By Robert A. Vella
Let’s get right to it…
From the Huffington Post – ‘One Person, One Vote’ Supporters Better Keep the Bubbly on Ice:
If you follow constitutional law and the Supreme Court, you’ve no doubt seen the headlines announcing Monday’s unanimous ruling on apportionment and voting rights in Evenwel v. Abbott. Most of the stories on the case, like the one published by the New York Times, describe the decision as a resounding victory for liberals, a thrashing for conservatives, and an affirmation of the time-honored principle of “one person, one vote.”
I don’t mean to minimize the decision’s importance, but after reading through both the majority opinion and the testy and grudging concurrences by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, I think the court’s action might better be characterized as cause for relief among liberals and progressives, rather than grounds for outright celebration. The rule of “one person, one vote” survived court scrutiny, but in a fashion that leaves the door open for a great deal of mischief by those with further designs to weaken the voices of minority voters.
The Evenwel case arose when the Texas Legislature redrew its Senate maps in 2013, using total population figures to define the state’s 31 senatorial voting districts. Two residents objected to the new district lines, and with the financial backing of the Project on Fair Representation — a right-wing, nonprofit legal defense fund in Austin — filed a lawsuit to block their implementation. The plaintiffs argued that instead of using total population as the operative apportionment metric, the Legislature should have mapped out voting districts solely on the basis of residents who are eligible to vote.
From Bloomberg – Pfizer Confirms Termination of Proposed $160 Billion Allergan Merger:
The biggest deal in drug industry history is dead.
Pfizer Inc. and Allergan Plc terminated their $160 billion merger on Wednesday after the U.S. government proposed regulations to crack down on corporate tax inversions, stymieing New York-based Pfizer’s long effort to get out from under the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
Both companies are now left looking for their next move — another deal, in Allergan’s case.
“While this was not Plan A, we were prepared for this,” Allergan Chief Executive Officer Brent Saunders said Wednesday in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “We’re going to go and look to find assets that complement and increase our growth profile.”
Pfizer, meanwhile, said it will decide whether to pursue a potential split of the company by no later than the end of this year. The split would probably involve two parts: one focused on new drug development, the other on selling older medications.
More from Bloomberg – The Sharing Economy Doesn’t Share the Wealth:
This is the challenge that Airbnb, like Uber and other companies in the so-called sharing economy, poses for the world’s treasuries. In the five years since these businesses began their spiraling growth, some cities and states around the globe have fought hard to make them play by the same rules as traditional hotels or taxis and collect various local taxes—often as not, they’ve lost. As the new breed of companies moves toward profitability, transforming larger chunks of the economy, policy experts say the battle is likely to shift to the national level, where billions of dollars a year in corporate taxes could be at risk. (A source close to Airbnb says the company will turn its first profit this year.) Governments have been slow to respond.
“These companies are the future,” says Stephen Shay, a former top international tax lawyer at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, now teaching at Harvard. “The nature of their business and the structure of the companies can allow them to essentially keep all of their profits out of the U.S. Unless the tax systems find a way to deal with this, the lost revenue may be enormous.”
For years, pharmaceutical and tech companies including Pfizer, Merck, Google, and Apple have slashed their U.S. federal tax bills by using offshore tax havens and shifting profits abroad. Airbnb and Uber are starting to extend this strategy across vast new fields: PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that sharing-economy businesses generated $15 billion in revenue in 2014 and will take in $335 billion in 2025, growing largely at the expense of companies that pay billions in U.S. taxes.
From The Daily Beast – Anti-Abortion Violence at All-Time High:
Clinic blockades nearly doubled. Arsons and bomb threats quadrupled. Acts of vandalism went up fivefold. Threats of bodily harm increased by 94 times. And an armed gunman named Robert Lewis Dear killed a police officer and two civilians inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, later proclaiming himself “a warrior for the babies.”
All together, 2015 was the worst year in history for anti-abortion violence, according to a new report compiled by the National Abortion Federation (NAF). For NAF, which has been collecting statistics on anti-abortion violence since 1977, the reason for 2015’s extreme level of violence couldn’t be clearer.
“The sharp rise in threats and violence in 2015 is alarming, and directly correlates to the release of inflammatory videos aimed at demonizing providers,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of NAF, in a statement. “In my more than 20 years with NAF, I have not seen such an escalation of hate speech, threats, and calls to action against abortion providers.”
Related story from Daily Kos – I used a hanger. [an anecdotal account of abortions before Roe v. Wade]
In other important news: