Obama: My Administration Will Fight Texas Ruling

Obama: My Administration Will Fight Texas Ruling

As the end-of-month deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security looms and the Obama administration takes on a Texas judge’s ruling to temporarily halt President Obama’s historic executive action, the president himself is weighing in on the mess. “My administration will fight this ruling with every tool at our disposal,” Obama wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, “and I have full confidence that these actions will ultimately be upheld.”

On Monday, the Obama administration asked U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to lift his ruling temporarily halting the implementation of Obama’s executive action program to offer an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants short-term protection from deportation. The Obama administration says it plans to appeal Hanen’s ruling, arguing that the 26 states who challenged Obama’s executive action have no right to interfere with the federal government’s immigration enforcement plans. Hanen’s ruling last week disrupted the planned February 18 rollout of the first phase of Obama’s executive action, which would have allowed an expanded class of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for temporary work permits and deportation deferrals. 

“I am confident that all the steps I’ve taken on my own to fix our broken immigration system will eventually be implemented,” Obama wrote, also taking time to chastise Republicans for what he called their “irresponsible threats” to withhold funding of the Department of Homeland Security so long as such funding also goes to the implementation of Obama’s immigration policies. 

DOJ Declines to Charge George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin Case

DOJ Declines to Charge George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin Case

As was widely expected, the Department of Justice declined to bring federal charges against George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin back in 2012. Federal prosecutors have concluded that there’s not enough evidence to prove Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights, according to ABC News

The news come almost exactly three years after Martin’s death, and nearly two years since Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury in the killing. 

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy. It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder, according to a statement obtained by BuzzFeed. “Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

Benjamin Crump Takes New Case, Chicago Mayoral Election, Emoji of Color

Benjamin Crump Takes New Case, Chicago Mayoral Election, Emoji of Color

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

The Oscars, Wesleyan Students OD on Molly, Climate Denier’s Corporate Ties

The Oscars, Wesleyan Students OD on Molly, Climate Denier's Corporate Ties

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

  • 11 students from Wesleyan overdose on MDMA; one remains in critical condition. 
  • The Apple-Android divide isn’t just for smartphones: it’s for cars, too. 
  • It turns out one of the biggest climate-change deniers has been paid more than $1 million from the fossil fuel industry and never disclosed it in the scientific papers he published. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Border Patrol Officers Test Out Body-Mounted Cameras

Border Patrol Officers Test Out Body-Mounted Cameras

Body-worn cameras aren’t just for police officers. Agents with Customs and Border Protection began testing out body-mounted cameras this week as the second phase of a “feasibility study” examining accountability mechanisms in the wake of a scathing independent review of the department’s use-of-force practices, the Albuquerque Journal reported. New Mexico is one of the program’s pilot locations.

“Body-worn cameras are viewed as a potential tool that may help CBP continue its progress toward greater transparency and accountability,” the agency said in a statement, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

In recent years, the Border Patrol has developed an increasingly visible accountability and deadly force problem. Agents with the department have killed an average of seven people a year since January 2010, and declined to discipline a single agent involved in a deadly force investigation.

“[Body-worn cameras] will help protect abuse victims,” Vicki Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights said in a statement,” and if used appropriately these cameras will help ensure that CBP’s interaction with community members is fair and lawful.” Far from a complete solution though, the ACLU warns, body-worn cameras must be coupled with more transparency and an end to racial profiling in order to address the agency’s troublingly use of deadly force.

One of Malcolm X’s Last Speeches: ‘Our Color Became to Us Like a Prison’

One of Malcolm X's Last Speeches: 'Our Color Became to Us Like a Prison'

El-Hajj Malik el Shabazz—the leader most commonly known as Malcolm X—was assassinated 50 years ago, on February 21, 1965.

Just one week prior—on Valentine’s Day at 2:46 a.m.—his Queens, N.Y., home had been struck by three Molotov cocktails as he and his family slept. Despite the firebombing, Shabazz flew to Detroit for an awards ceremony sponsored by the Afro-American Broadcasting and Recording Company. It was there that he talked about what his recent world travels had impressed upon him. Shabazz, who had been briefly sedated after the firebombing so he could get some rest, also explained how the press often casted black resistance as psychopathy. 

Shabazz returned to his home the following day to a media circus—a home the Nation of Islam, or NOI, had started eviction proceedings on the previous year, about a month after Shabazz broke from the religious movement to start his organization. On February 18, 1965, while his wife and children were already in hiding, the NOI evicted the family.  

Shabazz was murdered just three days later at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. 

Who Has More in Their 401K? Whites in Their 30s or Blacks in Their 50s?

Who Has More in Their 401K? Whites in Their 30s or Blacks in Their 50s?

You get one guess. Even when workers of different races have similar access to 401k savings accounts, whites are able to put and keep more socked away than their black peers, writes Henry Pollack, a professor at the University of Chicago, for Washington Post’s Wonkblog. The difference is so stark that as of 2010, white workers aged 20 through 40 have more saved in their 401k accounts than do black workers who are between the ages of 40 and 60. Those are the new findings of Stanford professors Kai Yuan Kuan, Mark Cullen and Sepideh Modrek.

At less than $20,000, young black workers under the age of 40 had the least money saved among Latino, black and white workers of different ages. Whites between 40 and 60, meanwhile, have the largest 401k accounts—in 2010 that’s $100,000. Researchers found that workers across different races made 401k contributions that were not wildly disparate, but that black and Latino workers were far more likely to need to withdraw from their accounts or need to take out loans against their savings.

All this is not so surprising, especially since economic inequity extends elsewhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black workers with advanced degrees, for instance, make roughly what white workers with just a college degree do. Since the end of the Great Recession, the racial wealth gap has in fact only widened. In 2013, white households had a net worth 10 times that of Latino families, and 13 times that of black households.

Another Academy Voter Speaks: Oscars Can’t Be Racist Because Academy Prez is Black

Another Academy Voter Speaks: Oscars Can't Be Racist Because Academy Prez is Black

The Hollywood Reporter is continuing its “brutally honest Oscar ballot” series, which features candid conversations with anonymous Academy voters.

On Thursday, we told you about the Academy voter who was offended by the cast of Selma wearing “I can’t breathe” t-shirts at the New York premier. Another enjoyed the film and briefly mentioned it in their interview. A new interview posted on The Hollywood Reporter yesterday, however, might also raise eyebrows:

I didn’t think Selma was a particularly good film, apart from the main actor [David Oyelowo], and I think the outcry about the Academy being racists for not nominating it for more awards is offensive — we have a two-term president who is a black woman [Cheryl Boone Isaacs] and we give out awards to black people when they deserve them, just like any other group.

There you have it, folks. The Academy has a black president; therefore the Academy itself—a group of more than 6,000 people, 76 percent of whom are men, 94 percent of whom are white, which nominated zero people of color in all four acting categories this year (including David Oyelowo, who this voter admits is a good actor)—can’t be racist. 

Bill O’Reilly’s ‘War Reporting’ Questioned, Apple Car, How the Brain Heals

Bill O'Reilly's 'War Reporting' Questioned, Apple Car, How the Brain Heals

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on (and listening to) this morning: 

  • The brain is incredible, especially when it comes it healing itself

The Long Reach of Police Torture: From Chicago to Guantánamo

The Long Reach of Police Torture: From Chicago to Guantánamo

Last month, the hand-written Guantánamo diaries of prisoner Mahamedou Ould Slahi began appearing in foreign outlets around the world. The 44-year-old Mauritian national and former resident of Germany, accused of aiding the perpetrators of 9/11, had been held for 12 years without trial. I’d read one German magazine excerpt recounting his torture at the hands of U.S. officials, titled, “We’re Gonna Teach You About Great American Sex.”

Turns out, one of those officials was a decorated Chicago detective named Richard Zuley. And according to a new two-part Guardian investigation, Zuley first perfected his “interrogation technique” on Chicago’s black men and women, some of whom accuse him today of having elicited false confessions under torture. Through Zuley, the must-read investigation connects the dots between police torture of non-white, mostly African-American citizens stateside with that practiced on Muslim men under the War on Terror at Guantánamo.

For more on the roots of Chicago’s police torture saga, start here. This month, disgraced Chicago police commander Jon Burge walked free with his pension after serving 4 1/2 years for lying under oath. Burge is accused of torturing or overseeing the torture of more than 100 African-American men on the city’s South and Westsides throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Zuley was a Chicago police detective from 1977 to 2007. According to The Guardian, he now works for Chicago’s department of aviation.

(h/t The Guardian)

Academy Voter Offended by Selma Cast Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Tees

Academy Voter Offended by Selma Cast Wearing 'I Can't Breathe' Tees

The Hollywood Reporter is posting a conversation with an anonymous member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences daily until the Oscars on Sunday. On Wednesday’s post, this Academy member went in on “Selma”: 

First, let me say that I’m tired of all of this talk about “snubs” — I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60-year-old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance — they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” [at their New York premiere] — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit? 

The Academy may not be the cast of “Deliverance,” but its typical member is an old white man: it’s made up of more than 6,000 members, 94 percent of whom are white and 76 percent of whom are men, whose average is 63 years old.

“Selma” was nominated for Best Picture—and was the only one out of eight films in the category that focused on the lives of characters of color. Five out of the five nominees for Best Actor are white men; the same is true for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. And five out of the five nominees for Best Actress are white women; the same is true for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. 

Deadly Superbug at UCLA, Walmart Worker Raises, The Happiest State in the U.S.

Deadly Superbug at UCLA, Walmart Worker Raises, The Happiest State in the U.S.

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

In New Chapter in War on Terror, Muslim-Americans Still Caught In the Middle

In New Chapter in War on Terror, Muslim-Americans Still Caught In the Middle

In light of last week’s execution-style killings of three college students, some Muslim-Americans are approaching an international conference that opened yesterday, with caution. President Obama’s week-long Summit on Countering Violent Extremism has drawn community and government groups representing 60 countries to Washington, DC this week. What’s driving this gathering are attacks in recent months by individuals self-identifying with, or reported by media and authorities to have been influenced by radical Islam, in Western capitals, Ottawa, Paris and, this weekend, Copenhagen, as well as major cities like Sydney.

But will this week’s conference—and its resulting agreements for action in communities around the world—focus, too, on other homegrown extremists like white American Craig Stephen Hicks or Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik, a white, conservative Christian? That’s just one of many concerns that 27 religious, ethnic and civil liberties groups in the U.S. raised in a December letter to Homeland Security ahead of this February’s gathering. Because, in ratcheting up the fight against domestic and foreign terrorism, President Obama pledges not just to go after violent individuals. Also fair game, according to his LA Times op-ed—and a focus of this week’s special gathering—are “the propagandists, recruiters and enablers who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.”

How Obama’s broad definition of targets for law enforcement and spying actually plays out on the ground, in residential communities, will be of particular concern for many Muslim Americans.

PETA Ad Equates Dog Club With the KKK

PETA Ad Equates Dog Club With the KKK

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, tweeted one of its videos* Tuesday that equates the American Kennel Club, the group that promotes the Westminster Dog Show, with the Ku Klux Klan.

By having a Klan member attend an American Kennel Club meeting, the PETA video—which has subtitles that misspell the white terrorist organization’s name as the “Ku Kluk Klan”—attempts, in a comedic way, to compare dog breeding with the Klan’s trademark white supremacy. While the ad doesn’t mention or depict the beating, castrating, hanging and burning of black people, the image of a Klan member in full regalia conjures up this violence.


*Post and headline have been updated since publication to address a lack of clarity created in the edit. 


For Black Americans, Fleeing the Segregated South Was Deadly

For Black Americans, Fleeing the Segregated South Was Deadly

The Great Migration, that roughly two decade span of the early 20th century when millions of African-Americans fled the segregation and violence of the American South for the relative economic prosperity of Northern and Western cities, fundamentally altered the U.S. landscape. But a new study has found that it also shortened black migrants’ lives.

The study was published this month by the American Economic Review and found that mortality rates increased at 40 percent for black men and 50 percent for black women. Common causes of death were cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and cirrhosis. 

Duke University demographer Seth Sanders, who co-authored the study, told NBC News that the findings contradict a commonly held idea that increased economic mobility in the North automatically benefited black migrants’ physical health. “We thought what we would find was that migration north extended life and made the African-American population healthier,” Sanders said. “We actually found exactly the opposite. Urban life is stressful. Being away from your roots is probably stressful.”

Between the 1910s and 1970s roughly six million African-Americans left the Deep South for places like New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. The study found that if a black man lived to the age of 65, he had more than an 82 percent chance of living until 70 if he stayed in the South. In the North, those chances dropped to 75 percent. For black women who were 65, the chances of reaching the age of 70 in the South were more than 90 percent; in the North, those chances dropped to 85 percent.

In her seminal book “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” Isabel Wilkerson details the toll of racism in the North. “[Black migrants] were fleeing the violence of the caste system in the South, only to be met with challenges and obstacles in the North,” Wilkerson explained to NBC News. “They were searching for ways to manage in a world that had not welcomed them… where they were met with hostility upon their arrival. I would not find it surprising that their health would suffer as a result.”

This infographic from Duke University sums up the study’s major findings:


DOJ to Challenge Immigration Ruling, Racist Chelsea Fans, Ash Wednesday

DOJ to Challenge Immigration Ruling, Racist Chelsea Fans, Ash Wednesday

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Under Pressure, Cop Who Assaulted Black Female Professor Resigns

Under Pressure, Cop Who Assaulted Black Female Professor Resigns

Stewart Ferrin, a 25-year-old Arizona State University police officer, resigned Monday after a lengthy controversy following his violent arrest of ASU professor Ersula Ore last May, the Arizona Republic reported. And he did so in dramatic fashion.

In a letter he wrote to ASU police chief Mike Thompson, Stewart wrote that the 7 1/2 months he spent on paid administrative leave from his job “caused great financial stress and emotional anguish” by preventing “lateral opportunities” with prospective employers, and possibilities for more training and promotions within the agency he currently served. 

Last May, Ferrin stopped Ore, who’s a professor in the university’s English department, for jaywalking. Video eventually showed that Ferrin and other officers strongarmed Ore, and eventually threw her to the ground.

What started as a volatile incident between the professor and the police officer soon became a lengthy legal and political drama. While ASU initially backed Ferrin and said he hadn’t violated any policies that evening, Ore was charged with resisting arrest and other crimes. She pleaded guilty to charges of resisting arrest and is currently serving a nine-month probation sentence, the Phoenix New Times reported. Investigators with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office also all subsequenty concluded that Ferrin was guilty of no wrongdoing, the Phoenix New Times reported. 

In November Ore filed a $2 million legal claim, a prelude to a lawsuit, against Arizona State University and alleged that she was falsely arrested, the Arizona Republic reported. On January 21, ASU notified Ferrin they planned to fire him. Ferrin’s “rigid, power-based approach to law enforcement and unwillingness to exercise discretion and sound judgment culminated in [him] arresting Dr. Ore without a lawful basis,” Ferrin’s boss Chief Thompson told him the letter notifiying him of his termination.

“The lack of support, cooperation, and downright bias coupled with an agenda to ruin my career, has become unbearable and I will not subject my family to this any longer,” Ferrin wrote in his letter published by the Arizona Republic (PDF). 

Dash cam video of Ore’s arrest is up at YouTube.

Graphic Design Company Insists ‘Hanging Tree’ Ad Was Not About Race

Graphic Design Company Insists 'Hanging Tree' Ad Was Not About Race

Florida-based graphic design company Seasalt & Co. has responded to a request for comment Colorlines made on Monday about its ad featuring a noose hanging from a tree. On Tuesday, Seasalt posted a message on its Facebook page and then sent a nearly identical note to Colorlines. Excerpts from the statement addressed to us:

“We have made it clear why we chose a certain graphic for a certain product. It has nothing to do with any race. Our collection is about rising above and refusing to let the world run us and hang us by any mistakes we have made or didn’t make. […] Not everyone understands art as It’s subjective. We are tired of the hate, judgement and injustice. Seeing the noose wasn’t meant to think of a certain race being hung. It was left empty to represent that we refuse to be judged and hung in a non [literal] sense. […] This originated from personal experiences, and [we] wanted to create something that had purpose and meaning. In the art industry it can be very catty and we ourselves, as well as other artist[s] have been ridiculed without even having a chance to be heard. […] . We are huge supporters and advocates and are the voice for the unheard.

We also will be donating a % of proceeds from this not yet released collection to charities that support equality and artist[s]. Maybe even a scholarship fund. […] We want to fight for justice and equality and make it known we are no longer following the leaders of hate or bulling/attacking of others. We take concerns VERY seriously and understand our choice of graphic may have been too much for some and that is not what we want. We understand some are more sensitive than others and that is okay. We have decided to change the image out from one of our fellow artist[s] [ . …] We understand many have been out raged by the image, however we also witnessed some horrible behavior by users, our personal lives and even family members have been threatened with harm

Again we apologize for any hurt feelings, we are taking means to remedy this issue.

The e-mail, as well as the similar Facebook post, is signed by “Ashleigh” but does not include a last name. 

Judge Halts Obama’s Executive Action

Judge Halts Obama's Executive Action

Just two days before President Obama’s historic executive action for undocumented immigrants was set to begin its rollout, a Texas judge has put key portions of the executive order on hold. 

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued his ruling in Texas v. United States, a lawsuit backed by 26 states challenging President Obama’s executive action. Hanen ruled in a lengthy opinion that Obama didn’t follow proper procedural requirements before announcing his plan to offer short-term work permits and protection from deportation for an estimated five million undocumented immigrants, and has temporarily halted some provisions of the executive action. The White House has announced plans to immediately appeal the ruling, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The executive action was set to apply to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and undocumented parents with U.S. citizen children who also cleared a host of other requirements. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services set a February 18 start date to begin accepting applications for the expanded class of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. 

Hanen made clear that his ruling didn’t apply to Obama’s first executive action from 2012, which gave certain young undocumented immigrants who’d come to the U.S. as children similar protection from deportation and work permits.

Advocates, too, stressed that the ruling is only the beginning of a longer fight. “Despite its extreme and inflammatory rhetoric,” ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project director Cecilia Wang said in a statement, “the Texas court decision does not explicitly hold that DAPA, DACA, or any other part of the federal government’s executive action is unconstitutional.”

Prior cases challenging Obama’s first executive action, including one brought by the union which represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, have been dismissed. “We are confident that the Appeals Court will quickly determine that it has no legal merit, as did the only other court that considered a challenge to President Obama’s executive action,” the National Day Laborer Organizing Network’s Jessica Karp Bansal said in a statement.

Judge Halts Obama’s Immigration Action, Hello Barbie, Mars Colonization

Judge Halts Obama's Immigration Action, Hello Barbie, Mars Colonization

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

TAGS: Morning Rush
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