The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the 2012 National Book Awards yesterday. Every year, the Foundation nominates five finalists for four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and Young People’s Literature.
Hundreds of people rally outside the South Carolina capitol to honor the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and protest the state's voter identification law, Jan. 16, 2012 in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
The judges concluded that the state’s voter ID law was “not enacted for a discriminatory purpose” and said that the law may be used after this year. But they ruled that implementation should be delayed “given the short time left before the 2012 elections, and given the numerous steps necessary to properly implement the law — particularly the new ‘reasonable impediment’ provision — and ensure that the law would not have discriminatory retrogressive effects on African-American voters.”
The “reasonable impediment” provision allows voters without the required photo identification to cast a ballot if they can give a good explanation for why they don’t have it.
Because of a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, South Carolina is one of 16 jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination that must obtain court approval before making any changes to election law. The Justice Department blocked South Carolina’s law in December, because the state’s own statistics showed that minority voters would be disproportionately affected. The version of the law upheld by today’s ruling was modified to include such changes as the “reasonable impediment” provision.
Sunflower Electric Cooperative's coal-fired power plant rises behind a 30-day-supply of coal in Holcomb, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Many politicians get money from oil and coal companies – but some receive far more than others.
The website Dirty Energy Money has an interactive that allows users to look up which politicians receive money from oil companies and their affiliated political action committees. The site is a project of the advocacy group Oil Change International and pulls data from the Center for Responsive Politics and its website, OpenSecrets.org.
A few things are immediately clear from the site’s interactive: Republicans receive the most money from energy companies, but Democrats receive quite a bit as well. In the Senate, two thirds of the money the website tracks goes to Republicans, the other third to Democrats. In the House about 83 percent of contributions went to Republicans. MORE
The ads, which will be aired in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — all battleground states — say the president is “attacking our Second Amendment rights.” A vote against Obama, the NRA says, would help “defend freedom.” The ad does not mention Romney by name.
The NRA’s decision to endorse the Republican candidate may not be all that surprising, but may seem contradictory given the candidates’ records: Romney signed a ban on assault weapons as governor of Massachusetts, while the president has signed measures allowing people to carry concealed weapons in checked bags on trains and while visiting the national parks.
Gun control advocates say the President has not done enough to prevent gun violence. In 2010, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the largest gun control lobbying groups, graded Obama’s record an “F.”
Matt Sitton knew the war in Afghanistan was going badly. He knew it because he was fighting it. He could see for himself. Twenty-six years old, with a wife and child back home, Staff Sergeant Sitton was on his third combat tour there.
Time and again, he and his men were sent through what he called “a minefield on a daily basis.” His comrades were being blown apart — at least one amputee a day, he said, “Because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives.”
Morale was low; the men struggled to remain alert. Sitton said he asked his officers to give them a break but was told to stop complaining.
“I am all for getting on the ground and fighting for my country when there is a desired endstate and we have clear guidance of what needs to be done,” he wrote. “But when we are told basically to just walk around for a certain amount of time is not sitting well with me.”
At home in Florida, Matt Sitton had attended a Christian school run by the Baptist church attended by Congressman Bill Young. He wrote Congressman Young and told him what was happening. “I’m concerned about the well-being of my soldiers,” he said. “… I just want to return my guys home to their families healthy.” He ended: “If anything, please pray for us over here. God bless.” MORE
Earlier this week during our live chat, a viewer asked Bill for reading recommendations, and he promised to post occasionally on our website about books he is reading. Here’s the book that is currently on his nightstand.
The New New Deal by Michael Grunwald
From the publisher: Award-winning reporter Michael Grunwald reveals the story behind President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill, one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in the history of the country.
The stimulus has launched a transition to a clean-energy economy, doubled our renewable power, and financed unprecedented investments in energy efficiency, a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. It is computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system. Its Race to the Top is the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It has put in place the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, the largest research investments ever, and the most extensive infrastructure investments since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. It includes the largest expansion of antipoverty programs since the Great Society, lifting millions of Americans above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance. Like the first New Deal, Obama’s stimulus has created legacies that last: the world’s largest wind and solar projects, a new battery industry, a fledgling high-speed rail network, and the world’s highest-speed Internet network.
We’re proud to collaborate withMother Jonesin sharing insightful journalism related to money and politics. We’ll be posting this weekly roundup every Friday. Share your thoughts about these must-read stories and always feel free to suggest your own in the comments section.
“Throughout its existence, [our nonprofit] has regularly consulted with experienced tax counsel to ensure it is in full compliance with the federal tax laws.”
—A statement to ProPublica from the Government Integrity Fund, defending its 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status despite spending more than $1 million favoring Republican Josh Mandel in his challenge against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). The Fund is a so-called “social welfare” group, which can’t make politics its primary purpose. What that means, exactly, has been an ongoing discussion this year. The IRS is investigating potential violators of the rule, but it hardly ever audits nonprofits. MORE
Romney was widely lauded as the winner of the first presidential debate. The loser, many agreed, was the truth. Were you duped? See if you can separate fact from fiction in our 10 question fact-check quiz.
Dan Danner, President and CEO, National Federation of Independent Business, addresses the media at a press conference announcing a new campaign targeting regulations. (William B. Plowman/AP Images for NFIB)
In last night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney went after President Obama’s tax plan by citing a study from the innocuous-sounding National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB.
“Your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35 percent to 40 percent. The National Federation of Independent Business has said that will cost 700,000 jobs,” Romney said.
In fact, NFIB isn’t all that innocuous — it’s actually a conservative lobbying organization. The group was the lead plaintiff in the unsuccessful lawsuit that brought the Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court. NFIB’s entire advertising budget this year went to ads that either supported Republicans or opposed Democrats. The group is partially funded by millions of dollars from conservative groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers’ Donors Trust.