fresh voices from the front lines of change







Five States Head To Polls

GOP Fears Ohio upset; Trump And Ocasio-Cortez back challengers. NPR: "A critical House special election on Tuesday could provide some of the biggest clues yet about how much trouble Republicans could be in this November. In Ohio, the last Republican vs. Democrat matchup before November has become the latest proxy fight for whether Democrats can harness the energy, activism and over-performance in past special elections to pull off an upset in a GOP-held district. Republicans, meanwhile, have brought in President Trump himself and millions of dollars to stop that from happening, which would further trigger alarm bells about a possible blue wave in the fall midterms. Four other states are holding their regular primaries — Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington — where there are important House, Senate and gubernatorial contests on the ballot. Several races feature some of the progressive vs. establishment battles that have divided the Democratic Party so far this year, and there are also more women running who could add to historic numbers.

Federal Judge Says Poverty Is Not A Crime

Federal judge stops New Orleans from jailing those who fail to pay fines, rules that they must have a chance to plead poverty. The Root: "A federal judge has ruled that anyone who owes money from criminal convictions in New Orleans must have a chance to plead poverty in a 'neutral forum,' before being put behind bars for failure to pay. According to the New Orleans Advocate, the ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance on Friday, Aug. 3 brings an end to the three-year legal battle over the “debtors’ prison” lawsuit that was brought forward by convicts who were jailed for days and even longer in the parish, without being given a chance to prove that they could not afford to pay the fees or fines associated with their convictions. Vance cited 'undisputed evidence' that shows that 13 judges of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court have 'a policy or practice of not inquiring into criminal defendants’ ability to pay before those individuals are imprisoned for nonpayment of court debts.' Vance also declared that judges have an 'institutional conflict of interest' in making the determinations of poverty themselves as proceeds from fines and fees go straight into the court’s Judicial Expense Fund, which is controlled by judges and can be used for several judicial expenses. According to the Advocate, these fines and fees add about $1 million a year to the court’s finances. The federal judge slammed the court’s failure to 'provide a neutral forum for determination of such persons’ ability to pay is unconstitutional."

DOJ Suspends Judge To Force Deportation

Immigrant ordered deported after Justice Department replaces judge. CNN: "Judge Steven Morley has overseen the immigration case of Reynaldo Castro-Tum for years. But last month when Castro-Tum was officially ordered deported, it wasn't Morley at the bench. Instead, the Justice Department sent an assistant chief immigration judge from Washington to replace Morley for exactly one hearing: the one that ended Castro-Tum's bid to stay in the US. The unusual use of a chief immigration judge from headquarters has raised concerns from retired immigration judges, lawyers and the union for active immigration judges. They say the move seems to jeopardize the right to a fair process in immigration courts. It also highlights the unique structure of the immigration courts, which are entirely run by the Justice Department, and the ways that Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- who serves as a one-man Supreme Court in these cases -- has sought to test the limits of his authority over them."

DOJ Intervenes In Antitrust Case Trump Opposes

Why the DOJ keeps going after the AT&T-Time Warner deal. CNBC: "The Department of Justice filed a brief Monday in its appeal of the June decision allowing AT&T to acquire Time Warner, arguing that the lower court's ruling showed 'fundamental errors of economic logic.' However, when the DOJ first filed its appeal in July, the move raised suspicions that the department's aims were political rather than legal. 'That's a question that's been asked from day 1 of this transaction,' Randall Stephenson told CNBC during Allen & Co.'s conference in Sun Valley, ID. 'The rumors, the suggestions going around Sun Valley right now, it's all very interesting. People were speculating what's really going on.' The political factor in question is President Donald Trump, who has made his disdain for Time Warner's CNN known on many (many) occasions."

Expert On Hitler's Rise Draws Chilling Parallel

Expert explains how 'average' citizens enabled Hitler — just like Trump. Alternet: "President Donald Trump is a symptom of a much larger problem. New research suggests that Trump's supporters are so motivated by racism and bigotry that they may willing to overturn American democracy so that white Christians like themselves can maintain continued power over our society. Ultimately, history teaches many lessons. The question then becomes whether we are willing to learn them. How is Donald Trump similar to, or different from, authoritarians and fascists such as Adolf Hitler? In what ways are 'regular people' and Trump's 'average' supporters implicated and responsible for his assault on democracy and campaign of cruelty? To what extend does the cruelty of Trump and his enablers toward immigrant children and other groups channel the evils of the Nazi regime? Do individuals working together have a chance to slow down Donald Trump and the Republican Party's assault on American democracy? In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Richard Frankel, a professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the author of 'Bismarck’s Shadow: The Cult of Leadership and the Transformation of the German Right, 1898-1945.'"

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