How Republicans gutted the biggest voting rights victory in recent history | US news | The Guardian

Florida’s ‘amendment 4’ was meant to restore voting rights for those with felony convictions – but hundreds of thousands of people remain disenfranchised

Source: How Republicans gutted the biggest voting rights victory in recent history | US news | The Guardian

Trump wages coast-to-coast legal battle to keep tax returns hidden : NBC News

The effort to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns is heating up as the president and his administration battle coast to coast to prevent them from falling into hostile hands and potentially being made public.

In New York, the president seeks to prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from obtaining his tax information as part of an investigation into the pre-election payoffs to women who alleged affairs with Trump. In Washington, D.C., the president is trying to prevent the House Oversight Committee from obtaining his financial records while also seeking to block the House Ways and Means Committee from utilizing a new New York law designed to give the panel access to Trump’s state tax returns should the Treasury Department refuse to turn them over (another battle that is playing out in court.)

And in California, he’s battling a new state law aimed at having him make public the returns in order to appear on a primary ballot. Those cases don’t include the various Emoluments Clause-related suits currently going through the federal system, which could lead to the president’s returns being disclosed through discovery.

Trump’s employing a wide range of legal arguments to prevent his returns from being disclosed. Among them is the argument that authorities can’t investigate a sitting president for anything — even if he shoots someone in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York City, and that immunity provides blanket cover for his business, his family members and his business associates. Then, there is the argument that Congress can’t investigate a sitting president unless it has a legitimate legislative purpose — even then, if that probe is not part of an impeachment, it is not legitimate.

And should a state force Trump to release his taxes in order to appear on a primary ballot, or provide Congress with his state returns, they would be violating his First Amendment rights. Additionally, providing the returns would be an undue burden on the president, significantly hampering his ability to do his job, he’s argued.

“Underlying the president’s defense in most of the information-seeking cases is an argument that a president is immune from being investigated while in office,” Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor who served as acting solicitor general under former President Bill Clinton, told NBC News. “That argument permeates most of the cases as a linchpin. I expect that argument to be thoroughly rejected by the courts, including by justices appointed by President Trump.”


Source: Trump wages coast-to-coast legal battle to keep tax returns hidden : NBC News

The More I Think on it, the More I Think Trump Is Broke : PolitiZoom

There is a damn good reason that presidents in the past have both released tax returns and put assets in a blind trust. We are all human, we all have to guard against even the most subtle biases coming into play. Any president has the power to move billions in equities, make or break companies with policy changes, it is near impossible to make a decision that doesn’t have a massive impact on some fraction of the economy.

Now imagine the danger presented by a man for whom wealth is the only measure of a person, one who always presented himself as a “billionaire,” branded himself on wealth alone, one who didn’t divest himself, is not blind to his assets, and – this is key – is barely keeping his head above water financially, one who may actually be insolvent were everything to be added up. Imagine the danger that man represents as president.

There are troubling signs all around us, and they are not new.


Source: The More I Think on it, the More I Think Trump Is Broke : PolitiZoom

School principal fired for saying ‘I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual event’ | Florida | The Guardian

A high school principal in Florida has been fired after telling a student’s parent “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened”.

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‘We were indifferent to the horror’: Nazi camp inmate to give testimony at trial

The Palm Beach county school board voted 5-2 to fire William Latson on the grounds of “ethical misconduct” and “failure to carry out job responsibilities”.

Latson, former principal of Spanish River high school in Boca Raton, was fired because he could not be contacted when “all hell broke loose” after his statement went public, sparking national outrage. Latson was on a previously scheduled vacation in Jamaica when the media learned of his comments in July, reported the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The controversy stemmed from an email exchange with a parent in 2018. A parent sent Latson an email asking how students are taught about the Holocaust, and asking if Holocaust education will be made a priority.

“Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” Latson wrote, according to email records obtained by the Palm Beach Post. “And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”

He wrote: “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a district employee.”

Latson said he had to maintain a “politically neutral” position on the genocide, during which Nazis killed 6 million Jews, so he would be sensitive to Holocaust education proponents and Holocaust deniers.

Latson explained his efforts to implement lessons on the Holocaust, but said some families opposed it.

He wrote: “I work to expose students to certain things but not all parents want their students exposed so they will not be, and I can’t force that issue.”

More than 10,000 Holocaust survivors are estimated to live in three area counties, the second largest cluster after New York, the newspaper said.

In 1994, Florida lawmakers voted for the Holocaust Education Bill, which requires that all state school school districts teach students about the Holocaust as part of their public school education. The law applies to primary, intermediate and high schools.

Latson’s lawyer, Thomas Elfers, told the school board: “These are the facts. He is not antisemitic. He believes the Holocaust is factual.”

Elfers also said Latson was being punished for a “poorly worded email”.

A handful of school staffers and parents supported Latson at the vote, with one teacher saying there’s “zero evidence showing wrongdoing” and that “this is a textbook example of a witch-hunt”.


Source: School principal fired for saying ‘I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual event’ | Florida | The Guardian

The forgotten history of segregated swimming pools and amusement parks : The Conversation

Summers often bring a wave of childhood memories: lounging poolside, trips to the local amusement park, languid, steamy days at the beach.

These nostalgic recollections, however, aren’t held by all Americans.

Municipal swimming pools and urban amusement parks flourished in the 20th century. But too often, their success was based on the exclusion of African Americans.

As a social historian who has written a book on segregated recreation, I have found that the history of recreational segregation is a largely forgotten one. But it has had a lasting significance on modern race relations.

Swimming pools and beaches were among the most segregated and fought over public spaces in the North and the South.

White stereotypes of blacks as diseased and sexually threatening served as the foundation for this segregation. City leaders justifying segregation also pointed to fears of fights breaking out if whites and blacks mingled. Racial separation for them equaled racial peace.

These fears were underscored when white teenagers attacked black swimmers after activists or city officials opened public pools to blacks. For example, whites threw nails at the bottom of pools in Cincinnati, poured bleach and acid in pools with black bathers in St. Augustine, Florida, and beat them up in Philadelphia. In my book, I describe how in the late 1940s there were major swimming pool riots in St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

Exclusion based on ‘safety’

Despite civil rights statutes in many states, the law did not come to African Americans’ aid. In Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, the chairman of the Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission in 1960 admitted that “all people have a right under law to use all public facilitates including swimming pools.” But he went on to point out that “of all public facilities, swimming pools put the tolerance of the white people to the test.”

His conclusion: “Public order is more important than rights of Negroes to use public facilities.” In practice, black swimmers were not admitted to pools if the managers felt “disorder will result.” Disorder and order defined accessibility, not the law.


Source: The forgotten history of segregated swimming pools and amusement parks : The Conversation

Calls for new gun laws are falling on deaf ears : The Hill

Renewed calls for stricter gun controls following a school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead are falling on deaf ears.

Legislators in states across the country have delayed, defeated or refused to take up new measures to prevent more gun violence — despite the impassioned calls of victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

In Florida’s legislature, House Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to revive debate on a measure to ban assault weapons with student survivors from Parkland watching in the gallery.

The bill, introduced after the 2016 killings of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, failed on a party-line vote.

Students from Parkland who have blanketed the media to call for gun reforms have expressed incredulity at the lack of action.

“It seemed almost heartless how they immediately pushed the button to say ‘no,'” Sheryl Acquaroli, a 16-year-old student from Stoneman Douglas, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Advocates for gun control also ran into opposition in other states.

In Arizona, Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to force debate over whether to ban bump stocks and other modifications to increase weapons’ rate of fire — and instead voted to debate an anti-porn bill.


Source: Calls for new gun laws are falling on deaf ears : The Hill

9,000 Animals Rescued From Sickening Conditions in Illegal Slaughterhouse

Original post  from Care2

‘…  March 27, 2015

slaughterOne of the most horrific animal abuse cases of all time was uncovered by Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), where more than 9,000 animals have been found at an illegal slaughterhouse in Florida.

ARM were tipped off about the inhumane practices being undertaken at a legally registered farm enterprise called Coco Farms. Led by the experienced founder of the group Richard Couto, an undercover team infiltrated the farm to gain footage of the cruel and illegal activities that were taking place.

The Operation

ARM led a five month operation, where they discovered thousands of animals starving to death, deprived of water, and eventually being slaughtered in the most sadistic and painful ways imaginable.

The 200 acre farm has a licence to sell live animals, a factor which allowed their illegal activities to go undetected for so long. Customers would enter the farm, pick out their animal and have it illegally slaughtered on site.

Couto explained to The Dodo, “we went in as customers and basically befriended them. We slowly create relationships with them until they would do their regular activities on the property in front of us, until they felt comfortable enough to start killing animals.”

The bust was conducted by the Miami-Dade Police and the States Attorney’s Office, along with the aid of volunteers of Animal Recovery Mission, and within the first 24 hours more than 3,000 cows, pigs, goats and dogs had been rescued and taken to safety. A further 3,000 have since been rescued, but unfortunately many animals were in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized, and the land was scattered with dead and decaying bodies.

Couto was shocked by the scenes he witnessed at the farm, saying that “they were boiling animals alive. They were drowning animals in boiling water. They were skinning animals alive — and I’m talking about completely skinning animals while they were alive. They hung goats upside down, stabbed them in the throats, and then twisted their heads completely off while they were still alive. I’ve never seen anything like the ongoings at this property.”

The Disturbing World of Illegal Slaughterhouses

The horrific scenes witnessed at this disturbing Florida location are estimated to have been going on for the past 45 years, with up to 300 animals being killed everyday, something which was only made possible and profitable by the demand for their illegal meat.

Far from being a small scale operation, Couto explains that “we are finding out now that they were huge advertisers in Asian papers locally. They probably did 40 to 50 percent of their business with Asian restaurants in the area, selling meat to them illegally. They slipped through the system because it was legal for them to have animals on site.”

Sadly this is not an isolated incident, as he continued to explain that “we have a hundred farms that we’re just waiting for the manpower to stop right now. There are probably over 500 of these farms in the state of Florida. There are certainly small farms like this found throughout the country, but in Florida, it is a full blown industry. It is millions and millions of dollars. This is organized crime.”…….’


New Housing Concept Emerging For Those With Disabilities

Original post   from Disability Scoop


An artist's rendering shows plans for The Villages at Noah's Landing, a gated community specifically designed for people with developmental disabilities. (Facebook)

An artist’s rendering shows plans for The Villages at Noah’s Landing, a gated community specifically designed for people with developmental disabilities. (Facebook)

LAKELAND, Fla. — Much of the money has been secured — nearly $14 million to date. The blueprints are being readied. A builder has been hired.

It’s showtime.

“It’s been a long road; God has called me to do this,” Jack Kosik said recently at the 56-acre site that soon will be developed into a gated community for people with developmental disabilities.

To be built on property acquired from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the new development known as The Villages at Noah’s Landing shares with a similar project soon to break ground in Jacksonville the distinction of being the first communities of their type in Florida.

A ceremonial groundbreaking event in February kicked off Phase 1 of construction on 16 acres that includes 132 apartments and a recreation center with pool and commercial kitchen.

Financed primarily with low-income housing tax credits, the project is expected to alleviate a waiting list for safe, affordable housing for adults with developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Unlike state licensed group homes, Noah’s Landing will operate independently, with oversight provided by staff, volunteers and parents, along with monitoring from state social workers.

It’s a concept gaining acceptance nationwide, providing a stimulating community setting for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are capable of living with some degree of independence.

Parents are critical to the success of Noah’s Landing, which will provide support services tailored to individual needs, said Philip Gossen, board president of Noah’s Ark and a single parent to Phil II, 30, who has cerebral palsy.

The concept of the inclusive community, with some oversight provided by parent volunteers, provides a level of trust that most other residential settings can’t provide, Gossen said.

“(My son) will definitely need support and help for the rest of his life, and I know that Noah’s Ark will help provide when I’m not there,” he said. “That gives me peace of mind.”

As an operating partner for restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday, Gossen spends much of his time on the road. He said it took much convincing three years ago for him to agree to place his son, who is somewhat self-sufficient and could be left alone for hours at a time, at Noah’s Nest, a cluster of three group homes on South McKay Avenue.

His fears soon dissipated.

“I was a great provider for my son. It wasn’t that he was unhappy, but we were stagnant,” Gossen said. “(At Noah’s Nest) he got more social and independent. He just has a greater purpose in life when he wakes up every day.”

When Noah’s Landing opens its doors about this time next year, Phil Gossen II will be one of its initial residents. The complex will be composed of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. Additional phases will include more housing, an assisted-living facility, fishing dock and recreational areas. Ultimately, the community could house up to 224 individuals.

Most residents will pay $400 a month for rent and utilities out of their monthly Social Security disability benefits, which vary, depending on a number of factors. For instance, some people with disabilities qualify for a larger allotment once their parents reach Social Security age or die, said Kosik, parent of a daughter, Brittany, who has a disability.

But despite a government subsidy, many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities must live with parents because of a shortage of affordable housing equipped to handle their needs, he said. Noah’s Landing and a small number of similar communities springing up around the country aim to alleviate the problem, giving aging parents respite from the demands of caring full time for their loved ones.

“The question for (many) parents is, ‘Where is my child going to live when I die?’” Kosik said.

Across the state, a community similar to Noah’s Landing — The Arc Village — is preparing to break ground on the outskirts of downtown Jacksonville. It, too, is benefiting primarily from federal low-income housing tax credits, said Jim Whittaker, president and CEO of The Arc Jacksonville.

The 97-unit project also will rely on The Arc’s ability to raise additional dollars through grants and a capital campaign, the same as the Lakeland project, which must leverage at least $3 million in addition to its $14 million in tax credits.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest throughout the country in what we’re doing here in Florida,” Whittaker said. “It’s a drop in the bucket as far as the need statewide” for affordable housing of this type.

“Hopefully, places like the village can be replicated.”

Already, as many as 227 parents and guardians have indicated interest in placing loved ones at Noah’s Landing, Kosik said. “We believe we’re starting a tsunami. If we do it right, this will be a national model.” ….’