Whitney Houston’s Last Film ‘Sparkle’ Flops at Box Office

Whitney Houston's Last Film 'Sparkle' Flops at Box Office

The late Whitney Houston’s final film “Sparkle” came in No. 5 in it’s debut this past weekend. The film grossed $12 million dollars, about $10 million less than what analyst predicted early last week. The remake of the 1976 film stars American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Cee Lo Green, Cameron Ejogo and Tika Sumpter and is about three sisters who form a singing group in Detroit during the Motown era. Houston plays their mother.

“Given the storyline, the campaign for Sparkle was aimed at women and audiences who would connect with themes from the film, such as the music, fashion and faith. Opening weekend exit surveys show the film played exactly as we expected: Older and female,” a Sony spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter. Of those turning out, 74 percent of the audience was female and 62 percent over the age of 35.

Fortunately, TriStar’s “Sparkle” only cost a modest $14 million to produce so they should be making their money back by the end of this week.

PopChips Didn’t Learn From Indian Ad Saga —They’re On Mexicans Now

PopChips Didn't Learn From Indian Ad Saga --They're On Mexicans Now

popchipsguy.jpgRemember the fiasco earlier this year after PopChips ran commercials with Ashton Kutcher in brownface impersonating Indians? Well they’re back at it.

Three white Pop Chips promoters wearing sombreros and serapes handed out bags of Pop Chips in front of Bryant Park in New York City Thursday afternoon to promote the San Francisco based company’s new tortilla chips. The reps handed out chips as a mariachi played on also.

The two female Pop Chips promoters also wore exaggerated mustaches to go along with their sombreros and sarapes. It’s a page right out of the “what not to wear for Halloween” guides has published for the past two years.  

Pop Chips apologized for the Ashton Kutcher stunt but it seems they didn’t really learn anything from that fiasco.

Lastly, because someone from PopChips will undoubtedly end up reading this, a bit of advice to them: If you’re going to continue doing this “guerilla marketing” bit perhaps you should consider hiring a cumbia band to sing “Escándalo es un escándalo” over and over because that’s what you’re starting with the fastest growing population in the country.

Two Young Black Poets From Philly on Hipster Racism [Video]

Two Young Black Poets From Philly on Hipster Racism [Video]

Unfortunately we don’t have too much information about the two Brave New Voices poets seen in the video above, but if you’ve got any details on them please comment below and share any links you may have.

The video was sent to us by a reader who notes one of the poets is Kai Davis, you can find her on Tumblr.

Brave New Voices is best known as the annual gathering of young poets from across the globe who take part in the International Youth Poetry Slam. Brave New Voices is also a network of over 70 organizations working with young people through the literary and performing arts, a television show that aired 2 seasons on HBO, and a growing social and cultural movement featuring the voices of 21st Century America.

Hipster racism is nothing new. Check out Channing Kennedy’s re-reading of “Lester Bangs’ 1979 ‘White Noise Supremacists’”

Univision and NAACP Slam Debate Commission’s All White Moderators

Univision and NAACP Slam Debate Commission's All White Moderators

Univision president and CEO Randy Falco on Wednesday sent a letter to Janet H. Brown, the Commission on Presidential Debates’ executive director, expressing “disappointment on behalf of the millions of Hispanics who do not have a voice in the upcoming presidential debates.”

Earlier this week the Commission announced Jim Lehrer of PBS, Bob Schieffer of CBS, Candy Crowley of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC News will moderate this year’s debates. All the moderators are white.

(It’s worth noting Crowley will be the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in two decades but as TPM points out “she will oversee the town-hall style debate where audience members ask the majority of the questions.”)

Univision nominated their top bilingual anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas as contenders to moderate the upcoming debates but the Commission did not select either of them.

“Since you have already made your decision on moderators for the debates and have neglected to have someone speak credibly to the concerns of Hispanics in America, Univision would be willing to create a forum,” Falco wrote in his letter.

Falco went on to lobby for an additional debate that could “speak directly to this burgeoning audience so influential to the presidential dialogue and outcome.”

The Commission rejected Univision’s offer on Tuesday and said that the current moderators “see their assignment as representing all Americans in their choice of topics and questions.”

“The lack of diversity among this year’s debate moderators is representative of the overall lack of diversity in news media,” NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement. “Whether it’s as primetime news anchors, debate moderators, or commentators on the influential Sunday morning political talk shows, people of color - and African Americans specifically - are strikingly underrepresented.”

Former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson was the last woman to moderate a presidential debate when she presided over a 1992 discussion between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In 2008, PBS’ Gwen Ifill moderated the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

Jan Brewer Orders Arizona DREAMers Barred From Public Benefits

Jan Brewer Orders Arizona DREAMers Barred From Public Benefits

On the same day that the Obama administration opened up its application process for the largest deportation relief in a generation, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer insisted on reminding the nation of her state’s hallmark: anti-immigrant hatred. In an executive order signed on Wednesday, Brewer stated that Arizona’s undocumented youth granted deportation relief will be barred from accessing any of the concomitant public benefits, namely an Arizona driver’s license or public ID.

“All state agencies that confer taxpayer-funded public benefits and state issued identification shall undergo emergency rule making to address this issue if necessary,” Brewer said in her order (PDF).

The news came as little surprise to Arizonans well used to Brewer’s brand of demagoguery. “Once again, Gov. Jan Brewer has stood on the wrong side of history by implementing anti-immigrant policies and directly contradicting federal mandates related to immigration,” Puente, a Phoenix-based human rights organization, said in a statement. “Brewer has once again put Arizona’s name on the map as the epicenter of anti-immigrant racism and hate.”

Judge Allows Pennsylvania Voter ID Law to Move Forward

Judge Allows Pennsylvania Voter ID Law to Move Forward

A judge in Pennsylvania has refused to block the state’s photo voter ID law, one of the strictest in the nation. Civil rights groups had challenged the law, representing 10 Pennsylvanians impacted by it, and brought dozens of witnesses who testified to their inability to get picture ID due to lacking primary documents such as birth certificates and social security cards.

But despite the fact that an untold number of Pennsylvania citizens — most estimates range in the hundreds of thousands — lack ID, that the state’s own governor and secretary of state didn’t know the details of the law, a state legislator admitting the law would throw the election to Mitt Romney, and testimony that thousands of African Americans and Latinos would be unfairly burdened, Judge Robert Simpson rejected many of the arguments made, particularly that it violated the state’s constitutional protection of the right to vote.

Said Judge Simpson:

“The photo ID requirement of Act 18 is a reasonable, non-discriminatory, non-severe burden when viewed in the broader context of the widespread use of photo ID in daily life. The Commonwealth’s asserted interest in protecting public confidence in elections is a relevant and legitimate state interest sufficiently weighty to justify the burden.”

His ruling mirrored the ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Indiana’s voter ID law. The difference here, though, is that the Indiana case was argued on the premise that it violated the U.S. Constitution, while the Pennsylvania case was about the state’s constitution.

Civil rights groups involved in the case say they are now considering appealing to the state’s supreme court, where it would have ended up no matter how the judge ruled, as the judge acknowledged on the opening day of the Pennsylvania hearing.

“Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law erects an unequal barrier to voting for hundreds of thousands of eligible voters, disproportionately blocking veterans, seniors, and people of color,” said Advancement Project co-director Judith Browne Dianis. “Because no citizen should be denied this basic American right or unfairly burdened to exercise it, the Advancement Project is taking immediate steps to appeal today’s court ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”

“If other legislators across the country take this decision as a green light, still more citizens nationwide could have their votes obstructed this November,” said Penda Hair, co-director of Advancement Project. “Today’s ruling not only hinders Pennsylvania citizens from participating in the electoral process; it undermines the most basic fabric of our democracy.”

Advocates Launch Fund to Help DREAMers Pay $465 ‘Deferred Action’ Fee

Advocates Launch Fund to Help DREAMers Pay $465 'Deferred Action' Fee

Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (ICE) will begin accepting requests from young undocumented immigrants hoping to quality for President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program that would grant them protection from deportation and work permits for at least two years. It is estimated that more than one million young people brought to the U.S. as children and raised in the country may be eligible for the program.

In order to be granted the two-year protection from deportation, the young undocumented immigrants popularly known as DREAMers will have to pay a $465 fee, pass background checks and offer up biometric data, as well as clear other paperwork hurdles. ICE has pledged to keep the information that DREAMers provide in their applications confidential and away from the enforcement side of the Department of Homeland Security unless the applicant commits fraud by lying on their applications, or if applicants have serious criminal records.

“President Obama’s announcement brings peace and relief to many DREAMers,” Lorella Praeli, a member of the United We Dream network, told earlier this month. “It is one step in the right direction after years of work that will allow students to apply their professional degrees and know that they need not fear deportation, that they will be able to continue living as Americans in the only country they call home.”

Recognizing that the application fee of $465 may prevent some from applying to the deferred action program, Public Interest Projects has launched a national fundraising effort to support DREAMers who need financial assistance. The public charity group has dubbed the program “Fund for DREAMers” and say they’ll disperse the funds to eligible low-income DREAMers through “vetted local groups via a rigorous allocation process.”

To learn more about the Fund for DREAMers and/or to make a donation visit

‘We Women Warriors’ Challenges the Way We Think about Colombia’s Civil War

Colombia’s civil war will soon enter its fiftieth year. The media narrative about the bloody conflict, which has claimed a 250,000 lives and displaced millions of people is often focused on the armed insurgents, the Colombian military, and right-wing paramilitary squads—the latter of which have been largely demobilized. This frame leaves little room to consider those people who make an effort to resist the violence that’s become an everyday phenomenon for rural people in Colombia. It also fails to remind us that, aside from drug cartels, the war is fueled by the US. Now, a new independent documentary challenges the way we think about the conflict.

We Women Warriors” features three indigenous women in northern and southern Colombia who develop courageous strategies against violence—after a long organizing effort, for example, one woman leads a group to completely dismantle a set of military barracks. Indigenous groups that take no side in the conflict have become targets; since men are often the ones killed by military or guerrilla troops, more women are taking leadership roles.

Michelle Obama Jokingly Scolds Gabby Douglas for Egg McMuffin

Michelle Obama Jokingly Scolds Gabby Douglas for Egg McMuffin

First Lady Michelle Obama, an advocate of healthy eating, and Gabby Douglas were guests on “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno on Monday night.

When Douglas was asked how she celebrated her three gold Olympic medals, she said she splurged on a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.

“You’re setting me back, Gabby,” the First Lady told Douglas.

“Sorry!” said Douglas in between giggling.

Gabby Douglas Gets a Mural in Her Hometown and She’s Going to be on ‘Oprah’

Gabby Douglas will return to her hometown of Virginia Beach, Va to find a new 9-by-30 foot mural made in her honor. The mural painted by Eric Lindbergh of T.A.L.E.N.T. Murals on the side of the Gator’s Sports Bar & Grill depicts Douglas holding a gold medal and reads “Way to Go Gabby.”

“WOW!!! This is amazing!! #so honored,” Douglas tweeted Friday from the Olympics in London, where the 16-year-old gymnast won two gold medals at the Summer Games.

(Photo: T.A.L.E.N.T. Murals)

Douglas will also appear on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” with Oprah Winfrey at the end of the month.

According to a press release, Winfrey will discuss the new found media attention Douglas has received and visit Gabby’s mother as well as the host family that provided a second home for Douglas during her training.

The interview will air on Oprah’s Next Chapter at a special time on Sunday, August 26, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

30 TSA Officers Report Racial Profiling at Boston’s Logan Airport

30 TSA Officers Report Racial Profiling at Boston's Logan Airport

More than 30 federal officers with the Transportation Safety Administration in Boston have reported that a new passenger screening program frequently leads to racial profiling, the New York Times reported over the weekend. The news made waves in part because the program that’s in question at Boston’s Logan airport is being eyed as a potential model for airports across the country. But for black passengers who’ve already been targeted, news of the report, and the potential for accountability, were welcome — and clear signs that it’s not so easy to be “race-neutral” in an already flawed method of surveillance. 

It’s never seemed random to me,” Steven Wellman, a computer programmer  who’s black and flew into Logan airport on Sunday, told the Boston Globe. “When I travel alone, I am pulled from the line every single time — every single time.”

That sentiment was shared by another black man who once sued the airport after being illegally detained. King Downing is an attorney and director of the Human Rights-Racial Justice Center  who was moved to legal action in 2003. “No one should be surprised, because it’s been going on for years, at airports and in other law enforcement situations, and there has been evidence of it for years,” Downing told the Globe. “My first reaction was, ‘Finally, it’s about time.’ Now let’s see if we can do something about it. It’s been way too long.”

The TSA officers’ steps in reporting their concerns is unprecedented, according to the Times, which reported:

Distinguishing Your Friends From Potential Terrorists

Distinguishing Your Friends From Potential Terrorists

The RedEye, which is published by the Chicago Tribune, recently published the “Turban primer” which illustrates the differences between Sikh men, Iranian leaders, Taliban members, Indian men and Muslim religious elders. Seems like a ridiculous attempt to teach readers the religious significance of turbans for Sikh men versus the turban-donned Taliban member after the tragic shooting at the Wisconsin Sikh temple.

Angry Asian Man compares this to the a 1941 article in Life magazine on how to distinguish Japanese from Chinese people. Amazing how 71 years later, folks are still using the same finger-pointing tactics.

Deported Dad’s Parental Rights Hearing is Postponed

Deported Dad's Parental Rights Hearing is Postponed

After 21-months separated from his children, a deported father who was allowed back to the United States on August 1 to fight for his parental rights will have wait another two weeks for his court hearing. Felipe Bautista Montes was originally scheduled to appear in the Alleghany County, N.C. courthouse today where a judge was expected to decide the next steps in the parental rights case. But this morning, court officials told reporters gathered at the courthouse that the presiding judge would not appear in court, citing health issues.

“I have been waiting for this for so long,” Montes told this afternoon after he heard the news of the postponement. “I’m getting desperate. I thought today was the day.”

Montes, who was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was deported from rural Sparta, N.C. in late 2010 for repeated traffic violations. His three U.S.-born children were soon removed from the custody of his wife, Marie Montes, who could not support the children without her husband, the primary caretaker and breadwinner in the family. But the county child welfare department refused to respect the family’s requests that the kids be placed with Mr. Montes in Mexico. Isaiah and Adrian, the couples 4 and 2-year-old children, were placed in one foster home and their baby, Angel, who was born weeks after Montes was detained, in a separate home.

Montes’s case has made national headlines since February when broke his story and launched a petition calling for the reunification of the family. After over 21,000 people signed the petition, the Mexican consulate in North Carolina applied to federal immigration authorities for a permit for Montes to return to the United States to attend his hearing and try to reunite with his children. Montes was granted a 90-day “humanitarian parole” and on August 1 he flew into the Charlotte, N.C. airport. Consular officials say the grant is the first of its kind for a deported parent.

It’s unclear if Felipe Montes will be allowed to visit with his children while he waits for the hearing, now scheduled for August 24. On Tuesday, the child welfare department allowed him to see his youngest child, and last week he saw the two older children for the first time since his deportation. As Felipe left the visitation room at the social services office, Isaiah asked his father, “Will you take us with you, daddy, will you adopt us?”

“No,” Montes replied, “I don’t have to adopt you, you’re my babies, you’ll go with me as soon as I fix everything.”

Donna Shumate, Montes’s court appointed attorney, walked out of the historic brick courthouse this afternoon and told, “Felipe is disappointed but we’re moving forward.”

Montes’s case is one of thousands around the United States in which children of deported parents are stuck in foster care. In many of these cases, child welfare departments and juvenile courts argue that it’s in the best interest of the U.S.-citizen children to stay with foster care providers rather than be returned to their parents in another country. An unknown number of these children have been adopted and deported parents are severed from all contact with their kids.

Michael Jackson’s Family Appreciates Incredible Olympic Swim Tribute

Like pretty much everyone else, Michael Jackson’s family was impressed by Russian synchronized swimmers Natalia Ischenko and Svetlana Romashina, who pulled off an incredible routine to honor the late singer recently. The two swimmers wore Michael Jackson-themed bathing suits and performed to the King of Pop’s amazing, “They Don’t Care About Us.” The performance won them a gold medal.

LaToya Jackson told TMZ, “I’m thankful for the honor that the Olympian swimmers paid to my brother Michael’s memory.”


Rep. Joe Walsh Calls Obama ‘Son’, Wants to ‘Pat Him on the Head’

Illinois Republican Representative Joe Walsh actually went there with the patronizing, racist remarks. At a BBQ in his district on Sunday, Walsh called the president “son” and said he wanted to “pat him on the head.”

“There’s something different on the ground, and I think it’s going to overtake us all again, think it’s going to overtake the political class,” Walsh said. “I think it’s going to respectfully pick this president up and pat him on the head and say, son, son, son, Mr. President, you were never ready to be president, now go home and work for somebody and find out how the real world works.”

Here’s video of the whole thing:

Activists Celebrate as José Luis Sin Censura Goes Off the Air

For 18 months, activists from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Hispanic Media Coalition have fought to get José Luis Sin Censura off of television. The show, which is basically the Spanish-language equivalent to the Jerry Springer show, as been derided for its repeated use of homophobic slurs. Today, those activists won.

GLAAD and NHMC received a letter today from Liberman Broadcasting, Inc. outlining the company’s decision to drop the show. Basically, all the negative press was bad for business. The company said that it’s “pleased to have amicably resolved this matter” and is “glad NHMC and GLAAD will no longer discourage companies from advertising with Libereman Broadcasting.”

You can see the letter in its entirety over at GLAAD’s blog.

NYC Holds Rally to Honor Gurdwara Shooting Victims [VIDEO]

NYC Holds Rally to Honor Gurdwara Shooting Victims [VIDEO]

New Yorkers held a rally yesterday to honor the those killed in the Oak Creek shooting massacre. The day marked a national day of remembrance and solidarity for people across the country. Here’s a video of scenes from Manhattan.

TAGS: Sikhs

Individual Choices and Shared Costs: The Case of Protesting Chick-fil-A

Two websites have responded to Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay stance with a novel approach. Instead of forcing millions of Americans to chose between their fried chicken sandwiches and support for LBGT civil rights, Chicken Offset and Chick-fil-A Confessional allow people to perhaps do both.

Though glib and slightly campy, these sites represent a growing movement by economists to grapple with the fact that our individual choices have broader consequences. To our detriment, the way that both our economy and the broader society is organized often passes the costs of those choices on to others, while we solely enjoy the benefits.

These sites want to change our approach. At Chicken Offset, progressive minded Chick-fil-A addicts can purchase a $1 credit for each meal eaten at the Mayberry-esque establishment. The site pledges that $0.90 of the dollar credit will end up at It Gets Better Project or the Williams Institute. But their essential thrust of the websites is correct.

Chick-fil-A Confessional takes a slightly different approach. Instead of a flat rate, this site calculates donations based upon the amount spent at the poultry-pushing restaurants. The more you spend the more you have to give.

In addition to It Gets Better, the site lists the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD as potential beneficiaries. Recognizing the impact that the recession has had on many, “hugging a gay” is also a compensatory option offered by the site.

It would be great if these portals also listed LGBT grassroots organizations on the front lines of local communities, as well as those dealing with the crisis of queer youth of color. As our publisher, the Applied Research Center, has explored, these groups are horribly underfunded and the LGBT movement suffers as consequence.

Romney Enlists Gingrich on Welfare-Bashing Kick

Romney Enlists Gingrich on Welfare-Bashing Kick

The Romney campaign is ratcheting up it’s charges that President Obama “gutted” welfare reform by ending work requirement’s for program participants. Following the release yesterday of a campaign ad titled “Right Choice” that claims the Obama administration now “just send(s) you your welfare check,” the Romney camp today enlisted Newt Gingrich to throw down in the ring.

On a conference call with reporters today, Gingrich launched a forceful attack saying, “On the hard left there is unending desire to create a dependent America. There is a deep repudiation of middle-class work ethic,” the Hill reported.

“It’s not just Obama’s a radical, but the people he appoints are even more radical,” Gingrich said.

The former primary rivals have joined forced to attack an administrative policy shift last month that will grant states more power over the administration of their cash assistance programs. The attacks are based on lies, but the assaults are likely to help the Romney campaign sure up the GOP’s white, working class base.

Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S.

Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S.

On Tuesday, Mexican-born American runner Leo Manzano won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter final, running the fastest time ever by a U.S. athlete at the Games. Manzano, 27, entered the U.S. at the age of 4 without papers, according to LetsRun. He didn’t gain legal residency until 10 years later.

“Silver medal, still felt like I won! Representing two countries USA and Mexico!”, Manzano tweeted shortly after his win. Most of his tweets throughout the Olympics have been in both Spanish and English.

“I am honored and excited to represent both the United States and Mexico by earning this silver,” Manzano told the Associated Press. “Standing on the podium has been a dream of mine and I share it proudly with my family, friends, coaches and all my supporters from Austin, Marble Falls, and Granite Shoals, Texas as well as Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico.”

On the track Manzano celebrated with the U.S. flag and the Mexican flag.

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