Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 19:31
In an incredibly adorable adaptation, Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis stars in the much anticipated remake of the 1982 hit film "Annie." Set to release on December 19, the film also stars Jamie Foxx as the newly named billionaire Benjamin Stack (once Daddy Warbucks) and Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan. Will Smith and Jay Z are co-producers on the film, and originally Willow Smith was set to play Annie. As expected, there have already been a slew of racist comments on social media about the the new black Annie, but just as much praise for why this is a welcome and exciting adaptation of a classic story.
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 00:41
On a routine visit to Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday, President Obama was again confronted by a passionate immigration reform activist calling for an end to deportations. John Molina, a 46-year-old Colombian immigrant, interrupted a speech Obama was giving about his recent minimum wage increase. Much like 24-year-old Ju Hong--who called out the president in November during a speech in San Francisco--Molina stood on a chair and yelled, "Mr. Obama, stop the deportations!"
Originally, Molina went to the event to join a demonstration outside of the university, and hadn't planned on going in. But once he arrived he decided it was his only chance to tell the president how he really felt. Unlike with Hong, however, the president did not respond, nor did he intervene when Molina was asked to leave.
"I feel good, but frustrated. I couldn't tell him everything, and I wanted to say more," he told Colorlines over the phone in Spanish, calling from his job doing maintenance at a Connecticut golf club. "He's deporting too many people, and he's the only one with the power to stop it. I don't want him to deport any more families."
Molina came to the U.S. 20-years-ago, fleeing Pablo Escobar-era Colombia, and seeking economic opportunities. The number of deportations during Obama's term in office, reportedly more than under any other U.S. president, is set to hit two million by April.
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 00:24
Add the name Noor Inayat Khan to the honor roll of women who fought against Nazi Germany. A new docudrama, "Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story," dramatizes the real-life story of Khan, a young Muslim of Indian and American heritage who was the first female radio operator sent by the British into Nazi-occupied France. Khan's decision to join the war effort is all the more intriguing given that she was raised in a pacifist Sufi household.
Later captured and executed at Dachau, Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross--the UK's equivalent of the U.S. Medal of Freedom.
The film recently premiered in Washington, D.C. but it's making its way around the country. Ft. Wayne, Ind. is the next stop.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:52
For nearly two years Vietnamese artist Kevin Truong has been collecting a visual catalogue of gay men from across the globe. So far he's photographed 373 different men for The Gay Men Project, each image distinct and highlighting their individual characteristics and personalities. The project is also participatory, and those photographed are invited to share their personal stories to go along the images. Truong recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to continue the project.
My goal is to create a platform, a visibility on some level, and a resource for others who may not be as openly gay. A visual catalog of gay men and their stories. When I think of my own experience, and all the time I spent in the closet and hiding the fact that I was gay-to be at a place now where I feel completely comfortable being on the blog and telling the world "Hey, I'm a gay man," I think there's a power in that, for me and for a lot of the men on the blog.
There are hundreds of wonderful images that showcase a diverse range of gay men of different races and ethnicities. Below are a few choice examples.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 22:52
A February civil rights complaint accuses two North Carolina school districts of denying, delaying or discouraging school enrollment based on immigration status. The districts' actions are symptomatic of a statewide problem, a coalition of civil rights groups including the SPLC say.
The complaint describes discrimination faced by a Guatemalan and a 17-year-old Honduran immigrant, twice denied enrollment, allegedly because she was too old.
As of last week, according to a statement reported by the Duke Chronicle, one of the school boards had not yet heard from the DOJ or SPLC-and-company regarding the complaint.
North Carolina law, according to the SPLC, says all students under 21 are entitled to a public education in the school district in which they live.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 20:01
USC Annenberg digital journalism professor Robert Hernandez was scheduled to present a keynote to the Associate Collegiate Press Conference, but his flight was cancelled. Hernandez's talk appears to hold the underlying premise that learning code is powerful because doing so helps you learn problem-solving skills--which is what every good journalist needs. And while we may not always be keen to admit it, many journalists are pretty nerdy, and use heuristic reasoning as an approach to storytelling (yay, Polya's How to Solve It!)
But Hernandez himself faced the problem of delivering his keynote without actually being in the same room as conference attendees. So what did he do? He recorded a video and encouraged people to interact with him through a question and answer session via Twitter--while Hernandez was flying over Colorado. Folks participated with the hashtag #ACPressAMA.
(h/t Steve Saldivar)
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 18:19
In one of the poorest states in the nation, the Alabama House passed harsh anti-abortion legislation on Tuesday. The state already had a long list of reproductive health restrictions, including parental consent for minors, state-mandated counseling and ultrasounds, a 24-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion, and limited access to public funds for treatment. Adding to those, this week Alabama lawmakers passed the so-called "heartbeat ban," which would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy--once there is a detectable heartbeat--without exceptions for incest or rape. The bill also increases the waiting period for an abortion to 48 hours, requires women to consider perinatal hospice care if there are abnormalities in the fetus, and makes it even tougher for young women to obtain abortions.
Pro-choice advocates have strongly opposed this type of legislation particularly because many women don't yet know they are pregnant at six weeks. Similar legislation was considered last year in Ohio and North Dakota. The deliberations also became racially charged when State Rep. Alvin Holmes (D) stated, "99 percent of the whites that are sitting in here now, if [their] daughter got pregnant by a black man, they gonna make their daughter have an abortion." More than a quarter of Alabama residents are black, and the Latino population has also been steadily increasing. And of the 542,770 women in Alabama who need access to contraceptive services and supplies, 19 percent are black, 4 percent are Latina, and 19 percent live below the federal poverty level.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 00:42
[Updated with statement from President Obama at the end of this post]
Today, Senate Republicans and Democrats voted to block President Obama's pick for Justice Department Civil Rights Division head Debo Adegbile, the former lead attorney on voting rights for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Republicans opposed him mostly because of his involvement as an LDF lawyer in the appeal for the imprisoned human rights activist Mumia Abu-Jamal. Adegbile's assistance in that case consisted of helping file a brief claiming that the jury in Abu-Jamal's trial -- where he was convicted for killing a police officer -- received improper instructions for their deliberations.
The judge in that case did find merit in that brief, but members of the U.S. Senate apparently did not. Many of the Republicans accused Adegbile of helping a "cop killer." National law enforcement associations encouraged the Senate to block Adegbile for the same reasons.
On top of that, seven Democrats joined with Republicans to block Adegbile on similar grounds, some of them afraid that a favorable vote would hurt their re-election chances this year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, also voted against Adegbile, but only under a technical procedure so that he could bring Adegbile back up for a vote in the future.
"I believe that Republicans have distorted this good man's record in an attempt to score political points and block confirmation of a faithful defender of voting rights," said Reid at the vote hearing today. "Republicans have not given this good man a fair shot at confirmation."
It was thought that Adegbile would have a smoother transition through the Senate thanks to a rule change sparked by Reid in November that would require only a simple majority vote (51 votes) for nominees to federal agencies, as opposed to the 60 votes that were needed in the past. But today's obstruction was largely covered in racial animus, according to those present for the vote.
"Today's vote demonstrated the worst elements of our political system," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "Unhinged rhetoric trumped substance, racialized language triumphed over thoughtful discourse, and our legal and political system will pay the price. It's hypocritical for Senators to claim to support civil rights enforcement and then turn their backs on our communities by voting against the consideration this nominee on his merits."
President Obama released this statement on the Senate's failure to confirm Adegbile:
"The Senate's failure to confirm Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant. Mr. Adegbile's qualifications are impeccable. He represents the best of the legal profession, with wide-ranging experience, and the deep respect of those with whom he has worked. His unwavering dedication to protecting every American's civil and Constitutional rights under the law - including voting rights - could not be more important right now. And Mr. Adegbile's personal story - rising from adversity to become someone who President Bush's Solicitor General referred to as one of the nation's most capable litigators - is a story that proves what America has been and can be for people who work hard and play by the rules. As a lawyer, Mr. Adgebile has played by the rules. And now, Washington politics have used the rules against him. The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice - and those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant."
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 00:07
Actor/comedian Mike Diaz (aka Juan Bago), perhaps best known for his YouTube famous music video 'Pan Con Queso' chronicling the hunger pangs of Dominican friends in New York's Washington Heights, is joining forces with Latino arts and culture site Remezcla on "Studio Heads." The new mockumentary-style web series follows Bago and friends in their efforts to create a recording studio. Featuring his signature parody of Latino masculinity and jabs at Dominican culture (#DominicanProblems), the series promises to be hilarious, slap-stick comedy that anyone, Latino or other, can relate to, and features cameos by Tony-award winning actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 23:29
Less than one month after Michael Dunn was convicted of lesser charges in the Jordan Davis murder case, and amid new reports that Marissa Alexander could face a triple sentence during retrial, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee passed CS/HB89, the so-called "warning shot bill." If signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, this bill would expand the controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws at the center of the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis murder trials. The NRA-backed bill would make it legal to fire warning shots based on a "perceived threat," thereby turning what is now considered an armed aggravated assault into self-defense.
Alexander's retrial is expected to begin in July, and last week the Office of State Attorney Angela Corey announced her office would seek to increase Alexander's sentence from 20 to 60 years. Alexander was unsuccessful in using the "Stand Your Ground" defense in her own case, despite being charged with a lesser crime of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing a warning shot at her abusive, estranged husband. The bill, which some say lawmakers drafted in support of Alexander, has been called into question by activist groups such as the Dream Defenders, which challenge any expansion to existing "Stand Your Ground" laws that have had dire consequences particularly for young people of color in that state.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 23:28
Marshall "Eddie" Conway, described by advocates as one of the nation's longest-held political prisoners, was released yesterday after more than four decades in prison. Conway was the Minister of Defense for the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party when he was convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer in 1970, though he continuously affirmed his innocence. He claims he was framed for the murder, and a victim of dubious testimony gathered through surveillance under the controversial counterintelligence program COINTELPRO, which has been linked to assassinations and widespread arrests of black political figures. Local police officers' unions are quoted saying they are disappointed Conway won't be serving the remainder of his life sentence.
Numerous campaigns have been launched over the years to petition for Conway's release. During his time in prison, he organized a union, a library, a conflict-resolution organization for young men called "Friend of a Friend," and also wrote a memoir titled, "Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther." Conway's release comes after the late Herman Wallace, another Black Panther who spent more than four decades in prison (mostly in solitary confinement), passed away just three days after being released. Upon release he thanked supporters, urging them to support other political prisoners who are still incarcerated, and says he will continue his work with and expand "Friends of Friends."
(h/t Democracy Now!)
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 20:50
The housing crisis catapulted by the great recession hit communities of color particularly hard. Latino and black homeowners were 70-80 percent more likely to be offered subprime loans before the recession, and 71-76 percent more likely to have lost their homes than white homeowners. Many of those most affected by the housing crisis continue to experience hardships, especially in an era where unemployment remains high, housing costs have reached their highest in two decades, and rental rates have steadily increased, causing many to spend a disproportionate amount of their income paying for a place to live.
Today, the Homes for All Campaign launched "I Can't Wait"--a new multimedia digital storytelling platform that enables those still grappling with the housing crisis to share their personal story. The site also provides a calculator and resources to help visitors determine how much of their income they are and should be spending on housing. People such as Jackie L.--who is currently living in an abandoned house in Springfield, Ill., and Clerida R.--who is seeking a new home after hers was foreclosed on in Boston, Mass., are featured on the site. Their stories put a human face on the ongoing U.S. housing crisis, and the hardships faced by communities of color struggling to find adequate housing in a tough economy.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 19:57
The Obama administration has a message for juvenile detention facilities: All kids--even youth with disabilities held in solitary confinement--are entitled to appropriate public education. That was the assertion made in mid-February by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice when the agencies filed what advocates are calling a rare joint statement in response to a federal lawsuit over how California's Contra Costa County treats its incarcerated youth.
Advocates allege that the county's juvenile hall--which serves tony suburbs such as Danville and poorer, working class cities including Richmond--violate the rights of youth with disabilities by locking them up in isolation and denying them access to their education in the process. The lawsuit and the statements by the Obama administration come at a time when the country is grappling with the practice of solitary confinement and its widespread use throughout the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall has held children with disabilities in isolation for up to 23 hours a day with zero contact with others, the lawsuit alleges. One plaintiff had been held in solitary confinement for an estimated 200 days even though the probation department failed to investigate whether the triggering incidents were disability-related. And while in solitary confinement, kids were denied access to the juvenile hall's attached school, Mt. McKinley, and general and special education services. These practices are a violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the lawsuit filed in August by Disability Rights Advocates, Public Counsel and Paul Hastings LLP.
The Obama administration affirmed (PDF) the rights of kids with disabilities held in juvenile detention, and quoted a departmental task force that concluded, "Nowhere is the damaging impact of incarceration on vulnerable children more obvious than when it involves solitary confinement,"
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three plaintiffs, all youth of color. "W.B.," a 17-year-old boy, arrived in Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall with a special order requiring accommodations for a processing disorder he has. But the county probation and education departments failed to provide him with adequate services and his mental health deteriorated quickly, says Mary-Lee Smith, managing attorney with Disability Rights Advocates. When W.B. started hearing voices and believed that people were trying to poison him, he was placed in solitary confinement and removed from Mt. McKinley, the school that operates on the juvenile hall premises. "In the first six months he missed 31 days of school for being in solitary confinement," Smith says. Every day W.B. was in isolation counted as an unexcused absence, putting him further and further behind in his classes. It wasn't until W.B.'s mother asked that her son be screened for special education eligibility that the county determined that he was qualified for extra services, but those were limited to 30 minutes of tutoring a week.
Ultimately, W.B.'s time in solitary confinement--totaling some 90 days--triggered a psychotic break that required three weeks of hospitalization. Along the way, the county never inquired whether W.B.'s behavior was disability-related, and yet kept sending him into isolation, the lawsuit alleges. He's since been diagnosed with psychosis and possible schizophrenia.
Contra Costa County has three tiers of solitary confinement, mandating isolation from between 22.5 to 23 hours a day. According to the county's Department of Education an estimated 32.7 percent of students held in the juvenile hall have a disability that requires a specialized education plan and all are subject to the same kinds of policies that deny education to kids and fail to screen whether infractions are disability-related. Some 1,300 young people move through the juvenile hall every year, says Smith.
W.B.'s experience is in line with what psychiatrists and child development experts have warned about the impacts of solitary confinement, namely that it can exacerbate and even cause mental illness. "In no way, shape or form could anyone say that placing someone in solitary confinement does not harm them and have lasting effects," says Amy Fettig, senior staff attorney for the ACLU's National Prison Project. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have warned that solitary confinement puts people at serious risk of psychological harm. Prison reform advocates have long argued that for people with mental illness, the practice amounts to torture.
The dangers are indeed stark. More than half of the children who committed suicide while held in juvenile detention did so while isolated in their rooms (PDF). And more than 60 percent of youth who commit suicide in detention have a history of being held in solitary confinement. Still, on any given day, an estimated 70,000 youth are held in solitary confinement around the country.
Contra Costa County, for its part, has yet to own up to the lawsuit's allegations. "The County Office of Education continues to place high importance on this case, and all matters related to students' rightful access to public education," Contra Costa County Department of Education spokesperson Peggy Marshburn says in an email. "But ... the lead agency responsible for the safety and security of the students in juvenile hall is the Department of Probation."
In its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the Department of Probation meanwhile says it has no control over the practices of the Department of Education. In its statement of interest, the Obama administration told the two to quit pointing fingers at each other because both agencies in fact are responsible.
Solitary confinement of youth with disabilities amounts to a particularly vicious school-to-prison pipeline operating within the juvenile justice system. When youth in Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall are "suspended" from the detention center's attached school, they're commonly held in solitary confinement, where they're barred from school and rehabilitative programs like anger management classes and group counseling sessions. "Solitary confinement of youth with mental disabilities exacerbates their disability so when they get out of solitary confinement they have a much harder time reintegrating," says Disability Rights Advocates' Smith. "As a result, solitary confinement becomes almost a cycle. Youth come out of [isolation] not feeling like it was an effective deterrent, but sometimes even more agitated than before they went in."
And without access to resources to keep up with their schoolwork, their chances of graduating from high school on time or at all dwindle. What advocates fear is that the juvenile justice system begins to operate as a feeder of young people, denied access to appropriate mental health care and education, from the juvenile to the adult correctional system.
Others are picking up on the message. The Senate recently convened its second-ever hearing on the practice. And New York state has announced sweeping reforms that will scale back the use of solitary confinement for youth, pregnant inmates and those with disabilities. After years of advocacy, state corrections departments and legislatures, including those in Texas, California and Colorado are reconsidering the utility of solitary confinement, all of which makes the Obama administration's actions more timely, say advocates.
"For the first time in decades the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has become quite active under the Obama administration especially regarding issues of solitary confinement with people with disabilities," says the ACLU's Fettig. "It's a national reckoning. The country is now reflecting on what exactly happens behind prison walls."
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 17:05
Over at "Slate," Jillian Keenan elegantly lays out some of the reasons that Andrew Jackson should be yanked off the $20 bill. Her piece begins with a high school history class lesson about the Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears:
It was unfathomable that thousands of Native American men, women, and children were forced to march West, sometimes freezing to death or starving because U.S. soldiers wouldn't let them bring extra food or blankets. It was hard to hear that the Choctaw Nation lost up to a third of its population on the death march. It was disorienting to learn that what amounted to ethnic cleaning had come at the insistence of an American president.
Keenan goes on to explain how Jackson opposed paper money and the central banking system. She's even got an awesome suggestion to replace Jackson--but you'll have to read her post to find out!
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 01:16
In the seven years Oscar Smith served on the New York Police Department's scuba-diving unit, he was the only black member of the team. And according to allegations detailed in an official complaint he filed with the Police Department of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, he was unwelcome among the unit's ranks.
Smith told the New York Times he faced regular racial and homophobic taunts:
When his application to join the unit in 2003 was first denied, Mr. Smith said, he heard that the captain of the unit had blocked the transfer "because, he said, 'black guys couldn't swim,' " according to his complaint. That stereotype would rear up even after he joined the unit, he said. A supervisor "repeatedly asked me how it was that a 'black man' could have passed the swim test," Mr. Smith wrote in the complaint.
In his complaint, he said that shortly after joining the diving unit he was "subjected to racial hostility, derogatory comments and unfavorable treatment." He was soon given a nickname, Tautog. When he asked the other divers what it meant, he was told it was another name for the blackfish. Some colleagues dismissively told him that he was "descended from slaves."
At first, he said, his instinct was to "brush it off," but the comments got worse and even turned menacing.
"You could go on a dive op and not wake up -- anything could happen," he said his co-workers told him. "I'd say, 'That's nice to know.' " But as such comments increased over time, he said, "It didn't seem like it was in jest."
The NYPD's spokesperson declined to comment on the complaint. Read the rest of the article at the New York Times.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 23:57
President Obama released his new budget proposal for the coming fiscal year that starts October 1, and it's a relatively safe package of spending wishes carefully customized to not rock the boat for this year's mid-term elections. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls it "a solid blueprint that would reduce deficits, alleviate poverty, and boost investment in areas needed for future economic growth, such as infrastructure, education, and research."
Some of Obama's proposals, as listed in a fact sheet sent form the White House to the press:
- Supports a "Preschool for All" initiative, in partnership with the states, to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool,
- Provides 100,000 teachers in 500 districts with access to professional development to help them make effective use of new broadband connectivity,
- Raises the minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years,
- Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers aged 21 to 24, doubling the maximum credit to $1,000.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting, meanwhile, that the GOP isn't feeling Obama's anti-poverty measures. Rep. Tom Price (R., Ga.), the vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, said that Obama "wants to take more taxpayer money and throw it at programs that don't work."
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, felt differently, saying in a press statement,"By expanding the earned income tax credit and other middle class tax cuts and providing needed investments in jobs and infrastructure, this budget provides pathways out of poverty for millions of families."
Obama hopes that this budget, if passed, will drop the deficit by $434 billion come 2024. The fact sheet from the White House states that under Obama the deficit has already been cut in half as a share of the economy, the largest four-year deficit reduction since the demobilization from World War II.
The Department of Justice, which is hoping to bulk up its "Smart on Crime" initiatives to reduce mass incarceration and racial bias in the criminal justice system, would get a nice stack -- $173 million targetted toward those efforts:
- Requests $15 million for U.S. Attorneys, including prosecution prioritization, prevention and reentry work and promoting alternatives to incarceration such as the establishment of drug courts and veteran courts,
- Sustains $15 million for the Bureau of Prisons to expand the Residential Drug Abuse Program at the federal level and $14 million provided in the FY 2014 appropriation to assist inmates with reentering society and reducing the population of individuals who return to prison after being released,
- Requests $115 million for the Second Chance Act Grant program, through state and local assistance programs, to reduce recidivism and help ex-offenders return to productive lives,
- And $273 million to help meet the nation's civil rights challenges--including an $8 million program increase.
Hmm, between the call for more resources for schools and teachers, and funds for keeping people out of prison, it looks like a plan to help hammer away at that school-to-prison pipeline in America.
"The proposed budget released today by the President shows a clear and unequivocal commitment to expanding the middle class and providing educational, economic, and employment opportunities for all Americans," said Henderson. "If implemented, this budget would change the lives of students and families across this country for the better; we call on Congress to pass it."
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 23:53
An employee at a Canadian Sears store has been fired after video of a racially charged exchange with an Asian customer was posted online.
The video, which you can see above, catches the employee in the middle of a heated exchange with a customer over removing his child off a display lawnmower. After several moments of arguing, the employee says to the customer, "Let me guess, you came off the boat?
A spokesperson for Sears confirmed with the Canadian Broadcasting Company that the employee has been fired.
(h/t Angry Asian Man)
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 23:48
As a teen Ismael Nazario did time in New York City's Rikers Island prison for assault and robbery charges. "Without being convicted he says he spent a total of 300 days in solitary. The longest stretch was four months," reports Daffodil Altan for NewsHour. It was excrutiating, Nazario says. "Like, my eyes would start playing tricks on me. I would start seeing black dots. And I'd focus on them. It's crazy. It looks crazy when I demonstrate it, how it used to look. You see the black dots and you just focusing on the black dots and your eyes is just follwoign them around all over the cell. You're trying to escape seeing the black dots. But you can't, there's no black dots there. It's crazy."
Today he's a youth counselor in Brooklyn. But back on Rikers, solitary confinement proved to be a profoundly destructive practice. After long stretches in solitary confinement, which requires 23 hours of total isolation in a small cell, Nazario started talking to himself, pacing back and forth, screaming through a small slit in the door at his cell, a not uncommon response to the solitary confinement. For years advocates have been highlighting the dangers of solitary confinement, which many prison reform advocates consider tantamount to torture.
Folks are finally listening. In late February New York state announced that it's rolling back its use of solitary confinement for the most vulnerable populations, including youth, pregnant inmates and those with mental disabilities.
Watch the rest of the PBS NewsHour segment.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 22:22
De La Soul is going all out to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Last month, the group surprised fans and made their entire catalogue available for free. Now, they just dropped this track, produced by J. Dilla. It's part of a mixtape that will be out later this year. Here's their message to fans:
It's been 25 Years since our "Three Feet High" release. We have a lot great memories and an incredible journey. Amazingly enough, our fans stuck around, supported and still want more. Ok, but before you get that, here's a little De La over Dilla Beats.
Enjoy and look out for the new mixtape Smell The DA.I.S.Y. all beats by J Dilla. Peace... and in advance, You're Welcome.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 22:03
And you get a car! And you get a car! OK, so it's not nearly the same as Oprah gifting free wheels to her studio audience but, global behemoth Google will cover two years of mass transit for 31,000 working-class kids in San Francisco. Google is the city's second largest tech employer. The $6.8 million dollar donation comes, notes the Chronicle, "as tech companies are facing a backlash from city residents upset about rising housing costs, gentrification, a wave of evictions, and perceived aloofness from those companies and their employees."
Through the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the money will extend the life of an existing pilot program, originally won in 2012 by grassroots organization, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER).
Google and city leaders appear to agree that the donation is a first step.
(h/t San Francisco Chronicle)
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