'To Donald Trump,' by Leland Melvin, former NASA Astronaut and NFL Player

Leland Melvin is the astronaut in that fabulous NASA photo with his two dogs. He is an engineer and former NASA education leader, and the author of 'Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances.' He shared this essay with friends today, and I thought you'd like to read it, too.—XJ

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We regret to inform you the Adorable Irma Cop is racist

Michael Hamill is a 28-year-old Gainesville police officer whose mug went viral just days ago during Hurricane Irma. Sadly, his Facebook is full of comments like "who knew that reading jewish jokes before I go to bed would not only make me feel better about myself but also help me to sleep" and "put them in an oven and deal with them the hitler way."

He's apparently still on duty while a "confidential" investigation is conducted, writes local reporter Deborah Strange. The viral mugshot does, at least, serve one useful purpose: if you're a Jewish person in Gainesville, you now know one face in the thin brown line.

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Facebook statement on allowing advertisers to target "Jew haters"

Facebook released a statement regarding ProPublica's expose of the company offering antisemitic ad targeting options (previously).

On the record statement by Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook:

“We don't allow hate speech on Facebook. Our community standards strictly prohibit attacking people based on their protected characteristics, including religion, and we prohibit advertisers from discriminating against people based on religion and other attributes. However, there are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards. In this case, we've removed the associated targeting fields in question. We know we have more work to do, so we're also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future.”

Points on Background:

• Some businesses choose to target people who self-report their education or employer (i.e. an alumni association promoting events to former students).

• We noticed that some self-reported education and employer fields that violate our community standards were made available in our ads interface.

• We have removed the fields of study in question, and are implementing new measures to keep offensive self-reported profile traits from being used in campaigns.

• We’re considering things like limiting the total number of fields available or adding more reviews of fields before they show up in ads creation.

• It's also worth noting that given the incredibly small size of these audiences, we don't believe the purposeful inclusion of these groups in ad campaigns is at all common or widespread.

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Facebook offered ads targeted at "Jew-haters" until ProPublica asked about it

Facebook removed several antisemitic ad categories after ProPublica asked about them and "promised to improve monitoring."

Want to market Nazi memorabilia, or recruit marchers for a far-right rally? Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform had the right audience for you.

Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’”

Surely what Facebook means by "monitoring" is monitoring what Facebook exposes about itself, not what Facebook itself monitors.

ProPublica (having bought ads targeted at the antisemitic categories and verified their fulfillment) offers this tobesure about how it all works:

"In all likelihood, the ad categories that we spotted were automatically generated ... Facebook’s algorithm automatically transforms people’s declared interests into advertising categories."

It can't be racist, it's just a computer program! Read the rest

Fans kicked out of Boston baseball stadium for ambiguous anti-racism banner

Four fans were kicked out of Boston's Fenway Park during a baseball game yesterday after unfurling a banner reading: "Racism Is As American As Baseball."

Here's what one of the planners of the stunt had to say:

There were originally about eight people involved who had this idea, and those eight people come from various organizing groups in the Boston area. Mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes. And the banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway [that Adam Jones spoke of].

"But overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it's actually an extremely segregated city. It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that."

And according to the Boston Red Sox:

"During the fourth inning of tonight's game, four fans unfurled a banner over the left field wall in violation of the club's policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark. The individuals involved were escorted out of Fenway Park."

(Bleacher Report) Read the rest

Letter from indigenous Mexican man who was denied a US visa to receive an award for internet development

Mariano Gómez is a 23 year old Tseltal from Abasolo, Chiapas, and a member of the Ikta K’op Collective; he is being given an award by the prestigious Internet Society for his work creating "a wireless Internet and Intranet network that provided connectivity and access to information to his community, which has no telephone or radio service," but will not be able to attend the awards in Los Angeles because the US embassy has denied him a tourist visa. Read the rest

America's National Cathedral removes Confederate windows

In 1953, the National Cathedral in Washington DC installed two stained glass windows depicting Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. A task force recommended removal, which started this month. Read the rest

Difficulty slider in the new South Park game

South Park's an easy target for anyone smarter than a cartoon frog, but sometimes not giving a shit is a good policy. The usual suspects are upset about this development and talking of boycotting the game, but I'm sure they'll find some comforting four-dimensional satire of social justice in it once they've heard a few reassuringly racist remarks from Cartman. [via]

John Scalzi, author of the famous metaphor, is...

... amused to see it in an actual video game. All the dudes who whined about how the metaphor was all wrong will now have to grind their teeth when they set up their characters in this game. And that’s a lovely thought.
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Republican mayoral candidate lists "WHITE" among reasons to vote for her

The North Carolina Republican Party has rebuked one of its mayoral candidates, Kimberley Paige Barnette, after she wrote “VOTE FOR ME! REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL.” on her Facebook page.

Barnette, a former magistrate, has since removed and apologized for her remark, reports Jim Morrill with The Charlotte Observer. However, she then defended herself with this gem:

"There is a group called Congressional Black Caucus. I'm sorry if I described myself as white and it offended others."

If you're a person of color and you ever wondered why things didn't go your way in Mecklenburg County magistrate court, well, now you know why. Read the rest

Donald Trump has ushered in a "golden age of private prisons"

With Donald Trump reversing Obama's ban on the use of private prisons for federal prisoners and vowing to deport 11 million people; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructing prosecutors to seek long prison sentences for minor offenses, the investor community could not be more bullish on the private prison sector. Read the rest

Listen to a Georgia cop reassure a white motorist that “we only kill black people.”

Cobb County Lt. Greg Abbot pulled over a car in July 2016, on suspicion of DUI. The white driver tells him she's afraid of being shot. He tells her:

“But you’re not black,” he interrupted. “Remember, we only kill black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen black people get killed? You have.”

A cynic might be tempted to remark that he's not wrong, but U.S. police kill white people — they just kill black people in disproportionate numbers, because they are racist as well as violent. Read the rest

Watch: Full remarks of Susan Bro, mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer, at memorial

Here is video of the full remarks by Susan Bro, mother of Charlottesville car attack victim Heather Heyer, at her daughter's memorial service.

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Watch Ronald Reagan scold haters: "This country will not stand for your conduct"

Here's a clip from a 1981 NAACP convention speech, where President Ronald Reagan addresses "a few remarks to those groups who still adhere to senseless racism and religious prejudice, to those individuals who persist in such hateful behavior."

"If I were speaking to them instead of to you, I would say to them, 'You are the ones who are out of step with our society. You are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is America. And this country, because of what it stands for, will not stand for your conduct.' My administration will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who, by violence or intimidation, would attempt to deny Americans their constitutional rights." Read the rest

Trump: There were "very fine people on both sides" at Charlottesville white supremacist rally

On one side is Americans. On the other side is Nazis. Trump told reporters there were "very fine people on both sides" at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally.

More coverage from the same event here. Read the rest

Assistant police chief unrepentant after posting racist cartoon, but will lose job

Wayne Welsh, assistant police chief in Estherwood, La., posted a cartoon to social media depicting a mother holding a young girl under water with the caption "When your daughters(sic) first crush is a negro boy." KATC reports that he at first defended his posting in the initial outcry, but will lose his job all the same.

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Norwegian Islamophobes confuse empty bus seats with women in burkas

Members of a far-right Norwegian Facebook group confused a photo of empty seats on a bus for women in burkas. From TheNewArab:

Responses included how "frightening", "tragic" and "scary" the scene was, while others worried the non-existent passengers could have "weapons and bombs" under their garments.

"It looks really scary, should be banned. You can never know who is under there. Could be terrorists with weapons," one member wrote, according to Norweigian English-language site thelocal.no...

The head of the Norwegian Centre Against Racism (Antirasistisk senter) told Nettavisen that the irrational response to six empty bus seats shows how quickly people jump to conclusions.

"People see what they want to see and what they want to see are dangerous Muslims. In a way it's an interesting test of how quickly people can find confirmations of their own delusions," Rune Berglund Steen said.

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White Florida cops appear to racially profile driver, then learn she's state attorney Aramis Ayala

In a now viral video clip from a police bodycam, Aramis Ayala, Florida's first African-American elected state attorney, is pulled over by Orlando cops for what appears to be no good reason.

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