- Virginia’s House of Delegates passed a bill that would strike down Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday celebrating two Confederate Leaders.
- The measure proposed that Election Day be swapped in as a state-recognized holiday instead.
- The Virginia Senate passed an identical bill last month, and Gov. Ralph Northam has shown support for the measure, making it more likely to become a law.
- Supporters believe it will get more people to vote, while opposers argue the Confederacy leaders are an important part of the state’s history and shouldn’t be erased.
Bill Passes the House
Virginia lawmakers voted to strike down a holiday celebrating two Confederate leaders and instead give the spot to a designated Election Day.
In a 55-42 vote, the Virginia House of Delegates moved to eliminate Lee-Jackson Day from the list of state holidays. Lee-Jackson Day has been observed in Virginia for more than a century to honor Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, who both served as generals in the civil war and supported slavery in the U.S. It is celebrated annually in January on the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The House proposed that Election Day take the place of Lee-Jackson Day, to be observed on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.
“Making election day a holiday serves a much more honorable purpose in this day and age than celebrating the ghosts of Virginia’s Confederate past,” Joe Lindsey, the House bill’s sponsor, told ABC in a statement.
The state’s Senate passed an identical bill last month in a 22-18 vote. Each chamber will now have to pass each other’s bills before they move forward to Gov. Ralph Northam to be enacted as law, according to NBC12.
Support For the Decision
Gov. Northam is in favor of the decision and already included the measure in his 2020 agenda. He believes that making Election Day an official holiday will give more people the opportunity to vote.
“We need to make Election Day a holiday,” Northam said last month in his State of the Commonwealth speech. “We can do it by ending the Lee-Jackson holiday that Virginia holds. … It commemorates a lost cause. It’s time to move on.”
News of the bill’s passing has brought Virginia and its lawmakers praise.
“Virginia – you are my hero,” one Twitter user wrote.
Virginia – you are my hero. Take a look at how busy this state has been getting things done.— Joann marsili (@joannmarsili) February 7, 2020
Progress! Finally! And I say this as a descendant of confederate soldiers and slave owners. Not proud of my ancestors at all! I cannot make any excuses but we need to stop glorifying hatred and abuse. Hate and suppression of people should not be on display or celebrated.— DebResists💙🌊💙🌊💙☮️💟 (@debgfreednurse2) February 7, 2020
Virginia has seen a recent wave to move away from the controversial happenings of its past— some cities like Richmond and Charlottesville have already stopped recognizing Lee-Jackson Day in recent years. But while many are in favor of the bill, others are not as willing to give up the holiday in attempts to hold on to the state’s Confederate history.
“Next they will eliminate all history books in the school. Sad,” one person said on Twitter in response to the bill’s passing.
Next they will eliminate all history books in the school. Sad— Matthew T Corcoran (@MTCorcoran25) February 7, 2020
Such crap we built a nation on the shoulders of its ancestors right or wrong we owe them their place in history— shannon clevenger (@shannoncleveng6) February 7, 2020
A similar bill that would have swapped Election Day for the holiday commemorating the confederate leaders didn’t make it past the Virginia Senate in 2019, before Democrats took control this January.
“I have unease about the movement to erasing history. Maybe next time, it’ll be Martin Luther King. I would be opposed to erasing something in his honor,” Sen. Richard Black said of the proposal at the time, according to NBC12.
Call for Federal Election Day Recognition
On a national level, the process of making Election Day a holiday has been held up. When Democrats proposed a bill in January 2019 that would make this move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized it, saying it would pay government workers to “hang out at the polls during an election.”
The passage of Virginia’s bill has brought more push for Election Day being named a federal holiday.
“Every state should do this. Election Day should be a federal holiday,” one person said.
Every state should do this. Election Day should be a federal holiday.— 𝕄𝕒𝕥𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕨 𝔾. ⚾ 🏈 ✈️ (@Matthew83128) February 7, 2020
Election Day SHOULD BE A FEDERAL HOLIDAY not just bc it replaces a Confederate holiday (don’t even get me started) but bc it’s the best way to get ppl to vote!!!— Toonsis the Driving Cat (@iamthealphacat) February 7, 2020
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (ABC News)
Mom Charged for Hosting Secret Teen Parties, Pressuring Kids To Drink and Engage in Sex Acts
Investigators said some of the sex acts between teens were non-consensual and at times took place while the mother stood by laughing.
Mother Hit With Dozens of Charges
A California mother is facing 39 criminal charges after hosting a series of illegal parties for her teenage son and his mostly 14- and 15-year-old friends that regularly led to dangerous accidents and sexual assaults.
The mother, 47-year-old Shannon O’Connor, also known as Shannon Bruga, is currently awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County. According to The Mercury News, she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her property in Los Gatos that is currently on the market.
Her criminal charges include 12 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.
“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release regarding the case. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”
What Happened During the Parties?
Investigators claim O’Connor organized the functions, attended by as many as 20 teens, via text message and Snapchat. She would then allegedly supply the teens with alcohol and push them to binge drink, often to the point of illness or unconsciousness.
The harm that resulted from their intoxication included one teen breaking a finger and another almost drowning in a hot tub, among other serious situations.
In another instance, O’Connor let an unlicensed drunk teen drive her car. Her son and another one of his friends then hung off the back while it was moving, which caused the friend to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious for 30 seconds. He was later diagnosed with a concussion after spending the night vomiting.
O’Connor is additionally accused of manipulating and encouraging drunk teens to participate in sex acts with one another, which were sometimes non-consensual or carried out while she watched. In some cases, she allegedly laughed while the sexual acts happened or when assault victims asked her why she didn’t step in to help.
Investigators added that O’Connor required teens who attended her parties to keep them a secret. She’s even accused of helping them sneak out of their homes so she could drive them to her events. Authorities said she was found to have bullied at least one teen who she suspected of breaking the secret.
“Everyone should feel relieved this woman’s not on the street,” the parents of one assault victim told The Mercury News. “She was grooming these kids, setting them up for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and doing this to her own child. … I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was in it for her.“