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Georgia court to hear Ku Klux Klan suit to join ‘adopt-a-highway’

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A Georgia appeals court will hear arguments on Thursday in a Ku Klux Klan chapter’s lawsuit against the state for refusing the white supremacist group’s application to “adopt” a stretch of highway.

The KKK chapter, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued Georgia in 2012 after it refused to let it join the state’s adopt-a-highway program, which involves volunteers picking up trash and planting trees along designated sections of road. Logos of participating groups appear on signs along the highways.

Georgia officials cited public safety concerns when they denied the application, telling the Klan chapter that erecting a sign with its name could lead to social unrest and distract drivers.

The court takes up the case at a time of soul-searching across the U.S. South about race relations. Lawmakers in neighboring South Carolina are debating whether to remove the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds, a longstanding demand of those who see it as a racist symbol.

The issue was resurrected after the massacre of nine African Americans at a Charleston church. The white man charged with the murders posed with the flag on a website featuring a racist diatribe.

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Georgia’s reasons for denying the application by International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Inc were “frivolous” and designed to “shift their duty to uphold free speech to a court,” the lawsuit said.

“We decided to take this case because it is such a clear violation of the speech rights of the group,” said Debbie Seagraves, who was executive director of the Georgia ACLU when the suit was filed. “We can’t let that slide.”

In court documents, Georgia argues that letting the Klan participate would amount to the state’s endorsement of the Klan’s beliefs, since road signs are a “quintessential method used by governments to communicate with the public.”

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A county judge last year refused a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and the state appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which will hold oral arguments Thursday.

In 1997, Missouri rejected a similar request from a Klan chapter on the grounds that the group’s membership rules discriminated against non-whites.

A federal appeals court ruled that requiring such a group to alter its membership requirements to qualify for the adopt-a-highway program would “censor its message and inhibit its constitutionally protected conduct.”

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The case is the State of Georgia et al. v. International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Inc. et al.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Eric Walsh)


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Disney heiress who went undercover to Disneyland ‘livid’ at conditions and pay

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Heiress Abigail Disney went to one of her family's resorts to see conditions for workers herself and was disgusted by what she saw.

In comments to Yahoo News podcast "Through Her Eyes," Disney described how she went to Disneyland in California undercover and found that workers at the resort were treated poorly—and underpaid.

"Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, 'I don't know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people's garbage,'" said Disney.

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Ex-Peru president wanted for corruption arrested in the US

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Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States Tuesday to face extradition to his home country on corruption charges, authorities in the South American nation said.

The 73-year-old is suspected of involvement in the sprawling Odebrecht scandal in which the construction giant paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes throughout the continent to secure huge public works contracts.

The Peruvian attorney general's office announced on Twitter that Toledo "was arrested this morning for extradition, in the United States."

Toledo has been formally charged with receiving a $20 million payment from Odebrecht to grant it the tender to build the Interoceanic Highway that links Peru with Brazil.

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Comic-Con mines past for future hits on 50th edition

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A smorgasbord of sequels, prequels and reunions from "Terminator" to "Game of Thrones" awaits thousands of misty-eyed comic book geeks and sci-fi nerds descending on San Diego this week for the world's largest celebration of pop culture fandom.

The 50th edition of Comic-Con International will see 135,000 cosplayers, bloggers, movie executives and humble fans pile into a sweaty convention center for glimpses of their heroes, in town to promote the next mega-hit films, TV shows and comic books.

This anniversary edition promises to be more nostalgia-laden than most -- among those expected to appear are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, who will soon reunite on screen for the first time since 1991's "Terminator 2" for Paramount's killer cyborg sequel "Dark Fate."

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