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857 Desks Installed On National Mall to Call Attention to Drop Out Rates

857 Desks Installed On National Mall to Call Attention to Drop Out Rates

An installation of 857 empty school desks, representing the number of students nationwide who are dropping out every hour of every school day, is on display at the National Mall June 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. The installation was presented by the College Board to call upon presidential candidates who are running for the White House to make education a more prominent issue in the 2012 campaigns and put the nation’s schools back on track. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

TAGS: schools

64-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Takes 2nd Place at Bikini Contest

64-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Takes 2nd Place at Bikini Contest

A Los Angeles grandma beat a bunch of women half her age in a bikini contest in Atlanta, Georgia earlier this month. Ruby Carter-Pikes, 64, won second place in the FitSciences Championships on June 2.

“It’s like showing people age is only a number and you don’t have to get cut up or do anything crazy, just be healthy and take care of your body,” Carter-Pikes told KNBC-LA Wednesday.

“Coming from a black family, and most Hispanics, too, we die from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, kidney failure, it’s not because of our genes, it’s because of what we eat,” she told KNBC-LA.

According to her profile on the social networking site Body Proud, Carter-Pikes seriously got in to fitness after several family members were affected with diabetes.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and had four children that I really start to realize and recognize the devastation of my family’s poor eating habits and the effects it had on the health my love ones including my grandmother, mother, aunts, sisters, uncles, brothers, etc. For example, my grandmother died at 57 after being diagnosed with heart problem and high cholesterol; my mother fought the battle of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease; a sister leg was amputated as a result diabetes (while on dialysis). A niece was diagnosed with diabetes at the early age of 11 and was prescribed insulin shots immediately. She lived with the disease until the age of 32.

Mrs. Carter-Pikes, keep inspiring us all!

FOX Picks Up Jesus Orellana’s Sci-Fi Movie Project ‘Rosa’

rosa_jesus_orellana_poster.jpg

20th Century Fox has purchased the rights to create a full length feature film based on the sci-fi short-film ROSA that was created entirely by young comic-artist Jesús Orellana.

The film’s synopsis:

ROSA is an epic sci-fi short film that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all natural life has disappeared. From the destruction awakes Rosa, a cyborg deployed from the Kernel project, mankind’s last attempt to restore the earth’s ecosystem. Rosa will soon learn that she is not the only entity that has awakened and must fight for her survival.

The Hollywood Reporter has more details: > Orellana is on board to direct the project, which is being produced by Simon Kinberg as well as Raymond Brothers and Scott Glassgold of IAM Entertainment.

Orellana produced the short with no budget on a home computer in Barcelona. The short film that has been widely celebrated at film festivals across the globe took him one year to complete.

TAGS: Film ROSA

Investigators Find Forced Labor at Louisiana Walmart Seafood Supplier

Investigators Find Forced Labor at Louisiana Walmart Seafood Supplier

An investigation by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) has found labor law violations and inhumane treatment of workers at a Walmart seafood supplier in Louisiana.

The 37-page report published Wednesday alleges Mexican “guest workers” are forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours during peak production periods, with as few as four hours between shifts. According to the report, workers are paid 40 percent below the legal minimum wage. The WRC concluded that the totality of the abuses taking place at this employer constitute forced labor under U.S. law.

The WRC is an independent labor rights watchdog which launched the investigation of the employer, C.J.’s Seafood, in response to an urgent worker complaint. According to the National Guestworker Alliance, which helped workers at the factory organize and brought the complaint to the WRC, 85% of the crawfish at C.J.’s is processed for Walmart.

The affected workers are laborers from Mexico, here under the U.S. government’s H2-B guest worker visa program. The report says virtually every aspect of the worker’s lives are controlled by the employer, and are subjected to threats of deportation and violence in order to frighten them into submission.

“Most Americans would be shocked that such conditions exist in this country. These workers, who process seafood for America’s largest retailer, are forced to work hours that no human being should have to endure, are paid far less than the minimum wage, live in squalor on the employer’s property, and are threatened with dire consequences if they dare to complain,” WRC Executive Director Scott Nova said in a statement.

“Walmart, which undoubtedly benefits from the low production costs made possible by these abuses, did nothing to protect the rights of workers at this facility, despite long-standing public assurances that it is policing labor practices in its supply chain,” Nova went on to say.

The guest workers have filed complaints with the US Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Jelani Cobb’s Moving ‘New Yorker’ Piece on the Legacy of Rodney King

Jelani Cobb's Moving 'New Yorker' Piece on the Legacy of Rodney King

William Jelani Cobb, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of History at Spelman College. He specializes in post-Civil War African American history, 20th century American politics and the history of the Cold War.

Below is an excerpt from his New Yorker piece on the legacy of Rodney King:

The old adage holds that history occurs twice—first as tragedy, then as farce—but if anything is to be learned from the tragic tale of Rodney King, it’s that history’s encores are often just as brutal as its débuts. King, who died Sunday at age forty-seven, was inducted, unwitting and unwilling, into a fraternity of men whose experiences seem like a series of historical paraphrases. There’s John Weerd Smith, the Newark cabdriver whose arrest sparked the 1967 riots in that city; Marquette Frye, whose 1965 D.U.I. arrest in Watts ignited days of chaos and fire. In 1964, fifteen-year-old James Powell was shot and killed by an N.Y.P.D. officer in Harlem— word of his death was just so much kindling to an already tense city, and riots broke out in Manhattan and Brooklyn. During the Second World War, the police shooting of Robert Bandy, a soldier, inaugurated the 1943 Harlem riot. And there are more. That roll call explains why the disbelief that swaths of America felt when viewing the videotape of Rodney King’s beating was scarce in black America, why so many African Americans saw it through eyes jaundiced by similar experience—a civic violation as lived cliché. […] King was changed by what transpired on March 3, 1991, and we’d like to believe we have been also, though precisely how is hard to pinpoint. The three levels of bureaucratic self-defense are to deny a problem exists; admit that it exists but say it’s confined to a few rogue individuals; or admit to systemic troubles, create a commission, and then claim that reforms have completely eliminated the problem. After the Los Angeles riots, the L.A.P.D. went directly to level three. In the wake of the Christopher Commission’s findings, the department took steps to diversify its ranks. The removal of Police Chief Daryl Gates and the subsequent appointment of Willie Williams, the first black police chief in L.A. history, was directly related to King’s beating. But in 2009, television viewers saw grainy footage of another black man lying prone at the feet of a California police officer, this time in Oakland. The man, Oscar Grant, had been shot and killed. Earlier this year, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report pointing out that in 2011 the N.Y.P.D. conducted nearly six hundred and eighty-six thousand stop-and-frisks, with blacks and Latinos accounting for more than eighty-six per cent of those targeted by police. A little leaguer has a vastly higher chance of being thrown against a mailbox and searched in New York City than when I was growing up there.

TAGS: Rodney King

New Beautiful Short Film Highlights Three DREAMers

New Beautiful Short Film Highlights Three DREAMers

Video description:

A compassionate look at undocumented youth in the United States. Through a series of interviews with undocumented kids, activists, policymakers, non-profit leaders, educators and members of the clergy “Illegal” seeks to raise the consciousness level of the American public regarding the importance of full immigration reform. Though an important step was taken with the president’s order to halt the deportations of some young undocumented residents, we must remember that his executive order could change as early as January under a new administration. Our work is far from over.

“Illegal” is an independent documentary film financed by Houston philanthropist Curry Glassell.

Apple Stores in Georgia Won’t Sell iPads to People Speaking Farsi

Apple Stores in Georgia Won't Sell iPads to People Speaking Farsi

WSB-TV in Alpharetta, Georgia has interviews with two people who were denied iPads and iPhones at two different Apple Stores after employees learned they were from Iran.

Sahar Sabet, 19 and a U.S. citizen, says it all started when an employee asked her what language she was speaking with her uncle.

“When we said ‘Farsi, I’m from Iran,’ he said, ‘I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations,’” Sabet said.

“I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet,” Zack Jafarzadeh, who had a similar experience at a nearby Apple Store told WSB-TV.

On Tuesday, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Apple to change its policy after learning about WSB-TV’s report.

“Apple must revise its policies to ensure that customers do not face discriminatory treatment based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “If the actions of these Apple employees reflected company policy, that policy must be changed and all employees retrained.”

Somehow Kelly Ripa Managed to Make a Deportation Joke While the First Lady Double Dutched

First Lady Michelle Obama went on Live! With Kelly Monday morning and she double Dutched in wide-legged pants!

(And yes, at 3:30 minute mark you hear Kelly Ripa threatening those poor kids with deportation.)

Spanish Talk Shows Biggest Name Cristina Saralegui Endorses Barack Obama

Spanish Talk Shows Biggest Name Cristina Saralegui Endorses Barack Obama

Jorge Ramos may want nothing to do with him but Spanish-language daytime talk shows’ biggest name announced her support for the re-election of President Barack Obama.

This is the first time that Cristina Saralegui has endorsed a President or actively participated in a presidential campaign.

Saralegui’s “El Show de Cristina” premiered on Univision in 1989 and had high ratings for years until it was canceled in 2009 due to low viewership. Her endorsement is still huge though because she’s Cuban and her devoted audience skews older—two groups that have historically voted Republican.

President Obama holds a 34-point lead over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney among registered Latino voters, according to a March NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll of Latino respondents.

Southern Baptists Poised to Elect First Black President

The Southern Baptist Convention is expected to elect its first black president at its annual meeting on Tuesday.

Associated Press has more on today’s historic vote:

The nation’s largest Protestant denomination is set to take its biggest step yet toward resolving its troubled racial past.

On Tuesday, the Southern Baptist Convention is expected to vote on whether to elect an African-American pastor as its president for the first time in the denomination’s 167-year history. The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. is so far running unopposed.

Seventeen years earlier, Luter was one of the authors of an SBC resolution that apologized to African-Americans for its past support of racism and resolved to strive for racial reconciliation.

The presidential election is not expected to start until 2:50 p.m. Central time on Tuesday.

Amazon.com on Pace to be Bigger Than Walmart by Decade’s End

Amazon.com on Pace to be Bigger Than Walmart by Decade's End

Amazon.com is already the world’s largest online retailer and if they continue growing at the current pace they’ll be bigger than Walmart by the end of the decade.

And by the looks of it they are no better than Walmart in terms of worker conditions. Check out this excerpt from a September 2011 Morning Call investigation in an Amazon.com warehouse:

The 34-year-old Allentown resident, who has worked in warehouses for more than 10 years, said he quit in July because he was frustrated with the heat and demands that he work mandatory overtime. Working conditions at the warehouse got worse earlier this year, especially during summer heat waves when heat in the warehouse soared above 100 degrees, he said.

He got light-headed, he said, and his legs cramped, symptoms he never experienced in previous warehouse jobs. One hot day, Goris said, he saw a co-worker pass out at the water fountain. On other hot days, he saw paramedics bring people out of the warehouse in wheelchairs and on stretchers.

“I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one,” Goris said. “They can do that because there aren’t any jobs in the area.”

The issues run past their labor practices also. 

Last year they went after small-business owners with a promotion offering discounts to customers who bought books they scanned while they were standing in a brick-and-mortar store. They’ve also played expensive politics to avoid paying taxes across the country.

Below, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance illustrates just how Amazon.com got to where they are today.

Biggest Wave of Immigrants is Now Asian

Biggest Wave of Immigrants is Now Asian

Asians recently passed Latinos as the largest group of new immigrants to the United States.

“Asians have become the largest stream of new immigrants to the U.S. — and, thus, the latest leading actors in this great American drama” of immigration, Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, wrote in the report.

The report calls the educational credentials of Asian immigrants “striking.” More than six-in-ten (61%) adults ages 25 to 64 who have come from Asia in recent years have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is double the share among recent non-Asian arrivals.

Recent Asian immigrants are also about three times as likely as recent immigrants from other parts of the world to receive their green cards—or permanent resident status—on the basis of employer rather than family sponsorship (though family reunification remains the most common legal gateway to the U.S. for Asian immigrants, as it is for all immigrants).

It’s important to note the basic demographics of these groups are different on many measures. For example, Indian Americans lead all other groups by a significant margin in their levels of income and education. Seven-in-ten Indian-American adults ages 25 and older have a college degree, compared with about half of Americans of Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Japanese ancestry, and about a quarter of Vietnamese Americans.

On the other side of the socio-economic ledger, Americans with Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and “other U.S. Asian” origins have a higher poverty rate than does the U.S. general public, while those with Indian, Japanese and Filipino origins have lower rates.

Immigration scholars have attributed the decrease in Latino immigration to a variety of factors including increased deportation and border enforcement and the economic downturn in the U.S.

Adidas Pulls Shoe in Response to Slavery Controversy

Adidas Pulls Shoe in Response to Slavery Controversy

He may not be a household name but Jeremy Scott’s designs have been worn by Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Madonna and Kanye West. His name may become more familiar by the end of this week though… but for all the wrong reasons.

On Monday night, Adidas announced they have canceled plans for a sneaker with a shackle-like ankle designed by Scott that some critics said resembled a symbol of slavery.

The sneaker “is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery,” Adidas said in a statement. “Since the shoe debuted on our Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, Adidas has received both favorable and critical feedback. We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”

The Roundhouse Mid was inspired by a furry toy called My Pet Monster. “My work has always been inspired by cartoons, toys & my childhood,” Scott said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

Arkansas Tea Party Rally Kicked Off With Racist Icebreaker Joke

Arkansas Tea Party Rally Kicked Off With Racist Icebreaker Joke

An Arkansas Tea Party member got a really warm welcome after she started her speech with an inappropriate joke that made fun of black people.

The Baxter Bulletin transcribed the joke:

“A black kid asks his mom, ‘Mama, what’s a democracy?’

“‘Well, son, that be when white folks work every day so us po’ folks can get all our benefits.’

“‘But mama, don’t the white folk get mad about that?’

“‘They sho do, son. They sho do. And that’s called racism.’”

NYT Report: 300,000 U.S. Citizen Children Follow Parents to Mexico

NYT Report: 300,000 U.S. Citizen Children Follow Parents to Mexico

In just five years between 2005 and 2010, about 300,000 U.S. citizen children moved from their homes in the United States to follow their parents who were deported to Mexico or returned on their own volition. The children form what the New York Times described in a story today as “an entire generation of children who blur the line between Mexican and American.”

MSNBC: Rinku Sen on Immigrants and the Economy

MSNBC: Rinku Sen on Immigrants and the Economy

Last week President Obama issued an executive order to grant work permits and end deportations of young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act, offering a two-year reprieve to people under the age of 31, who were under the age of 16 when they first came to the United States. Colorlines.com Publisher Rinku Sen appeared on MSNBC Melissa Harris Perry show to discuss immigration, the economy, and how closely US policy matches up with our values.


Joe Arpaio’s Office Arrests 6-Year-Old Undocumented Girl

Joe Arpaio's Office Arrests 6-Year-Old Undocumented Girl

On the same day that President Obama announced relief for some of the country’s undocumented youth, Arizona Sherrif Joe Arpaio’s office detained a 6-year-old undocumented girl.

Here’s more from the Arizona Republic:

The girl was with 15 other people believed to be in the country illegally who were traveling to the Midwest and northeast United States, said Chris Hegstrom, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.

“She’s been turned over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to try to determine where she’s from. She told us she’s from El Salvador. That’s what she told us,” he said.

Last week, Arpaio told reporters that his office still plans to arrest undocumented immigrants with the same fervor that has made him a national face of immigration detention.

“I think people from Mexico are now going to feel, ‘Hey come on in and we’ll get by with it.’ But it won’t happen in this county. They will still be arrested,” Arpaio told reporters.

TAGS: joe arpaio

Workers Allege Forced Labor at Walmart, Plan March in NYC

Workers Allege Forced Labor at Walmart, Plan March in NYC

Mexican guestworkers who exposed forced labor on Walmart’s Louisiana supply chain will march on the New York City offices of Walmart board members on Tuesday. They will be joined by community and labor allies.

According to a press release from the National Guestworker Alliance:

The workers went on strike from Walmart supplier C.J.’s Seafood on June 4, reporting to the federal Department of Labor (DOL) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that they had been subjected to forced labor, shifts of up to 24 hours with no overtime pay, constant surveillance, and threats of violence against themselves and their families in retaliation for seeking basic labor and civil rights.

Within days, Walmart attempted a cover-up, sending company representatives to meet with the supplier while refusing all contact with the whistleblowers. A Walmart representative attempted to mislead a reporter about the status and findings of three federal investigations. Probes by the DOL Wage and Hour division, OSHA, and EEOC are ongoing.

The workers also plan to deliver a Change.org petition with over 5,000 signatures demanding that Walmart be held accountable for its labor practices.

Gov. Jan Brewer Issues Executive Order Ahead of SB 1070 Decision

Gov. Jan Brewer Issues Executive Order Ahead of SB 1070 Decision

While the country awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of Arizona’s SB 1070, Gov. Brewer isn’t wasting any time in implementing the draconian immigration law. The Arizona governor recently issued an executive order to prepare police officers in that state for SB 1070’s implementation.

According to the Associated Press Brewer issued a two-page executive order telling the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to redistribute a training DVD for SB 1070.

Colorlines.com reporter Seth Freed Wessler notes that Brewer’s preemptive moves may actually reinforce some of the most troubling aspects of the law. Wessler said the following:

Oprah Defends Kardashian Interview on Struggling OWN Network

Oprah Defends Kardashian Interview on Struggling OWN Network

Oprah’s OWN network aired an interview with the Kardashian family on Sunday. In it, the reality TV stars talked about everything from the infamous sex tape that catapulted Kim into the spotlight to the controversial role of mother Kris Jenner, who’s been criticized for pushing all six of her kids into the media spotlight.

Oprah’s taken her own amount of criticism for interviewing the family in the first place.

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