General Motors and Walgreens Leave ALEC, 30 Firms Have Left

General Motors and Walgreens are the 29th and 30th major American corporations to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The news comes as the group begins it’s 39th annual meeting in Salt Lake City this week.

“Walgreens’ and GM’s recent announcements that they have cut ties with ALEC is further proof that everyday people working together to hold corporations accountable can achieve tremendous change,” said Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “The ColorOfChange community applauds these companies’ willingness to end their relationships with this right-wing policy group that has worked to suppress the Black vote.”

“ColorOfChange commends those corporations that have done the right thing and withdrawn their funding from ALEC, which continues to defend its push to enact discriminatory voter ID laws across the nation,” Robinson said. “More and more companies are getting the message that they cannot in good conscience market products to our communities while handing over customers’ dollars to an organization that suppresses the rights and endangers the safety of people of color.”

More than 100 House Democrats Introduce Bill to Increase the Minimum Wage

More than 100 House Democrats Introduce Bill to Increase the Minimum Wage

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, led more than 100 other House Democrats in introducing legislation today to raise the minimum wage to $9.80. This would be the first increase in the minimum wage since 2009 and the first increase in the minimum wage for tipped-workers in 21 years.

Currently the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour.

Rep. Miller’s Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 (H.R. 6211) will increase the minimum wage in three 85-cent steps, over three years, from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour. The rate will then be indexed to inflation each year thereafter. In addition, the legislation will increase the required cash wage for tipped workers in annual 85 cent increases, from today’s $2.13 per hour until the tip credit reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director of ROC United, commended Representative Miller, saying, “Miller’s bill represents the first initiative by House leadership that would include a much-needed increase for tipped workers in more than 15 years, and we cannot thank him enough. ROC United has been fighting to raise $2.13 for many years and an increase is long overdue for the people who work hard every day to nourish our families at restaurants across America. While the restaurant industry projects record profit in 2012 of $625 billion, our nation’s tipped workers - the servers, bussers, and bartenders at your favorite restaurants - have been earning $2.13 since 1991. The majority of these tipped workers are women, many living in poverty and supporting children, and they can no longer afford to be left behind.”

A number of organizations in addition to ROC United, such as the National Employment Law Project, MomsRising, National Women’s Law Center, 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women, and others have been leading the fight to raise the tipped minimum wage and the minimum wage.

Caster Semenya To Carry South Africa’s Flag In Olympic Ceremony

Caster Semenya To Carry South Africa's Flag In Olympic Ceremony

South African runner Caster Semenya will carry South Africa’s flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

“It’s such a privilege for me to do such a big thing like that,” Semenya said in a recorded statement, according to The Guardian. “To carry the flag for the team, it’s such a big thing.”

In 2010 Semenya became a household name not because of her athletic abilities but because the 21-year old faced a year of dehumanizing public speculation about her sex.

“I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being,” Semenya said in late March 2010 when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) declared her to be “female-enough” to compete as a woman.

Congratulations to Semenya for the incredible honor.

Sundance Winner ‘Middle of Nowhere’ Gets Release Date and Trailer

Middle-of-Nowhere-Movie-Poster.jpgRemember Ava DuVernay who earlier this year became the first black woman to win the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival for her film “Middle of Nowhere” ? Her film finally has a trailer and a release date.

DuVernay’s film chronicles a woman’s struggle to adapt to life after her husband’s incarceration. “This epidemic of incarceration really affects black and brown communities disproportionately,” DeVernay said in an earlier this year.

The film’s synopsis:

Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE follows Ruby, a bright medical student who sets aside her dreams and suspends her career when her husband is incarcerated. As the committed couple stares into the hollow end of an eight-year prison sentence, Ruby must learn to live another life, one marked by shame and separation. But through a chance encounter and a stunning betrayal that shakes her to her core, this steadfast wife is soon propelled in new and often shocking directions of self-discovery - caught between two worlds and two men in the search for herself.

The “Middle of Nowhere” stars David Oyelowo (Lincoln, Jack Reacher, Paperboy, The Help, Red Tails), Omari Hardwick (Sparkle, For Colored Girls) and the leading lady, newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi.

The film will be in theaters October 12, 2012.

Judge OKs Nation’s First Parent Trigger Takeover in Adelanto, Calif. School

A superior court judge has ruled in favor of parents at a small southern California desert town who, with the help of a Los Angeles-based school reform organization, have been organizing to take over their struggling elementary school.

Superior Court Judge Steve Malone’s ruling, made public this week, will allow parents with the Desert Trails Parent Union in Adelanto, California to go ahead with their efforts to overhaul Desert Trails Elementary School. Parents had challenged the local school district after their petition was voided; the district had allowed parents to rescind their signatures. Judge Malone ruled that such a move was illegal, and in fact, the petition would stand, the Los Angeles Times reported.

They are the first group in the nation to be allowed to use the parent trigger to overhaul a neighborhood school. The ruling marks a victory for parent activists and Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles-based organization that has advocated for parent trigger policy and overhauls. A previous effort to take over a Compton public school, led with the help of Parent Revolution as well, also led to lawsuits and legal wrangling.

Four Undocumented Arizonans Arrested for Coming Out at Arpaio’s Trial

Four Undocumented Arizonans Arrested for Coming Out at Arpaio's Trial

On Tuesday, four undocumented Arizona residents came out as ‘undocumented and unafraid’ in front of the Arizona court where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is being tried in a discrimination lawsuit accusing him of racially profiling Latinos.

Members of Puente Arizona, Leti, Natally, Miguel, and Chela, came out of the shadows to tell Sheriff Arpaio they’re not running any more.

“The very people Arpaio’s targeting came out and told him and the rest of the country that they’re not afraid, and that they want an end to his tactics, SB 1070 and other anti-immigrant attacks,” said Julianne Hing,’s immigration reporter, after seeing the videos.

Welcome to’s New Commenting System

Welcome to's New Commenting System

Our new commenting system is up and running! It should make the whole experience easier and more rich. It’ll enable you to use your social media handles and share your comments with friends. And it’ll encourage everyone to engage responsibly and respectfully.

If we’ve done our job right, everything should look pretty much the same, with a few small exceptions.

Your old comments will still be here, but your old Disqus login will no longer work; instead, just use your Facebook or Twitter profile to let us know who you are when you comment. You can also share what you post here on with your Facebook and Twitter friends, and you can easily follow replies to conversations you’re participating in. We’ve also got a few new ideas in the works to roll out in the coming weeks. As community manager, I’m excited to see how our already-excellent conversations get even better with the new system.

So, please do dig in and make yourself heard! Ask questions, get into (friendly and productive) debates, and let the community benefit from your professional expertise and life experiences. You can do it right here on the site, or join the folks hashing it out around our Facebook page and Twitter account. (And don’t miss our regular Reader Forum posts, where we feature a few of your best comments each week.)

Finally, if you see something that’s not working like it should, or if you have a question in general, or if you just want to tell us how talented and handsome we all are, shoot us an email at

Thanks for joining us! We wouldn’t be here without you.

Anaheim Police and Protesters Continue to Clash

Anaheim Police and Protesters Continue to Clash

A fourth day of protests since Anaheim Police officers shot two Latino men to death over the weekend resulted in 20 arrests on Tuesday. Cops once again shot rubber bullets at the crowd of demonstrators who are protesting police conduct in Anaheim’s heavily Latino core.

The clash between Anaheim residents and police escalated as demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall as officials voted to ask federal authorities to investigate the officer involved shooting death of Manuel Angel Diaz.

“They’ve seen everything on TV— the dogs, the shootings and just a history of brutality,” Seferino Garcia, executive director of community group Solevar, told the LA Times. “Right now, the community is not going to stand idle. We have a job to do.”

Anaheim resident Oscar Velazquez, 25, also told the Times that Latinos are harassed by police and recounted recently being patted down while walking to his home, a few blocks from Disneyland.

“I’ve been stopped for no reason,” he said. “You don’t want your neighbors to see you out there like that.”

Danny Glover Speaks of Personal Loss at Int’l AIDS Conference

Danny Glover Speaks of Personal Loss at Int'l AIDS Conference

For the first time in two decades the International AIDS Conference is being held in the United States, and A-listers like Danny Glover, Vanessa Williams, Bill Gates and Whoopi Goldberg will all be making appearances this week. Glover, the actor who has starred in the “Lethal Weapon” series, “Beloved” and “The Color Purple,” spoke about the importance of getting involved in AIDS advocacy.

“I had a friend who died from the complications of AIDS in 1987,” Glover said at the conference, reports. “Even then when I didn’t know a whole lot about the disease, I would bring him food and do what I could to help him.”

“This is something that we all should get involved in,” said Glover, whose own brother has been HIV positive for more than 20 years.

“We are in a crisis situation now, with this disease adversely and disproportionately affecting Black men, and in particular, gay Black men. With the platform I have, I intend to continue to speak out about it,” he said.

Glover encouraged the audience to fight within whatever space and platform that God has endowed them. “Everyone, not just athletes, actors or famous people should help to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS,” he said. “Chances are you know someone infected with the disease or you will be affected by it, so we are all in this together.”

A study released by the CDC on Tuesday found that since 2003 the number of teens using condoms has seen a sharp drop, especially amongst black teens.

Georgia State Supreme Court Grants Stay in Warren Hill Case

Georgia State Supreme Court Grants Stay in Warren Hill Case

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday temporarily granted a stay of execution for Warren Lee Hill, saying it needs to examine the method of execution.

“We are so happy to share that the Georgia Supreme Court has halted the scheduled execution of Warren Hill tonight. Again, no execution will happen tonight in Georgia. Rejoice!”, read a statement from Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a coalition of organizations working to end capital punishment, has been fighting to save Hill because they say Hill has “undisputed intellectual disability.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has more details:

For more than a decade, Hill’s lawyers have sought to halt the execution on grounds the 52-year-old is mentally disabled. But Monday, with less than two hours to spare, the state high court unanimously granted the stay to determine whether a recent change to Georgia’s lethal-injection protocol violates state law. The court agreed to hear Hill’s appeal of a Fulton County judge’s decision issued earlier in the day.

Separately, by a 6-1 vote, the court declined to hear Hill’s appeal challenging the state’s standard to determine whether an inmate is mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution. Justice Robert Benham, the lone dissenter, said he would not allow the execution because Hill has been found to have a mental disability.

“I’m just profoundly grateful the Supreme Court granted this stay,” Brian Kammer, one of Hill’s lawyers, told “A terrible miscarriage of justice was avoided, for now.”

Had Hill’s execution gone forward, it would of been Georgia’s first since the state executed Troy Anthony Davis.

Progress on Condom Use Among Youth Slows, Drops Among Black Teens

File under: You get what you ask for. Throughout the 1990s, public health researchers saw sharp increases in the number of youth who used condoms when they had sex. But from 2003 forward, as sexual health was consumed by bitter fights over adequate sex ed and access to condoms, that progress halted—and among black teens, it began reversing, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC study, between 1991 and 2003, the share of high schoolers who reported using condoms the last time they got frisky climbed steadily, from 46 percent to 63 percent. Among black youth, who have reported the highest rates of condom use since at least 1991, the condom-use rate had climbed to 70 percent by 1999.

But in 2003, the trend line started moving in the opposite direction. Among African Americans, the condom-use rate has fallen most sharply, to 65 percent in 2011.

Notably, the study shows that throughout the 1990s youth in all racial and ethnic groups also steadily reported having less sex altogether—with more people abstaining and/or having fewer sex partners. From 2003 forward, that plateaued as well.

Anaheim Mayor Requests State, Federal Help in Police Shootings

Anaheim Mayor Requests State, Federal Help in Police Shootings

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has called on state and federal agencies to assist the city with the review of two officer-involved shootings that left two Latino men dead and the incidents that transpired after where officers openly fired rubber bullets in to a crowd that included children.

“Like many residents, I am very, very concerned with what occurred in our city on Saturday night,” Mayor Tait said in a statement. “I am asking the state Attorney General’s Office and the federal U.S. Attorney’s Office for assistance with a full and independent investigation of the entire situation.”

The announcement came Monday, the same day launched an online petition urging the Mayor to ask the State Attorney for help investigating the shootings. “The actions of the Anaheim police department, including shooting at and releasing rabid K9 dogs on a crowd that included women and children, are cowardly and disgusting,” Arturo Carmona, executive director of said in a statement released Monday. “In the face of this threat to the people of Anaheim, Attorney General Kamala Harris has the responsibility to protect them by fully investigating both the recent incidents and the past unresolved officer-involved shootings.”

It’s not clear how extensive the investigation will be but it appears Mayor Tait agrees a thorough investigation is necessary.

“The purpose of government is to protect the community, but at the same time, it is also to protect the rights of the individual. We must do both, and we must do both well.”

“It is critical that the entire city, including our police department, has the trust of the public,” said the Mayor. “This investigation will be completely transparent and we will work with the community to make sure that they have confidence in the people who are sworn to protect and serve them.”

Protests are expected before Tuesday’s City Council which begins at 5 p.m.

Banksy Interrupts the Olympics

The street artist Banksy has added two pieces of art to the walls of London, just days before the Olympic opening ceremony begins.

The artist posted the two photos on his website Monday.

banksy_jumper-olympics.jpg Wants a State Investigation of Anaheim Police Wants a State Investigation of Anaheim Police has launched an online petition urging California Attorney General Kamala Harris launch a full and comprehensive state investigation on the Anaheim Police Department. The petition comes just days after Anaheim police officers shot rubber bullets and unleashed a police dog on a group of demonstrators protesting the department’s police brutality record.

“The actions of the Anaheim police department, including shooting at and releasing rabid K9 dogs on a crowd that included women and children, are cowardly and disgusting,” Arturo Carmona, executive director of said in a statement. “Eight people have been shot in officer-involved shootings, many under questionable circumstances, while nothing has been done other than 2 officers going on paid leave. Community members demanding justice are being paid back with more injustice. In the face of this threat to the people of Anaheim, Attorney General Kamala Harris has the responsibility to protect them by fully investigating both the recent incidents and the past unresolved officer-involved shootings.” started a petition demanding that Attorney General Harris launch a investigation into both the shootings and the Anaheim Police Department’s response to people demanding answers. For more information on their campaign visit

Georgia Set to Execute First Inmate Since Troy Davis, and He’s Disabled

Georgia Set to Execute First Inmate Since Troy Davis, and He's Disabled

Georgia is scheduled to execute Warren Lee Hill on Monday for fatally beating another inmate in 1990 while serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend. This will be Georgia’s first execution since the state executed Troy Anthony Davis.

The case is making international headlines because Hill has an undisputed intellectual disability, according to Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty

“Georgia’s legal system has once more brought shame and embarrassment to our state, this time by failing to intervene and protect those who are most vulnerable. We continue to set the bar for the worst criminal justice practices in the country,” Kathryn Hamoudah, of Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said in a statement.

In 2002, the United States Supreme Court banned the execution of those with intellectual disabilities because their unique disability places them at “special risk of wrongful execution.” However, the Supreme Court’s ruling did not set the legal standard by which to determine if someone is intellectually disabled.

Georgia is the only state in the country to impose the law’s heaviest burden of proof, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” on those seeking to prove they have an intellectual disability and are thus ineligible for execution. “Proving something beyond doubt is a nearly impossible legal obstacle to overcome. It would probably be easier to prove the existence of unicorns or aliens on Mars,” said legal expert and human rights attorney Terrica Ganzy in a statement.

Several jurors who sat on Hill’s original jury have since stated under oath that they would have sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole had that been an option at the time of his 1991 trial.

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty also report a representative for the victim’s family, has said “his family feels strongly that persons with any kind of significant mental disabilities should not be put to death. We do not want Mr. Hill to be executed and we believe a sentence of life without the possibility of parole is an appropriate and just resolution of this case.”

Young Latino Smartphone Users Spend $17.6 Billion on Mobile Devices

According to a new report, young Latinos in the U.S. spent $17.6 billion on mobile devices and more than $500 million on mobile apps in 2012. Other studies have also found Latinos rely more heavily than other groups on wireless devices for a variety of communications needs, including job searches and keeping connections with friends and family—as a result, there also the most vulnerable in a largely unregulated wireless market.


The report - “Hispanic Broadband Access: Making the Most of the Mobile, Connected Future” - published by Mobile Future and the Hispanic Institute details how Latinos have embraced mobile technology. They’re 17 percent more likely than “non-Hispanic whites” to use mobile phones to access the Internet - and 20 percent more likely to watch video on them.

“Mobile broadband is essential for the economic advancement of Hispanics,” Gus West, Board Chair of The Hispanic Institute, said in a statement. “In today’s information age, the Hispanic community relies on mobile devices to stay connected for so many aspects of their lives - to do everything from interacting with public officials to paying bills to taking their prescriptions thanks to text-message reminders.”

Research shows people of color are more likely to surf the Internet, send and receive messages, engage social media and produce or publish media on their phones. The reason for that is simple wrote’s Jamilah King in a story published in 2011. “It’s the most affordable way to access the internet. An Android and a data plan cost much less than $1,000 for a laptop computer and broadband connection.”

Below is an excerpt from King’s 2011 investigation on how telecom used smartphones to create a new digital divide: 

In an increasingly digital world, the relative affordability of smart phones have made them the bridge across the the Internet’s long-discussed digital divide. Nearly a fifth—18 percent—of African American wireless subscribers use only their cell phones to get online, as do 16 percent of Latinos. Just 10 percent of whites say the same. While 33 percent of white subscribers use their cell phones to surf the Internet, 51 percent of Latinos and 46 percent of African Americans do. […] 

There are, in essence, two Internets emerging in the United States. The first is the one that’s driven innovation and commerce for the past two decades: traditional Internet hookups that connect wires to desktop computers and allow users to work, play and explore from the comfort of their home. That Internet is regulated—loosely, but regulated—by the federal government, which has issued rules that prohibit Internet service providers from interfering with their users’ online access. Those rules exist as an implicit acknowledgement that the Internet isn’t just fun and games, but rather the central communication platform of the 21st century, an essential medium for everything from commerce to elections.

Anaheim Residents Continue Protests After Cops Open Fire at Women, Kids [Video]

Anaheim Residents Continue Protests After Cops Open Fire at Women, Kids [Video]

On Saturday Anaheim Police Department officers openly fired bean bags, pepper spray and released an attack dog into a crowd that included women and children protesting an officer involved shooting earlier in the day. If that isn’t shocking enough, about 24-hours later Anaheim police killed another man who was allegedly driving a stolen car.

(You read that right, demonstrators who were protesting police brutality became victims of police brutality themselves and after all that cops shot a second guy that same weekend.)

Demonstrators gathered Saturday afternoon to demand the police department explain why officers shot and killed an unarmed 25-year-old male. The OC Register explains what went down just before the shooting:

Police described Diaz as a “documented gang member,” and said he was shot after the officers saw three men near a car in the 600 block of Anna Drive, near La Palma Avenue and State College Boulevard. Believing the activity to be suspicious, the officers approached the vehicle, and all three men fled on foot.

“What exactly happened during the shooting we don’t know, we’re still investigating that,” Sgt. Bob Dunn told KCAL-9 News on Saturday. “But the shooting occurred and the male was taken to a local hospital. “

The shooting victim, Manuel Angel Diaz of Santa Ana, was pronounced dead at the hospital at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“Once they shot him in the leg and he went down the cops continued and shot him in the head, what is that about? My brother didn’t have a weapon on him at all,” the victim’s sister Correna Chavez told KCBS-LA on Sunday.

Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said Sunday his officers fired bean bags and pepper spray at the crowd after “some known gang members” threw bottles and rocks at officers.

Welter also said the K-9 police dog seen in the video above “accidentally escaped” from an officer’s vehicle and rushed into the crowd. The dog bit two demonstrators, including one man who was trying to unbuckle his 1-year-old baby from a stroller.

George Zimmerman Posts Bilingual Message Online

George Zimmerman Posts Bilingual Message Online

“Hola, les habla Jorge Zimmerman,” says the man who up until now has been going by George Zimmerman in the two minute video posted to YouTube Thursday.

The video uploaded to YouTube by user a called Riendsofgz is meant to thank Zimmerman’s supporters—in both Spanish and English.

“This is our website. It is not my website,” Zimmerman goes on to say looking in to the camera. “It is your website where you can personally communicate with me and I hope to be your website to provide facts.”

Zimmerman first delivered the message in English then continues on to deliver the message in Spanish.

The video comes just one day after Zimmerman told Fox News host Sean Hannity he identified as a Latino man pointed out English was his second language.

“I think that people assumed I was white because of my last name. My father is Caucasian, my mother is Hispanic,” Zimmerman told Hannity.  “But English was my second language, believe it or not. My grandmother and my mother raised me when my dad was in the Army and he wasn’t home for a lot of my infancy. So it’s — I consider myself, first of all, an American, but a Hispanic American, and I don’t know — I think it’s fair that they rush to judgment to assume that.”

Beyoncé Gives Snuggie ‘Countdown’ Video a ‘Brilliant’ Blessing

Beyoncé Gives Snuggie 'Countdown' Video a 'Brilliant' Blessing

We posted the “Countdown” video created by a young Beyoncé fan on Wednesday and it’s been shared over 2,000 times on our site alone. So here’s an update: Queen Bey herself has seen the video and declared it brilliant.

“I think he did this video better than I did,” Beyoncé wrote in a short blog post titled “Brilliant” on

We still don’t know too many details about the creator of the video. Several publications have reached out to kkpalmer1000, the YouTube user who uploaded the video, but no responses yet.

Few New Mexico Police Agencies Keeping Up With Anti-Bias Policing Law

Few New Mexico Police Agencies Keeping Up With Anti-Bias Policing Law

Three years after New Mexico took a stand against racial profiling and bias-based policing by passing a law called the Prohibition of Profiling Practices Act of 2009 which prohibited the practice, it turns out that a mere fraction of police agencies across the state are barely complying with the terms of the law. That’s what Somos Un Pueblo Unido and the New Mexico State Conference NAACP found in a new report they released Thursday.

The review conducted by the groups found that when it came to meeting basic requirements for the law, just two agencies out of the state’s 97 could say they were in compliance. The findings elsewhere were disappointing, as well, according to a press release:

The initial review included all law enforcement agencies in the state (n = 97). Half of the agencies have a written policy on biased-based policing, but less than a quarter (22%) of all the agencies surveyed have updated policies with a clear definition of biased-based policing and listed all of the protected classes, as is required by the 2009 Act. 33% of the agencies surveyed do not have a written policy at all. And 24% refused to provide information about their policies after multiple verbal or written requests; a clear violation of the Act and potentially, the Inspection of Public Records Act.

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