January 13th, 2011
By Charing Ball, contributor, The Atlanta P0st
Could Obama’s new centrist agenda be a politically correct ploy to attract white voters back to the Democratic Party?
As enormous as it sounds, a compelling new analysis of various exit-poll results reveal that when it comes to party politics, race may be more of a factor than many of us are willing to believe.
The new data presented in the National Journal shows that white voters not only strongly preferred Republican House and Senate candidates, but have also expressed deep hostility toward the cornerstones of the current democratic agenda and President Obama’s overall job performance. The result of which has created a sort of white flight of registered voters from the Democrat Party.
Read the rest at The Atlanta Post.
October 31st, 2008
NAACP puts voting readiness lawsuit on hold. The NAACP says it would seek an immediate hearing on the lawsuit it filed to challenge wither the state of Virginia, an important battleground state in the upcoming election, has done enough to prepare for the potential onslaught of new voters expected to show up on Nov. 4, reports Virginia’s NBC29. The Virginia chapter of the venerable civil rights group filed the lawsuit earlier this week, asking that the state to increase the number of voting machines in places where heavy turnout is expected and lengthen the amount of time voters get to vote by another two hours. The nation’s first Black governor, L. Douglas Wilder, who is now the mayor or Richmond, Va., had also asked the state to extend voting ours by three hours. However, Gov. Kaine has said that the stat has adequately prepared for the increased number of voters expected to hit the polls for the presidential election on Tuesday. “We’ve taken big precincts, which maybe had too many people, and divided them into smaller precincts so the lines would be shorter,” Kaine said. The NAACP did not say why the organization changed its mind and decided not to ask for a hearing on its lawsuit Thursday or why it decided not to withdraw their complaint all together. While the NAACP did not make a statement, the organization reported is not planning to pursue the lawsuit any further until they find out how things go on Election Day. Get more election headlines here.
U.S. soldiers deaths in Iraq War at all-time low. Finally, some good news about the Iraq War. U.S. deaths are at an all-time low over a month-long period, according to Pentagon figures. In fact, October could well be the first month in which no U.S. service members were killed in combat in Baghdad. All told, as of Thursday, the Pentagon had reported 13 U.S. troops killed in combat and non-combat incidents this month in Iraq. If the number holds, thought, the number of deaths would tie July for the lowest monthly U.S. death toll of the 5½-year-old war. The war has claimed 4,189 U.S. service men and women since it started.
October 31st, 2008
Zambians cast their ballots for president. Voters in Zambia headed out to the polls Thursday to elect a new president, a successor to late President Levy Mwanawasa, who died of a stroke in August, reports Reuters. Although the campaign season has been generally peaceful, Patriotic Front opposition leader Michael Sata has accused the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy of rigging the vote. “I have never seen this type of panicking and this is because they have rigged the election,” said Sata as he was casting his ballot in the nation’s capital Lusaka. “They have rigged the election in favor of Rupiah Banda. It is the first time that the army commander, who is supposed to protect people, is predicting violence.” Rupiah Banda, who is currently serving as acting president, has a lot of experience. The nation’s election monitoring group, the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), has said that there were a few issues with voter identification and verification. But they also said that while an army chief threatened people who misbehaved after voting, it did not amount to a threat to all citizens. “For sure, it was unnecessary for the army commander to issue threats, it does intimidate, it does create fear in some ordinary citizens,” an FODEP official said.
Charity leaves Niger after lack of government response. The charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres) is set to pack up its bags and leave Niger, a region where they say they are desperately needed, reports the BBC. The charity was suspended from working in the country months ago but just recently decided to throw in the towel on charity work in the nation. “As we have not received a response from Niger authorities and in view of government statements, the French section of Medecins sans Frontieres cannot help but leave the country,” the group said in a statement. But Niger’s government says MSF is making the problem of malnourished children in the nation seem bigger than it really is; they also say the charity refuses to work with the government. And the country’s health minister said that the child hunger is something they are equipped to take care of; a statement that charity officials couldn’t disagree with more. “Maradi is one of the regions in Niger most affected by malnutrition. Since MSF’s activities in southern Maradi were halted, and despite an increase in admissions into other health centers and MSF projects in the surrounding areas, thousands of children are not receiving treatment,” said the president of MSF’s international board, Christophe Fournier. “It is shocking that a government, after having allowed innovative programs to be established, would ignore the needs of thousands of children.”
October 31st, 2008
Diabetes rates nearly double. New cases of diabetes nearly doubled over the last decade in the United States, a trend made worse by high rates of obesity and inactivity in the South, a study of 33 states found. The U.S. rate of diabetes increased to 9.1 cases for every 1,000 people in 2005-2007, up from 4.8 in 1995-1997, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s study. It’s the first study to describe the cases by geographic region, the agency said. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States and can lead to heart diseases, blindness, kidney failure and amputation, according to the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency. More than 23 million Americans have diabetes, and last year about 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed in people 20 or older, the CDC reports. African Americans are twice as likely to get diabetes as Whites, according to federal health figures. Studies have shown that obesity, idleness and too much sugary soda and fruit juice can increase risk of contracting the disease. For more on diabetes, go to BET.com/Body & Soul.
Voters: Major changes are needed in U.S. Health Care. Seven in 10 registered voters say major changes are needed in the U.S. health care system, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the Kaiser Family Foundation say. “Voters want a major change in health care,” said Robert J. Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, in the second article of a series of reports published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). “But a new administration is going to have to face the very real divide that exists between McCain and Obama supporters on the shape of future reform,” Blendon added. Health care is a major economic worry for many families, the researchers say. “People are having major problems getting and paying for health care and, if this trend continues, addressing health care as part of the nation’s economic turmoil may be a priority for the nation’s next president,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser president and CEO. While voters are dissatisfied with the current health care system, they have very different views about how the next president should fix it, particularly those who say they plan to vote for Sen. John McCain versus those intending to vote for Sen. Barack Obama. When asked to choose the most important issue relating to their vote choice, health care ranked second among Obama voters and tied for fourth among McCain voters. Further, while a large majority of voters favor changes in health care, supporters of the two candidates differ greatly on how to do it or how much of a change is necessary, the researchers found. The findings, however, confirm what surveys have shown in the past: that there is wide support for a variety of approaches to health care reform, though there may not be agreement on the best way to move forward.
October 28th, 2008
NAACP sues Va. over voting preparedness
. The Virginia NAACP sued Gov. Tim Kaine and state election officials on Monday, claiming that the state is “inadequately prepared” to handle the record numbers of voters expected to turn out in next week’s presidential election. The complaint was filed Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Richmond and says state officials have not set up enough polling sites to keep up with the turnout. “The allocation of polling place resources is plainly irrational, non-uniform and likely discriminatory,” the suit states. Read the rest here.
October 23rd, 2008
Voters throughout the South are overwhelming the polls
. Unprecedented numbers of early voters in Florida and other southern states are prompting election officials to add equipment, extend schedules and urge patience. About 150,000 people cast ballots in Florida, a key swing state, on Monday and Tuesday, the first two days of early voting. The Sunshine State is again a focal point of the election, with its 27 prized electoral votes up for grabs – 10 percent of the 270 needed to clinch the election. The state’s disputed election in 2000 gave the presidency to George W. Bush. This year, Republican John McCain and Democrat Obama are locked in head-to-head battle. The excitement over this year’s election has prompted hundreds of early voters to line up to cast their ballots in states nationwide, including in several key battleground states like Florida, Ohio and Nevada. Voters in every state can cast early ballots and results won’t be released until Nov. 4. About a third of the entire electorate is expected to vote early this year. In North Carolina, which also has 15 electoral votes, more than a half-million people have cast ballots, prompting at least one county to add several days to the schedule at a handful of sites. Metro Atlanta polling sites are reporting thousands of voters piling into the centers each day, with two-hour waits in some places. Georgia has 15 electoral votes up for grabs, and early voting there has doubled since that of 2004, officials report. Some 825,000 had cast their ballots by Wednesday, which amounts to about 15 percent of Georgia’s registered voters, The Associated Press reports.
October 16th, 2008
Accused Atlanta cop killer’s execution is set.
The state has set a time and date to execute Troy Anthony Davis, even as his advocates continue to insist Georgia is about to execute an innocent man, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Davis’ case drew international attention after seven of nine key prosecution witnesses against him recanted their testimony. They claimed they had been pressured to say they saw Davis shoot MacPhail in a Burger King parking lot. On Wednesday the Department of Corrections said on Oct. 27th, Davis will be put to death for killing off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. This is Davis’ third execution date in little more than a year. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles stopped the first one the day before Davis was to die by lethal injection on July 17, 2007. The U.S. Supreme Court stopped Davis’ second execution two hours before he was to die on Sept. 23 so the justices could decide if they would hear Davis’ case. Tuesday, the high court declined to step into the contentious debate over whether Davis is the real killer. Read the rest at BET.com.
First Black Selma, Ala., lawyer dies.
J.L. Chestnut Jr., the first Black lawyer in Selma and a prominent attorney in civil rights cases across a half century, has died at age 77, The Associated Press reports A Selma native who got his law degree at Howard University, Chestnut returned to his hometown in 1958 and became a key legal figure in the civil rights battles in Selma. Later, he defended Blacks in major voter fraud prosecutions and helped Black farmers make financial claims against the U.S. Agriculture Department. Read the rest at BET.com.
Ohio is ordered to verify eligible voters. A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered Ohio’s top elections official to set up a system by Friday to verify the eligibility of newly registered voters and make the information available to the state’s 88 county election boards. Democrats see the move as a way of denying thousands of new voters, many of who are Black, their right to vote. Read more of what the stakeholders have to say here.
October 7th, 2008
Health care rises as an independent voter concern
. While the economy continues to be the No. 1 issue that voters want the presidential candidates to address, health care has “crept up” as a priority among Independent voters in recent months, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation health policy survey. One in four (26 percent) independents ranks health care as one of the top issues they would “most like to hear the presidential candidates talk about.” Health care’s importance has risen among independents by 8 percentage points since April, according to the poll. Eleven percent of Republicans said health care is a priority – a new low – while the percentage of Democrats who said the issue is a priority remained about the same at 25 percent. Overall, the poll finds that among registered voters, health care ranks third, behind the economy and the Iraq war, as the issue that they want presidential candidates to discuss during the campaign. In addition, the poll finds that the number of adults who reported a serious problem “paying for health care and health insurance” increased by 6 percentage points from one month ago and now stands at 30 percent. The poll is part of a broader Kaiser Family Foundation effort to provide a place for resources and information about health policy issues in the 2008 election. More information is available online at health08.orgYou now have better mental health coverage. When President Bush signed the $700 billion bailout bill into law on Friday, he also approved a measure that improves mental health coverage. HR 1424 created mental health parity and would require group health plans for 51 or more employees to cover mental illnesses at the same level as they do physical ailments. It does not require the plans to cover mental health, but, if they do, the coverage must be equal. The mental health legislation was added to the larger bailout package as a means of enticing House members who voted against the previous bailout measure but supported a parity bill, according to the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report. Under the new law, the U.S. Department of Labor must submit biannual reports to Congress on group health plan compliance. The law allows managed care companies to refuse to pay for care if they deem it not medically necessary or “clinically appropriate,” but insurers must reveal their criteria for determining medical necessity and their reason for denying any mental health claim, according to The New York Times. The law takes effect next year. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) co-sponsored the mental health parity legislation with the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) as “the issue literally struck home” with both lawmakers, each of whom had family members with mental conditions and illness. Domenici said of the new law, “We are ushering in a new era of health care for those with mental illnesses.” The measure also received broad support from other lawmakers, including Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), reports CQ HealthBeat. The new mental health parity law will make it easier for patients with various conditions, such as depression, autism, schizophrenia, eating disorders and alcohol and drug addictions to seek treatment because it eliminates the restrictions of higher charges on treatments for mental illnesses and addictions. About 113 million people in the U.S., including 82 million people who are enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans that are not affected by state regulation, will benefit from the new law, federal health officials say. It is only expected to raise premiums by about two-tenths of 1 percent, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
June 19th, 2008
Not only is he beating McCain, but he’s even whipping him in battleground states
Sen. Hillary Clinton, during the heat of the primary battle against Sen. Barack Obama, argued that Democrats were better off voting for her because her young African-American rival didn’t stand a chance against Republican John McCain in the general election. But two new national surveys suggest that she might have violated the first rule of war: underestimating your opponent. Nationally, according to a Zogby poll released Wednesday, Obama is favored 47 percent to 42 percent over McCain; the Illinois senator has a stunning 22-point lead among Independents. In three of the battleground states, where Clinton said that only she could defeat McCain, Obama is also an early favorite. The Quinnipiac University polls have Obama beating McCain 52 percent to 40 percent in Pennsylvania , 48 percent to 42 percent in Ohio , and 47 percent to 43 percent in Florida . All three states are crucial building blocks to an election triumph for either candidate in November. And when it comes to women, McCain apparently hasn’t been successful in wooing disgruntled Clinton supporters. In Florida , Ohio and Pennsylvania , women are latching onto Obama’s message 10 percent to 23 percent of that of McCain. As for men; it’s “too close to call,” says Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Peter Brown said. “Finally getting Senator Hillary Clinton out of the race has been a big boost for Sen. Barack Obama,” he said. And not only has Clinton been wrong so far about Obama’s pull, but the Independent voters in all three states said they don’t want Clinton to be Obama’s presidential running mate. “Senator Obama is certainly not out of the woods, but these results are a good indication that he enters the summer slightly ahead in the race to be the next president,” Brown said. “If Senator Obama seriously is thinking about picking Senator Clinton as his running mate, these numbers might cause him to reconsider. …”The people who really matter come November – Independent voters – turn thumbs down on the idea. And, many say they are less likely to vote for him if he puts her on the ticket.”