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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

New York City Terrorism Sting Latest In Line of ‘Entrapment’ Cases

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man named Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis for attempting on Wednesday to to blow up the Federal Reserve building with what he believed was a 1,000 pound bomb.

But, the NY Times reports:

[T]he entire plot played out under the surveillance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department as part of an elaborate sting operation, according to court papers.

The case is just the latest in a string of New York City terrorism cases that involve the use of informants and concocted plots. In each case, federal agents or NYPD officers connect with young Muslim men who the agents aid in imagining, planning and orchestrating attacks. The agents then arrest the targets for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism.

Latino Worker Cooked to Death in Bumble Bee Tuna Cooker

Latino Worker Cooked to Death in Bumble Bee Tuna Cooker

A 62-year-old man was recently found dead inside a cooking device called a “steamer machine” at a Bumble Bee Tuna factory in Los Angeles. Paramedics declared him dead at the scene.

Jose Malena died last Thursday when he became trapped inside the industrial-size pressure cooker and his family claims the company has offered no explanation to them.

“All they came and did was notify my mother that he had lost his life in an accident, and that’s it,” Tony Melena, one of the victim’s six children told the AP. “We don’t have any official report.”

“He was a hard worker,” his daughter Sara Melena told the Whittier Daily News. “A very hard worker.”

“He dedicated himself to providing for the family,” the daughter said. “He was very loving.”

“I believe he is with God,” Sara went on to say. “I can’t say, `God, why us?’ I just think everything has a purpose. God is not going to leave us alone.”

According to police records local authorities received a 911 call from the Bumble Bee plant Thursday morning to report an industrial accident. When officers arrived, they found the man dead.

Craig Harvey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office told the AP the man died in a device described as a pressure cooker.

Obama Won the Prize for Authentically Hugging His Wife at the Debate

Obama Won the Prize for Authentically Hugging His Wife at the Debate

Left: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney kisses wife Ann Romney after a town hall style debate with U.S. President Barack Obama at Hofstra University October 16, 2012 in Hempstead, New York.

Right: U.S. President Barack Obama hugs wife Michelle Obama.

(Photos by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

What You Need to Know: The ‘Binders Full of Women’ Directory

What You Need to Know: The 'Binders Full of Women' Directory

Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” sound bite from last night’s debate spawned its own Twitter account, Facebook page  — with more than 271,000 likes, and counting — a Tumblr and countless other online memes.

Here’s the commend that led to it all: ‘I went to a number of women’s groups and … they brought us whole binders full of women,’ former Gov. Romney said at last night’s debate about his search to find more women candidates to work in his Massachusetts cabinet.

For starters, the statement was misleading. Romney did not direct women’s groups to bring him female candidates, Boston Phoenix reporter David Bernstein points out:

What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

That, and the number of women working in Romney’s cabinet, actually declined by 27 percent. The Huff Post reports:

While 42 percent of Romney’s appointments during his first two and a half years as governor were women, the number of women in high-level appointed positions actually declined to 27.6 percent during his full tenure as governor, according to a 2007 MassGAP study.

In the end, whether it’s a Romney campaign or any corporate office ‘binders full of women’ do end up creating jobs. Amanda Hess at Slate.com says she hopes the meme ends soon because ‘binders full of women create cabinets full of women:’

Romney’s lieutenant governor and chief of staff were both women. That puts Romney’s record on hiring women well above the national average. Binders full of women mean cabinets full of women.

Romney ended up dodging the question about equal pay for women. Akiba Solomon, Colorlines.com’s ‘Gender Matters’ blogger, says he ended up advocating for cheaper labor instead.

By emphasizing the recruitment of women, straight-up ignoring the issue of equal pay, and classifying a standard end of the workday as a perk, Romney is actually advocating for cheaper labor along gender lines!


Romney Cares About All Immigrant Children, But Only After They Join the Military

Leave it to an undecided U.S. voter to force Mitt Romney to do what journalists the country over have been largely struggling to do for months—pin the GOP presidential hopeful down on his immigration agenda. Romney again reminded voters, despite his smooth talking, that he would pursue a plan even more aggressively anti-immigrant and hawkish than President Obama, who has deported a record-breaking 1.4 million immigrants during his presidency.

For starters, if elected president, Romney would support a federal military-only DREAM Act law which gives immigrant youth at most a green card. Such a move is in line with the Republican Party’s narrowing of the decade-old legalization bill for undocumented youth. But it’s a sharp departure from the DREAM Act’s long history as a bipartisan bill which would allow undocumented youth who commit two years to the military or higher education and clear a host of other prerequisites to be eligible for eventual citizenship. Romney’s plan would gut the DREAM Act. But furthermore, in Romney’s vision immigrant youth would have to put their lives at risk to fight for the country, but ought not to be given the right to vote in exchange.

Perhaps the biggest whammy of the night on immigration came when Romney interrupted President Obama, who was in the middle of describing Republican obstruction of any effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform that extended beyond enforcement-only policies. He talked over the president, claiming with what sounded like a retort and a move of uncalculated desperation at the same time, “I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done. First year.” As in, Romney pledged to get comprehensive immigration reform, a task that’s proven too difficult for the last two presidents, done in the first year. It was a bold statement. But, as Obama well knows, hardly the kind of thing worth throwing out casually. Obama made that same promise while he was campaigning in 2008, but repeatedly, and as a pledge to immigrant communities. It’s something immigrant communities won’t soon forget.

W. Kamau Bell Explains Why He Hates Science — Just Like Mitt Romney [Video]

W. Kamau Bell Explains Why He Hates Science -- Just Like Mitt Romney [Video]

In the second video in the “Actually…” series, comedian W. Kamau Bell explains why, like Mitt Romney, he hates science.

Bell’s video, published on Actually.org on Tuesday, is a collaboration between American Bridge 21st Century and the Jewish Council for Education and Research (JCER.) The founders of Actually.org say they plan to work with other comedians to make sure lies don’t go unchecked in politics.

Actress and comedian Rosie Perez released an “Actually…” video earlier this week also.

Who Are Those ‘Gangbangers’ Obama’s So Proud of Deporting?

Who Are Those 'Gangbangers' Obama's So Proud of Deporting?

President Obama used a new word during the presidential debate on Tuesday night to describe the masses of immigrants he’s deported during his tenure. He called them “gangbangers,” as in:

What I’ve also said is if we’re going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families. And that’s what we’ve done.

The line was a curious one, given the reality of Obama’s deportation record, which has been marked by mass deportations to the tune of nearly 400,000 every year carried out at a clip unseen by any prior president. The Obama administration has defended its “smart” enforcement tactics by, as Obama did on Tuesday night, pointing out that it makes a point to deport those who have committed serious crimes and are a threat to their communities and national security. And yet, data collected over Obama’s tenure show that among the close to 400,000 people who are deported annually, far from being “gangbangers,” the vast majority have no criminal record whatsoever.

In preliminary data for the January-March 2012 quarter collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, for example, just 14 percent of those deported had any criminal record. (Immigration violations are typically considered civil violations, and do not constitute a criminal offense.) But, a closer look at the data shows that just 4 percent of those deported had a so-called “aggravated felon” on their record, an immigration court-specific designation of crimes that can include crimes as serious as rape and murder, but has also been expanded to include violations like theft or non-violent drug offenses.

The Scary, Familiar Way Romney Would Shrink the Food Stamp Rolls

The Scary, Familiar Way Romney Would Shrink the Food Stamp Rolls

Mitt Romney has taken to lambasting President Obama for record levels of food stamp enrollment, wielding the figures on the safety-net program to attack Obama’s economic policies. “How about food stamps?” Romney said at last night’s debate. “When [Obama] took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps.”

Indeed, Romney’s numbers are right. As a result of the recession, the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, added nearly 15 million new people to its rolls since Obama took office.

While Romney’s point is that his economic plan will foster growth and therefore lift all boats—“We don’t have to settle” for that, he said—when it comes to food stamps, Romney has plans for shrinking enrollment that have little to do with economic growth. Mainly, he’d just shrink the food stamp rolls, whether people need the program or not.

Romney Uses the Term ‘Undocumented Illegals’ in Second Presidential Debate

Romney Uses the Term 'Undocumented Illegals' in Second Presidential Debate

It was awkward from the start. Her name was Lorainne and Mitt Romney wanted to call her “Loraina.”

At last night’s debate, host Candy Crowley introduced a Latina speaker as Lorraine Osorio, and it appears the GOP presidential candidate wanted to one-up the host and make sure this Latina wasn’t a Lorena.

CROWLEY: Lorraine Osorio has a question for you about a topic we have not…

OBAMA: This is for Governor Romney?

CROWLEY: It’s for Governor Romney, and we’ll be right with you, Mr. President. Thanks. < ROMNEY: Is it Loraina?

QUESTION: Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine?

QUESTION: Yes, Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine.

QUESTION: Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?

Notice how Lorainne used “immigrants without their green cards” to phrase her question. Now take a look at how Romney answered.

“We’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the nation,” Romney said last night. “Instead, let people make their own choice.”

Self-deportation questions aside, was Romney about to use the more neutral “undocumented immigrant”? Maybe he caught himself and ended up saying “undocumented illegals”?

According to the more recent survey of Latino voters, Obama enjoys the backing of 70 percent of likely Latino voters. The CNN/ORC International survey also points out that number is slightly higher than the 67 percent of Latinos who voted for him in 2008.

An Illustrated Guide to All The Finger Pointing at Last Night’s Debate

My mother always said you should never point at people.

But at last night’s second presidential debate, pointing and sometimes wagging fingers sparred. GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s fingers thrived throughout the debate but so did President Obama’s fingers. At one point even host Candy Crowley got in to it.

The fingers pointed everywhere. Just take a look below.


Romney and Obama pointed at each other.

finger-pointing-debate-1.jpg

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)



Both candidates pointed to get Crowley’s attention.

finger-pointing-debate-2.jpg
(EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)



finger-pointing-debate-3.jpg (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)



Sometimes Crowley would point back.

finger-pointing-debate-4.jpg

(Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)



Sometimes Romney pointed to the sky. finger-pointing-debate-5.jpg (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


L.A. City Council Committee Unanimously Approves ID Cards for Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented immigrants are one step closer living beyond the shadows. On Tuesday, members of the Los Angeles City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee unanimously agreed to move ahead and study a city program that would provide undocumented immigrants with an official city identification card. The Los Angeles Times called the decision a “key vote” to move ahead with the cards.

Councilman Ed Reyes, a member of the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee, told the L.A. Times it’s “about time” that L.A. residents, regardless of immigration status, have the ability to easily open bank accounts and access city services.

California has the highest number of undocumented immigrants in the country. San Francisco launched similar ID card efforts in 2009.

Jeremy Lin on the Cover of GQ, Talks Race, Racism and Expectations

Jeremy Lin on the Cover of GQ, Talks Race, Racism and Expectations

825f744948606d512b7979d8e4fbe018_original.jpgJeremy Lin is on the cover of the November issue of GQ.

The $25 million point guard of the Houston Rockets tells the magazine that he holds no grudges against the New York Knicks for letting him go. He also talked race and racism. An excerpt from GQ’s profile of Lin titled “Rocket Man:”

But one thing Lin agrees his race did cost him might be best described as, in the words of George W. Bush, the soft bigotry of low expectations. The key part of Lin’s story, the reason the world was so inspired by him, was that he was never really given a chance. He was undrafted out of college and spent a year-plus in the Development League or at the very end of an NBA bench. “I’m going to be honest, playing in D-League games is tough,” he says. “We got way more fans at Harvard games. It feels like a demotion, and it feels like if you have one bad game then the thought gets in your brain: I might get cut.”

Lin felt this acutely. He tells me, to my shock, that when he graduated from Harvard in 2010 and wasn’t selected in the NBA Draft, he decided that if it turned out that he needed to play overseas (as is commonplace for those who don’t make the NBA), he was going to give himself one more year, and then he would quit and get a real job. “I absolutely would not have liked playing in Spain or somewhere like that, so I was just gonna do it a year,” he says. “Then I was gonna be done.” As a Harvard graduate, I ask him, what would you have done instead? He laughs. “I have no idea, man.” Lin really was that close to hanging up his sneakers at 23.

You might think his race has something to do with those perceived limitations after turning pro; Lin certainly does: “If I can be honest, yes. It’s not even close to the only reason, but it was definitely part of the reason.” And it didn’t end with Linsanity. “There’s a lot of perceptions and stereotypes of Asian-Americans that are out there today, and the fact that I’m Asian-American makes it harder to believe, even crazier, more unexpected,” he says. “I’m going to have to play well for a longer period of time for certain people to believe it, because I’m Asian. And that’s just the reality of it.” It’s not all that dissimilar from what Yao Ming went through. “When Yao came out his rookie year as the first pick of the Draft, you have Charles Barkley saying, ‘If he scores seventeen points in a game, I’m going to kiss a donkey’s butt,’ ” Lin says. “If you do it for long enough, I think you would get the respect.”

Visit GQ.com to read the full story.

Florida Passes Education Plan That Sets Goals for Students Based on Race

Florida Passes Education Plan That Sets Goals for Students Based on Race

It could have been something remarkable. Public education policy which acknowledges the reality of race and inequity? Except, Florida’s recent attempt at doing so has sparked widespread, heated criticism. Last Tuesday, the Florida State Board of Education approved an education reform plan which lays out benchmarks for student improvement based on a student’s race.

A Tampa-based CBS affiliate reported:

[B]y 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent.

The plan also calls for fewer than 80 percent of students who are English language learners, or have learning disabilities or are from economically disadvantaged families to be proficient by 2018. And since then, the wider community’s risen up in anger—some have questioned whether the plan is “racist.”

“If Asians can have a goal of 90% in reading, why can’t whites, and other subcategories? So I would just ask my fellow board members if we are happy with the signal this sends,” said board member John Padget, WTLV/WJXX TV reported. But, board member Kathleen Shanahan made her case for the plan, saying, “I think we need to be realistic in our ability to impact those at the same degree.”

Supreme Court Refuses Republican Request to Halt Early Voting in Ohio

The Supreme Court has got plenty of big cases on its docket, but Ohio’s early voting won’t be one of them. Earlier this month a federal appeals court blocked the state from cutting off its early voting hours — and made plenty of conservatives angry. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused a Republican request to get involved in the dispute.

Ohio’s early voting window in 2008 included the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day, which many black churches took advantage of in their “souls to the polls” campaigns that bussed voters to the polls after Sunday service. This boosted black voter turnout, something that upset Doug Priesse, a GOP county election board member, who said “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted argued that local county boards of elections are too busy preparing for Election Day to accommodate early voters and that “voters already have at least 230 hours available to vote in person prior to Election Day.”

Husted’s decision led to the proposed restrictions that would have allowed only military members and their families to vote in person in the last three days before the Nov. 6 election.

Early voting has grown rapidly over the past few election cycles. In 2008, more than 30 percent of votes were cast before Election Day.

Obama currently leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.

Oprah Gives Photographer Terry Richardson The Thumbs Up

Oprah Gives Photographer Terry Richardson The Thumbs Up

Oprah’s cable network may be struggling, but she still looks fantastic. That’s more or less the feeling you get from her new photo shoot with the infamous — and controversial — photographer Terry Richardson, who snapped pictures of Winfrey for the November issue of “Harper’s Bazaar.” The queen of talk sported a red Jil Sander coat, a white Escada suit, and lots of Cartier and Harry Winston diamonds.

But what’s the big deal, you ask?

That Oprah actually let Richardson snap pictures of her.

Richardson is a busy advertising and editorial/fashion photographer but he’s also no stranger to controversy.

A quick Google Image search of his name will result in dozens of pictures of him nude, often with other models he’s photographed.

Jenna Sauers, a former model who writes for Jezebel.com, told Fox411 in 2010 that she’s heard of several accounts of the photographer’s behavior: “I have heard from a lot of models that he has worked with that all say his M.O. is the same. You suddenly get naked and then he touches you and he goes further and further. But you’re surrounded by his assistants and they are validating his actions.”

Rosie Pérez Talks Romney and Love on Maddow [Video]

Rosie Pérez Talks Romney and Love on Maddow [Video]

Actress Rosie Pérez stopped by the Rachel Maddow show Monday night to discuss her video mocking Mitt Romney’s remarks about the advantages of being Latino.

White Students in Blackface Reenact Chris Brown-Rihanna Fight

White Students in Blackface Reenact Chris Brown-Rihanna Fight

Last Friday, three white high schools students in Waverly, New York attended a pep rally in blackface and re-enacted a “scene” from the 2009 incident in which performer Chris Brown beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna.

The skit was performed in the school gym in front students, parents, and faculty.

A contributor to CNN iReport using the handle Mjdishler is a graduate of Waverly High School and obtained details and images from the pep rally. An excerpt from his report is below:

At the most resent Pep Rally for Waverly High School, located in Waverly NY, the usual fanfare of cheering for the home team to get them ready was in full swing. As the rally progressed you had your usual cheers and rally cries for the fall sports teams and the football team. It seemed to have done well, with Waverly defeating their opponent 70-21. But what happened at that pep rally went much farther than simple cheers. Three white students were to perform a skit in black face, depicting Chris Brown and Rhianna most notably. In this skit they would display acts of domestic violence as satire to an audience that included not only students but parents, faculty, and various members of the media and community leaders. None of them stopped the skit.

The majority of students at the high school are white. According to public records from 2010, over 98 percent students at Waverly High are white. Out of close to 580 students, only five were black, two were American Indians, and two were Asian.

Waverly, New York is also just as white: the town is close to 97 white. (According to the most recent Census data, over 97% of the community is white, though just over 96 percent identified as “Not Hispanic White.”)

According to the local paper “The Daily Review” the district’s superintendent is scheduled to meet with school administrators to discuss the incident:

Joseph Yelich, superintendent of the Waverly Central School District, said in a statement to The Daily Review that he plans to meet Tuesday with administrators regarding the incident. He also plans to meet in the near future with extracurricular adviser and student groups.

“The Waverly School District is committed to creating a positive atmosphere through our activities,” Yelich said. “I will be working with our building administrators, our staff and our students to examine our current activities and develop future activities consistent with our commitment.”

“Ultimately, our administrators are going to need to meet with the whole student body to set clear expectations for our behavior and the impact it has on all people,” he said.

According to tweets and Facebook posts from other students, this isn’t the first time there was a blackface performance at Waverly High. The CNN iReport also includes a quote from a former student that alludes to something of a pattern.

“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved of two years in a row. The administration should be creating an environment where minorities are welcome, not the butts of racist jokes that make light of domestic violence,” said Waverly alumni and Yale graduate Vlad Chituc.

Gap Pulls ‘Manifest Destiny’ Shirts After Outrage, Twitter Response

Gap Pulls 'Manifest Destiny' Shirts After Outrage, Twitter Response

Up until Monday afternoon, Gap Inc. was selling a controversial men’s t-shirt with the words “Manifest Destiny” sprawled across the chest. The shirt went on sale close to a month ago but it wasn’t until a UCLA student started a Change.org petition urging the Gap to stop selling the shirt that the news went viral.

“This article of clothing promotes a belief that has resulted in the mass genocide of indigenous people, and it serves to normalize oppression,” explains the Change.org petition. “This shirt is marketed to teens and young adults, and it gives no context for the racism and inequality that persists in our society, to this day, as a result of this doctrine.”

The shirt was created by Mark McNairy, a designer chosen by GQ magazine as one of America’s Best New Designers, and the shirt is part of a collection branded “GQ x Gap.” The ‘limited edition’ shirts went on sale on September 19, 2012, according to GQ.

When McNairy heard his work was promoting “a belief that has resulted in mass genocide” he took to Twitter to stir up even more controversy.

mcnairy-tweet.png

“MANIFEST DESTINY. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST!” McNairy tweeted on Saturday. The tweet was deleted shortly afterwards.

Days later, McNairy tweeted an apology for his response to the criticism.

The American Indian Movement Southern California said they’re not interested in his apology. Their statement:

“The want to be designer for the GAP “Manifest Destiny” T-Shirt has APOLOGIZED AFTER HE responded to criticisms of his Genocide Fashion statement. From his Twitter page: MANIFEST DESTINY. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST!” (that is a pretty sick statement people- lets him put through some of the HISTORICAL TRAUMA we have been through as NATIVE PEOPLE- teach the little insensitive freak a lesson)—- NO! YOU NEED A NEED DAY JOB…..YOUR APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED- What you did, and HOW GAP endorsed it is not ACCEPTABLE….MAKE A SHIRT THAT says: FREE LEONARD PELTIER and all Indigenous Political PRISONERS!- PROCEEDS of Merchandise to go to LEGAL DEFENSE and the FAMILIES of OUR HEROS YOUR ENEMIES!

The blog “The Belle Jar” helped the petition go viral. The post deconstructs how Manifest Destiny can still be felt today.

Manifest Destiny and the philosophy behind it are responsible for a whole bunch of really terrible things. It was used to justify the Mexican-American War, the War of 1812, and, most appallingly, the Indian Removal Act. Manifest Destiny was used to vindicate the myriad abuses suffered by people of colour at the hands of white North Americans. It’s the philosophy that lead to our continent-wide reservation system , not to mention the residential schools created for the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.

The effects of Manifest Destiny can still be felt, in the poverty and degradation suffered by American and Canadian people of colour, and in the deplorable conditions found on many reserves, both here and south of the border. The ideas behind manifest destiny still exist in our white western consciousness, as much as we might be loathe to admit it; they come up every time our (largely white) government asserts that it knows best when it comes to First Nations issues, or every time someone complains about how much freaking money has already been spent on Attawapiskat only to have their community still be in a state of crisis. Manifest Destiny is apparent every time someone chooses to be bigoted and wilfully ignorant about non-white immigrants, or tries to deny the far-reaching effects of racism; it’s apparent in the mindset of all the people who never take a moment to wonder why or how so many white people ended up owning so much fucking land.

At the time this story was published the shirt was no longer available on Gap.com. But according to American Indian Movement Southern California, several of their members have seen the t-shirt available in stores.

Gap hasn’t issued a statement yet but a few creatives have taken it upon themselves to respond. Take a look at some of the responses below:

Michelle Obama Casts Absentee Ballot, Urges Supporters to Vote Early

Michelle Obama Casts Absentee Ballot, Urges Supporters to Vote Early

The Obamas really want you to get out and vote. On Monday afternoon, the first lady tweeted a picture of herself holding an election ballot that she was mailing off early. Minutes later President Barack Obama tweeted a similar message informing his followers he would voting early too.

Obama’s campaign said it was the first time a presidential nominee and his spouse will not vote in person on Election Day.

The New York Daily News points out this well choreographed event is all part of an early voting push by the Obama campaign:

The carefully choreographed early voting announcement was part of a big push this week. Obama plans to discuss early voting in Ohio and Iowa on Wednesday, after Tuesday’s second presidential debate. The first lady was discussing early voting at events in Ohio on Monday, in North Carolina on Tuesday and in Wisconsin on Friday.

Obama currently leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.

BET Co-Founder Says Network Reinforces Negative Stereotypes

BET Co-Founder Says Network Reinforces Negative Stereotypes

Ever have the sinking feeling that something you did turned out very, very badly? African American media mogul Sheila Johnson has. At an art festival in Carmel, Calif., this past weekend, one of the founders of Black Entertainment Television (BET) said the network’s current content reinforces negative stereotypes of blacks in the U.S.

Co-founder Sheila Johnson’s comments as she spoke at the “Conversations and Encounters” program at the Carmel Art and Film Festival.

Johnson said her proudest achievement with BET was producing the live show “Teen Summit,” which brought together dozens of youth from the Washington, D.C., area to discuss issues of the day, from violence to teen pregnancy. The show ran from 1989 to 2002.

“All of those young people on the show became so successful because they had a voice,” Johnson said. “And we were talking about issues out there and they became leaders in life.”

The Monterey Herald has more details:

The Johnsons sold BET in 1999 to Viacom. Since then, Sheila Johnson has been very open with her disdain for the network.

Her biggest gripes are with music videos that reinforce negative stereotypes of young people, African-Americans in particular.

“I think we’ve squandered a really important cable network, when it really could have been the voice of Black America,” Johnson said. “We are losing our voice as a race (as a result).”

In a 2010 interview with the Daily Beast, Johnson made similar comments and said she is now ashamed of what BET has become:

“I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids that they don’t watch it,” she said. “When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television. We had public affairs programming. We had news… I had a show called Teen Summit, we had a large variety of programming, but the problem is that then the video revolution started up… And then something started happening, and I didn’t like it at all. And I remember during those days we would sit up and watch these videos and decide which ones were going on and which ones were not. We got a lot of backlash from recording artists…and we had to start showing them. I didn’t like the way women were being portrayed in these videos.”

Viacom paid Johnson and her former husband $1.3 billion in the BET acquisition—making them, pre-Oprah, the nation’s first African-American billionaires.

Johnson is currently the team president and manager of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

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