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Newsmonger: SA man sues feds, state to get God out of court (and off the bills), Real ID wrasslin' continues in D.C., New documents show where DPS wanted drones in South Texas

Photo: GREG HARMAN, License: N/A


Photo: , License: N/A

Documents from the Federal Aviation Administration, released under a recent Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the feds, provide more insight into the secretive and now-shuttered attempt by the Texas Department of Public Safety to launch small drones, called WASPs, to "support critical law enforcement operations in South Texas."

The suit has been stirring with the 48-year-old at least as long as a certain cross-burning incident that led to a 2003 charge of arson in Wharton County and seven years probation. (The cross burning was directed at his religious parents who he says were constantly entering his house and taking things, unwelcome trespasses the rural DA and police allegedly refused to prosecute). That effort was his first attempt to get his issue taken up in federal court, he says. And he can rattle off the evils of religion with the best of them. After describing a variety of professions enriching themselves by promoting a belief in an all-powerful deity — everyone from psychiatrists to modeling talent scouts — he offers a warning: “For all these who call themselves Christians, be very afraid if He comes back, because He’s going to be pissed.”

Gumption points for filing the lawsuit? Plenty of ‘em.

Chance of toppling “One Nation Under God”? … We’d urge him to run for public office, but according to the Texas Constitution, atheists are not allowed to serve in higher office.

Real ID wrasslin' continues in D.C.

“I’m from the era where I had to pay poll taxes to vote,” said Oliver Hill, president of the NAACP’s San Antonio branch, reflecting on arguments in a Washington, D.C., court last week to strike down Texas’ new voter ID law. “We’re going back to that era.”

Seeking to save the legislation that would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID alongside their registration in order to cast a ballot, the state argued before federal judges that SB14 offers a reasonable safeguard against election fraud. The law’s many critics — a parade of acronyms including the NAACP, LULAC, MALDEF, and the LWV — see a more sinister motive at work. Suggesting that voters who are poor, elderly, or from minority groups are less likely to have government-issued photo ID and have difficulty getting such documents, the Justice Department is siding with the critics, stating that the new policy would disenfranchise 1.4 million Texans. Robert Brischetto, former director of the Southwest Voter Research Institute, does not think that’s a coincidence that Republicans have made Voter ID a rallying point, as the most affected tend to come some of the fastest-growing segments of the population, which also tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. “It is certainly a concerted effort by the Republicans to cut into what was a large voting bloc for the Democrats,” Brischetto said.

SB14 is similar to voter ID laws put forward by Republican lawmakers in dozens of states since 2008. The bill is modeled on legislation drafted by the hard-right, corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, that counts State House Speaker Tom Craddick among its members.

Critics see Texas as part of a concerning nationwide trend. “This is just the first leg of an effort to eliminate the Voting Rights Act in itself,” Hill said.

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