FROM Patrick Leahy
Will Voters Be Kept from the Polls…Again? Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that key parts of the Voting Rights Act, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, had outlived their usefulness. By a five to four majority, the court lifted burdens imposed on states with histories of discrimination in voting. Almost immediately, North Carolina, Texas and other states passed Voter ID laws, cut short early voting and eliminated same-day registration. The Court also invited Congress to update the Voting Rights Act. Are those needed protections against voter fraud or a return to the past? Is there evidence of renewed hardship for minorities, the elderly or women voters? Voter ID warning outside the polling station of Ward 1 in Nashua, New Hampshire, 2013 Photo by Mark Buckawicki
Will Patent Reform Invigorate Innovation? The idea of the patent is to protect inventors from copycats who steal their ideas. Patents are crucial to US dominance of the world economy. But the US Patent Office is 700,000 applications behind. It takes so long to get one that, before it's issued, an invention often becomes obsolete. Facing competition with China, the US has revised the patent process with that rarest of legislative enactments, a bipartisan bill, signed into law today by President Obama. But with the America Invents Act , why will patents now go to the "first to file" instead of the "first to invent?" Will the big corporation have an advantage over the backyard genius?
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."