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A Survival Guide for Christians Who Have Been Fighting Against Marriage Equality

Originally posted on evoL =:

survival guide evol

Many of us have been in the Marriage Equality war for a long, long time.

I remember a drag queen host taking the microphone at San Jose Pride about a dozen years ago. She saw a group with “Freedom to Marry” t-shirts, and with a twinge of sadness remarked, “Oh honeys, they are NEVER going to let us get married, ever. You may as well give that one up right now.” She was wrong.

As in all wars, there is a foe. In the United States the foes tend to call themselves “Christians” and root their obsessive opposition in their particular interpretation of the Bible.

While these folks have had a series of wake up calls from the landmark 2012 elections where marriage equality won on the ballots in four states, to the earth shattering Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8, the big anvil dropped in many…

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Eight-Year-Old Turned an Interception Into a Touchdown — Then His Team Was Fined $500 and Coach Suspended for an ‘Absurd’ Reason

Here’s a bit of a “side-bar” to report.

My 8 yr old grandson plays on the little league football team in question.    The kid who made the touchdown is new to the team and never made a touchdown, ever.   This story has actually gone viral which is a surprise the folks of that  little town and their little league football team.

The Blaze

Eight-year-old Elijah Burrell had just intercepted a pass late in the game and did what came naturally.

The kid in the #2 jersey tucked in the pigskin and headed for the end zone. Touchdown! Elijah’s first one ever.

 

Image source: WGCL-TV

Except there was one big — and expensive — problem with the otherwise happy moment.

His undefeated Lawrenceville Black Knights were ahead 32-0 in the fourth quarter — and Elijah’s interception return for a touchdown eclipsed the peewee league’s 33-point mercy rule, WGCL-TV in Atlanta reported.

The penalty? A $500 fine. But not only that: The Knights’ coach earned a weeklong suspension.

Elijah’s mother, Brooke Burdett, said her son was “beyond excited” in the moment and wasn’t thinking about the mercy rule.

“He had no idea,” she told WGCL. “This is his first year. This was his first touchdown. He is an 8-year-old boy making a pick-six.”

Image source: WGCL-TV

Burdett said the team would have accepted a $100 fine but the $500 penalty and the coach’s suspension is excessive, particularly because her son wasn’t trying to run up the score.  In fact, she said, the Knights tried to let the other team score on the next play but the other squad refused to catch the ball.

Note: I couldn’t embed the video so here’s the link (My grandson is not the kid who got the touchdown but he is the one in the pink (Breast Cancer Awareness month) football socks.

5 Things About Slavery You Probably Didn’t Learn In Social Studies: A Short Guide To ‘The Half Has Never Been Told’

SLAVE FATHER

Library of Congress

For your edification…

The Huffington Post

Edward Baptist’s new book, “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery And The Making Of American Capitalism”, drew a lot of attention last month after the Economist said it was too hard on slave owners.

What you might not have taken away from the ensuing media storm is that “The Half Has Never Been Told” is quite a gripping read. Baptist weaves deftly between analysis of economic data and narrative prose to paint a picture of American slavery that is pretty different from what you may have learned in high school Social Studies class.

The whole thing is well worth reading in full. Baptist positions his book in opposition to textbooks that present slavery like a distant aberration of American history, cramming 250 years into a few chapters in a way “that cuts the beating heart out of the story.” To counter that image of history, Baptist devotes much of the book to depicting the lived experience of enslavement in a way that’s vivid and immediate.

But for those of you who are strapped for time, or who want a peek into the book before committing to the full 420 pages, here are five of his key arguments:

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1) Slavery was a key driver of the formation of American wealth.

Baptist argues that our narrative of slavery generally goes something like this: it was a terrible thing, but it was an anomoly, a sort of feudal throwback within capitalism whose demise would inevitably come with the rise of wage labor. In fact, he argues, it was at the heart of the development of American capitalism.

Baptist crunches economic data to come up with a “back-of-the-envelope” estimate of how much slavery contributed to the American economy both directly and indirectly. “All told, more than $600 million, or almost half of the economic activity in the United States in 1836, derived directly or indirectly from cotton produced by the million-odd slaves — 6 percent of the total US population — who in that year toiled in labor camps on slavery’s frontier.”

By 1850, he writes, American slaves were worth $1.3 billion, one-fifth of the nation’s wealth.

2) In its heyday, slavery was more efficient than free labor, contrary to the arguments made by some northerners at the time.

Drawing on cotton production data and firsthand accounts of slaveowners and the formerly enslaved, Baptist finds that ever-increasing cotton picking quotas, enforced by brutal whippings, led slaves to reach picking speeds that stretched the limits of physical possibility. “A study of planter account books that record daily picking totals for individual enslaved people on labor camps across the South found a growth in daily picking totals of 2.1 percent per year,” Baptist writes. “The increase was even higher if one looks at the growth in the newer southwestern areas in 1860, where the efficiency of picking grew by 2.6 percent per year from 1811 to 1860, for a total productivity increase of 361 percent.”

Free wage laborers were comparatively much slower. “Many enslaved cotton pickers in the late 1850s had peaked at well over 200 pounds per day,” Baptist notes. “In the 1930s, after a half-century of massive scientific experimentation, all to make the cotton boll more pickable, the great-grandchildren of the enslaved often picked only 100 to 120 pounds per day.”

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3) Slavery didn’t just enrich the South, but also drove the industrial boom in the North.

The steady stream of large quantities of cotton was the lifeblood of textile mills in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and generated wealth for the owners of those mills. By 1832, “Lowell consumed 100,000 days of enslaved people’s labor every year,” Baptist writes. “And as enslaved hands made pounds of cotton more efficiently than free ones, dropping the inflation-adjusted price of cotton delivered to the US and British textile mills by 60 percent between 1790 and 1860, the whipping-machine was freeing up millions of dollars for the Boston Associates.”

Slavery in the South was also instrumental in changing the demographic face of the North, as Europeans streamed in to work in the region’s factories. “Outside of the cotton ports, jobs were scarce for immigrants in the slave states during the 1840s, and they had no desire to compete with workers driven by the whipping-machine,” Baptist explains. “The immigrants’ choice to move to the North had significant demographic impact, raising the northern population from 7.1 million in 1830 to 10 million in 1840, and then to over 14 million by 1850. In the same period, the South grew much more slowly, from 5.7 million in 1830 to almost 9 million.”

4) Slavery wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down economically by the time the Civil War came around.

Here’s Baptist:

In the 1850s, southern production of cotton doubled from 2 million to 4 million bales, with no sign of either slowing down or quenching the industrial West’s thirst for raw materials. The world’s consumption of cotton grew from 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion pounds, and at the end of the decade the hands of US fields were still picking two-thirds of all of it, and almost all of that which went to Western Europe’s factories. By 1860, the eight wealthiest states in the United States, ranked by wealth per white person, were South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Connecticut, Alabama, Florida, and Texas — seven states created by cotton’s march west and south, plus one that, as the most industrialized state in the Union, profited disproportionately from the gearing of northern factory equipment to the southwestern whipping machine.

And it provided the basis for the creation of sophisticated financial products: slave-backed bonds that Baptist says were “remarkably similar to the securitized bonds, backed by mortgages on US homes, that attracted investors from around the globe to US financial markets from the 1980s until the economic collapse of 2008.”

Slave-backed bonds “generated revenue for investors from enslavers’ repayments of mortgages on enslaved people,” Baptist writes. “This meant that investors around the world would share in revenues made by hands in the field. Thus, in effect, even as Britain was liberating the slaves of its empire, a British bank could now sell an investor a completely commodified slave: not a particular individual who could die or run away, but a bond that was the right to a one-slave-sized slice of a pie made from the income of thousands of slaves.”

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A formerly enslaved woman, photographed on a farm near Greensboro, Alabama in 1941.

5) The South seceded to guarantee the expansion of slavery.

There are many competing explanations for what moved the South to secede. Baptist argues that the main driving reason was an economic one: slavery had to keep expanding to remain profitable, and Southern politicians wanted to ensure that new western states would be slave-owning ones. “Ever since the end of the Civil War, Confederate apologists have put out the lie that the southern states seceded and southerners fought to defend an abstract constitutional principle of ‘state’s rights.’ That falsehood attempts to sanitize the past,” Baptist writes. At every Democratic party national convention, “participants made it explicit: they were seceding because they thought secession would protect the future of slavery.”

So why is it important to revisit this history now, nearly 150 years after slavery ended?

Baptist comes at the topic from the standpoint that our understanding — or misunderstanding — of slavery has policy implications for the present. (In that way, the book is complementary reading to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ much talked-about Case For Reparations). “If slavery was outside of US history, for instance — if indeed it was a drag and not a rocket booster to American economic growth — then slavery was not implicated in US growth, success, power and wealth,” Baptist writes. “Therefore none of the massive quantities of wealth and treasure piled by that economic growth is owed to African Americans.” Anyone who believes that, his book aims to show, really hasn’t heard the half of it.

10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2014

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference at Bellevue Hospital with Governor Cuomo.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference at Bellevue Hospital with Governor Cuomo. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Week

A New York City doctor tests positive for Ebola, police suggest a motive for the Canadian Parliament attack, and more

1. New York doctor diagnosed as city’s first Ebola case
A New York City doctor tested positive for Ebola on Thursday, becoming the city’s first case. The doctor, Craig Spencer, had recently returned from Guinea, where he treated Ebola patients. Spencer reportedly took a subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn and went to a bowling alley on Wednesday night before waking up the next morning with a 103-degree fever. Health workers quarantined his fiancee and two others, and tried to track down anyone who might have had contact with him before he was rushed to a hospital. [The New York Times]

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2. Canadian police say Parliament attacker was angry over passport delays
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who was killed in a shootout at Canada’s Parliament building, might have been lashing out at the government because a delay in processing his passport was preventing him from traveling to Syria. Zehaf-Bibeau, a Muslim convert, had said he wanted to go to Libya, his father’s homeland, but his mother said after he was shot dead that he had planned to go to Syria. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson said Thursday that the motive for the attack remains fuzzy, “but radicalization and the passport figured highly.” [USA Today]

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3. Mexico-U.S. border deaths fall to lowest since 1999
Deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border have fallen to a 15-year low, The Associated Press reported Thursday. In the fiscal year that ended in September, 307 people died, down from 445 the previous year. The Border Patrol credits the lower death toll to a drop in the number of people attempting dangerous crossings across the Arizona desert, Spanish-language media messages warning against crossing on foot, increased Border Patrol efforts, and a jump in the number of immigrants turning themselves in to authorities. [The Associated Press]

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4. Boko Haram abducts another 25 girls in Nigeria
Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 25 girls in a remote Nigerian town, witnesses said Thursday. The latest attack came despite a temporary ceasefire with the rebels, and ongoing negotiations for the freedom of more than 200 other young women the Islamist militant group abducted in April. Parents of some of the newly captured hostages said the militants abducted female hostages late in the night, and later released the older women, keeping only girls. [Reuters]

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5. EU announces new goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions
European Union leaders announced Thursday that they had agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said poorer countries that rely more heavily on coal-fired power plants would receive funding to help them reach the targets. Activists were not satisfied. Oxfam’s Natalia Alonso said the goal was “far too short of what the EU needs to do to pull its weight in the fight against climate change.” [BBC News]

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6. Iraq says ISIS used chemical weapon against police
Iraqi officials on Thursday accused ISIS of attacking police with chlorine gas. Eleven police officers were taken to a hospital 50 miles north of Baghdad last month with dizziness, vomiting, and severe breathing trouble. Iraqi defense officials said the attack was the first confirmed case in which ISIS used chemical weapons on the battlefield. Doctors reportedly agreed that the patients’ symptoms were what would be expected from chlorine poisoning. [The Washington Post]

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7. Amazon’s stock sinks on a disappointing quarterly report
Amazon’s shares dropped by nine percent on Thursday after the online retail giant reported a third-quarter loss that was much larger than expected, and lowered its projections for sales in the crucial holiday season. Amazon’s losses have been fueled by huge investments in its new Fire smartphone, grocery deliveries, and the production of its own video content. Analysts said investors overlooked Amazon’s losses when its revenue growth was better than 20 percent, but they’re losing patience as that pace slows. [The New York Times]

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8. Joan Rivers’ daughter reportedly will sue to get answers on her mother’s death
Melissa Rivers plans to file a lawsuit against the medical center where her mother, comedian Joan Rivers, stopped breathing during throat surgery nearly two months ago, TMZ reported Thursday. New York’s Health and Human Services department found that the surgical services and staff of the medical facility, Yorkville Endoscopy, were “deficient.” Melissa Rivers reportedly has grown frustrated trying to find out exactly what caused her mother’s death, and believes the lawsuit will force the staff to answer questions. [TMZ]

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9. Artist investigated for graffiti at national parks
The National Park Service has identified a New York artist as a suspect in graffiti vandalism cases in at least 10 national parks across the West, including Arizona’s Grand Canyon and California’s Yosemite. The investigation began after the woman posted a photo on social media in which she appeared to be working on an acrylic drawing of a woman smoking a cigarette at Utah’s Canyonlands National Park in June. [Reuters]

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10. Christian Bale picked for Steve Jobs role in biopic
Actor Christian Bale has been tapped to play Steve Jobs in director Danny Boyle’s film about the late Apple co-founder and CEO. Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the script based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Walter Isaacson’s biography, said that Bale was the first pick for the role after Leonardo DiCaprio dropped out. “We needed the best actor on the board in a certain age range and that’s Chris Bale,” Sorkin said. “He didn’t have to audition.” [CNN]

White nationalism’s exploding civil war

White nationalism's exploding civil war

Richard Spencer (Credit: YouTube/The National Policy Institute)

Looks like an “uncivil” war is raging with these folks behind the scenes…

Salon

This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Southern Poverty Law CenterOver the past couple of weeks, the so-called “academic” racists of the white nationalist movement have set academics aside and instead devolved into an online battle in the style of the Hatfields and McCoys.

In the wake of several recent events, including the arrest and deportation of Richard Spencer from Hungary and the state senatorial campaign of Kentucky neo-Nazi Robert Ransdell, some of the biggest names in white nationalist circles are taking sides and taking turns publicly skewering each other on their respective websites.

White nationalist and neo-Confederate Brad Griffin (aka Hunter Wallace) compiled a list of “beefs” among white nationalists and posted them recently to his Occidental Dissent site. One commenter noted, “The easier list to compile would have been who isn’t fighting whom.” And indeed, from the length of the list Griffin posted, the commenter may be right.

The long list includes familiar and ongoing feuds, such as those between longtime white supremacist Harold Covington, and well, everyone, as well as those involving Vanguard News Network (VNN) site founder Alex Linder (also with pretty much everyone). However, there are many new and unexpected conflicts within the movement that, ironically, calls for the need for solidarity in its mission.

In particular, unexpected spats have surfaced between several well-known white nationalists including Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents and Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute (NPI). Both are hailed as “academics” by their peers.

Andrew Anglin of the increasingly popular neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, meanwhile, has been engaged in a war of words with Colin Liddell of the white nationalist Alternative Right, a site that was originally founded by Richard Spencer. The site was abruptly shut down by Spencer in 2013 until Liddell, who is based in the UK, took its reins.

The Johnson-Spencer conflict emerged in the wake of the near-collapse of NPI’s conference in Budapest. Johnson cancelled his plans to attend and requested a refund of registration fees from NPI when the Hungarian government threatened arrests and deportations for attendees.

Despite the fact that several of the event’s most noteworthy names, among them representatives from Jobbik, the hard-right, Hungarian nationalist party, and Aleksandr Dugin, a pro-Russian favorite of traditionalists and the European new right, had withdrawn, Spencer and others journeyed into Hungary to be met by police at the event. Spencer was rewarded with several nights in prison before being deported and banned from returning for several years.

None of this sat well with Johnson. “The final straw for me,” he commented at Occidental Dissent, “was Richard’s disastrous mishandling of the Budapest conference. When a foreign government tells you that your conference is banned and that the police will take the necessary steps to make sure it does not take place, you do not vow defiance.” He got personal in another comment when he said, “Richard is basically being dominated by Nina Nogoodnik, his Russian-Georgian wife.”

Johnson also penned a post and multiple comments at his own website, Counter-Currents, and attacked Spencer for his handling of the controversy – particularly his failure to adequately warn attendees of the risks involved with entering Hungary.

Another feud erupted about the same time over Robert Ransdell’s campaign for state Senate in Kentucky. Ransdell, a neo-Nazi, has been posting signs that state, “With Jews, We Lose.” White nationalist “comedian” RamZPaul took exception to Ransdell and openly condemned his campaign.

RamZPaul (Paul Ramsey) has other supporters in his opposition to Ransdell. One writer at white nationalist Robert Whitaker’s BUGS site snarked that Ransdell’s “borderline comatose ‘With Juice you lose’ is the latest drooling from COMIC Book Pro-Whites.”

In the same article, Whitaker attacked Stormfront, the world’s largest online white supremacist forum, calling it a vacuum for pro-white energy that is spent arguing on the internet, and said that he and his followers (known as “BUGSERS” who bombard various websites with variations of “the mantra,” a white supremacist statement that claims “anti-racism is anti-white”) are the only ones who work for the cause and have “VISIBLY destroyed anti-white memes that would be there forever if it had been left to tens of thousands of Stormfronters.”

And then neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin entered the fray of “beefs” with a massive round-up post at his Daily Stormer site, titled “Infinite DramaQuest” in which he adds extra snark by representing each feuding party as a different anime character from the series Dragon Ball Z.

To Anglin, all the battling about what’s best for the movement is ridiculous, because his approach is the best: “You cannot preserve the White race without addressing the Jews. You cannot address the Jews without addressing their hoax. You cannot address their hoax without addressing Adolf Hitler.” That statement opened yet another “beef” with Colin Liddell at Alternative Right.

“What Anglin is unequivocally saying here,” writes Lidell, “is that before you can do anything at all about preserving and protecting the White race – stopping mass immigration, say, or encouraging White women to have at least 2.1 babies – you must first get everyone to love Hitler and hate the Jews, and if you can’t accomplish these supposed preconditions then you had best forget the whole shebang, So what he is really saying is simply: ‘You cannot preserve the White race.’”

Like a tennis match, Anglin hit back, calling Lidell “Mr. Supersmartintellectualguy,” and claiming that he could turn Lidell’s arguments around on him, but “wouldn’t ever do that, because [he has] this thing in [his] back called a ‘vertebral column’ which physically prevents me from being capable of engaging in such base intellectual dishonesty.”

And not one to avoid controversy (or attention), white nationalist Matt Parrott of the Traditionalist Youth Network was willing to throw some more gas on the fire. According to Parrott, who normally shies away from comparisons to Nazism, “The flaw in Anglin’s model is that Nazism isn’t radical enough.”

Meanwhile, over in the vortex that is VNN Forum, Alex Linder is so worked up that he’s posting 1,000-word screeds at a rate that is almost unprecedented for him, even though he’s known for long diatribes. Among these are attacks on almost every major figure, including Johnson and Spencer, involved in a “beef” listed on Occidental Dissent.

“Everybody fails Greggy,” writes Linder in the #1 Infighting, Beefs, Etc. Thread” on VNN Forum. “Then piously he lifts his eyes heavenward, shakes his head nobly and sadly, and earnestly swears to soldier on and do better next time. So sodo-jesusy.”

In the same breath, Linder attacks Spencer, comparing him to Kevin Alfred Strom, a disgraced, former National Alliance leader who is a convicted sex offender.

“Spencer is simply a nebbish. I think of him as a Strom lite. Less brains, less character, even.”

Like some kind of surreal white supremacist version of a telenovela, the drama continues to unfurl. As Brad Griffin suggested at Occidental Dissent, some popcorn might be in order.

Fox News Quietly Corrects Congressman’s Mistake On Ebola Response

Chaffetz Ebola

CREDIT: SCREENSHOT

Think Progress

The GOP’s persistent and oftentimes conflicting criticism of the administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis within the United States jumped the shark on Wednesday, after a prominent Republican congressman questioned why President Obama hasn’t yet named a medical doctor to manage the situation whom the party has vociferously opposed.

After the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas in September, Republicans abandoned their longstanding opposition to government czars and called on the administration to appoint an “Ebola czar” to coordinate and message the government’s response to the deadly virus.

Obama resisted such calls for weeks, insisting, primarily through White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, that “clear lines of authority” already exist within the government’s effort. But the administration ultimately named Ron Klain, a former chief-of-staff to Vice President Joe Biden, to act as the point person on the issue.

Republicans immediately pounced. They accused Obama of nominating a “hack,” claimed that Klain had no “medical experience,” and would only “add to the bureaucratic inefficiencies that have plagued Ebola response efforts thus far.”

Others still insisted that the president shouldn’t have appointed a czar at all, because he simply needed to lead. “This is a public health crisis, and the answer isn’t another White House political operative. The answer is a commander in chief who stands up and leads, banning flights from Ebola-afflicted nations and acting decisively to secure our southern border,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) appeared on Fox News to complain that Klain had not yet agreed to testify before Congress, firing another criticism at the White House. “Why not have the surgeon general head this up?” Chaffetz said, adding, “at least you have someone who has a medical background who has been confirmed by the United States Senate, that’s where we should be actually I think going.”

But Obama can’t appoint the Surgeon General to lead the Ebola response because his nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is being opposed by the National Rifle Association and Republicans senators (as well as a few Democrats) for supporting the expansion of background checks during gun purchases. In February, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) officiallyplaced a hold on the nomination.

Chaffetz seemed unaware of this wrinkle during his Fox interview, and his office would not return repeated requests for comment. Confusing matters even further, a FoxNews.com article summarizing the Chaffetz interview appears to have changed his wording to correct the error. It reports that the Congressman called on Obama to nominate the “acting-United States surgeon general,” a claim he never made. In fact, that individual, Boris D. Lushniak, serves in a place-holder position that does not receive Senate confirmation. Lushniak, who is filling in because Murthy has been blocked, has not taken an active role in the Ebola response.

Still, the mistake — and the political back-and-forth over Obama’s response — underlines the GOP strategy of criticizing every aspect of Obama’s response in an effort to capitalize on the public health story ahead of the midterm elections.

Texas Voter Turnout Was Higher On Its First Day of Early Voting Than It Was In 2010

Say no to vote suppression

Image: The Nation

PoliticusUSA

Wendy Davis with help from groups that support her is leading the way in the people’s fight against vote suppression.

While Greg Abbott dedicates his efforts to disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in Texas, Wendy Davis is encouraging voters to exercise their franchise and Davis’ efforts are paying off.

Monday was the first day of early voting in Texas and according to figures released by the Secretary of State, voter turnout in the six largest counties were higher than the first day of early voting in 2010.

This is a direct result of the hard work and dedication by groups who support Wendy Davis. Led by Battleground Texas voter registration groups rolled up their sleeves and got to work registering millions of voters, many of whom are minorities. While Greg Abbott decided it better served his interests to disenfranchise these voters, Texans with the help of voter registration groups had a different idea.

So far, there have been no reports of problems at the polls.

No doubt, supporters of vote suppression laws will argue this proves that the laws in question do not and never were intended to suppress the vote. The fact is, people will be disenfranchised be it under the strictest voter ID law in the United States for reasons I and others have stated on numerous occasions.  While some states may offer “free voter ID” the costs involved in getting the documents needed to get that “free ID” still amount to an unaffordable poll tax.  Often Republicans will say the ID is “free” for people who can’t afford it, but fail to mention the costs that go with getting the ID needed to get the “free voter ID.”  Aside from the costs of those documents, it means taking time off work.  That means aside from the costs, voters are hit with the additional financial penalty of losing income.

The fact is, Republicans know it and some, are saying it.  Chris Christie said categorically that Republicans have to win gubernatorial elections so that they can control “voting mechanisms.”

Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?

Rick Scott, Scott Walker and John Kasich have all been before the courts defending “laws” that amount to perpetrating a fraud on the public under the pretense that they care about stopping election fraud.

Republicans like to muddy the waters by suggesting that being a Republic and having honest, fair and open elections are mutually exclusive. The truth is that Republicans they are willing to throw free and fair elections under the bus because they can’t win by honest means.

It’s up to us to send Republicans a loud and clear message that rigging elections has consequences.  Stealing people’s votes will not be tolerated.

The groups led by Battleground Texas are showing us how it’s done.

10 things you need to know today: October 23, 2014

A police officer stands guard in downtown Ottawa | (Mike Carroccetto/Getty Images)

The Week

A gunman attacks Canada’s Parliament building, four ex-Blackwater contractors convicted for Iraq shooting, and more

1. Ottawa locked down after gunman attacks Parliament
A gunman, identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, shot and killed a soldier guarding Canada’s National War Memorial, then entered the Parliament building across a plaza and started shooting there. Zehaf-Bibeau, who was believed to be a convert to Islam identified as a “high-risk traveler,” was killed in a shootout with security personnel. The attack left Ottawa, Canada’s capital, on lockdown, and came three days after an attack on two soldiers in Quebec. [Bloomberg News , The Washington Post]

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2. Four former Blackwater contractors convicted for deadly Iraq shooting
A federal jury on Wednesday found four former Blackwater Worldwide security contractors guilty of several charges connected to a 2007 shooting that killed 17 civilians in Iraq. One of the defendants was convicted of murder, and the other three were found guilty of manslaughter and weapons charges. The shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square inflamed anti-U.S. tensions and severely tarnished the reputation of a company that was then America’s main security contractor in Iraq. [The New York Times]

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3. Leaked report and other evidence said to support Ferguson officer’s shooting account
New evidence, including Michael Brown’s leaked official autopsy, and grand jury testimony supports Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson’s assertion that Brown tried to take Wilson’s gun before the officer shot and killed him, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The medical examiner said Brown had a close-range bullet wound to one hand, one of several details supporting Wilson’s report of a close-range struggle. A Justice Department official called the leak of the autopsy report an “irresponsible” attempt to sway public opinion. [The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times]

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4. UNC offered fake courses to boost athletes’ grades
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offered phony courses that gave 3,100 students — most of them student-athletes — a boost to their grade-point averages, according to a report released Wednesday after an eight-month investigation. The university admitted that the scandal was worse than previously acknowledged. Students in the classes didn’t have to attend class, or stay awake when they did. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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5. Candidate disqualified from tribal election because he can’t speak Navajo
The Navajo Nation’s highest court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal from Chris Deschene, a candidate for tribal president, of a lower court order disqualifying him from the election because he is not fluent in the Navajo language. Tribal law requires the president to be fluent in Navajo because it is central to the tribe’s culture. Deschene said he still hoped tribal lawmakers would find a way for him to run. [The Associated Press]

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6. Travelers from West Africa will be monitored for Ebola
Federal health officials imposed new restrictions Wednesday requiring travelers from countries affected by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak to submit to monitoring for three weeks after entering the U.S. The travelers will have to report their temperatures daily, as well as any other possible symptoms of the deadly virus. They also will have to provide email addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information. [The New York Times]

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7. U.S.-led airstrikes killed 553 people in a month, group says
The U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes against ISIS and other Islamist groups over the last month in Syria have killed 553 people, including 32 civilians, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday. As expected, ISIS took the greatest toll — 464 of the dead were ISIS fighters. Fifty-seven were members of the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [Reuters]

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8. Latest White House fence-jumper is quickly captured
A man jumped the White House fence Wednesday night and was immediately stopped by two dogs from a Secret Service K9 unit. The man, identified as Dominic Adesanya of Maryland, has a history of mental problems, his father said. The response provided an opportunity for the embattled Secret Service to demonstrate that it had made changes since another man, Omar Gonzalez, hopped the fence in September and managed to enter the White House carrying a folding knife. [CNN]

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9. Mexican government suspects mayor in students’ disappearance
Mexico’s attorney general said Wednesday that the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife were the “probable masterminds” of the disappearance of 43 student-teachers last month. The students from Iguala, which is in the southwestern state of Guerrero, have not been seen since they clashed with police on Sept. 26. A gang leader told authorities that the mayor ordered police to prevent the students from disrupting a political event. [Reuters]

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10. Royals beat Giants in Game 2, tying World Series
The Kansas City Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Wednesday night to even the World Series at one win apiece. The game was tied 2-2 until the sixth inning, when the Royals piled up five runs that included a two-run homer by Omar Infante off Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland. The tense inning almost included a brawl, as an argument between Salvador Perez, who hit a two-run double, and Strickland cleared the benches. The Series moves from Kansas to San Francisco for Game 3 on Friday. [The New York Times]

Obama: U.S., Canada ‘Coordinating Very Closely’ On Ottawa Shootings

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AP Photo |REX

TPM

“We don’t yet have all the information about what motivated the shooting. We don’t yet have all the information about whether this was part of a broader network or a plan or whether this was an individual or series of individuals who decided to take these actions,” he continued.

The President said that the national security teams in the U.S. and Canada are “coordinating very closely.”

“It is very important, I think, for us to recognize that when it comes to dealing with terrorist activity that Canada and the United States have to be entirely in sync,” Obama said. “We have in the past and I’m confident we will continue to do so in the future.”

He said that the shooting “emphasizes the degree to which we have to remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with these kinds of acts of senseless violence or terror.”

10 things you need to know today: October 22, 2014

Bradlee being awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

Bradlee being awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Week

Legendary editor Ben Bradlee dies, North Korea frees one of three captive Americans, and more

1. Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies at 93
Legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, who presided over the Watergate reporting that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency, died on Tuesday. He was 93. Bradlee took over leadership of the Post in 1965, and helped make the newspaper one of the world’s great dailies. Bradlee was widely praised for making tough calls, including publishing the Pentagon Papers, a secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam war. “For Benjamin Bradlee, journalism was more than a profession — it was a public good vital to our democracy,” President Obama said. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

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2. North Korea frees American Jeffrey Fowle
North Korea unexpectedly released Jeffrey Fowle, one of three Americans held by North Korea, on Tuesday, six months after he was arrested for leaving a Bible in a club in the reclusive communist country. Fowle, 56, was first flown on a U.S. military plane from Pyongyang to Guam, then to his home state, Ohio, where he landed early Wednesday. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf declined to say how Fowle, a municipal worker who had traveled on a tourist visa, was freed, to avoid complicating efforts to get the other two captive Americans released. [Los Angeles Times]

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3. U.S. tightens Ebola safeguards on travelers from West Africa
The federal government tightened its precautions against Ebola on Tuesday by requiring travelers from the three hardest hit West African countries to enter the U.S. through one of five major airports performing enhanced screening for the virus. People flying into the U.S. from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea will be limited to New York’s John F. Kennedy, Washington Dulles, Newark, Atlanta, or Chicago O’Hare international airports, starting Wednesday. [Reuters]

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4. Hong Kong activists debate government officials on democracy
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists debated city officials on Tuesday in an event intended to jumpstart talks on ending three weeks of demonstrations demanding free elections and the resignation of the Chinese-controlled former British colony’s leader, Leung Chun-ying. Protest leaders said they didn’t believe the debate, beamed live on big screens around the city, would lead to change, but that it would show viewers “the difference between right and wrong.” City leaders said there was room for negotiation. [Sydney Morning Herald]

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5. Ebola vaccine trials could start in January
The World Health Organization said Tuesday it hopes to begin testing two experimental Ebola vaccines as early as next January. The vaccines will be given to more than 20,000 health-care workers in West Africa’s hardest hit areas. Even if a vaccine works, it would not be expected to be enough to stop the outbreak, partly because there won’t be enough to immunize everyone. An effective vaccine would, however, provide crucial protection to doctors and nurses fighting the disease. So far, more than 200 of them have died. [The Associated Press]

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6. Colorado teens suspected of trying to join ISIS
The FBI is investigating whether three Colorado teenage girls detained in Germany were trying to reach Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. The teenagers — all of whom are under 18 — were persuaded by a contact in Germany to leave home “to fulfill what they believe is some vision that has been put out on a slick media campaign,” a law enforcement official said. The families of the girls — two of Somali descent, the other of Sudanese descent — reported them missing last week. [Fox News]

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7. Wyoming becomes 32nd state to legalize gay marriage
Wyoming filed a legal notice on Tuesday declaring that it would not defend its recently overturned gay-marriage ban, making the state the 32nd in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The decision means that county clerks can immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, and state officials will have to recognize same-sex couples married in other states. Wyoming became a focal point in the gay-rights debate after Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was killed in a 1998 hate crime there. [MSNBC]

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8. Michael Sam cut from the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad
The Dallas Cowboys cut rookie Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team, from the team’s practice squad on Tuesday. Dallas had given Sam, a linebacker, a shot after he was waived in August by the St. Louis Rams, who drafted him out of Missouri in the seventh round. Sam said he would not give up. “While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday,” Sam tweeted. [USA Today]

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9. NBC cameraman declared Ebola-free
Freelance NBC News cameraman Ashoka Mukpo — the fifth Ebola patient flown to the U.S. for treatment — was told he could leave a Nebraska hospital on Wednesday after a blood test showed he was free of any sign of Ebola. Mukpo, 33, contracted the virus while working for NBC in Liberia covering West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 4,500 people. “Recovering from Ebola is a truly humbling feeling,” Mukpo said, according to the hospital. “Too many are not as fortunate and lucky as I’ve been.” [NBC News]

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10. Giants beat Royals in World Series opener
The San Francisco Giants trounced the Kansas City Royals, 7-1, on Tuesday in Game 1 of the World Series. Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner held the Royals to just three hits in seven innings, helping lead the Giants to their seventh straight victory in World Series games. The Royals won a spot in their first World Series in 29 years with a surprising sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. “We didn’t come in here and expect to sweep the San Francisco Giants,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. [USA Today]