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Thailand’s Military, New York City’s Heroin, and Donald Sterling’s Lawsuits

Thailand's Military, New York City's Heroin, and Donald Sterling's Lawsuits

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Google To Release Numbers on Employee Diversity

Google To Release Numbers on Employee Diversity

In 2011 a year-and-a-half long CNN Money investigation into Silicon Valley’s workforce diversity hit a wall. “Most of the companies”—including Internet giant, Google—“stonewalled us,” the report concluded in 2013. Last week however, Google reversed course and announced that beginning next month it will disclose EEOC data showing the number of women and people of color on its 50,000-member staff, worldwide. It’s expected Google’s disclosure will increase pressure on other tech companies to do the same. Silicon Valley has long contended with a poor reputation for hiring and promoting women and people of color or, seeding their start-up ventures. 

(h/t San Jose Mercury News)

Russia Pulls Back from Ukraine, AT&T Deal, Rent-Regulation in NYC

Russia Pulls Back from Ukraine, AT&T Deal, Rent-Regulation in NYC

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Watch: Video Teaser for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Case for Reparations

Watch: Video Teaser for Ta-Nehisi Coates' Case for Reparations

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates is about to drop an opus about Chicago housing that will revive the long dormant U.S. case for reparations. Coates most recently made news with what’s been described as a “public intellectual death match” with political journalist Jonathan Chait over race, the “culture of poverty” and “other people’s pathologies.” (Coates won.) Judging by today’s blog post, Coates is gearing up for another intellectual title, heralding next week’s release with reparations quotes from the Bible, Enlightenment philosopher John Locke and Bailey Wyatt, a freedman speaking at an 1866 political meeting.

Caribbean nations through 15-member body CARICOM thrust reparations back onto the international stage last year, with their demand for compensation from former colonial powers France, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

Weekend Read: The Booker-Zuckerberg $100M Plan to Reform Newark Schools

Weekend Read: The Booker-Zuckerberg $100M Plan to Reform Newark Schools

Of all the education-related stories coming out in time for this weekend’s 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Ed., The New Yorker’s “Schooled” earns high marks. “The Newark schools are like a candy store that’s a front for a gambling operation. When a threat materializes, everyone takes his position and sells candy. When it recedes, they go back to gambling.” That 2010 quote from a longtime educator describes the frustration long faced by Newark parents and taken on in 2009 by now U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). He’d planned, along with assistance from Gov. Christie (R-NJ) and $100 million from 30-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to use charters to turn Newark into a national model of urban education reform. How did the plan roll out and how’s it working now?

Writer Dale Russakoff tackles those questions in a longread full of disheartening though not unsurprising challenges and reformer and political missteps. Throughout, however, she* keeps our focus on the lives that actually matter: the children’s.

(h/t The New Yorker)

*Post has been updated.

California Fires, Net Neutrality and Donald Sterling Refuses Fine

California Fires, Net Neutrality and Donald Sterling Refuses Fine

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

  • The operator that runs the Turkish mine that was engulfed in fire is denying any negligence in connection to the accident. 
  • Hindu nationalists take the lead in India’s massive elections. 
  • Beyoncé, Jay Z and Solange release a statement saying they’ve worked through their elevator incident. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

A Brown v. Board of Education 60th Anniversary Reading List

A Brown v. Board of Education 60th Anniversary Reading List

On May 17, 1943, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education, that, “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” The pivotal ruling set in motion decades of political and social shifts, but 60 years later, the promise of Brown remains unfulfilled.

As the nation recognizes the anniversary of the landmark ruling, now’s the time to get caught up on that important history, as well as how Brown has fared in the intervening decades. Here now, a short roundup of some of the best resources and reporting on the topic:

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, in which Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote:

“We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities. We believe that it does.”

“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” 

ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote the definitive story on Brown v. Board of Education this year. By zeroing in on the educational experiences of three generations of one Tuscaloosa, Ala. family, Hannah-Jones tells the story of how Brown has held up over time. (Spoiler: not so well.) She wrote:

[W]hile segregation as it is practiced today may be different than it was 60 years ago, it is no less pernicious: in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, it involves the removal and isolation of poor black and Latino students, in particular, from everyone else. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Tuscaloosa’s school resegregation—among the most extensive in the country—is a story of city financial interests, secret meetings, and angry public votes. It is a story shaped by racial politics and a consuming fear of white flight. It was facilitated, to some extent, by the city’s black elites. And it was blessed by a U.S. Department of Justice no longer committed to fighting for the civil-rights aims it had once championed.

The NAACP, together with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, successfully argued Brown before the Supreme Court. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has compiled a list of resources, titled Brown at 60, including photos, snapshots of the plaintiffs and legal team, and a breakdown of the social, political and legal impacts of the ruling. NAACP-LDF executive director Sherrilyn Ifill’s own recommended reading list for children and adults on Brown v. Board of Education. 

In addition to its brand new report looking at the state of school integration today, UCLA’s Civil Rights Project has also been releasing state by state profiles examining school segregation. Among their most compelling findings? New York’s public schools are among the nation’s most segregated. Check out UCLA’s Civil Rights Project’s state-by-state profiles.

New Yorkers interested in reflecting on Brown in person, NYU is hosting a conference on Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17 called “Brown at 60 and Beyond” with a lineup of some of the nation’s leading experts on educational access and equity.

60 Years After Brown, School Segregation on the Rise

60 Years After Brown, School Segregation on the Rise

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, which forever changed the U.S. education system. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that ‘separate but equal’ had no place in public education. And yet, more than a half century on from that pivotal ruling, significant numbers of black and Latino children attend racially isolated schools and, according to a report from the UCLA Civil Rights Project released today, school segregation is on the rise. There is much to commemorate, but actually not as much to celebrate.

“Brown was a major accomplishment and we should rightfully be proud,” Gary Orfield, a co-director of the Civil Rights Project, said in a statement. “But a real celebration should also involve thinking seriously about why the country has turned away from the goal of Brown and accepted deepening polarization and inequality in our schools.”

Many of the biggest gains in school desegregation happened in the decades immediately following Brown, but in the subsequent years, courts have played a large role in dismantling desegregation plans around the country. Thost shifts, together with increasing residential segregation and inequity and demographic changes, have created a landscape that’s at once brand new and also all too familiar. Today, black children are attending attending racially isolated schools at their highest rates in decades, while more than half of Latino children attend schools that are majority Latino. According to the report, in New York, California and Texas, the majority of Latino students go to schools that are 90 percent students of color—or more. And perhaps most striking, in the Northeast, more than 51 percent of black students attend schools that are at least 90 percent students of color. Those contemporary figures are only somewhat improved from 1968, when 42.7 percent of black students in the Northeast went to schools that were over 90 percent students of color. Segregation is most concentrated in large metropolitan areas, but it’s also prevalent in the suburbs of large metro areas. 

And, the report authors argue, while it’s not feasible in some situations, segregation is still vitally important to addressing enduring racial, economic and educational inequities. “Desegregation properly implemented can make a very real contribution to equalizing educational opportunities and preparing young Americans for the extremely diverse society in which they will live and work and govern together,” the report authors write. “It is the only major tool our society has for this goal.”

Read the report in full here (PDF).

Forget Going Global: Fast Food Workers Are Protesting in the Deep South

Forget Going Global: Fast Food Workers Are Protesting in the Deep South

It’s one thing to walk off the job in union friendly New York City; it’s another to do so in Opelika, Ala. But that’s what a handful of fast-food workers did this morning in a small southern town (pronounced O-puh-LIE-kuh) on the Georgia-Alabama border. In what may be Opelika’s first labor protest ever and the latest so far, in piecemeal worker grumblings in right-to-work states that are anti-union and proud, local McDonald’s and Burger King employees are joining today’s #FastFoodGlobal strikes. They’re said to be happening in 150 U.S. cities and for the first time in more than 30 countries around the world.

“We want $15-an-hour and we don’t want to be fired for talking about a union,” McDonald’s employee and protest organizer Eddie Foreman, 40, told me by phone this Tuesday. He’d vaguely followed news of national protests begun in 2012, but only Googled “fast food union” in March after listening to constant complaints from co-workers.

They include: management taking time, no 40-hour-a-week schedule, no health insurance, and being expected to work multiple job positions at the same minimum wage rate paid for one job. “We can’t have cell phones in our pockets [while working] but most people here are adults with kids in day care and with babysitters,” Foreman says. Workers range in age from 25 to their mid-50s, he adds.

On the phone Tuesday, as time drew nearer to the protest day, Foreman seemed to put more faith in his colleagues at Burger King. He wasn’t as hopeful that his McDonald’s co-workers would walk out with him and road-trip north to merge with other fast-food workers in Atlanta.

“You have no idea. People in this state are scared that the little things they do have, they’re afraid they’ll be taken from them,” he says. “You know how people talk about the Confederacy? This still is the Confederacy. Besides fast-food, Alabama’s main industry is prisons.”

According to Raise Up, which organizes fast food workers in the South, police arrested Foreman this morning, allegedly for trespassing on McDonald’s property. 

Turkey Mine Fire Toll Rises, #FastFoodGlobal and Pet Cat Saves Boy

Turkey Mine Fire Toll Rises, #FastFoodGlobal and Pet Cat Saves Boy

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

  • #FastFoodGlobal kicks off today, as workers strike in 150 cities in the U.S. and 80 cities around the world. 
  • A four-year-old is rescued from a dog attack by his pet cat, Tara:
  • Human astronaut Koichi Wakata says farewell to robot astronaut Kirobo. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Contra Costa County Drops Costly Juvenile Record-Sealing Fee

Contra Costa County Drops Costly Juvenile Record-Sealing Fee

In early May, California’s Contra Costa County removed a $150 application fee adults were required to pay before they could petition to seal their juvenile records. Youth and juvenile justice re-entry advocates fought for the change, which was approved by Contra Costa County’s Probation Department, and both praised the change as an important step in allowing young people who’d been through the juvenile justice system to more fully move on with their lives.

“With the court’s consideration and final approval, we want to provide the most meaningful opportunity for our youth to focus forward and not be encumbered by a prior juvenile record,” Contra Costa County Chief of Probation Phillip Kader said in a statement.

The change comes as the California state legislature is considering a move to do away with record-sealing application fees across the state. The fee, say youth advocates, became a primary obstacle to young people’s ability to move on with their lives. Some states automatically seal juvenile records, but California requires that adults apply for record-sealing. And while a juvenile adjudication is not a technically a criminal conviction, potential employers, landlords, and schools often think of it as one. And for the disproportionately low-income and youth of color put through the juvenile justice system, that $150 fee is prohibitively expensive. 

“When a lot of people have a choice of whether to buy their little brother formula and diapers or maybe  get their record cleaned up, many people aren’t going to spend that $150,” said Stephanie Medley, the Youth Justice Director at the RYSE Youth Center in Richmond. 

Contra Costa County had already been making slow shifts toward doing away with this fee. In November of last year, the county Probation Department made fee waivers available to adults who were unable to pay the $150 fee. As of right now, that application fee no longer exists. 

In the past, an adult with a juvenile record would have to pay a $150 fee to petition for a court hearing, during which a judge would determine whether a person had rehabilitated themselves. Still, there was no guarantee. Some young people would pay the $150 fee and still have their request to seal their juvenile records denied. 

Medley praised the change as an important way “we can create a brighter path for young people and make things accessible so they can have a fresh start.” The juvenile record-sealing application fee is, however, just one of many fees that are levied against youth and their families when they get put through the juvenile justice system.

Child Tobacco Workers in U.S. Linked to Marlboro, Newport, Camel Cigarettes

Child Tobacco Workers in U.S. Linked to Marlboro, Newport, Camel Cigarettes

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a damning report that illustrates the conditions that child tobacco workers endure in the United States. The organization interviewed 141 child workers between the ages of 7 and 17 who work tobacco fields in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, where 90 percent of tobacco is cultivated in the U.S. The conditions that children endure—including likely poisoning—are horrifying: 

Nearly three-quarters of the children interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported the sudden onset of serious symptoms—including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, difficulty breathing, and irritation to their eyes and mouths—while working in fields of tobacco plants and in barns with dried tobacco leaves and tobacco dust. Many of these symptoms are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.

Tobacco cultivation is hard work, and HRW has found that children are exploited to work the fields in every step, from seeding to pesticide application to harvesting—sometimes by hand, sometimes by machine. Working by hand includes literally working on hands and knees to pick weeds. But working with machines or tools increases the likelihood of grave injury from sudden lacerations.

Long hours and low wages aren’t uncommon: one child interviewed by HRW explains how he worked 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with only one five minute break and one half-hour lunch—and that was on a good day. Some child workers are discouraged from drinking liquids because no bathroom facilities are available in which to urinate. And while most child workers do earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, some are paid fixed rates, or have contractor fees or even drinking water allowances deducted from their pay. Child tobacco workers are rarely afforded protective gear—and cover themselves in garbage bags brought from home to provide some safety for themselves.  

Child tobacco workers in the U.S. are mostly Latino. And although their parents may be undocumented, the children themselves are usually U.S.-born citizens. HRW also found that some of the child workers are undocumented, but some applied and were approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—which provides temporary relief from deportation two years at a time. Some child tobacco workers also arrive to the U.S. with family members or even alone, just to work the fields.

The tobacco these child workers cultivate enters a supply market and is ultimately used to manufacture some of the best-known brands of cigarettes in the U.S., including Marlboro, Newport, Camel, Winston, Parliament, Virginia Slims, Pall Mall and more.

HRW points out that while U.S. law prohibits children under the age of 18 from buying tobacco products, it also “law fails to recognize the risks to children of working in tobacco farming.” The organization makes a long list of recommendations to the President, Congress, agencies, states, tobacco manufacturers and even employers themselves to address the horrors that child tobacco workers face in the fields.

You can read the report in full online

Peggy McIntosh Sets Record Straight on White Privilege

Peggy McIntosh Sets Record Straight on White Privilege

White privilege. It’s been a hot topic in mainstream media in recent weeks because of a young Princetonian’s controversial essay, “Checking my Privilege.” What is privilege? And maybe more important, what is it not? The New Yorker has a must-read interview with the original expert. Now 79, Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” remains, more than 25 years on, the clearest elucidation of the topic. Some highlights:

How McIntosh came to write so authoritatively in the late ’80s about privilege:

… About six years earlier, black women in the Boston area had written essays to the effect that white women were oppressive to work with. I remember back to what it had been like to read those essays. My first response was to say, “I don’t see how they can say that about us—I think we’re nice!” And my second response was deeply racist, but this is where I was in 1980. I thought, I especially think we’re nice if we work with them.

On reaction, over the years, to speaking up about privilege:

Well, at first, the most common responses were from white people. Their most common response was “I never thought about this before.” After a couple of years, that was accompanied by “You changed my life.” From people of color, from the beginning, it was “You showed me I’m not crazy.” And if they said more than that it was along the lines of “I knew there was something out there working against me.”

On the value of honoring and telling individual stories:

I think one’s own individual experience is sacred. Testifying to it is very important—but so is seeing that it is set within a framework outside of one’s personal experience that is much bigger, and has repetitive statistical patterns in it.

There’re more gems from McIntosh, who’s still working on educational equity at Wellesley. Check out The New Yorker interview—as well as the Princeton essay that kicked off the mainstream media’s recent white privilege coverage.

Turkey Mine Disaster, Seven-Year-Old Tobacco Pickers and Possible MERS Outbreak

Turkey Mine Disaster, Seven-Year-Old Tobacco Pickers and Possible MERS Outbreak

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

  • A new report indicates that children as young as seven years old are picking tobacco in the U.S.—without so much as overtime pay or protective gear. 
  • NASA reveals a stunning video that illustrates two neutron starts colliding to form a black hole:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Google Told to ‘Forget,’ Twitter’s Mute Function and Melting Glaciers

Google Told to 'Forget,' Twitter's Mute Function and Melting Glaciers

Here’s some of what I’m reading this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

This Week: End of the Internet As We Know It?

This Week: End of the Internet As We Know It?

In response to public pressure and ahead of a vote this Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission has revised a draft proposal that critics say will for the first time build inequality into the Internet. The new language modifies but doesn’t fundamentally alter the rule’s intent.

All traffic whether Bentley or hoopty currently runs on the same massive highway, but critics say the proposed rule change will create a special lane for consumers and content creators able to pay for faster service and a slow lane for those who can’t. Many are calling the FCC plan, up for a vote this Thursday May 15th, the end of “net neutrality,” which says that online, all data should be treated equally regardless of who produces it.

New language, according to the Washington Post, citing an anonymous FCC official, “would explicitly warn Internet service providers such as Verizon and AT&T that they can’t unfairly put the content of Web companies that don’t pay for special treatment on a “slow lane.”” How the FCC would enforce non-discrimination hasn’t been explicitly detailed.

More than 100 Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon and smaller tech firms last week sent a protest letter to FCC commissioner and Obama appointee, Tom Wheeler. And media advocacy groups like the Center for Media Justice are beating the drums about how the proposed two-lane highway hurts people of color and those living in rural areas.

The FCC is taking public comments through openinternet(at)fcc(dot)gov.

Sterling Interview, The Minority Report and a Solar Sibling

Sterling Interview, The Minority Report and a Solar Sibling

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Paying to Get Locked Up: The High Fees of Juvenile Detention

Paying to Get Locked Up: The High Fees of Juvenile Detention

When kids are locked up in California, it’s common practice for counties to charge families for the cost of their kids’ detention. Parents are sent a bill, not unlike one they’d get if their child were staying at a hotel, for $25 a day that their kids are held in juvenile hall. At an average stay of 23 days in juvenile hall, the fees add up fast. But that’s not all.

Fees are involved at nearly every step of kids’ adjudication, detainment and probation. It’s an expensive process, and fee collectors still come calling for their money even if a child passes away, according to a new investigation by Youth Radio. Check out the full infographic of the many costly fees and fines that accompany kids’ punishment:

The Cost of Court Involvement

Black, Latino Kids with Autism More Likely Than Whites to Lose Motor Skills

Black, Latino Kids with Autism More Likely Than Whites to Lose Motor Skills

After a seemingly age-appropriate development, some young children with autism lose their motor, language and social skills. That kind of vanishing of skills is called developmental regression, and according to a study presented this week at the Pediatric Academic Societies conference, black and Latino children are more likely to experience that drop-off. 

More than a quarter—27 percent—of 1,353 preschool U.S. and Canadian children with autism surveyed experience developmental regression, according to researchers. Yet black children’s parents were twice as likely to report drop-off than white children’s parents. Latino kids were 1.5 times more likely than white children to experience regression, which can include losing the ability to make eye contact with their parents, or the ability to walk and talk. The disparity remained even when controlling for a child’s insurance status or their parental education levels. The study is called, “Racial Differences in Developmental Regression in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”

Autism is complicated by myriad racial disparities. Research has found that black and Latino children are less likely than their white peers to be diagnosed with autism, and that when they are identified, black, Latino and Asian-American kids are less likely than their white peers to receive an early diagnosis.

“Lost skills are very difficult to recover,” the study’s lead author, Adiaha I. A. Spinks-Franklin, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a statement. “Our research shows there is one more important factor that contributes to the developmental outcomes of African-American and Hispanic children with autism.”

(h/t SCPR)

Black Students at St. Louis Univ. Respond to On-Campus Hate Speech

Black Students at St. Louis Univ. Respond to On-Campus Hate Speech

Following a recent fatal shooting at two Jewish community centers allegedly by a former KKK leader, hate messages have been appearing on the campus of Saint Louis University (SLU), a Catholic university in Missouri. The St. Louis American reports that:

On Saturday night, someone accessed the computer connected to a projector in the Busch Student Center at SLU and changed the text on the large screen to read, “Nazis rule f*** niggers and fags.” The week before, students discovered a swastika arranged out of tealight candles outside the Marguerite Hall dorm.

About 100 students attended a Tuesday night press conference called by SLU’s Black Student Alliance.

“These actions … gives light to the reality that many students of African descent face while at Saint Louis University,” said Christopher S. Walker Jr., president of the alliance. “Students of African descent at Saint Louis University have been repeatedly subject to acts of racism, and in turn, receive idle resolutions, lack of transparency and stagnation from the administration.”

Immediately following the Busch projector incident, interim university president William Kauffman launched an investigation to identify those responsible. The Black Student Alliance is making a number of demands including increasing the number of black faculty and students.

“What really hurts us is that you can have a scholarship in Martin Luther King Jr.’s  name but only have 6 percent of the recipients be black students,” said Jonathan Pulphus, academic chair for the alliance and an upcoming sophomore. “What hurts us is when the strongest contingent of blacks on campus happen to be the people serving food and cleaning the campus.”

(h/t St. Louis American)

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