Republican Redistricting Plans Are Discriminatory and Federal Court Says So – Republican leaders violated US Voting Rights Act in Congressional, State Senate and State House maps. A three-judge Federal District Court panel in Washington, DC has ruled that the redistricting maps adopted by the Texas Legislature last year violate the US Voting Rights Act. The Court determined that Texas Republican leaders enacted maps that reduced the opportunity for minority voters in Texas to elect their candidates of choice and the Court ruled that the Legislature used a process that was intentionally discriminatory in adopting the Congressional and State Senate maps.
Republicans to Declare ‘We Built This!’ in Stadium Built with Government Funds – The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced this week that it would craft its convention theme around President Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” remark — which was taken out of context — and the Republicans will unveil their message in an arena that was financed with $86 million in public money.
During a campaign event in Virginia last month, Obama had pointed out the importance of the government’s role in providing infrastructure and education as a foundation for small business success. In a series of ads and speeches, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign selectively edited those remarks by removing the reference to “roads and bridges, ” making it seem like the president was dismissing the success of small business owners. In speeches and videos, the Romney campaign has repeatedly distorted Obama’s words” PolitiFact wrote. “By plucking two sentences out of context, Romney twists the president’s remarks and ignores their real meaning. … Romney and his supporters have misled viewers and given a false impression. For that, we rate the claim False.” But just because it’s been proven false, that won’t stop the Republicans for using it as a theme at their convention.
Texas Government cut more than 6,000 employees – A state auditors report just released shows that the state has eliminated about 6,145 jobs in the past year. Most of those cuts have come in state agencies, but colleges and universities also report that they have cut 336 faculty posts and 580 staff members.
The Legislature slashed state spending last year to deal with a multi-billion shortfall. The numbers of job lost don’t reflect public school teaching jobs, where nearly 11,000 positions were cut.
Romney Campaign Is Looking Through Your Personal Information – Mitt Romney’s campaign began a secretive data-mining project this summer to sort through Americans’ personal information — including their purchasing history and church attendance — to identify new and likely wealthy donors, The Associated Press has learned.
The project employs strategies similar to those the business world uses to influence the way Americans shop and think. Now they’re being used to sway presidential elections. The same personal data consumers give away — often unwittingly when they swipe their credit cards or log into Facebook — is now being used by the people who might one day occupy the White House.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is hoarding $300 million from Texas students. – Last November Texas voters approved a Constitutional Amendment to send that $300 million to our kids’ classrooms. Jerry Patterson, the announced candidate for Lt. Governor, is the Chairman of the 3-person School Land Board that has decided to keep $300 million of taxpayer dollars in a fund his office controls instead of funding our schools.
Here is a little more background information on this issue:
- A Constitutional Amendment, Proposition 6, was approved by Texas voters in the November 2011 Constitutional Amendment Election.
- The $300 million was budgeted to support school operations, contingent upon the constitutional amendment’s passage in November and the approval of the School Land Board, which lawmakers thought was guaranteed.
- Patterson has refused to release the $300 million to public education in order to fund “upcoming investment opportunities.”
- On August 21, Jerry Patterson and the School Land Board will meet again and could vote on this very issue.
We have 4 more days to make a difference. Make your voice heard and demand Jerry Patterson listen to the will of Texas voters.
Voter Suppression in Ohio – In Ohio the Republican Party isn’t even trying to hide its intentions. One of Gov. John Kasich’s closest advisers declared that election officials like himself should not “accommodate the urban — read African American — voter-turnout machine,” essentially admitting that their strategy is to limit African Americans’ ability to vote. On Friday, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted suspended and now may fire two election board members for the offense of — imagine this — seeking to expand access to the polls.
After the 2004 election, which saw thousands of Ohioans waiting in long lines for hours after the polls closed, Ohio sensibly created early voting by mail and in person. County election officials were able to ensure access to the polls for all voters. And in 2008, hundreds of thousands of voters — particularly African Americans — were able to vote early instead of waiting in long lines on Election Day.
But now, Republicans want to change the rules and limit access to early voting to give themselves an unfair advantage. In fact, they expanded early voting opportunities for Republican counties, but gave voters in larger, Democratic counties less time to vote early — even though these counties were precisely the counties that needed early voting because of the long lines in 2004! In response to accusations of unfairness, Secretary of State Husted then limited early voting opportunities for all counties. It’s outrageous.
In the past week, two Democratic election board members in Montgomery County refused to back down to Husted and proposed keeping early voting on the weekends so working people could vote in the election. For that, Husted punished them, suspending them from their positions. Can you believe it? Election officials shouldn’t be fired for trying to expand access to the voting booth.
Paul Ryan’s Connection to China and Gambling – Three days after being picked as Romney’s running-mate – Ryan went to Las Vegas to pay homage to Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is the poster boy for using money to become “politically connected” in Washington, and getting the “breaks” that come with it. Adelson has promised to donate up to $100 million to make sure Romney and Ryan are in the White House next year.
Much of Adelson’s fortune comes from his casino in Macau, in China, via his money-greased access to Washington. When China’s pitch for the 2008 Olympics was endangered by a House resolution opposing the bid because of China’s “abominable human rights record,” Adelson phoned Tom DeLay, then House majority whip and recipient of Adelson’s political generosity — urging him to block the resolution, which DeLay promptly did. The next day, according to the New York Times, a Chinese vice premier promised Mr. Adelson an endless line of gamblers to the Macau casino.
The money Adelson has committed to putting Romney and Ryan into the White House is a business investment. Adelson has a lot riding on the 2012 election. Last year, his Las Vegas Sands Corporation came under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — bribing Chinese officials to help expand its casino in Macau. The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, meanwhile, is investigating whether the Sands Corporation violated federal money-laundering laws by accepting more than $100 million from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement, rather than reporting the suspicious funds to the government.
House Republican Trip to Holy Land with Drinking, Nudity – The FBI probed a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee [on Aug. 18, 2011] that involved drinking, numerous GOP freshmen lawmakers, top leadership staff – and one nude member of Congress, according to more than a dozen sources, including eyewitnesses. During a fact-finding congressional trip to the Holy Land last summer, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took off his clothes and jumped into the sea, joining a number of members, their families and GOP staff during a night out in Israel.
The following freshmen lawmakers also went swimming that night: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Many of the lawmakers who ventured into the lake said they did so because of the religious significance of the waters. Others said they were simply cooling off after a long day. Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in.
Paul Ryan’s Stimulus Problem – Paul Ryan says his office mishandled constituent requests for stimulus funding, which is why he claimed to have never requested stimulus funds even as the documents told a different story.
The GOP’s new vice presidential candidate has said repeatedly that he has never asked for stimulus funds, but recent reports indicate he has written letters on behalf of local businesses seeking them.
How Todd Akin And Paul Ryan Partnered To Redefine Rape – Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that “legitimate rape” does not often lead to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This is not the first time the biologically challenged senate candidate tried to minimize the impact of rape. Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”
The 1 Percent Are Stingy – Middle-class Americans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich. Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more. In the Washington metropolitan area for example, low- and middle-income communities like Suitland, Md., and Capitol Heights, Md., donate a much bigger share of discretionary income than do wealthier communities like Bethesda, Md., and McLean, Va.
Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities. When people making more than $200,000 a year account for more than 40 percent of the taxpayers in a ZIP code, the wealthy residents give an average of 2.8 percent of discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for all itemizers earning $200,000 or more.
Senate Republican Candidate to Reporter: ‘Go f–k yourself’ – Michael Baumgartner, a Republican Senate candidate from the great state of Washington, has told a reporter at Seattle Met magazine to “go f–k yourself” after asking Baumgartner to clarify his position on abortion.
Earlier this week, Baumgartner joined a wide swath of Republicans in condemning Rep. Todd Akin for his controversial remarks about “legitimate rape.” But when Met reporter Josh Feit asked him how his position was different than Akin’s, Baumgartner ducked and did not clarify.
Republican Sheriff Candidate Said He Would Use Deadly Force Against People Who Are Not Breaking the Law – Republican Sheriff candidate Frank Szabo indicated that he would not rule out the use of deadly force to prevent an abortion from taking place. That’s right – he’s so pro-life that he would kill someone.
Doctors and patients should never feel threatened –especially by a county Sheriff– when carrying out or receiving a legal procedure. A sheriff’s duty is to enforce laws, not break them in the name of personal motives.
He has since changed his statement to say, “If someone is seeking an elective abortion and certainly a late term abortion, certainly I would arrest them.” Szabo’s promise to arrest people who are not breaking the law completely contradicts the duties of a sheriff.
The Price of Austerity: Record Forest Fire Damage – Spain, stuck in a recession and with almost a quarter of its workforce unemployed, has experienced some of its worst forest fires in almost twenty years this summer with 24,710 acres of land left blackened. Cuts to rural firefighters are being blamed for a number of deaths and for the loss of forest landscapes.
As the Guardian notes, “several wet years, followed by a dry winter and hot summer” have created “perfect wildfire conditions.” But also bearing a huge part of the blame are “official negligence, rural population flight and disappearing herds of sheep and goats.”
Robert Rubio, a forester, ecologist and professional firefighter from Andilla, 12 miles from Alcublas in Valencia, tells the Guardian that only a tenth of the usual number of temporary local summer firefighters were hired this year (officials claim otherwise). Other regional governments, in northeastern Catalonia and northwestern Galicia, are spending 20 percent less than two years ago.