New American Media - Sat, 05/25/2013 - 10:05
As it emerged that the homes of 20 American Indian families had been destroyed in Moore, Oklahoma, earlier this week, tribes across Oklahoma and the nation began gathering resources in support of disaster relief efforts in Moore and the surrounding... Indian Country Today http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Sat, 05/25/2013 - 10:05
SAN FRANCISCO – It’s lunch hour at Visitacion Valley Middle School, located in southern San Francisco. The halls are filled with screaming kids, when a young Samoan student saunters into Maua Teofilo’s office hoping to kill some time.Teofilo tells him... Peter Schurmann http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Sat, 05/25/2013 - 08:51
An after-school program set up by the North Community YMCA in Minneapolis gives young kids the opportunity and equipment needed to make rap music as a reward for keeping up with their schoolwork. Founder of the program called Beats And Rhymes say their mission is to "provide challenging, positive youth and career development opportunities for low income, culturally-diverse youth."
The young students have rapped and rhymed about fun subjects like Cheetos and Khaki pants but they also get political in other songs with messages about bullying, violence and drugs.
Beats and Rhymes has a partnership with the Nellie Stone Johnson Community School, where close to 97 percent of the students are black, Latino or Asian.
New American Media - Sat, 05/25/2013 - 03:30
PHOENIX -- A federal judge ruled on Friday that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio engaged in racial profiling of Latinos, violating their constitutional rights in his crackdown on illegal immigration. Civil rights advocates expect the ruling to send a chilling... Valeria Fernández http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:34
When Democrats and Republicans unanimously accepted Sen. David Vitter's amendment (#1056) that would ban violent felons from receiving food stamps during a Senate debate earlier this week, that proposal may have been launched from poor facts.
In Sen. Vitter's press release about the amendment, he exclusively cites a report from Louisiana's legislative auditor's report to justify his amendment. For Vitter's focus on those convicted of violent felonies, you'd think there was some information about the abundance of felons using food stamps. Quite the contrary, there's not a single word in the report about violent felons.
Vitter's press release doesn't mention anything from the report on felons abusing food stamps either. He does point to other fraud the auditor found:
The audit covered the fiscal years from 2010 to 2012 and found that there were duplicate and overpayments of millions. The results show that more than $1.1 million was issued to 1,761 people who were in prison, 322 people gained benefits even though their wages exceeded $50,000, and 3,060 people used $2 million worth of benefits in a state other than Louisiana.
Few things here: One, that same report noted that 1,157 cases that resulted in $841,615 in overpayments happened because of state agency errors -- mistakes "such as a caseworker entering incorrect income amounts or failing to remove an ineligible member from the case."
That may seem like a big deal, but consider those are totals for 2010 and 2011. Total SNAP benefits in those years totaled $2.5 billion in Louisiana. $840,000 in overpayments from $2.5 billion is rather minute. What this has to do with former incarcerated citizens with violent felonies is unclear.
Not to mention, Louisiana has one of the lowest overpayment rates in the nation -- of all the states last year they ranked fourth in low overpayment error rates, and had the second highest improvement among all the states.
This improvement happened while the state's administrative burdens increased. From 2008 to 2012 the workload for SNAP administrative increased 76 percent -- 259,770 cases to 380,011 cases -- mostly because of the economic recession. Meanwhile, staffing at the state's SNAP offices decreased from 1,315 to 1,090 caseworkers.
But the number of erroneous cases alone might explain some of the questionable findings in the auditor's report, such as prison inmates using food stamps (How exactly does that work?).
As for the 3,060 who spent $2 billion in SNAP benefits in other states, Vitter fails to mention that this is legal. SNAP beneficiaries receive their food allocations by their resident state, but those can be used anywhere in the United States. That this might indicate fraud is purely speculative.
Fraud isn't a major problem in the SNAP program at large. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the national program achieved its lowest overpayment error rate on record in 2011. "The overwhelming majority [of errors] result from honest mistakes by recipients, eligibility workers, data entry clerks, or computer programmers," writes CBPP senior policy analyst Dottie Rosenbaum.
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:18
Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter took to the floor this week to introduce an amendment that would gut the federal government's Lifeline Wireless program as part of an amendment to the farm bill. The program, which others on the Right have said gives out free "Obamaphones", offers subsidized cell phones to people who otherwise couldn't afford them.
Vitter has become one of the loudest opponents of the program, which I've written before is a case study in how the right uses race to pervert the spending debate. Vitter used a bunch of racially coded language to express his outrage with the program. "I think the whole program is an entitlement mentality gone wild," he says. "We have started the notion that folks are entitled to the government providing them with almost everything under the sun."
It's worth taking another look at the fact vs. fiction when it comes to these so-called "Obamaphones." Check them out after the jump.
New American Media - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 22:05
Editor’s Note: New America Media hosted an awards ceremony Thursday in Memphis, celebrating the winners of The Teacher Who Changed My Life essay contest, in collaboration with local ethnic media. During the ceremony, winners were honored alongside the teachers profiled... Staff http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:04
US universities are seeking out partnerships in China, hoping to broaden their international reach and provide academic and research opportunities for students and faculty, as two campus presidents' trips to China show.The University of Pennsylvania "is deeply committed to its... China Daily http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 20:47
BATON ROUGE, La. -- As the legislature scrabbled to restore money for some 8,000 students in danger of losing their MFP-funded scholarships to private schools, in the wake of a Supreme Court decision, the state’s most prominent pro-voucher group, the... Christopher Tidmore and Michael Patrick Welch http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 20:43
Three Harvard grad students experimented with whether there was ethnic prejudice in local election administration by emailing every local or county election official, commission and supervisor in 48 states with Latino-sounding and non-Latino-sounding names and examined the responses. What they found were that local election officials were three-and-a-half to four-times more likely to respond to the emails that came from the non-Latino name, Greg Walsh, than the Latino name, Luis Rodriguez.
The gap in those responses grew three points wider when their emails contained questions about voter ID.
The students were able to find qualitative bias as well, meaning even when election officials responded to the Latino name, the information included was less accurate or informative than the information given to "Greg Walsh."
"Our results indicate that changes to existing voting regulations are likely to differentially increase information costs for Latino voters because public officials are less responsive to their inquiries than to non-Latinos," wrote the study's authors.
The Washington Post asked True the Vote president Catherine Engelbrecht about the study. She didn't pass it to her Latino counterpart Voto Honesto -- which appears to no longer exist -- but rather the Texan of German background took it upon herself to dismiss the findings, calling it "a conclusion in desperate search of a viable methodology."
This is a clumsy flip of the common rejoinder against her own advocacy for voter ID laws, which voting rights advocates call "a solution in search of a problem."
Says Aura Bogado, our Voting Rights Watch reporter from last year, and current blogger for The Nation: "The study is especially worrisome when one considers that elections officials still do not view Latinos--who makes up the nation's fastest growing population--as a legitimate voting base."
Recent voting data from Census on last November's elections show a drop in the Hispanic voting rate from 2008
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 20:41
On Thursday, Defense attorneys on the George Zimmerman case released evidence they discovered on Trayvon Martin's cell phone, including text messages in which he wrote about taking part in an organized fight, smoking marijuana and being suspended from school. They intend to use the reputation-damaging evidence about Trayvon to paint a different picture of him than the one that's been shared by his family and supporters.
The evidence packet contains more than two dozen photos, including one that shows Trayvon with gold teeth and two of him making an obscene gesture. Those have been widely circulated online since shortly after the shooting, and it's not clear where defense attorneys found them, but as of Thursday, they officially became part of Zimmerman's criminal case.
The text messages that Trayvon wrote about fighting may be the most damaging to the state.
Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson will decide if the evidence is admitted in to the case next week, the AP reports. However, it's unclear when the trial will start because yesterday Zimmerman's attorneys also filed paperwork asking the judge to delay the start of his trial for six weeks.
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 20:36
An attorney for George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch leader charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, is pressing a Florida judge to allow autopsy blood results be presented to jurors because they show the teenager tested positive for marijuana use.
Defense attorney Don West argued in his written response filed Tuesday that the marijuana use is relevant because Zimmerman told a police dispatcher shortly before shooting Trayvon that he believed the Miami Gardens teenager was suspicious and may have been on drugs.
The Orlando Sentinel points out West's response comes two weeks after prosecutors filed paperwork asking Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson to ban defense attorneys and witnesses from telling jurors the autopsy results found marijuana in Martin's blood.
Judge Nelson will likely rule on the issue during a day-long hearing May 28 in Sanford, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 20:34
Yesterday, Sen. Vitter of Louisiana offered up an amendment to permanently drop anyone ever convicted of a violent crime from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Democrats in the Senate obliged him. The amendment is for a farm bill, which is currently being debated in the Senate.
The amendment would bar from SNAP (food stamps), for life, anyone who was ever convicted of one of a specified list of violent crimes at any time -- even if they committed the crime decades ago in their youth and have served their sentence, paid their debt to society, and been a good citizen ever since. In addition, the amendment would mean lower SNAP benefits for their children and other family members.
So, a young man who was convicted of a single crime at age 19 who then reforms and is now elderly, poor, and raising grandchildren would be thrown off SNAP, and his grandchildren's benefits would be cut. ... Democrats accepted it without trying to modify it to address its most ill-considered aspects.
Two-thirds of SNAP recipients are children, elderly or the disabled, and two-fifths of SNAP households live below half the poverty line.
According to Greenstein, if this amendment ends up in the farm bill and passes, it would hit African Americans particularly hard:
Given incarceration patterns in the United States, the amendment would have a skewed racial impact. Poor elderly African Americans convicted of a single crime decades ago by segregated Southern juries would be among those hit.
Sen. Vitter is claiming that his amendment is only aimed at preventing those convicted of violent crimes from obtaining benefits, apparently under the logic that stripping them of what may be their only form of income assistance will lead to less violence. Curiously, he didn't propose that johns who've hired sex workers would also be banned from SNAP.
Sen. Vitter also proposed an end to the so-called "Obama Phone" program, which started under President Ronald Reagan to help elderly and low-income with cellphone service, particularly in rural areas.
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 20:33
U.S. Department of Justice investigators found a number of unconstitutional practices at the Escambia County Jail facility in northwest Florida that "constitute serious risks to prisoner safety," according to the Justice Department's findings letter. Among those problems were insufficient access to mental healthcare for the inmates, and racial segregation of black prisoners. Said the U.S. Department of Justice in a release:
Specifically, the department concluded that known systemic deficiencies at the facility, stemming mainly from staffing shortages, continue to subject prisoners to excessive risk of assault by other prisoners and to inadequate mental health care. Additionally, the department found that until recently, the jail had an informal policy and practice of designating some of its housing units as only for African-American prisoners. By segregating some of its prisoners on the basis of race, the jail not only stigmatized and discriminated against many of its African-American prisoners, it also fanned combustible racial tensions within the jail.
The racial segregation of black inmates into "black-only pods" had been occurring for decades. Justice officials first discovered the practice in October last year during a tour. They warned Escambia County Jail officials then that this was a breach of 14th Amendment equal protection rights. According to the findings letter, "For decades, the Jail's officials have assumed that segregating on the basis of race would lead to a safer facility."
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin, Jr., who wrote the findings letter, said such assumptions were "unproven and untethered to data" and "insufficient to justify an explicit racial classification."
Escambia County's population is 23.1 percent African-American, and 70 percent white. The county jail has 1,442 prisoners, 65 percent of whom are black and 35 percent white.
A new sheriff for Escambia, David Morgan, told the Justice Department this past April that the segregation had stopped but Austin wrote that the Justice Department "will want to ensure that any agreement we reach with the Jail completely and permanently eliminates racially segregated housing units." Their investigation concluded that "the practice of segregating on the basis of race has compromised security by exacerbating racial tensions within the Facility."
Escambia County is 23.1 percent African-American, and 70 percent white.
Other Justice Department findings:
- Prisoner-on-prisoner assaults are a common occurrence, owed to a shortage of correctional staff, resulting in serious harm to prisoners
- The jail does not provide timely and adequate access to appropriately skilled mental health care professionals
- The jail routinely fails to provide appropriate medications to prisoners with mental illness
- The jail provides inadequate housing and observation for prisoners with serious mental illness who are at risk for self injury or suicide
Austin wrote that these are all violations of the 14th amendment and the 8th amendment, which protects those convicted of criminal offenses.
Colorlines - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 18:09
Give it up for young African-American women. While youth voter turnout in the 2012 election was down overall, it was young female voters, and young black female voters at that, who led the youth turnout in the 2012 elections.
According to a new analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, young black women posted the highest voter turnout of all young voters in 2012. In fact, young black women voted at a higher rate than any gender, racial or ethnic subset of voters between the age of 18 and 29. At 60.1 percent voter turnout, young black women out-voted the next highest group, young white women, by 11 percentage points. Women vote in larger numbers than men no matter the metric, be it by marital or employment status or educational attainment.
None of this changes the fact that voter turnout among young whites, blacks and Latinos declined between 2008 and 2012, however. But in keeping with the historic turnout among black voters broadly in 2012, these youth vote numbers add another layer to the conversation. Check out just the youth voter turnout for female voters, broken down by race:
For the rest of CIRCLE's findings, see their fact sheet (PDF).
New American Media - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 12:00
U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said last Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the immigration reform bill, passing 13-5 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “does much to improve family immigration, but I fear that the bill contains some fundamental changes... Samson Wong http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 10:55
Photo: Frances Kakugawa, author of Breaking the Silence: A Caregiver’s Voice, at a book reading. LOS ANGELES— When Frances Kakugawa’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she turned to poetry to express her emotions. Soon Kakugawa was able to... Ellen Endo http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Hyphen Blog - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 06:04
Arvin Chen’s sophomore film Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow debuted at the 2013 Tribeca Film. He describes his process in character development, why he decided to include elements of magical realism, and how he inadvertently ended up casting two Taiwanese pop stars in the lead roles.
New American Media - Fri, 05/24/2013 - 02:58
Julian Zapata Espinoza, a member of Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, pleaded guilty Thursday to the 2011 killing in Mexico of a U.S. immigration agent and the attempted murder of another. Three other defendants pleaded guilty in the same attack.... La Opinión http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Thu, 05/23/2013 - 20:02
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called the recent shooting death of a black gay man a hate crime.Police said Elliott Morales, a 33-year-old ex-convict, was yelling anti-gay slurs before he allegedly shot to death Mark Carson, following a... The NorthStar News http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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