Native Americans have never had an easy time getting to vote in South Dakota. In 1977, the state attorney general dismissed the Voting Rights Act as an “absurdity” and advised state officials to ignore the federal law. The state didn’t allow Native Americans into polling places until the 1940s, though federal law had given them the right to vote in 1924. In 2004, a judge stopped poll watchers from following Native Americans out of voting places and taking down their license-plate numbers.
Through the years, Native Americans in South Dakota have filed more than 20 lawsuits over their right to vote.
This month, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe went to court. In the upcoming presidential balloting, tribal members will have only six days of early voting, when the rest of the state has 46 days to cast early ballots in the primary and general elections.
Filed in federal court this month, the lawsuit contends the disparity is discriminatory, and amounts to “a denial of the right to vote.” One civic group has branded the state’s practice “a back door poll tax.” [Full Article]
Supporters at a rally for Mitt Romney in South Carolina. / REUTERS
Mitt Romney, who makes his hands-on business experience a talking point in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, was a member of the board of directors and audit committee of a global company when it paid millions of dollars to settle charges of extracting kickbacks that cheated clients.
The company is Marriott International and the accusers were hotel owners who had hired Marriott to manage their properties under the Marriott name.
In recent weeks, Romney has come under fire for his role at Bain Capital, with critics faulting Bain for putting employees out of work when it bought up ailing companies and loading them with unsustainable debt—charges that Romney rejects.
But his actions as an independent director at Marriott in the late 1990s and again just two years ago open another window on the candidate’s record in business and leadership qualities.
Teodorin Obiang Nguema’s $30 million Malibu mansion. / REUTERS
For more than a decade, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea and his family members have spent enormous sums of money in the United States on real estate and extravagant purchases at stores like Dolce & Gabanna and Louis Vuitton. In late October, the American government finally acted to halt the collective shopping spree of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s inner circle when it filed a civil asset forfeiture complaint seeking to take possession of tens of millions of dollars in assets owned by his son and heir apparent.
The complaint, filed by the Justice Department and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said that the son, Teodorin, who is the country’s minister of forestry, had used money laundered into the United States to buy a $30 million estate in Malibu, a private plane and assorted Michael Jackson memorabilia, including a “white crystal covered ‘Bad Tour’ glove.”
It further alleged that high officials in the Obiang regime had “gained enormous wealth” through methods that included “extortion and misappropriation, theft, and embezzlement of public funds.” In announcing the action, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said, “We are sending the message loud and clear: the United States will not be a hiding place for the ill-gotten riches of the world’s corrupt leaders.” [Full Article]
Kenyan army convoy heading into Somalia in October. / REUTERS
When Kenya’s Defense Forces invaded southern Somalia this fall, with troops pouring in by air, sea and land, the Nairobi government justified the actions on foreign soil by citing a string of recent kidnappings and murders at resorts and at a refugee camp along Kenya’s northern coast.
Intelligence and law enforcement officials traced the attacks to Al Shabaab, the violent Al Qaeda proxy based in Somalia, Kenya’s neighbor to the north. Al Shabaab neither denied the accusations nor condemned the assaults.
The attacks were horrific enough. In the first, a British honeymooner was killed on the island resort of Lamu, and his bride kidnapped. In the second, an elderly French woman on holiday, a paraplegic, was kidnapped, also from Lamu. Then, two Spanish aid workers were abducted from Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, also in northern Kenya.
Kenya’s response was swift: Citing Article 51 of the United Nations Charter on October 16th 2011, joint forces of the Kenya Army, Navy and Air Force invaded Southern Somalia under the banner “Operation Linda Nchi” (Operation Defend the Country). [Full Article]
A Muslim woman prays beside the coffin of her relative among 534 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. / REUTERS
As the nation once called Yugoslavia collapsed into a deadly maelstrom through the 1990s, the world largely stood mute in the face of unspeakable atrocities: ethnically-driven mass murders, concentration camps and rape as a weapon of war. Conventional wisdom blamed the Balkan nations for their own blood-soaked disintegration, which took more than 130,000 lives.
The principal stand against the horrors unfolding in the region came through the United Nations Security Council, whose members banned weapons sales to the region.
Now, nearly twenty years later, new facts are emerging that cast a different light on that narrative, and show that other nations had a hand in stoking the deaths and destruction that engulfed the Balkans. [Full Article]