Hong Kong Protests Continue, Aretha Franklin’s Stunning Cover, Ebola’s Orphans

Hong Kong Protests Continue, Aretha Franklin's Stunning Cover, Ebola's Orphans

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Pro-democracy student-led protests grow in Hong Kong, just ahead of Chinese National Day. 
  • The seller of a spyware app designed and marketed to abusive stalkers who suspect their partners of cheating is indicted for conspiracy.
  • Walmart stays doing the most, blaming Tracy Morgan for injuries in the car accident he didn’t cause. 
  • Remember how Tim Tebow, a Christian, got penalized by the NFL for painting Bible verses on his face and praying? Neither do I. But Husain Abdullah, a Muslim, is penalized by the NFL for his prayer
  • Thousands of Liberian children who’ve lost their parents to Ebola are deeply shunned
TAGS: Morning Rush

Daisy Hernández Writes About Race and The New York Times

Daisy Hernández Writes About Race and The New York Times

Last week’s reaction to TV critic Alessandra Stanley’s “Angry Black Woman” review of Shonda Rhimes and Viola Davis opened the window, ever so slightly, into the privileged world of The New York Times. The fallout, as informed by the Times’ public editor, revealed that two of the paper’s 20 critics are people of color and that three editors approved Stanley’s piece for publication. Now author Daisy Hernández (and former editor of Colorlines) is opening that window just a tad more with an excerpt from her new memoir,”A Cup of Water Under My Bed.” Hernández who recently shared with Colorlines the eight books that define her, writes about being Latina in a majority white male office and how it shaped her time at The Times, first as an intern and then, a staffer:

“Did you hear?” another intern asks me [about Jayson Blair, accused in 2003 of plagiarizing and fabricating stories].

I nod. “Crazy.” I figure the paper will run an apology and move on.

But there isn’t an apology. The story unravels. The anxieties of white people, the ones kept behind private doors, burst and the other newspapers report them: Jayson only got as far as he did because he’s black. A fellow intern comes up to me, irritated. “Why are people thinking it’s okay to say racist shit in front of me?”

She’s holding a cup of coffee. We both glance across the newsroom, across the cubicles and the tops of people’s heads. I have no way, none really, of knowing who in the room is a Mr. Flaco, and this is part of the agreement we make by working here, as people of color. We don’t know who harbors doubts about our capacity to think and work and write. We don’t know, not really, who we can trust.

Read more about Hernández and her Cuban-Colombian family at Salon.

California Becomes First in the Nation to Limit Suspensions for Willful Defiance

California Becomes First in the Nation to Limit Suspensions for Willful Defiance

Last week California became the first state in the country to ban the use of suspensions and expulsions for “willful defiance” for its youngest public school students, the Sacramento Bee reported.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 420 into law on Saturday. The law bans California public schools from suspending or expelling kindergarten through third-grade students for offenses described as “willful defiance.”

“Willful defiance” is a category of subjective and minor offenses that account for 43 percent of suspensions in California public schools, according to the ACLU. Every year California public schools issue more than 10,000 suspensions for willful defiance for students between kindergarten and third grade alone, the Los Angeles Times reported. It’s also the category of school offense with the highest racial disparities. 

In the 2012-2013 school year, African-Americans were just 6 percent of the state’s public school enrollment but made up a whopping 19 percent of those who received suspensions for willful defiance, EdSource reported. The bill, authored by a coalition of civil rights and community advocacy groups, comes alongside a growing national conversation about the school-to-prison pipeline and the overuse of school discipline. 

‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ in Hong Kong Protests?

'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' in Hong Kong Protests?

Observers of this weekend’s youth-led demonstrations in Hong Kong have noticed a familiar gesture: Ferguson protesters’ “hands up, don’t shoot.” Coming little more than a month after some Palestinians Tweeted teargas advice to Ferguson’s protesters, “hands up” in Hong Kong appears to confirm that Ferguson’s influence has gone global. 

Vox reports however, “It’s impossible to say the degree to which protesters are using the gesture as a deliberate nod to Ferguson, or borrowing something they’d seen on the news for their own purposes, or using it coincidentally.” And Quartz’s Lily Kuo, reporting from the ground in Hong Kong, has this to say:

Most Hong Kong protesters aren’t purposefully mimicking “hands up, don’t shoot,”as some have suggested. Instead, the gesture is a result of training and instructions from protest leaders, who have told demonstrators to raise their hands with palms forward to signal their peaceful intentions to police.

Asked about any link between the gesture and Ferguson, Icy Ng, a 22-year-old design student at Hong Kong Polytechnic University said, “I don’t think so. We have our hands up for showing both the police and media that we have no weapons in our hands.” Ng had not heard of the Ferguson protests. Another demonstrator, with the pro-democracy group Occupy Central, Ellie Ng said the gesture had nothing to do with Ferguson and is intended to demonstrate that “Hong Kong protesters are peaceful, unarmed, and mild.” 

In Ferguson, where street demonstrations are still happening, reporter Amanda Wills found one protester with a soldarity message for Hong Kong. Read more at And learn about Hong Kong’s democracy demonstrations, which have drawn thousands, through the eyes of Joshua Wong, one of its 17-year-old leaders.

Hong Kong Protests, Obama on ‘60 Minutes,’ Facebook’s New Ad Platform

Hong Kong Protests, Obama on '60 Minutes,' Facebook's New Ad Platform

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Afghanistan inaugurates Ashraf Ghani as president, a post for which he’ll be expected to share power with rival Abdullah Abdullah.
  • Ferguson is charging journalists and civil rights groups $135 an hour for simple records requests. 
  • Meet Atlas, Facebook’s new ad platform that will track users in new ways. It’s so scary that you can opt out of it (except opting out constantly expires and you can’t really opt out anyway because Atlas makes clear it’s still collecting information about you). 
  • Ooh. “The Walking Dead” prequel characters are revealed
  • Look up. The crescent moon is about to line up with Mars and Antaras tonight. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Marlene Pinnock’s Settlement Could Shift Cop Accountability

Marlene Pinnock's Settlement Could Shift Cop Accountability

Marlene Pinnock, the 51-year-old African-American woman whose freeway beating at the hands of a California Highway Patrol officer was caught on video, may impact the future of police accountability. Along with a $1.5 million settlement Pinnock’s attorney Caree Harper won for her client, the officer, Daniel Andrew, agreed to resign “voluntarily for personal reasons,” the Los Angeles Times reported. That may prove to be a turning point in future police brutality cases. 

Los Angeles Times reporters Kate Mather and Richard Winton wrote:

Experts said the move could have broader repercussions. Officers have significant employment rights and union representation, and an officer’s job is usually not up for negotiation in civil rights lawsuits, said Glen Jonas, an attorney who last year secured a $4.2-million settlement for two women shot at by LAPD officers during the manhunt for ex-Officer Christopher Dorner.

“It sets a new bar for us,” Jonas said. “It’s usually not open to discussion…. When the public is behind you, it changes the dynamics.”

And, says Harper, she’s not done seeking justice for her client. “We want him in prison,” Harper said of Officer Andrew, the Los Angeles Times reported. “I’m not done.”

Poll: Californians’ Support for Affirmative Action on the Rise

Poll: Californians' Support for Affirmative Action on the Rise

Affirmative action may be dying the death of a thousand cuts, but don’t tell Californians that. A new poll by the National Asian American Survey released Thursday suggests that in the Golden State, support for race-conscious admissions and hiring policies is actually greater today than it was 20 years ago.

The Field Poll data (PDF) also complicates the narrative in the ongoing saga around affirmative action in California after ad hoc groups of Chinese-Americans in California torpedoed an attempt to reverse a nearly two-decade ban on affirmative action this spring.

When asked, “Do you favor or oppose affirmative action programs designed to help blacks, women, and other minorities get better jobs and education?” in August 2014, 65.7 percent of 1,280 registered California voters said they supported affirmative action. Among Asian Americans, 69 percent were in favor, along with 57.3 percent of whites, 81.4 percent of Latinos and 83.1 percent of African Americans. 

In 1996, California voters passed Prop 209, which banned race and sex-conscious admissions and hiring policies in public education, employment and contracting. That ballot initiative passed with 54.55 percent of the vote. At the time, 37 percent of white voters voted to protect affirmative action, along with 76 percent of Latino voters, 74 percent of African-American voters and 61 percent of Asian-American voters. In other words, says the National Asian American Survey, in the 18 years since, support for affirmative action in the state has actually grown. 

As for that heated, and successful, campaign from Chinese-Americans to squash the revival of affirmative action this spring? “When you see a lot of activism on an issue you don’t know how representative it is,” says Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of political science at University of California, Riverside, and a co-author of the National Asian American Survey report. “Part of the disconnect is when you see hundreds of people protesting it seems like a groundswell, but in fact you have hundreds of thousands of other Asian-Americans that were not similarly moved, and we didn’t see them.”

The Daily Show Airs ‘Tense’ Segment on Washington Team Name [VIDEO]

The Daily Show Airs 'Tense' Segment on Washington Team Name [VIDEO]

“The Daily Show” aired its long-awaited segment on the Washington, D.C., NFL team name, in which fans were confronted by Natives on the set.

Before it even aired, the segment proved controversial. The satirical cable television news program had recruited team fans for the segment via Twitter; four were ultimately chosen to participate. But those participants told the Washington Post they felt like they were attacked.

Kelli O’Dell, who says it was unfair for “The Daily Show” to have her debate Amanda Blackhorse—the lead plaintiff in Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc., which resulted in cancelling six of the team’s trademarks—says she felt like she was placed “in danger.” O’Dell later called authorities to pull “The Daily Show” tapes she had consented to appear on:

Two days later, O’Dell said she called D.C. police and tried to submit a police report, but authorities told her no crime had been committed.

Over at Native Appropriations, Adrienne Keene outlined her rejection of the Washington Post’s article. While Keene sympathized with O’Dell, she also highlighted the bias that may have informed O’dell’s stance:

Ok, pause. I do feel bad for Kelli, that she was put in a position without her consent where she was forced to defend a position that she deeply feels is right, only to be told over and over again that it is wrong. Welcome to every time that Native people open their mouth about mascot issues. Though, (this is me being genuine now) confronting your own privilege is hard and scary, and it’s not easy to have to do it on national TV.

But to say you “felt in danger?” of what? That one of the Native artists, comedians, journalists, educators, or lawyers sitting in front of you was going to physically attack you? Wow. Just, wow. No savage Indian stereotypes here…

“The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart addressed the fans’ complaints—and added that his program would never intentionally misrepresent someone’s comments. 

Out Today, Carmen Segarra’s Secret Recordings of the Fed and Goldman Sachs

Out Today, Carmen Segarra's Secret Recordings of the Fed and Goldman Sachs

Bank examiner Carmen Segarra’s 46 hours of secret recordings of meetings between Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are being called “the Ray Rice video for the financial sector”—and by no less than financial journalist and Liar’s Poker author, Michael Lewis. Segarra’s recordings, released this morning by ProPublica and This American Life (TAL), go some ways towards explaining how regulators overlooked events leading up to the 2008 financial disaster. The subprime mortgage crisis, according to one 2008 report, was responsible for the greatest loss of wealth among people of color in modern U.S. history. 

Segarra, who is Puerto Rican, was among a new group of staffers hired by the Fed in 2011* to better regulate the banks. Her assignment: Goldman Sachs. Says Lewis of listening to the story unfold on TAL: 

1. You sort of knew that the regulators were more or less controlled by the banks. Now you know.

2. The only reason you know is that one woman, Carmen Segarra, has been brave enough to fight the system. She has paid a great price to inform us all of the obvious. She has lost her job, undermined her career, and will no doubt also endure a lifetime of lawsuits and slander.

So what are you going to do about it?

Listen to Segarra on This American Life and learn more about her wrongful termination lawsuit against the Fed.

(h/t BloombergView)

* Post incorrectly stated, 2012.

More Arrests in Ferguson, You had me at Ello, #HTGAWM Premiere

More Arrests in Ferguson, You had me at Ello, #HTGAWM Premiere

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • For the second day, U.S.-led forces strike oilfields held by Islamic State in Syria. 
  • The U.S. is reportedly considering softening its stance on Iran’s uranium enriching centrifuges. 
  • Stacey Dean Rambold, the Montana teacher who served just one month in prison for raping a 14-year-old who later committed suicide, will be re-sentenced
  • Following a tough winter at the start of this year, the economy grew 4.6 percent in the second quarter. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Ongoing Deportations Inspire Revival of Sanctuary Movement

Ongoing Deportations Inspire Revival of Sanctuary Movement

After the summer’s child migrant crisis, President Obama’s postponement of his promised sweeping executive action on immigration, and amidst ongoing deportations, churches are taking a stand. Two dozen churches, inspired by the sanctuary movement of the 1980s, have pledged to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants facing deportation, the Arizona Republic reported. 

“In light of this crisis, we are calling for a national response from communities of faith to declare sanctuaries for those facing final orders of deportation,” Tucson, Arizona’s Southside Presbyterian Church pastor Alison Harrington said, the Arizona Republic reported. Harrington, who the paper credits with pioneering the original sanctuary movement in the 1980s, called it a move of “last resort” for people who are facing deportation and the communities who support them. Back then, NPR reported, eight church leaders were convicted of smuggling for allowing those immigrants, many who were fleeing war in Central America, to take refuge inside their churches.

This past June, Daniel Neyoy Ruiz was offered a one-year stay on his deporation, NPR reported, after being taken in by the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona. 

New Report Details Barriers to Black Girls’ Success

New Report Details Barriers to Black Girls' Success

A collection of statistics: 34 percent of African-American girls did not graduate high school on time in 2010, compared to 22 percent of all female students.

Twelve percent of African-American pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade female students received an out-of-school suspension during the 2011-2012 school year. Black girls’ suspension rate is six times higher than their white female counterparts. In the state of Wisconsin that school year, more than one in five of every black girl received an out-of-school suspension. Researchers have found that racial disparities in student rates of misbehavior do not account for this gulf.

In 2013, 43 percent of black women without a high school degree were living in poverty, compared to 28 percent of white women with the same levels of educational attainment. Black women with full-time jobs working year-round still make just 64 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and 82 cents for every dollar that their white female counterparts make.

At the root of each of these inequities are longstanding structural barriers to black women’s educational and economic success, argues a new report (PDF) put out this week by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (NAACP LDF) and the National Women’s Law Center. “Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls” offers historical context for black girls’ and women’s educational and economic experiences, as well as policy recommendations to address these racial gaps.

The report is also a response to the excitement and concern inspired by My Brother’s Keeper, the Obama administration initiative to support boys of color. The $200 million, five-year initiative was launched in February with the involvement from federal agencies and private corporations. Critics of My Brother’s Keeper have argued that racial inequity is not felt more deeply by boys than girls, and that excluding girls sidelines their experiences.

In August, the African American Policy Forum and UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program hosted a hearing in Los Angeles, the third of its kind, to raise awareness about the experiences of girls of color who, as co-host and law professor Kimberle Crenshaw said, “experience some of the same things boys experience and somethings boys never dream of.”

Read the NAACP LDF and National Women’s Law Center report in full (PDF).

[VIDEO] Ferguson Police Chief Apologizes to Michael Brown’s Family

[VIDEO] Ferguson Police Chief Apologizes to Michael Brown's Family

Ferguson’s police chief this morning issued a public video apology to Michael Brown’s family that touches on the length of time that 18-year-old Michael Brown’s body lay in the street. Watch above. The two-minute video of Thomas Jackson in plain clothes and occasionally reading from paper notes, was issued through a marketing and communications firm, the Devin James Group. Does Jackson’s apology help the town’s long process of healing?

Eric Holder to Resign From Attorney General Post

Eric Holder to Resign From Attorney General Post

After serving six years as U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder is planning to resign. From NPR:

Two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly “adamant” about his desire to leave soon for fear that he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama’s second term.

Holder’s Justice Department is currently investigating Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Amid civil unrest, Holder, who often speaks candidly about racial injustice, visited Brown’s family in August.*

*Post updated to reflect that Holder visited Ferguson in August, not early September.







President Obama is scheduled to make the announcement about his resignation at 4:30 ET.

$1.5M Settlement for Woman Punched on Video by California Highway Patrol

$1.5M Settlement for Woman Punched on Video by California Highway Patrol

Marlene Pinnock, the woman whose beating on the side of the road by a California Highway Patrolman was caught on video this July, has reached a $1.5 million settlement. As part of the deal, reported to have been mediated over nine hours in Los Angeles, officer Daniel Andrew will resign.

The video of the highway patrolman straddling and punching 51-year-old Pinnock on July 1 spread widely over the Internet. Pinnock had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been off her medication for two to three weeks when motorists called police to complain of a woman walking barefoot along the highway.

Pinnock told her story on August 11 to CBS News. Watch video above.

(h/t Fox News)

Meet the 8-Year-Old Who Speaks 8 Languages

Meet the 8-Year-Old Who Speaks 8 Languages

Mabou Loiseau already speaks English, Kreyol, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin and American Sign Language—and is now learning Japanese. At only 8 years of age, she also plays eight instruments.

Watch Loiseau, who says she wants to learn chemistry and biology soon, in this interview with Katie Couric that aired over the summer. Spoiler: she wants to be a lawyer, a brain surgeon and a singer when she grows up.

Troubled U.S. War Jets Strike Syria, iPhone Bendgate, Water Vapor on Exoplanet

Troubled U.S. War Jets Strike Syria, iPhone Bendgate, Water Vapor on Exoplanet

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • A white South Carolina trooper is charged for shooting a black unarmed motorist. 
  • The California Highway Patrol and Marlene Pinnock, who was senselessly beaten by officer Daniel Andrew, have come to a $1.5 million settlement; Andrew is also resigning as part of the settlement.
  • ESPN’s Bill Simmons is suspended after going in on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 
  • Researchers find a correlation between people who work 55 or more hours in “low socioeconomic status jobs” and Type 2 diabetes. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

No Indictment for Officers Involved in John Crawford’s Killing at Walmart

No Indictment for Officers Involved in John Crawford's Killing at Walmart

A Greene County, Ohio, grand jury has declined to indict two Beavercreek police officers involved in the shooting and killing of 22-year-old John Crawford at a Dayton area Walmart.

Crawford was shopping on August 5 when he picked up a BB gun from a store shelf. He was on his cell phone as he carried the toy gun around at Walmart. Fellow shopper Ronald Ritchie called 911 and said Crawford was pointing the BB gun at people—although in an interview with The Guardian, he later admitted that Crawford never pointed it at anyone.

Officer Sean Williams and Seargent David Darkow, who are both white, responded to the scene and maintain that they ordered Crawford, who is black, to drop his weapon; Williams fired because Crawford allegedly refused. But Crawford’s family says he was never ordered to put down the toy gun. A special grand jury heard from 18 witnesses during the course of two days and revealed its decision Wednesday morning.

The Ohio Student Association, which organized a 11-mile march called Journey for Justice today through Greene County, is calling for the Department of Justice to open its own investigation into Crawford’s killing. 

Obama at the U.N., Kerry Washington Plays ‘Box of Lies,’ India’s Mission to Mars

Obama at the U.N., Kerry Washington Plays 'Box of Lies,' India's Mission to Mars

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • President Obama is expected to address the United Nations this morning as part of his war effort; he’ll also convene the U.N. Security Council, perhaps best known to pass resolutions that can’t be enforced. 
  • Protesters gather in Ferguson once more after a mysterious fire destroys a makeshift memorial steps away from where Michael Brown was shot and killed. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

U.S. Bombs Syria, Eric Holder Talks Reform, California’s Drought

U.S. Bombs Syria, Eric Holder Talks Reform, California's Drought

 Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

TAGS: Morning Rush
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