Julia Beck, TERFs, and the Right Wing Form an Unholy Alliance

Included on the Judiciary Committee’s speakers list was Julia Beck, a 26-year-old lesbian, self-described radical feminist, and a member of the group Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF. But Beck was not there to testify in support of the Equality Act. Invited by Republican members of the committee, she was there to decry the protections that it would provide trans women. “If the act passes in its current form as HR5, then every right that women have fought for will cease to exist,” Beck asserted.

Beck is the latest trans-exclusionary radical feminist, or TERF, to become the darling of right-wing media and conservative politicians who, in recent years, have cloaked their transphobia by embracing the talking points of radical feminists like Beck. These seemingly odd bedfellows united publicly during the Equality Act hearing, where Republicans like Doug Collins and Louie Gohmert voiced their opposition to the Act in the name of women’s rights. The Equality Act, Gohmert said, represented “a war on women that should not be allowed.” Collins, an opponent of gay marriage and abortion rights, spoke approvingly of WoLF, before charging that the bill’s protections of trans people “would demolish the hard-won rights of women, putting them once again at the mercy of any biological man who identifies at any moment as a woman.”

via Julia Beck, TERFs, and the Right Wing Form an Unholy Alliance

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New Homeland Security Secretary, Same Anti-Immigrant Agenda | American Civil Liberties Union

Don’t be fooled, McAleenan does not represent a new leaf. He is deeply implicated in many horrors over the last two and a half years. He recommended, and refuses to apologize for, family separations. He led Customs and Border Protection during the Muslim ban and oversaw the agency when two children died in its custody, toddlers were teargassed, and families were held for days in the dirt under a bridge. He stayed silent when Border Patrol abetted militias. No matter his job title, he serves and leads in an administration ideologically committed to dehumanizing immigrants — and that regrettably remains unchanged.

via New Homeland Security Secretary, Same Anti-Immigrant Agenda | American Civil Liberties Union

Kamala Harris at NAACP Rally: Midwest Isn’t Just White People

Many of the 2020 Democratic primary candidates are obsessed with winning the Midwest—and in particular the storied white working-class voter, without whom, the conventional logic goes, they have no chance of taking back the White House. This logic is partly to explain for the front-runner status of Joe Biden, whose central campaign promise is that he can win over blue-collar white voters, as well as the rise of Pete Buttigieg, who regularly emphasizes his Midwestern credentials.

But on Sunday, speaking before a crowd gathered by the NAACP in Detroit, Senator Kamala Harris correctly noted that the Midwest has a sizable population of black voters and voters of color, and argued that winning the heartland will require appealing to these voters as well.

via Kamala Harris at NAACP Rally: Midwest Isn't Just White People

The Racist Roots of Denying Incarcerated People Their Right to Vote | American Civil Liberties Union

In the 15 years between 1865 and 1880, at least 13 states — more than a third of the country’s 38 states — enacted broad felony disenfranchisement laws. The theory was simple — convict them of crimes, strip away the right to vote, imprison them, and lease them out as convict labor and Blacks would be returned to a condition as close to slavery as possible.

No one tried to hide the intent of these laws.

In 1894, a white South Carolina newspaper argued that amendments to the voting laws were necessary to avoid whites being swept away at the polls by the Black vote. In 1901, Alabama amended its Constitution to expand disenfranchisement to all crimes involving “moral turpitude” — a vague term that was applied to felonies and misdemeanors. The president of that constitutional convention argued that manipulating the ballot to exclude Blacks was justified because of the need to avoid the “menace of Negro domination,” especially since Blacks were inferior to whites.

via The Racist Roots of Denying Incarcerated People Their Right to Vote | American Civil Liberties Union

Stephen Moore Awkwardly Tries to Defend Racist Obama Joke

Once upon a time in 2016, in the wake of President Trump’s election, conservative writer and policy advisor Stephen Moore decided to share a little joke.

“There’s that great cartoon going along that [shows] the New York Times headline ‘First Thing Donald Trump Does As President Is Kick a Black Family Out of Public Housing,’ and it has Obama leaving the White House,” Moore said, eliciting a chorus of groans and laughter from the audience. “I mean, I just love that one!”

Moore is now one of Trump’s nominees for the Federal Reserve Board. On Tuesday, PBS’s Margaret Hoover gave Moore an opportunity to address the racist joke, and Moore’s attempts at clarity quickly turned into a sputtering mess:

via Stephen Moore Awkwardly Tries to Defend Racist Obama Joke

Shamima Begum: IS bride ‘given legal aid’ for citizenship fight – BBC News

Legal aid has been granted for Shamima Begum – who joined the Islamic State group aged 15 – to fight the decision to revoke her UK citizenship.
The 19-year-old, who left east London in 2015, was stripped of her citizenship in February, after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp.
Her family has previously said it planned to challenge the decision.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Legal Aid Agency’s decision to assist Ms Begum made him “very uncomfortable”.
He added, however, that the UK was “a country that believes that people with limited means should have access to the resources of the state if they want to challenge the decisions the state has made about them”.
Legal aid is financial assistance provided by the taxpayer to those unable to afford legal representation themselves, whether they are accused of a crime or a victim who seeks the help of a lawyer through the court process.

via Shamima Begum: IS bride ‘given legal aid’ for citizenship fight – BBC News

Ilhan Omar: The 9/11 row embroiling the US congresswoman – BBC News

A Democratic congresswoman says she will not be silenced after facing a barrage of criticism over comments she made about the 9/11 attacks – including from Donald Trump.
The US president tweeted “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” alongside a video showing footage of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks spliced with a speech by Representative Ilhan Omar.
“Some people did something,” she is seen saying, in between footage of planes hitting the Twin Towers and people fleeing the buildings.
Republicans have accused her of downplaying the attacks, but Democrats have largely rallied to her defence, saying she had been quoted out of context and some accusing Mr Trump of inciting violence against her and Muslims. Here is how the row developed.

via Ilhan Omar: The 9/11 row embroiling the US congresswoman – BBC News

Ashley Judd On Georgia’s Abortion Ban: ‘I Would’ve Had to Co-Parent With My Rapist’

In March, Judd signed a letter in protest of the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, a bill recently passed by the Georgia House of Representatives that bans abortion after six weeks, well before many even realize they’re pregnant. While Georgia’s bill would make bad on Governor Brian Kemp’s promise to make Georgia the most difficult place in America to obtain a legal abortion, it’s just one of many Republican-led attempts to restrict abortion access. A similar bill in Mississippi bans abortion after 15 weeks. Meanwhile, a Texas lawmaker has put forth a bill that would classify abortion as homicide, making it punishable by death. The bill has virtually no chance of passing, but as Esther Wang points out, it is pretty indicative of the mindset of many anti-abortion groups.

via Ashley Judd On Georgia’s Abortion Ban: ‘I Would’ve Had to Co-Parent With My Rapist’

Here's Every 2020 Democrat's History on LGBTQ Rights

Democratic presidential hopefuls will face off in a public forum on LGBTQ issues this fall. The event, slated for National Coming Out Day on October 10, marks the first time Democratic candidates have debated queer issues since 2008, when Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, and Barack Obama faced off in a Human Rights Campaign Foundation forum.

A lot has changed in the past 11 years. For one thing, there’s an openly gay candidate in the race now (South Bend, IN, mayor Pete Buttigieg), reflecting the dramatic shift in attitudes toward LGBTQ people symbolized most prominently in the legalization of same-sex marriage. Whereas only one candidate in 2008—Kucinich, then an Ohio congressman—spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage, there is little apparent daylight between the 2020 candidates’ current stances on LGBTQ rights. There has also been a major cultural awakening around transgender rights and gender identity.

via Here's Every 2020 Democrat's History on LGBTQ Rights

Democrats Introduce Bill Requiring Tech Companies To Check Algorithms For Bias

Machine learning and artificial intelligence already powers a deceptively wide sweep of crucial processes and tools like facial recognition, self-driving cars, ad targeting, customer service, content moderation, policing, hiring, and even war. It’s a huge list, and sometimes it’s fun to sit back and marvel at how different all those uses are.

Exactly how those decisions are made and whether or not they’re fair, however, is often opaque or unknowable. That problem has led lawmakers to this attempt to pry open the “black box.”

The new bill would task the Federal Trade Commission with crafting regulations making companies conduct “impact assessments” of automated decision systems to assess the decision making systems and training data “for impacts on accuracy, fairness, bias, discrimination, privacy and security.”

via Democrats Introduce Bill Requiring Tech Companies To Check Algorithms For Bias