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Here’s The History Of NYPD Abuse That Turned Its PR Campaign Into A Twitter Assault

NYPDFrisk

CREDIT: PHOTO POSTED BY OCCUPY WALL STREET’S TWITTER ACCOUNT.

Apparently, it was not the response the NYPD was expecting.  Well done Twitterverse, well done…

Think Progress

The New York Police Department may be showing early signs of reforming its practices, but it still hasn’t come to terms with its image. In a PR gaffe that was seemingly predictable to everyone but the NYPD, the Department put out a call on Twitter for constituents to send positive photos about the Department’s work under the hashtag #myNYPD.

Tweeters documented a litany of alleged encounters that ended with detached retinas, a young black boy with a scarred face, and countless instances of beatings caught on camera:

The campaign had gone so awry by morning that the New York Daily News splashed the headline “Bash Tag” across its front page Wednesday morning.

But even now that Mayor Bill de Blasio has cut back on the rampant stop-and-frisks, Muslim spying, and brutality that became synonymous with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYPD, the department doesn’t seem to have shed the attitude that prompted NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to declare last year, “You might read something snarky on Twitter, but I could take you right now to 125th Street in Harlem and young men will stop me for my picture and give me a very favorable and friendly greeting.”

And while one of the NYPD’s biggest mistakes was failing to realize that Twitter is an inherently inhospitable forum for glowing public relations, it’s worth taking a look back at the patterns of systemic abuse that underlie the outrage:

Targeting young black and Hispanic men. The NYPD’s systematic campaign against the city’s young minority men is not just evidenced by statistics that show they stopped more young black men in 2011 than there are young black men in the city. The federal judge who ruled the police department’s stop-and-frisk program unconstitutional also found that the department explicitly targeted Hispanic and black men between the ages of 14 and 20 as “the right people,” and established de facto stop quotas that fueled the pervasive tactic.

Aiming to “instill fear” in residents. The administration that thought stop-and-frisk was the answer to everything developed its reputation in part through a campaign of fear. One state senator testified at the trial on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said his goal was to “instill fear” in young minority men. In one incident, an officer admitted during the trial that he told a 13-year-old to stop “crying like a girl” as he handcuffed and detained him.

Inflicting disproportionate violence. In September, NYPD officers shot two innocent bystanders when they were aiming for a mentally ill man, who they were purportedly intending to subdue with gunshots. Prosecutors later charged the mentally ill man for the injuries to the bystanders. In January, an 84-year-old man was left bloodied and hospitalizedafter he was allegedly beaten by police over a jaywalking stop. And during Occupy Wall Street Protests, officers reportedly used violence “without apparent need or justification” 130 times.

Labeling entire mosques terror cells so it could spy on abuse. One of the greatest reforms of the new NYPD under Mayor Bill de Blasio was disbanding the NYPD’s Demographics Unit, which engaged in pervasive spying of the Muslim community after 9/11. But the unit existed until just six days ago, and among its major accomplishments werelabeling entire mosques terror cells without any evidence of wrongdoing, and paying a 19-year-old informant to “bait” Muslims into criminal activity.

Over-zealous policing. While the vast majority of the rampant police stops under the Bloomberg administration resulted in no arrest at all, the most common reason for arrest was for marijuana, even though public possession of marijuana was already decriminalized in New York. The program intended to thwart gun violence snagged very few guns. And other prominent arrests included a 7-year-old who alleged stole $5 from an elementary school classmate, a street artist thrown to the ground for touching the sidewalk, and a real estate broker arrested for being a “smart ass.”

Arrest for documenting abuse. As evidenced by the most recent campaign, the only reason the public knows about many of the most egregious NYPD incidents is because they were documented by photos or recordings. But many individuals have reported arrests and even beatings by NYPD officer for trying to exercise their First Amendment right to record the police. The department even circulated a “wanted” poster for a couple that was legally recording stop-and-frisks.

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Filed under NYPD Police Abuse, Twitter

Obama doesn’t have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do

Let's leave Teddy's idea of manliness where it belongs — in the past.

Let’s leave Teddy’s idea of manliness where it belongs — in the past. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

The Week

When it comes to the issue of manliness, conservatives protest far too much

It seems beneath my manly dignity to give David Brooks a hard time for his comments decryingObama’s “manhood problem in the Middle East.” He made them on a Sunday talk show, after all, and we know that no one watches them. And anyway, people accidentally say stupid things on television all the time.

And yet, I suspect that Brooks actually meant it. Because even though he’s distanced himself from the conservative movement in all kinds of ways over the past six years (basically, since George W. Bush’s presidency went down in flames), one thing that’s remained consistent with him since his days writing paeans to American “national greatness” for William Kristol’s Weekly Standard is his tendency to swoon (in only the most manly of ways, of course) at dramatic displays of militaristic swagger and toughness.

When that kind of man’s man looks at Barack Obama’s policy in the Middle East — with its gratuitous displays of not bombing countries, not overthrowing their governments, and not invading and occupying them — he sees something less than virile, a little bit limp, and just a tiny bit flaccid (emphasis on the “tiny”).

He sees a girly man.

This certainly doesn’t place Brooks out of the mainstream on the right. On the contrary, Brooks’ comments on Meet the Press might be the most mainstream conservative thing he’s said in years. There is a long, deep, and highly repetitive tradition of testosterone-fueled bellicosity on the right that consistently justifies itself in terms of manliness and sees itself as the necessary antidote to the creeping, potentially fatal feminization of the nation.

Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first to valorize manliness (and decry feminization) in American public life. In the 95 years since his death, he’s been venerated by a broad swath of conservatives, and especially by the second-generation neocons and their one-time hero John “Battlefield: Earth” McCain. Hell, this faction’s leading political philosopher — Harvard’s Harvey C. Mansfield — even wrote a book titled Manliness, in part to defend men against all the mean and hurtful things that scary feminists like to say about them.

If all of this sounds a little personal to me, that’s because it is.

Back in 2002 when I worked as an editor at First Things — a journal that’s aptly been dubbed theNew York Review of Books of the religious right — I wrote a column for the magazine that got me into a bit of trouble. My son had just been born, and I wanted to make a case for the modern, egalitarian family in which fathers play an active role in the day-to-day drudgery and delights of raising small children. This was in contrast, of course, to the more traditional family structures usually defended in our pages.

Conservatives have a point, I argued, when they focus on negative consequences of women working outside the home; children often end up being raised by strangers in daycare centers, and women feel torn between their maternal instincts and their desire for careers. But the answer to such problems, I suggested, was not an (unjust, undesirable, and impossible) return to some earlier paradigm of stay-at-home mothering. It was rather an increase in fatherly involvement in the family — and perhaps even the advent of Scandinavian-style government-sponsored paternity leave to allow men to more fully share domestic burdens and rewards.

That didn’t go over well with our readers. At all. Not that I expected it to. But I did expect that the controversy would be about ideas. Instead it was about testicles. Mine, to be specific — and in particular about how my wife had quite obviously stolen them just before bullying me into denying the self-evident fact that mothers are forbidden to work outside the home, fathers are precluded from changing diapers, and God wants to keep it that way.

And then there was the special treat of a letter from Gilbert Meilaender — distinguished moral theologian, long-time friend of the magazine’s editor-in-chief (Richard John Neuhaus), and member of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics. As far as Meilaender was concerned, my ideas clearly flowed from a deep-seated longing to lactate.

As I wrote in my published response to the letters, this charge had about as much intellectual substance behind it as a playground taunt of “f–got.”

Another day at First Things, another reason to break from the right.

The important point is that when they pronounce on the subject of manliness, none of these people — not Teddy Roosevelt, not John McCain, not Bill Kristol, not David Brooks, not Harvey Mansfield, not Gil Meilaender — can be taken seriously on an intellectual level.

What they’re doing is some kind of ideological shtick, whether or not they recognize it as such. They’re either cynically flattering gullible men and attempting to whip them into a froth of indignation in the way that Fox News and talk radio hosts do every day — or else they’re inadvertently confessing their own gendered status anxieties. Either way, it’s both inaccurate and insulting to treat their grunts as more than irritable mental gestures.

Obama’s policy in the Middle East is wise or foolish, smart or misguided, moral or immoral. His “manhood” has nothing at all to do with it.

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This May Be The Most Atrocious Political Ad Of 2014

Nikki Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC)

Think Progress

If you want to run for office some day, you better not believe that everyone is entitled to legal counsel before the government locks them away. Or, at least, that’s the message sent by a new Republican Governors Association ad targeting Vincent Sheheen, a former prosecutor who now represents civil and criminal clients in private practice. Sheheen is a Democratic candidate for governor against incumbent Nikki Haley (R-SC).
The RGA’s ad attacks Sheheen for “defend[ing] violent criminals” and ends with the tagline “Vincent Sheheen protects criminals not South Carolina.” Watch it:

The implication of this ad is that Sheheen is somehow unfit for public office because he once provided legal counsel to people accused of crimes. Indeed, the ad lists several serious crimes, including sex offenses and child abuse, that Sheheen’s clients were accused of committing. It is likely that many of these clients are very, very bad people.

But in the American justice system, we do not presume that anyone is guilty of a crime untilafter they have received a trial where they were represented by counsel — indeed, we afford all criminal defendants a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Moreover, as the Supreme Court explained more than half a century ago, the right to a trial often means little unless criminal defendants enjoy the right to counsel. Without an attorney, Justice Hugo Black wrote in 1963, an innocent man “faces the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence.”

Sheheen’s clients may very well have committed horrible crimes. But we do not lock people away in prisons in the United States until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is how we protect innocent men and women from winding up in those same prisons alongside the guilty.

This ad is at least the second time in as many months that Republicans lashed out at an attorney because he stood up for a person accused of a serious crime in court. Last month, every single Senate Republican who voted joined with a handful of Democrats to vote down Debo Adegbile, who was nominated to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The fact that Adegbile once signed a brief arguing that a convicted cop killer was unconstitutionally sentenced to die played a major role in the campaign against him. A panel of predominantly Republican judges eventually held that this death sentence was, indeed, unconstitutional.

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

Off to Asia. 

Off to Asia. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Week

The Supreme Court chips away at affirmative action, Obama meets with Asia allies, and more

1. Justices uphold Michigan’s affirmative action ban in college admissions
The Supreme Court, in a 6-to-2 ruling, upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment banning affirmative action policies in public university admissions. Michigan and other states, such as Florida and California, that have outlawed taking race into consideration in higher education have seen sharp drops in enrollment of black and Hispanic students, but the court’s majority said voters, not courts, should decide what policies to use. [The New York Times]

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2. Obama sets out to reassure Pacific allies
President Obama arrived in Japan Wednesday for a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of a four-nation tour of Asia. Obama is trying to show allies that the U.S. is “rebalancing” in the Pacific, to reassure them in the face of security concerns raised by China’s territorial battle with Japan over remote islands, and North Korea’s nuclear program. Obama will also makes stops in South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. [Voice of America]

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3. Ukraine calls an end to truce with pro-Russian separatists
Ukraine officially ended an Easter truce in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday and vowed to make a new push to remove pro-Russia separatists from occupied government buildings. The move came after Vice President Joe Biden visited Kiev and repeated a U.S. pledge to hit Russian leaders with new sanctions if they fail to reduce tensions. First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema said the U.S. had promised not to “leave us alone with an aggressor.” [TIME]

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4. Divers retrieve more victims from sunken South Korea ferry
The official death toll in the sinking of the South Korean ferry Sewol reached 150 on Wednesday as divers recovered dozens more bodies. Search crews said, however, that they would have to break through cabin walls to reach more victims. Most of the dead are high school students who were taking a trip. Two more crew members were arrested Wednesday, bringing the total number of crew arrested or detained by investigators to 11. [CBS News]

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5. Obama visits with families of Washington state mudslide victims
President Obama on Tuesday visited the scene of a massive mudslide that buried three dozen homes in a Washington state river valley on March 22. The bodies of 41 victims have been recovered. Two people are still missing. Obama viewed the site of the disaster from his hovering presidential helicopter, then met with relatives of victims in a small chapel, and promised federal support to rescue workers and others in the community. [Reuters]

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6. U.N. reports a massacre in South Sudan
United Nations officials said hundreds of civilians were massacred last week in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity state, where rebels recently took control. The U.N. said there were “piles and piles” of bodies, some inside a mosque. The victims were reportedly members of targeted ethnic groups. The killings in South Sudan, the world’s newest country, came 20 years after the genocide in a nearby nation, Rwanda. [The Associated Press]

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7. IRS employees got bonuses despite owing back taxes
The Internal revenue service paid $1 million in bonuses between Oct. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, to employees who had failed to pay their own taxes, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The allegedly tax-averse tax collectors also received more than 10,000 hours of extra vacation. Another $1.8 million went to employees cited for fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits and other infractions. [The Washington Post]

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8. Sherpas reportedly decide to leave Everest after deadly avalanche
Most of the Sherpa mountain climbers on Mount Everest have decided to walk out following the loss of 16 of their colleagues in an avalanche, a guide said Tuesday. It was the deadliest day ever on the world’s highest mountain. The bodies of three of the Sherpas still haven’t been recovered. The walkout is expected to severely curtail the normal rush for the summit in the narrow spring season. [The Associated Press]

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9. Bridgegate might disrupt World Trade Center development plan
The Bridgegate scandal dogging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is threatening to disrupt developer Larry Silverstein’s plan to finish the next World Trade Center skyscraper. He needs a guarantee from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to land a $1.2 billion construction loan for 3 World Trade Center. The agency’s board, which has begun reconsidering its mission since the scandal hit, is due to vote on the matter Wednesday. [Reuters]

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10. Pujols hits his 500th homer
Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols hit his 500th home run Tuesday night, an accomplishment only 26 of the 18,000 major league baseball players since 1876 have achieved. Pujols also pulled off a first by becoming the first hitter ever to whack his 499th and 500th homers in the same game. At age 34, he was also the third youngest player ever to reach the milestone. Only Alex Rodriquez and Jimmie Foxx got there quicker. [Los Angeles Times]

 

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Filed under 10 things you need to know today

Seen On The Internet 4-23-2014

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April 23, 2014 · 9:06 AM

The NRA Quietly Backs Down On Domestic Violence

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington about gun violence.

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre

Well, it’s a start…

The Huffington Post

For nearly a decade, the National Rifle Association successfully blocked a bill in Washington state that would have required alleged domestic abusers to surrender their firearms after being served with a protective order. Only those actually convicted of felony domestic violence, the nation’s largest gun lobby argued, should be made to forfeit their gun rights.

This past year, the NRA changed its tune. As the bill, HB 1840, once again moved through the state legislature, the gun lobby made a backroom deal with lawmakers, agreeing to drop its public opposition to it in exchange for a few minor changes. This February, with the NRA’s tacit approval, the bill sailed through the state legislature in a rare unanimous vote.

The NRA’s decision not to oppose the measure was a stark departure from its usual legislative strategy. For over a decade, bare-knuckled lobbying by the NRA hasdoomed similar bills in state legislatures across the country. Legislators who backed such bills, particularly in states with strong traditions of gun ownership, could practically be guaranteed a challenger after the NRA withdrew its endorsements or backed their opponents.

But over the past year, the NRA has quietly scaled back its scorched-earth campaigns against stricter domestic violence laws. The group has consulted with legislators in states across the country on bills similar to HB 1840. With the tacit approval of the NRA, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all passed or advanced bills banning the possession of firearms by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse, those served protective orders, or those deemed by the court to pose a physical threat to their families.

Minnesota state Rep. Dan Schoen (D), the sponsor of one anti-domestic violence bill, said he spotted an opening after the NRA helped pass a similar bill in Wisconsin.

“I called [the NRA's] government affairs person and said, ‘If they can do something in Wisconsin, a Republican-controlled state, there’s no reason we can’t do something like this in Minnesota,’” Schoen told The Huffington Post.

Schoen agreed to work on the bill with the NRA in exchange for its support. The original version required people who had been served restraining orders in domestic abuse cases to surrender their guns to law enforcement or a licensed federal firearms dealer. The NRA asked Schoen to make a few changes, one of which gave alleged abusers the option to turn their guns over to a friend or family member instead.

Once Schoen made the alterations, he said, the group became more agreeable. The bill is expected to pass the Minnesota legislature in the coming weeks.

“The NRA has been really good to work with on this particular issue,” Schoen said. “It pains me to say, but they have been.”

The NRA’s shift on domestic violence bills is not a complete about-face. The group still opposes efforts to broaden the definition of domestic violence to include related crimes, like stalking. It also opposes expanded background checks, which could prevent many convicted domestic abusers from purchasing guns in the first place.

So why did it change its stance on this particular issue, and why did it do so without any public notice?

The gun lobby wouldn’t say, but the timing suggests that politics, both internal and external, were at play. Documents and press releases reviewed by HuffPost show that the NRA began to relax its position on gun restrictions for alleged domestic abusers after March 2013 — the same month the New York Daily News reported that a top NRA official, Richard D’Alauro, had pleaded guilty to harassing his wife “by subjecting her to physical contact.” A judge served D’Alauro, the NRA’s field representative for New York City and its suburbs, a protective order and ordered police to remove all 39 guns from his home.

D’Alauro’s wife claimed that he had physically abused her for years. He settled the case by pleading guilty to harassment — a less serious charge than a misdemeanor. But once the case started attracting media attention, the NRA began softening its position on gun rights for accused domestic abusers.

A spokesman for the NRA confirmed that D’Alauro is no longer employed by the group, but said he could not comment for this story due to the personnel issues involved.

If the desire to avoid the taint of the D’Alauro saga wasn’t what compelled the NRA to change course, then perhaps a shifting political landscape did the trick. While the public is fairly split over tighter gun laws in general, people are less conflicted about the idea of taking guns away from domestic abusers. A 2013 poll conducted in Colorado by Project New America/Keating Research found that 80 percent of respondents believe judges should be able to order someone who is “convicted of domestic violence or given a restraining order” to surrender his guns to the court, compared to 55 percent of voters in the state who favor stricter gun laws overall.

Polling also shows a massive gender gap on gun control issues. A 2013 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted a few months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., showed that 65 percent of women favor stricter gun laws, compared to only 44 percent of men.

And women’s opinions clearly matter to the NRA, which is currently engaged in a high-octane effort to recruit a younger generation of women as both new members and gun rights advocates. The group will hold its first Women’s New Energy Breakfast on Sunday during its annual convention in Indianapolis. The description of the event, which aims to recruit new female members, says it will allow women to “socialize with other like-minded female NRA members women and learn about the many programs and outreach efforts just for the women of NRA.”

The NRA has also launched a new online outreach campaign called NRA Women, which aims to teach young, single women how to be “Armed and Fabulous,” fall in “Love At First Shot,” and “Refuse To Be A Victim.”

For those who follow the debate over gun rights, the NRA’s decision to soften its opposition to domestic violence bills suggests that it may be ceding some of its long-held terrain. Instead of fighting for the gun rights of alleged abusers, the NRA appears to be shifting its focus to bringing more women into the fold.

“I think this is a welcome, but calculated retreat by the NRA,” said Arkadi Gerney, senior policy fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress and author of a 2013 study on guns and domestic violence. “The NRA knows that their message — which is more guns everywhere and generally doing nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people — doesn’t resonate very well with most women in the United States.”

For gun control advocates, meanwhile, the NRA’s shift in position has provided the rarest of commodities: a chance to actually advance legislation. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived a point-blank gunshot wound to her head in 2011, was among the most visible advocates of the Senate bill to strengthen background checks that failed last April. She hasn’t backed off that push. But, in a telling sign of how she sees the current political landscape, she has also begun demanding that the Senate hold a hearing on the role of guns in domestic abuse.

“Many of those who perpetrate violence against women are still allowed easy access to firearms,” Giffords wrote in a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be delivered next week. “More action is needed – and soon. Women’s lives are at stake. We know more about the dangerous connection between domestic abuse and guns than we ever have.”

Giffords’ political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, has calculated that independent women voters have increasingly aligned with Democrats over the past two decades in support of stiffer penalties and tighter gun restrictions for domestic abusers. A well-funded newcomer to the gun rights arena, ARS plans to spend millions of dollars counteracting the NRA’s political influence in both state and federal races in 2014.

“Americans know that more must be done to protect women from gun violence,” said ARS senior advisor Pia Carusone. “Research shows that a broad bipartisan majority of voters, including independents in states with high rates of gun ownership, want their elected officials to take commonsense steps to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”

Like ARS, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun violence prevention group, Everytown, sees potential in the NRA’s subtle shift in its stance on domestic violence restrictions. The group plans to push for expanded domestic violence protections as part of a broader campaign to tie gun restrictions to women’s health and safety.

“We’re going to start to talk about the ways gun violence affects everyday Americans, including domestic violence, suicide, and child access to guns,” said Erika Soto Lamb, a spokesperson for Everytown.

With the gun-rights lobby in a bit of a retreat, gun control advocates are beginning to feel emboldened. “This is not your grandfather’s NRA,” Soto Lamb said.

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Sotomayor Attacks John Roberts’ Views On Race As ‘Out Of Touch With Reality’

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TPM DC

Here’s a snippet from her dissenting opinion (emphasis added), which she took the unusual step of reading from the bench on Tuesday:

In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society. It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter.

Although she didn’t mention him by name, Sotomayor was apparently alluding to Roberts’ frequently-quoted line from a 2007 case: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Elsewhere in her opinion, Sotomayor quoted that line from Roberts and described it as “out of touch with reality.” Her attack wasn’t lost on the chief justice, who filed a brief concurring opinion responding to her, alongside Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 6-2 controlling opinion.

Roberts wrote:

The dissent states that “[t]he way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.” … But it is not “out of touch with reality” to conclude that racial preferences may themselves have the debilitating effect of reinforcing precisely that doubt, and—if so—that the preferences do more harm than good. To disagree with the dissent’s views on the costs and benefits of racial preferences is not to “wish away, rather than confront” racial inequality. People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.

 

Supreme Court – 4/22/14 – Schuette v. BAMN

 

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KKK Forms Neighborhood Watch Group In Pennsylvania

This is not the specific group mentioned in the article. | Photo courtesy of  The Huffington Post

Whatever…

The Huffington Post

In response to a string of recent break-ins, the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has given a local Pennsylvania chapter the go-ahead to form a neighborhood watch group.

“You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!” read fliers promoting the neighborhood watch group in Fairview Township. The leaflets appeared on the doorsteps of homes along Ridge Road on April 18, PennLive reports.

(Story continues below.)

kkk neighborhood watch

The KKK’s neighborhood watch flier for Fairview Township.

“It’s just like any neighborhood watch program. It’s not targeting any specific ethnicity. We would report anything we see to law enforcement,” Frank Ancona, the organization’s imperial wizard and president, told PennLive. “We don’t hate people. We are an organization who looks out for our race. We believe in racial separation. God created each species after its kind and saw that it was good.”

According to its website, the organization — headquartered in Park Hills, Mo., with local chapters in every state but Hawaii — is a “non-violent” and “law abiding group” composed entirely of white Christians. The group claims to have “been misunderstood for years.”

From the website’s Who We Are section:

The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is a White Patriotic Christian organization that bases its roots back to the Ku Klux Klan of the early 20th century. We are a non-violent organization that believes in the preservation of the White race and the United States Constitution as it was originally written and will stand to protect those rights against all foreign invaders. We believe in the right to bear arms against all that threaten our home and family.

A call to the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was not immediately returned.

Similar fliers promoting KKK neighborhood watch programs appeared in other states across the country this past year year. In July 2013, recruitment fliers with the same slogan as the Pennsylvania leaflets appeared on doorsteps in Springfield, Mo. In January 2014, the same flyer was spotted in driveways in Virginia.

“We picked ours up out of our driveway and threw it in the trash,” Virginia resident Sarah Peachee told NBC 12. “We weren’t interested in even reading about it.”

 

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

Meb Keflezighi raises his fist in victory. 

Meb Keflezighi raises his fist in victory. | (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Week

The U.S. considers leaving fewer troops in Afghanistan, an American man wins the Boston Marathon, and more

1. The U.S. might cut its Afghanistan force to 5,000
The U.S. next year might cut the number of troops it leaves in Afghanistan below 10,000, which is the minimum military leaders say will be needed to train Afghan forces, Reuters reports. There are close to 33,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan now, down from 100,000 in 2011. White House officials, encouraged by Afghanistan’s surprisingly smooth April 5 presidential election, are considering reducing the number below 5,000. [Reuters]

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2. Keflezighi becomes first American to win the Boston marathon in three decades
Meb Keflezighi, 38, became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 on Monday, with an official time of 2:08:37. A huge crowd cheered as Keflezighi completed the first Boston Marathon since last year’s deadly bombing at the finish line. “This is probably the most meaningful victory for an American because of what happened last year,” he said. Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, 33, won the women’s division for the second straight year. [CNNThe New York Times]

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3. More bodies found inside sunken South Korean ship
The death toll in South Korea’s ferry disaster rose to 108 after divers managed to get into the sunken hull and recover more bodies on Monday. Another 198 people, many of them high school students who had been bound for an island vacation, are still missing. Seven crew members, including the captain, have been charged with negligence and other crimes for issuing an early order for passengers to stay in their cabins and for being among the first to exit the sinking ship. [BBC News]

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4. Court orders administration to disclose its justification for drone strikes
A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that the Obama administration must release the core of a Justice Department memo outlining the legal basis for using armed drones to kill American citizens overseas. The court, responding to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union, said the administration had forfeited any right to conceal the document by discussing its contents publicly. [Politico]

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5. Scouts revoke charter of church that stands by gay leader
The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of a Seattle church for letting a gay scoutmaster lead a troop. The Scouts don’t allow openly gay leaders, and last month kicked out the scoutmaster, Geoff McGrath, after learning of his sexual orientation. The church — Rainier Beach United Methodist Church — stood by him. The Rev. Monica Corsaro said her church welcomed everyone. [The Chtistian Science Monitor]

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6. Nepal sets up Sherpa relief fund
The Nepalese government announced Monday that it would set up a relief fund for Sherpa mountain guides injured or killed on the job. The move came after at least 13 Sherpas were killed Friday in an avalanche on Mount Everest. Three others are still missing. Sherpas are considering going on strike as about 400 climbers wait at base camp for spring conditions to permit attempts to reach the summit. [ABC News]

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7. Defendant killed in Utah courtroom
A U.S. marshal shot and killed a suspected gang member in a Salt Lake City courtroom on Monday. Siale Angilau, who faced racketeering conspiracy charges, was shot several times when he attacked someone on the witness stand, Judge Tena Campbell said in a court document. “There were people yelling at him, telling him to stop,” Sara Josephson, who was in the courtroom, said, “and he just didn’t stop.” [CNN]

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8. Netflix says it will raise streaming video price for new customers
Netflix says in a letter to shareholders that it plans to increase the price of its streaming service by $1 to $2 for new subscribers. Current subscribers pay $7.99 per month, and the price they pay won’t rise in the near future, the company said. Netflix says the revenue from the price hike will allow it to purchase more content and “deliver an even better streaming experience.” [Techcrunch]

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9. Man accuses more Hollywood figures of abuse
A man who has accused X-Men director Bryan Singer of molesting him as a teenager has filed lawsuits against three more Hollywood figures, accusing them of sexual abuse, too. Michael Egan, 31, says the men — TV executives Garth Ancier and David Neuman, and theatre producer Gary Goddard — were part of a sex ring he was lured into 15 years ago with promises of acting and modeling jobs. Goddard’s lawyer said the suit was “without merit.” [BBC News]

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10. Poll finds skepticism on Big Bang theory
In the latest skirmish between scientists and public opinion, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds that 51 percent of Americans are “not confident” in the Big Bang theory, which says that a massive explosion set the universe in motion 13.8 billion years ago. Just 21 percent of adults are confident the Big Bang happened and 4 in 10 deny or question global warming. “Science ignorance is pervasive in our society,” said Nobel Prize winning biologist Randy Schekman. [The Associated PressInternational Business Times]

 

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Red States Hatch Plans To Block Obamacare Even If Dems Take Over

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback | AP Photo / Chris Neal

TPM DC

“Governor Brownback’s not always going to be the governor. It’s my fervent hope he’s going to be the governor for four more years after this one, but he may or may not be,” Rep. John Rubin (R) told the Wichita Eagle.

Georgia Republicans have been adamant in denying any political motivations, but the question has still been raised by the press.

“I’m totally confident that Nathan Deal is going to be re-elected governor. This is simply an opportunity for the Legislature to stake out the issue as policy,” House Speaker David Ralston told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in February. Deal hasn’t signed the bill yet, but he still has time to do so. If he doesn’t act, it would become law automatically. Deal has said that he approved of the policy.

Georgia and Kansas have left a combined 487,000 residents uncovered under Obamacare because they refused to expand Medicaid. And, though the law remains unpopular, a recent poll found that majorities of Georgians (54 percent) and Kansans (55 percent) support Medicaid expansion.

If Democrats end up stealing the gubernatorial seats in the fall, they might have moved quickly on Medicaid expansion without the new legislation, accepting the federal funding that fully covers the expansion through 2016. Paul Davis, the state representative challenging Brownback, has voiced unequivocal support for expansion. “It’s the right thing to do,” he told the Topeka Capital-Journal last month.

Jason Carter, state senator and grandson of President Jimmy Carter, has been more coy as he vies to unseat Deal, but he has pressed for a discussion on the issue. He also has said he believes Georgia’s bill was passed with the explicit intent of stopping him from expanding Medicaid if he’s elected.

“I think it’s essentially a political bill,” Carter told Georgia Health News last month. “If you examine the bill by looking at the problem that it’s attempting to solve, it’s very difficult to discern what the Legislature believes that problem to be, other than they’re worried that I’m going to get elected governor.”

For now, Davis and Carter look like long shots. The Cook Political Report categorizes Georgia as “Solid Republican” and Kansas as “Likely Republican.” The RealClearPolitics average of polling in the two races gives Brownback and Deal a few-point advantage. However, recent polls, taken by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, actually gave Davis and Carter the upper hand, suggesting they’re not wholly out of reach.

But under these new bills, even unlikely Democratic wins won’t be enough to deliver health coverage to low-income Georgians and Kansans.

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