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CNN’s John King Fails to Explain His ‘Dark Skinned’ Comment on Twitter

CNN's John King Fails to Explain His 'Dark Skinned' Comment on Twitter

Last night CNN correspondent John King took to Twitter to offer more context on how he ended up reporting that a suspect, described as a “dark-skinned man” had been arrested in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing. CNN ran with King’s “exclusive news” of the “dark-skinned” suspect for an hour until they announced their report turned out to be false.

“Source of that description was a senior government official. And I asked, are you sure? But I’m responsible,” King tweeted on Thursday evening. “What I am not is racist.”

King offered his explanation only after the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and the National Association of Black Journalists called him out for his inflammatory reporting.

Even the FBI released a statement asking journalists to be more thorough because his action lead to real world effects.

“Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting,” the FBI statement read.

King was quick to point out on Twitter that he was no racist but the online community was quick to remind that “racism is about effects, not just intent.”

Check out some of the responses below: (If you’re on a mobile device and don’t see content below please scroll down and select “desktop view.”)

The Post-Boston Islamophobic Hate Crimes Have Begun

The Post-Boston Islamophobic Hate Crimes Have Begun

On Wednesday, a white man harassed and punched a Palestinian woman in Medford, Massachusetts, calling her a “terrorist” and blaming her for the deadly bombing attack at the Boston Marathon.

Hema Abolaban, a physician, was walking down the street with a friend when they were approached. Malden Patch reported:

“He was screaming ‘F_ you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! F_ you!’” Abolaban remembered. “Oh my lord, I was extremely shocked.”

She said the man - described as a white male in his thirties wearing dark sunglasses - kept shouting and walking toward her as she backed away.

“I did not say anything to him,” she said. “Not even that we aren’t terrorists…he was so aggressive.”

Abolaban is not alone. The New York Post reports that a Bangladeshi man was beaten up by Latino men outside a Bronx Applebee’s restaurant. He, too, was blamed for the Boston bombing.

HBO Picks Up Whoopi Goldberg’s Documentary on Comedian Jackie ‘Moms’ Mabley

HBO Picks Up Whoopi Goldberg's Documentary on Comedian Jackie 'Moms' Mabley

HBO announced on Thursday that the cable network has acquired all U.S. broadcast rights to “Moms Mabley: I got somethin’ to tell you,” from first-time director Whoopi Goldberg. The feature-length documentary follows the life of Jackie “Moms” Mabley, the late African-American comedian who became one of the first bona fide female stand-up comedy superstars.

HBO describes the film:

Breaking racial and sexual boundaries as a pioneering comic talent, the African-American stand-up comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley has long been an icon in the comedy world. In I GOT SOMETHIN’ TO TELL YOU, Goldberg explores Mabley’s legacy through recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage and the words of numerous celebrated comedians, entertainers and historians, including Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Griffin, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.

Mabley tackled topics such as gender, sex and racism, making her one of the first triple X-rated comedians on the comedy circuit. Once billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World,” she performed on stage and in television and film up until her death in 1975. A true passion project for Goldberg, MOMS MABLEY: I GOT SOMETHIN’ TO TELL YOU shows Mabley’s historical significance and profound influence as a performer vastly ahead of her time.

“Moms Mabley has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others, but not a lot of folks outside of the comedy world know about her legacy,” said Goldberg in a statement. “There are a lot of us who wouldn’t be working today without pioneers like her. HBO gave me my first break on TV, so it’s only fitting that Moms has a home there now.”

“Moms Mabley: I got somethin’ to tell you,” will have its world premiere at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday, April 20.

Modest Racial Profiling Protections In Senate Immigration Bill

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

As I noted this morning, the Senate Gang of Eight immigration reform bill invests in a vast expansion of border security including lots of new equipment, drones included, and at least 3,500 more border patrol agents who will join the 21,500 already there. One of the concerns about this growing enforcement network is that it’ll deepen an already out of control and reckless border patrol (for a sense of the scope of this messiness, check out Andrew Becker’s border reporting for the Center for Investigative Reporting).

One of the biggest problems that rights groups have with CBP is the widespread use of racial profiling as a tool of border enforcement. The immigration bill includes several provisions to reign in these practices. The bill reads:

“In making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, such as ordinary traffic stops, Federal law enforcement officers may not use race or ethnicity to any degree, except that officers may rely on race and ethnicity if a specific suspect description exists.”

The provision notably excludes national origin, which leaves plenty of room for immigration agents to target immigrants because of characteristics that might suggest a particular country of origin but ultimately are really about race.

The bill would also require the Department of Homeland Security to begin collecting and compiling data on the race and ethnicity of people stopped by immigration agents. Though the data collection does not lead directly to greater oversight, it may provide transparency needed for advocates and oversight bodies to push for changes in practice.

Here’s Video of CNN Spreading Rumors About A ‘Dark Skinned’ Boston Suspect

On Wednesday afternoon a handful of news outlets falsely reported that an arrest had been made in the Boston bombings.

The Boston Globe, Fox News and The Associated Press all reported a suspect had been captured but were forced to retract their reports when the FBI issued a statement saying “no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack.”

CNN’s John King, citing multiple “exclusive” sources, was the first to broadcasts the faulty information. He’s taking the brunt of the false reporting not only because he broke the misinformation but also because he offered a physical description of the supposed individual who was arrested.

King described the “dark-skinned” suspect on CNN Wednesday around 1:45pm EST:

A physical description was given to me of the suspect. Wolf, I want to be very careful here because this is very sensitive information, but the description given to me, once again, it’s a dark-skinned individual. And I want to just stop there. Further descriptives were given by this source —— but it was a background conversation.

After reporting the false news for an hour, CNN retracted their statements. Minutes later the FBI called them out for not going through “appropriate official channels before reporting.”

“Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting,” read the FBI statement.

No Obamacare or Safety Net While on Senate’s Path to Citizenship

No Obamacare or Safety Net While on Senate's Path to Citizenship

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

There’s lots of fanfare about the path to citizenship in the Senate’s immigration reform bill, but the bill leaves serious questions about how newly legalized people will survive once on that path. This is perhaps nowhere more concerning than in the context of the full exclusion of newly legalized immigrations from Obamacare health insurance exchanges and other federal benefits.

Under the bill, immigrants on the 10-year path to citizenship—what’s called the Provisional Registered Immigrant status, or RPI—would be excluded from all means-tested federal benefits. Let’s just make clear what this means. Millions of people who work overwhelmingly in low-income jobs and who owe several thousand dollars in fines and in some cases need cash for mandatory English classes (in addition to paying the regular taxes that all workers pay) will be barred completely from programs meant to keep families afloat. That’s Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, cash assistance, Social Security Insurance and Obamacare’s insurance exchange.

It’s not just that these folks are left out. It’s that they’re left out even though they will have paid for years into the programs through payroll taxes.

Top WNBA Pick Brittney Griner on Being Gay: ‘Don’t Hide Who You Really Are’

Top WNBA Pick Brittney Griner on Being Gay: 'Don't Hide Who You Really Are'

Top WNBA draft pick and Baylor University senior Brittney Griner nonchalantly became one of the highest profile LGBT athletes in the country recently when she confirmed in an interview that she is gay.

In an interview with ESPN, Griner joined fellow draft picks Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne in a wide-ranging interview that covered everything from bullying to sexuality.

“Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are,” Griner told ESPN, before going into more detail about her decision to come out publicly. “It really wasn’t too difficult,” she said of the decision. “I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that. I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”

Griner, who was selected first overall by the Phoenix Mercury, is one of the most decorated female athletes to ever play college basketball. She’s a three time All-American, a former AP Player of the Year, and has more blocked shots than any player in men’s or women’s college basketball.

In Immigration Bill, More Criminal Prosecutions For Deportees Who Try To Return

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

One of the things I’m looking for as I cull through the Senate immigration bill are places where immigration enforcement expands. The U.S. already deports more 400,000 people each year and spends more on the border than at any point in U.S. history. It’s been widely reported that at least on the border, more is coming. Before any currently undocumented immigrants will be allowed to apply for a green card in a decade or citizenship three years later, the Department of Homeland Security will spend as much as $6.5 billion to deploy 3,500 additional border patrol guards and add walls, fences, drones and checkpoints to the southern border.

But here’s a piece that’s gained less attention. As part of this buildup, the bill expands the number of immigrants who will face criminal prosecutions for trying to come back to the country after they’re deported. People get sent to federal prison for crossing the border. They’re locked up for years.

A Synopsis (in Progress) of the Senate’s Immigration Bill

A Synopsis (in Progress) of the Senate's Immigration Bill

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

Yesterday, I spent the day reading an 844-page piece of legislation that promises to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. The big picture is this: the immigration reform bill pulls in two very different directions, as it attempts to codify the country’s troubling understanding of good and bad immigrants.

On the one hand, the bill tries to fix a system that’s done incalculable harm to millions by separating families and leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation. For example, it:

On the other hand, the bill adds more restrictions, more punishment and draws more lines in the sand about who’s welcome and who’s not. For instance, it:

In the end, the bill retains all the trappings of American public policy’s manic relationship to citizenship and migration: the country embraces some and despises others, thinks some immigrants are good immigrants and other immigrants are bad. Perhaps this is a given, but to make these decisions, it’s important to remember that these distinctions and the trades that come with them are not just about political compromise, they’re about who is included in the path to citizenship and who is left behind. About what kind of enforcement is built into the bill and who gets locked up or excluded as a result. And about whether the legal immigration system becomes more or less inclusive. It’s about lives.

I’ll be back in the details of the bill today, trying to answer a set of questions that I couldn’t get to yesterday. Follow along in our What’s in the Bill tag.

On Visas, Senate Bill Clears Family Backlog, But Closes Diversity Door

On Visas, Senate Bill Clears Family Backlog, But Closes Diversity Door

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

There’s been a lot of talk about what the immigration bill does to change existing pathways for legal immigration. Everyone in the political universe seems to agree that the country needs an expansion of visas for “high-skilled” immigrants—people with degrees in science and technology fields. Even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wants more of those visas. But Republicans often argue that in order to make space, Congress will need to cut other legal immigration routes. They usually go after two targets for the cuts: family-based visas and the Diversity Lottery program.

They appear to have won. The Senate bill makes cuts in both of those categories. The changes will strike a blow to many families and to geographic equity in who can immigrate.

Same-Sex Couples Are Not Part Of Immigration Reform Bill

Same-Sex Couples Are Not Part Of Immigration Reform Bill

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

The immigration reform bill released today by the Senate’s Gang of Eight will not include same-sex couples. Many advocates for LGBT families and for immigrants had hoped that the reform bill would include sections that side-step federal marriage laws and allow bi-national gay and lesbian couples to petition for green cards for non-citizen partners. No such language is in the bill.

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, bars same-sex couple from marriage and from federal benefits that come with legal partnership. This includes exclusion from immigration benefits. A 2011 report from the Williams Institute at UCLA estimated there are at least 40,000 same-sex couples who were barred from applying for immigration benefits available to straight couples with similar immigration status. That estimate is intentionally low and there may be many more families in this situation.

As I wrote last week:

Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced a stand-alone [Uniting American Families Act] to provide immigration petitioning rights to gay and lesbian couples. The bills drew support from a few Republicans but appear unlikely to pass on their own. Some members of Congress, including Rep. Jared Nadler, D-N.Y., who introduced one of those bills, said this week that the [same-sex couples] provision could be inserted into reform legislation once the Senate and House bills are conferenced.

“I will fight like hell to ensure that LGBT-inclusive language remains in any House and Senate conference report,” Nadler told the Blade.

But most acknowledge that the best chance for bi-national same-sex couples rests in the Supreme Court, which is currently considering the constitutionality of DOMA. If the justices overturn it, gay and lesbian couples in states with marriage equality laws could petition for green cards like other married couples.

“The reality is that when the Uniting American Families Act is not in there,” Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, told Metro Weekly yesterday. “[T]here is nothing in here for [LGBT] families, and that is not comprehensive.”

Tim Wise on Understanding the Power of Whiteness, Terrorism and Privilege

Tim Wise on Understanding the Power of Whiteness, Terrorism and Privilege

Anti-racist writer and educator Tim Wise published an essay yesterday that explores white privilege in the context of the bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon. 

Wise’s essay entitled, “Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness,” explores the cultural fallout that could result if the person (or persons) responsible for the violent marathon events turns out to be a person of color.

An excerpt from Tim Wise’s essay is below:

White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for whites to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.

White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Robert Mathews and David Lane and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page and Byron Williams and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker, among the pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize and kill, but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

And white privilege is being able to know nothing about the crimes committed by most of the terrorists listed above — indeed, never to have so much as heard most of their names — let alone to make assumptions about the role that their racial or ethnic identity may have played in their crimes.

White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we  will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

White privilege is knowing that if you are a white student from Nebraska — as opposed to, say, a student from Saudi Arabia — that no one, and I mean no one would think it important to detain and question you in the wake of a bombing such as the one at the Boston Marathon.

And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Belfast. And if he’s an Italian American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.

Read Tim Wise’s entire essay on at TimWise.org.

Immigration Bill’s Criminal Checks Include ‘Gang Affiliation’ Without Conviction

Immigration Bill's Criminal Checks Include 'Gang Affiliation' Without Conviction

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

The immigration reform bill made public today by the Senate’s Gang of Eight will tighten ties between the criminal justice system and the immigration system. It will require all applicants to the path to citizenship, what will be called the Registered Provisional Immigrant status, to pass a stringent criminal background check. And immigrants who have been deemed to have affiliation with a gang can be barred from the provisional visa even if they’re not convicted with an actual crime.

Background Checks

Immigrants with convictions for felonies, three misdemeanors, or what’s called an “aggrevated felony” in immigration law, will be barred from the RPI status. The bill does create an exception if one of the three misdemeanors directly related to the fact of being undocumented. The provision is aimed at state laws, like those in Arizona, that attempt to criminalize immigrants for lacking papers. Broadly though, immigrants with many minor run-ins with police will be ineligible for Registered Provisional Immigrant status.

Aggravated Felonies and Judge’s Discretion

The bill does little to roll back what for years immigrant rights advocates have labeled a draconian fast track from conviction to deportation. In particular, the bill maintains a set of 1996 immigration laws that revoked judges’ discretion to stop a deportation in cases involving so-called “aggravated felonies.”

Through the phrase evokes serious crime, aggravated felonies include minor drug, theft and fraud charges, as well as failure to appear in court, and many offenses by people who were previously deported and then comes back. In these cases, judges have no power to stop a deportation even if an immigrant has lived in the U.S. nearly all of their life and has family here. Thousands of non-citizens, including green-card holders, are deported for crimes they were convicted of decades ago.

In some cases that don’t involve aggravated felonies, the bill would expand judge’s discretion to weigh the impact of deportation on family or communities members.

New Criminal Categories

The bill adds several additional categories of criminal system involvement that will bar immigrants from provisional visas and make them deportable. These include a gang related crime or association with a gang and drunken driving.

According to several people familiar with the bill drafring process, who spoke to Colorlines.com on background, these provisions were added at the last minute because several Republicans members of the Gang of Eight perceived the legislation to be tilted in favor of Democrat’s demands.

The bill changes existing law so that any immigirant “who has been convicted of an offense for which an element was active participation in a criminal street gang” will be ineligible for legalization and can be deported.

The bill goes further, though, and bars from the path to citizenship any immigrant with established gang affiliations even if there’s no criminal charge against them. The bill reads:

“An alien who is 18 years of age or older is ineligible for registered provisional immigrant status if the [Homeland Security] Secretary determines… by clear and convincing evidence, based upon law enforcement information deemed credible by the Secretary, has, since the age of 18, knowingly and willingly participated in a such gang with knowledge that such participation promoted or furthered the illegal activity of such gang.”

As I reported in February, these gang affiliation provisions often feed on questionable police practices that peg young people of color as gang members without cause:

Belinda Escobosa Helzer, an attorney with the ACLU of Southern California, says that laws like these cast an overbroad net that encourages racial profiling. “What we’ve seen in practice in California is that a lot of youth of color are being documented as gang members because of where they live, who they went to school with, who they were walking with,” she said, not because they’ve committed a crime.

The bill also expands the consequences of drunken driving. Currently, immigrants can be deported for drunken driving convictions. But the bill would automatically remove any immigrant with three or more DUI convictions. Further, immigrants who are convicted of a single DUI after the legislation becomes law would be ineligble for immigration status.

The bill also expands punishment for non-citizens who were deported and reenter the U.S. I will get to these provisions in another post.

This post has been updated since publication.

President Obama Says He’s Not Jay-Z’s Travel Agent

President Obama Says He's Not Jay-Z's Travel Agent

DREAM Act in Senate Bill Includes No Age Cap and Faster Path to Citizenship

DREAM Act in Senate Bill Includes No Age Cap and Faster Path to Citizenship

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

The comprehensive immigration reform bill released today includes a broad version of the DREAM Act that will allow undocumented immigrants who came to the country before the age of 16 to apply for a green card after five years.

The DREAM Act provisions include no upper age limits for applicants, which means an immigrant who came to the U.S at the age of 10 and is now 60 can apply for a green card after five years. Past iterations of the bill that did not pass have excluded immigrants over the age of 30 from applying for permanent residency.

Leading advocates for the DREAM Act say the provisions are as strong as they could have hoped.

“We’re really excgted about these parts,” said Myrna Orozco, field director for the group United We Dream. “It’s a long time coming, and there are really good measures in it.”

But she said, the group is concerned that the broader path to citizenship will take too long. In the past, UWD has called for a 7 year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“Thirteen years is very long time, especially for older people, for our parents and grandparents,” she said. “We’ll fight to change that.”

Under the DREAM provisions, most immigrants who entered the country as children and who have been enrolled in college for two years, graduated from college or served in the military for at least four years will be allowed to apply for a green card five years after they’re granted the new Registered Provisional Immigrant status. Most other immigrants have to wait 10 years for a green card under the bill. Like all other immigrants, DREAM applicants will have to pass a criminal background check.

The DREAM movement, a vast network of young undocumented immigrants, has transformed the political landscape on immigration reform in recent years. DREAM-eligible youth have led coming-out campaigns to reveal their status to the public and demand a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants. Last year, the Obama administration granted DREAM youth “deferred action” from deportation and the right to work in the U.S. The program was a major victory for the movement, but DREAMer groups kept their eyes honed on citizenship.

Immigration Bill Includes Protections for Families Broken Up by Deportation

Immigration Bill Includes Protections for Families Broken Up by Deportation

The comprehensive immigration reform bill, released early this morning by a group of eight Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, includes provisions to reunite families separated by immigration detention and deportation. It also includes provisions to keep U.S. citizen children of deported parents from languishing in foster care, a problem Colorlines has documented, and to protect deportees from losing parental rights.

Since 2011, Colorlines.com has reported on the the fallout of immigration enforcement on families and children. An investigation we released in late 2011 found there are thousands of children stuck in foster care with deported parents. Data I obtained in December revealed that approximately about 23 percent of deportees have U.S. citizen children. Over 200,000 moms and dads of U.S. citizens were removed in a period of just over two years, according to government records. An unknown number of deportees leave their partners or parents behind.

I reported on Monday that the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act would allow some deported immigrants with U.S. citizen children, parents or spouses to petition to return to the United States and apply for the Registered Provisional Immigrant visa—the 10 year visa that leads to a green card. That’s the case, though the path back may not be an easy one. The bill also includes protections so that children of deportees are not stuck in foster care in the future.

The Senate Immigration Bill Has Arrived! Here Are Its Basics

The Senate Immigration Bill Has Arrived! Here Are Its Basics

For updates as we work through the bill’s details, follow our What’s in the Bill tag.

The long awaited Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill was released early this morning by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The landmark bill promises to dramatically realign the U.S. immigration system by creating a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants and others, while overhauling the existing systems to immigrate to the United States. The so-called Gang of Eight, a group of four Republicans and four Democrats has been drafting the bill for months, wrangling over the fine points and the always heated politics of migration.

The bill, at its core, is a product of compromise and, as with all attempts at immigration reform in the last generation, it tilts to the right. It leaves some undocumented immigrants without solutions by cutting them out of the path to citizenship with prohibitive fees, date cutoffs and strict criminal background checks. And the bill allocates billions of dollars to border enforcement, including resources to prosecute criminally greater numbers of people crossing back into the United States after deportation.

At the same time, on a number of points—including the bill’s inclusion of a path to legal status for some deportees with spouses and children in the U.S., and an inclusive version of the DREAM Act—the legislation goes beyond what many reform advocates believed attainable.

This obvious point-counterpoint is what President Obama suggested when he said yesterday, “This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me.”

Los Angeles School Board OK’s Landmark Parent Trigger Proposal

Los Angeles School Board OK's Landmark Parent Trigger Proposal

Parent trigger advocates are now two for three, and their biggest win yet came Tuesday afternoon when the Los Angeles Unified School District school board approved a proposal to overhaul 24th Street Elementary put forth by parents at the school.

Parents approved the proposal for themselves in a special parents-only election held last Tuesday. The plan will bring the school district and Crown Prep Academy, a charter school, together to run a pre-K through 8th grade school on the 24th Street campus. It is the first time that an attempt to invoke the parent trigger has sailed through without a court order.

“This is truly an historic vote for an historic partnership arrangement,” said Ben Austin, the executive director for Parent Revolution, which lobbies for parent trigger laws and organizes parents to make use of California’s version of the tool.

California’s Parent Empowerment Act of 2010 allows parents at schools with chronically low test scores to demand a host of sweeping reforms if they garner more than 50 percent of parental support from a school. Previous attempts to invoke the parent trigger, in Compton and in a small Southern California desert town named Adelanto, were divisive and acrimonious—both ended up in the courts.

At 24th Street, as in the Compton and Adelanto schools, the parents that Parent Revolution organized are predominantly low-income parents of color who’ve long struggled to improve their children’s education. Especially for parents who’ve been locked out of the school reform debate, the parent trigger can appear to be a long-awaited solution to their political disenfranchisement. But the parent trigger is a complicated tool, not least of which because the tactic has attracted the support of a host of conservative groups—from ALEC to the Walton Family Foundation. Critics of the parent trigger have accused Parent Revolution of astroturfing its way across communities of color in order to advance a narrow market-based school reform agenda.

“We thank the school board for its vote of support,” 24th Street parent activist Amabilia Villeda said in a statement released by Parent Revolution. “We are very confident this partnership arrangement will make the difference for our children.”

Los Angeles Unified school board member Marguerite LaMotte, whose district zone includes 24th Street said before logging the board’s only vote against the plan, “Our students are not for sale.”

This post has been updated since publication.

Federal Judge Stops Mississippi’s Anti-Choice Law — For Now

Mississippi will be able to hold on to its last remaining abortion clinic.

Here’s more from a press release from the Center for Reproductive Rights:

Judge Daniel P. Jordan III wrote in his opinion: “Closing [the clinic] doors would—as the state seems to concede in this argument—force Mississippi women to leave Mississippi to obtain a legal abortion…[The state’s position in this case] would result in a patchwork system where constitutional rights are available in some states but not others.”

This ruling isn’t final—the state can still appeal—but it does block the law from going into effect for the time being. The New York Times’ Campbell Robertson wrote that the victory keeps Mississippi “at least temporarily, from becoming the first state in the country without an abortion clinic.”

Last year, Mississippi residents voted against an amendment that would have outlawed abortion in the state. As a result, Mississippi’s anti-choice lawmakers just made it a lot harder for abortion clinics to operate in the state by requiring doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges for their patients to enter local hospitals. Those privileges are extremely hard to get.

Judge Jordan’s ruling this week blocks the state from revoking the licenses of Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic.

Injured Saudi Man is a Witness, Not a Suspect, in Boston Marathon Violence

Injured Saudi Man is a Witness, Not a Suspect, in Boston Marathon Violence

Law enforcement officials said Tuesday that a Saudi student who was injured during the violence in Boston yesterday is a witness, not a suspect. That clarification has become important in the aftermath of Monday’s tragic events. False and racially coded reports have surfaced over the past 24 hours speculating that the Saudi student in question was somehow responsible.

Here’s more from the Washington Post:

The Saudi, who is recuperating at a Boston hospital, is in his 20s and is in the United States on a Saudi scholarship to study at a university in the Boston area.

The federal officials’ explanation echoed comments by a Saudi official at the country’s embassy in Washington. The embassy official said that a Saudi national has been questioned as a witness but is not regarded as a suspect. The Saudi official cited information provided to the embassy by U.S. law enforcement officials.

“We’re not aware of any Saudi suspect or Saudi person of interest,” said the Saudi official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary nature of the information.

The young man sustained serious injuries and reportedly volunteered to have his home searched by investigators, according to the Post.

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