For the nationwide movement against police violence, the news of charges being brought against the six Baltimore officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray has been a welcome development. Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and an organizer in the Black Lives Matter movement, is cautiously optimistic. “It’s a little bit of a morale booster,” she told me in an interview, “I think that this kind of gave activists in the streets that rejuvenation and that energy they need to continue doing what they’re doing.”
Sarsour was in Asheville, North Carolina earlier this month for the America Healing Conference, a four-day dialogue on racial justice and community healing sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation. There she spoke on the struggle against police brutality and the connections between Arab American and African American experiences at the hands of law enforcement. For the past 14 years, Sarsour, who also heads the National Network for Arab American Communities, has worked tirelessly to fight police brutality and racial profiling against black and brown communities of all backgrounds.
Ineptitude at the highest levels of the system.
L.A. Unified immediately fell behind in its efforts but stuck to its timeline. Former Supt. John Deasy, who resigned in October, repeatedly insisted that requiring students to get a C or better in these classes was necessary for a diploma to be meaningful.
The effort also had unintended consequences. Because students had to repeat some college prep classes, they had more difficulty fulfilling the required total number of units. In response, the district reduced the number of credits required to graduate. It also was more difficult for some schools to schedule advanced courses, such as calculus. And there was less room in class schedules for popular electives that helped keep students interested in school.
At a Tuesday news conference of activists and others, recent graduate Perla Madera, 20, backed the more stringent standards, but said that her high school failed to provide the help she needed.
“During high school, I was consumed by work, school, chores and baby-sitting,” she said. “I quickly fell behind in school. I was labeled as disobedient…. I was not offered help.”
Facebook Inc. said it would make a greater effort to identify and remove hate speech after a group of protesters convinced more than a dozen advertisers to boycott the giant social network unless it cracked down on content that encourages violence against women.
Facebook said it would review how it evaluates reports of hate speech and improve training for online moderators. The Menlo Park, Calif., company said it would also pay closer attention to “cruel or insensitive” content even if it does not technically qualify as hate speech.
Facebook is overwhelmingly popular with women. More than half of Facebook users are women.
Women, Action, and the Media, a group that focuses on gender bias, and other activists wrote an open letter to Facebook last week complaining about disturbing content on the service. They pointed to pages with titles such as “Kicking your girlfriend in the fanny because she won’t make you a sandwich” and “Violently raping your friend just for laughs” and photographs of women bruised, tied up and bleeding with captions such as “Next time don’t get pregnant.”
Women, Action, and the Media called on Facebook in the open letter to take action against “groups, pages and images that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about.”
It’s a lonely vigil that the activists from No More Names keep outside the Houston Convention Center. They read the names of Americans killed by gunfire in the U.S. since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
Heather Ross doesn’t seem fazed by being ignored. What does faze her is how long it can take her to read all the names of those killed in one day. Ross says some days can take 20 to 30 minutes.
“You would just look at the whole list and it kept going and going and going and going. … It just doesn’t end,” she says.
There are some victims who are not quite 1 year old, and others have no name or age at all, Ross says. For them, she reads, “No name, no age.”
“You just know where they died. That’s horrible,” she says. “Can you imagine if you died and no one knew who you were — they have no identity for you? They pull people in to identify you and they can’t because your face is gone and there’s nothing?”
As the young woman, raw with emotion, stands in the wind, thousands of people stream by without noticing her, eager to get inside to the NRA convention.
On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that states have no constitutional obligation to honor public records requests from non-residents. Journalists, who frequently rely on freedom of information laws to expose corruption and break open stories, fear that the decision may make it harder for them to access public records.
MuckRock, a website that files public records requests on behalf of activists, journalists, and private citizens for a small fee and posts the resulting records online, has a solution. The website has been helping out-of-staters seeking public records in Virginia and seven other states with similar laws—Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Tennessee—by pairing them with locals willing to co-file the requests. After Monday’s decision, MuckRock began offering free website subscriptions to citizens of those states to help keep that information flowing.
MuckRock cofounder Michael Morisy, who also works for the Boston Globe, says he “fully expect[s] more states to at least look into adding these laws as they look for ways to cut down on costs for complying with public records requests and generally decrease the amount of people accessing this tool.”
With the Statue of Liberty serving as a backdrop, thousands of immigrants, union workers and activists rallied Saturday in support of immigration reform that would protect workers and offer a path to citizenship.
Holding signs that read “Dignity for Immigrants,” “Time is Now for Citizenship” and “We are Workers, Not Criminals” the estimated 7,000 who arrived at Liberty State Park by bus and car from all over the state and New York regularly chanted “Sí, se puede” or “Yes, you can.”
The crowd listened to music and speeches by politicians who support a set of reforms that could be unveiled when Congress reconvenes this coming week. The legislation is being proposed by a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators, one of whom is U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
The senators unveiled a proposal in January that calls for a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for immigrants already in the country, but only after improving border security and creating a system that would crack down on employers who hire unauthorized immigrants and provide improved oversight on those here with visas.
Anti-regime activists say a Syrian missile strike has leveled a stretch of buildings and killed at least eight people in the city of Aleppo.
Videos posted online Tuesday showed scores of men searching the destroyed buildings in the Jabal Badro neighborhood for the dead and wounded. One man swung a sledgehammer to break through concrete while a bulldozer hauled off rubble
I have to agree - even with the new demand for controls in the wake of the Newtown Massacre the only limits and regulations that possibly can pass will be minor ones that can also withstand the scrutiny of the Supremes.
It’s a sign of the legalization of American politics that activists worry about being thwarted by the Supreme Court even before they’ve managed to pass anything: Although they haven’t yet squeezed any new regulations through Congress or the state legislatures, gun-control advocates already fear that the Supreme Court will invalidate whatever progress they achieve.
They should stop sweating. Despite its turn to the right on gun control, the Supreme Court should almost certainly uphold any of the new regulations that have a chance of being enacted, according to the logic of its decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. Both liberal and conservative judges, from Justice John Paul Stevens on the left to Judges Richard Posner and J. Harvie Wilkinson on the right, denounced the decisions when they were handed down. But both decisions were relatively narrow, prohibiting states from imposing total bans on the firearms in the home. They shouldn’t be read to threaten the kinds of regulations that states and the federal government are currently debating—including an effective federal database for permit holders. The problem with the constitutional debate over guns, in other words, isn’t the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decisions but an over-reading of them by a handful of lower court judges—mostly notably, Posner himself.
Heller and McDonald struck down the two most restrictive gun regulations in the country—Chicago and D.C.’s total bans on gun possession in the home. No other state or municipality had similarly sweeping bans on private gun possession, and in this sense, the Court was playing a familiar role of bringing state and local outliers in line with a national consensus. Since the decisions came down, there have been hundreds of civil and criminal challenges to gun control laws, and the vast majority of them have been unsuccessful. Unfortunately, a few lower courts have seized on language in Heller and McDonald to strike down state laws that forbid felons from possessing firearms, for example, or that require applicants for concealed carry permits to show a “good and substantial reason.”
Activists in Syria say a government jet has dropped a cluster bomb on a playground, leaving 10 children dead.
Video posted on the internet showed children’s bodies on the ground with their mothers grieving over them.
The children were killed when a MiG fighter bombed a playground in the village of Deir al-Asafir, east of Damascus, opposition activists said.
Intensive fighting has continued around the capital. Rebel fighters captured at least part of an airbase on Sunday.
Further footage of the playground attack showed what appeared to be cluster bomblets on the ground.
In one video, two girls could be seen lying dead in a street while another showed a distraught mother standing, apparently inside a clinic, over her daughter’s lifeless body.
Syrian warplanes flattened a building next to a hospital in Aleppo, killing at least 15 people and damaging one of the last remaining sources of medical help for civilians in the northern city, activists said Thursday.
Once a private clinic owned by a businessman loyal to President Bashar Assad, the Dar al-Shifa hospital became a field hospital run by volunteer doctors, nurses and aides united by their opposition to the regime and the need to give medical care to both civilians and rebels.
The facility has taken at least six direct hits in recent months, mostly affecting the upper stories.
On Wednesday night, warplanes bombed a building adjacent to the hospital, turning it into a pile of rubble and spraying shrapnel and debris into Dar al-Shifa itself, activists said.