PA Senate sends Anti-Voting Rights Act to gov….

…where it is expected to be vetoed by Governor Rendell.

Patriot News: Rendell veto appears likely for voter-identification bill

“I urge the governor to sign this legislation,” said House Majority Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson in a written statement. “Why wouldn’t he want to stop fraud?”

Because like the “scientific” theory of intelligent design, “discrimination” against conservatives on PA’s college campuses, and the “deterrent” effect of the death penalty, the voter fraud that ID would stop does not exist in the Commonwealth.

I’m trying to remember why legislators are scared of voters this year….

Andy in H-burg

Cover over content

Senator Feingold has announced his intention to filibuster against the revised version of PATRIOT Act, stating that the changes “produced only a “fig leaf” to cover weaknesses that leave people vulnerable to government intrusion.”

Senator Specter admitted that the PATRIOT revisions were purely “cosmetic,” telling reporters “sometimes cosmetics will make a beauty out of a beast and provide enough cover
for senators to change their vote.”

“The proposed changes to the reauthorization bill do not correct the secret record search powers and do not require that there be any individualized suspicion of wrongdoing by Americans before their financial, medical, library or other records can be searched.” (From the ACLU press release)

Good work, Ohio

As reported by today’s New York Times:

“The Ohio Board of Education voted 11 to 4 Tuesday to toss out a mandate that
10th-grade biology classes include critical analysis of evolution and an
accompanying model lesson plan, dealing the intelligent design movement its
second serious defeat in two months.”

The policy that was overturned did not include explicit language about teaching intelligent design (nor did it mention bacterial flagellum, blood clotting cascades or sudden emergence – oh, those were the days…), but the “critical analysis” language has been described as “design in disguise.”

The policy change came as an emergency motion, submitted by Board Member Martha W. Wise who chategorized the original lesson as “bad news” and told the board that “it is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about the nature of science.” Go Martha.

Panda’s Thumb has the full text of the motion up, along with the commentary that “Ohio is no longer on the Discovery Institute’s list of favorite states for pilgrimages.”

Amy Laura in Philly

More Abu Ghraib photos surface

An Australian television network today broadcast what it said were previously unpublished images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. Some of the newly broadcast pictures suggest further abuse such as killing, torture and sexual humiliation, according to Special Broadcasting Services’s “Dateline” current affairs program.

The ACLU filed a request on Oct. 7, 2003, under the Freedom of Information Act demanding the release of information about detainees held overseas by the United States, including information and images of abuse in Abu Ghraib. This website contains records the government has released under court order. It’s a chilling list, including evidence of killing of detainees and cover-ups.

The government has been most resistant to releasing photographs. In September 2005, a federal judge in New York ruled that the government must turn over the Abu Ghraib images, as well as other visual evidence of abuse, noting “the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed.” The decision is currently on appeal by the government.

Boston Legal episode to focus on emergency contraception

If you like to mix politics and pop culture, you may want to check out tonight’s episode of Boston Legal at 10 pm on ABC. It features a story line on a hospital that refuses to offer emergency contraception (EC) to a rape victim who consequently becomes pregnant. The Duvall Reproductive Rights Project of the ACLU of PA has organized a tool kit for individuals who want to host a viewing party of the episode. Thought it’s too late to organize something for tonight, we are hoping to obtain copies of the show to distribute for use in the future.

This tool kit is part of the project www.raisinghervoice.org, a website which promotes the importance of making emergency contraception available to sexual assault survivors. Kudos to the producers of Boston Legal, who included information about raisinghervoice.org on the show’s site.

A day without an immigrant

Proclamation for responsible immigration reform
Whereas the first Americans declared that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
And
Whereas we are not sojourners but active participants in the economy and share in building the American Dream.
And
Whereas our contributions far outweigh the emergency support we are
sometimes force to ask for
And
Whereas some people feel threatened by our presence even though we are people drawn to the light of freedom…

More that twelve hundred undocumented and documented immigrants and their allies stayed home from work and took to the streets in Philadelphia today, to voice the importance of immigrant workers to the local economy and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. This “Day without an Immigrant” also calls attention to the Sensenbrenner – King Bill, which threatens to erode due process and criminalize not only undocumented immigrant status, but organizations that assist undocumented immigrants. With rumors of raids by immigration officials running rampant through the city a couple weeks ago, the huge turnout for the demonstration was significant and impressive.

In preparation for the demo, participants handed letters to their employers which explained why they were staying home from work and asked them to advocate for reform. The goal was to demonstrate what the city and its ecomony would be like without its immigrant communities and workers.

The counter protesters were out in force. All five of them. But the Minutemen put out a press release calling for the investigation and prosecution of employers that hire undocumented immigrants.

Amy Laura in Philly

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Good article in the New York Times (registration required) today about ‘Evolution Sunday.’

On the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin, ministers at several hundred churches around the country preached yesterday against recent efforts to undermine the theory of evolution, asserting that the opposition many Christians say exists between science and faith is false.

You can find out more about their efforts at The Clergy Project.

Also, did everyone see that George Deutsch has stepped down? It seems that he lied about graduating from Texax A&M when he applied for the job at NASA. I heard his indiscretion was uncovered by a blogger. Anyone know if that is true?

Lisa in Pittsburgh

Oh, yeah, the Patriot Act

Lest you’ve forgotten, the Patriot Act is still dangling out there. Apparently, the Republicans who joined with the Dems to oppose the conference report in December have reached an agreement with the White House with a press conference scheduled for later today. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 4:03pm:

White House press secretary Scott McClellan pre-empted them, though, saying the changes “continue to build upon the civil liberties protections that are in place but do so in a way that doesn’t compromise our national security priorities.”

“We’re pleased that this important legislation is moving forward,” he said.

Uh-oh.

UPDATE, 4:52PM:
Uh-oh again.

But (Senator Russ) Feingold said before this afternoon’s news conference that he would not be part of the deal about to be announced. “The few minor changes that the White House agreed to do not address the major problems with the Patriot Act that a bipartisan coalition has been trying to fix for the past several years,” he said. “I will continue to strongly oppose, and use every option at my disposal to stop, any reauthorization of the Patriot Act that does not protect the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans with no connection to terrorism.”

NY Times: Deal could break deadlock in Senate on Patriot Act

It’s "safe and free," not "less safe and less free"

The President, the Vice President, and the former head of the NSA have all claimed that the warrant-free spying program could have prevented the attacks of September 11, 2001, a claim since debunked. Then there’s this article from Insight on the News, which is published by the same company that publishes the Washington Times.

The Bush administration’s surveillance policy has failed to make a dent in the war against al Qaeda.

U.S. law enforcement sources said that more than four years of surveillance by the National Security Agency has failed to capture any high-level al Qaeda operative in the United States. They said al Qaeda insurgents have long stopped using the phones and even computers to relay messages. Instead, they employ couriers.

“They have been way ahead of us in communications security,” a law enforcement source said. “At most, we have caught some riff-raff. But the heavies remain free and we believe some of them are in the United States.”

(Thanks to America Blog for pulling this one out for all to see.)

Andy in H-burg