Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, author of Engaging the Muslim World and a respected progressive observer of the Arab/Islamic world, started his blog, “Informed Comment,” after the 9/11 attacks, initially to cover al-Qaeda and to present analysis about how to defeat it. After the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a compound in Pakistan, Cole looked back at the past decade. “I was deeply dismayed when it became apparent that the Bush administration intended to use September 11 as a pretext to launch an illegal invasion of Iraq. I thought it was most unwise, and would be seen as an act of neo-imperialism and resisted,” he wrote (5/2).

“... What pained me most of all, aside from the sheer scale of destruction in Iraq set off by Bush’s illegal and ill-considered adventurism, was that the Iraq War clearly gave al-Qaeda an opening to grow and expand and recruit. I think if Bush had gone after bin Laden as single-mindedly as Obama has, he would have gotten him, and could have rolled up al-Qaeda in 2002 or 2003. Instead, Bush’s occupation of a major Arab Muslim country kept a hornet’s nest buzzing against the US, Britain and other allies.

“Now that Obama has eliminated the monster Usama bin Laden and vindicated the capability of the United States to visit retribution on its dire enemies, he can do one other great good for this country abroad. He can get us out of Iraq altogether. The US military presence there is the fruit of a poisonous tree. It will always provoke Iraqi Muslim activists, whether Sunni or Shiite or secular nationalist. And it angers the whole Arab world.

“The Arab Spring has demonstrated that the Arab masses yearn for liberty, not thuggish repression, for life, not death and destruction, for parliamentary democracy, not theocratic dictatorship. Bin Laden was already a dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War and the age of dictators in which a dissident such as he had no place in society and was shunted off to distant, frontier killing fields. The new generation of young Arabs in Egypt and Tunisia has a shot at a decent life. Obama has put the US on the right side of history in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya (where I see crowds for the first time in my life waving American flags). People might want a little help from a distance, but they don’t want to see Western troops deployed in fighting units on their soil.

“If Obama can get us out of Iraq, and if he can use his good offices to keep the pressure on the Egyptian military to lighten up, and if he can support the likely UN declaration of a Palestinian state in September, the US will be in the most favorable position in the Arab world it has had since 1956. And he would go down in history as one of the great presidents. If he tries to stay in Iraq and he takes a stand against Palestine, he risks provoking further anti-American violence. He can be not just the president who killed bin Laden, but the president who killed the pretexts for radical violence against the US. He can promote the waving of the American flag in major Arab cities. And that would be a defeat and humiliation for bin Laden and Al-Qaeda more profound than any they could have dreamed.”

GOP ATTACKS AARP. Republicans have opened a multi-front war on seniors with attacks on AARP. Reps. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Charles Boustany (R-La.) asked the IRS (4/8) to investigate AARP’s tax-exempt status as a 501(c)4. House Budget Czar Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has doubled down on Republican attacks on AARP, as his political action committee called it a “left-leaning pressure group. ... Last week, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a left-leaning pressure group with significant business interests in the insurance industry, launched a national ad campaign that intentionally misleads seniors about the Medicare debate,” wrote Pat Shortridge, a senior adviser to Ryan’s PAC, in an email to supporters (5/9). “Unfortunately, Washington’s special interest groups, like the AARP, have decided to play politics,” Shortridge wrote. “We either need them to have a serious conversation or get out of the way.”

The only special interest groups in Washington that Republicans consider to be legitimate, apparently, are those aligned with the US Chamber of Commerce and/or the Koch Brothers.

MEDICARELESS REPUBLICAN DROPS IN POLLS. The Republican threat to privatize Medicare after they promised in 2010 to protect Medicare already has placed at least one formerly solidly Republican district “in play” after the GOP candidate said she supported the GOP budget cuts. After two earlier polls showed Jane Corwin (R) holding a narrow lead in a May 24 special election for an open seat in New York's 26th District near Buffalo, Public Policy Polling, working for DailyKos.com and the Service Employees International Union, found Kathy Hochul (D) leading Corwin 35-31 (5/9). The wild card is Jack Davis, running on the Tea Party line, who got 24% in the poll. (A Green candidate, Ian Murphy, drew 2%.)

A poll by Siena College (4/29) found that voters “strongly oppose cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits to help close the deficit (59-38 percent); however, they strongly support increasing personal income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans (62-35 percent).”

REPUBLICANS BLOCK BANK CONSUMER PROTECTION. Senate Republicans threatened to block any nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the agency is dramatically weakened. “We will not support the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director until the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reformed,” reads a letter co-authored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Banking Committee, and signed by 42 other Senate Republicans, Brian Beutler reported at TalkingPointsMemo.com (5/9).

Not signing the letter were Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John Ensign (R-Nev.), who stepped down before it was released. Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who along with Brown voted for the financial reform law, added their names to the letter, Beutler noted.

“The financial reform law is still fairly popular, and the CFPB is the most popular part of it. President Obama could use recess appointment to fill the vacancy, and take the fight public. At this point it's a question of how he and Senate Democrats decide to handle it,” Beutler noted.

RECALL THREAT PROMPTS WIS. GOP TO RUSH BILLS. Wisconsin Republicans are moving to ram as many right-wing priorities as they can before July 12 recall elections that threaten their Senate majority. “Republicans, in a rapid sequence of votes over the next eight weeks, plan to legalize concealed weapons, deregulate the telephone industry, require voters to show photo identification at the polls, expand school vouchers and undo an early release for prisoners,” the Associated Press reported (5/7). Lawmakers may also act again on Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial plan stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. An earlier version, which led to massive protest demonstrations at the Capitol, has been left in limbo by legal challenges. “Everything's been accelerated,” said Republican Rep. Gary Tauchen, who is working on the photo ID bill. “We've got a lot of big bills we're trying to get done.”

The photo ID bill requires a driver’s license, state ID, military ID or certain other government IDs to vote, which will require more than 175,000 seniors who don’t drive to get a ride at least 50 miles round-trip to obtain a state ID card to vote. It will cost the state more than $5.7 mln to implement, at a time Gov. Walker claims the state is broke and needs to restrict public employees' collective bargaining rights to survive.

Recall petitions are expected to force six Republican senators to defend their seats. Three Dems may also be on recall ballots. A net gain of three seats would give Dems control of the Senate.

Democrats drew their first blood in a May 3 special election for a state Assembly seat that was held by the GOP for the past 16 years. Democrat Steve Doyle beat Republican John Lautz 54% to 46% for the seat given up by Rep. Mike Huebsch (R) to serve as Gov. Walker's secretary of administration. Republicans kept two other Assembly seats in Republican hands in the special election and have a 59-38-1 majority.

PEOPLE BLAME WALL ST., BIG OIL FOR HIGH GAS PRICES. Americans overwhelmingly blame Big Oil and Wall Street speculators for high gas prices. A new poll by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN (5/9) shows that 89% believe oil companies deserve a great deal of (61%) or some (27%) blame for the recent increase in gas prices, and 90% believe Wall Street speculators deserve a great deal (59%) or some (31%) blame. Meanwhile, only 25% say Obama's policies deserve a great deal of blame and 36% say Obama’s policies deserve some blame -- which indicates that a majority think Obama deserves at least some blame, but they are far more inclined to blame the oil industry.

Meanwhile, Senate Dems were planning to hold a vote on ending tax breaks for the oil industry and diverting the savings to deficit reduction. But Greg Sargent noted at WashingtonPost.com (4/9) that Republicans were denouncing the Dem proposal as a tax hike.

LABOR MULLS SHIFT FROM FEDERAL DEMS. Three years of watching Democrats looking for compromise with anti-labor, pro-plutocrat Republicans in Congress has AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka promising to put more of the labor federation's money into their own organizing and less into defending President Obama and congressional Dems in 2012. The AFL-CIO bucked the White House last year, supporting Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's unsuccessful primary challenge to Blue Dog Sen. Blanche Lincoln. When Halter lost, anonymous White House officials attacked labor leaders as “absolute idiots” who had been “humiliated” after flushing $10 mln “down the toilet.” In an interview with Salon (5/6) Trumka seemed unchastened by attacks over the Halter bid, and he pledged the AFL-CIO to a new independence from Democratic Party  organizations and candidates. He didn’t spell out exactly what that might mean, citing decisions to be made by the federation's governing Executive Council. “You'll see us giving less to party structure, and more to our own structure,” Trumka promised. “It's actually going to be fun.”

In the wake of Wisconsin, Trumka has been working with a 60-member coalition on the AFL-CIO's “We are One” rallies that turned out hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the nation on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, where he'd traveled to support striking sanitation workers, a reminder of earlier alliances between the civil rights movement and labor. Trumka recently launched an “Executive Pay Watch” project, to track the gulf between CEO salaries and the average worker’s and hosted economist Joseph Stiglitz, in the wake of his widely read Vanity Fair piece “Of by for top 1 percent.” Trumka sketched out graphs showing the way the income gains tied to US productivity increases have gone to the top 10% over the last 30 years, and pushed power-points and pie-charts across his desk, showing me the way Democrats have become almost as reliant as Republicans on corporate money (Republicans get 79% of campaign contributions from business; Democrats get 72%, and the share from unions has dropped in half in just the last decade.) Like other labor and progressive leaders, Trumka is trying to figure out how to compete in a war of ideas as well as campaign dollars.

Trumka's remarks came after the International Association of Fire Fighters, which spent nearly $15 mln in the 2010 midterms on congressional candidates, announced (4/26) it was shifting its resources from federal elections into local races, to fight the growing assault on public worker rights at the state and country level, union president Harold Schaitberger told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, “Our friends have not found a way to deliver on behalf of workers, on behalf of the middle class. We are turning the spigot off and redirecting our efforts out to the various states where we are fighting these fights.”

BANKSTERS STILL CON HOMEOWNERS. A few months ago, Bank of America offered Sergio Cortez of Staten Island, N.Y., the help he desperately needed to stay in his home: a break on his mortgage. Like millions of others, he was facing foreclosure. But there was a catch buried in the fine print. Cortez had to waive any possibility of ever suing the bank for anything relating to the loan.

Cortez isn’t alone. While regulators have banned the practice, some banks and others who handle mortgages have still been forcing homeowners into a corner: You want a chance at saving your home? Then you'll have to waive your rights.

“It's just unfair,” said Jane Azia, director of consumer protection for the New York State Banking Department. “It puts borrowers in a very vulnerable situation.”

Pro Publica identified eight banks and other mortgage servicers who offer help that limits homeowners’ ability to sue or fight foreclosure. When we contacted them, they offered a variety of responses. Some said the inclusion of the waivers had been a mistake and would stop. Some argued that language that seemed to waive the homeowner's rights didn't actually do so. One argued that a loophole in a rule barring the practice meant their inclusion in certain agreements was proper.

Homeowners face a tough choice with these offers. Despite the overwhelming need, it remains a struggle for borrowers to get help. Any offer might be the last one to come along. Yet if a homeowner signs away their right to sue, they might be forfeiting the best leverage they have to get a lasting solution, borrower attorneys say. (ProPublica.org, 5/9)

GM, CHRYSLER BOTH BACK IN BLACK. Chrysler reported a $116 mln first-quarter profit, its first since exiting bankruptcy. The carmaker, which was taken over by Italy's Fiat, hopes to complete a $6 bln debt offering to refinance its US and Canadian government debt.

GM's $3.2 bln profit — its fifth straight profitable quarter — was higher than experts predicted and more than three times the profit of the same quarter in 2010, when the company still struggled to emerge from bankruptcy, Jonathan Cohn noted at TNR.com (5/5).

President Obama was roundly attacked by Republicans for providing $85 bln in financing in December 2008 to help GM and Chrysler survive restructuring under bankruptcy. Democrats claim the bailouts saved 1.4 mln jobs at GM, Chrysler and their suppliers, the Detroit News reported (5/5).

OHIO MORE VIOLENT THAN MEXICAN BORDER. After a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asserted that Congress could not consider immigration reform until border violence is under control, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-El Paso, Texas) noted (5/9) that the six largest cities in Ohio all have higher rates of violent crimes than every major city along the US-Mexico border. In Boehner’s own district, Reyes noted, Dayton, Ohio, saw more homicides in 2009 and 2010 than Texas' four largest border cities combined, despite the fact that Dayton's population of 141,500 is only about one-tenth the size by comparison.

Markos Moulitsas noted at DailyKos (5/10) that the most recent City Crime Rankings Survey by CQ Press showed Ohio's cities have higher rates of violence and crime in every category, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft than border communities.

A bill to create a path to citizenship for students and members of the US military passed in the House last year under the Democratic majority, but Republicans blocked the DREAM Act in the Senate last December.

NAFTA COSTS 683,000 JOBS SO FAR. To date, 682,900 US jobs have been lost or displaced since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in 1994, a new Economic Policy Institute study finds. The main reason for the job loss is a $97.2 bln trade deficit with Mexico. In 1993, one year before NAFTA was implemented, the United States had a $1.6 bln trade surplus with Mexico that supported nearly 30,000 US  jobs. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have seen jobs lost or displaced to Mexico in the past 17 years, says Robert Scott, EPI’s senior international economist and author of “Heading South: US-Mexico trade and job displacement after NAFTA” (see epi.org).

SUPREME COURT RESTRICTS CLASS-ACTION LAWSUITS. Businesses may use an arbitration clause in standard-form contracts to keep their customers from banding together in class-action arbitration or lawsuits, the Supreme Court ruled (4/27) in a decision that split 5-4 along ideological lines.

Though the decision concerned arbitrations, it appeared to provide businesses with a way to avoid class-action lawsuits in court. All they need do, the decision suggested, is use standard contracts that require two things: that disputes be raised only through the informal mechanism of arbitration and that claims be brought one by one. “The decision basically lets companies escape class actions, so long as they do so by means of arbitration agreements,” Brian T. Fitzpatrick, a law professor at Vanderbilt University, told Adam Liptak of the New York Times. “This is a game-changer for businesses. It’s one of the most important and favorable cases for businesses in a very long time.”

The decision fits in with recent rulings that have favored arbitrations and been wary of aspects of class actions, Liptak wrote. The case was brought by a California couple who objected to a $30 charge for what was said to be a free cellphone. They had signed a “take it or leave it” standard contract from AT&T Mobility that required them to resolve disputes through arbitration and barred them from banding together with others to seek class-action treatment, whether in arbitration or in traditional litigation in court.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in AT&T v. Concepcion, said the lower courts had failed to properly apply the Federal Arbitration Act, which overrides some state court decisions disfavoring arbitration.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for himself and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said the state court decision banning class waivers did not violate the federal law favoring arbitrations. Class arbitrations, Breyer wrote, are perfectly appropriate ways to resolve claims that are minor individually but significant in the aggregate.

The most fundamental problem, he wrote, is that minor frauds like the one asserted here by the California couple will not be remedied. “What rational lawyer would have signed on to represent the Concepcions in litigation for the possibility of fees stemming from a $30.22 claim?” he asked. Quoting from a decision in another case, he answered his own question. “Only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30,” he said.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader said, “With today’s 5-4 decision in the AT&T v. Concepcion case, the US Supreme Court undermined the rights of consumers to band together and challenge corporate misdeeds.

“Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Alito and Chief Justice Roberts should be ashamed of themselves for limiting consumer access to the courts.

“The decision means that in many cases consumers will need to individually spend more time and money challenging anti-consumer practices than they would if they were allowed to band together and collectively seek justice.

“To counter this decision, consumers should rally in support of the Arbitration Fairness Act, sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (DFL-Minn.), which is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.

“Consumers should not be barred from the courts based on anti-consumer, one-sided, fine-print contracts.”

For more information this topic visit the following websites: (citizen.org), (faircontracts.org), (publicjustice.org) and (fairarbitrationnow.org).

FLA. CUTS JOBLESS BENEFITS TO PAY FOR CORPORATE TAX CUTS. The Republican-dominated Florida Legislature sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott (R) that would establish some of the deepest cuts in unemployment benefits in the nation. The legislation would cut maximum state benefits to 23 weeks from 26 when the jobless rate is 10.5% or higher. If lower, the maximum would decline on a sliding scale until bottoming at 12 weeks if the jobless rate was 55 or less.

As the National Employment Law Project pointed out, with this bill, Florida will go further than any other state in dismantling its unemployment insurance system. The Republican sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Nancy Detert (R), relied on the same false assumption as the lawmakers in Utah, saying that cutting benefits “encourages people to get back into the job market.” Research by the San Francisco Federal Reserve has found that workers who qualify for unemployment benefits stay jobless just 1.6 weeks longer than those who do not qualify for such benefits.

Even before this legislation, Florida’s benefits were among the nation’s stingiest. Once it becomes law, Floridians will not get the national standard of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits unless the state’s unemployment rate, currently at 11.1%, tops 12%. As the Miami Herald pointed out, the bill also makes it “easier for companies to keep former workers from collecting benefits.”

Adding insult to injury, Pat Garofalo noted at ThinkProgress.org (5/8), the money saved from cutting unemployment benefits will be used to reduce business taxes in a state where the corporate tax rate is already exceedingly low.

FBI SURVEILLANCE SKYROCKETS IN 2010. The Department of Justice recently reported a dramatic increase in surveillance of Americans between 2009 and 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union noted (5/9). The federal agency more than quadrupled use of secret court subpoenas, known known as 215 orders, which give the government access to "any tangible thing," including a wide range of sensitive information such as financial records, medical records, and even library records. In 2010, the FBI made 96 applications, up from just 21 in 2009.

There was also a huge increase in "national security letters (NSL), which allow the FBI to demand records related to a broad range of personal information, including financial records, email addresses with which a person has corresponded and even the identity of a person who has posted anonymous speech on a political website, all without the permission or supervision of a court. In 2010, the FBI more than doubled the number of US persons it surveilled with NSLs, requesting 24,287 NSLs on 14,212 people, up from 14,788 NSLs on 6,114 people the year before. The FBI also increased its electronic and physical surveillance, making 1,579 applications to wiretap and physically search individuals’ property last year, up from 1,376 the year before.

Three of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act were set to expire May 27: the "215 orders"; the roving wiretap provision that allows the government to listen in on phone calls without specifically identifying a phone line for their tap, or even a target; and the "lone wolf provision," which apparently has never been used, but nevertheless allows the government to conduct surveillance on non-US citizens who have no connection to a terrorist organization.

UNDISCLOSED CONS OUTSPENT LIBS 8:1. After the Supreme Court last year invalidated a 63-year-old ban on corporate (and union) money directly funding individual candidates in federal elections, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics found that spending by undisclosed donors allowed by the Citizens United ruling was eight times higher for conservatives $119.6 mln) than liberals ($15.7 mln). "Not only did this money help elect a more conservative Congress, but it also is having a lingering effect on our campaign system," Zaid Jilani noted at ThinkProgress.org (5/6). Democratic strategists announced that they will be forming Priorities USA Action, an independent expenditure PAC that will collect funds from undisclosed donors similar to the one that conservative groups used so successfully in 2010.

"What this means is that federal elections in 2012 may include an unprecedented flurry of corporate and secret cash that would drown out the voices of Main Street America in a way never seen before in modern history," Jilani wrote. "Ultimately, the only way to deal with this threat to our democracy is to enact a system of public financing, much like the one enshrined in the Fair Elections Now Act, which would allow public financing for congressional candidates who qualify with a limited number of small contributors. (See fairelectionsnow.org.)

IS DEBT LIMIT CONSTITUTIONAL? Garrett Epps makes the case at TheAtlantic.com (4/28) that if Republicans refuse to lift the debt ceiling, President Obama can simply continue to make debt payments under the authority of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which directs that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

Epps notes, "This provision makes clear that both the monies our nation owes to bondholders, and the sums promised in legislation to those receiving pensions set by law from the federal government, must be paid regardless of the political whims of the current congressional majority. All obligations that the nation has undertaken by drawing on its credit must at all times be rendered current."

GOP: DEBT=HOLOCAUST. An emerging theme from Republican alarmists seems to be that the national debt is comparable to the Holocaust during World War II. In a speech to New Hampshire Republicans (4/30), US Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is considering a race for president, recounted learning as a child about the Holocaust -- and wondering if her mother did anything to stop it. She said she was shocked to hear that many Americans weren't aware that millions of Jews had died until after World War II ended. Bachmann said the next generation will ask similar questions about what their elders did to prevent them from facing a huge tax burden.

"I tell you this story because I think in our day and time, there is no analogy to that horrific action," she said, referring to the Holocaust. "But only to say, we are seeing eclipsed in front of our eyes a similar death and a similar taking away. It is this disenfranchisement that I think we have to answer to."

Steve Benen noted at WashintonMonthly.com (5/1), "I don't imagine the right-wing Minnesotan will understand this, but when one says 'there is no analogy,' and then makes the analogy anyway, the first half doesn't automatically negate the second half."

That same evening, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) in a speech at the National Rifle Association convention in Pittsburgh, made nearly an identical argument, with an anecdote that compared silence in the face of mounting debt in modern America to those who said nothing about the rise of the Nazis.

He recalled a family trip years ago to a Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. He said he was comforted when his young daughter, at the end of the tour, wrote unbidden in the guest book: "Why didn't anybody do something?"

"Let there never be a time in this country when some father has to look over his daughter's shoulder and see her ask the haunting question, 'why didn't somebody do something?'" he said.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman was not pleased at equating the Holocaust and the national debt, and he chastised Bachman and Huckabee for their remarks. "“It is highly inappropriate to use America’s mounting debt crisis as another occasion to invoke Nazis and the Holocaust, particularly on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time dedicated to memorializing, not trivializing, the 6 million Jews and millions of others who perished at the hands of the Nazis,” said Foxman, according to Michelle Goldberg at TheDailyBeast.com (5/4).

This utterly predictable rebuke appeared to enrage Huckabee, Goldberg noted, as Huckabee called upon Foxman to apologize to him and "retract his totally inappropriate and reckless attack issued recently.” Huckabee added, "“Israel and Jewish people need to make friends, not insult the ones they have.”

APPEALS COURT ORDERS CHEERS FOR RAPIST. The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Texas high school cheerleader who was disciplined when she refused to cheer for a basketball player who had raped her. The girl, identified as H.S., was 16 when she reported she was raped at a party in Silsbee, Texas, in October 2008 by an assailant she identified as Rakheem Bolton, a star on the high school football team, Bob Egelko reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. Bolton was allowed to return to school after a county grand jury declined to indict him. At a February 2009 basketball game, H.S. joined in leading cheers for the Silsbee team, which included Bolton, until he went to the foul line to shoot a free throw and she folded her arms and was silent. Bolton later was indicted on a sexual assault charge and ultimately pleased guilty in September 2010 to a misdemeanor assault charge.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last November that the girl had no right to refuse to cheer for her attacker because, as a cheerleader in uniform, she was an agent of the school. To add insult to the injury, Marie Diamond noted at ThinkProgress.org (5/6), the court also dismissed her case as "frivolous" and ordered her family to pay $45,000 in legal fees to the school district.

Diamond noted that the 5th Circuit has repeatedly illustrated its hostility to First Amendment rights and victims seeking compensation claims. Texas also has a bad track record when it comes to high-profile rape cases, she noted. A recent case involving the gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl by at least 18 men, including several student athletes, caused national outrage after many in the community tried to blame the victim. For years Texas has forced women to pay for their own rape kits. The Texas House has approved a bill that would require victims of rape who become pregnant to get an ultrasound and hear a description of the fetus before getting an abortion.

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2011


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