Gabby Douglas, Wu Tsang Featured In New York Times’ ‘Twelve For 12’ List

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and artist/filmmaker Wu Tsang are featured in the New York Times and T Magazine’s “Twelve For ‘12″ list. The list highlights notable designers, Olympians, filmmakers, writers and innovators.

A$ap Rocky, Allison Adler, Ang Lee, Bones the Machine, Cheryl Strayed, Ciarra Pardo, D.J. Aaron, Edward Barber are also included in this year’s list.

Gabrielle Douglas was identified as an “American icon” on the list.


Gabrielle DOUGLAS Douglas’s Olympic achievement — winning gold in both individual and group gymnastics competitions, and being the first African-American to do so — has made her something of an instant American icon. She’s currently on a national tour, and her autobiography comes out this month from HarperCollins.

US Court Upholds $1 Mil for Latino Student Harassed in High School

US Court Upholds $1 Mil for Latino Student Harassed in High School

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City upheld a $1 million jury award to a Latino man who endured 3 1/2 years of racial harassment at a rural high school in New York.

Anthony Zeno transferred from Long Island to Stissing Mountain High School in Pine Plains, New York for his Freshman year of high school. A number of students used Zeno’s race as a basis to taunt, harass, menace, and physically assault him, according to court documents.

Court documents identified Zeno as a “dark-skinned,” “half-white, half-Latino.”

The town of Pine Plains, NY is close to 92% white, according to the 2010 Census. In 2005, when Zeno entered the school there were 439 white students, 8 blacks students and 6 Latinos.

Court documents show the violence against Zeno escalated over time and included his sister also:

During Anthony’s fourth year, he reported fewer incidents of harassment to SMHS authorities. When incidents did occur, however, they were serious. For example, at an SMHS football game in September 2007, a student called Anthony’s sister a “slut” and threatened to kick Anthony’s “black ass.” Anthony and this student began to fight. Anthony’s friend tried to intervene and break up the fight when another student suddenly “jumped” Anthony’s friend, choking him until he lost consciousness. Off-duty officers broke up the fight. The student who choked Anthony’s friend ultimately received a 45-day suspension.

Students continued to call Anthony a “nigger” in the hallways “all the time,” and he reported these comments to Howe. Similarly, he encountered continued racial harassment on the bus to his off-campus BOCES program.

“We conclude there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the jury’s finding that the District’s responses to student harassment of Anthony amounted to deliberate indifference to discrimination,” Judge Denny Chin wrote for the unanimous panel.

Chin continued: “He received explicit threats as well as implied threats, such as references to lynching.”

Zeno “was a teenager being subjected — at a vulnerable point in his life — to three-and-a-half years of racist, demeaning, threatening, and violent conduct,” the court said in their decision. “Furthermore, the conduct occurred at his school, in the presence of friends, classmates, other students, and teachers. The jury reasonably could have found that the harassment would have a profound and long-term impact on Anthony’s life and his ability to earn a living.”

Could San Francisco Giants’ Sergio Romo Become a Pro-Migrant Ice Cream Icon?

Could San Francisco Giants' Sergio Romo Become a Pro-Migrant Ice Cream Icon?

Ice cream for immigration reform? Maybe, just maybe, if Bay Area ice cream company Three Twins gets its way. See above for a packaging mockup of a potential new ice cream flavor—Mexican Chocolate—to join the company’s grocery store lineup. The new flavor, in a nod to Sergio Romo, the World Series-winning pitcher for the San Francisco Giants who celebrated the team’s championship win in October with a loud and proud pro-migrant fashion statement, features his cartoonized face prominently. The label gives a cheeky shoutout to Romo’s now-famous “I Just Look Illegal” t-shirt by telling customers, “It only tastes illegal.”

Proceeds from the sale of the flavor, which would mix chocolate ice cream with cinnamon, would be donated to “immigration reform,” Three Twins also said. On the company’s Facebook page, Three Twins made a public pitch Monday to try to get the official OK from the athlete to use his image, with this message:

We want to make Sergio Romo’s Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream (it only tastes illegal) and raise money for immigration reform. Are any of you pals with him and can get us in touch? And more importantly, who wants some Mexican Chocolate in grocery stores?

Few of the ice cream maker’s Facebook fans disagreed with the flavor, the political message, the Mexican flag emblazoned on the baseball, or even where the proceeds would go, but several did point out that the sombreros the twins are wearing on the label, which don’t appear on the packaging for Three Twins’ other flavors, are “culturally iffy.” So, what do you say?

In First Courtroom Battle, Gov. Jindal’s Voucher Program Declared Unconstitutional

In First Courtroom Battle, Gov. Jindal's Voucher Program Declared Unconstitutional

The legal fight is so very far from over, but on Friday, the first act for Act 2’s courtroom drama ended with a crushing defeat for private school choice and voucher proponents. A Louisiana judge declared Act 2 unconstitutional after a brisk three-day trial. The law was Gov. Bobby Jindal’s crowning 2012 education reform achievement. Among other reforms, it instituted the largest statewide voucher program in the nation to give private schools and entities money designated for public schools in exchange for educating students from low-income families.

Gov. Jindal, whose reform playbook is borrowed from ALEC and other conservative forces who have aggressively introduced market forces into the public school sphere with the ostensible goal of improving public education, vowed an appeal. “Today’s ruling is wrong headed and a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education,” the governor said in a statement on Friday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

“On behalf of the citizens that cast their votes for reform, the parents who want more choices, and the kids who deserve a chance, we will appeal today’s decision, and I’m confident we will prevail,” Jindal said. “All along, we expected this to be decided by the Louisiana Supreme Court.”

Next Dream for Immigrant Youth: Legalization for All 11 Million Undocumented Migrants

Fresh off an election year filled with historic victories, the immigrant youth movement today announced plans for 2013 and its next big fights ahead. One thing is certain: 2013 will be a very long year.

No longer content to fight just for the rights of a narrow portion of the community, and emboldened by their 2012 wins, immigrant youth are expanding their demands to call for an end to deportations and the legalization of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Also in their platform is a call to end the immigration enforcement policies like Secure Communities, 287(g), and E-Verify, which purport to look out for the national security and economic interests of the country but have had the primary effect of devastating immigrant communities.

The agenda is part of a six-point platform that was unanimously ratified this weekend during the national congress held by United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network. UWD, comprised of 47 member organizations which make up the broadest base of the immigrant youth movement, brought together what it calls the largest gathering of undocumented immigrant youth—600 activists altogether, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Immigrant youth who have been at the forefront of the immigrant rights movement “pledged to hold both parties accountable and fight for families and communities and win a roadmap to citizenship and fair treatment for all immigrants who call this country home,” said Lorella Praeli, the advocacy and policy director for UWD.

‘Undocumented Immigrants’ Could Jump to #3 Spot on TIME’s Poll, Thanks to 4Chan

'Undocumented Immigrants' Could Jump to #3 Spot on TIME's Poll, Thanks to 4Chan

Over the weekend undocumented immigrants jumped to the number four spot on TIME Magazine’s person of the year poll. The group has quickly moved to the #4 spot on their own but they could soon move up to the #3 spot and stay there thanks to 4chan users.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is currently in first place of TIME’s poll — thanks to some funny business by users on 4chan, the image-based bulletin board with 18 million visitors a month.

A 4chan user successfully encouraged the community to vote for the newly crowned leader and hours later that same user posted a script for people to download to automate the voting process.

Now that Kim Jong-un is at the top, 4chan hopes to spell “KJUGASCHAMBERS” with the first letter of every TIME candidate’s name. “KJUGASCHAMBERS” is the name of the concentration camp near the border of Russia and China, used by the North Korean government according to the Guardian.

The third letter in “KJUGASCHAMBERS” could easily go to “Undocumented Immigrants” since they’re already in the fourth place.

The Guardian once summarized the 4chan community as “lunatic, juvenile… brilliant, ridiculous and alarming.” The online community group has made national headlines before with North Korea-related pranks.

When Justin Bieber decided to allow the his fans determine his next touring destination, the folks at 4chan ensured he’d end up in North Korea. 

Voting for TIME’s person of year poll closes at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 12, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 14. You can vote on

The TIME poll clearly points out that “as always TIME’s editors will choose the Person of the Year,” so ultimately they’ll have the final say of who ends up on the cover of the magazine at the end of the month.

Legendary Blues Singer Buddy Guy Receives Kennedy Center Honors

Legendary Blues Singer Buddy Guy Receives Kennedy Center Honors

President Barack Obama presented the legendary blues singer Buddy Guy with one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors Sunday night. He called Guy “one of the last guardians of the great American blues.”

Born into a Louisiana sharecropper family, the six-time Grammy Award winner helped pioneer the electric blues with other legends including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

The president recognized seven individuals - Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant - for their lifetime contributions to the country’s culture through the performing arts.

“Each of us can remember a moment when the people on this stage touched our lives. … Maybe they inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently.” Obama said. “It is that unique power that makes the arts so important.”

After the awards ceremony former President Bill Clinton delivered a toast to Guy, saying he had traveled from a cotton patch to the concrete jungle of Chicago to emerge as the “greatest living blues guitarist.”

“From picking cotton in the field to picking a guitar in the White House, that is a long ways man,” Guy told reporters at the Kennedy Center.

Michelle Obama Stuns In Gold Gown At Kennedy Center Honors [Photos]

You could see Michelle Obama from a far at last night’s Kennedy Center Honors held in Washington D.C. The First Lady wore a gold lamé chiffon dress that reflected the lights in the room.

President Obama and the First Lady attended the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony on Sunday. The president recognized seven individuals - Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant - for their lifetime contributions to the country’s culture through the performing arts.


The First Lady’s dress was designed by Michael Kors, and is part of his Resort 2013 collection, according to “Mrs. O.”

Marvin Gaye’s Son Says Lenny Kravitz Playing his Father is ‘Shameful’

Marvin Gaye's Son Says Lenny Kravitz Playing his Father is 'Shameful'

Last week Lenny Kravitz confirmed he would be playing Marvin Gaye in an upcoming biopic currently titled “Sexual Healing.” The film that’s currently in pre-production reportedly focuses on Gaye’s life in the 1980s when the Motown legend battled drug abuse and depression.

Gaye’s son Marvin Gaye III tells TMZ his family doesn’t support the project and that he’s upset Lenny Kravitz accepted the role to play his father.

The project is being led by English film director Julien Temple who started his career with short films featuring the Sex Pistols. His credits include directing documentaries on Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston and David Bowie.

Here’s an excerpt of Marvin Gaye III’s interview with TMZ:

Marvin Gaye III tells TMZ, “The producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful … [They’re] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don’t even know the whole story.” 

 Marvin’s son says he and Kravitz were schoolmates — and remain friends to this day — so he wants to “talk to him about why he would do this.”

Marvin Jr. tells us he and other family members are meeting with lawyers to try to stop production — and added, “I would hope [Lenny] doesn’t have any idea that we are against this film being done.”

Marvin Gaye III’s criticism sounds similar to recent comments made by Nina Simone’s daughter about an unauthorized biopic on her mother. Simone’s daughter wrote an open-letter to fans in September to say “The Nina Simone Estate was never asked permission nor invited to participate” in the film titled “Nina.” The film is currently in post production.

Actor Mike Epps is playing the role of Richard Pryor in “Nina.” Epps reached out to Pryor’s widow Jennifer Pryor before signing on to play the role, TMZ reported in October.

Black Males Ages 13-24 Hit Hardest With New HIV Infections in U.S.


FIGURE 1: Number of new HIV infections among youths aged 13-24 years, by sex and race/ethnicity — United States, 2010 (CDC)



Prevalence rates of persons aged 13-24 years living with a diagnosis of HIV infection* — National HIV Surveillance System, United States, year-end 2009

Young people age 13 to 24 made up about a quarter of all new HIV infections in the U.S. during 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this week. 

In 2010, of the estimated 47,500 new HIV infections, 12,200 were among youths. An estimated 7,000 (57.4%) newly infected youths were blacks/African Americans, 2,390 (19.6%) were Latinos, and 2,380 (19.5%) were whites.

Among blacks, the study found new diagnosis disproportionately affected males: 5,600 infections were for males compared to 1,400 for females.

The following is an excerpt from the CDC report that includes more details and agency’s suggested solutions:

Based on the most recent data available from 2009 and 2010, youths represent 6.7% of persons living with HIV in the United States and account for 25.7% of new HIV infections. Of new HIV infections among youths, 45.9% were among black/African American males, the majority of which were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact. Nationwide, the percentage of youths who had ever been tested for HIV was low compared with other age groups: 12.9% among high school students (22.2% among those who ever had sexual intercourse) and 34.5% among persons aged 18-24 years.

The higher HIV prevalence among blacks/African Americans overall (nearly three times higher than among Hispanics/Latinos and nearly eight times higher than among whites) and men who have sex with men (MSM) overall (nearly 40 times higher than other men ) contributes to the disproportionate number of new HIV infections among black/African American youths and young MSM. Because of this disparity, black/African American youths are at higher risk for infection even with similar levels of risk behaviors. Other research has found that among young MSM, other factors such as stigma, discrimination, less condom use, more alcohol and drug use, and having sex with older partners contribute to even higher risk for HIV acquisition. This analysis also found that young MSM were significantly less likely to use condoms during last sexual intercourse, more likely to drink alcohol or use drugs before last sexual intercourse, and more likely to have four or more partners during their lifetime compared with young men who had sexual intercourse only with females. These behaviors are associated with substantial risk for infection. In one study among MSM, the attributable risk for new HIV infection was 29% for using alcohol or drugs before sex and 32% for having four to nine sex partners. Further, in a study of primarily young MSM, 75% of those with acute HIV infection reported sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol compared with 31% of HIV-uninfected MSM. Moreover, the risk for HIV infection doubled for MSM with a sex partner 5 years older and quadrupled with a sex partner 10 years older.

More than half (59.5%) of youths with HIV are unaware of their infection. Although the number of new HIV infections is highest among males, fewer males have been tested for HIV than females. Routine HIV testing as part of regular medical care is recommended by CDC for all persons aged 13-64 years and by the American Academy of Pediatrics for all youths by age 16-18 years and all sexually active youths regardless of age. Better adherence to these guidelines, especially for males, is needed to increase early HIV diagnosis and facilitate treatment that improves health and reduces transmission.

Lastly, before drawing any assumptions you may want to read the truth about the “down low” and HIV.


The Kids Found Someone They Love More Than Michelle Obama: Bo

First Bo Obama made a final inspection of the 2012 White House Christmas decorations before he and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families on Wednesday.

Then the kids ran in to greet Bo. And Michelle Obama was just there holding the leash.


Children run to greet Bo the dog as First Lady Michelle Obama leads him through the State Dining Room as she welcomes military families to share in this year’s White House holiday decoration on November, 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

House Says Science PhD’s Yes, Everyday Immigrants No

House Says Science PhD's Yes, Everyday Immigrants No

With their hasty post-election pivot on immigration reform, Republicans are the ones who get to act all disappointed in Democrats for a seeming failure to show up on the issue. The much-snubbed Achieve Act was a Republican concoction. As was the STEM Jobs Act, which sailed through the House on a 245-139 vote today.

The STEM Jobs Act, authored by Republican Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, would offer permanent residency to immigrants with master’s and doctorate degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering and math. Encouraging highly educated professionals in science and technology to stay in the U.S. is a bipartisan priority; Democrats and Republicans have acknowledged the economic imperative of such a move. The STEM Jobs Act has the vocal support of tech companies like Intel and Microsoft, who’ve long advocated for more friendly policy to allow the highly educated to stay in the country.

During his 2012 State of the Union President Obama called for reform to explicitly accommodate this class of immigrants who, “we send … home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else,” immediately after they receive their education in the U.S. “That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Visits Day Laborers Working in Sandy Relief [Video]

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis  Visits Day Laborers Working in Sandy Relief [Video]

From video description on YouTube: 

via National Day Laborer Organizing Network

On November 29th, Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis visited El Centro in Staten Island to see the day laborer reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Sandy. She expressed her support for their sacrifice and contribution as they work to rebuild their communities.

New York Fast Food Workers Head Back to Work With Community Escorts

New York Fast Food Workers Head Back to Work With Community Escorts

It’s 44°F and raining in New York City this morning but community members are escorting workers who walked out on their fast food restaurant jobs yesterday back to work. Community members say they’re there for support and hopes that workers don’t face retaliation when striking workers go back on the job.

The petition calling on fast food companies to pay their workers a living wage came close to getting 16,000 signatures on Thursday. Much of the attention to the petition came by way of dozens of workers who went on strike for a day to call attention to the low wages and working conditions at fast food restaurants throughout New York.

Most workers are making just $7.25 an hour and their average yearly salary is $11,000—that’s only 25% of the money the need to survive in NYC, according to the campaign.

The workers coming together to strike is a major act of courage because of likely retaliation from their employers. Among them are some who have already lost their jobs for organizing Thursday’s strike.

Community members are thanking workers who walked off their jobs yesterday by accompanying them back to work. Check out some of the updates below.

You can support the workers by signing the campaign’s petition at

French Media Outlets Report Strauss-Kahn, NY Maid Settle for $6 Million

French Media Outlets Report Strauss-Kahn, NY Maid Settle for $6 Million

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Nafissitou Diallo, the New York hotel house keeper who accused him of sexually assaulting her last year, will settle out of court for $6 million, French media reports said on Friday.

The legal teams on both sides will not comment but the two largest French newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro are reporting Strauss-Kahn and Diallo are expected to meet on December 7 to “sign a financial agreement ending the civil proceedings.” The Associated Press and The New York Times also reported Strauss-Kahn and Diallo had reached a deal on Thursday but they did not disclose any information of a cash settlement.

The alleged settlement comes eighteen months after Diallo told police Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her when she came to clean his 28th-floor suite at the Sofitel hotel. Days later a grand jury indicted Strauss-Kahn on charges including attempted rape, sexual abuse, criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.

But the case fell apart in the weeks after as prosecutors began to have concerns about the housekeeper’s credibility.

Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, was dissected by the press. The New York Times reported she lied about her immigration status and her finances. The NY Post published a story that said everything short of, “Ooooh, she gave that man AIDS!”’s Gender Matters reporter Akiba Solomon  read the 25-page explanation of why prosecutors no longer believed Diallo to be credible, below is an except from her story published in August 2011:

In it, they cite the fact that she had three different accounts of what she did immediately after the sexual encounter; that she lied about her earnings to retain lower-income housing; and that she had questionable financial dealings with an incarcerated man she called her fiance.

A year later Strauss-Kahn would go on to file a $1 million counter-claim against Diallo for the loss of his job, defamation and false imprisonment. But that was followed by a motion for dismissal by Strauss-Kahn week later.

And now Le Monde is reporting details of the alleged $6 million settlement between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who went himself to New York several times in recent months, told several of his relatives that the main elements of the agreement had come to be found at the end of the summer . According to his confidences, he should pay $ 6 million (4.64 million euros) to that accuses him of sexual assault.

To his friends, he also said he did not have the money personally. Despite some lectures in private universities or at the invitation of major banks, and despite his consulting business, including Morocco , Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 63, has in fact no income or assets sufficient.

It should therefore, as he told his family, getting a bank loan of $ 3 million. His wife Anne Sinclair , are living separate since this summer, should also lend the remaining $ 3 million.

Le Monde interviewed Christopher Mesnooh, a member of the Bars in both Paris and New York, who said the $6 million dollar figure isn’t out of the question. “Given the stakes of this case, the media, the social position of Mr. Strauss-Kahn and the need for him to finish with this story, such a sum is not shocking. Transaction should logically located in millions of dollars.”

Obama Served Romney White Turkey Chili at White House Today [Photo]

Obama Served Romney White Turkey Chili at White House Today [Photo]

This afternoon, President Obama and Governor Romney visited for an hour over lunch in the Private Dining Room adjacent to the Oval Office.

Obama and Romney “pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future,” the White House said.

Their lunch menu included white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.

Study Finds Negative Portrayals of Muslims Get More Media Attention

Organizations using fear and anger to spread negative messages about Muslims have moved from the fringes of public discourse into the mainstream media since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to new research by a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Christopher Bail, an assistant professor of sociology in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, used plagiarism detection software to track the influence of 1,084 press releases about Muslims from 120 organizations on more than 50,000 television transcripts and newspaper articles produced from 2001 to 2008.

Bail analyzed articles from the New York Times, USA Today and the Washington Times, as well as stories from CBS, CNN and Fox’s television broadcast.

“I found that organizations with negative messages about Muslims captivated the mass media after the Sept. 11 attacks, even though the vast majority of civil society organizations depict Muslims as peaceful, contributing members of American society,” said Bail in a statement.

“As a result, public condemnations of terrorism by Muslims have received little media attention, but organizations spreading negative messages continue to stoke public fears that Muslims are secretly plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.”

His study titled, “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam since the September 11th Attacks,” appears in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

You can also download a PDF version of the study on Bail’s website.

Is That a ‘Muslim Obama’ Bobblehead in Glenn Beck’s ‘Pee Pee’ Jar?


Glenn Beck’s “Obama pee stunt” has made national headlines but no ones pointed out that the figurine inside the jar is a kneeling President Obama with his hands in mid air in prayer position. The Obama figurine is also seen wearing a white robe.

For years now Beck has argued President Obama has “shocking ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood” and has suggested the commander in chief may be Muslim himself.

So, is the figurine seen inside the jar supposed to be a Muslim Obama? Out of all the Obama figurines and bobbleheads out there, why pick the religious figure to stick in a jar of “pee pee”?

Here’s the last picture before the “Obama in Pee Pee” piece of “art” was taken down from the auction site (eBay screengrab via The Examiner):


“The popular online auction site eBay has yanked a piece of artwork done by Glenn Beck citing its belief that the project featured an Obama figurine floating in actual urine (it was not, however),” wrote Tiffany Gabbay on Beck’s site, The Blaze.

According to The Blaze, eBay sent the following notification: “not allow bodily fluids to be listed on our site. Even if the liquid in the jar is not urine, you are describing it as such.”

In a stunt to teach his audience about the Constitution and free speech, Beck initially suggested the jar was filled with his urine:

After a day drinking a lot of water, Glenn had a mason jar filled with…his own special brew of yellow liquid on set. Glenn took a Obama figurine, and then placed it in the jar. The result? “Obama in Pee Pee” - which will soon be up for sale for $25,000.

Beck later backtracked and said the liquid was actually beer. (The Examiner reports it’s actually Country Time Lemonade.) Still, because the eBay auction states the jar is filled with a bodily fluid eBay took the auction down.

That didn’t stop Beck though. He went on to solicit bids via e-mail this morning.

Arizona Sued for Denying Driver’s Licenses to Immigrant Youth

Arizona Sued for Denying Driver's Licenses to Immigrant Youth

A coalition of civil rights groups filed a class action suit in federal court today, challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s executive order denying drivers licenses to young undocumented immigrants granted work permits through President Obama’s deferred action program. The suit is latest in a line of legal challenged against the Arizona governor who’s made a name for herself as a supporter of anti-immigrant legislation and an opponent of the Obama administration.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which Pres. Obama issued in June, allows some young undocumented immigrants who came the country as children to stay in the country with authorization to work. In most states this authorization means recipients can also apply for driver’s licenses.

But on August 15, the day the federal government began accepting DACA applications, Gov. Brewer issued exec. order 2012-06, barring her state agencies from providing services or offering programs to recipients of deferred action. This includes the Arizona Department of Transportation, which now denies licenses to immigrants presenting DACA documents.

There are approximately 80,000 young people in Arizona eligible to apply for relief from deportation under the program.

The complaint, filed today by the American Civil Liberties, the National Immigrant Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of five named undocumented defendants and the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition claims that the ban makes it “difficult, if not impossible for [DACA recipients] to accomplish essential aspects of daily life” like getting to work, school or medical appointments.

In addition to Gov. Brewer, the complaint names as defendants John Halikowski, the director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, and Stacy Stanton, assistant director of the department’s Motor Vehicle Division. The two state officials applied Brewer’s order to deny licenses to DACA recipients.

Alejandra Lopez is one of the plaintiffs in the case. Lopez, 19, came to the United States when he was four and is raising her baby son and her four and 15-year-old brothers. She was granted deferred action, but without a license was turned down from a job that required a commute by car.

The complaint claims the executive order violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which grants the federal government power over immigration lawmaking, and the Equal Protection Clause, by denying licenses “without any valid justification, including even a rational basis.”

Gov. Brewer’s executive order barred DACA recipients from all state services, asserting that a grant of deferred action though the particular Obama Administarion program does not amount to proof legitimate immigration status.

“The Deferred Action program does not and cannot confer lawful or authorized status upon the unlawful alien applicants,” Brewer said in her order.

But the executive order contradicts existing Arizona law, which regularly grants licenses to immigrants with permission to be present and work in the country.

“It’s not up to the states to decide for themselves that DACA recipients are not authorized when the federal government has said that they are,” Jennifer Chang Newell, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project told “Hopefully we can help ensure that other states keep issuing licenses and don’t follow Arizona.”

The suit, announced today at a press conference in Tempe, AZ, is the latest challenge from these and other civil rights groups against Arizona and Gov. Brewer for violating the rights of immigrants and overstepping state authority.

The three groups are currently involved in a civil rights suit against Arizona’s SB 1070, the “show me your papers” law.

Here’s Why Hundreds of NYC Fast Food Workers Are Striking Today

Here's Why Hundreds of NYC Fast Food Workers Are Striking Today

Workers at dozens of fast-food restaurants in New York City walked off the job Thursday morning. Organizers say New Yorkers will see hundreds of workers on strike at some of the largest fast food chains including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants across the city.

The workers’ campaign is Fast Food Forward. They’re coming together to fight for $15 / hour and the right to form a union. The campaign’s goal is to put money back in the pockets of the 50,000 men and women who work hard in the city’s fast food industry - but still can’t afford basic necessities like food, clothing, and rent.

The workers coming together is a major act of courage because among them are some who have already faced retaliation for organizing today’s strike.

Jose Cerillo, a 79-year-old man who’s been cleaning floors at McDonald’s since 1996 was fired recently for organizing workers to support Fast Food Forward. After 16 years of working there he was making $7.40 an hour, 15 cents above minimum wage, reports.

You can support the workers by signing the campaign’s petition at

Also, If you’re in New York you can support the workers by visiting one of the picket sites listed at the end of this story.

The organizing drive is backed by community organizing groups like New York Communities for Change as well as the SEIU. New York Communities for Change organizing director Jonathan Westin told Salon the current effort is “the biggest organizing campaign that’s happened in the fast food industry.”

The main strike sites and picket times are listed below:

McDonalds- 280 Madison avenue @40th street-6am (media location 6:30am)

Yum and Burger King-Penn Station-Midtown- 11am-1pm (Media location noon) Gather at BK on 34th between 7th and 8th.

Wendy’s- 425 Fulton St. Wendy’s-Brooklyn-11am -1pm (Media location noon)

McDonalds- 220 West 42nd Street- Times Square- 4pm-6pm (Rally/ media location 5pm)

additional picket locations & times

1) Harlem-McDonalds- 145 east 125 street 11am-1pm

2) Harlem- McDonalds- 2142 3rd Ave 10-noon

3) Brooklyn-KFC- 495 Nostrand Ave noon-1pm

4) Brooklyn KFC-798 4th Ave # 812 11a-noon

5) Time Square- McDonalds 1188 Avenue Of The Americas 7am-9:30am

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