Tavis Smiley raised a lot of eyebrows this weekend when he spoke on ABC-TV's "This Week" news show, hosted by George Stephanopoulos. Smiley pointed to double-digit unemployment in the Black community under President Obama and said: "If you're Black or Brown, other than saving the Democrats' hide, what inspires you to go out and vote?"
Economic empowerment for minority families is surely a vital issue, a hardy perennial in off-year elections. But it's not the only issue. Minority voters have always been concerned with Civil Rights. And this year is no exception.
In Houston, Texas, we have seen a bizarre twist on traditional Civil Rights play out. The Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, has been waging an uncivil war on people who oppose the far-reaching homosexual rights ordinance she powered through the City Council. That ordinance was widely criticized by Houston lay people and pastors, It would endanger protected Civil Rights already covered by the First Amendment, i.e., freedom of religion, critics of Mayor Parker's ordinance said. more >>
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d'Alene.
"Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted," their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. "The threat of enforcement is more than just credible." more >>
A church and state watchdog group has warned that the recent controversy over Houston city officials subpoenaing sermons from pastors may create a major conservative fundraising effort.
Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote that Houston's legal move against pastors who oppose their recently passed LGBT ordinance will create a conservative backlash.
Writing for the Washington, D.C.-based group's blog "Wall of Separation," Boston argued that the incident "will launch a thousand right-wing fund-raising letters." more >>
South African Olympian athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for unintentionally killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in an incident on Valentine's Day 2013. The Paralympic sprinter, who in September was cleared of murder charges, was also handed a three-year suspended sentence for a firearms charge.
"It would be a sad day for this country if an impression were created that there is one law for the poor and disadvantaged, and one law for the rich and famous," Judge Thokozile Masipa said as she read out her decision. She added that it was difficult to arrive to a decision that was "fair and just to society and to the accused."
Two Christian pastors and a deacon have each been given six-year sentences by an Iranian court. A persecution watchdog group has expressed concern over the development, noting that the prisons are isolated and will force the men's families to travel great distances to see them.
"We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors [Benham] Irani and [Matthias] Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper.
"We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party." more >>
Washington state's I-594 has massive money pouring into it, because it's apparently the only gun-control measure on the ballot this fall anywhere across the country. There are actually two dueling gun measures in the state. The first one, I-594, the Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative, is being bankrolled by billionaires on the left in favor of gun control, including anti-gun activist and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as former wealthy Microsoft execs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Thanks to them, the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility has raised nearly $9 million for the initiative this far, massively outspending the other side, which has raised only $1.3 million.
I-594 has been cleverly drafted to sound like it merely makes small changes to gun laws, not a flat-out ban or gun registration scheme. This is why it is so dangerous. People are less likely to oppose it; in fact, polls show that even a majority of gun owners - 54 percent of the 35 percent of Washington residents who own a gun - are in favor of it.
The reality is, the bizarrely-long 18 ½ page initiative is so confusingly and vaguely worded - with many terms and phrases left undefined - that former Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders warned protesters at a rally against I-594 how impossible it will be to comply with. Gun owners will easily make honest mistakes, making it easy to prosecute them. Many will just give up trying to own a gun. more >>