Updated: 18 hours 21 min ago
Fri, 03/13/2015 - 06:53
Here's some of what I'm reading up on this morning:
- President Obama tells Jimmy Kimmel that the shooting of two police officers is criminal, and that the perpetrators should be arrested.
- Obama also reads mean tweets about him.
- The Kremlin posts photos of a healthy looking Vladimir Putin following rumors of a serious health issue.
- You can now "shoot fireballs at will", right from your hand. No, seriously.
- Speaking of needless technological advances, PancakeBot prints any shape pancake you want.
- Star Wars VIII is coming May 2017--not to be confused with a standalone Star Wars films that will be released next year titled "Rogue One."
- Teens who smoke pot are at risk for long-term memory loss.
- There may be water--and life--on some of our neighboring planet's moons.
Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:25
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain sentenced Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh to 18 months in prison after the 67-year-old Odeh was convicted of falsifying information about her past to gain citizenship in the U.S. The sentence was issued to a packed courtroom, with dozens of Odeh's supporters present. She was released on bond and plans to appeal her conviction, according to the Rasmea Defense Committee.
A Detroit jury convicted Odeh in November of failing to notify U.S. immigration authorities that an Israeli military court had found her guilty of participating in a 1969 bombing in which Israeli civilians died. As part of her sentence Thursday Odeh's citizenship will be revoked, and after serving her sentence she'll be automatically deported to Jordan.
Prosecutors had called for a 5- to 7-year prison term for Odeh in the highly politicized case, which garnered national and international attention. During his sentencing, Judge Drain said that while Odeh may have been a "terrorist," he believed she was reformed. He said he was abiding by sentencing guidelines, and sentenced her firmly in the middle of the recommended 15 to 21 months, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Her attorneys have maintained that her 1969 conviction was obtained after torture and sexual assault while in custody in an Israeli military court system with a 99 percent conviction rate for Palestinians. Odeh maintains that she wasn't involved in the attack.
Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:24
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted a five-day raid called Cross Check that resulted in the apprehension of 2,059 immigrants. Over at CNN, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is quoted as saying that Cross Check aimed to round up "the worst of the worst criminals." But almost half of those people taken in the operation have never been convicted of a felony.
Obama's executive action on immigration hinges, he's said, on "felons, not families." That executive action is on hold, caught up in the courts after a Texas-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen judge ruled in favor of a 26 state lawsuit challenging Obama's authority. The Department of Justice, meanwhile, filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit today, in hopes of blocking Judge Hanen's order.
The "felons not family" rhetoric is fraught with trouble: felons, like non-felons, also belong to families. Nevertheless, Obama's messaging suggests that his administration is only targeting people with violent criminal records for deportation. But if ICE-ERO's latest raid is any indication, it's not just felons that get caught in the administration's hunt--it's also people who have been convicted of misdemeanors, especially those with DUIs. "This shows that the Executive Action isn't being used to curb deportations," says #NotOneMore campaign member Angelica Chazaro. "It's being used to redirect them against criminalized immigrant communities."
Over at Think Progress, Esther Yu-Hsi Lee provides some damning examples of some of the people caught up in ICE-ERO's recent raid:
Among those immigrants is a 42-year-old immigrant from the Middle East who faces possible persecution or death if he's deported because of his religious belief. The immigrant, whom his wife referred to only by the pseudonym Rick, reportedly became undocumented in 1981 at the age of nine when U.S. immigration officials lost his citizenship application that his father filed for him. His siblings are all U.S. citizens.
Two ICE agents arrested Rick last Thursday morning as he was getting into his truck in his driveway. Rick's wife told ThinkProgress that ICE agents "made it sound like he would get out that day or the next day. They said, 'you have a job. You have a child. You'll probably be able to talk to the supervisor when you get out the next day.'" Rick's wife said that ICE agents stated that he received a "failure to report" violation stemming from a drug-related possession charge that Rick got in the late 1990s. At the time, he served 18 months in immigration detention, and according to various family members, Rick checked in with ICE officials for five years under supervisory visits and a judge in a "drug court program" as a part of his rehabilitation after he was released from detention.
Around 2006, Rick's family members said that ICE stopped his check-in visits because "he has no birth certificate, no records that tied him to [the Middle Eastern country he's from]. ... he was 'not deportable' so they released him," his sister said. Rick went on to receive a degree from culinary school and up until his detention, was working for 13 years in the food industry.
"I'm hurt by this," Rick's sister said, "My 14-year-old son is livid. We're just a basket case. For a person to be picked up from his driveway, he's going to lose his job. He's been working hard and he's married. He pays taxes! We're all humans, we make mistakes. ... Not everyone deserves to be sent back, or held, or detained."
You can read more about the people caught up in the immigration raid at Think Progress.
Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:21
A popular, award-winning Spanish language television host, Rodner Figueroa, has been fired by Univision after making racist comments about Michelle Obama.
On Wednesday's "El Gordo y la Flaca," Figueroa was talking about Paolo Ballesteros, who applies makeup to look like different celebrities--including sometimes donning blackface to look like Michelle Obama. Here's a short clip in Spanish:
"You know Michelle Obama looks like she's from the cast of 'Planet of the Apes,'" said Figueroa, to some laughter from either the show's hosts and/or audience. "I find her very attractive," responded host Raúl de Molina--who didn't address Figueroa's racist comment on the air.
This morning, @univision tweeted a statement in Spanish, writing that Figueroa's comments about "First Lady Michelle Obama were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect the values ??or opinions of Univision," confirming that Figueroa has split from Univision.
(h/t Latino Rebels)
Thu, 03/12/2015 - 12:16
East LA band Las Cafeteras just released a new video for the song "Mujer Soy" and it's a pretty incredible homage to the everyday work and worth of women:
Here's more from Remezcla:
The video made by Elefante Collective features the dance remix collaboration with Yukicito, member of Los Angeles DJ Crew La Junta Sound System. The song carries consistent melodic hymns combined with the traditional folk sounds of flute and jarana. We asked the female members of the group, Leah Rose Gallegos, Annette Torres, and Denise Carlos about how the song came about. Denise said, "I introduced the words and stories to Leah and Annette during a "mujeres music" session we had at my home a few years back. They loved the idea of singing for and about womyn and the three of us created the melodies of the song, which we then presented to the other members of Las Cafeteras." The end result of "Mujer Soy" is an homage to their fellow sisters and each other.
Thu, 03/12/2015 - 10:13
Common has a new action film coming out but last night with Jon Stewart, they barely touched on it, what with the rapper-turned-actor's starring role in the country's post-Ferguson conversation about racism. "The ride that you are on, right now," Stewart says. Watch the video above for Common's view of the #BlackLivesMatter movement from his front seat (click here for the extended interview). Together he and Stewart bring much-needed laughter and ease to a subject where defensiveness is the norm.
(h/t The Daily Show)
Thu, 03/12/2015 - 07:28
Here's what I'm reading up on this morning:
- Ferguson's police chief Thomas Jackson will resign.
- Two Ferguson police officers are shot during a protest; both are alive but injured.
- Drunken driving Secret Service agents crash into a White House barricade.
- Yogurt makers in France met in secret to fix prices on their cultured milk product--and are being fined as a result.
- Twitter says it's supposedly going to get rid of revenge porn--but if you've ever been targeted on Twitter, you'll know the platform won't really do anything to protect you.
- There's a new trailer for the Kurt Cobain documentary (real talk: I confused Curtney Love for Jan Brewer in it).
- Danielle Ofri explains how hard it is to convince anti-vaccine patients that immunizations are a good thing.
- This is the jewelry Neanderthals were wearing 130,000 years ago.
Wed, 03/04/2015 - 15:19
In time for the DOJ's release today of its investigation of the Ferguson police department: watch 50 black men, ages 5-50, explain what "Ferguson" means in the 4-minute video above. What's fascinating about Cut's experiment is the ages at which 'Ferguson'--and in a separate video, 'police'--start to take on meaning.
Wed, 03/04/2015 - 14:08
The Department of Justice has declined to charge former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, but that doesn't mean outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder is backing off the city. In a speech today, Holder blasted Ferguson for its "routine" constitutional violations and "disturbing" pattern of racial bias against black residents, The Guardian reports.
Holder's remarks came on the heels of the release of a Justice Department investigation into the practices and policies of Ferguson's police department and court system. "It is time for Ferguson's leaders to take immediate, wholesale and structural corrective action," Holder said.
The Department of Justice also announced this morning that it would not charge Wilson, and there's little surprise here. The announcement came seven months after Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown, and three months after a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Wilson. "There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson's stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety," the DOJ's criminal report read, ABC reported.
Wed, 03/04/2015 - 09:56
It's been more than a year since Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old fashion designer and transwoman of color was brutally beaten to death in Harlem. This week New York City police officers announced that James Dixon, 24, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter.
The arrest caps a year and a half of often frustrating back-and-forth. Initially, another man was charged with the crime, but those charges were later dropped.
Nettles' death sparked an outcry against violence targeting transgender women of color. From the New York Times:
Ms. Nettles's killing incensed the transgender community in New York and prompted vigils, protests and the formation of an advocacy group, the Trans Women of Color Collective. For many, Ms. Nettles's death became emblematic of violence against transgender people, who are often the targets of beatings, and what many of them see as the indifference the authorities show across the country to the killings of men transitioning to women.
Lourdes Hunter, the director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, said the long delay in bringing charges against Mr. Dixon reflected the low priority such cases have among the police and prosecutors. Ms. Hunter also questioned why the attack was not treated as a hate crime, because no motive other than Ms. Nettles's sexual orientation had been suggested. She also wondered why Mr. Dixon was not charged with murder.
Wed, 03/04/2015 - 09:02
It was difficult last November to ignore the language that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson used to describe Michael Brown. "The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon," he told a St. Louis grand jury in testimony released last November. Wilson also claimed that he felt "like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan," and that, even after having been shot already, "[Brown] was almost bulking up to run through shots."
The grand jury never really questions Wilson's dehumanizing descriptions of Brown, an unarmed teen of similar height and size. As a result, there's little indication that the grand jury even considered that Brown felt fear and pain during his escalating confrontation with Wilson, that his feelings mattered or, more to the point, that he may have been the victim. They are not alone.
"The narrative that young men of color's pain is insignificant--both that it's somehow smaller than the pain that other people experience and that it's somehow less important--is as old as our country," Vera Institute of Justice researcher Danielle Sered told an overflow crowd last week at the Ford Foundation in New York City. The implication and meaning of that narrative was the subject of an extraordinary talk, "Young Men of Color and the Other Side of Harm." (Watch video above).
Panelists included (l to r): Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY); forensic psychiatrist Dr. Richard Dudley who specializes in treating black male victims; Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson; Howard University theologian and director of Healing Communities prison ministry, Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear; and Danielle Sered, director of Common Justice, a restorative justice program that provides victim services to young black men.
Below, slightly edited highlights from the hour-long panel, which convener Sered hopes will launch a new national conversation that centers the effects of harm and trauma in the lives of young black men.
Common Justice's Danielle Sered, on how treatment and care for victims is racialized...
"As a white woman I know the profound impact it can have on a person for a society to take her pain seriously. When I survived sexual assault in my late teens there were many, many programs available to support me. I didn't actually go to any of those programs. And at the same time their very existence affected me profoundly. They communicated something. They told me that I matter, that what happened to me was wrong, that I was deserving of care, that what happened to me ran contrary to the values of my society in a way that was so important, that society would invest resources in making sure that I came through it OK. And that message from our society, especially when it is reinforced in countless ways by our media and our social institutions, offers a profound and essential support to healing. ... But as a nation, we have failed to make a comparable effort to provide young men of color who survive violence with the services and supports that they need and deserve--even though those young men are among the people most likely to survive harm in our country."
Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear on challenging "thug" imagery and language...
"One of the reasons young black men don't get the attention white women get as victims is that they're not part of the human narrative. We don't see them as human beings. We see them as criminals. We see them as thugs. We see them as animals. We have all kinds of names that we call them rather than recognize their humanity. That contributes to black-on-black violence because if the narrative is that young black men aren't human, young black men internalize that and devalue each other's lives. We need a real fresh way of thinking about humanity of all people involved in the penal system whether they're victims or perpetrators. And we start with language. We're not about fixing people coming home from prison; we're about changing the narrative around the whole community. So, for example, we don't use the term "ex-offender." We use the term "returning citizen." It's not perfect. But if you continue to define someone by their past then you're not giving them a chance for their future. Language is really important."
Dr. Richard Dudley on the myth of black male immunity to pain...
"There's an underlying narrative that young men of color are somehow immune to violence. There's a notion that violence doesn't affect them in any particular sort of way, hence there's no need for a program or any sort of intervention. I'm reminded of testifying in court a couple of decades ago, about a young man who had been assaulted. During the course of this assault, [another young man, his friend] was killed. He developed really bad PTSD and so his parents brought him to see me. Every time the incident came up he would disassociate, he would relive it, he would run screaming out of the house thinking it was all happening again. So I'm testifying about this in court and in the middle of it, the judge actually stopped me and said, 'Dr. Dudley, are you trying to tell me that a kid from Bedford-Stuyvesant can be traumatized?' [Audience audibly shuffles.] Fast forward decades now, and whether I'm consulting with police or visiting mental health programs in prison, that same notion--that these young men are somehow immune to violence--interferes with even beginning the exploration process of what to do."
D.A. Kenneth Thompson on reforms to the criminal justice system...
"When I ran [for office] I said I would deal with the marijuana arrests and wrongful convictions and we have started to do that. Twelve exonerations in a little over a year, 100 murder cases left to look at--which is extraordinary. And our decision to go beyond murder cases to look at non-homicide cases is important. ... The criminal justice system is not infallible. There have been a few of these men who've died before we can get them out.
There was one young boy named Willie Stuckey. He was only 16-years-old when he confessed [to murder]. We looked at that case and concluded that his video-taped confession was false. So I moved quickly to correct that but Willie Stuckey had already died. He died at the age of 31 of a massive heart attack while maintaining his innocence in prison. But that didn't stop me from moving to vacate his conviction. And so we tracked down his mother who had moved away.
I called and introduced myself to her and told her that we were going to have this court appearance because Willie should've never gone to prison in the first place. And all you could hear is her crying on the other end of the phone, uncontrollably. So I asked her if she would come to court and stand in Willie's place. Because although we couldn't save his life we could at least give him back his good name. And she came to court and stood there on behalf of her son.
Now, that won't bring him back. But maybe that'll help her with the healing process and show folks how we're taking a different approach in Brooklyn, treating people who're wrongfully convicted, whether living or dead, with the dignity they deserve."
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on actually seeing black men as victims of violent crime...
"Even at a time where you have the police-community relationship at the forefront and a [bipartisan] political opportunity to deal with mass incarceration and the failed War on Drugs, this victimization issue has still largely escaped notice. It's been largely ignored. And given that Congress has an opportunity now to make progress on fixing the broken criminal justice system, there's a real moment to inject the victimization of young men of color into [that conversation]."
I'm continuing to report on victimization and trauma in low-income communities for Colorlines in partnership with The Investigative Fund and I'd like to hear your stories. Please email cmurphy(at)raceforward(dot)org.
Wed, 03/04/2015 - 09:00
Not only is she the star of this season's smash FOX hit "Empire," now Taraji P. Henson has been named the 2015 American Black Film Festival Celebrity Ambassador. Here's more from Shadow and Act:
The Oscar-nominated actress will wear a different hat later this year, as the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) announced today that Ms. Henson will be the 2015 celebrity ambassador, for what will be its 19th edition, set for June 11-14, 2015, in New York City at the New York Hilton, AMC Empire 25 and the historic Ziegfeld Theater.
"I want to thank Jeff Friday and everyone at ABFF for the honor of serving as your 2015 Ambassador. It is a privilege to join my fellow filmmakers to celebrate and support Black artists and the artistry that resides in all of us," Henson told the media.
Wed, 03/04/2015 - 08:56
Here's what I'm reading up on this morning:
- Israeli PM Netanyahu made his long speech in Congress Tuesday; 58 Congress members decided not to attend.
- Can the Obamacare case before the Supreme Court be dismissed on standing?
- Dzohar Tsarnaev's trial takes off today--here are the names you'll need to know, including the family members that say he and his brother were framed.
- Ben Carson might actually run for president.
- A new scientific study indicates how scary a zombie outbreak would be--and you can even try the interactive map (which oddly models the continental United States as an island).
- Apple will be putting its security guards on payroll, eliminating the contract system (I imagine this will do wonders for their diversity numbers).
- Although e-cigarettes are banned for teens in most states, they can still easily buy them online.
Dori's memorial service, Chapel of the Chimes:
Link to view the entire service at Chapel of the Chimes (1:00:56): http://youtu.be/2oL1IkAnCEU
Link to view highlights from the service (05:24): http://youtu.be/tqoAxZ-ZoN4Please direct your inquiries to:
Evelyn Hsu, Acting Executive Director
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