It makes me sad and angry that after all that these citizens of Louisiana have been through, political leaders continue to hold back the settlement that is due to these citizens.  Also, BP continues to go about there regular business and not pay for all the anguish that this company has caused the Louisiana citizens.

 

BP Oil Spill Trial Delayed For Mardi Gras, Super Bowl AP | By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Posted: 10/26/2012 12:53 pm EDT . 39 15 3 7 Get Green Alerts: Sign Up .. . Follow: Gulf Oil Spill , Gulf Oil Spill , Gulf Oil Spill , Video, Gulf Spill Claims, AP, Bp Oil Spill Trial, Bp Spill Settlement, Bp Spill Trial, Deepwater Horizon Trial, Gulf Spill Claims Trial, Green News . NEW ORLEANS (AP) — To avoid disruptions from the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, a federal judge in New Orleans has postponed a trial for claims spawned by BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier announced during a hearing Friday that he is moving the start of the trial from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25. The trial is designed to identify the causes of BP’s deadly well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved in the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drilling project. The NFL’s Super Bowl is Feb. 3 at the Superdome. Mardi Gras is Feb. 12, but parades begin weeks earlier. Barbier, however, refused to postpone a Nov. 1 deadline for businesses and individuals to opt out of a multibillion dollar settlement between BP and private plaintiffs’ attorneys over economic damage claims from the spill. He also said he won’t delay a Nov. 8 fairness hearing on the proposed settlement. Some plaintiffs’ attorneys who didn’t have a hand in brokering the deal had urged Barbier to extend the opt-out deadline, saying their clients need more time to decide whether it’s in their best interest to participate. Barbier said some claimants or their lawyers have a “fundamental misunderstanding” about how the process works. “There is clearly sufficient — more than sufficient — transparency in this settlement,” he said. Barbier said he was disturbed to hear reports that some attorneys with large stables of clients are advising them to opt out of the settlement en masse. The judge said it would be “highly inappropriate” for a lawyer to make that determination without individually assessing and analyzing each client’s claim. Barbier also offered a word of caution for claimants who are thinking of opting out of the deal. “Opting out will mean you’re opting to go it alone in individual lawsuits against the defendants,” he said, warning that it could take years for individual cases to be resolved. Earlier this week, BP and the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys on the case urged Barbier to disregard objections to the proposed settlement and give it his final approval. More than 200 people and groups formally objected to the deal, while 983 potential claimants had asked to opt out as of Oct. 19. More than 100,000 plaintiffs could benefit from the deal. Brent Coon, a Beaumont, Texas-based attorney who says he represents about 14,000 clients with spill-related claims, has urged Barbier to amend the settlement terms so that claimants won’t have to decide whether to opt out until the claims administrator has determined how much money they are eligible to receive. “There’s no reason why there should be pressure on claimants to make this decision,” Coon said. BP, which estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve claims through the uncapped settlement, agreed to continue paying claims though a court-supervised process before the judge decides whether to give final approval. Barbier said claimants have been paid or received offers worth a total of roughly $1.1 billion since a court-supervised process replaced the Gulf Coast Claims Facility overseen by claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg. “It’s actually been pretty remarkable, in my opinion, how this has worked,” Barbier said. Also on HuffPost: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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How Sports plays a part in oppression.

Here in America a person may not be a sports fan but they probably know the names of a few teams.  Professional sports is a huge money maker and has millions of fans.  One of the big rivalries in football is the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins.  My husband happens to be a huge Washington Redskins fan.  I asked him about thier mascot and what he thought it.  He simply stated “yeah there has been talk for a long time about it but nothing has ever been done.”  Now my husband is pretty conscious about social justice.  The problem here is the same problem that several Americans have today.  Oppression has become so intertwined into our society that we do not even see it any more.  We love football.  We have been watching this team for our entire lives.  We do not even think about what the mascot or name means.  Our media and society have allowed such discriminating symbols to be apart of our culture for so long that we don’t even see the wrong in the symbols any more.  The issue of the Redskins name has been brought up several times during the years.  The reason that the organziation will not change it is because it will cost several millions of dollars to change it.  It is a major name in football and it is ingrained in football history.  Now keep in mind that there used to be a professional basketball team called the Washington Bullets.  They had to change thier name because thier mascots symbolized violence.  That team is now called the Washington Wizards.  It is amazing that no matter what the cost that team was made to change thier name because of what thier mascot symbolized but the Redskins do not have to change thier name.  We have to ask ourselves.  Do we not care enough about the Native American population to change a mascot?  We are putting a price on thier name if we say that we refuse to change a name because it will cost too much money.   There is a college team called the Florida State Seminoles.  This team has also had this mascot for several years.  They continue to have the mascot.  They talked to the Seminole tribe and asked permission to use the mascot.  The tribed agreed with stipulations.  The man that is the mascot has to come from Seminole heritage.  They approve the attired that he wears and it has to be true Seminole attire.  The tribe wanted people to learn more about and understand thier culture.  My husband stated that the pre-game show is the most amazing thing that he has ever seen.  The mascot comes out on a horse and rides around and does the same ceremony every time.  There is a lot to be said for the Florida State University and the Seminole Tribe.  They came together and discussed what each of them wanted.  At the end, they worked together and both parties were able to achieve what they wanted from the agreement.   Now that is social justice.  If only other sports teams could learn from them.

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We have a long way to go!!

While this shows that the U.S. is becoming aware of the oppression that is happening to women and minorities, it also shows that we have a lot to do.  As a nation we are not going to be able to get anything done if the two parties can not come together and agree.  We need to move forward.  In order to move forward our government is going to have to learn to work together and continue to make this a great nation.  There is still a lot of racism and sexism that has to get erased.

Washington (CNN) — When the incoming U.S. House freshmen of the 113th Congress take their class photo, the image will reflect two very different visions of the nation.

On the Democratic side: Women and minorities — a coalition that, along with young voters, largely helped re-elect President Barack Obama — collectively will for the first time in the nation’s history outnumber white male Democrats.

On the Republican side: The majority of the House seats will be held by white men — a group which far outnumbers the now dwindled numbers of House GOP women and minorities after the losses of two minority members and about a half dozen women from that caucus.

“They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well the picture that you see before you is worth millions of votes, millions of aspirations and dreams of the American people for problem-solvers to come to Washington to get to the job done, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in welcoming the incoming freshman class to the Capitol for orientation.

“Today we officially welcome our Democratic freshmen to Washington. They are extraordinary leaders who will make our House Democratic caucus the first caucus in history, in the history of civilized government, to have a majority of women and minorities in the caucus.”

It also symbolizes something else that is more troubling politically.

“It’s basically a sign that both parties are distilling to their core, and they are living in parallel universes,” said David Wasserman, House editor for the Cook Political Report.

The stark demographic and ideological differences now reflected in the House will also likely lead to increased partisan showdowns over entitlement spending, education, health care and immigration reform, political and cultural experts say. Studies and polls have shown, for example, that women tend to be more supportive of government spending than men, and those attitudes might have helped influence women’s choice for president, said Michele Swers, a Georgetown University American government professor.

“You can draw a clear line between the changing demographics of the parties and the polarization (likely to follow),” Wasserman said.

The shift is the result of an increase in the Hispanic population and concerted efforts among the Democratic leadership to recruit and support female and minority candidates coupled with the effect of redistricting, which created large majority minority districts in states such as California, Florida and Texas.

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racial profiling in Arizona

Arizona’s Sheriff Arpaio faces  allegations of racial profiling as civil trial kicks off

Published July 19, 2012

Associated  Press

PHOENIX –  Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s  anti-illegal immigration patrols are taking center stage in federal court in  Phoenix.

A lawyer for a group of Latinos who filed a civil lawsuit against his  department said in opening statements Thursday that the evidence will show that  Arpaio and his deputies racially profiled Hispanics.

“It’s our view that the problem starts at the top,” attorney Stan Young  said.

Tim Casey, who is defending Arpaio, said the patrols were properly planned  out and executed. He said they exceeded police standards. He said, “race and  ethnicity had nothing to do with the traffic stops.”

The plaintiffs aren’t seeking money damages. They want a declaration that  Arpaio’s office racially profiles and an order that requires it to make changes  to prevent what they said is discriminatory policing.

The lawsuit filed by a handful of Latinos will serve as a precursor to a U.S.  Justice Department’s case that alleges a broader range of civil rights  violations by Arpaio’s office. Although not involved in Thursday’s case, a DOJ  lawyer leading the agency’s civil rights case watched the trial.

Arpaio was not expected in court Thursday.

For years, Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America, has  vehemently denied allegations that his deputies in Arizona’s most populous  county racially profile Latinos in his trademark patrols.

The plaintiffs say Arpaio’s officers based some traffic stops on the race of  Hispanics who were in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made  the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.

“He is not free to say whatever he wants,” said Dan Pochoda, a lawyer for the  American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, one of the groups that pushed the  lawsuit against Arpaio. “He will be called as a witness.”

If Arpaio loses the civil case, he won’t face jail time or fines.

At a late June hearing, Casey said the sheriff wanted the trial so he could  prove his critics wrong and remove the stigma that the racial profiling  allegation carries. “What we want is resolution,” Casey said.

The DOJ lawsuit makes many of the same racial profiling allegations, but goes  further to say that Arpaio’s office retaliated against its critics, punished  Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish and failed  to adequately investigate a large number of sex-crimes cases.

No trial date in that case has been set.

Arpaio has said the DOJ lawsuit is a politically motivated attack by the  Obama administration as a way to court Latino voters in a presidential election  year.

DOJ officials say the department began its initial civil rights inquiry of  Arpaio’s office during the Bush administration and notified the sheriff of its  formal investigation a few months after Obama took office.

Arpaio has staked his reputation on immigration enforcement and, in turn, won  support and financial contributors from people across the country who helped him  build a $4 million campaign war chest.

The patrols have brought allegations that Arpaio himself ordered some of them  not based on reports of crime but letters from Arizonans who complained about  people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.

Some of the people who filed the lawsuit were stopped by deputies in regular  patrols, while others were stopped in his special immigration sweeps. During the  sweeps, deputies flood an area of a city — in some cases, heavily Latino areas  — over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other  offenders.

Illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in  the 20 sweeps conducted by his office since January 2008, according to figures  provided by Arpaio’s office, which hasn’t conducted any of the special patrols  since October.

Arpaio has repeatedly said people who are pulled over in his patrols were  approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed  crimes and that it was only afterward that officers found that many of them were  illegal immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow has issued rulings against Arpaio earlier in  the case.

In December, he barred Arpaio’s deputies who are enforcing Arizona’s 2005  immigrant smuggling law from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that  they’re in the country illegally. Arpaio has appealed that decision.

The judge also has reminded plaintiffs’ attorneys what they need to prove to  make their claim of systematic discrimination. At a March hearing, he told them  that to back up the racial profiling allegations, they must show Arpaio’s office  had a policy that was intentionally discriminatory.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys say they plan to do so, in part, by focusing on  their allegation that Arpaio launched some patrols based on racially charged  citizen complaints that alleged no actual crimes.

Separate from the two lawsuits that allege racial profiling, a federal grand  jury has been investigating Arpaio’s office on criminal abuse-of-power  allegations since at least December 2009 and is examining the investigative work  of the sheriff’s anti-public corruption squad.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/19/arizona-sheriff-arpaio-faces-allegations-racial-profiling-as-civil-trial-kicks/#ixzz2BC0bIai9

Global Public Square

By Ted Galen Carpenter, Special to CNN

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is the author of nine books on international affairs, including the just released The Fire Next Door: Mexico’s Drug Violence and the Danger to America. The views expressed are his own.

A striking feature of the presidential debate on foreign policy was the total lack of attention given to Latin America –notably the drug violence wracking our next door neighbor, Mexico. Nearly 60,000 people have perished since 2006 in the Mexican government’s military-led offensive against the country’s powerful, ruthless drug cartels. But while President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both obsessed about the Middle East, they virtually ignored Washington’s relations with our southern neighbors. After a brief observation from Romney near the start of the debate that the region offered important – and neglected – economic opportunities for the United States…

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Another bump in the road

 

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — To avoid disruptions from the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, a federal judge in New Orleans has postponed a trial for claims spawned by BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier announced during a hearing Friday that he is moving the start of the trial from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25. The trial is designed to identify the causes of BP’s deadly well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved in the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drilling project.

The NFL’s Super Bowl is Feb. 3 at the Superdome. Mardi Gras is Feb. 12, but parades begin weeks earlier.

Barbier, however, refused to postpone a Nov. 1 deadline for businesses and individuals to opt out of a multibillion dollar settlement between BP and private plaintiffs’ attorneys over economic damage claims from the spill. He also said he won’t delay a Nov. 8 fairness hearing on the proposed settlement.

Some plaintiffs’ attorneys who didn’t have a hand in brokering the deal had urged Barbier to extend the opt-out deadline, saying their clients need more time to decide whether it’s in their best interest to participate. Barbier said some claimants or their lawyers have a “fundamental misunderstanding” about how the process works.

“There is clearly sufficient — more than sufficient — transparency in this settlement,” he said.

Barbier said he was disturbed to hear reports that some attorneys with large stables of clients are advising them to opt out of the settlement en masse. The judge said it would be “highly inappropriate” for a lawyer to make that determination without individually assessing and analyzing each client’s claim.

Barbier also offered a word of caution for claimants who are thinking of opting out of the deal.

“Opting out will mean you’re opting to go it alone in individual lawsuits against the defendants,” he said, warning that it could take years for individual cases to be resolved.

Earlier this week, BP and the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys on the case urged Barbier to disregard objections to the proposed settlement and give it his final approval.

More than 200 people and groups formally objected to the deal, while 983 potential claimants had asked to opt out as of Oct. 19. More than 100,000 plaintiffs could benefit from the deal.

Brent Coon, a Beaumont, Texas-based attorney who says he represents about 14,000 clients with spill-related claims, has urged Barbier to amend the settlement terms so that claimants won’t have to decide whether to opt out until the claims administrator has determined how much money they are eligible to receive.

“There’s no reason why there should be pressure on claimants to make this decision,” Coon said.

BP, which estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve claims through the uncapped settlement, agreed to continue paying claims though a court-supervised process before the judge decides whether to give final approval.

Barbier said claimants have been paid or received offers worth a total of roughly $1.1 billion since a court-supervised process replaced the Gulf Coast Claims Facility overseen by claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg.

“It’s actually been pretty remarkable, in my opinion, how this has worked,” Barbier said.

 

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one more step for gay rights.

DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Appeals Court In New York

By LARRY NEUMEISTER  10/18/12 05:22 PM ET EDT AP

NEW YORK — Saying the gay population has “suffered a history of discrimination,” a divided federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled Thursday that a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was unconstitutional, adding fuel to an issue expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court soon.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seemed interested in adding its voice to several other rulings already at the high court’s doorstep by issuing its 2-to-1 decision only three weeks after hearing arguments on a lower court judge’s findings that the 1996 law was unconstitutional.

In a majority opinion written by Judge Dennis Jacobs, the 2nd Circuit, like a federal appeals court in Boston before it, found no reason the Defense of Marriage Act could be used to deny benefits to married gay couples. It supported a lower court ruling after a woman sued the government in 2010, saying the law required her to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax after her partner of 44 years died.

Jacobs, though, went beyond the Boston court, saying discrimination against gays should be scrutinized by the courts in the same heightened way as discrimination faced by women was in the 1970s. At the time, he noted, they faced widespread discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. The heightened scrutiny, as it is referred to in legal circles, would mean government discrimination against gays would be assumed to be unconstitutional.

“The question is not whether homosexuals have achieved political successes over the years; they clearly have. The question is whether they have the strength to politically protect themselves from wrongful discrimination,” said Jacobs, who was appointed to the bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush.

He said it was difficult to say whether gays were under-represented in positions of power and authority without knowing their true numbers.

“But it is safe to say that the seemingly small number of acknowledged homosexuals so situated is attributable either to a hostility that excludes them or to a hostility that keeps their sexual preference private – which, for our purposes, amounts to much the same thing,” Jacobs said.

Lawyer Paul Clement, who had argued in support of the law on behalf of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives, was traveling and did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which filed arguments with the appeals court before the ruling, called the decision “yet another example of judicial activism and elite judges imposing their views on the American people.”

He urged the Supreme Court to take up the case, saying: “The American people are entitled to a definitive ruling in support of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as 32 states have determined through popular vote.”

Dale Schowengerdt, an attorney with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defending Freedom, called the ruling “off base” and predicted the Supreme Court will disagree with it.

James Esseks, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the ruling “a watershed moment in the legal movement for lesbian and gay rights.”

“It’s fabulous news for same-sex couples in New York and other states,” he said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the decision echoed testimony before his committee that showed the law “has damaging effects on the lives of thousands of American families who are denied the same federal protections as millions of other Americans.”

The 2nd Circuit said the law’s “classification of same-sex spouses was not substantially related to an important government interest” and thus violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“It is easy to conclude that homosexuals have suffered a history of discrimination,” Jacobs said, noting that for many years in many states, homosexual conduct was criminal and that even the law’s supporters acknowledge that gays endured discrimination since at least the 1920s.

He said the law was written so broadly that it touches more than a thousand federal laws. “Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public,” Jacobs wrote.

He rejected arguments by supporters of the law that it was intended to limit new categories of eligibility for federal funds, promote uniform administration of federal law, protect traditional marriage and encourage responsible procreation.

“Even if preserving tradition were in itself an important goal, DOMA is not a means to achieve it,” he said.

Jacobs disputed arguments that same-sex couples have a diminished ability to discharge family roles in procreation and the raising of children, saying the arguments were “inconsistent with actual cases.”

And in a footnote, he said that to the extent the law’s supporters contend that “Congress’ laws might actually influence sexual orientation, there is no evidence to support that claim (and it strikes us as farfetched).”

Judge Chester J. Straub dissented, saying that if the government was to change its understanding of marriage, “I believe it is for the American people to do so.”

“Courts should not intervene where there is a robust political debate because doing so poisons the political well, imposing a destructive anti-majoritarian constitutional ruling on a vigorous debate,” he said.

The ruling came in a case brought by Edith Windsor. She sued the government in November 2010 because she was told to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax after her partner of 44 years, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. They had married in Canada in 2007.

“This law violated the fundamental American principle of fairness that we all cherish,” Windsor said in a statement. “I know Thea would have been so proud to see how far we have come in our fight to be treated with dignity.”

The law, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and affirms the right of states to refuse to recognize such marriages, was passed by bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton after it appeared in 1993 that Hawaii might legalize gay marriage. Since then, many states have banned gay marriage but several have approved it, including Massachusetts and New York.

The government defended the federal law until President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder in early 2011 directed attorneys to stop doing so. A government lawyer told the 2nd Circuit that the administration reviewed the law and concluded that it deserved a stricter view of what constituted discrimination than the legal reasoning that had previously been applied.

___

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Racism is Racism

My husband was recently in college.  He had a class on racism and he was amazed on what he learned about our society.  His professor showed a film at the beginning of class without any introduction.  In the film a man had a pick up truck and went to pick up a group of hispanic men at thier house.  He told the men that he had work for them and that he would pay them at the end of the day.  In the film the man took the hispanic men and drove them to the INS office.  These men immediately jumped out of the truck and started to run.  My husband stated that most of the people in the class started to laugh as the hispanic men took off running.  The teacher immediately cut off the film and asked the question.  If this same film was shown but it had Black illegal immigrants in the back of that truck would any of you have felt comfortable laughing at them?  My husband stated that the class became quiet.  Nobody responded.  The teacher then talked about how racism is bad no matter who it is against.  This country has worked hard to try to correct racism with the African American population but are we really working on getting rid of racism completely?  He talked about t.v. shows such as Family Guy and others that right out make fun of several different populations.  A character on the family guy is in a wheelchair and can not move his legs.  There are jokes made every show about his disabilities.  Social Justice at it’s  purest form is that every individual no matter race, sex, age, or disabiliity is equal.  America will have reached pure social justice when we do not feel comfortable laughing at any individual who is being oppressed.  America is having  a hard time with the “melting pot” that it is becoming.  We are individuals with our own history, morals, beliefs, attributes, etc.  When we learn how beautiful this is and how to work together to build America up, then we have learned about social justice.

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