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Seed Newsvine

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Students cannot be assigned to public schools because of their race, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a significant civil rights decision that casts doubt on integration efforts adopted across the country.
By a 5-4 vote on the last day of its term, the court’s conservative majority struck down voluntary programs adopted in Seattle and Louisville, Kentucky, to attain racial diversity in public school classrooms.
The ruling added to a string of decisions this term in which President George W. Bush’s two appointees — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito — have shifted the court sharply to the right on divisive social issues like abortion.
It also fueled vows by Democratic presidential candidates to change the court’s direction and reduce racial inequality in schools.

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I used to live in a country in which a handful of men and women, the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, had the courage to stand up in order to protect the interests of those for whom the promise of America was being undermined by public policy. In Brown v Board of Education the court held that public policy that separated young people on the basis of the color of their skin could no longer stand in the United States. Legal segregation based on Plessy v Ferguson, the decision that created the “separate but equal” standard, was no longer acceptable in the land of the free and the home of the brave.Effectively, the court is returning to Plessy. Reuters reports, “Roberts said in writing for the court majority that racial balancing was not permitted. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” he said.” Roberts’ logic is flawed. By eliminating policy designed to attain racial diversity from the mix, the court is opening to door to an implied standard of “separate but equal” found in Plessy.

This court is not about courage, justice, or equity. This court is about forcing a radical return to a period in our history that many Americans are pleased to have behind us. As the court undercuts the decisions of the past 50 years I am fearful that the America I have known will rapidly disappear and we will return to a society in which racial. religious, gender, and sexual orientation will not only be “legally” acceptable, it will become an ugly reality. We will return to segregated schools, religious persecution, back alley abortions, and homophobic discrimination. What kind of an example for the world will America be then?

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Seed Newsvine

The Supremes led by Justice Alito writing for the majority found in favor of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber company on a narrow interpretation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 disallowing years of gender discrimination in which the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company underpaid one Lilly Ledbetter on average around $6000 per year less than her male counterparts doing the same work.The fascist majority on the court (fascism being defined as the seamless merging of government and corporate interests) ignore the human consequences of their actions as they support the corporate ethics that seem to say screw the workers just line my pockets with silver and gold.

The Supremes had an opportunity to do the right thing, to send the right message to corporate greed mongers that they let slip right through their fingers.

Even more egregious was the joining of this decision by Justice Thomas, the least ethical of the fascist majority and one who allegedly engaged in sexual harassment himself, as he flip flopped on his own decision to support the employee position when the discrimination lasted for periods of months or years as it did in this case. I guess Mr. Justice Thomas finally found a place where harassment and abuse have found a home. Bully for you Mr. Justice. Or should I say Mr. Injustice?

This decision, while not unexpected given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, is ugly. By supporting greed over people, narrow interpretation over ethical concerns, I fear for the future of this nation.

Just as an aside, and I am only speculating on this one, but it is highly possible that Ms. Ledbetter, a southerner, has been voting Republican (if she votes at all) and, by doing so, simply dug her own grave in this case. Wouldn’t that be ironic. Since 1980 the electorate has made it a practice to vote against its own economic interests–another proof for the fact that there is no intelligent design in the universe or, perhaps just no intelligence.

So now we can live with the consequences of the influence of the far right wing, the perfect marriage of government and corporate interests, for some time to come.

clipped from news.findlaw.com
(AP) – WASHINGTON-The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday limited workers’ ability to sue employers for pay discrimination that results from decisions made years earlier.
The court, in a 5-4 ruling, said that employers would otherwise find it difficult to defend against claims “arising from employment decisions that are long past.”
The case concerned how to apply a 180-day deadline for complaining about discriminatory pay decisions under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Lilly Ledbetter sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., claiming that after 19 years at a company plant, she was making $6,000 (�‚�4,440) a year less than the lowest-paid man doing the same work.
Ledbetter claimed the disparity existed for years and was primarily a result of her gender. A jury agreed, but an appeals court overturned the verdict because she had waited too long to begin her lawsuit.
The decision broke along ideological lines, with the court’s four liberal justices dissenting.

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Seed Newsvine

Clipped from Atlantic Online, this story references Alberto Gonzales’ sinister involvement in the March 2004 warrantless eavesdropping program even after the program was declared unlawful by then AG John Ashcroft, himself no constitutional bargain.The whole article is worth the time to read as it outlines the hubris of the Bush administration as they flaunt the law and the constitution for their own gain.

The bonus is that this administration has a mere 606 days left to spread its brand of authority. Of course, what I fear most, given the recent saber rattling at Iran, including sending a large Navy task force to the Persian Gulf to intimidate the Iranians into giving up their nuclear program. As Bush readies for one more military incursion in the Middle East we must ask how much more war can we take before we lose all that makes America the envy of the world? We are rapidly sliding down the path to isolation from the rest of the world, and to what purpose? The mythical enemy is not Osama Bin Laden, although I have no doubts that he is a really bad guy, rather, the enemy, as Pogo (the comic strip character central to the old Walt Kelly daily strip) once remarked “is us!”

clipped from www.theatlantic.com

E very day that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is allowed to remain in office is corrosive to constitutional governance and an invitation to further politicization of the Justice Department.

That is the main lesson of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey’s astonishing revelations on May 15 about Gonzales’s sinister involvement in a March 2004 effort to continue a then-secret warrantless eavesdropping program after it had been declared unlawful by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his subordinates.
Meanwhile, the May 14 resignation of Paul McNulty, Comey’s successor as deputy attorney general, further depleted the ranks of principled professionals in the demoralized department, which Gonzales has been filling with inexperienced political hacks. In the words of Arlen Specter, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior Republican, as long as Gonzales is in charge, “it’s embarrassing for a professional to work for the Department of Justice.”

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Originally posted by Eric Kleefeld | bio at TPC’s Election Central I thought it deserved re-presentation on my blog. Hope I don’t offend you Eric.

Wow, what a guy! Mitt Romney is going up on the air tomorrow in Iowa and New Hampshire with a new attack ad. The target? The state of Massachusetts, whose citizens extended him the honor of choosing him to to be their Governor for one term. “In the most liberal state in the country,” a sinister-sounding narrator intones over the obligatory backdrop over the obligatory backdrop of photos of John Kerry and Mike Dukakis, “one Republican stood up, and cut spending instead of raising taxes. He enforced immigration laws, stood up for traditional marriage and the sanctity of human life.

Just as an additional thought: Aside from being far brighter than George II, Romney (or any other Republican for that matter) will merely be a continuation of the failed politics of the radical right and we don’t need that anymore.

read more | digg story

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Seed Newsvine

clipped from harpers.org
The leading newspaper in the Spanish-speaking world, Madrid’s El Pa’s, puts the blame squarely on the National Rifle Association and reproduces a photograph of Charlton Heston brandishing a rifle. “[C]ontrol measures,“ writes that paper, ”are systematically challenged by an abusive interpretation of the Second Amendment—which was written before there was a National Army or National Guard—says that, ‘A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep
and bear arms shall not be infringed.’”
In France, Le Monde calls the event a typically American tragedy, highlighting President Bush’s condolence message which incorporated a defense of firearms. “There is no reason to be shocked, since the American chief executive is supported by a party that in 2004 wentas far as refusing to re-approve the prohibition on sales of assault rifles put into place in 1994 by a Congress with a Democratic majority under Bill Clinton.”

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Read these couple of clips from the foreign press is a difficult task. The critique of our national response to the VT shootings, to the gun culture in general is disturbing. And these are our friends. Imagine what the enemies of the United States must think?I think it is shameful that in times of great tragedy our nation becomes the laughing stock for the rest of the world. My dear old grandmother used to mumble the following ethical pronouncement whenever she decided one had done something of which one ought not be proud, “What you did you did yourself and what you did yourself you are responsible for.” This was her translation from Polish and her grasp of English was not so hot, but the meaning was clear even to my ten year old ears when I first heard her speak these words. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTS, FOR YOUR ACTIONS. In my personal life I have honored those sentiments and granny has been gone nearly 30 years. When I read the international response to America as a Cowboy nation obsessed with guns I am ashamed to say that my country’s leaders fail to follow my grandmother’s advice.

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This is an annotation of Where Is Atheism When Bad Things Happen? – News Bloggers

Dinesh D’Souza exposes his bigotry and, frankly, his stupidity as he slams atheists in this posting. In part he states: “Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found. Every time there is a public gathering there is talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing. Even secular people like the poet Nikki Giovanni use language that is heavily drenched with religious symbolism and meaning….”

read the annotated post here | digg story

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Yesterday the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the national ban on a midterm method of ending pregnancies sometimes referred to as partial birth abortion. The decision clears the way for states to pass new laws designed to discourage women from having abortions.

Of course President Bush could not keep silent on this one. In a statement issued by the White House, Bush welcomed the decision. “The Supreme Court’s decision is an affirmation of the progress we have made over the past six years in protecting human dignity and upholding the sanctity of life,” he said. “Today’s decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people’s representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America.”

Somehow, Bush relates the notion of life to the sacred. But has Bush analyzed with any precision what sacred really means? We can look to the work of Giorgio Agamben (1998) as he writes about Homo Sacer (Sacred Life) in the following terms. The sacred is found in a double state of exception between the unpunishability of killing and the exclusion from sacrifice. Agamben’s analysis rests on a snippet from Pompeius Festus from the treatise On the Significance of Words in which Festus writes: The sacred man is the one whom the people have judged on account of a crime (this man has been excluded from the community). It is not permitted to sacrifice this man (to offer him up to the gods), yet he who kills him will not be condemned for homicide (he may be executed by the state without subjecting the executioner to the crime of murder). Agamben understands the sacred (sacer) then to take the form of this double exception both from the human and the divine sphere of influence, from the profane and the ‘religious’ spheres. The fact that sacrifice is taboo for homo sacer is another way of saying that what already belongs to the gods cannot be offered up to those very same gods and so is excluded from sacrificial consideration. At the same time, the homo sacer is included within the community as he/she takes the form of being able to be officially killed. “Life that cannot be sacrificed and yet may be killed is sacred life (Agamben. 1998, p. 82). Sovereignty lies at the crossroads of this double exception.

The sovereign sphere is the sphere in which it is permitted to kill without committing homicide and without celebrating a sacrifice, and sacred life–that is, life that may be killed but not sacrificed–is the life that has been captured in this sphere (Agamben, 1998, p. 83).

Bush trivializes the sacred when he speaks about upholding human dignity and the sanctity of life. What is really happening here is that the sovereign makes the choice to create an exception for women, to exclude women that opt for termination of pregnancy, to cause those women to become homo sacer. In the case of abortion, this amounts to a minority of religious zealots dictating policy while the rest of us stand by watching. What is being sacrificed here is precisely the sacred, that very quality Bush is so ready to protect. The Bush/Roberts court, by creating the exception that creates homo sacer effectively perpetrates a violence at the crossroads of the profane and the divine that is subtractive of both the profane and the divine.

Justice Ginsburg called the decision alarming. She argued as follows:

It “cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away
at a right declared again and again by this court,” she said.

She said this dispute was about how, not whether, abortions would be
performed during the second trimester. Despite Kennedy’s talk of
“promoting fetal life,” the ban on the procedure “targets only a method
of abortion,” she said. “The woman may abort the fetus, so long as her
doctor uses another method, one her doctor judges less safe for her.”

She also called the decision demeaning to women. It “pretends” to protect
them “by denying them any choice in the matter,” she said.

Justice Ginsburg, in referencing the court’s desire to “chip away” at Roe v. Wade scolds the majority for ignoring precedent of over 40 years. If we are a nation of laws, then precedent must rule. I seem to recall that the conservatives yell most loudly about activist courts that simply rewrite the law to suit their needs. It seems that the Bush/Roberts court is turning down the road of activism…but, of course, it is activism that the radical right agrees with so no hue and cry from them now.

Justice Ginsburg’s remarks could also be considered in the light of Agamben’s view of homo sacer. By denying women choice the court excludes women from the process, creating an exception that stands at the crossroads and, therefore, falls within the power of the sovereign to dictate. This is a disturbing development in the democratic experiment called the United States.

References

Agamben, G. (1998). Homo Sacer: Sovereign power and bare life (D. Heller-Roazen, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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