The heroes, tragedies, and hope of segregated housing

“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald.

By Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor

*Warning! This post has the potential for spoilers.

Show David Simon a hero and he’ll write you a biopic tragedy full of injustices, passive-aggressive slights, and indifference. He’ll also create original characters, like Tommy Carcetti, Bubbles, and McNulty, who will test the needle of your moral compass on an episodic basis. You’ll want try to find the good one, the one who consistently plays it above board, the incorruptible. You’ll find yourself at bars and cocktail parties when the inevitable discovery that all parties present have binged The Wire debating who the least bad character is. But none such character exists in nearly any of his HBO series. I say nearly because I can’t speak for Treme. Like the rest of us, I never made it through the entire series. My hunch is he’s not in New Orleans either.

The latest Simon series, Show Me A Hero, a short six-episode HBO series about housing, race, and politics set in mid-1980’s Yonkers, New York is one of his more hopeful tributes to social justice, but no less delivers on the tragedy. Continue reading

IRS Will Refuse To Accept Checks Of 100 Million Dollars Or More

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

160px-IRS.svgThe Internal Revenue Service made new policy that it will no longer accept checks greater than 99,999,999,99. That’s right, the IRS is refusing a payment method from large corporations or billionaires. With the public debt growing at worrying rates, one would think they would take any money they can get. They certainly are all the more willing to accept checks form lesser beings such as average citizens and small businesses. Your author, however, is still accepting very large checks from anyone wishing to make a donation.

Reportedly, processing equipment at the Federal Reserve is unable to handle checks of the prohibited value, requiring clearing by hand. Also, in memos between the IRS and the Treasury it is claimed that such transactions would be subject to fraud, error, and theft. Realistically it shows a flaw in the federal system and harks of outdated equipment and software.

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North Carolina Prosecutor Charged After Allegedly Offering $20,000 For Opponent Not To Run For Court Seat

55f0e026b667a.imageWendy Joyce Terry, 43, the longtime prosecutor in Davidson County, North Carolina, was indicted this week in a bizarre case where she is accused of texting an offer to pay $20,000 to get an opponent to drop out of an election for a superior court seat. Putting aside the wisdom on texting bribes or payoffs, Terry is accused of texting the offer to district court Judge April Wood.

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Muslim Flight Attendant Files Complaint Against ExpressJet After She Refuses To Serve Alcohol On Flights

ExpressJet_AirlinesGermanwings_-_ServiceThere is an interesting counterpart to the Kim Davis debate over the right of people to follow their religious beliefs in the denial of services to others. A Muslim flight attendant Charee Stanley says she was suspended by ExpressJet for refusing to serve alcohol in accordance with her Islamic faith. While there are clearly significant differences between a public official using her office to impose their religious views and an employee demanding accommodation in the work place, the controversy shows the increasing conflicts occurring between religious principles and public accommodation. We have seen this conflict most vividly in the controversy over Christian and Muslim bakeries and photographers declining to service same-sex weddings. We have previously discussed (here and here and here) the growing conflicts over businesses that decline to accommodate same-sex weddings and events in a clash between anti-discrimination and free speech (and free exercise) values. Despite my support for gay rights and same-sex marriage, I have previously written that anti-discrimination laws are threatening the free exercise of religion. Yet, these cases also raise concerns over rising burdens on both customers and businesses in having to deal with a myriad of different religious objections as in the ExpressJet case.

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Taking a look back: The highlight reel from Obergefell v. Hodges

Same sex caseBy: Cara L. Gallagher, Weekend Contributor, and Elliot Louthen

This is a beautiful but restless time of year for SCOTUS junkies. The gorgeous, late summer sun sinks faster out of the sky signaling not only the end of the (best) season but also the nearness of the next Supreme Court term. While this reality thrills us, it gives pause and arouses questions. Is it possible to ever have a term as exciting as the last? There’s no way, right? Truth be told, we recall having the same concerns after the close of the October 2011 term, so, yes, there’s a chance.

Rather than stare at the calendar like a watched pot pre-boil, we thought we’d pull out the highlight reel and review some of the big cases from June, starting with Obergefell v. Hodges, aka the same-sex marriage case. In the aftermath of the victory for gay rights, it was easy to overlook the complexities of the decision and focus solely on celebrating or cringing (if you want an inside view of the Courtroom read this post). But it was much more complicated than calling it a simple win or loss. Continue reading

Taliban Reportedly Holds Huge Meeting To Select New Leader . . . in Pakistan

Flag_of_Taliban.svgFlag_of_PakistanPakistan continues to defy the United States and the Western world in harboring Taliban fighters and lying publicly about the collusion of its intelligence services with the terrorist organization. There is no greater example that a meeting of hundreds of Taliban leaders to select their new leader. That would seem an ideal time for an attack by the United States and Afghanistan, but the meeting is being held in Pakistan and reportedly with the knowledge of the Pakistani government. The “Unity shura” will be brought to the Taliban by the country that we have given billions of dollars to in the war on terror.

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What Dave Eggers’ The Circle, Amazon, and SCOTUS reporting taught me


By: Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor

Hello, keyboard. Been a while, I know. Where have I been? Let’s just leave it at “busy, enjoying the blissful, sunny, cordless weeks of summer during the Court’s off-season.” There have been a lot of Cubs games—good games too, now that Chicago finally has a North side baseball team worthy of serious attention. There was some travel, a week at Harvard, articles and books read, Internet wormholes fallen into, and tennis, lots of tennis. The product of this bliss was a complete lack of desire to outwardly reflect on the travel, books, and education by writing. This isn’t like me at all. Historically, when I’ve read something even mildly compelling, I’ll tell no less than 15 people about it, link to it on Facebook and Twitter, and find some way to incorporate it into my writing. That’s not to say I didn’t read, watch, or see anything that wasn’t good. I did, no doubt, but my desire to take it in and push it out with my own analysis just never materialized. I think I know why and I think it has a little something to do with a prophetic book I read mid-June just before I started covering the final two weeks of an exciting (understatement) Supreme Court term.

I credit Dave Eggers’ book The Circle for inspiring steroid-like levels of productivity during those weeks and for my debilitating, meteoric crash once I left. Continue reading