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Delaware tea

"Delaware tea" Continued...

Issue: "On the rails," Oct. 9, 2010

Rally for no reason

The unserious Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report have a serious response to Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, announcing their "Rally to Restore Sanity" built off their own TV popularity. Set to take place at the Washington Monument on Oct. 30, the weekend before Election Day, it's billed for "people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn't be the only ones that get heard." More than 100,000 have signed up to attend via Facebook, though the organizers only have a permit for 25,000, well under the attendance at Beck's August rally. The organizers claim that, like Beck's rally, it is apolitical, though Democratic strategists have suggested setting up phone banks there to get out the vote the following Tuesday.

Trouble with rubble

Leslie Voltaire, a Haitian architect and presidential candidate in the country's Nov. 28 elections, says Haiti needs to create a new government post: "rubble czar." Since the Jan. 12 earthquake left an estimated 33 million cubic yards of debris in Port-au-Prince, workers have removed only 2 percent. Mountains of rubble are plaguing the capital city and paralyzing nearly every other aspect of recovery: Impassable roads and crumbled structures make rebuilding impossible in most quarters of town. Reasons for the delay include confusion over who owns destroyed properties and disputes over where to dump debris. But Eric Overvest, the UN country director for Haiti, identifies the underlying problem: "There's no master plan." Haitian voters are looking for a master plan from about 19 candidates vying for the country's presidency. Elections are scheduled for next month and the field remains cluttered: On Sept. 21 the election board rejected the candidacy of popular Haitian-born entertainer Wyclef Jean because it said he had failed to meet a five-year residency requirement.

Voting rights probe

The Justice Department's Inspector General has opened an investigation into the agency's voting section after allegations surfaced over the last year that it isn't enforcing U.S. laws equally ("Justice undone," July 31, 2010). Section attorney J. Christian Adams quit in May after he said the section refused to enforce parts of the Voting Rights Act and dropped a clear case of voter intimidation involving the New Black Panther Party (NBPP). The DOJ transferred another Voting Section attorney who reportedly criticized the handling of the NBPP case, Christopher Coates, to the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina. The DOJ's IG Glenn Fine wrote in a Sept. 13 letter that while the investigation would include the NBPP case, it will look "more broadly on the overall enforcement of civil rights laws by the voting section."

Disabling

The number of former workers seeking Social Security disability benefits has spiked, raising concern that the jobless are expanding the program beyond its intended purpose of aiding the disabled. Applications to the program soared by 21 percent, to 2.8 million, from 2008 to 2009, as the economy faltered-the sharpest increase in the 54-year history of the program-adding to the program's fiscal woes and to an administrative backlog. About 8 million workers received disability benefits in June, an increase of 12.6 percent since the recession began in 2007, according to Social Security Administration statistics.

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