter ID laws   

Donald Trump's baseless contention that anywhere from 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016 led to the creation of his dubious "Election Integrity" commission, headed by Mike Pence and anti-immigrant and voter ID law advocate Kris Kobach. Now Trump has tapped another crusader for restricting voting rights to sit on the panel, Hans Von Spakovsky. TPM's Tierney Sneed writes: 

Von Spakovsky served in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department during an era when the agency came under fire for politicizing voting rights issues. Von Spakovsky approved Georgia’s voter ID law, over the objections of career DOJ employees. Since leaving the federal government, he has continued to be an advocate for restrictive voting laws and has fanned the unsubstantiated fears about voter fraud.

Von Spakovsky didn't just approve that Georgia law over objections, he also penned his own op-ed in support of it under a pseudonym so no one would know it was him. In other words, while working in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in 2005, he cheated in support of a position that undermined civil rights and then later tried to cover it up. Here's the Washington Post, circa 2006:

After leaving Justice for the Federal Election Commission, von Spakovsky has acknowledged writing a law review article that endorsed photo identification, which was Georgia's approach, before the state's proposal was even submitted to Justice for review. He also took the unusual step of using a pseudonym, "Publius," in publishing the article, which appeared in the spring 2005 issue of the Texas Review of Law & Politics.

The article and its unusual authorship prompted a letter of complaint to the Justice Department last week from the Voting Rights Project, an arm of the American Civil Liberties Union that is opposed to Georgia's voter identification plans. The group said the article shows von Spakovsky had already made up his mind on the issue and that his attempt to hide his views may have violated Justice Department guidelines.

In addition, a link to the Publius article suddenly disappeared this week from the FEC Web site, which had featured the article among a list of von Spakovsky's writings.

Because nothing says "integrity" like lying.

Trump's commission already made headlines this week when it asked states to hand over the personal details and party affiliations of all voters. Gee, that doesn't sound fishy.

          State election officials are saying no to Trump voter suppression commission's information grab   

Campaign Action

Donald Trump’s “election integrity commission”—in reality, his effort to launch a nationwide voter suppression campaign—has demanded that every state provide detailed information on every registered voter. They want your name, address, birthday, political party, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your voter history since 2006, information about your military service or felony convictions, whether you’re registered in any other states, and overseas citizen status. This information would be going to a commission headed by a guy who allowed himself to be photographed with his secret plan for Trump’s first year in office facing outward, though even more relevant than Kris Kobach’s inability to keep secrets is his naked desire to keep people who don’t agree with him from voting. In any case, a few states—hopefully to be joined by more soon—are saying they’ll refuse the request for your personal data.

California, Kentucky, and Virginia are saying no. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally.” According to Padilla, “California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the president, vice president, and [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach.”

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said “Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has “no intention” of giving Kobach what he wants, and that “At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.

Connecticut is also not rushing to fulfill the request, with Secretary of State Denise Merrill saying that the state would provide “the Kobach commission” with publicly available data but nothing more; information like Social Security numbers would not fall under publicly available data. Merrill also suggested she would not be rushing to meet the July 14 deadline set for handing over the information, and asked for more information on what Kobach—who she noted “has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas”—is looking for and why this information is essential.

Who will be the next secretary of state or governor to stand up to this naked ploy to begin disenfranchising the citizens of their state?

Friday, Jun 30, 2017 · 4:26:51 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has added his state to this list.

Friday, Jun 30, 2017 · 5:14:12 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Iowa’s secretary of state says he will only share publicly available information.

Friday, Jun 30, 2017 · 5:47:24 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

North Carolina, too, will refuse to hand over all the information Kobach is looking for.

          Politics: IEBC specifies voting requirements   
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has maintained that it will not accept voters' cards during the August 8 General Election.
          Politics: Who do the poll numbers favour?   
Using the 2013 voting patterns to project a 90 per cent turnout, Uhuru and Raila are locked in a dead heat race.
          2. Staffel beginnt nach den großen Ferien   
Es steht nun fest: Die zweite Casting Staffel beginnt nach den großen Ferien 2013 und zwar in Viersen. Nach langem „hin und her“ und nach aufwendigen Verhandlungen ist es uns gelungen entsprechende Partner zu finden, die, im Gegensatz zu Mönchengladbach, unsere Jugend zu schätzen weiß. Unabhängig vom Voting der Jury und des Publikums wird die […]
          Ability to vote compromised for thousands behind bars   
Ambiguous state law means the voting rights of inmates varies widely between jails, disproportionately affecting poor blacks and Latinos awaiting trial in Illinois.
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Sarah Palin First Tea Party President   
The 2016 Elections is off to a early start. Some people feel that the building block for the Tea Party Independent Forum within the Independent Voting Floor will separate the power of the Republican Party. I am sorry but this is not true. The Foundation of this forum is to bring in new officials as well as a Independent Tea Party Officials. As States move to file for Independence and to form their own Government, this is by all mean a mistake, The Separation of the States will break the Foundation Of The Constitution. Then the United Nations will be in a far better position to apply their New World Order Laws.
 It would seem, that most people are concerned about the economy and other issues, people are in dis-trust of Officials in Government from both parties. There are some of us who feel it is time for the Tea Party to take its right-full place in office under the Independent Forum.

I am sorry but most people feel its time to vote out those who did not do their job and vote in new people with no political connections. This political battle for a seat to control a power that is not real, its the Voice Of the People that is the power and the posting of, Under The Cover Of Winter Storm Nemo, this posting does not hold all the information you seek, but I can tell you this that a data search for Political Official who hide their money investments over-seas in Pharmaceutical Narcotics. You may say so what....then why hide the money....?
 No my friends this will not separate nothing at all because as time goes forward we are being lost in a connection of United We Stand.
 . No matter how many seats get controlled, the job of the balance of the Fiscal Cliff, has not been done, and in the last 11 years over $109 trillion Dollars spent, and according to Officials on TV they only bring in $3 trillion per year...that around $76 trillion where is the money..? I can show you but not now....
As of December 31, 2012

read more:
 I still have not found a way to tell my twins that they are in debit for $37,000 to balance the budget. I mean how do you tell a 7 year child that they are broke....this gives a whole new meaning to kicking the can down the road....
Then you have Obama Care crammed down our throats  by both Republicans and Democrats in Office.
 Abortion paid for in the Health Care Bill
 Narcotics paid for in the Bill
Gun Rights  Under Fire

We may not be able to bring in a Tea Party Official in The 2014 Senate Race for the seats at hand, but to share a 2016 Campaign.....

Sarah Palin, do you want to make history and become the next Tea Party President Of The United States of America...? 
 This is not about winning its about opening the door to a whole new way of thinking...

          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          Some notes on white monopoly capital: Definition, use and denial   

“The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes” - Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848.

“Today, the main task of the working class is to abolish the white monopoly of power, to carry out the national democratic revolution for the liberation of African and other oppressed people”- Augmented Meeting of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party, 1970.

“We have in the past defined the forces which the NDR sought to defeat as the white ruling class, represented by monopoly capitalism and including other class and social strata within the white community, all whom had an objective interest in the continuation of white minority rule”, ANC Discussion Document, Umrabulo 8, 2000.

1. Context

A narrative is now gaining momentum that the concept “white monopoly capital” is an invention of some public relations firm called Bell Pottinger, which was founded in 1987, and that it does not exist in the literature of the national liberation movement.

Some have continued to maintain that “white monopoly capital” does not exist, while others acknowledge that it exists but, fearing for their positions in white monopoly establishments, their deals and careers, they say it is harmful to investment to keep on referring to “white monopoly capital”.

But, is it really true that the concept, “white monopoly capital”, does not exist in the annals of the South African revolution?

In his recent Open Letter, Justice Pitso says something very profound, “…where the fundamental principles of our scientific revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism are concerned, the question of who is right or wrong cannot be judged necessarily on the basis of the view of the majority”.

In these notes, we show that the claim that the concept “white monopoly capital” cannot be found in the literature of the national liberation movement is not true. As we have said before in our input titled: “Concerning the Current Situation”, which appeared on 7 April 2017, this narrative which seeks to deny the existence of white monopoly capital, or white monopolisation of South Africa, is aimed at ideologically confusing black people in general, Africans in particular.

This is done so as to hide the real class force that wields power in South African society, the class force which is responsible for much of the poverty, starvation and suppression of talent that is experienced by black people.

Others have decided to give up on the real situation and lurch on to idealism. We are now informed that we should suppress the facts and ignore the national character of monopoly capital in South Africa. All of a sudden, monopoly capital has turned colourless as pure water. This is revisionism.

Writing in the New Age, Nelson Mandela had this to say: “The system of white supremacy has its roots in the cheap labour need of the major economic groups in the country. South Africa’s economy is dominated by giant monopolies in the gold mining industry linked with big financial and farming interests whose tentacles reach also into secondary industry. These groups have been responsible for the reserve system, migratory labour, the low wage policy. These groups own and control the national wealth of our country and determine the basic structure of the South African state ...”

Mandela continued to say: “If tomorrow every discriminatory law on the statute book were repealed, but the mineral wealth, monopoly industry and financial empires were not transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole, the system of white superiority would in its basic essentials be perpetuated for many generations.”

We are exactly where Nelson Mandela warned us we would be, if we did not transfer the basic wealth to the ownership of the people as a whole. As Mzwakhe said, “the people’s patience is not endless”!

Needless to say, the concept “white monopoly capital” is an invention of the South African Communist Party. It emerged in revolutionary literature for the first time in the SACP 1962 programme, The Road to South African Freedom. That was way before the founding of Bell Pottinger.

2. The motive forces: some critical thoughts on the National Democratic Revolution

Some time ago, in 2002, I wrote a paper titled “The motive forces: Some critical thoughts on the NDR”, which was published in Umrabulo Number 14, inspired by the SACP 1962. In that paper, I attempted to scientifically outline the alignment of class forces in the NDR. I sought to define what the class forces of the national democratic revolution are and the forces of the enemy.

At that time in 2002, as it is now, there was confusion on the issue that was peddled by the neoliberals in the ANC. The neoliberals, worked hard to empty the ANC of its revolutionary theory. There was a dominant tendency, as it is to this day, that made the ANC to rapidly depart from a consistent class analysis in the formulation of the Strategy and Tactics document.

When the question “who is the enemy of the NDR?” kept on being asked by ANC activists, we were constantly told that “the enemy of the NDR is poverty, unemployment and inequality”. When we responded by saying that the ANC has defined the enemy to be “white monopoly capital”, we were told, “that was in the past”, now we have to “fight poverty, unemployment and inequality”.

This was obviously unsatisfactory. As young people in the ANC-led movement, we started searching for answers; we felt as though our elders were hiding a “family secret”, because the answer they gave did not make sense.

Another reason that set me off to write that paper was what I perceived to be an error that some of the comrades were committing. They postured in a way that meant the black bourgeoisie as a whole was not part of the motive forces. They ridiculed and rejected the concept of a “patriotic bourgeoisie”. I still think it is wrong to reject this concept.

The issues that were at stake then are still at stake today. In a way, one could argue that, substantially at the theoretical level, the ANC has come full circle to the old debate which we hoped would animate theoretical discussion and change the contents of subsequent Strategy and Tactics documents. Alas, the paper failed to catch the attention of comrades.

In that paper, I stated that: “South Africa's social formation was characterised in the historical papers of the movement as a colonialism of a special type (CST). Because the concept of colonialism does not specify the nature of class relations it was important to move beyond the form of the social formation to its content. Colonialism of a special type was found to be perpetrated by a capitalist class. This class came to be known as "white monopoly capital".

I continued to assert that, “The movement characterised the principal contradiction in SA as between apartheid colonialism led by white monopoly capital on one side, and national liberation led by the black working class on the other side”.

In fact the whole paper is replete with the concept “white monopoly capital”. That was in 2002. My confession is that I had no idea that I was pushing a Bell Pottinger concept which was invented more than ten years later, after 2012!

  1. White monopoly capital: Definition

One of the most disturbing tendencies to emerge from the debate about white monopoly capital is that some contenders claim that white monopoly capital has not been defined. These contenders express their ignorance.

Here we begin with how the national liberation movement defined the main opponent of the South African revolution and the idea of “white monopolisation” of South Africa.

3.1 The South African Communist Party

3.1.1 Extracts from “The Road to South African Freedom, 1962”

“The three million Whites hold a monopoly of political rights and economic opportunities. They alone can vote for and be elected to Parliament and other governing bodies. They are fortified behind a wall of privilege in the civil service, in jobs and professions, in educational opportunities and a hundred other fields. 87 per cent of the land is reserved for White ownership, and White capitalists own and control the mines, factories and banks and most of commerce. Their government inculcates a lying and insulting doctrine of race superiority”.

“Effective economic domination in South Africa is thus exercised by an alliance of local White monopoly interests in mining, industry and agriculture, together with foreign imperialists and representatives of state monopoly capitalism. These interests have conflicts among themselves, which are reflected in the main White political parties and groupings. But they find common ground in the perpetuation of the colonial-type subjugation of the non-White population”.

“In fact, however, real power is in the hands of the monopolists who own and control the mines, the banks and finance houses, and most of the farms and major industries. The gold and diamond mines are owned by seven mining-financial corporations and controlled by a handful of powerful financiers. These seven corporations are closely linked with British and American imperialist interests. They control capital investment in mining alone of R490 million, and employ almost 500,000 workers. In addition, they dominate large sections of manufacturing industries. They are linked with the main banks, two of which control assets of over R2,000 million, mainly in the form of loans to industry, commerce and estate.

They own vast tracts of arable land and mining rights in almost every part of the country. In agriculture, too, monopoly dominates. 4 per cent of the farms make up an area amounting to almost four-tenths of the total White-owned farmland. Thus, in mining, industry, commerce and farming, monopolists dominate the country’s economy. They are also closely linked with state monopoly capital ventures, such as Iscor (Iron and Steel), Escom (Electricity) and Sasol (Petrol).

These monopolists are the real power in South Africa. The special type of colonialism in South Africa serves, in the first place, their interests”.

“All positions of economic strength and influence are held as the jealously guarded monopoly of members of the White group alone”.

Whites have a monopoly of the best paid jobs, and of entry into skilled trades”.

“The once powerful Labour Party is dead. The White trade unions — with a few honourable exceptions — collaborated in the implementation of apartheid in industry and job reservation. In fact, most of these unions have become little more than societies to preserve a White monopoly of skilled jobs. For the most part, the White workers of this country support their capitalist rulers and exploiters in the maintenance of White supremacy and colonialism”.

3.1.2 Extracts from the African National Congress

Extracts from the Green Book, 1979

“The  principal  enemy of our revolution  is   the South   African ruling   class, which  is  distinguished  by  a  combination  of  several  key             characteristics. Like     its counterparts in other    capitalist countries, its power  is  rooted, in the first instance,  in         its        ownership       and      control of         the basic    means  of  production.  But  in South Africa, the  system  of  economic  exploitation  is  reinforced  and  deepened  by the national oppression of the black majority.  Thus, capitalist exploitation and racial oppression operate together and reinforce one another”.

To  maintain this system and safeguard         its        control, the       ruling   class    operates through         a            state    apparatus        whose  political           institutions      and instruments   of repression  -  the army,   police force,   civil            service,  judiciary etc.      -  protect            the existing      relations of         production                  and,     at  the  same            time, the race      rule      which excludes all who     are       not       within  the white   minority group   from    political    rights and        civil     liberties           in         the       land     of  their  birth.  Real  liberation  is  inconceivable without  the overthrow  of  the  economic  and  political   power  of this      class    and      the total destruction of its state apparatus.                                       

Extracts from “The Nature of the South African Ruling Class, 1985”

“But the war had also defined the future relationship of Britain and South Africa: economically, South Africa would be a satellite of British imperialism, an outlet for the export of capital and a source of raw materials; politically, the local ruling class would be allowed autonomy and could even be granted sovereignty. By the terms of Vereeniging, Milnerian policy and finally the terms of Union, this ruling class was to be exclusively white. Thus the `small group which owns South Africa`s wealth` is drawn from one racial community, the whites”.

“The ruling class does not rule on its own, since it is a minority within the white minority. In order to secure its position, it has had to come to terms with other class forces; make deals and reach compromises with class forces and fractions whose interests temporarily intersect with its own. From such alliances has emerged what we can refer to as a bloc led by the ruling class, which wields power. The matrix that holds this bloc together is the ideology of white supremacy which projects the particular interest of the ruling capitalist class as the general interest of all whites”.

“This type of democratic state we envisage is spelt out in the ten clauses of the Freedom Charter. Though we place equal weight on the separate clauses, the first five, setting out the most pressing political, economic and social reforms a democratic state will have to embark on, can be said to be its core. The enactment of these measures will place political power in the hands of the black masses and transform South Africa from a country belonging to and exploited by a small class of white capitalists and their imperialist [backers], into a country belonging to all who live in it, black and white”.

Extracts from “Apartheid South Africa: Colonialism of a Special Type, 1987”.

“This is why the ANC has always considered the two economic clauses of the Freedom Charter: "The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth" and "The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It" to be the very core of its programme. These clauses envisage the seizure of economic assets, presently owned and controlled either by individual capitalists or capitalist companies drawn exclusively from the white minority or trans-national corporations”.

“This hierarchy of oppression was devised as a tool of divide-and-rule, as an expression of the warped minds of the white racist ruling clique and as a tactic to buttress the forces which would have a stake in the system of apartheid to defend”.

Extracts from “Strategy and Tactics, 1997”

“Over time, the policies of government and the tactical sensibilities of some white monopolists, have precipitated a situation in which some of the black propertied classes are expanding their positions within important sectors of the economy”.

“However, the improvement in Black and female ownership and control of wealth and access to management and many professions is still limited, with overall proportions which are inversely related to the country`s demographics. This is more starkly reflected in terms of land ownership. As such, while progressive forces have attained political power, economic power remains largely in the hands of the white minority.”

4. White monopoly capital: Use

In this part of the notes, we show the use of the concept as such. The point to demonstrate is that those who say the concept “white monopoly capital” does not exist in the documents of the national liberation movement are wrong.

4.1.1 Extracts from the South African Communist Party

“At the same time, in order to guarantee the abolition of racial oppression and White minority domination, the Freedom Charter necessarily and realistically calls for profound economic changes: drastic agrarian reform to restore the land to the people; widespread nationalisation of key industries to break the grip of White monopoly capital on the main centres of the country’s economy; radical improvements in the conditions and standards of living for the working people”- The Road to South African Freedom, 1962. [This is the first time the phrase “white monopoly capital”, appears in the literature of the national liberation movement].

“The form of domination developed by the Union of South Africa also perpetuated the racialised economic structures of the pre-Union period. There was a white monopoly of capitalist means of mining, industrial and agricultural production and of distribution. There was also a virtual white monopoly of skilled and supervisory jobs in the division of labour”- Path to Power, 1989.

“The struggle for national democracy is also an expression of the class contradiction between the black and democratic forces on the one hand, and the monopoly capitalists on the other. The stranglehold of a small number of white monopoly capitalists over the great bulk of our country`s wealth and resources is based on colonial dispossession and promotes racial oppression. This concentration of wealth and power perpetuates the super-exploitation of millions of black workers. It perpetuates the desperate plight of millions of the landless rural poor. And it blocks the advance of black business and other sectors of the oppressed. This reality, therefore, forms the basis of the antimonopoly content of the national democratic programme”-Path to Power, 1989.

“This is not to argue that the economic dominance enjoyed by white-dominated monopoly capital with its strong international links should be ignored. The SACP, in evaluating the first decade of our democracy, came to the conclusion that in economic terms white-dominated monopoly capital was the single biggest beneficiary, at the direct expense of the working class, which experienced casualisation, a job loss bloodbath and outsourcing. Therefore the first decade of our democracy, in economic terms, became the decade of the white-dominated bourgeoisie, joined by a small black elite”-The South African Road to Socialism.

“White monopoly capital in South Africa has, in fact, been the principal beneficiary of the post-1994 period. There is stabilisation and restored profitability, and many of our major corporations have used the period to trans-nationalise, some locating their head-quarters outside of South Africa, others re-locating major share-listings to foreign stock exchanges”. (Two steps forward…two steps back…SACP perspectives on the ANC’s draft Strategy and Tactics 2007, Bua Komanisi Volume 6 - Issue 1, May 2007).

“This central tenet is quite distinct from the core perspective of what we might call the “1988 class project” – we are referring to the strategic agenda of white monopoly capital that evolved primarily in the late 1980s”. (Seeing Double, SACP contribution to the debate on the ANC’s “Economic Transformation for a National Democratic Society” discussion paper).

“By the second half of the 1980s, the apartheid-colonial state and its deepening crisis had, however, indeed become an impediment to sustained growth for white monopoly capital”.

“The continued presence of this 1988 white monopoly class project within our own thinking is visible in parts of the current ANC policy discussion document”.

“Leaving aside the passing reference to a “democratic and redistributive state” which has its own problems and to which we will return below, it is obvious that, in the key concepts it evokes, this paragraph is located within the “liberate the market from apartheid constraints” paradigm of the 1988 white monopoly class project”.

“Clearly in the very last years of apartheid, white monopoly capital experienced regional and global mobility challenges – and, while removing mobility constraints on capital may or may not be one of our tasks, it can hardly be the central strategic task of the NDR to help white monopoly capital to recover its regional and global mobility”.

“But to rise to the challenge of that vision we will have to finally banish the ghost of the 1988 (white monopoly capital) class project from our imaginations, from our practice and…from our discussion papers!”

 “This impact has been deepened by the assiduous cultivation by white monopoly capital of a tiny stratum of ANC-linked black shareholders and board-members in the name of “black economic empowerment”.

“The two allies resolved to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, together with the ANC, in the struggle to deepen our national democratic revolution, to end the national oppression of the majority, the super-exploitation of workers by white monopoly capitalism and the triple oppression faced by women, in order to create a new non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa” (SACP-COSATU Bilateral, 3 April 2012).

We can thus see that the concept “white monopoly capital” is integral to the revolutionary theory of the national liberation movement. It originated from the classic SACP 1962 programme, and has since been used in various versions to explain the nature of South African society.

5. Leaders who used the concept

Several leaders of the national liberation movement emphasised white monopolisation and the dominance of white monopoly capital in the South African economy. In this part of the notes, we highlight a few instances where white monopoly and white monopoly capital were used explicitly. Here we just highlight a few instances to demonstrate the point.

Nelson Mandela 1990

“Our discussion on Strategy and Tactics began by recognising that the ANC and the De Klerk government approach the issue of negotiations with opposed agendas. The government`s aim is to reform the apartheid system out of existence while carrying over into the future the accumulated privileges and advantages the white monopoly on power” ( Speech by Nelson Mandela at an ANC rally after the close of the National Consultative Conference, 16 December 1990).

Joe Slovo 1988

“The immediate primacy of the struggle against race tyranny flows from the concrete realities of our existing situation. The concept of national domination is not a mystification to divert us from class approaches; it infects every level of class exploitation. Indeed, it divides our working class into colour compartments. Therefore, unusual categories such as 'white working class' and 'black working class' are not 'unscientific' but simply describe the facts.

We will come back to the need for immediate steps to be taken in the post-apartheid period to break the economic stranglehold of the monopolies and to transform a major portion of wealth from private into social property. Suffice it to say that such measures will, of necessity, result in an immediate sizeable contraction of the private sector. Ninety nine per cent of this sector is presently owned and controlled by white capitalists; a race monopoly which constitutes the key instrument of national domination.

In the world as a whole, capitalist exploitation does not necessarily involve race domination. But the historically-evolved connection between capitalist exploitation and race domination in South Africa creates a link between national liberation and social emancipation. In our conditions you don't have to be a doctrinaire Marxist to conclude that a liberation which deals only with a rearrangement of the voting system and leaves undisturbed the race monopoly of 99% of our wealth, is no liberation at all” (Joe Slovo, The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution, 1988).

Blade Nzimande

“The call for only organised workers to make sacrifices, without calling for the same from white monopoly capital, is essentially a reactionary call for the maintenance of the super-exploitation of the black working class.” (Blade Nzimande, Address to COSATU Congress, September 18, 1997)

“The single biggest obstacle to the development of the SME and co-operative sector is the lack of finance. In the South African context we have a financial sector that is structured and geared towards supporting white monopoly capital”, (Blade Nzimande, Address to NAFCOC AGM, 4 October 2007 - Durban International Convention Centre).

“The above might appear to be just skirmishes, but in essence they are a reflection of the dominant and suffocating power of the monopolistic white finance capital in the South African economy, and the extent to which our own government is unwilling to confront this power”, (Blade Nzimande, The financial sector charter is on the brink of collapse, Umsebenzi Volume 6, No. 21, 21 November 2007).

“One thread that runs through all the groupings that have broken away or engaged in factionalist activity in our liberation movement is their anti-communism and anti-worker attitude, often expressing itself in exactly the same way as that of the apartheid regime and white monopoly capital”, (Blade Nzimande, The good boys and girls, the boss-class instruments’: The 2008 dissidents in their historical context, Umsebenzi Online 5 November 2008).

Jeremy Cronin

“In 1979 SASOL was privatised by the apartheid regime, with shares being sold at a discount to (white) monopoly capital, particularly in the mining sector” (Jeremy Cronin, Address to the SACTWU 12th Congress, 22 August 2013).

Sdumo Dlamini

“As COSATU, we are now moving forward to build unity of the federation on the ground through activities which takes us closer to the members and position us to heighten our battle against employers and white monopoly capital which is our primary enemy”, (Sdumo Dlamini, COSATU President, Address to the COSATU Gauteng Provincial Congress, 4 August 2015).

Mbhazima Shilowa

“As I  have  indicated  in  the past,  we  need to send     a clear message  that   the time for  white  monopoly  capital  to  pay  lip service to economic transformation and empowerment,  especially      for  women,  is  past     and      will  not  be rewarded  in Gauteng” (Mbhazima Shilowa, Address by Premier Mbhazima Shilowa at the Gauteng BBBEE Strategy launch, 18 April 2006).

Zwelinzima Vavi

“Economic power is still in the hands of white monopoly capital. The aspirant and vocal black bourgeoisie remains numerically small and depends heavily on the state and white business for its survival”, Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary at the SACP Special Congress, 08 April 2005).

Fikile “Slovo” Majola

“Using the superficial banner of our Constitution, the strategic opponent of the NDR – white monopoly capital which includes bourgeois monopoly media houses and its global imperialist connections – is increasingly setting itself on a political collision course with the ANC as part of this wider anti-majoritarian offensive” (Fikile “Slovo” Majola, Joe Slovo Memorial Lecture in North West, 27th January 2013).

Jacob Mamabolo

“But we also said at that Special National Congress that the momentum, pace and character of the NDR is deeply and severely constrained by the pain inflicted on the working class by the persistent and reproduced legacy of the Colonialism of a Special type. The working class in our country continues to suffer the pain inflicted by the many years of the crisis of white monopoly capital and its private accumulation of wealth. (Jacob Mamabolo, Acting Gauteng SACP Provincial Secretary, Message of Support to the 11th Gauteng Provincial Conference, 6-8 May 2010).

We can therefore see that this concept is standard in the language of the national liberation movement. Our own submission is that the concept of white monopoly capital simultaneously implies colonialism of a special type. The two concepts are theoretically inter-twined, one cannot exist without the other. To fail to mention the racial character of monopoly capital is to fail to acknowledge the colonial character of South Africa and the special nature of that colonialism.

6. White monopoly capital: Denials

It is to Hillary Joffe’s credit, in her article “Share ownership can be force for change”, published in the Business Day on 22 March 2017, to note that “We’re told UK’s public relations agency Bell Pottinger crafted the white monopoly capital narrative. Whoever did so seems sadly unfamiliar with Marxist texts from which the notion of monopoly capital comes”. We agree!

However Joffe then makes an unwarranted statement: “…in its original form monopoly capital could not, strictly speaking, have been white, black or any other colour. It was, rather, a particular stage of capitalism, and who owned the means of production didn’t have much to do with it”.

Now this is the problem of failing to express actual relations which arise from the historical movement going under our very eyes.

As Pitso correctly mentions in his Open Letter, it was Lenin who first elaborated in detail the idea of monopoly capitalism as a stage in the development of capitalism. However Lenin’s approach was concrete and historical, in that he understood the importance of identifying who owns the means of production in this stage because he was not just interested in interpreting the world, he wanted to change it.

That is why to us to specify who owns and controls monopoly capital, because our lived experiences, under our very eyes, dictate to us who is responsible for poverty, starvation and marginalisation, so that we can devise proper strategy and tactics to change this situation. Baran and Sweezy as well, did not elaborate the concept of “monopoly capital” in purely abstract terms, they in fact based their study on the concrete history of the United States, and they hinted that some of their conclusions may in fact apply in South Africa.

Baran and Sweezy’s concrete and historical articulation of the concept of monopoly capital leads them to dedicate a whole chapter (Chapter 9), on monopoly capital and race relations, which makes them also mention South Africa. In this chapter they show that “all the forces we have been discussing…are deeply rooted in monopoly capitalism and together are strong enough to account for the fact that Negroes have been unable to rise out of the lower depths of American society”.

Who owns and controls the means of production under monopoly capitalism mattered to Baran and Sweezy, because they would not have dedicated a chapter specifically dealing with the suppression and marginalisation of the Negroes, if the demographic composition of American monopoly capital was non-racial.

Furthermore, the fact that Baran and Sweezy criticise American monopoly capital on the “Negro question”, does not mean that they posit “Negro monopoly capital” as a solution to the “Negro problem”, as some of our intellectually dishonest detractors like to do. In other words, when we criticise white monopoly capital, we do not posit black monopoly capital as a solution. Instead, we posit democratic state monopoly of the strategic sectors under working class leadership as the solution.

But then, despite this repeated clarification, our detractors continue to deny the concept. For instance Jeremy Cronin, First Deputy General Secretary of the SACP, now claims:

“There is a world at play in the slippage between a consistent Marxist perspective and the illusions that arise from adding one small word "white" to "monopoly capital". And it is in this small slippage that you will find the ideological bed on which the Polokwane "marriage of convenience" was consecrated. When the "new tendency" and its demagogic vanguard rail against "white monopoly capital" what they are hearing is "white" and what they are thinking is "it`s our turn now". And while populist demagogues might scream about "imperialism" and "monopoly capital" – the threats to carry out nationalization and expropriation simply increase (as they are meant to) the length of the queues of wealthy supplicants outside their office doors, the numbers of sponsorships, the gifts of whisky and helicopter trips they are offered from the very monopoly capital they are threatening!” (Thinking about class - Part One: What were they doing in BUSA in the first place?, Bua Komanisi Volume 10 Number 15, 20 July 2011).

Thus to Cronin this concept derives its ideological basis from the “Polokwane marriage of convenience”, which was in 2007. But we all know that there was no “Polokwane marriage” in 1962!

In his response to Fikile Mbalula, Trevor Manuel writes:

“If you also took the trouble to read the Economics Resolutions of each ANC Conference since the 49th in 1994, you will not find the language of 'White Monopoly Capital' in any of them. This is because WMC is not part of the lexicon of terms used in ANC policy. It was conjured up as a red herring to obscure the misdeeds of the Guptas and those who benefit from their patronage network” (Fikile, do you remember the tears you shared over the Guptas? Daily Maverick, 09 June 2015).

This statement is very revealing. We can only underline the words “each ANC Conference since the 49th in 1994”. What about the ANC before 1994? What is it about the year 1994 which made the concept “white monopoly capital” to disappear?

Then Manuel makes the claim:

“I stand by what I said at the Nelson Mandela Foundation: the term "White Monopoly Capital" was conjured up by Bell Pottinger on behalf of the Guptas, and filtered into the political discourse to serve their agenda” (Fikile, do you remember the tears you shared over the Guptas? Daily Maverick, 09 June 2015).

In his rebuttal, Fikile Mbalula quoted the article I wrote, which he incorrectly attributes to the ANC. But the point he makes nevertheless remains valid, the concept was there long before the current talk about Bell Pottinger; it was not conjured up by Bell Pottinger.

Trevor Manuel has yet to sustain his argument.

As we have noted, a variation of the concept appears to have mistakenly slipped through into the 1997 ANC Strategy and Tactics, where the ANC spoke about “white monopolists”, or in 2000, where the ANC spoke about “the white ruling class, represented by monopoly capital and including other class and social strata within the white community”.

In his address to the SACP Imbizo held in 2017, the Secretary General of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe said:

“There is an attempt to vulgarise monopoly capital debate; today vocabulary talks about white monopoly capital. It is vulgarisation of the revolution. We then use that vulgarised terminology to deal with each other”.

We all know that the SACP 1962 programme was not a vulgar programme and neither was the SACP 1989 programme vulgar Marxism.

The General Secretary of the SACP, in his address to the COSATU Central Committee in 2017, claimed:

“There is a new phrase that we do not have by the way…white monopoly capital. It’s not anywhere in the documents of the movement. I am challenging you to go. This thing is Gupta-inspired by this public relations company Bell Pottinger by the way, that is now in the emails that are being spoken about…”

But on several occasions he used the concept.

The SACP created this concept in its programme of 1962.

* CHRISTOPHER MALIKANE is Associate Professor of Economics, Wits University.



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Fred Chartrand

          Thread: DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Crossover Pack 4 – Watchmen:: Rules:: Why hide that you are the Secret Mastermind?   

by Xigah

The way the rules seem to state is that loyalty cards are only revealed when a villainous machination is completed. The only downside to being revealed is that loyal players only attack the secret mastermind. What incentive do Secret Masterminds have to hide their true identity? They could simply play without holding back and never drop the mastermind plot to reveal loyalty cards. The SM would never be able to face the only real downside of outing yourself. Am I missing something, or has anyone come up with a clever way to make it beneficial to hide? Maybe a voting mechanic or some other ideas?
          Thread: Werewords:: Rules:: Claims and voting at the end when the word isn't guessed (seems off and possibly broken)   

by clydeiii

Let's say you're using this roleset at 8p:

Wolf 2x
Villager 3x

Let's assume that the Mayor draws a Villager role and then the Village team fails to guess the magic word (or even purposefully fails).

Now at the end of the game, the Beholder claims and vouches for Seer. Mayor claims Villager. Of the non-claiming players, 3 are evil and 2 are good.

Now, the clear play here is for all three evil players to vote Seer, who is now out in the open, just to force the good team to have 3 votes on a Wolf, but the odds are pretty great that the Village team will put 3 votes on a baddie, and likely a wolf. Has anyone else experienced this?

(Also, not that it really matters, but the rules are super ambiguous about whether or not Mayor and/or Seer can claim what the magic word was during the round. It probably helps Villagers a bit if they can claim this.)

          Five Former UConn Stars Lead Early Voting for WNBA All Star Game   
There should be a lot of former UConn Huskies in this year’s WNBA All Star Game. UConn is no stranger to having a strong influence in the WNBA. The school holds the record for the most No. 1 overall picks in the WNBA Draft, with five, and have the most former players currently in the league. It comes as no surprise that a number of former Huskies are leading the early All Star voting. Maya Moore has received the most votes in the league with 19,949, edging out Elena Della-Donne by a few hundred. The Western Conference backcourt is dominated by former Huskies, with Sue Bird in the lead with 16,139 while Diana Taurasi, who recently became the league’s all-time leading scorer, is not far behind at 15,207. Also in the West, former teammates Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson sit at fourth and ninth, respectively, at their positions. On the other side of the country, Tiffany Hayes’ breakout season has her sitting atop the Eastern Conference backcourt with 4,288 votes. In the frontcourt, Tina Charles ho
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Elena Delle Donne’s star shines bright as ever in the WNBA, as evidenced by the league’s first all-star voting update announced Thursday. The Washington Mystics forward leads all Eastern Conference players with 19,280 votes and sits second in the league overall behind the Minnesota Lynx’s Maya Moore, who has 19,949. The 2017 Eastern Conference Early […]
          Brexit and the Federal Reserve   

Britain voting to exit the European Union will not only have a profound effect on currency markets, trade, and economic growth in the UK but it could also have serious implications for the global financial system. According to Hal Scott, professor of international financial systems at Harvard Law School and director of the Committee on […]

The post Brexit and the Federal Reserve appeared first on Live Trading News.

          Brexit, Is a Vote Against War, Empire and Central Dictatorship   

The British sent shock waves through the One World Order by voting to secede from the European Union. Article 50 of the EU explicitly provides for departure, so there is no turning back. The European Union had good intentions, but none were realized. It distorted national economies by using a “one size fits all” approach […]

The post Brexit, Is a Vote Against War, Empire and Central Dictatorship appeared first on Live Trading News.

          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Germany Finally Legalizes Same Sex Marriage   

Germans can say finaly as their politicians have voted to legalise same-sex marriage. A total of 393 politicians voted to legalising “marriage for everybody”, while 226 voted against and four abstained from voting. The snap vote took place today, only days after Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel changed her mind to allow a free vote.Ms […]

The post Germany Finally Legalizes Same Sex Marriage appeared first on - In-depth stories around the gossip!.

          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Opinion: Single-Issue Voting Is Wrong In These Multi-Issue Times   
Consider the economy, the job market, the recent horrendous occurrences in the Middle East before voting for a person because of his race, his social-issue promises, or any other rather selfish reasons.
           Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Mineral - Precision   
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          These Are the Top 5 Names for the New Crayola Crayon   
Voting is open through Aug. 31
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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor says he’s not going to cooperate with a presidential commission looking into voting fraud, but the Trump administration can ...

          LWV Statement on Kobach Request for Voter Records   

League Opposes Kobach Request for Voter Records

WASHINGTON, DC- The request for voter records confirms fears of Kris Kobach continuing his tactics of voter suppression and the genesis of the Elections Integrity Commission in general. The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson released this statement on the issue:

“There is no justification for this giant fishing expedition. The Commission itself is a distraction from the real issue of voter suppression, and that efforts to ‘investigate voter fraud’ threaten our most fundamental voting rights.

“This most recent move by Mr. Kobach is an indicator that the so-called Election ‘Integrity’ Commission is not interested in facts, but false accusations and dangerous policy recommendations.

“State laws govern the release of voter registration information, and, at a minimum, election officials must follow those laws before releasing data. The League stands with those state leaders who have already come out to support their voters and refuse these requests from Mr. Kobach and the EIC.”

Contact: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 |

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Washington, DC - The League of Women Voters strongly urges the House Appropriations Committee not to terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in the Financial Services Appropriation Bill, HR 115. The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson today issued the following statement:

"With continuing controversy about the accuracy, conduct and participation in American elections, this is not the time to abolish the only federal entity devoted exclusively to improving election administration on a bi-partisan basis.

"Though it receives little attention, the EAC does invaluable work to improve our nation’s election systems. The Commission seeks to ensure the efficacy, reliability, and trustworthiness of our nation’s election systems by conducting research, collecting data, and sharing information among elected officials, the public, and interested organizations.

"The EAC has played a central role in improving the accessibility of voting for the country’s more than 37 million voters with disabilities. Although further steps are still needed, the EAC’s leadership is essential to continuing this effort to expand access to the ballot for all eligible Americans.

"Elections are the life blood of our democracy. We strongly urge the Appropriations Committee to actively oppose provisions to terminate the Election Assistance Commission in H.R. 115."

Contact: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 |

          Herman Miller Aeron (Classic) Smoke / Titanium - Precision   
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By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff 1 Hour Delivery time slots No Assembly Required Onsite fitting & user training Removal of all packaging   Herman Miller Aeron Smoke / Titanium comes with: Classic Zinc Pellicle Size B (medium) Height adjustable pivoting arms PostureFit Tilt limiter & forward tilt Smoke / Titanium Frame Smoke Vinyl Armpads Choice of Castors If you are looking for a Herman Miller Aeron Smoke Titanium chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.   Precision is available within 60 miles of London. For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door.

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 Herman Miller Aeron Chair - Classic Carbon comes with: Classic Carbon Pellicle Size B (medium) Height adjustable pivoting arms PostureFit Tilt limiter & forward tilt Graphite Frame Black Vinyl Armpads (optional Leather armpads) Choice of Castors If you are looking for a Herman Miller Aeron chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.    

          Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Classic) - Tuxedo Grey / Black - Precision   
Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Classic) - Tuxedo Grey / Black - Precision

Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Classic) - Tuxedo Grey / Black - Precision

By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff 1 Hour Delivery time slots No Assembly Required Onsite fitting & user training Removal of all packaging Herman Miller Aeron comes with: Tuxedo Grey-Black Pellicle Height adjustable pivoting arms PostureFit Tilt limiter & forward tilt Graphite Frame Black Vinyl Armpads (optional Leather armpads) Choice of Castors Choice of Sizes If you are looking for a Herman Miller Aeron chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.   Precision is available within 60 miles of London.  For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door. Dimensions; Size A Seat Height:365mm–495mm Seat Width:483mm Seat Depth:400mm Size B Seat Height:381mm–530mm Seat Width:514mm Seat Depth:432mm Size C Seat Height:381mm–530mm Seat Width:552mm Seat Depth:470mm

          Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Carbon - Precision   
Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Carbon - Precision

Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Carbon - Precision

By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   • Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff• 1 Hour Delivery time slots• No Assembly Required• Onsite fitting & user training• Removal of all packaging   Herman Miller Aeron Chair Carbon - Precision comes with as standard: • 8Z Carbon Pellicle • Fully Adjustable pivoting arms• SL PostureFit• Tilt limiter & forward tilt• Satin Carbon Frame• Carbon Vinyl Armpads• Choice of Castors   If you are looking for a Herman Miller Classic Aeron chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.   The Precision delivery service is available within 100 miles of London only.  For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door by courier.  

          Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Executive Graphite - Precision   
Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Executive Graphite - Precision

Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Executive Graphite - Precision

By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   • Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff• 1 Hour Delivery time slots• No Assembly Required• Onsite fitting & user training• Removal of all packaging   Herman Miller Aeron Chair Graphite - Precision comes with as standard: • 8Z Graphite Pellicle • Fully Adjustable pivoting arms• SL PostureFit• Tilt limiter & forward tilt• Graphite Frame / Polished Base & Linkage • Black Vinyl Armpads • Choice of Castors   If you are looking for a Herman Miller Classic Aeron chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.   The Precision delivery service is available within 100 miles of London only.  For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door by courier.  

          Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Executive Mineral - Precision   
Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Executive Mineral - Precision

Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Executive Mineral - Precision

By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   • Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff• 1 Hour Delivery time slots• No Assembly Required• Onsite fitting & user training• Removal of all packaging   Herman Miller Aeron Chair Mineral Executive - Precision comes with as standard: • 8Z Mineral Pellicle • Fully Adjustable pivoting arms• SL PostureFit• Tilt limiter & forward tilt• Mineral Frame / Polished Aluminium Base & Linkage• Mineral Vinyl Armpads• Choice of Castors   If you are looking for a Herman Miller Classic Aeron chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.   The Precision delivery service is available within 100 miles of London only.  For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door by courier.  

          Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Graphite - Precision   
Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Graphite - Precision

Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Remastered) Graphite - Precision

By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   • Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff• 1 Hour Delivery time slots• No Assembly Required• Onsite fitting & user training• Removal of all packaging   Herman Miller Aeron Chair Graphite - Precision comes with as standard: • 8Z Graphite Pellicle • Fully Adjustable pivoting arms• SL PostureFit• Tilt limiter & forward tilt• Graphite Frame• Black Vinyl Armpads• Choice of Castors   If you are looking for a Herman Miller Classic Aeron chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.   The Precision delivery service is available within 100 miles of London only.  For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door by courier.  

          Herman Miller Aeron Executive Chair (Classic) - Tuxedo Blue / Black - Precision   
Herman Miller Aeron Executive Chair (Classic) - Tuxedo Blue / Black - Precision

Herman Miller Aeron Executive Chair (Classic) - Tuxedo Blue / Black - Precision

By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff 1 Hour Delivery time slots No Assembly Required Onsite fitting & user training Removal of all packaging Herman Miller Aeron Executive specification comes with: Tuxedo Blue-Black Pellicle Height adjustable pivoting arms PostureFit Tilt limiter & forward tilt Polished Aluminium Base & linkage Black Leather Armpads  Choice of Castors  Choice of Sizes If you are looking for a Herman Miller Aeron chair in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.    Precision is available within 60 miles of London.  For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door. Dimensions; Size A Seat Height:365mm–495mm Seat Width:483mm Seat Depth:400mm Size B Seat Height:381mm–530mm Seat Width:514mm Seat Depth:432mm Size C Seat Height:381mm–530mm Seat Width:552mm Seat Depth:470mm

          Herman Miller Aeron Work Stool - Precision   
Herman Miller Aeron Work Stool - Precision

Herman Miller Aeron Work Stool - Precision

By working in authorised partnership with Herman Miller, Precision means:   Your Herman Miller chair installed from stock by Wellworking’s trained staff 1 Hour Delivery time slots No Assembly Required Onsite fitting & user training Removal of all packaging Herman Miller Aeron Workstool - Precision comes with: Classic Carbon Pellicle Size B (medium) Height adjustable pivoting arms PostureFit Tilt limiter & forward tilt Graphite Frame Footring Black Vinyl Armpads (optional Leather armpads) Choice of Castors If you are looking for a Herman Miller Aeron Workstool in a range of other fabric, colour and technical options please click here.   Precision is available within 60 miles of London.  For other areas chairs will be delivered fully assembled & boxed to the front door.

          Trump's next attack on democracy: mass voter suppression | Russ Feingold   

The Trump administration’s ‘election integrity’ commission is declaring war on voters – our democratic legitimacy be damned

  • Russ Feingold is a former US senator for Wisconsin

The most important aspect of any democratic election is participation. A democracy gains its legitimacy through elections only so far as those elections represent the will of the people. Limit voter participation, and there is a direct correlation between the legitimacy of an election and the democratic system. President Trump and Vice-President Pence’s “election integrity” commission is unequivocally declaring war on voters – our democratic legitimacy be damned.

The commission recently sent a letter to all 50 states asking that they provide all the names and associated birthdays, last four digits of social security numbers, addresses, political parties, and voting histories since 2006 of people on their voter rolls. This letter is helping to lay the groundwork for nationalized voter suppression.

Continue reading...
          McAuliffe Office Rushes to Fulfill Promise by Individually Restoring Voting Rights   
Elections officials across Virginia are about to cast aside thousands of voters in the wake of a Virginia Supreme Court decision last month. It’s the latest in an ongoing drama that could have drastic consequences on Election Day.
          McAuliffe Pushes Forward with Rights Restoration Despite Supreme Court Ruling   
The Virginia Supreme Court may have overturned Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring voting rights to 200,000 former felons. But that’s not stopping him from moving forward with the plan.
          Constitutionality of Felon Rights Restoration Questioned in Virginia Supreme Court Hearing   
Members of the Virginia Supreme Court are considering a challenge to Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 former felons.
          Gov. McAuliffe Fights Back Over Voting Rights Errors   
Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is fighting back against Republican criticism that his executive order restoring voting rights to former felons. The governor tells Virginia Public Radio’s Michael Pope that the clerical errors were from bad data from the Department of Corrections.


          Voting on Public Art in St. Petersburg Florida   

Public art may soon get a boost in St. Petersburg, Florida when citizens cast ballots for a new design proposal to redevelop the 1971 St. Pete Pier.  After a 4-year process involving two design competitions (citizens roundly rejected the first competition results), this Florida coastal city will, in 2015, implement a design.

This time around, city officials are taking no chances and building consensus with the public step by step, keeping this $33 million public project at the top of voters’ awareness.  Seven design proposals are being considered, and after presentations in mid February, it appears that the field is narrowed.

While several schemes radically erase or change the city’s infrastructure, one scheme nicknamed “Discover Bay Life ” by Orlando-based VOA Associates seems to stand out.   All things being equal, this scheme’s monumental-scale transformable art by cutting-edge artist Chuck Hoberman can be had for the least capital investment by the city.  The team chose to keep the modernistic “Inverted Pyramid” at the end of the pier, shoo cars off of the over-water deck, and move restaurants and retail – which always struggled in such a remote location – from the end of the 1,400 foot pier back onto land.

Hoberman, who designed U2’s “Claw” for their 2011 album tour, is no stranger to moveable structures.  “It’s really very simple,” he stated during the presentation.  “There are a couple of motors, pulleys, and bearings.  We have structures like this in place that have lasted for decades.”  St. Petersburg, home to the world’s largest collection of 20th century surrealist Salvador Dali’s work, seems to have an affinity for cutting edge art, and this commitment could result in a grand, lasting civic space.

A popular vote will decide the scheme by March 20.  City leaders, anxious to proceed, have stayed neutral about the results and will ratify their decision afterward.  The lesson in urban studies is to proceed with caution when you are considering changes to civic space.  Far from being a lost cause, the public realm is very much alive and emotionally connected to its citizens, at least in St. Petersburg, Florida.

          Menuju Akhir Pekan, Wall Street Bergerak Campuran   

Wall Street bergerak di dua arah pada penutupan perdagangan Jumat (Sabtu pagi waktu Jakarta). Saham Nike melonjak hingga di atas 10 persen sehingga menjadi penopang kenaikan S&P 500. Sedangkan Nasdaq Composite mengalami tekanan. 

Mengutip Reuters, Sabtu (1/7/2017), Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) menguat 62,6 poin atau 0,29 persen menjadi 21.349,63. S&P 500 juga naik 3,71 poin atau 0,15 persen menjadi 2.423,41. Berbeda, Nasdaq Composite turun 3,93 poin atau 0,06 persen menjadi 6.140,42.

Beberapa saham mencatatkan kenaikan yang cukup tinggi pada perdagangan menuju akhir pekan ini. Namun di luar itu, beberapa saham juga mengalami tekanan yang cukup dalam.

Salah satu saham di Wall Street yang mampu melonjak adalah saham Nike. Saham perusahaan penyedia perangkat olah raga terutama sepatu tersebut naik 11 persen pada perdagangan Jumat.

Lonjakan tersebut setelah perusahaan mengumumkan akan melakukan inovasi dengan meluncurkan sistem penjualan online yang bekerja sama dengan

Saham Nike ini memberikan dorongan yang sangat besar kepada indeks acuan Dow Jones dan juga S&P 500.

Sedangkan pergerakan saham-saham di sektor teknologi cukup berat pada perdagangan Jumat. sektor saham teknologi dalam indeks S&P 500 berakhir turun 0,1 persen. Pada Juni, sektor saham teknologi membukukan penurunan pertama di 2016.

"Saya melihat investor hanya memiliki keyakinan terhadap saham-saham tertentu saja," jelas president Alan B Lancz and Associates Inc, Toledo, Ohio, AS, Alan Lancz. Oleh karena itu, sebenarnya Wall Street cenderung tertekan.

Chief executive officer Horizon Investment Services, Hammond, Indiana, AS, Chuck Carlson menambahkan, keyakinan para investor terhadap pertumbuhan ekonomi AS belum terlalu dalam. Oleh sebab itu hanya saham-saham tertentu saja yang mengalami lonjakan.

"Jadi memang selama ini hanya beberapa saham saja yang memberikan isyarat bahwa pertumbuhan ekonomi AS prospektif," tutur dia.

Tonton Video Menarik Berikut Ini:

          LGBT Religion News Summary - January 31, 2011   
As hundreds of LGBT faith leaders convene in Minneapolis for Creating Change: Practice Spirit, Do Justice, Nicole Garcia of Lutherans Concerned garnered an interview with the Associated Press that was picked up by NPR.   

Nicole Garcia

Creating Change participants will be remembering David Kato, a gay Ugandan who was murdered just days after a court victory  against “Rolling Stone” newspaper, which had published his picture with a noose next to it. Many people are lifting up the role of some American religious activists who have been fomenting anti-LGBT sentiment for years, and most intensively in recent years. In the midst of this, a Ugandan lesbian was almost deported until a judge in Britain halted the deportation proceedings.    The Archbishop of Canterbury  publically condemned the murder, and Anglican Bishops meeting in Ireland  urged that anti-LGBT hatred be confronted. About one-third of the bishops did not show up in protest of the acceptance of gay people by The Episcopal Church. In other Episcopal News, the Washington Post reported that a prominent conservative leader was fired from the historic Truro Church in northern Virginia for surfing pornographic websites. In Fort Worth, an Episcopalian congregation that broke away in protest of the ordination of gay priests received a summary judgment by a state district court to surrender their church property.   

Jay Bakker

In the Evangelical world, some wonder if  scripture should be debated. A Religion New Service wire article asked if there was a “Great Gay Awakening” as Jay Bakker, straight ally and the son of famed Jim and Tammy Faye, garnered several interviews, including an appearance on the Today Show for his new book, Fall to Grace. In an interview, Ted Haggard said that if he were 21 years old he would call himself bisexual. Deborah Haffner connected the dots between Ted Haggard, Joel Osteen calling gay people sinners and the violence that continues around the world.   

Bishop Paul Egertson

Lutherans grieved the loss of Bishop Paul Egertson, a staunch straight ally to LGBT people for many years. And, the adjustments to the ELCA’s inclusive policies continue. In Fargo, N.D., some former members of congregations that left the ELCA are re-establishing themselves with the help of a United Methodist congregation.    In other news, Presbyterians are voting presbytery by presbytery across the country on whether or not to ordain partnered gay clergy. Bishop Harry Jackson was turned away by the court in his effort to overturn marriage equality in Washington, D.C. Belmont University in Nashville announced that it would include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policy, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced their own school plan to not discriminate against the children of gay and lesbian couples.
February 1, 2011

          Voting Commissioner Kris Kobach Defends U.S. Request For Voter Information   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit
          Great News! Germany Will Vote on Same-Sex Marriage on Friday   

The German Parliament plans to vote Friday on whether to legalize same-sex marriage – — only days after Chancellor Angela Merkel backed off her conservative party’s long-standing position that equal marriage risked “The well-being of children.” Merkel surprisingly said Monday she could see lawmakers making the issue a “decision of conscience,” voting according to individual […]

The post Great News! Germany Will Vote on Same-Sex Marriage on Friday appeared first on Sambag Blog.

          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          DGAP-NVR: Diebold Nixdorf, Incorporated: Release according to Article 26a of the WpHG [the German Securities Trading Act] with the objective of Europe-wide distribution   
Dow Jones received a payment from EQS/DGAP to publish this press release. DGAP Total Voting Rights Announcement: Diebold Nixdorf, Incorporated / Total Voting Rights Announcement Diebold Nixdorf, Incorporated: Release according to Article 26a of the WpHG [the German Securities Trading Act] with the objective of Europe-wide...
          7/1/2017: BUSINESS: NZX fends off dissent as director bid fails   
The New Zealand stock exchange has fended off a rebellion at its annual meeting, with shareholders voting not to elect NZX critic Tony Falkenstein to its board. Falkenstein, who heads Auckland water-cooler company Just Water, nevertheless received...
          Delle Donne, Moore Lead First Fan Voting Returns for the 2017 WNBA All-Star Game   
With a combined 40,000 votes, Delle Donne's number one in the East and Moore's number one in the West.

The post Delle Donne, Moore Lead First Fan Voting Returns for the 2017 WNBA All-Star Game appeared first on SLAMonline.

          ESPYS Voting: Best NBA Player Nominee LeBron James   
It's time to let your voice be heard as The ESPYS voting is now live! Make sure to show your support for LeBron James and cast your ballot for The King in the category of Best NBA Player. Enough with the reading, VOTE NOW for LBJ!
          Arcade Fire’s Compelling “Signs of Life” Is a Modest Single From a Band That’s Anything But   
Ever since their Grammy-winning LP The Suburbs, Arcade Fire have rallied against the very foundation of their anthemic sound, pivoting from the soaring vocals and homespun guitars of their early releases toward something more synth-based, with steady disco rhythm. With its roots firmly planted in dance-punk of an earlier era, 2013's Reflektor pushed the band's penchant…
          Trump's Voter Suppression Commission Makes a Chilling Request of All 50 States   

Voting rights advocates who worry that President Trump’s “Commission on Election Integrity” is a thinly-disguised ploy to enact massive voter suppression in America will be alarmed by a letter the administration sent to election officials in all states yesterday.


          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
President Donald Trump's commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public.
          BOOK REVIEW: Pareng Barack by Ceres Doyo   

"Pareng Barack": Filipinos in Obama's America, News Report, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo/Philippine Daily Inquirer, Posted: Dec 25, 2008 Review it on NewsTrust

REPUBLISHED by New America Media

MANILA, Philippines --- On the night of Nov. 4, when Barack Hussein Obama was elected president of the United States, journalist and book author Benjamin “Boying” Pimentel took his eldest son to downtown Oakland where thousands of people were waiting for the officials results. They found people celebrating with cheers and tears. After more than 200 years, Americans had chosen a person of color to lead them forward.

“Pareng Barack: Filipinos in Obama’s America,” Pimentel’s latest book, is about Obama’s amazing rise to the presidency and, more importantly, about how Filipinos responded to his campaign and victory. “Often with excitement, sometimes with fear and dread,” Pimentel writes.

“Pareng Barack” is also about the Filipino journey in America, “how it has intersected, sometimes collided, with those of other communities, and how it has taken a dramatic turn as America enters a new era of anxiety and hope.”

This book came out a few weeks after Obama was elected but it didn’t take just a few weeks for Pimentel to write it. He had been pounding the streets and watching the groundswell. With or without Obama’s win or defeat, this book could still stand alone to show those intersections and collisions that Pimentel describes. But Obama’s win provides Pimentel a starting point, and for Filipinos who chose America to be their home, it also offers landmarks on a cultural and historical landscape, that is, from there to here. Also a timeline from then to now.

This gem of a book is easy to read. It is an engaging journalistic read because there are real human faces, voices, names and places in it as only a seasoned journalist knows the importance of if one is to show proof of one’s point or analysis. This book is not the result of a survey but of a journalist’s walking the streets where stories unfold, where lives are lived.

“For Filipinos in America, it is a time of celebration and pride. For others, of concern, even fear.” This is how Pimentel describes the aftermath of the Nov. 4 elections that saw Democrat Obama win and Republican John McCain lose.

“Nevada had become a battleground state and Fran joined other Filipinos in the ground war to rally support for Obama. This meant going from house to house… It was while knocking on doors on one part of Reno that he came across one Pinoy… A Philippine flag was displayed in his garage… The young man was a registered Republican, and had never voted Democrat. But he said he was voting for Obama. ‘He speaks to everyone, and seems that he can reach across the aisle,’ he told Fran. ‘Obama is different from the rest.’

“But then there was a woman in her 30s whom Fran met on a Philippine Airlines flight during a short visit to the Philippines before the election. She had lived in the United States for about eight years, had been married, and had just become an American citizen… The woman had just mailed in her ballot—she voted for John McCain… Now that her daughters were about to join her in the United States, she wanted a ‘strong leader.’ But eventually she also admitted to Fran, she simply could not vote for a black man. ‘I just don’t trust them. ‘Di ba sila ‘yung laging nanggugulo? Aren’t they troublemakers? They’re so violent.’”

In the chapter “American in Living Color,” Pimentel writes about how Nobel Prize winner for literature, Toni Morrison, a black woman, noted that many newcomers readily embraced American society’s long-held prejudices against blacks. He also shares what Asian-American civil rights lawyer Bill Lee told him: “Immigrant communities generally tend not to know the history and to buy into the biases and prejudices of the dominant group. Unfortunately, becoming American often means buying into the prejudices. They want to identify upward. They don’t want to identify with those at the bottom.”

Something like that fable about the fly that alights on a carabao and suddenly thinks he’s a carabao. (It’s better told in Filipino.)

But it’s not that way all the time. Pimentel digs into the “racial wedge” that Asian-Americans occupy, that uncomfortable in-between mezzanine position where they are expected to be loyal to their superiors and demanding of those below.

Pimentel’s book also deals with other racial and ethnic groups. He writes, “Obama’s victory is significant for another important reason. With the steady growth of Latino and Asian communities, there will no longer be a racial or ethnic majority in the United States in less than 50 years. A biracial leader with a deep personal experience of life in the Third World, Obama, many hope, could prepare the nation for that coming change.”

“Lessons in Patriotism and Forgiveness” is a poignant chapter. Here Pimentel explores his experience as a Filipino whose father endured suffering during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, and then reflects on his own encounter with Japanese-Americans who suffered ostracism and internment in the US.

In “From the I-Hotel to Powell Street” Pimentel revisits the bygone milieu of Carlos Bulosan (“America is in the Heart”) and enters into the world of the aging World War II Filipino veterans. Powell Street in San Francisco is where these veterans spend their winter years. I have been there myself and it’s really a tearjerker.

Toward the end, Pimentel writes about his family and waxes sentimental. He muses: “In the end there were more people who were ready to move on, to break ground, to reimagine the United States, to redefine America. It will be Obama’s face and voice that my sons will see and hear on television and on the Internet over the next four years, maybe longer. It will be Pareng Barack who will play a critical role in defining my sons’ future in America.”
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Trump's voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back. - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Trump's voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back.
Washington Post
President Trump's voting commission stumbled into public view this week, issuing a sweeping request for nationwide voter data that drew sharp condemnation from election experts and resistance from more than two dozen states that said they cannot or ...
Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info requestCNN
States and Trump voter fraud commission set for showdownThe Hill
State Officials Of Both Parties Reject Requests For Voters' Identification DetailsNPR
Los Angeles Times -Miami Herald -U.S. News & World Report -Business Insider
all 359 news articles »

          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          Medical Marijuana Update   

Medical Marijuana Update A bi-partisan federal effort to open up research on medical marijuana is now underway, it looks likely that Arkansas will be voting on medical marijuana in November, a New Jersey PTSD bill advances, and more. National Monday, congressional marijuana reform fans and foes said they were working together on a new research […]

The post Medical Marijuana Update appeared first on Live Trading News.

          2017: Tʜᴇ Mᴏᴠɪᴇs part two   

In theaters:

The Boss Baby (2017): I wasn't that interested in this movie until I read an article saying that the filmmakers tried to bring a traditional 2D sensibility to 3D animation. The books (1, 2) are great reads---at least as the current owner of a baby I think so---but the trailer showed that the movie was going to stray pretty far from the basic concept they present. In fact, having now seen the movie, it introduces even more high-concept nonsense that could very well have overwhelmed it with bad attempts at making absurdity rational. Many a kids' movie has perished under such a pressing. What makes Boss Baby not only survive but thrive under this weight is its open embrace of childhood imagination. And the 2D sensibility comes into play here. Many of the openly imagined scenes look crafted by Mary Blair or other midcentury concept artists / Golden Books illustrators. In other words, this film gives us what we think we want from a modern animated film, and delivers it through the medium of what our souls actually crave. I hope it's a harbinger.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): This is just pure, crackling entertainment. Laffs. Tears. Surprises. Action. Reversals. Reveals. Joy. Sadness. Explosions. Suggestions of depth. Arguments for meaning. Color. Charm. Pleasure.

Wonder Woman (2017): Another great superhero movie with more than the average blockbuster's amount of depth. A lot of the movies wonder grows from watching Diana develop from a naif to one with wisdom. It's hard-earned. But Gal Gadot was up to the task. If this role doesn't overwhelm our impressions of her, she'll be around a long long time and should have an interesting career. Also: her theme is one of the greatest of all time. The first time I heard it (earliest trailer) it already felt like it had been hers since the birth of metal.

At home:

Back to the Future (1985): With bis brothers both gone to Grandma's a couple days, son #2 deserved something special and in this case that was letting him watch a movie he's been begging to watch ever since his older brother got to see it two Decembers ago. I wasn't so excited to see it again so soon, but wanted the experience to be as special for him as he hoped it would be. So I faked enthusiasm. Didn't take long for the enthusiasm to turn real, however, as, let's face it: this is a pretty great movie. Of course, no he wants to watch the sequels....

The Puffy Chair (2005): Ah, the birth of mumblecore! The movie that launched an empire! This film was filmed on the cheap* (and it shows), but it's well written and well acted and small enough to fit in the budget. I'll never watch it again and I don't know that I would necessarily recommend it, but I get why it's a touchstone and I thought it was truthful about things in a way that I understood, even if this is not my life. (In a way that, say Linklater's Dazed or Boyhood did not for me.)

Son of Kong (1933): This is a straight sequel to the original King Kong, bringing back several key and side players of the original cast (or crew, I suppose, being primarily men of the ship). The set-up is strong, but it loses its way a bit on the island---Kong junior plays for laughs a few times, mugging the camera and everything. And just as the story is taking off, they find treasure and a simultaneous earthquake/hurricane destroys the island. So while a lot of the instincts here were good, the execution of the last two acts gets more rushed and more sloppy until it's suddenly just over. Still: kid-friendly.

A Town Called Panic (2009): The kids got into this almost immediately, notwithstanding their aversion for subtitles. And of course! It's hilarious! But what interests me about the film is how much madness and absurdity it manages to hang on an extremely traditional structure.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016): I'm still filled with regret for not voting with my dollars and seeing this in theaters last summer, but hey! We watched it! It was good! My stomach doesn't ache from laughing as I expected, but it was funny---Sam Neill is brilliant, the kid is ... um, is "the boy Rebel Wilson" unkind? And Rhys Darby is a bleeding treasure. My dad would love this movie ... I'll bet you will too.

Fun and Fancy Free (1947): Although I've seen "Bongo" a time or three and "Mickey and the Beanstalk" many many times, I'm not sure I've seen the full, connected package before. (And I'm fairly certain I'm more familiar with the Ludwig Von Drake-narrated version of M&thBs that was made for tv.) To my surprise, the kids' favorite part of the show was probably Charlie McCarthy's snide remarks. Time to break out the Bergen!

To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters (2016): I was confused the first half hour because I was certain the severe stout sister must be Anne and confused at the role she was taking in the family. Once I got the casting sorted out, I did much better. The cinematography is beautiful. And you know, for all the tragedy, what a family to be born into.

Midnight Special (2016): Acting, editing, cinematography, etc very real. As Lady Steed says, "It felt real. Like it could really happen." The end even has realistic loose ends. In fact, it seemed to suggest new loose ends (was that flicker a "twist"?). And I didn't like the Tomorrowland-esque visuals at the end. I don't know that attempting to execute, say, a heavenly look would have been better or not. I dunno. It's weird for such a good movie to be rather ungood. Perhaps---perhaps it improves with further viewings. I can see that.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016
): We watched it with the boys and I have to say: it's better the second time.

Noroît (1976): This is a strange, strange movie. Which is fine, but in this case I think I would have been well served to do some reading up on it before digging in. The way it uses an old play in English (probably by Middleton) and the artistic choice to reimagine the utility of language in film took me most of the movie to figure out on my own. My favorite part is one of the murder-by-dance sequences at the end. The film this most reminds me of is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead in how it incorporates old theatrical elements into the movie. This one, however, manages to get less and less filmic just as it starts introducing techniques that only exist in film. Curious movie.

Hail, Caesar! (2016): The scene with the religious figures was the best of its kind since Hudsucker Proxy; the film homages were delightful even when they highlighted my ignorance; the religious aspects were honest; Clooney was underutilized; I really need to see it again to figure out just what I think.

All the President's Men (1976): We had to keep pausing this movie so we could chat and make sure we were grasping all the threads and the end comes in a massive rush of type, but overall the movie was terrific and eerily NOW. Lady Steed was convinced Woodward and Bernstein were going to die. All I can say is, when reporters start dying, that's when the American experiment will truly be over.

Sully (2016): The structure of this film is pretty interesting---how it keeps circling around the central incident, showing it from different angles, perspectives, understandings. It takes a couple shortcuts in storytelling (the bureaucrat's a meanie! now he's not!), but they're classy enough that they don't really damage the experience too much (understanding their motivation in making certain assumptions would have been nice, but okay). Certainly it was stressful when it was supposed to be---which is important even in a disaster movie where no one dies.

The Handmaiden (2016): In retrospect, probably should not have watched this. Those sex scenes may well prove sticky. That said, this movie was wonderfully crafted. Complex, circuitous, ambiguous, confusing, revealing, beautiful. I needed to read the Wikipedia article to clear a few things up---probably because I watched the movie in three or four pieces over six weeks---but even with those moments of confusion, it was coherent and lovely. Hitchcock would have been impressed.


Romeo and Juliet (1968): I am so intimately familiar with this movie now that I can tell when someone's reaction begins a shade too soon or the edit reveals someone facing a slightly different direction. In other words, I'm moving past opinions of good or bad and into something purely factual. I'm prepared for every finger-wiggle. It's weird to watch a movie from the perspective of omniscience.

The Ghost Writer (2010): I just read the book and so I wanted to see the movie. This is a case where that was a grave mistake. Based on the reviews, it seems like it must be a pretty good movie, but it didn't fare so well in the side-by-side comparison. Some setpieces (eg, the ferry footchase and the concept [if not the execution] of the denouement) count as improvements, but knowing what was coming weakened the film beyond repair. Perhaps it's unfair to come into a thriller knowing its twists. Then again, how many times can one watch Vertigo without it losing its thrills? (Answer: at least one more.)

Romeo + Juliet (1996): To me, this film is as fresh and as vital as the first time I saw it (2005?). But I realized this time around that it might not seem that way to fourteen-year-old anymore. I'm also worried that their filmic vocabulary is too limited to really understand what they're seeing. I'm not sure. Never base conclusions on one set of kids. As for me, this is the only cultural event I missed during my mission that's tinged by regret.

Fences (2016): I know this play extremely well. I've been teaching it about three years now and read it at least a dozen, probably twenty times. I know it. The first half of the movie I had the same kind of experience as with The Ghost Writer---it was just people saying words I knew. But the second half of the move tore out my heart and shredded it and then built me a new one prone to weeping. Terrific movie.

Forbidden Zone (1980): I heard about this movie on a podcast and decided I needed to watch it. Now, in my opinion, this kind of madcap surrealism, even when well done, is best finished under ten minutes. This is over seventy. (Also, I discovered after watching it, it's been colorized. I don't know how easily available the original b&w is to find.) But it's pure madness. I could cite you references and similarities all day, but here are a few to help you get a sense: Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, pre-Mickey Silly Symphonies, Max Fleischer, Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, Mary Reid Kelley, Nightmare Before Christmas.The plot doesn't really matter. The point is that the id has been loosed and we're lost in a dreamland with its own logic, absurd (and non-nice) as that may be.

Pride & Prejudice (2005): Every time I watch this movie I'm struck by the differences with the novel, but I still love it. The acting is terrific, the cinematography is stunning, the score is lovely. I will always have issues with the last two minutes, but overall I think it's a wonderful film. Man, those cameras! And I for one love the warmer Mr and Mrs Bennet relationship. And the general earthiness of the thing.

F for Fake (1973): This is a strange movie and I was deadly tired when I was watching it. I probably should have stopped it and just taken a nap, but I was afraid of losing hold of its many threads and kept going. I suspect that, regardless, this is a film not easily appreciated upon first viewing anyway. I can't honestly say that I liked it or disliked it, but listening to Orson Welles for 88 minutes is pleasure enough, don't you agree?

Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (1995): A charming documentary by his former partner and muse made largely from Welles's own unused footage. It humanizes him greatly. It shows that he could have been a master of YouTube had he hung around long enough. Clearly he never stopped working, even if fate and temperament kept him from finishing things. It also suggests a second something that may have gotten in the way: that very muse. He was clearly infatuated with her body---and so was she. In this film she includes a lot of her own youthful nudity. I think they may both have been seduced more by her youthful pneumatics than by his wisdom and experience.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994): First time I've seen the unedited thing! Like most Americans, I've only ever seen this film on tv. Put together, it's marvelous. It's been long enough since I've seen it at all that I can't really speak to the differences between this version and the tvified version---I wasn't surprised by anything---but it was unquestionably a thing of beauty. Almost too beautiful, maybe, but true enough that skepticism doesn't stick.

Casablanca (1942): Gets better every time. EV ER Y TIME.

Spirited Away (2001): I love this movie, but apparently they're watching it in a couple other classes, so I need to substitute it for another Miyazaki movie. Maybe it's time to try Mononoke again....

Psycho (1960): I love watching/hearing jaded teenage audiences react to this movie.

Rushmore (1998): A couple elements of this movie have suddenly aged (mostly kissing scenes), but it's still a masterpiece.

Do the Right Thing (1989): I skipped about 90 seconds of a certain scene, and with that gone I have no regrets about using this film. It shakes the kids, it brings some needed diversity to what I'm teaching, it full of Filmic Stuff, its literary while pushing against our stereotypes of what that means. It's a rough movie, but it's so human we can take it.

The Iron Giant (1999): Anyone who saw it as a child---even if they watched it over and over---is amazed when they revisit it later and discover it is capable of tearing out your soul and shining the light of heaven through it.

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987): The end of this movie is truly beautiful, but the first two acts are centered around an almost documentarian set of scenes of a) Robin Williams performing and b) scenes of everyday life in Vietnam. As I've never found Robin Williams to be all that funny, this got tiresome. I don't regret waiting this long to watch the movie, but neither do I regret having finally seen it. It's a curious snapshot of what the Sixties looked like when they were only twenty years old.

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          The Freedom Center Beats the Southern Poverty Law Center   

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

The left has a problem. 

Americans are doing all the wrong things. They’re voting for Republicans, reading conservative sites and donating to conservative organizations. Something needs to be done about it. Something is being done.

Post a conservative story on Facebook or search for it on Google and out pops Snopes, a partisan site, to warn you of wrongthinking. And, until recently, when you searched for a conservative organization on Guidestar, out popped the Southern Poverty Law Center to accuse you and it of being deplorable bigots.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Snopes are left-wing partisan groups with no qualifications to do anything except hate conservatives. The SPLC’s list of hate groups includes numerous individuals, including me, also listed until recently as a hate group was a sign outside a Pennsylvania bar. 

Morris Dees, a mail order guru and cut rate lawyer for a KKK thug, built the Southern Poverty Law Center into one of the greatest mail order scams on earth. Harper’s Magazine dubbed the SPLC a “fraud” that casually throws around the “hate group” label, “shuts down debate” and “stifles free speech”. 

The FBI dumped SPLC’s scam artists, but Guidestar decided to help the left-wing group stifle speech.

Guidestar’s mission is providing information about non-profits. Instead its boss, leftist activist Jacob Harold, pursued a partisan agenda. 46 organizations were accused on Guidestar’s listings of being hate groups. According to Harold, the SPLC "has the most comprehensive information on hate groups".

There’s no question that the SPLC’s listings are comprehensive. They included, at one point, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz’s father, a Republican nominee for Governor of Colorado, a former Republican member of the House from Colorado, a Republican member of the House from Iowa and the African-American former Secretary of State of Ohio. Current SPLC targets include the President of the United States and nearly every member of his cabinet. The SPLC’s definition of extremist is Republican. 

The David Horowitz Freedom Center was among the conservative groups targeted by the SPLC/Guidestar collaboration. Having lost the White House and its access to the IRS, the left was looking for a new way to attack the finances of conservative organizations. Jacob Harold first dragged Guidestar into partisan waters with an election post that praised the Clinton Foundation and disparaged Trump.

Now he was looking to go after conservatives. But the Freedom Center didn’t let him get away with it. 

The Freedom Center’s legal team warned Guidestar that it would be held accountable for these slanders. Other conservative groups joined the outcry. And before too long, Guidestar backed down.

The Guidestar attack was the latest manifestation of the left poisoning the open informational spaces of the internet with partisan agendas. Harold, a “social change strategist” was a veteran of left-wing organizing. He had participated in at least one anti-Trump rally. Even afterward, Harold had insisted in an editorial that Guidestar’s mission would still include attacks on “hate groups”. 

"Hateful words can cultivate a climate of hostility. That hostility can yield tragic consequences: The FBI documents thousands of hate crimes each year, with most directed against vulnerable people in marginalized communities,” Harold wrote.

There is zero evidence linking the conservative groups smeared by Harold and his SPLC allies to violence. The same cannot be said for the SPLC which has been linked to violence against its political targets.

Floyd Lee Corkins’ shooting spree at the Family Research Council began with the SPLC. Corkins confessed to the FBI that he had used the SPLC website to research targets. James Hodgkinson, who opened fire at a Republican charity baseball practice, was a fan of the SPLC. The Middlebury College assault which injured a female professor was driven by the SPLC’s wrongful listing of Charles Murray.

While the SPLC claims to fight bigots, it defended a Hamas supporter who had called for the mass murder of Jews in its attack on David Horowitz, while calling Horowitz “the Godfather of the anti-Muslim movement in America,” which actual hate groups continue to use against him.

If Guidestar wants to list hate groups that harm vulnerable people, it can start with the SPLC. Unless Howard thinks that defending Hamas calls for the murder of Jews is acceptable behavior.

And then there’s one of the SPLC’s “Active Hate Groups”: Bosch Fawstin

Bosch is only one man. But the SPLC decided to list him as a hate group. It added him to the list after the first ISIS terrorist attack in America. Their target was the Draw Mohammed contest. Had the attack succeeded, Bosch would have been killed. But instead of adding Islamic terrorists to its list, the SPLC’s Heidi Beirich announced that it was adding him instead because it had figured out a location for him.

Tragic consequences indeed.

The Freedom Center’s victory is important. The left had overreached this time. Pressure from a range of conservative activists forced a temporary retreat. But Harold has made it clear that he will try again.

Newly emboldened conservative activists are turning the tide against the left. They are refusing to accept being harassed, abused, threatened, assaulted, marginalized and silenced as business as usual.

Conservatives rallied, stood up and fought back. The targets included the Family Research Council, which had come under fire because of the SPLC hate map, and AFDI, which was targeted in the ISIS attack. Among other groups listed by Guidestar/SPLC was Tea Party Nation and the Center for Security Policy.

The SPLC list is heavily biased, tainted and flawed. It is not based on any meaningful research. And yet it continues to be widely used. Meanwhile the SPLC’s Heidi Beirich is campaigning to further censor internet search results. The message is that the left’s agenda of embedding its worldview into the informational spaces of the internet will be the major battle of the next five years. 

And the Freedom Center is eager to fight that battle.

The Freedom Center has fought hard for academic freedom. It believes that the marketplace of ideas should stay open. It is convinced that the internet must also remain free of left-wing censorship.

The first freedom is the right to dissent. The SPLC’s mission is the suppression of dissent. It deliberately jumbles together totalitarian and open organizations, racists and conservatives, Nazis and anti-Islamists as a smear campaign to delegitimize everyone it disagrees with. And that’s everyone to the right.

Guidestar can’t be a trustworthy information source and participate in a partisan campaign; particularly an unprincipled extremist campaign such as the SPLC is conducting. Like Google and Facebook, it must choose. And the Freedom Center will remain vigilant in this fight for freedom.

This time the Freedom Center beat the Southern Poverty Law Center. But the battle goes on.

          A Socialized Medicine Death Sentence   

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Chris Gard and Connie Yates of the United Kingdom, whose 10-month-old child Charlie Gard will be “allowed to die,” a decision supposedly “in his own best interest,” as a British judge put it. According to a timeline in the Daily Mail, here is how Charlie’s story has played out. 

Charlie Gard was born a healthy baby on August 4, 2016, but at eight months the child was diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. Charlie began to lose weight but in January 2017 his mother Connie Yates found an American doctor willing to offer Charlie a trial therapy called nucleoside.

Connie set up a website and succeeded in raising enough money to cover Charlie’s travel to America by air ambulance and the cost of the experimental treatment. But then the British legal system handed Charlie a setback. 

On April 3, 2017, a High Court judge questioned whether Connie and Chris should be allowed to take Charlie to America for treatment, and whether doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital should turn off the baby’s life-support system. On April 11, the court ruled that the doctors were in fact permitted to do so.

The decision devastated parents Connie and Chris, from Bedfont in west London and both in their thirties. They vowed to appeal and in late April, more than 110,000 people signed a petition for Prime Minister Theresa May to release Charlie from hospital so he could travel to the United States for treatment. Charlie remained in hospital and on May 25, three Court of Appeal judges ruled that doctors should end Charlie’s life-support treatment. 

Connie and Chris appealed but on June 8, three judges of the Supreme Court rejected their bid but told doctors to keep Charlie on life support for another day so the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, could consider the child’s case. On June 13 the ECHR ruled that Charlie should be kept on life support until Monday June 19. On June 27, the European court rejected the parents’ plea to intervene in the case of Charlie Gard.

As the ECHR statement put it: “Today the European Court of Human Rights has by a majority endorsed in substance the approach by the domestic courts and thus declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final.” 

According to a report by Sophie Jamieson in the Telegraph, “terminally ill baby Charlie Gard will be allowed to die after his parents lost their final legal bid to take him to the USA for specialist treatment.” 

A spokesman for the Great Ormond Street Hospital acknowledged that the verdict was “very distressing for them” and promised “every possible support.” The hospital would be in “no rush” to change Charlie’s care and “any future treatment plans will involve careful planning and discussion.”

Young Charlie may not have long to live but his tragic case is a timely primer on “single payer,” health care, often mislabeled as “socialized medicine” but in reality government monopoly health care. This arrangement supposedly respects people’s “right” to health care but as it works out, government calls the shots and the people get only what the government wants to give them. 

Despite pretensions to compassionate, universal coverage, the British government system did not cover mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Likewise, health care bosses made no effort to facilitate the alternative treatment for Charlie Guard. Connie Yates and Chris Gard did that on their own, devoting themselves to the welfare of their son. 

As they found, the system does not hold that the parents are the best judges of their own children’s interests. Government monopoly health care does not allow parents and patients to pursue independent alternatives, even if they are willing to pay for the treatments themselves. Witness the travel ban, the refusal to allow Connie and Chris to take Charlie to the USA for treatment.

Likewise, when Connie and Chris sought the nucleoside for Charlie, health care bosses said it was experimental and would not help. So the treatment was not tried and found wanting. It was found inconvenient and left untried. The victim was ten-month-old Charlie Gard. 

As Ian Tuttle observed in National Review, High Court justice Nicholas Francis proclaimed there was no “scientific basis” for the prospect that the American treatment would help Charlie. Since he would not be any better off, the judged reasoned, death was “in Charlie’s best interests” and he should be permitted “to die with dignity.” 

The case did not become a rallying cry for leftists warning that “someone will die,” if judges failed to allow the experimental treatment. After all, the left supports the kind of system in which the people get only what the government wants to give them, and independent alternatives are forbidden. 

In the United States the case drew little attention and that should come as no surprise. During a furious health care debate, and the attempt to replace the disastrous Obamacare, the old-line establishment media shun any story that might cast doubt on the kind of health care Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton want. 

On the other hand, legislators can learn a lot from ten-month-old Charlie Gard. They should reject any plan that forces the people to settle for what the government wants to give them. They should establish health care that respects human rights and enables the people to choose the care they need.

          The Left’s Un-Democratic Seduction of the Democrats   

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

Democrats have lost the White House and Congress. Their statewide losses are catastrophic. But the institutional strength of the left has only grown stronger. Each Democrat defeat hollows out the party but increases the power and influence of the left to move the party in an undemocratic direction.

The defeats have elevated the roles of the left’s unelected power bases from the judiciary to the media to academia to the bureaucracy and the non-profit sector. These are the core of the “Resistance”. The mission of the “Resistance” is not to plan for a future democratic victory, but an undemocratic coup.

The Democrats had been radicalized into alienating their traditional working class constituencies. They had been seduced into believing that they could lose the heartland and still win elections. After pushing the party into a politically untenable extremism, the Democrats were convinced to abandon democracy.

Democratic elections had been the left’s greatest obstacle in its plot to take over the Democrat Party.

Elections meant moderation, triangulation and big tents. Those are all anathema to the left. As long as the Democrats had to compete in conservative districts, they wouldn’t be able to support terrorism, crime, total wealth redistribution, radical social policies and the rest of the left’s totalitarian program.

Losing the South was the best thing that ever happened to the left’s plans for the Democrat Party. And it has no intention of trying recapture it, or any other area, on any terms other than its own. It isn’t interested in winning elections. The left’s ideal political purity can only be achieved undemocratically. Politics is the art of compromise. Democracy requires listening to people. That’s not what the left does.

The less the Democrats listen to voters, the more influence the left has over their agenda, ideas and tactics. Instead of paying attention to democratic ‘market signals’ from the populace, they become an ideological echo chamber for the media, academia and the radical non-profits of the institutional left.

Fake polls and media spin is used to promise big wins. And when those wins don’t materialize, the left invents conspiracy theories that discredit the election and uses them as leverage to radicalize the Democrats even further by convincing them that they are entitled to overturn the election.

The left destroyed the Democrat Party. It tricked it into becoming unpopular, lied to it that it would win and then convinced it that it didn’t win because of foul play and should stage a presidential coup.

Each disastrous step seemed logical at the time. There was going to be a new majority. The Democrats had to get out front to create a new national reality. Reactionary voices in the party had to be ignored. The “youth” was where it was at. Immigrants were transforming America. All the polls were on their side. The only reason they could have possibly lost was the hackers and all the fake news.

And all the while the left was consciously making the Democrats untenable as a political party by cutting them off from their working class base and their geographic constituencies.   

The Democrat Party is no longer a national party. It’s the political movement associated with small groups of elites out of a few dozen cities and associated suburbs. Its national presence outside these cities continues withering every year. Subtract the media, unions and billionaire backers and it’s just the Green Party with more of a history. If a radical leftist party were to gain more traction in the Bay Area, Chicago and New York, the Democrats could very easily vanish as thoroughly as the Federalists.

But the left’s endgame isn’t winning elections. It’s eliminating them.

Radicalization is the process by which everyone left of center comes around to realizing that the “system” with its multiple parties, compromises and votes allotted to everyone just doesn’t work.

The more elections the Democrats lose, the more they come around to that point of view.

After Hillary’s defeat, the media has abandoned the old liberal pretenses of objectivity and open dialogue. Instead it militantly advocates agendas. Its outlets openly abuse and insult opponents. The media shifted from bias to advocacy out of a conviction, occasionally stated in its own columns and editorials, that the public was too stupid to be influenced by mere bias. It had to have it spelled out for it that Trump is a liar. The media can no longer subtly influence. It must browbeat into compliance.

That is what a radicalized media looks like.

A radicalized media disregards truth, facts and objectivity. It only wants to win at any cost. It has no faith in the public. Instead it views the public with an anti-democratic contempt.

But the Democrats have adopted an anti-democratic tone that is suspicious of and hostile to the public. The various explanations for their defeat, big money, racism, fake news, coalesce around the general unfitness of the public. Even Obama’s old “messaging failure” explanation for his failures speaks to it.

Americans are too stupid, gullible, bigoted and ignorant to be able to vote.

As class warfare has given way to identity politics, popular representation had to make way for identity representation. The Democrats may no longer represent the South or the West, but they instead represent a plurality of racial and sexual identities. Their coalition of illegal alien gay Muslims has more democratic legitimacy than all the white voters who backed Trump.

That’s the underlying theme of the “Resistance”. Political legitimacy doesn’t come from elections, but from diversity. Diversity has failed to win elections, the way that it was supposed to. But it can always end them. Why bother representing people based around random geographical borders or whether they happen to have citizenship, when you can represent a plurality of identities?

And once you represent a plurality of oppressed peoples, why bother with elections? Elections only get in the way of achieving true representation through equality.

This is where the left always ends up sooner or later.

The Democrats have become just another totalitarian leftist cult. The trouble is that they’re not a handful of angry radicals in a Chicago basement. Delusional behavior like this might be amusing from a revolutionary cell of a handful of extremists who all teach sociology for a living. It’s a national crackup when a major political party descends into the same sort of dangerous lunacy on a national scale. 

Overturning the results of a presidential election is only a start on the way to much worse things. The left is once again approaching Lenin’s old revolutionary formula of government as “a democracy for the exploited and a means of suppressing the exploiters” along with the “exclusion from democracy” of the exploiters. And, like every disastrous preceding step, it is beginning to seem logical to the Dems.                                                                                                                                        

The Democrats have replaced real constituencies with ideological ones. The party heavily depends on bloc voting in areas where democracy is meaningless and political choice is non-existent. Every form of meritocracy has been replaced with quotas and affirmative action. If candidates qualify by quota, why not voters? That is the dangerous next step. It begins with “rebalancing” representation to favor the emerging new constituencies and ends by eliminating representation as anything more than a formality.

The left has led the donkey party to this poisonous swamp. The question is will the donkey drink?

          States reject Trump's Voter Fraud Commission request   
Judith Browne Dianis of the Advancement Project says that Trump's commission is a way for Republicans to dismantle the Voting Rights Act.
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          Maya Moore leads fan voting for WNBA All-Star Game   
          Nerium Biotechnology Shareholders Overwhelmingly Elect All Six Management Nominees to Nerium's Board   

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--(Marketwired - June 30, 2017) - Nerium Biotechnology, Inc. ("Nerium" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the voting results of its annual meeting of shareholders (the "Meeting") held on June 29, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This year's Meeting had extraordinary participation from Nerium's shareholders, with a total of 31,272,131 common shares, or approximately 85.75% of the outstanding common shares of Nerium, having been voted at the Meeting.

          Hemostemix Announces Voting Results of the Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders   

BLACKFALDS, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - June 30, 2017) - Hemostemix Inc. ("Hemostemix" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE:HEM) today announces that at the Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders (the "Meeting") held on June 29, 2017, shareholders overwhelmingly approved (i) fixing the number of directors on the Company's board of directors (the "Board") at three, (ii) electing three directors, namely Angus H. Jenkins, David L. Wood and Donald E. Friesen to the Board, (iii) the re-appointment of MNP LLP, Chartered Accountants, as auditors, (iv) the re-approval of Hemostemix's rolling stock option plan and (v) the secured credit transaction with Wood Capital Ltd. as further described in the Management Information Circular dated May 25, 2017 and the earlier press release of the Company dated April 10, 2017.

           CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla on California’s voting system security    
Yesterday, the chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission requested voter-roll data from each state, claiming the information will prevent voter-fraud. AirTalk speaks with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who says California will not comply with the request. We also discuss opposition to bike lanes; review this week’s movie releases on FilmWeek; and more.
          My wife's ass - Wanda   
"My wife's ass - Wanda " Added: 2017-06-30, Description: Just lying around after a good round in bed and decided to snap a few pictures. Hope everyone likes the pic. The better the comments and the higher the voting she says we can enter more on here, up to you guys, lol., Rating: 4.885, Views: 1,276
          Trump Voter Fraud Chair Wants Info on Every Voter   
Washington Post: “The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting [...]
          [1Coffeehound] Here is the result of the voting on one site:   
          City golf course cracking under heat   
MEMBERS of the county's only municipal golf course are voting with their feet and leaving the club after cracks opened up on the greens to leave the putting area "unplayable".
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Comment on Pressing on by Big Man   
Mr.Thorne is correct you can't depend on Wick Ham poll Wick Ham poll said Hillary Clinton was going to Win and she LOST. Changing from a PM who has no wife to a PM who has no husband me nah no, I like I ain't voting
          Cuomo says New York won't comply with Trump commission on voting fraud   
The state of New York won't hand over identifying information about its voters to President Donald Trump's commission investigating voter fraud. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday his...

To view the full story, click the title link.

          Comment on FULL TEXT of the latest IMF Barbados review (released today) by Sunshine Sunny Shine   
Fake poll my azz. You do not even need a poll to know how bajans feel about the DLP. Everyone is talking about them in the worst way. Even those living abroad. Everything that comes out of bajans mouths is: they either not voting or they will never vote for the DLP again. That is not a poll that is what many bajans here abroad are saying.
          Trump voting commission will get limited state voter data   

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A request for detailed details about each voter within the U.S. from President Donald Trump’s voting fee is getting a rocky reception within the states. A few of the nation’s most populous states, together with California and New York, are refusing to conform. However even some conservative states that voted for Trump, similar to Texas, say they will present solely partial responses based mostly on what’s legally allowed beneath state regulation. Given the mishmash of data Trump’s fee will obtain, it is unclear how helpful will probably be or what the fee will do with it

The post Trump voting commission will get limited state voter data appeared first on NB.

          The Dude: “I’m rooting” for President Trump   

While virtually everyone and their mother in Hollywood can’t stand President Trump, The Big Lebowski actor Jeff Bridges is standing by him despite voting for his rival, Hillary Clinton. One might say The Dude abides. When it comes to the criticism that Trump has been getting from Hollywood, Bridges, who also played a president in […]

The post The Dude: “I’m rooting” for President Trump appeared first on Red Alert Politics.

          Californians: Demand a Vote on Your Broadband Privacy Before the Telecom Lobby Runs Out the Clock   

What do they do when they can’t win the vote? Try to Stop a Vote.

Right now, politicians in Sacramento are holding up a bill that would restore your broadband privacy rights and directly reject Congress and the Trump Administration’s decision to side with Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

It is in fact the first bill ready to be enacted into California law that would be a direct response the latest string of efforts in Washington DC to curb consumer protections in broadband access. A.B. 375 (Chau) would ensure your broadband provider must secure your permission first before selling your personal information to third parties.

However, it has been stalled in the Senate Rules Committee – likely due to opposition from major cable and telephone companies. If they are successful at keeping the bill stalled until July 18th, then the bill is dead for the rest of this year.

They can’t win at the vote given the overwhelming public opposition to repealing our privacy rights in the first place, which is why this is their strategy.

Death by Procedure and Denying the Vote

In California, bills must make it past certain policy committees by specific deadlines, or they are dead for the year. But before a bill can be heard in any policy committee, it must be referred out by the Rules Committee in a fairly routine matter of deciding which committees should review and vote on the bill before presentation to the full Assembly and Senate.

Two weeks ago, AB375 became eligible to be referred out of the Senate Rules Committee. Assuming normal procedures, advocates expected to testify in support of the bill at a July 3rd hearing.  However, the legislation has been mysteriously absent from consideration on the Rules Committee agenda. Two weeks have passed, the Senate Rules Committee has met twice, yet A.B. 375 has not been placed on the agenda, debated, or referred out to any policy committee.

This raises significant questions.

Unless Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, who leads the Senate - and chairs the Rule Committee - decides to ignore the pleas of Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon and, instead, follows normal procedural rules and moves the bill forward so it can receive a vote, the telecom lobby will win in arguably the worst way possible - by simply denying your elected representatives from even voting at all.

The Momentum is With Us

California is the 20th state to engage in restoring our broadband privacy rights, but it could be the first state to officially make it law by this year. A vast majority of conservative, liberal, and independent voters opposed Congress repealing our broadband privacy rights and naturally they demanded action. Several print publications in California have written positive reviews about AB 375. And the legislation itself has been thoroughly vetted and is ready for enactment.

We have until July 18th to push AB 375 to the finish line. Pick up the phone ASAP and make your voice heard!

Take Action

          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public. A Wednesday letter from t...
          SUP Stands for Stand Up Paddling   

SUP is one of the safest approaches to water sports. The best bodies of water to paddle are lakes, rivers, and bays. However, if you’re a surfer, you can challenge yourself to paddle into waves. If you’ve always been fascinated by surfing but were a bit apprehensive, SUP just may be the water sport that will satisfy your recreational and fitness goals.

Paddle boarding is an old sport that started during the 1960s in Hawaii, but has only grown in popularity in the last 15 years. SUP is an activity for all ages, and can be enjoyed as a relaxing paddle out on the lake, or as a wild ride in the surf. Paddling only requires balance and a little effort to move across the water with ease.

SUP requires constant balance and core strength, which is essential for everyone. Paddlers stand with feet apart and knees slightly bent. Newcomers should first kneel on the board and paddle before trying to rise to a standing position. Once standing, it is pretty easy to stay standing. Larger boards can accommodate two people for a combo ride.

If you need a full body exercise while really having fun, stand up paddling is a great way to strengthen and tone a wide range of muscles. Since humans are made to stand upright, stand up paddling leads to less muscular imbalance than regular surfing. The position of standing parallel on the board works the legs, while the pivoting and leaning works the abs. Paddling exertion will also benefit the arms, back, shoulders, and abdomen. This watersport turns a day on the lake into a workout, without even realizing it!

Brand name SUP boards are made from wood or foam that is treated with epoxy resin, similar to how surfboards are made. The new SUP board prices range from $600 to about $1500. A high cost with a high payoff—a single board can last a lifetime.

Board sizes range from 9 feet up to 12 feet and require paddles that are 6 to 8 inches taller than the paddler. The different styles of boards are made for different activities on the water, whether it is for fishing, yoga, paddle surfing, or just a casual ride on the water, there are sizes, shapes, and colors that will fit your

Paddle boarding popularity makes seeing a person gliding across a local lake a common sight, and many boaters have learned to keep an eye out for SUP boards on major lakes. The US Coast Guard now considers the Stand Up Paddle Board as a vessel, requiring the paddler to wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) in some states.

SUP is a watersport most everyone can enjoy, and is easy to start. The cost of a board can last a lifetime for all generations. SUP can tone muscles, bring tranquility on the water, and enhance any other water activities.

          Tom Engelhardt 246   
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, All War All the Time, or War American-Style
At 36% to 37% in the latest polls, Donald Trump’s approval rating is in a ditch in what should still be the “honeymoon” period of his presidency. And yet, compared to Congress (25%), he’s a maestro of popularity. In fact, there’s just one institution in American society that gets uniformly staggeringly positive votes of “confidence” from Americans in polls and that’s the U.S. military (83%).  And this should be the greatest mystery of them all.
That military, keep in mind, hasn’t won a significant conflict since World War II. (In retrospect, the First Gulf War, which once seemed like a triumph beyond compare for the globe’s highest-tech force, turned out to be just the first step into the never-ending quagmire of Iraq.) In this century, the U.S. military has, in fact, stumbled from one “successful” invasion to another, one terror-spreading conflict to the next, without ever coming up for air. Meanwhile, the American taxpayer has poured money into the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state in amounts that should boggle the mind. And yet, the U.S. hasn’t been able to truly extricate itself from a single country it's gotten involved in across the Greater Middle East for decades.  In the wake of its ministrations, nations have crumbled, allies have been crippled, and tens of millions of people across a vast region of the planet have been uprooted from their homes and swept into the maelstrom. In other words, Washington’s version of imperial war fighting should be seen as the record from hell for a force regularly hailed here as the “finest” in history.  The question is: finest at what?
All of this is on the record. All of this should be reasonably apparent to anyone half-paying attention and yet the American public’s confidence in the force fighting what Rebecca Gordon has termed “forever wars” is almost off the charts. For that, you can undoubtedly blame, in part, the urge of the military high command never again to experience a citizen’s army roiled by antiwar protests and in near revolt as in the Vietnam era. As a result, in 1973, the draft was ended and in the decades that followed the public was successfully demobilizedwhen it came to American war. George W. Bush’s classic post-9/11 suggestion that Americans respond to the horror of those falling towers by visiting Disney World and enjoying “life the way we want it to be enjoyed” caught that mood exactly. But the explanation undoubtedly goes deeper yet, as TomDispatch regular Gordon, author of American Nuremberg, suggests today. Tom
America at War Since 9/11 
Reality or Reality TV? 
By Rebecca Gordon
The headlines arrive in my inbox day after day: “U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria killed hundreds of civilians, U.N. panel says.” “Pentagon wants to declare more parts of world as temporary battlefields.” “The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades.” There are so many wars and rumors of war involving our country these days that it starts to feel a little unreal, even for the most devoted of news watchers. And for many Americans, it’s long been that way. For them, the meaning of war is closer to reality TV than it is to reality.

On a June day, you could, for instance, open the New York Times and read that “airstrikes by the American-led coalition against Islamic State targets have killed hundreds of civilians around Raqqa, the militant group’s last Syrian stronghold, and left 160,000 people displaced.” Or you could come across statistics two orders of magnitude larger in learning from a variety of sources that famine is stalking 17 million people in Yemen. That is the predictable result of a Saudi Arabian proxy war against Iran, a campaign supported by the U.S. with weaponry and logistical assistance, in which, according to Human Rights Watch, the U.S. may well be complicit in torture. You could contemplate the fact that in Iraq, a country the United States destabilized with its 2003 invasion and occupation, there are still at least three million internally displaced people, according to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees; or that more than 411,000 Iraqis remain displaced from their homes in Mosul alone since the Iraqi army launched a U.S.-backed offensive to drive ISIS out of that city last October.
Yes, it’s possible to click on those links or to catch so many other Internet or TV news reports about how such American or American-backed wars are damaging infrastructure, destroying entire health care systems, uprootingmillions, and putting at risk the education of whole generations thousands of miles away. But none of it is real for most of us in this country.
How could it be real? Most of us no longer have any idea what war is like for the people who live through it. No major war has been fought on U.S. territory since the Civil War ended in 1865, and the last people who remembered that terrible time died decades before the turn of this century. There is no one around to give us a taste of that reality -- except of course for the refugees that the Trump administration is now doing its best to keep out.
In addition, Americans who once were mobilized to support their country’s wars in distant lands (remember Victory Gardens or war bond drives?) are simply told to carry on with their lives as if it were peacetime. And the possibility of going to war in an army of citizen draftees has long been put to rest by America’s “all-volunteer” military.
As the U.S. battlefield expands, the need becomes ever greater for people in this country to understand the reality of war, especially now that we have a president from the world of “reality” TV. During the second half of the twentieth century, Congress repeatedly ceded its constitutional power to declare war to successive executive administrations. At the moment, however, we have in Donald Trump a president who appears to be bored with those purloined powers (and with the very idea of civilian control over the military). In fact, our feckless commander-in-chief seems to be handing overdirectly to that military all power to decide when and where this country sends its troops or launches its missiles from drones.
Now that our democratic connection to the wars fought in our name has receded yet one more step from our real lives and any civilian role in war (except praising and thanking “the warriors”) is fading into the history books, isn’t it about time to ask some questions about the very nature of reality and of those wars?
War From the Civilian Point of View
We think of wars, reasonably enough, as primarily affecting the soldiers engaged in them. The young men and women who fight -- some as volunteers and some who choose military service over unemployment and poverty -- do sometimes die in “our” wars. And even if they survive, as we now know, their bodies and psyches often bear the lifelong scars of the experience.
Indeed, I’ve met some of these former soldiers in the college philosophy classes I teach. There was the erstwhile Army sniper who sat in the very back of the classroom, his left leg constantly bouncing up and down. The explosion of a roadside bomb had broken his back and left him in constant pain, but the greatest source of his suffering, as he told me, was the constant anxiety that forced him on many days to walk out halfway through the class. Then there was the young man who’d served in Baghdad and assured me, “If anyone fought in Afghanistan or Iraq, and they say they came back whole, they’re either lying or they just haven’t realized yet what happened to them.”
And there were the young women who told the class that, in fear, they’d had to move out of their homes because their boyfriends came back from the wars as dangerous young men they no longer recognized. If we in this country know anything real about war, it’s from people like these -- from members of the military or those close to them.
But we only get the most partial understanding of war from veterans and their families. In fact, most people affected by modern wars are not soldiers at all. Somewhere between 60 and 80 million people died during World War II, and more than 60% of them were civilians. They died as victims of the usual horrific acts of war, or outright war crimes, or crimes against humanity. A similar number succumbed to war-related disease and famine, including millions in places most Americans don’t even think of as major sites of that war’s horrors: China, India, French Indochina, and the Dutch East Indies. And, of course, close to six million Poles, most of them Jews, along with at least 16 million Soviet civilians died in the brutal Nazi invasion and attempted occupation of major parts of the Soviet Union.
And that hardly ends the tally of civilians devastated by that war. Another 60 million people became displaced or refugees in its wake, many forever torn from their homes.
So what is war like for the people who live where it happens? We can find out a reasonable amount about that if we want to. It’s not hard to dig up personal accounts of such experiences in past wars. But what can we know about the civilians living through our country’s current wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or Yemen?  There, too, personal accounts are available, but you have to go searching. 
Certainly, it’s possible, for instance, to learn something about the deaths of 200 people in a school hit by a single U.S. airstrike in the Syrian city of Raqqa. But that can’t make us feel the unendurable, inescapable pain of a human body being crushed in the collapse of that one school. It can’t make us hear the screams at that moment or later smell the stench of the decomposing dead. You have to be there to know that reality.
Still, daily life in a country at war isn’t all screams and stench. A lot of the time it’s just ordinary existence, but experienced with a kind of double awareness.  On the one hand, you send your children to school, walk to the market to do your shopping, go out to your fields to plow or plant. On the other, you know that at any moment your ordinary life can be interrupted -- ended, in fact -- by forces over which you have no control.
That’s what it was like for me during the months I spent, as my partner likes to say, trying to get myself killed in somebody else’s country. In 1984, I worked for six months in the war zones of Nicaragua as a volunteer for Witness for Peace (WFP). In 1979, the Sandinista movement had led a national insurrection, overthrowing the U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza. In response, the U.S. had funded counterrevolutionaries, or “contras,” who, by the time I arrived, had launched a major military campaign against the Sandinistas. Under CIA direction, they had adopted a military strategy of sabotaging government services, including rural health clinics, schools, and phone lines, and terrorizing the civilian population with murders, kidnappings, torture, and mutilation.
My job was simple: to visit the towns and villages that they had attacked and record the testimony of the survivors. In the process, for instance, I talked to a man whose son had been hacked into so many pieces he had to bury him in the field where he had been left. I met the children of a 70-year-old man a week after the contras flayed him alive, slicing the skin off his face. I talked to the mayor of a town in northern Nicaragua, whose parents were kidnapped and tortured to death by the contras.  
The original dream of WFP was somewhat more grandiose than collecting horror stories. American volunteers were to provide a “shield of love” for Nicaraguans threatened by the U.S.-supported contras. The theory was that they might be less inclined to attack a town if they knew that U.S. citizens were in the area, lest they bite the hand that was (however clandestinely) feeding them. In reality, the Sandinistas were unwilling to put guests like me at risk that way, and -- far from being a shield -- in times of danger we were sometimes an extra liability. In fact, the night the contras surrounded Jalapa, where I was staying for a few weeks, the town’s mayor sent a couple of soldiers with guns to guard the house of “the American pacifists.”  So much for who was shielding whom. (On that particular night, the Nicaraguan army confronted the contras before they made it to Jalapa. We could hear a battle in the distance, but it never threatened the town itself.)
All that day, we’d been digging to help build Jalapa’s refugio, an underground shelter to protect children and old people in case of an aerial attack. Other town residents had been planting trees on the denuded hillsides where Somoza had allowed U.S. and Canadian lumber companies to clear-cut old-growth forest. This was dangerous work; tree planters were favorite contra targets. But most people in town were simply going about their ordinary lives -- working in the market, washing clothes, fixing cars -- while the loudspeakers on the edge of town blared news about the latest contra kidnappings.  
This is what living in a war zone can be like: you plant trees that might take 20 years to mature, knowing at the same time that you might not survive the night.
Keep in mind that my experience was limited. I wasn’t a Nicaraguan. I could leave whenever I chose. And after those six months, I did go home. The Nicaraguans were home. In addition, the scale of that war was modest compared to the present U.S. wars across the Greater Middle East. And Nicaraguans were fortunate to escape some of the worst effects of a conflict fought in an agricultural society. So often, war makes planting and harvesting too dangerous to undertake and when the agricultural cycle is interrupted people begin to starve. In addition, it was short enough that, although the contras intentionally targeted schools and teachers, an entire generation did not lose their educations, as is happening now in parts of the Greater Middle East.
Many rural Nicaraguans lacked electricity and running water, so there was no great harm done when “se fue la luz” -- the electricity was cut off, as often happened when the contras attacked a power generator. Worse was when “se fue el agua -- the water in people’s homes or at communal pumps stopped running, often as a result of a contra attack on a pumping station or their destruction of water pipes. Still, for the most part, these were unpleasant inconveniences in a rural society where electricity and running water were not yet all that common, and where people knew how to make do without.
Imagine instead that you live (or lived) in a major Middle Eastern city -- say, Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul, or Aleppo (all now partially or nearly totally reduced to rubble), or even a city like Baghdad that, despite constant suicide bombings, is still functioning.  Your life, of course, is organized around the modern infrastructure that brings light, power, and water into your home. In the United States, unless you live in Flint, Michigan, it’s hard to grasp what it might be like not to have potable water dependably spilling out of the faucet.
Suppose you got up one morning and your phone hadn’t charged overnight, the light switches had all stopped working, you couldn’t toast your Pop-Tarts, and there was no hope of a cup of coffee, because there was no water. No water all that day, or the next day, or the one after. What would you do after the bottled water was gone from the stores? What would you do as you watched your kids grow weak from thirst? Where would you go, when you knew you would die if you remained in the familiar place that had so long been your home?  What, in fact, would you do if opposing armed forces (as in most of the cities mentioned above) fought it out in your very neighborhood?
Reality or Reality TV?
I’ve been teaching college students for over a decade. I now face students who have lived their entire conscious lives in a country we are told is “at war.” They’ve never known anything else, since the moment in 2001 when George W. Bush declared a Global War on Terror. But their experience of this war, like my own, is less reality, and more reality TV. Their iPhones work; the water and light in their homes are fine; their screens are on day and night. No one bombs their neighborhoods. They have no citizenly duty to go into the military. Their lives are no different due to the “war” (or rather wars) their country is fighting in their name in distant lands.
Theirs, then, is the strangest of “wars,” one without sacrifice. It lacks the ration books, the blackouts, the shortages my parents’ generation experienced during World War II. It lacks the fear that an enemy army will land on our coasts or descend from our skies. None of us fears that war will take away our food, electricity, water, or most precious of all, our Wi-Fi. For us, if we think about them at all, that set of distant conflicts is only an endless make-believe war, one that might as well be taking place on another planet in another universe.
Of course, in a sense, it’s inaccurate to say we’ve sacrificed nothing. The poorest among us have, in fact, sacrificed the most, living in a country willing to put almost any sum into the Pentagon and its wars, but “unable” to afford to provide the basic entitlements enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: life, food, clothing, housing, education, not to speak, these days, of infrastructure. What could a U.S. government do for the health, education, and general wellbeing of its people, if it weren’t devoting more than half the country’s discretionary spending to the military?
There’s something else we haven’t had to sacrifice, though: peace of mind. We don’t have to carry in our consciousness the effects of those wars on our soldiers, on our military adversaries, or on the millions of civilians whose bodies or lives have been mangled in them. Those effects have been largely airbrushed out of our mental portrait of a Pax Americana world. Our understanding of our country’s endless wars has been sanitized, manipulated, and packaged for our consumption the way producers manipulate and package the relationships of participants on reality TV shows like The Bachelor.
If Vietnam was the first televised war, then the 1991 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was the first video-game-style war. Who could forget the haunting green images of explosions over Baghdad on that first night (even if they've forgotten the 50 “decapitation” strikes against the Iraqi leadership that killed not one of them but dozens of civilians)? Who could forget the live broadcasts streamed from video cameras attached to “smart” bombs -- or the time two of them demolished what turned out to be a civilian air raid shelter, killing more than 200 people hiding inside? Who could forget those live reports from CNN that gave us the illusion that we were almost there ourselves and understood just what was seemingly unfolding before our eyes?
In fact, a University of Massachusetts study later found that “the more people watched TV during the Gulf crisis, the less they knew about the underlying issues, and the more likely they were to support the war.” And even if we did understand the “underlying issues,” did we understand what it’s like to find yourself trapped under the rubble of your own house?
During almost 16 years of war since the attacks of 9/11, the mystification on the “home front” has only grown, as attention has wandered and some of our ongoing wars (as in Afghanistan) have been largely forgotten. Our enemies change regularly. Who even remembers al-Qaeda in Iraq or that it became the Islamic State? Who remembers when we were fighting the al-Qaeda-inspired al-Nusra Front (or even that we were ever fighting them) instead of welcoming its militants into an alliance against Bashir al-Assad in Syria? The enemies may rotate, but the wars only continue and spread like so many metastasizing cancer cells.
Even as the number of our wars expands, however, they seem to grow less real to us here in the United States. So it becomes ever more important that we, in whose name those wars are being pursued, make the effort to grasp their grim reality. It’s important to remind ourselves that war is the worst possible way of settling human disagreements, focused as it is upon injuring human flesh (and ravaging the basics of human life) until one side can no longer withstand the pain. Worse yet, as those almost 16 years since 9/11 show, our wars have caused endless pain and settled no disagreements at all.
In this country, we don’t have to know that in American wars real people’s bodies are torn apart, real people die, and real cities are turned to rubble. We can watch interviews with survivors of the latest airstrikes on the nightly news and then catch the latest episode of ersatz suffering on Survivor. After a while, it becomes hard for many of us to tell (or even to care) which is real, and which is only reality TV.
Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer's dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
Copyright 2017 Rebecca Gordon

          Major retrospective of Shirin Neshat's work opens at the Kunsthalle Tübingen    
The Kunsthalle Tübingen is devoting a major retrospective to the internationally renowned Iranian artist Shirin Neshat. Besides important works from her various creative phases, the show also presents others being shown in Europe for the first time. The Iranian artist, photographer, and filmmaker Shirin Neshat (*1957) is best known for her examinations of the situation of women in the Muslim world. She grew up in an affluent, Western-oriented home and attended a Catholic boarding school in Teheran. When Ayatollah Khomeini came into power in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, she went to the United States to study fine and performing art. In 1990, one year after Khomeini’s death, she returned to Iran for the first time, which had completely changed in the wake of the revolution. She responded to this transformation with Women of Allah (1993–97), a series of black-and-white photographs that brought her internation
          Judge Application and Fan Favorite Publisher Submission are now live! from ENnie Awards   
Starting today and running through Friday, July 7, any person who wants to run for a spot as a 2018 ENnies Judge will have the chance to nominate themselves. Voting will go live along with the award nominees from July 11th – 21st. If you think you have what it takes, run for Judge! While...

          5 things to know about Michigan Legislature in 2014   
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Legislature formally kicked off 2014 with no heavy lifting. But voting could occur this week, when lawmakers also gather to hear Governor Rick Snyder's annual State of the State speech. Budget work will dominate the first half of the year. Legislators have nearly $1 billion more to work with than expected, and one priority is spending more on road upkeep without raising taxes. Lawmakers also are talking up an election-year tax cut, perhaps in the state income tax. Legislators could put off less pressing or more politically charged bills until December's lame-duck session. One area getting attention is education. Legislation to rank schools with A to F grades, change how the scores are determined and hold back third-graders not proficient in reading were held up in the House last month.
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
Democratic officials in California and Virginia said they will not comply.
          Washington Secretary of State Will Review Voter Data Request   
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington's Republican Secretary of State says her office will review a letter from President Donald Trump's commission investigating alleged election voter fraud asking for a list of names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters... Continue reading…
          Comment on Murphy’s Law: Will the Real Ron Johnson Stand Up? by MARY GLASS   
THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2017 RON JOHNSON - Senator from Wisconsin is a FRAUD, A CHARLATAN He has put himself on the "NOT YET LIST” to pass the Senate bill. It is a ploy. If Johnson was legitimate, his comments would say he’s not voting "yes" until there are full discussions and necessary changes on behalf of Wisconsinites and the people of America. Not the bull that the Affordable Healthcare is falling under its weight. It is weight with the heavy foot of the Republicans on the scale. If he and his Republican cronies had joined the other U.S. Congresspersons to correct the “risk corridor” in the insurance care and provided the Insurance companies with a path forward rather than no response, the Insurance companies, and premiums would have a path forward for serious agreements. They are using the 2-year wait after the REPEAL to give the impression that things will not change. Not true. They are lying about the pre-existing risk. They are lying about NOT increasing insurance cost. The seniors in nursing homes will NOT have funding. Women will not have reliable prevention care. Over 23 million folks will fall through the cracks for needed healthcare. The McConnell and gang of 13 plan have a cap on payments (the present Affordable Healthcare does not). Each person will be given a certain amount, if you exceed the amount, too bad. You are on your own. He’s full of it. Watch how fast he votes this week with all the others. He’s a charlatan (a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.). more
          [Ticker] German lawmakers vote to legalise gay marriage, Merkel against   
German MPs voted to legalise same-sex marriage on Friday morning with 393 lawmakers voting to approve the amendment, 226 voting against and four having abstained. The vote came after Angela Merkel said she would allow MPs from her Christian democratic CDU party to vote "according to their conscience on the matter", meaning she wouldn't force her MPs to vote as a block. The chancellor herself voted against the bill.
          [Focus] Build trust before you introduce e-voting, says Estonian president   
President Kersti Kaljulaid said countries should start small with digital changes in society: "I would never advise using e-voting as the first digital service".
          Naty Grams    
Happy Wednesday!  It's time for another round of Naty Grams.  It's definitely been awhile since I did this post.  These are my favorite most recent ones.  Make sure to follow me on instagram @natybaby if you aren't already :) Hope you like and make sure to check out the end of this post for some fun info!

It snowed the past few days in Jersey.  These aren't exactly snow boots but I wear them anyway.  I found them on eBay 2 years ago for $25!  I just need to get the inside lining so my toes don't freeze in the snow! 

This is another sneak peek at the pieces on my rack at Tommy Hilfiger.  Loved this faux fur vest and burgundy blouse.  The vest is 40% off in store right now too! Can't wait to show you more.  

This was definitely a cool moment for me seeing my blog's banner on the rack at TH.  Very appreciative! 

I got to meet the stylish and lovely Nicole Richie at the Style Tag event last week in NYC.  I only got to talk to her for a moment but she was super sweet.  Style Tag is a new fashion app where you can upload images of yours and others street style and tag where items are from to help make it easier for people to purchase those items.  

My little boy in his Christmas jammies!  Love him to pieces.

Fitting room selfie in this super comfy sweater from Dynamite.  I have been living in sweaters lately!  I love long and loose fitted ones.

An afternoon at Starbucks with a few essentials: Pumpkin Spice Latte (my fave!), mini satchel, sunglasses and google nexus.  

Some pretty holiday sparkle!  Gold cuff from Oia Jules, Green cuff from Daisy Gem, Necklace from Diana Ho Designs and Watch from Fossil.  I highly suggest joining Klout if you haven't already!  They determine your influence on the internet by linking all of your social media platforms and/or blog.  It's a great way to connect with others and they also give out really amazing klout perks like this watch!  Hurry and sign up!

A much needed latte!  My coffee addiction is so bad.  I found the cutest coffee shop on the upper west side called Birch.  If you live in the area make sure to check it out.  They have a really cool aesthetic!

Matching with the pretty leaves that are now all gone :(

Now for some fun news:  I am now a style ambassador for a really cool fashion app called Covet Fashion.  It's basically a virtual closet where you get to buy items from within the app to create virtual looks.  There are different events every day that you can join and create looks for according to their theme.  In some games, you win prizes within the app like an article of clothing or accessory to add to your virtual closet.  But other games, there are real life prizes that will be sent to you!  The winners are determined by users voting on their favorite looks. 

I am going to be hosting an in app event called Urban Prepster.  Here is a brief description:
 "An urban prepster is classic yet trendy.  Coordinate conservative separates with edgy finishes.  Possibly pair a crisp button down blouse with a leather jacket and chunky jewelry."
  The game goes live tomorrow 12/12 at 12pm PST and ends 12/15 at 12PM PST.  Voting results will be available on 12/16 at 12PM.  Let me know if any of you download the app and decide to play! 

Hope your day is amazing!
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          Cozy For The Holidays    
This time of year is always really inspiring when it comes to picking out outfits.  I've definitely had the holidays on my mind every day lately and I've been trying to focus on that when styling my looks.  So today's post is all about being cozy and festive.  It reminds me of a candy cane :) 

Sweater: Old Navy (here) c/o / Jeans: Habitual Denim 
Shoes: Aldo/ Bag: olivia + joy
Scarf: Charlotte Russe (also love)/ Ring: Honey Love

I'm pretty obsessed with these skinny jeans.  I've already worn them a bunch of times both on the blog and off.  The color is just perfection for this time of year.  I really love white and burgundy together so I knew this sweater would be a great match.  It is seriously the coziest and definitely a new favorite!  Chunky knits are such a must have for fall & winter.  My collection of printed scarves continues to grow and I still can't get enough.  As I've mentioned before, they really are the best accessory to spice up an outfit. Without the scarf, this outfit looked too plain so it really helped to bring some dimension and more of that cozy feel I was going for.  I also love the different colors that it added too.
I decided to match my shoes with the sweater and my bag with the jeans.  I definitely have my moments where I like to be a little "matchy matchy" :)

I remember being a little girl and getting sweaters for Christmas from my family members.  Back then I hated them because I always wanted toys instead haha  But now as an adult, they have become such a staple piece for fall & winter wardrobes.  I have some friends who think it's difficult to style them, but there really are so many different options.  I am definitely going to try and show more looks with them to show their versatility.

The P&G Beauty contest ends this Friday, so please keep voting and thanks so much for the support!

          Vintage Florals    
Happy Friday beauties :)

Jacket: (here) C/O Dynamite/ Top: Target/ Pants: (similar) Choies - sold out :(
Shoes: (similar) Forever21/ Rings: Tanya Kara & Gorjana Griffin
Sunglasses: (here) Ray-Ban 

I like pairing things together that aren't the obvious match which is why I've really come to love the floral & leather combo.  Florals are still a big print trend for fall & winter and I thought the color combo was really pretty for this season.  The yellow and orange makes me think of Thanksgiving, which is right around the corner! When I first got these pants I really had no idea what I wanted to do with them.    Since they already have a lot going on, I thought it would be best to pair it with neutral colors so that they could really be the focal point of this look.  I love my blazers and I love leather jackets, so I ended up getting the best of both worlds with this faux leather blazer.  It's surprisingly really warm too!

Now on to an exciting announcement:
During Lucky FABB, I did a video casting for P&G's Voices Of Beauty. I honestly did this on a whim.  I was really nervous, but did not want to pass up the opportunity.  I ended up being picked as 1 of the 8 finalists in the contest!  There is a voting period from now until 12/6 and then the 4 winners will be announced on 1/6.  Please take a second and vote for me HERE. The final decision will not only be based on votes, but it would definitely help out.  Thank you so much for your amazing support, love you guys!!

Have a lovely weekend <3

          Comment on Why I am voting Democrat by angryman   
Ashley, I have voted for the Democratic Party over the past 30 years with few exceptions. I am so sick of the Clintons and the Bushes I can hardly stand it. I am so looking for another way of this country doing business. We are at the extreme of incompetence right now. The gap between the haves and those who have not has grown disproportionately. Gas is going through the roof and jobs are flying out of this country at the speed of sound. And the worst part is that people actually hate each other over political views. I stood by in shock as friggin Bush won again last time and I was afraid that the entire country had gone mad. We are all friggin Americans! If the country is a shithole we are in this shithole together. We need change! We not only need change in the names of our politicians but fundamentally change how we do business. I am going to look at both parties and not vote for a name that I have seen before this campaign. We have several potential disasters looming on the horizon which need new ideas from new people. The Clintons and the Bushes have got us into this mess. We need someone else.
          Comment on Why I am voting Democrat by Noreen   
I am voting for the same reason Ashley.
          Sense8 fans get Netflix to bring it back for finale   

Hell hath no fury like a fandom scorned. Last night, in a twist Game of Thrones would be proud of, Netflix announced it was bringing back original series Sense8 for a two-hour finale.
Nearly a month ago, the company culled the expensive show without much in the way of explanation, and it sent fans into a furore. Petitions were made, hashtags were born, and a resistance was formed.
Twitter accounts like @Global_Cluster put together daily schedules that included voting for the show for awards, getting the cast onto magazine covers, and pestering Amazon on Twitter and via email to #PickUpSense8.

OKAY GUYS. THIS IS TODAY’S TASK. Yesterday we brought back @Sense8 [...]

The post Sense8 fans get Netflix to bring it back for finale appeared first on Memeburn.

          EAC’s 2016 survey provides a deep dive into a wealth of election, voting data   
I love baseball. As a researcher, I am fascinated by the endless stream of statistics it generates, data that provides a detailed picture of the rhythms and pace of any given game or season. Coaches, players and general managers use the data to...
          Part 3: Project Veritas Exposes CNN's Deceptive Techniques; Jeff Zucker Runs Away   

After President Donald Trump lashed out at MSNBC's Morning Joe hosts with an unflattering tweet, CNN devoted 13 hours of coverage Thursday on what he wrote.

Part 3 of James O'Keefe and Project Veritas' American Pravda investigative series, however, suggests perhaps the network needs to take a long look in the mirror. At the opening of the latest installment, viewers are introduced to CNN's New Day associate producer Johnny Carr, who held back nothing in his assessment of the president, his administration, and the American voters.

On the president, he said:

"On the inside, we all recognize he is a clown, that he is hilariously unqualified for this, that he's really bad at this. That he does not have America's interests. We recognize that he's just [expletive] crazy ...

"Here's the deal. This is a man who's not actually a Republican. He's not actually a Republican. He just adopted that because that was the party he thought he could win in. He doesn't believe anything that these people believe ...

"The man's on his third wife. I guarantee you he's paid for abortions. He doesn't [obscene phrase] about abortion. He doesn't care about gay marriage. He doesn't even really care about the budget. The man's upping the budget even though he promised to rein it in."

Lies, but told with such passion and conviction, it's clearly obvious Carr really believes them. He went on to say, however, that he's not alone at CNN in his assessment. He suggested "90 percent" of those who work at the network are "on board with just the fact that he's crazy." He got elected because, as Carr put it, American voters are "stupid as [expletive]."

He went on to add the following about White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway:

"We actually had that awful woman, Kellyanne Conway—you know, the blonde—she looks like she got hit with a shovel."

When asked for clarification from the Project Veritas undercover journalist, he repeated the last part of his statement. O'Keefe said this kind of bias is a "plague" that has infected every aspect of the "once respected news organization."

Like CNN Senior Medical Producer John Bonifield, who was introduced in Part 1 of the "American Pravda" series, Carr goes on to say ratings dictate news coverage at the network. But, he personally played a role in the next segment of the video in which O'Keefe demonstrates how CNN deceptively edits interviews and citizen panels to project its false narrative.

Earlier this year, at about the 60-day mark of the Trump presidency, New Day co-anchor Alisyn Camerota sat down with the president's supporters in Connecticut to discuss how they would "grade" his administration so far. The panel was broadcast for a total of eight minutes, but according to audio leaked to Project Veritas, it actually lasted about 90 minutes.

Among those on the panel was William "Billy" Baer of New Jersey. In the broadcast version of the panel, he is portrayed as a conspiracy theorist who believed the president's "unproven" assertion that illegal votes were cast in the election. But, the leaked audio provided an entirely different story. Baer cited actual incidents of voter fraud he witnessed as a poll watcher, and even noted O'Keefe's investigative reporting into voter fraud.

"I have seen busloads, I guess I can't cite the busloads I've seen, and where I've seen them and stuff," he said. "But on television I've seen it, and um, I mean, has anybody looked into, like what James O'Keefe has done? When he went undercover, to those various polling places?"

"That was voter registration," Camerota cut him off.

"I know. Well, no, he went in, he was basically ready to vote as somebody else. Nobody asked for ID. I was actually a poll watcher in New Jersey, and I saw what was going on there. There were college students voting, and there was no, there was basically ..."

"Oh, so they gave them someone else's name?" Camerota again interrupted.

"That's right, or you use a provisional ballot and it's never challenged. They just put it right through. This is common."

None of that ever appeared in the segment CNN broadcast. O'Keefe said it was cut out because it didn't fit the network's narrative that the president pushes conspiracy theories without any basis in fact. He called it a "textbook lie of omission."

In the final segment, O'Keefe camped outside CNN CEO Jeff Zucker's home in Manhattan and attempted to confront him with questions, but was blocked by security guards. Zucker ignored the cameras and sped toward an SUV that sped him away. Click here to see that confrontation take place.

"In the final analysis, this is a conflict of visions between a dying, legacy, mainstream establishment media that seeks to characterize and interpret reality versus an American people that craves unfiltered, raw, real, true information," O'Keefe said in conclusion. "No more fake news." {eoa}

          Don't Sell Your Soul in Defense of President Trump   

I'm all for defending our president when he's the subject of unjust attacks. And as a follower of Jesus, I voted for him, despite my misgivings. I'm also very happy to point out the many good things he has already done as president. But I will not sacrifice my ethics and demean my faith to defend his wrongful words. To do that is to lose all credibility before a watching world.

Plenty of Christians and non-Christians had a hard time understanding how so many of us evangelicals could vote for a candidate who seemed to be so thoroughly un-evangelical. But when we explained that we were voting against Hillary, that Supreme Court appointees were important to us and that Trump seemed to care about religious liberties, many of them understood our vote. They see we're not whitewashing him or denying his faults. Some dissenters can even respect our choice.

But when we find it necessary to defend his every word, we discredit ourselves and tarnish our witness.

What prompted me to pen this article was the recent series of Trump tweets regarding MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. The president wrote:

In response to this, I tweeted:

Really now, for the most powerful elected official on the planet to call liberal newscasters "Psycho Joe" and "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" is indefensible. (Let's not even discuss the "bleeding" reference and where that leads.) And to defend him—I mean for us to defend him as Christian conservatives—is even less defensible.

We can be loyal to the president and still be ashamed of such language. We can support him and still say, "Mr. President, you demean yourself with such behavior, and you'll never get the respect you desire if you sink so low." In fact, that's what real loyalty and support look like.

But when we find it necessary to stand up for him, as if he's the weak little victim being attacked by these terrible giants, we also demean ourselves. And what if it was your son or daughter or spouse or parent whom the president was attacking with such language? How would you feel? When he does this, he ultimately hurts himself.

One man responded to my tweet saying, "This perfect Savior had a very blue-collar flavor which we try to scrub away with our sensibilities. Newscasters need accountability too."

First, no one is denying that newscasters need accountability, and there are a slew of conservative newscasters blasting the liberals day and night (and vice versa). Second, and more important, it is ridiculous and almost obscene to compare our perfect Savior's rebukes of sinners with the president calling TV journalists "psycho" and "crazy."

But this man who tweeted to me was not the only one to make the Trump-Jesus comparison. At least two ministers defended Trump on my Twitter account, with one also comparing Trump's words to those of Jesus and Paul. (I'm just referencing them here rather than posting their tweets here; perhaps they've had a change of heart. You know things are really bad when ministers of the gospel compare Trump's words to those of Jesus.)

One Christian woman was indignant with me: "You've gone too far!  You Sir, are not God Almighty and do not speak for Him!"

I've gone too far by saying we ought not defend the president's childlike words? I've gone too far in suggesting that the president would do well to read what Proverbs says about the conduct of kings? (I tweeted out the Proverbs reference during the interaction.) I've gone too far in saying that we, as followers of Jesus, should find these tweets embarrassing?

Another wrote, "No need to be ashamed, hope he keeps it up." Yes, I hope that the president keeps disparaging people in the crudest, most immature manner. I'm cheering you on!

Still another added: "Christians don't look at the faults of a person just the answer to them. Not ashamed of a person who doesn't hide their emotions."

I wonder what these Christians would be saying if Hillary Clinton were our president and she was the one ridiculing conservative newscasters in such crass terms?

Then there were those who felt sorry for Mr. Trump. They tweeted that the media is not fair to him and that he gets death threats all the time. Surely he has to protect himself!

Once again, such responses boggle the mind. He is the most protected man on the planet, and to my knowledge, these newscasters are not trying to kill him. And how, pray tell, is he defending himself by calling them ugly names? If they misrepresent him, he can set the record straight, but he need not throw mud in their faces. The mud he throws will only splatter back. And the best way to push back against his critics is to push forward with the agenda they hate.

But for us to defend his every tweet is to make ourselves into stooges more than supporters, helping no one in the end.

This week, Ann Coulter attacked Sean Hannity, writing, "Sean Hannity, bless his heart, has the zeal of the late Trump convert. He would endorse communism if Trump decided to implement the policies of The Communist Manifesto. (Which the GOP's health care bill actually does!)"

I will leave that battle to them, but the reminder for us is that loyalty does not require blind allegiance.

So, if you're a Christian conservative, put the shoe on the other foot, and ask yourself how you'd be feeling had President Obama gone after, say, Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham like this. Would you be defending him? {eoa}


          Daniel Murphy Experiences God's Grace Through Highs and Lows of Baseball   

Over their professional careers, many athletes experience the extreme highs and sometimes-crushing lows of sports.

That's certainly true for Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, who recently told his faith story to Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, Magazine and is featured on the cover of the July/August 2017 issue, released today on the FCA website.

With the Nats being one of the hottest teams in baseball this summer—and at the top of the National League East division—Murphy is at a high point, batting an impressive .340 with an on-base percentage of .392. This week, he leads All-Star voting—nearly 1.5 million votes ahead of the next second-baseman on the list—and will likely see his first All-Star start on July 11 in Miami. Voting ends today at midnight ET, and the 2017 All-Star team will be announced Sunday.

"The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is excited to share Daniel Murphy's story in the newest edition of FCA Magazine," said Clay Meyer, editor of FCA Magazine. "It's awesome when we can talk about the faith journey of an athlete on one of the world's biggest sports stages and show that they are just like everyone else when it comes to faith struggles, trusting God in all things and keeping the focus on Jesus. We hope that Daniel's story will impact fans of all ages and demonstrate how the Lord uses everyone's gifts for His plan."

Two short seasons ago, when Murphy was with the New York Mets, he experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows—all in one playoff run. Murphy batted a ridiculous .556 in the NL Division Series and Championship Series, hitting home runs in six consecutive playoff games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and then the Chicago Cubs.

"The more notoriety I got, I tried to push in closer to Jesus," Murphy told FCA. "I didn't want to take that glory for myself. It was a really, really sweet time in our lives."

But what followed was the complete opposite. Once the Mets made it to the 2015 World Series, Murphy went hitless in three of the five games, batting 3 for 20 overall as the Mets fell to the Kansas City Royals. He drove in zero runs. He struck out seven times. And he made two costly errors in the field.

"Being on top of the mountain and then being at the bottom of the barrel ... just felt like a perfect picture of God's grace and love in our lives," Murphy said. "Jesus didn't love me any less when I made those errors in the World Series than He did when I was hitting those home runs in the NLCS. If anything, He loved me more. He's like, 'I think you can handle this; and on My strength, we're going to grow from this, we're going to be stronger, and I'm going to refine your heart.' I've been able to use that three-week period as a testimony."

Murphy grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, with brother Jonathan and sister Tricia, and "would swing the bat all day long" if he could, his dad, Tom, said. Daniel and Jonathan have led an FCA hitting camp for the past few winters in the Jacksonville area, where Daniel shares his testimony with the young players. The brothers also use a host of FCA resources to hand out to the campers.

"We grew up going to church," Daniel Murphy said. "At a very young age and even through middle school, high school and college, I knew the head answers of what Jesus had done for me personally. At the same time, I thought full surrender to Jesus meant giving up things in my life that I didn't want to give up. I just didn't want to give up control of my life."

Murphy excelled on the Jacksonville University team, and the Mets took note and drafted him in the 13th round in 2006. He rose quickly through the Mets' farm system and first reached the majors in 2008. He's found a home there since 2009 and experienced a few setbacks due to injury, missing out on the entire 2010 season.

He also went through a breakup with his girlfriend, Tori, which made him look at his own life from a deeper level.

"Sometimes we have a tendency to forget His grace and His love and His mercy," Murphy says. "I had not focused on that in a long time. I got on my knees and, by the grace of God, surrendered my life to Him. 'I don't know where You want to take me,' I said, 'but I know that Your ways for me have to be better than the choices I've made in my own life that have gotten me in this situation.'"

While Murphy went through spiritual growth, Tori was experiencing a spiritual breakthrough as well. The couple reunited, were engaged by January 2012 and married later that year. Today, they are the parents of son, Noah, daughter, Quinn, and have another baby on the way.

"If I were to write out the perfect plan, it never would have worked out like this—ever," Daniel says. "God put things in my life with my family that just tried to strip away the massive idol that is baseball, as I mold, hopefully, into a gracious and serving husband and father."

Back on the baseball diamond, some wrote off Murphy's 2015 incredible postseason as a fluke. Perhaps the Mets were thinking the same thing, as they offered him a generous contract, but only for one year. Meanwhile, Dusty Baker—a former manager turned TV analyst turned back to manager—apparently believed Murphy's newfound power could be sustained. Baker was hired to manage the Washington Nationals in November 2015, and a month later Murphy inked a three-year, $37.5 million deal.

Baker's confidence in Murphy was rewarded. Last season, Murphy shattered career highs with a .347 batting average, 47 doubles, 25 home runs and 104 RBIs, and finished second in National League MVP voting. And he's on par for another stellar season. Within the Nats community, Daniel and Tori also help lead a Bible study for the team's couples, which is rooted in a profound lesson that Daniel learned from Mets chaplain Cali Magallenes.

"He told me, 'There will be two people waiting for you when you get done with the game of baseball,'" Murphy said. "'One of them I know will be there, and that'll be Jesus. And the other one will be your wife. The relationship you have with her will be a direct result of the investment you've made in her over the course of these years.'

"This is a season that Christ has us in, and I want to build relationships and hopefully show people that I'm far from perfect," Murphy added, "but I know where there's hope and where there's joy and where there's peace. Because I've tasted it, and I want to point them in that direction." {eoa}

          Trump Commission On Voting Fraud Asks States For Voter Data, And California Refuses   
Some Democratic officials refused to comply, saying the request invades privacy and is based on false claims of fraud.
The Trump Administration Is Planning an Unprecedented Attack on Voting Rights.
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Your Voice, Your Choice   
I read an article the other day.  It was a pretty devastating look at Texas' voter turnout. (

Yeah, this is my, you better vote, blog.

Texas is dead last in voter turnout.  Actually we are 51st.  How is this possible? Well, EVEN Puerto Rico votes better than us.  This is the one and only thing I HATE about Texas. It is actually embarrassing when you think about what 26 million people could accomplish if all of them voted.

I know what you're thinking.... But Broc, it's not even a Presidential election year.  You are right, but you need to understand that this is the biggest swing in Texas politics in 14 years.  Rick Perry has been Governor since 2000.  The Governor appoints state agencies.  If I were a teacher I'd be sure to vote because the Governor will appoint the head of the TEA.  With a new Governor, even if it's a Republican, there will be a new head appointed.  Even if the Republicans keep the Governors seat there will be many changes to the state.

Also, David Dewhurst has been Lieutenant Governor since 2013.  These are the two top Texas elected officials and they've been the same for over a decade.   This shift will affect all aspects of the politics of Texas.  It is my belief, that state politicians affect you more than federal ones do.  Yes, the Federal government makes laws but the state politicians interpret how those laws affect you.

You can see that voting this year has consequences.

If we don't vote we are giving our voice, our say, our rights, to someone else.  I love watching the women in Iraq vote. They know how important and significant it is because they know what it's like not to have the right.  We have the right, YET, are just too lazy to do so.



  Concept of Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria An agreed framework definition of foreign direct investment (FDI) exists in theliterature. That is, FDI is an investment made to acquire a lasting managementinterest (normally 10% of voting stock) in a business enterprise operating in acountry more
          Joie Aire Twin Stroller   

Meet the Joie Aire Twin Stroller, a double duty cruiser designed to help manage two times the tinies. With this ultra lightweight twin, you'll always be twice as ready for the day ahead.

Suitable from birth, this is the ultimate stroller for all of your fun filled adventures with your little ones. The lightweight aluminium chassis is easy to maneouvre with your active little riders on board; not only this, but each seat is individually adjustable for a customeised ride for each child. The multi-position, flat-relcining seats provide backrest recline options for each child, meaning both babies stay cosy - even if they're on opposite schedules. In addition to this, the multi-position calf support gives two comfy options for added comfort on each and every journey. The integral 5-point harness system adjusts to 3 heights to keep your children secure and safe whilst you are on the go.

The adjustable hood includes a sun visor and a peekaboo window to keep an eye on your little ones at all times and also an extra large shopping basket that is deep enough to hold and secure all of your personal items. Not only this, but included are two reversible, double seat liners that feature two stylish custom colour options.

With a range of features to keep your little one happy, The Joie Aire Twin Stroller also includes super-sized features for Mum and Dad to enjoy. With a one handed folding system, the Aire automatically locks when folded and thanks to the lightweight frame, this is easy to carry from the boot of your car and more. The Joie Aire Twin Stroller is free standing when folded which means this is perfect for storage and keeping safe when it is not in use. In addition to this, this Twin Stroller holds all wheel suspension for a smoother ride on a variety of surfaces.



  • Lightweight aluminium chassis is easy to maneouvre
  • Suitable from birth with flat reclining seats
  • One hand fold with automatic fold lock
  • Free standing when folded and fits in a boot
  • Reversible, double seat liner with two stylish options
  • Both seats are individually adjustable for a customised ride each side
  • Multi-position, flat reclining seat provide backrest recline options
  • Multi-position calf support with two comfy options
  • Adjustable hood and large shopping basket
  • All wheel suspension for a smoother ride on rough surfaces
  • Front swivel wheels lock in place when needed
  • Removable and pivoting armbar gives added security

Regular Price: £170.00


          5th ward councillor appointed   

Wally Cain has been appointed as 5th ward councillor for the City of Ludington.


All three who ran received nominations for the position, but the winner would still need 4 votes to be confirmed by the council. In the first round of voting, both Wally Cain and Steve Miller received 3 votes with Micheal Shaw receiving the lone vote from Dick Rathsack. During the next vote, councillor Rathsack voted for Cain, resulting in the required 4 votes and the appointment of Wally Cain as 5th Ward councillor.

          The Week Ahead On Wall Street   

The Week Ahead On Wall Street $DIS Tuesday is Election Day in the US, with early voting underway in many states. Earning season continues this week as 31 members of the S&P 500 are scheduled to report. Included is DJIA component The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) Thursday.   Economic reports The week’s 1st economic reports will be […]

The post The Week Ahead On Wall Street appeared first on Live Trading News.

          At least 27 states balk at handing over data that could include full names and voting history   
A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state's voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President's commission on voting.

          Britains Big Farm 1:16 Case 195 Puma Tractor with Dual Wheels   

The Britains Big Farm 1:16 Scale Case IH 195 Puma Tractor with Dual Wheels has realistic engine and reversing sounds, cab lights, an opening rear window on the cab for easier steering access, a removable cab body, an opening bonnet for checking the engine, interchangeable single/dual wheels, and a removable front shovel which raises, lowers, and tilts backwards and forwards. The set of rear dual wheels are detachable and the fully functional front loader raises and lowers and has a pivoting bucket that can be detached.

Regular Price: £26.26


          Comment on A few quick takeaways on the Reuters Institute Digital News report by Robert Andrews   
"The UK comes lowest in the table measuring whether people are prepared to pay for news. To some degree, this must reflect the huge reach of the BBC’s new output. ... the Corporation’s licence fee is a £4bn intervention in the market for news and entertainment." That may be so, but the link isn't proved by the study, and there are myriad factors which could also play... -- UK consumers - like the Irish, whom, the study shows, are similarly reluctant to pay - are blessed with a plethora of free English-language sources, not just the BBC. In newspaper competition terms, the BBC may as well be a proxy for "internet" in general - the dynamic is similar in principle. -- UK consumers already spend handsomely on subscription TV, music etc. This may mitigate against media spending of other forms. Have we asked about the priorities and motivations of consumers in the first place? Do they value news as highly as entertainment? Should we base research not on consumers generally but on consumers who are at least interested in news? -- Have we asked what even constitutes "news", something we take for granted but which, in recent years, for most consumers, has likely transmogrified in to something that may encompass updates from friends, local associations and retailers? Such groups are publishing for themselves nowadays, and we can follow. Why would people feel the need to pay for that? Unwillingness to pay may be a product of accelerated UK disintermediation of newspapers by groups and events which used to rely on them for amplification. Look at the state of the "market" that has supposedly endured this intervention... -- Ravaged by the economy in which it operates such that a third of many newspapers' revenue was wiped out in one year, many find themselves unable to perform the basic functions of a newspaper any longer. -- We have national newspapers motivated by swinging national elections their preferred way, owned by proprietors seeking to cross-promote their business interests, steal rivals' content, wilfully mislead readers and otherwise colour stories to their own political persuasion. You pick your party, you buy your title. -- The market is in a parlous and awful state. Large sections appear to have lost interest in, or an ability to, perform independent journalism which consumers should require. Perhaps this is another reason consumers are reluctant to pay - they don't see much worth paying *for*. If BBC News is to be the sole remaining independent news provider of any sufficient scale, I welcome that, and perhaps readers are voting with their feet. Much is unclear. Just putting some other possibilities out there.
          Court Of Chancery Explains When Entire Fairness Applies To Option Grants And Voting Agreements   
While directors have the right to issue options, when the grant is to themselves and there are specific facts suggesting unfairness, those directors will have the burden of proving the grants were entirely fair in a stockholder challenge....
By: Morris James LLP
          Militant siege, drug killings mark Duterte's stormy 1st year   
FILE - In this Monday, May 9, 2016, file photo, a supporter pinches the cheek of then front-running presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as he leaves a local high school in Matina district, his hometown, after voting in Davao city…
          ‘Nightline’ Features ‘Anti-Abortion Cause Célèbre’ Maddi Runkles    

It's been a tumultuous year for Maddi Runkles, the pregnant Christian teen who became a news sensation when her high school wouldn't let her walk at graduation. On Friday, ABC Nightline highlighted Runkles' story which culminated in a special commencement ceremony arranged by her pastor and family.

In the June 30 segment, footage showed Runkles at the podium, clad in a white graduation gown with tears in her eyes. "I want to thank every single person here," she declared emotionally. "If it wasn’t for you, I don’t think I would have been able to make it.”

The expectant mother -- interviewed by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox -- has had her fair share of the spotlight over the past couple of months. But despite the media's pro-abortion slant, the networks have been supportive of Runkles and respectful of the pro-life movement.

Devoting 8.5 minutes to an in-depth look at Runkles' story, ABC highlighted the fact that Heritage Academy's reaction to the teen’s pregnancy could incentivize other girls to abort rather than carry their babies to term.

"If I were another girl watching someone like me go through this," Runkles weighed in, "I think I would just run away and hide and cover up what I did and choose an abortion."

And she almost did. When the teen discovered she was pregnant back in January, she first considered abortion, fearful that her "reputation would be ruined." But after Runkles apologized to school officials and made the courageous choice to keep her baby, Heritage Academy did not show the compassion she had expected. Instead, among other punishments, a discussion of her missteps was the focus of an all-school assembly – a decision some felt was out of line.

Feeling rejected by many at her school, Runkles turned to the pro-life movement, which welcomed her with open arms.

“She has become a cause célèbre in the anti-abortion community,” ABC’s David Wright reported, noting that many pro-life activists have been “sharply critical of Heritage Academy's response to her situation.”

Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins is one of those who has censured Heritage for “shaming” Runkles.

“This is a question a lot of Christian schools have to grapple with,” she acknowledged, “holding our students to high standards, expecting them to live a life of chastity before marriage.”

“But then also,” she continued, “how do we love those who become pregnant?”

At St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Bowlsburg, PA, pregnant student Liz McNitt was celebrated for keeping her child and was even elected commencement speaker for her courage. Her counselor was supportive, and teachers thanked her for her pro-life decision.

Hawkins takes the same approach.

For the activist, honoring Runkles’ courage and celebrating her choice to keep her baby was paramount. So the Students for Life president awarded the teen a college scholarship, and stood proudly by her side in front of cameras in newsrooms and behind podiums at rallies.

ABC Nightline featured MRC Culture’s footage from the #SockIt2PP rally, where Runkles gave a tearful speech about her inspiring story. Although the network did not feature the whole context of Runkles’ words, the teen criticized Planned Parenthood for its disempowering message that women “can’t do it.”

But the army of friends and strangers who have rallied around Runkles proves that with support, women can do it.

Friends and strangers have sent the teen baby clothes, books and supplies, and her graduation party doubled as a baby shower.

“I know what I did was not what I was supposed to do to get into the situation,” Runkles stressed, “but keeping the baby is definitely not a mistake. It was the right thing.”

Scott Runkles, Maddi’s father, expected that his daughter would marry a “good Christian young man” and have children at some point down the road, but despite the unexpected shift in plans, he’s thrilled to meet his future grandson Grayson.

“I can't wait to see this little boy,” he choked up, “to be able to hold him.”

Maddi’s equally excited.

“I know it’s going to be really hard to still accomplish all my goals and all my dreams,” she told the crowd assembled at the #SockIt2PP Rally. “But I get to have a little guy following right next to me and we get to do it together.”

          NZX profit could be at high end of guidance if market returns to 'historical norms'    
The New Zealand stock exchange has fended off a rebellion at its annual meeting, with shareholders voting not to elect NZX-critic Tony Falkenstein to its board.
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Glance: How states are handling voter information request - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Glance: How states are handling voter information request
Washington Post
State-by-state responses to a request for detailed voter data from President Donald Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is investigating whether there was voter fraud in last year's election. ALABAMA. Undecided ...
Asked for Voters' Data, States Give Trump Panel a Bipartisan 'No'New York Times
State Officials Of Both Parties Reject Requests For Voters' Identification DetailsNPR
Trump commission head on states refusing to hand over voter data: 'What are they trying to hide?'The Hill
Washington Examiner -Minneapolis Star Tribune -U.S. News & World Report -CNN
all 366 news articles »

          Is Nancy Pelosi worth the trouble?   

Democrats in Congress are struggling to keep up a unified front.

Kathryn L. Pearson

As the minority party, Democrats have spent the past six months standing by, mostly powerless, as President Donald Trump has made haphazard progress toward dismantling many of former President Barack Obama’s key accomplishments.

Last week the party suffered another blow: a bitter defeat in a special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. That made four special elections – out of four – they have lost since Election Day in November.

These losses all occurred in Republican strongholds, but Democrats were hoping for victories that would signal dissatisfaction with Trump’s presidency and bolster their momentum. Helping the GOP win in these hard-fought elections were ads attacking House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s “San Francisco liberalism.” Looking ahead to the 2018 midterms, Pelosi’s long tenure as leader also poses a challenge to Democrats trying to make the case that they are the party of change.

As a political scientist who focuses on gender and party discipline in the House of Representatives, I have studied Pelosi’s long leadership. I think it is especially interesting to compare Speaker Paul Ryan’s recent struggle to persuade enough Republicans to support the American Health Care Act with Pelosi’s significant role in building a coalition to pass the Affordable Care Act.

In the past week, some frustrated House Democrats have suggested that Pelosi step down, calling into question her leadership, the party’s agenda and even the Democratic brand.

A defiant Pelosi reacted by calling a press conference and declaring: “I think I’m worth it.

Is she? Let’s look at her record.

Rising to power

Pelosi’s rise to power and leadership are characterized by her intense partisanship, fundraising prowess and intraparty coalition-building.

Elected to the House in 1987, she won her first leadership race as party whip in October of 2001, defeating Steny Hoyer of Maryland by a vote of 118-95. As minority leader, Pelosi established a reputation as a pragmatist who enforced party discipline.

Fast forward to the 2006 elections, with Democrats gaining 30 seats and majority party control. Taking the gavel at the start of the 110th Congress, Pelosi became the first female speaker of the House, presiding over an 84 percent male chamber.

Centralized power

Serving as speaker from 2007 to 2010, Pelosi benefited from the centralization of party leaders’ power that occurred during the previous 12 years of GOP control of the House.

As she stepped into the leadership role in 2007, Pelosi had more tools and prerogatives than her Democratic predecessors, Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright and Tom Foley. That’s because under Republican speakers Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert, the shift of power away from committee chairs to party leaders – a change that had been taking place since the Democratic reforms of the 1970s – picked up speed. For example, Republicans instituted six-year term limits on committee chairs in 1995 that remain in effect. Selected by a party leadership-led steering committee, Republican committee chairs are not always the most senior majority member on the committee. They are typically members who display their party loyalty with their voting records and fundraising.

As speaker, Pelosi maximized her influence, setting the legislative agenda, pursuing partisan policy initiatives and fundraising for her colleagues. As I argue in my book, "Party Discipline in the U.S. House of Representatives," Democratic committee chairs, grateful to return to the majority, were willing to cede power to party leaders.

For the most part, Pelosi worked hard to build consensus within her party and shut Republicans out of the process. She frequently met with freshmen and more moderate and conservative Democrats to find common ground on the party agenda. Under her leadership, House Democrats voted on average with the majority of their caucus 92 percent of the time in 2007 and 2008, setting a record for party cohesion.

A different challenge

When Obama was first elected in 2008, the Democrats gained unified party control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. Pelosi had a new challenge: building coalitions to pass the president’s ambitious agenda items – like health care and financial regulatory reform – rather than the easier job of simply attacking a Republican president’s proposals.

Pelosi’s role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act can hardly be overstated.

She brought Democrats together to start the process in the House before Obama became deeply involved. Three House committees marked up the bill which Pelosi then assembled. When key House Democrats threatened to withdraw their support over disagreements related to abortion funding, Pelosi appeased them and built consensus to attract enough votes to pass the bill. And when it seemed that the House and Senate would not be able to reconcile their versions after Senate Democrats lost their 60 vote filibuster-proof majority with the election of Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Pelosi’s leadership was critical in crafting and executing a complicated legislative strategy that resulted in the bill that Obama ultimately signed into law.

House Democrats were largely unified on other votes as well, with the average member voting with the majority 91 percent of the time in 2009 and 89 percent in 2010.


But Obama’s legislative successes held a cost during the 2010 midterm elections. Democrats lost 64 seats. Republicans gained a 242 to 193 majority, their best showing since 1946.

Back in the minority, Pelosi was reelected as Democratic leader in 2011, defeating North Carolina centrist Heath Shuler by a caucus vote of 150-43. In a sign of dissatisfaction, 19 Democrats did not support her in the vote on the House floor.

The Trump era

On Jan. 3 of this year, all but four Democrats voted to reelect Pelosi as their leader for the eighth time. However, this show of Democratic unity on the House floor masked the uneasiness on display during the party’s internal contest between Pelosi and relatively unknown seven-term Democrat Tim Ryan of Ohio in late November. Pelosi prevailed, 134 to 63 – hardly a ringing endorsement.

As the 115th Congress got underway, Pelosi pledged to seek common ground with President-elect Trump on job creation, trade and support for working families. She also warned that “If there is an attempt to destroy the guarantee of Medicare, harm Medicaid, Social Security, or the Affordable Care Act, Democrats will stand our ground.”

Not surprisingly, with deep policy divides and intense competition between the parties, finding that common ground has been elusive. Without the votes to advance the Democrats’ agenda in the House, criticizing Republican policies is the best way for Pelosi to get attention.

In the upcoming midterms, Democrats will need a united front and they’ll need money to win seats in the House. They are unlikely to forget how Pelosi can draw upon her vast connections to raise record amounts. According to The New York Times, Pelosi has raised nearly US $568 million for her party since entering the House Democratic leadership in 2002. Just in the 2016 election cycle, she raised over $141 million.

Viewed through that lens, I would argue she may be "worth it."

The ConversationYet House Democrats in swing districts may decide that it is too challenging to make the case for change with Pelosi as their leader. If Pelosi’s vote-counting history is a guide, she will know if and when that time has come.

Kathryn L. Pearson is an associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota.

This article was originally published on The Conversation


If you're interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)

          MN secretary of state 'troubled' by Trump election commission's sweeping request for voter information    

Is this part of that “smaller government” thing we’re always hearing about? Erin Gulden of the Strib reports, “Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said Thursday that he’s 'troubled' by a sweeping request from President Donald Trump’s Election Integrity Commission for detailed information about every voter in all 50 states, and he made no guarantee he will comply with it. Simon said in an interview that his office is reviewing legal issues raised by the request for full voter roll data, including the name, address, party affiliation, last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in every state.”

With the travel ban temporarily in effect the AP says, “Attorneys in the Twin Cities are preparing for the impact of the Trump administration’s revised travel ban, which requires new visa applicants from six mostly Muslim nations to have a close family or business tie to the U.S. St. Paul immigration attorney Kara Lynum is organizing an effort to monitor international flights to ensure no one is wrongfully denied entry when the ban takes effect … .”

Colorado? Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press breaks it to us: “The federal government came out with a new, 226-page report that surveyed on nearly everything you may want to know about the 2016 election. But here’s the one thing you need to know: It does NOT show Minnesota as No. 1 in voting turnout. … Nope, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey, Minnesota cannot wave the No. 1 foam finger around for its showing last year. Colorado takes the No. 1 spot for turnout as a percentage of voting age population, the report says.” Of course, they’re all stoned.

Important (but routinely ignored): Andy Mannix and C.J. Sinner of the Star Tribune report: “Crime across Minnesota dipped in 2016, hitting its lowest statewide rate in 50 years. The numbers, released by state police Thursday, show that a long trend of diminishing crime rates is continuing in Minnesota — even in urban areas — despite high-profile incidents of violence that have fueled concerns that crime could be on the rise.” Oddly, this is not the story the NRA is selling.

Good news, IMHO. Eric Roper of the Strib writes, “The Twin Cities suburbs aren’t sprawling like they were before the recession. Instead, the seven-county metro area is growing taller and filling in, with new apartments and redevelopment of older buildings in more urban areas, according to a new Metropolitan Council aerial land-use survey.”

Riham Feshir of MPR reports, “One year after his death, the city where Philando Castile was shot will no longer be patrolled by the department responsible for the fatal shooting. The controversial switch in police services stems from the tragic police shooting that caused weeks of protests and led to what is believed to be the first-ever trial against a Minnesota law enforcement officer for a fatal shooting. … The city of St. Anthony initially intended to negotiate a new contract with Falcon Heights. But the new terms included a request to shift all liability to Falcon Heights, meaning Falcon Heights would be responsible for the actions of St. Anthony police officers if they happen within those borders.” You don’t need Earl Gray to tell you that’s a bad deal.

The AP says, “Jurors have found a Florida police chief not guilty of culpable negligence in the death of a former Minnesota woman who was accidentally shot during a citizens academy "shoot/don't shoot" exercise. News outlets report that Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis was acquitted on Thursday. Authorities say former officer Lee Coel mistakenly shot and killed 73-year-old Mary Knowlton during a role-playing scenario last summer. Prosecutors had argued that Lewis, as Coel's boss, was partially responsible.” Since when does responsibility matter?

          North Carolina Fails to Fix Its Horrifying, Medieval Rape Law   

North Carolina is the only state in the country in which a man may not be charged with rape if he continues intercourse after his partner withdraws consent. This unfortunate loophole was created by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1979 when it ruled that when “the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman’s consent, the accused is not guilty of rape” if he continues sexual contact after consent is revoked. Over the last year, two North Carolina prosecutors have declined to bring rape charges in cases in which the victim withdrew consent, citing this rule. In April, Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson filed SB 553 to close the loophole and clarify that sex without consent qualifies as rape under state law.

Jackson’s bill now appears to be dead. The legislative session is drawing to a close, and Republican leadership in the General Assembly refuses to bring the bill to a vote. Why? Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger told the Fayetteville Observer that he did not want to rush the bill.

“There are a lot of times that folks will come to us, and want us [to] ‘Change this law now!’ ” Berger told the Observer on Tuesday. “And I just don’t know that’s the way we need to respond to things when you’ve got a period of 30 years where apparently the law has been unchanged, and no one has brought this to anybody’s attention. At least, I’m not aware of it.”

In fact, the problem has been brought to Berger’s attention. Jackson first filed a bill to close the loophole in 2015; the General Assembly took no action on his measure, so he introduced it again this session. Once more, however, the bill stalled for rather mysterious reasons—since no state legislator has come out in opposition to it. On Thursday, Jackson’s office released a frustrated statement regarding the stalled bill:

Early this week, it looked like we had a chance to get this done. I received support from several members of the majority party. Then I was told it wouldn’t be happening and that more deliberation was needed. I genuinely have no idea why this is taking several years to accomplish. We’re talking about adding one sentence that closes an obvious and indefensible loophole in our rape law. Next year will be the third time I’ve filed this bill. I still haven’t heard any opposition to the bill, nor could I imagine any. We’re the only state in the country with this crazy loophole. I challenge anyone to explain why North Carolina should be the only state in the country where a woman can’t revoke her consent to have sex. When this comes to a vote, as it inevitably must, I still expect it to pass unanimously. It has just taken way, way too long.

The GOP leadership’s refusal to bring the bill to a vote—apparently because it requires “more deliberation”—is especially galling in light of its recent legislative chicanery. North Carolina Republicans, led by Berger, introduced and passed HB2, the state’s notorious anti-LGBTQ law, in 12 hours. When GOP legislators decided to strip power from incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, they drafted and passed a series of complex bills in a matter of days. Republicans also rushed through a bill to shrink the state appeals court in a brazen effort to prevent Cooper from replacing retiring judges.

Speaking of HB2: Berger’s apathy regarding rape is especially astonishing in light of his strong unwavering support for that law. The Senate leader repeatedly claimed that HB2 was necessary to prevent women from sexual assault, speculating that LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections would let mythical bathroom predators rape women. Republican legislators who voted for HB2 professed to share his concerns. Yet, now Berger and his party have been confronted with an actual example of a law that enables rape—and they refuse to take any action.

Thanks to a racial gerrymander that the Supreme Court has found to be unconstitutional, Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature. They can pass virtually anything they want. When they wish to attack the courts, the environment, protesters, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and voting rights, Republican legislators can pass a bill with remarkable celerity. When presented with a simple bill to correct a rape statute, these same Republicans plead ignorance, go silent, and allow the measure to quietly die. The North Carolina GOP has clear priorities. Protecting women isn’t one of them.

          To bridge the political divide, focus on the middle   

From St. Paul to Washington, D.C., the narrative that has been driving political stories lately is that of gridlock and lack of compromise, of division and partisan lines that will not be crossed.

In Washington, debate has ground to a halt, while bills are being crafted by a select few, and rank-and-file members of Congress go on TV and complain that they aren’t being included. Town halls across the country have become breeding grounds for shouting matches and protests. The chaotic end to another legislative session here in our own backyard was punctuated by sleep-deprived snark, a lack of trust all around the table, and now a fight that has to be decided by judges. 

Shannon Watson

If real compromise and coming together was the outcome of late-night sessions and closed-door negotiations, then maybe I’d be OK with it. But more often than not, consensus isn’t the goal. Winning is the goal. When our legislatures are staffed with people who classify the other side of the aisle as the “enemy” and their main goal of any bill introduction is winning instead of governing, when roll-call votes are forced as campaign-lit traps and floor speeches are made to grandstand and provide sound bites for memes and the 10 o’clock news, we’ll never have the kind of government we want and deserve.

The pendulum swings

Building a stable foundation of public policy should be the aim of our elected bodies, but instead we have a tug of war that happens every few years as the majority pendulum swings back and forth. Getting the furthest right or the furthest left checks on the to-do list becomes more important than getting things done — like paying for transportation infrastructure or education or health care, or encouraging entrepreneurism and small business growth.

This toxicity starts well before swearing-in ceremonies; it starts before campaign season, when parties recruit and screen candidates. I’ll tell you a secret: State parties and coordinated campaign committees don’t care as much about individual races beyond the math to a majority number. Sure, some potential candidates bring attractive strengths (like the ability to fundraise beyond their own race, or appeal to a particular segment of voters) that make them more investible, but majority rule is always the end game.

So here’s a radical idea: The next time you go to the voting booth, stop worrying about majorities and start electing moderates.

I can hear it now, the screams of, “but my extremist is the only thing keeping their extremist in check!” The fact is, moderates can stand up to extremism as well as anybody else can, most of the time way more effectively because their goals are different, and they’re not biding their time just waiting for their turn to push extreme policy provisions through.

You can help

You can help to elect moderates no matter how deep red or dark blue your district is. If all of your neighbors think the way you do, maybe give a shot to the person who meets 90 percent of your ideological criteria rather than 100 percent. If you can live with your choice, don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough. You might have to vote for someone from a different party (gasp!) if you live in a district that is demographically different from your preference, but think about it: If your representative is definitely going to be someone of the other party, do you want him or her to be a moderate or an extremist?

For example, if you are a Republican living in downtown Minneapolis, your most effective vote for City Council wouldn’t be the Republican candidate – it would be for the most moderate Democrat on your ballot. The Republican mathematically probably doesn’t have a chance to win, but a moderate Democrat could. On the flip side, if you’re a DFLer living in a ruby-red county, backing a moderate Republican over the sacrificial DFL lamb would be the best use of your vote.

A more sustainable, stable government

With moderates in charge, there would be easier negotiation, more compromise, and fewer “poison pills” that dictate party-line votes or destine a bill for a veto pen. If constituents supported moderates at the polls, there would be no reason for lawmakers to hold out for the most extreme of positions. If moderates were the majorities, the pendulum wouldn’t swing quite as widely on policy positions from year to year. At best, that would equal a more sustainable and stable government. At the very least, it might cut down on the grandstanding.

Start paying close attention to the names on your ballots. Reward moderates with your vote, then plan on holding them accountable to standards of compromise and civil negotiation. Remind our public servants that you, not their caucus, are their most important constituency.

Shannon Watson is the founder of Definitely Someday, a firm that helps normal people plan for a future run for office. She has 20-plus years of experience in the political arena, working on local and statewide races in Kansas, Colorado and Minnesota, as well as working for the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Minnesota Senate. Shannon has a bachelor's degree from Wichita State University and a master's from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She lives in St. Paul.

          Comment on Call on Kelantan voters to “kill two birds with one stone” by voting to change two governments – state and federal – in the 14th General Election by Bigjoe   
The issue in Kelantan as well as any community of PAS supporters, is this: How is it possible, Kelantan went from decade as fortress of PAS with highest vote ever with Pakatan Rakyat, to now on the verge of losing and probably worst ever performance in PAS history? Fact is they have destroyed Nik Aziz legacy and lifetime work. They are working to merge with UMNO,dreaming they can ursurped it like Mahathir did with UMNO and they did with Nik Aziz's PAS. Their plan of Islamic statism is a proven failure in Iran and Saudi Arabia. It does not rid of corruption which they only too become and worst, it does not even fix social ills and issues they so trumpet. Its a dumb plan that will never work. The issue is how much damage they inflict along the way.
          BabyPing Warehouse Clearance Secure Wi-Fi Video Baby Monitor   

BabyPing Camera Monitor is a completely new type of baby monitor that syncs to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in just a few easy steps. Simply download the FREE BabyPing App from the Apple iStore on to your preferred iOS device, connect BabyPing into a mains plug and your router and follow the quick, user friendly on-screen instructions.  BabyPing only takes a few minutes to set up without any need for a separate computer.

This revolutionary baby monitor securely uses your existing router to connect to your iOS device either by ethernet cable or wirelessly, producing ground-breakingly high quality audio and video. Connecting Ping to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch extends the capability if those devices and makes baby monitoring and effortless, convenient and very flexible. If you need to use your device for something else there is no need to worry, BabyPing can work in the background offering instant alerts when your baby needs attention.

Monitoring your baby with Ping offers full digital audio sound, vibration alert and on-screen pop-up alerts to help you keep your baby safe.

Key features of Baby Ping Baby Monitor:-

Invisible Night Vision - The seamless and invisible night vision functionality matches the quality of day time video. No lights or glare means your baby can sleep undisturbed.

Smart Filter - Using Smart Filter technology, this monitor is able to filter out background noise to ensure full focus is on your child around the clock and avoid unnessecary distractions.

No interference - You can rest assured that BabyPing securely uses your existing router without zapping your Wi-Fi. It wont pick up unnecessary sounds from outside like other monitors.

No Computer or separate monitor required - BabyPing relays images and sound direct to your IOS device for your convenience

No batteries required - Working fully from the mains plug means you never unexpectedly lose power from low battery life and there is no need to wait for charging.

Full colour video - On iPhone and iPod Touch the screen size is 2.5" and it really comes to life on iPad with photo frame size images of your baby in high resolution


Ping comes with a flexible pivoting stand to stabilise the camera which is also wall mountable.

*IOS device not included. Device must be on iOS4 or higher.


Box includes:

1 x BabyPing Secure WIFI Camera Monitor
Stand/Wall mount (with attachable rubber feet)
1m network (ethernet) cable
2m iDevice extension power cable
3m power supply with UK/US/EU attachments
Mounting screws

Package of cable clips
User guide


Technical Information:

Dimensions: 85mm x 85mm x 30mm.
Weight: 150g
Power Consumption: 3.75W
Supply: 100-240V AC. 3m with UK/US/EU attachments
Wi-Fi Security: WEP (64/128 bit), WPA-PSK (AES/TKIP), WPA2-PSK (AES/TKIP).

Regular Price: £169.99


          Switel BCF900 Digital Video Monitor 3.5"    

Switel SCF900 Video Digital Baby Monitor has a large 3.5" screen which makes seeing your beautiful baby so easy. With high specifications such as an eco-friendly auto shut off mode, night vision, and lullabies which help soothe your baby to sleep. Switel is part of Swiss Telecom a premium brand priding themselves on making some of the highest quality communication products and the Switel BCF900 Video Baby Monitor is no exception. The Switel vertical Pivoting Camera will sit nicely in the baby room or nursery and has a low glow nightlight with built in night vision. You can also run the Baby Unit on batteries for added portability.

Specifications and Features:

  • 3.5" High Definition screen on parent unit
  • Digital sound 
  • Full Encryption for maximum privacy
  • Multi Channel can take up to 4 cameras
  • Mains or Battery Operation
  • Battery Pack and Charger for Parent Unit (baby unit requires AA batteries)
  • 3 Lullabies
  • 2 way communication Talk-Back
  • Night Light operates Manually or Auto and can be Sound Acivated
  • VOX - you can select continuous or AUTO monitoring
  • Manual or AUTO Nightlight

This product is delivered free to most UK addresses


Regular Price: £179.99


          Trump's voting fraud commission won't get full Indiana data   

An Indiana official says the state won't be able to provide much of the information requested by President Donald Trump's commission investigating alleged voter fraud during the 2016 election.

The commission led by Vice President Mike Pence asked state election officials this week to provide data...

          Fire it up with CJ!: Voting with the Spirits with guest Sandra Ingerman   
GuestIf Mother Nature could talk to us, what would she say about the issues of the day? Listen to Sandra Ingerman as she reveals what has been lost in the public dialogue on what matters most in our world today.
          The Resistance: KY SoS Tells Trump's Nazis to Fuck Off and Die   
No, of course she didn't use those words.  She's a lady.  I'm not.
State officials from Virginia, California and Kentucky said Thursday that they will refuse a request for voter roll data from President Trump's commission on election integrity.

Earlier Thursday, it was reported that the commission sent letters to all 50 states asking for voters' names, birthdays, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and their voting history dating back to 2006.

Later in the evening, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said she too wouldn't offer up the information requested by the panel.

"The president created his election commission based on the false notion that "voter fraud" is a widespread issue – it is not," Grimes said in a statement Thursday.

"Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the President has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election," her statement continued. "Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country."
Kentucky voters, you could have sent her to D.C. to restore Kentucky's integrity that Mitch McConnell has spent 32 years destroying, but no. And now you're going to die sick and penniless in a ditch, thanks to the motherfucker you preferred to vote for.

          Fire it up with CJ!: Voting in November with a clear conscience   
GuestGetting hot and bothered about the elections? Want to be part of the solution versus the problem. Learn how to vote without fear and with compassion.
          Noted: States Refuse Voter Rolls To Investigators   
The Washington Examiner reports several states ahve refused to give voter rolls to a Presidential commission investigating vote fraud. There is certainly a lot of vote fraud going on, wit a high percentage of voting precincts turning in more votes … Continue reading
          Charlie Sykes at Aspen: Biggest Problem We Face Is Historical And Constitutional Illiteracy Of The Voting Public    
Syndicated radio host Charlie Sykes says we aren't experiencing a Constitutional crisis, but Constitutional rot. "A lot of Americans do not have an appreciation for our history, they do not understand the Constitution, why we have these norms," he said. "And at some point, yes the media has some responsiblity, but so does the public." "We desperately need to have a public that actually cares whether things are true of not," he added. "What is the price we are paying for having an electorate that his historically and politically illiterate?"
          David Frum: Rand Paul Trying To Save ACA While Voting Against It Because Medicaid Expansion Is Good For Kentucky    
Wednesday night on MSNBC's 'The 11th Hour,' David From of 'The Atlantic' explains why Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is working so hard to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act for "conservative-sounding reasons" -- because it is good for his constituents!
          All-Star Minuto del Mediodia: Algún Marlins, Rays comenzará en All-Star Game?   
All-Star voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday.
          All-Star Minute: Marlins' Marcell Ozuna, Rays' Corey Dickerson look for late votes   
All-Star voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday.
          Smith Votes to Strengthen Immigration Law   

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after voting in favor of H.R. 3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, and H.R. 3004, Kate’s Law. These bills combat dangerous sanctuary policies which shield criminals from prosecution and increase penalties for deported felons who illegally reenter the United States.

H.R. 3003 contains Sarah’s Law, named for Sarah Root, who was killed in Omaha on the night of her college graduation in January 2016 when an illegal immigrant driving drunk struck her car while street racing. When U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement declined to put a hold on the drunk driver, he fled. Sarah’s Law ensures illegal immigrants who kill or seriously injure another person are detained throughout their legal proceedings.

“I have long said our immigration system must be based on the rule of law,” Smith said. “The bills passed by the House today will ensure sanctuary policies cannot supersede federal immigration laws and will more heavily penalize deported felons who return. Choosing not to enforce the laws on our books encourages more people to break them – and hurts those who do follow the law. Crimes like the one committed against Sarah Root are preventable, and this legislation will help restore justice.”

          California Continues To Lead   

SACRAMENTO June 29, 2017 – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla today released the statement below in response to a letter from Kris Kobach, Vice Chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The Commission was established through executive order by President Donald Trump after he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. Because he lost the popular vote, Trump has falsely alleged that three to five million votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election. This, despite the fact that his claims of voter fraud are unsubstantiated and that academics and bipartisan leaders have confirmed that there is no evidence of large scale, let alone massive voter fraud.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued the following statement in response to Mr. Kobach’s request for voter data:

“The President’s commission has requested the personal data and the voting history of every American voter–including Californians. As Secretary of State, it is my duty to ensure the integrity of our elections and to protect the voting rights and privacy of our state’s voters. I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally. California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach. The President’s Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections.”

“The President’s appointment of Kobach–who has a long history of sponsoring discriminatory, anti-immigrant policies including voter suppression and racial profiling laws–sends a clear and ominous message. His role as vice chair is proof that the ultimate goal of the commission is to enact policies that will result in the disenfranchisement of American citizens.”

“I will continue to defend the right of all eligible voters to cast their ballots free from discrimination, intimidation or unnecessary roadblocks.”

          When incumbent ruling coalition is afraid of new voters   
No automatic alt text available.
YB Elizabeth Wong shared the following in Facebook:
I was at the Selangor Election Commission's office this morning to check out the voter objection hearing process. I was shocked to find out a total of 354 voters from the Subang Parliamentary constituency (of which Kota Damansara, Paya Jaras and Bukit Lanjan are part of) were objected.
About half made it to today's hearing and had their voting right reinstated. Of those present, some took emergency leave, some took unpaid leave, some postponed work and meeting arrangements and some came at the eleventh hour after receiving the EC's PosLaju letter only yesterday.
The atmosphere in the room was tense and some felt confused as to why they were objected randomly. Nevertheless, every single one present were determined to make sure their right to vote will be reinstated in time for GE14.
After checking with some of them, I realised they were not randomly selected.
1. Majority of the objected voters had registered for change of voting address at the Post Office.
2. Almost all were Chinese.
3. They had applied to move to two seats in Subang Parliament ie. DUN Kota Damansara and DUN Paya Jaras - seats which UMNO has high stakes in retaining or wresting.
4. Majority of the Objectors (Pembantah) came from one address: No 10, Jalan Pekaka 8/3, Seksyen 8, Kota Damansara 47810 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. (This is the address of UMNO Bahagian Subang)
The process was thankfully fast. Upon being called into a separate room, they were asked a few questions: How far is the community hall from your house, how far is a certain petrol station from your house etc.
The more time consuming process was the queue due to the numbers that turned up. Some waited for up to four hours for their turn.
On the Objector's side (pembantah) side, only a handful, maybe 4 or 5 at most turned up. According to the EC's rules and regulations on objecting voters, each pembantah is allowed to object up to 20 names. A total of 354 objected voters would mean at least 18 pembantahs should have been present to face the persons they objected. Where were they?
Also seen was a man and a lady with a child in charge of distributing RM100 bills 'compensation' to the objected voters present. Someone must have upfront RM35,400 cash to this person to pay on the spot!
Kudos to those present and who were determined not to leave until their rights to be a voter were reinstated.
Please inform those who may have received a letter from the EC either by registered post or PosLaju. There is nothing to be worried if they are called to the hearing. If you are unsure of your voting status, log onto and key in your IC number.
We know there is only one party who fears new voters more than anything. Don't let them take away your fundamental rights!
Elizabeth Wong
18 April 2017

Received via email, and I have no reason to doubt that this is authentic.... 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dr. 

Sharing my ex colleague 's experience ... "How I received RM100 for being eligible to Vote"
Now I know why Money wins elections in Malaysia

"Changing my voting station is a challenge."
I decided to update my polling centre to my residential address 10 months ago (to Dusun Tua, PAS incumbent). About 4 weeks ago I received a notice that my application has received a Bantahan which required me to attend a public investigation. If I wish to continue to be eligible to vote, I would need to show up at SPR office, at a specific time, for a hearing**.

** Kegagalan Tuan/Puan untuk hadir semasa Siasatan Awam ini, akan menyebabkan nama Tuan/Puan dikeluarkan dari RDPT bekenaan.

"At the hearing."
I was one of the first to arrived and soon the waiting room was filled with people. My name was in one of several lists of Dibantah. A quick glance around the room and at the lists showed that at least 80% were ethnic Chinese.
At my turn, my Pembantah and myself were shown to another room and took our oath before a judge. The Pembantah was a middle aged man that I have never met before. His name was Abd Halim bin Md Yunus.

His excuse for challenging my application was "He didn't see anyone at home, and my neighbors did not know me". This was of course a lie because I live in a gated and guarded residence, so he wouldn't have been able to enter my Taman without my permission. And I've been living here for 9 years. Thankfully the judge has ruled his challenge as "failed".

"My compensation"
Because I have won this challenge, the Pembantah has to pay me compensation for my hardship. The judge has decided compenation of RM100. So I approached my Pembantah and asked for it.

"The best part - how I got my RM100"
Abd Halim told me he has no money. He said his boss will pay me later. I objected and threatened to sue him. He panicked and repeated that his boss didn't give him money.
So I pressed on and asked for the boss's name. And he told me. It's UMNO!!! According to Abd Halim, his big boss is UMNO branch secretary Noridah binti Mohd Amir. He showed me his SPR filing documentation to confirm it. But he doesn't have her contact number, so he gave me his supervisor's mobile number instead. Her name is Rohani Kassim. I called and spoke to her and she simply said she'll pay up.

At this stage, many others in the SPR Office took notice and made similar appeal.

Suddenly I notice a Malay man in dark sunglasses standing outside the SPR office signaling to all the Pembantahs and they all left at once. Thereafter all the hearings were "walkover wins" (no Pembantah).

Shortly, a young man (Hairul Shahrizal Hamdan) showed up in the SPR Office and just started paying all of us, on the Pembantahs' behalf, without any fuss. I asked him why he was paying for all the Pembantah? But he just kept quiet.

Anyway, that is how I got my RM100.


What would happen to the accused if they hadn't shown up?
How would the elderly show up?
How many votes would have been denied this way?


          Club Charity 2017/18   

We are pleased to announce that the Charity of the Year for 2017-18 is.....

Diabetes UK

We look forward to raising a significant sum for the chosen charity this year!

Full list of voting results below.


          VOTE For the S2KUK Charity of the Year 2017/18   

It's time to vote for the S2KUK Charity of the year.  We have collected all nominations and now it is your chance to vote.  

Please take some time and read about each charity using the link provided if you are not familiar with any of the charities (especially the less well known ones).

You have ONE VOTE so choose carefully!  Voting link is below the table.

The Nominations (in order they were received) are:


Diabetes UK


The UK Sepsis Trust



Wales Air Ambulance

Miscarriage Association

Medical Detection Dogs

Chron's & Colitis UK

Please Click Here to Vote!

          S2KUK 2017 Calendar Competition   

NOW we are well into meet and event season it's surely time for the cameras to be out!  We will be producing another S2KUK Calendar this year, so get your pictures or cameras out, submit your photo entries via email!  Please READ and FOLLOW the rules and instructions - ESPECIALLY the first ones in red!  (You would not beleive how many people do not send a suitably sized file or haven't named it properly!! PLEASE HELP US! Laughing)


We all want to see great shots of the S2000, so we have high standards for submissions.

  • Photos need to meet a minimum resolution for print purposes. That minimum is "high resolution" - at least 150 dpi, in tif, png, jpg formats. As a guide, photos should generally be AT LEAST 4-5 MB in size or more.
  • You CAN obscure license plates if you wish.
  • Photos need to be cropped "loose" this is to avoid having some great submissions that we can’t use because the image was already cropped too tight to the S2000.  Try and leave some space around the S2000 so the image can be cropped to fit the calendar. 
  • No watermarks allowed.
  • NO Nudity - images must be work and family safe.
  • ONE ENTRY ONLY per person (so choose wisely) You may if you wish supercede your entry as many times as you want.
  • The photo could have been taken BY YOU any time.

How to make a submission

  • When you have a photo to submit, rename it with the following format:  "Real_Name.jpg" (YOUR NAME not actually Real_Name.jpg!)
  • Email them to:
  • Photos have to be emailed for entry. This is your tacit consent that they can be used in the calendar, and on the S2KUK website.
  • Submissions not following the criteria above will be rejected without notice so please follow the instructions! 

Submission deadline 7TH OCTOBER 2017 at 23:59 Submissions will then be put on the S2KUK website for voting.

Submissions MUST be EMAILED and THE MIN SIZE and NAMED PROPERLY.   If they are not emailed, they are not entered.


  • Photos shouldn't just be "driveway" shots, no hose and bucket in the background. You need to be creative, artistic, and unique! At least find a scenic spot to take the pic!
  • Lots of people take the ubiquitous 1/4 front or 1/4 rear view, and we can only have so many similar poses in a calendar, so taking the time to do something different and interesting will count toward the submissions.
  • The calendar is not for profit, and stresses the love we have for our cars. 


By entering this calendar competition you are giving licence to S2KUK (UK S2000 Owners Club) to use your image for publication in the calendar and on the S2KUK website.  

IF YOU DO NOT OWN COPYRIGHT of the image - that is if YOU did not take the photograph it will not qualify for the competition. 

DO NOT ENTER WITH A PHOTO YOU DID NOT TAKE, as it can have serious consequences if it is published. 

By entering a photo to the competition you are agreeing to indemnify UK S2000 Owners Club against any action regarding copyright should you have entered a photo of which you do not own copyright.

          2017 Calendar Competition - RESULTS!   

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos and who voted for the calendar pictures.  The voting has finished and the results are in!

Well done to all the winners!

We will have representative images of the calendar soon, but if anyone wants to PRE-ORDER their copies, you can now do so here (along with other merchandise):

The winning 12 entries for the calendar are below....

Colin Webster

John McCullough

Jan Broek


Click below for the rest!

Matt Williams

Andy Williams

Sue Butler

Stephen Brearley

Feremc Elekes

Keith Wall

Rob MacDonald

AJ Irving

Eric Barnaby


          VOTE NOW: S2KUK 2017 Calendar   

Voting is now open for the 2017 S2KUK Calendar!

It is highly recommended that you click on the thumbnails to see the larger versions first.  Most images are done no justice by the thumbnails.  

Vote on your favourite 3 images.

You can only vote once.  This will be monitored and anyone found to be attempting to vote multiple times will be disqualified and votes removed.

To see the entries and vote click here

Voting will close on Saturday 22nd October at 12.00pm MIDDAY

          2017 S2KUK Calendar Competition - ENTER NOW!!!   

We will be producing another S2KUK Calendar this year, so get your pictures or cameras out, submit your photo entries via email!  Please READ amd FOLLOW the rules and instructions - ESPECIALLY the first one!


We all want to see great shots of the S2000, so we have high standards for submissions.

  • Photos need to meet a minimum resolution for print purposes. That minimum is "high resolution" - at least 150 dpi, in tif, png, jpg formats. As a guide, photos should generally be AT LEAST 4-5 MB in size or more.
  • You CAN obscure license plates if you wish.
  • Photos need to be cropped "loose" this is to avoid having some great submissions that we can’t use because the image was already cropped too tight to the S2000.
  • Try and leave some space around the S2000 so the image can be cropped to fit the calendar. 
  • No watermarks allowed.
  • NO NUDITY - images must be work and family safe.
  • ONE ENTRY ONLY per person (so choose wisely) You may if you wish supercede your entry as many times as you want.
  • The photo could have been taken BY YOU any time.

How to make a submission

  • When you have a photo to submit, rename it with the following format:  "Real_Name.jpg" (YOUR NAME not actually Real_Name.jpg!)
  • Email them to:
  • Photos have to be emailed for entry. This is your tacit consent that they can be used in the calendar, and on the S2KUK website.
  • Submissions not following the criteria above will be rejected without notice so please follow the instructions! 

Submission deadline 30TH SEPTEMBER 2016 at 23:59 SO GET ENTERING! Submissions will then be put on the S2KUK website for voting.

Remember, submissions need to be EMAILED.   If they are not emailed, they are not entered.


  • Photos shouldn't just be "driveway" shots, no hose and bucket in the background. You need to be creative, artistic, and unique! At least find a scenic spot to take the pic!
  • Lots of people take the ubiquitous 1/4 front or 1/4 rear view, and we can only have so many similar poses in a calendar, so taking the time to do something different and interesting will count toward the submissions.
  • The calendar is not for profit, and stresses the love we have for our cars. 


By entering this calendar competition you are giving licence to S2KUK (UK S2000 Owners Club) to use your image for publication in the calendar and on the S2KUK website.  

IF YOU DO NOT OWN COPYRIGHT of the image - that is if YOU did not take the photograph it will not qualify for the competition. 

DO NOT ENTER WITH A PHOTO YOU DID NOT TAKE, as it can have serious consequences if it is published. 

By entering a photo to the competition you are agreeing to indemnify UK S2000 Owners Club against any action regarding copyright should you have entered a photo of which you do not own copyright.

          S2KUK Charity of the Year 2016/17   

We are pleased to announce that the Charity of the Year for 2016-17 is.....

British Heart Foundation.

This charity got the same amount of votes as Alzheimer's Society, so the Club Committee has decided to award it to BHF as Alzheimer's was Charity of the year for the previous year.

We look forward to raising a significant sum for the chosen charity this year!

Full list of voting results below.

          VOTE: For the S2KUK Charity of the Year 2016/17   

It's time to vote for the S2KUK Charity of the year.  We have collected all nominations and now it is your chance to vote.  

Please take some time and read about each charity using the link provided if you are not familiar with any of the charities (especially the less well known ones).

You have ONE VOTE so choose carefully!  Voting link is below the table.

The Nominations (in order they were received) are:


Diabetes UK



Medical Detection Dogs

Camphill Family




Alzheimer's Society


Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Bloodwise) 


Motor Neurone Disease Association


British Heart Foundation


Please Click Here to Vote!

          2016 Calendar Competition - RESULTS!   

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos and who voted for the calendar pictures.  The voting has finished and the results are in!

Well done to all the winners!

We will have representative images of the calendar soon, but if anyone wants to PRE-ORDER their copies, you can now do so here (along with other merchandise):

The winning 12 entries for the calendar are below....

Andy Williams

Ryan McMurray

Kim Pham 

Stephen Brearley

John Fletcher

Mark Fiksen

John McCullough

Matt Williams

Alan Herbert

Sean Phillips

Spencer Cook

Laurence Mundy


          VOTE NOW: 2016 S2KUK Calendar   

Voting is now open for the 2016 S2KUK Calendar!

It is highly recommended that you click on the thumbnails to see the larger versions first.  Most images are done no justice by the thumbnails.  

Vote on your favourite 3 images.

You can only vote once.  This will be monitored and anyone found to be attempting to vote multiple times will be disqualified and votes removed.

To see the entries and vote click here

Voting will close on Saturday 24th October at 12.00pm MIDDAY

          2016 S2KUK Calendar Competition - ENTER NOW!!!   

We will be producing another S2KUK Calendar this year, so now it is time to start getting your pictures or cameras out, and to submit your photo entries via email!  Please READ amd FOLLOW the rules and instructions - ESPECIALLY the first one!


We all want to see great shots of the S2000, so we have high standards for submissions.

  • Photos need to meet a minimum resolution for print purposes. That minimum is "high resolution" - at least 150 dpi, in tif, png, jpg formats. As a guide, photos should generally be 3-4 MB in size or more
  • You CAN obscure license plates if you wish.
  • Photos need to be cropped "loose" this is to avoid having some great submissions that we can’t use because the image was already cropped too tight to the S2000.
  • Try and leave some space around the S2000 so the image can be cropped to fit the calendar. 
  • No watermarks allowed.
  • NO NUDITY - images must be work and family safe.
  • If there is enough demand for hot ladies (or men!) posing we may do a short run of an alternative calendar.
  • ONE ENTRY ONLY per person (so choose wisely) You may if you wish supercede your entry as many times as you want.
  • The photo could have been taken BY YOU any time.


  • Photos can't just be "driveway" shots, no hose and bucket in the background. You need to be creative, artistic, and unique! At least find a scenic spot to take the pic!
  • Lots of people take the ubiquitous 1/4 front or 1/4 rear view, and we can only have so many similar poses in a calendar, so taking the time to do something different and interesting will count toward the submissions
  • The calendar is not for profit, and stresses the love we have for our cars. 

How to make a submission

  • When you have a photo to submit, rename it with the following format:  "Real_Name.jpg" (YOUR NAME not actually Real_Name.jpg!)
  • Email them to:
  • Photos have to be emailed for entry. This is your tacit consent that they can be used in the calendar, and on the S2KUK website.
  • Submissions not following the criteria above will be rejected without notice so please follow the instructions! 

Submission deadline will be 30TH SEPTEMBER 2015 at 23:59 SO YOU DON'T HAVE LONG!

Submissions will then be put on the S2KUK website for voting.

Remember, submissions need to be EMAILED.  

If they are not emailed, they are not entered.


By entering this calendar competition you are giving licence to S2KUK (UK S2000 Owners Club) to use your image for publication in the calendar and on the S2KUK website.  

IF YOU DO NOT OWN COPYRIGHT of the image - that is if YOU did not take the photograph it will not qualify for the competition. 

DO NOT ENTER WITH A PHOTO YOU DID NOT TAKE, as it can have serious consequences if it is published. 

By entering a photo to the competition you are agreeing to indemnify UK S2000 Owners Club against any action regarding copyright should you have entered a photo of which you do not own copyright.

          Ohio Says It Won't Provide Confidential Voter Information Requested by Trump Commission   

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced this afternoon in a statement that he will not be providing the full voter information requested by Donald Trump's Election Integrity Commission.

The request, which has been denied by at least 10 other states including North Carolina, California, Virginia, Indiana (whose SOS is on the freaking commission which is co-chaired by Mike Pence) and others, is a scary one. It sought the full name, last four digits of the social security number, party affiliation, driver's license number, address and recent voting history of registered Ohioans.…
          Vote for S2KUK Charity of the Year 2015-16   

It's time to vote for the S2KUK Charity of the year.  We have collected all nominations and now it is your chance to vote.  

Please take some time and read about each charity using the link provided if you are not familiar with any of the charities (especially the less well known ones).

You can choose up to 3 of your favourite charities in the vote (you can vote for just one, two or three).  Voting link is below the table.

The Nominations (in order they were received) are:


Diabetes UK



Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) Action


Multiple Sclerosis Society


Stroke Association


Alzheimers Society



Help for Heroes



Cardiac Risk in the Young


ME Research UK




Cancer Research UK



British Heart Foundation



Rainbows Hospice



Starlight Children's Foundation


Please Click Here to Vote!

          S2KUK 2015 Calendar Competition - RESULTS!   

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos and who voted.  The voting has finished and the results are in!

Well done to all the winners! Ordering information will be available soon!

The winning 12 entries for the calendar are....

Jan Broekhuizen - 69 Votes

Charlie Hoffer - 55 Votes

Ian Eygelsheim - 52 Votes

Rob Macdonald - 52 Votes

Warren Bell - 43 Votes

Andy Williams - 42 Votes

Sam Snoddy - 34 Votes

Laurence Mundy - 33 Votes

Matt Williams - 32 Votes

Thomas Stocker - 28 Votes

David Ecclestone - 26 Votes

Keith Wall - 25 Votes


          2015 S2KUK Calendar Competition - ENTER NOW!   

We will be producing another S2KUK Calendar this year, so now it is time to start getting your pictures or cameras out, and to submit your photo entries!  Please see below for rules and instructions - ESPECIALLY the first one!


We all want to see great shots of the S2000, so we have high standards for submissions.

  • Photos need to meet a minimum resolution for print purposes. That minimum is "high resolution" - at least 150 dpi, in tif, png, jpg formats. As a guide, photos should generally be 3-4 MB or more
  • You CAN obscure license plates if you wish
  • Photos need to be cropped "loose" this is to avoid having some great submissions that we can’t use because the image was already cropped too tight to the S2000.
  • Try and leave some space around the S2000 so the image can be cropped to fit the calendar. 
  • No watermarks allowed.
  • NO NUDITY - images must be work and family safe.
  • If there is enough demand for hot ladies (or men!) posing we may do a short run of an alternative calendar.
  • ONE ENTRY ONLY per person (so choose wisely) You may if you wish supercede your entry as many times as you want


  • Photos can't just be "driveway" shots, no hose and bucket in the background. You need to be creative, artistic, and unique! At least find a scenic spot to take the pic!
  • Lots of people take the ubiquitous 1/4 front or 1/4 rear view, and we can only have so many similar poses in a calendar, so taking the time to do something different and interesting will count toward the submissions
  • The calendar is not for profit, and stresses the love we have for our cars. 

How to make a submission

  • When you have a photo to submit, rename it with the following format:  "Real_Name.jpg" (YOUR NAME not actually Real_Name.jpg!)
  • Email them to:
  • Photos have to be emailed for entry. This is your tacit consent that they can be used in the calendar, and on the S2KUK website.
  • Submissions not following the criteria above will be rejected without notice so please follow the instructions! 

Submission deadline will be October 5th 2014 at 23:59

Submissions will then be put on the S2KUK website for voting.

Remember, submissions need to be EMAILED.  

If they are not emailed, they are not entered.


By entering this calendar competition you are giving licence to S2KUK (UK S2000 Owners Club) to use your image for publication in the calendar and on the S2KUK website.  

IF YOU DO NOT OWN COPYRIGHT of the image - that is if YOU did not take the photograph it will not qualify for the competition. 

DO NOT ENTER WITH A PHOTO YOU DID NOT TAKE, as it can have serious consequences if it is published. 

By entering a photo to the competition you are agreeing to indemnify UK S2000 Owners Club against any action regarding copyright should you have entered a photo of which you do not own copyright.

          Vote for S2KUK Charity of the Year 2014-15   

It's time to vote for the S2KUK Charity of the year.  We have collected all nominations and now it is your chance to vote.  

Please take some time and read about each charity using the link provided if you are not familiar with any of the smaller charities.

You can choose up to 3 of your favourite charities in the vote.  Voting link is below the table.

The Nominations (in alphabetical order) are:

Autism Hampshire

Brain Tumour Charity (Adi's Mission Fund)

Cancer Research UK

Dogs Trust

Horseback UK

Hounds for Heroes


Medical Detection Dogs


Pod Charitable Trust

Rainbows Hospice


Please Click Here to Vote!

          Trump's voter fraud commission wants voting history, party ID, and address of every voter in America   
In the letter, a copy of which was made public by the Connecticut Secretary of State, Kris Kobach said that "any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public."
JEWISH KING JESUS IS COMING AT THE RAPTURE FOR US IN THE CLOUDS-DON'T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD.THE BIBLE TAKEN LITERALLY- WHEN THE PLAIN SENSE MAKES GOOD SENSE-SEEK NO OTHER SENSE-LEST YOU END UP IN NONSENSE.GET SAVED NOW- CALL ON JESUS TODAY.THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE EARTH - NO OTHER. 1 COR 15:23-JESUS THE FIRST FRUITS-CHRISTIANS RAPTURED TO JESUS-FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT-23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.ROMANS 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.(THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE)

Dreams of a gender-neutral O Canada are over — for now-[CBC]-YAHOONEWS-June 28, 2017

Canadians will not be singing a gender-neutral national anthem on Canada Day after a bill before Parliament to officially change the lyrics has stalled.The House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a private member's bill last summer that would alter the national anthem by replacing "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command" as part of a push to strike gendered language from O Canada.Although the bill sailed through the House with government approval, Conservative senators opposed to the changes have scored a victory in the Red Chamber. A yearlong campaign successfully punted a vote on the bill until the fall, at the earliest, and even then the legislation faces an uncertain future."I'm trying to protect the tradition rather than, you know, water it down with a politically correct version that is historically inaccurate," Conservative Senator David Wells said in an interview with CBC News on Tuesday."I don't misrepresent why I'm [using parliamentary stall tactics] … I don't like this bill, and I will do what I can to ensure it doesn't pass."Wells and a number of other senators have said they oppose efforts to tinker with the lyrics written by a man long dead.(The lyrics have been changed since they were first penned by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908, but not since O Canada officially became the country's national anthem in 1980.) The late Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger introduced the bill, and many MPs backed the legislation as a salute to a colleague on his death bed."The bill was passed in the House compassionately and out of sadness for a dying colleague. While that is touching, it is not the way we make public policy in this country and it is not the way we do our legislation," Ontario Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak said.A flurry of amendments were introduced to the bill in the last few weeks of the parliamentary sitting — all failed to pass in the face of opposition from most Liberal and Independent senators — which dragged out debate considerably. Parliament rose for summer break before a final vote at third reading could be held.Ramona Lumpkin, the chancellor of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, and a strong proponent of the bill, said she was deeply disappointed by the developments."We're so close and I really regret that there are a few senators who seem to have dug in and decided to delay. I hope it's not a permanent block," said Lumpkin, in an interview with CBC News."It's not as if the words were brought down from Mount Sinai on stone tablets like the Ten Commandments, they are words created by humans and subject to change as our social and cultural conditions change, and thank goodness they do," she said.Wells said national symbols cannot be altered to simply adhere to the "flavour of the day." He said Canadians were not consulted by the government and that there hasn't been an adequate conversation about a fairly significant change."I'll be working my hardest to delay this bill until there's a full debate," he said. "I get a lot of emails, and many comments to me personally, from people who don't want to see the anthem change, who see it as a part of our tradition and who see this attempt to change it as political correctness run amok. It is a slippery slope. Calls for inclusion will always be there, but my belief is all Canadians are already included in the national anthem."He said pictures adorning the walls of the Senate depict men in combat during the First World War. "Would we now airbrush females into those pictures to accurately reflect what it might be today with those pieces of Canadians' history? My answer is no, that would be an abomination, and I think that's what it is with the anthem as well."If the bill is amended in the Senate it would be sent back to the House for another vote. As per parliamentary rules, because Bélanger is dead, MPs will have to unanimously agree to replace him as sponsor or the bill drops from the order paper; that is unlikely given entrenched opposition from some corners of the chamber."That worries me," Lumpkin said. "I know language matters and I talk to students and young women regularly who still feel their voice doesn't carry as strong as the voice of their male friends. I think the gesture, even though it's symbolic, would say a lot to those young women."The Liberal government could also choose to introduce legislation of its own — with the same wording — to avoid some of the problems that often befall private member's bills; namely, the government could invoke time allocation to prevent procedural time delays.

DANIEL 7:23-24
23 Thus he said, The fourth beast (EU,REVIVED ROME) shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth,(7TH WORLD EMPIRE) which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.(TRADING BLOCKS-10 WORLD REGIONS/TRADE BLOCS)
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings(10 NATIONS-10 WORLD DIVISION WORLD GOVERNMENT) that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.(EITHER THE EUROPEAN UNION DICTATOR BOOTS 3 COUNTRIES FROM THE EU OR THE DICTATOR TAKES OVER THE WORLD ECONOMY BY CONTROLLING 3 WORLD TRADE BLOCS)

9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.(THE VATICAN IS BUILT ON 7 HILLS OR MOUNTAINS)
11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

Heres the scripture 1 week = 7 yrs Genesis 29:27-29
27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week:(7 YEARS) and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

DANIEL 9:26-27
26 And after threescore and two weeks(62X7=434 YEARS+7X7=49 YEARS=TOTAL OF 69 WEEKS OR 483 YRS) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;(ROMAN LEADERS DESTROYED THE 2ND TEMPLE) and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.(THERE HAS TO BE 70 WEEKS OR 490 YRS TO FUFILL THE VISION AND PROPHECY OF DAN 9:24).(THE NEXT VERSE IS THAT 7 YR WEEK OR (70TH FINAL WEEK).
27 And he ( THE ROMAN,EU PRESIDENT) shall confirm the covenant (PEACE TREATY) with many for one week:(1X7=7 YEARS) and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,(3 1/2 yrs in TEMPLE ANIMAL SACRIFICES STOPPED) and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Opinion-G20 is 'test run' for Trump-era climate governance By Simon Schunz-euobserver

BRUSSELS, 27. Jun, 09:06-Weeks after US president Donald Trump announced the US' withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the debate is still raging on in regard to the possible implications of his decision.Some fear a global domino effect, with more countries renouncing climate protection pledges and ceasing domestic emission reduction efforts.Others argue that the Paris accord's architecture is sufficiently resilient, and that efforts to keep global temperature increases to "well below 2°C" – as stipulated by the agreement – will endure.Activities at the sub-national level in the US also seem to support the argument that the agreement will prevail and domestic opponents of Trump’s decision have mobilised remarkably quickly.Cities and states with progressive climate policies joined forces across the US, committing themselves to honouring the Paris agreement.For instance, support came via the bipartisan "US Climate Alliance" of states – including heavyweights such as California and New York – and the "We Are Still In" initiative, which involves hundreds of businesses, investors, and institutes of higher education.Moreover, these sub-national players are linking up with leading nations to create innovative climate diplomacy networks: California and China have held talks to collaborate on emission reduction efforts, while several US states have intensified climate cooperation with Canada.Though these developments enhance the Paris agreement’s chances of survival, they will not be enough.Fight for survival-The resilience of the agreement hinges on how other major emitters will react to Trump’s break.To pursue effective global climate governance, these countries must repeat the steps taken in the run-up to the 2015 Paris climate meeting, where a strategy of "multiple bilateralism" between US-China, China-India and China-EU (among others) served to build trust and resolve crunch issues.The emerging consensus among key emitters was translated into cooperation in the world’s club governance fora (G7, G20) and fed into the multilateral negotiations, leading to the Paris agreement’s ultimate entry into force.True to this spirit, six members (plus the EU) were already pressuring the US to remain committed to the Paris agreement at the recent G7 summit in Sicily. Not that it seemed to do much good, as Trump withdrew from the climate pact a few days later.The next litmus test for effective global climate governance comes in July, when leaders from countries accounting for 80% of global emissions meet for the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on 7-8 July.With the US thrusting itself into isolation, the German G20 presidency will seek to gather the broadest possible support for the Paris agreement.But a question remains: is a G20 entente possible? It might be, if others show the way.Climate leaders-From the G7, the EU and Canada display the clearest leadership ambitions.EU heavyweights have signalled their "strongest commitment" to uphold their pledges to combat climate change.In his reaction to Trump’s Paris exit, Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, confirmed his country's "unwavering commitment to fight climate change".The Canadian government has also vehemently denied recent reports that Trudeau wished to scrap references to climate from the draft G20 declaration, in order to appease the US government.But leaders need followers. And whether followers can be mobilised depends on how G20 members define their interests – economically and politically.Economically, many G20 countries appear to believe the energy transition – accelerated by the Paris Agreement – must continue.Investing in low-carbon development is no longer seen as a burden on growth prospects. If anything, there is a growing consensus that Trump’s decision will put the US at risk of lagging behind technologically.Politically, the relationship between G20 countries and the US (particularly the Trump administration) is tricky.Are countries like Australia, Japan, Turkey and the UK willing to risk relations with the president of a key ally by adopting a confrontational attitude over climate change? The answer depends heavily on whether the German G20 presidency can dispel their concerns by convincingly demonstrating that the world is changing – because it is.-Changing world-At an EU-China summit the day after Trump’s announcement, a draft joint declaration on climate change characterised the Paris Agreement as “an historic achievement further accelerating the irreversible global low greenhouse gas emission and climate resilient development” and outlined numerous joint actions.Although it was ultimately withheld due to trade-related differences, this declaration contains the blueprint for a shifting centre of gravity in global climate governance to Eurasia.If supported by India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has reiterated support for the Paris Agreement, a solid pro-climate coalition including three of the world’s top four emitters would emerge.Cooperation with Canada, and with the sub-national forces in the US, could then provide additional momentum to convince other G20 members.As a major guiding forum, the G20 represents a test run for the future of global climate governance during the Trump era.The direction this governance will take, depends heavily on the strength of emerging partnerships, and their ability to convince others to join them regardless of US policies.If the will is robust enough, this "multiple bilateralism" could bring about the dawn of a new era, and the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.If it fails, however, global climate politics faces a complicated, daunting future.Dr Simon Schunz is a Research Fellow at the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS), and a professor of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Leuven.

Opinion-EU parliament should befriend transparency By Sylvie GUILLAUME and Danuta HUEBNER-euobserver

BRUSSELS, 27. Jun, 17:24-A few days ago, an NGO representative expressed her concerns about the way the European Parliament was dealing with the European Commission’s proposal for a revised inter-institutional agreement on a “mandatory transparency register”.The proposal was submitted by the EU commission on 28 September 2016 and aimed at including the Council of the EU, where representatives of member states sit, as a new partner within the framework.Following the commission's proposal, the EU parliament’s Conference of Presidents entrusted us, as the responsible lead negotiators - supported by a contact group composed of one MEP from each political group - with developing a draft negotiating mandate.We organised five contact group meetings, where detailed discussions provided the opportunity for all political groups to give their input and ideas. It led to the endorsement of a balanced text on 11 April this year.We enriched our deliberations by means of a half-day meeting between the contact group and the involved NGO representatives - including Nina Katzemich from the website LobbyControl, and others from organisations such as Transparency International, Civil Society Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory.We listened carefully to their concerns, many of which we had already incorporated into our work, such as the necessity to enlarge the definition of lobbying and to include an independent observer in the management structure of the transparency register.We also discussed how we to pursue the negotiations with the EU commission and the council in order to get those concerns taken on board.Instead of the expected swift adoption of the mandate, which would signal the parliament’s readiness to enter into negotiations, we were deeply troubled to find that the item had been taken off the agenda of the Conference of Presidents on successive occasions.-Horse-trading-It appeared that some MEPs used procedural manoeuvres and political horse-trading to achieve repeated postponements of the adoption of the mandate, even though a large majority in parliament supported its content.It seems that it is sometimes those who believe themselves to be on the path of righteousness, who are most willing to misuse our system of procedures to score cheap political points.We found it disturbing that some wilfully ignored parliament’s power to determine its own internal organisation.It has also saddened us to see that some of those who claim to be at the forefront of stemming the tide of populism, do not seem to mind riding on that very same tide when it serves their own political ends.However, we were glad to see that the Conference of Presidents finally adopted the mandate two weeks ago on 15 June, in the very same form that had been proposed by the contact group.Following its adoption, the mandate was immediately published on the EU parliament’s website.Regarding the free and independent mandate of MEPs - enshrined in EU primary law - it is noteworthy that the independence of elected representatives is a cornerstone of a representative democracy and a principle this is not easily dismissed.Therefore, any limitation on MEPs in the exercise of their free mandate must be proportionate and cannot, for example, unduly restrict his or her right to seek information.Moreover, a principle enshrined in primary law cannot be altered by secondary law, let alone by an inter-institutional agreement.The mandate adopted on 15 June is based on a long line of parliament’s decisions regarding its relations with interest representatives.It reflects the position of a broad majority of MEPs and it constitutes a solid base for negotiations on a significant improvement to the current transparency register and a widening of its scope.-Negotiating framework-The mandate should be understood as a framework for the negotiations.Parliament’s position will continue to be adapted as the negotiations progress. Once the negotiations are concluded, parliament will adopt follow-up decisions with respect to its internal organisation, in order to implement the new inter‑institutional agreement.But the European Parliament still remains committed to pushing for a transparency regulation that would go beyond an inter-institutional agreement and lay down the relevant provisions on transparency and the register in secondary law.One should not forget the progress that parliament has achieved so far in this field. It initiated the Transparency Register as early as 1996, as well as a Code of Conduct with a commitment for registered lobbyists to act in accordance with high ethical standards.Parliament is, and remains, the most open EU institution, which can be seen with the web-streaming of its meetings and the ability for citizens to visit all of its buildings.Furthermore, parliament decided that registration on the transparency register was to be made a requirement to be invited as a speaker at committee hearings and to receive a long-term access badge for its premises.It also put in place a voluntary legislative footprint last year, and it encourages its MEPs to meet only with registered organisations.Katzemich considers the EU commission to have made a big step in 2015 by publishing meetings of commissioners, heads of cabinets and directors‑general.Certainly, this is true. However, this measure was decided by the commission with a view to its own internal organisation and cannot be easily translated to other institutions such as EU parliament or the council, both of which have a different set-up.Furthermore, the commission’s system is not without its flaws and has room for improvement, as Transparency International and other organisations regularly report.As the EU parliament's lead negotiators, we are particularly committed to getting the council on board and to adding significant value compared to the current framework.Three principles-A new register should encompass the following three principles.First, the widest possible scope of application for EU institutions and other bodies, including meaningful participation of the council.Next, a comprehensive and clear framework, without weakening the current system, for the regulation of interest representation activities.Finally, structures and resources that guarantee effective implementation.One of the main issues is that the new inter-institutional agreement provides a framework for coordination among the EU institutions, while at the same time fully respecting their different competences and prerogatives.-The mandate-The approach we have developed in our mandate would allow for:- The full respect of MEPs' independent mandate.- An inclusive transparency policy for all types of interest representative, as with the current register that features over 11200 registered interest groups from all over the world.- The possibility to maintain the wider definition of lobbying, covering both direct and indirect interest representation (as with the current system).- The full respect for each institutions’ needs, e.g. in the case of parliament as an open house but also with the need to know, for security reasons, who is coming in and why.- More flexibility in respect to the EU institutions’ roles and structures (parliament cannot simply duplicate rules that were designed for the commission).- Better quality information on the database – making the register more reliable as a source of information for the institutions themselves and for the general public.The quality of the new system will depend on how far the council can be convinced to match the parliament’s and commission’s commitment to transparency.We would therefore advise to look at the whole picture and analyse the situation comprehensively, especially with a view to scrutinising the council’s approach.It takes time to change long-standing practices, but we are fully committed to forge ahead, knowing that a pragmatic and constructive approach will yield the best results.Transparency certainly is one important aspect of ensuring citizens’ trust in the EU institutions. But it is not the only one. Keeping true to the facts is another.Sylvie Guillaume is a vice-president of the European Parliament, and Danuta Huebner is the chair of the constitutional affairs committee-Correction: The article's footnote originally said that Danuta Huebner is the chair of the foreign affairs committee, when in fact, she is the chair of the constitutional affairs committee

EU Commission could get say on Russia gas pipeline By Andrew Rettman-euobserver

BRUSSELS, 27. Jun, 09:29-EU states have given initial backing for the European Commission to negotiate the legal model of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia.Pablo Micallef, a spokesman for the Maltese EU presidency, told EUobserver that “some 13” member states spoke out on the plan when EU energy ministers met for informal talks in Brussels on Monday.The incoming Estonian EU presidency is now expected to convene a working group to take things forward.The Danish energy minister, Lars Christian Lilleholt, who was among the 13 EU backers, said: “I’m very satisfied. It was the best thing that could have come out of the meeting”.The mandate will have to be formally approved later down the line in a “reinforced qualified majority” vote by member states, a higher than usual threshold of 72 percent of EU countries representing 65 percent of its population.Maros Sefcovic, the EU energy commissioner who drafted the proposal, told the Reuters news agency: “I’m definitely optimistic about getting the [formal] mandate, but I know this is just the beginning of the debate."Nord Stream 2 is to concentrate 70 percent of Russian gas supplies to Europe in one route to Germany under the Baltic Sea.But its critics, which include the Nordic states, the Baltic countries, Poland, and the US, say it would harm EU energy security and undermine Ukraine, a Western ally, by making Ukraine’s transit pipes obsolete.-EU laws-Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, the Commission’s energy spokeswoman, told EUobserver on Tuesday that the Commission wanted to talk to Russia on whether the offshore part of Nord Stream 2 should be covered by the EU’s so-called third energy package.That EU law would oblige Russian state firm Gazprom to open up its Nord Stream 2 monopoly to EU competitors - a demand which led Russia to stop a previous project, the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea to Bulgaria.But Itkonen said the talks would “not [be] about a [Commission] veto, it is not about the future of the pipeline, not about the Commission approving it or not”.She said the Commission-Russia talks would be designed to give “legal certainty” on Nord Stream 2 and that they would be “nothing spectacular or extraordinary” because EU officials had held similar discussions with “third countries” on other projects.The Nord Stream 2 regulatory framework is currently being negotiated between Germany and Russia.German, Austrian, French, and Anglo-Dutch firms - Uniper, Wintershall, OMV, Engie, and Shell - are to take part in the project, with Germany and Austria keen to press ahead.Neither the German nor the Austrian minister spoke out on Monday, EU sources told Reuters, but Germany and Austria recently attacked the US over its threat to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 investors.“We decide who supplies us with energy and how they do it”, the German and Austrian foreign ministers said in a joint statement on 15 June.-Ukraine unhappy-Pavlo Klimkin, the Ukrainian foreign minister, told Reuters in Paris on Monday that Nord Stream 2 "would have disastrous consequences for the energy security of the European Union and would make the EU dependent on one source.""Maybe some companies will benefit for the time being, but in the long-run it will lead nowhere”, he said.He added that there was no progress on Russia ending hostilities in east Ukraine."How can you trust Russia in setting up a unique source of gas supply?”, he said, referring to broader EU and US concerns over Russia’s aggressive behaviour toward neighbouring states.

Focus-Nordics consider alternative to EU emissions trading system By Lisbeth Kirk-june 28,17-euobserver

Copenhagen, Today, 07:44-If the European emissions trading system is not reformed to work efficiently, a Nordic carbon price floor could be introduced to secure future green investments in the region, according to a new strategic review of energy co-operation by the Nordic Council.The plan, which has been in preparation for over a year, is penned by Finnish businessman Jorma Ollila, who had formerly chaired Royal Dutch Shell for almost ten years and was the chairman and CEO of Nokia.It comes at a crucial time, just as the final talks on reforming the EU's carbon trading scheme are due to take place in Brussels.On Tuesday (27 June), representatives of the EU member states, the European Parliament and the European Commission met for one of the final meetings on how the EU’s flagship climate instrument – the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) – should look in the 2021-2030 period.But before the real talks have even started, hopes of reforming the EU system to work efficiently are fading.”I think everyone realises that this is not enough. The [EU] proposal will not deliver a carbon price that we need to decarbonise the industry sectors,” said Femke de Jong, EU policy director for Carbon Market Watch.Her organisation brings together more than 800 NGOs and academics from 70 different countries, working to make the carbon market “an effective climate mitigation tool.””I think it is only logical to have a debate on how we can complement the system. A carbon floor price – at least at the regional level – seems a realistic option,” de Jong said.-Nordic energy union-Norway and Sweden are strong on hydropower, Norway produces oil and gas, Denmark has wind, while Finland and Sweden have built nuclear plants and are pushing for more bio-fuels as a future energy resource.Some 20 years ago, these countries decided to connect their national electricity grids with water reservoirs, allowing hydropower to serve as a kind of Nordic battery to compensate for periods without wind, for example.”There were significant benefits, welfare benefits, lower electricity prices and easier management of the generation of electricity in tough times or during high peak demand in winter times,” Ollila pointed out.This Nordic solution, Ollila said, has been "managed historically very well". He added that since the EU is looking into different prospects for the energy union, there is an opportunity to learn from "what has been done in Nordic countries over the past 20 years."In addition to Nordic carbon trade, Ollila also suggested a Nordic export strategy for green energy solutions, alignment of research and using the whole Nordic area as a testbed.Nuuk in Greenland has been suggested to become a testbed for the full deployment of electric vehicles, and Reykjavik in Iceland may become a testing ground for infrastructure and systems that can support electrification of visiting cruise and fishing ships.The Faroe Islands may become the place for the development of battery technology and energy storage.-Green transition and growth-Put together, the Nordic region today is one of the 12 largest economies in the world and it is already living proof that the green transition is not incompatible with economic growth.However, the Nordics must become even greener to complete their transition into renewable energy, the Nordic Council report said."The energy transition is already underway – but if the Nordic countries do not participate to the fullest, the jobs will be created elsewhere," warned Jorma Ollila."The renewables will take off faster than what was thought only five years ago. So, the role of the renewables will grow quite significantly," he added."The focus should be on securing the most efficient green transition. If the ETS does not provide this, it may be relevant and timely to discuss a joint Nordic approach to support the schemes for renewable energy," Ollila's report concluded.”Another approach could be to discuss the introduction of a Nordic carbon price, based on the United Kingdom’s carbon price floor, in order to secure stronger incentives for the green transition,” it said.-UK leads the way-The prospect of a regionalised European carbon trading system in the future is not limited to the Nordic area. For instance, the UK already introduced a carbon price floor in 2013.”So far, the only country in Europe that has a carbon floor price is the UK. There it was very effective. They introduced a carbon floor price in 2013 and it has resulted in UK coal emissions falling by almost 60% last year," Femke de Jong said, adding: "So it is really significant."She goes on to say that: "It can be a very effective instrument to – at least in the intermediate time – to make sure that the carbon price reflects the damage cost of the pollution to the society.”Under the UK carbon floor price system, carbon emission prices rise automatically – currently at 18 pounds sterling (€20) from 2016 to 2020.Currently the carbon price in Europe stands at €5, but it should rise to €40 to meet the objectives of the Paris climate agreement and rise further to €100 in 2030.-Regional carbon trade-”Ideally, this should be solved at the EU level, but if this is not possible in the short-term, it makes sense to go for a regional solution,” de Jong said.”France has been pushing for it very much in the past and we think that now, with Macron [as president of France], he will also push for that," she added."Let's see," she said, "maybe after the German elections, there can also be a regional carbon price in Western Europe – with Germany, maybe Belgium, the Netherlands and France."Linking the Nordic carbon trade to the British system might be made complicated by the Brexit process, however.”I think it might be tricky for the Nordic countries to join the UK system,” said de Jong.”It is still an open question if the UK will withdraw from the ETS or not. Maybe it is also an idea to team up more with other countries that are contemplating this,” she suggested.

Luxembourg not a tax haven, claims PM By Nikolaj Nielsen-june 28,17-euobserver

Luxembourg, Today, 08:42-Luxembourg continues to refute any notion that it is a tax haven, despite widespread evidence of dubious schemes that it cuts global tax bills for big firms."We were never a tax haven," Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel, told EUobserver on Tuesday (27 June).Bettel's comments follow a grilling of Luxembourg's former prime minister and current European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. Juncker in late May told the European Parliament that he was unable to explain why the Grand Duchy "didn't want to remove tax secrecy."But Bettel, who was fielding a wide range of questions from reporters at an event hosted by the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, defended the country's tax policies by saying it was one of the first places to push transparency and the exchange of tax rulings with other member states."It is important for me that we have common rules and Luxembourg was one of the first one for transparency," he said.Luxembourg was rocked by scandal following media revelations in late 2014 that exposed how nearly 340 companies secured secret deals that shaved billions of euros from taxes, which were due to be paid elsewhere.The revelations ushered in a raft of new EU and national legislation to increase tax transparency and weed out abuse.The scandal also triggered a probe by the European Parliament, which slammed Luxembourg for allowing corporations to dodge "tax that could have been used to build schools, hospitals or pay down national debt."A report by the Brussels-based NGO, Eurodad, had also revealed last December that Luxembourg had in fact increased the number of so-called tax rulings in the wake of the 2014 media revelations by some 50 percent.The issue saw former PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) employee Antoine Deltour face prison time for leaking the secret rules to the media, posing larger questions on whistleblower protection laws.But Bettel maintained that his country was fully compliant with tax standards and had not committed a crime."There are over 20 countries in Europe doing [tax] rulings," he noted, echoing a similar refrain to his predecessor, Juncker.Luxembourg, under Juncker's decade-long leadership of the country, had also repeatedly blocked the rolling back of aggressive tax planning schemes throughout the EU, according to a cache of German cables leaked earlier this year.Bettel also opposes any pan-EU taxation system and refuses to impose any sort of tax on financial transactions.The financial transaction tax, also known as the FTT, aims to raise money for the public good by imposing a 0.1 percent tax on shares and bonds, and 0.01 percent on derivative products."I am fully against and I will block that," said Bettel. But he noted that other member states are free to move ahead on the file as part of a two-speed Europe.He also added that people in Luxembourg should not have to pay more tax only "because other countries were not responsible with public finances."

New cyberattack wallops Europe; spreads more slowly in US-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-June 27, 2017

PARIS — A new and highly virulent outbreak of data-scrambling software — apparently sown in Ukraine — caused disruption across the world Tuesday. Following a similar attack in May , the fresh cyber-assault paralyzed some hospitals, government offices and major multinational corporations in a dramatic demonstration of how easily malicious programs can bring daily life to a halt.Ukraine and Russia appeared hardest hit by the new strain of ransomware — malicious software that locks up computer files with all-but-unbreakable encryption and then demands a ransom for its release. In the United States, the malware affected companies such as the drugmaker Merck and Mondelez International, the owner of food brands such as Oreo and Nabisco.Its pace appeared to slow as the day wore on, in part because the malware appeared to require direct contact between computer networks, a factor that may have limited its spread in regions with fewer connections to Ukraine.The malware's origins remain unclear. Researchers picking the program apart found evidence its creators had borrowed from leaked National Security Agency code, raising the possibility that the digital havoc had spread using U.S. taxpayer-funded tools."The virus is spreading all over Europe and I'm afraid it can harm the whole world," said Victor Zhora, the chief executive of Infosafe IT in Kyiv , where reports of the malicious software first emerged early afternoon local time Tuesday.In Ukraine, victims included top-level government offices, where officials posted photos of darkened computer screens, as well as energy companies, banks, cash machines, gas stations, and supermarkets. Ukrainian Railways and the communications company Ukrtelecom were among major enterprises hit, Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said in a Facebook post .The virus hit the radiation-monitoring at Ukraine's shuttered Chornobyl power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear accident, forcing it into manual operation.Multinational companies, including the global law firm DLA Piper and Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk were also affected, although the firms didn't specify the extent of the damage.Ukraine bore the brunt with more than 60 per cent of the attacks, followed by Russia with more than 30 per cent , according to initial findings by researchers at the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab. It listed Poland, Italy and Germany, in that order, as the next-worst affected.In the U.S, two hospitals in western Pennsylvania were hit; patients reported on social media that some surgeries had to be rescheduled. A spokeswoman for Heritage Valley Health System would say only that operational changes had to be made. A Wellsville, Ohio, woman at one of its hospitals to have her gallbladder removed said she noticed computer monitors off and nurses scurrying around with stacks of paperwork.Security experts said Tuesday's global cyberattack shares something in common with last month's outbreak of ransomware, dubbed WannaCry . Both spread using digital lock picks originally created by the NSA and later published to the web by a still-mysterious group known as the Shadowbrokers.Security vendors including Bitdefender and Kaspersky said the NSA exploit, known as EternalBlue, lets malware spread rapidly across internal networks at companies and other large organizations. Microsoft issued a security fix in March, but Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer at the security firm Veracode, said it would only be effective if every single computer on a network were patched — otherwise, a single infected machine could infect all others."Once activated, the virus can automatically and freely distribute itself on your network," Ukraine's cyberpolice tweeted.Bogdan Botezatu, an analyst with Bitdefender, compared such self-spreading software to a contagious disease. "It's like somebody sneezing into a train full of people," he said.Ryan Kalember, a security expert at Proofpoint, said one reason the attacks appeared to be slowing down was that the ransomware appears to spread only when a direct contact exists between two networks — such as when a global company's Ukraine office interacts with headquarters.But once it hits a computer on a network, it spreads quickly, even among computers that have applied the fix for the NSA exploit."It's more harmful to the organization that it affects, but because it's not randomly spreading over the internet like WannaCry, it's somewhat contained to the organizations that were connected to each other," Kalember said.Botezatu said the new program appeared nearly identical to GoldenEye, a variant of a known family of hostage-taking programs known as "Petya." It demanded $300 in Bitcoin.Unlike typical ransomware, which merely scrambles personal data files, the program wreaking havoc Tuesday overwrites a computer's master boot record, making it tougher to restore even a machine that has been backed up, said Kalember.It may have first spread through a rogue update to a piece of Ukrainian accounting software called MEDoc, according to tweets by the country's cyberpolice unit. It said a rogue update seeded the infection across Ukraine. In a lengthy statement posted to Facebook, MEDoc acknowledged having been hacked.The motives of those behind the malware remain unknown. Ukraine has been a persistent target of pro-Russian hackers, who are blamed for twice shutting down large swaths of its power grid in the dead of winter and sabotaging its elections system in a bid to disrupt May 2014 national elections.Emails sent Tuesday to an address posted to the bottom of ransom demands went unreturned. That might be because the email provider hosting that address, Berlin-based Posteo, pulled the plug on the account before the infection became widely known.In an email, a Posteo representative said it had blocked the email address "immediately" after learning that it was associated with ransomware. The company added that it was in contact with German authorities "to make sure that we react properly."___Bajak reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Anick Jesdanun in New York, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Larry Rosenthal in Beaver, Pennsylvania and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.Raphael Satter And Frank Bajak, The Associated Press.

Trudeau appoints his first climate change ambassador with revamped mandate-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-June 27, 2017

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tapped a long-time Canadian diplomat to step into a revamped role of Canada's ambassador for climate change.Canada hasn't had such an ambassador since January 2015.Jennifer MacIntyre fills the role as of Tuesday, with a mandate to push Canada's international relationships on the climate change file, including promoting Canadian clean technology businesses abroad.She is the fifth person to hold the title of ambassador for climate change — but the first where the role is not the equivalent of Canada's chief negotiator for climate change treaties.As such she will not be on hand next week when Trudeau sits down with other G20 leaders in Germany where the Paris climate change agreement will be front and centre.Instead her role is to find ways for Canada to take advantage of any international opportunities for trade and investment that climate change policies bring.MacIntyre spent most of the last four years as the ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.The Canadian Press.

NATO chief: US allies to spend $12 billion more this year-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-June 28, 2017

BRUSSELS — NATO's chief says U.S. allies are projected to spend around $12 billion more on defence this year, after President Donald Trump berated them for failing to boost military budgets.NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that "we have really shifted gears. The (spending) trend is up and we intend to keep it up."Unveiling new figures, Stoltenberg said European allies and Canada have increased spending by almost $46 billion over the last three years.He said 25 of NATO's 29 allies aim to raise defence spending in 2017.Only the United States, Britain, Estonia, debt-burden Greece and Poland met NATO's spending targets last year. Romania says it will meet the 2 per cent of GDP guideline this year, while Latvia and Lithuania plan to in 2018.The Associated Press.


LUKE 21:25-26
25 And there shall be signs in the sun,(HEATING UP-SOLAR ECLIPSES) and in the moon,(MAN ON MOON-LUNAR ECLIPSES) and in the stars;(ASTEROIDS ETC) and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;(MASS CONFUSION) the sea and the waves roaring;(FIERCE WINDS)
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear,(TORNADOES,HURRICANES,STORMS) and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:(DESTRUCTION) for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.(FROM QUAKES,NUKES ETC)

Wind fans the flames of Utah fire that has burned 13 homes-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-June 28, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters are bracing for more high winds Wednesday as they try to slow a southern Utah wildfire that has burned 13 homes and forced the evacuation of 1,500 people.Firefighters are hoping to be able to put out hot spots on the southern end of the fire to allow residents to return to the ski town of Brian Head. Homes there have been evacuated since June 17 when authorities say it was started by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds on private land.The fire is the largest in the nation at 78 square miles (201 square kilometres ).The blaze is one of several in the West. Crews in California were making gains against two new fires that spread quickly, and firefighters in Idaho battled five lightning-sparked wildfires burning in grass and brush.

The Associated Press

EUROPEAN UNION-KING OF WEST-DAN 9:26-27,DAN 7:23-24,DAN 11:40,REV 13:1-10



GENESIS 6:11-13
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.(WORLD TERRORISM,MURDERS)(HAMAS IN HEBREW IS VIOLENCE)
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence (TERRORISM)(HAMAS) through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

GENESIS 16:11-12
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her,(HAGAR) Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael;(FATHER OF THE ARAB/MUSLIMS) because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he (ISHMAEL-FATHER OF THE ARAB-MUSLIMS) will be a wild (DONKEY-JACKASS) man;(ISLAM IS A FAKE AND DANGEROUS SEX FOR MURDER CULT) his hand will be against every man,(ISLAM HATES EVERYONE) and every man's hand against him;(PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM BEING BEHEADED) and he (ISHMAEL ARAB/MUSLIM) shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.(LITERAL-THE ARABS LIVE WITH THEIR BRETHERN JEWS)

ISAIAH 14:12-14
12  How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,(SATAN) son of the morning!(HEBREW-CRECENT MOON-ISLAM) how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14  I (SATAN HAS EYE TROUBLES) will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.(AND 1/3RD OF THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN FELL WITH SATAN AND BECAME DEMONS)

JOHN 16:2
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.(ISLAM MURDERS IN THE NAME OF MOON GOD ALLAH OF ISLAM)

Trudeau touts open Canadian immigration system in face of Trump travel ban-[CBC]-YAHOONEWS-June 27, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will continue to promote Canada's open immigration policy on the world stage as controversy rages over U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban.Trudeau said Tuesday during a news conference in Ottawa to wrap up the parliamentary sitting that government officials have had "multiple conversations" with the U.S. administration about protecting Canadian rights in the face of immigration decisions south of the border."But at the same time, Canadians have been very clear that we see immigration as a net positive, that we know we don't have to compromise security to build stronger, more resilient communities," he said. "I will continue to stand for Canadian values and Canadian success in our immigration system as I always have, whether it's in Washington or in Hamburg next week or elsewhere around the world."On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a limited version of Trump's ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect.The justices will hear full arguments in October, but in the meantime, the court said Trump's ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen could be enforced if those visitors lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."-Trudeau defends sniper role-In the wide-ranging news conference in the National Press Theatre, Trudeau was asked about topics ranging from trade concerns with the U.S. to recent news that a Canadian special forces member had shot and killed an ISIS fighter at a record distance for a sniper.Trudeau called the sniper actions "entirely consistent" with the role of troops in northern Iraq. The "advise and assist" mission has always had an element of defending Canadian forces as well as our coalition partners, he said."That is something that is integral to this mission, and that is something that has always been followed," he said.NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said the incident suggests Canadian forces are actually involved in direct combat in Iraq, and has called on Trudeau to provide the public with more details on the role of the mission.Trudeau said the incident should be "celebrated" for demonstrating the excellence in training and performance of duties by the Canadian Forces.National Defence said the sniper, part of the Joint Task Force 2 special forces unit, was supporting Iraqi forces when he shot an enemy fighter from 3,540 metres away.That is more than a kilometre farther than the previous record, held by a British sniper who shot a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan in 2009.Trudeau also said he broke his key electoral promise to reform Canada's electoral system because there was no compromise from other parties, and he didn't want to use his Liberal majority to ram through fundamental change."There was no path to do that."-'No path' on electoral reform-Trudeau said Liberals preferred a ranked ballot system, while the NDP wanted a proportional voting system that would have led to "fragmented" parties.Conservatives wanted to keep the status quo, he said."It was a very difficult decision for me," Trudeau said in describing his decision to break the promise.Asked about when the government will eliminate the deficit, Trudeau said his government is targeting billions in new spending on infrastructure and other services Canadians need and will not put a timeframe on when it will "arbitrarily" balance the books.Trudeau also touted what he sees as the government's key accomplishments so far, namely helping improve the quality of life for the middle class and taking steps to tackle the opioid crisis before taking questions.The prime minister also reacted to a new round of anti-dumping tariffs imposed on Canada's softwood lumber industry by the U.S. Department of Commerce. He said he is focused on being "constructive" and working toward a deal that will help protect thousands of jobs in Canada.Earlier Tuesday, the prime minister issued a statement to mark Multiculturalism Day.'Differences make us strong'"Canadians come from every corner of the world, speak two official languages and hundreds more, practise many faiths, and represent many cultures," he said. "Multiculturalism is at the heart of Canada's heritage and identity, and as Canadians, we recognize that our differences make us strong."Canada's tradition of multiculturalism has meant fresh perspectives and new answers to old problems, Trudeau said.Noting that Canada is celebrating both the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Trudeau said the milestones are a reminder of the values that unite Canadians: Openness, inclusion and deep respect for our differences."Whoever we are, wherever we come from, these values bring us together as equal members of this great country," he said.

U.S.-led coalition envoy visits Syria to discuss Raqqa aftermath-YAHOONEWS-[Reuters]-June 28, 2017

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy to the coalition against Islamic State visited north Syria on Wednesday and met the council planning to run Raqqa after its capture from the jihadists to assure it of support, one of its members said.The U.S.-led coalition is supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias that began fighting inside Raqqa three weeks ago.The SDF announced the creation of the Raqqa Civil Council in April to replace militant rule in a city that has for three years been Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria.McGurk has met the council in Ain Issa in north Syria twice before in meetings that were not publicized, a member of the Raqqa Civil Council, Omar Alloush, said.Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, said coalition members are routinely in northern Syria working with the SDF and other local entities including the council. He could not confirm McGurk's visit on Wednesday and referred queries to the special envoy's office.Alloush said McGurk and other coalition officials, including its deputy commander Major General Rupert Jones, promised infrastructure help but did not discuss how much money was available."They did not specify any sum, but they decided we will support first removing mines, lifting rubble, maintenance of schools, then electricity stations and water," Alloush said.This month, volunteers at the council told Reuters they had informed the coalition it would take about $10 million a year to restore power and water supplies, roads and schools.(Reporting by Tom Perry; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Cluster bombs kill at least 15 in eastern Syria-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-June 28, 2017

BEIRUT — A cluster bomb attack on an Islamic State-held village in eastern Syria killed at least 15 people on Wednesday, activists said, the latest in a series of devastating airstrikes along the Euphrates River ValleyTwo Syrian monitoring groups, Deir Ezzor 24 and Justice For Life, said the weapons were dropped on the village of Doblan by an unidentified jet. Russian, Syrian, and U.S.-led coalition aircraft are all known to operate in the area.Cluster bombs are designed to spread small bomblets across a wide area, but many fail to explode, endangering civilians long after the fighting has ended.Omar Abou Layla, the head of Deir Ezzor 24, said 15 bodies, including of women and children, were recovered in the village. He said residents expect to find many more killed.Ali Rahbe, of Justice For Life, said local informants counted at least 35 dead in the village, which is between the IS strongholds of al-Mayadeen and Boukamal.The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the initial toll at 30 dead.At least 57 people were killed in an airstrike on an IS-run jail in the Euphrates River Valley on Monday. Activists said that airstrike was carried out by the U.S.-led coalition. The coalition said it was looking into the reports.Turkey's military meanwhile said it returned fire after an attack by Syrian Kurdish forces.A statement Wednesday said the People's Protection Units, or YPG, fired on Turkish territory overnight with anti-aircraft weapons from Syria's Afrin region. Turkish artillery units returned fire, destroying the "detected targets."The YPG is the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed militia that is battling the Islamic State group in the extremists' de facto capital, Raqqa. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency raging in its southeast.Turkey was angered by a U.S. decision last month to arm the Syrian Kurds, fearing the weapons will end up in the hands of Kurdish rebels in Turkey.The Associated Press.

Philippines says beheaded civilians found in rebel-held town-[Reuters]-By Kanupriya Kapoor-YAHOONEWS-June 28, 2017

MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Reuters) - Five decapitated civilians were found in a Philippine city occupied by Islamist rebels on Wednesday, the military said, warning the number of residents killed by rebel "atrocities" could rise sharply as troops retake more ground.The discovery of the five victims among 17 bodies retrieved would be the first evidence that civilians trapped in besieged Marawi City have been decapitated during the five-week stand by militants loyal to the Islamic State group, as some who escaped the city have previously reported.Some 71 security forces and 299 militants have been killed and 246,000 people displaced in the conflict, which erupted after a failed attempt on May 23 to arrest a Filipino militant commander backed by Islamic State's leadership.President Rodrigo Duterte promised to destroy the militants in Marawi and said the Philippines was now dealing with "a very dangerous situation" due to young Muslims inspired by the "mass insanity" of Islamic State."All they do is just to kill and destroy, and killing in a most brutal way," he said at an event where he received hundreds of sniper and assault rifles donated by China to help the military campaign in Marawi."They enjoy decapitating people in front of cameras. They have to be dealt with, with the same ferocity but not the brutality," he said.The information about the beheadings came via a text message to reporters from Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Garcia of the Western Mindanao Command. Garcia did not respond to repeated requests for details.A civilian rescue worker, Abdul Azis Lomondot, told Reuters body parts were found, but with "no proof of beheading".Military spokesman Jo-Ar Herrera said bodies were found separately in two groups, of 12 and five, but he was unable to confirm if the five were beheaded.The battle entered its 36th day on Wednesday, with intense gunfights and bombing in the heart of the town and black-clad fighters seen from afar running between buildings as explosions rang out.The rebels' hold on Marawi, while incurring the full force of a military for years trained by its U.S. counterparts, has much of the region on edge, concerned that Islamic State's influence may run deeper than thought.Those fears are also being felt in Malaysia and Indonesia, whose nationals are among the Maute group of rebels fighting in Marawi, suggesting the group may have built a cross-border network that has gone largely undetected.-RISING TOLL-Military spokesman Restituto Padilla earlier said it was likely that many civilians had been killed and the death toll - at 27 before the latest 17 were announced - was only what the authorities could confirm independently and escapees had reported many in the area of fighting."(It) may increase significantly," Padilla told reporters. "There have been a significant number that have been seen."Padilla said the cause of all of those deaths would be "atrocities committed by the terrorists".Among those atrocities, the army says, have been residents being forced to loot homes, take up arms or become sex slaves.Videos have appeared this month on the website of Islamic State's Amaq news agency and its social media channels of hostages in Marawi pleading for their lives, saying they would be beheaded if air strikes were not stopped. Clips have also appeared of kneeling captives, shot in the head from behind.Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the footage.The military has so far been reluctant to discuss the possibility that the real impact of the fighting on civilians could be far more severe than has been reported.It has played down the impact of daily air strikes and mortar assaults aimed at rebel sniper positions, which have reduced areas of the lakeside town to rubble and alarmed people stuck there, some of whom have said the shelling was a bigger threat than the militants.Military spokesman Padilla said troops needed more time to finish what was a tricky mission, complicated by trapped civilians, hostages and booby traps.(For a graphic on battle for Marawi, click reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in MANILA; Writing by Martin Petty)


12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates;(WERE WW3 STARTS IN IRAQ OR SYRIA OR TURKEY) and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.(THE TURKEY ATATURK DAM ON THE EUPHRATES CAN BE SHUT AND DRIED UP ALREADY BY TURKEY)
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon,(SATAN) and out of the mouth of the beast,(WORLD DICTATOR) and out of the mouth of the false prophet.(FALSE POPE)
14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.(WERE 2 BILLION DIE FROM NUKE WAR)
15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.(ITS AT THIS TIME I BELIEVE WHEN AMERICA GETS NUKED BY RUSSIA ON THE WAY TO THE MIDEAST)

44 But tidings out of the east(CHINA) and out of the north(RUSSIA, MUSLIMS WHATS LEFT FROM WAVE 1) shall trouble him:(EU DICTATOR IN ISRAEL) therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.( 1/3RD OF EARTHS POPULATION)

12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four(DEMONIC WAR) angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.(WORLDWIDE WAR)(TURKEY-IRAQ-SYRIA)(EUPHRATES RIVER CONSISTS OF 760 MILES IN TURKEY,440 MILES IN SYRIA AND 660 MILES IN IRAQ)
15 And the four(DEMONIC WAR) angels were loosed,(WORLDWIDE WAR) which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.(1/3 Earths Population die in WW 3 2ND WAVE-2 billion)
16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand:(200 MILLION MAN ARMY FROM CHINA AND THE KINGS OF THE EAST) and I heard the number of them.
17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.(NUCLEAR BOMBS)
18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.(NUCLEAR BOMBS)

          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   

          Trump voting commission will get limited state voter data   

          Watch Ali Velshi slam Kris Kobach for claiming a dead man voted in 2006 "who was very much alive"   

ALI VELSHI (HOST): What are you trying to get at? You're asking for -- you're asking for people's names, initials, middle initials, date of birth, whatever. That's normal, right? Then you want your political party --

KRIS KOBACH: Most states are going to give name, date of birth --

VELSHI: Right. Then you want political party, you want voter history, and information regarding felony convictions, and information regarding voter registration in another state, information iregarding military status and overseas citizen information. What are you going to do with all that information?

KOBACH: Okay. Well, let me give you an example. The Pew Charitable Foundation, their trusts -- one of their trusts, has estimated that 1.8 million deceased individuals are on the voter rolls in the country, and they think their estimate is low. Well, we could actually find out what the real number is, if we take the voter rolls of the states and we match them against the Social Security Administrations deaths -- list of people who have died. Let's find out what the real number is, and then if have you the voter history, you can say, "Okay, how many of these names appear to have voted after the date of death?"

VELSHI: Right, and --

KOBACH: So it's just a matter of actual numbers versus --

VELSHI: That's interesting, except you --

KOBACH: It's very interesting, and why not find out?

VELSHI: Because you got this wrong. You actually went after a particular voter who you said was dead and voted in an election, and it turned out that the guy was very much alive, and I think a newspaper found him mowing his lawn.

KOBACH: Right.


CNN: Pence-Kobach voting commission alarms states with info request


Hannity's Interview With Kris Kobach Proves Election Commission Is About Voter Suppression

Experts: Trump's New Voter Fraud Commission Could Be Used To Suppress Legal Votes

Media Should Not Sanitize Trump Immigration Adviser Kris Kobach’s Extremism, Ties To White Supremacists

Univision Recaps Trump Ally Kris Kobach's Career-Long Anti-Immigrant Crusade

          Funny Lip Reading: ‘Lunch Time!’ REMIX w/ the Quads | Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn | Nickelodeon   
Lunch Time’s about to get weird in a food-flavored Lip Reading Remix! Nicky (Aidan Gallagher), Ricky (Casey Simpson), Dicky (Mace Coronel), and Dawn (Lizzy Greene) rap about tater tots, crazy eggs and various sea foods! That is definitely NOT how you dab. Catch more Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn on Nickelodeon!:

More Nick: Seattle Seahawks' Quarterback Russell Wilson Returns as Host of Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Sports 2017; KCS 2017 Voting Now Open!
Follow NickALive! on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, via RSS, on Instagram, and/or Facebook for the latest Nickelodeon and Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn News and Highlights!
          3 Workouts A Day | Stage Daze | Henry Danger | Jace Norman   
Nickelodeon star Jace Norman is back filming for Henry Danger season 4, and is going be doing a dailyish series on set and stuff this season so subscribe to Jace's official YouTube channel and stay tuned!:

More Nick: Seattle Seahawks' Quarterback Russell Wilson Returns as Host of Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Sports 2017; KCS 2017 Voting Now Open!
Follow NickALive! on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, via RSS, on Instagram, and/or Facebook for the latest Nickelodeon and Henry Danger News and Highlights!
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Betts does it all in Red Sox's win over Twins   
Mookie Betts must have known that All-Star voting ended tonight. The Red Sox right fielder, who is sixth among American League outfielders in All-Star voting, put on a performance encompassing every facet of his game Thursday night, leading Boston to a 6-3 victory over the Twins.
          Tensions Rising On Korean Peninsula, Overseas Voting Increase, Park Geun-hye Indictment Near [Korean News Update]   

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are rising with the arrival of a US aircraft carrier, overseas voting is up, ex-president Park Geun-hye could soon be indicted, & coffee is king. All that & more on the latest Korean News Update podcast episode from Korea FM.

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          My feminism extends beyond US borders, and it informs my first-ever vote as a new American citizen   

Police in Honduras repress women protesting violence against women. Photo via Telesur.

In the days and years before January 22, 2016, when I became a US citizen, the question of whom to vote for was always a hypothetical one for me.

Oh, that doesn't mean I didn't think about, write about, and discuss endlessly at our dinner table all the good, bad, and ugly features of every candidate vying for the votes of my husband and two of my three sons, US citizens by birth. The Huz is our main breadwinner, without a doubt, and we live where his business lives--as opposed to where I would prefer to live--making him the de facto head of the family. But as the saying goes (certainly as it goes in the so-called traditionally "patriarchal" countries I've lived in), the man may be the head, but the woman is the neck that turns the head.

So it would be dishonest of me to say that my interest in presidential politics was just academic. It would be disingenuous of me to say that in researching, analyzing, and discussing the candidates' records and policy proposals; their personal histories and present-day characters; and their values (insofar as it is ever possible to assess those with 100% accuracy when the person one is evaluating only exists in the electronic boxes in one's home), that I was merely indulging a hobby. A rather masochistic hobby.

I was amassing the data, evaluating it, and applying it to the progressive values we've taught our kids, the values that my family and I strive to uphold in all areas of life, not just politics. I was doing my job as "the neck".

In 2008, I was genuinely torn. To my mind, there was not that much difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. All things being equal, I told myself, my feminist self, I would have to support the woman candidate because she would bring to the nation's highest office a range of experiential qualities that a man never could. In the same way that, prior to giving birth to my first child, I always thought I knew what agonizing physical pain was (I had, after all, broken long bones while riding horses, and I'd suffered through a few tropical viruses) but in reality could not possibly know what it was really like until I'd gone through it myself. Likewise, then, a man--even a man who was the most empathetic creature on the planet--could nonetheless never truly understand what it was like to go through life as a woman in our culture.

That mattered a great deal to me. (It still does.) I connected with Hillary Clinton on a number of levels, just as the data tells us that women in my demographic tend to. We've experienced sexism and harassment; we've been underestimated and underpaid; we've seen our perceived worth reduced to our fuckability and outward appearance, even as we are simultaneously told to cover up those attributes lest we cause a helpless male superior at work (or else some rando dude in the parking lot) to accidentally rape us. (Ah yes, rape. That vile and violent power-display thing.)

Only a woman could truly know, at the experiential level, what all that shit feels like. How it talks to us, deep inside our brains, telling us we are not as good, not as smart, not pretty enough, not thin enough, too thin, too pretty, too loud, too quiet, and now, for me anyway, too old. Even as we manage to do well in the face of all of that because (if we were lucky) we had a role model or two in our family or circle of friends who insisted that we could, or else, we found in the literature or art or cinema some small gem of wisdom and affirmation that made us realize we could--indeed, look at what we've been through, we already have.

At the same time, though, and despite the powerful impetus to link arms with Hillary Clinton and support her in her quest to become the country's first woman president, I could not ignore her Iraq vote. The two candidates were so similar, in so many ways, but that one difference meant a lot to me. I believed 2008 Barack Obama when he said he would end the wars and bring everyone home. More than that, I believed him when he said he did not go along with the herd--he did not cave to pressure from war hawks, and this, in turn, indicated that even as a young senator, he had his own mind and he had the right ethics--the kind of ethics that had him standing up to the murderous George W. Bush and his colleagues.

Our dinner conversations began to center around Barack Obama. We read his book, Dreams From My Father. (Well, I did--I can't say for sure if the boys did.) I still longed for a really left-leaning candidate, one who broke free from the neoliberals in the Democratic party, the way that terrific, outspoken Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders did in the Senate. "If BERNIE ever runs for president," I declared, "I'm becoming a citizen so I can go with you guys to the poll and vote for him myself."

Fast-forward to last year. Bernie announced his run and I filed for citizenship, something I know well I should have done years ago--I've been eligible since 1979!--but didn't, because a big part of my heart still lived in England, where other Socialists like me were living (and living in the sunlight, unashamed and unassailed), and I felt it would be unethical to become an American when that English part of me still had blood flowing through it. Bernie, a Democratic Socialist, possibly becoming president? Well, then!

And here we are. We're looking at the increasing inevitability that, despite a heroic run by Senator Sanders, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. But I can't vote for her, even though I am now a citizen as well as a feminist.

It's the war/foreign policy thing again. The foreign policy history that Secretary Clinton forged between 2008 and now. It's about Libya. And, especially for me, Honduras. The latter received such scant coverage in this country, it broke (and continues to break) my heart. But it matters a great deal. You see, I lived in Honduras as a young teen--lived through the 1974 Coup--and another part of my heart is with the people of that country, too. Last week, an activist for the indigenous people and campesinos (small farmers) and women of Honduras, a brave and beloved woman activist named Berta Cáceres, was shot dead in her home. What does this have to do with Hillary Clinton? In 2009, as Secretary of State, Clinton shepherded in the new, hard-right, School-of-the-Americas trained military junta who ousted a democratically-elected president, Manuel Zelaya. "Ousted" is not quite the right word: after a contentious back-and-forth between Zelaya and the (far) more rightwing factions of the government, soldiers broke into the president's house, beat him up, held him at gunpoint, and dragged him onto a plane--still in his pajamas--and flew him out of the country.

A bit of background: Mel Zelaya was himself a member of oligarchic society in Honduras. As you are probably aware, Honduras is practically a case study in what goes wrong when income equality gets too out-of-hand. You have a tiny few owning everything, and you have multinational corporations joining forces with them to seize every resource there is, and you have a vast many who have virtually nothing. "Nothing" often means: no electricity, no running water, no shelter, no food. You have fifteen-year-olds with AKs strapped to them stopping you in the street at gunpoint to ask for your ID, and when you hand them your passport, they look at it upside down because they don't know how to read. (True story.) You have indigenous people being abused at every turn, having their waterways seized for dam projects, their land and mountains destroyed by mining interests, their fields taken over by corporate fruit industries. You have a population kept in line by all the traditional fascistic means: sexism, hard-line religion (in the case of Honduras, the Catholic church), and militarized police forces who beat and kill. Who make people disappear.

But Zelaya, despite his upbringing, had the heart of a leftist. Once elected, he set about making birth control available to poor women. Even Plan B. He stood up and apologized for the country's history of persecuting LGBT individuals, and told them they were okay, they would be safe now. He constantly advocated for the poor, for the indigenous communities, for the campesinos. He worked alongside Berta Cáceres, and other activists like her. He was in the process of pushing for a significant raise in the country's minimum wage when he was "ousted".

When the coup happened, in 2009, President Obama at first condemned it. As did the UN, as did the OAS. Many Latin American leaders were calling for the US to do something--to demand that Zelaya be allowed to return to his country, where tens of thousands of people were marching in the street, peacefully protesting and calling for their president's safe return (and getting beaten and shot for their trouble). In a few days, the press moved on. Suddenly, our US president was saying nothing. 

Hillary Clinton's emails, released last summer, tell us why. She was very actively involved in supporting the installation of the new, right-wing government. This has been covered by Democracy Now, TeleSur, and other "alternative" media. This piece in The Nation, written by noted Latin American scholar Greg Grandin, is a good one to start with.

Why is this important to me, and why should it be important to every feminist who is voting in the presidential election? Because of what happened in the aftermath of Zelaya's violent removal from office in 2009--in the years between then, and 2016.

Draconian abortion laws were put into place. Birth control became unaffordable once again and Plan B was banned.

LGBT individuals were beaten and killed, after they had just begun to feel as though this was their country too, they were free. Now it was, Oh, sorry, you're actually NOT safe. You will be beaten if you're lucky; murdered and mutilated if you're not.

Multinationals got their footholds strengthened as militarized police forces beat and killed protestors.

And, well-documented at this point, the ensuing chaos and mind-bending levels of violence that beset the largest cities, particularly San Pedro Sula, led families who feared for their children's lives (many families had already lost loved ones to drug gang violence) to send them on a long and frightening journey to the US border, where they hoped their kids would somehow find asylum and safety.  Meaning these children would have to travel through Honduras, through Guatemala and the entirety of Mexico (parents reading this, please imagine how desperate you would have to be, how dire your circumstances would have to be, for you to kiss your small kids goodbye and put them on a rickety bus and hope against hope they would make it to safety).

Secretary Clinton said they should be sent back, these kids. Said this would "send a message". I actually watched the debate during which she said this, and shouted at my television: Send a message to WHOM?

I know I've rambled on (to put it mildly), but I was finally moved to speak, and I had a lot to say. I have been reading the discussions, everywhere, about people's support for Secretary Clinton based on feminist principles, and always the discussion turns to the same questions: Why are you denying my experience as a woman? Why can't you see how important it is to me, as a woman, to have a woman be able to rise above all the things we have all faced and be elected to the country's highest office? Why aren't you listening to me?

Meanwhile, I--a feminist, a mother, a target of sexual harassment and sexism--am asking, Why aren't you listening to ME?

The world does not begin and end at the US borders. Back-channeling deals to install rightwing military juntas that impose and enforce draconian reproductive laws is NOT FEMINIST. Back-channeling deals to install rightwing military juntas that silence--by bullet--more than a few women activists, is NOT FEMINIST. When LGBT people are beaten and killed; when women who are raped can't get abortions; when women who live in a highly patriarchal culture cannot even access ways to plan their families, which in turn seals their fate as permanent members of the underclass so favored among multinationals who need cheap, motivated labor...these results are NOT FEMINIST GOALS.

Thanks for reading. Now you know why, when I say I "feel the Bern", I really mean it.

This post also appears at: RadioOrNot

          Indirect Democracy #6 - Oct. 4, 2006   
The Foley Scandal & Hacked Elections On this podcast, I was not sure - but couldn't help it - had to talk about the Scandal involving Mark Foley and the GOP reactions. Also, Robert Kennedy has written another incredible article about the Election Process and the use of Electronic Voting Machines. It's a must read. As always, there is a Global Warming Update, a Presidential Horoscope, a Word from our Newest Sponsor and the What a Weinie Award. Thanks for Listening. (I linked this as explicit due to the text read and spoken regarding the Foley emails - just in case)
          How Far Will the Court Go?   
The court confronts questions of religious discrimination, privacy, equality for same-sex couples, and voting rights. This article originally appeared in The New York Review of Books. The 2016-2017 term, which concluded on Monday, opened with eight justices and every expectation that, after Hillary Clinton was elected, the Court’s balance would soon tilt liberal for the first time in four decades. Then Donald Trump won, Neil Gorsuch was appointed to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat, and the Court once again had a five-member conservative majority. The Court had fewer headline-grabbing cases this term than in prior years, but it nonetheless decided several important cases—certainly enough for Gorsuch to show his colors, which thus far are deep red.  As Adam Liptak of The New York Times has noted, the Court was more united than ever this term, largely because, with eight justices for much of the time, it strove to achieve consensus…
          Trump’s Election Integrity Commission seeks personal info on all US voters back to 2006   
Washington Post – “The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-role data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state. In the letter, a copy of which was made public by the Connecticut secretary of state, the commission head Kris Kobach said that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.” On Wednesday, the office of Vice President Pence released a statement saying “a letter will be sent today to the 50 states and District of Columbia on behalf of the Commission requesting publicly available data from state voter rolls and feedback on how to improve election integrity.” States began reacting to the letter on Thursday afternoon. “I have no…
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Trump commission on voting fraud asks states for voter data   
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- President Donald Trump&apos;s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public....
          Comment on Millions of Illegal Immigrant Votes Probably Cast in the 2008, 2012 Presidential Elections by Ellis Country   
Not exactly on the topic but as I read this my most recent experience at the 2016 presidential primary came to mind. I've lived in a small precinct here most of my life and in the past have usually known one or two of the election workers whenever I vote. The population in the area is growing and some of the older poll workers are retiring or passing. During the past primary I didn't recognize the Republican woman at the desk. The Democrats were across the small room as both primaries were held in the same location (Church of Christ longtime polling place). She asked me three times if I were in the right place meaning did I really intend to vote in the GOP selection > I was the only one in line. I finally ran out of patience and said "Do I look like a Democrat ? [ I was casually dressed, no makeup, etc.] I'm one of those Catholic pro-life voters your mother warned you about." She was not amused, although the two high school / college age workers on either side of her thought it was funny (maybe they were her kids, I don't know). The Democrats were entertained. If the GOP is going to act like this, I'm not surprised they don't attract more voters. It never used to be like this. I'm accustomed to a friendly greeting from friends and neighbors I've known forever when I go to the polls for primaries or elections. I've been voting pro-life since I was old enough to vote which was when Reagan first ran.
          ASG voting closed, reveal show is Sunday   
American and National League All-Star rosters will be unveiled at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on the "Esurance All-Star Selection Show" on ESPN, prior to the network's 8 p.m. ET
          Russian hackers broke into voting systems in almost every US state, report claims   
A Russian cyber attack on the US electoral system affected almost 40 states during the 2016 election, sources have revealed. The cyber attack – which targeted software used by poll workers on election day – hit 39 states, sources familiar with the US investigation into the matter told Bloomberg. The Intercept recently published a top-secret National Security Agency document detailing an attempted launch of a Russian spear-phishing campaign on local governments in advance of the US election.
          City adopts proposed 2017-2018 budget   
CHEBOYGAN- The Cheboygan City Council voted to adopt a proposed budget for all funds very similar to last year's budget, with one council member voting against due to concerns of the timing of when the council received the packets.Cheboygan City Manager Tom Eustice said the budget is actually around $39,000-$40,000 less than what was proposed last year for the budget. There has not been any significant increases in the property taxes collected on city property in the last year, [...]
          The Muse Jay-Z’s New Album Features ‘Becky’ Admission, His Mom Coming Out | Screengrabber Suspect Le   

The Muse Jay-Z’s New Album Features ‘Becky’ Admission, His Mom Coming Out | Screengrabber Suspect Leads Dozens Of Cops On Hour-Long Chase Through Countryside, Is Rewarded With Beatdown | Fusion States Respond to White House’s Voting Roll Demands With a Resounding ‘No’ | The Root Fla. Woman Shot, Killed at Home Hours…


          Wurst Case Scenario   
For those of you who don't live in Europe, the Eurovision Song Contest is an annual tournament of pop music which involves most European nations (and a few which are not, strictly speaking, in Europe, such as Israel). The rules are that each country submits a brand new song by a chosen artist (often a newcomer act), which must be performed live on the night of the contest.

What's the Wurst that could happen?
The contest has given rise, over the years since 1956, to some very famous acts, such as ABBA, and even Celine Dion, singing for Switzerland in 1988. However, the tendency of some acts to compete in bizarre costume and with bizarre lyrics (who could forget the majestic poetry of Ding-a-Dong?), lends the entire contest an air of camp, verging at times on the farcical. It's screened live all over Europe, and it's a wonderful evening's entertainment, albeit pretty low-brow.

The other problem with the contest is the tendency of countries to vote for their political allies, regardless of the artistic merit of the songs. Each country, including the minnows like Malta, is allocated an equal weight of voting in the contest. This tends to make for some tension, as occasionally obviously good songs get gradually nudged downward in the rankings by political voting.

This year, of course, the winner was Austria, whose artist, Conchita Wurst, won by a comfortable margin. So far, so normal. What is different about this contest (and the reason I am writing about it) is that Conchita Wurst is a drag queen, with a beard. (I love that in German, wurst means sausage). Take a look: