Pizza, Pop and Politics addresses voting rights

first_imgND Votes hosted this semester’s third installment of Pizza, Pop and Politics, which explored voting rights in the U.S., on Tuesday. The discussion was led by professor Jennifer Mason McAward, an associate professor of law and director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame, and professor Jason Pierce, an American studies professor who specializes in American history and civil rights.Pierce began the discussion by giving the audience a historical perspective on voting rights, specifically those of African Americans. In 1864, a group of African Americans created a list of demands for the union after the Civil War, including the abolition of slavery, full citizenship rights for all African Americans, voting rights for African American men and land redistribution, he said.“Voting was a political right because it was a preservative of all rights … the court recognized that voting was a political act,” Pierce said. “Politics is about power, and voting allows power to be exercised. So central to the African-American reform effort has been the right to vote — not land reform, not reparations, but the right to vote. It shows how powerful it is, but it shows how contested it is. Voting restrictions allow power to be retained.”They received almost all of their charges through the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments between 1865 and 1870, Pierce said, but in 1898 the Mississippi court upheld that voting restrictions, such as a poll tax and literacy tests, were reasonable.“Americans think that voting is a privilege and a right, but those two things don’t necessarily go together,” he said. “That which is a privilege and that which is a right — not to be politically oxymoronic, a right is not something that you earn, it’s something that you gain because of your standing as a United States citizen. A privilege, it may be an honor to vote, but it’s not a gift.”Voting restrictions did not change until the U.S. introduced the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which Pierce said was “flawed as an effective device, but effective as a political device.”Following Pierce, McAward reflected on the role law has played in voting rights. The 15th amendment, which in name prevented racial discrimination in voting, was disregarded for 95 years, she said.“There was a mass campaign of terror in the South, and African Americans were effectively barred from exercising their constitutional right until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which congress passed to ban racial discrimination in voting practices,” McAward said.Although she agreed with Pierce about the flaws of the 1965 act, McAward said it was the most effective law of its kind, allowing a quarter of a million new voters to register.McAward examined President Trump’s claims of voter fraud — which has gained a national spotlight since the 2016 election — and said there are a few different claims of voter fraud, including impersonating a deceased person, a false claim of citizenship, incorrectly filling out an absentee ballot or government officials intentionally creating false votes.Though not denying its existence, McAward said voter fraud is rare and most likely did not cause Trump to lose the popular vote, as he claims.“Neither one [of the studies Trump has cited] supports his claims, although they do point to other problems in the system,” she said.The first study, which states that there are 24 million inaccurate voter registrations, does not necessarily mean that those people attempted to vote in multiple jurisdictions, McAward said, and a 2014 study, which said six percent of noncitizens voted in the 2008 presidential election, is based on an Internet survey which used methodology that may have skewed the data.“The author said that we have no information that these illegal votes actually impacted the outcome of the election,” she said. “Bottom line, voter fraud exists, and it happens, but it’s infrequent — particularly in-person voter fraud — and when it does happen it’s almost never outcome determinative.”Citing these surveys, McAward said identification requirements for voting aren’t necessary to prevent voting fraud and serve to disenfranchise those without state-issued identification, namely minority, elderly and low-income populations.“The voting rights movement started with bloodshed from the Civil War to Jim Crowe,” she said. “While the bloodshed is behind us, I hope, the struggle continues — just in a new form. For those of you who are interested in political participation, it requires our continued vigilance and commitment.”Tags: Law, Pizza Pop and Politics, race, Voting rightslast_img read more

Experts slam govt for ‘inconsistent, poor’ COVID-19 policies after transport relaxation

first_imgChairwoman Asfinawati of the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) lambasted the new “travel relaxation”, saying that any government policy adopted solely for economic reasons and with minimal consideration of public health was off target.“It is worrying when the policies taken are not based on accurate data. The outcome may be worse, considering the small percentage of our population that has been tested compared to those of other countries,” Asfinawati told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.Despite the government’s claim that the policy was intended to accommodate essential travel for public officials, COVID-19 patients and their families and Indonesians wishing to repatriate, Asfinawati feared that the policy could easily be misused.“How are we going to verify all [travelers]? I said from the beginning [that] what are needed from the regulations are the details. With this [policy], public officials can easily fabricate a legitimate reason to go back to their hometowns. In the end, this would be class bias,” she stressed. The government’s latest move to allow public transportation services to resume, even as the mudik (exodus) ban remains in force, has added unnecessary complications to that nationwide physical distancing policy. Experts say that the move is not only poorly calculated, but also inconsistent at a time when the nation’s fight against COVID-19 should be strengthened, not relaxed. Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi reopened all air, land and sea transportation services on Thursday, saying the measure was necessary for the national economy to survive.Although the new policy applies to certain individuals like state officials and medical workers and carries certain requirements, it has compounded the nationwide ban on all domestic travel to and from the so-called COVID-19 red zones. Read also: New regulation allows businesspeople, officials to travel despite ‘mudik’ banThe government has been heavily criticized for its inconsistent stance on social distancing since the first large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) was implemented in Jakarta.Ride-hailing ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers were left confused as to whether they could still transport passengers when the capital implemented the PSBB on April 10.While the Health Ministry rejected Jakarta’s request to allow ojek drivers to transport passengers, the Transportation Ministry issued a regulation that stipulated the opposite, which many pointed out was a contravention of the PSBB’s implementing guidelines.The government then issued the mudik travel ban on April 21, weeks after affected informal workers had started returning to their hometowns. President Joko Widodo attempted to fend off criticisms that the regulation came “too late”, with an etymological claim that the Idul Fitri tradition of mudik was not the same as the “regular” pulang kampung tradition of returning to one’s hometown.This Wednesday, however, Budi Karya said that mudik and pulang kampung were the same thing and that the government was banning both under the President’s instruction.Economist and political analyst Ichsanuddin Noorsy pointed out other instances that showed the government’s lack of commitment to COVID-19 mitigation, such as allowing international flights to operate normally despite the mudik ban.Ichsanuddin also regretted the Manpower Ministry’s plan to bring in 500 foreign workers from China in direct contravention of the Law and Human Rights Ministry’s recent temporarily ban on foreign arrivals to Indonesia.Read also: Indonesia to revise ‘overall data’ on COVID-19 cases as govt scrambles to ramp up testing“Almost all policies on COVID-19 [mitigation] are inconsistent,” he said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com, adding that such policy inconsistencies had led to weak inter-agency coordination in the field.“[These] policies are not based on the correct understanding of the problems – [they are] poor public policy formulations,” Ichsanuddin said, adding that he was afraid public distrust of the government could grow as a consequence.Similarly, Lokataru Legal and Human Rights Foundation executive director Haris Azhar said that the central and regional governments were out of sync in their stances on the COVID-19 social restriction policies.“The stay at home order is to reduce transmission. [So] Why is it that the government is now facilitating public transportation?” he said. “It’s confusing, because the regional administrations seem to want strict restrictions, but the central government keeps pushing the other way,” Haris told the Post on Thursday.Haris also called on the central government not to claim that Indonesia had succeeded in “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 transmission as a reason for making new policies.“It should not use language that says we are [now] safe. The numbers are still going up,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

ATP invests in energy-trading company with private equity firm

first_imgDenmark’s ATP is investing DKK500m (€67m) in energy trading firm NEAS Energy in an equity and debt deal the statutory pension fund believes gives it exposure to a little-understood sector with potential for substantial growth.The investment is being made in conjunction with private equity firm Via Venture Partners, which ATP has invested through before, and in which it is the sole investor.The deal consists of the acquisition of a minority stake in NEAS Energy as well as a debt injection, adding up to a total investment of DKK500m.A consortium consisting of Via Venture Partners and ATP will take ownership of around 30% of NEAS Energy for an equity investment of DKK250m, with the former taking approximately 18% and the latter around 12%, and ATP will provide a loan of DKK250m. NEAS Energy – which describes itself as an energy trading and asset management company for the physical and financial management of power, gas and related commodities on energy markets – is based in Aalborg in Denmark but operates internationally.Ulrik Dan Weuder, head of ATP’s infrastructure investments, said: “Co-investing with Via Venture Partners is one way of providing ATP access to attractive direct company investments, as it was also the case in the KMD and Nets investments.”He said ATP was interested in both debt and equity investments in companies it expected to produce good returns to its members.For its part, NEAS Energy said the investment would enable it to continue its international expansion.Bo Lynge Rydahl, chief executive of the company, said: “We see the investment of Via Venture Partners and ATP as an endorsement of our company and the future potential of our business.”Dan Weuder said he was excited about the potential for growth among investments in Europe’s rapidly changing electricity markets.“The European electricity market is in a state of such change right now, there are so many things going on, with a whole new industry of traders being created,” he told IPE.He said the market was now very fragmented following the emergence of so many different sources of energy to be used to supply power. These alternative energy sources, and the uncertainty about when they will be available to the transmission market, has created a new sector of brokers and other operators that need new skills such as weather forecasting.This new sector was needed to manage that power supply and optimise it, Dan Weuder said.“As investors, we need to respond to all this change, and it’s an area where you can really get something wrong if you don’t understand what’s going on,” he said.He said ATP was pleased to work with Via Ventures on the deal not least because the firm “really knows” the companies in which it invests.“It gives us a special protection,” he said. “We do our due diligence, but they are the ones that do most of the work.”On the finance structure of the deal, Dan Weuder said ATP was keen on investments where there was equity including board representation as well as debt.NEAS Energy has more than 200 staff in Aalborg, Stockholm, Hamburg and London and operates in 18 power and gas markets in Europe.It has a portfolio of 6,668MW of installed capacity under management from customers in renewable and thermal energy generation, the investors said.The final transaction is expected to be finalised in the first half of this year, pending approval from the relevant authorities, Via Venture Partners said.Carnegie Investment Bank and Bruun & Hjejle advised NEAS Energy in the deal, as well as its owners, while FIH Partners and Kromann Reumert advised Via Venture Partners.last_img read more