The Good: Federal Judge Rules In Georgia Voting Case
A federal judge this week proposed an alternative ruling between election officials in Georgia and voters after hearing a publicized voter discrimination case this Tuesday.
As important election dates draw closer, two federal lawsuits were filed by plaintiffs in Atlanta claiming that Gwinnett County officials in Georgia violated voters rights by rejecting absentee ballots for a myriad of reasons including signature “mismatches”. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May issued a proposed ruling that would force defendants to send a pre-rejection notice to voters and allow them 3 days to correct any issues. So far 157 absentee ballots have been thrown out, and according to an independent analyst Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor, Asian and African-American ballots have been thrown out at a disproportionately higher rate than those of other races.
Sophia Lakin, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and counsel involved in one of the two pending cases commented on the provisional ruling noting that the state could suggest their own changes to the ruling, however acknowledged the potential decision as a move into the right direction. “This ruling protects the people of Georgia from those who seek to undermine their right to vote. It’s a huge victory, especially with the midterms just days away,
Judge May is scheduled to make a decision on the case “soon”…
The Bad: Trump Copies Past Drug Law Mistakes
On Monday the White House hosted an event where President Trump signed new aggressive yet nostalgic drug laws. Trump’s reaction to the U.S.’s opioid crisis has many GOP members praising the government’s efforts to deter addiction while others feel the legislation is too reminiscent of the previously failed drug war of the 70’s.
Coming complete with a “tough approach” on drug related crimes; even imposing the death penalty on high volume traffickers, the newly signed legislation includes sweeping changes to drug addiction and health care that would effect multiple generations of prescription users. Although experts say the new development might be a step in the right direction, the legislation fails to address other drugs crises’ such as cocaine and heroin which have resurged over the past several years along with he 80,000 people who passed in 2017 from alcoholism.
Medical professionals claim that the Trump administration is making the same mistake the Republican Presidency made in the 80’s regarding drugs during the Reagan administration which spawned the disastrous “War On Drugs”. The attempt to tackle one drug, leaving others off the table has resulted in the imprisonment of many non-violent offenders while leaving thousands of users in jail, many of whom cannot access appropriate treatment.
Legal activists have also commented on the controversial decision to impose the death penalty, reminding proponents for the practice that statistics don’t show the legal “deterrent” of capital punishment as an effective means to solve the issue of drug crimes.
Currently the opioid crisis is listed as a national emergency. 49,068 lives were lost in 2017 due to opioid overdose.
The Good: D.C. Attorney General Begins Civil Investigation Into Catholic Church
Alongside the Archdiocese of D.C.’s release of 31 parishioners who have been named in sexual abuse cases, D.C.’s Attorney General has announced a civil investigation into abuse cover up connected to the church.
Despite Boston’s groundbreaking 2002 investigation that revealed the Catholic church covered up abuses for decades by re-assigning priests and paying off victims spanning decades, new voices from past pain rang out in Pennsylvania earlier this year calling upon the church to offer up information on abusers.
Lead prosecutor Karl Racine said in a statement regarding the investigation that the probe into the Archdiocese is to ensure there are no other cases of abuse unreported to authorities lingering under the church’s murky surface.
Although some are seeing the investigation as a superficial look into a long and undeniable history of assaults and cover-ups, the Archdiocese has maintained that they’ve remained consistent and open with D.C. law enforcement officials about any cases that they’ve become aware of. In addition to offering up the names of priests, the church officially released a statement following the announcement of the investigation: The Archdiocese of Washington remains committed to a collaborative and transparent review process because there is not now, and has not been for decades, any problem of abuse of minors by clergy of the Archdiocese of Washington.”
The Bad: Retired Supreme Court Justice Diagnosed With Dementia
One of the U.S.’ most influential legal minds and proponents of women’s rights and the regulation of Congress Sandra Day O’Connor announced this week that she would be retiring from public life after being diagnosed with Dementia which she believes will eventually develop into Alzheimer’s.
O’Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court Justice position following her 1981 nomination by President Ronald Reagan. O’Connor rose through the political and legal ranks despite living in a generation where laws firms openly refused to hire women. Even after graduating from Stanford School of Law 3rd in her class, O’Connor was denied employment from over 40 law firms she applied to.
In in devastatingly similar situation, O’Connor left the bench in 2006 to care for her husband who had been diagnosed with alzheimer’s in an effort to spend their remaining years enjoying each other. Unfortunately, her husband’s condition deteriorated quicker than expected and he past away in 2009. Following her retirement from office, Sandra remained active on political matters, however friends within her social circle noticed her struggling with motor functions and memory. Sandra said her letter was meant to address the growing concern from friends, family, and colleagues.
At the end of Sandra’s letter she is quoted as writing: “While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life,” she writes in a letter released by the Supreme Court’s public information office.
The Good: Palestinian Protester Photo Proves Iconic
As the struggle within Palestine continues, (largely veiled from the rest of the world, with the exception of news reports from courageous journalists) the curtain was pulled back this week as an iconic photo of a Palestinian protester became the talking point of activists and historians.
The photo taken by photographer Mustafa Hassouna depicts 20 year old A’ed Abu Amro wielding the Palestinian flag and winding up to toss a slingshot at the Israeli blockade in Gaza, a photo that went viral after social media users noticed the image’s similarity to several iconic artistic images including David and Goliath and the famed “Liberty Leading the People” portrait, painted by Eugene Delacroix, honoring the July Revolution of 1830, which removed King Charles X of France. Amro says that although he doesn’t attend the protests to be photographed, the attention the photo has received and the subsequent support from citizens around the world has encouraged him to keep going.
“The flag I was carrying is the same one I always hold in all the other protests I’ve attended. My friends make fun of me, saying it is easier to throw rocks without holding a flag in the other hand, but I got used to it.
“If I get killed, I want to be wrapped in the same flag. We are demanding our right of return, and protesting for our dignity and the dignity of our future generation.”
Amro, along with hundreds of other protesters have been fighting with the Palestinian government for their rights to return home to their country which they have been banned from since 1948. The image of the vigorously oppressed fighting behind a backdrop of black smoke and contrasted with other protesters around him give an awakening and artistically metaphorical glimpse into the battle being waged in Palestine. “The Great March of Return” began May 15th; it’s ensuing battle has left hundreds killed and thousands wounded.
The Bad: Trump Opts Out Of Nuclear Deal With Russia
In a move that was seen equally as an expected, however, rash decision from the White House, the Trump administration has officially announced they will be backing out of the “Cold War” agreement between Russia and the U.S. that was made between Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Trump announced the back out to reporters in Nevada saying Russia violated the agreement, a claim the Russian government denies.
According tothe State Department, the agreement called: ‘The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’ restricts both the U.S. and Russia (then, the Soviet Union) from having “ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers,” as well as the required destruction of existing missiles, and/or “associated support structures. The deal was meant to limit the amount of nuclear stockpiling each country would have in an effort to deter from nuclear war. The agreement ended the Cold War standoff between the U.S., Cuba and Russia and is said to be one of the most important arms deals made between nations in American history according to political analysts.
The announcement comes alongside another White House declaration involving nuclear arms with Trump claiming the U.S. will begin to grow its arms defense budget until other nations “come to their senses.”
Foreign officials linked to the deal warn that the deterioration of the agreement could result in negative implications on either side as the arms race begins once again. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov commented on the recent choice saying that withdrawal from the treaty “would be a very dangerous step, which, won’t be just understood by the international community, but arouse serious condemnation of all members of the world community, who are committed to security and stability and are ready to work on strengthening the current regimes in arms control.”
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