Antares Explodes, Peshmerga Fighters Arrive in Turkey, F.B.I. Fakes Seattle Times Story

Antares Explodes, Peshmerga Fighters Arrive in Turkey, F.B.I. Fakes Seattle Times Story

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • NASA’s Antares rocket launch ends in utter catastrophe, raising questions about the future of the space agency’s commercial spaceflight program.  
TAGS: Morning Rush

Activists: Calling a Mexican Restaurant ‘Illegal Pete’s’ is Racist

Activists: Calling a Mexican Restaurant 'Illegal Pete's' is Racist

A growing fast-food chain is under scrutiny in Colorado.

Illegal Pete’s—a burrito chain that opened its first location in Boulder in 1995—is set to open its seventh location in Fort Collins on November 13. But some Fort Collins residents are calling the use of “illegal” in the name of the Mexican chain racist. 

Antonette Aragón, a professor at Colorado State University, was one of about 30 people who spoke with chain owner Pete Turner at a community meeting last week. “When you use this term [illegal] it has a power and is very disturbing,” says Aragón of why she participated in the discussion. “It’s disturbing in the sense that it’s racist and continues the status quo.”

Turner says that although he sometimes felt uncomfortable hearing people’s concerns, he felt great about the meeting because it was done in good faith. “People’s feelings are always valid,” he says.

Those feelings have also been expressed on social media, as well as in private and open letters addressed to Turner. In a letter published on Coloradoan, professor Antero Garcia explained the historical context in which people object to the restaurant’s name:

The restaurant will be located in the same area that current Fort Collins residents remember often seeing signs saying “No dogs or Mexicans.” It is under this legacy of American racist practices that the name Illegal Pete’s becomes unacceptable. I understand that this may not seem fair to you — as it may not be the origin of the name. However, the slippery nature of sociocultural context in the United States is something that cannot be dictated by us as individuals — they are a part of a culture of white supremacy that we remain entrenched within and which your restaurant’s name furthers.

The chain’s owner stresses that the name—which he says he took from a novel he read in college—was never meant to be a commentary on anything to do with immigration or race.

“There was no intent [with the name],” says Turner, who adds that he wanted customers to be intrigued by an edgy-sounding name and draw their own conclusions about it.


Turner does concede that one of the images on the restaurant’s website (see above)—which features his first employee, Orlando, with a black bar over his eyes—could be seen as linking crime to Latino people. He says he plans to take the image down soon and replace it with a similar image of himself or non-Latino employees.

But for people like Aragón, Turner’s intent is hardly what’s at stake.

“[Turner] is saying his intent is meaningless. But what’s the interpretation that people are taking this as?” she asks.

Meanwhile, both Aragón and Turner have been alarmed by explicit racists who are siding with the restaurant’s name—using what’s, so far, been a conversation where two sides have started a dialogue and turning it into fodder for hateful commentary.

Turner told Colorlines that he’s already made a decision and says that if he does drop “illegal,” it won’t be limited to the new location. “I’d have to change the entire thing,” says Turner. “[There’ve] been 20 years of branding and a lot to consider here.” Turner says he will share his decision with critics first, and then he will announce it to the public by Wednesday of next week. 

Investigating the Dearth of Black Males Among Science and Math Ph.Ds

Investigating the Dearth of Black Males Among Science and Math Ph.Ds

This week, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a suite of articles examining an enduring phenomena of academia: the dearth of black men in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Far from being a great mystery, the troublingly low numbers of black men in science and math fields is a well-tracked, if entrenched, issue. In 1992, black men received 138 of the more than 11,000 STEM doctorate degrees awarded in the U.S. In 2012, they were only 334 of 16,545 STEM doctorate degree graduates, The Chronicle of Higher Ed reported.

Stacey Patton, writing for The Chronicle, tracks some of the myriad contributing factors, as well as experts’ frustration with the undertones of the discourse:

Among the factors are academic and cultural isolation, the difficulty of performing in the face of negative stereotypes and low expectations among faculty members, a lack of mentors of color and friendship networks, concerns about financial debt, inadequate advising and emotional support during times of stress, and lack of exposure to hands-on research.

Some scholars have also argued, in reports and academic journals over the years, that the movement to broaden minority participation has tended to focus more on “fixing” the black male student than on addressing the structural and institutional forces that undermine his academic achievement and sense of belonging on campus.

The numbers have improved over the years, but are still a long way off from parity with blacks’ representation in the U.S. population. In 1992, 4 percent of those who earned doctorate degrees science and engineering were black, and 3 percent were Latino, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. In 2012, blacks made up 6 percent of those who received science or engineering doctorate degrees, while Latinos made up 7 percent. 

Head to the Chronicle of Higher Ed for their suite of articles on the topic.

Christie Defends Ebola Quarantine, Syria Fuel Prices Soar, Lava Threatens Residents in Hawaii

Christie Defends Ebola Quarantine, Syria Fuel Prices Soar, Lava Threatens Residents in Hawaii

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • The rate of babies born with symptoms on the spectrum of fetal alcohol symptom disorder in the U.S. is much higher than expected, at up to nearly 5 percent of all births. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Guess How Much Fast Food Workers Earn In Denmark?

Guess How Much Fast Food Workers Earn In Denmark?

Fast food workers in Denmark earn a minimum of $20-an-hour. Meanwhile, in the U.S., fast food workers earn on average $8.90-an-hour and roughly half rely on some form of public assistance. The provocative comparative analysis in yesterday’s New York Times drives home the difference through the choices available to two Burger King employees, 24-year-old Dane, Hampus Elofsson and 26-year-old Floridian, Anthony Moore.

At the end of a typical week, Elofsson still has spending money:

On a recent afternoon, [he] ended his 40-hour workweek at a Burger King and prepared for a movie and beer with friends. He had paid his rent and all his bills, stashed away some savings, yet still had money for nights out.

Across the pond, Moore, a shift manager and single father of two earns $9-an-hour and regularly falls behind in lighting and water bills. He receives food stamps and Medicaid for his daughters. He is uninsured.

Of course there are significant differences between the United States and Denmark, not least the cost of living, universal healthcare and collective bargaining. Read more to understand the differences at The New York Times.

Outrage Over Ebola Quarantine, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff Wins, #TaintedMeat

Outrage Over Ebola Quarantine, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff Wins, #TaintedMeat

Here’s what I’m reading up this lovely Monday morning: 

  • Gia Soriano, who was shot by Jaylen Fryberg in a school rampage on Friday, has died
  • The captain who abandoned a sinking ferry in South Korea, leaving more than 300 people—mostly school kids—to die, may face the death penalty
  • It was bad, or maybe it wasn’t so bad, that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told women not to ask for raises—and Rick Smith mansplains why
TAGS: Morning Rush

Goya Foods Ready to Bring Latino Food to the Rest of America

Goya Foods Ready to Bring Latino Food to the Rest of America

Goya Foods, a mainstay on corner store and supermarket shelves in Latino neighborhoods in the U.S., is making a run for the rest of the country. In California, that means a brand new distribution center nearly four times the size of Goya’s older, nearby center in the City of Industry, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The new facility is part of a $300 million expansion in California, Georgia and Texas as Goya, which sells some 2,400 products, prepares to jump from niche “ethnic” markets to a mainstream audience. With $1.2 billion in sales in 2012, Goya’s already well-positioned to make that leap. Latino foods are expected to become a $10.7 billion yearly market by the year 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The growth of Goya tracks the huge growth of the Latino population in the U.S., as well as a longstanding appetite for Mexican and Latino food from American eaters. In California and New Mexico, Latinos are already the largest ethnic group—outnumbering whites in both states.

Not everyone’s a fan of Goya though. Ubiquitous as they may be, “Using Goya products to cook Mexican cuisine is like making your Cuba Libre with Hornitos,” Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly executive editor and author of “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America,” once wrote in his syndicated column.

Native Appropriations Reminds You: Don’t Dress up Like an Indian on Halloween

Native Appropriations Reminds You: Don't Dress up Like an Indian on Halloween

Halloween is just 10 days away—and so are the annual nightmares that come along with it.

Over at Native Appropriations, Adrienne Keene provides a roundup of several years’ worth of posts about why it’s a really bad idea to dress up like an Indian. (A bonus post explains what to do when your friend dresses up like an Indian, too!) If you’re still not positive that you shouldn’t dress up like an Indian, then this post is for you.

Included are:

And if the list seems like a little too much to read, here’s Keene’s wrap up:

Native peoples are a contemporary, LIVING group of people, not a costume. Seriously. Stop putting us in the same category as wizards and clowns. Don’t believe me? Come to a Native event dressed like that, and see how many friends you make! Fun for everyone!

So, what are you dressing up as?

NYC Ebola Case, Border Deaths Drop, Amazon’s Stock Plunge

NYC Ebola Case, Border Deaths Drop, Amazon's Stock Plunge

Here’s what I’m reading up on this fine Friday morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

New York City Council Wants To Tackle City’s Intense School Segregation

New York City Council Wants To Tackle City's Intense School Segregation

Coming on the heels of an embarrassing March report that the nation’s largest school district is among its most racially segregated, some members of the New York City Council today introduced measures to tackle the longstanding problem. They include:

The council exerts little influence over the school district. Only the bill is legally binding. But the package could add pressure on the department of education to revisit segregation.

The March report’s premise is that “school integration is still a goal worth pursuing.” Can separate be equal, the authors ask? Yes.

If measured by test scores, a few resegregated schools show high performance. But even if equality can be reached between racially isolated schools, students may never achieve the skills and abilities required to navigate an increasingly diverse nation.

Expert Who Analyzed Leaked Mike Brown Autopsy Report Says She Was Taken Out of Context

Expert Who Analyzed Leaked Mike Brown Autopsy Report Says She Was Taken Out of Context

One of two medical examiners the St. Louis Post-Dispatch enlisted to analyze Michael Brown’s leaked official autopsy report says that her comments were taken out of context. Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco told MSNBC, “You cannot interpret autopsy reports in a vacuum. You need to do it in the context of the scene, the investigation and the witness statements. Sometimes when you take things out of context they can be more inflammatory.” Melinek’s analysis concluded, according to the Post-Dispatch, that Brown was reaching for Officer Darren Wilson’s gun and suggests that his hands had not been raised in surrender as described by eyewitness accounts. 

Read the latest at MSNBC. And the backstory for those catching up on Ferguson this week: An official autopsy and a toxicology report obtained by The St. Louis Post Dispatch is intensifying the heat around already-controversial police, eyewitness and community accounts of how Wilson came to fatally shoot Brown. The leaked autopsy report, officially released to prosecutors but not the public according to the Washington Post, comes ahead of an expected St. Louis County grand jury decision on whether or not to indict Wilson. Questions have been raised about the source of the leak and its timing, as well as the integrity of the secret grand jury proceedings.

Watch FKA twigs Battle in a New Google Glass Video

Watch FKA twigs Battle in a New Google Glass Video

In a new #throughglass concept video, FKA twigs summons all-girl battle dancers—and actually makes Google Glass look pretty dope:

One Gunman in Attack in Canada, UNC Cheating Scandal, Partial Solar Eclipse

One Gunman in Attack in Canada, UNC Cheating Scandal, Partial Solar Eclipse

Here’s what I’m reading up on:

  • Two AP reporters take the opportunity to visit places in North Korea that “no foreign journalists and few foreigners had been allowed to see before.” 
  • An unarmed White House fence jumper, Dominic Adesanya, is apprehended
  • Wow. For nearly two decades, 3,100 UNC students—many of them student athletes—took shadow classes that required little work and were graded by a secretary: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Google’s Latino-Targeted Domain, .SOY, Inspires Frustration, Confusion

Google's Latino-Targeted Domain, .SOY, Inspires Frustration, Confusion

Google has launched a new domain, .SOY, targeted at a Latino audience. 

In Spanish, “soy” means “I am”—but in English, of course, it refers to the beans that make soymilk and tofu possible. That’s probably why it confused English speaking vegans and vegetarians, who also feel they have a claim to the word.

But that’s not all.

While Google claims that “.SOY is the place for Latinos online,” some are wondering if and why it’s necessary for the corporation to develop a domain that virtually segregates Latinos into one domain—but fails to truly include Latinos where it counts, with jobs. Over at Cosmopolitan, Alanna Nunez writes:

If Google really wants to reach Latinos in a meaningful way, .soy probably isn’t the answer. Why doesn’t Google (I’m looking at you too, Apple and Intel, both of whom have also come under fire for a lack of diversity) examine its own hiring practices? Google’s latest Diversity Report stated that its U.S. workforce is only 3 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black. Moreover, a 2014 study from nonprofit Working Partnerships USA suggests that Silicon’s Valley’s “invisible workforce” — made up of people in low-paying roles such as janitors, security guards, and landscape workers at big tech companies such as Google, among others — is dominated by blacks and Latinos, while technical roles are overwhelmingly white and Asian.

Over at Latino Rebels, meanwhile, Roberto Lovato points out the geographic irony of Silicon Valley’s failure to engage Latinos:

How can a company based in parts of the United States where the overwhelming majority of the country’s 50 million Latinos live, be so border-walled off from the physical, geographic and cultural reality just outside its gates, so self-absorbed in the virtual world where it is king? Another equally pointed question has to do with us, specifically with where and how Latinos relate to the Digital Darwinism that is (again) shuffling and redefining the social and economic positions of Latinos and us all.

In searching for an answer, there’s no better place to find it than here in the Bay Area birthplace of the digital economy. Whether in the area around Twitter headquarters, in the biotech labs surrounding the soon-to-be World Champion (again!) Giants’ stadium or in the former farmlands where I saw Latino farm workers harvesting fruits and vegetables pushed out by mostly non-Latino workers and companies harvesting the new crop (enormous wealth and astonishing class divisions), the genetically-modifying ethic and the spirit in Google’s .SOY capitalism is clear: We will define you for you—if you let us.

Still, other Latinos are participating in Google’s Latino domain., for example, is creating a clearinghouse of Latino startups and what it calls “inclusive investors,” which indicates a given venture capitalist’s interest in backing people of color. 

Study: Where Stop-and-Frisk Goes, Trauma Follows

Study: Where Stop-and-Frisk Goes, Trauma Follows

While cops and civil rights advocates tussle over stop-and-frisk in the courts, and experts debate its efficacy, researchers are tracking something else: stop-and-frisk’s impact on the mental health of young men. Their findings suggest a harmful link. 

In a phone survey of 1,261 New York City men between the ages of 18 and 26 conducted between September 2012 and March 2013, those who reported more interactions with police also reported experiencing higher levels of trauma and symptoms of anxiety. Their findings were published last week by the American Journal for Public Health in an article named “Aggressive Policing and the Mental Health of Young Urban Men” authored by Columbia University professors Amanda Geller, Jeffrey Fagan, Bruce Link and Yale University professor Tom Tyler. 

Among respondents, 85 percent had been stopped at least once in their lives, while 46 percent had been stopped in the last year. More than five percent of the men who responded said they’d been stopped more than 25 times in their lives. Those who reported more police contact experienced higher levels of anxiety and symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder, even when controlling for demographics and their own criminal histories. Young black men were disproportionately stopped and frisked by police, and researchers found that they experienced symptoms of trauma at higher rates than non-black respondents. Researchers say theirs is the first study to examine the mental health impact of stop-and-frisk by surveying the population most directly impacted by the practice.

“Most of the police encounters our respondents described didn’t include an arrest or incarceration, yet they still reported associated mental health symptoms,” Geller, a professor of sociomedial sciences, said in a statement. “This tells us that even the low levels of interaction that many urban residents experience may have consequences.”

The researchers are careful to say that their findings don’t prove a causal link between intrusive stop-and-frisk policing and the corrosion of young men’s mental health, yet add that like others who have found that criminal justice practices can pose a threat to people’s physical and mental health, “[o]ur findings suggest that any benefits achieved by aggressive proactive policing tactics may be offset by serious costs to individual and community health.”

Jersey School District Apologizes for Elementary School Ebola Panic

Jersey School District Apologizes for Elementary School Ebola Panic

Two students arriving from Rwanda were set to start school at Howard Yocum Elementary in Maple Shade, New Jersey, earlier this month but the school’s fear about Ebola kept them from doing so. 

According to Fox 29, a school nurse sent a letter to teachers and staff warning them that two students from an east African nation had enrolled and would soon start classes. Rwanda is Ebola-free—so much so, that it recently started screening and strictly monitoring travelers visiting from the United States. The nation, which straddles east and central Africa, is nowhere near Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, which have been ravaged by the virus.

Rwanda’s closest to Liberia, but at a distance of nearly 3,000 miles—roughly the distance between Dallas, Texas, and Quito, Ecuador. Nevertheless, a rumor about the children enrolling in the school spread to parents.

In a post that’s dated October 18—a Saturday—Maple Shade’s school superintendent attempted to clarify the district’s position:

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s):

The Maple Shade School District takes the health of all students and staff very seriously.  As many of you are aware, we have students who have spent time in the eastern portion of Africa that were scheduled to start in our schools on Monday.  This area of Africa has been unaffected by the Ebola virus.  Despite the fact that the students are symptom-free and not from an affected area, the parents have elected to keep their children home past the 21 day waiting period.  The family is looking forward to joining the Maple Shade Schools the following week. 

Please see the links below for more information about the Ebola virus.

Beth Norcia, Superintendent of Schools

Fox 29 then reported on developments and spoke with local parents: 

FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

After considerable media attention, the district apologized on Monday:

Dear Maple Shade Community Members:

As you know, the Maple Shade School District has been the object of extensive media coverage and community dialogue over the past several days. Our schools have become the unwitting “face” of our nation’s fears with regard to pressing health concerns.

If we step back as a community, it is clear that we are of one mind. We all care about our children. New parents were anxious to enroll their children in our public school system. A staff member was anxious to allay any possible fears even before they arose. Community members raised questions about potential health risks to all of our children.

None of the actions that have shined the regional light of media exposure on Maple Shade Schools was mean-spirited or ill intended.

Next week, we will welcome the new students whose parents graciously offered to keep them close this week. Our staff, students and entire school family will be enriched by their presence, as we are by each and every student with us today.  

As these students enter our doors, we vow to safeguard them and offer them the best possible education here in the Maple Shade Schools. That is our promise to every student.

We will, however, consider the unintended consequences of our messages more carefully in the future. No matter how well intentioned, a message that originated within our schools created conflict and concern within the Maple Shade community. We offer our sincere apologies.

Beth Norcia

The kids are expected to finally be able to attend school next week.

North Korea Releases Ohio Man, McDonald’s Still in Decline, FTC’s New Chief Technologist

North Korea Releases Ohio Man, McDonald's Still in Decline, FTC's New Chief Technologist

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • North Korea releases Jeffrey Fowle, an Ohio man it held for six months after Fowle left a Bible at a nightclub. 
  • If the weather feels like cooperating wherever it is you live in nearly all of North America, you’ll be able to watch Thursday’s partial solar eclipse. (I suggest the strainer method if you haven’t done that one before!) 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Junot Díaz Endorses Call to Boycott Israel

Junot Díaz Endorses Call to Boycott Israel

Junot Díaz has formally endorsed the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). He joins more than 370 other cultural workers in the call against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 

The best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient signed on with the USACBI, which calls for an end to the occupation and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, according to an October 21 press release from the campaign.

In the release, Díaz explained his position:

If there exists a moral arc to the universe, then Palestine will eventually be free. But that promised day will never arrive unless we, the justice-minded peoples of our world, fight to end the cruel blight of the Israeli occupation. Our political, religious and economic leaders have always been awesome at leading our world into conflict, only we the people alone with little else but our courage and our solidarities and our invincible hope can lead our world into peace.

You can see the full list of USACBI endorsers here

One Lawyer Keeps the Pressure On For Criminal Justice Reform

One Lawyer Keeps the Pressure On For Criminal Justice Reform

Making the rounds on national media this week is public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson whom Desmond Tutu calls, “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” His new memoir, “Just Mercy,” is about a man wrongly convicted and put on death row and it promises to keep the country’s attention squarely on the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated in the United States—and the unjust ways that many of them arrive there. Stevenson’s mainstream media tour is yet another indication that, following the success of Michelle Alexander’s, The New Jim Crow, the country is ready to at least talk about criminal justice reform and reducing mass incarceration.

Stevenson is executive director of Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative. Watch his recent “Daily Show” interview with Jon Stewart above. And if you haven’t already seen it, check out Stevenson’s more intimate 2012 TED talk, too. 

Matthew McConaughey Defends Washington, D.C., NFL Team Name

Matthew McConaughey Defends Washington, D.C., NFL Team Name

In a cover story interview for November’s GQ, Matthew McConaughey makes clear that, despite being from Texas, he’s a hat-wearing fan of the Washington, D.C., NFL Team:

[You] were a Redskins fan growing up in Texas? What the hell was that about?
Two things. First: 4 years old, watching Westerns, I always rooted for the Indians. Second, my favorite food was hamburgers. The Redskins had a linebacker named Chris Hanburger.

That’s all it took?
When you’re 4 years old, that’s all it takes. I got a Redskins hat in my bag right now.

Hollywood Westerns were largely about myth-making, which shaped misconceived nations about Natives—and McConaughey’s comment appears to point to that.

And, there’s more:

What do you think about the calls for the team to change its name?
Man, it’s twofold. What interests me is how quickly it got pushed into the social consciousness. We were all fine with it since the 1930s, and all of a sudden we go, “No, gotta change it”? It seems like when the first levee breaks, everybody gets on board. I know a lot of Native Americans don’t have a problem with it, but they’re not going to say, “No, we really want the name.” That’s not how they’re going to use their pulpit. It’s like my feeling about gun control: “I get it. You have the right to have guns. But look, let’s forget that right. Let’s forget the pleasure you get safely on your range, because it’s in the wrong hands in other places.”

But as a fan, it would hurt you a little to see the logo gone?
It’s not going to hurt me. It’s just… I love the emblem. I dig it. It gives me a little fire and some oomph. But now that it’s in the court of public opinion, it’s going to change. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will.

Not everyone was “fine with it since the 1930s,” since the term the team name uses refers to skinning Natives for bounty.

McConaughey also made the claim that he “know[s] a lot of Native Americans,” who apparently back his claim but won’t say so publicly. He then made a rather confusing comparison to gun control—a topic that doesn’t include a racist team name.

Then again, he seems pretty certain the team logo will soon go. 

You can read McConaughey’s interview in its entirety over at GQ

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