Colorlines - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 07:52
Stephen Colbert is getting ready to say goodbye to his alter ego, but not before welcoming Kendrick Lamar onto "The Colbert Report." Lamar debuted an untitled new song from his upcoming album. Watch it below.
Cuban Prisoner Swap, State Department Made Decisions on Sony's 'The Interview,' Instagram's New Filters
Colorlines - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 06:51
Here's what I'm reading up on this morning:
- Pakistan is reeling from Tuesday's attack at a school that left around 150 people dead, including more than 130 children.
- Cuba is releasing Alan Gross and at least one more U.S. citizen in exchange for three Cuban prisoners held by the United States.
- Hacked emails reveal that Sony worked with the Department of State, which played a roll in making decisions about "The Interview," a movie in which Kim Jong-Un is assassinated. Hackers have also threatened to bomb any theater that screens the movie.
- Will it be Clinton v. Bush 2016?
- The Marine veteran who killed six people, including his ex-wife, is found dead.
- Russia's Finance Ministry is scrambling to sell dollars in a bid to save the ruble.
- Instagram introduces five new filters!
- Because there's actually a statute of limitation on things like this, Bill Cosby won't face charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted Judy Huth at the Playboy Mansion in 1974.
- Qatar pays migrant workers to fill its sports arenas to make it seem like people like to watch sports there.
- Sean Parker forks over $24 million for allergy research.
Colorlines - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 04:47
Cleveland Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins got emotional today when explaining why he wore a, "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford" T-shirt during pre-game warm-ups before yesterday's Browns-Bengal home game. Hawkins' nearly six-minute reply is a response, according to NEOMG, to Cleveland police union's president calling the father and athlete's display of support, "pathetic" and uninformed of the facts of both cases. Hawkins, who becomes emotional when speaking of his 2-year-old son, says in part:
My wearing of the T-shirt wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing of the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people. ...The number one reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell outta me.
The Hawkins police union dust-up recalls a late November incident where the local St. Louis police union clashed with the Rams over five of its players entering the stadium showing, "hands up," in support of Mike Brown. Black police officers later issued a statement supporting the Rams players.
New America Media - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 00:15
It’s been years since Irma Montoya went a day without pain.Soup, tea and the advice of curanderos from her homeland have helped the 53-year-old Mexican native keep her pain in check to some degree, but it’s not enough to let... Viji Sundaram http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=68
New America Media - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 00:05
From the outside, Kathryn Robison, 29, looks like any other graduate student on campus at Youngstown State University in Ohio. But as she's finishing her master’s degree in American Studies, she’s also juggling another big responsibility: Caring for her grandmother.... Kimberly Palmer http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 15:33
On Tuesday, Los Angeles county officials formally agreed to a list of reforms (PDF) to clean up its violent jail system, LA's KPCC reported. The reforms, part of a consent decree which will be overseen by a federal judge, stem from a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in 2012 over what the ACLU called a culture of wanton, brutal deputy-on-inmate violence.
Under the 15-page agreement, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies will have to undergo new use-of-force training for a new, more stringent use-of-force policy. For instance, if an inmate stops resisting during an exchange, a deputy must "de-escalate" their own use of force, KPCC reports. Sheriff's deputies will also no longer be allowed to verbally provoke inmates as a pretext to use force against them under the reforms.
In addition to the updated use-of-force policies, the county will also place more cameras inside its jails and expand options for inmates to file grievances. The new inmate grievance form, for instance, must now include a box for "use of force" as a category for complaints against staff members. The consent decree also bars deputies from retaliating against inmates.
The consent decree comes one week after the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a civilian oversight commission for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, which runs the county jail system.
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:25
On Monday the Department of Justice issued a guidance (PDF) to address U.S. residents who've let Ebola panic fuel discriminatory acts against African people. "The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has led to increased reports of discrimination in the United States against people who are or are perceived to be from an African country or of African descent, as well as against those perceived as having Ebola," the guidance's opening lines read. Such actions are illegal, the federal government warns.
When racialized fear informs decisions that limit people's access to housing, employment, education and other services, the federal government warns, people could be infringing on others' civil rights. Racial discrimination and harassment, such as requiring a child of African descent who hasn't been asked by health authorities to stay away from school or refusing to offer disaster relief to someone who is or might be perceived to be from an African country, is not only illegal, the Justice Department says, it discourages those who might have actual symptoms from coming forward.
"Both science and the law must lead our efforts to ensure that unfounded fear and/or prejudice do not limit access" to jobs, housing and education, the Justice Department's statement read.
(h/t Huffington Post)
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:21
On Monday, as Congress put off funding the Department of Homeland Security through 2015, the agency opened a new family detention center in Dilley, Tex. The center, with capacity for 2,400, will primarily house women and children and sits about 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The United States is "not open to illegal migration," DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday, Reuters reported. The center's first detainees will be those who are transferred from a facility in Artesia, N.M., which was shut down earlier this year after a lawsuit challenged the federal government's treatment of detainees in the midst of a child migrant crisis.
The new Texas facility will be run by Corrections Corporation of America, the New York Times reports. CCA is one of the nation's largest private prison companies in the country. It will cost the federal government $296 a day to house each detainee.
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:09
Society has changed, and so have its superheroes. Captain America is black, Thor is a woman and Ms. Marvel is Muslim. Jesse Holland tries to explain what it all means over at the Associated Press:
"Roles in society aren't what they used to be. There's far more diversity," said [Alex] Alonso, editor and chief at Marvel Comics, who has also shepherded a gay wedding in the X-Men, a gender change from male to female in Thor and the first mainstream female Muslim hero in Ms. Marvel.
The change to a black Captain America is already having an impact outside of comics.
Even before the publication of the first issue, unauthorized images of the black Captain America were shown at a town hall meeting in St. Louis following the funeral of Michael Brown, who was 18 and unarmed when he was killed by a white police officer. This Captain America had his hands up saying "Don't Shoot," a slogan protesters have used to highlight the number of African Americans killed by police.
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:11
Lupe Fiasco is gearing up for the January 20 release of his fifth album, "Tetsuo & Youth." Here's one of the first singles from the new album, "Madonna." It features singer Nikki Jean and looks at just how hard it is to eat in working-class neighborhoods of color.
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:10
The only thing that's better than the fact that Jean Grae teamed up with a band called "The Everybody's Pregnant" for a new EP is the new video for their single "underneathu." The video for the song is a hilarious ode to public television, featuring award-winning author Adam Mansbach in a bonkers intro and Ms. Grae herself slithering around on stage. This isn't quite what we've come to expect from the longtime MC, but it looks like so much fun.
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:08
In an MSNBC interview sparked by a Cleveland Browns player's T-shirt protest, the head of Cleveland's police union called Tamir Rice's killing justified. Jeffrey Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association also tells substitute host Ari Melber that if the 12-year-old had been 20 and with a gun--as the officers thought (and were told by dispatch)--"we're not sitting here today." The video shows an officer firing at Rice within two seconds of their car arriving on scene. When asked whether the video "clearly shows [Rice] was an imminent lethal threat to the officers," Follmer says, "Oh, absolutely. I don't know if you didn't see it but absolutely." The five-minute interview is yet another unvarnished look at police perspectives on policing and accountability--and how they may differ markedly from communities they serve.
Follmer is demanding an apology from Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins who wore a Tamir Rice-John Crawford T-shirt during warm-ups before Sunday's NFL game. In the five-minute interview he defends police officers involved in the Rice and Crawford fatal shootings and advises the nation:
Listen to police officers commands. Listen to what we tell you and just stop. I think that eliminates a lot of the problem. [Like Hawkins] I have kids too. They know how to respect the law. They know what to do when a police officer comes up to them. I think the nation needs to realize that when we tell you to do something, do it. And if you're wrong [pause] you're wrong. If you're right then the courts will figure it out.
Watch the rest on "All In With Chris Hayes."
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 07:32
On this past Sunday's "Meet the Press," Dick Cheney doubled down on his defense of the CIA's brutal post-9/11 detainment and interrogation program detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee report released last week. When the former vice president was asked if he was troubled by the fact that 25 percent of the men alleged to be Islamic terrorists were found to be innocent, he pointed to the efficacy of the program: "I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. Our objective [was] to get the guys who did 9-11 and it [was] to avoid another attack against the United States. ... And [the program] worked," he said. "...I'd do it again in a minute."
Cheney, a chief architect of the War on Terror, isn't alone in framing the CIA's use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" as a question of success. The report itself finds that the agency's torture tactics were "not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Intelligence Committee, declared that "the big finding is that torture doesn't work and shouldn't be employed by our country."
Mainstream media have also explored whether torture methods such as waterboarding, rectal feeding and sleep deprivation do the job. For example, under the headline "Does Torture Work?" The New York Times ran a case-by-case analysis to answer the question. PBS NewsHour ran a debate between a former CIA official and a former Guantanamo Bay prison prosecutor. The Hill tapped a former DEA interrogator to provide his expert opinion on the matter.
Even critics of torture have attempted to address this argument head-on by making an empirical argument about torture's inefficacy.
The constant framing of the issue around torture's effectiveness supports the efforts of people like Cheney and CIA Director John Brennan to redirect attention from detainees' experiences in Guantanamo Bay prison and secret American prisons all over the world. Such deflection allows people to avoid seeing the torture from the perspective of the victims who remain largely invisible to the public.
While all of these men have been presented to the American public as Muslim terrorists, the vast majority of them have not had a chance to make their case in a fair trial. The situation we are left with today is the result of their voices going unheard, of being muffled callously in the name of national security. We would rather not be reminded of the illegal, indefinite detention of dozens of people all over the world in our name.
David Remes, a human rights lawyer representing 18 detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay prison, says the gruesome details of the report shouldn't be a revelation. "I haven't discussed the report with my clients. They are the very victims whose torture the report described," he says. "They already know what's in the report. The only people who don't know what's in the report are the American people."
Abu Zubaydah is one such prisoner. He was accused of being a high-ranking member of al Qaeda and in 2002 the CIA shot and apprehended him in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Over the past 12 years, he was reportedly transferred between secret CIA prisons in Thailand, Poland, Morocco, Lithuania, and possibly others, before being indefinitely incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay prison.
Zubaydah has never even been charged with a crime.
According to the Associated Press, Zubaydah served as a guinea pig for torture techniques. He was repeatedly waterboarded (83 times in August 2002), subjected to other forms of physical violence and confined in what the AP calls a "coffin-size box" for extended periods of time.
After the Justice Department approved water-boarding the detainee, the sessions became so extreme that some C.I.A. officers were "to the point of tears and choking up," and several said they wanted to be transferred out of the prison, reported ABC News. After days of persistent torture, officials described him as being "completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth."
When we are left to debate whether such tactics-and many more-were effective in extracting information, we close ourselves off from the visceral human empathy that gripped even the tearful CIA officers witnessing and committing such acts of torture. On this note, President Obama has frequently noted: "That's not who we are." Yet his calls for introspection fail to come to terms with the condition of the tortured detainees. Not only should we ask ourselves who we are and what we've become, but who are these detainees and why have they been caged for over a decade?
The last time the detainees themselves received widespread news coverage was in April when most of the 166 men in Guantanamo Bay prison conducted a hunger strike. Force-feeding came into focus as some detainees lost more than 30 pounds, and at least 17 had feeding tubes inserted through their noses.
Majid Khan, is detainee who has participated in multiple hunger strikes and self-mutilation beginning in March 2004. In 2006, CIA personnel took radical measures to force-feed Khan, administering a "lunch tray" of pureed hummus, raisins and pasta through his rectum. The procedure, described as "rectal hydration" and "rectal feeding," have been roundly criticized by government officials, but not by the CIA.
In a Daily Beast op-ed, Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights reported that one detainee that her group represented, Tariq Ba Odah, had been strapped into a chair and force-fed. "I was tortured in the restraining chair when they fill my belly with Ensure," Odah has reportedly said. "All my limbs are restrained and my clothes soaked from vomiting the formula mixed with water and laxatives."
When asked about their goal, the detainees on this year's hunger strike and their legal counsel pointed to President Obama's failure to fulfill a 2008 campaign promise that he would close Guantanamo Bay prison and end indefinite detention without charge or trial.
Obama has largely positioned himself as a mindful centrist caught between national security officials and the remnants of the loose anti-war coalition that helped propel him into office. True to form, the president has agreed that some of the tactics described in the Senate Intelligence Committee report amounted to torture, but he has avoided holding past or present officials responsible. "Rather than another reason to refight old arguments," Obama said in an official statement, "I hope that today's report can help us leave these techniques where they belong--in the past."
Today, 40 percent of Guantanamo's now 136 detainees are eligible for a review, but the process has been stalled. At the current rate, it will take at least six years to complete the first review. Still, it's unclear how long it will take these detainees to be released. Sixty who are currently held at the prison are cleared for release but still remain behind bars.
As graphic as the Senate Intelligence Committee's 6,000-word torture report is, the question of program's success must not trump the details.
Attorney Remes, for one, isn't waiting for a great American awakening: "I'm pessimistic about what the report will accomplish," he says. "Congress won't reign the CIA in. Our government is not going to prosecute the individuals who authorized and committed these crimes...at least some police officers get prosecuted. Those who authorized and committed torture will never be prosecuted."
Waleed Shahid is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia.
Colorlines - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 07:04
Here's what I'm reading up on this morning:
- At least 126 people, mostly schoolchildren, are dead following an attack on a school in Pakistan by the Taliban.
- At least six people are dead following an ambush by a Marine veteran who killed his ex-wife and others in suburban Philadelphia.
- Three people, including the perpetrator, are dead after a man takes 17 people hostage at a café in Sydney, Australia.
- A Secret Santa pays off $50,000 in layaways at a Pennsylvania Walmart.
- Skype Translator kicks off with real-time translation between English- and Spanish-language speakers.
- Camille Cosby breaks her silence to defend her husband.
- A drug-resistant strain of malaria could prove to be a new nightmare pandemic.
- Greenland's ice sheet is melting faster than previously thought.
New America Media - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:15
Pictured above: An air pollution violation that occurred at Severstal's former factory in Dearborn, Mich. in August. Residents living nearby complained about breathing and smelling sulfuric acid after the explosion. Editor's Note: This is part two of the series, "Fighting... Natasha Dado http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 13:11
When Michael Brown was killed, his shooting death in August reignited a national conversation about how law enforcement police black communities. Among the threads of that conversation was one highlighting how hard it is to pin down just how many people police officers kill every year.
A new bill, introduced today by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) seeks to change that by requiring the Department of Justice to track exactly that, The Hill reported. "Before we can truly address the problem of excessive force used by law enforcement we have to understand the nature of the problem and that begins with accurate data," Cohen said in a statement.
As Congress is wrapping up for the year today, should Cohen want to see the bill through he'll need to reintroduce it next year, The Hill reported.
Follow the bill at Congress.gov.
Colorlines - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:29
The film adaptation of Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie's novel "Americanah" is underway. Last summer, Lupita Nyong'o signed on to play the lead character, and now David Oyelowo is slated to star opposite her as the film's male lead. From Time:
Brad Pitt is producing through his Plan B production banner along with Nyong'o and Andrea Calderwood. Plan B produced "Selma" and after having such a good experience working with them Oyelowo jumped at the opportunity to board another project they were producing.
The film is now looking to attach a writer and director with no production start date set yet.
Colorlines - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 11:16
Just one more reason to love Ava DuVernay and the cast of "Selma:"
Here's David Oyelowo, E. Roger Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Omar Dorsey, John Lavelle, Stephan James, Kent Faulcon, Lorraine Toussaint, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson and Colman Domingo standing on the steps of the New York Public Library, wearing shirts that read "I Can't Breathe." They held up their arms as a sign for "don't shoot."December 15, 2014
Colorlines - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:27
A group of black activists and their allies are set to shut down the Oakland, Calif., police department headquarters this morning to protest the police killing of unarmed black people. You can watch the action, organized by Blackout Collective, live via Livestream currently being operated by @emanithegoddess:
One group of demonstrators, dressed in all black, is standing outside the station, each with a fist in the air. A group of allies, meanwhile, have chained themselves to the entrance of the police station, while another group is standing with signs and banners across the street. One activist has also hoisted a banner on the police station's flagpole with the images of unarmed black people who have been killed--and other protestors are closing down a growing number of intersections leading to the police department.
Hyphen Blog - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:07
Hungry for Love is a film about two people who meet in New York City and fall in love over food.
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