Contact Me By Email

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.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Students and Staff Rally Behind Black Principal of Massachusetts Middle School After He Faces Racist Backlash for Condemning the Confederate Flag

Students and Staff Rally Behind Black Principal of Massachusetts Middle School After He Faces Racist Backlash for Condemning the Confederate Flag

Desmond Caldwell, principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School
Desmond Caldwell, principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School 
Screenshot: Desmond Caldwell

“White folks are so desperate to be oppressed that a simple plea to be considerate of the feelings of others is seen as a slight against their constitutional right to be an asshole. Staff and students at a Massachusetts middle school rallied behind their principal on Wednesday after he faced racist backlash for asking students not to display the Confederate flag during virtual learning.

According to Masslive, Desmond Caldwell, principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton, Mass., had received concerns from students that they felt discomfort after seeing Confederate flags displayed by some of their peers during virtual learning. To address these concerns, Caldwell sent a video to students and teachers explaining the racist history associated with the flag, and asked for students not to have it displayed during virtual or in-person learning.

From Masslive:

In the video, Caldwell described how he had recently dealt with multiple cases of people wearing, posting and sharing imagery that contained the Confederate flag. He said he had no intention of debating that the Confederate flag is protected under the First Amendment, but said he also would not debate that the flag has ties to racist beliefs and organizations.

“What complicates the Confederate flag is that not all who carry or fly the flag do so from a place of hate. Yet many hate groups fly the Confederate flag,” he said, while providing background on the flag’s history.

In explaining his request to not display the Confederate flag, Caldwell said he was not doing so to step on anyone’s rights, but to “help create a safer and less-distracting” learning environment. He further asserted that he wasn’t accusing anyone of intentionally hurting others, but asked members of the school community to consider why they felt it necessary to display the flag when it carries hurtful connotations.

Sounds easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy right? Wrong.

A select group took umbrage with the fact that a Black man had the sheer fucking audacity to ask “hey, why not be more considerate?” A Facebook page went live on Monday called the “JFK White Student Union,” and that went exactly how you think it did. The page, claiming to be run by a student at the school, called Caldwell an “anti-American tyrant,” and added that “across the U.S. whites are under attack.”

You mean the group of people who managed to storm the U.S. Capitol and mostly walk away with their lives? Those folks are under attack? This dude’s last name must be Armstrong because that’s a stretch

The page quickly disappeared and according to John Provost, superintendent of Northampton Public Schools, the Northampton Police Department has launched an investigation. While the page was alleged to be run by a student, Provost has said they’ve been unable to verify if that was true.

In response to the page, a group of 200 students held an anti-racist demonstration outside of the school on Wednesday in support of Caldwell. The demonstration was organized by Cecelia Ripley, Julia Albro-Fisher and Julian Clark, three students at the school.

Caldwell received an overwhelming amount of support from both students, faculty, and Provost as well.“

Strengthening American Democracy Stacey Abrams Testifies

Republican tries to praise Louis DeJoy at hearing… it backfires spectacu...

More than 25m drink from the worst US water systems, with Latinos most exposed | US news | The Guardian

More than 25m drink from the worst US water systems, with Latinos most exposed

"Guardian investigation shows systems in Latino areas violate federal drinking water rules twice as much as those serving the rest of the US

man carries water jug
Texas has the most high-violation systems, followed by California and Oklahoma. Illustration: Ricardo Santos and Max Whittaker/The Guardian

Millions of people in the US are drinking water that fails to meet federal health standards, including by violating limits for dangerous contaminants.

Latinos are disproportionately exposed, according to the Guardian’s review of more than 140,000 public water systems across the US and county-level demographic data. 

Water systems in counties that are 25% or more Latino are violating drinking water contamination rules at twice the rate of those in the rest of the country.

America’s worst public water systems – those that have accrued more than 15 “violation points” for breaking standards over five years – serve more than 25m Americans, the research shows. An estimated 5.8m of these are Latino.

Texas, where millions of residents lost access to water and power during the recent storm, has the most high-violation systems, followed by California and Oklahoma. The average number of violations is highest in Oklahoma, West Virginia and New Mexico.

The six-month investigation of five years of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other data also shows how:

  • Access to clean drinking water is highly unequal in the US, based on race, income and geography

  • Poorer counties have more than twice as many violation points as wealthy ones

  • Some water systems report hundreds of violation points year after year without any action from the government and without being required to notify customers

  • Rural counties have 28% more violation points than metropolitan ones

Scientists and former government officials describe a water regulation system that is broken. “Most policymakers believe compliance with environmental rules is high,” said Cynthia Giles, the former head of enforcement at the EPA under Barack Obama, but that belief was “wrong”.

Experts are most concerned about systems serving smaller communities. They say Latinos are particularly at risk because they often live near industrial farms in California and the west that have polluted local water with nitrates in runoff from fertilizers and manure. They are also more likely to live in the south-west, where arsenic violations are common. 

Research has found that Latinos are more likely to distrust tap water. 

Paloma Beamer, a public health researcher at the University of Arizona, found that most Latino residents in Nogales, Arizona, thought that drinking tap water was as unsafe as drinking alcohol and driving, and more detrimental to their health than smoking. Many turn to bottled water, but it is not subjected to the same testing requirements and regulations and may be as risky as, or worse than, tap water, Beamer said.

“There needs to be more transparency explaining how the water is tested, and what standards it’s held to and how they can rely on it to be a safe drinking water source. It is important for people to understand in their community what the primary violations are for and what their alternative water sources are,” Beamer said.

The consequences of even tiny levels of contaminants in water can be high. The EPA sets a limit of 10mg of nitrate per liter of water, but it is frequently exceeded. The standard is meant to protect against “blue baby syndrome”, which happens when a fetus hasn’t received enough oxygen, and thyroid disease, which can cause fatigue, weight gain and hair loss.

Nitrates are a big issue in communities in California’s Central Valley such as East Orosi, an unincorporated community of about 700 where children grow up learning not to open their eyes or mouths while they shower. Maria Orozco, a 30-year-old resident, doesn’t remember a time when she felt safe drinking water from the faucet. Recently, her daughters’ hair has started falling out in the shower, more than usual. Her hair has begun falling out too. “It’s like a knot in your stomach,” she said, of this constant worry over the water and her family’s health.

Advocates in East Orosi say they face multiple challenges just securing safe water. “The Central Valley produces a variety of food from grapes, almonds, apricots, blueberries and we also create a variety of blended, toxic water,” said Susana de Anda, executive director of the Community Water Center. “Our groundwater is a toxic blend of nitrates, arsenic, 123TCP, chromium.”

Since 2015, the town’s water system has exceeded the federal legal limit for nitrates 15 times.

Findings from across the US

Public health campaigners are increasingly concerned about nitrates in drinking water.

“We’re just seeing so many new studies that show lower and lower levels of nitrate can be dangerous. They can increase the risk of cancer if you have low-level exposure over many years,” said Anne Schechinger, a senior economic analyst with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) who authored a recent report on nitrates. “It really makes you wonder if the EPA is keeping us safe with a lot of their maximum contaminant limits they’ve established.”

Asked to comment, an EPA spokesperson said: “Ensuring that all Americans have access to safe drinking water – including in communities of color and low-income communities – is a priority.” The agency said: “While over 92% of Americans receive drinking water that meets all health-based standards all of the time, EPA is continuing to work with its partners to close remaining gaps.”

In California alone, 5.25 million people in majority-Latino communities are drinking water that exceeds federal nitrate limits, according to Schechinger’s report for the EWG. Even more could be at risk from contaminated water in private wells, which are not regulated. 

The Biden administration has promised to make tackling environmental justice a priority after four years of regulation cutting under Donald Trump. 

The Guardian data investigation captures some of the scale of the challenge.

While Americans largely don’t have to worry about the type of biological contaminants that plague developing nations, they are likely to be exposed to much quieter threats – heavy metals, radiation and chemicals that can lead to significant health problems over time. Small systems – which can serve individual mobile home parks, highway fast food restaurants, churches and schools, often have the worst problems - and fewest resources to fix them.

“The horror stories start when you look at utilities serving fewer than 10,000 people,” said Betsy Southerland, former director of the office of science and technology for the office of water at the EPA.


Water contamination in the US is wide-reaching.

The dangerous pollutants that water systems have difficulty filtering out vary across the country, from the nitrates from farm runoff in states where agriculture is prominent, including California, to radioactive mining substances in states such as West Virginia.

Health effects are wide-ranging. Arsenic, chlorine and radionuclides are tied with higher incidences of cancer; nitrate fertilizers can hinder the delivery of oxygen to red blood cells; the weed killer atrazine is linked to hormone disruption in women, premature births and lower IQ levels in children.

Among the communities with major drinking water challenges, the Guardian analysis showed:

Coal Mountain, West Virginia, which serves about 118 people, tops the list in our analysis, with its water system having the most violation points in the country: 595 points over five years. It has detected high levels of radionuclides, disinfection byproducts, arsenic, lead and copper, nitrates and coliform. The county’s median household income is $35,460, which is about half of the US median household income. The community has seen a rise in mountaintop removal coal mining. The Appalachian Regional Commission – a federal-state partnership – said it was spending millions to upgrade the system.

Left: Extensive mountain top removal coalmining and logging in West Virginia. Right: A pond filled with wastewater from a mountain top removal coalmine showing evidence of pollution in West Virginia. Photograph by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

The Klondike independent school district in Dawson county and Martin county, in West Texas, had 390 violation points over five years. Its roughly 270 students in grades pre-K through 12 could have been exposed to arsenic, nitrates, coliform bacteria, disinfectants and disinfection byproducts, copper, inorganic chemicals and radionuclides. The district spans 600 sq miles of oilfields and cotton and peanut farms. About half of the students are Latino, Superintendent Steve McLaren estimated. Klondike spent about $1m on upgrades to meet tightened standards, including some funds from a philanthropic foundation. “We want to do the right thing, but sometimes it’s difficult to do the right thing because of finances,” McLaren said.

Lubbock county, Texas, is home to 24 of the top 1,000 water systems with the most violation points, including those for mobile home parks, a children’s sports camp and an assisted living facility for seniors.

The smaller a water system is, the more likely it is to experience problems. That’s often because there are fewer customers to charge for needed upgrades.

The American Water Works Association—whose members supply most of the nation’s drinking water—acknowledged that small systems have fewer resources to fix problems. But it said many of their violations are for inadequate monitoring, not for contaminants.

Of the more than 140,000 public water systems in the US, more than 97% serve fewer than 10,000 people. Small systems can struggle to afford testing and treating the water, or even issuing the public violation notices that the federal government requires when contaminant levels are too high. There is no government agency dedicated to responding to chronic diseases from water contamination. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only responds to acute outbreaks, such as coliform bacteria.

“If no one is immediately dying, there’s no rush to do analysis on substances of concern,” said Carl Reeverts, a former program director at the EPA who was with the agency for 38 years. “Enforcement is incredibly low, and we don’t have a strong program for bringing people in line.”


How we did our data analysis of US public water systems

Broken reporting system

Repeated reviews under the Obama administration found that states are not telling the EPA about violations. For violations from lead and copper pipes, for example, 92% are not reported by states to the federal government, according to the most according recent EPA audit, conducted in 2008. The EPA has since discontinued annual audits of state files as the result of budget cuts.

The current reporting system is a “mess”, according to the water researcher Dr Upmanu Lall, chair of the department of Earth and environmental engineering at Columbia University and director of the Columbia Water Center.

Lall’s research cites an up to 38% under-reporting of drinking water violations on average, according to government data. Lall said most water systems test only at the plant, not at the point of use – meaning they can miss major problems such as contamination from lead pipes.

Lall doesn’t blame the people running the water systems, who largely live in the communities they serve. The systems are cash strapped, and banks are charging more and more for loans to update infrastructure. So they cut corners, trim staff, or stop monitoring and treating altogether, he said.

In addition to lacking tracking and enforcement, water standards aren’t strong enough to begin with, according to former EPA officials. The US government requires monitoring for 94 contaminants, not including known health hazards like PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that have been implicated in cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and thyroid disease. PFAS include nonstick substances used in cookware and firefighting foam and are being discovered in water supplies around the country.

In a statement responding to this story, an EPA spokesperson said the agency would work with states to analyze and address “compliance challenges in struggling drinking water systems” and target assistance to underserved communities. It said it had a number of programs to assist disadvantaged communities and provided “technical assistance to help address lead and other regulated contaminants” and understood the “urgent need” to evaluate and address PFAS in drinking water.

The most recent to be regulated by the agency was arsenic, in 2003.

Of the roughly 10,000 known chemicals that can be in consumer products, most have not been closely studied for health impacts, so there is no information about what happens if they enter the water supply.

The US water regulation system has failed to protect the most vulnerable Americans for decades, under both Republican and Democratic presidents. Donald Trump weakened rules that could fight water contamination at the source, where agriculture giants and industrial corporations are polluting groundwater. Joe Biden will seek to reverse those changes, but setting or tightening a standard for how much of a dangerous substance can be in drinking water is an arduous process.

Clean water advocates are calling for a significant injection of federal resources and a revamp of regulations to make it easier to protect the public, and harder for industry to resist tighter standards.

“Relying on the federal government is not going to get you very far,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist with the EWG. “Federal standards fall far behind what we know is necessary for human health.”

More than 25m drink from the worst US water systems, with Latinos most exposed | US news | The Guardian

Capitol Police chief says extremists have discussed attack on Congress during Biden’s first joint address

Capitol Police chief says extremists have discussed attack on Congress during Biden’s first joint address

“The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police warned lawmakers Thursday that militia members involved in the Jan. 6 riot “want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” during President Biden’s first congressional address.

The stark warning about another potential threat to Congress — which has not been corroborated by other law enforcement agencies — comes as a date for Biden’s first address on Capitol Hill has not been set. New presidents typically deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress in February.

Acting chief Yogananda D. Pittman told lawmakers there was “a direct nexus” between the threats and a Biden speech.

She cited that intelligence to explain why National Guard members who were deployed and the tall security barriers that were erected around the Capitol after the insurrection have not yet been removed.

“Based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol Police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” Pittman said.

It was not clear whether other agencies have also identified threats to the Capitol during Biden’s first congressional address. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment. The bureau is regularly tipped to online chatter about all manner of threats, and officials have said it is difficult to separate that which is aspirational from that which poses real concern.

Troubling online conversation often fails to materialize into a tangible threat. In the run-up to Biden’s inauguration, for example, the FBI privately warned law enforcement agencies that far-right extremists had discussed posing as National Guard members in Washington, and that others have reviewed maps of vulnerable spots in the city. Officials took aggressive measures to secure the Capitol, and ultimately the day passed without incident.

But officials are eager to show they are taking threats seriously, particularly because lawmakers from both parties have criticized the Capitol Police and the FBI for not responding to indications of possible violence before the Jan. 6 riot. An internal Capitol Police intelligence report three days before the siege warned“Congress itself” could be the target of violence, and an FBI office in Virginia warned one day before that demonstrators were prepared for “war.”

Pittman insisted Thursday there was “no credible threat” in the available intelligence that rioters would actually break into the Capitol. As a result, she said, the police “were not prepared” for the demonstration to turn into an angry mob, as she said a small subset of organized rioters whipped up the others present to increasing displays of aggression and violence.

And she said that “well in excess” of 10,000 people came onto the Capitol grounds during the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that about 800 entered the building — the first time an official has provided an estimate of the size of the crowd that broke through the Capitol’s perimeter.

“To stop a mob of tens of thousands requires more than a police force, it requires physical infrastructure or a regiment of soldiers,” Pittman said. “We know that some of those temporary enhancements are not popular, but these are necessary in the short term.”

Lawmakers, especially those in the GOP, are growing antsy over the continued presence of soldiers and barriers at the Capitol, which Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), the top Republican on the Appropriations subcommittee hosting Thursday’s hearing, said is costing $2 million per week to maintain.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) described the reinforcements as “stark visual sadness” and likened the current Capitol environment to “working in a minimum security prison.”

In the Senate, Rules Committee ranking member Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also said Thursday that “there are ways to achieve the safety we need here without the fortresslike sense at the Capitol right now, and hopefully you get there sooner rather than later.”

This was the first week that current and former officials responsible for the response to the shortlived insurrection testified in public before congressional committees, the opening acts of what is likely to be a long-term effort to document the failings that led to the violence and avoid a similar calamity in the future.

So far, those hearings have failed to resolve even basic questions about what transpired, such as when the Capitol Police chief requested approval for backup from the National Guard.

Former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving, both of whom resigned following the riot, clashed over some details of the timeline that day. Sund claimed he had requested help from the National Guard two days before the riot and again as soon as the pro-Trump demonstrators broke through the outdoor security perimeter, requesting the Guard by 1:09 p.m. that day.

Irving told lawmakers he was on the floor of the House at that time and did not remember getting a call from Sund until nearly 1:30 p.m., when Sund told him he might be requesting the Guard be activated.

On Thursday, Pittman partially backed up Sund’s account, reading from his cellphone records that she said showed that he repeatedly contacted Irving, starting at 12:58 p.m. that day.

Matt Zapotosky, Mike DeBonis and Ashley Parker contributed to this report.”

Opinion | The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness - The New York Times

The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness

Michelle Goldberg
The New York Times

    How the right is trying to censor critical race theory.

    Opinion Columnist

      It’s something of a truism, particularly on the right, that conservatives have claimed the mantle of free speech from an intolerant left that is afraid to engage with uncomfortable ideas. Every embarrassing example of woke overreach — each ill-considered school board decision or high-profile campus meltdown — fuels this perception.

      Yet when it comes to outright government censorship, it is the right that’s on the offense. Critical race theory, the intellectual tradition undergirding concepts like white privilege and microaggressions, is often blamed for fomenting what critics call cancel culture. And so, around America and even overseas, people who don’t like cancel culture are on an ironic quest to cancel the promotion of critical race theory in public forums.

      In September, Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget ordered federal agencies to “begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’” which it described as “un-American propaganda.”

      A month later, the conservative government in Britain declared some uses of critical race theory in education illegal. “We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt,” said the Tory equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch. “Any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.”

      Some in France took up the fight as well. “French politicians, high-profile intellectuals and journalists are warning that progressive American ideas — specifically on race, gender, post-colonialism — are undermining their society,” Norimitsu Onishi reported in The New York Times. (This is quite a reversal from the days when American conservatives warned darkly about subversive French theory.)

      Once Joe Biden became president, he undid Trump’s critical race theory ban, but lawmakers in several states have proposed their own prohibitions. An Arkansas legislator introduced a pair of bills, one banning the teaching of The Times’s 1619 Project curriculum, and the other nixing classes, events and activities that encourage “division between, resentment of, or social justice for” specific groups of people. “What is not appropriate is being able to theorize, use, specifically, critical race theory,” the bills’ sponsor told The Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

      Republicans in West Virginia and Oklahoma have introduced bills banning schools and, in West Virginia’s case, state contractors from promoting “divisive concepts,” including claims that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.” A New Hampshire Republican also proposed a “divisive concepts” ban, saying in a hearing, “This bill addresses something called critical race theory.”

      Kimberlé Crenshaw, a pioneering legal scholar who teaches at both U.C.L.A. and Columbia, has watched with alarm the attempts to suppress an entire intellectual movement. It was Crenshaw who came up with the name “critical race theory” when organizing a workshop in 1989. (She also coined the term “intersectionality.”) “The commitment to free speech seems to dissipate when the people who are being gagged are folks who are demanding racial justice,” she told me.

      Many of the intellectual currents that would become critical race theory emerged in the 1970s out of disappointment with the incomplete work of the civil rights movement, and cohered among radical law professors in the 1980s.

      The movement was ahead of its time; one of its central insights, that racism is structural rather than just a matter of interpersonal bigotry, is now conventional wisdom, at least on the left. It had concrete practical applications, leading, for example, to legal arguments that housing laws or employment criteria could be racist in practice even if they weren’t racist in intent.

      Parts of the critical race theory tradition are in tension with liberalism, particularly when it comes to issues like free speech. Richard Delgado, a key figure in the movement, has argued that people should be able to sue those who utter racist slurs. Others have played a large role in crafting campus speech codes.

      There’s plenty here for people committed to broad free speech protections to dispute. I’m persuaded by the essay Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote in the 1990s challenging the movement’s stance on the first amendment. “To remove the very formation of our identities from the messy realm of contestation and debate is an elemental, not incidental, truncation of the ideal of public discourse,” he wrote.

      Disagreeing with certain ideas, however, is very different from anathematizing the collective work of a host of paradigm-shifting thinkers. Gates’s article was effective because he took the scholarly work he engaged with seriously. “The critical race theorists must be credited with helping to reinvigorate the debate about freedom of expression; even if not ultimately persuaded to join them, the civil libertarian will be much further along for having listened to their arguments and examples,” he wrote.

      But the right, for all its chest-beating about the value of entertaining dangerous notions, is rarely interested in debating the tenets of critical race theory. It wants to eradicate them from public institutions.

      “Critical race theory is a grave threat to the American way of life,” Christopher Rufo, director of the Center on Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank once known for pushing an updated form of creationism in public schools, wrote in January.

      Rufo’s been leading the conservative charge against critical race theory. Last year, during an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, he called on Trump to issue an executive order abolishing “critical race theory trainings from the federal government.” The next day, he told me, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, called him and asked for his help putting an order together.

      Last month, Rufo announced a “new coalition of legal foundations and private attorneys that will wage relentless legal warfare against race theory in America’s institutions.” A number of House and Senate offices, he told me, are working on their own anti-critical race theory bills, though none are likely to go anywhere as long as Biden is president.

      As Rufo sees it, critical race theory is a revolutionary program that replaces the Marxist categories of the bourgeois and the proletariat with racial groups, justifying discrimination against those deemed racial oppressors. His goal, ultimately, is to get the Supreme Court to rule that school and workplace trainings based on the doctrines of critical race theory violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

      This inversion, casting anti-racist activists as the real racists, is familiar to Ian Haney López, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in critical race theory. “There’s a rhetoric of reaction which seeks to claim that it’s defending these higher values, which, perversely, often are the very values it’s traducing,” he said. “Whether that’s ‘In the name of free speech we’re going to persecute, we’re going to launch investigations into particular forms of speech’ or — and I think this is equally perverse — ‘In the name of fighting racism, we’re going to launch investigations into those scholars who are most serious about studying the complex forms that racism takes.’”

      Rufo insists there are no free speech implications to what he’s trying to do. “You have the freedom of speech as an individual, of course, but you don’t have the kind of entitlement to perpetuate that speech through public agencies,” he said.

      This sounds, ironically, a lot like the arguments people on the left make about de-platforming right-wingers. To Crenshaw, attempts to ban critical race theory vindicate some of the movement’s skepticism about free speech orthodoxy, showing that there were never transcendent principles at play.

      When people defend offensive speech, she said, they’re often really defending “the substance of what the speech is — because if it was really about free speech, then this censorship, people would be howling to the high heavens.” If it was really about free speech, they should be."

      Opinion | The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness - The New York Times

      Thursday, February 25, 2021

      John Brennan: Testimony Today Showed Extremists ‘Have Plans To Carry Out...

      WTH?!? Black Teen Strangely Arrested After Being Stopped For Walking In ...

      This once again demonstrates how racist America is as dumb police clearly violate the constitutional rights of African Americans. These police should have been immediately fired.
      Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)
      Primary Holding
      Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a police officer may stop a suspect on the street and frisk him or her without probable cause to arrest, if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person "may be armed and presently dangerous." None of those requited prerequisites existed. This is illegal, racist behavior at it's worst. I hate America..

      Manhattan District Attorney Obtains Trump's Tax Returns | Hallie Jackson...

      All The Ways Georgia Could Make It Harder To Vote

      All The Ways Georgia Could Make It Harder To Vote

      , at

      Georgia Residents Cast Ballots As Early Voting For U.S. Presidential Election Begins
      An absentee ballot drop box for the 2020 presidential election in Atlanta.

      Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

      “We spent the summer and fall of 2020 tracking changes to state voting regulations due to the pandemic, when almost every state relaxed its laws to make it easier to vote. That’s not the case here in 2021, though, as many Republican state legislators spend the early days of this year’s legislative session proposing laws that would make it harder to vote — especially in ways disproportionately used by Democrats and voters of color — under the pretense of preventing large-scale voter fraud (which doesn’t exist).

      How the Georgia runoffs changed the ‘polling is broken’ narrative

      According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a pro-voting-rights advocacy group, more than 165 bills restricting voting access have been proposed in 33 state legislatures — more than four times as many as had been proposed in February 2020. The ones that have received the most attention are probably those in Georgia, both because that state has emerged as one of the closest swing states in the country and because of how draconian the restrictions are. And because Republicans control all levers of state government in Georgia, these bills have a higher chance than most of actually becoming law.

      [What Happened When 2.2 Million People Were Automatically Registered To Vote]

      There are currently two big bills under consideration in the Peach State. The first, House Bill 531, introduced in the Georgia state House last Thursday — just an hour before its hearing was scheduled — has received a lot of attention for the sheer breadth of what it is proposing. It would:

      • Require absentee voters to submit their driver’s license number, state ID number or a copy of their photo ID with their ballot.
      • Shorten the window in which voters can request absentee ballots; they would have to do so between 11 weeks before the election and two Fridays before the election. (Currently Georgians can request absentee ballotsbetween 180 days before the election and one Friday before the election.)
      • Prevent election officials from mailing absentee ballots until four weeks before the election.
      • Bar election officials from mailing unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to voters.
      • Limit the early-voting period to business hours during the three weeks preceding the election, plus the second Saturday before the election; early voting would no longer be allowed any other day, including Sundays.
      • Clarify that no one can give food or water to people standing in line to vote. (Separately, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has argued that this is already against the law, and he has announced his intention to start enforcing it more.)
      • Allow ballot drop boxes at early-voting sites only, and only when those sites are open.
      • Limit the use of mobile voting facilities, such as buses, to emergencies.
      • Throw out provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct.
      • Prohibit counties from accepting outside funding for elections.

      And on Tuesday night, the state Senate also released its own omnibus election bill, Senate Bill 241. SB 241 would:

      • Require that voters have an excuse to vote absentee — despite the fact that Georgia has offered no-excuse absentee voting without incident since 2005.
      • Require a driver’s license number or state ID number to apply for an absentee ballot on paper (this is already required to apply for one online).
      • Require absentee voters to get their ballot envelope signed by a witness and enclose a copy of their photo ID with the ballot.
      • Empower the state to remove local election officials from their posts.
      • Also limit the use of mobile voting facilities to emergencies.

      Obviously, there is a fair amount of overlap between SB 241 and HB 531 — for now. Legislators will have the chance to amend the bills either to make them match or have them cover different aspects of election administration.1 And other, smaller pieces of legislation are under consideration too. For example, SB 69 would end Georgia’s practice of automatically registering people to vote at the Department of Driver Services, and SB 70 would ban people from voting in a general-election runoff (such as the one Georgia just held for the U.S. Senate) if they voted in the general election in another state.

      Democrats and voting-rights advocates have decried the proposals, accusing Republicans of trying to disenfranchise Democrats and voters of color. (At least one Republican appears to agree: Alice O’Lenick, a Republican election official in Gwinnett County, has urged the legislature to make these changes “so that we at least have a shot at winning.”) But regardless of the intention, the bills would undeniably have the practical effect of disenfranchising Black voters, who in Georgia are the Democratic base, at a disproportionate rate.

      [Why So Few Absentee Ballots Were Rejected In 2020]

      For one thing, the ban on Sunday early voting would spell the end of “souls to the polls” voting events, which usher parishioners to polling places after Sunday morning services at predominantly Black churches. For another, the ban on giving out food and water would probably hit hardest in places with the longest lines to vote, which tend to be in predominantly nonwhite and lower-income communities. In addition, the local-control proviso in SB 241 would effectively allow the currently Republican-controlled secretary of state’s office to usurp the power of lower-level officials in Democratic and/or majority-minority counties. Likewise, under HB 531, DeKalb County (which is more than 70 percent nonwhite) would not be allowed to mail absentee-ballot applications to every voter and Fulton County (which is more than 60 percent nonwhite) would not be able to offer mobile voting buses, as they each did in 2020.

      And of course, the bills make it a lot harder to vote absentee by mail, a voting method used predominantly by Democrats in 2020. (In Georgia specifically, President Biden won absentee votes 65 percent to 34 percent.) However, it’s not entirely clear that the absentee-voting stipulations of these bills would actually help Republicans all that much electorally. That is, Democrats may be likelier than Republicans to take advantage of absentee voting when it is available, but there’s no evidence that mail voting actually helps Democrats win. And, in fact, prior to 2020, there was no significant partisan gap between absentee votes and Election Day votes. (In 2016, Donald Trump won Georgia absentee voters 49 percent to 47 percent.)

      It remains to be seen if these bills will actually become law. Republicans do control the state Senate, state House and governorship in Georgia, giving them (theoretically) unfettered ability to pass bills over Democratic objections. But the lawmaking process also presents many hurdles, and these bills may go too far even for some Republicans. Most notably, state House Speaker David Ralston said last month that he opposed adding an excuse requirement for absentee voting. And a statistical model from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution based on the success or failure of past Georgia legislation2 gives HB 531 a 26 percent chance of passing and SB 241 only a 24 percent chance of passing. SB 69 and SB 70 are even longer shots, with just a 12 percent chance each.

      That said, individual bills covering the same topics as the two big omnibus bills are still independently making their way through the legislature, meaning some provisions of the bills could become law even if they don’t pass. For example, the state Senate has already passed SB 67, which requires voters to submit their driver’s license number, their state ID number or a photocopy of their photo ID with paper absentee-ballot applications. And the Journal-Constitution gives SB 89, which would empower the secretary of state’s office to intervene in “low-performing” county election offices, a 52 percent chance of passing on its own.

      [What Absentee Voting Looked Like In All 50 States]

      And even if Republicans fail to pass these bills in Georgia, they could have more success in other states. Several other Republican-controlled states have proposed similar voting restrictions. In Arizona, HB 2701 would restrict mail voting to only people who physically cannot vote in person — and at the same time slash the number of in-person polling locations. HB 2369 would require that people returning their ballot by mail get the envelope notarized or else enclose a copy of their photo ID. HB 2720 would even allow the state House to overturn the results of an election with a simple majority vote — probably the most egregiously undemocratic bill in the entire country.

      In Iowa, the state Senate has already passed a bill that would cut the early-voting period, close Election Day polling places one hour earlier, ban the mailing of unsolicited absentee-ballot applications and require absentee ballots to be received by Election Day, not just postmarked by then. In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed restricting the use of drop boxes and banning people from dropping off other people’s ballots. And in Wisconsin, Republicans want to end the ability to request an absentee ballot for all elections in a given year, create more paperwork for in-person absentee voters and require absentee voters to provide ID. (However, because Wisconsin has a Democratic governor, these proposals are unlikely to become law.)

      The list goes on: At least 15 other states have proposed stricter voter-ID lawsthis year, too. And a least three others want to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting. Clearly, 2020 may not be the last time the rules over how you can cast your ballot will change. We’ll be tracking all these proposals and writing about them regularly so you’re not caught off guard.”