More Deadly Tornadoes, NBA to Reveal Findings on Sterling and Tony Nominations

More Deadly Tornadoes, NBA to Reveal Findings on Sterling and Tony Nominations
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 
  • New research explains why the 1918 flu pandemic was so deadly. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

A Desegregation Order’s End Brings Shifts to Top Chicago Public Schools

A Desegregation Order's End Brings Shifts to Top Chicago Public Schools

In 2009 U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras lifted a decades-old federal desegregation order that mandated that no Chicago public high school could be more than 35 percent white. Since that fateful ruling, Chicago’s top public high schools have been making a quick backslide into segregated territory, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. 

Almost immediately after the 2009 ruling barred Chicago public schools from considering race in their student makeup, students of color, Asian students included, started falling from the rolls of students admitted to top Chicago public high schools.

The Sun-Times breaks down the shifts at individual schools:

At Walter Payton College Prep on the Near North Side, more than 41 percent of freshmen admitted the past four years have been white, compared with 29 percent in 2009, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of Chicago Public Schools data has found.

At Jones College Prep in the South Loop, 38 percent of this year’s freshman class is white, compared to 29 percent four years ago.

In 2010 — the first year race was no longer used to determine the makeup of Chicago schools — the percentage of white freshmen at Northside College Prep in North Park rose from 37 percent to 48 percent.

And at Whitney Young College Prep on the Near West Side, the percentage of black freshmen has steadily declined in the past three years, while the percentage of whites has risen.

“I consider these schools to be gated communities for children of privilege,” Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the group Parents United for Responsible Education, told the Sun-Times.

The dynamic is not limited to Chicago alone. For decades courts have been undoing desegregation orders and limiting the impact of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation ruling. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, and many schools around the country remain or have returned to their pre-Brown segregated days. 

This is Where Surveillance Happens

This is Where Surveillance Happens

The New York Police Department recently dismantled its Muslim surveillance operation. The controversial program, known as the Demographics Unit, profiled Muslims of all ages, and even crossed state lines to do so.  

But where, exactly, did this surveillance take place? A new project by Josh Begley—the data artist behind @dronestream—has published about 400 images found in 45 or so documents related to the unit. The images on are of places like delis, community centers, restaurants, cricket fields, pickup soccer parks and more that the NYPD deemed suspicious. Begley points out that documents he scoured, courtesy of Associate Press, are “pretty wild to read.” Take Newark Fried Chicken in New Jersey, for example, the place for which the complete “information of note” reads:

Owned and operated by Afghanis.
Location is medium size fast food restaurant that sells fried chicken, and cold drinks.
Location is in good location and has seating capacity for 10 to 15 customers.

Nothing noteworthy, right? Yet the fried chicken joint aroused suspicion.

The documents detail the nationality of owners and/or those who frequent the surveillance locations—and many times, it’s not just Muslims who gather there. Begley also reminds us that although the NYPD has shut down its Demographic Unit, this kind of surveillance hasn’t stopped. “As as Hina Shamsi and folks at the ACLU will tell you, the catalogue of violence continues,” says Begley.

You can see all the images on

Boston Rally Calls for Jobs Not Jails

Boston Rally Calls for Jobs Not Jails

Hundreds gathered on Boston Common this Saturday asking state lawmakers to expand job opportunities instead of prisons. One protester, Donnell Wright, according to The Boston Globe, has a real estate license, a commercial trucking license, as associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. What the formerly incarcerated man doesn’t have is a job. After employers run a background check, he says, they’re no longer interested. Little to zero employment, housing, driving and other opportunities for men and women to begin stable lives is an issue facing not just returnees but the high crime and highly policed communities to which they typically return.

Massachusetts is one of eleven states, according to a National Employment Law Project (NELP) report out this month, with “ban the box” legislation on the books. These initiatives typically remove the conviction history question from the job application and delay background checks until later in the hiring process. But these reforms, Mass. advocates say, don’t go far enough

More than 60 counties and cities have also adopted “ban the box” legislation. If you or someone you know has gotten a job because of “ban the box” policies, let us know.


Brazilian Footballer Eats Banana Thrown At Him From Stands

Brazilian Footballer Eats Banana Thrown At Him From Stands

Near the end of a soccer match in Spain this weekend, a “fan” threw a banana at the feet of Brazilian player, Dani Alves. So he ate it.

Racism in European and Russian football, particularly from fans, has been an unending hazing rite for black and Arab/Arab-descent players. After the game, Alves, who plays for Barça, reportedly said, “I’ve been here 11 years and I’ve been suffering this whole time, so I just face it with humor.”

After the banana energy boost, Alves went on to set up Messi for a goal. Barça won 3-2.

Check out Alves teammate and fellow Brazilian, Neymar and son’s  Instagram reaction:

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.03.46 AM.png


(h/t MundoDeportivo)

Deadly Tornado, Junior Prom Killing and Magic to Buy Clippers?

Deadly Tornado, Junior Prom Killing and Magic to Buy Clippers?

Here’s some news I’m catching up on this morning: 

  • At least 17 people are dead following a tornado that ripped through several states, including Arkansas and Oklahoma. 
  • A mayor in Ukraine is shot in the back; Obama promises more sanctions on Russia (more below). 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Revisiting the 1970s Murder of a Native American Activist

Revisiting the 1970s Murder of a Native American Activist

On my must-read list this weekend is a NYT Magazine piece about the murder of radical Native American activist Anna Mae Aquash. The body of 30-year-old Aquash, a mother of two and a leader of the Black Panther-modeled American Indian Movement (AIM) was found in early 1976 along the edge of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. She had been shot at close range. Only over the last decade however have authorities determined that, “her killing was in fact an inside job, orchestrated by AIM members who believed she was working as an F.B.I. informer.” How do you reconcile that?

And btw, here’s one telling description of Aquash, a Mikmaq from Canada, as taken from a letter she once wrote to her sister:

“These white people think this country belongs to them. The whole country changed with only a handful of raggedy-ass pilgrims that came over here in the 1500s. And it can take a handful of raggedy-ass Indians to do the same, and I intend to be one of those raggedy-ass Indians.” On her first night in South Dakota, [AIM leader, Dennis] Banks told her that newcomers were needed on kitchen duty. “Mr. Banks,” she replied, “I didn’t come here to wash dishes. I came here to fight.”

In Minneapolis, Columbus Day Becomes Indigenous People’s Day

In Minneapolis, Columbus Day Becomes Indigenous People's Day

Today the 13-member Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to recognize another holiday on the same day as Columbus Day: Indigenous People’s Day.

“This has been a long time coming and people are going to feel really good about how we’re moving forward and advancing a racial equity agenda that really elevates the voice and contributions of American Indian people,” said the resolution’s author, council member Alondra Cano, CBS reported.

The name change came after “many” years of advocacy by Native American activists, the StarTribune reported. Hundreds came out to the city council for this morning’s vote.

The new name will replace Columbus Day on all city communications and will go into effect this year, but won’t officially do away with the name Columbus Day. Rather, Minneapolis will also recognize Indigenous People’s Day on the same date, the StarTribune reported.

Head to the StarTribune website for some great photos of today’s vote.

Report: At Least 14 Heat-Related Deaths in Texas Prisons Since 2007

Report: At Least 14 Heat-Related Deaths in Texas Prisons Since 2007

Overheating in Texas prisons is a deadly issue, according to a new report (PDF) from the University of Texas School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic reported by the Texas Tribune. Since 2007 at least 14 inmates in Texas state facilities have died as a result of overheating. The report’s authors call the conditions a violation of inmates’ constitutional rights.

Just how hot does it get? According to temperature logs kept by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, heat indices in some facilities surpassed 100 degrees by 8:30 in the morning, with temperatures spiking above 110 degrees for a heat index of 149 degrees. Investigations into heat-related deaths at state facilities found that temperatures were into the 90’s, even past midnight. These heat levels put people at “extreme danger” of heat disorders, according to the National Weather Service

And yet, Texas has repeatedly failed to provide proper air conditioning and ventilation to inmates, even though federal appellate courts have found that submitting inmates to extreme heat is a violation of inmates’ constitutional rights. 

And it’s not just affecting inmates. In 2012, 92 correctional officers suffered from heat-related injuries, the Texas Tribune reported. And while TDCJ facilities lack air conditioning for the general inmates population, “At the same time, the TDCJ has spent money on air conditioning for its warden offices and for its armories,” write report authors. Adding air conditioning to state prisons is “extremely expensive,” TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark told the Texas Tribune.

Texas isn’t alone. Last year death row inmates at Louisana’s notorious Angola Prison filed a lawsuit charging the state corrections department with failing to provide relief for inmates on death row, where temperatures reach a whopping 195 degrees. 

Muslim Americans Suing to Remove Names From No Fly List

Muslim Americans Suing to Remove Names From No Fly List

Naveed Shinwari is one of four Muslims who this week filed a lawsuit against the government claiming they were placed on the “no-fly” list after refusing to become FBI informants and spy on their communities. At least 700,000 people are now part of the Terrorist Screening Database, or, the terrorist watch list, which, according to a New York Times analysis, lacks oversight. The government doesn’t confirm or deny whether someone is on the list, divulge criteria for “no-fly” exclusion and it isn’t clear, experts say, whether the government even periodically reviews the list.

Shinwari, who found out in March 2012 that he was on the no-fly list while flying to Orlando for a job interview, seeks removal from the list as well as a legal mechanism to challenge placement on it.

(h/t Democracy Now)

Net Neutrality, Barack Obama High School and Northwestern’s Union Vote

Net Neutrality, Barack Obama High School and Northwestern's Union Vote

Here’s what I’m reading about this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

When Police Kill, Should They Judge Themselves?

When Police Kill, Should They Judge Themselves?

In a few days, Wisconsin will become the first state in the nation to require outside investigation when people die in police custody. The new law is the result of years of activism on the part of family members and a Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel investigation into five years of in-custody deaths in Milwaukee. Despite circumstances of detainees’ deaths, officers were typically quickly cleared of wrongdoing.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) is reportedly “optimistic” that her state will inspire others to adopt similar measures.

“I’m proud that Wisconsin is the first state in the nation to have this outside investigatory process. It’s kind of unbelievable.”

(h/t Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Regulating E-cigarettes, Avril Lavigne’s Racist Music Video, New Migraine Drugs

Regulating E-cigarettes, Avril Lavigne's Racist Music Video, New Migraine Drugs

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

  • An entire Wyoming town is evacuated following a natural gas plant explosion. 
  • President Obama travels to Japan and is mildly amused by a robot: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

HBE’s ‘City Living’ Video is Here and it’s Beautiful

HBE's 'City Living' Video is Here and it's Beautiful

If you’re looking for an incredible new music video to get you through the middle of the week, check out “City Living.” The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s new video, shot in the U.S. and Southeast Asia, looks just as gorgeous as it sounds.  

(h/t Okayplayer)

Justice Sotomayor’s Beautiful Schuette Dissent: ‘Race Matters’

Justice Sotomayor's Beautiful Schuette Dissent: 'Race Matters'

The Supreme Court may have hammered yet another nail into affirmative action’s coffin with its 6-2 ruling on Tuesday, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t go quietly. In a fiery and incisive 58-page dissent that was longer than the combined rulings and responses of all her other colleagues, Sotomayor took her colleagues to task over their eagerness to part ways with 30-year-old legal precedents; their willful ignorance about the realities of race and racism; and their refusal to acknowledge that race continues to be a central force shaping the lives and opportunities of people in the U.S.

Sotomayor, who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, contextualizes Schuette within a century-long history by including a brief history of the myriad ways states and localities have denied people of color the right to vote, to go to school, and to and access to the political process over the years. She starts at the Fifteenth Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War, and counts all the ways the Supreme Court has intervened in this ugly history to protect people of color’s access the political process. Her history lesson serves as a kind of shaming of the current Court, which in Schuette departed from established precedent and, she argues, its duties.

There are plenty of gems in her dissent, including a direct rebuke to Chief Justice John Roberts, who famously wrote in a 2006 opinion: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” On Tuesday, Sotomayor responded: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

But perhaps my favorite passage from the opinion is when Justice Sotomayor steps away from the legal theory to explain in plain English exactly how race is lived for so many people of color in the U.S.

And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.” 

Read Sotomayor’s dissent in full (PDF).

Sherpa Walkout, #MyNYPD, Lupita Nyong’o is the Most Beautiful

Sherpa Walkout, #MyNYPD, Lupita Nyong'o is the Most Beautiful

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

  • A judge will consider whether to allow Chelsea Manning to change her name to Chelsea Manning.
TAGS: Morning Rush

Letter to W.E.B. DuBois Sheds Light on Dalit Leader’s Global Vision

Letter to W.E.B. DuBois Sheds Light on Dalit Leader's Global Vision

In the “who knew?” category comes this 1946 exchange between B.R. Ambedkar, the preeminent leader of India’s Dalits, and W.E.B. DuBois, the noted African-American sociologist and activist. From the South Asian American Digital Archive:

An interesting record appears in the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois, the prominent African American intellectual and activist, whose archive is housed at the University of Massachusetts. In the 1940s, Ambedkar contacted Du Bois to inquire about the National Negro Congress petition to the U.N., which attempted to secure minority rights through the U.N. council. In a letter dated July 31, 1946, Du Bois responded by telling Ambedkar he was familiar with his name, and that he had “every sympathy with the Untouchables of India.”

To read the letters, visit the South Asian American Digital Archive.

Supremes’ ‘Schuette’ Ruling is Another Nail in the Affirmative Action Coffin

Supremes' 'Schuette' Ruling is Another Nail in the Affirmative Action Coffin

Welcome to the waning days of affirmative action. The Supreme Court took yet another swipe at race-conscious college admissions policies in its 6-2 ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Tuesday. While in the immediate the ruling won’t change much, the ruling is a critical setback in the effort to defend what’s left of affirmative action.

Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action wasn’t about the constitutionality of affirmative action itself—the Supreme Court skirted that issue when it had its big chance last term. Instead, the Supreme Court sought to answer whether states may ban affirmative action via voter-backed ballot initiatives. The majority found that they may. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, “This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it.” The ‘who’ in question are Michigan’s voters, who in 2006 passed Proposal 2, a ballot initiative which outlawed the consideration of race in admissions policies.Since 2006, Michigan’s public universities and colleges have adjusted to these constraints, but not without serious consequences.  Prior to Proposal 2, black undergrad enrollment at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor was roughly 7 percent. It’s since dipped to 4.6 percent, reported. According to the 2012 Census, blacks are 14.3 percent of Michigan’s population. “We remain committed to the goal of a diverse, academically excellent, student body and will continue to seek to achieve that goal in ways that comply with the law,” University of Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald told the Detroit Free Press, emphasizing that the university’s admissions policies are already in line with Proposal 2. 

Affirmative action backers argued that Proposal 2 unfairly shifts the political process by singling out race and those who would support greater racial diversity on college campuses—namely students of color—and makes it harder for them and only them to lobby for changes to Michigan universities’ admissions policies. Today, in order to reinstate race-conscious admissions policies in Michigan’s public universities, affirmative action supporters would have to mount a ballot initiative campaign to overturn Proposal 2, an extremely costly endeavor. And yet, all others who want to lobby for changes to Michigan universities’ admissions policies—say in favor of legacy admissions or athletes or donors—need only lobby the state’s Board of Regents. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor emphasized in her impassioned dissent, “The effect of [Proposal 2] is that a white graduate of a public Michigan university who wishes to pass his historical privilege on to his children may freely lobby the board of that university in favor of an expanded legacy admissions policy, whereas a black Michigander who was denied the opportunity to attend that very university cannot lobby the board in favor of a policy that might give his children a chance that he never had and that they might never have absent that policy.” Tuesday’s ruling gives the green light to other states interested in passing affirmative action bans of their own, though, said anti-affirmative action crusader Ward Connerly, none are in the pipeline at the moment. “These initiatives are very complicated, very expensive and very laborious,” Connerly told Reuters. Perhaps just as important, the ruling also protects the seven other state affirmative action bans already in place, and makes them ironclad against future repeal attempts. 

It’s perhaps best to consider the ruling as a tactical move from the Roberts Court as it continues its deliberate, systematic dismantling of affirmative action. The case rested on disagreement over what the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause protects against. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that under the Fourteenth Amendment, “the majority may not reconfigure the existing political process in a manner than creates a two-tiered system of political change,” Justice Sotomayor explained in her dissent. On Tuesday the majority dispensed with that 30-year precedent, and ruled that Proposal 2 doesn’t impose an unfair burden on people of color because Michigan voters didn’t intend to target people of color when they passed Proposal 2. It’s an extremely narrow interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause and what could constitute discrimination, and a willfully ignorant approach to the realities of race in the country today. Shanta Driver, a civil rights attorney who argued the case before the Supreme Court, did not mince words, calling the Schuette ruling, “a racist decision.” “It is this Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson,” she said in a statement, referring to the Supreme Court ruling which found segregation, if “separate but equal,” constitutional. “The decision of the Court today makes clear that this Court intends to do nothing to defend the right to equality in politics, opportunity, rights, hopes and aspirations of its Latina/o, black, Native American and other minority citizens.”At the very moment that America is becoming a majority minority nation this Court is declaring its intention to uphold white privilege and to create a new JimCrow legal system,” Driver said.

Supreme Court Upholds Voter-Backed Affirmative Action Bans

Supreme Court Upholds Voter-Backed Affirmative Action Bans

In a 6-2 vote the Supreme Court upheld a ban on affirmative action passed by Michigan voters.  

“There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. 

The case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, did not actually concern the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies. Rather, the Supreme Court was tasked with settling the question of whether affirmative action bans passed by state ballot initiative are still unconstitutional. 

In her dissent Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, disagreed vehemently with the majority. “The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat. But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.”

The ruling comes as little surprise in an political and legal landscape increasingly hostile to race-conscious admissions policies, and will pave the way for more attacks on affirmative action. Read the Supreme Court opinion in full (PDF), and Colorlines’ Schuette primer for more. 

Biden Warns Russia, Brian Williams’s ‘Gin and Juice,’ and #GlobalSelfie

Biden Warns Russia, Brian Williams's 'Gin and Juice,' and #GlobalSelfie

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

  • Biden warns Russia that “there will be consequences” if it doesn’t stop separatists in Ukraine.

  • NASA is asking people all over the world to upload a #GlobalSelfie (a worldwide pitch with an English language hashtag?). 
TAGS: Morning Rush
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215