Same-Sex Couples At Center Of Supreme Court Case Get Ready For Big Day

WASHINGTON — A Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality is still months away, but there was an air of celebration Monday among the advocates, attorneys and couples who have been fighting for decades.

On Tuesday morning, the court’s nine justices will hear arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case expected to settle the question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage.

The dozens of plaintiffs hail from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Some are fighting to marry their loved ones in their home state. Others want their state to recognize their legal marriage that was performed elsewhere.

On Monday evening, they gathered together in Washington, joined by plaintiffs from cases in other states over the year, to celebrate how far the fight for equality has come.

“Tonight here, we bring together plaintiffs and attorneys from more than 33 states, representing more than 55 different cases, spanning

White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett and Freedom to Marry Founder Evan Wolfson at the plaintiff reception.
Kentucky plaintiffs Michael DeLeon and Greg Bourke, with their children Isaiah and Bella.
Kim Franklin showing off the shirt the Kentucky plaintiffs wore Monday.
Kentucky plaintiffs Kim Franklin and Tammy Boyd.
Kentucky plaintiffs Jimmy Meade and Luke Barlowe, who met in 1968 and have been married since 2009.
The plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Continue reading “Same-Sex Couples At Center Of Supreme Court Case Get Ready For Big Day”

Why The New York Times Is Naming Names In CIA Drone Story

NEW YORK –- The New York Times reported across the top of Sunday’s front page that Congress is doing little to oversee the CIA’s targeted killing program. In the process, the paper identified three high-ranking CIA officials with key roles in secret drone operations.

The CIA asked the Times to withhold the names in its report, a request that executive editor Dean Baquet told The Huffington Post on Monday that he took seriously, but decided not to honor.

Baquet said the officials are not undercover agents carrying out clandestine operations in the field, but rather figures with significant roles in “one of the major issues in modern American warfare.” The CIA is now playing a “quasi-military role” through the drone program, a departure from its traditional functions that deserves scrutiny. In order to debate the program, he said, the public needs to know who is making key decisions. Continue reading “Why The New York Times Is Naming Names In CIA Drone Story”

Why Europeans and Asian Communities Shake Their Heads at How Americans Choose Our Presidents.

Now that I’m back after some travels, I often wonder what my European and Asian friends will think of the upcoming 2016 Presidential race. On the Democratic side, they believe that Hillary Clinton appears to have the upper hand. However, somewhere out in Iowa, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is trying to build an insurgency to Clinton’s left. On the Republican side, it appears that everybody under the sun is off and running, including moderates Jeb Bush, evangelicals like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, Tea Partiers like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Libertarians like Rand Paul.

In the end, most of my friends think that the race will boil down to another Clinton-Bush race, mirroring what took place in 1992. However, what drives my friends within many Asian and European investment communities batty is why our Presidential elections have become such a crazy reality show.

They’re left puzzled why Continue reading “Why Europeans and Asian Communities Shake Their Heads at How Americans Choose Our Presidents.”

The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast-Track Gets Hot

President Obama must be having trouble getting the votes for fast-track authority since the administration is now pulling out all the stops to push the deal. This has included a press call where he apparently got testy over the charge by critics that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secret trade deal.

Obama insisted the deal is not secret, but googling “TPP” will not get you a copy of the text. Apparently President Obama is using a different definition of “secret” than the ordinary English usage.

But that wasn’t the only fun in the last week. The administration got 13 former Democratic governors to sign a letter boasting about the jobs generated by the growth of exports. The letter noted that exports had added “$760 billion to our economy between 2009 and 2014 — one-third of our total growth.” It neglected to mention that imports had grown even faster, Continue reading “The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast-Track Gets Hot”

Baltimore Schools Look For ‘A Teachable Moment’ Amidst Freddie Gray Tensions

On a day of civil and violent unrest sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody last week, officials from the Baltimore City School District announced that they are making crisis counselors and mental health professionals available at schools throughout the city for “as long as it is necessary.”

“At this time of tension and anxiety regarding the tragic events surrounding Mr. Freddie Gray, we have a heightened responsibility to our students, families, and school communities,” said school district leaders in a statement Monday.

While noting that “the safety of our staff and students is our top concern,” the officials continued, “We are also communicating with each one of our school leaders around effective instructional strategies to heighten student awareness and understanding of social justice issues. We are deeply concerned about our students and community, and we hope to treat this Continue reading “Baltimore Schools Look For ‘A Teachable Moment’ Amidst Freddie Gray Tensions”

Raising the Minimum Wage Boosts Growth and Does Not Cause Unemployment

Walmart and Target recently announced they would increase wages for their lowest paid employees to $9 per hour. McDonalds will start paying its workers $1 more per hour than the local minimum wage. Although these are welcome signs of businesses willing to boost worker incomes, which have been stagnant for decades, it is time to go further: we must significantly raise the minimum wage.

The Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is far too low. A full-time worker — 40 hours per week for 52 weeks — earning the minimum wage is guaranteed to live at the poverty level. Raising the minimum wage is good economics, good policy, and good for workers. It would reduce income inequality and poverty while boosting growth, without increasing unemployment.

A higher minimum wage would also reduce the Federal budget deficit by lowering spending on public assistance programs and increasing tax revenue. Since Continue reading “Raising the Minimum Wage Boosts Growth and Does Not Cause Unemployment”

Police Throw Rocks Back At Protesters In Baltimore

Baltimore police officers targeted by rock-throwing protesters on Monday appeared to hurl projectiles toward crowds on at least two occasions.

One photo shows a projectile, possibly a rock or piece of concrete, leaving an officer’s hand.

protests baltimore

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Video taken from a helicopter appears to show another officer hurling objects toward protesters, including many who appeared to be teenagers.

At least seven officers were injured Monday as protesters launched rocks, bricks and other objects at police. Some of the projectiles were reportedly heavy enough to break police riot shields. Baltimore police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said one of the officers who had been hit was “unresponsive,” and others had “broken bones.”

Kowalczyk suggested police would deploy traditional riot-dispersing tools. “You’re gonna see tear gas, you’re gonna see pepper balls,” he said.

Police didn’t immediately answer a request for comment about the photos of officers throwing projectiles.

On Monday morning, Continue reading “Police Throw Rocks Back At Protesters In Baltimore”

How Will Republicans React to Gay Marriage Decision?

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on a marriage equality case tomorrow. At this point, it almost seems anticlimactic. Either the Supreme Court will rule that gay marriage is a constitutional right everywhere in America, or they’ll try to punt and say that all states have to recognize all marriages from other states, but don’t have to perform their own gay marriages if they don’t want to. Either way, gay marriage will become a reality in some awfully conservative states (whether couples have to take a vacation to another state to achieve it or not). The only question now is whether marriage equality will achieve a final and total victory, or just a partial victory. Either way, losing the progress that has already been made seems almost inconceivable at this point.

Perhaps that’s too optimistic a read on the situation. We’ll see what gets said tomorrow. In

Continue reading “How Will Republicans React to Gay Marriage Decision?”

LGBTQ Immigrants On Same-Sex Marriage: ‘History Went Along With Us’

WASHINGTON — Same-sex marriage arguments before the Supreme Court on Tuesday stem partly from a dispute over a few words on a piece of paper.

Jim Obergefell, one of the lead plaintiffs, wanted to be listed as the surviving spouse on the death certificate of his late husband, John Arthur. Because they live in Ohio, where their marriage is not recognized, the question of whether Obergefell should be allowed to do so has made it to the Supreme Court.

Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, 25, understands Obergefell’s desire to ensure his spouse’s death certificate reflects the existence of their marriage. Isabel, who identifies as genderqueer and who prefers the use of “Isabel” rather than a male or female pronoun, is married to Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, 29, an activist who will speak at a rally outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In 2013, Isabel and Felipe — who both were once undocumented — had been Continue reading “LGBTQ Immigrants On Same-Sex Marriage: ‘History Went Along With Us’”

Time Warner Cable Open To Merger Talks With Charter

By Liana B. Baker

April 27 (Reuters) – Time Warner Cable Inc is open to merger discussions with Charter Communications Inc following a failed $45 billion bid by Comcast Corp, according to people familiar with the matter.

Friendly negotiations between the two companies would be in sharp contrast to their acrimonious exchanges in 2013 and early 2014 that ended with Time Warner Cable rejecting unsolicited approaches by Charter and instead finding a white knight in Comcast.

While Charter has yet to make a formal offer, Time Warner Cable believes its smaller peer may be willing to make a bid that is more attractive compared with its takeover attempt two years ago, the people said.

Time Warner Cable also views Charter’s stock as a more valuable currency than it did last year given its stock performance since then, the people said. Time Warner Cable also is open to deals with companies Continue reading “Time Warner Cable Open To Merger Talks With Charter”

What’s Behind the Hostility Toward Government?

As ever more Republican politicians show interest in capturing their party’s nomination for the presidency, they spar to outdo each other in depicting government as incompetent, corrupt, or even as the enemy. In doing so, they tap into what more and more Americans have been led to believe. Whereas in the 1970s, 70 percent of Americans had “trust and confidence” that the government could successfully deal with domestic problems, only 22 percent held the same view in 2011. What’s behind such a radical change in views? An answer requires delving into the historical role of government.

Until recent times, government was indeed the enemy of the overwhelming majority of people. Although it provided for defense and a degree of social stability, until the nineteenth century, elites used the state to ensure that they could extract as much as possible from the working population. Workers, whether slaves, serfs, indentured Continue reading “What’s Behind the Hostility Toward Government?”

Michael Eric Dyson-Cornel West Squabble: Nothing New to See Here

Large segments of the black blogger sphere, in particular Twitter, have been churning overtime in response to the lengthy essay written by professor Michael Eric Dyson that heavily criticizes his fellow black intellectual academic brother, professor Cornel West. In all frankness, criticizing is too mild a word. Dyson’s article is a searing takedown of West and of what he sees as the “irrational, immature, petty” and otherwise less than positive attitude that West has exhibited toward him, President Obama, other leading black intellectuals and aspects of black intellectual culture in general.

A number of observers have characterized the feud between Dyson and West as a boxing match, battle of the narcissists, opportunism at its worst and other derisive terms. This sort of animated speculation and voyeurism is problematic. It assumes a certain degree of clairvoyant ability that none of us possess. The fact is that only Dyson and West know Continue reading “Michael Eric Dyson-Cornel West Squabble: Nothing New to See Here”

Cast Members From ‘The Wire’ Plead For End To Violence In Baltimore

Several cast members of the HBO series “The Wire,” which chronicled the Baltimore Police Department and the city of Baltimore, urged those responsible for violence in the city to stop on Monday.

The violence unfolded the same day as the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died last week from injuries sustained while in police custody. It is not yet clear why Gray was arrested in the first place and Baltimore officials and the Department of Justice are investigating the case.

Andre Royo, who played Bubbles on the show, urged Baltimoreans to demonstrate peacefully.

Wendell Pierce, who played detective Bunk Moreland on the show, said that those who incited violence and attacked police officers were not protesters.

Black Lives Matter Takes Over Forever 21

A retail titan unwittingly became a protest site over the weekend, when activists transformed a Forever 21 window display with a Black Lives Matter banner and t-shirts.

Gothamist reports that Saturday’s protest was the work of an anonymous group called Never 21 dedicated to raising awareness about the killings of young black people.

“It was kind of the opposite of shoplifting,” an anonymous protestor told Gothamist. “We called it shop gifting, because we were putting shirts into the store rather than taking them out.”

To carry out their stunt, a banner team snuck into the second-floor window display and unrolled a sign reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER” with the group’s web address printed underneath. The colors matched Forever 21’s corporate palette of black, yellow and white, so it didn’t look too out of place.

Next, another group of protestors put Black Lives Matter t-shirts on the shop’s mannequins and rails. Continue reading “Black Lives Matter Takes Over Forever 21”

Is the GOP Ready for ‘Her’?

The biggest surprise in the Bruce Jenner interview wasn’t when he announced that “I’m a woman,” confirming months of rumors and speculation, or that he (Jennerʻs currently preferred pronoun) hopes going public with his story will help others. It was his declaration of being a conservative Republican.

“Neither party has a monopoly on understanding,” said Jenner in explaining his position.

Perhaps not, but there certainly is a large difference between how the two political parties act on that understanding. Not a single piece of transgender-inclusive legislation has been proposed by the GOP at the national, state or local level anywhere in the country. And it’s difficult to forget the Republican Party Chair who said transgender people “should be put in camps,” the Republican legislator who proposed a $2500 fine for “a person of the wrong biological sex” using a public bathroom and the countless Republicans who have opposed each and Continue reading “Is the GOP Ready for ‘Her’?”

Lost in the Dyson-West Debate: Obama Hasn’t ‘Ideologically Cheated On’ African Americans

If you missed Michael Eric Dyson’s grating takedown of Cornel West in The New Republic last week, let me offer a synopsis: The piece is more than eight thousand words of name-dropping and self-congratulation in service of the argument that West engages in too much name-dropping and self-congratulation. Somewhere near the end, tucked into a personal feud that’s spilled too far into the public square, there’s a point about President Barack Obama and his black constituents. But you have to squint to see it.

There’s a lot we don’t — and won’t — know about the falling-out of Dyson and West. We aren’t sure to what degree Dyson’s piece is a personal squabble parading in the costume of intellectual critique. (Even in his cutting condemnation of West’s vanity, Dyson manages to mention that West thinks the author a “rare kind of genius.”) We can safely assume that this isn’t Continue reading “Lost in the Dyson-West Debate: Obama Hasn’t ‘Ideologically Cheated On’ African Americans”

HUFFPOST HILL – Washington Sorts Through Nerd Prom Swag, Notices Neighboring City On Fire

The debate over the Export-Import Bank remains unresolved, so expect Delta to sign a short-term lease at Johnny’s Half Shell. A gay businessman apologized for hosting a fundraiser for Ted Cruz, but it’s unclear if this will impact Bernie Sanders’s forthcoming town hall at the National Organization for Marriage. And Chuck Grassley doesn’t want to restore the full Voting Rights Act because “more minorities are already voting.” Iowa’s senior senator is also expected to vote against a resolution supporting a “Stop Bullying” campaign due to a pronounced decline in kids hanging from lockers by their skivvies. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, April 27th, 2015:

SCALISE: EX-IM BANK SET TO ‘EXPIRE’ – Translation: Just how many fundraisers can Boeing’s lobbyists throw by the end of June? Matt Fuller: “In an interview with CQ Roll Call, the Louisiana Republican signaled continued opposition to an Ex-Im reauthorization. Asked what he

Continue reading “HUFFPOST HILL – Washington Sorts Through Nerd Prom Swag, Notices Neighboring City On Fire”

Even Fox News Shows Majority Of Americans Now Support Marijuana Legalization

A majority of Americans support legalizing recreational marijuana, a Fox News poll revealed Monday. (Yes, that Fox News.)

The Fox poll marks the first time the news organization has found majority support for the issue since it began asking the question. It’s also the latest in a string of recent polls that have, for the first time in their histories, found majority support for legalization.

When asked if they “favor or oppose legalizing marijuana,” 51 percent of registered American voters surveyed nationwide said that they favor legalization.

It’s a very small uptick from a similar question Fox News asked last year, which found 50 percent support. But it’s a significant jump from the only 26 percent support the poll found in 2001, and it illustrates the dramatic shift in public opinion that the issue has seen over the years.

Earlier this month, CBS News found 53 percent in support Continue reading “Even Fox News Shows Majority Of Americans Now Support Marijuana Legalization”

Prison For South Carolina Cops Who Tasered Mentally Disabled Woman 8 Times

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — One small-town South Carolina police officer was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison and a second to a year and a day for unnecessarily shocking a mentally disabled woman with a Taser at least eight times.

Franklin Brown received the longer sentence because he shocked 40-year-old Melissa Davis after she had been handcuffed in April 2013. The other Marion police officer, Eric Walters, stopped Davis early one morning to see if she had broken into a home. Neither Walters nor other officers have explained how the incident escalated so quickly.

Davis was in court but began sobbing as Walters apologized, and was ushered out by her family.

Federal Judge Bryan Harwell said the two officers through one bad action ruined the good work of thousands of honest officers.

Brown and Walters pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law in October.

Walters Continue reading “Prison For South Carolina Cops Who Tasered Mentally Disabled Woman 8 Times”

Facing Facts in Baltimore

I am a Baltimore Orioles baseball fan, and have been for about 40 years. I’ve never mentioned them in a blog or in my books until last week when I wrote about finding metal detectors at Camden Yards as evidence about how the spread of fear now contaminates our “national pastime.” Little did I know then that I’d be writing again about Baltimore so soon — and this time not just about metal detectors.

This is part of a series on fear, and what follows concerns a different kind of fear — although it somehow seems linked to those metal detectors. It is about exposure and denial — and how material experience shapes fear. We don’t simply bring our fears — our preconceptions — with us to a game. We sometimes have to face external facts that can or cannot be dismissed. Most fans already passively accept the necessity Continue reading “Facing Facts in Baltimore”