Daily Archives: January 21, 2012

On This Day…

In 1924, Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin died at age 54.

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Australia Posed to Recognize Aborigines

For the first time in 224 years, Australia is voting on a Constitutional amendment that will recognize Aborigines as the first people of the country. The new changes will finally bring an end to all state-sponsored racism.

Aborigines are among the poorest, most disadvantaged Australian citizens. Image courtesy of News One.

After the Aborigines were dislocated, their lifestyle, health, and equality decreased. Aborigines are one of the poorest, unhealthiest, and most-disadvantaged people in Australia; they have an average lifespan seventeen years shorter than other Australians.

Originally, Australia’s constitution promoted discrimination against Aboriginal people.  Section 25 recognized that states could disqualify people (i.e. Aborigines) from voting.  Section 51 allowed federal parliament to make laws based solely upon race.

These sections were included in the constitution in 1901 to prevent certain races from living in primarily white neighborhoods.

Aborigines did not receive “citizen standing” until 1967 in Australia.  That was the first time that Aboriginal people were included in the census.  However, since then, only eight of forty-four proposed amendments on the advancement of Aborigines have succeeded.

For a Constitutional amendment to pass, there must first be federal legislation followed by a referendum that must be supported by a majority of voters in a majority of states.

The new legislation calls for respect for Aboriginal culture and promotion and historical recognition of language and heritage.

Prime Minister Gillard says the “time is right to say yes to an understanding of our past, to say yes to constitutional change, and to say yes to a future more united and more reconciled than we have ever been before.”

PM Gillard would like to hold the referendum before the 2013 election.  However, bipartisan support is crucial to its success, and that is not always easy to come by.

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Filed under Cheers!, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, World

Pop Five: Memorable Moments from the South Carolina Republican Debate

English: Former U.S. Representative and Speake...

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5. Newt Gingrich’s pitch to parents.

GINGRICH: Why is President Obama for young people being allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26? Because he can’t get any jobs for them to go out and buy their own insurance. I mean I have — I have an offer — I have an offer to the parents of America: Elect us, and your kids will be able to move out because they’ll have work.

4. Mitt Romney’s 25 more votes from Iowa.

Moderator John KING on the question “If there’s one thing, just one thing in this campaign you could do over, what would it be?”: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Well, I would have worked to get twenty-five more votes in Iowa, that’s for sure.

3. Mr. Gingrich’s grandiose ideas.

GINGRICH: I think grandiose thoughts. This is a grandiose country of big people doing big things, and we need leadership prepared to take on big projects.

2. Mr. Romney’s tax return (non) answer.

KING: Back in 1967, your father set a groundbreaking — what was then a groundbreaking standard in American politics. He released his tax return. He released them for not one year, but for twelve years, and when he did that, he said this: “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.” When you release yours? Will you follow your father’s example?

ROMNEY: Maybe. You know, I don’t know how many years I’ll release. I’ll take a look at what the — what our documents are and I’ll release multiple years. I don’t know how many years, and — but I’ll be happy to do that. Let me tell you, I know there are some who are very anxious to see if they can’t make it more difficult for a campaign to be successful. I know the Democrats want to go after the fact that I’ve been successful. I — I’m not going to apologize for being successful.

1. Mr. Gingrich’s media critique opener.

KING, on Mr. Gingrich’s ex-wife Marianne’s interview with ABC: Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

GINGRICH: No, but I will. I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a Presidential debate on a topic like that.

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Nigeria Imposes Curfew in Response to Attacks that Kill Scores

Locator Map Kano-Nigeria

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Nigeria imposed a twenty-four-hour curfew today in the city of Kano after assailants killed scores of people in a hail of gunfire and bombings of eight government sites.

At least 156 people were killed.

Fifty people were injured in the attacks. Search and rescue operations are under way and volunteers are working to aid the injured.

The attacks targeted several police stations, barracks and the building housing the assistant inspector general of police in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city.

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Poll Shows Gingrich Likely to Win South Carolina

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

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A new poll released as South Carolinians are voting in the Republican primary shows Newt Gingrich‘s surge taking him past Mitt Romney into a lead among likely voters.

The American Research Group poll, conducted Thursday and Friday, shows Mr. Gingrich leading Mr. Romney 40% to 26%.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Romney’s campaign was looking at two wins under its belt, a big lead in South Carolina, and a bigger lead in Florida.

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Santorum Officially Declared Winner in Iowa

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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The Iowa Republican Party officially declared Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa caucuses late Friday.

Initial returns gave Mitt Romney a eight-vote margin of victory over Mr. Santorum, giving the former Massachusetts governor a boost heading into the New Hampshire primary.

However, a recount later gave Santorum a thirty-four-vote advantage over Romney in Iowa. The news comes as voters head to the polls Saturday for the South Carolina primary.

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Death Row Inmate Abandoned by Counsel

English: The United States Supreme Court, the ...

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The Supreme Court gave an Alabama death row prisoner a chance Wednesday to appeal his conviction after a mailroom mistake left him unable to pursue further claims.

At issue was whether a missed deadline provided justification to grant Cory Maples a second chance, when the error was not his fault and the result meant lethal injection.

The justices’ 7-2 ruling was a setback for the state, and the inmate’s case now goes back to lower courts.

“The uncommon combination of mishaps in Maples’ case, we hold, provide just cause to excuse the procedural lapse in state court,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority.

The compounding series of errors and negligence involved both state officials and the private attorneys once representing him.

The prisoner’s new legal team argued the criminal justice system was being turned on its head by allowing prisoners to suffer the consequences of their lawyers’ mistakes.

State attorneys countered that rules on filing paperwork must be enforced to make sure that all parties get a chance to hear the claims in an orderly fashion. The state says that Mr. Maples’ initial appellate attorneys were from a blue-chip law firm in New York.

Mr. Maples was convicted in the 1995 murder of two companions, Stacy Alan Terry and Barry Dewayne Robinson II, with whom he had been drinking. He confessed to police but offered no explanation for the crimes.

He was convicted, and the jury recommended the death sentence by a vote of ten to two.

After the conviction, two attorneys from the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, working for Mr. Maples for free, filed a motion in an Alabama court claiming ineffective assistance.

When that court sent two copies of its ruling denying the motion to the New York-based attorneys, the mailroom sent them back unopened. The envelopes were labeled “Return to Sender — Left Firm” and “Return to Sender — Attempted Not Known.”

Both lawyers had left the firm, but no notice of new legal representation was given to the court or to Mr. Maples himself. A lawyer in Alabama not heavily involved in the appeals also received the ruling, but he, too, did not follow up.

By the time the mix-up was discovered, thanks to inquiries by the inmate’s mother, Mr. Maples’ window for appeals had run out.

The judge was not sympathetic, saying the county clerk was not required to follow up or investigate why the key documents were sent back without acknowledgment.

Subsequent state and federal courts also refused to grant Maples another chance to file his appeals, saying the forty-two-day deadline was standard and non-negotiable.

The high court’s majority spread the blame on the state and Mr. Maples’ attorneys.

Justice Ginsburg noted attorney “negligence” alone rarely gives inmates a second chance to contest their convictions, but the majority said this case presented an “extraordinary” set of facts, including that Maples was “abandoned” by his lawyers.

“They did not inform Maples or the Alabama court of that reality,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. “Through no fault of his own, Maples, an inmate on death row, was left unrepresented at a critical time for his state habeas petition. Moreover, he lacked any clue that he had better fend for himself.”

The majority was also tough on the state’s refusal to give Maples a break in light of these circumstances.

Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed. “If the interest of fairness justifies our excusing Maples’ procedural default here, it does so whenever a defendant’s procedural default is caused by his attorney,” he said. “That is simply not the law — and cannot be, if the states are to have an orderly system of criminal litigation conducted by counsel.”

In a move that will surprise everyone, Justice Clarence Thomas joined in the dissent.

This high court victory for Mr. Maples does not mean he will receive a new trial. Because so much of the facts and testimony of the various parties remains in question, lower state and federal courts could be wrestling with this case for years.

Among the thirty-four states with the death penalty, Alabama alone does not give all its capital inmates taxpayer-funded legal help to file papers challenging their convictions, sentences, and lethal punishment. Big out-of-state firms like Sullivan and Cromwell often step in and tackle the usually long and expensive appeals process.

Lawyers for Mr. Maples say that some flexibility should be built into the system, especially when it involves crucial issues like habeas corpus and the death penalty.

The case is Maples v. Thomas (10-63).

Via CNN.

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