Univision News introduced us to Mitt Romney’s Mexican cousins months ago. This time around it’s CNN who traveled to the state of Chihuahua to meet with the Mexican Romneys: the conservative cousin and the liberal cousin.
Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over the constitutionally of the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” also known as SB 1070, Arizona’s draconian and game changing immigration law.
It is a big day for the future of immigration law in the United States. The court will consider whether to uphold a lower court’s injunction against the law and will grapple with questions about federal and state power when it comes to immigration policy making.
On Monday, the California secretary of state announced a measure to abolish the state’s death penalty qualified for the November ballot. If California voters approve the measure, 725 inmates on Death Row will have their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The measure, dubbed The SAFE California Act, far exceeded the half-million signatures required by the state to qualify and is one of the first initiatives the state cleared for the November ballot.
“Since 1978 we’ve built up the nation’s largest death penalty system, housing a full 20% of the nation’s entire death row population in the most expensive incarceration facility the state has to offer,” Jeanne Woodford, former Warden at San Quentin State Prison and Executive Director at Death Penalty Focus wrote on the SAFE California Act blog.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee resigned from his position on Monday afternoon. The news comes 57 days after his department declined to arrest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, according to a city official familiar with the matter.
Orlando Sentinel reports Commissioner Patty Mahany said she received a call from City Manager Norton Bonaparte just after 11 a.m., informing her that Lee has submitted his resignation.
“This is absolutely political,” said Mahany, a Lee supporter. “It’s solely political…The city manager felt he had no choice. That there could be no healing with Lee as the police chief.”
Lee, who became Sanford’s police chief in April after 27 years as a Seminole County deputy, stepped down temporarily in March, saying he had become a “distraction.”
“I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks,” said Lee, 52, in a brief March 22 news conference.
Lee announced that he was temporarily stepping aside on March 22, a day after Sanford’s city commission expressed a lack of confidence in his handling of the incident.
“Think Like a Man,” the No. 1 movie in North America over the weekend came as a shock to the movie industry: the romantic comedy aimed at black audiences grossed $33 million, double what execs predicted. But it’s those same skeptic studio executives who end up winning because the film only cost $13 million to make.
“Think Like a Man,” is based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book and stars an almost all-black cast.
There’s a common understanding amongst studio executives in Hollywood that films with black protagonists don’t make money and as a result they won’t take risks with films. For reference, Universal’s production budget for the recently released “American Wedding” was $50 million, excluding marketing costs. “The Lucky One” starring Zac Efron which was released last Friday cost about $25 million to make—double the budget of “Think like a man.” (I would argue that “Think Like a Man” had a bigger cast with more recognizable names and it was still a cheaper movie to make than other films opening this weekend…flagging another issue, of course.)
Even highly celebrated director Tyler Perry who consistently rakes in millions at box offices has relatively low budgets for his films. In January, when Perry learned “Star Wars” director George Lucas couldn’t fund his film “Red Tails” he said “movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct.”
“The first thing they’ll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so it’s hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even,” Perry wrote on his website. “Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most “black” movies don’t sell well in foreign markets.”
The hits keep coming for the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Today, AP reports that Common Cause has filed a complaint with the IRS challenging ALEC’s tax-exempt status. Common Cause points to the obvious lobbying that the conservative organization conducts in state legislatures around the country, to push a mixture of pro-corporate and Tea Party policies.
The complaint comes as big-name companies like Coke, Pepsi and Kraft have been ditching the group. Color of Change and other civil rights advocates began hammering away at those companies for backing ALEC after it became clear the group helped spread the Kill at Will laws that protected George Zimmerman. The pressure led ALEC to announce last week that it’s scrapping its public safety and elections task forces. As Brentin Mock has reported for Colorlines.com, the elections task force has helped spread photo ID laws around the country that may disenfranchise millions of voters of color, young people and seniors this year.
Here’s Common Cause on ALEC’s lobbying:
“It tells the IRS in its tax returns that it does no lobbying, yet it exists to pass profit-driven legislation in statehouses all over the country that benefits its corporate members,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, in a statement. “ALEC is not entitled to abuse its charitable tax status to lobby for private corporate interests, and stick the bill to the American taxpayer.”
Julianne Hing reports for Colorlines.com this morning on another area in which ALEC is working hard: Education “reform.” ALEC has drawn up a playbook for state legislators to overwhelm opponents with bills that privatize public education. Hing profiles the way in which Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal—an ALEC star—used that playbook in the most recent legislative session to give his state the nation’s most expansive school voucher program.
(h/t Huffington Post)
On Wednesday the Obama campaign announced the launch of Latinos for Obama along with increased outreach to Latino voters, including phone-banking and knocking on doors. But on Friday, GOP rival Mitt Romney released an infographic illustrating how the Obama administration has allegedly “brought hard times to Hispanics in America”
“It’s no secret that Latinos will be a deciding factor in this election,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement, and the outcome will affect Latinos “for years to come.”
A poll released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday shows Obama beating former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney 67% to 27% among Latino voters. In 2008, Obama defeated Sen. John McCain 67% to 31% among Latinos.
“We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party,” warning that recent polling showing Hispanics breaking in huge percentages for President Obama “spells doom for us,” Romney said at a campaign stop in Florida earlier this week.
On Friday, the Romney campaign released an infographic that he hopes will get him more Latinos.
“Under President Obama, more Hispanics have struggled to find work than at any other time on record,” Team Romney posted on the campaign site. “Hispanics account for nearly 30 percent of Americans living in poverty, an increase under Obama of 2.256 million.”
Here are some of the most original family photos I have ever seen. Wedding photographer Jason Lee captures his adorable two daughters in the most creative scenes, from taping each other to walls to making Thanksgiving dinner. It started when his mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Having two young daughters who were constantly sick, Lee wanted a germ-free way for a grandmother to see her granddaughters. I wish I could be this creative with photos of my little one.
George Zimmerman apologized to Trayvon Martin’s family Friday morning in a surprise witness stand appearance and moments later a judge agreed he could be released on $150,000 bail in the racially charged case that has captivated the United States.
“I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Zimmerman told the parents of Trayvon Martin, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, who were in the Sanford, Florida, court.
“I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not,” said Zimmerman who 28-years old.
Did border agents use excessive force in a deadly effort to clamp down on immigration? That’s the question that will be posed tonight on PBS when “Need to Know” premieres its investigation into the violent death of Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas, a 42-year-old immigrant who beaten and tasered by San Diego-area border agents in 2010. Hernandez-Rojas later was taken to a local hospital where he lated died of his injuries.
The death has resurfaced into the public spotlight now that shocking new video of the beating has emerged. On the tape, more than a dozen border agents can be seen standing over Hernandez-Rojas as the man pleads for his life, yelling, “¡Nooo! ¡Nooo! ¡Déjenme! [Leave me alone!] ¡Nooo! ¡Señores!”
If you’re looking for a little late afternoon pick-me-up, check no further than “Dear 40-Year-Old Me”, a beautifully moving video put together by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. It’s not easy, and certainly not always fun, in most schools for queer kids who have to wage a daily battle with homophobia and gender bias. But these students make it clear that there’s lots of amazingly fun life to live after high school. Watch the whole thing after the jump.
The Mitt Romney campaign has tried to deflect criticism that in 1983 he rode from Boston to Canada with his family dog Seamus in a kennel on top of his roof and driving from Boston to Canada by reminding folks Obama ate dog once. President Obama’s memoir, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” included a story about him being fed dog meat as a young boy in Indonesia with his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro.
The Obama campaign shot back, with a spokesman suggesting the Romney team was attacking a child, since the Obama act in question took place when he was a kid.
Now Senator John McCain has gotten in to the mix:
Good pic of my son Jimmy’s bulldog, Apollo - I’m sorry Mr. President, he’s not on the menu! politi.co/HVhK9Z— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) April 19, 2012
Of course, this all started because a conservative blogger decided read Obama’s book again.
Sweden’s culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth said Wednesday that she has no intention of resigning over the cake cutting scandal. A Swedish organization promoting the rights of people of African origin on Tuesday called for the minister to resign for participating in a “tasteless, racist spectacle” that has made international headlines.
“According to Moderna Museet, the cake eating party was intended to highlight the problem of female circumcision, but how this is supposed to be done with a cake depicting a racist caricature of a black woman … is unclear,” said Kitimbwa Sabuni, head of the African Swedish National Association.
I’ve been avoiding writing about the lack of diversity in HBO’s new series “Girls” because it’s not really news. But the time has come, thanks to the show’s story editor Lesley Arfin.
I really didn’t care much about the “Girls” pilot episode being all white because most TV is all white. In fact, initially I thought it was unfair the show was getting the backlash considering all the white dudes on the most popular sitcom of the decade “Two and a Half Men” never got called out for putting on such a white show.
But on Monday Arfin responded to critics that said “Girls” was too white by tweeting “What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.” The tweet disappeared Wednesday after some controversy.
That’s not the least bit controversial if you consider some of the other things she’s written.
In an August 2010 post on her blog titled ‘When the shit hits the fan,” Arfin referred to defecating as “dropping off the kids” or “taking Obama to the White House.”
Arfin, a former Vice Magazine columnist, started out as a writer for “Girls” and is now a story editor on the show. “For every season in TV writing (usually) you go up a title, but I’m still pretty low-level so my responsibilities aren’t that concentrated,” Arfin told Vice.
But now that she’s been fanning her own controversies she’s perhaps the most recognized writer after the show’s creator and star Lena Dunham.
Dunham, 24, developed the show that’s centered around her character Hannah and a group of girls in New York City navigating love and careers. The NY Times called it “Sex and the City without Manolos,” a young Carrie Bradshaw in the recession years, if you will.
The show has received a lot of criticism for being all white when it takes place in one of the most diverse places in the world.
Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security and the former governor of Arizona, guest lectured at UCLA on Monday and when she praised the controversial Secure Communities program more than a dozen students walked out.
About 20 demonstrators walked out of the lecture hall during the speech to protest immigration laws in Arizona and deportations of undocumented students and their families by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, organizers said. The agency is headed by the Department of Homeland Security, which runs under Napolitano’s supervision. As they left the hall, some demonstrators chanted phrases such as “Education, not deportation.”
A number of protesters also chanted the same phrase and “Right to Dream” from outside the building. Their echoes could be heard from inside the lecture hall.
Police officers stood by and monitored the situation, but no confrontations occurred.
“We were trying to make sure that Janet Napolitano addressed the issue of immigration that is so prevalent within the greater L.A. area and within the UCLA community,” said Carlos Castellanos, the external policy chair of IDEAS at UCLA and a third-year political science and philosophy student.
Secure Communities allows federal authorities to peer into the databases of local and county jails to check the finger prints of every person who’s booked. You can read more of Colorlines.com’s coverage on the secure communities program by visiting the category page.
The Muslims are Coming! is a feature documentary film that follows a group of Muslim-American comedians as they go on a tour of Middle America, perform shows, and meet folks who have never met a Muslim before!
First lady Michelle Obama says the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida is a “tremendous loss” and that all Americans “have to rally around that piece of it.”
MRS. OBAMA: Well, you know, first, I — all I can say is that, you know, my heart goes out to the parents, because we all as parents understand the tragedy of that kind of loss, and I think that’s really the thing that most people connect to. And it’s important for us not to lose sight of the fact that this is a family that’s grieving and there’s been a tremendous loss. And we all have to rally around that piece of it.
Talking is good. Conversations have to be forever. You know, they can’t come in spits and starts when there’s an incident. I think we all need, as a country, to continue to talk about these issues, to understand our communities and the challenges that we face, which are different and unique depending upon where you live. It’s all about, you know, continuing to get to know ourselves in a very diverse and complicated country that is America. It is a wonderful place to live. But because it is so diverse, our challenges are complex. So there isn’t, you know, a one-shot solution to this. It is complicated. It takes time. It takes openness. It takes compassion. It takes patience. And it takes a lot of work. So we should all be ready to roll up our sleeves and keep doing that work.
First Arizona introduced the anti-immigrant law SB1070 then the Mexican-American studies program was banned at Tucson Unified School District and now Mexican-studies programs at the university level might be next.
InsideHigher ED is reporting John Huppenthal, a state official who spearheaded the attack on the Tucson program appears to have a new target: the department of Mexican-American studies at the university and other such college-level programs in the state.
John Huppenthal, the superintendent of public instruction in the state and a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, told FOX News Latino last month that the university produced teachers who then taught in programs such as the Tucson school district, where, he said, the curriculum teaches students to hate Anglos. “I think that’s where this toxic thing starts from, the universities,” Huppenthal told Fox News Latino. “To me, the pervasive problem was the lack of balance going on in these classes.”
Huppenthal, who did not respond to requests for an interview, is a controversial figure in Arizona, and his latest comments have set off another firestorm and added fresh fuel to a debate in the state about how ethnic studies should be taught in the classroom. Faculty members at the university see his comments as an escalation of the battle that led to the closing of the Tcson program.
Antonio Estrada, who heads the department of Mexican-American studies at the University of Arizona, declined to comment. “Mr. Huppenthal is a member of ABOR [the Arizona Board of Regents] and it would be inappropriate to discuss these issues in the press before they have had a chance to be discussed within the University of Arizona community, beginning with the president,” Estrada said in an e-mail.