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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.


This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not. - The New York Times

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh during the announcement of his nomination to the Supreme Court on July, 9, 2018.



"Deborah Ramirez had the grades to go to Yale in 1983. But she wasn’t prepared for what she’d find there.



A top student in southwestern Connecticut, she studied hard but socialized little. She was raised Catholic and had a sheltered upbringing. In the summers, she worked at Carvel dishing ice cream, commuting in the $500 car she’d bought with babysitting earnings.



At Yale, she encountered students from more worldly backgrounds. Many were affluent and had attended elite private high schools. They also had experience with drinking and sexual behavior that Ms. Ramirez — who had not intended to be intimate with a man until her wedding night — lacked.



During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.



To Ms. Ramirez it wasn’t funny at all. It was the nadir of her first year, when she often felt insufficiently rich, experienced or savvy to mingle with her more privileged classmates.





ImageThe yearbook photo of Deborah Ramirez in The Yale Banner in 1987.

The yearbook photo of Deborah Ramirez in The Yale Banner in 1987.

“I had gone through high school, I’m the good girl, and now, in one evening, it was all ripped away,” she said in an interview earlier this year at her Boulder, Colo., home. By preying upon her in this way, she added, Mr. Kavanaugh and his friends “make it clear I’m not smart.”



Mr. Kavanaugh, now a justice on the Supreme Court, has adamantly denied her claims. Those claims became a flash point during his confirmation process last year, when he was also fighting other sexual misconduct allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, who had attended a Washington-area high school near his.



Ms. Ramirez’s story would seem far less damaging to Mr. Kavanaugh’s reputation than those of Dr. Ford, who claimed that he pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes while covering her mouth.



But while we found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms. Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.



At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.



We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)



Mr. Kavanaugh did not speak to us because we could not agree on terms for an interview. But he has denied Dr. Ford’s and Ms. Ramirez’s allegations, and declined to answer our questions about Mr. Stier’s account.



Yale in the 1980s was in the early stages of integrating more minority students into its historically privileged white male population. The college had admitted its first black student in the 1850s, but by Ms. Ramirez’s time there, people of color comprised less than a fifth of the student body. Women, who had been admitted for the first time in 1969, were still relative newcomers.



Mr. Kavanaugh fit the more traditional Yale mold. His father was a trade association executive, his mother a prosecutor and later a judge. They lived in tony Bethesda, Md., and owned a second home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. As a student at a prominent Jesuit all-boys school, Georgetown Prep, Mr. Kavanaugh was surrounded by the sons of powerful Washington professionals and politicians. He was an avid sports fan and known to attend an annual teenage bacchanal called “Beach Week,” where the hookups and drinking were more important than the sand and swimming.



Ms. Ramirez grew up in a split-level ranch house in working-class Shelton, Conn., perhaps best known for producing the Wiffle ball, and didn’t drink before college. Her father, who is Puerto Rican, rose through the Southern New England Telephone Company, having started as a cable splicer. Her mother, who is French, was a medical technician.



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Before coming to Yale, Ms. Ramirez took pride in her parents’ work ethic and enjoyed simple pleasures like swimming in their aboveground pool, taking camping trips and riding behind her father on his snowmobile. She was studious, making valedictorian at her Catholic elementary school and excelling at her Catholic high school, St. Joseph.



She and her parents took out loans to pay for Yale, and she got work-study jobs on campus, serving food in the dining halls and cleaning dorm rooms before class reunions.



She tried to adapt to Yale socially, joining the cheerleading squad her freshman year, sometimes positioned at the pinnacle of the pyramid. But Ms. Ramirez learned quickly that although cheerleading was cool in high school, it didn’t carry the same cachet at Yale. People called her Debbie Cheerleader or Debbie Dining Hall or would start to say “Debbie does … ” playing on the 1978 porn movie “Debbie Does Dallas.” But Ms. Ramirez didn’t understand the reference.



“She was very innocent coming into college,” Liz Swisher, who roomed with Ms. Ramirez for three years at Yale and is now a physician in Seattle, later recalled. “I felt an obligation early in freshman year to protect her.”



There were many more unhappy memories of college. Fellow students made fun of the way she dropped consonants when she spoke, but also ribbed her for not being fluent in Spanish. They mocked her knockoff black-and-red Air Jordans. They even questioned her admission on the merits. “Is it because you’re Puerto Rican?” someone once asked her.



“My mom would have preferred me to go to a smaller college — looking back at it, she was right,” Ms. Ramirez said. At Yale, “they invite you to the game, but they never show you the rules or where the equipment is.”



It wasn’t until she got a call from a reporter and saw her account of Mr. Kavanaugh described as “sexual misconduct” in The New Yorker that Ms. Ramirez understood it as anything more than one of many painful encounters at Yale.



Ms. Ramirez also did not see herself as a victim of ethnic discrimination. The college campuses of the 1980s had yet to be galvanized by the identity and sexual politics that course through today’s cultural debates.



Years after graduating, however, she started volunteering with a nonprofit organization that assists victims of domestic violence — the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, or SPAN. She became a staff member for a time and continues to serve on its board. Gradually she embraced her Puerto Rican roots.



This awakening caused Ms. Ramirez to distance herself from the past. She fell out of touch with one Yale friend — who had asked Ms. Ramirez to be her daughter’s godmother — after the friend’s husband made fun of a book she was reading on racial identity. The husband, a Yale classmate, was one of the students she remembered being at the dorm party that difficult night.



“If I felt like a person in my life wasn’t going to embrace my journey or would somehow question it,” she said, “I just let them go.”



Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were wrenching, as he strained to defend his character after Dr. Ford’s searing testimony. Thousands of miles away, Ms. Ramirez, who was never asked to testify, also found the hearings distressing. Her efforts to backstop her recollections with friends would later be cited as evidence that her memory was unreliable or that she was trying to construct a story rather than confirm one.



Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.



Two F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez, telling her that they found her “credible.” But the Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the investigation. “‘We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else,’” Bill Pittard, one of Ms. Ramirez’s lawyers, recalled the agents saying. “It was almost a little apologetic.”



Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island and member of the Judiciary Committee, later said, “I would view the Ramirez allegations as not having been even remotely investigated.” Other Democrats agreed.



Ultimately, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, concluded, “There is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez.” Mr. Kavanaugh was confirmed on Oct. 6, 2018, by a vote of 50-48, the closest vote for a Supreme Court justice in more than 130 years.



Still, Ms. Ramirez came to feel supported by the very Yale community from which she had once felt so alienated. More than 3,000 Yale women signed an open letter commending her “courage in coming forward.” More than 1,500 Yale men issued a similar letter two days later.



She also received a deluge of letters, emails and texts from strangers containing messages like, “We’re with you, we believe you, you are changing the world,” and “Your courage and strength has inspired me. The bravery has been contagious.”



College students wrote about how Ms. Ramirez had helped them find the words to express their own experiences. Medical students wrote about how they were now going to listen differently to victims of sexual violence. Parents wrote about having conversations with their children about how bad behavior can follow them through life. One father told Ms. Ramirez he was talking to his two sons about how their generation is obligated to be better.



Ms. Ramirez saved all of these notes in a decorative box that she keeps in her house, turning to them even now for sustenance. One person sent a poem titled “What Is Justice” that has resonated deeply with her.



“You can’t look at justice as just the confirmation vote,” she said. “There is so much good that came out of it. There is so much more good to come.”



Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not. - The New York Times

Friday, September 13, 2019

Federal Appeals Court Rules for Trump in Emoluments Case - The New York Times. https://static.politico.com/dims4/default/c08a106/2147483647/resize/1160x/quality/90/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.politico.com

The Trump International Hotel in Washington.



Federal Appeals Court Rules for Trump in Emoluments Case - The New York Times

Air Force says it sent crews to Trump’s Scottish resort up to 40 times. Pure corruption and Pelosi remains silent.

Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort



Air Force says it sent crews to Trump’s Scottish resort up to 40 times

Federal Appeals Court Rules for Trump in Emoluments Case

The Trump International Hotel in Washington.

"WASHINGTON — In a legal victory for President Trump, a federal appeals court panel on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that he had violated the Constitution by collecting profits from government guests at his hotel in the nation’s capital.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., found that the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia had no legal standing to sue Mr. Trump.
The judges roundly rejected the premise of the case, which claimed that the Trump International Hotel, blocks from the White House, is unfairly siphoning off business from hotels in which the local jurisdictions have a financial interest. The lawsuit, which alleges violations of the Constitution’s anti-corruption, or “emoluments,” clauses, was about to enter the evidence-gathering phase.
“The District and Maryland’s interest in enforcing the emoluments clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the president is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies,” the panel wrote in its decision.
Until Mr. Trump took office, no court had ever ruled on the meaning of the emoluments clauses or how they could be enforced, if at all. The Fourth Circuit panel’s decision is unlikely to be the last word. The plaintiffs could appeal to the full court, which is less conservative than the judges who ruled. All three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents.
A similar case, filed by congressional Democrats, is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and legal experts say the question could well wind up before the Supreme Court.
Nonetheless, the decision was welcome for a White House facing legal challenges on a host of issues including its handling of the 2020 census and Mr. Trump’s refusal to turn over his tax returns to Congress.
Mr. Trump promptly expressed his satisfaction, saying he has lost money, not enriched himself, since taking office. “Word just out that I won a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt,” he wrote on Twitter. “Unanimous decision in my favor from The United States Court of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit on the ridiculous Emoluments Case.”
The appellate judges said Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, had abused his discretion by allowing the case to proceed. They said it was pure speculation that foreign or state officials stayed at the Trump hotel to please the president, rather than for other reasons. And even if that was true, they said, the plaintiffs had failed to show how a court could remedy the problem.
“Even if government officials were patronizing the hotel to curry the president’s favor, there is no reason to conclude that they would cease doing so were the president enjoined from receiving income from the hotel,” the 36-page opinion said. “The hotel would still be publicly associated with the president, would still bear his name and would still financially benefit members of his family.”
The judges described the emoluments clauses as broad prohibitions intended to guarantee a president’s independence and restrict the president’s ability to accept financial benefits from foreign or state officials seeking influence.
“Neither clause expressly confers any rights on any person, nor does either clause specify any remedy for a violation,” they wrote. Given the lack of precedent for such lawsuits, they said, Judge Messitte should have allowed the Justice Department to appeal his rulings in midstream rather than force the department to seek an emergency intervention by the appeals court.
That was especially true given that a federal judge in New York had recently thrown out a similar suit against Mr. Trump, they wrote.
“To allow such a suit to go forward in the district court without a resolution of the controlling issues by a court of appeals could result in an unnecessary intrusion into the duties and affairs of a sitting president,” they said.
In a statement, Karl A. Racine and Brian E. Frosh, the attorneys general for the District of Columbia and Maryland, said, “We have not and will not abandon our efforts to hold President Trump accountable for violating the nation’s original anti-corruption laws.”
“The idea that the District of Columbia and Maryland are not harmed by the president’s violation of the Constitution is plain error,” they said.
It is unclear whether the Fourth Circuit’s decision will influence the judges on the District of Columbia Circuit as they consider the emoluments lawsuit filed by congressional Democrats. That case alleges that Mr. Trump has violated the Constitution by failing to seek Congress’s permission before accepting financial benefits from foreign governments, including at the Trump International Hotel.
It is also likely to turn on the question of whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue the president. Legal experts are divided over whether members of Congress have a stronger or weaker argument than the District of Columbia and Maryland.
Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said the congressional case is bolstered because the plaintiffs can point to specific constitutional language giving them a role in deciding whether a president can accept an emolument.
But Andy Grewal, a University of Iowa law professor, said the Supreme Court had repeatedly held that groups of individual legislators could not sue the executive branch. “I would be surprised if that lawsuit actually proceeds,” he said.
The Justice Department, after receiving several adverse decisions by United States District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington, asked the appellate court to halt the congressional case. On Tuesday, the appellate court gave the parties 10 days to file briefs.
In issuing their decision the following day, the Fourth Circuit judges “might have staked out the ground a little bit,” Mr. Grewal said.
After more than two years of litigation, the question of whether any emoluments case against the president will advance to the evidence-gathering stage remains open.
“Law develops slowly,” Mr. Grewal said. “You need somebody who can actually sue, first.”




WASHINGTON — In a legal victory for President Trump, a federal appeals court panel on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that he had violated the Constitution by collecting profits from government guests at his hotel in the nation’s capital.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., found that the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia had no legal standing to sue Mr. Trump.
The judges roundly rejected the premise of the case, which claimed that the Trump International Hotel, blocks from the White House, is unfairly siphoning off business from hotels in which the local jurisdictions have a financial interest. The lawsuit, which alleges violations of the Constitution’s anti-corruption, or “emoluments,” clauses, was about to enter the evidence-gathering phase.

“The District and Maryland’s interest in enforcing the emoluments clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the president is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies,” the panel wrote in its decision.
Until Mr. Trump took office, no court had ever ruled on the meaning of the emoluments clauses or how they could be enforced, if at all. The Fourth Circuit panel’s decision is unlikely to be the last word. The plaintiffs could appeal to the full court, which is less conservative than the judges who ruled. All three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents.
A similar case, filed by congressional Democrats, is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and legal experts say the question could well wind up before the Supreme Court.
Nonetheless, the decision was welcome for a White House facing legal challenges on a host of issues including its handling of the 2020 census and Mr. Trump’s refusal to turn over his tax returns to Congress.
Mr. Trump promptly expressed his satisfaction, saying he has lost money, not enriched himself, since taking office. “Word just out that I won a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt,” he wrote on Twitter. “Unanimous decision in my favor from The United States Court of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit on the ridiculous Emoluments Case.”
The appellate judges said Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, had abused his discretion by allowing the case to proceed. They said it was pure speculation that foreign or state officials stayed at the Trump hotel to please the president, rather than for other reasons. And even if that was true, they said, the plaintiffs had failed to show how a court could remedy the problem.
“Even if government officials were patronizing the hotel to curry the president’s favor, there is no reason to conclude that they would cease doing so were the president enjoined from receiving income from the hotel,” the 36-page opinion said. “The hotel would still be publicly associated with the president, would still bear his name and would still financially benefit members of his family.”
The judges described the emoluments clauses as broad prohibitions intended to guarantee a president’s independence and restrict the president’s ability to accept financial benefits from foreign or state officials seeking influence.
“Neither clause expressly confers any rights on any person, nor does either clause specify any remedy for a violation,” they wrote. Given the lack of precedent for such lawsuits, they said, Judge Messitte should have allowed the Justice Department to appeal his rulings in midstream rather than force the department to seek an emergency intervention by the appeals court.
That was especially true given that a federal judge in New York had recently thrown out a similar suit against Mr. Trump, they wrote.

“To allow such a suit to go forward in the district court without a resolution of the controlling issues by a court of appeals could result in an unnecessary intrusion into the duties and affairs of a sitting president,” they said.

In a statement, Karl A. Racine and Brian E. Frosh, the attorneys general for the District of Columbia and Maryland, said, “We have not and will not abandon our efforts to hold President Trump accountable for violating the nation’s original anti-corruption laws.”
“The idea that the District of Columbia and Maryland are not harmed by the president’s violation of the Constitution is plain error,” they said.

It is unclear whether the Fourth Circuit’s decision will influence the judges on the District of Columbia Circuit as they consider the emoluments lawsuit filed by congressional Democrats. That case alleges that Mr. Trump has violated the Constitution by failing to seek Congress’s permission before accepting financial benefits from foreign governments, including at the Trump International Hotel.
It is also likely to turn on the question of whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue the president. Legal experts are divided over whether members of Congress have a stronger or weaker argument than the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said the congressional case is bolstered because the plaintiffs can point to specific constitutional language giving them a role in deciding whether a president can accept an emolument.
But Andy Grewal, a University of Iowa law professor, said the Supreme Court had repeatedly held that groups of individual legislators could not sue the executive branch. “I would be surprised if that lawsuit actually proceeds,” he said.

The Justice Department, after receiving several adverse decisions by United States District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington, asked the appellate court to halt the congressional case. On Tuesday, the appellate court gave the parties 10 days to file briefs.

In issuing their decision the following day, the Fourth Circuit judges “might have staked out the ground a little bit,” Mr. Grewal said.

After more than two years of litigation, the question of whether any emoluments case against the president will advance to the evidence-gathering stage remains open.
“Law develops slowly,” Mr. Grewal said. “You need somebody who can actually sue, first.”


Federal Appeals Court Rules for Trump in Emoluments Case

Monday, September 09, 2019

Opinion | Trump Backs Down, Again and Again - The New York Times





"#ResistanceIsNotFjutile



"On Aug. 7, the Trump administration quietly changed its immigration policy to end medical deferred action, a program that allows a small number of gravely ill immigrants to remain in the United States to receive lifesaving treatment. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began sending notices to applicants that it would “no longer consider” such petitions, except from service members and their families. Applicants were warned that they had 33 days to leave the country or risk being deported and rendered ineligible for re-entry.



As news of the change trickled out, public outrage grew on social media and beyond. More than 100 Democratic lawmakers signed a letter to top immigration officials, demanding an explanation. How did the Trump administration respond? It reversed itself — at least temporarily. On Sept. 2, U.S.C.I.S. announced that it would reopen medical deferred-action petitions that had been pending as of Aug. 7.



Along with providing a reprieve for the people whose lives depend on this program, the turnabout is a reminder that the Trump administration can be — if not shamed — at least pressured into doing the right thing.



Of course, the president can also be pressed to do the wrong thing, as when, at the behest of the gun lobby and its congressional defenders, he has repeatedly flip-flopped on plans to pursue popular gun safety measures."



Opinion | Trump Backs Down, Again and Again - The New York Times

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Opinion | Three North Carolina Judges Step In Where the Supreme Court Refuses - The New York Times



Three state judges on a North Carolina trial court just did what a majority on the United States Supreme Court said was impossible only a few months ago — apply well-established legal standards to strike down some of the most egregious partisan gerrymanders in the country.
The state court judges’ 357-page ruling applies to the North Carolina state legislature, the General Assembly, which now has two weeks to come up with new, fairer maps for state legislative districts. It also sends a broader message to the justices in Washington, and to state judges everywhere: See? Protecting democracy from self-interested, power-hungry politicians isn’t so hard after all.
The lawsuit decided on Tuesday was the latest in a long line of litigation against North Carolina’s legislative maps, which the state’s Republican lawmakers have been unilaterally hacking up for the last eight years, then stitching back together to resemble not the state as it is (a hotly contested battleground) but as they would like it to be (a towering, impregnable Republican fortress).
The existing maps were so effective that they helped entrench Republican majorities even when Democrats won more votes statewide. In 2018, Republican candidates for North Carolina’s House of Representatives won less than 50 percent of the two-party statewide vote, but walked away with 65 seats to the Democrats’ 55. Republican candidates for the State Senate also won a minority of the popular vote, and still took 29 of 50 seats.
This kind of abuse of the democratic process is precisely what courts are designed to fix. But when North Carolina voters begged the United States Supreme Court for relief, arguing that they had been written out of the political process by the very people who were supposed to serve them, the five conservative justices turned their backs. The court could do nothing, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a demoralizing opinion in June — not because the Republicans are innocent, but because the judiciary can’t hold them accountable for what are, in essence, political crimes.
On Tuesday afternoon, the North Carolina judges — two Democrats and a Republican— agreed unanimously that they didn’t need the federal Constitution to vindicate Americans’ basic democratic rights. They could rely on their state’s own Constitution, which guarantees, among other things, free elections, equal protection and freedom of speech and assembly — all of which they said the Republicans’ maps violated.
“The object of all elections is to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the people,” the judges wrote, quoting the North Carolina Supreme Court. The “inescapable conclusion,” they said, was that the maps “do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting.”
The judges offered a simple and clear rejoinder to Chief Justice Roberts’s warning that judges would find it impossible to avoid getting caught up in the partisan bickering over legislative mapmaking. “It is not the province of the court to pick political winners or losers,” they wrote. “It is, however, most certainly the province of the court to ensure that ‘future elections’ in the ‘courts of public opinion’ are ones that freely and truthfully express the will of the people. All elections shall be free — without that guarantee, there is no remedy or relief at all.”
This is the central problem of partisan gerrymandering, and one that the conservative justices missed, or refused to see: When foxes guard henhouses, the hens invariably disappear.

The North Carolina judges, in contrast, aimed their sights squarely at the foxes — documenting how the Republican maps had been drawn intentionally to favor Republicans at the expense of Democrats, and noting that the lawmakers had offered no good alternative explanation for the extreme bias.
The ruling applies only to state legislative districts, but its reasoning applies equally to North Carolina’s congressional districts, which are equally skewed. In the 2018 midterms, Republican candidates won a bare majority of the vote, but wound up winning 10 of the 13 seats in the House. One Republican lawmaker involved in the redistricting process explained that he and his colleagues had settled on that map only because “I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”
Braggadocio like that was absent on Tuesday. Only hours after the state court’s decision, North Carolina Republicans folded, admitting that they had finally run into a barrier they couldn’t draw their way around. In a statement that should be a finalist for the 2019 Chutzpah Award, the State Senate leader, Phil Berger, accused Democrats of trying to “game” the redistricting process, blamed the years of litigation over their maps for harming the “legitimacy of this state’s institutions,” and sniffed that they would abide by the ruling and draw “a nonpartisan map.”
The truth is they would probably have loved to appeal the ruling to the State Supreme Court and keep drawing ever more skewed maps in their favor, but they knew that with a Democratic-appointed majority on that court, their chances of victory were slim.
At least they didn’t behave like their Republican counterparts in Pennsylvania, who responded to a decision by that state’s Supreme Court tossing out their biased maps by trying to impeach the justices who issued the ruling.
Partisan gerrymandering has a long and bipartisan history, and Republicans today see themselves as getting revenge for years in which Democrats were in power and drew the maps in their own favor. But mapmaking technology has advanced strikingly in the past two decades, giving politicians an unprecedented degree of control in carving up the citizenry for their own benefit.
That’s why Justice Elena Kagan pointed to partisan gerrymanders as an existential threat to democratic self-rule. In her dissent from the Supreme Court’s decision in June, she explained that gerrymandered maps “make bipartisanship and pragmatic compromise politically difficult or impossible; and drive voters away from an ever more dysfunctional political process.” Justice Kagan asked, “Is this how American democracy is supposed to work?”
Tuesday’s decision in North Carolina was right to answer that question in the negative, and to claim a space for state courts elsewhere to intervene when partisan gerrymandering has effectively silenced huge portions of the electorate. But state courts shouldn’t have been saddled with this job in the first place. As Justice Kagan wrote in June: “What do those courts know that this court does not? If they can develop and apply neutral and manageable standards to identify unconstitutional gerrymanders, why couldn’t we?”


Opinion | Three North Carolina Judges Step In Where the Supreme Court Refuses - The New York Times

Opinion | The Trump Voters Whose ‘Need for Chaos’ Obliterates Everything Else - The New York Times



Over the four years during which he has dominated American political life, nearly three of them as president, Donald Trump has set a match again and again to chaos-inducing issues like racial hostilityauthoritarianism and white identity politics.

Last week, at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, the winner of the best paper award in the Political Psychology division was “A ‘Need for Chaos’ and the Sharing of Hostile Political Rumors in Advanced Democracies.”
The paper, which the award panel commended for its “ambitious scope, rigor, and creativity,” is the work of Michael Bang Petersen and Mathias Osmundsen, both political scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark, and Kevin Arceneaux, a political scientist at Temple.
It argues that a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to “chaos incitement” and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media.
“The rise of social media provides the public with unprecedented power to craft and share new information with each other,” they write. In the political arena, this technological transformation allows the transmission of a type of information that portrays “political candidates or groups negatively” and has “a low evidential basis.” The “new information” transmitted on social media includes “conspiracy theories, fake news, discussions of political scandals and negative campaigns.”
The circulation of this type of information (which the authors label “hostile political rumors”) has been “linked to large-scale political outcomes within recent years such as the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
On a less cataclysmic level, the authors’ analysis helps explain the intensity of anti-establishment voting that drove Trump’s successful takeover of the Republican Party in the 2016 primaries.
The authors describe “chaos incitement” as a “strategy of last resort by marginalized status-seekers,” willing to adopt disruptive tactics. Trump, in turn, has consistently sought to strengthen the perception that America is in chaos, a perception that has enhanced his support while seeming to reinforce his claim that his predecessors, especially President Barack Obama, were failures.
Petersen, Osmundsen and Arceneaux find that those who meet their definition of having a “need for chaos” express that need by willingly spreading disinformation. Their goal is not to advance their own ideology but to undermine political elites, left and right, and to “mobilize others against politicians in general.” These disrupters do not “share rumors because they believe them to be true. For the core group, hostile political rumors are simply a tool to create havoc.”
In the past, chaos-seekers were on outer edges of politics, unable to exercise influence. Contemporary social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and so on — has empowered this constituency, providing a bullhorn to disseminate false news, conspiracy theories and allegations of scandal to a broad audience. Examples include the lunacy of the Comet Pizza story (a.k.a. Pizzagate), the various anti-Obama birther conspiracies and Alex Jones’s claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead was a “complete fake” staged by the government to promote gun control.
How do Petersen, Osmundsen and Arceneaux measure this “need for chaos"? They conducted six surveys, four in the United States, in which they interviewed 5157 participants, and two in Denmark, with 1336. They identified those who are “drawn to chaos” through their affirmative responses to the following statements:
  • I fantasize about a natural disaster wiping out most of humanity such that a small group of people can start all over.
  • I think society should be burned to the ground.
  • When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking “just let them all burn.”
  • We cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.
  • Sometimes I just feel like destroying beautiful things.
In an email, Petersen wrote that preliminary examination of the data shows “that the ‘need for chaos’ correlates positively with sympathy for Trump but also — although less strongly — with sympathy for Sanders. It correlates negatively with sympathy for Hillary Clinton.”
In their paper, Petersen, Osmundsen and Arceneaux contend that “the extreme discontent expressed in the ‘Need for Chaos’ scale is a minority view but it is a minority view with incredible amounts of support.”
The responses to three of the statements in particular were “staggering,” the paper says: 24 percent agreed that society should be burned to the ground; 40 percent concurred with the thought that “When it comes to our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn’ ”; and 40 percent also agreed that “we cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over.”
The authors expressly caution that there “is a limitation of the study,” pointedly noting that “we cannot claim” that substantial numbers of “American citizens are ready to go into actual fights with the police or commit other forms of political violence.” Instead, they write,
this study provides insights into the kinds of thoughts and behaviors that people are motivated to entertain when they sit alone (and lonely) in front of the computer, answering surveys or surfing social media platforms.
In these circumstances, “a few chaotic thoughts that lead to a few clicks to retweet or share is enough. When the echoes of similar processes across multiple individuals reinforce each other, it can add up to cascades of hostile political rumors,” conspiracy theories and fake news.
The intense hostility to political establishments of all kinds among what could be called “chaos voters” helps explain what Pew Research and others have found: a growing distrust among Republican voters of higher education as well as empirically based science, both of which are increasingly seen as allied with the liberal establishment.
In a paper that parallels the work of Petersen and his colleagues, Rose McDermott and Peter K. Hatemi, political scientists at Brown and Penn State, argue that Trump and other right-wing populist leaders have tapped into evolutionarily based “tribal sentiments and drives.”
Trump’s expertise, in this view, lies in his ability to capitalize on the fear of chaos. “Populist movements,” McDermott and Hatemi write, “rely on inflammatory rhetoric to create a tribal ‘us versus them’ condition — this type of environment instigates neural mechanisms from the evolutionary desire to be part of the group.”
The abrupt rise of social media has played a crucial role, they observe:
In many ways, as we have technologically advanced, we have also regressed to more immediate, emotional, and personal forms of political communication. And it is only in understanding the nature of that personal political psychology that we can begin to grapple seriously with the challenges of today, including the consequences of global populism.
In the 2016 campaign, Trump successfully elevated in the national consciousness the perceived threat of undocumented immigrants, a sense of a disordered country and a fear of random criminal assault on the streets of major cities.
In that election, Trump had a great deal to work with: residual anxiety over the 2007-9 recession; battles over the rights of transgender people; rising levels of social and economic inequality; employment losses driven by globalization; rampant automation; the deterioration of traditional family structures; climate change and extreme weather; and the prospect that whites would no longer be the majority.
Peter Drucker, the American management consultant, writing in 1968, 48 years before the 2016 election, anticipated the sense of chaos in the world to come:
We face an Age of Discontinuity in world economy and technology. We might succeed in making it an age of great economic growth as well. But the one thing that is certain so far is that it will be a period of change — in technology and in economic policy, in industrial structures and in economic theory, in the knowledge needed to govern and manage, and in economic issues.
While we have been busy finishing the great nineteenth century economic edifice, the foundations have shifted beneath our feet.
While Trump’s focus on disorder and chaos worked to his advantage during the 2016 campaign, there is no guarantee that he will benefit from it when he is an incumbent seeking re-election.
As the 2018 election demonstrated, Trump’s personally chaotic approach to governance, his record of undermining relations with allies and strengthening ties to autocrats; his use of trade policy to heighten market insecurity; his aggression, his recklessness, his incessant lying; and his sneering contemptuous, bullying style, together worked against him and the Republican Party.
Bert Bakker, a professor of communication research at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the panel that awarded the A.P.S.A. prize, emailed me to discuss his views of the significance of the work of Petersen and his colleagues:
The authors set out to explore the psychological underpinnings of the tendency to share hostile political rumors online. The sharing of hostile political rumors has often been attributed to partisan motivations. Supporters of one party share this kind of information to mobilize voters against another political party. Yet, in the paper, Petersen et al. introduce a second motivation to share hostile political rumors and that is what they call ‘chaotic motivations’.
Bakker continued:
It remains an open question whether those with higher chaotic motivations also turn their “motivations” into action. One could expect that those higher on chaotic motivations are more likely to protest and actually revolt against the political system. Moreover, I could see a role for chaotic motivations in understanding why people support populist politicians. Populist politicians share a message that the elites in, for instance Washington, Paris, Berlin and London, are corrupt, evil and self-centered. Perhaps this rhetoric resonates well with a tendency to like to see the democratic system go down.
The phrase “like to see the democratic system go down” is chilling — and raises the question: How worried should we be about a fundamental threat to democracy from the apparently large numbers of Americans who embrace chaos as a way of expressing their discontent? Might Trump and his loyal supporters seek to bring down the system if he is defeated in 2020? What about later, if the damage he has inflicted on our customs and norms festers, eroding the invisible structures that underpin everything that actually makes America great?
A political leader who thrives on chaos, relishes disorder and governs on the principle of narcissistic self-interest is virtually certain to find defeat intolerable. If voters deny Trump a second term, how many of his most ardent supporters, especially those with a “need for chaos,” will find defeat unbearable?"




Opinion | The Trump Voters Whose ‘Need for Chaos’ Obliterates Everything Else - The New York Times

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Trump admin reverses course on 'deferred action' plan for sick kids | MSNBC

Empty hospital emergency room. (Stock photo by  DreamPictures/Getty Images)



"It was just a week ago when the Boston Globe published an articlethat was almost hard to believe. “Severely ill immigrants, including children with cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other grave conditions, are facing deportation under a change in Trump administration policy that immigration advocates are calling cruel and inhumane,” the newspaper reported.

For all of Donald Trump’s talk about targeting “bad hombres” to keep Americans safe, in this case, his administration was targeting children receiving treatment for life-threatening ailments who’d been granted “medical deferred action.” By threatening the kids and their families with deportation, the administration’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was effectively delivering death sentences.
The policy was almost cartoonish in its malevolence. Even critics of the Republican White House, who’ve come to expect the worst from Trump and his team, were taken aback by the reports. These families were told they had 33 days to leave the country.
Yesterday, as the New York Times reported, the administration appeared to back off.
The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would reconsider its decision to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries, an abrupt move last month that generated public outrage and was roundly condemned by the medical establishment. […]
On Monday, the agency said in a statement that while limiting the program was “appropriate,” officials would “complete the caseload that was pending on August 7.”
This is reassuring, but I have some follow-up questions.
1. Exactly who was it who thought deporting sick children would be a good idea? What problem was the administration trying to solve? Who did officials think would benefit from such a policy?
2. Who will lose their jobs in the Trump administration for making this threat?
3. Under the old policy, these families have to renew their deferred status every two years, and it was last month that the administration said it would no longer consider additional renewals. I’m glad those families who are in the United States under “medical deferred action” won’t be forced out, but the administration hasn’t given any details about the future of the program. Going forward, will other sick kids be welcomed to American facilities for treatment?"


Trump admin reverses course on 'deferred action' plan for sick kids | MSNBC

Opinion | Putin’s Nightmare: The Ballot Box





"By Michael Khodarkovsky



On Sept. 8, Russians will vote in municipal and regional elections, and the authorities are afraid. Not of any foreign power’s interference in Russia’s elections — there have been no fair elections in decades — but of Russia’s own people and opposition candidates, who are far more popular than the official nominees.

Moscow’s old bag of electoral tricks survives — for example, moving elections from December to early September so that summer vacations would leave challengers little time to organize. The authorities have resorted to new tricks too, like clogging the electoral system with fake candidates and putting party loyalists on the ballot as independent candidates. 

This year’s election will also see a new mobile digital voting system that allows people to vote online from any location. Critics say it is yet another trick to help the authorities.
Leaving nothing to chance, Moscow’s electoral commission found bogus reasons to disqualify all unapproved candidates from running in the elections. And to intimidate those would-be candidates, their homes were raided and many of them were detained, brought to Police Headquarters and interrogated in the middle of the night. 

Yet none of that worked: Thousands of people took to the streets, beginning on July 28, to protest the election committee’s decisions. In response, the authorities deployed an overwhelming force of local and federal police who detained most opposition leaders and nearly 1,400 demonstrators. 
Two weeks later, when Moscow’s authorities permitted an organized meeting, some 60,000 people gathered in the streets despite government warnings and intimidation. Even though the meeting was officially sanctioned, the police used force to disperse the demonstrators and arrested hundreds. Since then, all opposition requests to allow meetings have been rejected. 
The Kremlin has been sending a clear message: There will be no Hong Kong here, with its huge protests, nor any Istanbul, with its fair election that led to the opposition’s victory. And to achieve this, the Kremlin is determined to use violence on a large scale. It should surprise nobody. This is the natural evolution of an autocracy — when its public slowly turns against the regime, brute force remains the only means to stay in power.

By any measure, the decline of Putinism is indisputable. It was best captured by a poll conducted in May by the government-run Public Opinion Center, which showed that public trust in President Vladimir Putin had fallen to 25 percent. The Kremlin, which uses the center to gauge public opinion and rarely makes the results public, was furious and called for another poll. Several days later, a new poll showed that 72 percent of Russians had trust in the president. The Kremlin was happy, and the center promised “to improve its methodology.”

Then in June, after Mr. Putin’s annual Direct Line TV appearance — a question-and-answer marathon staged to present an all-knowing leader in direct communication with citizens — the channel’s YouTube site registered 12,000 likes and 170,000 dislikes. Some experts calculated Mr. Putin’s support among this audience at about 7 percent.

With the examples of Hong Kong and Istanbul perhaps on their minds, Mr. Putin and his cronies surely remember how, 30 years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev experimented with a limited free election. Previous Soviet national and regional elections had been shams, with Communist Party candidates invariably winning their posts because they faced no competitors. 
Mr. Gorbachev wanted to invigorate the Soviet system by making it more competitive and allowing some nonparty members into its legislative body. 

To do so, he created a new legislative body: the Congress of People’s Deputies, consisting of 2,250 delegates. One-third of the seats were reserved for Communist Party members, leaving the other two-thirds open to contest. Of course, even in the openly elected seats, the party-endorsed candidates had numerous advantages. And yet, when the election took place in March 1989, there were big surprises: 300 candidates, or about 16 percent of the new legislative body, had defeated party-endorsed candidates. Among those who lost were five Central Committee members, one member of the Politburo, and 35 regional party bosses.

Mr. Gorbachev touted the new election as a victory for his reforms and a successful effort to democratize the Soviet political system. The hard-liners, unnerved by new freedoms and unaccustomed to any political opposition, were not amused then, as they are not amused now.
One longtime Kremlin insider and an architect of Mr. Putin’s regime, Vladislav Surkov, recently declared that Russia could be maintained only as a military-police state, and that Mr. Putin was the only leader whom the Russian people could trust. Putinism, he maintained, was a new political system, and like Marxism or Leninism, would last for centuries.

Despite such wishful thinking — or posturing — at the top, Putinism has been steadily falling apart: Government-controlled media are struggling to sustain the president’s falling ratings; Russia’s regions are impoverished; the oil- and gas-dependent economy is anemic; Russia’s elites are consumed by infighting for pieces of a shrinking pie; and the young generation is less susceptible than their forebears to government propaganda.

Putinism appears destined to last a far shorter time than either Marxism or Leninism. It was conceived as a hybrid autocracy in which a ruling elite controls most of the economy and media in the name of the state, but tolerates a limited number of independent but closely watched businesses and media outlets. Unlike the Chinese Communist Party, with its total control of society, Mr. Putin’s Kremlin has chosen to leave an escape valve for dissenting opinions — as long as they remain marginal and pose no threat to those in power.

But this model may have now reached its end. The opposition proved to be less marginal than the Kremlin hoped and, as dissatisfaction with the regime grew, the Kremlin decided there was no longer any usefulness in pretending that democracy ruled. The irony is that despite Moscow’s new willingness to move toward a stricter Chinese mode, it is the seriousness with which Russians took those previous grants of limited liberties that now make harsh repression necessary. 

In truth, Russia has already reverted to a military-police state, keeping Mr. Putin and his regime in power mainly by force and intimidation. Not relying on police alone, the Kremlin in 2016 created a special force of 340,000 strong Russian Guards, whose mission is primarily “protecting public order.” The government has also been steadily dismantling what is left of a market economy, moving assets into the state coffers and investing in a rapidly expanding military-industrial complex.
Most of the recent mass arrests, and the brutal treatment of protesters and members of the opposition, are a clear indication that the regime is fully prepared to use violence to stay in power. 

The Kremlin understands that genuine democracy would mean the end of Putinism, and so it leaves those who desire change through democratic means with no options. But does Mr. Putin really want to turn Red Square into a Russian Tiananmen Square?
Michael Khodarkovsky is a professor of history at Loyola University Chicago."


Opinion | Putin’s Nightmare: The Ballot Box

Monday, September 02, 2019

Revealed: Georgia Republicans use power of state to suppress minority vote | US news | The Guardian

Voter protection, voter integrity, election integrity, should never be a political issue,รข€™ said Sara Ghazal.



"Top Georgia Republicans continue to use the power of the state to investigate political rivals, executing a strategy that voting rights activists say is designed to intimidate voting rights organizations and activists serving minority communities.



Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, and David Emadi, executive secretary of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, are investigating and issuing subpoenas to political opponents, without publicly showing evidence there was wrongdoing by those parties.



Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, pioneered the tactic as secretary of state, where he used his authority to investigate political opponents, liberal political groups and get out the vote (GOTV) organizers working in racial minority communities.



To date, none of the investigations, subpoenas, arrests or prosecutions against political opponents and minority GOTV organizers have led to convictions, meaning that Kemp’s – and now Raffensperger and Emadi’s – political rivals remain innocent of charges brought against them.



But voting rights activists say there is a trend in Georgia of Republicans using the power of an elected office to investigate political opponents as a voter intimidation tactic.



Voter intimidation has changed its nature since the billy club and water hose violence of the 1960s, according to Carol Anderson, a historian studying public policy and race at Emory University.



Because voter intimidation is no longer exercised through violence, and is instead exercised through subpoenas and investigations, Anderson argues the practice does not register as strongly with the public. Voter intimidation by the state, however, remains closely tied to race. In today’s politics, race and party are almost indistinguishable, Anderson said, blurring the lines between what is politically or racially motivated.



“Because we don’t see the night stick, because we don’t see the teargas, it doesn’t register for us as intimidation. But it is just as powerful, just as malignant, just as malevolent … the whole point is that blacks get hurt worse than whites,” said Anderson.



The governor’s and secretary of state’s offices have not responded to requests for comment.



In 2019, after Kemp won the gubernatorial election, he appointed a political ally and contributor to his campaign, Emadi, to head a commission overseeing campaign finance. Emadi quickly opened an investigation into Stacey Abrams’ campaign, alleging Kemp’s rival exceeded maximum contribution limits.



Emadi issued subpoenas seeking banking and financial records. The subpoenas also seek extensive communications between the campaign and a network of political groups that are run by or are focused on people of color, which has sparked accusations of racial and political motivations behind the investigation.



Emadi has denied any racial or political motivations.



The Guardian obtained communications between attorneys for the campaign and Emadi which show that the commission did not provide any evidence of their allegations, or the “basis for the finding of probable cause”, as required in the commission rules.



Emadi said he could not comment on open investigations.



In 2019, Raffensperger opened an investigation into an alleged 4,700 missing absentee ballot requests in DeKalb county, coming from voters the Abrams campaign targeted, from November’s midterm elections. Using absentee ballots as a way to increase voter turnout among unlikely or first-time voters was a primary strategy of the Abrams campaign, which led to Abrams outperforming Kemp in mail-in ballots by 53,709 votes.



One of the first calls from investigators was to the mail-processing vendor the Abrams campaign used, according to Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ former campaign manager. She now runs Fair Fight, an organization started by Abrams to challenge current voting laws and procedures in Georgia.



The investigation remains open, with no conclusion as to what happened to the ballot applications.



Opening investigations against Democratic candidates, the state Democratic party or liberal political groups that report issues to the secretary of state’s office, only to have the mechanism of the state turned against them, has become a political trend in Georgia.



These types of investigations could have a chilling effect on people or groups interested in organizing in their communities.



“If you’re going to open up a shop organizing Latinos or Asian Americans or whatever the group may be, you need to be prepared in Georgia for the power of the state to come down on you and your folks,” Groh-Wargo said. “Your folks need to be ready that they could be literally criminalized for this type of activity, and that you need to have lawyers on the ready.”



The power of opening investigations and keeping them open for years has a big impact, Groh-Wargo said.



It shuts the work of organizers down – which has not yet happened due to any of the investigations – and shuts the funding of the organization down. It is more difficult, Groh-Wargo said, to raise money when your organization is being investigated for a crime.



“To show that there is actually no wrongdoing is an incredible burden for an organization to have to manage a board through that, or for the board to have to explain it to its funders,” Groh-Wargo said.



Raffensperger’s office is also exercising the power of the subpoena. Secretary of state lawyers used a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Georgia’s election system to issue subpoenas for extensive financial and communication records from a number of left-leaning civil rights groups and churches – when none of those organizations are party to the case.



Responding to the subpoenas will cost each organization time and thousands of dollars.



The most extreme example of an investigation on false pretenses came on 4 November 2018, two days before the midterm election. The secretary of state’s office knowingly falsely accused the Democratic party of Georgia of attempting to hack the election. The initial round of media coverage reflected the accusation, before the facts were available that the accusation was fabricated.



“That was weaponizing and using the office of the secretary of state to accuse the political party,” said Sara Ghazal, the voter protection director for the Democratic party of Georgia.



The Guardian interviewed voter registration organizers in Asian American and black communities, and leaders from Fair Fight and the Democratic party of Georgia. Each independently asserted the investigations were politically motivated.



“These weaponized investigations are used to change the entire political narrative, not only around political campaigns and individuals, but around issues,” Ghazal said. “Voter protection, voter integrity, election integrity, should never be a political issue. And yet, you’ve got debates now that are wholly politicized.”



That investigation into the Democratic party of Georgia has not concluded. No officials have been questioned or related subpoenas issued. Like each of the others, it has yet to produce any prosecutions, additional evidence, or convictions.



Ghazal runs the largest voter protection project in the country and has records of tens of thousands of voter complaints over the last couple years.



Given the recent history of investigations being turned against political opponents, Ghazal is purposely avoiding the secretary of state’s office for fear of “inadvertently giving them something else that can be weaponized against an individual voter or against the party”.





Revealed: Georgia Republicans use power of state to suppress minority vote | US news | The Guardian