Inside Kim Kardashian’s Prison-Reform Machine – By Elizabeth A. Harris – The New York Times

“Kim Kardashian West breezed into a steakhouse in Washington, D.C., last month, wearing a bright white outfit with a giant fabric flower on the lapel. Technically, it was a pantsuit, but tighter and more fabulous than its Beltway cousins.

Inside the restaurant, Charlie Palmer, with its plate-glass windows overlooking the dome of the United States Capitol Building, her sizable entourage roamed around an area with a dozen tables. At the center of one, preset with plates of tuna tartar and salad to share, Kardashian West took a seat with two lawyers and three women who had been released from federal prison just two weeks before. They did their best to pretend the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” camera crew wasn’t floating a boom mic above their appetizers.

At a nearby table sat goody bags from the White House, packed with MAGA hats and signed commutation papers. That morning, Kardashian West had accompanied her guests there so President Trump could meet the women whose sentences he reduced and convince him to let other people out of prison, too.

She posted about each of the three women on Twitter that day: Crystal Munoz, whom she said was sentenced to 20 years for conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana, and gave birth to her second daughter while wearing shackles. Judith Negron, who got 35 years for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, her first offense. And Tynice Hall, who spent almost 14 years in prison on drug conspiracy charges after her boyfriend used her house for his drug activities.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Fascinating and important article. Thank you Elizabeth A. Harris. I couldn’t believe I was paying attention to Kim Kardashian West, but she has decided to embrace one of my favorite causes, and I’ve done far less now than she has towards important sentencing reform.
My only pause was a reference to Fonda and Harry Belafonte, that sonded like a small, crass, unnecessary slight to Jane Fonda. Or did you mean her brother or father? In my humble opinion, KKW can’t yet hold a candle to the talented and service dedicated Jane Fonda. If you think I am crazy, take at a look at Jane Fonda’s academy award winning  film, Coming Home, or tune in to her most recent work to fight against  climate changine green house gases.
But it looks like KKW is growing in some wonderful ways.

Opinion | We Must Vote in November. Voting by mail etc is How to Ensure That We Can. – The New York Times

By Bob BauerBen Ginsberg and 

Mr. Bauer, Mr. Ginsberg and Mr. Persily were members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Credit…Cj Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Voters should not have to choose between casting a ballot and risking their health. They should not have to endure confusion over the location of polling places or the availability of vote-by-mail. Yet voters might face exactly those problems in November if we do not act now to protect the election from Covid-19.

To safeguard the inclusivity and legitimacy of our elections, the federal government should provide resources that states should use in a credible, bipartisan fashion.

We must act now. Elections — American democracy itself — should not be among the pandemic’s victims.

We’ve done something like this before. Roughly seven years ago, we led a bipartisan commission set up by President Barack Obama. There had been significant problems with the operation of the electoral process in 2012, and our task was to suggest possible solutions. Two of us (Mr. Bauer and Mr. Ginsberg) were co-chairs and the other (Mr. Persily) was the senior research director. As part of our broad charge, and in light of Hurricane Sandy, we looked at the challenges posed by natural disasters. Our recommendations on these and other election administrative issues were well received by election administrators across the country, of both parties. We also noted where more progress was urgently needed.”

Northland settles New Haven Church Street South suit for $18.7 million -By Mary E. O’Leary – CTInsider.com

“NEW HAVEN — Northland Investment Corp. will pay $18.75 million to settle a class-action suit benefiting an estimated 1,000 former residents of the now-razed Church Street South housing project in the Hill neighborhood.

Attorney David Rosen, who represented an estimated 300 of the former tenants at the long-troubled complex, said payouts will range from $5,000 to $17,000 depending on how long a tenant was there between December 2013 and December 2016.

In addition, Northland will pay up to $200,000 for administrative fees and expenses for guardian ad litems for minors and disabled tenants. As a part of the $18.75 million, Rosen’s firm gets $2.850 million in attorney’s fees and expenses for experts.”

Source: Northland settles New Haven Church Street South suit for $18.7 million – CTInsider.com

Opinion | Southern Democrats Saved Joe Biden – By Mara Gay – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Gay is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“At the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, things look much as they did a half-century ago.

The site is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum, a remarkable collection that includes a replica of a firebombed bus ridden by the Freedom Riders as they traveled through the South protesting segregation in 1961.

Inside the museum the other day, a woman sat down beside me and wiped away tears. “I’m sorry,” she said. “What gets me is, after all this time, look what’s happening right now.”

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Southern Democrats — particularly black Democrats — are hoping to keep the history that surrounds them in the past.

Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina explained this in visceral terms when he announced his support for Joe Biden late last month, an endorsement that began with Mr. Clyburn, 79, talking about the first time he was arrested protesting for civil rights decades ago. “When I sat in jail that day, I wondered whether we were doing the right thing, but I was never fearful for the future,” he said. “As I stand before you today I am fearful of the future of this country. I’m fearful for my daughters and their futures, and their children, and their children’s futures.”

Mr. Clyburn said he was sure Mr. Biden was the right choice. “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us,” he said. Three days later, Mr. Biden won a convincing victory in the South Carolina primary, launching him into his Super Tuesday triumph and the front-runner status he enjoys today.”

Opinion | Does Anyone Have a Clue About How to Fight Back Against Trump’s Racism? – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Can Democrats diminish the bigotry that Donald Trump has unleashed in this country?

Stung by the success of Trump’s anti-immigrant, racist campaign themes in 2016, left-of-center advocacy groups — think tanks, unions, progressive academics and Democratic consultants — are developing tools this year to counter the continuing Republican assault on liberal values, based on the optimistic assumption that the reservoir of white animosity is not so deep that Trump is assured re-election.

These efforts on the left challenge the long history of Republican success in exploiting race and a host of ancillary issues — crime, welfare, social disorder, family breakdown, homelessness — a history that includes Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Donald Trump in 2016.

That history points to the relentless power of racial resentment in American politics. Despite polling that shows greater acceptance of racial equality, this issue is as potent a source of political strength for Trump today as it was for Nixon a half century ago.

There are myriad studies, as have noted (along with many others) that show the continuing effectiveness of race and immigration as wedge issues. These studies continue to appear at an alarming rate.”

Opinion | Shifting Collective Memory in Tulsa – the 1921 massacre – by Russell Cobb – The New York Times

The aftermath of the attack on black residents and businesses in the Greenwood District in Tulsa.

Credit…Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

“Down the street from the actual Greenwood Cultural Center, Cleo Harris sat in his T-shirt shop remembering the first time he talked about the tragedy with a white man. Mr. Harris was working as a truck driver, and somehow the event more commonly known as the Tulsa Race Riot came up. When Mr. Harris said it should be recognized as a massacre, the white man became belligerent. “He thought it was all about reparations,” Mr. Harris told me.

No one is sure how many people died; estimates range from around 75 to over 300. Virtually every black citizen was left homeless. Over 30 city blocks were completely destroyed. Commandeered airplanes dropped firebombs on Greenwood. The change in the wording around 1921, then, is more than mere semantics. “It reflects the intentionality of the destruction,” Mr. Armstrong said.”

Opinion | Trump Weakens the Nation’s Clean Water Efforts – By Chris Wood, Collin O’Mara and Dale Hall – The New York Times

By Chris WoodCollin O’Mara and 

Mr. Wood is president of Trout Unlimited, Mr. O’Mara is president of the National Wildlife Federation and Mr. Hall was director the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

“The Environmental Protection Agency made a startling admission last month when it announced that many of the nation’s streams and wetlands would no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act, perhaps the nation’s most successful antipollution law.

The agency said it could not predict how many miles of streams and acres of wetlands would lose their protection because of “existing data and mapping limitations.”

In other words, the E.P.A. was sharply narrowing the reach of a landmark environmental law without understanding the consequences of its actions.

This is flat wrong on every level. We do know the consequences. And we can say unequivocally that this ill-informed policy will reduce water protections to a level not seen in more than a generation.”

Opinion | Remembering Ella Baker on Martin Luther King Day – By Barbara Ransby – The New York Times

By 

Dr. Ransby, a historian, is the author of “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement.”

Credit…Jack Harris/Associated Press

“When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1964, he observed that anytime an award is given to “the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit,” the prize is also bestowed on “the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth.”

Ella Josephine Baker, a black North Carolina native who migrated to New York in the 1920s, was a major part of that ground crew for over 50 years, and her legacy lives on in today’s social movements.

Her political activism began in Harlem in the 1930s. She worked with the cooperative movement during the Great Depression; supported the campaign against Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia; and opposed the racist conviction of the famed Scottsboro boys.

Baker was a field secretary and director of branches for the N.A.A.C.P. in the 1940s, and she traveled throughout the Jim Crow South, organizing against discrimination and recruiting people to the Civil Rights Movement. She worked alongside King and others in the Southern Christian Leadership Council in the 1950s and was a mentor to the young activists who founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1960. S.N.C.C. went on to lead the “Freedom Rides,” in which participants risked life and limb to desegregate interstate transportation, and then to organize “Freedom Summer,” a massive voter registration drive targeting disenfranchised black southern voters.”

Opinion | Why Is Mitch McConnell So Afraid of John Bolton? – By Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III – The New York Times

By Neal K. Katyal and 

Mr. Katyal, the author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump,” and Mr. Conway, an adviser to the Lincoln Project, are lawyers.

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The importance of John Bolton’s offer to testify if subpoenaed in the impeachment proceedings against President Trump cannot be overstated. In a single stroke, Mr. Bolton, the former national security adviser, elevated truth and transparency over political gamesmanship.

The Senate must take him up on his offer, as well as demand the testimony of President Trump and the administration officials he has barred from testifying. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, reportedly has the votes to proceed with the trial despite no agreement with Democrats on new witnesses and to leave it a question to take up after opening arguments. The Senate still must declare that it will call witnesses during the trial.

Everyone — Republicans, Democrats and independents — must know that these crucial witnesses will be heard.

The core principle behind the rule of law is that justice is blind and partisan identity should not influence a trial’s outcome. But anyone watching Mr. McConnell twist himself into knots in trying to block witnesses and documents has to wonder whether this notion ever took root in his mind. He has gone so far as to say that “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.” He also said, “There’s no chance the president is going to be removed from office.” “

Opinion | An Open Letter to John Lewis – By Margaret Renkl – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“NASHVILLE — Dear Mr. Lewis, I write with a heavy heart. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is a brutal diagnosis, so it’s no surprise that last Sunday night the internet erupted with anguish as news of your illness became public. Treatment may give you a “fighting chance” to continue working “for the Beloved Community,” as you wrote in a statement, but it’s painful to think of what you will be called on to bear in the coming months. You have already borne so much for us.

In the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, a massive screen plays a montage of film and still photos from March 7, 1965, a day now commemorated as “Bloody Sunday.” The images were made at the beginning of a planned march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama’s capital, to claim voting rights for the African-American citizens of the state. I grew up in Alabama, not far from Selma, and I’ve always known the story of Bloody Sunday, but knowing the story is not the same thing as watching it unfold on a life-size screen. Standing in the National Civil Rights Museum on Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few years ago, I watched in horror. What you and your fellow marchers, 600 strong, found waiting for you on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge was 150 state police and local law-enforcement officers armed with billy clubs, bullwhips and tear gas. They gave you two minutes to disperse.

As the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, you were standing at the very front of the march. You were wearing a light-colored trench coat, and that coat is what makes it possible to follow you in the black-and-white footage of those next chaotic moments. One minute and five seconds after the two-minute warning, evil advanced and the carnage began, even as you knelt in the road to pray.

The beating you took that day from an Alabama state trooper may have fractured your skull, but it didn’t crack your resolve. National news stories carrying photos and film footage from Bloody Sunday finally woke this nation to what was happening in the Jim Crow South, and that awakening ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act five months later.”