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African Men, Hollywood Stereotypes (video)

[Video Link] A new video for Mama Hope, by Joe Sabia and crew.

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Black London firefighter beaten, tazed and charged for offering assistance to cops had his complaint buried

London's Metropolitan police are at the centre of another set of awful racism allegations, the tenth in three weeks. Edric Kennedy-Macfoy is a black London fireman who trained as a police constable. While coming home late one night, dressed in a suit, he stopped to offer assistance to a policeman after seeing a young black man throw a rock at the officer's van. Before he could speak, he says the officer in the van shouted "Fuck off you prick" at him. He moved on to a line of police officers who were facing a group of unruly young people to offer his assistance to them and to complain about the abuse from the van-driver. Before he could speak to them, he says the officers shouted abuse at him, then pulled him bodily out of his car through the window. He says he showed the officers his empty hands and calmly repeated that he was a fireman offering assistance. He says the police demanded that nearby people stop recording the skirmish with their phones ("Turn those fucking cameras off"). Then he was tazed, without warning (a fact the officer who shot him does not contest).

Then it got worse. The police then arrested Kennedy-Macfoy and asked the prosecution service to prosecute him, which would have cost him his job if they'd been successful. When he complained, the police buried his paperwork and did not refer it to the independent complaints commission (they say it was an oversight). The firefighter says he only complained because the police sought to prosecute him, saying that he would have settled for an apology otherwise because "People make mistakes; you've got good cops and bad cops." When his case went to trial, several police gave testimony against him.

He says that he has a history of being pulled over by the police while driving his Audi ("Oh, you know, loads of these cars get stolen, so we just need to check you are who you say you are, blah blah blah") but that when his white co-worker borrows his car, he doesn't get pulled over.

Kennedy-Macfoy's solicitor, Shamik Dutta, of Bhatt Murphy solicitors, voiced concerns at his client's allegations, saying: "The question many people are bound to ask is why an off-duty firefighter, wearing a pinstriped suit and offering assistance to the police, should have been dragged from his car, shot with a Taser, locked up for many hours and then prosecuted for an offence he did not commit by the very officers he was trying to help.

"Our client now expects a comprehensive investigation which examines what role his race has had in the horrific events he has been forced to suffer."

Black fireman says he was abused and Tasered by Met

Screaming black female circumcision cake controversial

Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth cut into an unusual cake at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm this Saturday, and found herself at the center of a controversy some might say could have been predicted.

The remarkable cake design--featuring a edible black torso and the artist's head screaming as guests tucked in--was intended to draw attention to female genital mutilation in Africa.

Campaigners, however, say it is itself an unacceptable caricature. From Sweden's The Local:

"In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden," [said] Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association."This was a racist spectacle."

... the culture minister began cutting a large cake shaped like a black woman, symbolically starting at the clitoris. Makode Aj Linde, the artist who created the installation and whose head is part of the cake cut by the minister, wrote about the "genital mutilation cake" on his Facebook page.

"Before cutting me up she whispered, 'Your life will be better after this' in my ear," he wrote in a caption next to the partially eaten cake.

Minister in 'racist circumcision outrage' [The Local]

Quien es mas malo: Tennessee vs Arizona

Tennessee and Arizona have been locked in a race to see which state can past the worst, most invasive, least constitutional anti-woman and racist legislation. In case you've lost track of which state is winning the race to the bottom, Skepchick provides a helpful scorecard. Arizona makes a strong showing, but I think that, for the moment, Tennessee is in the lead for most barbaric state in the union.

Also this week, Tennessee senators approved an update to the state’s abstinence-only education policy – which, I should add, doesn’t work seeing as the state has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country – which would outlaw the teaching of “gateway sexual activity.” I know what you’re thinking: what is this “gateway sex” all the kids are talking about? Is it as awesome as oral?

According to Tennessee legislatures, “gateway sexual activities” are kissing and hand holding. You know, things that small children do. Joyous things that bring us closer together, as humans. Ways we express affection every day. Evil.

The bill would warn teens about the dangers of kissing and hand holding, and prohibit teachers from demonstrating such activities. I’m not really clear on whether that means a teacher would be fired for, say, kissing his wife when she picks him up at the end of the day. And what about the teachers of small children who need their hand held every now and again? Off limits? Again, unsure.

What I am sure about is that a bill effectively warning teens about affection is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. But what do you think? Is Arizona worse for increasingly limiting the rights women have over their own bodies, or is Tennessee worse for providing us with a future world full of idiots who think evolution and global warming are myths and holding hands is a sin?

Tennessee vs Arizona: Which is the Worst?

Police officer in fatal shooting of Marine vet ID'd, was sued in 2008 racism and brutality case

Democracy Now has a big update in the homicide of 68-year-old Kenneth Chamberlain, a black Marine vet shot dead at his home by police in White Plains, New York, last November after he accidentally set off his wearable medical alert device. A previous BB post on the story is here. The victim's son and other advocates have been pressuring authorities to release the name of the officer involved:

Documented in audio recordings, the White Plains police reportedly used a racial slur, burst through Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, then shot him dead. "The last time I actually really saw my father, other than the funeral, was at the hospital, with his eyes wide open, his tongue hanging out his mouth, and two bullet holes in his chest," said Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr. "And I’m staring at my father, wondering, 'What happened?'"

The alleged shooter, Officer Anthony Carelli, is due in court later this month in an unrelated 2008 police brutality case. He is accused of being the most brutal of a group of officers who allegedly beat two arrestees of Jordanian descent and called them "rag heads."

Video, audio, and transcript here.

Black Marine veteran, 68, shot dead by police after wearable medical alert gadget went off in error

The Trayvon Martin story remains in national headlines this week, but little media attention has been paid to a similarly troubling case: that of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old Marine vet killed in his home last November by police officers in White Plains, NY.

The officers were responding to a false alarm accidentally triggered by Chamberlain's medical alert pendant while he slept. Instead of helping the man, who had a heart condition, they broke down his front door, tasered him, reportedly called him the "n-word" and mocked him, then shot him dead.

Audio throughout the incident was recorded by his medical alert device.

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Bill Keller on Hate Crimes

Should the same crime deserve greater punishment if motivated by racial hatred or bigotry? At The New York Times, former editor Bill Keller says no, with the murder of Treyvon Martin as his entry point to the issue. He thereby instantaneously won the argument for his opponents, explains Choire Sicha. Here there is a convergence of things—urbane yet tone-deaf, sententious yet half-baked, researched yet undiscovered—that we may term Kellerian.

TOM THE DANCING BUG - Hunger Games 2012

Visit the TOM THE DANCING BUG WEBSITE, and follow RUBEN BOLLING on TWITTER.

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Teju Cole on "The White Savior Industrial Complex"

In The Atlantic today, a must-read piece by Teju Cole on some of the cultural issues raised by Kony 2012, and reactions to it in the media-blog-Twitter-opinion-sphere.

I disagree with the approach taken by Invisible Children in particular, and by the White Savior Industrial Complex in general, because there is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.

Read "The White Savior Industrial Complex" at the Atlantic.

The murder of Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin, 17 (above), was shot to death on February 26 while walking to his dad's girlfriend's house from a convenience store just north of Orlando, Florida. He was unarmed, wearing a hoodie, and carrying some Skittles and iced tea he purchased at the mini-mart.

George Zimmerman, 28 (inset), is the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon. Zimmerman told police he shot the young man in self-defense. As more information about the incident emerges, this explanation sounds increasingly less plausible.

The case has sparked widespread interest and outrage online, in part because Zimmerman remains free, and Trayvon was an innocent kid doing nothing wrong, who cried out for help as he was attacked. His only threat, it seems, was being a black male.

A roundup of links for further reading and following, as the case evolves:

Mother Jones has an excellent explainer piece here, and ongoing coverage.
A New York Times item today: US Grand Jury opens an investigation into the killing. Related news about FBI involvement at the Miami Herald.
• A phone call from Trayvon to a 16-year-old female friend sparks new demands for Zimmerman's arrest.
• "How we can leverage the anger over individual incidents into a larger restructuring of perceptions and justice," asks journalist Farai Chideya. "It’s easy to work up ire about individual cases, but harder to work on systemic change." She's on Twitter here.
Charles Blow at the New York Times has been on the story. One item is here, but his Twitter feed is well worth a follow for ongoing (and paywall-free) updates.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic, has been reporting on the case as well. He's updating on Twitter, too.
• The blog for MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry show is a good source of updates, and the show itself has been covering the case as well.
Think Progress has a "what everyone should know" post here.
• Zimmerman has been variously identified as "White," and "White Hispanic." An NPR opinion piece asks, What if he were black?
• At the Huffington Post, Trymaine Lee has been on the story for weeks, with strong reporting. Worth a Twitter follow. • Farai Chideya points to this Trendsmap of where in the US the #trayvon hashtag is currently trending.


(Thanks to all of my Twitter followers who shared suggestions for good sources of coverage.)

African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign

(Updated with additions, March 10, 2012. Here's a Twitter list, so you can follow all of the African writers mentioned in this post who are on Twitter.)


The internets are all a-flutter with reactions to Kony 2012, a high-velocity viral fundraising campaign created by the "rebel soul dream evangelists" at Invisible Children to "raise awareness" about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and child soldiers. As noted in my previous post here on Boing Boing, the project has many critics. There is a drinking game, there are epic lolpictorials, and a chorus of idiots on Facebook.

There are indications the project may be about stealth-evangelizing Christianity. The Invisible Children filmmakers have responded to some of the criticism. Media personalities and celebrities are duking it out as the campaign (and now, backlash) spreads.

But in that flood of attention, one set of voices has gone largely ignored: Africans themselves. Writers, journalists, activists; people of African descent who live and work and think about life on the continent. In this post, we'll round up some of their replies to #Kony2012.

Above, a video by Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia journalist who works on "media, women, peace and conflict issues." She writes, "This is me talking about the danger of portraying people with one single story and using old footage to cause hysteria when it could have been possible to get to DRC and other affected countries get a fresh perspective and also include other actors."

Ethiopian writer and activist Solome Lemma writes that she is disturbed by the "dis-empowering and reductive narrative" evidenced in Invisible Children's promotional videos: "[It] paints the people as victims, lacking agency, voice, will, or power. It calls upon an external cadre of American students to liberate them by removing the bad guy who is causing their suffering. Well, this is a misrepresentation of the reality on the ground. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of child and youth advocates who have been fighting to address the very issues at the heart of IC’s work." Update: Here's another from Lemma on "Seven steps for critical reflection." She urges those concerned about human rights in Africa to "think before you give."

Musa Okwonga, a " football writer, poet and musician of Ugandan descent," writes in an Independent op-ed: “I understand the anger and resentment at Invisible Children’s approach, which with its paternalism has unpleasant echoes of colonialism. I will admit to being perturbed by its apparent top-down prescriptiveness, when so much diligent work is already being done at Northern Uganda’s grassroots... Watching the video, though, I was concerned at the simplicity of the approach that Invisible Children seemed to have taken."

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Paula Deen accused of racism, harassment

According to a lawsuit filed in Georgia, butterwitch Paula Deen used a racial slur beginning with "n" to describe the perfect wedding.

"I want a true southern plantation-style wedding. ... What I would like is a bunch of little n****** to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around. Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn't it? But we can't do that now, the media would be on me."

Posted by Radar Online, the suit (PDF) was filed by a former employee, Lisa T. Jackson, over claimed harassment and other rights violations.

Other allegations include boorish behavior from Deen's brother, Bubba Hiers, such as "the styrofoam cup poured almost full with whisky" alleged to be in his possession at 10 a.m. many days. Also, Deen is said to frequently use the word "massaging."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog post referred to Paula Deen as the Batterwitch. Ms. Deen is in fact the Butterwitch. Betty Crocker is the Batterwitch.

Those racist, crazy 1990s Ron Paul newsletters? He signed off on every single one, associates say

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product...He would proof it." Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Ron Paul’s company and former supporter of the Texas congressman, in the Washington Post today about those wacky racist newsletters previously mentioned here on Boing Boing.

Did NYPD police chief violate code of conduct by lying about Islamophobic video?

Gothamist digs into whether NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's statements and actions regarding the production of an Islamophobic propaganda film "screened on a continuous loop for over 1,200 NYPD officers" may have been a violation of NYPD conduct codes. If you're new to the story, first read this NYT item, then this followup.

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": Arab Courier Attacked by Lions

Earlier this week, I challenged readers to send me photos of their favorite museum exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. Over the next few days, I'll be posting some of these submissions, under the heading, "My Favorite Museum Exhibit". Want to see them all? Check the "Previously" links at the bottom of this post.

Who says a diorama has to be boring? Sam Donovan's favorite museum exhibit is "Arab Courier Attacked by Lions", on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Built by Jules Verreaux for the Paris Exposition in 1867, it was purchased first by the American Museum of Natural History—which quickly thought better of it*—and was then sold to Andrew Carnegie in 1898 for $50. Today, it can be purchased in snow-globe form** for $40. Inflation is a bitch.

The lions preserved here are Barbary lions, a subspecies that went extinct in the wild in the early 20th century.

The "Arab courier", thankfully, is a mannequin. However, that might not have always been the case. Jules Verreaux had previously stuffed and mounted the corpses of non-Europeans before he made this diorama. Meanwhile, the man who was preparator-in-chief at the Carnegie Museum at the time they purchased "Arab Courier" once wrote that the courier "might have been real prior to 1899 when it was refurbished." So, yeah. Historical racism. How about that?

There are often problems associated with how natural history museums traditionally collected and displayed artifacts. The history here actually ends up being a great example of how culture and social norms and influence how we think about science. The facts may not change, but our interpretation of them does. For instance, the Dyche Museum at the University of Kansas, my childhood natural history museum, owns the taxidermied body of a U.S. cavalry horse that was the only member of the 7th Cavalry to survive the Battle of the Little Big Horn. For decades, this horse was billed as "the only survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn." Which, for obvious reasons, is both wildly inaccurate and pretty racist.

*The AMNH, while acknowledging the skill it took to produce a diorama like this, wasn't quite sure it lived up to their standards as a display of scientific educational value.

**Yes, there is something a little weird about snow falling on this scene.

Image: Flickr user happy via, via CC license.

Unpacking the invisible knapsack

Seven years ago, I read an article that completely changed the way I thought about what racism is, and the privileges I experience as an upper-middle class white person. In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I'd like to share that article here.

I didn't know it at the time, but Peggy McIntosh's Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is kind of a classic of anti-racist thought. The basic idea goes something like this: Racism does not begin and end with Jim Crow and the Klan. It's not just about obvious exclusion and oppression. Fighting racism isn't just about overturning blatantly discriminatory laws or cracking down on hate crimes. Racism, unfortunately, can be a lot more subtle than that.

Racism is also about whole social systems that confer privileges on some people, and deny those privileges to others. What's more, if you're one of the privileged people, the privileges you receive—simply for looking the way you do—are often completely invisible to you. So invisible, in fact, that you don't even think of those things as privileges, and you don't notice how they've made your life easier and better. So, when people who don't have access to those privileges don't live as easily and well as you, it's easy to blame that on some inherent moral or intellectual failing, rather than on the system that denied them privileges you've received since birth.

In the United States, there are many privileges that I get, simply for being white, that are denied to people with different skin tones. That's racism. And this system leads otherwise kind and decent people to act and think in racist ways, without even realizing that's what they're doing. Acknowledging this privilege—realizing that subtle racism exists and that you benefit from it—is the first step privileged people need to take if they want to be effective allies of the un-privileged. Here's what McIntosh says:

I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks. ... As far as I can see, my African American co-workers, friends and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions:

• I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
• I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
• When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
• Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability.
• I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
• I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

There is more where that came from, just read the whole piece. And yes, this idea does apply to other problems besides just racism. And yes, people who are privileged in some respects can be un-privileged in others, and vice versa. But acknowledging where you are privileged is important. Whether you're fighting racism, classicism, sexism, or any -ism.

England worst place in the world for bogus "walking while brown" stop-and-searches

The English and Welsh law allowing the police to stop-and-search people in "exceptional" circumstances was 29.7 times more often likely to be used against black people than it is against white people in the past year. According to The Guardian, these stop-and-search stats represent "the worst international record of discrimination involving stop and search." The report was compiled by the London School of Economics and the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The rate of stop-and-search for black people in England and Wales has nearly tripled since 2009, when police and government and everyone else agreed it was a serious problem that should be dealt with. Nice work, everyone!

Less than 0.5 percent of stop-and-searches led to an arrest for possession of a weapon.

On Friday, the IPCC conceded that stop and searches that yield no arrest were antagonistic and "highly intrusive". A legal challenge that will ask the high court to rule section 60 "incompatible" with the European convention on human rights is under way. The case centres on a 37-year-old woman who claims she was targeted because she was black. Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy solicitors said there was clear statistical evidence that section 60 was being used in a discriminatory manner. He added: "There are not sufficient safeguards to ensure that the interference with individuals' personal integrity and liberty that such searches entail is proportionate and in accordance with the law."

The case follows the government's curtailment last year of the police use of section 44 counter-terrorism stop-and-search powers, which also allowed officers to act against individuals without reasonable suspicion. Campaigners hope the home secretary, Theresa May, will pre-empt the legal challenge by moving to amend the law on section 60, introducing restrictions on its use. A recent report by the LSE and the Guardian cited stop and search as a factor in the August riots, a conclusion that persuaded May to order a national review of how police use stop and search powers.

Stop and search 'racial profiling' by police on the increase, claims study

Iraqi restaurant window smashed. Veterans hold "eat-in" to show support for Iraqi refugees.

[video link] Faith in humanity status: restored. They're from Veterans for Peace. There's an article about the incident in the local paper, here.

Babylon Restaurant, the business targeted in the possible hate crime, was featured in this Boston Globe article just one month ago. If you're in Massachusetts, maybe go have a meal there sometime soon and tell them Boing Boing sent you. Some good Yelp reviews on their falafel and grape leaves! (via @adlangx)

Kentucky church bans interracial couples:

The Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in rural Kentucky has banned interracial couples from its congregation, following a visit from the Church secretary's daughter and her black African fiance.

Chase exec: we tricked naive borrowers into taking out subprime loans

An award-winning Chase vice-president has gone public with accusations that his bank deliberately tricked naive borrowers into taking out high-commission loans they could never pay back (his team wrote $2B in loans during the subprime bubble), putting the lie to the narrative that subprime was about greedy borrowers taking money they knew they shouldn't:

One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. So they looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans.

These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended up paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up.

Theckston, who has a shelf full of awards that he won from Chase, such as “sales manager of the year,” showed me his 2006 performance review. It indicates that 60 percent of his evaluation depended on him increasing high-risk loans.

In late 2008, when the mortgage market collapsed, Theckston and most of his colleagues were laid off. He says he bears no animus toward Chase, but he does think it is profoundly unfair that troubled banks have been rescued while troubled homeowners have been evicted.

A Banker Speaks, With Regret (via Naked Capitalism)

ACLU Tennessee brings suit against ICE officers who broke into house and said, "We don't need a warrant, we're ICE, the warrant is coming out of my balls."

The ACLU of Tennessee has brought suit against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a warrantless raid on an apartment complex where ICE officers believed some illegal immigrants were housed. After ICE agents broke into the complex and were asked for a warrant, one agent reportedly said, "We don't need a warrant, we're ICE," and, gesturing to his genitals, "the warrant is coming out of my balls."

Among the plaintiffs are U.S. citizens, including a child detained and interrogated while playing soccer on the playground simply because of the color of his skin. Looking Latino and speaking Spanish is not enough to justify probable cause for questioning and arresting a person. Another plaintiff was carted away in handcuffs in front of his frightened and crying children.

Unfortunately, the Clairmont raid is not an isolated incident. As the Department of Homeland Security and its enforcement arm, ICE, expand their aggressive immigration enforcement policies, all too often the constitutional rights afforded to everyone living in the United States are violated. Even as ICE carries out its mission, it must act in accordance with the law and in a manner that is humane.

(via Reddit)

ACLU: FBI practicing racial profiling on an "industrial scale"

The ACLU has sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder documenting its disturbing research into the use of racial profiling in the FBI's anti-terrorism efforts. According to the ACLU, the FBI practices "racial profiling on an industrial scale," targetting people of Muslim faith on the basis of their religion rather than any violent tendencies or beliefs.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has filed numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests – some backed up with lawsuits – to find out how the FBI is using racial and ethnic data as part of its investigations.

“The documents we have started to receive confirm our worst fears,” ACLU officials wrote to Attorney General Holder. “Although often heavily redacted, these documents, obtained from a number of different field offices, demonstrate that FBI analysts are using improper and crude racial stereotypes regarding the types of crimes committed by different racial and ethnic groups and then collecting demographic data to map where people of those racial or ethnic groups live.”

The result, charges the ACLU, has been “racial profiling on an industrial scale.”

Alabama's racist "immigration" law creates misery and fear for brown people

The Guardian reports on life for visible minorities under Alabama's new "immigration" law that allows the police to detain and question "suspicious" (that is, brown) people and arrest them if they don't have immigration papers -- even if they're American-born US citizens. Many people of Hispanic origin have walked out of their jobs in protest, while others are fleeing the state:

Even families legally entitled to be in the country are being caught. Cineo Gonzalez was shocked a few weeks ago when his six-year-old daughter came home from school carrying a printout. It gave details of HB56 and its implications, under the heading: "Frequent questions about the immigration law."

Gonzalez is a US permanent resident, having come from Mexico more than 20 years ago. His daughter is an American citizen, having been born in Alabama. Both are entirely legal. Yet she was one of only two children in her class – both Hispanic in appearance – who were given the printout.

Why was she singled out, Gonzalez asked the deputy head teacher. "Because we gave the printout to children we thought were not from here," came the reply.

Gonzalez is a taxi driver. Soon after the law came into effect, he began getting calls from Hispanic families. "People started asking me for prices. How much would it cost to go to Indiana? How much to New York? Or Atlanta, or Texas, or Ohio, or North Carolina?"

Pratchett's Snuff: a rural/nautical tale of drawing-room gentility, racism, and justice

Snuff, Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel is an absolute treat, as per usual. It's a Sam Vimes book (there are many recurring characters in the Discworld series, whose life stories intermingle, braid and diverge -- Sam Vimes is an ex-alcoholic police chief who has married into nobility) and that means that it's going to be a story about class, about law, and about justice, and the fact that Pratchett can make a serious discourse on these subjects both funny and gripping and never trivial is as neat a summary of why we love him as much as we do.

Read the rest

Inquisitor's Apprentice: tenement sorcerers versus the robber barons in an alternate Gilded Age New York

Chris Moriarty's The Inquisitor's Apprentice is the first volume in a fantastic new historical young adult series that takes place in a turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York where magic is the key to power and the infamous robber-barons of the age have cornered the market on enchantment and use their power to deprive hardworking poor immigrants of their self-reliance.

Read the rest

Secret anti-racist shirts covertly distributed to neo-Nazis

Anti-racist activists snuck trick t-shirts into a music festival with a large neo-Nazi turnout; the shirts bore a crypto-racist slogan that faded on first washing to reveal a plea to reconsider "militant right-wing lifestyle."
The shirts, which bore a skull and crossbones symbol and the word 'Hardcore Rebels,' faded upon washing to reveal a hidden message: "What happened to your shirt can happen to you. We can help you break with right-wing extremism."

The T-shirts were the work of Exit Deutschland, a group that helps young people transition out of militant right-wing lifestyles.

"With these T-shirts we wanted to make ourselves known among right-wingers, especially amongst young ones who are not yet fully committed to the extreme right," said Exit founder Bernd Wagner.

Right-wing extremists tricked by 'Trojan' T-shirts (Thanks, Cyrus!)

Black student locked to locker, fellow students walk off yelling "Slave for Sale!"

A 17-year-old African American student in Santa Monica, California (a beachside LA enclave known mostly for yoga, kombucha, surfers, and actors) was victimized by fellow students on his high school wrestling team. They assembled a mock-lynching scene with a wrestling dummy and a noose, then tackled the child, locked him to a locker, and walked away yelling "slave for sale!" Students took pictures on their cell phones, but "most if not all were deleted at the request of staff, according to multiple sources." Too bad: might have proved helpful in court. Sad understatement of the ages: an email from the school principal described it as "an incident with racial overtones." (via Harry Allen)

Lavie Tidhar: sf story about the way that sf stories see aliens

Lavie Tidhar sez, "As soon as I wrote this story I realised I would most likely have to self-publish it. To my delighted surprise, though, an editor at one of the big online [SF] magazines offered me, shortly after, to publish it. Two days later, however, the publisher of the same magazine declined the story, not wanting to deal with any potential fallout. I then showed it -- unofficially -- to a handful of people, and got a potential offer to publish it in another big magazine, if only I were to change some of the references in the story. I decided, instead, to publish it here."
There had been another boy at the school, called Ender, but he'd attacked and seriously hurt and in at least one case we knew of killed one of the other boys, and they finally had to put him down, though he kept protesting, the day they came for him, that it wasn't his fault.

No-one wanted to be put down at the school. They bred us very carefully, lines of genetic lineage, great-great-grandparents and parents all down the generations selected by the board and certified and mated to produce us. If we were an aberration we were put down and our progenitors were mated again, to try and create a better version.

My earliest memory is of white men in white coats holding clipboards, examining me. They measured my skull and prodded me with thick pink fingers and made careful notes. There was a war coming, they kept saying, and we had to be prepared.

Because of aliens.

The Story They Wouldn't Publish (Thanks, Lavie!)

It's people like us what makes trouble: the pernicious influence of immigrants in the UK.

Feorag NicBhride's "The pernicious influence of immigrants in the UK" is a non-exhaustive catalog of the many awful travesties wrought by we dirty foreign immigrants on the pure, clean shores of Britain, including tea, the Conservative party, football, and the English language.

As Charlie Stross says, "if you're one of that 40% [of British residents polled who do not think the UK has benefited in any way from immigration].you can stop reading my books right now, because obviously they are of no benefit to you."

* The English language (the Anglo-Saxons, much modified by the Normans)
* TheEnglish legal system (the Normans). The Scottish one is based on Roman law.
* The music of Handel (emigrated from Germany to England), Freddie Mercury (from Zanzibar), Cliff Richard (Indian), George Michael (Greek), Status Quo (Francis Rossi is a mix of Italian and Irish), Vanessa Mae (Chinese) KT Tunstall (Chinese) and practically everything in the charts right now, it seems.
* Football - the contributions of British Italians and people from the Caribbean are far too many to list. In fact, it would be best to ignore sport altogether. I mean, once the England cricket team was captained by someone called Hussain, the whole enterprise was doomed.
* James Bond - Ian Fleming was of Swiss origins.
* The Conservative and Unionist Party - Iain Duncan Smith (grandmother was Japanese), Michael Portillo (Spanish descent), Nigel Lawson, Baroness Warsi, Michael Howard (Romanian parents) and Winston Churchill (whose mother was an American immigrant).
* Wicca - this might seem to be the only genuinely British religion, but Dorothy Clutterbuck, who taught Gerald Gardner, was born in India. Gardner himself spent most of his formative years in Asia.
* The railways - built with Irish labour. Even though the labourers were British citizens at the time, they didn't want to be, and this should be respected.
The pernicious influence of immigrants in the UK

Stephen Colbert on Limbaugh's ching-chong moment

Just when you thought that everything that could be said about Rush Limbaugh's ching-chong-chop-suey impersonation of Chinese Premier Hu Jintao had been said, here comes Stephen Colbert with the absolute last word on the matter (How to watch The Daily Show & Colbert Report from outside the US).

Rush Limbaugh Speaks Chinese (via Reddit)