The first question for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at a town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wisc. on April 2nd came from a man who wanted to quote the Book of Mormon. The man, who’s been identified as a Ron Paul supporter, wanted to know if Romney thought it was a sin for a white man to marry and pro-create with a black woman.
A collective of LGBT students at Brigham Young University, the nation’s largest religious university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have created a video that speaks to other LGBT mormon youth.
Below is how the group describes themselves on YouTube:
A message of hope and love to LGBT Mormon youth from the students of USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction) which is an unofficial group of Brigham Young University students, faculty, and friends who wish to strengthen families and the BYU community by providing a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction.
Campus Progress’ Shay O’Reilly points out that the group isn’t allowed to form an official group or use the word “gay” in their description so they identify as a collective. The group is not recognized by the school.
According to BYU 14% of students are of color with the majority of them being Asian/Pacific Islanders. Latino, black and American Indian students follow, in that order,
On Tuesday, CNN reported Carri Jenkins, an assistant to the president of BYU, said that that for the video alone, the students would not be punished. The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling, and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”
George Zimmerman, the Florida man who claims he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense, has set up a personal website to collect money for his legal expenses, his attorneys confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel on Monday.
Domain records show the site was created Sunday, is real and is operated by Zimmerman himself. It solicits donations through PayPal with a promise that “any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment.”
“I am the real George Zimmerman,” declares Zimmerman’s website.
The website, which has an U.S. flag background, includes a statement from Zimmerman and features a photo of a vandalized black cultural center at Ohio State University.
Vanity Fair has a tradition of having fold out covers for their Hollywood and TV related issues. Usually there’s up to a dozen actors on the fold out cover with light skinned actors and actresses on the front page while actors of color make the inside pages—if there are any included at all.
The latest issue is the umpteenth time a Vanity Fair cover pushes a black actress to the back pages while actresses with lighter skin make the cover. This time around they did include Colombian actress Sofia Vergara on the cover but pushed Kerry Washington, Grace Park and Archie Panjabi to the back pages inside the magazine.
That last spread is below along with an abridged history of Vanity Fair’s fold out covers.
Hal Uhrig, a lawyer and former Gainesville, Florida, police officer who is representing George Zimmerman made an appearance on CBS’s “This Morning” last week and shared a glimpse of their defense.
“We’re familiar with the Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Uhrig on CBS This Morning. “You shake a baby, the brain shakes around inside the skull. You can die when someone’s pounding your head into the ground.”
“He didn’t commit any crime,” Unrig went on to say. “He was attacked, broke his nose, hit his head into the ground and he defended himself. That’s not against the law.”
From Common, P Diddy to the entire Miami Heat basketball team, celebrities from across the entertainment and sports industries have spoken out publicly in support of justice for Trayvon Martin and his family.
But most recently it was a nice surprise to see a man who’s been entertaining children for decades speak out.
LeVar Burton was the host of the PBS children’s program “Reading Rainbow” that opened up the minds of young viewers on PBS from 1983 to 2006. Currently Burton is the voice of Doc Greene on “Transformers: Rescue Bots” on the Hub (the network that replaced Discovery Kids.)
He updated his Twitter profile picture to a picture of him wearing a hoodie and recently tweeted a message wondering why Martin’s killer George Zimmerman was still free.
Please #explainthistome.Lady who threw flour on Kim K. was arrested on site, but the man who killed Trayvon Martin is still free!— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) March 23, 2012
WFTV.com on Monday reported that two different sources have said Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman could be arrested this week, and that a Grand Jury will not meet on Tuesday.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey on Monday also said she will not take the Trayvon Martin shooting death before a grand jury.
Corey told the AP she continues to investigate the case and will not involve a grand jury that had been set to meet Tuesday in Sanford, Fla.
Corey said her decision to skip the grand jury shouldn’t be considered a factor in determining whether charges will be filed against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who has admitted to fatally shooting the unarmed Martin.
The announcement means the decision on charges now rests solely with Corey, who had a reputation for not presenting cases before grand juries if it wasn’t required. Under Florida law, only first-degree murder cases require the use of grand juries.
Corey took over the case last month after the prosecutor who normally handles cases out of Sanford recused himself. That prosecutor, Norm Wolfinger, had originally called for the case to be presented before a grand jury.
“From the moment she was assigned, Ms. Corey noted she may not need a grand jury,” said a statement from Corey’s office.
The fiancée of Sean Bell, the Queens man who was shot and killed by police outside a strip club on the night before his wedding in 2006, recently wrote an open letter to the parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
“At the outset, I would like to stress that writing this letter has been a tedious and tasteless challenge for me,” wrote Nicole Paultre-Bell in the letter published on TheGrio.com. “Yet again an innocent black man has been killed, in Trayvon’s case, “walking while being black.”
Jake England, 19, and his 32-year-old roommate Alvin Watts were arrested Sunday in connection with a shooting spree that left three people dead, two others wounded and an entire black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma shocked.
All five victims were black. Police described the suspects as white, but a family friend said one was Cherokee, the LA Times points out.
Dannaer Fields, 49; Bobby Clark, 54; and William Allen, 31, were all shot and killed as they were walking within a few miles of one another on Tulsa’s predominantly black north side.
Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the gunmen appeared to have chosen their victims at random.
Funeral services were held Saturday for 19-year-old Kendrec McDade, who was shot and killed by Pasadena, California police on March 24. Police say they thought McDade was armed, so they shot him when he reached for his waistband but McDade was unarmed, he never had a gun.
The complicated sequence of events started out with a 911 call from Oscar Carrillo, 26, who told the dispatcher his laptop was stolen at gunpoint by two armed men.
“Eh, miss, two guys just stole my backpack. They put a gun on my face right now,” Carrillo told the 911 operator. “I’m on Raymond and Orange Grove. They just run away.”
Carrillo later admitted that the suspects were not armed and had taken his property out of his car. He said he told police the suspects had guns in order to get officers to respond faster.
Now Pasadena Police want to charge Carrillo with involuntary manslaughter.
Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video became the most viral video in history when it was released on March 5th, 2012. The organization released an update on Thursday called “KONY 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous” which they say offers more details and context about the conflicts in Uganda.
This generation has responded to the call to make Joseph Kony famous,” the new video’s description reads on YouTube. “Now we need to dig deeper and turn awareness into informed action.”
The follow-up video was made without input from the group’s co-founder who starred in the initial ‘Kony 2012’ video—he who suffered a breakdown following publicity generated by the film, according to the BBC.
The organization’s director of ideology, Jedidiah Jenkins, told Reuters the sequel is intended for an international audience and will more accurately chronicle the conflict in Uganda.
The original video has more close to 87,000,000 views on YouTube.
Burger King has apologized for releasing an ad featuring Mary J. Blige singing about Crispy Chicken Snack Wraps. The fast food restaurant chain said the ad was unplugged because of licensing issues but Blige has a slightly different story.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Blige said, “I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence.Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw to go out.”
The video, which went viral on Monday, was pulled down by Burger King after viewers began to complain. According to Burger King, the reason the spot was yanked from the Web was because the ad was “released prematurely before all of the licensing and final approvals were obtained.” Burger King wrote in a statement to AP, “we would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final. We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon.”
Other celebrities in the campaign (who’s videos are still live on YouTube) include soccer star David Beckham, Jay Leno and, in Spanish-language ads, actresses Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara.
If you’re following Barack Obama on Tumblr, you saw this adorable photo yesterday — the President with Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek, showing the Vulcan salute. (Lt. Uhura was a human, not a Vulcan, but there’s only so many recognizable hand signs a franchise can produce.)
Obama has long identified as a comics-and-sci-fi geek, but it’s also worth noting that Nichols has a history with social justice; here she is talking about how Dr. Martin Luther King begged her to stay with the series, to continue inspiring young people by portraying a professional black woman on a hit TV show. Perhaps she even inspired a young Barry Obama? And recently, Nichols has been using Twitter to give Geraldo Rivera some well-deserved heat for his ‘hoodie’ comments about Trayvon Martin.
On Wednesday the Justice Department announced five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for the shootings of unarmed civilians in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
On Sept. 4, 2005, a week after Hurricane Katrina, police officers responded to a call that there were two snipers shooting at officers on the Danziger Bridge. According to the Department of Justice, once officers arrived they began shooting into the crowd, killing two men, a teenager named James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, a man with mental disabilities. Four others were shot, including Susan Bartholomew, who lost an arm in the shooting.
For the third year in a row, every senior at Urban Prep Academy, the only all-black male charter high school in Chicago, has been accepted to college, according to the Chicago Tribune. The school has made international headlines year-after-year for their perfect college going rates—including a segment on the Oprah Winfrey show—but some say the successes also begs questions.
“This is so tough—I consider myself among those who cannot accept this news at face value, and it’s disheartening that wonderful news like this is seen as too good to be true,” said Colorlines.com’s education reporter Julianne Hing.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division has cut off negotiations with Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, according to Talking Points Memo. According to a letter obtained by TPM, Arpaio’s office is refusing to consider working with an independent monitor which is said to be a “non-negotiable component of any settlement.”
In December, the DOJ accused Arpaio’so office of engaging in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing, including racial profiling in traffic stops, immigration operations and discriminating against Spanish speakers in the county jails.
“DOJ considers the oversight of an independent monitor to be an absolute necessity for meaningful and sustainable reform of MCSO,” DOJ Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin said in the letter. “It was disappointing, to say the least, for you to contact us 24 hours before our negotiations were scheduled to continue and raise, for the first time, a precondition that you understood would result in the cancellation of negotiations — and, by extension, the initiation of a civil lawsuit — and calls into question whether you were ever interested in settling this matter.”
“This is Arpaio being Arpaio,” said Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter.
“Arpaio, who’s stalled and whined during every part of the federal investigation into his office, and became the first office that the Justice Department had to sue just to gain access to their internal records, is staying true to form.”
“Most police departments who are approached by the DOJ for these sorts of investigations engage in negotiations with the DOJ as a way of showing that they are interested in gaining back public trust. They will agree to reforms generally because their public reputations have been shot and they want to get away from the threat of federal oversight. Not so with Arpaio,” Hing added.
“It looks everyone now will be gearing up for a fight that will be more dramatic than it needs to be. To the courts we go,” Hing went on to say.
I wrote earlier today about how sad I am that Jeremy Lin’s out for the season due to a knee injury. But it turns out that he’s looking at the brighter side of life. The New York Knicks point guard held a public Q&A session with fans on Facebook shortly after he had knee surgery yesterday. Here’s a snippet, collected by the Wall Street Journal:
Jeremy: That’s a tough question. Depends on the day, but my three favorite foods are sushi, steak and seafood
Apple: Do you like animals? Dogs or cats ?
Jeremy: Dogs all the way. When i was young, I saw a cat run into my backyard and rip my favorite Nerf ball in half, but I was too young/scared to chase the cat away.
“Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty, flour tortilla,” Mary J. Blige sings in a new Burger King commercial that premiered on Monday. But after some controversy on Twitter the ad has disappeared from YouTube.
No one knows exactly why the ad was pulled but Gawker’s Rich Juzwiak has his theories:
The stereotype perpetuation of a black woman espousing the virtues of fried chicken is never a pleasant thing to behold, although Octavia Spencer didn’t cause much of an uproar for saying in The Help (for which she won an Oscar), “Frying chicken just tend to make you feel better about life” in a scene that was not intended to make you want to kill yourself. And if the issue is with Blige selling out, well, that’s been happening for years. In 2010, she used her soul-bearing rep to shill fragrance on QVC, and last year she released My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1), crassly capitalizing on her revered 1994 sophomore album despite her career-long shtick depending on her portrayal of her life through song. (In that sense, her tenth album, My Life II, was actually My Life IX.)
According to rumors, Blige earned an estimated $2 million for the ad. Other celebrities in the campaign (who’s videos are still live on YouTube) include soccer star David Beckham, Jay Leno and, in Spanish-language ads, actresses Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara.
Oprah was a guest on “CBS Morning” on Monday and brought the subject of her network OWN not doing well by herself within the first minute of her segment.
“I didn’t think it was going to be easy. If I knew then what I know now, I might have made some different choices,” Oprah Winfrey told the anchors of “CBS Morning.”
“Our strategy is to do what we should have done at the beginning, and that is to build one show, one hour at a time, and then move on to the next night,” Winfrey said. “What I wanted to create and will create is a channel and an environment where we don’t waste your time, it’s all meaningful.”
“Because you failed at something - which we haven’t - but because you failed doesn’t mean you’re a failure,” she said, adding, “I feel better about our network today than I ever have. The most painful thing was I had to let people go. I had to lay off 30 people.”
“If I were writing a book about it, I could call it ‘101 Mistakes,’ ” she added.