Wednesday, June 26, 2013

  • Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act, Sparking Fears of Rollback for Minorities Long After Jim Crow


    In a major blow for voting rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated an integral part of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, the crowning achievement of the 1960s civil rights movement. In a 5-to-4 decision, justices ruled Congress has used obsolete information in continuing to require nine states with a history of racial discrimination to obtain federal approval for changes to voting rules. In recent years, Democrats have accused Republicans at the state level of enacting measures including congressional redistricting and voter identification laws to suppress the vote of minority groups likely to support Democratic candidates. We get reaction from three guests: Rev. Jesse Jackson, veteran civil rights leader and founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition; Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Ari Berman, a reporter who covers voting rights for The Nation. "This cuts at the heart of the whole idea of a broad American social fabric," Rev. Jackson says. Berman adds that the challenge came before the high court out of "a determined movement by conservatives to gut the most important civil rights law in the past 50 years."

  • Texas Showdown: Anti-Abortion Bill Fails After Protesters Fill Capitol to Cheer Marathon Filibuster


    Democratic lawmakers and pro-choice demonstrators in Texas battled into the early hours of this morning to successfully block a bill that would have shuttered nearly all the state’s abortion clinics. Senate Bill 5 would have banned abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization and imposed harsh regulations forcing all but five Texas clinics to close down. On Tuesday morning, State Senator Wendy Davis donned a pair of pink tennis shoes and rose to her feet to launch a filibuster of the bill that lasted nearly 11 hours before Republican senators interrupted it. As the midnight deadline for the special session drew near, hundreds of protesters in the gallery erupted into cheers that drowned out the proceedings, but Republican lawmakers attempted to claim they had passed the bill anyway. Hours later, Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst conceded the vote had not followed legislative procedures, blaming what he called an "unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics." Describing the raucous scene at the Capitol, Andrea Grimes, a freelance journalist who writes for RH Reality Check, says: "Once people at that filibuster began telling their stories and sharing them with others, that galvanized the pro-choice base and radicalized some people who hadn’t realized how our rights were under threat." We also speak with Brandi Grissom of The Texas Tribune, who hosted the live stream of the Senate proceeding that drew more than 100,000 viewers. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards tells Democracy Now!: "With the thousands of people who were mobilized this time around, they will be doubly that way if in fact Gov. [Rick Perry] tries to push [the bill] through again in another special session. And if he does, we’ll be ready."

  • Obama’s Climate Plan: A Historic Turning Point or Too Reliant on Oil, Coal, Natural Gas?


    President Obama has unveiled a climate plan that imposes the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. The move will not require congressional approval, meaning Obama can bypass expected Republican-led opposition. In his address, Obama also outlined a broad range of measures to protect coastlines and cities from rising sea levels, and vowed to promote the development of renewable energy. In a development that has led both opponents and supporters of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to express optimism for their side, Obama said approval of the project will be contingent upon assuring it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." Just how successful Obama will be in carrying out his sweeping plan to address climate change — and whether it goes far enough — is a matter of debate. We assess his speech with two guests holding differing views: Dan Lashof of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen.

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    Juan González on How Puerto Rico’s Economic "Death Spiral" is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism
    Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island faces a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due December 1, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory may default on at least some of the debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and allocating more equitable Medicaid and Medicare...


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