The Latest In The Fight For Our Internet

The Latest In The Fight For Our Internet

Some poor guy knocked on my Brooklyn apartment door the other day shilling for a competing cable-Internet-phone company. He was just an ordinary guy with a clipboard, a spiel and an off-the-boat accent like mine (when I use it). But when he said “deal,” that set me off.

“Deal? What deal? Internet connections in the U.S. are slower and more expensive than in Asia or Europe. Why is that?!” He said, “package.” I said “Package?! You mean like me paying extra for a home phone line I don’t want or use and y’all acting like I’m getting a two-fer?”

By now, my fellow immigrant’s clutching his clipboard to his chest and sidling away to my neighbor’s door saying, “I don’t get into the politics of it all.” I felt bad when I closed my door; dude was just doing his job. But the price to communicate, like rent, is too damn high. Every month it’s hard not to catch feelings.

That’s why the FCC’s big vote on net neutrality today matters. On one hand, it’s one more skirmish in a decade-long war over whether to keep the Internet as is: open. (Watch John Oliver for players and stakes.) On the other hand, I’m slightly paranoid and thinking these corporate and government suits are fighting over how many extra lines they can someday add to my itemized bill. Here’s an overview of where we are:

We may think of the Internet like a public utility but it isn’t; that could begin to change today.

After a nudge from President Obama, FCC chair Tom Wheeler’s expected to move the Internet a big step closer to regulating it like water or electricity. The big deal is ownership. The FCC could establish the premise that the Internet is an essential good and therefore, first and foremost belongs to the public rather than the free market. 

Technically, the whole thing’s called Title II regulation, referring to a section of the 1934 Telecommunications Act. Specifically, its language forbids discrimination of the sort that a coalition of media activists and tech companies are warning against: the creation of pricey fast lanes for rich customers and slow lanes for the rest of us. “Pay-to-play prioritization would absolutely raise customer bills,” says Malkia Cyril, founding director of the Center for Media Justice. “[Maintaining] net neutrality prevents that.”

Title II regulation could keep the Internet open for the next breakout YouTube hit.

“Do you want a blog like Racialicious or a webisode series like “Black Folk Don’t” to reach you under the same terms as news and video provided by your broadband company?” asks American University communications professor Patricia Aufderheide. (Comcast, for example, provides broadband and it owns content creator, NBC Universal.) “Do you want a black entrepreneur to have the same ability to start a web-based business as one the broadband company has equity in? Then you want the company providing broadband to have to offer it on the same terms to every end user and treat all the content coming to it with the same terms.” Title II gives the FCC more control over behemoth companies that not only own content but the delivery system, too.

But Title II was written long before the Internet was a thought. Can it keep the Internet open?

“It’s complicated,” Lewis Friedland, founding director of the Center for Communication and Democracy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tells me by e-mail. “In an ideal world we’d construct a new way of regulating an open internet, taking the best from what is known as [Title II] and combining it with some new forms of regulation,” he says. But he’s a realist: “No new regulation is going to make it through Congress,” he says. Title II appears to be the best shot of keeping the Internet open and accessible on equal terms.

But even if the FCC votes yes for Title II, Cyril is prepping for new battles. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Washington Post reports, is pursuing a GOP net neutrality bill, described as an alternative to Chairman Wheeler’s proposal. “[Broadband providers] are threatening to sue. And legacy civil rights groups may step back into the fray as opponents,” says Cyril, a Panther baby who’s been organizing around access and representation for people of color since she was 15. “Just as we fought for the vote [during Jim Crow], we fight for our voice now.”

Can Title II lower any future bills?

No, not directly. What it can do, Aufderheide says, is, “make it more likely that competition of services provided over broadband can benefit startups and entrepreneurs who do not have the provider’s blessing or input.” 

Why not just trust broadband providers to maintain net neutrality without government regulation?

“We have a long history of seeing what happens when companies are not all forced to agree to the same rules of play; it puts the most disreputable of them in an advantaged position. And then it’s a race to the bottom,” Aufderheide says. “That’s why we got common carriage [or, Title II] in the first place, and USDA meat inspection and requirements for standards in milk and so on.”

Supreme Court Hears Muslim Woman’s Challenge to Abercrombie & Fitch

Supreme Court Hears Muslim Woman's Challenge to Abercrombie & Fitch

Did Abercrombie & Fitch discriminate against a Muslim woman named Samantha Elauf when a manager denied her a job because of her headscarf? That’s, broadly, the question the Supreme Court took up today when it heard Elauf’s case against the declining preppy-cool retailer. 

Elauf, who was 17 when she applied for a job at a Tulsa, Okla. store in 2008, had a strong interview with a manager, but was denied a job because Elauf didn’t fit in with the company’s “Look Policy,” which dictated that employees ought to conform to the company’s preppy aesthetic. Abercrombie company policy actually had allowances for religious head coverings, but no one asked Elauf why she wore a headscarf, and neither did Elauf explicitly ask for an exemption. The question before the Supreme Court is whose responsibility it was to make sure that Elauf’s rights weren’t being violated.

While there’s no way of knowing until the High Court’s ruling comes out, questioning at today’s oral arguments hints that the justices are sympathetic to Elauf’s argument, the BBC reports. “Justice Samuel Alito … said there was no reason not to hire her unless the firm assumed she would always wear a headscarf to work because of her religion,” the BBC reported. “He added employers could avoid such situations by asking prospective employees if they are able to abide by work rules.”

For more on the legal back and forth, read SCOTUSblog’s preview of today’s case.

‘Fresh Off the Boat’: A Sweet Father-Son Fiction

'Fresh Off the Boat': A Sweet Father-Son Fiction

Are my unabashedly positive feelings about “Fresh Off the Boat” colored by a desperation to see Asian faces on television? How much is due to the fact that it genuinely makes me laugh? Then again am I only laughing so hard because the Huang family reminds me of my own Chinese family? Is it possible that this show really is as good as it seems?

That’s what I’ve been asking myself the last four weeks that ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” has been on the air. As the show continues, and I continue to laugh, I’m no better able to answer those questions today than I was a month ago. Mine is an incredulity born of a lifetime of jaded pop culture consumption where crap TV is the norm and Asian invisibility is the standard. Last night’s Episode 6, “Fajita Man,” was no different.

In it, young Eddie, NBA and hip-hop obsessed, finds a new item through which to channel his combined loves: the impending release of Shaq Fu, a video game released in 1994 starring Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq Fu’s since been panned as one of the worst games ever created. But Eddie has no way of knowing that then. The video is almost like Mortal Kombat, Eddie explains, but it actually stars a bonafide basketball star. Except, at $50 a pop, the game’s way too expensive for him to afford on his own.

When his pining turns to whining, his dad Louis puts him to work at the family’s Western-themed steakhouse, Cattleman’s Ranch. It’s the mid-1990s, and sizzling fajitas are just coming on to the mainstream dining scene. Eddie’s anointed Fajita Boy. “There are no handouts in the Huang family,” Louis tells Eddie, recalling his own Taiwanese father who worked his whole life, and who was similarly hard on him. “The only time your grandfather got anything without working for it was on his birthday,” Eddie’s father tells him. “You know what he got? An egg. One egg.”

“To eat or to play with?”

“Now you see his dilemma.”

When Eddie realizes his first week of work still won’t make him enough money to buy Shaq Fu, he skips out. Louis, ready to come down hard on Eddie, is pulled back by Grandma. “And how was your relationship with your father?” she asks him, reminding Louis that his own father wasn’t just a hard worker, “He was also a hard man.”

The two both end up learning something—Louis to give a little, Eddie to step up and work for what he wants. The storyline is ostensibly about a father instilling in his son an appreciation for hard work. But it’s also about how fathers can learn from their own childhoods. It’s possible to do things differently with the next generation. The arc is sweet, and clearly fictionalized. (Ask any Asian adult for whom Amy Chua’s brand of parenting is not merely an arch comedy routine but the source of lasting scars.) Real life Eddie’s relationship with his father was far rougher.

But I didn’t mind the softened sitcom version. As comedian Jenny Yang said last night on Fresh Off the Show, the unofficial post-show chat hosted by Yang and blogger Phil Yu, the show gave audiences an aspirational moment. The kind of sweetness that, were she a young Asian-American kid watching today, would give her hope about the possibilities of parent-child relationships.

When I first saw the pilot last fall, I went into it tightly wound, bracing for the usual anti-Asian racial ignorance, flat jokes, a TV show starring Chinese characters and ridiculing Chinese people. And when “Fresh Off the Boat” wasn’t that, and then when it made me laugh, and then when the subsequent episodes featured honest and even barbed race humor, I decided to give myself occasional breaks from sussing out the finer layers of it. It was time to just enjoy it all.

Last night was one of those moments of relish. I’d also be lying if I said there wasn’t some catharsis to it as well. I never had the childhood Eddie Huang describes in his memoir, but neither did I have the softer relationship with my parents depicted in last night’s episode.

Amidst the sweetness was the usual funny that “Fresh Off the Boat” is so good at. Taking refuge from the swampy Orlando subtropics in air-conditioned grocery stores, laying still in heat-soaked clothes instead of turning on the A/C. And Jessica Huang, always.

Speaking of catharsis, the best line in the episode probably goes to young Eddie in the opening scenes.

“Aren’t you Japanese?” a white kid asks him in the school cafeteria.

“Shut your damn mouth,” says Eddie.

High Hopes for Chicago’s First Openly Gay Latino Alderman

High Hopes for Chicago's First Openly Gay Latino Alderman

The big news out of Chicago politics today is, of course, the unexpected run-off between incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Emanuel is former Chief of Staff in the Obama White House and one of the country’s best fundraisers, while Garcia is a Cook County commissioner and progressive democrat who’s lambasted the mayor for widely publicized school closures and downtown development plans. The run-off election will be held on April 7.

But there was other news out of Chicago politics that could have big implications: the election of 25-year-old Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the city’s first openly gay alderman.

Rosa is a 26*-year-old activist who beat out incumbent Ald. Rey Colon to represent the city’s 35th ward, which includes the city’s Logan Square neighborhood, home to one of its biggest Latino populations.

Rosa, born and raised in Chicago, was a staffer for Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL). He earned an endorsement from the Chicago Tribune and is now the youngest alderman in the city. And — as is smart to do these days, though expected — has painted himself as a politician who’s against Big Money influences. “There’s money in this city,” Rosa said at his campaign kick-off rally on Sept. 6. “If you look at the decisions City Hall is making, if you look at the way our aldermen vote, you would think that Chicago belongs to corporations buying our public institutions. You would think that Chicago belongs to politicians selling out our schools and developers evicting our families.”

 * A previous version of this post misstated Rosa’s age. He is 26, not 25.

Chicago ‘Black Sites’ Expose More on How the City Tortures Its Residents

Chicago 'Black Sites' Expose More on How the City Tortures Its Residents

First there was Spencer Ackerman’s bombshell report in the Guardian connecting the dots between a longtime Chicago police officer’s torturous reign against that city’s black residents and the subsequent abuse experienced by U.S. detainees at Guantánamo. Now, there’s more: news that the Chicago police department has long maintained an off-the-books compound called Homan Square used to torture city residents, one that’s being called the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, which has allegedly been run for 40 years, held people as young as 15 years old.

From the Guardian:

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square - said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage - trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

Read more at the Guardian. 

Dori Maynard, Advocate for Media Diversity, Dies at 56

Dori Maynard, Advocate for Media Diversity, Dies at 56

Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and one of the nation’s most effective advocates for representative media and excellent journalism, died on Tuesday at her California home. She was 56; the cause was lung cancer. Tributes are pouring in today from at least two generations of journalists (See #DoriMaynard to follow on Twitter). Many had been touched by Maynard in some way, if not by her personal kindness or hand in their careers then by the nearly 40-year-old Maynard Institute, an institutional beacon for black, Latino, Native, and Asian-American journalists in a predominantly white and “color-blind” media landscape.

“You can hardly put into words how important the work Dori and the Maynard Institute did to train young people of color for careers in journalism and how the Institute trained the media to write fair stories about communities of color,” Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote on the MIJE site. Maynard, he said, was a founding member of the Chauncey Bailey Project. Bailey, an Oakland journalist who edited several African-American newspapers covering the Bay Area, was gunned down in 2007 for seeking to expose crime and violence in the community. 

“We cannot stand for a reporter to be murdered while working on behalf of the public. Chauncey’s death is a threat to democracy,” Maynard is reported to have said. “We will not be bullied.”

Maynard reportedly said that her middle initial, “J” stood for Journalism. She is the daughter of Robert C. Maynard, the African-American owner and publisher of The Oakland Tribune and co-founder of MIJE.

I met Maynard once. She was warm and welcoming to me, then, a cub journalist, and I’ll remember that. But most of all, I will remember her for helping to create spaces in newsrooms throughout this country for journalists of color and for continually insisting that representative media is the foundation of excellent journalism. 

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL, Torture in Chicago’s ‘Black Site,’ Giuliana Apologizes

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL, Torture in Chicago's 'Black Site,' Giuliana Apologizes

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

  • Obama vetoes a bill that would have allowed the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. 
  • Chicago’s police department has been running a ‘black site,’ where, for the last 40 years or so, adults and children as young as 15 years old are tortured without ever even being booked into custody. At least one person has died.
  • Speaking of Chicago, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Mexican-American politician with broad grassroots support, will face Rahm Emanuel in a runoff for mayor on April 7 after Emanuel failed to get 50 percent of the vote in yesterday’s mayoral election. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Obama: My Administration Will Fight Texas Ruling

Obama: My Administration Will Fight Texas Ruling

As the end-of-month deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security looms and the Obama administration takes on a Texas judge’s ruling to temporarily halt President Obama’s historic executive action, the president himself is weighing in on the mess. “My administration will fight this ruling with every tool at our disposal,” Obama wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, “and I have full confidence that these actions will ultimately be upheld.”

On Monday, the Obama administration asked U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to lift his ruling temporarily halting the implementation of Obama’s executive action program to offer an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants short-term protection from deportation. The Obama administration says it plans to appeal Hanen’s ruling, arguing that the 26 states who challenged Obama’s executive action have no right to interfere with the federal government’s immigration enforcement plans. Hanen’s ruling last week disrupted the planned February 18 rollout of the first phase of Obama’s executive action, which would have allowed an expanded class of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for temporary work permits and deportation deferrals. 

“I am confident that all the steps I’ve taken on my own to fix our broken immigration system will eventually be implemented,” Obama wrote, also taking time to chastise Republicans for what he called their “irresponsible threats” to withhold funding of the Department of Homeland Security so long as such funding also goes to the implementation of Obama’s immigration policies. 

DOJ Declines to Charge George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin Case

DOJ Declines to Charge George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin Case

As was widely expected, the Department of Justice declined to bring federal charges against George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin back in 2012. Federal prosecutors have concluded that there’s not enough evidence to prove Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights, according to ABC News

The news come almost exactly three years after Martin’s death, and nearly two years since Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury in the killing. 

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy. It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder, according to a statement obtained by BuzzFeed. “Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

Benjamin Crump Takes New Case, Chicago Mayoral Election, Emoji of Color

Benjamin Crump Takes New Case, Chicago Mayoral Election, Emoji of Color

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

The Oscars, Wesleyan Students OD on Molly, Climate Denier’s Corporate Ties

The Oscars, Wesleyan Students OD on Molly, Climate Denier's Corporate Ties

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

  • 11 students from Wesleyan overdose on MDMA; one remains in critical condition. 
  • The Apple-Android divide isn’t just for smartphones: it’s for cars, too. 
  • It turns out one of the biggest climate-change deniers has been paid more than $1 million from the fossil fuel industry and never disclosed it in the scientific papers he published. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Border Patrol Officers Test Out Body-Mounted Cameras

Border Patrol Officers Test Out Body-Mounted Cameras

Body-worn cameras aren’t just for police officers. Agents with Customs and Border Protection began testing out body-mounted cameras this week as the second phase of a “feasibility study” examining accountability mechanisms in the wake of a scathing independent review of the department’s use-of-force practices, the Albuquerque Journal reported. New Mexico is one of the program’s pilot locations.

“Body-worn cameras are viewed as a potential tool that may help CBP continue its progress toward greater transparency and accountability,” the agency said in a statement, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

In recent years, the Border Patrol has developed an increasingly visible accountability and deadly force problem. Agents with the department have killed an average of seven people a year since January 2010, and declined to discipline a single agent involved in a deadly force investigation.

“[Body-worn cameras] will help protect abuse victims,” Vicki Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights said in a statement,” and if used appropriately these cameras will help ensure that CBP’s interaction with community members is fair and lawful.” Far from a complete solution though, the ACLU warns, body-worn cameras must be coupled with more transparency and an end to racial profiling in order to address the agency’s troublingly use of deadly force.

One of Malcolm X’s Last Speeches: ‘Our Color Became to Us Like a Prison’

One of Malcolm X's Last Speeches: 'Our Color Became to Us Like a Prison'

El-Hajj Malik el Shabazz—the leader most commonly known as Malcolm X—was assassinated 50 years ago, on February 21, 1965.

Just one week prior—on Valentine’s Day at 2:46 a.m.—his Queens, N.Y., home had been struck by three Molotov cocktails as he and his family slept. Despite the firebombing, Shabazz flew to Detroit for an awards ceremony sponsored by the Afro-American Broadcasting and Recording Company. It was there that he talked about what his recent world travels had impressed upon him. Shabazz, who had been briefly sedated after the firebombing so he could get some rest, also explained how the press often casted black resistance as psychopathy. 

Shabazz returned to his home the following day to a media circus—a home the Nation of Islam, or NOI, had started eviction proceedings on the previous year, about a month after Shabazz broke from the religious movement to start his organization. On February 18, 1965, while his wife and children were already in hiding, the NOI evicted the family.  

Shabazz was murdered just three days later at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. 

Who Has More in Their 401K? Whites in Their 30s or Blacks in Their 50s?

Who Has More in Their 401K? Whites in Their 30s or Blacks in Their 50s?

You get one guess. Even when workers of different races have similar access to 401k savings accounts, whites are able to put and keep more socked away than their black peers, writes Henry Pollack, a professor at the University of Chicago, for Washington Post’s Wonkblog. The difference is so stark that as of 2010, white workers aged 20 through 40 have more saved in their 401k accounts than do black workers who are between the ages of 40 and 60. Those are the new findings of Stanford professors Kai Yuan Kuan, Mark Cullen and Sepideh Modrek.

At less than $20,000, young black workers under the age of 40 had the least money saved among Latino, black and white workers of different ages. Whites between 40 and 60, meanwhile, have the largest 401k accounts—in 2010 that’s $100,000. Researchers found that workers across different races made 401k contributions that were not wildly disparate, but that black and Latino workers were far more likely to need to withdraw from their accounts or need to take out loans against their savings.

All this is not so surprising, especially since economic inequity extends elsewhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black workers with advanced degrees, for instance, make roughly what white workers with just a college degree do. Since the end of the Great Recession, the racial wealth gap has in fact only widened. In 2013, white households had a net worth 10 times that of Latino families, and 13 times that of black households.

Another Academy Voter Speaks: Oscars Can’t Be Racist Because Academy Prez is Black

Another Academy Voter Speaks: Oscars Can't Be Racist Because Academy Prez is Black

The Hollywood Reporter is continuing its “brutally honest Oscar ballot” series, which features candid conversations with anonymous Academy voters.

On Thursday, we told you about the Academy voter who was offended by the cast of Selma wearing “I can’t breathe” t-shirts at the New York premier. Another enjoyed the film and briefly mentioned it in their interview. A new interview posted on The Hollywood Reporter yesterday, however, might also raise eyebrows:

I didn’t think Selma was a particularly good film, apart from the main actor [David Oyelowo], and I think the outcry about the Academy being racists for not nominating it for more awards is offensive — we have a two-term president who is a black woman [Cheryl Boone Isaacs] and we give out awards to black people when they deserve them, just like any other group.

There you have it, folks. The Academy has a black president; therefore the Academy itself—a group of more than 6,000 people, 76 percent of whom are men, 94 percent of whom are white, which nominated zero people of color in all four acting categories this year (including David Oyelowo, who this voter admits is a good actor)—can’t be racist. 

Bill O’Reilly’s ‘War Reporting’ Questioned, Apple Car, How the Brain Heals

Bill O'Reilly's 'War Reporting' Questioned, Apple Car, How the Brain Heals

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on (and listening to) this morning: 

  • The brain is incredible, especially when it comes it healing itself

The Long Reach of Police Torture: From Chicago to Guantánamo

The Long Reach of Police Torture: From Chicago to Guantánamo

Last month, the hand-written Guantánamo diaries of prisoner Mahamedou Ould Slahi began appearing in foreign outlets around the world. The 44-year-old Mauritian national and former resident of Germany, accused of aiding the perpetrators of 9/11, had been held for 12 years without trial. I’d read one German magazine excerpt recounting his torture at the hands of U.S. officials, titled, “We’re Gonna Teach You About Great American Sex.”

Turns out, one of those officials was a decorated Chicago detective named Richard Zuley. And according to a new two-part Guardian investigation, Zuley first perfected his “interrogation technique” on Chicago’s black men and women, some of whom accuse him today of having elicited false confessions under torture. Through Zuley, the must-read investigation connects the dots between police torture of non-white, mostly African-American citizens stateside with that practiced on Muslim men under the War on Terror at Guantánamo.

For more on the roots of Chicago’s police torture saga, start here. This month, disgraced Chicago police commander Jon Burge walked free with his pension after serving 4 1/2 years for lying under oath. Burge is accused of torturing or overseeing the torture of more than 100 African-American men on the city’s South and Westsides throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Zuley was a Chicago police detective from 1977 to 2007. According to The Guardian, he now works for Chicago’s department of aviation.

(h/t The Guardian)

Academy Voter Offended by Selma Cast Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Tees

Academy Voter Offended by Selma Cast Wearing 'I Can't Breathe' Tees

The Hollywood Reporter is posting a conversation with an anonymous member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences daily until the Oscars on Sunday. On Wednesday’s post, this Academy member went in on “Selma”: 

First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit? 

The Academy may not be the cast of “Deliverance,” but its typical member is an old white man: it’s made up of more than 6,000 members, 94 percent of whom are white and 76 percent of whom are men, whose average is 63 years old.

“Selma” was nominated for Best Picture—and was the only one out of eight films in the category that focused on the lives of characters of color. Five out of the five nominees for Best Actor are white men; the same is true for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. And five out of the five nominees for Best Actress are white women; the same is true for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. 

Deadly Superbug at UCLA, Walmart Worker Raises, The Happiest State in the U.S.

Deadly Superbug at UCLA, Walmart Worker Raises, The Happiest State in the U.S.

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

In New Chapter in War on Terror, Muslim-Americans Still Caught In the Middle

In New Chapter in War on Terror, Muslim-Americans Still Caught In the Middle

In light of last week’s execution-style killings of three college students, some Muslim-Americans are approaching an international conference that opened yesterday, with caution. President Obama’s week-long Summit on Countering Violent Extremism has drawn community and government groups representing 60 countries to Washington, DC this week. What’s driving this gathering are attacks in recent months by individuals self-identifying with, or reported by media and authorities to have been influenced by radical Islam, in Western capitals, Ottawa, Paris and, this weekend, Copenhagen, as well as major cities like Sydney.

But will this week’s conference—and its resulting agreements for action in communities around the world—focus, too, on other homegrown extremists like white American Craig Stephen Hicks or Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik, a white, conservative Christian? That’s just one of many concerns that 27 religious, ethnic and civil liberties groups in the U.S. raised in a December letter to Homeland Security ahead of this February’s gathering. Because, in ratcheting up the fight against domestic and foreign terrorism, President Obama pledges not just to go after violent individuals. Also fair game, according to his LA Times op-ed—and a focus of this week’s special gathering—are “the propagandists, recruiters and enablers who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.”

How Obama’s broad definition of targets for law enforcement and spying actually plays out on the ground, in residential communities, will be of particular concern for many Muslim Americans.

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