"To mute the slave has always been to the best interests of the slave owner ... When a Black voice is raised in protest to oppression, those who are comfortable with our oppression are the first to criticize us for daring to speak out against it."
july 26, 2017
Richard Wolff: A capitalism that perpetuates itself via racism incurs huge self-protection costs: to police and imprison or to provide some safety nets for its shock absorber "races" or varying combinations of both. When capitalists shift some or all of those costs onto the tax obligations of workers, more social tensions emerge. Workers are then told their tax payments must compensate for the "deficiencies" attributed to the shock absorber "races" rather than to the structural irrationalities of capitalism. Racial conflicts then preclude or tear apart working-class political unity. Racism persists in no small part because its benefits to capitalism outweigh its costs, or at least those costs capitalists have to bear. -------------------------------------------------
Here’s What Nobody Understands About Race in America
“This has strong implications if we’re looking at racial and ethnic differences in the accumulation of wealth,” Darity observes. “This can be tied to — especially if we’re thinking about black/white differences — the long-term consequences of enslavement; the Jim Crow period; and social policies that created wealth for whites but didn’t do so for blacks, like the GI Bill and the subsidization of the purchases of homes with public funds which is disproportionately made available to whites.” (Black veterans had limited choices of colleges and often could not take advantage of the GI housing provisions.)
William Darity, Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University
Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong that will be imposed upon them and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical.”
headlines: highlighting the struggle
*THIS MASSIVE NATURAL GAS PIPELINE WILL RUN RIGHT THROUGH NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITIES(ARTICLE BELOW)
*Trump to ban transgender people from all military service(ARTICLE BELOW)
*DEVOS: CIVIL RIGHTS OFFICE WILL RETURN TO BEING A 'NEUTRAL' AGENCY(ARTICLE BELOW)
*HAWAII COFFEE FARMER LOSES DEPORTATION FIGHT AFTER NEARLY THREE DECADES IN U.S. (ARTICLE BELOW)
*THIS IS WHAT ANTI-LGBTQ HOUSING DISCRIMINATION LOOKS LIKE(ARTICLE BELOW)
*TRUMP'S PICK TO LEAD DOJ CIVIL RIGHTS WILL DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF PROTECTING PEOPLE'S EQUALITY(ARTICLE BELOW)
*THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT JUST GAVE A BIG, FAT MIDDLE FINGER TO SAME-SEX COUPLES (article below)
*APPEALS COURT GIVES MISSISSIPPI THE GREEN LIGHT TO FAVOR ANTI-LGBTQ DISCRIMINATION (article below)
*TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN RELIES ON CONTROVERSIAL CELLPHONE TRACKING DEVICE BORDER PATROL AGENTS ARE USING STINGRAYS, TECHNOLOGY THAT PRETENDS ITS A CELL TOWER, TO LOCATE UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS’ PHONES.(article below)
*MISSOURI LAWMAKERS CUT UNINSURED WOMEN'S ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE JUST TO PREVENT ABORTIONS (article below)
*TRUMP IS AUDACIOUSLY TRYING TO PRIVATIZE NATIVE AMERICAN LAND (article below)
*TEXAS HOUSE APPROVES BILL LETTING ADOPTION AGENCIES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LGBT, NON-CHRISTIAN COUPLES (article below)
*FACEBOOK’S GENDER BIAS GOES SO DEEP IT’S IN THE CODE FEMALE SOFTWARE ENGINEERS FOUND THEIR WORK WAS REJECTED 35 PERCENT MORE THAN MALE ENGINEERS, ACCORDING TO A WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORT.(ARTICLE BELOW)
*Environmental Racism Continues to Deny Black People a Chance for a Healthy Community(article below)
*Kentucky judge refuses to ever hear same-sex adoption cases It will hurt children to place them with a “practicing homosexual,” he said. (article below)
*Alabama advances bill protecting adoption agencies that discriminate (ARTICLE BELOW)
*Palantir will shell out $1.7 million to settle claims that it discriminated against Asian engineers (ARTICLE BELOW)
*Bisexual people still face insidious stigma from inside LGBTQ community(ARTICLE BELOW)
*Exploiting black labor after the abolition of slavery(article)
*HATE IS IN THE DNA OF AMERICA(article below)
This massive natural gas pipeline will run right through Native American communities
From Think Progress: ...The decision to proceed on building the Dakota Access pipeline on a path opposed by Native Americans highlighted how federal and state government agencies are accustomed to ignoring or downplaying the concerns of indigenous populations.
Now, a similar scenario is playing out in Virginia and North Carolina, where Native Americans are urging federal, state, and local officials to listen to their concerns about the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a pipeline system that would transport fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina. Native Americans “didn’t have opportunities to learn how the route was chosen or to provide input on bodies of water or specific landscapes that their tribes consider sacred and that they might have problems with a pipeline passing through,” Ryan Emanuel, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina who serves on the environmental justice committee of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs, told ThinkProgress.
About 30,000, or 13 percent, of the people who live within one mile of the proposed route of the pipeline in North Carolina are Native American, even though Native Americans represent only 1.2 percent of the state’s total population.
The pipeline originates in northern West Virginia, a region that is seeing heavy natural gas production, and ends in Robeson County, North Carolina, a county with one of the highest percentages of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed route crosses territories of four Native American tribes in North Carolina: the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Haliwa-Saponi, the Coharie tribe,and the Meherrin Nation. Of the eight counties in the state through which the pipeline would travel, four have large Native American communities.
Members of tribal groups worry the pipeline could damage sacred Native American sites and the surrounding environment. Last Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final environmental review of the pipeline, concluding that the impact on the environment would be reduced to “less-than-significant” levels if the developers follow certain mitigation measures.
FERC did not conduct a comprehensive assessment of the pipeline’s impact on Native American communities along the pipeline’s route. But the agency did instruct pipeline developer Dominion Energy to submit documentation showing that it met with tribes in North Carolina prior to beginning construction. The project is also owned by Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas. “I still don’t believe that the FEIS [final environmental impact statement] acknowledges the disproportionate impacts on indigenous peoples in North Carolina,” Emanuel said.
In an article published in the July 21 issue of Science, Emanuel, a professor of forestry and environmental resources at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, wrote that the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy “demonstrates that all parties suffer when environmental justice analyses and tribal consultation are treated as meaningless rote exercises.”
One of the biggest issues in the Dakota Access dispute was the issue of consultation, a term used to describe official communication between the federal government and tribes. The Standing Rock Sioux is a federally recognized tribe, which gave it standing to have formal consultation with the federal government.
In North Carolina, the tribes whose land would be impacted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are not federally recognized. By statute, federal agencies are not required to offer consultation to these tribes. However, the advisory body for the National Historic Preservation Act recommends that federal agencies offer formal consultation to non-federal tribes if they can demonstrate an interest in a particular issue. In the case of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, FERC did not offer formal consultation to the North Carolina tribes.
Dominion had not responded to a request for comment at the time this article was published. Even though FERC approves almost every pipeline application it reviews, the indigenous population along the pipeline’s route remains hopeful in its opposition. “It’s definitely not a done deal, even though they’re presenting it like it is. It falls upon us as citizens to make people understand that it’s not something that’s set in stone,” said anti-pipeline activist Jorden Revels, a Native American student at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in Robeson County.
Fix Cain, a representative with the Coalition of Woodland Nations, a group formed to unite Native people to protect the environment, sacred sites, and areas of cultural and historical significance, said he had heard reports that the pipeline route was originally designed to travel west of the current route, through the Piedmont region of North Carolina, where communities are not as economically disadvantaged as the eastern part of the state.
“They didn’t want the pipeline to go through their backyards,” Cain told ThinkProgress. Instead, the modified route is “hitting almost every single contemporary and historical native community between western Virginia all the way down to southeastern North Carolina,” said Cain, a member of the Skaroreh Katenuaka Nation, which is part of the Tuscarora community.
“These same communities are also some of the most economically fragile and not just in the Native communities. You have impoverished white communities, you have impoverished African American communities, and various other minority communities here as well. There’s nobody here who can afford to fight it,” he said.
New industries are emerging in the region that could help strengthen local economies without causing significant pollution — unlike fossil fuel infrastructure or the region’s ubiquitous hog and chicken farms. From 2007 to 2014, Robeson County had the highest eight-year investment in solar farms in the state with $170.6 million and the second-highest total renewable energy investment with $188.6 million, according to a report.
“In the midst of all these negative stories, eastern North Carolina is starting to see a boom in deployed solar panel operations. There are a lot of people who think these communities should be looking at things like solar power and not be the dumping ground for the types of industries that pollute air and water,” Emanuel said.
North of the border, in Virginia, the pipeline also threatens sacred sites of the Monacan Indian Nation, according to anti-pipeline activists. During the regulatory review process, the Monacan Nation wrote to FERC voicing its “strong opposition” to the pipeline’s construction through Nelson County, Virginia due to its impact on archaeological sites. “Our tribe was one of the first formally in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and we were the first to send a letter to FERC outlining our opposition and the reasons for our opposition,” said Dwayne Painter, a member of the Monacan Nation and a representative with the Coalition of Woodland Nations.
Opposition to the pipeline is growing among Native Americans along the East Coast, Cain said. With the Monacan people, if they want us to stand with them and block the pipeline, “that may not be completely out of the question,” he stated.
“We want to make sure this is done as peacefully as possible. We want to exhaust all legal methods before we have to get out there on foot and protest,” Cain said. The protest against the Dakota Access pipeline was the largest Native American unification in history, Cain noted. Virginia and North Carolina, on the other hand, have traditionally been “pretty shaky” on unification of the tribal people for any issue.
Witnessing how the Dakota Access pipeline developers trampled on sacred Native American grounds in North Dakota, Cain said, invigorated tribal members in Virginia and North Carolina to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by encouraging them to educate fellow members.
FERC has 90 days after issuing its final environmental analysis to make a decision on the pipeline. Dominion Energy also must receive state water permits for the pipeline. The original targeted in-service date for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project was late 2018, but the company now expects the pipeline will begin serving customers in early 2019.
Trump to ban transgender people from all military service BY REBECCA KHEEL AND REBECCA SAVRANSKY - 07/26/17 09:10 AM EDT
From The Hill: President Trump on Wednesday said he would ban transgender people from any military service.
Trump made the announcement, which would represent a major shift in military policy, on Twitter. He said he had made the decision after consulting with "my generals and military experts."
"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow...Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump tweeted.
"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming...victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you" --- Trump during the 2016 campaign called himself a "real friend" of the LGBT community and accused Hillary Clinton of prioritizing “Islamic extremists” over LGBT Americans.
“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” he tweeted in June. Last year, the Obama administration lifted the ban on allowing transgender troops to serve openly.
Under the policy set by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter, transgender troops also receive coverage for any treatment deemed medically necessary by their doctors, including surgery and hormone therapy.
That step left a decision for Trump Secretary of Defense James Mattis to make a decision on whether to allow new transgender troops to enter the military.
It wasn't immediately clear what Trump's announcement would mean for the approximately 250 transgender people now serving openly in the U.S. military.
Trump’s decision is a huge blow the LGBT community, which was just coming off a win after the surprising defeat of an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would have banned Pentagon funding from being used for transition-related medical care.
But under the policy Carter crafted, transgender recruits weren’t allowed to enlist pending the end of a one-year implementation period.
That was supposed to end July 1. But the night before the change was to go into effect, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a six-month delay in the policy to study the issue more.
In a memo explaining the delay, Mattis insisted that his decision does not “change policies and procedures currently in effect.”
Mattis also promised during his confirmation hearing that he wouldn’t reverse his predecessor’s decisions unless a service chief brings him hard evidence the policy is having a negative effect.
LGBT advocates were worried immediately after the election that Trump would roll back the transgender policy, which he has the power to do unilaterally since it is not a law.
They breathed a sigh of relief after Mattis’ confirmation hearing, but have since been fighting on issues such as the enlistment policy and medical care.
Earlier this month, the House voted 209-214 against banning Pentagon funding from being used for transition-related care. Twenty-four Republicans joined with Democrats to defeat the amendment to the annual defense policy bill.
Mattis opposed the amendment, confirming he called its sponsor, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), at least once on the issue.
But some Republicans hoped to have a second chance, filing several similar amendments to the spending bill coming to the House floor Wednesday.
The Rules Committee finalized Tuesday night which amendments will get a vote on the House floor. None of the transgender-related amendments made it in.
racists in charge!!!
DeVos: Civil rights office will return to being a 'neutral' agency By CAITLIN EMMA 07/16/2017 06:10 PM EDT
From Politico: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she is "returning" the Office for Civil Rights "to its role as a neutral, impartial, investigative agency."
In a July 11 letter to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, DeVos asserted that the department's civil rights arm under the Obama administration "had descended into a pattern of overreaching, of setting out to punish and embarrass institutions rather than work with them to correct civil rights violations and of ignoring public input prior to issuing new rules."
As part of the changes she is implementing, the civil rights office would no longer issue "new regulations via administrative fiat," as the Obama administration did, she wrote.
DeVos' letter, which lays out a far less activist philosophy for the civil rights office, came in response to a letter sent late last month by 34 Senate Democrats, who blasted her for a series of actions they said had "diminished" civil rights enforcement. The lawmakers asked DeVos for a host of information by July 11, including a list of civil rights investigations that have been closed or dismissed since the Trump administration began. DeVos didn't provide any of the information in her response.
Murray sent DeVos another letter on Friday repeating her request for the information.She did not address DeVos' assertions about the actions taken by the Obama-era civil rights office.
DeVos wrote that the agency is "unwavering in its commitment" to defend students' civil rights. But during the Obama administration, the office "all too often handled individual complaints as evidence of systematic institutional violations," she wrote. Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, told the office's regional directors in June to stop doing just that.
The Obama administration's approach "forced" OCR staff "to expand the scope of these investigations dramatically beyond the facts alleged in the filed complaint," DeVos wrote. "This led to unprecedented processing times and significant backlogs."
DeVos continued: "The adage 'justice delayed is justice denied' is fitting in this instance; too many students have been forced to wait months, and in some cases years, for adjudication of their complaints while OCR chose to collect years of data about an institution."
DeVos suggested that some of the changes taking place at OCR come after discussions with "career staff ... who had identified material problems impeding their ability to promptly seek justice."
Conservatives had frequently criticized the Obama administration for issuing far-reaching, albeit nonbinding, "guidance," for instance, informing states they must allow transgender students to access bathrooms and locker rooms aligned with their gender identity or risk loss of federal funds. Conservatives contended such "guidance" sidestepped the formal rule-making process. The Trump administration rescinded the transgender guidance earlier this year.
That kind of guidance may have been "politically expedient," DeVos wrote, "but it deprived the public of meaningful opportunities to provide input. At my direction, the department will no longer mask new regulations as Dear Colleague letters and will issue new regulations only after appropriate notice and public comment."
good old american justice!!!
Hawaii coffee farmer loses deportation fight after nearly three decades in U.S.
Facing a deportation date in just days, Magana Ortiz “voluntarily” left Hawaii for Mexico last Friday, a decision that was anything but voluntary:
“Very, very sad and very disappointed in many ways, but there’s not much I can do,” he told Hawaii News Now from the airport. “Just follow what I have to do and hopefully, in a little bit, things can get better.” His flight took him from Hawaii to San Francisco to Houston. From there, he flew to Morelia, a city of 785,000 in central Mexico close to the village he left when he was a teenager. He will stay with friends for the time being and try to get in touch with a distant aunt, his lone blood relative in the country, he told local media.
His oldest child, 20-year-old Victoria Magana Ledesma, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser on Saturday that the situation was “more surreal than anything else.”
“We said our goodbyes at home. My dad decided it was better for my brother and my sister to not go all the way to the airport,” Ledesma said. “I don’t feel like it’s happening. And after so much fight that we went through, for it to just end like this. I mean, it’s not necessarily ending, but it is hard to see him go.”Read More
This is what anti-LGBTQ housing discrimination looks like
A massive pilot study demonstrates the subtle ways LGBTQ people are disadvantaged when seeking housing.
From Think Progress: A new study from the Urban Institute shows that housing discrimination against LGBTQ is a very real phenomenon, but it doesn’t always present itself in obvious ways. Using thousands of testers in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, the Urban Institute found that same-sex couples (particularly male couples) and transgender people were generally treated less favorably than similarly situated individuals seeking the same housing. Here are some of results:
Housing providers frequently told men in same-sex relationships about one fewer available rental unit than they told men in different-sex relationships.
Providers were slightly less likely to even schedule appointments with men in same-sex relationships.
When both men or women in a same-sex couple met together with a provider, agents were less likely to tell them about at least one available unit.
Men in same-sex relationships were quoted average yearly costs $272 higher than men in different-sex relationships.
Transgender people were generally told about fewer units than cisgender testers, regardless of whether they disclosed their gender identity.
Providers were less likely to tell transgender people who disclosed they were trans about any available units and told them about fewer units on average.
Lead researcher Diane Levy pointed out in a statement that the effect of this discrimination translates to many aspects of people’s lives. “When people are discriminated against in their housing searches, not only does it go against our collective value of equal opportunity, but it limits their options for where to live, which can affect how they get to work, the schools their children attend, and other facets of their daily lives,” she said.
Though this is the largest study of its kind, it is not the first. A recent study from Suffolk University Law School found similar housing discriminationagainst transgender and gender nonconforming people in the Boston area. They were more likely to be quoted higher prices, less likely to be shown as many units, and less likely to be offered financial incentives. The participants, however, didn’t even realize they were receiving inferior treatment. According to the largest survey of trans people ever, 23 percent reported experiencing housing discrimination, but far more may have experienced it without realizing it.
A study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development back in 2013 also found discrimination against same-sex couples. Though that study was limited to email inquiries — not in-person interactions — it similarly found that different-sex couples were far more likely to receive favorable responses from housing providers than same-sex couples. As a pilot study, the new research from the Urban Institute lays the groundwork for new studies to more closely examine how housing discrimination plays out and who is most impacted by it.
Trump's pick to lead DOJ civil rights will do the exact opposite of protecting people's equality
By Kelly Macias Tuesday Jul 04, 2017 · 11:16 AM PDT
From Daily Kos: Okay, we get it already. Donald Trump loves trolling the American people with his utterly incomprehensible appointments to his cabinet. And while some of the picks may seem vaguely amusing because they are so bizarre and laughable (Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, as the head of Housing and Urban Development for instance), none of them is actually funny. This is because these appointments are poised to do serious damage to the institutions they are in charge of, and the Department of Justice is no exception. Which is why it is so very worrying that Trump has tapped Eric S. Dreiband to lead the civil rights unit of the Justice Department. If confirmed by the Senate, he will be in charge of overseeing cases involving voting rights, policing and discrimination.
“Whoever leads the ‘crown jewel’ of the Justice Department must have deep relationships with stakeholders and marginalized communities, and have a deep, abiding faith in our nation’s civil rights laws,” [Vanita Gupta, former leader of the civil rights division under the Obama administration said]. “They must respect the laws that touch everyone, rights that people have literally died for. They must respect the role of what has been called the conscience of the federal government. In all those regards, Eric Dreiband is woefully unqualified to lead the Civil Rights Division.”
Dreiband has quite a record of representing organizations—mainly those that actively fought for their right to discriminate against certain groups. It also appears that he also has little to no experience in advocating for civil rights laws.
“As a private attorney, Dreiband represented organizations seeking religious exemptions to avoid providing contraceptive coverage for women in the workplace,” [Jesselyn McCurdy, a director in the American Civil Liberties Union Washington office said]. “He also argued on behalf of the University of North Carolina in support of a law that discriminates against trans people.” Read More
The Texas Supreme Court just gave a big, fat middle finger to same-sex couples
The court’s argument is frivolous nonsense.
From Think Progress: As the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Constitution “entitles same-sex couples to civil marriage ‘on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.’” Indeed, just this week in Pavan v. Smith, the Court reaffirmed its holding that the benefits of marriage must be granted to same-sex couples “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”
Nevertheless, the Texas Supreme Court held on Friday that the benefits of marriage may not need to be granted to same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. And the Texas court reached this frivolous conclusion in an unanimous opinion.
Pidgeon v. Turner challenges the City of Houston’s decision to provide its employees’ same-sex spouses the same benefits that it provides to its employees’ opposite-sex spouses. The city does this because, again, the Supreme Court of the United States commanded in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples must be provided the opportunity to marry “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”
But two men who object to the city’s decision to comply with Obergefell sued, claiming that they are “devout Christians who have been compelled by the mayor’s unlawful edict to subsidize homosexual relationships that they regard as immoral and sinful.”
The Texas Supreme Court’s decision does not outright declare that these two “devout Christians” should win this case, but it does keep their suit alive by claiming that Obergefell left open an unresolved question. “The Supreme Court held in Obergefell that the Constitution requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages to the same extent that they license and recognize opposite-sex marriages,” according to Justice Jeffrey Boyd’s opinion, “but it did not hold that states must provide the same publicly funded benefits to all married persons.”
Texas’ highest civil court claims, in other words, that despite the Supreme Court’s decision that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples,” a state may be permitted to give same-sex couples a piece of paper declaring them married while denying them the actual legal benefits of marriage.
After reaching this dubious conclusion, the Texas court plays coy, saying that it is merely sending the case back down to a lower court in order to resolve a supposedly open question. “Of course, that does not mean that the Texas DOMAs are constitutional or that the City may constitutionally deny benefits to its employees’ same-sex spouses,” Justice Boyd writes.
One of the plaintiffs in this case, Boyd continues, “contends that neither the Constitution nor Obergefell requires citizens to support same-sex marriages with their tax dollars, but he has not yet had the opportunity to make his case. And the Mayor has not yet had the opportunity to oppose it. Both are entitled to a full and fair opportunity to litigate their positions on remand.”
Such a decision makes no sense if you understand the Texas Supreme Court as a court that is trying to resolve legal cases in a timely and efficient manner — but it does make perfect sense if you understand its justices as political actors.
Sure, the law says right now that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples,” but the law isn’t always fixed. Justices can die or retire. By delaying this case, the justices on the Texas Supreme Court leave open the possibility that, by the time the case reaches them again, Donald Trump will have added one or two more Neil Gorsuches to the Supreme Court. And then the law may no longer require same-sex couples to be afforded the same marital benefits as opposite-sex couples.
Appeals court gives Mississippi the green light to favor anti-LGBTQ discrimination
Bigotry won on a technicality.
From Think Progress: Mississippi’s HB 1523, a law passed last year that creates special protections exclusively for conservative religious beliefs about sexuality and gender, is unconstitutional on its face. Unfortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided this week that the case challenging the pro-discrimination law was not the appropriate vehicle for overturning it.
As passed, HB 1523 specifically carves out three specific religious beliefs to receive extra protection under law: opposing same-sex marriage, opposing sexual relations outside of a man-woman marriage, and opposing the legitimacy of transgender identities. Mississippi already lacks any protections for the LGBTQ community, but HB 1523 further encourages discrimination by promising that those beliefs will be protected if people act upon them.
In a unanimous opinion issued Thursday, a three-judge panel determined that the plaintiffs challenging the law did not have proper standing to bring their complaint against the law. “Standing is not available to just any resident of a jurisdiction to challenge a government message without a corresponding action about a particular belief outside the context of a religious display or exercise,” the Court explained. The plaintiffs — several Mississippi residents, a church, and an advocacy organization — do not hold the beliefs outlined for special protection, but according to the Court, that doesn’t mean they are injured by the law.
The ruling overturns a lower court’s ruling from last summer that put the law on hold with an injunction. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves had concluded that by endorsing and elevating one set of religious beliefs, the law conveyed the state’s “disapproval and diminution” of all other religious beliefs. “If three specific beliefs are ‘protected by this act,’ it follows that every other religious belief a citizen holds is not protected by the act,” he wrote. “Christian Mississippians with religious beliefs contrary to [HB 1523] become second-class Christians.”
The appeals court didn’t weigh in on the merits and left the door open for future challenges. “We do not foreclose the possibility that a future plaintiff may be able to show clear injury-in-fact,” the decision explained, “but the federal courts must withhold judgment unless and until that plaintiff comes forward.” Because the law privileges one set of beliefs but doesn’t explicitly punish the others — and because there are no state or local laws protecting against anti-LGBTQ discrimination — figuring out how a plaintiff could actually demonstrate injury by the law could be quite a challenge. In the meantime, because the injunction has now been lifted, HB 1523 is officially enforceable in Mississippi, granting anti-LGBTQ and anti-sex beliefs exclusive protection under law.
Trump’s immigration crackdown relies on controversial cellphone tracking device
Border patrol agents are using Stingrays, technology that pretends its a cell tower, to locate undocumented immigrants’ phones.
Lauren C. Williams
From Think Progress: The Trump administration has turned to one of law enforcement’s most controversial surveillance tools to implement its crackdown not on violent criminals, but on undocumented immigrants.
The device, known as a Stingray, is about the size of a suitcase, often installed in roaming vehicles — even planes — to help locate cell phones in the area. Stingrays are controversial because they mimic cell towers, so any and all nearby phones searching for a signal indiscriminately ping off the device rather than a tower.
The Detroit News obtained federal records showing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents use cell-site simulating devices, known as Stingrays or Hailstorms, which are typically reserved for counterterrorism efforts.
A federal warrant granted ICE and the FBI the authority to use a Stingray device to find 23-year-old Detroit resident Rudy Carcamo-Carranza, who had twice been deported to his native El Salvador. He had previous run-ins with the law, including DUI allegations and a hit-and-run collision, according to the Detroit News. Carcamo-Carranza is set to stand trial in federal court July 11, and is facing up to 10 years in prison for outstanding warrants on those charges.
Law enforcement agencies must obtain a warrant before using Stingray technology. A federal judge tossed out evidence gathered using a Stingray in 2015 because the authorities failed to receive a warrant and were therefore found to have violated privacy rights.
In his decision, Manhattan U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley wrote, “Absent a search warrant, the government may not turn a citizen’s cell phone into a tracking device.”
Use of Stingray devices in deportation and immigration cases demonstrates the threat posed by the proliferation of location-tracking technology throughout law enforcement agencies.
For instance, police in Charlotte, North Carolina used Stingray devices every week for eight years to help locate violent criminals, inadvertently capturing the data of the nearly 1 million residents.
Stingrays aren’t the only cellphone-sniffing tools. Law enforcement agencies also use Wolfhounds or Jugular devices, which passively collect data through signals emitted by mobile phones. The devices are small enough to clip on clothing, and unlike Stingrays, police don’t have to obtain a warrant to use them. Their legality, particularly use without a warrant, is unclear because they’re not as invasive as Stingrays and law enforcement agencies aren’t required to get court orders to use them. But many law enforcement agencies are cautious in using them to avoid legal entanglement.
For Stingrays, Justice Department policy adopted in 2015 bars federal agencies from using Stingrays to collect emails, texts, or phone contacts. But those policies don’t extend to local police departments. The use of the technology raises a host of privacy concerns because the devices could catch location data for immigrants who live in the U.S. legally as well as bystanders who are not the target of a federal warrant. Use of Stingrays in immigration cases specifically also means increasing surveillance and tracking and deporting individuals who have no violent or felony offenses.
And the problem is only worsening. The American Civil Liberties Union found that state or local police departments in at least 24 states already have access to the devices.
the genocide continues
Trump Is Audaciously Trying to Privatize Native American Land
Trump has had a very spotty past with Native America tribes. By Michael Hayne / AlterNet May 13, 2017
From Alternet: Each and every day, we the people are forced to endure something profoundly horrific being committed by Trump. And since Republicans only concern is maintaining their tenuous grip on power, they could care less what damage their president does tho their constituents. We've already seen scientific, environmental, and social groups get slaughtered by this one sociopaths desire to do everything to enrich himself and his amoral wall street pals. Now it seems it's Native American Tribes' turn.
Trump began mobilizing to pursue the privatization of Indian lands back in October of last year with the formation of his 27 member Native American Affairs Coalition. The Coalition is chaired by so-called Cherokee Rep. Markwayne Mullin. Much like termination policy that took place more than 60 years ago, the Coalition feels that impoverished tribes are overwhelmed by federal regulations that impede self-reliance and prosperity. Therefore, all tribal lands should be privatized so that American Indians can pursue development projects that lift them out of poverty.
The map above shows the amount of Naive American land being controlled by the federal government, which will be endangered by Trump's "America First" energy policy that seeks to give industry a free pass to drill on many of these lands. According to Trump's America First energy policy:
Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. Making matters worse, Trump picked Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke for Secretary of the Interior, the very agency overseeing the Borough of Indian Affairs. Much like every amoral pick Trump has chosen to run major governmental departments, Zinke is notorious for being a deceptive con man. For example, Scientific American rates Zinke as a “mixed bag” with a very anti-environment, pro-industry voting record. So it's as likely that he will be an asset to Native American affairs as HHS Secretary Tom Price is for sick Americans.
Trump has had a very spotty past with Native America tribes.
In 1993, Donald Trump testified before a House subcommittee that the mafia was running rampant on Native American gaming casinos. Here, he bickers with members of Congress about taxes, the FBI and if certain tribes "look Indian."
In short, we're seeing yet another example of Trump trampling on the rights of Native Americans.
Kentucky judge refuses to ever hear same-sex adoption cases
It will hurt children to place them with a “practicing homosexual,” he said.
From Think Progress: Judge W. Mitchell Nance, a family court judge in south central Kentucky, announced last week that he will never again preside over a case involving same-sex couple adopting a child. Acknowledging he has a personal bias against same-sex families, he disqualified himself from any such cases as a matter of judicial ethics. In an order he sent to all local lawyers, Nance declared that “as a matter of conscience,” he could think of “no circumstance” under which “the best interest of the child [would] be promoted by the adoption by a practicing homosexual.” He also said that although he performs marriages, he would decline to perform the marriage rites for a same-sex couple.
Nance did oversee a same-sex adoption case in recent months, and he ruled in favor of the parents, but he said the case made him realize he needed to avoid similar cases in the future. “It made the matter come to my awareness more directly, I would say. I felt it would be more prudent to go ahead and address it,” he told the Glasgow Daily Times.
Fortunately, these cases should experience no delays in being heard. Judge John T. Alexander, the other division judge in the circuit court where Nance serves, confirmed on Friday he’d take any cases involving same-sex adoptions that automatically bypass Nance.
Still, there’s a question of whether Nance’s sweeping recusal is, in fact, ethical. Charles Geyl, an Indiana University law school professor whose research specializes in judicial ethics, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he may be violating his oath to uphold the law. “If he is unable to set his personal views aside and uphold the law — not just in an isolated case, but with respect to an entire class of litigant because he finds them odious — it leads me to wonder whether he is able to honor his oath,” Geyl said.
The decision certainly draws into question whether Nance can fairly arbitrate any case involving non-heterosexual litigants. If he thinks lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are unfit to marry or raise children, that bias could affect his rulings in other cases that might not directly involve child placement or marriage.
The Family Foundation of Kentucky, an anti-LGBTQ group in the state, defended Nance’s decision. “If we are going to let liberal judges write their personal biases and prejudices into law, as we have done on issues of marriage and sexuality, then, in the interest of fairness, we are going to have to allow judges with different views to at least recuse themselves from such cases,” spokesman Martin Cothran said in a statement.
Of course, whether the law protects same-sex families isn’t a political matter; the law either protects them or it doesn’t. And since it does, a judge with a different view is simply not upholding the law.
Comparisons were quickly drawn between Nance and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples back in 2015. Davis’ lawyer, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, similarly defended Nance, claiming judges have a right to “opt out of any case affected by strongly held beliefs or associations.”
Nance told the Courier-Journal he stood by his decisions. When asked if anti-capital punishment judges should follow the same reasoning to recuse themselves from death penalty cases, he said, “I really have not thought about that enough to given an intelligent answer.”
He is currently serving an eight-year term that expires January 1, 2023.
Alabama advances bill protecting adoption agencies that discriminate
“Religious freedom” is apparently more important than finding the best homes for kids.
From Think Progress: On Monday night’s The Daily Show, Alabama’s first openly gay state lawmaker, Rep. Patricia Todd (D), boasted in a recorded interview, “We are the only southern state that has not passed anti-gay legislation since I’ve been in office.” She is no longer correct. The Alabama House gave final approval Tuesday to HB 24, a bill that ensures that child-placement agencies can discriminate without any repercussion from the state. Specifically, the state can not refuse, revoke, or suspend the agency’s license or take any “enforcement action” against it if it refuses to make certain placements because of its religious convictions. In other words, refusing to serve same-sex couples, unmarried couples, or any other kind of potential parent for religious reasons is just fine.
HB 24 bears a significant resemblance to South Dakota’s similar “license to discriminate” for adoption agencies that passed earlier this year, with one major exception. As it wound through the legislature, Alabama’s bill was weakened by a provision specifying that the protections only apply if the agency receives no state funding. This means the legislation doesn’t require the state to fund discrimination. (South Dakota’s does.)
As such, it’s unclear exactly how many agencies would actually be impacted. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rich Wingo (R), has said that about 30 percent of the state’s adoption agencies are faith-based, but back in February, AL.com reported that those agencies also largely receive state funding.
Wingo has never hidden the fact that he was motivated to file the bill because other states have had child-placement agencies shut down because of the arrival of marriage equality. Though he described them as being “forced to close their doors,” in every case where that happened, it was because the agency unilaterally decided to discriminate, which was either in violation of state nondiscrimination laws (not its marriage laws) or prompted the state to stop funding it. These agencies’ decisions were largely political. In Colorado, for example, Catholic Charities actually threatened to shut down if a 2012 civil unions bill passed, even though the bill the agency was opposing included an exemption that would have allowed it to discriminate. Alabama doesn’t have any LGBT nondiscrimination laws, but HB 24 nevertheless seems to fall short of Wingo’s goal. Even with the state funding caveat limiting the scope of the bill, the possibility of any agency legally refusing a same-sex couple is still problematic. The Human Rights Campaign’s Eva Kendrick previously explained that while it’s true same-sex couples can generally choose secular agencies, the provision could still interfere when a same-sex couple wants to take in a child who is a relative but in the care of a faith-based agency. “The goal of out-of-home care is always reunification with the family of origin,” she said back when the bill was introduced, and if the next of kin is LGBT or a same-sex couple, the agency’s penchant for discrimination would result in a decision that is not in the best interest of the child.
And though Todd favored the change that limited the bill’s effect to agencies that don’t receive state funding, she still decried the general intent of the bill. “This bill obviously came about because same-sex marriage was approved,” she told AL.com Tuesday. “It’s based in a stereotype. And it’s wrong. And we shouldn’t discriminate and I will always fight that.”
HB 24 now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey (R) for her consideration.
Palantir will shell out $1.7 million to settle claims that it discriminated against Asian engineers
From Business Insider: Palantir is settling allegations by the Department of Labor that its hiring practices for engineers discriminated against Asian people. It has agreed to pay $1,659,434 in back wages and stock options to impacted employees. It will also extend job offers to eight Asian people, department says.
That's an about-face from the company's earlier response after the Labor Department originally accused it of "systemic hiring discrimination" late last year.
Palantir is a big data startup that sells many of its tools and consulting services to the federal government. The issue arose because, as a government contractor, Palantir must report its diversity statistics to the government. The Labor Department sifted through these reports and concluded that even though Palantir received a huge number of qualified Asian applicants for certain roles, it was hiring only small numbers of them.
Palantir, being the big data company that it is, did its own sifting and produced a data-filled response that it said refuted the allegations and showed that in some tech titles 25%-38% of its employees were Asians.
Apparently, Palantirs protestations weren't enough on to satisfy government regulators, so the company agreed to settle.
Palantir sent Business Insider a statement that said "we disagree with the allegations made by the Department of Labor. We settled this matter, without any admission of liability, in order to focus on our work. We continue to stand by our employment record and are glad to have resolved this case.”
This was a particularly unusual case. In terms of diversity stats at most tech companies, African-Americans, Latin-Americans, and women tend to be the most underrepresented groups, compared to their percentage in the general population, with Asians being better represented, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Bisexual people still face insidious stigma from inside LGBTQ community
About half of the LGBTQ community identifies as bi+. So why aren’t they represented?
Beth Sherouse, Ph.D
From Think Progress: Whenever I do a presentation on the bisexual community, one of the first statistics I mention is that numerous studies on the LGBTQ community — from the Kinsey report to contemporary surveys — suggest that between 40 to 50 percent of the LGBTQ community identifies as bisexual.
That means there are about the same number of bisexual people as there are gay men and lesbians combined.
When I mention these stats, the response from LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people alike is one of surprise and even disbelief — “But I know so many more gay and lesbian people than bisexual people.” Some even ask me what bisexual people have to complain about, since we can “choose” to pass as straight.
Just to reiterate — about half of the entire LGBTQ community identifies as bisexual, queer, pansexual, fluid, or otherwise non-monosexual (bi+). Yet, even as a bi+ community advocate, I struggle to name a few openly bi+ people in leadership positions in national LGBTQ organizations, in government or politics (go Kate Brown!), or in the media and popular culture.
Bisexual historical figures like writer James Baldwin or Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, both of whom openly used the term “bisexual” to describe themselves and had relationships with men and women throughout their lives, are remembered as “gay icons.”
Bisexual people are everywhere, and we are nowhere, rendered invisible even within the movement that purports to represent us. And because of that stigma and erasure, we are suffering immensely compared to gay men, lesbians, and non-LGBTQ people.
The most recent example of this systemic invisibility and exclusion is the ABC mini-series When We Rise, by esteemed gay filmmaker Dustin Lance Black. The series is billed as the story of a “diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer” the modern LGBTQ rights movement, and focuses on histories that have not previously been told.
Even still, bi+ advocates have leveled criticism at the series and its creator for all but entirely excluding bi+ movement leaders.
“When We Rise was difficult television for me to watch,” wrote bi trans leader Martin Rawlings-Fein, who serves as co-director of the Bay Area Bisexual Network. Rawlings-Fein had hoped to see numerous bisexual leaders represented for the essential roles they played in the struggle. “In the end of the miniseries none of that happened. I was only watching gay, lesbian, and transgender stories depicted.”
In the words of another bay area bisexual leader, Lani Ka’ahumanu, “When LGBT people rose in San Francisco, we rose together. Bisexuals worked shoulder to shoulder with Cleve Jones, Ken Jones, Roma Guy and Cecilia Chung whose lives are featured.”
On the history of HIV and AIDS activism, for example, bi writer Eliel Cruz explains:
“Not only was the bi community suffering because of the HIV/AIDS, they were fighting it. While the media was busy scapegoating bi men for spreading the disease to women, bi activists like Dr. David Lourea and Cynthia Slater were out raising awareness and offering sex education in the same sex spaces of San Francisco. In fact, throughout the history of ‘gay rights’ bi activists and allies have been consistently erased, it is sad to see that When We Rise is continuing to do so
.”But sadly, it’s not just When We Rise. When bisexual people do see themselves on screen, in the media or in LGBTQ community histories, stereotypes and stigma abound. We are portrayed as promiscuous, unstable, looking for attention, or greedy — that is if our identities are even taken seriously.
Bisexuality is real. Biphobia is real too, and so are its consequences.Bisexual actress Sara Ramirez, who has also called out the bi erasure in When We Rise, recently criticized the ABC show The Real O’Neals, for example, after the show featured a “joke” comparing bisexuality to having “webbed toes” or “money problems.”
“[The showrunners] do not seem to understand that the joke feeds biases — some unconscious, some outward, some internalized — against bisexuality from within and outside of the LGBTQ community,” said Ramirez in a statement on Twitter.
Callie Torres, the Grey’s Anatomy character Ramirez played for many seasons, is one of the only self-identified bisexual characters in network television history that wasn’t hugely problematic, and she is no longer on the show.
I wrote recently on my own experiences with biphobia and the profound lack of bi+ inclusion within mainstream LGBTQ organizations and community groups. The number of bi+ people who have reached out to me privately and on social media to thank me for putting their experiences into words is a staggering testament to the extent to which bi+ people are stigmatized, excluded, and rendered invisible in a movement we helped create.
Even after marriage equality has been achieved and stigma against gay men and lesbians has declined, bisexual adults and youth have so few aspirational figures with whom they can identify. Terms like “bi erasure” and “biphobia” aren’t just buzzwords from a whiny fringe of the LGBTQ community; they describe the everyday existence of half of the LGBTQ community, that is, when bi+ people are allowed to assert our existence at all.
Bisexuality is real. Biphobia is real too, and so are its consequences.
Compared to peers who identify as gay or lesbian, bi+ youth and adults report higher levels of mental illness and suicidality, and lower levels of social support; bisexual youth report higher rates of bullying and harassment; and bisexual people face disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
We’re also more likely than gay men and lesbians to experience job discrimination, live in poverty, and be afraid to come out to healthcare providers, which leads to staggering health disparities.
Bi+ people deserve and have more than earned representation, visibility, survival, acceptance, inclusion, the ability to live and love openly in the world and not be marginalized or victimized for it — all the things that the LGBTQ community has been fighting to achieve for so long. We deserve to be seen, and we have fought for the right to have our contributions to the world and to the LGBTQ community acknowledged.
Hate is in the DNA of America
892 Hate Groups are currently operating in the US. Track them below with our Hate Map.
Hate Map National Numbers
14%Increase in total number of hate groups up from 2014.
998 Total number of antigovernment 'patriot' groups in 2015.
190 Total number of Ku Klux Klan groups in 2015
42% Increase in total number of anti-Muslim hate groups up from 2014.
Racism in Corporate America July 14th, 2016 by Phil Mattera
From Dirt Diggers Digest: Recent events have brought increasing attention to the persistence of racism in American life. While policing and criminal justice are currently in the spotlight, there are many more institutions that continue to exhibit systemic bias and must be held accountable.
Among them is Corporate America, which usually says the right things but often harbors dirty secrets. For example, African-American motorists stopped by police for dubious reasons – sometimes with deadly consequences – may have already been victims of racism when they purchased the vehicle they are driving. During the past few years, several major auto financing companies have paid tens of millions of dollars to resolve accusations that they routinely charged higher interest rates to minority customers.
In 2013 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) would pay $80 million in consumer relief and an $18 million penalty to settle such a case involving more than 235,000 minority borrowers. In similar cases in 2015, American Honda Finance Corporation agreed to pay $24 million in restitution and Fifth Third Bank was required to pay $18 million.
Racial discrimination in commerce is not limited to auto loans. It’s well known that major mortgage lenders steered minority borrowers into predatory mortgages in the period leading up to the financial meltdown and that many of those customers ended up losing their homes. In 2011 Countrywide Financial (which by that time had been taken over by Bank of America) had to pay $335 million to resolve allegations of racial discrimination. The following year, Wells Fargo paid $234 million and SunTrust $21 million in their own mortgage discrimination cases.
Since the beginning of 2010, ten additional banks and mortgage brokerage firms have settled racial discrimination cases brought by the CFPB and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Race accounted for nearly all of the high-penalty discrimination cases included in the recent expansion of Violation Tracker. There are also dozens of cases involving discrimination based on nationality, gender, age, disability, etc. Among the major corporations involved in such cases in recent years are McDonald’s, IBM, Carnival cruise lines, Continental Airlines (now part of United Continental) and Greyhound bus lines. These don’t cover workplace discrimination cases, which we are still collecting.
Along with matters explicitly involving racial bias, the CFPB has brought numerous cases against payday lenders and other predatory financial services firms whose unsavory practices disproportionately harm African-Americans and other minorities.
While corporate discrimination does not involve the life and death issues of unequal policing, it is another aspect of systemic racism that must be eradicated.