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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Federal Regulators Sue Corinthian Colleges for Predatory Student Loans

Federal Regulators Sue Corinthian Colleges for Predatory Student Loans

The for-profit college giant Corinthian Colleges swindled students into signing up for expensive student loans by dangling false promises of future employment, then engaging in illegal debt collection schemes to force students to pay up, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) alleges in a lawsuit the agency filed Tuesday, the Huffington Post reported. 

It’s just the latest blow to the company, which was forced to sell off or wind down the vast majority of its 102 campuses across the country in a deal it reached with the U.S. Department of Education in July. More than 70,000 students were enrolled in Corinthian campuses this summer, which included Heald College, Everest Colleges and WyoTech schools.

Corinthian had a long list of dirty marketing and number-fudging tricks it used to entice students to sign up for its career-training and postsecondary education programs, including inflating its job placement rates by defining a “placement” as “any job that lasted one day, with the promise of a second day,” according to the complaint. Corinthian also intentionally marketed its programs to students who were “isolated,” and who had low-self esteem and few people to rely on. What’s more, Corinthian marketed private student loans that the company had a financial interest in, knowing full well that the majority of borrowers would default on them. 

In perhaps the most shocking complaint, the CFPB alleges that Corinthian Colleges also burnished its post-graduate job placement rates by counting students who were incarcerated after leaving Corinthian as “unavailable for employment.” Corinthian employees would, according to the CFPB complaint, “search the Internet for graduates’ names for any purported evidence of incarceration … irrespective of whether the name match was, in fact, an identity match” and then drop supposedly incarcerated students from the pool of students it counted in its job placement rates. 

Catch up on Colorlines coverage of Corinthian’s dissolution earlier this summer, and read the CFPB’s complaint in full (PDF).

Big Labor Steps Up Around Ferguson and Race

Big Labor Steps Up Around Ferguson and Race

The head of the largest confederation of labor unions this week acknowledged that Big Labor, representing more than 12 million workers in the U.S., has not always supported men and women of color. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, addressing the Missouri AFL-CIO convention this Monday focused heavily on race in America and on racism within union ranks. “How can we not be involved?” he asked of the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath. One recent survey has exposed deep racial division over officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of the unarmed 18-year-old. Trumka threaded a fine line indicative of a central tension engulfing Big Labor today: its dwindling white male membership and growing dependence on people of color to replenish the ranksBoth Wilson and Brown belong to union families: 

“Union members’ lives have been profoundly damaged in ways that cannot be fixed. Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother who works in a grocery store, is our sister, an AFL-CIO union member and Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown, is a union member too and he is our brother. Our brother killed our sister’s son and we do not have to wait for the judgment of prosecutors or courts to tell us how terrible this is. So I say again, how can we not be involved?”

Trumka goes on to demand among other things, an open discussion of racism in America and that labor take responsibility for the past.

Here in St. Louis, in 1917, powerful corporations replaced white strikers with African American workers recruited from the Mississippi Delta with offers of wages far higher than anyone could make sharecropping. In response the St. Louis labor movment helped lead a blood bath against the African American community in East St. Louis. No one knows how many men, women and children were killed, and how many houses and businesses were burned….

We as a movement have not always done our best to support our brothers and sisters of color who face challenges both on and off the job—challenges that you don’t really understand unless you live them.”

Listen to the full speech above or read it here

(h/t MSNBC)

LAUSD School Police Will Give up Grenade Launchers

LAUSD School Police Will Give up Grenade Launchers

Los Angeles Unified School District police officials announced Tuesday that the agency will return three grenade launchers to the federal government amidst public outcry over the militarization of the school police department, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The agency will, however, hold on to 61 rifles and a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle designed to withstand improvised explosive device attacks. LAUSD received the grenade launcher, rifles and armored vehicle from the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which distributes surplus military equipment to local and school police departments.

The Los Angeles school police department’s arsenal came to light after police repression in Ferguson raised questions about surplus military equipment disbursements. More than 100 school police department agencies around the country have also received similiar equipment as the LAUSD, the Washington Post reported.

More than $5 billion in equipment has been handed out to police agencies within the U.S. since 1997, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Obama Administration: Unaccompanied Minors Crisis Cresting

Obama Administration: Unaccompanied Minors Crisis Cresting

The child migration crisis of this past summer has abated, according to the Obama administration. On Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that “significant progress” had been made in stemming the flow of unaccompanied children crossing into the U.S., ABC reported.

Some 3,100 children migrating alone were apprehended at the border in August, a steep dropoff from the 10,000 youth who were caught in both May and June of this year. “It is now five months later, and the number of children arriving and apprehended at our border is dramatically lower than it was five months ago,” Mayorkas said at the National Press Club, ABC reported. 

Whether that drop is due to the summer heat or beefed-up enforcement and pressure the Obama administration has put on Mexican and Central American governments is unclear, Mayorkas acknowledged.

More than 66,000 children and families arrived between October 2013 and August of this year, and already-backlogged immigration courts have struggled to keep up with the new caseload. Cities like New York and San Francisco have pledged money to provide support and legal representation to migrants who otherwise have no legal right to representation as they navigate immigration court.

Obama, ISIS, Climate Change and Violence in the NFL

Obama, ISIS, Climate Change and Violence in the NFL

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Troops to West Africa to Battle Ebola, U2 New Album Already on Your iPhone, Space Taxis

Troops to West Africa to Battle Ebola, U2 New Album Already on Your iPhone, Space Taxis

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

  • Speaking of iPhones, did you know that Apple downloaded U2’s new album to it? If you don’t believe me, just look at your music library. Good luck getting rid of it
  • Are you ready for space taxis? According to the Wall Street Journal article in the link, Boing nearly has the exclusive contract locked down. (WSJ piece is behind a paywall.)

Scots Prepare for Referendum, Obamacare’s New Obstacles, ‘Swatting’ Rival Gamers

Scots Prepare for Referendum, Obamacare's New Obstacles, 'Swatting' Rival Gamers

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

  • Danièle Watts, best known for her role in “Django Unchained,” is arrested and detained for kissing her partner. 

Everything You Need to Know About Michael Brown’s Juvie Record

Everything You Need to Know About Michael Brown's Juvie Record

In an open letter to St. Louis Post Dispatch’s editor Gilbert Bailon, attorney Benjamin Crump addresses the publication’s petition asking a family court to open Michael Brown’s juvenile record (if there is one). Crump, who represents Brown’s family, posted the letter—which suggests the publication is only trying to drive traffic to its website—on Twitter:

So there you have it. Michael Brown had no arrest record—and it wouldn’t really matter if he did.

Darren Wilson, meanwhile, remains free on paid leave more than one month after killing the unarmed 18-year-old. 

Policing the Police: A Brief History

Policing the Police: A Brief History

With Ferguson still on the national conscience, ThinkProgress reporter Nicole Flatow looks at how three cities have dealt with their high profile police violence cases—Rodney King in Los Angeles, 1991; Amadou Diallo in New York City, 1999; and Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, 2001—and whether reforms worked. It’s a mixed bag. In New York City after the Diallo reforms, largely considered cosmetic, it appeared that things had worsened. And in Cincinnati, at least for one resident, the Collaborative Agreement implemented after the 2001 unrest helped end the feeling that she lived in a police state

Over at Jacobin, writer Stuart Schrader connects policing to empire-building and cautions against the reforms themselves: “The reform program of imposing rigorous standards of behavior, divisions of labor, and doctrinal guidelines does not subject the police to public scrutiny or oversight but instead insulates them, further enabling rule by discretion.”

Reform expert Philip Atiba Goff in a piece by Rinku Sen, publisher of Colorlines, cautions that reforms are incomplete without examining hiring practices as well as key police identities like race and masculinity. He tells Sen, “An officer who feels a need to demonstrate his masculinity may be more likely to use force in general, but particularly against people who threaten his self-concept as a man. If African-Americans are seen as hypermasculine, then the officer will feel more threatened.”

Since no one knows how many police shootings occur nationally each year, there are ambitious efforts underway by ordinary citizens to fix that. Learn more about them—and how to help—on Deadspin. Albuquerque, for example, has seen 47 police shootings since 2009 in which 32 people died.

Diallo and Thomas also died at the hands of police officers. King was badly beaten.

(h/t ThinkProgress)

Sportscaster James Brown Confronts Men on Violence Against Women

Sportscaster James Brown Confronts Men on Violence Against Women

As Deadspin reports, CBS sportscaster James Brown addressed viewers—and men in particular—about violence against women just moments before the Steelers-Ravens game Thursday.

Matthew Henderson posted a quick transcript of Brown’s remarks on Twitter:

Watch These Oakland Women Turf Battle [VIDEO]

Watch These Oakland Women Turf Battle [VIDEO]

Hailing from Oakland, California, turfing—and, most recently, finger tutting—has largely associated with men. But, as KQED reports, a recent battle shows that women can dominate the style, too. 

Female Ravens Fans React to Ray Rice Video and the NFL

Female Ravens Fans React to Ray Rice Video and the NFL

Last night was Baltimore’s first football game since TMZ released the domestic violence video of Ravens player Ray Rice. One WaPo videographer talked to a handful of women, all longtime Ravens fans, about Rice and the ensuing controversy that could cost the job of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and is forcing greater scrutiny of the NFL. Check out the mix of opinions in “The ladies of Ravens Nation,” including those where the love of football takes over all executive brain function. Then be sure to check out our gender columnist Miriam Zoila Pérez’s latest. She talks to longtime activists about the complicated relationship that women of color have with the now 20-year-old Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

(h/t Washington Post)

TAGS: NFL Ray Rice VAWA

Yahoo! Says Gov Threatened Fines for User Data, Che Joins SNL, Meditation for Migraines

Yahoo! Says Gov Threatened Fines for User Data, Che Joins SNL, Meditation for Migraines

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

  • Oscar Pistorius is found guilty of negligent killing and could serve up to 15 years in jail. 
  • Authorities in Pakistan arrest 10 people believed to have carried out the shooting attack against Malala Yousafzai in 2012.
  • Documents say that the Bush Administration threatened Yahoo! with a $250,000-per-day fine if it didn’t hand over user data. That’s a nearly $2 million every week!
  • A teen serving life for killing three Ohio schoolmates is captured after a failed prison escape. 
  • Facebook wants your feedback about why you don’t like those ads on your feed. Probably to give you more ads. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Obama Turned Away from Three Elite Golf Clubs

Obama Turned Away from Three Elite Golf Clubs

Following fundraisers in New York and Rhode Island the Friday before Labor Day, President Obama had planned an overnight stay in Westchester County, New York, to attend a wedding Saturday. With a little free time on his hands, the president hoped to swing by a local golf club on Saturday morning, but he was turned down by three of them. 

Trump National, Willow Ridge and Winged Foot—all in New York—turned the president away. Sources tell WNBC that club managers didn’t want to inconvenience their members, who pay more than $100,000 to join some of the clubs.

Trump National is owned by Donald Trump, who poked fun about rejecting Obama on Wednesday on Twitter: 

Over Labor Day weekend, Obama returned to Washington on Friday evening and then headed all the way back to Westchester on Saturday. 

Following Ferguson: Residents Head to State Capitol as Street Protests Continue

Following Ferguson: Residents Head to State Capitol as Street Protests Continue

Ferguson residents continue to voice frustration on more than one front, and new video of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting surfaces. While street protests continued with an attempt to block Interstate-70 during rush hour yesterday, another 60-plus residents traveled to the state capitol in Jefferson City to tell their stories to state lawmakers. They hope, according to local station KSDK, to get laws to change—although the report does not specify which laws. Pharmacy technician Kayla Reed never expected to become an activist explains why she got on the bus. “If they see us and they hear us, and I’m speaking eloquently to them, and I’m not in their face saying, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot,’ if I’m not that because you couldn’t come to me when I needed you, so I’ll come to you,” she tells KSDK.

Of the nearly 150 people attempting to block I-70 yesterday, the LA Times reports that police arrested at least 10. One organizer, Eric Vickers, according to the Post-Dispatch, did not rule out future acts of civil disobedience. Protesters are calling for Governor Jay Nixon to replace St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch with a special prosecutor. McCulloch’s father, a police officer, was killed nearly 50 years ago by an African-American suspect. 

Meanwhile, video and new eyewitnesses corroborating previous testimony has surfaced. Two construction workers who asked to remain unidentified were on scene at the time of Wilson’s fatal shooting of Brown. Read more on Fox 2 Now St. Louis and USA Today.

New War in Iraq, Facebook Tests Momentary Posts, Ebola Death Toll Continues to Rise

New War in Iraq, Facebook Tests Momentary Posts, Ebola Death Toll Continues to Rise

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

  • The Syrian opposition is thrilled with Obama’s plans. 
  • In a sign that Snapchat really is on to something, Facebook is testing momentary posts. 
  • Taraji P. Henson tells Ebony that she’s treated like a D-list actor. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson

This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson

Update, September 15, 2014, 5:28 p.m.:

Colorlines would like to acknowledge that we did not reach out to FCKH8.com before running the blog post “This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson.”  We make the following clarifications in the post:

1. According to a FCH8.com statement, the kids were from Ferguson.

2. Our piece says, “Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified ‘charities working in communities to fight racism.’” After publication, we learned that the organizations FCKH8.com had designated as recipients were listed elsewhere on-line, including in a September 9, 2014 Shadow and Act story.

3.In our post we say “The company behind the video, FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls ‘LGBT Equality Gear’(which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out)…” According to an September 13, 2014 visit to FKH8.com, there is a transgender-themed T-shirt on sale in the “LGBT Equality Gear” section of the website.

4. After publishing the post we later learned that the organization behind the campaign had designated our publisher, Race Forward, as a recipient of a portion of the proceeds from this campaign. Unfortunately, contrary to philanthropic best practices, Race Forward hadn’t been previously notified of the the donation and immediately issued a statement that it would not accept any funds from the effort. Race Forward stands by that decision and would not have accepted the designation had we been previously aware.

It is important for us to assure you that our readers can trust us to report and behave with integrity. For 16 years, Colorlines has been a news source where race matters, featuring award-winning investigative reporting and news analysis. The questions we raised about the relationship between commerce and community politics with regard to race are important and legitimate, and we will continue to explore them generally on our screens.

At Race Forward, the organization you have come to know over 30 years —formerly under the name of Applied Research Center — our mission remains clear: to build awareness, solutions and leadership for racial justice. We do that by addressing: the impact of individual acts of racial discrimination within a deeper analysis of systemic racial injustice; the racial impact of individual and institutional actions and outcomes, as well as the intentions behind them; and the consequences of unconscious racial bias. Race Forward will remain committed to using this approach in considering any organizational perspective, opinionor association.

We remain committed to working towards a vibrant world in which people of all races create, share and enjoy resources and relationships equitably.

—Colorlines and Race Forward

====

So…. Our little New York office feels some kind of way about a new video making rounds today. Titled, “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids,” the video’s making lots of rounds on social media. Which will probably equal lots of money for the company behind it, called Synergy Media

The video features a group of unnamed black kids, purportedly from Ferguson, reciting parts of a script that’s clearly been written by adults. A script that will make you think race is solely a black and white issue, by the way. Even if the children are from Ferguson, it’s unclear if or how they’ve been compensated. [See above statement #1—Ed] Either way, the idea that these kids are from Ferguson is paraded for consumption.

Towards the end, a white adult and a black adult make nice and encourage viewers to buy a FCKH8.com T-shirt. Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified “charities working in communities to fight racism.” Which charities? Who knows! [See above statement #2 —Ed] What communities? Can’t tell you.

The video concludes with a dedication, “For Mike,” and a quiet scene from the Ferguson street on which Michael Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson more than a month ago:

The company behind the video, FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls “LGBT Equality Gear” (which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out). [See statement above #3 —Ed] It’s now trying to do the same with its “Anti-Racism Gear.” According to its website, FCKH8.com “recently became owned and managed by Synergy Media,” a corporate branding firm whose clients include Magnum bodybuilding vitamin supplements and pretty offensive “Buckeye Boob T’s” (the latter despite the fact that FCKH8.com says it’s anti-sexist).

There’s an entire economy around black death—and this ad campaign illustrates it all too well. Ironically, this economy’s profit margins depend on upholding the very racism this video claims to want to eliminate.

So there you have it, folks. Everything, it seems, can distilled, packaged, bought and sold—including racism. 

Update, September 10, 2014, 4:55 p.m.: FCKH8.com issued a press release Tuesday indicating that Race Forward, which is Colorlines’ publisher, along with a few other organizations, would be receiving funds garnered through T-shirt sales. Race Forward has publicly responded.

Following Ferguson: Outrage at Last Night’s City Council Meeting

Following Ferguson: Outrage at Last Night's City Council Meeting

More than 600 people attended the first meeting held by Ferguson’s majority white city council since a police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown in early August. Shouting erupted during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to a Post-Dispatch account, at the phrase, “and justice for all.” Comments reflect the community’s ongoing frustration, which had erupted over the past few weeks into street protests before a highly militarized police force that captured global media attention. Council members did not take any questions during the “constant barrage,” the Post-Dispatch reports, and had arrived an hour before the meeting with police escorts. From The New York Times:

“You are now on notice,” [Shelly] Gradford said. “It is evident that residents of Ferguson have for a long time been harassed. This must end.”

John Chasnoff of nearby University City told the officials that they had become the “face of structural racism.”

“You’ve lost your authority to govern this community,” Mr. Chasnoff said. “You’re going to have to step aside gracefully if this community is going to heal.”

Reforms announced this week were read into the record without debate. They will be voted on at a later date. But the impending changes did little to quell the audience’s anger last night, or relieve residents’ sadness.

Held at a local church, the meeting ended around 10 p.m. after nearly two hours of public comment with words of counsel to council members from Bishop L.O. Jones: “You didn’t answer any questions tonight. Let’s be honest. It’s time for change.”

Protesters according to the Post-Dispatch are planning to shut down I-70 on Wednesday afternoon in reaction to Gov. Jay Nixon’s refusal to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the police killing of Brown.

Etsy Bans Use of Washington NFL Team Name and Logo

Etsy Bans Use of Washington NFL Team Name and Logo

Homemade and vintage crafts site Etsy has implemented a new policy that bans sellers from using the Washington, D.C. NFL Team name and logo on any item sold on its site.

Etsy’s policy update, posted Tuesday, explains:

Today we seek to balance two principles that are critically important to us: freedom of speech and protection from discrimination. Freedom of speech and expression is important to us because we are a community of artists, artisans, and curators of all backgrounds, aesthetics, and viewpoints. If you search our site, you will see a wide variety of items testifying to our diversity and our seemingly limitless creativity.

This freedom, however, is not without limits. In the past, we have taken actions to protect our community and to preserve our integrity as both a creative and an ethical space. We want Etsy to be safe, welcoming, and respectful for everyone, including artists, women, and minorities. For this reason, it has long been against our policies to allow content on our site that demeans people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation.

You may have been following the struggle of one ethnic group that has made a lot of headlines lately: Native Americans and their fight against the Washington, D.C. professional football team name and mascot, which they have long considered offensive, disparaging, and racist. This very poignant ad was followed by a decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the team’s trademarks. Following this decision, an increasing number of public figures, politicians, schools, news publications, and private companies have spoken out in protest of the name and mascot.

Like the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, we at Etsy find the opinion of the minority group itself to carry most weight in determining whether the mascot is disparaging. In no uncertain terms, Native American groups have consistently advocated and litigated that the term “redskin(s)” is disparaging and damaging to Native Americans. Therefore, it will no longer be permitted in our marketplace.

Sellers will be allowed to sell items that use the team’s color, and specify location—but items featuring the team’s name and logo will soon be gone. The policy change takes place immediately.

Who knows? Maybe Golliwog dolls will go next. 

Obama IS Strategy, Dollar Rises, Anti-Anxiety Drugs Linked to Alzheimer’s

Obama IS Strategy, Dollar Rises, Anti-Anxiety Drugs Linked to Alzheimer's

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

  • An Alabama man who allegedly killed the five children he took from his ex-wife is arrested in Mississippi. 
  • French music steaming company Deezer hopes to knock out Spotify. Who knows? Maybe they’ll actually have De La Soul and Pharcyde tracks that Spotify doesn’t. 
TAGS: Morning Rush
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