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Supreme Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID Law

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Political Editor – LeNora Millen

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court opinion that struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law last summer. The court denied North Carolina’s appeal of a court ruling stating its legislature intended to discriminate against minorities in enacting one of the toughest voter ID laws in the nation.  The stringent voter ID laws disproportionately burden voters of color, given reason for voters to become more aware of the five truths of voter suppression.

The law was challenged by civil rights groups and the Obama administration, which argued that the law’s photo ID requirement had a disparate impact on minority voters. Civil rights groups and then President Obama challenged the law, arguing that the law’s photo ID requirements imposed disparate impact on minority voters. The Supreme Court’s action keeps in place the federal appellate court ruling which previously struck down portions of the law and blocked enforcement.

It has been customary for the court to offer, no explanation for denying the appeal, whereas, no vote was noted. Chief Justice John Roberts said the state had produced a “blizzard of filings” over who was authorized to appeal. He noted that although the court declined to hear the case, the refusal expresses no opinion about the merits of the issue.

The North Carolina General Assembly urged the court to review a lower court decision that held the law targeted “African-Americans. The Supreme Court declined to weigh in. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote separately to stress that the denial should not be read as an endorsement of the lower court’s decision.

The case was complicated by the fact that after the election, North Carolina’s new governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, moved to dismiss the appeal that was first filed when Republican Pat McCrory was governor, while lawyers for the General Assembly urged the court to move forward.

The Supreme Court invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.  North Carolina imposed stringent photo ID requirement, reduced timeframe for early voting by seven days, eliminated the ability to register and vote the same day, invalidated votes cast in the incorrect precinct, and terminated pre-registration for 16-year-olds.

In a scathing decision last July, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state legislature explicitly set out to discover the kind of accommodations that minority voters use most often and were intent on rolling back or eliminating them, targeting African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” A month after the July decision, the Supreme Court declined to block the ruling, which prevented the state from enforcing the voter restrictions. The Justices were deadlocked by a 4-4 tie at the time.

A lawyer for the state, urging the Supreme Court to take its appeal, argued that the photo ID law is more lenient than one upheld by the court eight years ago. The law’s other provisions were in effect in two earlier state-wide elections “in which African-American participation increased,” according to S. Kyle Duncan, of Washington, DC.

The appeals court decision “insults the people of North Carolina and their elected representatives by convicting them of abject racism,” Duncan said. “That charge is incredible on its face given the pains the legislature took to ensure that no one’s right to vote would be abridged.”

According to Duncan, under then President Obama, the Justice Department urged the court not to take the case and to leave the lower court ruling in place which blocks enforcement of the voting restrictions. The government’s brief was filed one day before Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s Justice Department did not take a position on the case.

The NAACP also urged the Supreme Court to leave the lower court ruling intact. Some states have similar election practices, according to members of the NAACP, but that fact “cannot save or protect voting restrictions that are adopted with racial intent.” No other state “has simultaneously curtailed four different voting mechanisms disproportionately used by African Americans, while also imposing a strict photo ID requirement that excludes all forms of government-issued photo ID disproportionately held by African Americans, according to the NAACP.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, said the ruling was “a vindication of our constitutional and moral critique and challenge to the constitutional extremism of our government.”

Civil liberties groups on Monday applauded the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal.  “This is a victory against voter suppression and should send a message to other states that such extreme and racially discriminatory laws will be struck down,” Janai Nelson, associate director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement.

“This law, enacted with what the appeals court called discriminatory intent and ‘almost surgical precision’ targeting African-American voters, is meeting its much-deserved demise,” Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing.”

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the court’s move “now renders North Carolina’s law null and void, and brings to a close a long and protracted battle over a law deemed one of the most egregious voter suppression measures of its kind.”

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said, “This is a huge victory for voters and a massive blow to Republicans trying to restrict access to the ballot, especially in communities of color,” he said in a statement.”

The conservative Heritage Foundation said it was “disappointing that the Supreme Court did not accept for review an obviously wrong decision by a 4th Circuit panel that doesn’t follow the court’s precedent and other decisions on voter ID by other federal courts.”

 

 

 

 

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Lifestyle

Simple Solutions to Combat Winter Skin Sensitivity

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The winter season is here, and it’s important to get in the habit of taking care of your skin. Cold weather brings low humidity levels and dry air, which can suck the moisture from your skin, and without proper care, skin can become dry, cracked and irritated, causing discomfort.

This winter, focus on a regimen that helps protect and hydrate skin so you can spend time enjoying the benefits of winter like family game night, snow days and snuggling by the fire.

Prepare your family for cold weather with these simple tips that can be easily incorporated into your family’s daily routine, keeping skin feeling soft and healthy all winter long.

Hydrate Inside and Out. Staying hydrated during the hot, summer months is a given, but it is also important to remember that cold winter air can leave your skin parched. Use a humidifier to keep skin hydrated during the dry months and be sure to lather on moisturizer. Natural moisturizers like coconut oil and shea butter can act as protective barriers against harsh elements, sealing in moisture. In addition to hydrating on the outside, it is just as important to stay hydrated on the inside. By drinking water throughout the day, your skin can stay healthy and moisturized.

Switch to a Mild Laundry Detergent. Many common detergents can be abrasive to sensitive skin, especially when it is more vulnerable to irritation during the harsh winter months. Wash bed linens, towels and clothes with a mild detergent like all Free Clear year-round, especially during the winter months. As the No. 1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin, all Free Clear includes no dyes, fragrances or irritating residues. Using the power of stainlifters to fight tough stains, it is also safe for the whole family to use, keeping laundry clean while being gentle on skin.

Avoid Toxins, Specifically Allergens, and Irritants. Products that contain toxins, allergens and irritants should be avoided during months when skin is most sensitive. Choose moisturizers and skin care products that don’t contain common irritants, and opt for mild cleansers and moisturizers that are specifically labeled for sensitive skin. Castor oil is another moisturizer alternative that is natural and can be used on both the face and body.

Layer Up. Lock in moisture and protect your skin from wind, rain, and snow by wearing layers whenever you venture outside. The skin on your neck, face and hands is thinner than other areas of the body and therefore more sensitive to the effects of winter weather. Thermals, scarves and gloves can keep you warm and protect your skin from the cold, dry air. For those with sensitive skin, avoid synthetic fabrics and itchy materials like wool, and wash clothes with a dermatologist-recommended detergent like all Free Clear.

By implementing these best practices for skin sensitivity, you can minimize redness, dryness and discomfort to help skin stay healthy and glowing throughout the winter season. Visit all-laundry.com to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Source: All

@LeNoraMillen  01-21-18

 

 

 

 

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Lifestyle

Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop

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The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:

  • Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
  • Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
  • Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
  • Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.

Photo: Getty Images

Source: Discount Tire

 

@LeNoraMillen        01-19-18

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Health Care

Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud

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Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.

A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.

That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.

New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)

The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.

Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

Do

  • Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
  • When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
  • Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
  • Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
  • Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • Report suspected instances of fraud.
  • Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.

Don’t

  • Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
  • Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
  • Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.

Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.

With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.

 

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

@LeNoraMillen       01-19-18

 

 

 

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