Pregnant girls banned from school

When Imani from Tanzania was 16 years old, she was sexually abused by her private tutor in secondary school. Upon discovering that she was pregnant, she was expelled from her school and home.

Imani is one of 8,000 Tanzanian girls who drop out of school every year due to pregnancy. Now the President of Tanzania has banned pregnant girls and young mothers from returning to school.

l work with girls such as Imani. With the ban in place, these girls have no possibility to fulfill their future dreams of becoming engineers or writers or more. I could not silently stand by this injustice, so I started a petition demanding that Tanzania allow young mothers and pregnant students back into school. Please sign my petition here.

This month the government is going to be discussing child marriage, and I believe it’s a perfect time to show the president that the international community supports young girls and moms in my country. Please help me send a message that Tanzania needs to do more to help new moms get the education they deserve. Support my petition to challenge the new ban that has denied pregnant girls access to education.

Thank you for joining the global access to education movement for girls!

Petrider Paul
Youth for Change, Tanzania


Stephen Miller: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know … ~ reminder

Stephen Miller, Donald Trump aide, Trump inauguration day speech, Donald Trump speechwriter

Stephen Miller (left) at Trump Tower on November 11, 2016. (Getty)

Stephen Miller was the senior policy adviser for the Donald Trump campaign and has been named Senior Adviser to the President. Miller also co-wrote Trump’s inauguration address with Steve Bannon and has continued to be a key player in the Trump administration. On January 29, as protests across the nation erupted in response to Trump’s immigration executive order, Miller was one of the Trump advisers dispatched to defend the policy.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough even suggested that Miller was behind the chaos the immigration order created. Indeed, a White House official told CNN that Miller spent months putting the immigration order together, secretly working closely with Steve Bannon. Miller told CBS New that the order will “make sure that people entering our country truly love and support the United States of America.”

A longtime adviser for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Miller was often seen on the campaign trail as a “warm-up act” for Trump. He also wrote Trump’s speech for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

The 31-year-old Miller is a California native and a Duke University graduate.

Here’s a look at Miller’s life and career.

1. Miller Wrote ‘Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School’ in 2002

Stephen Miller, Stephen Miller Trump adviser, Trump adviser

Stephen Miller at a May 2016 Trump rally in Anaheim. (Getty)

Everything about Miller’s background suggests that he would be a lifelong Democrat. He grew up in Santa Monica, California and both of his parents are Democrats. However, his political viewpoints were influenced by Guns, Crime, and Freedom by National Rifle Association CEO Watne LaPierre, Politico reports.

While at Santa Monica High School, he reached out to conservative radio host Larry Elder to appear on his show to complain about his high school. In 2002, he already showed signs of how he would easily fit into the Trump team by writing an op-ed in a local Santa Monica newspaper called “Political Correctness Out of Control.” The essay was filled with complaints about his high school.

Miller wrote:

That is why scarcely a student at my school covered their heart when the national anthem was played in the September 11th memorial, but instead of finding error in that, our school found error in our attack on Afghanistan. The school newspaper condemned our military response. Administrators, worried students might become patriotic, were also quick to preach non-violence. Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School.

If you feel, like me, that political correctness has crossed the line, call the school or the district. Ask them to leave their liberal agendas at the front gate. Enough politics, it’s time for common sense.

Even after graduating from Santa Monica High, he continued complaining about the school. In a 2005 op-ed for Front Page Magazine, Miller accused the Left of creating the “false reality of institutional racism” at Santa Monica High School and called it “a center of political indoctrination.” He specifically targeted school board member Oscar De La Torre.

In 2005, Miller wrote:

Assimilation is anathema to leftists like De Le Torre because the resulting unity would eliminate the need for their policies and programs. To a disturbing extent, this indoctrination has been successful. I have spoken with a number of minority students during my time at SamoHi who claimed that they thought of themselves as Mexican, or Honduran, or Guatemalan first, and American second.

Miller was also influenced by David Horowitz, the founder of Students for Academic Freedom, according to a Politico profile of Miller. They first met when Miller was a teenager and he invited Horowitz to talk at his high school. When Miller invited him to speak at Duke and when he thought Duke wasn’t giving Horowtiz’s talk enough support, he claimed that Horowitz was banned from speaking there. But the talk happened and was broadcast on C-SPAN.

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2. Miller Accused Maya Angelou of ‘Racial Paranoia’ & Called Duke University ‘Obsessed With Multiculturalism (a.k.a. Segregation)’

Stephen Miller, Trump aides, Trump advisers, Trump inauguration speech writer

Trump Deputy campaign manager David Bossie, Communications Director Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller at Mar-a-Lago on December 19, 2016. (Getty)

During his time at Duke University, Miller published bi-weekly columns in the Due Chronicle, in which he makes his political leanings crystal clear. In a September 2005 column, for example, he accused Duke of lacking in “diversity of thought” and called it a “Leftist University.” He specifically criticized Duke for inviting Maya Angelou to speak to incoming freshman each year.

“Now, whether you share her racial paranoia or not, the point remains that she is a leftist, yet she is invited to give the orientation speech every single year,” Miller wrote. “Has the administration ever heard of balance? Why not invite someone with another perspective from time to time?”

In the same column, he equated multiculturalism with segregation. “The administration is so obsessed with multiculturalism (a.k.a. segregation) that they deem it necessary to include in freshman orientation a separate luncheon for black students,” he wrote.

In a November 2005 column called “Sorry Feminists,” Miller blamed the gender pay gap on women, writing that they work less and take more lower-paying jobs.

“The pay gap gets a lot smaller when you account for the fact that women work about only 85 percent as many hours as men and are responsible for only 10 percent of all overtime worked,” Miller wrote. “Women also choose lower-paying professions. Educated women are far more likely than educated men to go into service fields such as teaching and social working-admirable professions but ones that don’t pay nearly as well as careers in business.”

In a column from November 2006, Miller criticized Duke for requiring “every student engage in cross-cultural inquiry to graduate, yet there is no requirement to learn about America or larger Western civilization.” He wrote in the same column, “We must come to the defense of our heritage. And for us, that fight begins right here, on our campus.”

A Duke alum told Politico that Miller didn’t write these columns just to spark controversies. He did it to build a personal brand for his professional career. “He was very businesslike about it,” the alum told Politico.

“Part of his standing out was he put a moral tone on every issue he touched on,” John Burness, who worked in Duke’s public relations while Miller was there, told Politico. “If you did not agree with him, there was something immoral about you. He defined the term sanctimonious.”

Miller told Politico that the goal of his columns was to be “a voice of justice and reason” on a campus “where many professors had radical beliefs and engaged in outrageous behavior.”

White nationalist Richard Spencer told the Daily Beast that he was a “mentor” to Miller while they were both at Duke.

“I spent a lot of time with him at Duke… I hope I expanded his thinking… but I think he probably would be where he is today without me as well,” Spencer told the Daily Beast, adding that he thinks Miller is an “American nationalist.” However, Spencer doesn’t think Miller is a “white nationalist” and “would never be alt-tight.”

Spencer told the Daily Beast that he hasn’t been in contact with Miller for the past five years.

“I definitely knew that he was going to make something of himself. And I’m not surprised that he’s a public figure,” Spencer told the Daily Beast. “I think the Duke lacrosse case proved that. He came out swinging when that controversy went down, and he was really adept at the media.”

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3. Miller First Gained National Attention for Defending the Duke Lacrosse Players Accused of Rape

Miller first gained national attention for his staunch support of the four white Duke Lacrosse players who were accused of raping a black woman in March 2006. A week after the accusation was first reported, lacrosse coach Mike Pressler was forced to resign and the rest of the team’s 2006 season was cancelled. But in April 2007, future North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who was then the state’s Attorney General, dropped all the charges.

Miller began to feel vindicated as Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong’s case began to fall apart.

“The more information that surfaces the more apparent it becomes to fair-minded observers that our lacrosse team was railroaded and that three of our fellow students are being put on trial not because of evidence but because of a DA’s incompetence and malice,” Miller wrote in an August 2006 column for the Duke Chronicle. “Sadly, many in the community have shown that they are not fair minded but would rather hunt for witches than search for justice.”

Miller wrote that Nifong, who was later disbarred, was “propelled by the chants and screams of the Duke-and-Durham-Left who sprang into action as soon as it became clear that the alleged victim’s story could be used to propagate their destructive black-versus-white worldview.”

As The Chronicle notes, Miller’s support for the players earned him spots on The O’Reilly Factor and The Nancy Grace Show.

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4. Miller Helped Jeff Sessions Defeat the Gang of Eight’s Immigration Reform Bill in 2013

Stephen Miller, Trump aides, Trump advisers, Trump inauguration speech writer

Stephen Miller at Trump Tower on December 14, 2016. (Getty)

After graduating from Duke in 2007 with a degree in political science, Miller stayed on the East Coast and moved to Washington, first working as press secretary to Representatives Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg. In 2009, he began working with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who Trump has nominated for Attorney General.

Now that he could have a hand in shaping policy, Miller took the opportunity. He was Sessions’ communication director when the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill was moving through Congress and helped his boss kill it after it passed the Senate. The House never voted on the bill.

According to Nevada News and Views, Miller was behind a column that reminded Republicans what the “Gang of Eight” bill did. “It provided illegal immigrants with welfare, entitlements, lifetime work authorization, chain migration and every other benefit under the sun (even as sponsors pledged the exact opposite),” Miller wrote in one of his 10 points.

In a March 2016 interview with Newsmax, Miller said the Gang of Eight, which included four Republicans, paved the way for Trump’s success.

“Much of this discontent really began growing profoundly in 2013 when eight senators got together and what did they do? They defied the will of every single GOP voter,” Miller told Newsmax. “[They tried to] push through the biggest amnesty bill in history. It’s interesting to be diagnosing bitter discontent when you’re one of those eight senators.”

When Trump announced that Miller was joining his campaign, Ann Coulter tweeted, “I’m in heaven!”

Tell the Alabama State Bar to #DisbarSessions.

#DisbarSessions. Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath to Congress. That’s called perjury. For any other lawyer in the country, perjury means disbarment but so far there have been no consequences to Sessions’ actions. The standard for our nation’s top lawyer should be higher than that. Tell the Alabama state bar to #DisbarSessions. Here’s how:

  1. Read this letter to the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Commission.
  2. Print out the letter
  3. Address it to Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Commission P.O. Box 671 Montgomery, AL 36101
  4. Mail it!
  5. Call the Alabama State Bar and call on them to #DisbarSessions.

This slaughter is an annual tradition in the Faroe Island of Denmark. Here’s how it works:

As pilot whales swim close to the shore, fishermen surround the whales and herd them towards the beach. And mercilessly kill them.

This horrific tradition should stop. IMMEDIATELY. Help us make this a reality and save innocent whales:

Think about this: whole families are slaughtered, and some whales swim around in their family members’ blood for hours on end.

We can’t stand the thought of this continuing. If you can’t either, donate anything you can right now →

Saving animals means saving all animals. So don’t wait, save these defenseless whales TODAY.

Thank you so much,

Voting Rights Roundup: Pennsylvania redistricting case could give Democrats much fairer map for 2018

The Daily Kos Elections Voting Rights Roundup is written by Stephen Wolf and edited by David Nir.


• Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court recently dealt Republican gerrymandering a major setback when it agreed to take jurisdiction over a lawsuit that argues that the state’s congressional map is a partisan gerrymander in violation of the state constitution. With Democrats holding a majority on the court, there is a strong chance Pennsylvania could have new congressional districts in time for the 2018 midterms. However, Republicans aren’t giving up without a fight.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, a Republican, engaged in a desperate attempt to drag things out further by trying to get the case moved to federal court on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ demands would supposedly interfere with the 18th Congressional District special election taking place on March 13. That plan quickly fell apart and rightly so, since the plaintiffs’ entire case rests exclusively upon state constitutional grounds and would not impose new districts until the November 2018 elections.

Moving the case to federal court likely would have delayed its resolution until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the landmark Whitford v. Gill case over partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin, which may not happen until June. That would have left Pennsylvania with too little time to produce a new map for 2018. But with the matter back in state court, an appellate-level court will conduct a trial starting Dec. 11 and has until no later than Dec. 31 to report its findings and conclusions to the state Supreme Court, which is seeking to expedite the case so that it can conclude in time for the midterm elections.

Although this state-level lawsuit stands by far the best chance of success, it isn’t the only one targeting the Pennsylvania GOP’s congressional map. There are now two federal lawsuits challenging the GOP’s district lines, though they’re each making different arguments. The first case was filed in early October, and in an unusual move, plaintiffs there have argued that the map’s partisanship violates the Constitution’s Elections Clause, something the Supreme Court has never before ruled on. That case is nonetheless slated to proceed to trial on Dec. 5.

The second federal lawsuit was just filed on Nov. 9 and relies more on a Whitford-style claim that excessive partisanship violates the First and 14th Amendments. Although this reasoning has yet to persuade swing Justice Anthony Kennedy, it’s on much firmer ground given past precedent and Kennedy’s own opinions. Nevertheless, both of these federal cases could end up becoming moot, since the state-level case will likely reach a resolution much sooner. On the whole, Pennsylvania stands a good chance of having fairer districts in 2018.


• Terrebonne Parish, LA: Back in August, a federal district court ruled that Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, violated both the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution by electing all five of its local judges at-large, depriving black voters in the the parish of an equal opportunity to elect judges of their choice. On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court rejected an appeal by Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards that tried to block the ruling before the court can order a remedy.

The Fifth Circuit’s decision means the district court can continue to devise a remedy, which would likely entail ordering the state to switch the parish to a district-based electoral system before the next regularly scheduled elections take place in 2020. Although Terrebonne has just 114,000 residents, this case could have implications for a more recent lawsuit over Alabama’s state Supreme Court and other appellate courts that elect judges statewide instead of by districts. Victory in the Alabama case could subsequently see black judges return to the state’s highest courts, from which they’ve long been absent.

• North Carolina: Court-appointed expert Nathaniel Persily has released his initial draft of proposed redraws of several North Carolina state legislative districts in the ongoing litigation against Republican gerrymandering, which we’ve previously examined in depth. These proposals are not final, but the judges overseeing this case will likely produce maps that look very much like these after the Dec. 1 deadline passes for Persily to complete his work.

The district court has not yet technically blocked any of the new lines that Republican legislators drew earlier in 2017 following a recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down a slew of districts for illegally diluting the strength of black voters. However, the court’s appointment of Persily as its nonpartisan redistricting expert is a strong signal that it will impose its own districts to remedy federal and state constitutional violations that are still present under the GOP’s new maps.

Persily’s proposals largely affect counties containing the major cities of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Fayetteville. If they end up becoming law, Democrats could gain two state Senate seats and a handful of state House seats in 2018 as a direct consequence. Although these proposed districts still leave in place considerable parts of the GOP’s own gerrymanders, the new maps would leave Democrats well-positioned to finally break the GOP’s supermajorities next year and ultimately uphold Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes.

Elsewhere in the world of North Carolina redistricting, prominent attorney Anita Earls has announced that she will challenge Republican state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson as a Democrat in the 2018 general election. Earls has successfully argued major voting rights lawsuits against the North Carolina GOP’s voter ID laws and racial gerrymandering.

With Jackson looking vulnerable as 2018 shapes up to be a favorable year for Democrats, state Republicans have been plotting to change the way judges are elected. Democrats currently hold a four-to-three majority on the state’s high court, but Republican efforts to preserve their three seats and reclaim the majority will be particularly critical for redistricting after the 2020 census, since the Democratic majority would likely be inclined to block the most extreme elements of future Republican gerrymanders.

• Washington: Democrats regained power in the state Senate in a pivotal special election this month, giving them unified control over both legislative chambers and the governor’s office for the first time in several years. With that control comes the prospect for passing key progressive election reforms. Some Democrats have raised the possibility of passing automatic voter registration, but the likeliest new law is the Washington Voting Rights Act, which would make it easier for cities and counties to switch from at-large local elections to those using districts.

Cities across the U.S. have increasingly made this change in recent years. However, it often only comes after lengthy legal battles like the one that forced Yakima, Washington to draw districts for Latino voters, who previously could not elect their preferred candidates thanks to opposition from the city’s white majority. The state’s proposed new law would provide a way for localities to adopt fairer voting systems while avoiding costly court battles, and its passage would likely lead to the election of more Latino officials in heavily agricultural Eastern Washington in particular.

Ballot Measures

• Maine: The campaign to save instant-runoff voting is off to a good start after organizers of a veto referendum to preserve the voter-approved law have already collected 32,000 signatures since Nov. 6 to put the matter before voters in June (61,000 total are needed by early February). As we have previously explained, reformers are attempting to veto the legislature’s new law that would delay and then almost certainly automatically repeal the new electoral system in 2021.

Voter Registration

• Arizona: An alliance of voting rights organizations has filed a complaintagainst Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan contending that Arizona is in violation of the National Voter Registration Act and threatening a lawsuit if the state doesn’t remedy the problem within 90 days. The groups argue that Arizona is failing to provide services to register to vote for people who move within the state, and they also say that public assistance offices are failing to offer voter registration applications to those applying for aid, as they’re required to do.

Although the NVRA, better known as the Motor Voter Law, was passed all the way back in 1993, some states are still recalcitrant about enforcing it. If Arizona is indeed failing to comply with the law in these specific ways, it could effectively be making it more difficult for many Democratic-leaning voters to register, such as low-income voters and renters who move more frequently. This burden would fall particularly on black and Latino voters, which could further bolster a potential lawsuit.

• New York City, NY: America’s most populous city could soon allow any eligible voter to register online after the city council passed a bill creating such a system on Thursday, which Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign. Current law requires online registrants to have a driver’s license or a non-driver ID card, but high-density New York is famous for its large population of non-drivers who rely on public transportation, many of whom may lack licenses. This bill would do away with this ID requirement to make registration as easy as possible and promote turnout.


• Virginia: Virginia’s 2017 elections aren’t over yet: The races for three Republican-held state House seats are close enough that one or more are likely headed toward recounts. Republican candidates currently hold slim leads in each race, and if they hold, that would give the GOP a 51-49 majority in the House, but Democrats have raised concerns about how ballots are being tallied even before a any recounts take place.

One of these races is the 28th State House District, located around Fredericksburg. Republican candidate Bob Thomas holds an 82-vote leadover Democrat Joshua Cole, but the Stafford County Board of Elections has refused to count 55 absentee ballots that the board received after the deadline on Election Day. Democrats argued that those ballots were mailed in time to count, and that it was either the postal service or election registrar’s fault for not getting them in time. However, both a state and federal court have rejected lawsuits to force the board to count the ballots, and there’s no word about any possible appeals.

Far more troubling is an issue Democrats raised about 688 voters who potentially received ballots for the wrong state House race in Fredericksburg itself, which if true would have almost certainly deprived Cole of victory given the area’s Democratic lean. Virginia’s state code, which describes the exact contours of every legislative district as they were crafted in 2011, lists only one of the city’s precincts as being split between the 28th District and the neighboring 88th District, but the actual election results somehow show three precincts getting split between the two districts.

Election expert Michael McDonald argues that the most likely explanation is that the precincts were redrawn at the local level at some point since 2011, which wouldn’t affect the borders of any House districts. However, he points out that the city of Fredericksburg’s own code doesn’t clarify the issue, meaning one of two things: either officials made an undocumented precinct boundary change or voters were indeed given the wrong ballots. While the redrawing of precincts could be the cause of this apparent discrepancy, the matter deserves further investigation given the serious stakes if it turns out voters were given the wrong ballots, and Democrats have sent a letter to the state board of elections asking it to clarify and resolve these issues before certifying the results.


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