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BP Agrees to Pay $4 Billion Settlement for Gulf Coast Disaster

BP Agrees to Pay $4 Billion Settlement for Gulf Coast Disaster

News reports say that BP has entered into a settlement with the Department of Justice for criminal penalties for the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. According to The Washington Post, BP has agreed to pay $4 billion over five years for their role in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drill, which led to 11 workers dying and a lot of Gulf fisherfolk put out of work. Early estimates for BP fines were placed at $20 billion, for violation of the Clean Water Act and a number of other environmental protection statues. The plea will keep BP from going to trial with the federal government, which sought to prove criminal willful negligence on BP’s part.

Congress passed a law earlier this year that would direct BP’s criminal fines to the Gulf Coast states, to use for restoration projects, as opposed to going to Treasury — a victory for Gulf Coast advocates who pushed for that. There is still outstanding civil litigation for those who lost business or whose health was affected by the oil disaster. That was settled earlier this year for $8 billion, a great portion of which will go toward opening up health centers across the Gulf, which was also pushed for by advocates.

The Washington Post says BP still likely will be able to do business with the US and drill in the Gulf.

It was unclear how BP’s plea would affect its ability to bid on contracts to supply fuel to the U.S. military. BP has been a major supplier of fuel to the Pentagon in the past. But analysts expect that it will not impair the company’s ability to lease areas of the Gulf of Mexico or explore for oil and gas there. The company said that it “has not been advised of the intention of any federal agency to suspend or debar the company in connection with this plea agreement. BP will continue to work cooperatively with the debarment authority.”

Others put the fine into perspective.

“It is the largest criminal fine ever because BP’s epic crime against this region’s environment, cultures and human health is the largest crime ever to face potential prosecution,” says Derrick Evans, Managing advisor for Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health. “BP knows this as well as the fact that they are getting off cheap.”

TAGS: BP

40k Sign Petition Urging FCC Lower Prison Phone Rates

40k Sign Petition Urging FCC Lower Prison Phone Rates

It’s estimated that there are over 2.7 million kids in the United States who have at least one parent in prison, most of which are hundreds of miles away from their homes. That figure is just one glimpse into the collective impact that mass incarceration has on communities, the cost of which can actually be boiled down to dollars and cents. The national campaign to lower the cost of prison phone rates is gaining momentum, as today activists and family members with the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice deliver a petition with 40,000 signatures to the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to force the legislative body’s hand in finally taking action on the issue.

According to inmates and their families, calls can often cost as much $20 for just a 15 minute call. Today’s rally will feature FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, faith leaders from Rainbow PUSH and the United Church of Christ, and families of inmates. At issue is something called the Wright Petition, which seeks to cap the cost of prison phone calls.

“I have spent over $25,000 over the last 10 years just trying to stay in touch with my son in prison,” said Lillie Branch-Kennedy in a recent press release. “There is no reason prison agencies and phone companies should be profiting off of families like mine, forcing us to choose between putting food on the table or keeping in touch with our loved ones. We rely on these calls to stay focused on building a new, healthy life together after our loved one’s release.”

On Wednesday, the FCC announced that they are at least willing to look into the issue. The Commission is circulating a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on interstate calls and rates. The NPR is a public notice that, in this case, seeks to add or change the rules that govern interstate calls to and from prisons. The vast majority of prison phones are operated by private companies that, in many cases, offer what have come to termed as “kickbacks” to individual states.

Obama Promises Immigration Reform Push in January

Obama Promises Immigration Reform Push in January

The drive to pass comprehensive immigration reform went into high gear yesterday when President Obama said he expects a bill will be introduced by January. The comments at the President’s first press conference since his re-election come amid a flurry of bipartisan support for an immigration overhaul.

“My expectation is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration,” he said, adding that he is “very confident that we can get immigration reform done.”

Last week and over the weekend, a number of leading Republicans in Congress said they were ready to support an immigration reform bill. Last Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner told ABC’s Diane Sawyer, “This issue has been around far too long.” And on Sunday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” that the GOP’s approach to immigration has “has built a wall between the Republican Party and Hispanic community.”

In addition to a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, Republicans and President Obama agree that any immigration reform package must include additional immigration enforcement on the border and require those applying for papers to learn English and pay penalties. It would also impose penalties on companies that hire undocumented workers.

Obama added that a immigration reform bill would provide protections for young undocumented immigrations who entered the country as children.

Many immigration reform advocates say that while they expect the President and Congress to pass an immigration reform bill, they’ll also continue to push the president to halt deportations. Obama’s immigration agency has deported nearly 400,000 people in each of the last four years, more than any previous administration.

Romney: Obama Won Because He Promised Big ‘Gifts’ to Blacks, Latinos

Romney: Obama Won Because He Promised Big 'Gifts' to Blacks, Latinos

Mitt Romney is back with more forty-seven-percent-esque comments and this time he’s more upset.

The GOP presidential candidate that lost both the electoral college and the popular vote says President Barack Obama was only re-elected because he promised big policy gifts to blacks, Latinos and young people.

In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign on Wednesday, Romney said the president wooed specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

Ashley Parker described the call on the New York Times’ “The Caucus” blog. An excerpt is below:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Romney went on to apologize to his donors on the call.

“I’m very sorry that we didn’t win,” Romney said. “I know that you expected to win, we expected to win, we were disappointed with the result, we hadn’t anticipated it, and it was very close, but close doesn’t count in this business.”

Solange Knowles’ TSA Afro Pat Down Disaster

Solange Knowles' TSA Afro Pat Down Disaster

Singer Solange Knowles took to Twitter on Wednesday after TSA security guards at a Miami airport demanded to search her afro.

Solange, Beyoncé Knowles’ younger sister, expressed some disappointment but quickly pivoted to poking fun at the TSA to her 1.3 million Twitter followers.

“I kid you not. This just happened to me,” Knowles tweeted along with a link to a story about a Dallas woman who claimed “she was humiliated at an airport when TSA agents patted down her” afro.

“Discrim-FRO-nation. My hair is not a storage drawer,” Knowles went on to say.

It appears the TSA afro pat downs is a fairly recent change or at least men and women who wear their hair naturally didn’t make news headlines until last year. The political news site TheHill.com covered the issue in July 2011 with the New York Times following the story a month later.

Take a look at Solange Knowles tweets below that inspired my rendering of events in the image at the top. (That is not an actual picture of Solange getting her afro pat down, it’s a combination of three images photoshopped together to illustrate the afro pat down.)

Infographic: How White is the New Fall 2012 TV Season?

Infographic: How White is the New Fall 2012 TV Season?

Americ Ngwije over at TVequals.com has illustrated the racial diversity of the Fall 2012 TV season.

NBC leads the pack as the network with the most diversity in its scripted programming. ABC and Fox are in the middle and CBS and CW are in the bottom.

NBC was the only network with an actor of color in every single one of its series. However, the analysis doesn’t look at the number of appearances or number of lines for each actor.

For example, Fox got a D grade but they’re also the network with “The Mindy Project” that stars “Mindy Kaling.” A show with a women in the leading role goes a long way compared to supporting actors of color who may just have a couple of lines in each episode.

Porn Stars of Color Face Racial Inequality and Wage Gap Too

Porn Stars of Color Face Racial Inequality and Wage Gap Too

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, it became illegal for employers to discriminate based on race. But decades laters studies show white workers still earn tens of thousands more than workers of color in the same job.

A 2011 Georgetown study found white engineers earn an average of $80,000 a year but their African-American counterparts earn $20,000 less. Latino engineers earn $24,000 less than white ones.

The racial inequality and wage gap also exists in the adult film industry.

Women of color in the pornography industry are paid half to three quarters of what white actresses tend to make.

In a New York Times essay published this week Dr. Mireille Miller-Young wrote that the greatest challenge faced by women who work in the pornography business, in addition to social stigma, is gender and racial inequality.

Miller-Young, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research explores race, gender and sexuality in visual culture and sex industries in the U.S.

In her New York Times piece titled “Empowering to the Women on Screen,” Dr. Miller Young writes about the inequality in the pornography business and provides additional context based on her research:

For instance, I have found that women enter the pornography industry because they are enthusiastic about its potential for lucrative, flexible and independent work. Women who previously worked in the retail sector or in nursing found that pornography offered them greater control of their labor, and surprisingly, it treated them with more humanity. Some women found that it enabled them to rise out of poverty, take care of their families or go to college. Others emphasize the creative aspects of pornography, and say it allows them to increase their economic mobility while also making a bold statement about female pleasure.

According to the performers I interviewed, the greatest challenge faced by women who work in the pornography business, in addition to social stigma, is gender and racial inequality. Overwhelmingly, women do not control the production and distribution apparatus of the business. The men who run both the large companies and the smaller, amateur businesses tend to marginalize women’s perspectives and priorities and to foster a competitive environment that pits female workers against one another.

African-American women - and women and men of color in general - are paid half to three-quarters of what white actresses are paid. Like in other kinds of industries, they face prejudice and inequality in structural and interpersonal forms. But they also challenge them. Porn’s workers are fighting to achieve greater control over their labor and the products they produce.

Women of color are paid half to three quarters of what white actresses tend to make, according to a 2007 NPR interview with Miller-Young. She went on to say this “reflects the ways in which black bodies have historically been devalued in our labor market since, you know, slavery to the present.”

She says this is also visible in the production of the types of films that black women appear in: they have a lower production value, less of the kind of market, and lower kind of values in how they treat the workers.

[UPDATE 11/14/12 12:00pm EST: A commenter in the comments section below that identified as an adult model has added even more context and says the unfair treatment goes far beyond adult models and actresses on screen: 

“[People] never want to discuss the unfair treatment of dancers, models, escorts, directors, and all others who work in the sex industry who get less pay and expected to perform more extreme acts because of the color of their skin.”

To learn more about Miller-Young’s work visit her UCSB profile and check out her 2005 Colorlines story titled “Hardcore desire: Black women laboring in porn—is it just another job?”

In 2012, the Obama Youth Vote Is Black and Brown

A new analysis by the Black Youth Project parsed support for President Obama in last week’s election and found that while young voters defied pundits’ expectations that they’d stay home, it was young voters of color who brought it home for Obama.

Black and Latino support for the president held steady from 2008 levels, but white young voter support for Obama dropped a full 10 percentage points. Voters of color under 30 are also shaping up to be a key part of the overall U.S. electorate. In this election they were roughly 20 percent of voters—and their numbers are growing.

“Once again the youth vote—driven largely by young Blacks and Latinos—played a critical role in the presidential election, and it has become clear that Black and Latino youth will continue to exert increasing influence on the American electoral system,” said Jon Rogowski, assistant professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis in a statement.

Check out the rest of the study (here)[http://research.blackyouthproject.com/black-youth-and-the-future-of-american-politics/].

Polls: Blacks and Latinos a Big Part of Upcoming Gay Marriage Revolution

Polls: Blacks and Latinos a Big Part of Upcoming Gay Marriage Revolution

Last Tuesday, Maine, Maryland and Washington state all passed new gay marriage laws and voters in Minnesota defeated a ban against them. If the movement catches on in other states, black and Latinos will be a big reason why, the Washington Post reports.

If you look at last Tuesday’s exit polls alongside other recent studies you’ll find that as more African Americans and Latinos become registered voters the more likely it is for more same-sex marriage victories. 

In Maryland last week, 46 percent of African Americans supported gay marriage. Insiders say Maryland is a microcosm of what’s to come because the state is heavily African-American (29 percent), has a significant Latino population (8 percent) and national polls show both groups have become increasingly supportive of gay marriage since President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage.

According to national exit polls taken last Tuesday, 52 percent of both black and Latino voters who turned out Tuesday said they support gay marriage in their states.

The exit polls’ findings match up with other studies released earlier this year.

A May 2012 Washington Post-ABC News poll found people of color are more likely to support gay marriage than whites with black support at record high.

Just last month the largest population-based survey of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender people ever conducted in the U.S. found LGBT identity is highest among those who are younger, non-white and low income.

A Pew Hispanic Center study also released last month found more Latinos favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally (52%) than oppose same-sex marriage (34%). Among Latino Catholics that favor allowing gays and lesbians that number is even higher (54%).

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake says the gay marriage wins may continue:

But the fact is that the states that are the most Democratic — and thus the likeliest candidates to pass gay marriage laws — tend to be more diverse (California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, etc.). And if African Americans and Latinos are as onboard with gay marriage as the exit polls suggest, the four states that voted in favor of gay marriage on Tuesday might be the first of many.


A recent report from Colorlines.com’s publisher, Applied Research Center, highlighted case studies of racial justice groups currently engaging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) constituencies and equity issues, and identified key barriers and opportunities to greater engagement.

Denzel to Daughter: ‘You’re Dark-Skinned’ So You’ll Have to Work Harder

Denzel to Daughter: 'You're Dark-Skinned' So You'll Have to Work Harder

All four of Denzel Washington’s children have gone in to the entertainment industry. He says he has extra advice for his daughter Olivia who is currently studying acting at New York University.

In ‘The Actors’ roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter Washington shared the advice he gives to his daughter. “I say, ‘You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that, so you have to be a triple/quadruple threat.’

Below is Washington’s full answer to the Hollywood Reporter:

I tell my daughter — she’s at NYU — I say: “You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that. So you have to be a triple/quadruple threat.” I said: “You gotta learn how to act. You gotta learn how to dance, sing, move onstage.” That’s the only place, in my humble opinion, you really learn how to act. I said: “Look at Viola Davis. That’s who you want to be. Forget about the little pretty girls; if you’re relying on that, when you hit 40, you’re out the door. You better have some chops.”

Clowns Attack KKK Rally in Charlotte, NC with Humor

Clowns Attack KKK Rally in Charlotte, NC with Humor

On Saturday, a Neo Nazi hate group in Charlotte, North Carolina held a rally made up of about 50 supporters. But their biggest enemies turned out to be over a hundred clowns. According to local reports, the Neo Nazi protesters were outnumbered at least five to one.

The National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-nazi hate group, was supposed to hold an anti-immigration rally but they were drowned out by all the clowns making noise.

Counter-protesters brought squeaky toys, whistles, noise-makers, red noses and flour—every time the NSM mentioned “white power” the counter demonstrators sprinkled white flour in to the air.

The counter demonstration was organized by the Latin American Coalición, according to their website they’re “a community of Latin Americans, immigrants and allies that promotes full and equal participation of all people in the civic, economic and cultural life of North Carolina through education, celebration and advocacy.”

“The message from us is, you look silly,” Lacey Williams, the youth coordinator for Charlotte’s Latin American Coalición, told WCNC. “We’re dressed like clowns and you’re the ones that look funny.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NSM is an organization that specializes in theatrical and provocative protests and is one of the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States.

(All photos courtesy of Yash Mori)

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Activist and Poet William Brandon Lacy Campos Dies at 35

Activist and Poet William Brandon Lacy Campos Dies at 35

Poet, writer, and activist William Brandon Lacy Campos has died. He was discovered on Friday night in his apartment in New York. The cause of death has not been announced. Campos was 35.

Campos authored the poetry collection “It Ain’t Truth If It Doesn’t Hurt,” was a contributor to the anthology “From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction,” and authored a blog called “Queer, Poz and Colored: The Essentials” at TheBody.com. He was also the former co-executive director at Queers for Economic Justice, a non-profit organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation.

Campos was born in Minnesota and became an activist in his teens, becoming the co-chair of the National Queer Student Coalition at age 20. He wrote and spoke passionately about not only the broader political landscape, but also about his own emotional journey and challenges as a queer person of color.

According to Rod 2.0 a Facebook status update made by Campos’ father confirmed his son had passed away. The news rocked LGBT and progressive organizing and artist circles this weekend, prompting an outpouring of support and grief on Facebook pages.

Campos was multi-racial and as Rod 2.0 points out, discussed the intersections of race, colorism, sexuality and gender just days before he passed away in a keynote address he delivered at Tuft University’s annual Black Solidarity Day on Monday, Nov. 6. The speech was called “A New Kind of Blackness.”

An excerpt from “A New Kind of Blackness” is published below.

“I’ve spent a long time thinking about blackness. About, roughly, all of my 35 years walking around this planet. I guess that makes me some sort of an expert, but mostly it makes me confused, angry, celebratory, conflicted, colonized, dehumanized, aggrandized, powerful, vulnerable, righteous, and a whole host of other adjectives.

“I am standing in front of you a black, white, Ojibwe, Afro-Boricua, HIV positive, queer man. And I am just as black as any of you. You are my community, you are my salvation. I am in community with my queer and trans black family and being queer or trans doesn’t make you less black than anyone else. It’s time for us to realize that HIV stopped being a white gay disease a long time ago, it’s now a black and Latin[o] disease and it’s time to hold up our positive brothers and sisters as our own. No more high yellow and midnight blue conversations when talking about skin unless its to talk about how that high yellow or midnight blue person rocked your socks last night.”

Victoria’s Secret Sexy Native American Headdress Runway Disaster

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Victoria’s Secret has apparently learned nothing from the uproar that occurred after the band No Doubt released their latest music video that depicted lead singer Gwen Stefani as a hyper-sexualized Native American. The band removed the music video from YouTube after they received thousands of negative comments on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

No Doubt’s video premiered on Facebook on November 2nd and was removed shortly after.

But days later on November 7th, the creative minds at Victoria’s Secret sent model Karlie Kloss down the runway wearing a headdress and jewelry usually reserved for special ceremonies. And of course, she was a sexy “Victoria’s Secret angel.”

To add insult to injury the headdress that reached the floor appears to be one usually reserved for tribe Chiefs.

The American Indian Studies Center at UCLA issued a statement after No Doubt’s that offers some context of why such costumes are culturally insensitive. An excerpt is published below:

The American Indian Studies Center is a research institute founded in 1969 at the University of California, Los Angeles, dedicated to addressing American Indian issues and supporting Indian nations. The Center also serves as a bridge between the academy and indigenous peoples locally, nationally, and internationally, with a goal of advancing understandings between Native and non-Native communities. One particular challenge faced by American Indians in the United States is a perceived invisibility and a corresponding lack of understanding of the contemporary existence and relevance of Native peoples. We work to dismantle such barriers at the American Indian Studies Center, which remain due to a lack of knowledge about Native communities, including, for example, the fact that Los Angeles is home to the nation’s largest urban Native American population.

This perceived invisibility holds numerous consequences for Native peoples, including perceptions that American Indians are mere historical relics, frozen in time as stereotypically savage, primitive, uniquely-spiritualized and - in the case of Native women - hyper-sexualized objects to be tamed. No Doubt’s recent “Looking Hot” music video, released to fans via its Facebook page on November 2, 2012, is replete with such highly offensive and destructive images of Native peoples in general and Native women specifically.

The music video demonstrates the height of cultural misappropriation and a complete indifference towards and ignorance about contemporary Indian people. The video at once employs Native imagery and symbols, many of which still hold deep spiritual and ceremonial significance for Native Americans - including feathers, tipis, and fire - while at the same time situating such imagery in a (largely inaccurate) set of depictions of Indians at the turn of the century as primitive peoples fighting cowboys (and losing) in the Wild West. In this sense, the video diminishes Native people and Native cultures while, simultaneously, co-opting Indians and indigeneity for exploitative gain. In essence, it represents the grossest kind of cultural misappropriation.

Most importantly, however, the video is rife with imagery that glorifies aggression against Indian people, and, most disturbingly, denigrates and objectifies Native women through scenes of sexualized violence. Much like the 19th century paintings advancing the ethos of manifest destiny1 - the belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent, bringing civilization and light to a primitive people - the video draws on familiar tropes of the conquest of the continent and, concomitantly, the ravage of the Native female. As lead singer Gwen Stefani writhes, partially dressed (as an Indian) and shackled in ropes while overseen by domineering white men brandishing pistols, today real Native American women in the United States are in a state of crisis.

November is Native American History Month.

Photo: Model Karlie Kloss walks the runway during the Victoria’s Secret 2012 Fashion Show on November 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS)

L.A. Mariachis Woke Up Latino Voters With Serenades at 7:30am

L.A. Mariachis Woke Up Latino Voters With Serenades at 7:30am

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) along with a group of DREAMers went door to door early Tuesday morning to remind Latinos in Los Angeles’ Sun Valley to vote. The group, which started canvassing door-to-door at 7:30am, brought their own alarm clock in the form of mariachis.

The group urged voters to vote for those who can’t.

“They say it is a shame / say it’s a shame / that makes you cry” sang the mariachi band, singing lyrics especially written to wake up the of Sun Valley community and urge them to get up and vote.

One of the DREAMers accompanying the mariachis was Zuleyma Barajas who recently benefited for the Deffered Action program President Barack Obama approved earlier this year.

“This is something that matters to us,” Barajas told the San Fernando Sun. “Latinos [who can vote] are the voice of us who can not do it,” she added.

Jorge Mario Cabrera, a CHIRLA spokesman, told the San Fernando Sun the decision to have DREAMers visit homes was a way to illustrate the need for an immigration reform in the Presidential term. “The young Dreamers have joined this campaign because even though they can’t vote, they’re asking voters to protect their dreams and fight so that the next Administration approves something beyond a Deferred Action,” Cabrera said.

Of the 52 million Latinos in the United States, 24 million are registered to vote, representing 11% of the entire electorate. In 2012, President Obama set a new record, winning his second term in office with the support of 75 percent the Latino electorate.

Arizona Groups Demand DOJ Intervene as 631,000 Uncounted Ballots Pile Up

The nation was able to choose a new president without incident on Tuesday night. But three days after the presidential election, the state of Arizona is not only not done tallying up votes—it’s now actually tallying up the number of uncounted votes. And the number is getting larger by the day. Today Arizona advocacy groups are demanding the Department of Justice get involved to figure out what exactly is going on and protect the integrity of the state elections.

Some 631,000 ballots cast in Arizona have yet to be counted, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said in a statement Thursday. The number was 602,334 on Wednesday. Hanging in the balance are several hotly contested races, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s effort to hold onto his seat for a sixth term. In Maricopa County alone 459,000 uncounted early and provisional ballots surely could swing the race either way—as of Tuesday night Arpaio held a 90,000-vote lead over Democratic challenger Paul Penzone.

“We’re deeply concerned by these shocking allegations and the notion that days after the election, nearly half a million Arizona ballots haven’t been tallied,” Monica Sandschafer, executive director of the Arizona Center for Empowerment said in a statement. “If true, this means that the voices of 1 in 15 Arizonans are simply being discarded. Nearly half of all early ballots in Maricopa County have yet to be counted.”

Map Shows You Where Those Racists Tweeting After Obama Election Live

Map Shows You Where Those Racists Tweeting After Obama Election Live

Data-mapping experts from the Floating Sheep blog mapped geo-located Tweets that contained hate speech and were made after President Barack Obama was re-elected late Tuesday night. The analysis collected tweets that contained the text “monkey” or “nigger” AND also contain the text “Obama” OR “reelected” OR “won”.

So what state had the most racist tweets? Mississippi and Alabama came in first place. Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee trailing them behind.

Rhode Island had no hate tweets that Floating Sheep could identify.

Here’s an excerpt from a Floating Sheep post that explains the methodology:  

Using DOLLY we collected all the geocoded tweets from the last week (beginning November 1) with racist terms that also reference the election in order to understand how these everyday acts of explicit racism are spatially distributed. Given the nature of these search terms, we’ve buried the details at the bottom of this post in a footnote [1].

Given our interest in the geography of information we wanted to see how this type of hate speech overlaid on physical space. To do this we aggregated the 395 hate tweets to the state level and then normalized them by comparing them to the total number of geocoded tweets coming out of that state in the same time period [2]. We used a location quotient inspired measure (LQ) that indicates each state’s share of election hate speech tweet relative to its total number of tweets.[3] A score of 1.0 indicates that a state has relatively the same number of hate speech tweets as its total number of tweets. Scores above 1.0 indicate that hate speech is more prevalent than all tweets, suggesting that the state’s “twitterspace” contains more racists post-election tweets than the norm.

A bit more information based on the findings from the analysis:

The prevalence of post-election racist tweets is not strictly a southern phenomenon as North Dakota (3.5), Utah (3.5) and Missouri (3) have very high LQs. Other states such as West Virginia, Oregon and Minnesota don’t score as high but have a relatively higher number of hate tweets than their overall twitter usage would suggest.

The Northeast and West coast (with the exception of Oregon) have a relatively lower number of hate tweets.

States shaded in grey had no geocoded hate tweets within our database. Many of these states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota) have relatively low levels of Twitter use as well. Rhode Island has much higher numbers of geocoded tweets but had no hate tweets that we could identify.

Visit Floatingsheep.org for more information and take a look at their interactive map.

Meet the New Gerber Baby: Mary Jane Montoya

Meet the New Gerber Baby: Mary Jane Montoya

On November 6, 2012, the same day millions of Latinos took to the polls to vote, Gerber announced the winner of their latest Gerber baby photo contest: an 8-month-old Latina.

Baby Mary Jane Montoya of Fresno, Calif. is the new face of the Gerber Generation! Mary Jane’s picture was the grand prize winning photo in a photo search that attracted more than 308,000 submissions.

Mary Jane’s mother will receive a $50,000 cash prize, and Mary Jane will have the opportunity to appear in future Gerber advertising.

“Our baby looks just like the Gerber baby, but we still can’t believe the photo of our baby won the Grand Prize!” said Sara Montoya, Mary Jane’s mother. “Like parents everywhere, we think our baby is cute, but to have this honor is something we’ll cherish for forever. To us, winning $50,000 is like winning a million dollars!”

Montoya’s home state of California is one of two states in the nation where the majority of young people identify as Latino. The 2010 Census found that for the first time in the nation’s history young people in both California and New Mexico identified as Latinos.

By 2050, Latino youth are expected to comprise 29% of the U.S. youth population. Currently, an estimated 50,000 U.S. born Latinos turn 18 every month.

Watch President Obama Cry During Thank You Speech to Campaign Staff

Watch President Obama Cry During Thank You Speech to Campaign Staff

President Barack Obama got all emotional when thanking the people who’d helped him run his campaign for president.

Trying to Stay Relevant, Boehner Says GOP Will Back Immigration Reform

Trying to Stay Relevant, Boehner Says GOP Will Back Immigration Reform

Reeling from Romney’s loss on Tuesday against Obama’s multiracial majority, House Speaker John Boehner made a bold attempt last night to keep his party relevant, telling ABC’s Diane Sawyer that Republicans would get behind immigration reform.

“This issue has been around far too long,” he said, “and while I believe it’s important for us to secure our borders and to enforce our laws, I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

The comments were an effort by the Speaker to get out in front on immigration and a major shift for the party that’s stood firmly in the way of any legislative action on immigration.

Democrats pulled at least 70 percent of Latino and Asian votes at the ballot box on Tuesday and the Republicans inability to garner any significant support from communities of color played majorly in Romney’s loss.

Romney took an unwaveringly hard stance on immigration in his campaign, saying he would repeal Obama’s administrative decision to halt deportations of young undocumented immigrants. Polls before the election showed that the deferred action policy played into Latino’s overwhelming support for Obama, support that’s now heralded as a central factor in securing his second term.

Romney’s position on immigration in the campaign was widely seen as an effort to secure white votes in conservative districts. Ultimately, the strategy backfired, insufficient to mobilize enough white support to pull off a win.

Republicans appear now to realize it’s time for change. Also yesterday, Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, announced he’d “evolved” on immigration. “We’ve gotta get rid of the immigration issue altogether,” he said on his show.

But both Hannity and Boehner repeated the standard Beltway line that “securing the border” and “enforcing our laws” must precede immigration reform. As the last decade of legislative wrangling reveals, the enforcement-first approach to immigration reform has in the past led only to more deportations, not a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Sen. Charles Schumer, who is Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, released applauded Boehner’s comments.

“This is a breakthrough to have the Speaker endorse the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform,” Schumer said. “Democrats in the Senate look forward to working with him to come up with a bipartisan solution.”

The Obama administration, for its part, is on shaky ground when it comes to immigration. Though the deferred action policy gave the president a boost, his administration is also responsible for deporting historic numbers of people—about 1.5 million in the last four years.

Advocates Say Arpaio Hasn’t Won Yet, Urge County to Count All Votes

Advocates Say Arpaio Hasn't Won Yet, Urge County to Count All Votes

I reported yesterday that after a set of hard fought races in Arizona, Tea Party Republicans logged major wins. This included another four years for Joe Arpaio, the firebrand sheriff of Maricopa County who’s made a career in harassing immigrants and treating prisoners like livestock. He was reported to have beat Democrat Paul Penzone by nearly 90,000 votes.

Based on initial results, I also reported a loss for Richard Carmona, a Democrat who ran on an anti-SB 1070 platform against Republican Jeff Flake.

Now, advocates and alternative media in Arizona are questioning these results. They say hundreds of thousands of provisional and early votes have yet to be counted.

The Latino advocacy group Presente.org sent out a petition today calling for all the votes to be counted. The petition reads, “Arpaio is leading by 90,000 votes but there are over 300,000 ballots that haven’t been counted yet—likely most are from Latino neighborhoods!”

Arizona Latinos voted early more than twice the rate they did in 2008, the NY Times reports.

New America Media’s Valeria Fernandez reports:

Arpaio’s critics, among them Unite Here, Promise Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) - groups that were behind a get-out-the-vote effort — expressed concerns over a large number of provisional ballots that were cast.

“We’re focused on the people that were not allowed to vote. We’re concerned about how the county recorders run the election,” said Randy Parraz, co-founder of CBA. “There were people that were not allowed to vote at all.”

Brendan Walsh, political director with Unite Here echoed those concerns.

“We were finding that people went to the polls and were being asked to cast provisional ballots,” said Walsh, when they should have received the ballot in the mail.

The Phoenix New Times reports that a reversal is unlikely in the sheriff’s race.

The gap between Penzone and Arpaio may narow, but is likely too deep of a hole to dig out of. 

The county counted more than 44,000 ballots yesterday, but the numbers in the Penzone-Arpaio race have not budged by much. Currently the spread there is 9.48 percentage points.

But, the New Times reports:

It’s a different story when it comes to the Rich Carmona v. Jeff Flake U.S. Senate contest, where Flake is up by a mere 79,867 votes, or 4.8 percent. 

Republican golden-boy Flake must be sweating big ol’ bullets right now. Yesterday, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office announced that there are more than 600,000 provisional and early ballots remaining statewide to be counted. According to one of the savviest political experts I know, Democrat and former legislator John Loredo, Carmona could make up that gap with that’s left to count, especially considering that many of the “late” ballots turned in at the polls will tend to be Democratic.

We’ll keep watching Arizona and send updates.

Meanwhile in Arizona, as I reported yesterday, the state’s legislature remains solidly in Republican hands. The GOP hold, however, is a little less secure. Republicans in the Arizona legislature, which has long been a testing ground for far-right policies, no longer have a super majority after Democrats picked up four seats in the Senate and a few in the House as well. 

To be sure, Republicans remain in charge in Arizona and will for at least another two years, but the Democrats small legislative gains do indicate a shifting landscape. 

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