The Voting Rights Act wasn’t designed to be enmeshed in partisan politics. And that’s what is happening now.Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Columbia Law School • Discussing the sudden legal pressure the Voting Rights Act is facing in states like Texas. The act was introduced in the 1960s to protect African-American voters from disenfranchisement at the polls. But recent state laws have begun to test its legality. Earlier this year, the Obama administration blocked a Texas law that would require voters to show photo ID, saying it was “unfair to minority voters.” Texas says it wants to prevent voter fraud; Georgia and Indiana have passed similar measures. Now, the fight is starting to heat up — with a hearing on Monday in a federal district court on Texas’ law, a possible prelude to a Supreme Court decision. Is it a reflection of the political climate? “Actions and interpretations that previously would not have raised partisan eyebrows are now seen as outrages,” said Persily. source (via • follow)
» The Eagle has landed … poorly. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in a drone that was still crash landing as recently as March 2011. A squadron of four Gray Eagles is currently active in Afghanistan, but unstable software — what caused the drone to crash last March — still calls for more tests. They better get moving; the Army has an order in for 164 of them within the next decade.
Look,we had a bed for that guy. We had a place for him to go. He could have come off the street. The guy wanted to be in the street.Miami-Dade Homeless Trust President Ronald Book • In a new report on the advocacy group that reached out to Roland Poppo, the homeless man who survived a horrific assault last week, just days before he made national headlines. According to Book, and several others who reached out to him from another organization, Poppo’s living conditions were a choice. “There was food you can eat without being cooked and then water, lots of water, so he could bathe,” noted Miami Homeless Assistance Program outreach worker Giancarlo Venturini, adding, “He had rags so he could clean himself; he had utensils.” source (via • follow)
» It seems 1940 Census data, released yesterday after the end of its 72-year confidentiality period, is pretty popular; based on the avalanche of traffic currently crippling government servers. Approximately 2 million visitors racked up 22 million hits in the first four hours alone. Susan Cooper, from the National Archives, said the site’s slow loading times should ease soon as more servers are brought online to help handle the load. “The problem,” she said, “is we just weren’t expecting the huge volume that we got.”
There needs to be a very close look at the effectiveness of standardized testing, especially as it relates to certain children who come to school without the sufficient home life to succeed.Former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers • Discussing an investigative report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that shows that 196 of the country’s 3,125 have suspicious standardized testing results, suggesting high levels of cheating. (Atlanta’s already suffered from a high-profile cheating scandal of its own in the past year.) Some of the districts accused of cheating said they would investigate further, while others took to defending the integrity of their students. (For what it’s worth, the AJC defended its reporting on the story, with AJC Editor Kevin Riley saying that ”We believe in our methodology and are transparent about it.”) If cheating in standardized testing is widespread, does that suggest a problem with the schools or with the tests? source (via • follow)
The true issue is whether we can acknowledge the sovereignty of all mighty God over the affairs of our state and our law. That I will not back down from. I will always acknowledge the sovereignty of God and I think we must.Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore • Explaining why he will not attempt to place another monument to the Ten Commandments at the state judicial building. Moore finds himself in a position to reclaim his former job as Alabama’s Chief Justice this November, after winning more than 50 percent of the vote during a Republican primary on Tuesday. If he is able to defeat his Democratic challenger, attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Harry Lyon, in November, Moore will replace incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone, the man who replaced him as Chief Justice after he was found guilty of a state ethics violation in 2003. source (via • follow)
I’m pleased the court has lifted the travel ban and am looking forward to my son’s arrival in the US. I’d like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood • From a statement today, on the flight home for seven American pro-democracy workers who had been held in Egypt, barred from traveling over accusations of illegal fundraising. One of the seven is his son, Sam LaHood, a high-profile family connection that helped highlight the diplomatic turmoil that unfolded over the Americans’ detainment. The price of getting these folks back home? A cool $5 million in bail, paid by the U.S. to Egypt. This brings an end to a perilous diplomatic situation, though the U.S. doesn’t seem ready to bury the hatchet and forget about this just yet – Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the State Department, said no decision has yet been made on the state of U.S. aid to Egypt. source (via • follow)
» What a record to break! One year removed from bankruptcy, American automaker General Motors posted record-setting earnings for the 2011 fiscal year. In recent weeks/months many investors worried that GM’s overseas operations would drag down the company’s year-end totals. GM lost a total of $747 million in European markets, with $562 million of the losses occurring in the fourth quarter alone. In South America, where the company reported $818 million in earnings for 2010, GM reported a net loss of $122 million. However, not only did the company defy global expectations, GM managed to break its former $6.7 billion earnings record, set in 1996.
» Trying to win it? Your odds are 1 in 175,223,510. (We like your odds, though.) This is the fifth-largest Powerball jackpot ever; the largest went for $365 million in 2006. 44 states take part in Powerball, and most of them chill with its brother from another mother, Mega Millions, too.