Friday, April 30, 2010

Washington Examiner: How Obama could lose Arizona immigration battle

By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
April 30, 2010

We know one thing for sure about the fight over Arizona's new immigration law. Civil-rights groups will file a lawsuit trying to kill the law and will ask a federal judge to issue an injunction to keep it from taking effect as scheduled this summer. What we don't know is how those proceedings will be affected by the Obama Justice Department, which is contemplating the highly unusual step of filing its own suit against the state of Arizona. Also unknown is the influence of President Obama himself, who has gone out of his way to raise questions -- some of them strikingly uninformed -- about the law.

The drafters of the law knew the lawsuit was coming; a lawsuit is always coming when a state tries to enforce the nation's immigration laws. What the drafters didn't expect was Obama's aggressive and personal role in trying to undermine the new measure.


The problem for Obama and Holder is that the people behind the new law have been through this before -- and won. Arizona is three-for-three in defending its immigration measures. In 2008, the state successfully defended its employer-sanctions law, which made it a state crime to knowingly employ an illegal immigrant. Facing some of the same groups that are now planning to challenge the new law, Arizona prevailed both in federal district court and at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's most liberal federal appeals court.

In federal court in 2005, Arizona successfully defended Proposition 200, which required proof of citizenship for voting and also restricted benefits to illegals. And in 2006, officials won a state-court challenge to Arizona's human smuggling law.

The arguments that liberal groups make against the new law are similar to those made in the past. Foremost among them is the claim that only the federal government can handle immigration matters, and thus the Arizona measure pre-empts federal law.
Lawmakers thought of that ahead of time. "This law was carefully drafted to avoid any legal challenge on pre-emption in two ways," explains Kobach. "One, it perfectly mirrors federal law. Courts usually ask whether a state law is in conflict with federal law, and this law is in perfect harmony with federal law.

"Two, the new law requires local law enforcement officers not to make their own judgment about a person's immigration status but to rely on the federal government," Kobach continues. Any officer who reasonably suspects a person is illegal is required to check with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "As long as the state or city is relying on the federal government to determine immigration status, that will protect against a pre-emption challenge," says Kobach.
But what if the Obama administration argues that the law is a burden on the federal government? Or refuses to assist Arizona in determining a person's legality? The drafters thought of that, too. There's a federal statute -- 8 USC 1373, passed during the Clinton years -- requiring the feds to verify a person's immigration status any time a state or local official asks for it. The federal government cannot deny assistance to Arizona without breaking the law itself.


Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Should the NAACP Have Taken Money from Wells Fargo? Dr. Boyce and Ben Jealous Give their Points of View


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Should Black People Sue the NCAA?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

The NCAA just got a bit richer this year, signing a new contract with CBS Sports and Turner Sports for $10.8 billion dollars over 14 years. This contract is a 41% increase over the mammoth deal they originally signed back in 2001. They are also going to expand their tournament field to 68 teams, from the original 65. This is not the total annual revenue for the league. Instead, it simply represents the television rights to air March Madness each year.

The league also has a $55 million dollar, three-year contract with ESPN for the womens basketball tournament and 21 other NCAA championships. Beyond that, the league is also attempting to sell the rights to 60 other national national championships. To make a long story short, the NCAA is making money hand over fist and it's all because they have the biggest, baddest, most entertaining product that "hoods" across America can produce.

As a Finance scholar and businessman, when I hear that someone is working to "sell" something and get money in return, I think about free enterprise and capitalism. I think about the fact that someone (that someone being the NCAA) is working overtime to ensure that they get fair market value for the product they are offering to the world. These ideas of free enterprise also translate to college basketball coaches, many of whom earn as much as $4 million dollars per year, with salaries on par with NBA coaches. In fact, the NCAA earns more money during its post-season tournament than the NFL, NBA and Major League baseball. These are all the symptoms of a professional sports league, and some argue that college athletes should be paid for their work.

Click to read

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Budget crisis puts LA court system at risk

AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch,
2 hrs 51 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – The nation's largest court system is in the midst of a painful budget crisis that has shut down courtrooms and disrupted everything from divorce and custody proceedings to traffic ticket disputes.

The Los Angeles court system has already closed 17 courtrooms and another 50 will be shut down come September unless something is done to find more money. The judge who presides over the system predicts chaos and an unprecedented logjam of civil and family law cases in the worst-case scenario.

The crisis results from the financially troubled state's decision to slash $393 million from state trial courts in the budget this year. The state also decided to close all California courthouses on the third Wednesday of every month.

What has emerged is a hobbled court system that is struggling to serve the public.

Custody hearings, divorce proceedings, small-claims disputes, juvenile dependency matters and civil lawsuits have been delayed amid the courtroom shutdowns in Los Angeles. Drivers who choose to fight traffic tickets now have to wait up to nine months to get a trial started.

Complex civil lawsuits, those typically involving feuding businesses, could really feel the hit. It now takes an average of 16 months for such cases to get resolved, but court officials expect the cuts to bog down these civil matters to the point that they take an average of four years to finish.

Read more:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Breyer: Obamacare faces Supreme Court review

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-Legal challenges to the national health care overhaul signed last month by President Barack Obama will be heard eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer predicted Thursday.Appearing before the House

Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies, Breyer said the nearly $1 trillion health care plan will likely be heard by the nine-member high court, just as most major federal legislation is reviewed by the justices.Breyer and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas were on Capitol Hill today to testify before the subcommittee on the Supreme Court's budget request for the next fiscal year.As for the high court's relatively light caseload in recent years, Breyer, in response to a question, said that trend could shift given that Congress recently "passed a law with 2,400 pages," referring to the health care reform championed by Democrats.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Foreclosures Hit Rich and Famous

Wall Street Journal

The rich and famous now have something in common with hundreds of thousands of middle and lower-class Americans: The bank is about to take their homes.

Houses with loans of $5 million or more will likely see a sharp rise in foreclosures this year, according to a RealtyTrac study for The Wall Street Journal.

Just this week, a Tudor mansion in Bel-Air belonging to film star Nicolas Cage was in foreclosure auction and reverted to the lender. On Wednesday, Richard Fuscone, a former top Wall Street executive, declared personal bankruptcy, forestalling a foreclosure auction that had been scheduled this week on his 14-acre Westchester mansion. Last month a Manhattan condominium owned by Italian film producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori was sold in a foreclosure auction for $33.2 million.

In February alone, 352 homes nationwide in this category were scheduled for foreclosure auction, the final step before a bank acquisition. That is the largest monthly number of these so-called notices of sale since the financial crisis began. By comparison, in all of 2009, there were 1,312 such notices.

Economists say the super-wealthy are among the last to lose their homes in a mortgage crisis because they usually have high savings, better access to credit and other means for staving off foreclosure. But many of them work in financial services and other industries hit especially hard by the crisis, and have seen their wealth shrink in the market crash.

Read more:

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retiring

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer Mark Sherman, Associated Press Writer –

3 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court's oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, is retiring. President Barack Obama now has his second high court opening to fill.

Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor will be confirmed "well in advance of the commencement of the court's next term."

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Health care overhaul spawns mass confusion for public

By Margaret Talev
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Two weeks after President Barack Obama signed the big health care overhaul into law, Americans are struggling to understand how — and when — the sweeping measure will affect them.

Questions reflecting confusion have flooded insurance companies, doctors' offices, human resources departments and business groups.

"They're saying, 'Where do we get the free Obama care, and how do I sign up for that?' " said Carrie McLean, a licensed agent for The California-based company sells coverage from 185 health insurance carriers in 50 states.

McLean said the call center had been inundated by uninsured consumers who were hoping that the overhaul would translate into instant, affordable coverage. That widespread misconception may have originated in part from distorted rhetoric about the legislation bubbling up from the hyper-partisan debate about it in Washington and some media outlets, such as when opponents denounced it as socialism.

"We tell them it's not free, that there are going to be things in place that help people who are low-income, but that ultimately most of that is not going to be taking place until 2014," McLean said.

Adults with pre-existing conditions are frustrated to learn that insurers won't have to cover them until 2014 (though those under 18 will be protected in late September); then they become both hopeful and confused upon learning that a federal high-risk pool for them will be established in the next few months. "Health insurance is so confusing. You add this on top of it and it makes it even more confusing," McLean said.

The Obama administration is embarking on a years-long public education campaign about the overhaul, including a Web component. However, much of the guidance will depend on Department of Health and Human Services regulations that are still being developed.

Read more:

Obamacare Legal Battle: Florida says 5 more states challenge health reform

"We welcome the partnership of Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada and Arizona as we continue fighting to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens and the sovereignty of our states," Bill McCollum said.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

StairTribune: Law schools struggle to attract minorities

"In my humble opinion, this is not a new phenomenon. Every lawyer of color knows this to be the case in this profession. It is no different in any other privilege profession. One way to improve minority attendance is to have potential and current law school students actively seek relationships with the Alumni of the specific law school. Now, this is not an easy task because most lawyers and judges are very busy and have limited time to devout to extra curricular activity. But, if you are proactive and plan in advance opportunities for networking with alumni of color in the legal profession, it can work.

There is old saying that its takes a village to raise a child. Well, the same analogy still applies in the legal profession. It takes a network of lawyers (and/or judges) of all colors to raise students to become excellent lawyers (or judges) in the legal profession. If you can create this environment, then you will surely see opportunities open for people of color in the legal profession." - Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

Please review the article below:

Star Tribune
Last update: April 6, 2010 - 11:06 PM

More minority students are applying to Hamline University Law School. Acceptances are up, too. But overall diversity? Down a tick from a decade ago.

"That's where the challenge remains," said Donald Lewis, dean. "Our issue is convincing the people we've accepted to come here."

Hamline's struggle is common. Law schools across the nation vie for students of color to diversify classrooms -- and ultimately, courtrooms. Greater diversity will lead to a fairer legal system, they say, and clients demand it.

Yet growth is slow, and, as a recent study shows, representation of some races has even dropped.

That has law schools and law firms working in high schools, preparing undergraduates and launching new admissions programs. Starting April 15, the University of St. Thomas School of Law will accept some students without LSAT scores, which, statistics show, are generally higher for whites than minorities. Other schools are considering similar steps.

To continue to read the article, follow the link below:

Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality

April 6, 2010 8:15 AM PDT
by Declan McCullagh

The Federal Communications Commission does not have the legal authority to impose strict Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
A three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. unanimously tossed out the FCC's August 2008 cease and desist order against Comcast, which had taken measures to slow BitTorrent transfers and had voluntarily ended them earlier in the year.

Because the FCC "has failed to tie its assertion" of regulatory authority to any actual law enacted by Congress, the agency does not have the authority to regulate an Internet provider's network management practices, wrote Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Tuesday's decision could doom one of the signature initiatives of current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat. Last October, Genachowski announced plans to begin drafting a formal set of Net neutrality rules -- even though Congress has not given the agency permission to begin. (Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg, for instance, has said that new regulations would stifle innovative technologies like telemedicine.)

To continue reading, follow link below:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Racism of the Prison System

This data was gathered from the prison initiative and shows that there is more racism in the US prison system than there was in South Africa During Apartheid:


Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment

by Peter Wagner
Updated June 28, 2005

On June 30, 2004, there were 2,131,180 people in U.S. prisons and jails. That's a rise of 2.3% during the 12 previous months. Federal prisons are growing almost 5 times faster than state prison populations.

As of June 30, 2004, the U.S. incarceration rate was 726 per 100,000 residents. But when you break down the statistics you see that incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment.

U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2004

incarceration rates by race graph

Gender is an important "filter" on the who goes to prison or jail:

incarceration rates by gender graph

Look at just the males by race, and the incarceration rates become even more frightening

incarceraton rates for males by race

If you look at males aged 25-29 and by race, you can see what is going on even clearer

incarceration rates for young males

Or you can make some international comparisons

International rates of incarceration graph

South Africa under Apartheid was internationally condemned as a racist society. What does it mean that the leader of the "free world" locks up its Black men at a rate 5.8 times higher than the most openly racist country in the world?

Statistics as of June 30, 2004 from Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2004, Tables 14; except for the race rate statistics which are calculated from Table 13 and Census Bureau population estimates. South Africa figures from Marc Mauer, Americans Behind Bars: The International Use of Incarceration. All references to Blacks and Whites are for what the Bureau of Justice Statistics and U.S. Census refer to as "non-Hispanic Blacks" and "non-Hispanic Whites".)

Friday, April 2, 2010 The U.S. Government Will No Longer be Propping up the Mortgage Markets. Supposedly

Dave Forest
Copyright 2009 Resource Publishers Inc.

For over a year, the Federal Reserve has been pouring money into American mortgages. Buying "mortgage-backed securities" (MBS), financial instruments whose value is based on a pool of underlying mortgages.

When the financial crisis broke, the market for MBS dried up. Buyers feared that homeowners would default on their mortgages. Driving the value of these assets to almost nothing, or worse.
Financial institutions in America and around the world were left holding trillions of dollars worth of non-saleable MBS. It appeared these holders would be forced to mark down the value of their MBS holdings, potentially triggering another wave of bank (and pension fund, insurance provider, etc.) failures.

The Fed moved decisively to prevent this. Stepping into the MBS market and buying hundreds of billions of dollars worth of MBS weekly in early 2009. Taking these assets off the hands of financial groups.

Of course, to pay for these purchases, the Fed created new money. MBS purchases are one of the major items responsible for ballooning the U.S. monetary base by $1.2 trillion since October 2008.

This is a massive intervention in a troubled market. One that is apparently now over. According to previous announcements, Fed officials planned to wrap up MBS purchases by March 31, 2010. Yesterday should have been the first "Fed-free" day for the mortgage market.

This is a critical change (if in fact the Fed sticks to its plans).

Will the MBS market hold up absent government intervention? Or are there more skeletons in closet, despite the appearance that the economy is getting back on track?

A pullback in Fed buying could expose weaknesses still lingering in the system. Providing some unpleasant surprises for the economy, stock markets and investors.

Keep an eye on these numbers to see if the Fed does indeed go cold turkey. If they do, be extra vigilant on the rest of the mortgage-related data for the next few months.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Write your congressman to support the Democracy Restoration Act - Allowing Felons to vote

Here is a form letter you can use to write your Congressman about the Democracy Restoration Act, an act sponsored by Russ Feingold and John Conyers.  The act would restore voting rights to ex-convicts in federal elections.  In case you are unaware, slavery in the United States was never fully abolished.  Actually, it was only abolished for those who were not convicted of a crime.  Therefore, many hundreds of thousands of African Americans are still victims of slavery and involuntary servitude.  This has got to stop now.  To read more on this issue, please click here.


Here is the sample letter you can cut and paste to send to your representative.


To whom it may concern,

I am a member of the Your Black World Coalition, as well as a concerned American.  I would like to write to express my support for HR3335 - The Democracy Restoration Act, sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

I strongly believe that when felons have paid their debt to society, they deserve an opportunity and incentive to become a part of that society again.  Voting and participating in federal elections is an important part of being an American, and would serve to reduce recidivism, which hurts us all.  Additionally, it would ensure that these men and women receive the representation they deserve from elected officials, since most of us would agree that taxation without representation is fundamentally unfair and unAmerican.

We will continue to campaign on this matter, and hold our officials accountable.  Please do the right thing and vote "yes" on the Democracy Restoration Act.