You are browsing the archive for 2015 March 16.

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10 Things Black People Fear That White People Don't (Or Don't Nearly as Much)

March 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

Statistically and in practice, black people have more to fear than whites do.

The following is the latest in a new series of articles on AlterNet called Fear in America that launched this March. Read the introduction to the series.

When black people wake up and begin the day, we have a wide range of issues we have to think about before leaving our homes. Will a police officer kill us today? Or, will some George Zimmerman vigilante see us as a threat in our own neighborhoods and kill us? We brace ourselves for those white colleagues who are pissed Barack Obama won both elections and take out their racist rage on us. When we drive our cars, we have to wonder if we’ll be pulled over because our cars look too expensive for a black person to be driving. If we’re poor and sick, we wonder if we'll be able to be treated for our illness. We have a lot on our minds, and sometimes it’s overwhelming.

Here are a few examples of things we have to be afraid of that white people don’t (or not nearly as much).

1. Getting fired because we don’t fit into white cultural norms. Rhonda Lee, an African American meteorologist who worked at a Louisiana TV station wore her hair in a natural hairstyle one viewer found offensive. “The black lady that does the news is a very nice lady. The only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. I’m not sure if she is a cancer patient. But still it’s not something myself that I think looks good on TV,” the viewer wrote on the station’s Facebook page.

After Lee posted a respectful reply to the man’s insulting remark, she was fired for violating the station's social media policy, even though she wasn’t made aware there was one. It took her nearly two years to find a new job. She has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the station that is still pending.

Another example: In 2013, Melphine Evans, a British Petroleum executive, was fired …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Bad Journalism Is Driving the Collapse of Our Once-Great Public Education System

March 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Jeff Bryant, AlterNet

Most of the news media have no idea how schools run, but they write about them as if they do.

Be afraid, be very afraid, any time you see a reporter in the business media turn his or her attention to education and public schools. What will likely follow is a string of truisms used to prop up a specious argument, steeped in biased notions that were themselves picked up from ill-informed conversations promoted by other clueless business news outlets.

All of this chatter would be something best to ignore were it not for the fact that reporters and pundits from these outlets are often raised to prominence, labeled as “experts,” and lionized by political leaders and policy makers, while real authorities on education are overlooked or completely drowned out in the babble.

Exhibit A in the case against bad reporting on education is in the Feb. 14, 2015 issue of the Economist. An article titled “Pro Choice” highlights efforts to create new school voucher programs in many states and allow parents to take money meant for public education and use those tax payer dollars to enroll their children in schools of their choice, including private schools and charter schools.

This topic has been the subject of countless research studies and is a matter of ongoing examination by numerous authorities. Yet the writer barely skims the research and consults with a bare minimum of real experts on education policy.

Had the Economist made the effort to consult some real research and talk to bona fide experts, they would have learned that school vouchers pose some very big problems, and there are better alternatives for improving our schools.

It's important to call out this article and others like it, not only because it's an example of feckless journalism, but also because it exemplifies an all too common pattern when low-information reporters tackle stories about education.

When Education 'Experts' Aren't

At liberal-leaning watchdog group Media Matters for America,Hilary Tone closely follows how journalists in major media outlets report on education. She unearths some startling revelations. One such discovery revealed …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Oregon Man Who Is Charged with No Crime Has Been in Jail for 900 Days

March 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

ACLU says no material witness has ever been held this long.

An Oregon man has been held in jail for 900 days as a material witness to a crime he didn’t commit, the Oregonian reports.

Benito Vasquez-Hernandez, 58, may be the longest held material witness in the nation’s history. He is waiting to testify in the murder case against his son, Eloy Vasquez-Santiago. Oregon prosecutors believe the son killed Maria Bolanos-Rivera, a 55-year-old mother of six children, in Hillsboro, Ore.

Initially, Benito Vasquez-Hernandez and his younger son Moises were arrested in California in the fall of 2012 on hindering prosecution charges after detectives said Moises shared that Eloy admitted to the murder and Benito said Eloy hid the knife. The next day, Eloy called from Mexico and asked that his brother and father be let go; he would turn himself in.

During an interview at the San Diego Central Jail, Eloy is alleged to have told detectives that he worked with Maria Bolanos-Rivera at Oregon Berry Packing Company and went on a date with her on Aug. 26, 2012. Eloy reportedly said he stabbed her to death because she insulted him but didn’t give up information on where her body was. The detectives told Eloy that his father and brother were key witnesses.

“I don't want your family to be involved in this, but they are witnesses that have to go to the court here and say that you killed her. Your dad has to testify. Moises has to testify.”

The detective continued: “I can't let go of your family until I find the body, until I find the truth from you – all of the details. Because they're all witnesses that can tell me what you said to them.”

Eloy’s murder trial starts Tuesday.

Material witness laws have been controversial since they were introduced into American law, in 1789. Given that a material witness isn’t a criminal, legal scholars have questioned the constitutionality of the law allowing their imprisonment because witnesses can be held for an unjustifiably long time, or may be unable make bail. States …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Danish Professor Has Compelling Reason for Arguing Porn Belongs in the Classroom

March 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Helen Russell, The Guardian

Young people are already consuming pornography. Shouldn't they be critical consumers?

A leading sexologist in Denmark has called for pornography to be shown in the classroom, claiming that starting a debate about the industry could help teenagers become “conscientious and critical consumers” who are able to tell the difference between pornography and the reality of sexual relationships.

Prof Christian Graugaard of Aalborg University caused a furore in Denmark when he suggested on public television that pornography should be shown in schools. This was preferable, he told the Danish public broadcaster DR, to sex education classes that were “boring and technical, where you roll a condom onto a cucumber”.

Graugaard’s proposal is not simply following in the long tradition of sexually permissive Scandinavia. It is, he insists, a sensible way of teaching teenagers that pornography is nothing like real sex. 

“My proposal is to critically discuss pornography with 8th and 9th graders [age 15 – the legal age of consent in Denmark – and 16 respectively] as part of a sensible didactic strategy, carried out by trained teachers,” he told the Guardian.

“We know from research that a vast majority of teenagers have seen porn at an early age – so it’s not a question of introducing youngsters to porn,” he added. According to one Nordic study, 99% of boys and 86% of girls in Scandinavia have already seen pornographic films by the time they’re 16. What Graugaard wants is to make sure teens “possess the necessary skills to view porn constructively”. 

“We should strengthen their ability to distinguish between the media’s depictions of the body and sex and the everyday life of an average teenager. They should become conscientious and critical consumers.”

Sex education has been mandatory in Denmark since 1970 and pornography is already included in the curriculum in several Danish schools – but not all. “Schools interpret the national guidelines very differently,” says Graugaard. “So it’s important that education meets certain quality standards all over the country, that teachers are well trained …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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I Was the Black Guy in a White Frat

March 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Kasai Rex, Salon

Nothing about the racist OU chant surprises me. I spent years ignoring white prejudice just to fit in.

“There will never be a nigger in SAE!” chanted a bunch of Biebers from the dark side. The OU frat video released earlier this week shocked the nation. But not me. I never believed the lie of a post-racial America, so new heights of white shittiness don’t surprise me. Instead, my mind went to that kid who still longed to be the unwanted “nigger” in a fraternity where he’d be like Baldwin’s “fly in the buttermilk.” That black boy or girl who has no idea who the hell s/he is, who thinks that finding a home in places like the SAE house might offer some desperately needed sense of belonging. I write this in the hopes of reaching that lost black body floating adrift in the chaos of racial identity — just like I did for much of my life.

In the fall of 2003, I pledged a fraternity, the only chocolate member in the whole house. White kids trying to be black don’t count, of course. I was a blackout drunk, and I resolved long before setting foot on campus to surround myself with other blackouts, even if they were all white. Never mind that I was the first in my family to go to a proper university. Academia was the last thing on my mind. Fraternity culture gave me a place where I could indulge the way I wanted, without loved ones or teachers or longtime friends to slow me down. During orientation, I asked which houses hazed the worst and drank the hardest. It was nothing short of a drunk’s providence that landed me at 3 Frat Row.

In the house I settled on, the hazing was mental from the jump. Older guys seeking to humiliate me and 10 other strangers laughed when, after being told in a “lineup” to actually “Fuck the wall like I meant it!,” I asked said wall if “she” enjoyed my black cock. It was a stupid bit of levity in an …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Denver Cops Fail to Use Mandated Body Cams 75 Percent of the Time—Wonder Why

March 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

Body cams don't help if you don't turn them on.

Body cams are suppose to help increase accountability of the police to the public, but they’re useless if the cops don’t turn them on.

Denver police officers turned on their body cameras just once out of every four use-of-force incidents during its 6-month pilot program that concluded in December, according to the Denver Post. Denver's independent police monitor Nick Mitchell said in a report that there were many cases where officers punched people, used pepper spray or use Tasers that went unrecorded because cameras weren’t turned on or malfunctions occurred.

Of the 80 use-of-force cases filed by officers, only 21 were recorded. Thirty-five of those cases involved sergeants and other supervisors or officers working off-duty assignments; ironically, none of those groups were required to wear body cameras.

One of the recommendations Mitchell made was that all officers who deal with the public should wear cameras, regardless of rank. Officers who work in specialized units, like SWAT or gang, should wear cameras too, Mitchell recommended.

In 45 use-of-force cases in which officers were on-duty, fewer than half were recorded because of technical malfunctions; some officers turned on their cameras but the footage wasn’t useful.

Denver Police Department Commander Magen Dodge, the department's operational support commander, said Mitchell’s report should not have included sergeants and off-duty cops because they were not part of the pilot program. Officers also said that encounters quickly turned dangerous and that it wasn’t safe to turn them on. Mitchell said that officers were not following department orders because they are suppose to turn on their cameras as soon as they make contact with the public. Officers, Mitchell’s report found, waited to turn on their cameras during a public encounter and then complained that the situation got too out of hand for them to turn them on.

The public monitor recommended that officers be instructed to turn on cameras as as soon as they make public contact and keep the camera on until the encounter ends. Another recommendation was to tell offers to inform people …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul Appears on America's Newsroom- March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015 in Politics & Elections

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Veteran San Francisco Cops Caught Exchanging Vile, Racist Texts

March 16, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

4 officers spewed racist and homophobic texts freely.

Four San Francisco police officers are being investigated for exchanging racist and homophobic texts, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The text messages, reportedly exchanged between former Sgt. Ian Furminger and current officers  Michael Robison, Noel Schwab, Rain Daugherty and Michael Celis, came to light after the feds recently prosecuted and convicted Furminger on corruption charges.

All four officers have been reassigned to positions that require no contact with the public.

The messages were sent between October of 2011 and June of 2012. Here are some of the most vile texts, mainly initiated through Furminger, per a federal document made public Friday:

• “We got two blacks at my boys [sic] school and they are brother and sister! There cause dad works for the school district and I am watching them like hawks.”

• In response to a text asking “Do you celebrate quanza [sic] at your school?” Furminger wrote: “Yeah we burn the cross on the field! Then we celebrate Whitemas.”

• “Its [sic] worth every penny to live here [Walnut Creek] away from the savages.”

• “Those guys are pretty stupid! Ask some dumb ass questions you would expect from a black rookie! Sorry if they are your buddies!”

• “The buffalo soldier was why the Indians Wouldnt [sic] shoot the niggers that found for the confederate They [sic] thought they were sacred buffalo and not human.”

• “Gunther Furminger was a famous slave auctioneer.”

• “My wife has 2 friends over that don’t know each other the cool one says to me get me a drink nigger not knowing the other is married to one just happened right now LMFAO.”

• “White power.”

• In response to a text saying “Niggers should be spayed,” Furminger wrote “I saw one an hour ago with 4 kids.”

• “I am leaving it like it is, painting KKK on the sides and calling it a day!”

• “Cross burning lowers blood pressure! I did the test myself!”

• In response to a text saying “All niggers must fucking hang,” Furminger wrote “Ask my …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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End the Export-Import Bank

March 16, 2015 in Economics

The ostensible purpose of the U.S. Export-Import Bank is to assist in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. So what’s not to like? Well, according to Cato scholar Daniel J. Ikenson, the U.S. Export-Import Bank does more harm than good: “For all the praise Ex-Im heaps upon itself for its role as a costless pillar of the economy, it is difficult to make sense of the collateral damage left in its wake. Thousands of U.S. companies would be better off if Ex-Im’s charter were allowed to expire, as scheduled, on June 30.”

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Horrible Speech: Another Reason to Privatize College

March 16, 2015 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

It seems a lot of people are confused about freedom of speech. On one side, you get lots of folks who cry “free speech!” whenever someone gets in any trouble for saying something with which they agree. Think the uproar over Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson being suspended by A&E for saying controversial things about homosexuality and race. On the other side are those who seem indifferent to freedom of speech when someone says something they don’t like even if the punishment is coming from government. Think of the response of University of Oklahoma president David Boren to the vile song sung by members of the schools’ SAE frat.

People, and the organizations and communities they form, should be able to define for themselves, voluntarily, the behavioral norms and values they want to uphold.”

The first group — Robertson defenders — are wrong on the legal matter of free speech because no one has a right to have a private entity pay for, or associate with, someone who proclaims things with which they disagree. You could argue that A&E as company policy should have let Robertson speak his mind without repercussions, but freedom of expression as protected by the Constitution did not apply. Nor should it: People, and the organizations and communities they form, should be able to define for themselves, voluntarily, the behavioral norms and values they want to uphold. That’s what civil society is all about, and it is crucial for balancing harmony and freedom.

Balancing harmony and freedom is a major reason that having publicly funded universities is problematic, as illustrated in the Oklahoma case and many others. Even places dedicated to the unfettered pursuit of knowledge and ideas benefit from shared, voluntary norms of behavior. For instance, little is helped and much is harmed if debate devolves into the hurling of insults. A school as a voluntary community of scholars should be able to establish rules and ramifications to curb that so new knowledge and ideas can be efficiently pursued. But being a government entity, ironically, makes enforcing norms almost impossible. And it should: people must have a right to speak without fear of repercussions that ultimately come at the point of a gun, which is what government rule — as opposed to civil society — ultimately is.

Having the ability to punish speech is, frankly, crucial to society. Which is a big reason that government …read more

Source: OP-EDS