on: October 21, 2014, 05:22:35 PM
Started by DougMacG - Last post by ccp
House of Representatives
Supreme Court allows Texas to enforce new voter ID law, sparking mixed reaction
Published October 18, 2014·
Feb. 26, 2014: An election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early voting polling site in Austin, Texas (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
The Supreme Court said Saturday that Texas' new voter-ID law can remain in effect for the November election, sparking mixed reaction.
In a rare weekend announcement, a majority of the high court’s justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit Texas from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo ID to cast ballots. Three justices dissented.
The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold.
The judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification. Early voting in Texas begins Monday.
"We are pleased the Supreme Court has agreed that Texas' voter ID law should remain in effect,” the state’s Attorney General’s Office said. “The state will continue to defend the voter ID law and remains confident that the district court's misguided ruling will be overturned on the merits.”
The high court’s order was unsigned, as it typically is in these situations. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, saying they would have left the district court decision in place.
"The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters," Ginsburg wrote in dissent.
The law sets out seven forms of approved ID -- a list that includes concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs, which are accepted in other states with similar measures.
"Hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in Texas will (now) be unable to participate in November's election because Texas has erected an obstacle course designed to discourage voting,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. “A federal court has found that the obstacles erected by Texas were designed to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters. This is an affront to our democracy. "
The 143-page opinion from U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos called the law an "unconstitutional burden on the right to vote" and the equivalent of a poll tax in finding that the Republican-led Texas Legislature purposely discriminated against minority voters in Texas.
Texas had urged the Supreme Court to let the state enforce voter ID at the polls in a court filing that took aim at the ruling by Ramos, an appointee of President Obama. Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who's favored in the gubernatorial race, called Ramos' findings "preposterous" and accused the judge of ignoring evidence favorable to the state.
The defense fund, which is separate from the NAACP, presented testimony and oral arguments in the lower court trial.
“This battle isn’t yet over, said Natasha Korgaonkar, a lawyer for the group’s political arm.
Two years ago, the group and Justice Department joined other organizations in blocking the implementation of a photo-ID law in Texas.
The court had intervened in three other disputes in recent weeks over Republican-inspired restrictions on voting access. In Wisconsin, the justices blocked a voter ID law from being used in November. In North Carolina and Ohio, the justices allowed limits on same-day registration, early voting and provisional ballots to take or remain in effect.
Ginsburg said the Texas case was different from the clashes in North Carolina and Ohio because a federal judge held a full trial on the Texas election procedures and developed "an extensive record" finding the process discriminated against ballot access.
Texas has enforced its tough voter ID in elections since the Supreme Court in June 2013 effectively eliminated the heart of the Voting Rights Act, which had prevented Texas and eight other states with histories of discrimination from changing election laws without permission. Critics of the Texas measure, though, said the new ID requirement has not been used for an election for Congress and the Senate, or a high-turnout statewide election like the race for governor.
Ramos' issued her ruling on October 9. Five days later, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans put her decision on hold and cited a 2006 Supreme Court opinion that warned judges not to change the rules too close to Election Day.
The challengers in Texas said that the last time the Supreme Court allowed a voting law to be used in a subsequent election after it had been found to be unconstitutional was in 1982. That case from Georgia involved an at-large election system that had been in existence since 1911.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
on: October 21, 2014, 01:18:14 PM
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Kurdish People's Protection Units and Free Syrian Army forces continue to battle Islamic State fighters in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The United States announced Oct. 19 that U.S. Air Force C-130 transport aircraft dropped containers of weapons, ammunition and medical aid to the town’s defenders. Washington reportedly informed Turkey of the move in advance. Now, Ankara has said it will allow Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross Turkish borders and move into Kobani to bolster the town's defenses.
Given Turkey’s previous reluctance to support Kurdish fighters, Ankara appears to be altering its approach following considerable pressure from Washington and other allies. Turkey is keen to maintain strong ties with the United States and is willing to make compromises, which will also help preserve the integrity of its alliances in Europe and the Middle East. Despite this shift, however, Ankara remains wary of directly aiding the People's Protection Units, commonly viewed by the government as terrorists and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PKK. Regardless, allowing Kurdish fighters to cross the border will only make it harder and costlier for the Islamic State to take Kobani.
The Islamic State arguably accomplished its objectives in Kobani weeks ago when it seized virtually all of the area except for the town itself. This allowed Islamic State fighters to shorten the route between the captured border crossing towns of Jarabulus and Tal Abyad by not having to circumvent Kobani. Stratfor previously noted that Kobani is of very little strategic or even operational value to the Islamic State, and the taking of the town will have extremely little effect on the direction of the conflict in Syria. Numerous Islamic State fighters apparently recognized this fact early on and reportedly sought to prioritize other battlefronts, but were overruled by top Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Nevertheless, it is clear by now that the Islamic State -- perhaps for symbolic reasons or because of operational momentum -- has greatly prioritized the seizure of Kobani and has devoted significant resources and manpower to the effort.
Kobani's Fatal Lure
Click to Enlarge
Echoing Germany's disastrous obsession with Stalingrad in 1942, despite having already isolated and reduced the city, the Islamic State's leaders have elected to continue pouring hundreds of fighters into Kobani. They now face a difficult urban battle against determined fighters who are entrenched in prepared positions and supported by coalition air power. By assembling large numbers of fighters and equipment, the Islamic State has created a target-rich environment for the U.S.-led coalition. From the start of the battle, weeks ago, surveillance and reconnaissance overflights have progressively improved the coalition's situational awareness, leading to airstrikes of more damaging accuracy and intensity. Over the last four days alone the United States and its Arab allies executed more than 60 airstrikes in Kobani.
The strikes have been disastrous for the Islamic State, which has lost hundreds of experienced fighters. Reports indicate that the group is doubling down on its flawed strategy by sending further reinforcements from its bastions of Raqaa and Tabqa to continue the assault. Ankara's decision to open a route for Kurdish reinforcements into Kobani further hinders the Islamic State's mission, but it is not as damning for the extremists as a Turkish committal of ground forces. Such a move appears unlikely for the time being. Although Turkey has significant amounts of men and materiel amassed on the border, there is no political will to become embroiled in the Syrian conflict. Ankara will make limited concessions, stopping short of full engagement against the Islamic State. With a coalition willing to maintain air operations and facilitate training for select rebels, Turkey can afford to bide its time for now while dealing with more pressing domestic issues.
A Risky Strategy
The Islamic State has mired itself in a foolhardy frontal assault against a marginal objective, and in doing so it has failed to address ominous developments in more vital Islamic State-controlled areas of Syria. In particular, Syrian forces have capitalized on a weak extremist presence in the critical and far larger city of Deir el-Zour, launching attacks against a reduced enemy. These attacks have enjoyed considerable success, driving Islamic State fighters from several neighborhoods in the city and destroying a number of bridges critical to the jihadists' logistical operations.
The Islamic State continues to make gains in Iraq's Anbar province, mainly because of its superior tactical skill and operational acumen against Iraq's security forces. Had the Islamic State elected to send hundreds or thousands of fighters to Anbar instead of exposing them to the concentrated attacks in Kobani, it is highly likely that the jihadist organization would have been able to achieve considerably more success in a far more vital region.
The battle for Kobani is not yet over, and there remains the possibility that the Islamic State could prevail and seize the town. Were that to happen, however, the damaging truth is that the Islamic State’s obsession with Kobani has already set the group back considerably. With world media focused on the defensive Kurdish and Free Syrian Army fighters holding out against repeated Islamic State attacks, the extremists are handing a propaganda victory to their enemies. Even when the Islamic State does take ground, any success turns into a rallying cry for its opponents. Most important, replacing the severe losses it has already suffered will be difficult for the Islamic State. By devoting disproportionate resources and personnel to seize a town of marginal importance, the Islamic State has distracted itself from more pressing issues in Syria, thereby missing opportunities to achieve further success in Iraq.
Read more: Kobani Ensnares the Islamic State | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
on: October 21, 2014, 12:37:19 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Click here to watch: Netanyahu Furious over Jerusalem Anarchy, Demands Crackdown
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has spelled out his plan for restoring order to neighborhoods in Jerusalem where Arab attacks on Jews have become daily occurrences, and said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also forcefully demanded action by the security forces in a recent high-level discussion. Barkat enumerated the neighborhoods currently under attack – from Armon Hanatziv, Har Homa, and Gilo in southern Jerusalem, through the Mount of Olives area, Issawiya and Silwan, northward to Shuafat and Beit Hanina, where the Light Rail has repeatedly come under brutal attack. He commended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who he said took very seriously the letter Barkat sent him earlier this month, demanding action against the riots in Jerusalem. Netanyahu gathered the Public Security Minister and top police commanders, he said, for a discussion immediately after Yom Kippur. "I have to tell you,” Barkat said, “that I saw the prime minister banging angrily on the table, and committed to make the necessary change, so that the residents of Jerusalem and visitors to Jerusalem, in the seam line neighborhoods, including the Arab neighborhoods, will feel safer than they do at the moment.” In an interview on Galei Yisrael Radio, Barkat said police special forces units in Jerusalem need to be “doubled” in size – at one point, he said 100 Yassam policemen need to be added to the force – and to adopt a more aggressive posture. Instead of waiting inside the Jewish neighborhoods for Arabs to attack – the forces should enter the Arab neighborhoods and use their intelligence gathering abilities to nip attacks in the bud, he explained
Drones and balloons will start to be used by police in Jerusalem for intelligence gathering against the rioters in the coming days, he revealed. In order for the steps to be effective, however, punishment also needs to be made more severe, according to the mayor. Barkat admitted in an interview with Kalman Libeskind that municipal vehicles no longer enter certain neighborhoods because doing so requires a police escort and such escorts are not available. He denied that the Jerusalem Municipality is trying to cover up the seriousness of the attacks on the Light Rail, and the security situation in Jerusalem in general. However, the mayor appears to have made an about face on this matter from his earlier position, which blamed the Light Rail for reporting attacks against it to the press, and preferred to hush-up the "silent intifada" because the reports about it were bad for business. Barkat accused Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovich of laxness in the face of the challenge in Jerusalem. "Unfortunately,” Barkat wrote in his letter to Netanyahu, “the Public Security Minister isn't providing Jerusalem police with the needed means so that it can defeat the rioters." Barkat said he had seen a video shot recently by residents of Armon Hanatziv, showing them being attacked brazenly by Arab youths who appeared to control the streets, and who were hurling rocks at the residents' homes.