...Republican-led legislatures in Florida, Idaho, South Dakota and other states have passed laws limiting the use of the practice, one piece of a broader G.O.P. attempt to lock in political control for years to come, along with new laws to restrict voting access and the partisan redrawing of congressional districts that will take place in the coming months.
So far in 2021, Republicans have introduced 144 bills to restrict the ballot initiative processes in 32 states, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a liberal group that tracks and assists citizen-driven referendums. Of those bills, 19 have been signed into law by nine Republican governors. In three states, Republican lawmakers have asked voters to approve ballot initiatives that in fact limit their own right to bring and pass future ballot initiatives.
“They have implemented web after web of technicalities and hurdles that make it really hard for community-based groups to qualify for the ballot and counter why ballot initiatives were created in the first place,” said Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, the executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. “This is directly connected to every attack we’ve seen on our democracy.”
In recent years, Democrats have leveraged ballot initiatives to bypass Republican-controlled legislatures, enacting laws in red states that raised the minimum wage, legalized marijuana, expanded Medicaid, introduced nonpartisan redistricting and no-excuse absentee voting, and restored voting rights to people with felony convictions.
And to think that I remember a time when the GOP was all about “let the people vote.” Heh.
Dahleen Glanton of the Chicago Tribune, while critical, in some ways, of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, cites more reasons that she supports Mayor Lightfoot’s decision to limit one-on-one interviews for the second anniversary of the Lightfoot Administration to black and brown reporters.
The lack of diversity on newsroom staffs and in management positions has long plagued the Chicago Tribune. But it isn’t unique to Chicago. It has been a long-standing goal of the National Association of Black Journalists as well as other journalism organizations, such as the American Society of News Editors.
When I arrived at the Tribune in 1989, there were at least twice as many African Americans on staff than there are today. Retaining talented journalists of color has become increasingly difficult as newsrooms downsize. Talented African American and Latino journalists often leave because they see no path for advancement.
Last year, Nieman Lab, a publication of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, compiled tweets by journalists of color who took to social media to discuss the systemic racism and discrimination they experience in newsrooms.
The consensus is that America’s newsrooms have a serious race problem. Across America, print, broadcast and internet publishing industries are overwhelmingly white and male.
More than three-quarters of newsroom employees — reporters, editors, photographers and videographers — are non-Hispanic whites, compared with about two-thirds all U.S. workers, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center.
About 6 in 10 newsroom employees are men, compared with 53% of all workers.
Yasmeen Serhan of The Atlantic on a word that suddenly appears in presidential-level rhetoric regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“All of the sudden, and I mean all the sudden, the word equal is appearing in [President Biden’s] rhetoric and the rhetoric of the secretary of state,” Martin Indyk, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel and Barack Obama’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2013 to 2014, told me. “That’s totally new.”
Looking back at speeches by former U.S. presidents on this issue, I found few uses of the word (one address, from George W. Bush in 2002, noted
that men and women around the globe are “equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government,” though he didn’t single out Palestinians). While it’s hard to know exactly what the Biden administration means by “equal”—the State Department didn’t respond to a request for comment—Indyk offered a theory: “It’s a reflection, I think, of the pressure that they’re under from progressives who are pushing this concept of equal rights as a thing that the United States should now focus on.”
Indyk isn’t the only person I spoke with who noticed the word equal appearing more and more in U.S. language on this issue. Yousef Munayyer, a nonresident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, D.C., and a close observer of this conflict, told me that while its usage may be vague, equal nonetheless signals a shift from focusing on a political solution to focusing on human rights. “What we’re starting to see a shift toward is that [the conflict is] not just unsustainable,” Munayyer said. “It’s also unacceptable. That’s the direction that this is going in, and they’re trying to find language now to help navigate that shift.”
Finally today, the hurricane season’s first named storm, Ana, will be no threat to land but Carolyn Beeler of The Week reports that officials are making a number of plans and even changes for this hurricane season.
The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1, but in each of the past six years, named storms — given to storms that exceed 39 miles per hour — have formed before that date. The National Hurricane Center began issuing its routine tropical weather advisories on May 15, for the first time this year.
Improvements in satellite technology make it easier to spot these early storms, "but there's also good reasons to suspect that there's something really going on related to climate change," said Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished scholar at the National Center of Atmospheric Research. There is some evidence to suggest that storm season is starting earlier and ending later.
"This is consistent with the idea that climate change is occurring," Trenberth said, "and so the oceans are warming and the environment evidently is changing sufficiently to enable these tropical storms to occur."
Regional hurricane officials are meeting this spring to discuss moving the official start date for the Atlantic hurricane season in future years to May 15, a move that would bring it in line with the beginning of the Pacific basin season.
Everyone have a good morning!