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Onion: "Only 47,000 social justice milestones to go"

gayrights “This is a watershed moment for civil rights that finally brings the dream of living in an equitable society one tiny fraction of a step closer to reality,” said civil rights lawyer Helene Najjar, adding that the country could now turn its attention to closing the income gap, ending racial discrimination in law enforcement, and providing equal educational opportunities for all children, among tens of thousands of other issues."

America's broken promise to veterans who survived race-based chemical weapons testing in WWII

Three test subjects enter a gas chamber, which will fill with mustard gas, as part of the military's secret chemical warfare testing in March 1945. Courtesy of Edgewood Arsenal

Three test subjects enter a gas chamber, which will fill with mustard gas, as part of the military's secret chemical warfare testing in March 1945.
Courtesy of Edgewood Arsenal

NPR this week reported about secret chemical experiments performed by the U.S. military during World War II that grouped men by race. White soldiers were considered the "normal" test subjects. Black, Puerto Rican, Japanese, and other non-white populations were singled out, and sometimes used as proxies for "the enemy."

The formerly classified government program that tested chemical weapons on our own troops was first made public in the early 1990s, but the revelation that the experiments segregated participants by race is sparking new outrage.

When records of the tests were declassified in the early 1990s, the Veterans Administration promised it would find some 4,000 veterans who survived, and offer them compensation. Very few of these survivors, who experience serious health problems and disabilities, have received any aid.

Members of the 3d Ammunition Company, part of the 2nd Marine Division, relax with a captured bicycle after the Battle of Saipan. [Wikipedia]

Members of the 3d Ammunition Company, part of the 2nd Marine Division, relax with a captured bicycle after the Battle of Saipan. [Wikipedia]

Some of these men were literally locked inside gas chambers and tortured with poison gas, then told that if they spoke to anyone about what happened, they'd end up in a military prison.

NPR reports that while the Veterans Administration has responded to the story, the radio news organization is still waiting for the government to hand over documents related to the experiments done on some 60,000 soldiers. Still, NPR has "for the first time" tracked down some of the men who survived the race-based gassing.

"It took all the skin off your hands," says former Army soldier Rollins Edwards, who was exposed to mustard gas in a gas chamber experiment.

He is black, and was also ordered to crawl through fields coated in mustard gas.

"Your hands just rotted."

Mr. Edwards describes being led into the wooden gas chamber and locked inside with other soldiers.

“It felt like you were on fire,” the 93-year-old says. “Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out. And then some of the guys fainted. And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape.”

Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945, in the Philippines.

Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945, in the Philippines.

A total of 60,000 veterans participated in the tests, which sought to reveal what clothing, barriers, or ointments might protect U.S. soldiers attacked with mustard gas by foreign forces. The tests were conducted at bases like Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, Camp Sibert in Alabama, as well as research institutions like the University of Chicago.

Caitlin Dickerson, reporting for NPR:

While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.

For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn't just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.

“The Germans put Jews in the gas chamber,” veteran Johnnie H. Ross told a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1992. “The United States put their men in the gas chamber.”

In response to NPR's reports, the VA said:

"The Department of Veterans Affairs appreciates the service and sacrifices of those World War II Veterans who may have been injured in mustard gas testing. VA recognizes that disabilities may have resulted due to full body mustard gas exposure. VA has established presumptions of service connection for certain disabilities that may have resulted from this exposure.

"The NPR story rightfully points out the sacrifices that Veterans and their families have gone through during the years when they were sworn to secrecy. VA is prepared to assist any Veteran or survivor who contacts us in determining their entitlement to benefits. Additionally, if NPR is willing to share with us the list of 1,200 or so Veterans who they have been able to identify as having been exposed, VA will attempt to contact them to ensure they are receiving all the benefits and services to which they are entitled under the law."

These historical photographs depict the forearms of human test subjects after being exposed to nitrogen mustard and lewisite agents in World War II experiments conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of the Naval Research Laboratory

These historical photographs depict the forearms of human test subjects after being exposed to nitrogen mustard and lewisite agents in World War II experiments conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of the Naval Research Laboratory

"Mustard gas and American race-based human experimentation in World War II." Susan L. Smith, University of Alberta, Canada. [The Journal of Law Medicine & Ethics, 2008]

"The VA's Broken Promise To Thousands Of Vets Exposed To Mustard Gas" [NPR]

"Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race" [NPR]

Related item at The Daily Caller, New York Magazine, PBS NewsHour.

New York nears settlement with local Muslim leaders over spying lawsuit

Muslim-Americans protesting NYPD surveillance. Image: Reuters

Muslim-Americans protesting NYPD surveillance. Image: Reuters

The NYC government has come to initial settlement terms with Muslims, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, who challenged police surveillance as an unconstitutional and stigmatizing intrusion on their religious rights.

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LIFE revisits 1950s "fad" for Confederate flags

LIFE photo editor Liz Ronk and writer Eliza Berman looked through their archives, writing with clear-eyed hindsight of LIFE's Truman-era collection of Confederate flag photos.

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Peak Bill O'Reilly: “Confederate flag represents bravery,” not racist hate


Bill O'Reilly: “You say the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate, and you believe that. For some other people who see it in a historical context, it represents bravery...You know as well as I do that it represents to some bravery in the Civil War, because the Confederates fought hard—”

“That wasn’t the confederate flag!”

“I mean you’re right historically, but in their minds, that’s what it represents. And in your mind it represents hate. And everybody should know what the two sides are believing.”

[MediaMatters via Salon]

Fox News and neo-Nazi site call racist massacre an attack on Christianity


Most people, including the police and the FBI, are calling 21-year-old suspected terrorist Dylann Roof's message to black people ("You rape our women, and you're taking over the country. And you have to go") pure racist hatred.

But Fox News says what Roof really meant when he made that threat and then carried it out by killing nine black people in a Charleston, South Carolina church was that he hated Christians.

It was a "horrifying attack on faith," said Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. "If we aren't safe in our own churches, then where are we safe?" Her co-host Steve Doocy agreed, "Extraordinarily they called it a hate crime. And some look at it as, well, it's because it was a white guy, apparently, and a black church. But you made a great point just a moment ago about the hostility toward Christians, and it was in a church, so maybe that's what it was about." Doocy told this to was a pastor on the show who said it would be a good idea for pastors to arm themselves in church.

The level of reality distortion in this video clip from the show is extraordinary. This is one of the clearest examples I've seen that reveals Fox News' true agenda as a racist hate network.

White supremacists share Hasselbeck and Doocy's concerns. From Huffington Post:

White supremacists who convened on the neo-Nazi site voiced similarly aspirational speculation, suggesting that the shooting's location might indicate anti-Christian violence. They also expressed worries that if the shooting did turn out to be an act of racism, the white nationalist movement would suffer.

Ethnic cleansing in Dominican Republic

In Sept 2013, a Dominican court ruled that 200,000+ natural-born citizens whose parents were undocumented Haitian workers were no longer entitled to citizenship, rendering them stateless and helpless before the law.

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TX schoolteacher "not a racist" because she only "almost" wants segregation [UPDATED]

Karen Fitzgibbons [Facebook]

Karen Fitzgibbons [Facebook]

Karen Fitzgibbons, a teacher at Bennett Elementary School in Wolfforth, Texas, is being investigated by the Frenship Independent School District after posting racist remarks on her Facebook page.

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Supreme Court nails Abercrombie and Fitch 8-1 over discrimination policy

hijabAn Abercrombie & Fitch manager told Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who wore a hijab to a job interview, that her headgear made her ineligible for the job as it violated the company's “Look Policy.”

This policy, described by The New Yorker's Margaret Talbot as "a weirdly exhaustive rulebook that reads as though it had been dreamed up by a middle-school queen bee on a Ritalin bender," was so obviously unconstitutional that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke for an 8-1 majority denouncing the illegal discrimination it represents.

“This is really easy,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in announcing the decision from the bench. … "An employer may not make an applicant's religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions."

The company, he said, at least suspected that the applicant, Samantha Elauf, wore the head scarf for religious reasons. The company’s decision not to hire her, Justice Scalia said, was motivated by a desire to avoid accommodating her religious practice. That was enough, he concluded, to allow her to sue under a federal employment discrimination law.

The dissenter was Clarence Thomas, who believes that "the company’s dress code was a neutral policy."

Talbot's article explains that Abercrombie's singularly nasty corporate culture, obsessed with an almost comical ideal of all-American teen beauty, led it repeatedly to courtroom trouble for racist and discriminatory practices.

In 2004, the company agreed to pay fifty million dollars to several thousand employees in order to settle a class-action lawsuit charging that it discriminated against African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans in both its hiring practices and its advertising. Among other things, the suit alleged that non-whites were regularly shoehorned into back-of-the-store jobs where customers wouldn’t see them as much.

[CEO Mike] Jeffries found it difficult to imagine that there might be cool kids who were not popular or, for that matter, blonde and white. The eventual result was a major downturn for the brand.

They eventually got rid of him, but it's too late.

"It's hardly white people's fault if they're better-looking" is a fitting epitaph for this doomed brand.

Google Maps promises to stop racist trolls messing with maps—but how?


Struck by a succession of abusive scrawlings going live on its popular maps service, Google has apologized and promised to retool the service to prevent it from happening in future.

"This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries," wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, a Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, explaining how Google's system slurped up the offensive terms because of how it incorporates "online discussions" of particular places. "… This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for."

Earlier this week, it was found that when given offensive search terms, Google would return inappropriate locations. Queried with "nigga house," for example, Google would offer the White House.

Howard University, reported one internet user, "shows up as ‘N***er University’ on Google Maps."

The benefits of algorithmic changes will be seen soon, Fitzpatrick promised, and Google will continue to refine its software over time: "Simply put, you shouldn’t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we’re taking steps to make sure you don't."

Maps, like much in the Googleverse, is comprised significantly of information added by users or algorithmically incorporated into its dataset—unvetted and often dependent on community reporting when something goes awry.

Google recently shuttered another crowdsourced component of Google Maps due to repeated addition of naughty and offensive landscape features that were not, in fact, there.

Internet star Natalie Tran discusses Asian representation in the media

Natalie Tran is well known for the hilarious, absurd, and relatable observational comedy videos she releases on her YouTube channel CommunityChannel. But she recently stopped by Brown University to give a slightly more serious chat about Asians in media.

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Ijeoma Oluo: “What You Can Do Right Now About Police Brutality”


In a new article, activist and writer Ijeoma Oluo gives advice those who are upset about the recent public examples of police brutality but feel helpless to do anything.

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Racial Bias Watch: How is the media covering the Waco biker gang shootout?

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 2.06.07 PM copy

Thanks to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, there has been a lot of discussion recently about racial bias in the media

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Drowned in the Mediterranean: Libyan refugees tell their stories

James Bridle writes: "There's huge debate in the UK about the deaths of people in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, but we rarely see or hear the people themselves."

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A beginner's guide to the Redpill Right

The gnostic paradox of young, tech-savvy traditionalists, who see through everything except their own conspiracy theoriesRead the rest

Oklahoma GOP wants to outlaw hoodies, unless you are part of a minstrel troupe

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Modified London police brag-sheets

These are a refreshing antidote to the Metropolitan London Police's poster campaign trumpeting their 2014 achievements.

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