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Jay-Z’s New Album Pretty Much Knows Everything About You

Jay-Z's New Album Pretty Much Knows Everything About You

After a few initial hiccups, Jay-Z’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail was released this week by way of an exclusive app for Samsung customers. But Adrian Chen over at Gawker points out that the app itself is a massive data mining opportunity:

Occupy-supporting Atlanta rapper Killer Mike noted on Twitter yesterday that when he tried to download the Magna Carta app—which has racked up more than a half million downloads, according to Billboard—it requested some oddly intrusive permissions from your Android phone. Why does Jay-Z need your GPS location? Is he going to cruise by on a platinum-coated jet ski, personally chucking out copies of the album to people who downloaded the app?

During his big media splash before the album’s released, the business savvy rapper said that his unconventional deal with Samsung was motivated in part by his belief that the Internet is the “wild, wild West” and that we — users — have a chance to rewrite the rules. I guess all of that is true except when it comes to your privacy.

Native Appropriations Sees “The Lone Ranger” (Now, You Don’t Have To)

Native Appropriations Sees

SPOILER ALERT: Adrienne Keene, over at Native Appropriations, doesn’t like it. But don’t take our word for it, here’s part of her review, which draws attention to the many, many problematic stereotypes featured in the film:

The Lone Ranger fails the Bechdel test. There are not two (named) women, who speak to each other, about something other than a man. The portrayals of the Chinese laborers who built the railroad are super problematic too, they have them in rice paddy hats, and the only time they speak is to tell the bad guys they won’t go in the tunnel because there are “Indian spirits” in there. Then that guy gets shot. The only Black characters are one of Rebecca’s employees (who gets shot defending the house), and the driver/bouncer of the “House of Sin” where Helena Bonham-Carter works. This is also supposed to be Texas, but I can’t actually think of any Latino characters, besides a “Spaniard” (bad guy), and another of Rebecca’s employees.

And that’s just a tiny bit. You can read the review in its entirety here.

Still feel like you want to see the flick? Make sure you take Keene’s Lone Ranger bingo card with you. She was kind enough to create it for “all your cliched stereotype needs.”

TAGS: Lone Ra

Federal Judge Needs Evidence Louisiana Prison Gets Extra Hot in July

Federal Judge Needs Evidence Louisiana Prison Gets Extra Hot in July

A federal judge denied a preliminary injunction filed by attorneys for death row inmates in Louisiana’s notorious Angola state penitentiary who are suing the prison for subjecting the prisoners to cruel and unusual punishment due to extreme heat conditions there. The Promise of Justice Initiative attorneys were simply asking for Angola prison officials to control temperatures to more tolerable levels. In 2011, the heat index rose as high as 195 degrees.

The judge’s denial of having the prison turn up the fans is temporary, and contingent upon the attorney’s bringing him evidence that the prison will, in fact, get unbearably hot this month. Judge Brian Jackson asked the inmates’ lawyers and prison officials to record temperature data from inside the facilities over the next three weeks.  

Lawyers for the prison said heat complaints were “not scientifically valid,” according to a Nola.com report, and based on “generally incompetent evidence.” 

On death row, the inmates, who all have hypertension, remain in cells for 23 hours a day experiencing dangerous and potentially life threatening heat conditions in the summer — this according to two experts on thermoregulation and environmental safety provided by the inmates’ attorneys. 

Federal courts have already ruled that extreme heat conditions count as cruel and unusual punishment, as seen recently in lawsuits successfully filed against Texas prisons. It’s also a matter of fact that American cities that currently suffer heat waves are expected to suffer even more of them, and at higher intensities, throughout the century according to the best available climate change information. 

Queering Immigration: ‘Citizenship Is Not the Answer to Everything’

Queering Immigration: 'Citizenship Is Not the Answer to Everything'

Check out this thought-provoking video by Sowjanya Kudva in which LGBT folks talk about their definitions of immigration, borders, and citizenship.

‘The Lone Ranger’ Inspires Fashion Trend

'The Lone Ranger' Inspires Fashion Trend

Anchor Vincent Schilling of the Vincent Schilling YouTube News Channel talks to Vincent Schilling about the new Johnny Depp fashion craze, based on Tonto from the “The Longer Ranger”. It’s as brilliant as it is hilarious. 

Watch the Ghost of Frederick Douglass Star in This 1970’s Afro Sheen Commercial

Watch the Ghost of Frederick Douglass Star in This 1970's Afro Sheen Commercial

Too much. But still a little something for your afternoon lunch break.

The KKK’s TV Show for Kids Is As Awful As You Can Imagine

The KKK's TV Show for Kids Is As Awful As You Can Imagine

Startin’ ‘em young on white supremacy. From the Huffington Post:

Andrew Pendergraft is the grandson of Thomas Robb, the modern-day Ku Klux Klan’s national director. As a young boy with floppy blond hair and a slight speech impediment, Pendergraft hosted a number of short episodes of his very own amateur talk show, “The Andrew Show,” which presents the Klan’s ideology in a format aimed at kids — more specifically, white kids.

The episode above appears to have been shot around 2009.

TAGS: KKK

Zanele Muholi’s Absolutely Stunning Portraits of Queer Africa

Zanele Muholi's Absolutely Stunning Portraits of Queer Africa

It’s often a dangerous act of rebellion to be openly queer in many African countries. Back in 2011, Frankie Edozien reported for Colorlines on the sometimes deadly concurrent rise of U.S.-backed evangelical Christianity and a growing sense of pride among many in Ghana’s LGBT community. A 2011 report Human Rights Watch Report documented the rise of “curative rape” in South Africa and criticized that country’s government for “desperately failing lesbian and transgender people.”

Zanele Muholi is a visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa whose work focuses on sexuality. In 2006 she began a portraiture series called “Faces and Phases” that turns a different kind of celebratory spotlight on lesbian and transgender women in Africa. 

“I need to underscore that naming ourselves and ‘being’ is more than a fashion statement or a research topic,” Muholi said while reflecting on her work in 2009, according to Creative Time Reports. “Rather, it is a political consciousness that we do not have a choice about. To be black, lesbian and African is by its very nature political in a world that is still overwhelmingly heterosexual.”

Check out the stunning series of portraits after the jump.

 

TAGS: Africa LGBT

New App Helps U.S. Immigrants Apply for Citizenship

New App Helps U.S. Immigrants Apply for Citizenship

Citizenship Works is a free mobile app that launched this week to help guide green card holders through the process of applying for American citizenship. Though the app is designed to help people who are currently living in the United States as legal permanent residents, its designers hope that the approach could also be used to help the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants once new immigration legislation becomes law. 

The app, which is available in English and Spanish, helps applicants determine their eligibility to apply for citizenship, understand the application process, find legal resources, and study for the English and Civics tests. 

It’s available for free in the iTunes store and on Google Play for Android users. 

The app is funded by the Knight Foundation, the Silicon Valley community foundation, the New Americans campaign, and the Grove Foundation, in partnership with the Immigration Advocates Network.

Comic Book Captures Mighty Environmental Justice Adventures

Comic Book Captures Mighty Environmental Justice Adventures

A new comic book series titled Mayah’s Lot attempts to explain the everyday challenges of environmental justice advocacy through graphic novel storytelling. The main character of the series, Mayah, is recruited into the environmental justice movement when she discovers that a Los Angeles-based, greenwashed company is planning to use a lot in her neighborhood in New York to dump toxic waste. The community group Mayah joins helps her fight the company off by showing her the ropes of public policy advocacy. In the strip, Mayah becomes “Earth Girl,”a  jade-costumed superhero armed with something of a zap gun.

The conflict is resolved not by a single, caped crusader with special powers, though, but through the empowerment of Mayah’s community, which is divided into task groups and then dispatched to raise awareness, monitor pollution and do research. The moral is that no one leader can protect communities from environmental hazards, but rather that environmental justice is about “people coming together to improve their community, standing strong, [and] finding a legal solution.”

Rebecca Bratspies, a professor at City University of New York School of Law and founder of the “Center for Urban Environmental Reform,” created the book along with graphic artist Charlie LaGreca and middle school students in Queens. In Greenversations, a blog run by EPA, Bratspies said that she and LaGreca help students “identify environmental problems in their neighborhoods,” which the students then will turn into comic book narratives. 

The first story in the series is simple and accessible, but also keenly illustrates some of the more nuanced problems the environmental justice world faces, such as police keeping residents from working in lots in their own neighborhood, even to beautify them, or polluter companies serving obscured public notices buried in the back listings pages of newspapers. 

Download Mayah’s Lot here, and also watch this video for more info:

Autopsy Reveals Atlanta Rapper Chris Kelly Died of Drug Overdose

Autopsy Reveals Atlanta Rapper Chris Kelly Died of Drug Overdose

Autopsy results for Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly were released on Monday. Kelly, 34, was found dead on May 1, 2013. The official cause of death: a drug overdose.

From Rolling Stone: 

Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office in Atlanta said the specific drugs involved in the rapper’s death were unknown, but Kelly’s mother told investigators of her son’s history of drug abuse, and said that he had used cocaine and heroin the night before his death.


Read more at Rolling Stone.

Environment, Immigration and Gay Groups Pledge Fight for Civil Rights

Environment, Immigration and Gay Groups Pledge Fight for Civil Rights

A broad cross section of social justice organizations — from environmentalists to immigrant reform-focused — came together last week to announce a concerted fight to restore voting rights lost when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional last week. Among the groups assembled for the “tele-townhall” conference call were the NAACP, the environmental groups Sierra Club and Greenpeace, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, NCLR, Voto Latino and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, all of which were represented by their leading directors pledging pro-active fights against voter suppression efforts. 

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said that his organization’s 2.1 million members “are ready to fight” to preserve voting rights in America by “knocking on doors, making phone calls and lobbying Congress.” Brune said that the same people the Sierra Club is fighting for attacking clean energy and climate change protection laws are the same people who are trying to restrict voting. 

“We know that to protect our environment we must protect our democracy,” said Brune. 

Well before the Supreme Court decision, the Sierra Club joined forces with the NAACP for what’s called the “Democracy Initiative,” a coalition dedicated to defending progressive election reform initiatives and protecting the right to vote. 

Last week, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Senate produced a number of victories and near-victories for organizations fighting for marriage equality and immigration reform. Groups representing those issues said they would not back down from counteracting the SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act, which NCLR President Janet Murgia called “terrible and wrong-headed” on the call.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey said the SCOTUS decision on DOMA was sweet but, “The sweetness does not erase the bitterness.”

“Those who seek to deny any of our votes seek to deny all of our votes,” said Carey. “I do have hope and we can’t stand for this, the LGBT community will not stand for this.”

Myrlie Evers-Williams, voting rights advocate and wife of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, sent a statement to the audience — which the call’s organizers number at over 17,000 — saying:  

“My husband Medgar and courageous leaders risked everything to register citizens to vote. We knew what they fought for.

I never thought that I would say this, but today the situation is just as dire.

It is not enough to just remember the legacy of Medgar Evers. It is not enough to just be members of our respective organizations.

We will have to put action to our affiliations and we will have to remember what originally brought us here.”

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Wants to Build a ‘Solidarity Economy’ in Jackson, Miss.

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Wants to Build a 'Solidarity Economy' in Jackson, Miss.

Change — yes, maybe even the radical kind — may be on its way to Jackson, Miss. The predominately black town elected activist Chokwe Lumumba to be its new mayor, and he’s got an ambitious plan for economic revival.

Silicon Valley Offers Helicopter Rides Amid Massive BART Strike

Silicon Valley Offers Helicopter Rides Amid Massive BART Strike

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers are striking for a second consecutive day in order to win a new contract from management. Among their demands: improved safety conditions and a long-awaited raise. Roughly 2,400 workers have taken to the picket lines to demand better treatment by a transit agency that’s been operating with an economic surplus in recent years.

But as Sam Biddle at Valley Wag put it, one Silicon Valley company, Avego, is offering frustrated commuters a chance to literally fly over society’s problems by offering up helicopter rides.

Forget about the inordinate number of San Franciscans who’ll struggle to get to work because of the strike. Forget about the striking BART employees who want a better deal from their employers. In Valleythink, “crisis” is just another way to push downloads—and so Avego cannily registered BARTstrike.com to exploit the mess.

Insensitive? Yes. Out of touch? Definitely. It’s an example of the vast gulf — in income and logic — that’s separating the have’s and have nots in Northern California.

(H/T AlterNet)

TAGS: BART Strike

Meet Viola Davis’ New Science Fiction Character

Meet Viola Davis' New Science Fiction Character

Viola Davis is set to star as Major Gwen Anderson in the new film adaption of the 1985 cult classic science fiction book “Ender’s Game.” Check out her new look. The film will be in theaters on November 1, 2013.

Reading Rainbow Host LeVar Burton’s New Lesson: How Not to Get Shot by the Cops

Reading Rainbow Host LeVar Burton's New Lesson: How Not to Get Shot by the Cops

LeVar Burton is best known as the former host of the children’s show “Reading Rainbow.” But he has a new lesson that he’s sharing with viewers: how not to get shot by the police.

During a segment from CNN’s new documentary “The N Word” on Monday, Burton explained that, as a black man in America, he’s often stopped by the police. And he’s developed a ritual to avoid being shot by officers. 

“This is a practice I engage in every time I am stopped by law enforcement,” Burton said. “And I’ve taught this to my son who is now 33 as part of my duty as a father to ensure that he knows the kind of world in which he’s growing up. I take my hat off, I take my sunglasses off, I put them on passenger’s side. I roll down my window, I take my hands, I stick them outside the window and on the door of the driver’s side because I want that officer to be as relaxed as he can be.”

(H/T The Raw Story)

 

Jamie Foxx Wears Trayvon Martin T-Shirt to BET Awards for Second Straight Year

JamieFoxxTrayvon.jpgJamie Foxx took home the award for “Best Actor” at last night’s BET Awards for his performance in “Django Unchained.” And for the second year in a row, the actor made what the Los Angeles Times called a “silent statement” by eschewing red carpet fashion and instead wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with Trayvon Martin’s image. Last year, when millions of people wore hoodies to stand in solidarity with Trayvon Martin’s family as they sought an indictment of George Zimmerman, Foxx wrote on his blog, “My hoodie will be on forever.”

This 1970’s ‘Black Belt Jones’ Intro Shows Why Jim Kelly Was a Big Deal

This 1970's 'Black Belt Jones' Intro Shows Why Jim Kelly Was a Big Deal

African-American martial arts actor Jim Kelly died on Saturday at the age of 67. Kelly was best known for his role in the 1973 Bruce Lee film “Enter the Dragon.” But here’s another clip of Kelly in action on the film “Black Belt Jones” that shows off the moves that made him enough of a cultural icon to star alongside LeBron James in a 2004 Nike commercial

(H/T Shadow and Act)

Watch This 5-Year-Old Piano Prodigy Wow His 101-Year-Old Fan

Watch This 5-Year-Old Piano Prodigy Wow His 101-Year-Old Fan

Ryan Wang and Dorothy Landry are on their way to becoming besties, despite their 96-year age difference. 

(H/T Angry Asian Man)

Lauryn Hill Points Out Institutional Racism, Gets Called Crazy in Return

Lauryn Hill Points Out Institutional Racism, Gets Called Crazy in Return

Lauryn Hill is talented, troubled, and currently serving three months in jail on charges of tax evasion. But the day before her sentence started, the elusive singer posted a missive about American racism on Tumblr. Some of it made sense, some of it didn’t, but all of it is being used by the media as one more example of Hill’s alleged craziness.

An excerpt after the jump:

TAGS: Lauryn Hill
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