The Indiana secretary of state claimed a voter registration group had forged applications — but there’s no clear evidence that happened.

WASHINGTON ― Earlier this month, just ahead of Indiana’s voter registration deadline, state police executed a search warrant at the office of an organization that had set out to register black voters in a state with the worst voter turnout in the country.

Officers conducted their search on the Indiana Voter Registration Project’s headquarters just a few weeks after Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson sent a letter to state election officials warning that “nefarious actors are operating” in the Hoosier state and asking them to inform authorities if they received any voter registration forms from the group.

The letter from Lawson ― who, when she was a state legislator, co-sponsoredIndiana’s controversial voter ID law ― amounted to “the voter suppression equivalent of an Amber alert,” said Craig Varoga, the president of Patriot Majority USA, a liberal nonprofit group that ran the Indiana Voter Registration Project.

The publicity surrounding the actions taken by Lawson and Indiana’s state police have cast a shadow over the nonprofits, with many stories accusing them of voter fraud.

Varoga said the Oct. 4 police action prevented the group from registering 5,000 to 10,000 additional voters ahead of Indiana’s Oct. 11 voter registration deadline. He’s worried that clerks won’t count some of the 45,000 applications the group had already collected.

So why did state officials take such a dramatic step in interrupting the IVRP’s work just days ahead of the voter registration deadline?

From what we’ve gathered, it’s not because there’s any mass “voter fraud” scheme to steal an election. Instead, it seems the extraordinary investigation is likely to find no more than potential technical violations of obscure regulations for third-party voter registration groups.

DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES | Ballots sit on a table as a precinct worker waits for residents in a polling station during the presidential primary vote in South Bend, Indiana on May 3.

This all seems to have started after a county clerk’s office received 10 potentially problematic forms allegedly submitted by IVRP canvassers. In mid-September, Lawson issued a press release accusing IVRP of turning in “forged voter registration applications,” even though the evidence wasn’t clear that those forms were actually forged.

Lawson’s office and the Indiana State Police insist that their investigations are separate. Valerie Warycha, deputy chief of staff and communications director for Lawson, said the office had no prior knowledge of the police action on Oct. 4.

“At the onset of the state police investigation they told her they were going to conduct an investigation. They will not brief us on the details of their investigation until the end,” Warycha said. She also said that despite Lawson’s talk of “nefarious” actors, she never directly accused the group of voter fraud.

“She never said fraud or accused anyone of fraud ― including the Indiana Voter Registration Project,” Warycha said. “I am not sure why they are so defensive. Have they done something wrong?”

Despite the public shaming from state officials, IVRP was following the law when it turned in the forms ― even if they were fraudulent.

Individuals conducting voter registration drives are required to turn in each and every voter registration application they receive, even those they believe may not be legitimate. Many states have similar protections in place to make sure organizations are not filtering out voters based on their political party. Bill Buck, a spokesman for Patriot Majority USA, said that IVRP canvassers worked with officials and “flagged applications it thought might have omissions or other problems and asked the clerks to examine them as part of their standard review.”

Sounds responsible, right? But here’s where it gets tricky. Indiana law requires that a person who receives a voter registration application they have “reason to believe” is false, fictitious or fraudulent submit the application “with a statement sworn or affirmed to under the penalties for perjury, setting forth the reasons why the person believes the application may be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent.”

That requirement isn’t mentioned in the voter registration drive flyer published on the Indiana secretary of state’s website, but it is mentioned in a voter registration drive guide published by one Indiana county. A state police official said that part of the investigation is looking at whether IVRP canvassers submitted affidavits when they believed an application was fraudulent.

“You’ve got to comply with all aspects of the law ― not just the part of the law that you like,” Capt. David Bursten, a spokesman for the Indiana State Police, said when he pointed The Huffington Post to that statute.

Asked if IVRP had failed to submit affidavits, Bursten said that’s one piece of the investigation. “We would have no reason for doing this investigation unless there were indications that there are potential violations of state law,” he said.

The Indiana State Police said they have more than two dozen officers working on this case. But it doesn’t take too much effort to figure out that IVRP didn’t submit any affidavits.

“To my knowledge, we did not submit any affidavits,” says Buck, the Patriot Majority USA spokesman. “Canvassers did not know with certainty that the information on any forms was false or fraudulent.”

And it gets more complicated. Under the law, the state police don’t seem to have a role in an investigation into a potential fraudulent voter registration form. Instead, it is up to the county election board to investigate before turning any findings over to a prosecutor.

TASOS KATOPODIS/GETTY IMAGES | Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (L) take the stage during a campaign rally at Grant Park Event Center in Westfield, Indiana in July. 

What makes a form fraudulent depends on who you ask. To the county officials who initially called in the state police, it was missing or inaccurate information. But IVRP could not determine whether those inaccuracies were an attempt at fraud or simple human error. Lawson, it seems, is now leaning toward the latter.

“It’s very possible that because of heightened activity this year that many of those changes are changes that the individual made,” Lawson told the Associated Press on Thursday, walking back her initial comments. “That should give Indiana voters the comfort that we are vigilant and we are protecting their rights and the elections here are not rigged.”

State Democrats condemned Lawson’s earlier language as “inflammatory” since she claimed thousands of fraudulent applications had been found but did not release an exact number. But Varoga thinks that comments from other Republicansin an IndyStar story caused her to soften her language.

“The only reason she would walk it back is because members of her own party must have told her she was being reckless,” he said.

The idea that police officers could target a voter registration drive aimed at black voters doesn’t look too good for the state. One registration worker told The New Republic that state police were repeatedly trying to get her to say that the voter registration group set quotas for canvassers and paid them per voter registration received, an allegation the group says is simply untrue.

Voter fraud is incredibly rare. In fact, there’s a greater chance of someone getting struck by lightning than of in-person fraud occurring. A 2014 study from Loyola University analyzed 14 years of voting and found 241 fraudulent ballots out of one billion cast, and just 31 that were potential instances of in-person voter fraud.

But claims of voter fraud and demonization of black voter registration drives have been a component of election cycles long before Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump started warning about “rigged” elections.

Doug Carter, the head of the state police, said the investigation will likely go past Election Day. He denied that Gov. Mike Pence (R) ― the man who appointed him to his job and Trump’s running mate ― had any involvement in an investigation that Pence has mentioned on the campaign trail. (Bursten, the police spokesman, told HuffPost that Carter did not make the decision to launch an investigation into IVRP).

“I wish people could know Mike Pence like I do,” Carter, a Republican donor, said.

The Justice Department, which does not typically say whether it has opened up a voting rights investigation into a particular jurisdiction, declined to comment.

Ryan J. Reilly

Trump calls Democrats ‘party of slavery’ in pitch for African American votes

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday night called Democrats the “party of slavery” and praised what he called the millions of African Americans with career success, as he tries to revamp his outreach to minority voters.

Trump has made much-maligned efforts to appeal to black and Hispanic voters, groups that generally support Democrats and are expected to vote heavily for Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.

“The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said at a rally in Everett, Washington.

“It is the Democratic Party that is the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow and the party of opposition,” he said, referring to racial segregation laws that once existed in the American South.

The Republican nominee has said Democrats failed minority voters with economic policies that have not improved their job prospects, but his attempts have been criticized for painting a bleak view of the lives of all black and Hispanic Americans.

Clinton last week released an ad mocking Trump’s attempts to reach those groups and showing headlines about a racial discrimination lawsuit the New York real estate mogul faced in the 1970s.

A prominent supporter of Trump’s apologized on Tuesday for sending out a tweet that showed a cartoon image of Clinton in blackface.

Trump sought to correct course in Washington state on Tuesday, saying millions of black Americans “have succeeded greatly” in art, science, sports and other endeavors.

“But we must also talk about those who have been left behind, the millions suffering in disastrous conditions in so many of our inner cities,” he said.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Hillary’s atrocious race record: Her stances over decades have been painful and wrong

Hillary's atrocious race record: Her stances over decades have been painful and wrong

Hillary Clinton | (Credit: AP/Patrick Semansky)

I have not endorsed either Democratic front-runner thus far.  In my opinion, this article is important.  I’ll publish a political critique on Bernie Sanders in a day or two to balance the issues as brought forth by reports on the Democratic aspect of the 2016 race…ks


As an African-American, I have struggled to understand why so many of my black brothers and sisters seem to prefer Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

Some have argued that black people are terrified at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, and so they rally around Clinton under the belief that she is more electable in the November general contest. However, looking at the election results so far it seems clear that Bernie Sanders actually stands the best chance of prevailing over Trump.

Then there’s the notion that Hillary Clinton is somehow preserving Barack Obama’s legacy: just a few short months ago she was going out of her way to distance herself from the Obama administration because she believed it was politically expedient to do so. Now, under threat from Sanders’ insurgency, she is cynically trying to sell herself as Obama’s right hand. But of course, the moment she locks down the nomination she’ll go back to drawing contrast–the Clintons have always been leaders at “vote capturing.”

But perhaps the most disturbing of all is the insinuation that Hillary Clinton has some kind of proud and storied legacy in the service of black empowerment. She doesn’t. Consider the comparative records of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders:

The Chicago Years

While attending the University of Chicago, Sanders served as a chapter chairman for the Congress for Racial Equality. In this capacity, he worked to end segregation in schools and housing—activities for which he was arrested.

What was Hillary Clinton doing while Sanders was organizing sit-ins and demonstrations? Well, she was also living in Chicago at the time, but she was working for the other team: in 1963-64, Clinton was a volunteer and supporter for the campaign of Barry Goldwater.

For those who don’t know, Goldwater’s claim to fame is that he was the first Republican to win the Deep South since Reconstruction. He achieved this feat byvowing to undermine enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, and to prevent further erosion of white privilege. His campaign was so disgusting that many Republican leaders, such as George Romney and John Rockefeller, refused to endorse his candidacy even after he won his party’s nomination. A good deal of the Republican electorate, who had traditionally championed civil rights and civil liberties, also refused to support him. As a result, those aforementioned Deep South states were literally the only contests he won other than his home state of Arizona in one of the most dramatic landslide losses in U.S. presidential history. Yet, this is the man who inspired Hillary Clinton to get into politics. And she was campaigning for him while Bernie was campaigning for desegregation.

The trend continues: in 1984 and ’88, Bernie Sanders endorsed and supported Jessie Jackson’s bids for the White House, which would have made him America’s first African-American president. Rather than endorsing this movement, Bill Clinton infamously sought to elevate himself among white Southern and Rust Belt voters at the expense of Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition.

Of course, it’d be easy to write this off–after all, it was a long time ago. However, the Clintons’ tenure in the White House doesn’t look so great in hindsight either:

The Clinton Administration(s)

Bill Clinton’s deregulation of banks and Wall Street helped bring about the 2008 financial collapse that profoundly and disproportionately obliterated black wealth. In the wake of this disaster, and despite their long and sordid history of discrimination and predatory practices against people of color, Hillary Clinton continues to defend the institutions responsible (and is richly rewarded for doing so).

Bill Clinton’s welfare reform further contributed to extreme poverty—particularly for African-Americans and other communities of color. While Bernie strongly resistedthese measures, Hillary staunchly advocated for them—referring to people on welfare as “deadbeats” who were largely responsible for their own continued poverty.

And then, of course, there are the Clinton-era “tough on crime” measures, whichHillary Clinton actively lobbied for. While Sanders ultimately voted for the bill for the sake of its assault rifle ban and domestic violence protections, he first took to the senate floor to passionately denounce the draconian sentencing provisions contained therein, which he aptly predicted would be exercised primarily against America’s poor, largely people of color. In contrast, Hillary Clinton referred to the criminalized as animals, describing them as “super-predators” which have to be “brought to heel.”

More Americans were incarcerated under Bill Clinton than any previous president–almost all poor people, overwhelmingly black and brown. Yet as late as 2008, despite the by-then obvious effects of these policies on communities of color, Clinton stood by this record proudly and actually mocked Barack Obama’s opposition to mandatory minimum sentences.

Later in that same cycle, it would be Clinton supporters who first began circulating rumors that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and might be a secret Muslim (launching the “birther” movement). Not only did Clinton fail to denounce these claims from her supporters (then later hypocritically bash Donald Trump for doing the same), her campaign actively attempted to capitalize on this paranoia, dog-whistling that Hillary was “born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century” and bragging about the edge she held over Obama among non-college-attending white Americans.

Little Has Changed

Then again, 2008 was almost eight years ago, right? What about today?

Consider that one of the people currently attempting to slime Bernie Sanders on Clinton’s behalf is her long-time friend and ally, David Brock, who infamously led the hatchet-job against law professor Anita Hill when she accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. For Hillary Clinton to sell herself as a champion of women and African-Americans while closely associating herself with someone like Brock is deeply unsettling…much like Clinton taking foreign policy and national security guidance from the same consulting firm that formulates strategy for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

In a recent debate, Clinton reiterated confederate narratives about the origins of America’s racial dynamics. In the aftermath of Dylann Roof’s massacre at Emanuel AME in Charleston, she went to a predominantly black church in Ferguson, Missouri—the site of the first Black Lives Matter uprisings following the death of Michael Brown—and went out of her way to emphasize that “All Lives Matter.”

One could go on and on. These are not instances of occasional misspeaking or malformed policies—instead, a consistent pattern of words and actions persisting over decades. This is not to suggest Hillary Clinton is racist, at least not any more than most white people, but the idea that she is or ever has been a stalwart advocate for black empowerment is absolutely ludicrous.

A Generational Divide?

While much of the “old guard” of African-American politicians has rallied around Hillary Clinton, newer leaders–like Rep. Keith Ellison and contemporary black revolutionaries like Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates–have aligned themselves with Bernie Sanders in the conviction that his policies, and his approach, stand the best chance of meaningfully redressing social inequality. Still others, such as Black Lives Matter Chicago co-founder Aislinn Pulley, are demanding substantive action over platitudes or token reforms, and are increasingly refusing to be part of the DNC farce at all.

This bodes ill for Clinton: The longer this race goes on, and the more black voters examine the comparative records, platforms and prospects of Clinton v. Sanders, the more likely it is that the former’s cynical identity politics campaign will once again implode, as it did in 2008.

Hillary’s record on civil rights is indeed extensive, albeit inconsistent and often ignoble. By contrast, Bernie has a long, proud, consistent record on fighting inequality—often far ahead of the Democratic Party in this regard–and always far, far ahead of Hillary Clinton.


Raven-Symone Has Lost Her Damn Mind

THE VIEW - Guests include Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson; Misty Copeland airing today, Monday, October 12, 2015 on ABC's "The View." "The View" airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Lou Rocco) RAVEN-SYMONE´
Lou Rocco/ABC

Okay, that’s one way of putting it…ks


The co-host of ‘The View’ qualified the actions of the cop who body-slammed a girl at Spring Valley High. It’s the latest in a long line of crazy comments from the ex ‘Cosby’ star.

The co-host of ‘The View’ qualified the actions of the cop who body-slammed a girl at Spring Valley High. It’s the latest in a long line of crazy comments from the ex ‘Cosby’ star.

The entire country has been up in arms over the video that went viral this week showing hulking Deputy Ben Fields hurl a 16-year-old black girl from her desk at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina. While discussing the topic on The View, always-controversial co-host Raven-Symone raised the ire of social media after she chastised the student for allegedly being on her phone when the teacher asked her to put it away.Raven-Symone believed that there were “two wrongs” revealed in the video, explaining her position thusly: “The girl was told multiple times to get off the phone. There’s no right or reason for him to be doing this type of harm, that’s ridiculous. But at the same time, you gotta follow the rules in school. First of all, why are there cell phones in school? This shouldn’t even be a problem to begin with, and he shouldn’t have been acting like that on top of it.”After it was pointed out that not only was the force unwarranted, but Shields has a history of brutish behavior on the job, Raven reiterated that the girl should not have been on the phone.

“He was actually sued for false arrest, excessive force and battery in 2007 after a couple accused him of manhandling them. He has a record and he’s still hired—but at the same time, get off yo’ phone. You’re in school. Get off yo’ phone! What are you doing on Instagram?”

The co-hosts then tossed around a few words about young people and their lack of respect for authority—because there was never a bratty kid before the iPhone, apparently.

But her reaction to the incident—which she repeated twice and got applause from the audience—reveals that Raven-Symone doesn’t grasp that a non-cooperative teenager doesn’t warrant brute force. There was no physical altercation happeninguntil Deputy Ben Fields initiated one. I kept hearing her statement and wondering how little empathy one must have for a teenage girl to think she would deserve being physically assaulted for not putting her phone away.

But Raven-Symone has consistently revealed how little empathy she has for black people

This latest controversy comes just weeks after Raven-Symone declared that she wouldn’t hire someone if they had a “ghetto” name. While distinguishing between what she considered “discriminatory” but not “racist,” she admitted that “I’m not going to hire you if your name is ‘Watermelondrea.’ It’s just not going to happen. I’m not going to hire you.”

After Univision host Rodner Figueroa made a racist joke about Michelle Obama joining the cast of Planet of the Apes, Raven-Symone pondered aloud whether the comment was “racist-like.” “Was he saying it racist-like? Because he said that he voted for her later, and I don’t think he was saying it racist,” Raven said. “Michelle, don’t fire me from this right now, but some people look like animals. I look like a bird. So can I be mad if somebody calls me Toucan Sam?”

Earlier this year, Raven-Symone made it clear that she was uncomfortable with the idea of Harriet Tubman being considered for the $20 bill. “No offense to everyone who’s going to be mad at me for saying this: I don’t like that idea. I don’t like it… I think we need to move a little bit forward. Let me just preface [by saying], I understand the history. I get it, trust me. I was taught, I’m in that culture. But there’s also Wilma Mankiller, there’s also Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman… Me personally, I would’ve chosen Rosa Parks. I would have chosen someone that is closer to the progression that we’re doing now.”

So again—Raven-Symone’s behavior begs the question: Who does Raven-Symone think she is?

That’s not an indignant, rhetorical question—like, “How dare she?” That’s a sincere, concerned question regarding how the former child star turned Disney maven turned View co-host sees herself. Who does she think Raven-Symone is?

Does she not think Raven-Symone is a black woman? Does she not see herself as an entertainer who has been and would be routinely marginalized because she doesn’t fit into preset white, straight standards so prevalent in both Hollywood and society? She’s been working in Hollywood since she was 3 years old, so Raven-Symone has to know the sting of industry racism on some level or another. How can 17-year-old Amandla Stenberg have a better grasp of what it means to be a young black girl in a world that doesn’t value young black girls? Maybe Raven-Symone, convinced of her own exceptionalism, has been lulled into thinking that becoming a superstar to young people all over the world happened because racism isn’t that big a deal anymore. Maybe she doesn’t really recognize that there wasn’t a flood of “next Ravens” being churned out by networks because Hollywood would always rather sell white faces.

In the early 2000s, an era of teen idols in the vein of Hillary Duff and the Olsen Twins, Raven-Symone was a barrier breaker as That’s So Raven became Disney’s longest-running original series at the time. She became one of the most bankable stars in the Disney stratosphere as an African American, thicker-than-your-average teenage star. With her hit show, her albums and the Cheetah Girls brand, Raven-Symone provided a template for Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers to follow—which Cyrus parlayed into success with Hannah Montana before breaking out to become a major pop star.

Were those opportunities ever there for Raven-Symone? Does she ever wonder how her career would’ve evolved if she’d been a waifish white girl that had Disney’s most popular show, Eddie Murphy movies on her resume, and a career that stretched all the way back to 1989? Maybe she thinks it’s virtuous to not dwell on what might have been. But her views on race suggest she’s in total denial; beyond her own career, Raven-Symone doesn’t seem to understand how it affects American society and culture. She operates like a person convinced that not seeing racism is all that it takes for black achievement. She doesn’t get it and she doesn’t empathize. And in that, she distances herself from blackness.

Raven famously told Oprah in 2014 that she resists labels. At the time, she had announced that she was in a relationship with a woman—former America’s Next Top Model contestant AzMarie Livingston—but she didn’t want to be labeled “gay” or even “African American.”

“I’m tired of being labeled,” Raven said at the time. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American—I’m American.”

“I will say this. I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go,” she added. “I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m American. And that’s a colorless person. I don’t label myself. I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asian. I connect with black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture.”

She later “defended” her remarks. “I never said I wasn’t black. I said I wasn’t African American. To me, that’s a difference. Thank you to, actually, for sending me my DNA test. I am from every continent in Africa, except for one. And I am from every continent in Europe, except for one. And for the last 400 years, my family has been living in Virginia. How long do you have to be in one country before you’re that?”

Raven-Symone loves her Americanness. America made her wealthy and famous. But America also marginalizes her. If she wasn’t a famous television star, she’d have been the girl scrutinized for her “unusual” hair and “non-traditional” name. She’d be stared at for walking down the street holding her girlfriend’s hand. She’d be an other. It’s so sad that she seems to be so intent on distancing herself from the people who relate to her the most. She should see herself in them.

Stereo Williams

Donald Trump: Blacks ‘Worse Than Just About Ever’ Because Of Obama (VIDEO)

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


Donald Trump is always opening his mouth and saying awful things, and his Sunday interview on ABC with Jonathan Karl was no different. This time, instead of being racist toward Mexican immigrants, Trump turned his attention to black Americans and what President Obama “hasn’t” done for us. He started off:

“He has set a very low bar and I think it’s a shame for the African-American people. And by the way, he has done nothing for African-Americans. You look at what’s going on, at their income levels, you look at what’s gone on with their youth.

I thought that he would be a great cheerleader for this country, I thought he would do a fabulous job for the African-American citizens of this country.”

Trump paused, then ranted on:

“He has done nothing. They are worse than just about ever, they have problems now in terms of unemployment numbers… Here you have a black president who has done very poorly for the African-Americans in this country.”

Excuse me, Mr. Trump? Just becoming president as a black man did a tremendous amount for Black America. After all, while sure, there’s no more segregation and there are plenty of black singers, actors and athletes, the political arena is still a definite uphill battle for people of color, and certainly nobody ever thought there would be a black president. We didn’t dare dream of seeing someone who looks like us occupying that particular position. So, the fact that Barack Obama achieved that at all is definitely doing something for Black America.

That isn’t all, either. President Obama has addressed the problem of police brutality against people of color, as well as the problem of the system of mass incarceration — though I highly doubt you even believe that those are actual problems in the first place. Anyway, I digress. On to the end of the interview, in which Trump expresses the delusion that he will somehow get votes from black people:

“I think I will win the black vote, I think I will win the Hispanic vote.”

Well, I’ve got news for you, Donald Trump. Being an open racist isn’t the way to get votes from minority populations. You’re delusional if you think Hispanic people will vote for you after you call all Mexican immigrants rapists, and after you’ve talked down to black people like you do in this interview, as if we’re charity cases for you to save with your billions.

Keep driving that clown car, Mr. Trump. Drive it right off a political cliff with your bigotry. You’ll ensure a victory for Democrats in 2016, and all you have to do is keep talking.

Watch video of the interview below:

10 things you need to know today: March 7, 2015

The Week

1.Sen. Robert Menendez will reportedly face criminal corruption charges
The Justice Department is reportedly preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), sources said on Friday. Menendez is accused of doing political favors for a Florida doctor, Salomon Melgen, a close friend and benefactor. CNN, which first broke the news, said the official announcement from prosecutors may come within weeks. Menendez’s office called the allegations a “smear campaign,” and denied any wrongdoing by the senator.Source: CNN, The New York Times
2.Russian officials arrest two men in connection with Boris Nemtsov murder
Russian authorities announced on Saturday that they had arrested two men in connection with the murder of political opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s federal security service, named the pair as Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev, both from the southern region of Caucasus. It was unclear whether authorities believe either detained man is suspected of actually killing Nemtsov, or just of being involved in the murder. Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times in the back while walking near the Kremlin on Feb. 27. Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder of his longtime opponent as a “provocation” and a “vile and cynical murder.”Source: The Guardian
3.Obama criticizes Ferguson for ‘systematic’ racial bias
President Barack Obama on Friday addressed the U.S. Justice Department’s report that cited “oppressive and abusive” actions against African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri. “What we saw was the the Ferguson Police Department, in conjunction with the municipality…systematically was biased against African Americans in that city who were stopped, harassed, mistreated, abused, called names, fined,” Obama said at a town hall-style meeting in South Carolina. The city of Ferguson is making efforts to reform its practices in order to reach a settlement with the Justice Department; Mayor James Knowles said on Fridaythat three municipal employees who had demonstrated “egregious racial bias” were no longer working for the city.Source: Reuters
4.Germany approves legal quotas for women to sit on company boards
Starting in 2016, German companies that include employee representation on supervisory boards will be required to allot 30 percent of their seats to women. The vote by Germany’s lower house of parliament on Friday was an “historic step” for equal rights, Family Affairs Minister Manuela Schwesig said. While Angela Merkel has led Germany since 2005, there is not one female chief executive among Germany’s 30 largest firms, and a recent survey found that 59 percent of mid-sized German companies do not include even one woman in a position of leadership.Source: Reuters
5.U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February
The latest report from the Bureau of Labor statistics found the U.S. economy generated 295,000 new jobs in February, while the unemployment rate decreased from 5.7 percent in January to 5.5 percent. Average hourly earnings for all workers also rose to $24.78, up from $24.75 in January. The February numbers beat out the expectations of Wall Street economists, who were anticipating 235,000 new jobs. This remains the longest stretch of sustained growth above 200,000 jobs per month since the early 1990s.Source: Fortune
6.NCAA suspends Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim for 9 games, pulls 12 basketball scholarships
The NCAA released its findings on Friday from an investigation into Syracuse University’s athletic programs, and it cited multiple infractions dating back to 2001, primarily by the men’s basketball program but also by the football program, including “academic misconduct, extra benefits, failure to follow its drug testing policy and impermissible booster activity.” The NCAA sanctioned Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim with a nine-ACC-game suspension, and the Orange will lose 12 scholarships over the next four years. Syracuse announced earlier this year that the basketball team would forego participation in the ACC and NCAA tournaments as a self-imposed punishment; the NCAA declared that sufficient and announced it will not impose more postseason bans, although both the basketball and football teams will be on probation for the next five years.Source: Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post
7.Apple replaces AT&T on the Down Jones industrial average
S&P Dow Jones Indices has added Apple Inc. to its Dow Jones industrial average, replacing AT&T. “It would be difficult to pick any 30 companies that would cover the entire economy, especially compared with the S&P 500, but it does give the Dow more credibility,” Richard Sichel, a chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., said. AT&T had been part of the Dow for nearly a century, but investors have said that Apple now better reflects the role of communications and technology within the economy.Source: Reuters
8.Russian President Putin takes 10 percent salary cut
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that he is taking a 10 percent salary cut, effective March 1 through December 31, 2015. Putin’s signed decree also cuts the salaries of several other top government officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, and Alexander Bastrykin, president of Russia’s Investigative Committee. Moscow continues to deny any support of pro-Russia militants in neighboring Ukraine, but skeptical Western leaders have imposed sanctions on Russia in response, which have crippled the country’s economy in recent months.Source: Agence France Presse
9. NASA probe reaches orbit of dwarf planet Ceres
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft successfully entered orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres on Friday, eight years after scientists first launched the probe on its $473 million mission. Ceres lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter; Dawn will spend 16 months exploring the dwarf planet, which scientists discovered more than 200 years ago. NASA hopes the new mission will reveal more about the previous Dawn images of Ceres, which show mysterious spots on its surface, that could be signs of ice or liquid water.Source: NBC News
10.Albert Maysles, Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelterdocumentarian, dies at 88
Legendary documentarian Albert Maysles died on Friday at 88 years old. Maysles’ 60-year career as a documentarian began with the short Psychiatry in Russia, in 1955. In the decades that followed — and often in collaboration with his brother David — he helmed acclaimed documentaries such as Salesman,Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens. Maysles’ final film, In Transit, debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Noam Chomsky: Reagan was an ‘extreme racist’ who re-enslaved African-Americans

Noam Chomsky on Tea Party
Professor and Historian Noam Chomsky | No attribution

Noam Chomsky is one of my favorite political truth-tellers…

The Raw Story

In an interview with GRITtv’s Laura Flanders, linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky discussed how the events in Ferguson, Missouri and the protests that followed demonstrate just how little race relations in the United States have advanced since the end of the Civil War.

“This is a very racist society,” Chomsky said, “it’s pretty shocking. What’s happened to African-Americans in the last 30 years is similar to what [Douglas Blackmon in Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II] describes happening in the late 19th Century.”

Blackmon’s book describes what he calls the “Age of Neoslavery,” in which newly freed slaves found themselves entangled in a legal system built upon involuntary servitude — which included the selling of black men convicted of crimes like vagrancy and changing employers without receiving permission.

“The constitutional amendments that were supposed to free African-American slaves did something for about 10 years, then there was a North-South compact that granted the former the slave-owning states the right to do whatever they wanted,” he explained. “And what they did was criminalize black life, and that created a kind of slave force. It threw mostly black males into jail, where they became a perfect labor force, much better than slaves.”

“If you’re a slave owner, you have to pay for — you have to keep your ‘capital’ alive. But if the state does it for you, that’s terrific. No strikes, no disobedience, the perfect labor force. A lot of the American Industrial Revolution in the late 19th, early 20th Century was based on that. It pretty must lasted until World War II.”

“After that,” Chomsky said, “African-Americans had about two decades in which they had a shot of entering [American] society. A black worker could get a job in an auto plant, as the unions were still functioning, and he could buy a small house and send his kid to college. But by the 1970s and 1980s it’s going back to the criminalization of black life.”

“It’s called the drug war, and it’s a racist war. Ronald Reagan was an extreme racist — though he denied it — but the whole drug war is designed, from policing to eventual release from prison, to make it impossible for black men and, increasingly, women to be part of [American] society.”

“In fact,” he continued, “if you look at American history, the first slaves came over in 1619, and that’s half a millennium. There have only been three or four decades in which African-Americans have had a limited degree of freedom — not entirely, but at least some.”

“They have been re-criminalized and turned into a slave labor force — that’s prison labor,” Chomsky concluded. “This is American history. To break out of that is no small trick.”

Watch the entire interview via GRITtv on YouTube below.

The part pertaining to the subject of this post starts at 16:44.

I would recommend viewing the entire video because it gives us an insight on what makes Chomsky one of the great historians of our time…

Joe Walsh: Democrats Want Hispanics, African Americans ‘Dependent On Government’

Joe Walsh

This guy and Alan West are the biggest buffoons in the GOP…

The Huffington Post

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) made another controversial remark last week, telling constituents that Democrats want Hispanics to be dependent on government — and claiming that African Americans already are.

“The Democratic Party promises groups of people everything,” Walsh, a conservative freshman from suburban Chicago, said during a Schaumburg, Ill., speech caught on video provided by CREDO SuperPAC, an anti-tea party group. “They want the Hispanic vote, they want Hispanics to be dependent on government, just like they got African Americans dependent on government. That’s their game.”

Walsh goes on to say that civil rights activist Jesse Jackson “would be out of work if [African Americans] weren’t dependent on government.”

Walsh was elected in 2010, part of a wave of tea party-backed candidates elected to the House of Representatives that year. His district in the northern Chicago suburbs is a key target for Democrats this year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is putting its weight behind his opponent, Tammy Duckworth, as part of a “Red to Blue” effort to take back the House, the DCCC chairman, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in March.

Walsh has a flair for the dramatic in his speeches, and last week’s was no different. He began to speak loudly, telling his constituents he gets “wound up” for them. “I am scared. I really am scared, Patrick, that we’re past the point — we have so many people now dependent on government, so many people want handouts,” he said.

Walsh also has a history of controversial remarks about race — and plenty of other issues. He said in April that Obama was elected because he’s black, telling constituents at another town hall that electing the first African American president “made us feel good about [our]self.”

He came under fire for comments to Politico in March about Duckworth, a veteran who lost both of her legs and part of an arm while serving in Iraq:

“I have so much respect for what she did in the fact that she sacrificed her body for this country,” said Walsh, simultaneously lowering his voice as he leaned forward before pausing for dramatic effect. “Ehhh. Now let’s move on.”

Watch Walsh’s remarks on Hispanics and African Americans below, or view a longer video of the town hall meeting here.

Santorum tells Iowans: ‘I don’t want to make black people’s lives better’ | The Raw Story

One might ask: “WTF”?  However, if you stop to think that Iowa is 91% white and that Santorum is targeting the Evangelicals and anyone else he can get to vote for him, his statement is not that shocking inside Iowa.

Santorum is obviously guilty of taking a page from Newt Gingrich’s talking points.

The Raw Story

Speaking to Republicans in Iowa on Monday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said his administration would reform welfare to the point that it would offer no welfare at all.

After suggesting that an expansion of Medicare is really just a plot to make voters more “dependent” on Washington, Santorum added: ”I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.”

“I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families,” he added. “The best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling.”

One thing he likely overlooked: white Americans account for the largest percentage of welfare payments each month, mostly because they make up the largest sector of the population.

Welfare is defined by the government as benefits funded by tax dollars, meaning that programs like Social Security, food stamps, veterans benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment and corporate bailouts all fall under that term.

What Santorum seemed to focus on, as many conservatives do, is that black people are disproportionately represented in welfare statistics, along with Latinos, as both populations have much higher rates of poverty than whites.

According to the University of Michigan’s National Poverty Center, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were living in poverty in 2010, compared to 9.9 percent of whites. Unemployment statistics between the racial demographics are similarly skewed.

Despite the factually flawed nature of Santorum’s pitch on Monday, the underlying logic of his pitch is abundantly clear: census data shows that over 91 percent of Iowans are white, a community Santorum must desperately appeal to if he wants a win in Tuesday’s caucuses.

This video is from  CBS News, broadcast Monday, January 2, 2012.

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