Trump Pittsburgh visit: 11 Jewish leaders push back against president after synagogue shooting

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A group of Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh demanded Trump denounce white nationalism and stop targeting minorities before he visits.

More than 35,000 people have signed an open letter to President Trump from the leaders of a Pittsburgh-based Jewish group who say the president will not be welcome in the city unless he denounces white nationalism and stops “targeting” minorities after a mass shooting Saturday at a local synagogue left 11 dead.

Nevertheless, the White House announced Trump would travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, ignoring the letter as well as a plea from Pittsburgh’s mayor that the president at least refrain from visiting “while we are burying the dead.” The first of the funerals for the 11 shooting victims is expected to take place Tuesday.

The open letter, which was published and shared on Sunday, was written by 11 members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc, a national organization for progressive Jews focused on social justice, following what is being called the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. The shooting at Tree of Life synagogue also left several people injured, including law enforcement.

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PA Gov: GOP’s Proposed House Map Is ‘Drawn In A Way To Benefit Republicans’

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Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will not submit a new Republican-drawn map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts to the state’s high court, saying Tuesday that it uses the same unconstitutionally partisan tactics as the 6-year-old boundaries struck down in a gerrymandering case.

Wolf’s move came six days before the deadline set by the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court to impose new boundaries for Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts. However, Wolf’s office did not immediately say whether he would submit his own map to the court, and he has not publicly released his own proposed map.

Thousands of people line the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial while listening to speakers at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech in Washington, DC.Image: Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images

Redrawing the map of Pennsylvania districts could boost Democrats nationally in their quest to take control of the U.S. House, and leaves district boundaries up in the air barely three months before May’s primary election.

The governor said his office’s analysis of the plan put forward Friday night by leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature concluded that it was clearly designed to help their own candidates.

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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Hopes to Impeach Justices Who Rejected Gerrymandered Map

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22-pennsylvania-gerrymander.w710.h473How could anyone take issue with the straightforward layout of the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania? Illustration: OpenStreetsMap via Fair Districts PA

Someone has been giving Republicans ideas about doing away with courts that don’t rule in their favor. On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to stay a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that requires the GOP-controlled legislature to redraw the state’s gerrymandered congressional districts before the next election. One Republican state lawmaker responded by starting a push to impeach the five Democratic state justices who found the map in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

State Representative Cris Dush sent a memo to all members of the House seeking co-sponsors for an impeachment bill. In a speech to the chamber, he argued that the justices had “blatantly and clearly” contradicted the state constitution, and should thus be removed by the legislature.

“This is a usurpation of the sovereign power of the legislature under the Pennsylvania Constitution,” he said. “In the Constitution, it’s a contract between the people and the government that they hired to oversee them. And the sovereigns in this issue are God, the people, and the legislature — in that order.”

Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, state officials can be removed with the agreement of two-thirds of senators and a majority of the state representatives, according to ThinkProgress. Republicans control both chambers, though the state has a Democratic governor and President Trump won it by less than one percentage point. (The recent court decision was about the state’s congressional maps, not the state legislative districts.)

Republicans hold 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats, and redrawing the map could help the Democrats’ effort to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

Whether any Republicans will join Dush’s effort remains to be seen. GOP leaders told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they hadn’t discussed it yet. While they may not be willing to go as far as Dush, the legislature’s top two Republicans signaled on Monday that they may not be willing to accept the court’s decision. In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Mike Turzai said they would try to comply with the court’s order to redraw the maps by Friday, “but may be compelled to pursue further legal action in federal court.”

By Margaret Hartmann/NYMag

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Why Bill Cosby’s Criminal Case May Now Be Dismissed

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If former Pennsylvania District Attorney Bruce Castor made a promise not to prosecute Bill Cosby in 2005, this could doom prosecutors in the sexual assault case filed against him in December.

Here’s why.

Cosby’s attorneys say he ONLY agreed to testify in a sexual assault civil case based on this prosecutorial promise. You would expect, at the time, if Cosby’s attorneys thought he might be charged criminally in connection with that case, that they would have advised their client to invoke his right not to incriminate himself. They would have been crazy not to do so.

Instead, Cosby testified – describing in detail his various sexual encounters with young women and use of drugs – which he claimed were (basically) consensual. And now, those very admissions by Cosby, are the heart of the criminal case brought by Kevin Steele, the newly elected Montgomery County district attorney. (Side note: Steele was elected based on a campaign promise to prosecute Cosby)

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NRA Suing Pennsylvania Cities Over Gun Laws

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Image: CBS Philly

Armed with a new state law, pro-gun groups are rapidly scaling up their attack on municipal firearms ordinances in Pennsylvania, with the National Rifle Association filing suit over gun-control measures in three cities.

The cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster have “openly defied” a 40-year-old state law that forbids municipalities from regulating firearms, said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

The lawsuit against Lancaster was filed late Tuesday and was released by the NRA on Wednesday. The group also filed legal paperwork in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh courts and was awaiting confirmation those lawsuits had been accepted.

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Henry “Box” Brown

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Image: Biography.com

Henry “Box” Brown was born, enslaved, on a Virginia plantation in 1815. After his family was sold, Brown committed himself to escaping from bondage. He had himself shipped in a wooden box from Virginia to Philadelphia, where slavery had been abolished. Brown was subsequently the subject of a popular slave narrative, which he adapted into a stage show. The details of his death are unknown.

Brown was born enslaved in Louisa County, Virginia, in 1815. The precise date of his birth is unknown. At the age of 15, he was sent to Richmond to work in a tobacco factory. Although he married and had four children, he was unable to live with his family. In 1848, his wife and children were sold to a plantation in North Carolina. This tremendous loss fueled Brown’s fervor to escape from slavery.

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Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Struck Down

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A state judge on Friday struck down a nearly two-year-old requirement that almost all of Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million voters show photo identification before voting, setting the stage for a showdown before the state’s highest court.

Judge Bernard L. McGinley of Commonwealth Court, a Democrat, said that the law would unreasonably burden people trying to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and that the state had been unable to convincingly explain why it was necessary.

“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal,” Judge McGinley wrote in his 103-page ruling.

The law, one of the strictest in the nation, was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, in March 2012 over the protests of Democratic lawmakers in state Republican-controlled Legislature.

Enforcement of the law has been blocked by court order pending resolution of the legal challenge. Both sides had vowed to appeal any decision against them to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

A spokesman for Mr. Corbett did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Witold J. Walczak, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped lead the legal challenge, said “the act was plainly revealed to be nothing more than a voter suppression tool.”

More from the Associate Press via New York Times

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