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March On! Journey for Justice enters North Carolina today.

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Yesterday was the 52nd anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place in 1963. It is an important part of civil rights history, and we honor it. More important is the movement that is taking place now, because the dreams evoked in the past have not yet been fulfilled, and since that time many of the struggles we won have been undermined. There are those in this country who want to turn the clock back.

The NAACP kicked off an 860 mile march from Selma to Washington DC on Aug. 1, calling it “America’s Journey for Justice”.

Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, and Our Schools Matter. From August 1 to September 16, America’s Journey for Justice–an historic 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C.–will mobilize activists and advance a focused national advocacy agenda that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education.

Each state march has a specific focus: Alabama (Economic Inequality), Georgia (Education Reform) South Carolina(Criminal Justice Reform).

Today the march enters North Carolina where voting rights is the major issue being targeted. North Carolina currently has the most repressive voter restriction and suppression laws in the United States.

Watch this video and hear Rev. William Barber, from the NC NAACP and Moral Mondays Movement talk about what is happening in North Carolina.

Follow me below the fold for more about the events that will be taking place, how you can get involved or offer support.

President Obama: “We are deeply optimistic about American ingenuity”

Last night, President Obama was in Las Vegas and spoke at the National Clean Energy Summit.

President Obama:

Yes, we’ve become the world’s number-one producer of oil and natural gas, but we’ve also become a major player in clean energy. And these advances have helped to grow our economy and created a steady stream of well-paying jobs. They’ve also helped us reduce the dangerous emissions that contribute to climate change. […]

So if you care about climate change, the very fact that companies realize clean energy and energy efficiency are not only cost-effective but cost-saving should give you a big jolt of hope. […]

So we see the trend lines. We see where technology is taking us. We see where consumers want to go. And that, let’s be honest, has some big fossil fuel interests pretty nervous — to the point where they’re trying to fight renewable energy. (Applause.)

Now, it’s one thing if you’re consistent in being free market. It’s another thing when you’re free market until it’s solar that’s working and people want to buy, and suddenly you’re not for it anymore. (Laughter.) That’s a problem. […]

There is something big happening in America right now. For the first time, we can actually see what our clean energy future looks like. […]

This generation of Americans is hammering into place the high-tech foundations of a clean energy age. It’s the same people who first harnessed the power of the atom, the power of the sun; the same spirit of people who connected the continent by road and by rail, who connected the world through our science and our imaginations; the same people who set foot on the Moon, and put a rover on Mars, and probes the farthest reaches of our solar system.

That’s what Americans do. We can do anything.

Weekly Address: President Obama – It’s Time for Congress To Pass a Responsible Budget

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President spoke to the economic progress that our country has made, from 13 million new jobs created over the past five and a half years, to 17 states raising the minimum wage. Congress needs to do its part to continue to help grow the economy, but instead left town last month with a great deal undone. Congress failed to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, which enjoys bipartisan support and is tasked solely with creating American jobs by growing exports. And most pressingly, the Republican Congress failed to uphold their most basic responsibility to fund the government, leaving them only a few weeks once they return to pass a budget, or shut down the government for the second time in two years. The President made clear that Congress needs to get to work on behalf of the American people and reach a budget agreement that relieves the harmful sequester cuts and keeps our economy growing.

RIP Brother Bond

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It was difficult reading this announcement from Morris Dees, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

We’ve lost a champion

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of legendary civil rights activist Julian Bond, SPLC’s first president. He was 75 years old and died last evening, August 15, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

From his days as the co-founder and communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s to his chairmanship of the NAACP in the 21st century, Julian was a visionary and tireless champion for civil and human rights. He served as the SPLC’s president from our founding in 1971 to 1979, and later as a member of its board of directors.

With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. He advocated not just for African Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all.

Julian is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, a former SPLC staff attorney, and his five children.

Not only has the country lost a hero today, we’ve lost a great friend.

For those of us of a certain age, Julian Bond was always a part of our civil rights landscape of struggle. Tributes have poured in from many people around the globe who have been touched by his activism, including one from President Obama.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Continuing Work To Improve Community Policing

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President spoke about the work the Administration is doing to enhance trust between communities and law enforcement in the year since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. In May, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released their final report setting out concrete proposals to build trust and enhance public safety. And across America local leaders are working to put these ideas into action in their communities. The President noted that while progress is being made, these issues go beyond policing, which is why the Administration is committed to achieving broader reforms to the criminal justice system and to making new investments in our children and their future.

The U.S. Flag is Now Flying Over Our Embassy in Havana

Today at around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, the U.S. Flag was raised over the American Embassy in Havana, Cuba:

Secretary John Kerry spoke about the renewed friendship between our two nations; the flag raising ceremony followed.

(Full transcript below the fold)

From Twitter:

@JohnKerry: Establishment of normal diplomatic relations is something two countries do together when the citizens of both will benefit.
@JohnKerry: I applaud @POTUS & President Castro for having the courage to bring us together in the face of considerable opposition.
@JohnKerry: The time is now to reach out to one another, as two peoples who are no longer enemies or rivals, but neighbors.

These three men were Marine security guards who lowered the flag back in 1961. Today, they handed that same flag over to the Marine color guard.

@JohnKerry: 54 years ago, you gentlemen promised to return to Havana and hoist the flag that you lowered on that January day long ago.
@JohnKerry: Today, I invite you on behalf of @POTUS and the American people to fulfill that pledge by presenting the Stars and Stripes.

The Marines carried the flag to the flag pole …

… the flag was raised, signally a new era in Cuban American relations.

80 years ago today: The Social Security Act of 1935

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democrat, signed the Social Security Act into law. Since that time, Social Security has been protected by Democratic presidents and Democratic Congresses.

FDR signing Social Security into law

The Social Security Act of 1935:

Before the 1930s, support for the elderly was a matter of local, state and family rather than a Federal concern (except for veterans’ pensions). However, the widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression brought support for numerous proposals for a national old-age insurance system. On January 17, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a message to Congress asking for “social security” legislation.

The act created a uniquely American solution to the problem of old-age pensions. Unlike many European nations, U.S. social security “insurance” was supported from “contributions” in the form of taxes on individuals’ wages and employers’ payrolls rather than directly from Government funds. The act also provided funds to assist children, the blind, and the unemployed; to institute vocational training programs; and provide family health programs.

Prior to Social Security, the elderly routinely faced the prospect of poverty upon retirement. For the most part, that fear has now dissipated.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democratic president, created a long-lasting program to keep our most vulnerable citizens out of poverty.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Reaffirming Our Commitment to Protecting the Right to Vote

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by underscoring the importance of one of the most fundamental rights of our democracy – that all of us are created equal and that each of us deserves a voice. The enactment of the Voting Rights Act wasn’t easy – it was the product of sacrifice from countless men and women who risked so much to protect every person’s right to vote. The President reminded us about their struggle and that while our country is a better place because of it, there is still work to be done. He promised to continue to push Congress for new legislation to protect everyone’s right to the polls, and asked that all Americans regardless of party use every opportunity possible to exercise the fundamental right to vote.

Lyndon B. Johnson: “This most basic right”

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat, signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Handing the Pen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The new law of the land:

SEC. 2. No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

Happy Voting Rights Act Eve! Thank you, 5th Circuit!

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Texas’s Voter ID Law

One day before the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country wielded that law to strike down a Texas voter suppression law. A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an opinion written by a George W. Bush appointee, held that Texas’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and must, at the very least, be significantly weakened. Though the court did not accept every argument raised against the state’s voter ID law, and its opinion does not go nearly as far as a trial judge’s decision which also struck down this law, it is a significant blow to the state’s efforts to make voting more difficult.

Texas Democrats:

Commenting on today’s Republican discriminatory voter ID ruling, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:

“Texas Democrats believe that our nation and democracy is stronger when everyone is invited to participate in our electoral process.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for every Texas voter. Once again, the rule of law agrees with Democrats. The Republican voter ID law is discriminatory. Republicans made it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to cast their vote at the ballot box.

“We remain confident that the courts will find justice for Texas voters and ultimately strike down this racist and discriminatory law.

“I want to personally thank Congressman Marc Veasey, State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, and all of our outstanding Democratic legislators who have fought to defend Texas voters from this discriminatory law.”

PDF of 5th Circuit Opinion: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinion

We AFFIRM the district court’s finding that SB 14 has a discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and remand for consideration of the proper remedy.” [ United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit,