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Stop-and-frisk as the most visible element of deep, violent official American racism


Christopher E Smith is the white father of a black, biracial son, and it is through his son's experience of being black in America that he has learned just how pervasive and humiliating and violent officialdom is to black Americans, a fact embodied perfectly through New York City's notorious, racist stop-and-frisk program. Smith describes how his son, interning on Wall Street, has been repeatedly stopped by police, once made to lie face down on the filthy sidewalk in his best suit while police went through his pockets (former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg was a staunch supporter of this program). He describes the experience of his black in-laws, who are stopped by police-cars en route to family gatherings, who have guns aimed at their heads, and who are then released with a shrug and a nonsensical excuse. He describes how driving over the US/Canadian border with his son is totally different from driving on his own, and how the customs guards routinely stop the two of them, and make them wait out of sight of their car while it is searched.

As an aside, I've experienced this myself. I've driven across the US/Canadian border literally dozens of times and the only time I was stopped was when I gave Nalo Hopkinson and David Findlay -- who happen to be black -- a ride to a Clarion reunion at Michigan State University. At both border crossings, the car was searched from top to bottom, with officers taking out books and shaking the pages to look for contraband. It's never happened since. The only difference between that drive and all the others was that there were some brown-skinned people in evidence.

Smith proposes a thought experiment in which stop-and-frisk searches were mandatorily applied in keeping with overall demographics, so for every three black people that the NYPD pull over and humiliate without warrant or suspicion or probable cause, they would have to do the same to ten white people -- and suggests that this would end the program of stop-and-frisk in a heartbeat.

I think he's right.

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The difference between a white guy breaking into a car and a black guy breaking into a car

Simple Misfits conducted a test. They had a white guy spend 30 minutes ostentatiously trying to break into a car. Everyone ignored him, including a passing police officer. Then they had a black guy do the same th—-LET'S SEE YOUR FUCKING HANDS, GET UP AGAINST THE WALL. [via Gawker]

A snapshot of institutional lack of diversity in life sciences, by way of a promotional email

An anonymous Boing Boing reader says, "Here's an email that academic publishing company Elsevier is sending around to advertise to scientists. Notice anything about the pictures of scientists they chose?"

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What it's like to come home to America if your name is "Ahmed"


Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is a respected journalist who holds US citizenship. Every time he returns to his home in New York, he is detained for many hours by the DHS, subjected to humiliating questioning and detention without evidence or charge, because he fits a "profile" that seems to consist entirely of "brown dude with Arabic name who visits the middle east." He recently returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos and found himself detained for hours, despite having been assured that his name had been removed from the DHS's watch-list.

His story of harrowing treatment at JFK airport stands in sharp contrast to his experiences at checkpoints in the middle east, where security risks are much more immediate and more grave. As he points out, America has spent billions creating an aviation security system and system of border checks that have had no material impact on security, but have nonetheless enmiserated, alienated, and harassed millions of people who committed no crime and posed no threat,

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890 word Daily Mail immigrant panic story contains 13 vile lies


The Daily Mail is an awful, racist, hard-right UK newspaper, notorious for scare stories (see, for example, this exhaustive index of things that the Fail claims will give you cancer) and generally terrible reporting.

But even in amidst all that notorious history of deceit and hate, the Mail attained something of a new low recently, with its "reporting" on the supposed wave of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants. According to the Mail, these people were poised to invade the UK on January 1, 2014, when those countries' EU membership would entitle their citizens travel throughout the EU and seek work without visas.

Jon Danzig, an investigative BBC journalist, plucked one of the many such stories out of the paper's pages, a mere 890 words' worth, and, with the help of a colleague in Romania, found 13 lies. He pressed the Mail to substantiate its story, and, failing to receive a satisfactory reply, he filed a formal complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.

The Mail's xenophobic campaign against Bulgarians and Romanians has been instrumental in shifting both Labour and the Tories to adopting inhumane policies, in order to pander to people who've been terrorised into a false belief that somehow migrants are coming to both take away British jobs and collect benefits (that is, to work and not work simultaneously).

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Lies of the Daily Mail

Yesterday's New Statesman published a long, nuanced profile of Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the despicable Daily Mail. Dacre's a remarkable and contradictory character, profiled with some sympathy but no white-washing by Peter Wilby, but the most striking moment of the piece comes in the first third, when Wilby lays out all the admitted falsehoods and libels published by the Daily Mail -- a list that is incomplete because it only consists of those where retractions, legal action, or other visible signals of falsehood were raised. There's a much longer list of smears and lies about people who couldn't afford to defend themselves from the paper (or couldn't bear to). Still, it's a hell of a list:

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HOWTO commit reverse racism

Lachlan writes, "My friend Aamer Rahman is an Australian comedian, one half of the duo Fear of a Brown Planet who makes race, religion and capitalism a central part of his comedy. Here he is, looking like Malcolm X, with a fantastic rant on reverse racism in his comedy."

Aamer Rahman (Fear of a Brown Planet) - Reverse Racism (Thanks, Lachlan!)

UK Home Secretary secretly charters private jet to (unsuccessfully) deport dying man to Nigeria

The UK Home Secretary Theresa May wasted £95,000- £110,000 in a failed attempt to deport a dying Nigerian asylum seeker named Ifa Muaza. Muaza sought asylum from Nigeria, and believes his family were murdered after his departure; the UK denied his application. He embarked on a 100-day hunger strike, prepared to die in a high-security detention centre rather than go back to Nigeria. Muaza was an embarrassment to Theresa May, whose Conservative party has declared war on migrants and asylum seekers in a bid to appeal to xenophobic voters who defected to the racist UK Independence Party.

May secretly chartered a private jet to deport the frail and failing Muaza, whom government doctors had declared to be too ill to travel and in danger of "imminent death." The plane was refused entry to Nigerian airspace; it later landed in Malta (which objected to use of its airstrip). Finally, the plane returned to the UK, landing at Luton airport with Muaza still aboard, and the British taxpayer out £95,000- £110,000, in addition to the £180,000 already spent on legal bills, thanks to May's vanity and determination to appear "tough on immigration."

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Man convicted of urinating on hotel carpet while shouting racist abuse, while masturbating with a fire-extinguisher hose up his ass

Sometimes the headlines just write themselves: "Premier Inn guest hurled racist abuse with fire extinguisher hose up his bottom" being a case in point. The sordid tale involves Joseph Small of Sheffield, who checked into a Premier Inn in London while in town to buy a used car. A clerk saw him naked in a hotel corridor on the CCTV camera; when he went to investigate, he found Small holding a fire-extinguisher, whose hose Small then stuck up his bum, while fondling himself and shouting "This country has been taken over by al-Qaeda – go back to Pakistan" at the clerk. The clerk is of Bangladeshi origin. Mr Small later urinated on the lobby carpet while shouting "I'm from Sheffield!"

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Miami Gardens police arrest black man for trespassing 56 times -- at the store where he works


In the city of Miami Gardens, outside of Miami, FL, the police use aggressive campaigns of stop-and-frisk and absurd arrests to bolster their records, to the great detriment of the African-American majority who live there. For example, a young man named Earl Sampson has been stopped by Miami Gardens police 258 times; they've searched him more than 100 times; and they've arrested him for trespassing 56 times. He's never been convicted of anything apart from simple possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Sampson's trespassing arrests occurred at his place of work, a convenience store called the 207 Quickstop; Sampson was repeatedly arrested for trespassing there, over the loud objections of his employer, Alex Saleh, who owns the store, and who explained to police that Sampson was not trespassing in his store.

When Saleh gathered video evidence that showed the police had falsified their arrest reports and violated the rights of his customers, he was targeted for police harassment, including falsified vehicle stops and personal threats. Saleh is suing for federal civil rights violations, alleging that Miami Gardens police "routinely, under the direction of the city’s top leaders, directed its officers to conduct racial profiling, illegal stops and searches and other activities to cover up illegal misconduct."

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UK Home Office suffers setback: can't destroy family by deporting American head-teacher as his British wife begins cancer treatment

The UK Home Office's war on migration has suffered a setback: an American head-teacher had lived in Scotland for nearly ten years will be allowed to stay and help his British wife of four years as she begins cancer treatments. The Home Office had been absolutely set on deporting David MacIsaac, having declared his marriage "a sham," despite the massive shortage of qualified head teachers. But after the pesky Observer newspaper called attention to MacIsaac's plight, and Scottish politicians took up his cause, the poor Home Office was forced to change direction, causing irreparable economic harm to the private security company that would have otherwise been enriched by a government contract to shackle MacIsaac and physically abuse him all the way back to America.

But have no fear: Britain's new migration policies will ensure that countless other MacIsaacs will be cruelly taken from their homes and families in an effort to pander to the Daily Mail, bigots, and crypto-bigots who say things like "Oh, I'm not a racist, but when people arrive too fast for us to assimilate them, it doesn't do anyone any good" (or its cousin, "I'm no bigot, but certain groups just don't want to assimilate.")

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On Richard Cohen's gag reflex

Yesterday, Washington Post sinecurist Richard Cohen wrote that "conventional" Americans "gag" at interracial marriages. His editor, Fred Hiatt, offered a squirmy apology, but Cohen himself is 'hurt' by accusations of racism. To those who see Cohen's critics as suffering from a 'reading comprehension' problem--Cohen's a Tea Party critic, don't 'cha know!--The Atlantic senior editor Ta-Nehisi Coates has a powerful explanation of why this is not so. Think Progress gathers the columnist's long history of racist, sexist and homophobic commentary into one convenient location. Alex Pareene, meanwhile, assails Cohen's post-facto clarifications: "He thinks he is defending himself, but he is actually directly contradicting the thing he wrote." Rob 55

Study: racists more likely to own guns

"For each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home." [Discovery via Gawker] Rob 131

UK government sends 40,000 texts to semi-random foreigners (and some Brits): "You are required to leave the UK!"


Britain continues its slide into official xenophobia: a government contractor sent nearly 40,000 texts reading "Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have right to remain." At least 400 of these reportedly went to people who had the right to be in the country, including some UK citizens. But the contractor says it's all OK, because people who received messages in error weren't deported -- all they had to do was convince a sloppy, faceless, mercenary corporation that they had the right to be in the country and the threats of deportation, deprivation of access to their homes, employment and families ceased. Theresa May, the government's Foreignerfinder General, says it wasn't her idea to send the texts -- just like all the ministers who disavowed the vans driving around London's browner neighbourhoods with giant billboards reading "In the UK illegally? GO HOME or face arrest!"

But still: No biggie!

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Can you see the racism now?

(Via Political Blindspot. Thanks, Matthew!)