Daniel Hamermesh is an economics professor emeritus who has taught at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) since 1993. This week, he announced that he would withdraw from his position next fall after the state passed a “campus carry” law, which will allow concealed handguns in classrooms, dorms, and other campus buildings.

“I don’t want to bear the increased risk of facing a student in my office that gets disgruntled and pulls a gun out on me,” he says.

Hamermesh, 72, says he will pursue teaching and academic opportunities at other institutions because his fear of being the target of on-campus gun violence has been “enhanced” with the new law, which goes into effect in August 2016—the 50th anniversary of a mass shooting at UT Austin that left 14 dead and 31 wounded.


By The Editorial Board

A  line of voters in Boston during the 2012 presidential election. CreditMatt Campbell/European Pressphoto Agency

In his victory speech after his re-election in 2012, President Obama offered special thanks to those Americans who had stood in long lines to vote — some of whom were still waiting even as he spoke — and then offhandedly added, “by the way, we have to fix that.”

The line got big applause, but now, three years later, much of the country is still far from fixing one major cause of the long lines: outdated voting machines and technologies.


By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

To fully get your mind around Hillary Clinton’s new, toothless plan to “Prevent the Next Crash” on Wall Street, you need to know a few things right up front. Hillary hails not from the Democratic Party that genuinely cares about America’s staggering wealth and income inequality and the plight of the little guy, but from a grotesquely disfigured hybrid organization informally known as the “Wall Street Democrats.”

In that hybrid organization, money trumps morals, duty to country and the public interest. It is a shrine to crony capitalism, infused with lawyers who believe “it’s legal if you can get away with it.” Just as Wall Street’s watchdogs suffer from regulatory capture, the Wall Street Democrats are afflicted with “cognitive capture,” a polite way of saying public officials covet the wealth they hang around with on Wall Street and expect equal earning power when they pass through the gold-plated revolving door.


… an (imaginary) error that HE won’t make!


Jeb Bush Says Brother Protected Voting Rights ‘Too Much’

— October 9, 2015

Under George W. Bush’s administration, the Department of Justice allowed voter ID laws and Bush appointed two Supreme Court Justices who ended up voting against the Voting Rights Act. Bush’s brother, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, still says George protected voting right too much.

Former President Bush did, however, sign legislation that reauthorized much of the Voting Rights Act, but Jeb Bush said on Thursday that move put too many “regulations on top of states.” Jeb also said that America has done enough to fight racist voter suppression laws. “There’s been dramatic improvement in access to voting,” he said.

Jeb’s claims are wrong. Republican-led states have exerted much effort in curbing minorities’ access and ability to vote. The state of Florida, for example, suffered from massive GOP efforts to institute voter ID laws, and the legislature engaged in rampant gerrymandering campaigns to split Democratic districts.

People like Jeb Bush are the problem. He’s either unaware or chooses to ignore the Republican war on minority voters.

For more on this story, visit ThinkProgress “Jeb Bush Says His Brother Did Too Much To Protect Voting Rights”

BY IAN MILLHISER About the Author
Joshua De Leon
Josh de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.

Jeb Bush Says His Brother Did Too Much To Protect Voting Rights


President George W. Bush is not a hero to voting rights advocates. His Justice Department gave the greenlight to voter ID laws, a common tactic by conservative lawmakers which prevents many younger, low-income and minority voters from casting a ballot. And Bush appointed two justices that joined the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision striking down much of the Voting Rights Act. Nevertheless, at an event in Iowa on Thursday, Bush’s own brother claimed that the former president did far too much to protect voting rights — and that he should have placed more emphasis on states rights instead.

Legislation President Bush signed reauthorizing much of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, according to Jeb, imposed too many “regulations on top of states.”

One of the most effective provisions of the Voting Rights Act, a provision that requires states with a history of racial voter suppression to “preclear” their new voting practices with officials in Washington before those practices can go into effect, was scheduled to sunset in 2007. Despite some of his other actions that were less supportive of voting rights, President Bush signed legislation extending these provisions for another 25 years. The Voting Rights Act, Bush said at the signing ceremony for this extension, “broke the segregationist lock on the ballot box.” He also offered a relatively nuanced understanding of America’s struggle with race. Though “we’ve made progress toward equality” since the Voting Rights Act became law, Bush acknowledged that “the work for a more perfect union is never ending.”

At his appearance in Iowa, by contrast, Bush’s brother Jeb suggested that America has done enough to fight racial voter suppression and that it is time to back off. In response to a questioner who asked whether the Voting Rights Act should be “reauthorized,” the former Florida governor and presidential candidate warned against placing “regulations on top of states as though we were living in 1960.” Bush claimed that “there’s been dramatic improvement in access to voting” since the Voting Rights Act was originally enacted, and thus there is not “a role for the federal government to play in most places . . . where they did have a constructive role in the sixties.”

Jeb’s comments largely echo the views expressed by the Republican majority on the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder, which effectively deactivated the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provisions in 2013. “Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for that majority. America, in Roberts’s view, has wiped away enough of its racist past that the “extraordinary measures” employed by much of the Voting Rights Act can no longer be justified.

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg likened Roberts’s decision to “throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” A major reason why so much progress has been made on voting rights, Ginsburg explained, is that the fully operational Voting Rights Act halted so much voter suppression.

Since Shelby County was handed down, a number of developments suggest that Ginsburg was right. Among other things, Texas announced just two hours after Roberts delivered his opinion that it would implement a gerrymandered map and a voter ID law that were blocked under the intact Voting Rights Act. Alabama made a similar announcement about its voter ID law shortly thereafter. North Carolina enacted a comprehensive voter suppression law, a kind of omnibus anti-voter bill that combined many tactics that were enacted piecemeal in other states, less than two months after Shelby County.

As Jeb’s statement suggests, in the years since Shelby County, Roberts’s position has become Republican orthodoxy. In 2014, coalition of lawmakers that did include some Republicans introduced a relatively weak bill seeking to restore some of the preclearance regime, but the bill languished. More than a year later, a frustrated Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a stronger bill.

In an interview with The Nation’s Ari Berman, Leahy said that the new bill was more robust because it not worth making changes to the bill in an attempt to garner Republicans support. “We made compromises to get [Republican] support and they didn’t keep their word,” Leahy told Berman. “So this time I decided to listen to the voters who had their right to vote blocked, and they asked for strong legislation that fully restores the protections of the VRA.”

It wasn’t always this way, however. The bill that George W. Bush signed garnered 390 votes in the House and 98 votes in the Senate. Not so long ago, support for voting rights was bipartisan.

TAGS George W. BushJeb BushJohn RobertsSupreme CourtVoting Rights Act

By Jonathan Pelto

In a stark reminder that action speaks louder than words, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU.

This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.


By Deirdre Fulton

Offering a first glimpse of the secret 12-nation “trade” deal in its final form—and fodder for its growing ranks of opponents—WikiLeaks on Friday published the final negotiated text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)’s Intellectual Property Rights chapter, confirming that the pro-corporate pact would harm freedom of expression by bolstering monopolies and injure public health by blocking patient access to lifesaving medicines.

The document is dated October 5, the same day it was announced in Atlanta, Georgia that the member states to the treaty had reached an accord after more than five years of negotiations.


By Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen and Karen Yourish

They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.


By Jeff Bryant

Arne Duncan’s surprise announcement to leave his post as secretary of education in December is making headlines and driving lots of commentary, but an important story lost in the media clutter happened three days before he gave notice.

On that day, Duncan rattled the education policy world with news of a controversial grant of $249 million ($157 million the first year) to the charter school industry. This announcement was controversial because, as The Washington Post reports, an audit by his department’s own inspector general found “that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools.”


By Robert Hennelly

One of the key planks in Donald Trump’s tax reform plan would end the practice of U.S. multinationals stashing hundreds of billions of dollars in offshore accounts to reduce their U.S. tax liability. These companies should be familiar to him: A review of Trump’s stock portfolio, as itemized in his financial disclosure form, shows he owns millions of dollars in stock in the same companies that have been most aggressive with these legal but controversial tax strategies.

“They think it is $2.5 trillion,” Trump told reporters earlier this month, referring to the amount of cash currently “stranded” offshore. “I think it is much more than that, and boy, if it is, we have hit pay dirt.”


Russian prosecutors have charged a prominent Ukrainian politician with inciting terrorism, after he called for Islamic State to attack Russian pilots involved in the campaign against ISIS in Syria.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, shared a message from a Facebook “friend”who wants to help ISIS militants take revenge against Russian forces in Syria “in accordance with Sharia law.”

Gerashchenko said he received a message on Facebook which said that “Russian propaganda channels” and Russian army in almost every report “show off” their military personnel in Syria.


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