Obama Plans Chicago Speech to Address Gun Violence

Obama Plans Chicago Speech to Address Gun Violence

President Obama is finally going home to Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the president plans to visit the city later this week as part of a national tour to promote his second-term priorities that he will lay out in tomorrow’s State of the Union address. The visit comes amid growing calls for the president to address Chicago’s onslaught of gun-related deaths.

Over the weekend First Lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed in Chicago just days after performing at inauguration events for the president. The slain girl’s mother, Cleopatra Pendleton, is going to be in the White House chamber as a guest during the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

However, Chicagoans wants action, not symbolic gestures. Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times put it this way: “To Chicagoans, whatever economic messages Obama wants to underscore Friday will take a back seat to anything he says about the slaughters on the streets of Chicago — 506 murders in 2012, up 16 percent from 2011 — all happening on Emanuel’s watch.”

The Black Youth Project, a Chicago-based youth group, has collected upward of 45,000 signatures on its petition to get President Obama to “come home” to Chicago to address the city’s gun violence. The group thanked the president for answering its call to action, but noted that it must be a significant address:

We thank President Obama for answering our collective call.

However, we urge the President to make his speech a substantive one that addresses the underlying factors that perpetuate violence in Black and Latino communities.

We hope his speech will detail how he will work with community groups, city and state officials to address the underlying issues leading to gun violence in the Windy City, and other cities across the country.

Namely, the illegal distribution and loose regulation of arms, the lack of living-wage jobs, the varied shortcomings of public schools, the disproportionate rate of incarceration for youth of color, the circumstances and culture that propels the cycle of violence, and yes, the misguided choices young people sometimes make.

Once again, thank you Mr. President for addressing the life or death issues facing our young people.

One of the things that the president will have to address is a sense that the lives of young black people in Chicago are just as important — and newsworthy — as those lost in mass shootings across the country. Here’s how the Black Youth Project’s petition framed the issue:

President Obama rightly went to Newtown to comfort the families who lost children in that horrific tragedy, and now it is time he come home to Chicago and comfort the over 500 families who have lost loved ones to gun violence in the past year.

Youth in my community face specific challenges that lead to gun violence — and these challenges require different solutions than other tragedies commonly invoked in current gun control debates, like Newtown and Aurora.

Stay tuned.

Largest Private Prison Group in U.S. Wishes You a Happy Black History Month

Largest Private Prison Group in U.S. Wishes You a Happy Black History Month

On Monday, the president of the largest for-profit prison corporation in the nation published a blog post wishing everyone a happy Black History Month. Damon Hininger, president and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), also urged readers to celebrate the month by honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “dream of equality for all people.”

Critics say Hininger’s well wishes are ironic considering the prison population CCA profits from is disproportionately made up of black men and women.

“We can honor Dr. King’s legacy by embracing his dream of equality for all people - regardless of race, creed or color,” Hininger wrote in the blog post.

Hininger goes on to cite President Barack Obama’s re-election and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation as moments in history that inspire him.

“We can also make a decision to be of service - to take actions that improve our communities and, ultimately, our society. The CCA Family is so diverse. Each of us possesses a unique heritage that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Our individual stories make up the narrative of American history,” wrote Hininger.

Hininger’s message fails to point out 38 percent of CCA’s “revenue stream” consists of black men and women, as an analysis from The Sentencing Project found. [PDF]

Alex Stamm of the ACLU Center for Justice points out it’s ironic Hininger references the Emancipation Proclamation because today “there are more black men in prison and jail, or on probation and parole, than were slaves before the start of the Civil War.”

“What’s most unsettling about Mr. Hininger’s missive is that it’s so completely unconscious of the reality that his company supports and depends upon a system of mass incarceration that has devastated the black community,” Stamm writes on the blog.

Christopher Francis Petrella, a doctoral candidate in African American Studies at the UC Berkeley, found people of color are over-represented in private prisons by an additional 12%. The study analyzed prison populations in California, Texas, and Arizona because they warehouse some of the largest numbers of inmates in private, for-profit prisons in the nation.

Petrella teamed up with Josh Begley, a graduate student in Interactive Telecommunications at NYU, and studied Census data and other inmate population data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

“Our sense is that applying privatization to the most vulnerable and politically marginalized racial groups allows state DOCs and the private prison industry to externalize costs without facing “legitimate” public backlash,” Petrella and Begley wrote in their report “The Color of Corporate Corrections.”

“The overrepresentation of bodies of color in private prison facilities suggests that communities of color are seen as unworthy of taxpayer supported public investment. That is, relative to for-profit correctional institutions, people of color are disproportionately siphoned away from public facilities, precisely the types of facilities that provide the most educational, pro-social, and rehabilitative programs,” Petrella and Begley went on to say in the report.

In 2011, Hininger’s total compensation from CCA was $3,696,798, according to Forbes. If his salary has remained the same, this black history month he’ll be compensated with more than $300,000.

Check out the infographic designed by Begley below.

NYPD Breaks Down ‘Stop-Frisk’ Data by Precinct and Race

NYPD Breaks Down 'Stop-Frisk' Data by Precinct and Race

Earlier this week the New York Police Department released a report that breaks down its controversial stop and frisk policy by precinct and race.

CNN breaks down the numbers: > Nearly nine out of 10 people “stopped and frisked” under a controversial New York Police Department policy in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic.

The data comes from a report released by the NYPD Monday, which showed that of the 685,724 stops made by police that year, 53% of those questioned were black, 34% were Latino, 9% were white and 3% were Asian.

The citywide population in 2011 was 23.4% black, 29.4% Hispanic, 12.9% Asian, and 34.3% non-Hispanic white, according to the report.

Brooklyn’s 75th precinct, covering East New York and Cypress Hills, had the most stops in the department. Ninety-seven of the more than 31,000 people stopped were black or Latino.

Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct, covering Brownsville, was the next highest, with 25,167 stops. About 98 percent involved people of color.

The 40th Precinct in The Bronx, which covers Mott Haven and Melrose, ‘stopped and frisked’ 17,690 members of the community— with 98.5 percent involving people of color.

“While it appears at first blush to be a slick, fact-filled response, nothing in the report can dispute the reality that stop and frisk NYPD-style is targeted overwhelmingly at people of color, so innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, that all but 12 percent walk away without so much as a ticket,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement to the NY Post.

A July 2012 report from the Center for Constitutional Rights also found members of a range of other communities are also experiencing “devastating impact from this [stop-and-frisk] program,” including LGBTQ/GNC people, non-citizens, homeless people, religious minorities, low-incomepeople, residents of certain neighborhoods and youth.

It’s Still Not Enough for Michelle Obama to Attend Hadiya Pendleton’s Funeral

It's Still Not Enough for Michelle Obama to Attend Hadiya Pendleton's Funeral

The White House announced this week that First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the funeral of slain teenager Hadiya Pendleton. Amid an onslaught of brutal violence in Chicago, Pendleton has become one of the most high profile victims of the city’s gun violence because her death happened within days of her performing at President Obama’s second inauguration.

As I wrote in an in-depth piece on Chicago’s violence that was published yesterday, those working to end the bloodshed have more questions than answers. The Black Youth Project, a youth advocacy group that’s based in Chicago, has launched a petition to get the president to make a speech about gun violence in Chicago. While the first lady’s presence is important, the group argues that it’s not nearly enough of a national response. In a press released, the group called Mrs. Obama’s appearance an “appropriate response to this incredible tragedy”, but added “at the same time we want to be clear that Michelle Obama’s presence at the funeral does not in any way address the systemic issues contributing to gun violence in Chicago and other urban areas.”

Last weekend, Black Youth Project founder Cathy Cohen spoke of the need for a coordinated national response on MSNBC:

“There’s a needed coordination on the national level at this point,” Cohen told Melissa Harris Perry. “People are trying to do whatever they can, from community groups, NGO’s, to faith-based communities, but there’s a leadership and coordination that’s needed from the national level.”

Who You Calling a Model Minority? New Report Dispels Myths About Asian Americans

Who You Calling a Model Minority? New Report Dispels Myths About Asian Americans

Asian Americans are more than the collection of stereotypes that follow them doggedly. And in California, home to the nation’s largest immigrant population and the second-largest community of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, they are an especially diverse and contrasting community.

So says a new report out this week by the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of Asian Americans and NHPIs living below the poverty line in California increased 50 percent, while the number of unemployed Asian Americans and NHPIs grew by nearly 200 percent. Mongolian, Hmong and Cambodian-Americans in particular have higher poverty rates and lower per capita income than whites. And while Asian Americans are broadly thought to be high-achieving, high-earning and highly educated, Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese and Fijian-Americans face significant barriers to education, and some of the lowest college attendance rates in the country.

At Least Eight States Have Already Considered Welfare Drug Tests This Year

At Least Eight States Have Already Considered Welfare Drug Tests This Year

In the first few weeks of the new legislative sessions, lawmakers in at least 8 states have proposed bills to impose drug tests on applicants to family safety net programs.

Last year I reported that Republican state legislators went on something of a frenzy proposing bills that require recipients of safety net benefits to pass drug tests. Despite repeated court decisions that the laws are unconstitutional, state lawmakers are at it again this year. And they’ve added some new ideas for lambasting safety net programs too.

Already this year North Dakota, Kansas, Oregon, Illinois, New Hampshire, Alaska, Nevada, Virginia have considered drug testing requirements this year. Most of the bills were introduced this week.

Since there’s little evidence that welfare, food stamp and unemployment insurance applicants use assistance to bankroll addictions, critics say the laws are little more than slander.

Beyond drug testing, legislatures are expanding their repertoires.

A Tennessee lawmaker introduced legislation last week to stop welfare payments to parents if their kids get bad grades in school. The sponsor, State Senator Stacey Campfield said, “One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education.” But he added, “We have done little to hold [parents] accountable for their child’s performance.”

The bill would chop nearly a third of family’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits, already a pittance, if their child fails to pass state competency tests or get’s held back. How exactly the threat to make poor people poorer will improve educational outcomes isn’t at all clear.

And last month, North Carolina lawmakers got excited about banning poor people on welfare from buying lottery tickets. The Republican state representative who floated the idea has since backed off, but the hoopla over the proposal may already have pegged poverty to irresponsible spending.

It’s just February 7th, which means there’s plenty of time for more states to get on board.

Rubio to Deliver ‘Estado de la Unión’ Rebuttal in English and Spanish

Rubio to Deliver 'Estado de la Unión' Rebuttal in English and Spanish

On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to deliver the Republican Address to the Nation following the President’s State of the Union address.

Rubio, who is Cuban-American, will be delivered the rebuttal in both English and Spanish, according to a press release sent out by McConnell’s office.

His speech will focus more on the Republicans’ “commitment to limited government as the best way to help the middle class,” according to a source close to Rubio who spoke to the NYT.

“Marco Rubio is one of our party’s most dynamic and inspiring leaders. He carries our party’s banner of freedom, opportunity and prosperity in a way few others can. His family’s story is a testament to the promise and greatness of America,” said Speaker Boehner in the press release. “He’ll deliver a GOP address that speaks from the heart to the hopes and dreams of the middle class; to our party’s commitment to life and liberty; and to the unlimited potential of America when government is limited and effective.”

The New and Improved ‘God Made a Farmer’ Ads

The New and Improved 'God Made a Farmer' Ads

“We saw Dodge’s ‘God Made A Farmer’ ad and we thought it didn’t reflect the whole picture. So we gave it a bit of a fix,” reads the description for the video uploaded to the Brave New Foundation’s YouTube channel.

The video first appeared on BNF’s Cuéntame Facebook page where they pointed out that around 70 percent of U.S. agricultural farmworkers were born in Mexico.

The latest Census of Agriculture published in 2007 shows there is also growing ethnic and racial diversity among farm operators nationwide, and the percentage of women operators is up.

Below you’ll find a second re-imagined ‘farmer ad’ produced by investigative reporter Isaac Cubillos.

Girls’ Lena Dunham: ‘I Blurted Out to My Dad, ‘Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Reviewed” My Show!

Girls' Lena Dunham: 'I Blurted Out to My Dad, 'Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Reviewed'' My Show!

Last week Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a review of HBO’s “Girls” that was critical of the show’s characters and their privileges. The show’s creator Lena Dunham says she was excited to hear the sports legend watched her show but it ends there.

“I have to admit, I only skimmed it,” Dunham told “It seemed like a mixed review and I have a policy about not reading those.”

“[Abdul-Jabbar’s] review of Girls was called to my attention on Twitter,” Dunham said. “And I blurted out to my dad, ‘Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reviewed Girls.’ And he said, ‘I don’t even know how to process that. I don’t even know what that means.’”

Dunham then pivoted to praise Abdul-Jabbar’s guest appearance on the sitcom “New Girl” in April 2012.

“Kareem crushed it on New Girl,” Dumham told E. “So if we’re ever in need of a Kareem type, he’s definitely the first person I’d go to.”

DREAMers Say Obama’s Not Off the Hook for Record Deportations

DREAMers Say Obama's Not Off the Hook for Record Deportations

United We Dream, the country’s leading organization of immigrant youth, released a comprehensive list of principles for immigration reform today that outlines a fast and inclusive path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants and a rollback of harsh deportations programs.

Leaders of the group said that they are putting their full weight behind comprehensive immigration reform and are energized by President Obama’s commitment to getting a bill passed this year. But, on a call with reporters they added that DREAMers are not taking the pressure off the president to slow deportations, which they say continue to tear their families apart.

“DREAMers are not good at accepting NO as an answer,” said Lorella Praeli, policy director of United We Dream. “If the president is saying he will not stop the deportation of members of our community, we do not take that lightly.”

Last year, the movement to pass the DREAM Act, which would have extended a path to citizenship to young undocumented immigrants, changed their demand from legislation to administrative relief, calling on the president to stop deporting DREAM Act eligible youth. After months of actions, Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which halted the deportations of many DREAM Act youth.

Yesterday, United We Dream leadership met with President Obama and asked him to halt the deportation of their parents. Data obtained by in December revealed that the Department of Homeland Security deported 205,000 parents of US citizen kids in a period of just over 2 years.

In the meeting, the president said he would not slow enforcement as reform deliberations move ahead.

“The president was clear in responding to our concerns that there is a huge disconnect between” his vision of immigration reform and enforcement, said Praeli. But, “What he said is that politically he believes that he has more leverage” to pass reform if enforcement remains.

The DREAMers say they will vigorously advocate for a comprehensive immigration reform bill and support the president’s efforts to build broad support. But, Praeli warned, “if later on the moving vehicle is something else, whether it be a moratorium [on deportations] or a stronger ask on administrative relief for our parents,” they’ll shift their demands.

“It is that leverage that our community has built over ten years…that got us to have the leverage to bring to the table both parties,” she said, highlighting the group’s power.

Native American Man Schools Protesters at Arizona Anti-immigration Rally

Native American Man Schools Protesters at Arizona Anti-immigration Rally

A video uploaded to YouTube on Monday shows a self-identified American Indian man scolding a group of anti-immgrant demonstrators in Tucson, Arizona.

The man doesn’t mince his words.

“Get on with your bogus arguments. We’re the only legal ones here,” he yelled. Referring to one anti-illegal immigration sign, the man then yelled, “Yeah, we should have put that sign up when you son of a b**ches came!”

“You don’t want to hear the god damn truth!” he hollered. “Get on, b**ch! All the Native Americans you killed, you plant your houses here. That’s the truth. That’s the truth.”

Welcome Akiba Solomon to Colorlines’ Leadership!

Welcome Akiba Solomon to Colorlines' Leadership!

We’re often humbled by how large people assume the team must be. That means we’re punching far above our weight—which is exactly what effective community-based journalism demands. But today I’m thrilled to announce we’ve added some new muscle. Akiba Solomon, who has written our Gender Matters column for two years, is stepping into a new leadership role as Colorlines’ managing editor.

I’ve admired Akiba’s work for more than a decade. I still remember tearing into The Source in the late 1990s—back when hip hop magazines didn’t shy away from racial politics and investigative reporting—and devouring the compelling mix of content Akiba put together as its politics editor. Later, as Essence magazine’s health editor, Akiba was among a too small group of black journalists driving black media to take seriously HIV and sexual health. As a reporter, editor and commentator, she has been a relentless and rare voice for honest conversation about and, importantly, with black women. We have been proud to have her as a columnist, and I’m plain giddy to add her wisdom to Colorlines’ leadership.

Over the next few months we’ll be growing and deepening our work in many ways. In 2012, our investigative reporting dug deep into the attack on voting rights, the eroding space for reproductive health in communities of color, the ways in which breakneck deportation has ripped apart families and more. We’ll keep following those stories this year, but we’ll also be launching new enterprise projects—and with Akiba’s veteran guidance, we’ll maintain our commitment to providing crucial context and filling in the racial justice blanks as news breaks each week.

We’ve Got A Hugger: Sonia Sotomayor

We've Got A Hugger: Sonia Sotomayor

The picture above was taken last Wednesday in Chicago, it shows Justice Sonia Sotomayor hugging a 7-year-old girl at a book signing event. Tabbie Major wanted to know what books the justice loved when she was a young girl and submitted her written question with hopes of an answer.

When the moderator read Major’s question, Justice Sotomayor found the girl and wrapped her arms around her before providing the answer.

“I read as many Nancy Drew books as I could for the longest time,” Sotomayor told the second-grader. “I hope you find someone like Nancy Drew to read.”

The hugs weren’t just a Chicago thing. They’re happening across the country where the justice stops on her tour promoting her new book “My Beloved World.”

A U.S. Supreme Court Justice publicly hugging people they just met is unusual, and perhaps unprecedented. Some Google Image Searches yielded photos of other justices hugging the president or their partners at public events, but that was it.

The New York Times recently pointed out Sotomayor’s openness on her book tour stops: “To say that Justice Sotomayor is less cloistered than most of her predecessors and colleagues may be an understatement.” 

Her openess may stem from her mission to be a positive role model, specially for young people.

At a recent appearance in Los Angeles, Sotomayor made a group of school age children her priority. The justice only had an hour before she had to catch a plane back to the east coast and asked the audience to please understand that she wanted to meet the young people.

“The number one priority of my justiceship is to, I hope, inspire kids because you see after I’m gone I will live through your memory of me,” Sotomayor told the sold out audience at the Saban Theater, an auditorium with more than 1,200 seats.

The students she was referring to were seated in the highest balcony and they came from different community groups and schools, including the Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies.

“So please be respectful adults up there and let the kids come down,” Sotomayor told the audience.

And there were more hugs to be had.

Duke Frat Throws ‘International Relations’ Party But Really It’s a ‘Racist Rager’

Duke Frat Throws 'International Relations' Party But Really It's a 'Racist Rager'

Members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity on the Duke University campus initially wanted throw an “Asia Prime” party but they didn’t because schools administrators urged them to cancel the party. Instead what they did was change the name of the party to an “international relations” event and went ahead with their original plans.

The original party invitation invited guests complete with misspellings. “We look forward to having Mi, Yu, You, and Yo Friends (click for link) over for some Sake,” the email read. Embedded in the email was also an image of the Kim Jong Il character in the film “Team America: World Police.”

The original invite was reported to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life,according to a flyer posted around the school. Then members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity sent the following update the next day:

The Brothers of Kappa Sigma regret to inform you that our forebrothers’ secrets of the far east have not survived the move back onto campus. Without them, Asia Prime cannot go on and must be cancelled.

Instead, Kappa Sigma presents: International Relations. A celebration of all cultures and the diversity of Duke.

The Duke Chronicle reports Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said he met with Kappa Sigma leadership on Tuesday morning, expressing his disappointment that the party occurred despite encouragement from the University administration to cancel it.

Members of the fraternity have apologized but a group of students say that’s not enough and have staged their own protest:

The Duke Chronicle reports:

At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, several students, including seniors Ashley Tsai, Tong Xiang and Ting-Ting Zhou posted fliers across campus protesting a Kappa Sigma party that took place Feb. 1. The fliers included emails containing racially insensitive language sent out to party invitees and photographs from Facebook of costumed students at the party with their faces obscured. The actions precipitated criticism both of the party and of the fliering, and resulted in an official apology from Kappa Sigma.

Katherine Zhang, co-president of the Asian Students Association, told the school newspaper “the goal of the protest stretches beyond the Kappa Sigma party and racism against Asian students.”

“The problem is to assume that the skin in which America has determined that I am makes me not fully human,” Xiang told the Duke Chronicle. “It is a skin that I cannot take off, a skin that they can put on as a costume and make it a fun night. It is completely trival to [them] but [they] don’t have to live in our world.”

Trayvon Martin Would Have Turned 18 Today

Trayvon Martin Would Have Turned 18 Today

Supporters mark Trayvon Martin’s 18th birthday in Sanford , Fla on Tuesday, February 5, 2013. The Orlando Sentinel captured video of supporters celebrating his birthday.

Despite Longest Lines in the Nation, Florida State Sec. Calls Elections ‘Fair’

Despite Longest Lines in the Nation, Florida State Sec. Calls Elections 'Fair'

Yesterday, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released his long-awaited report on how the state’s elections system can be improved. He spent a month on a fact-finding mission, talking with county elections supervisors and other concerned constituents to produce this list of recommendations on “increased accessibility & efficiency in Florida elections.” But the only thing Detzner seemed to learn from the supervisors was how to throw them under the bus. The state secretary focuses mostly on the problem of long lines — Florida voters waited an average of 45 minutes, the longest time of any state — and he goes out of his way to blame this on the county election officials.

There’s a lot to unpack about long lines, but before doing that, let me list all of the problems Detzner’s report does NOT address:

  • There is no mention of felony disenfranchisement at all, despite the work of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition advocating for automatic voting rights restoration and Gov. Rick Scott’s dialing back of progress made on this issue by his predecessor Gov. Charlie Crist. Detzner fails to even mention the problem of confusing and trapping the formerly incarcerated with conflicting information about their voter eligibility.

  • No acknowledgement of the “souls to the polls” campaign, where community organizers mobilize black churches to increase voter turnout in mostly marginalized communities. The report backhandedly refers to early voting on the Sunday before Election Day as a “regionally popular voting” day that most elections supervisors would rather do without. But there’s no mention of race and how it helps black voters despite a federal judge citing those reasons for why Florida could not ban it.

  • Nothing on purging. Florida spent the better part of last year fighting for the right to purge eligible voters from rolls, falsely labeling thousands of them as “non-citizens.” This fight is still playing out in federal courts, but there’s no mention of this in the report.

  • There’s nothing on the problem of voters being challenged, unbeknownst to them, by groups like True the Vote, also leading to confusion and eligible voters denied their rights.

  • While the report talks about how to improve voter registration file processing and management, it says nothing about the law it passed that severely limits the time third-party voter registration organizations, like the NAACP, have to collect and turn over files to the county. There is existing litigation to reverse this as well, (it was temporarily blocked last year) but Detzner didn’t bother mentioning it.

  • Despite the call from advocates around the state for a more modernized voter registration system, the report says little about it. The best it can offer is guidelines on how elections supervisors can better manage registration records.

There is plenty of blame in this report on county supervisors of elections, though there were plenty of problems that were clearly of the state’s making. For example, Detzner’s report says that:

supervisors of elections have a responsibility to make the proper preparations for an election and their county commissions have the responsibility to provide the appropriate support to meet these needs. … However, some counties failed to prepare effectively and it reflected poorly on the entire state.

Election supervisors probably could have better prepared if they weren’t sent on witch-hunts by the state to purge voters. Meanwhile, whose to blame for the disproportional burden placed on black and Latino voters for long-line waits. Or the 201,000 Floridians who were discouraged away from voting due to the election mishaps.

It should also be noted that while Florida was far from the only state with these problems, they were emblematic of the finding by Massachusetts Institute of Technology that black and Latino voters waited twice as long to vote than whites across the nation.

Detzner wrote in the report: “I can confidently say Florida conducted a fair election in 2012.” Given his weak analysis, it’s apparent that there must be some blindspots at the state-level, particularly where race is concerned.

Read more about what’s next for the voting rights movement in Florida and beyond here.

Super Bowl Champ Brendon Ayanbadejo Talks LGBT Equality With Don Lemon

Just a day after his teams won the Super Bowl, Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo visited CNN to talk about LGBT equality.

“I don’t consider it gay rights. I just call it rights. Everyone deserves to be treated equally,” Ayanbadejo told CNN’s Don Lemon.

Transcript of Ayanbadejo’s comments:

Everyone’s been talking to gay people their whole lives whether we know it or not. We really believe that you’re born gay. I’ve had plenty of conversations with people that are gay and they say they are born gay, no different than me being born this beautiful almond coconut color that I am. People are born gay. So why treat them any differently? It’s time that we treat everybody fairly. And not only are we trying to dictate who people should love. We’re also trying to dictate who people should be. If a woman wants to wear a man’s clothes or if a man wants to wear a woman’s clothes or you feel like you’re a woman on the inside and you’re really a man. Who cares? Let’s just treat everybody equally. Let’s move on. Let’s evolve as a culture, as a people.

L.A. DA: Chris Brown Likely Faked His Community Service Hours

L.A. DA: Chris Brown Likely Faked His Community Service Hours

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey says Chris Brown has given no “credible, competent or verifiable” evidence that he has completed any of his court-ordered community labor

LA Times reports: > Prosecutors noted “significant discrepancies” and are asking that a judge order Brown to fulfill his obligation in Los Angeles County in connection to terms of his 2009 sentence for assaulting his girlfriend, singer Rihanna.

In a 19-page motion filed by Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Murray, the judge was asked to decline to accept Brown’s community service due to “at best sloppy documentation and at worst fraudulent reporting.”

Read the motion below:

Latino Farmers Breaking Barriers in Midwest

Latino Farmers Breaking Barriers in Midwest

Last Friday, PRI’s radio show “The World” ran a story about Latino farmers in the Midwest that are breaking through cultural and language barriers to operate their own farms. Reporter Anna Boiko-Weyrauch reports on a new US government project that is also supporting their efforts.

Here’s an excerpt from PRI’s “The World” story on immigrant farmers in the Midwest:

Latino farm owners are not new in places like California and Texas. But not so in Missouri, where immigrant-led farms represent just a tiny slice of farms overall. The operations are mostly small, with many immigrant farmers still working a second job to get by.

But a pilot project launched in January, and funded by the US Department of Agriculture, aims to support aspiring immigrant farmers in Nebraska and Missouri.

“You’re seeing an aging population and a lot of the younger folks in the labor market who are interested in farming tend to be folks from Latin America,” says Stephen Jeanetta, an assistant professor of rural sociology at the University of Missouri Extension and one of the project’s organizers.

The project consists of Saturday workshops at a southern Missouri library, with trainers coaching farmers on making business plans, networking and applying for loans. Hopes are that some farmers will become leaders and pass along what they learn.

The 2007 Census of Agriculture counted a total of 82,462 Hispanic operators on 66,671 farms and ranches across the United States. The number of Hispanic operators grew 14 percent from 2002, significantly outpacing the 7 percent increase in U.S. farm operators overall. A total of 55,570 U.S. farms had a principal operator of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin in 2007, up 10 percent from 2002.

Rep. Conyers at Immigration Hearing: Don’t Say ‘Illegal Immigrant’

Rep. Conyers at Immigration Hearing: Don't Say 'Illegal Immigrant'

Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, asked those present at this morning’s House Judiciary Committee on immigration reform to refrain from using the term “illegal immigrant.”

“I hope no one uses the term ‘illegal immigrants’ here today,” Conyers said. “The people in this country are not illegal. They are out of status. They are new Americans that are immigrants, and I think that we can forge a path to citizenship that will be able to pass muster.”

Conyers is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

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