[A] majority of the Court seems committed to invalidating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and requiring Congress to revisit the formula for requiring preclearance of voting changes…It is unlikely that the Court will write an opinion forbidding a preclearance regime. But it may be difficult politically for Congress to enact a new measure.SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein earlier this morning. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states with a history of voter disenfranchisement to obtain approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws. One possible outcome: The court strikes down the criteria used in Section 5, but doesn’t strike down the requirement for preclearance itself. If that happens, a new criteria for preclearance would have to be constructed and enacted. And who would be responsible for that? John Boehner and Harry Reid, of course. Sigh. More on today’s arguments here. source
This may be a moment in Senate history, when a senator made a proposal that, when given an opportunity for a vote on that proposal, filibustered his own proposal…I don’t think this has ever happened before.Sen. Dick Durbin, after Mitch McConnell’s latest scheme blew up in his face. McConnell introduced legislation today that would allow the president to unilaterally raise the debt limit, suspecting that Democrats wouldn’t have the guts to vote for it. When it became clear that Democrats did indeed have the votes to pass the bill with a simple majority, McConnell filibustered it, preventing its passage. The United States Senate, ladies and gentlemen. source
In Libya it’s only been a year and the idea of democracy and political parties is difficult for people to absorb. The people have not responded to this imported, packaged democracy. We don’t accept it. We have a religion that needs to be taken into accountAbdul Qader Azouz, former political prisoner in Libya • Expressing his, and many other eastern Libyans’, unhappiness with the state of the country one year after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Azouz was one of the few survivors of a massacre, targeting prisoners that Gaddafi believed to be dangerous Islamic fundamentalists, that claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people. Many like Azouz, who fought or lost loved ones (in many cases, both) to Gaddafi before/during the Libyan revolution, feel as if yet another Western-backed government is being installed which will ignore and/or oppress the community in eastern Libyan cities like Derna. source
» This on top of a long arrest earlier this year: Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in jail on tax evasion charges, but claims all authorities wanted to talk about was his pro-democracy record. The fine Ai has been forced to pay is more than three times the size of his tax bill — and he needs help paying. The surprising part is that he actually got said help. “It’s surprising; it has really changed my perspective on people,” he said, noting that people traveled long distances to give him financial help — in person. Ai prefers to think of the payments as loans, and turned down a $157,000 payment from a businessman, saying he preferred smaller loans.
» It’s worth noting that these rebel leaders are being tried in absentia, as they’re currently busy doing rebel stuff. Additionally, if and when Gaddafi’s government falls, the outcome of these trials will likely be inconsequential. Nevertheless, it’s an indication of the regime’s confidence in its ability to triumph that they’re proceeding with the trials anyway. Whether this portrayal of confidence is genuine or tactical remains to be seen.
This is Y.K. Museveni. I greet you. Vote for the old man with a hat.Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni • In a phone call to potential voters. With elections looming on Friday, the longtime President’s voice was racing across phone lines everywhere as robocalls, unheard of in African politics, went out to the Ugandan citizenry, referencing his iconic hat. A win Friday would mean his fourth term in office (with no limits), amidst concerns about repression of democratic opposition. Of additional note, as it’s probably what Uganda is most known for internationally right now, the American evangelical group “The Family,” heinously tied to Uganda’s anti-gay (seriously) legislation, is led by a man named Doug Coe. As reported by Jeff Sharlet, Coe has referred to President Museveni as the group’s “key man in Africa.” Take that for what you will. source (via • follow)
He called up an Israeli lawmaker just before he resigned to speak his mind a little. To put it simply, Mubarak feels, much like many Israeli officials, that a move towards democracy in Egypt will give rise to extremism. “He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: ‘We see the democracy the United States spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that’s the fate of the Middle East,’” said Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli cabinet minister. “‘They may be talking about democracy but they don’t know what they’re talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam.’” In other words, Mubarak is all grumblecakey about the rise of democracy in the country, which he feels will hurt the region more than help it. And yes, we said “grumblecakey.” source