Tag Archives: discrimination

Trump signs revised executive order for travel ban, reaction to ban 2.0

President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order for a U.S. travel ban on Monday, leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries.

More than two dozen lawsuits were filed in U.S. courts against the original travel ban and the state of Washington succeeded in having it suspended by the 9th Circuit court of Appeals by arguing that it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.

The new order, which the White House said Trump had signed, will keep a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations — Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the officials said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said earlier on Monday that the new order would take effect on March 16. The new directive delays implementation.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Monday, “As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country.”

A White House senior official said Iraq was taken off the list in the original order, which was issued on Jan. 27, because the Iraqi government has imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants.

The White House official said the new executive order also ensures that tens of thousands of legal permanent residents in the United States — or green card holders — from the listed countries would not be affected by the travel ban.

Trump’s original order barred travelers from the seven nations from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. Refugees from Syria were to be banned indefinitely but under the new order they are not given separate treatment.

“This executive order has scrapped that division and the indefinite suspension and has collapsed them into a single category of a 120-day suspension,” the White House official said.

Still, the new order is drawing widespread criticism among progressives who challenged the first executive order and many other actions by the president.

“Version 2.0 of the Trump anti-Muslim executive order is still based entirely on religious hatred and thinly-veiled racism,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. ” He is still targeting specific countries; he is telegraphing his despicable anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-people of color views. This version is still completely against core American values such as freedom of, and from, religion; it still diminishes our stature as a global partner for humanitarianism by denying vulnerable refugee families some basic respite — solely on the basis of their faith.”

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said, “Courts across the country have made clear: President Trump is not above the Constitution. While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear. This doesn’t just harm the families caught in the chaos of President Trump’s draconian policies — it’s diametrically opposed to our values, and makes us less safe.”

“The changes the Trump administration has made, and everything we’ve learned since the original ban rolled out, completely undermine the bogus national security justifications the president has tried to hide behind and only strengthen the case against his unconstitutional executive orders,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

UW student group wants free tuition for black students

Black students should be offered free tuition and housing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to compensate for historic discrimination and today’s socio-economic barriers, the student government recommends.

Black students were banned from education during slavery, and UWM remains out of reach for most black students today. Both factors are reflected in the current black enrollment of only 2 percent.

The Associated Students of Madison said in a resolution that students from suburban high schools are overrepresented and that the consideration of ACT and SAT scores in applications restricts opportunities for the poor in general.

Race relations have been a contentious issue at the Wisconsin’s flagship campus for months, and the university has proposed some measures aimed at improving diversity.

“The university’s rhetoric suggests that it is committed to diversity and inclusion, so this legislation compels the university to move towards action — which is imperative,” the resolution’s author, ASM Student Council Rep. Tyriek Mack, said in a statement. “If no one challenges the university’s empty promises, then the racial composition will remain stagnant.”

The resolution demands free access to the university for all black people, including free tuition, free housing and no fees, Mack said. It says 10 percent of donations to the university should go toward bolstering financial aid and studying the feasibility of test-optional and geographically weighted admissions.

University spokeswoman Meredith McGlone noted the proportion of “students of color” has grown from 11 percent to 15 percent over the last decade. She said the school supports the spirit of the resolution but that it’s unclear whether the methods it proposes are legal or the best way to accomplish those goals.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank has proposed giving first-generation transfers from two-year schools free tuition for a year, contingent on funding in the upcoming state budget. A recent $10 million donation will be invested in expanding the Chancellor’s Scholarship Program, which supports minorities, McGlone said.

ACT and SAT scores are not the only factor in UW admissions, but their inclusion is required under regent policy, McGlone said.

Last spring, pictures of swastikas and Adolf Hitler were posted on a Jewish student’s door, someone hurled racial slurs and spat at a black student in a dorm, and police arrested a black student during class for spray-painting anti-racist messages on campus buildings.

Minority students spent the semester pressuring administrators for change.

Last month, a student who was imprisoned for burning down two black churches tried to start a white supremacist group on campus. He abandoned his efforts following intense backlash, but the student government criticized Blank for saying he had a legal right to express his views.

The university in August proposed building a black cultural center, introducing discussions about social differences and expanding ethnic studies courses and diversity training for all faculty and staff.

In-state undergraduate tuition has been frozen for four years and Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a 5 percent tuition cut for resident undergraduates in the second year of the upcoming state budget. Representatives of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee haven’t responded to an email seeking comment.

Mike Mikalsen, an aide to state Sen. Steve Nass, a Republican and one of UW’s most outspoken critics, called ASM a waste of student fees.

Trump fumes, vows to act after judge lifts travel ban

President Donald Trump denounced a federal judge who lifted the travel ban he had imposed on citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries, vowing that his administration would reinstate it as affected travelers scrambled to try to quickly enter the United States.

Last weekend thousands of people who had tickets to travel or immigrate to the United States were stopped in their tracks by Trump’s executive order to restrict entry for refugees and for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

But a federal judge in Seattle on Feb. 3 temporarily blocked Trump’s order, allowing travel to resume.

The Justice Department is expected to quickly argue in court to reverse that decision.

In the meantime, people with valid visas were trying to book flights.

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” read Trump’s Twitter account. It is unusual for a president to attack a member of the judiciary, which is an independent arm of the U.S. government.

The court ruling was the first move in what could be months of legal challenges to Trump’s push to clamp down on immigration. His order set off chaos at airports across the United States last week where travelers were stranded and thousands of people gathered to protest.

“When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security – big trouble!” read the tweet on Trump’s account.

The Washington state lawsuit is the first to test the broad constitutionality of Trump’s travel ban, which has been condemned by rights groups that consider it discriminatory.

The State Department said almost 60,000 visas had been suspended because of Trump’s ban.

TRAVELERS MOVE WITH HASTE

In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, Fuad Sharef and his family prepared to fly on Feb. 4 to Istanbul and then New York before starting a new life in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I am very happy that we are going to travel today. Finally, we made it,” said Sharef, who was stopped from boarding a New York-bound flight last week.

“I didn’t surrender and I fought for my right and other people’s right,” he told Reuters.

Trump’s executive order caused confusion from the time it was signed as border agents tried to figure out who it applied to and many legal permanent residents — “green card” holders — from the seven countries were temporarily detained at airports while trying to return to the United States.

At Dulles International Airport outside Washington on Feb. 4, Cleveland gastroenterologist Maher Salam waited for his mother, Rukaieh Sarioul, to arrive from Riyadh.

Sarioul, a Syrian citizen who has a U.S. green card, was supposed to arrive a week ago but had delayed her plans because of the order.

Salam called Trump’s order “very discriminatory.”

“You cannot really separate the executive order from the rhetoric that Mr. Trump used during the campaign,” he said.

OnFeb. 4, a group of immigration lawyers, some holding signs in English and Arabic, gathered at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, offering services to passengers arriving from overseas destinations.

“This is an instance where people could really slip through the cracks and get detained and nobody would know,” said John Biancamano, 35, an attorney volunteering his services.

And, in New York City, people protesting Trump’s travel ban gathered at the Stonewall Inn, site of the historic riots that launched the modern LGBT civil rights movement.

‘IN GOD’S HANDS’

The Department of Homeland Security said  it would return to normal procedures for screening travelers but that the Justice Department would file for an emergency stay of the order “at the earliest possible time.”

Some travelers told Reuters they were cautious about the sudden change. Overnight, some international airlines were uncertain about whether they could sell tickets to travelers from the countries listed in Trump’s ban.

“I will not say if I have hope or not. I wait, watch and then I build my hopes,” said Josephine Abu Assaleh, who was stopped from entering the United States after landing in Philadelphia last week with five members of her family.

Abu Assaleh, 60, and her family were granted U.S. visas in 2016, some 13 years after they initially made their applications.

“We left the matter with the lawyers. When they tell us the decision has been canceled, we will decide whether to go back or not,” she told Reuters in Damascus, speaking by telephone.

Virtually all refugees also were barred by Trump’s order, upending the lives of thousands of people who had spent years seeking asylum in the United States.

The court decision sent refugee advocacy and resettlement agencies scrambling to help people in the pipeline.

Iraqi refugee Nizar al-Qassab, 52, told Reuters in Lebanon: “If it really has been frozen, I thank God, because my wife and children should have been in America by now.”

He said his family had been due to travel to the United States for resettlement on Jan. 31. The trip was canceled two days before that and he was now waiting for a phone call from U.N. officials overseeing their case.

“It’s in God’s hands,” he said.

U.N.: Tourism to suffer under Trump’s travel ban

The U.S. travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries will affect demand for travel to the United States, the UN World Tourism Organization said this week.

Alongside widespread protests at airports, the executive order by President Donald Trump has led to criticism from airlines and the travel industry.

“Besides the direct impact, the image of a country which imposes travel bans in such a hostile way will surely be affected among visitors from all over the world and risk dumping travel demand to the United States,” UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai said in a statement on Tuesday.

Seeking to capitalize on the restrictions, companies and officials in Asia said they would target greater tourism and education ties with Muslims worried about the curbs.

The White House has said the move to put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, is to protect U.S. citizens.

UNWTO’s Rifai said it may worsen security risks.

“Global challenges demand global solutions and the security challenges that we face today should not prompt us to build new walls; on the contrary, isolationism and blind discriminatory actions will not lead to increased security but rather to growing tensions and threats,” he said.

U.S. airlines’ shares dropped on Monday over concerns on the impact of the immigration order, although analysts have said they did not expect a material impact for now.

The World Travel and Tourism Council, representing travel industry executives, also on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to rethink the ban, saying the travel and tourism sector was responsible for the livelihoods of millions worldwide.

“The U.S. has suffered in the past from similar isolationist policies. We urge the Trump administration to reconsider this ban,” WTTC President and CEO David Scowsill said in a statement.

The WTTC estimates the travel and tourism industry directly contributed 2.7 percent of the U.S. total gross domestic product in 2015.

Trump’s nominee for Labor oversaw restaurants that violated labor regs

More than 100 food and agriculture organizations, representing more than 10 million, sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging senators to oppose the confirmation of fast food CEO Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor.

The call from the farmers, food-system workers and public health advocates, led by Corporate Accountability International, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Friends of the Earth and Real Food Media comes on the heels of growing opposition and controversy surrounding Trump’s pick to head the Department of Labor.

A recent Capital & Main investigation found that under Puzder’s watch as CEO, CKE Restaurants faced more federal employment discrimination lawsuits than any other major fast food chain. The corporation violated workers’ rights, including wage theft and failed to provide employees with overtime pay.

“Andrew Puzder is dangerous for working families and bad for our food system,” Jose Oliva, co-director of Food Chain Workers Alliance, said in a news release. “The country needs a labor secretary who will protect working families, not corporate interests. Puzder’s track record as CEO of CKE Restaurants proves that he should be kept as far away from Washington as possible.”

The letter calls the nomination of Puzder a betrayal of the president’s promise to “improve the lives of working people” and urges senators to reject Puzder’s nomination. The letter also expresses concern with the conflicts of interest between Puzder’s tenure at CKE Restaurants and the responsibilities of a labor secretary, including the fact that:

• Puzder’s company has faced numerous Department of Labor violations for failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime.

  • Sixty percent of inspections at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants found labor law violations.
  • Puzder has opposed raising the minimum wage.
  • Puzder has opposed enforcing overtime rules and mandatory sick leave.

Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and technology at Friends of the Earth, said, “The Senate must reject the nomination of Puzder if it cares at all about the basic rights of working people.”

Since Puzder’s nomination, advocacy groups have documented numerous workers’ rights violations under the watch of the former fast food CEO. Research released by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United reveals a history of labor violations at CKE Restaurants during Puzder’s tenure.

Surveys from hundreds of CKE employees reveal women working at CKE reported more than 1.5 times the rate of sexual harassment as reported for the industry overall.

“The choice of Andrew Puzder for secretary of labor is a dangerous one for this country’s working families,” said Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability International. “If President Trump truly wants to ‘drain the swamp’, why is he nominating people like Puzder, who have played an outsized role creating the swamp in the first place?”

In January, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s workers joined the Fight for $15 in opposing Puzder’s nomination, taking part in actions in more than two dozen cities.

“Across the country, millions of people are demanding real change when it comes to our food system and the people who work in it,” said Anna Lappé, founder of Real Food Media. “Our Department of Labor must reflect those people — not corporate bottom lines. It is unacceptable to nominate someone who has such a callous attitude to the struggles of working families to head the labor department.”

The organizations signed onto the letter include the Union of Concerned Scientists, Earthjustice, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Workers’ Center of Central New York and many others.

Puzder’s senate confirmation hearing is set for Feb. 7.

Study: Racial disparities found in police traffic stops

A study of statewide police traffic stops in Vermont, the second-whitest state in the country, has found racial disparities in how police treat drivers.

Black drivers were four times more likely than whites to be searched after traffic stops, and Hispanic drivers were nearly three times more likely, according to the University of Vermont study, Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont. At the same time, black and Hispanic drivers were less likely than white and Asian drivers to be found with contraband that leads to an arrest or citation, according to the report, which was based on 2015 data.

Black and Hispanic drivers also were more likely than white drivers to get traffic tickets versus warnings, and black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested after stops, the study said.

“Almost all of the agencies in our study exhibit disparities in traffic policing to one degree or another,” said study co-author Stephanie Seguino, a professor in the university’s Department of Economics. “In other words, the results are not uniquely attributable to one or two agencies, but it’s really a widespread problem in terms of policing.”

One of the reasons some police officers use to explain the higher rate of searches of black drivers versus white drivers is concerns about the opioid crisis and drugs coming in from out of state, and there’s a racial component to those perceptions, Seguino said. But the study found white and Asian drivers were more likely than black or Hispanic drivers stopped to be found with contraband.

Vermont, which has a population of about 625,000, was 94.8 percent white the year the policing study was done, according to U.S. Census figures. Only Maine, at 94.9 percent, was whiter. Blacks made up 1.3 percent of the Vermont population, Hispanics 1.8 percent and Asians 1.6 percent.

The study looked at traffic stop data from 29 departments across Vermont, following a 2014 state law that required police to collect such race information. But many agencies had missing data in key categories, said co-author Nancy Brooks, of Cornell University, who said more work is needed to improve the data quality.

Police treatment of drivers varied among departments, the study found.

In Rutland, for example, police searched black drivers at a rate of more than six times that of white drivers while white drivers searched were found with contraband at a higher rate than black drivers.

Rutland police Chief Brian Kilcullen, who has been on the job since November 2015, said he was somewhat surprised by the findings.

“You start with awareness, and that’s what this does,” he said of the report, adding that the police department has done training sessions.

Burlington police Chief Brandon del Pozo said his department is seeing an improvement in the rate at which searches lead to contraband, called the hit rate, meaning police are doing fewer unnecessary searches.

To reduce the racial disparities, the report’s authors recommend creating a standardized system for collecting data, giving officers feedback on their performance during stops, supporting police departments in giving frequent training sessions on bias and monitoring disparities annually.

NAACP: Block Sessions for attorney general

NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement opposing the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general:

America yet stands at the beginning of presidential administration but also in the middle of a Twitter age civil rights movement based on old divisions.

U.S. Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is among the worst possible nominees for attorney general amid some of the worst times for civil rights in recent memory.

Following a divisive presidential campaign, hate crimes rising, police videos sickening the stomach while quickening the conscience, protesters marching in the streets and politicians mouthing the myth of voter fraud while denying the reality of voter suppression, Senator Sessions is precisely the wrong man to lead the Justice Department.

The NAACP, as the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, opposes the nomination of Senator Sessions to become U.S. attorney general for the following reasons:

• a record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse;

• a failing record on other civil rights;

• a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior;

• and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.

Voting Rights

Senator Sessions supported the re-authorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006, but called the bill “a piece of intrusive legislation” just months earlier. Sessions has consistently voted in favor of strict voter ID laws that place extra burdens on the poor and residents of color, and drive voter suppression across the country. When the Supreme Court struck down federal protections in 2012 that prevented thousands of discriminatory state laws from taking effect since 1965, Sessions declared it was “a good thing for the South.” As a prosecutor in 1985, Sessions maliciously prosecuted a former aide to Martin Luther King for helping senior citizens file absentee ballots in Alabama.

Rather than enforcing voting rights protections, Senator Sessions has instead made a career of seeking to dismantle them. When Shelby County v. Holder gutted the protections of the VRA, Senator Sessions cheered. For decades, he has pursued the rare and mystical unicorn of voter fraud, while turning a blind eye to the ever-growing issue of voter suppression.

While Senator Sessions’ historical record on civil rights remains one of dismay, it is his unrepentant stance against the vote that remains our issue. The threat of voter suppression is not a historical but current challenge. At least 10 times in the past 10 months, the NAACP defended voting rights against coordinated campaigns by legislators targeting African-American voters in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and many other states.

While the NAACP could gain the assistance of the Justice Department in fighting back against voter suppression, a Sessions-led DOJ would likely lead to the exact opposite.During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach’s commitment to democracy allowed him to help write the VRA. Today, our nation stands on the verge of selecting an AG who has never shown the slightest commitment to enforcing the protections Katzenbach and others wrote into law. 

How can our communities who have born the both historical and current brunt of the attacks on the right to vote, sit idly by while an enemy to the vote is now given the responsibility of enforcing this right? The simple answer is that we can’t. 

Other Civil Rights

Since 1997, Senator Sessions has received an F every year on the NAACP’s federal legislative civil rights report cards. He’s voted against our policy positions nearly 90 percent of the time. Senator Sessions has repeatedly supported lawsuits and attempts to overturn desegregation while shamelessly voting against federal Hate Crime legislation four times from 2000 to 2009.

Notwithstanding, he has also repeatedly voted against the Violence Against Women Act that expanded protection for victims of domestic violence and repeatedly stood on the wrong side of immigration and LGBT issues.

Racial Insensitivity

During his failed 1986 federal judgeship hearing, four DOJ attorneys and colleagues of Senator Sessions testified that he made several racist statements. J. Gerald Hebert testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as “un-American” and “Communist inspired” because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.

Additional accusations of racist behavior were attributed to Senator Sessions by Thomas Figures, an African American Assistant U.S. Attorney, who testified that Sessions said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, but did apologize for it. Mr. Figures also testified that on one occasion, Senator Session railed against civil rights cases, threw a file on the table and called him the derogatory racist term “boy,” and later advised Figures to watch what he said to white people.

Criminal Justice Reform

In a time of expanding protests against the scourge of police brutality, Senator Sessions stands on opposite ground. He has repeated stood against the consent decree, a main tool of the DOJ to reel in racist and unaccountable police departments. In a report by the Alabama Policy Institute, Senator Sessions called consent decrees: “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.”

While under the administration of President Barack Obama, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division made investigating police departments charged with racism and police brutality a key focus by intervening in high-profile cases in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland to impose consent decrees and reforms to correct misbehavior and the violation of citizen’s civil rights.

Senator Sessions would become the Attorney General under a president who supports nationalizing the racist and disproven “stop and frisk,” strategy. Both Sessions and the incoming president are supporters of the DOD 1033 program which allows police department’s access to surplus military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, grenade launchers and more. He also opposes the removal of mandatory minimum sentences and blocked efforts to reduce nonviolent drug sentencing despite wide bi-partisan support for doing so. If not enough, Senator Sessions has repeatedly voted against safe, sane, and sensible measures to stem the tide of gun violence.

Given that these are issues our nation the attorney general is sworn to protect and enforce his nomination represents an ongoing and dangerous threat to our civicbirthrights –particularly, and the right to vote.

We call upon the Senate to reject Sessions and for President-elect Donald J. Trump to replace Sessions with a nominee with a record of inclusion and commitment to protecting the civil rights of the American majority.

The NAACP does not believe that an election where the incoming president lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes represents a mandate to overhaul the America of the Majority. The vote remains the most important resource in making democracy real for all people.

As we have since 1909, the NAACP will continue to stand against Senator Sessions and any attempts to unravel the progress earned through the blood, sweat and tears of our people to enjoy the same rights under law as all Americans.”

Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Failed deal to undo anti-LGBT law marks rocky start for governor

North Carolina’s next Democratic governor has seen a deal he helped broker to repeal the state’s law limiting LGBT protections fall apart and had several of his powers stripped away by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature.

And he hasn’t even been sworn in yet.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper has vowed to keep his campaign promises to bend back the rightward course of the state.

But with only a 10,000-vote victory over GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and bitter partisan distrust in this deeply divided state, he’s already slipped along the rocky path he must walk to work successfully with the legislature. And Republicans will maintain veto-proof majorities in 2017.

“My future negotiations with them are certainly going to have to be instructed by this,” a somber yet angry Cooper told reporters after the deal to repeal the law known nationally as the “bathroom bill” collapsed.

Two December special sessions, one of which saw raucous protests against Republicans and dozens of arrests, have created further strain in a divided state that chose Republicans Donald Trump for president and Richard Burr for U.S. Senate but went with a Democrat for governor.

“There’s a complete lack of trust between the legislative leadership and Cooper at this point in time,” longtime state Democratic consultant Brad Crone said. “That does not bode well for an incoming governor.”

Missing out on ending House Bill 2 — which also directed transgender people to use bathrooms in public buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate — prompted finger-pointing between Cooper and legislative leaders. It would have been a major accomplishment to repeal a bill that has been blamed for job losses, canceled concerts and sporting events and staining North Carolina’s reputation.

“I think Roy Cooper did everything he could to sabotage a reasonable compromise,” said Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.

Cooper shot back: “My mom and dad used to tell me that when you sat down and looked somebody in the eye and told them something you should keep your promise, and clearly they have not done so.”

Even before the General Assembly sessions, Cooper already was at a disadvantage.

Cooper is a 30-year veteran of state politics — 14 years in the legislature before 16 as attorney general — and claimed victory on election night.

But it was another 27 days before McCrory conceded while dozens of ballot protests and a partial recount worked out the results.

Set to take office Jan. 1, Cooper hasn’t yet announced a single Cabinet appointment — something McCrory had done by this time after his 2012 election — and faces new hurdles for his choices. One law the General Assembly approved this month requires his Cabinet choices be confirmed by legislators. The state Constitution gives the Senate the ability to “advise and consent” to the governor’s appointees by a majority vote, but that provision hadn’t been used in at least several decades.

GOP legislators argued they are only rebalancing the powers between the legislative and executive branches, but Democrats and their allies call it a brazen, unlawful power grab.

Another law reduces the number of political appointees Cooper can hire. Republicans had expanded the number of such policymaking jobs for McCrory from 400 to 1,500. That number goes back down to 425 for Cooper.

Cooper previously threatened lawsuits to challenge the efforts to scale back his power. “They will see me in court,” he told The Charlotte Observer last week.

Even as lawmakers held special sessions, the board of North Carolina’s private nonprofit tasked with luring companies to the state _ now filled with appointees from McCrory and the legislature — passed a bylaw change that will make it hard for Cooper to put his board choices on quickly.

The bad blood with lawmakers could portend Cooper’s difficulties to follow through on other campaign platform planks, such as accelerating public education funding and shifting tax burdens away from the middle class. He’s also vowed to preserve voting and abortion rights, after Republicans passed laws in 2013 scaling back early in-person voting and extending the abortion waiting period to three days.

But both Cooper and GOP lawmakers have said they could locate areas of agreement.

“I am optimistic that we can strike a good balance with the governor-elect in trying to build a consensus agenda and move our state forward,” said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “Relationships have changed between the legislative and the executive branch, but that doesn’t mean … we can’t work together.”

White nationalists raise millions with tax-exempt charities

The federal government has allowed four groups at the forefront of the white nationalist movement to register as charities and raise more than $7.8 million in tax-deductible donations over the past decade, according to an Associated Press review.

Already emboldened by Donald Trump’s popularity, group leaders say they hope the president-elect’s victory helps them raise even more money and gives them a larger platform for spreading their ideology.

With benevolent-sounding names such as the National Policy Institute and New Century Foundation, the tax-exempt groups present themselves as educational organizations and use donors’ money to pay for websites, books and conferences to further their ideology.

The money also has personally compensated leaders of the four groups.

New Century Foundation head Jared Taylor said his group raises money for the benefit of the “white race,” a mission taxpayers are indirectly supporting with the group’s status as a 501C3 nonprofit. The IRS recognized it, the Charles Martel Society, the National Policy Institute and VDare Foundation as charities more than a decade ago.

Samuel Brunson, a tax law professor at Loyola University in Chicago, noted the nonprofit status gives these groups a veneer of legitimacy and respectability.

“It should make people uncomfortable that the government is subsidizing groups that espouse values that are incompatible with most Americans,” he said.

The IRS has tried to weed out nonprofit applicants that merely spread propaganda. In 1978, the agency refused to grant tax-exempt status to the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group that published an anti-Semitic newsletter. And in 1994, a court upheld the denial of tax-exempt status for the Nationalist Movement, a Mississippi-based white nationalist group.

Some tax experts said the IRS is still feeling the sting from conservative critics over its 2013 concession that it unfairly gave extra scrutiny to tea party groups seeking tax exemptions.

“I don’t think they’re feeling very brave right now,” said Ellen Aprill, a tax law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

IRS spokesman Michael Dobzinski said he can’t comment on individual nonprofits.

Louisiana State University law professor Philip Hackney, a former IRS attorney, said the agency receives tens of thousands of applications annually and doesn’t have the resources to scrutinize many of them.

“A lot of applications fly through,” Hackney said. “They’re looking for easy ways to sort things out and kind of give rubber stamps.”

New Century Foundation, a Virginia-based nonprofit, has raised more than $2 million since 2007 and operates the American Renaissance online magazine, which touts a philosophy that it’s “entirely normal” for whites to want to be a majority race.

Taylor, a Yale-educated, self-described “race realist,” said his group, founded in 1994, abides by all laws governing nonprofits.

“We certainly did not conceal our intentions,” Taylor said. “I think we are educational in precisely the terms that Congress defined.”

Taylor, whose tax filing says he received $65,000 in compensation in 2015, said he isn’t raising money to enrich himself or his group.

“We hold it in trust for the white race,” he said. “We take this seriously. This is not something we do for fun or profit. This is our duty to our people.”

In a 2012 article, University of Georgia business professor Alex Reed argued the IRS “can and must” revoke the New Century Foundation’s charitable status. Reed said the agency’s lax enforcement allowed other groups _ including ones he labeled as white nationalist, anti-gay, anti-immigrant or Holocaust deniers _ to qualify for tax breaks under the guise of operating educational organizations.

The Montana-based National Policy Institute is run by Richard Spencer, who popularized the term “alternative right” about a decade ago. The so-called alt-right is a fringe movement that has been described as a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism.

Spencer’s group raised $442,482 in tax-deductible contributions from 2007 through 2012. More recent fundraising figures for the group aren’t available in online tax returns, but Spencer said Trump’s candidacy already has boosted his group’s fundraising.

Spencer hosted a postelection conference in Washington that ended with audience members mimicking Nazi salutes after Spencer shouted, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” Spencer has advocated for an “ethno-state” that would be a “safe space” for white people.

The Georgia-based Charles Martel Society was founded by wealthy publisher William H. Regnery II, who also founded the National Policy Institute.

The group raised $568,526 between 2007 and 2014 and publishes The Occidental Quarterly. In an article last December, the journal’s editor applauded Trump’s campaign as a “game changer” for white people who oppose immigration and multiculturalism but said they “have a long way to go to really change the public discussion of race, Western culture, and Jewish influence.”

The Connecticut-based VDare Foundation is led by Peter Brimelow, founder and editor of an anti-immigration website. Brimelow, who spoke at the National Policy Institute’s conference last month, founded his nonprofit in 1999 and raised nearly $4.8 million between 2007 and 2015.

Brimelow has denied that his website is white nationalist but acknowledged it publishes works by writers who fit that description “in the sense that they aim to defend the interests of American whites.”

Brimelow received $378,418 in compensation from his nonprofit in 2007, accounting for nearly three-quarters of its total expenses that year. Brimelow says his salary that year was $170,000 and the rest reimbursed him for travel, office supplies and other expenses.

From 2010 through 2015, VDare Foundation didn’t report any compensation directly paid to Brimelow. But, starting in 2010, the nonprofit began making annual payments of up to $368,500 to Brimelow’s Happy Penguins LLC for “leased employees.” Brimelow disclosed his ownership of that company on tax returns.

Chuck McLean, a senior research fellow for the nonprofit watchdog Guidestar, said the IRS could view those “independent contractor” payments to Happy Penguins LLC as improper self-dealing unless the nonprofit can show they were “fair-market value transactions.” Brimelow says he set up that company to “protect” and pay his employees and himself.

Brimelow’s group reported modest fundraising increases for each of the past three years. He is confident that trend would continue during Trump’s administration.

“We have every reason to believe that it will,” he wrote in an email.

 

President signs bill to review civil rights-era cold cases

Racially motivated, civil rights-era killings that are now cold cases will get fresh looks under legislation signed by President Barack Obama.

Obama signed the bill earlier this month. It indefinitely extends a 2007 law that calls for a full accounting of race-based deaths, many of which had been closed for decades. The law was set to expire next year.

The bill is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy killed in 1955 after whistling at a white woman. His killers were acquitted of murder but later admitted their crimes to a reporter and couldn’t be retried.

Many other similar cases were poorly investigated and prosecutions were rare.

The law provides federal resources to local jurisdictions to look into the cases and extends the time span of cases to be considered to Dec. 31, 1979. It will also require the Justice Department and the FBI to consult with civil rights organizations, universities and others who had been gathering evidence on the deaths.

There has so far been one conviction as more than 100 cases from the 1960s and earlier have been reviewed. New racially suspicious deaths have been identified for investigation.

North Carolina GOP Sen. Richard Burr and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill sponsored the bill in the Senate.

In the House, the bill was negotiated by civil rights icon John Lewis, D-Ga.; John Conyers, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee; and Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.