Can you spell words like “thymelici” and “holluschick?” The 14- and 13-year-old Indian-American winners of last night’s Scripps National Spelling Bee can. For the first time in 50 years two students tied for first place in the Bee and not for the first time, their “American-ness” was questioned soon after. Journalist Jeff Chu last night Storified some of America’s on-going paroxysms over who gets to belong and when. Last night, according to the AP, marks the seventh year in a row that a student of Indian descent has won the Bee.
It’s Friday. Yay! Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- Authorities in India arrest three of seven men accused of raping and killing two teenage Dalit sisters.
- Amid calls for his resignation, VA Chief Eric Shinseki apologizes for systemic problems ahead of a meeting with Obama.
- Consumer spending unexpectedly dropped 0.1 percent in April (it was expected to rise 0.2 percent).
- Mark Zuckerburg and Priscilla Chan donate $120 million to Bay Area Schools—which will hopefully not be wasted like it was in Phili.
- Ansun Sujoe and Sriram Hathwar tie for champions at the Scripps Spelling Bee, and some folks are pretty furious they’re not white.
- Maybe “Breaking Bad” isn’t done yet. Maybe.
- The measles are back. Thanks, anti-vaxxers.
All I know is that the World Cup starts in two weeks. Two weeks! Here are other things I’m reading up on this morning:
- Pro-Russian separatists shoot down a Ukrainian helicopter, killing 14.
- More confusion about Malaysian Air Flight 370.
- Dish Network will start accepting payments through Bitcoin starting this fall.
- Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. were hacked in the last twelve months.
- Lavar Burton raises nearly $2 million in 24 hours to bring Reading Rainbow to the web.
- Versace’s World Cup shirt is as amazing as it is expensive.
- Despite health and safety issues, scientists are recommending the WHO not classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
- Wasps’ piercing organ is essentially a zinc-tipped drill bit.
Google’s Senior VP of People Operations will appear on a PBSNewsHour segment this evening to release the company’s race and gender diversity numbers. Watch the 6pm EST livestream here.
Google’s disclosure of EEOC diversity data is a reversal of course for the company. It’s expected that this will increase pressure on other tech companies to do the same.
A Miami apartment complex has been hit with a discrimination suit alleging discrimination against African-Americans in favor of Hispanics. When Zipporah Hayes went to view an apartment in a Miami housing complex, the rental manager told her there were no units available. Two hours later when Alexandra Del Rosario stopped by, the rental manager showed her an apartment. Hayes is African-American. Del Rosario is Hispanic. After this scenario repeated two other times this year with other “testers”—fake apartment hunters—the Miami Herald yesterday reported that a local fair housing group filed suit
Housing discrimination is very difficult to prove. One of the only ways to do so is by “testing.” That’s when a local fair housing group sends fake apartment hunters and homeowners to visit buildings or housing areas suspected of discrimination. Otherwise, done right, potential homebuyers and renters don’t know for sure when they’re facing discrimination.
It’s unclear from the reporting whether the Miami complex is reacting to the potential renter’s skin color or last names. If the allegations are true, how, for example, would the rental manager react to black Latinos?
(h/t Miami Herald)
Here’s what I’m reading up on this Wednesday morning:
- After announcing a plan to leave nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan yesterday, Obama is expected to talk more foreign policy at West Point today.
- Police in France standoff against undocumented migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea.
- Edward Snowden tells NBC he was trained as a spy, working oversees undercover.
- An Associated Press/Equilar study reveals the 50 highest-paid CEOs.
- A go button, an emergency button, and no steering wheel: Google’s new car.
- The Beastie Boys sue Monster energy drinks for using the group’s music in promo video.
- Donald Sterling is or isn’t ok with Shelly Sterling selling the Clippers.
- Ads for cancer centers may be misleading.
A Texas woman says she was given no choice but to give birth in a solitary cell—after which her baby died.
Nicole Guerrero says that she was under arrest for drug possession at a Wichita County jail when she was placed in solitary confinement on the night of June 11, 2012. In a lawsuit charging malpractice and that she was denied due process, Guerrero says she was told by the jailhouse doctor she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Yet on the night of June 11, when she began pressing the emergency button because of labor-like symptoms, she was initially ignored for more than four hours. Guerrero was then placed in a solitary cell instead of being transported to a hospital. The following morning, at about 5:00 a.m. on June 12, a guard helped Guerrero deliver her baby. But the baby, who was placed in a jail rag towel, was pronounced dead. The lawsuit indicates there was no attempt to resuscitate the newborn.
Guerrero’s lawsuit claims that because she was ignored despite her cramping and obvious suffering, she was forced to deliver her child in a solitary confinement—which resulted in serious “permanent, physical and psychological injuries.”
At least 60,000 immigrants worked for the detention centers they were being held in in 2013—many for just a dollar a day. That’s according to Ian Urbina, in new report in the New York Times, where Urbina also found that some immigrants work in county jails for free. Out of the roughly 30,000 detainees held daily, some 5,500 work for pennies an hour, doing the essential cooking and cleaning.
Detainee workers also include those seeking asylum, permanent residents and even U.S. citizens. Pedro Guzmán, a 34-year-old whose visa was erroneously revoked, says he was threatened for not working through a fever:
“I went from making $15 an hour as a chef to $1 a day in the kitchen in lockup,” said Pedro Guzmán, 34, who had worked for restaurants in California, Minnesota and North Carolina before he was picked up and held for about 19 months, mostly at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. “And I was in the country legally.”
Mr. Guzmán said that he had been required to work even when he was running a fever, that guards had threatened him with solitary confinement if he was late for his 2 a.m. shift, and that his family had incurred more than $75,000 in debt from legal fees and lost income during his detention. A Guatemalan native, he was released in 2011 after the courts renewed his visa, which had mistakenly been revoked, in part because of a clerical error. He has since been granted permanent residency.
You can read the story in full over at The New York Times.
Elliot Rodger’s college-town rampage in Isla Vista, Calif. and holiday weekend shootings in New Orleans come a few days after two Democratic senators introduced legislation last week to jumpstart gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This latest effort recognizes the role that public health research may play in policy discussions around gun control and gun violence.
Gun violence research funding dried up in 1996 after an NRA intervention. Since 2007 the CDC has spent roughly $100,000-a-year on firearms-focused work. As a result, Americans know the number of homicides each year but not basic information like, how many Americans survive shootings, Pro Publica reports.
The NRA considers legislation allotting $10 million a year to the CDC to conduct gun violence research “unethical.” Michael Martinez, the father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez, one of Rodger’s victims, continues to speak out against the NRA and politicians, whom he blames for his son’s death. He reportedly wants to meet with Rodger’s father as well. Christopher, 20, was his only child.
Rodger killed six people and wounded 13 others before turning the gun on himself, according to the latest reports. Gun violence in New Orleans this holiday weekend left four dead, 15 wounded.
For the latest on gun violence policy and politics, follow ProPublica’s ongoing series.
Misogyny played a huge role in the Isla Vista shootings this past Friday night but so did race, say sociologists Michael Kimmel and Cliff Leek. Citing 22-year-old Elliot Rodger’s 140-page manifesto (not linking), Kimmel and Leek flag Rodger’s feelings towards men of color calling his, “a voice of white male aggrieved entitlement.”
And then this black boy named Chance said that he lost his virginity when he was only thirteen! In addition, he said that the girl he lost his virginity to was a blonde white girl! I was so enraged that I almost splashed him with my orange juice. I indignantly told him that I did not believe him, and then I went to my room to cry…. How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more. … If this is actually true, if this ugly black filth was able to have sex with a blonde white girl at the age of thirteen while I’ve had to suffer virginity all my life, then this just proves how ridiculous the female gender is. They would give themselves to this filthy scum, but they reject ME? The injustice!
Rodger’s 20-year-old roommates Chen Yuan Hong and Weihan “David” Wang, and their friend, George Chen, 19, whom he stabbed to death, are of Asian descent. Kimmel and Leek also question whether police who’d visited Rodger’s at a family member’s request would have determined he posed no threat had he been black and expressing a similar rage found in his YouTube videos. (The AP reports that deputies had not seen Rodger’s videos when they called on him last month).
(h/t NY Daily News)
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- New details are emerging from the Isla Vista killings.
- Nigeria claims it’s located the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.
- Malaysia finally releases Flight 370 data, three months after the plane disappeared.
- Pope Francis announces that he will hold mass with sexual abuse survivors at the Vatican.
- Three people are missing following a mudslide in Colorado.
- Durable goods are up 0.8 percent for April.
- Toshiba updates its detachable laptops.
- Rap Genius’s Mahbod Modghadam resigns after making misogynist annotations.
- A swarm of some 20,000 honeybees is pulled down from a weak tree branch in New York’s Upper West Side.
After singing the national anthem in mariachi dress during Game 3 of the NBA Finals last June, Sebastien de la Cruz received praise but also became a target of racist attacks. This year 12-year-old Sebastien is still singing and, showing off his latest trajes de charro. He’s today’s profile subject and Day 6 in a New York Times journey along Interstate-35 that looks at “how America is being changed by immigration.” I-35 is a middle America highway stretching from Laredo, Texas near the Mexican border to Duluth, Minnesota. Central questions for the series: Are immigrants [from south of the border] Americans? How has life along I-35 changed after decades of northward migration? Are newcomers integrating into American life?
Four stories precede Sebastien’s. I’ll get to them this weekend but after reading Sebastien’s brief profile, it strikes me that this journey north could show that many folks like Sebastien aren’t newcomers. They’ve been here—in many cases just as long or longer than other “preferred Americans” whose immigration status and roots aren’t similarly questioned.
The New York Times is asking folks to tell them where to go along I-35. Give ‘em a hand. Help shape the story.
- Tennessee says it will bring back the electric chair if lethal execution drugs run dry.
- Putin says that he will respect the outcome of Sunday’s election in Ukraine.
- Obama is expected to add Julian Castro to his Cabinet.
- Spain gets a rating upgrade from Standard and Poor’s.
- New York City health officials are using Yelp to identify possible foodborne illness outbreaks.
- Speaking of which, watch out for E. coli!
- The Duck Dynasty guy is back to confirm that he still hates the gays.
- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban simultaneously apologizes and demands an apology for his racism rant.
- The top 10 new species for 2014 include the tremendously cute olinguito.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has published a long-awaited reported feature in The Atlantic titled “The Case for Reparations.” The writer lays his argument out in 10 chapters; online, it includes multimedia elements like videos interactive maps.
Coates, who advocates for systemic approaches to inequity, tells Bill Moyers why honest, conscious conversations about history, white supremacy and policy are crucial to his vision of justice.
By dressing up three white and three black men of similar age and build in identical clothes and sending them out into a busy Portland intersection researchers at Portland State University and the University of Arizona found that Portland drivers don’t treat all pedestrians equally.
Researchers chose a busy Portland crosswalk “where yielding isn’t influenced by cross traffic or turning,” The Oregonian reported, and found that black pedestrians had to wait 32 percent longer than their white counterparts and were passed by double the amount of cars before they could cross the street.
“It’s amazing to look at something you thought might be subtle and to see it instead so clearly,” Portland State University researcher Tara Goddard told the Oregonian.
Turns out that nationally, pedestrian fatalities for African-Americans is 60 percent higher than it is for whites, and Latino pedestrian deaths are 43 percent higher than whites’. That may be influenced by pedestrians taking greater risks to cross when drivers won’t yield to them, researchers theorize. Read the rest at The Oregonian.
The Golden Arches may become known for something other than its food. Yesterday about 250 police officers, including those in riot gear, met a large crowd of employees, clergy, community members and labor organizers protesting low pay outside McDonald’s corporate headquarters near Chicago. Oak Brook police report arresting more than 100 of a crowd it estimated at 1,000 to 1,500. Organizers put the number, arriving that morning on 32 buses, at 2,000. It remains to be seen whether or how the march on Hamburger University, including Moral Mondays leader and NAACP-NC president, Rev. William Barber, SEIU president, Mary Kay Henry and McDonald’s employee Eddie Foreman, can change the game for fast food workers and McDonald’s, which yesterday closed and barricaded the campus. Workers have been demonstrating since 2012 for a $15-an-hour wage increase, against wage theft and erratic scheduling and for the right to unionize without retaliation.
More protests are planned today. Shareholders are gathering for McDonald’s annual meeting where, according to the AP, they’re also expected to cover executive pay packages (highlighted in this 2012 Bloomberg investigation) and marketing to children in communities of color.
Here’s some of what I’m catching up on this morning:
- The Thai military has taken power of the government through a coup d’état.
- Blasts in an outdoor market in China leave 31 dead and 94 injured.
- Federal prosecutors reveal new details in the Boston bombing case.
- A 15-year-old is kidnapped and held for 10 years on threats that her family would be deported if she alerted authorities.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the moral case for reparations—revealing how little we know to even draw a conclusion.
- Nearly 140 people are arrested at the McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting, demanding better wages.
- You should change your eBay password immediately (but it’s a little harder than it sounds).
- Up to 5,000 Red Robin diners may have been exposed to hepatitis A in Springfield, Illinois.
Today, following last week’s first ever global fast food worker protests, hundreds of workers from around the country descended on McDonald’s corporate headquarters outside Chicago. In anticipation of the crowd the McDonald’s campus was a ghost town however, closed for the day. Moral Mondays leader, Rev. William Barber, president of the NAACP-NC is there, as is another southerner, Eddie Foreman. Foreman is a McDonald’s employee from Opelika, Ala., arrested last week, and charged with criminal trespass, he says, for protesting with other workers outside his local restaurant. Despite the legal trouble and risk of a second arrest, he made the trip north from Opelika today.
Barricades and fencing surround the entrance to McDonald’s HQ and around 150 people have been arrested, Foreman says. Asked what he’ll remember most about today’s protest, Foreman says, “I’m going to remember how many people have the same problem I have and went and fought for themselves.”
Fast food workers have staged wage protests since 2012 demanding a $15-an-hour wage increase as well as the right to form a union without retaliation.
In the Bronx this past Saturday night, an NYPD officer allegedly smashed a 14-year-old boy through a store window, critically injuring him. Reporting from the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange raises questions about the boy’s arrest, his detention on the scene while bleeding profusely from the chest and officers’ reporting of the incident.
According to JJIE:
Initially, EMS did not rush to the scene because when the officers put the call over they did not indicate that there was a pediatric emergency, a source familiar with the incident said. Instead they used a protocol normally used for drunks. The office did not issue a “sheet” — an email to the police press corps detailing newsworthy events — on the incident….
A spokesman for the police department said two teenagers were arrested, ages 13 and 14, at approximately 11 p.m. Officers charged both of the suspects with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and assault. He said he could not confirm the incident involving Payne being thrown through the glass. “It’s not listed in the report here,” he said.
Javier Payne, the 14-year-old, has had contact with the system before. In order to receive greater services, Payne’s mother placed him in a family court-affiiliated “Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS)” program at his middle school. He is in the 8th grade.
African-American boys, according to a new report, comprise 17 percent of the juvenile population but 31 percent of all arrests. Disproportionate juvenile minority representation, the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency reports, “is evident at nearly all contact points on the juvenile justice system continuum.” Similar rates may apply for Latino youth but, data on ethnic disparities is limited.
By Sunday afternoon a new pane of glass had already been installed at the store. Read more at JJIE.
Here’s what I’m reading up on:
- After 10 years of negotiations, Russia and China have reached a natural gas deal that’s estimated to be worth $400 billion.
- The White House is set to release a memo written by an appeals court nominee who signed off on the targeted drone killing of a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki.
- The Obama administration quietly made a little-known adjustment to the Affordable Care Act that freed up billions of dollars to insurers.
- The WNBA is launching a new ad campaign that targets its LGBT fans, making it the first pro sports league to do so.
- Watch out, D.C.: Malia Obama will soon be eligible for a learner’s permit.
- Northern California is bracing itself for pretty much non-stop rain this fall thanks to global warming.