Jose Antonio Vargas at Senate Immigration Hearing: We’re Not ‘Alien People From Mars’

Jose Antonio Vargas at Senate Immigration Hearing: We're Not 'Alien People From Mars'

On Wednesday, Jose Antonio Vargas spoke at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on immigration.

Vargas told the panel that immigrants “dream of not being seperated from our families and our loved ones, regardless of sexual orientation, no matter our skill set.” He went on to remind them that “this government has deported more than 1.6 million people, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters in the past four years.”

At one point Vargas just had to break it down for the committee made up of 18-members and remind them immigrants aren’t “alien people from Mars.”

“We talk about immigration and enforcement as if we’re talking about alien people from Mars and not people whose lives and families are being torn apart everyday.”

‘Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit’ Stickers Sold in Colorado Gas Stations

'Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit' Stickers Sold in Colorado Gas Stations

Colorado’s 9News reporter Jeremy Jojola purchased an offensive anti-immigrant sticker at a Cenex gas station in Eaton, Colo., about 60 miles north of Denver.

The green sticker includes an outline of the continental United States with the words “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT HUNTING PERMIT” printed in large bold letters. The small rectangular sticker also includes includes a fake permit number.

The stickers were distributed by the Central States Novelty company. They describe themselves as the “largest, wholesale supplier of novelties, gifts, and general merchandise for the convenience store and truck stop industry in the Midwest.”

They say all of their products are “guaranteed against defects, and our Mercandisers [sic] that service our customers’ stores are the Best in the Business.”

However, they say nothing about being offensive. also point out the “immigrant hunting permit” isn’t a new concept, they’ve seen at least two other versions of the same sticker.

Another Black Ex-LAPD Cop Writes Manifesto, Says He Understands Dorner

Another Black Ex-LAPD Cop Writes Manifesto, Says He Understands Dorner

Joe Jones wants to make it clear he doesn’t support Chris Dorner, he just wants to share his own experience working for the LAPD. On Monday, the former officer posted a note on Facebook detailing experiences he had while in the police department and the hacktivist group Anonymous went on to circulate the manifesto more widely.

Jones, 48, was a patrol officer for nine years before he retired in 1998, the LA Weekly reports. His two-page manifesto expressed condolences for Dorner’s victims “and souls of loved one’s to the injustices of Police Corruption, Scandal, Lies, Deception and Brutality.”

Jones goes on to say he feels victimized by the police department also:

I feel your pains!…But you are going about this the wrong way. To take innocent lives could never be the answer to anything. I say this as a Man who experienced the same pain, betrayal, anger, suffering, litigation and agony that you did in many ways, Only I didn’t get Fired. I just choose to go a different route. My heart still suffered that same shock, I was still left to try and put the pieces back together. The disbelief that people could conspire and cause you to loose something you loved so dearly was still there. I lost my Career, I lost my Family, I lost my Dignity, I lost my Trust…But I am here now to hopefully one day see change…Bro, Don’t kill anymore Innocent people. Your point has been made. Clearly. They know you mean business, The whole world knows. Refrain from any further wrong doing and do what you must to salvage your Soul. Whatever that means to you. Just remember that God is a forgiving God.

Jones told the LA Weekly he didn’t find it unusual at all to hear of a situation like Dorner’s in which “a rookie, African American officer’s case against a senior white officer was met with disbelief and rejection by the department and court system.”

“I went through all of that,” Jones told the LA Weekly. “It hurts a hell of a lot.”

LAPD chief has said they will investigate Dorner’s claims in the manifesto.

“I am aware of the ghosts of the L.A.P.D.’s past, and one of my biggest concerns is that they will be resurrected by Dorner’s allegations of racism within the department,” Chief Charlie Beck said in a written statement.

“Therefore, I feel we need to also publicly address Dorner’s allegations regarding his termination,” he said. “I do this not to appease a murderer. I do it to reassure the public that their Police Department is transparent and fair in all the things we do.”

Read Joe Jones’s manifesto below.

Not Loving It: Young Students Forced to Go to McDonalds for WiFi After Libraries Close

Not Loving It: Young Students Forced to Go to McDonalds for WiFi After Libraries Close

In many parts of the country if your local library is closed and you need internet access, McDonalds may the only option you have.

There’s about 15,000 Wi-Fi-enabled public libraries in the country but after they close many young people with homework have to go to businesses that have free internet access.

McDonald’s restaurants are usually open late and the fast food chain has more than 12,000 Wi-Fi-equipped locations in the U.S., and for many black, Latino and rural children that’s where their connection to the Web lives.

Mary LaValle, a librarian from Harrison, Mich., told the Washington Post she often sees many students just move to the nearby McDonalds after her library closes at 6pm. She said the kids usually buy one drink and continue refilling it all night until their done with their homework.

Advocates say with black and Latino kids already at high risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, many children are trading their health for Internet access.

The Media Action Grassroots Network and the Praxis Project have teamed up to launch a petition and use memes, twitter parties, and other social media strategies during Valentine’s Day Week to urge the Federal Communications Commission to expand free public WiFi throughout the country!

“Our communities shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice our health and wellbeing to connect to this essential communications service,” reads the group’s letter addressed to the commisioner and chairman of FCC. “We urge you to reform the universal service fund in ways that actually helps to bridge this divide, always considering the potentially devastating impact that being disconnected has on customers who lack affordable broadband, and who cannot obtain mobile wireless services provided on equitable terms.”

A third of households with income of less than $30,000 a year and teens living at home don’t have broadband access, according to the Pew Research Center.

Check out the memes the Media Action Grassroots Network and the Praxis Project created for the campaign below and take a look at their petition for more information.

Hadiya Pendleton’s Parents Will Join Michelle Obama At The State Of The Union

Hadiya Pendleton's Parents Will Join Michelle Obama At The State Of The Union

The parents of Chicago teen Hadiya Pendelton will attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday as guests of first lady Michelle Obama, according to local news reports. 

“It’s bittersweet,” Cleopatra Cowley told NBC News after she and her husband landed in Washington on Monday evening. “Because it’s as a result of losing my daughter, but it’s also exciting to have an opportunity like this.”

The White House hasn’t released the official list yet but several of her guest have confirmed with multiple news sources that they’ll be sitting in the House chamber as guests of the first lady listening to Obama’s State of the Union address.

The Daily Caller combed through national and local news reports to pull together a list of the known guests reportedly invited by the White House this year:

  • The parents of murdered Chicago teen, Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed with a handgun days after attending Obama’s inauguration

  • Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Haitian-American woman who waited in a long line to vote in Florida

  • Louisville machinist Bradley Henning

  • Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber

  • Newly-minted Medal of Honor recipient and former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha

  • Wisconsin police officer Lt. Brian Murphy, who was wounded by gunshots in the Sikh temple shooting last August

  • Lee Maxwell, a 22-year-old wind energy technician from Wilton, Iowa

  • Bobak “Mohawk Guy” Ferdowsi, an Iranian-American flight director from NASA representing high-skill immigrants

  • Las Vegas student [and undocumented] immigrant Alan Aleman, who has benefited from Obama’s “deferred action” program

  • New Glarus Brewing Company founder and regular Obama small business example Deb Carey

  • Dr. Peter Hudson, co-founder and CEO of iTriage, an iPhone app that helps locate doctors

  • Susan Bumgarner, a pre-kindergarten teacher in Oklahoma City

  • Two lesbian couples “fighting for immigration equality and extended rights for same-sex military couples”

  • Menchu DeLuna Sanchez, Filipino immigrant and nurse credited with heroism during Superstorm Sandy

Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits Video Playlist

Whitney Houston's Greatest Hits Video Playlist

In her 48-years with us Whitney Houston broke numerous charts and sales records.

But on the one year anniversary of her death it’s important to note she also broke barriers in Hollywood. When she starred in the 1992 film “The Bodyguard,” Houston was one of the first black leading actresses to star in a romantic film opposite a white male interest.

Actor Kevin Costner who starred in “The Bodyguard” alongside Houston spoke about the casting decision last year. 

“I was reminded that this would be her first acting role. You could also think about another singer, was the suggestion — maybe somebody white,” said Costner at Houston’s funeral last year. 

The film’s lead song “I Will Always Love You” became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history.

In May 16, 2000, Houston’s record label released “Whitney: The Greatest Hits,” an album that featured her most popular songs. 

Below you’ll find a collection of videos featuring Houston performing songs in the greatest hits collection.

“You Give Good Love”
From the album “Whitney Houston,” 1985 

Written by LaLa

“Saving All My Love for You”
From the album “Whitney Houston,” 1985 

Written by Michael Masser, Gerry Goffin

“Greatest Love of All”
From the album “Whitney Houston,” 1985 

Written by Michael Masser, Linda Creed

“All at Once”
From the album “Whitney Houston,” 1985 

Written by Michael Masser, Jeffrey Osborne

“If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful” (Duet with Jermaine Jackson) 

 From the album “Precious Moments,” studio album by Jermaine Jackson, 1986 

Written by Elliot Willensky

“Didn’t We Almost Have It All” 

From the album “Whitney,” 1987
Written by Michael Masser, Will Jennings

Senate Immigration Hearing Will Feature Jose Antonio Vargas

Senate Immigration Hearing Will Feature Jose Antonio Vargas

After months of back room immigration reform talks on the Hill and declarations of broad principles for legislative overhaul from elected officials and the president, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its opening hearing on immigration this week. The hearing marks the year’s first official business on reform from the committee likely to craft an immigration bill.

We’ll report the details on Wednesday, but for now we can get a sense of the tone from the list of people giving testimony. Arguably the most notable speaker of the day will be Jose Antonio Vargas, the high profile immigrant rights activist and founder of Define American who made headlines last year when he came out publicly as an undocumented immigrant. Last week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing included the voices of several documented immigrants, but rarely do unauthorized immigrants get slated in such official spaces.

Anti-immigration activists’ briefs are already in a bunch. On Friday, leading immigration restrictionist Mark Krikorian, whose colleague from the Center for Immigration Studies will speak after Vargas on Wednesday, suggested on Twitter that Vargas should be deported.

“Illegal-alien journalist Jose Antonio Vargas will testify next week before Senate Judiciary. Will anyone arrest him?,” Krikorian tweeted.

“I look forward to seeing you there, Mark,” Vargas responded. “If you want to get me arrested, go ahead. Nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Vargas will be joined on the panel by Vaughan, National Council of La Raza head Janet Murguía, high-skilled immigration advocate Steve Case of the group Revolution, and Chris Crane, the head of the ICE employees union. Crane and Vaughan appeared at the House hearing last week to argue for more enforcement of immigration laws.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will testify alone on an earlier panel and is likely to speak against Republican calls for added border enforcement before passing immigration reform. In recent comments she’s said that the broader enforcement infrastructure has never been so vast.

Advocates will watch the panel for signs of where Senators stand on key components of comprehensive immigration reform.

Kobe Bryant Corrects Fan for Using Anti-Gay Slur on Twitter

Kobe Bryant Corrects Fan for Using Anti-Gay Slur on Twitter

Remember when Kobe Bryant called an NBA referee an anti-gay slur in 2011? It appears that experience was a life lesson for the Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard because he is now schooling others for using anti-gay slurs.

Early Monday morning at 12:44am Bryant told a fan on twitter that he shouldn’t insult someone by calling them ‘gay.’

It started out with fans’ tweet:

Which led to this reaction from Bryant:

Another fan went on to remind Bryant that he had use an anti-gay slur in the past also.

Bryant replied with the following:

(h/t GLAAD)

Ava DuVernay Debuts New Short Film for Miu Miu

Ava DuVernay Debuts New Short Film for Miu Miu

In 2012, Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her second feature, “Middle of Nowhere.”

Her latest project short film was commisioned by Miu Miu, the Italian fashion house headed by Miuccia Prada.

Women’s Wear Daily has more details about the film and project:

For the fifth part of Miu Miu’s Tales short series, the Italian brand tapped award-winning director Ava DuVernay to shoot “The Door,” which features Gabrielle Union, Alfre Woodard, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Adepero Oduye and singer-songwriter Goapele.

The film — a little over nine minutes in length — focuses on an actual door on the modernist house of a main character (Union) who just went through a break-up. Friends come through that door to console her and, with their support, she eventually overcomes her sadness and is able to move on. “The door in the film represents a pathway to who we are,” said DuVernay.

DuVernay is currently working on a documentary on Venus Williams for ESPN. “It’s a big piece on her and her feminism. A lot of people don’t know what a feminist she is, like the work she’s done for the U.N. and fighting for women’s rights in sports,” DuVernay told Rolling Stones.

Chris Dorner Memes in Full Effect

Chris Dorner Memes in Full Effect

The Los Angeles Police Department manhunt for Chris Dorner has resulted in three innocent people who were shot at by police. In each case the victims looked nothing like the former police officer accused of three murders who is described as a six-foot, 270 pound black male with a shaved head

In one incident, a 71-year-old Latina woman driving in a truck was shot twice in her back. The truck she was driving was also a different make, model and color than the pickup Dorner was driving at the time. The other victims include a Latina woman and a white male.

The police shootings have left many Angelenos with anxiety and some are dealing with it through their sense of humor.

Check out the memes that have surfaced so far.

LAPD ‘Had No Idea’ Who They Were Shooting At in Dorner Pursuit, Says Victims’ Lawyer

The search for the man dubbed the “LAPD Cop Killer” has led to three different innocent people being shot at by Southern California police. All three victims looked nothing like Chris Dorner, the target in the manhunt that’s gone on for close to a week.

Last Thursday, two women who were were delivering newspapers in the early morning hours were shot by Los Angeles police in Torrance, California. Margie Carranza, 47, received a bullet wound to the hand and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, was shot twice in her back. Both women are expected to recover.

In a separate incident on Thursday a white male going to surf early in the morning was left with a truck full of bullet holes. David Perdue wasn’t struck by bullets but was injured in the car wreck, suffering a concussion and an injury to his shoulder, his lawyer told the LA Times.

In both incidents the victims’ trucks were a different make and color than the Nissan Titan truck that belonged to Dorner.

“I don’t want to use the word buffoonery but it really is unbridled police lawlessness,” Robert Sheahen, Perdue’s attorney, told the LA Times. “These people need training and they need restraint.”

In the case with the two women, neighbors say at least seven officers shot at the vehicle, leaving bullet holes in neighboring cars, trees, garage doors and roofs.

“How do you mistake two Hispanic women, one who is 71, for a large black male?” resident Richard Goo, 62, told the Huffington Post. He reported the entryway to his house showed five bullet holes.

“It’s 100 percent clear that they had no idea who was in that vehicle and just lit it up,” said the attorney representing the two women in an interview with

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck met with the women in their Torrance home Saturday to apologize and tell them he had arranged for someone to donate a new pickup truck.

The LA Times reports authorities are receiving numerous calls reporting sightings of a man who appears to be Dorner.

Most recently, on Sunday evening, Los Angeles police rushed to a Lowes Hardware in Northridge because they received a tip that Dorner was shopping in the store. The search resulted in nothing.

Earlier in the week Dorner was purportedly driving a white Lexus near Barstow. The LA Times reports “he was supposedly spotted entering the county jail in downtown Los Angeles. He was allegedly holed up in a hotel in San Diego or in a park in Norco or at a home next to the Barona Indian Reservation in San Diego County.”

None of those tips checked out. The good news is there haven’t been anymore reports of innocent people being shot at.

Some Angelenos are taking their Dorner anxiety and turning in to memes. Check out some of the #DornerMemes seen in LA this past week.

Obama Plans Chicago Speech to Address Gun Violence

Obama Plans Chicago Speech to Address Gun Violence

President Obama is finally going home to Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the president plans to visit the city later this week as part of a national tour to promote his second-term priorities that he will lay out in tomorrow’s State of the Union address. The visit comes amid growing calls for the president to address Chicago’s onslaught of gun-related deaths.

Over the weekend First Lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed in Chicago just days after performing at inauguration events for the president. The slain girl’s mother, Cleopatra Pendleton, is going to be in the White House chamber as a guest during the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

However, Chicagoans wants action, not symbolic gestures. Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times put it this way: “To Chicagoans, whatever economic messages Obama wants to underscore Friday will take a back seat to anything he says about the slaughters on the streets of Chicago — 506 murders in 2012, up 16 percent from 2011 — all happening on Emanuel’s watch.”

The Black Youth Project, a Chicago-based youth group, has collected upward of 45,000 signatures on its petition to get President Obama to “come home” to Chicago to address the city’s gun violence. The group thanked the president for answering its call to action, but noted that it must be a significant address:

We thank President Obama for answering our collective call.

However, we urge the President to make his speech a substantive one that addresses the underlying factors that perpetuate violence in Black and Latino communities.

We hope his speech will detail how he will work with community groups, city and state officials to address the underlying issues leading to gun violence in the Windy City, and other cities across the country.

Namely, the illegal distribution and loose regulation of arms, the lack of living-wage jobs, the varied shortcomings of public schools, the disproportionate rate of incarceration for youth of color, the circumstances and culture that propels the cycle of violence, and yes, the misguided choices young people sometimes make.

Once again, thank you Mr. President for addressing the life or death issues facing our young people.

One of the things that the president will have to address is a sense that the lives of young black people in Chicago are just as important — and newsworthy — as those lost in mass shootings across the country. Here’s how the Black Youth Project’s petition framed the issue:

President Obama rightly went to Newtown to comfort the families who lost children in that horrific tragedy, and now it is time he come home to Chicago and comfort the over 500 families who have lost loved ones to gun violence in the past year.

Youth in my community face specific challenges that lead to gun violence — and these challenges require different solutions than other tragedies commonly invoked in current gun control debates, like Newtown and Aurora.

Stay tuned.

Largest Private Prison Group in U.S. Wishes You a Happy Black History Month

Largest Private Prison Group in U.S. Wishes You a Happy Black History Month

On Monday, the president of the largest for-profit prison corporation in the nation published a blog post wishing everyone a happy Black History Month. Damon Hininger, president and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), also urged readers to celebrate the month by honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “dream of equality for all people.”

Critics say Hininger’s well wishes are ironic considering the prison population CCA profits from is disproportionately made up of black men and women.

“We can honor Dr. King’s legacy by embracing his dream of equality for all people - regardless of race, creed or color,” Hininger wrote in the blog post.

Hininger goes on to cite President Barack Obama’s re-election and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation as moments in history that inspire him.

“We can also make a decision to be of service - to take actions that improve our communities and, ultimately, our society. The CCA Family is so diverse. Each of us possesses a unique heritage that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Our individual stories make up the narrative of American history,” wrote Hininger.

Hininger’s message fails to point out 38 percent of CCA’s “revenue stream” consists of black men and women, as an analysis from The Sentencing Project found. [PDF]

Alex Stamm of the ACLU Center for Justice points out it’s ironic Hininger references the Emancipation Proclamation because today “there are more black men in prison and jail, or on probation and parole, than were slaves before the start of the Civil War.”

“What’s most unsettling about Mr. Hininger’s missive is that it’s so completely unconscious of the reality that his company supports and depends upon a system of mass incarceration that has devastated the black community,” Stamm writes on the blog.

Christopher Francis Petrella, a doctoral candidate in African American Studies at the UC Berkeley, found people of color are over-represented in private prisons by an additional 12%. The study analyzed prison populations in California, Texas, and Arizona because they warehouse some of the largest numbers of inmates in private, for-profit prisons in the nation.

Petrella teamed up with Josh Begley, a graduate student in Interactive Telecommunications at NYU, and studied Census data and other inmate population data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

“Our sense is that applying privatization to the most vulnerable and politically marginalized racial groups allows state DOCs and the private prison industry to externalize costs without facing “legitimate” public backlash,” Petrella and Begley wrote in their report “The Color of Corporate Corrections.”

“The overrepresentation of bodies of color in private prison facilities suggests that communities of color are seen as unworthy of taxpayer supported public investment. That is, relative to for-profit correctional institutions, people of color are disproportionately siphoned away from public facilities, precisely the types of facilities that provide the most educational, pro-social, and rehabilitative programs,” Petrella and Begley went on to say in the report.

In 2011, Hininger’s total compensation from CCA was $3,696,798, according to Forbes. If his salary has remained the same, this black history month he’ll be compensated with more than $300,000.

Check out the infographic designed by Begley below.

NYPD Breaks Down ‘Stop-Frisk’ Data by Precinct and Race

NYPD Breaks Down 'Stop-Frisk' Data by Precinct and Race

Earlier this week the New York Police Department released a report that breaks down its controversial stop and frisk policy by precinct and race.

CNN breaks down the numbers: > Nearly nine out of 10 people “stopped and frisked” under a controversial New York Police Department policy in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic.

The data comes from a report released by the NYPD Monday, which showed that of the 685,724 stops made by police that year, 53% of those questioned were black, 34% were Latino, 9% were white and 3% were Asian.

The citywide population in 2011 was 23.4% black, 29.4% Hispanic, 12.9% Asian, and 34.3% non-Hispanic white, according to the report.

Brooklyn’s 75th precinct, covering East New York and Cypress Hills, had the most stops in the department. Ninety-seven of the more than 31,000 people stopped were black or Latino.

Brooklyn’s 73rd Precinct, covering Brownsville, was the next highest, with 25,167 stops. About 98 percent involved people of color.

The 40th Precinct in The Bronx, which covers Mott Haven and Melrose, ‘stopped and frisked’ 17,690 members of the community— with 98.5 percent involving people of color.

“While it appears at first blush to be a slick, fact-filled response, nothing in the report can dispute the reality that stop and frisk NYPD-style is targeted overwhelmingly at people of color, so innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, that all but 12 percent walk away without so much as a ticket,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement to the NY Post.

A July 2012 report from the Center for Constitutional Rights also found members of a range of other communities are also experiencing “devastating impact from this [stop-and-frisk] program,” including LGBTQ/GNC people, non-citizens, homeless people, religious minorities, low-incomepeople, residents of certain neighborhoods and youth.

It’s Still Not Enough for Michelle Obama to Attend Hadiya Pendleton’s Funeral

It's Still Not Enough for Michelle Obama to Attend Hadiya Pendleton's Funeral

The White House announced this week that First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the funeral of slain teenager Hadiya Pendleton. Amid an onslaught of brutal violence in Chicago, Pendleton has become one of the most high profile victims of the city’s gun violence because her death happened within days of her performing at President Obama’s second inauguration.

As I wrote in an in-depth piece on Chicago’s violence that was published yesterday, those working to end the bloodshed have more questions than answers. The Black Youth Project, a youth advocacy group that’s based in Chicago, has launched a petition to get the president to make a speech about gun violence in Chicago. While the first lady’s presence is important, the group argues that it’s not nearly enough of a national response. In a press released, the group called Mrs. Obama’s appearance an “appropriate response to this incredible tragedy”, but added “at the same time we want to be clear that Michelle Obama’s presence at the funeral does not in any way address the systemic issues contributing to gun violence in Chicago and other urban areas.”

Last weekend, Black Youth Project founder Cathy Cohen spoke of the need for a coordinated national response on MSNBC:

“There’s a needed coordination on the national level at this point,” Cohen told Melissa Harris Perry. “People are trying to do whatever they can, from community groups, NGO’s, to faith-based communities, but there’s a leadership and coordination that’s needed from the national level.”

Who You Calling a Model Minority? New Report Dispels Myths About Asian Americans

Who You Calling a Model Minority? New Report Dispels Myths About Asian Americans

Asian Americans are more than the collection of stereotypes that follow them doggedly. And in California, home to the nation’s largest immigrant population and the second-largest community of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, they are an especially diverse and contrasting community.

So says a new report out this week by the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of Asian Americans and NHPIs living below the poverty line in California increased 50 percent, while the number of unemployed Asian Americans and NHPIs grew by nearly 200 percent. Mongolian, Hmong and Cambodian-Americans in particular have higher poverty rates and lower per capita income than whites. And while Asian Americans are broadly thought to be high-achieving, high-earning and highly educated, Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese and Fijian-Americans face significant barriers to education, and some of the lowest college attendance rates in the country.

At Least Eight States Have Already Considered Welfare Drug Tests This Year

At Least Eight States Have Already Considered Welfare Drug Tests This Year

In the first few weeks of the new legislative sessions, lawmakers in at least 8 states have proposed bills to impose drug tests on applicants to family safety net programs.

Last year I reported that Republican state legislators went on something of a frenzy proposing bills that require recipients of safety net benefits to pass drug tests. Despite repeated court decisions that the laws are unconstitutional, state lawmakers are at it again this year. And they’ve added some new ideas for lambasting safety net programs too.

Already this year North Dakota, Kansas, Oregon, Illinois, New Hampshire, Alaska, Nevada, Virginia have considered drug testing requirements this year. Most of the bills were introduced this week.

Since there’s little evidence that welfare, food stamp and unemployment insurance applicants use assistance to bankroll addictions, critics say the laws are little more than slander.

Beyond drug testing, legislatures are expanding their repertoires.

A Tennessee lawmaker introduced legislation last week to stop welfare payments to parents if their kids get bad grades in school. The sponsor, State Senator Stacey Campfield said, “One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education.” But he added, “We have done little to hold [parents] accountable for their child’s performance.”

The bill would chop nearly a third of family’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits, already a pittance, if their child fails to pass state competency tests or get’s held back. How exactly the threat to make poor people poorer will improve educational outcomes isn’t at all clear.

And last month, North Carolina lawmakers got excited about banning poor people on welfare from buying lottery tickets. The Republican state representative who floated the idea has since backed off, but the hoopla over the proposal may already have pegged poverty to irresponsible spending.

It’s just February 7th, which means there’s plenty of time for more states to get on board.

Rubio to Deliver ‘Estado de la Unión’ Rebuttal in English and Spanish

Rubio to Deliver 'Estado de la Unión' Rebuttal in English and Spanish

On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to deliver the Republican Address to the Nation following the President’s State of the Union address.

Rubio, who is Cuban-American, will be delivered the rebuttal in both English and Spanish, according to a press release sent out by McConnell’s office.

His speech will focus more on the Republicans’ “commitment to limited government as the best way to help the middle class,” according to a source close to Rubio who spoke to the NYT.

“Marco Rubio is one of our party’s most dynamic and inspiring leaders. He carries our party’s banner of freedom, opportunity and prosperity in a way few others can. His family’s story is a testament to the promise and greatness of America,” said Speaker Boehner in the press release. “He’ll deliver a GOP address that speaks from the heart to the hopes and dreams of the middle class; to our party’s commitment to life and liberty; and to the unlimited potential of America when government is limited and effective.”

The New and Improved ‘God Made a Farmer’ Ads

The New and Improved 'God Made a Farmer' Ads

“We saw Dodge’s ‘God Made A Farmer’ ad and we thought it didn’t reflect the whole picture. So we gave it a bit of a fix,” reads the description for the video uploaded to the Brave New Foundation’s YouTube channel.

The video first appeared on BNF’s Cuéntame Facebook page where they pointed out that around 70 percent of U.S. agricultural farmworkers were born in Mexico.

The latest Census of Agriculture published in 2007 shows there is also growing ethnic and racial diversity among farm operators nationwide, and the percentage of women operators is up.

Below you’ll find a second re-imagined ‘farmer ad’ produced by investigative reporter Isaac Cubillos.

Girls’ Lena Dunham: ‘I Blurted Out to My Dad, ‘Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Reviewed” My Show!

Girls' Lena Dunham: 'I Blurted Out to My Dad, 'Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Reviewed'' My Show!

Last week Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a review of HBO’s “Girls” that was critical of the show’s characters and their privileges. The show’s creator Lena Dunham says she was excited to hear the sports legend watched her show but it ends there.

“I have to admit, I only skimmed it,” Dunham told “It seemed like a mixed review and I have a policy about not reading those.”

“[Abdul-Jabbar’s] review of Girls was called to my attention on Twitter,” Dunham said. “And I blurted out to my dad, ‘Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reviewed Girls.’ And he said, ‘I don’t even know how to process that. I don’t even know what that means.’”

Dunham then pivoted to praise Abdul-Jabbar’s guest appearance on the sitcom “New Girl” in April 2012.

“Kareem crushed it on New Girl,” Dumham told E. “So if we’re ever in need of a Kareem type, he’s definitely the first person I’d go to.”

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