Hollywood's annual awards season culminates with the Academy Awards, a night honoring the best films and performances of the year. This year, all five directors nominated for the Best Director award are men. Last year, all the nominees were men. In fact, a woman hasn't been nominated for Best Director since 2010, the year that Kathryn Bigelow took home the honor for directing The Hurt Locker. Bigelow is the only woman to have ever won the award, and she is one of only four women who has ever been nominated for it in the Academy Awards' 86 year history.
Political speech regulation remains an incredibly complex and contentious issue in our government, and there is plenty of legitimate concern about the recent influx of big, outside money in modern campaigns.
Those concerns, however, must be balanced against our crucial First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. Hopefully we can all agree that any regulation to address "big money" must respect these values.
Old-man winter spared the nation's capital the crippling blow it dealt to the Northeast last week, which turned out to be a very good thing for NSA critics. That meant that the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on surveillance reform went on as planned, and it was a doozy for Obama administration witness, Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
What happens in Texas's educational system is closely watched by the rest of the nation, from its textbook selection to a recent rollback of the state's high-stakes testing requirements. We can add funding for public education and universal pre-K to that list. During the 2011 legislative session, the Texas legislature had cut $5.4 billion from public education for the 2012-2013 biennium, slamming students and teachers with the brunt of the first education cuts the state enacted in more than four decades. The cuts also came as the $3 billion in emergency aid that Texas received from the 2009 federal stimulus was drying up.
The last few years have seen a wave of proposed and enacted restrictions on abortion rights. 2013 began no differently, with the first three months of the new year seeing legislators in 14 states introduce bans, including 10 proposals that would ban nearly all abortions. But recently, from Texas to Ohio to North Carolina, the pace and intensity of these attacks has picked up even more, drawing local protests, national attention, and displays of solidarity from state lawmakers across the country.
This week saw the case for budget austerity at both the state and federal levels continue to rapidly fall apart. A new Congressional Budget Office report showed that the federal budget deficit problem may not actually be that much of a problem anymore, and debates over what to do with budget surpluses began to percolate in the states as treasuries started to count tax revenues that came in last month, even as the pain from sequestration cuts also continued to be felt in all fifty states:
After a year that started off with a wave of efforts to suppress the vote - many of which continue - more and more states are now looking at enacting significant reforms to modernize voter registration and protect and expand voting rights. Here's a roundup of recent developments: