How Houston's rich kids game the system (Spoiler: with their parents' money)

Abigail Fisher. Photo: Reuters

The Supreme Court recently sided with UT Austin's use of affirmative action. That plaintiff Abigail Fishers simply lacked the grades for admission was part of the case's many numbing ironies. But it's not a joke, according to Jia Tolentino, who tutored Fisher in the art of gaming the system. It's a way of life for second-rate kids in first-class families. Read the rest

Gun-waving cop who attacked black teenaged girl in her bathing suit faces no charges

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Last July, McKinney, Texas police officer Eric Casebolt made headlines when video surfaced of him pulling his gun on a group of black children in their bathing suits at a pool party, tackling a young girl in her bikini. Read the rest

Trump ally Scott Brown suggests Elizabeth Warren take DNA test to prove heritage

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After Elizabeth Warren accompanied Hillary Clinton today on the campaign trail in Cincinnati, Ohio, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown brought up the ol' not-a-Cherokee routine once again.

Brown said on a call with the RNC that Warren was not Native American, an accusation he's recycled since 2012, when the two were both vying for the same senator seat. According to Politico:

At the height of the 2012 campaign, it was reported that Warren had listed herself as having Native American roots at Harvard University. Soon, there was a “full-blown campaign frenzy,” Warren recalls, with Republicans demanding that she prove her Native-American roots and accusing her of getting her job at the elite university by making false claims about her personal background.

Today, Brown brought up the tired accusations, once again asking for proof, this time suggesting she take a DNA test. According to the Washington Post:

"As you know, she's not Native American," Brown, an early Trump endorser, told reporters on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee. "She's not 1/32 Cherokee...Harvard can release the records, she can authorize the release of those records, or she can take a DNA test..."

Recently, Trump, never to miss an opportunity to question or make fun of one's race, has repeatedly called her "Pocahontas."

Never in recent politics has the topic of heritage played such a prominent role during the presidential campaign cycle, which has only just begun. Read the rest

The blacker a city is, the more it fines its residents (especially black ones)

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In the aftermath of the Ferguson uprising, much ink was spilled on the reliance of the predominantly black city on fines from its residents to pay its bills -- and on the use of what amounted to debtors' prisons that locked up those who wouldn't or couldn't pay the constant stream of fines and scared the rest into begging and borrowing to pay their own fines. Read the rest

Undercover reporter spent four months as a prison guard in a Louisiana pen run by CCA

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Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is one of the world's largest private jailers; it runs prisons and immigration detention centers across the USA (and is diversifying into halfway houses, mental health center, and surveillance for poor neighborhoods). Mother Jones's Shane Bauer went undercover at CCA's Winn Prison in Louisiana, the state with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and spent four months meticulously documenting the way that CCA destroys the lives of the prisoners in its care and its own employees, while paying its CEO $3.4M/year. Read the rest

Broken Windows policing is nonsense

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For years, the NYPD and other police departments have justified the highly racialized practice of stop-and-frisk and zero-tolerance approaches to turnstyle hopping, etc, by citing the "broken windows" theory of policing -- the idea that if the police stop petty crime, major crime will follow. Read the rest

2016: the first presidential election in 50 years without Voting Rights Act protections

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Three years ago, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, a 50-year-old piece of civil rights legislation that ended the Jim Crow practices of poll taxes and other restrictions that disproportionately denied people of color and poor people the right to vote. Read the rest

Writing the Other: intensely practical advice for representing other cultures in fiction

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For more than a decade, science fiction and fantasy writers have handed around Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward's Writing the Other, an intensely practical and thoughtful guide to inclusive, representative writing that includes people of genders, ethnicities, races, and orientations other than the writer's.

Crowdfunding the publication of Samuel R Delany's journals

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Samuel R Delany is one of the most important figures in science fiction; one of the first prominent black writers in the field; the first out, queer writer; a titan of imagination and a prose stylist without compare. Read the rest

John Oliver on Brexit: the EU is the least-worst option, and racists support Leave

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John Oliver's Brexit bit provides much-needed perspective on the UK-EU referendum: while acknowledging the real problems with the EU, Oliver points out that on the one hand, the Leave side's core arguments are a mishmash of unvarnished, deranged racism and deceptive number-fudging; while the Remain side provides a lot of good to outweigh the bad of EU membership. Read the rest

Terrorist who murdered Jo Cox shouts: "Death to traitors" in court

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Thomas Mair, the terrorist who murdered a UK member of Parliament last week while shouting "Britain First" (the name of a UK neofascist party), was arraigned yesterday; in the dock, he refused to state his name, shouting "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain" instead. Read the rest

Steeplejack: diverse YA fantasy driven by expert plotting

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AJ Hartley's new YA series opens with Steeplejack, a whodunnit whose unlikely and welcome hard-boiled detective is a young woman who has to beat class and race discrimination as well as the bad guys.

Neo-Nazis make a Chrome extension that alerts you to potential Jewish names

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If you install "Coincidence Detector," a Chrome plugin from Altrightmedia, then every time a Jewish-seeming name appears in your browser, it will be surrounded in (((triple parentheses))) (the extension also uses a crowdsourced list of known Jews to enfold their names in parenthetical hugs where they appear). Read the rest

UPDATED Race, income and outcomes: how rich does a black criminal have to be to get treated like a white one?

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Lawyer-turned-data-scientist David Colarusso analyzed 2.2 million sentencing records from Virginia to determine the relationship between race, income and treatment in the criminal justice system. Read the rest

Judge handcuffs public defender for speaking out in court

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen -- who is fighting a contested election this year -- put deputy public defender Zohra Bakhtary in handcuffs and made her sit with the criminals in the dock while he sentenced her client, who was unrepresented for the duration of the event. Read the rest

30 students debate mass surveillance on Capitol Hill

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Last week, 30 students used a House Judiciary Committee hearing room to hold a debate on mass surveillance in America.

Read the rest

Xenophobic UK politician ranting about "political correctness" gets a public spanking from an historian

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Chris Wood is a councillor from the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a xenophobic party known for its leader and lawmakers' racist and sexist gaffes; this week, he added to the annals of UKIP inanity when he took to Twitter to complain that the BBC had cast a person of color as Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI. Read the rest

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