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USA Watch Thread

America USA Politics Military Wars Science Information News Economy Geopolitics

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#181
caltrek

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Maybe there is something the matter with Kansas after all.

 

 

‘One of the most secretive, darkest states’: What is Kansas trying to hide?

 

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article184298908.html

 

Introduction:

 

(McClatchy D.C. Bureau) The statement was simple. Factual.

 

A Kansas spokesperson was acknowledging that the state highway department didn’t have the money to rebuild a dangerous stretch of Interstate 70 that had been the scene of multiple wrecks and a grisly motorcycle fatality caught on video.

 

“KDOT has lost a lot of money over the last few years,” the spokesperson said. “There’s just no funding at this point.”

 

Simple, yes. But in Gov. Sam Brownback’s cash-strapped administration, those were fighting words. Days later, the spokesperson was fired.

 

"Your article was the nail in my coffin for being the face of KDOT,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Kansas City Star.

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#182
Alislaws

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Maybe there is something the matter with Kansas after all.

 

 

‘One of the most secretive, darkest states’: What is Kansas trying to hide?

Holy Crap, the bit at the end about the legislature refusing to let anyone know how they vote is insane. 

This is the flaw with 2 party systems, as long as the 2 parties both support something (like in this case secrecy at all levels of government and no accountability) then you're stuck with it forever.



#183
Sciencerocks

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Senate Plan Would Raise Taxes on the Poor, a Report Says

WASHINGTON — The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said on Thursday that the latest version of the Senate tax bill would effectively raise taxes for lower-income Americans by 2021.

An analysis by the nonpartisan committee projected that, if the Senate bill becomes law, Americans earning $30,000 a year or below would pay higher taxes beginning in 2021 than they would if the bill is not enacted. The projected increase stems from the bill’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people have health insurance, a provision that was tucked into an amended version of the legislation this week.

The projections assume that repeal of the so-called individual mandate would result in many lower-income Americans choosing not to buy insurance, and thus not claim tax subsidies that help them defray the costs of health coverage.

As a result, their total tax liability would rise.

 

https://www.msn.com/...b7Kz&ocid=edgsp


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#184
caltrek

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US Foundations Jump-Start a Puerto Rico-led and Sustainable Recovery

 

https://nonprofitqua...nable-recovery/

 

Introduction:

 

(Nonprofit Quarterly) This week, three major US foundations—Rockefeller, Open Society, and Ford—pledged five million dollars to a pooled fund called Fondo Adelante to help Puerto Rico guide a sustainable and equitable recovery effort. Miguel Soto-Class, founder and president of the local think tank Center for a New Economy and co-chair of a commission to lead the effort, says, “We have to reimagine how we’re going to rebuild.”

 

The new effort comprises three initiatives. The aforementioned commission is the “Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission,” which builds on what we’ve learned from Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. The effort will also provide on-the-ground capacity building to Puerto Rican foundations and NGOs through the island-based Network of Puerto Rican Foundations (La Red de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico). The third initiative is an assessment of the Hurricane Maria damage.

 

The goal is to “maximize federal recovery funds” to ensure the island’s future resilience. NPQ readers may recall that community groups have been calling for a just and sustainable economy, counter to current recovery norms, which focus on building to pre-crisis quality. Though it has taken two months to mobilize (we know it takes time to sense make and move money), we are optimistic to see a strategic investment and local leadership. In addition to the five million, the foundations also pledge their joint expertise and expect to commit more money after this first phase.

 

Past recovery efforts in the US have demonstrated that foundations have a crucial role to play in strengthening the capacity of nonprofits to respond in times of crisis, when we can help shape the re/emergent institutions. According to the Ford Foundation, “This includes the development of aligned agenda setting, policy dialogue, and grantmaking strategies designed to advance equity, inclusion and resilience.”

 

The commission—which will have approximately 25 members—is charged with developing a report with “local communities, NGOs, philanthropies, the private sector, governments, academia, members of the Puerto Rican diaspora, and others,” to be released March 2018, that “will identify concrete projects and initiatives to make the best use of federal relief and recovery funds and better prepare the island for future challenges.”

 

 

 

Calling "for a just and sustainable economy, counter to current recovery norms, which focus on building to pre-crisis quality."  

 

Sounds familiar.  Before I retired, I was sometimes involved in the lower level administration of FEMA funds (bookkeeping type chores mostly).  I was often struck by rules that locked localities into "building to pre-crisis quality."  This sometimes meant foregoing the opportunity to match FEMA funds with local funds to improve destroyed or damaged facilities beyond their pre-crisis condition.  I think instituting some flexibility into the recovery process makes sense.  Especially with safeguards put into place to ensure that such flexibility is not abused at federal tax payer expense.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#185
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At Least Two GOP Senators May Break Ranks on Tax Plans

 

https://nonprofitqua...anks-tax-plans/

 

Introduction:

 

(Nonprofit Quarterly) After Republican senators tweaked their own tax package on Tuesday night, both Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said they would not vote for the GOP tax measure. Their objections differed; Collins objects to recently included language that would repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, while Johnson objects to both the Senate and House proposals because he believes they benefit corporations at the expense of smaller companies.

 

Senate leaders…changed their bill to make tax cuts for corporations permanent, but let individual tax cuts sunset at the end of 2025. The expiration would also affect small businesses whose owners use tax law to pay some of their income at the individual rate, a change Johnson said would unfairly penalize small businesses.

 

Neither objection lends itself to a fix that can likely be made without losing other votes. These two defections would necessitate nailing down every other GOP vote to pass the measure in the Senate. But Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) both still decline to say if they will support the bill as it stands—again, for different reasons.

But if this all sounds a little familiar to you, readers may recall this moment from July:

 

Senators John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the Republicans who cast the deciding votes against the so-called “skinny” version of a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Collins and Murkowski were expected to oppose the bill, but suspense hung over the Senate floor early Friday morning as McCain held a 20-minute conversation with Vice President Mike Pence and hung out with Democrats on the Senate floor. While the GOP murmured “trust us” to some recalcitrant senators, promising that the House would not pass it anyway, the president was tweeting “Go Republican Senators, Go!” and health insurance coverage for an estimated 16 million Americans hung in the balance. In the end, however, the no votes came from exactly where it could have been predicted they would.

 

Still, if you believe that miracles repeat themselves easily and without the need for you to participate, you are living in…well, a fool’s paradise. In the real world, now is the time to communicate with your congressional representatives.—Ruth McCambridge


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#186
Sciencerocks

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The House Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students

https://www.nytimes....&pgtype=article
Erin Rousseau
5-6 minutes

 


Republicans in the House of Representatives have just passed a tax bill that would devastate graduate research in the United States. Hidden in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a repeal of Section 117(d)(5) of the current tax code, a provision that is vital to all students who pursue master’s degrees or doctorates and are not independently wealthy.

I’m a graduate student at M.I.T., where I study the neurological basis of mental health disorders. My peers and I work between 40 and 80 hours a week as classroom teachers and laboratory researchers, and in return, our universities provide us with a tuition waiver for school. For M.I.T. students, this waiver keeps us from having to pay a tuition bill of about $50,000 every year — a staggering amount, but one that is similar to the fees at many other colleges and universities. No money from the tuition waivers actually ends up in our pockets, so under Section 117(d)(5), it isn’t counted as taxable income.

But under the House’s tax bill, our waivers will be taxed. This means that M.I.T. graduate students would be responsible for paying taxes on an $80,000 annual salary, when we actually earn $33,000 a year. That’s an increase of our tax burden by at least $10,000 annually.

 

.........................................

In a horrible twist, the repeal of Section 117 (d)(5) isn’t the only part of the tax bill that would hurt college students. The House bill would also end the student loan interest deduction, which allows individuals who make up to $80,000 and are repaying student loans to decrease their debt. It also eliminates the Lifetime Learning Credit, which is instrumental for many nontraditional students..........................

 

 

----

 

Wow, this is fucking stupid!


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#187
Yuli Ban

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^ No, it's dangerous.

 

People tolerate student loan payments because A: they believe they may still pay them back one day; B: they'll get in trouble if they don't pay; C: they can still survive while making said payments; and D: not enough other people are rejecting paying back loans to make it a real bargaining chip.

 

Do this, and every possible thread is severed. People reach emiseration. They no longer believe that they can pay back loans, so they no longer care about getting in trouble because they can no longer survive while trying to pay back loans, so you will see about twenty million screaming collegians who collectively say "Fuck you" to the debt collectors. And when you have that much unpaid debt, well... 

 

The fan breaks down, I'll tell you that. You get to watch trillions of dollars flutter into the air and a whole bunch of suits on Wall Street find the nearest noose while Main Street shutters all its doors. American colleges will spiral downwards in quality, if they can even stay open, and then Chinese investors can snatch them up and re-open them as Beijing-friendly institutions. That, or there's a great migration to online colleges.


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Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#188
caltrek

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^^^^ I would add to that that it is almost as if Trump is punishing the entire country for being stupid enough to vote him into office.  Even some of his commetns about the whole Russian meddling issue take on the tone of "well Obama should have blown the whistle and stopped us while he had the chance."

 

Then there is his recent ban on lifting the ban on Americans hunting elephants.  Apparently, one or more of his sons (and/or in laws) is into big game hunting. So screw the animal rights activists.

 

Like, he doesn't even care what he is doing to the Republican brand because he is really not all that much of a Republican himself anyway.  

 

"All you other rich guys think I might be pushing the envelope a little?

 

Well screw you, I won your party's nomination fair and square (or at least with a lot of help in the form of free media and maybe the Russians a little).  So what do I care what happens to my fellow Republicans once I am out of office?

 

As long as I get to enjoy the benefits of all of those tax breaks, a presidential salary, and playing fast and loose regarding the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

 

You don't like that?

 

Well, then impeach me, if you have got the guts."

 

Which, of course, they don't.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#189
Sciencerocks

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Oklahoma Republican pleads guilty to child sex trafficking charge: report

A former Oklahoma state senator has pleaded guilty to a child sex trafficking charge, The Oklahoman reported Saturday.

Former state Sen. Ralph Shortey, a Republican, had been accused of offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for "'sexual' stuff" earlier this year. Federal prosecutors will drop three additional child pornography charges against him in exchange for his guilty plea.

"It is in my best interest and in the best interest of my family," the former state senator wrote in a plea deal paperwork signed this week, according to the Oklahoman.

By pleading guilty, Shortey is hoping to receive a lighter sentence. Child sex trafficking carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum sentence of life in prison. U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti will sentence Shortey next year.

Shortey was first elected to the Oklahoma state Senate in 2010. He resigned from his office on March 22, two weeks after being found in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy.

 

http://thehill.com/b...ty-to-child-sex


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#190
Sciencerocks

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Victims 'told not to report' Jehovah's Witness child abuse
Source: BBC

 

Children who were sexually abused by Jehovah's Witnesses were allegedly told by the organisation not to report it.

Victims from across the UK told the BBC they were routinely abused and that the religion's own rules protected perpetrators.

One child abuse lawyer believes there could be thousands of victims across the country who have not come forward.

The organisation said it did not "shield" abusers and any suggestion of a cover-up was "absolutely false".

 

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/n...ngland-42025255


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#191
Sciencerocks

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A federal judge in California has blocked President Trump’s executive order to cut funding from sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with U.S. immigration officials.

More on this: http://www.foxnews.c...eral-judge.html


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#192
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THE BEGINNING OF MILITARY COUP?

 

Reports: US Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Lands at Langley!

 

 

According to persons who reside near Langley, a large contingent of Marines arrived at CIA Headquarters in tilt-rotor aircraft and when the Marines deplaned, they were armed and moved quickly into CIA Headquarters! (I did not personally witness this and am relying solely on what witnesses are telling me)
 
Those witnesses also say that a significant number of tilt-rotor aircraft could be clearly seen circling the grounds of CIA Headquarters, parked on the grass around the building.
 
This is not normal.
 
Never before has anything like this ever been seen taking place at CIA Headquarters and speculation is now running rampant as to what is actually taking place.
 
Conspiracy Theorists are claiming the President of the United States is moving to take out rogue elements in the Intelligence Community, at the request of his new CIA Director.  It is rumored that these rogue elements have been undermining the Administration since before it took office last January, and may be connected to some well publicized "incidents" which suddenly resumed taking place this year, (mass shootings / violent protests) after a brief respite once the Obama Administration left office.
 
Moreover, there is not one word of Marines landing at Langley, appearing in _any_ US mass-media outlet.
 
=== === ===
 
UPDATE these were the fake news. No confirmation anywhere else. And even twitter remains silent, no any screams, barking, laugher and so on... 

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

 

"And the Russian land, let God keep it! Under heavens, there is no other land like this. And although Russian nobles are not righteous neither kind, let God arrange the Russian land and give us enough justice" - Afanasy Nikitin, medieval traveler of XV century.


#193
Alislaws

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THE BEGINNING OF MILITARY COUP?

 

Reports: US Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Lands at Langley!

 

 

According to persons who reside near Langley, a large contingent of Marines arrived at CIA Headquarters in tilt-rotor aircraft and when the Marines deplaned, they were armed and moved quickly into CIA Headquarters! (I did not personally witness this and am relying solely on what witnesses are telling me)
 
Those witnesses also say that a significant number of tilt-rotor aircraft could be clearly seen circling the grounds of CIA Headquarters, parked on the grass around the building.
 
This is not normal.
 
Never before has anything like this ever been seen taking place at CIA Headquarters and speculation is now running rampant as to what is actually taking place.
 
Conspiracy Theorists are claiming the President of the United States is moving to take out rogue elements in the Intelligence Community, at the request of his new CIA Director.  It is rumored that these rogue elements have been undermining the Administration since before it took office last January, and may be connected to some well publicized "incidents" which suddenly resumed taking place this year, (mass shootings / violent protests) after a brief respite once the Obama Administration left office.
 
Moreover, there is not one word of Marines landing at Langley, appearing in _any_ US mass-media outlet.
 
=== === ===
 
UPDATE these were the fake news. No confirmation anywhere else. And even twitter remains silent, no any screams, barking, laugher and so on... 

 

Wow, that would have been crazy!



#194
Sciencerocks

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More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked


"NY Attorney General Schneiderman estimated that hundreds of thousands of Americans’ identities were stolen and used in spam campaigns that support repealing net neutrality. My research found at least 1.3 million fake pro-repeal comments, with suspicions about many more. In fact, the sum of fake pro-repeal comments in the proceeding may number in the millions. In this post, I will point out one particularly egregious spambot submission, make the case that there are likely many more pro-repeal spambots yet to be confirmed, and estimate the public position on net neutrality in the “organic” public submissions.¹

 

https://hackernoon.c...ed-e9f0e3ed36a6


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#195
caltrek

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Georgia Libertarians Claim State Voting Laws Block Their Candidates

 

https://www.courthou...eir-candidates/

 

Introduction:

 

ATLANTA (CN) — The Libertarian Party of Georgia claims in court the state’s ballot-access laws are unlawfully cumbersome and were intentionally designed to prevent third-party candidates from successfully running for federal office.

 

The plaintiff party claims that since Georgia’s current ballot-access restrictions were enacted in 1943, no third-party candidate has ever been able to qualify as a candidate for Congress.

 

Further, it says, no nominee from the Libertarian Party has ever appeared on Georgia’s general-election ballot.

 

In a federal complaint filed Nov. 21 in Atlanta, the party says this is due to draconian ballot-access laws that are unconstitutional on their face.

According to the complaint filed by Bryan Sells of Atlanta, Georgia’s current ballot-access statutes unfairly discriminate against candidates who are not part of what the state defines as a “political party.”


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#196
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Hidden in GOP tax bill: A plan to turn churches into dark-money spigots

 

https://www.salon.co...-money-spigots/

 

Introduction:

 

(Salon) There's no doubt that the main purpose of the Republican tax bill, in both its House and Senate forms, is to slash taxes for corporations and the rich while making the rest of the country pay for it. But Republicans are also stuffing a wish list of right-wing goals into the bill. One provision of the House legislation that has gotten relatively little media attention has the potential to drastically remake our campaign finance system, and tilt the already unfair playing field even further toward the Republicans.

 

Ever since 1954, a legislative add-on known as the Johnson Amendment has prevented charities, social welfare organizations and, perhaps most importantly, churches from endorsing candidates. Such institutions may lose their tax-exempt status if they engage in electioneering. The House bill would functionally dismantle the Johnson Amendment, thereby opening the door to pastors endorsing candidates from the pulpits and for charities large and small -- even the Red Cross or Salvation Army -- to openly support political candidates or causes in the course of their official charitable work.

 

“The tax bill threatens the integrity of our elections and all of our tax-exempt organizations," Maggie Garrett, the legislative director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in an emailed statement. "No one wants to turn our charitable nonprofits, houses of worship and foundations into political campaign tools."

 

This provision, Adam Bozzi of End Citizens United explained to Salon, would create "a gaping loophole in our campaign finance system." Bozzi explained it could "allow a big political donor who wants to make a contribution through the back door to give to a church, which could then endorse a candidate and engage in electioneering."

 

To make it even worse, the tax-exempt status of churches and charities means that any millionaire or billionaire who funneled political spending through such a group could then turn around and claim that donation as a tax writeoff. Money given to a pastor in order to buy his endorsement wouldn't look any different on paper than money given to a church for its charitable work or other legitimate purposes. Republicans are creating a loophole that will allow rich people to shelter political donations from taxes while influencing election campaigns in total secrecy.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#197
Sciencerocks

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 The plan of the gop is to give all control to the wealth and completely turn back the clock to the 18th century...What does this mean? The wealthy have all the power...Remember the french revolution and how it started? There were three estates, 1. The rich and royals, 2. religious and 3. the poor common man. 1 and 2 ganged up and thought themselves as the rulers of the 3. This was the same old shit throughout all of europe at this time..They want the same today.


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#198
BasilBerylium

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Shouldn't be:

1. Monarchy 2. Bourgeois 3. Peasantry ?



#199
Sciencerocks

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Kingdom of France. France under the Ancien Régime (before the French Revolution) divided society into three estates: the First Estate (clergy); the Second Estate (nobility); and the Third Estate (commoners). The king was considered part of no estate.

 

https://en.wikipedia...es_of_the_realm

 

And yes I put the royals in with the rich but they're the riches bastards in the land so that only makes sense.


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#200
caltrek

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Civil Rights Groups Launch National Effort to Combat Alarming Voter Purge Attempt

 

https://www.brennanc...r-purge-attempt

 

Introduction:

 

(Brennan Center for Justice) WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, leading national civil rights organizations are urging state and county election officials in jurisdictions across the country to reject the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s (PILF) coordinated attempt to launch a wide-scale voter purge effort across the country. Using deceptive tactics promoting voter suppression, and urging actions that could in fact violate the legal requirements of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), PILF’s action has created an immediate need for clarification. In response the coalition of organizations, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and Demos, are offering guidance to jurisdictions on how to comply with the NVRA.

 
The national effort comes in direct response to letters recently sent by PILF to hundreds of local election officials. In them, the group’s suggested actions could violate legal requirements under the NVRA, a law Congress passed to increase voter participation and registration. PILF uses an unreliable and inaccurate assessment of voter registration rates to accuse the jurisdictions it has targeted of having more voters on the rolls than eligible residents. It then falsely claims these high registration rates alone provide strong evidence that a jurisdiction is not fulfilling its obligation to maintain accurate voter registration databases. PILF has threatened litigation if their proposed measures are not taken. PILF’S letter is part of a larger concerted effort to remove voters from registration lists and further its false and baseless claim that there is widespread voter fraud across the country. 
 
The three civil rights organizations sent a letter and accompanying memo to the jurisdictions targeted by PILF. The groups make it clear the jurisdictions can protect themselves against PILF’s threats and offer to provide assistance in that area. The memo also asserts PILF’s justification for a voter purge, which includes misleading use of U.S. Census Bureau data, is baseless.
 
"The letters by PILF represent another attempt to perpetuate the big lie of 'voter fraud' and intimidate election officials to purge eligible voters from the voter rolls," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law. "PILF is one part of a larger coordinated conservative agenda to attack the right to vote for millions of Americans.
 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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