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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
Home country: USA
Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
Number of posts: 46,615

About Me

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

Journal Archives

Nebraska attorney general says Planned Parenthood trying to tell Legislature 'how to do its job'

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office says an attempt by Planned Parenthood and others to block a new state law on abortion and transgender rights is an attempt “to tell the Nebraska Legislature how to do its job.”

In a 27-page legal brief filed Thursday night, the Attorney General’s Office says the lawsuit seeking to block Legislative Bill 574 would “undermine” years of practices in the Legislature and should be dismissed.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit shortly after LB 574 was signed into law, maintaining that it was unconstitutional because it violated the state’s “single subject” requirement for legislation.

The Nebraska Constitution states that “no bill shall contain more than one subject, and the subject shall be clearly expressed in the title.” Legal scholars, though, say the requirement is largely untested in court.

A Lincoln judge has scheduled a court hearing at 10 a.m. Monday, via Zoom, to hear arguments about whether the lawsuit should be dismissed or be allowed to proceed.


Advocates on each side get ready for possible vote to legalize abortion in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Activists on each side of the debate are preparing for a summer of advocating for or combatting against an amendment to let Ohioans choose if abortion is legal.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights only have one more month to finish getting hundreds of thousands of signatures to put an amendment on the November ballot that gives voters a choice on reproductive care.

"The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety" would allow every person to have the legal choice on abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care and continuing a pregnancy. It would also prohibit the state from interfering or penalizing an individual's voluntary exercise of this right or anyone or entity that helps in utilizing this right.

Tina Barhams is one of the hundreds of petitioners collecting signatures for the November ballot.


Advocates have gathered over 100,000 petitions to get abortion access on Florida's 2024 ballot

Just about one month after launching a campaign to get abortion access on the state ballot in 2024, abortion rights advocates in Florida have gathered 100,000 petitions so far for the proposed ballot measure, according to a leader involved in the campaign, mobilizing thousands of volunteers across the state.

“We’re really, really excited about the outpouring of support and work,” said Amy Weintraub, reproductive rights program director of Progress Florida who's helped coordinate administrative and volunteer training efforts. “Thousands of Floridians are working on this.”

The proposed ballot initiative, coming in the wake of a six-week abortion ban being signed into law, is being spearheaded by Floridians Protecting Freedom, a campaign led by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Florida Rising and Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida.

The ballot summary reads: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

Medical fetal viability, or when a fetus can survive outside of the womb, is generally estimated at around 23 to 24 weeks of gestation.


OH: Don't expect a big August vote turnout

Last year’s August special primary election for state legislative seats became necessary after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the Ohio Redistricting Commission violated the state constitution by drawing gerrymandered General Assembly maps. Statewide turnout was 8 percent.

he Republican-controlled Legislature voted in December to eliminate all August elections except if a local government or school district in fiscal emergency wanted to put a tax levy on the ballot or if there needed to be a special primary for a vacant U.S. House seat.

The contention was the August elections were used by governments and school districts to sneak tax issues by voters who weren’t aware of the measures being on a ballot as Ohioans rarely vote that time of the year.

While the Legislature was voting to get rid of August elections, a number of Republican members also were working to get an issue on the May 2 primary ballot to make it harder to amend the state constitution.

The proposal would increase the threshold to pass a constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60 percent. It didn’t come up for a vote in the Legislature’s lame duck session in December, but there later was a movement to get it on the Aug. 8 special election ballot.


Appeals court dismisses GOP megadonor's lawsuit against Beto O'Rourke

A state appeals court dismissed Republican megadonor Kelcy Warren’s defamation lawsuit against Beto O’Rourke, ruling Friday that statements by the 2022 Democratic nominee for governor were protected by the First Amendment.

The Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals said a district court judge in San Saba County mistakenly denied O’Rourke’s motion to dismiss in July 2022. Warren, a Dallas pipeline billionaire, had sued O’Rourke for defamation after the candidate repeatedly invoked Warren while criticizing Gov. Greg Abbott for the 2021 power-grid collapse.

“We hold that an examination of the statements and their context from the position of a reasonable person shows they are non-actionable opinions and fall within the bounds of protected speech,” a three-judge panel said in its ruling.

Friday’s ruling came seven months after oral arguments on the motion to dismiss and can be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. Warren's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legal journey kicked off more than a year ago, when O’Rourke opened his campaign with intense criticism over Abbott’s handling of the grid failure amid a severe winter storm. Warren’s pipeline company made a huge profit as demand for gas spiked, and O’Rourke seized on a $1 million donation Warren later made to Abbott, arguing it was effectively a bribe to go easy on Warren’s industry after the storm.


TX: Nate Paul charged with 8 felony counts of making false statements to financial institutions

Nate Paul, the Austin real estate investor central to allegations of illegal conduct by suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton, has been charged with eight counts of making false statements to financial institutions.

Paul, 36, allegedly overstated his assets and understated his liabilities to fraudulently obtain loans, according to a 23-page indictment filed by federal prosecutors Friday.

The government is seeking $172 million in restitution from Paul.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Howell laid out the charges — which focus on actions Paul took in 2017 and 2018 to allegedly mislead mortgage lenders and credit unions — Friday morning to ensure Paul understood them.

Paxton was not mentioned in the indictment, nor was he discussed during a half-hour proceeding Friday in Austin's federal courthouse, where Paul appeared shackled and wearing a blue button-down shirt, jeans and white Air Jordans. He answered Howell’s questions softly, simply stating, “Yes, Your Honor.”

Paul is due back in court June 15 for arraignment. He will be released today on conditions including that he surrender his passport and leave Texas only after notifying the court. His in-state travel will be unrestricted. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Buie, who represented the government at the hearing and who specializes in white collar crimes, said Paul should be allowed to continue to run his businesses.


Indianapolis teacher, ACLU file lawsuit to challenge new K-3 ban on 'human sexuality' education

A new Indiana law that critics say will effectively ban discussions about LGBTQ+ people in schools under the guise of blocking conversations around “human sexuality” now faces a legal challenge.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana Friday on behalf of a public school teacher in Indianapolis who says the law infringes her constitutional rights.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb last month signed into law House Bill 1608, which requires Indiana schools to notify parents when a student asks for name or pronoun changes and prohibits human sexuality instruction to the youngest Hoosier students.

Kayla Smiley, an elementary school teacher in the Indianapolis Public School system, claims in the court challenge that the law poses First Amendment violations for teachers by taking away her “ability to speak as a citizen on matters of public interest and to speak away from work on matters unrelated to her employment and addressed to a public audience.”

The complaint additionally argues that the law is overly broad, given that neither “instruction” nor “human sexuality” is defined.


Human Rights Campaign issues first ever national state of emergency for LGBTQ people

“I’m not going to sugarcoat this,” Kelly Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote in her preface to a new report the group released this week. “For the first time in HRC’s nearly half-century history, we’re declaring a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States.”

The nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization is sounding the alarm over what it says are more than 525 anti-LGBTQ bills filed at the state level across the country, more than 200 specifically targeting transgender people.

“As of press time, more than 70 of those have become law,” Richardson wrote. “These laws are fueled by an anti-LGBTQ+ Republican establishment — and coordinated, well-funded extremist groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, Heritage Foundation and the Family Policy Alliance — insistent on trying to control our families and lives.”

The declaration and report come during an LGBTQ Pride Month that has already seen anti-LGBTQ violence and intimidation along with backlash and terrorist threats against multi-national companies and national retailers who have shown public support for the LGBTQ community.


Ruling in Alabama case could boost suits increasing Black voters' power in other states

In one sense, the Supreme Court’s surprise ruling striking down Alabama’s 2022 congressional maps maintains the legal status quo. By 5-4, the justices rejected the state’s attempt to restrict the ability of the Voting Rights Act to block gerrymanders that suppress the power of minority voters.

But that dramatically understates the impact of the case, titled Allen v. Milligan, election law experts say.

Though it simply reaffirms existing law, the ruling — authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, who was joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, and, in part, by Justice Brett Kavanaugh — is likely to provide a major boost to lawsuits challenging racial gerrymanders from Georgia to Washington state.

That could help Democrats in the battle for control of the U.S. House and state legislatures in the 2024 election. A top political analyst cited the ruling in shifting five House seats in the party’s direction, four of the five moving to toss-ups.

And, at a time when civil rights groups are warning that the political power of racial minorities is under threat in some areas, the ruling could lead to the creation of more U.S. House districts across the country where Black and brown voters hold a majority.


'We Need to Start Killing': Trump's Far-Right Supporters Are Threatening Civil War

In what is becoming a now all-too-familiar trend, former President Donald Trump’s far-right supporters have threatened civil war after news broke Thursday that the former president was indicted for allegedly taking classified documents from the White House without permission.

“We need to start killing these traitorous fuckstains,” wrote one Trump supporter on The Donald, a rabidly pro-Trump message board that played a key role in planning the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Another user added: “It's not gonna stop until bodies start stacking up. We are not civilly represented anymore and they'll come for us next. Some of us, they already have.”

Trump has been indicted on seven counts following an investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into classified documents taken by Trump from the White House in 2021. The indictments have not been released, but Trump’s attorney Jim Trusty told CNN that his client is facing a charge under the Espionage Act, as well as “charges of obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements.”

Trump announced the news himself on Truth Social, writing that he had been indicted in the “Boxes Hoax” case, as he put it, and said he would be arraigned on Tuesday at Florida Southern District Courthouse in Miami. Within minutes, his supporters lit up social media platforms with violent threats and calls for civil war, according to research from VICE News and Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan think tank that tracks online extremism.

Trump supporters are making specific threats too. In one post on The Donald titled, “A little bit about Merrick Garland, his wife, his daughters,” a user shared a link to an article about the attorney general’s children.

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