Prospective voters in Kansas were given different instructions for how and when to register to vote depending on whether they received the English- or Spanish-language voter guide issued by the Kansas secretary of state's office.
The English-language version correctly informed voters that they could register up to 21 days before an election. But the Spanish-language version told voters that they had only 15 days to register, according to the Kansas City Star. Passports were listed as a valid proof of citizenship in the English version; in the Spanish version, they were not.
Craig McCullah, who oversees publications in the secretary of state's office, apologized in the Star for the "administrative error" and said he was "diligently working to fix" the issue. He said the online versions were corrected within a day and the physical versions were sent to a translating service to eliminate discrepancies.
It's unclear exactly when the errors were introduced or whether the erroneous voter guides had an effect on registration for the state's presidential caucuses on March 5.
The botched voter guides, first flagged by a Democratic consultant in Daily Kos, have sparked the latest in a series of controversies over strict voter registration policies in Kansas under Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
A former Justice Department counsel in the George W. Bush administration and law professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Kobach was known for helping craft anti-immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia and for pushing the idea of self-deportation. Since becoming secretary of state in 2010, he has restricted access to the polls in Kansas and pursued criminal prosecutions for alleged instances of voter fraud, despite its rare occurrence. In 2013, even as the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring proof of citizenship for federal elections in Arizona, the state established a two-tier voter system that required Kansas residents to provide proof of citizenship to vote in state and local elections.
Kansas is one of several Republican-controlled states that imposed tighter voter restrictions after the 2010 midterm election. Those policies have prompted legal challenges from civil rights advocates, who argue that such restrictions affect young, minority, Democratic-leaning voters. In January, a Kansas district court judge, Franklin Theis, struck down the state's two-tier system, noting that Kobach, as secretary of state, "is not empowered to determine or declare the method of registration or create a method of 'partial registration' only." Kobach plans to appeal the ruling.
In February, the American Civil Liberties Union again challenged the state's voting policies, claiming the proof of citizenship requirement would keep at least 30,000 people, or 14 percent of Kansans who tried to register, off the voter rolls. The lawsuit is also seeking to prevent the state from tossing out more than 350,000 registration applications that are considered incomplete because prospective voters did not provide proof of citizenship.
More than 400 people protesting the role of big money in politics outside the U.S. Capitol were arrested on Monday. The non-violent demonstration, which was organized by the advocacy group Democracy Spring and involved members of over 100 individual groups, was the first of similar rallies planned for this week.
According to police, protesters on Monday were arrested for "unlawful demonstration activity" and charged with "crowding, obstructing, and incommoding."
At least two people are dead following a shooting at Texas' Lackland Air Force Base on Friday morning that is being investigated as an apparent murder-suicide. Authorities say the shooting occurred at around 8:40 a.m. local time.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has accepted an invitation to speak at the Vatican for a conference on social justice next week. The April 15 event, which will be hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, is scheduled to cover a number of the Democratic presidential hopeful's signature campaign issues, including income inequality and the environment.
Sanders' appearance at Vatican City will come just days before the New York primary on April 19.
"I am delighted to have been invited by the Vatican to a meeting on restoring social justice and environmental sustainability to the world economy," Sanders announced in a statement on Friday.
"Pope Francis has made clear that we must overcome 'the globalization of indifference' in order to reduce economic inequalities, stop financial corruption, and protect the natural environment. That is our challenge in the United States and in the world."
Bill Clinton was interrupted by a group of Black Lives Matter activists as he gave a speech on behalf of his wife, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, in Philadelphia on Thursday. The exchange quickly turned combative.
As the organizers criticized Hillary Clinton's involvement in the infamous 1994 crime bill, her husband initially responded by claiming he welcomed protesters. Then he turned more confrontational, shouting poverty statistics to defend the trends that emerged from the policies he helped enact, such as harsher criminal sentencing and the gutting of welfare programs.
"I love—look, at every campaign rally, I welcome the protesters," the former president said. "I had a guy in South Carolina interrupt me, and the crowd started booing him, and I said, 'No, let's be quiet and listen to him,' and let him say the same thing twice. I said, 'May I answer?' and he just kept screaming."
Clinton pleaded with the audience to "tell the whole story."
"I talked to a lot of African American groups, they thought black lives mattered," he said, referring to his crime bill. "They said to take this bill, because our kids are being shot in the street by gangs. We have 13-year-old kids planning their own funerals. She"—he pointed to a protester in the crowd—"don't want to hear any of that. You know what else she doesn't want to hear? Because of that bill, we had a 25-year low in crime, a 33[-year] low in the murder rate, and listen to this, because of that and the background check law, we had a 46-year low in the deaths of people by gun violence. And who you think those lives were? That mattered. Whose lives were saved?"
Clinton's remarks come almost a year after he renounced the very same crime bill, implying that he knew at the time that some of the sentencing provisions were too harsh, but that that concern was trumped by his desire to pass the overall bill. Clinton appeared to take the opposite stance on Thursday, asserting that the policies of his administration were worth it because of how many black lives were allegedly saved.
Amid chants of "HRC, HRC" from Hillary Clinton supporters in the crowd, Bill Clinton continued to shout statistics in an attempt to show the Philadelphia organizers that their anger was misplaced. Throughout his remarks, he repeatedly referred to some of the female protesters as "girls."
"I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out onto the street to murder other African American children," Clinton said. "You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth."
Just days after dismissing the revelation that his late father managed an offshore fund, calling it a "private matter," British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday admitted to having profited from the very same fund. According to Cameron, he sold his investments for £31,500 (around $44,300) before becoming Prime Minister.
"I want to be as clear as I can about the past, about the present, about the future because frankly I don't have anything to hide," Cameron told ITV News.
Cameron's admission contrasts with earlier statements he made concerning last weekend's massive Panama Papers leak. The 11.5 million files from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonesca traced a number of international leaders and their allies to complex offshore banking arrangements to avoid paying millions in taxes.
Since the leak, Cameron has repeatedly evaded reporters' questions about whether he profited from his father Ian Cameron's offshore trust. When asked by Sky News on Tuesday about whether he benefited from the fund at the time, or stood to earn profits in the future, Cameron only answered in present day terms: "I have no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that."
Cameron's concession is the latest development in the "Panama Papers" leak. After being named in the documents, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and Austrian banking CEO Michael Grahammer have both resigned from their posts. The offices of FIFA's newly-minted president have also been raided.
On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first US city to require that all new parents—mothers, fathers, and same-sex partners—get fully paid parental leave for six weeks after giving birth or adopting a child. The new law follows the efforts by tech companies in the area, including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Twitter, to offer employees robust parental leave policies in an effort to increase work-life balance.
California is one of only five states that already offers some form of parental leave, but this new city-wide law is one of the most generous in the country. Workers in the Golden State now get six weeks off, but they receive just 55 percent of their pay. New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar laws, and Washington state recently passed a parental leave law that has not taken effect. In March,the New York legislature approved a parental leave policy that will cover 12 weeks of paid time off, though the law will go into effect in 2018 and will initially cover only 50 percent of average pay.
The United States, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, is the only developed country that does not guaranteeall new parents paid parental leave. Expectant mothers get 18 weeks of paid leave in Australia, 39 weeks in the United Kingdom, and 480 days in Sweden.
For workers in both California and New York, paid parental leave was one of two victories this week.Governors in both statesalso signed legislation Monday that will increase the minimum wage in each state to $15 an hour, to be phased in over about seven years. The higher wages, which are more than double the federal minimum wage, will affect roughly 60 million Americans. President Barack Obama responded to the wage increases by asking Congress to follow suit.
"Since I first called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage in 2013, 18 states and more than 40 cities and counties have acted on their own—thanks to the strong leadership of elected officials, businesses, and workers who organized and fought so hard for the economic security families deserve," he said in a statement. "Now Congress needs to act to raise the federal minimum wage and expand access to paid leave for all Americans."
Global soccer may be embroiled in yet another corruption crisis after Swiss police raided the offices of UEFA, the sport's European governing body, on Wednesday. The raid came days after Gianni Infantino, UEFA's former chief and the newly installed president of FIFA, appeared in the massive Panama Papers leak, which exposed the complex offshore banking arrangements of some of the world's most powerful people.
According to the Guardian, those documents show that Infantino co-signed a UEFA broadcast rights deal in 2006 with two Argentinian businessmen, Hugo and Marino Jinkis, who are now under indictment as part of the United States' global soccer corruption investigation. The men immediately resold the rights to Ecuador's TV station Teleamazonas at a steep markup, and the documents potentially tie Infantino to both that deal and other illicit acts by the Jinkis'.
Infantino was UEFA's director of legal services at the time, and he said in a statement yesterday that the contract was awarded properly and that he had no direct dealings with either of the two men or their company. "There is no indication whatsoever for any wrongdoings from neither UEFA nor myself in this matter," he said.
Infantino was only elected FIFA president in February, following months of scandal during which the US and Swiss authorities arrested a string of FIFA officials and the organization banned its former president, Sepp Blatter,from any soccer-related activities for six years.
At the time, Infantino promised to turn the page on FIFA's corruption problems and implement badly needed reforms. "We will restore the image of FIFA and the respect of FIFA, and everyone in the world will applaud us," he said after his election.
A federal judge in West Virginia sentenced former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to a year in prison on Wednesday for conspiring to commit mine safety violations at his company's Upper Big Branch mine during a period leading up to the explosion there that left 29 miners dead in 2010.
Blankenship was convicted of the misdemeanor charge in December, but the conviction was explicitly not linked to the Upper Big Branch disaster itself and Blankenship's attorney worked hard to ensure the accident was hardly mentioned during the trial. And that verdict was a disappointment to prosecutors; he was found not guilty of the more serious felony charges of making false statements to federal regulators in the aftermath of the blast in order to boost Massey's stock price. (Had he been convicted on all counts, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison.) The conspiracy conviction rested on evidence of Blankenship's domineering management style, which emphasized profits over the federal mine safety laws designed to avert underground explosions:
[T]he attention to detail that made Blankenship such an effective bean counter may also be his undoing. He constantly monitored every inch of his operation and wrote memos instructing subordinates to move coal at all costs. "I could Krushchev you," he warned in a handwritten memo to one Massey official whose facilities Blankenship thought were underperforming. He called another mine manager "literally crazy" and "ridiculous" for devoting too many of his miners to safety projects. Despite repeated citations by the MSHA, Blankenship instructed Massey executives to postpone safety improvements: "We'll worry about ventilation or other issues at an appropriate time. Now is not the time." And this is only what investigators gleaned from the documents they could find: Hughie Stover, Blankenship's bodyguard and personal driver—and the head of security at Upper Big Branch—ordered a subordinate to destroy thousands of pages of documents, while the government's investigation was ongoing. (Stover was sentenced to three years in prison in 2012 for lying to federal investigators and attempting to destroy evidence.)
Before he stepped down as Massey's CEO in 2010, Blankenship had built the company into one of the largest coal producers in the United States and become a polarizing figure in his home state, where he bankrolled the rise of the Republican Party, pushed climate denial, and crushed unions. For more on Blankenship, read my piece from the magazine on his rise and fall.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump ignited a firestorm last week when he said that he wants to outlaw abortion and punish women who obtain abortions anyway. He soon clarified his comment, suggesting that women who get abortions should not be penalized. But most recently, he doubled down on his initial statement.
Here's the chronology: During an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews last Wednesday, Trump said that abortion should be banned and that "there has to be some form of punishment" for women who obtain abortions once they are outlawed. Faced with immediate criticism from both anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights groups, his campaign issued a statement saying that Trump believed that only the abortion provider, not the woman, should be held legally responsible.
But a few days later, on Saturday, Trump essentially reaffirmed his initial comments. His answer to Matthews' question was "excellent," Trump told talk radio host Joe Pags, in an interview flagged on Tuesday by the liberal website Right Wing Watch. Here's the exchange:
TRUMP: A lot of people thought my answer was excellent, by the way. There were a lot of people who thought that was a very good answer. It was a hypothetical question. I didn't see any big deal and then all of a sudden there was somewhat of a storm. And you know, it's interesting, this morning I'm hearing two hosts on television that were critical and they said, "We really thought his first answer was very good." Because you can't win. "We thought it was good, what was wrong with his first answer?" And I heard a pastor, who is a fantastic pastor, saying, "Well, you know, if you think about it, his first answer was right"…
PAGS: Well, your answer was consistent with conservatism but Chris Matthews has an agenda, so I'm not even wondering about the question because I thought it was loaded and stupid and hypothetical.
TRUMP: It was disgraceful.
PAGS: Why go on the show? Why go?
TRUMP: I heard people defending it today. Now they defend it. Now they say, "It was really right." The whole thing is just so—look, the press is extremely unfair.
Trump, though, was not done with this subject. The next day, he had yet another position on abortion. He appeared on CBS's Face the Nation and stated that the current law on abortion should not be changed. Once again, his campaign had to renovate his message. It quickly walked back this statement, asserting that Trump meant the law will remain the same "until he is President."