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Weekend Read: Misty Copeland, An Unlikely Ballerina

Weekend Read: Misty Copeland, An Unlikely Ballerina

Settle in this weekend and meet artist, athlete and ballerina Misty Copeland in this gorgeous New Yorker profile by Rivka Galchen. 

Copeland’s artistic and commercial successes make us all feel good—about ballet, about America—and yet that feeling is somewhat tendentious. It is impossible to distill the current role of race in ballet (or in any field) from one woman’s career. Copeland’s race makes her immediately distinctive in the ballet world, and this has undoubtedly helped her commercial career, but murmurings, on some online dance-discussion threads, that she has been excessively promoted within A.B.T. because of her race overlook not just her virtuosity but also the many years in which she wasn’t a soloist, or even a lead dancer.

(h/t The New Yorker)

Border Patrol to Police Its Own Deadly Shootings

Border Patrol to Police Its Own Deadly Shootings

In response to heated criticism over its officer-involved deadly shootings, Border Patrol will begin criminally investigating its own officers accused of excessive force, Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske announced Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The agency will also begin trial-testing body-mounted cameras on officers. Both moves are efforts to quell demands for accountability for the nation’s largest uniformed federal law enforcement agency.

Since 2010, Border Patrol officers have killed at least 29 people in use-of-force incidents, Reuters reported. The agency has faced public pressure to share information about its use-of-force and accountability policies. Allowing the agency to investigate its own officers will expedite accountability efforts, Kerlikowske said. The Department of Homeland Security granted the agency the authority to do so. 

In the last decade, the Border Patrol has not disciplined a single agent involved in a deadly force investigation, acknowledged Mark Morgan, an FBI special agent assigned to run the Border Patrol’s internal affairs unit, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Group Buys Millions of Student Loan Debt—To Cancel It

Group Buys Millions of Student Loan Debt--To Cancel It

Imagine getting a letter in the mail one day, announcing that a portion of your student loans has been cancelled forever. If you don’t toss that letter in the junk mail pile, you might find out it’s true. That’s what happened in Michigan this year to a 32-year-old mother of four and a 24-year-old dental student. On the third anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, one offshoot of the Zuccotti Park encampment is making good on its mission to buy debt—only to cancel it. A group of activists called Rolling Jubilee is going after student loans, which at more than $1 trillion now account for 10 percent of all US debt, second only to mortgages.

Rolling Jubilee initially began by canceling nearly $15 million of personal debt from medical bills. This Wednesday, it moved on to $4 million of student loan debt incurred by more than 2,000 students of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges system. (As reported by the Huffington Post this week, federal regulators are suing Corinthian for allegedly swindling students and engaging in illegal debt collection practices.)

Rolling Jubilee, according to The New Yorker, knows its approach isn’t a sustainable solution to the debt crisis among young people. What they want is for “debtors [to] organize themselves into a group powerful enough to seek policy changes on their own, as unions did in the early twentieth century, and as civil-rights activists did in the nineteen-sixties.”

(h/t The New Yorker; NPR)

NYPD Officer Suspended After Video Shows Him Kicking Street Vendor

NYPD Officer Suspended After Video Shows Him Kicking Street Vendor Play

NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that an unnamed officer has been suspended and stripped of his badge after being caught on video kicking a street vendor who was in police custody.

The scene unfolded after a street fair in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, last Sunday when several vendors reportedly failed to leave the area. The vendors can be seen on the video resisting arrest before one, Jonathan Daza, 22, is ultimately tackled to the ground and kicked by the officer. The police department has not released the officer’s name.

“I was very concerned with a video that was taken and the actions of one of our officers who was seen kicking an individual,” Bratton said Wednesday. “As best I could tell looking at that video it seemed to be totally unprovoked. That officer has been suspended and in terms of suspension in this department that means he’s been relieved of his gun, his badge and his police duties.”

Five people were arrested during the melee. Internal Affairs is investigating the incident. 

(h/t Gothamist)

TAGS: NYPD video

Scotland Votes, Texas Executes and Apple Does Something Good

Scotland Votes, Texas Executes and Apple Does Something Good

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

  • Scotland votes on its referendum for independence today. 
  • The University of California has proposed a system-wide plan to combat campus sexual assault, calling for mandatory training for students, staff and faculty, improved support for victims and more thorough investigations. 
  • Texas executed 38-year-old Lisa Ann Coleman on Wednesday. Coleman was on death row for starving and beating her girlfriend’s son to death. 
  • Yet another NFL player has been arrested on charges of domestic violence. 
  • Adrian Peterson’s mom stood up for him and defended corporal punishment.
  • San Francisco is really bad at prosecuting rape cases…
  • …but great, it seems, at allowing single-room occupancy hotels to hawk rooms to tourists in low-income neighborhoods. 
  • Occupy Wall Street activists are suing one another. 
  • Apple finally decides to protect its users

TAGS: Morning Rush

Federal Regulators Sue Corinthian Colleges for Predatory Student Loans

Federal Regulators Sue Corinthian Colleges for Predatory Student Loans

The for-profit college giant Corinthian Colleges swindled students into signing up for expensive student loans by dangling false promises of future employment, then engaging in illegal debt collection schemes to force students to pay up, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) alleges in a lawsuit the agency filed Tuesday, the Huffington Post reported. 

It’s just the latest blow to the company, which was forced to sell off or wind down the vast majority of its 102 campuses across the country in a deal it reached with the U.S. Department of Education in July. More than 70,000 students were enrolled in Corinthian campuses this summer, which included Heald College, Everest Colleges and WyoTech schools.

Corinthian had a long list of dirty marketing and number-fudging tricks it used to entice students to sign up for its career-training and postsecondary education programs, including inflating its job placement rates by defining a “placement” as “any job that lasted one day, with the promise of a second day,” according to the complaint. Corinthian also intentionally marketed its programs to students who were “isolated,” and who had low-self esteem and few people to rely on. What’s more, Corinthian marketed private student loans that the company had a financial interest in, knowing full well that the majority of borrowers would default on them. 

In perhaps the most shocking complaint, the CFPB alleges that Corinthian Colleges also burnished its post-graduate job placement rates by counting students who were incarcerated after leaving Corinthian as “unavailable for employment.” Corinthian employees would, according to the CFPB complaint, “search the Internet for graduates’ names for any purported evidence of incarceration … irrespective of whether the name match was, in fact, an identity match” and then drop supposedly incarcerated students from the pool of students it counted in its job placement rates. 

Catch up on Colorlines coverage of Corinthian’s dissolution earlier this summer, and read the CFPB’s complaint in full (PDF).

Big Labor Steps Up Around Ferguson and Race

Big Labor Steps Up Around Ferguson and Race

The head of the largest confederation of labor unions this week acknowledged that Big Labor, representing more than 12 million workers in the U.S., has not always supported men and women of color. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, addressing the Missouri AFL-CIO convention this Monday focused heavily on race in America and on racism within union ranks. “How can we not be involved?” he asked of the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath. One recent survey has exposed deep racial division over officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of the unarmed 18-year-old. Trumka threaded a fine line indicative of a central tension engulfing Big Labor today: its dwindling white male membership and growing dependence on people of color to replenish the ranksBoth Wilson and Brown belong to union families: 

“Union members’ lives have been profoundly damaged in ways that cannot be fixed. Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother who works in a grocery store, is our sister, an AFL-CIO union member and Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown, is a union member too and he is our brother. Our brother killed our sister’s son and we do not have to wait for the judgment of prosecutors or courts to tell us how terrible this is. So I say again, how can we not be involved?”

Trumka goes on to demand among other things, an open discussion of racism in America and that labor take responsibility for the past.

Here in St. Louis, in 1917, powerful corporations replaced white strikers with African American workers recruited from the Mississippi Delta with offers of wages far higher than anyone could make sharecropping. In response the St. Louis labor movment helped lead a blood bath against the African American community in East St. Louis. No one knows how many men, women and children were killed, and how many houses and businesses were burned….

We as a movement have not always done our best to support our brothers and sisters of color who face challenges both on and off the job—challenges that you don’t really understand unless you live them.”

Listen to the full speech above or read it here

(h/t MSNBC)

LAUSD School Police Will Give up Grenade Launchers

LAUSD School Police Will Give up Grenade Launchers

Los Angeles Unified School District police officials announced Tuesday that the agency will return three grenade launchers to the federal government amidst public outcry over the militarization of the school police department, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The agency will, however, hold on to 61 rifles and a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle designed to withstand improvised explosive device attacks. LAUSD received the grenade launcher, rifles and armored vehicle from the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which distributes surplus military equipment to local and school police departments.

The Los Angeles school police department’s arsenal came to light after police repression in Ferguson raised questions about surplus military equipment disbursements. More than 100 school police department agencies around the country have also received similiar equipment as the LAUSD, the Washington Post reported.

More than $5 billion in equipment has been handed out to police agencies within the U.S. since 1997, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Obama Administration: Unaccompanied Minors Crisis Cresting

Obama Administration: Unaccompanied Minors Crisis Cresting

The child migration crisis of this past summer has abated, according to the Obama administration. On Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that “significant progress” had been made in stemming the flow of unaccompanied children crossing into the U.S., ABC reported.

Some 3,100 children migrating alone were apprehended at the border in August, a steep dropoff from the 10,000 youth who were caught in both May and June of this year. “It is now five months later, and the number of children arriving and apprehended at our border is dramatically lower than it was five months ago,” Mayorkas said at the National Press Club, ABC reported. 

Whether that drop is due to the summer heat or beefed-up enforcement and pressure the Obama administration has put on Mexican and Central American governments is unclear, Mayorkas acknowledged.

More than 66,000 children and families arrived between October 2013 and August of this year, and already-backlogged immigration courts have struggled to keep up with the new caseload. Cities like New York and San Francisco have pledged money to provide support and legal representation to migrants who otherwise have no legal right to representation as they navigate immigration court.

Obama, ISIS, Climate Change and Violence in the NFL

Obama, ISIS, Climate Change and Violence in the NFL

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Troops to West Africa to Battle Ebola, U2 New Album Already on Your iPhone, Space Taxis

Troops to West Africa to Battle Ebola, U2 New Album Already on Your iPhone, Space Taxis

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Speaking of iPhones, did you know that Apple downloaded U2’s new album to it? If you don’t believe me, just look at your music library. Good luck getting rid of it
  • Are you ready for space taxis? According to the Wall Street Journal article in the link, Boing nearly has the exclusive contract locked down. (WSJ piece is behind a paywall.)

Scots Prepare for Referendum, Obamacare’s New Obstacles, ‘Swatting’ Rival Gamers

Scots Prepare for Referendum, Obamacare's New Obstacles, 'Swatting' Rival Gamers

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Danièle Watts, best known for her role in “Django Unchained,” is arrested and detained for kissing her partner. 

Everything You Need to Know About Michael Brown’s Juvie Record

Everything You Need to Know About Michael Brown's Juvie Record

In an open letter to St. Louis Post Dispatch’s editor Gilbert Bailon, attorney Benjamin Crump addresses the publication’s petition asking a family court to open Michael Brown’s juvenile record (if there is one). Crump, who represents Brown’s family, posted the letter—which suggests the publication is only trying to drive traffic to its website—on Twitter:

So there you have it. Michael Brown had no arrest record—and it wouldn’t really matter if he did.

Darren Wilson, meanwhile, remains free on paid leave more than one month after killing the unarmed 18-year-old. 

Policing the Police: A Brief History

Policing the Police: A Brief History

With Ferguson still on the national conscience, ThinkProgress reporter Nicole Flatow looks at how three cities have dealt with their high profile police violence cases—Rodney King in Los Angeles, 1991; Amadou Diallo in New York City, 1999; and Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, 2001—and whether reforms worked. It’s a mixed bag. In New York City after the Diallo reforms, largely considered cosmetic, it appeared that things had worsened. And in Cincinnati, at least for one resident, the Collaborative Agreement implemented after the 2001 unrest helped end the feeling that she lived in a police state

Over at Jacobin, writer Stuart Schrader connects policing to empire-building and cautions against the reforms themselves: “The reform program of imposing rigorous standards of behavior, divisions of labor, and doctrinal guidelines does not subject the police to public scrutiny or oversight but instead insulates them, further enabling rule by discretion.”

Reform expert Philip Atiba Goff in a piece by Rinku Sen, publisher of Colorlines, cautions that reforms are incomplete without examining hiring practices as well as key police identities like race and masculinity. He tells Sen, “An officer who feels a need to demonstrate his masculinity may be more likely to use force in general, but particularly against people who threaten his self-concept as a man. If African-Americans are seen as hypermasculine, then the officer will feel more threatened.”

Since no one knows how many police shootings occur nationally each year, there are ambitious efforts underway by ordinary citizens to fix that. Learn more about them—and how to help—on Deadspin. Albuquerque, for example, has seen 47 police shootings since 2009 in which 32 people died.

Diallo and Thomas also died at the hands of police officers. King was badly beaten.

(h/t ThinkProgress)

Sportscaster James Brown Confronts Men on Violence Against Women

Sportscaster James Brown Confronts Men on Violence Against Women

As Deadspin reports, CBS sportscaster James Brown addressed viewers—and men in particular—about violence against women just moments before the Steelers-Ravens game Thursday.

Matthew Henderson posted a quick transcript of Brown’s remarks on Twitter:

Watch These Oakland Women Turf Battle [VIDEO]

Watch These Oakland Women Turf Battle [VIDEO]

Hailing from Oakland, California, turfing—and, most recently, finger tutting—has largely associated with men. But, as KQED reports, a recent battle shows that women can dominate the style, too. 

Female Ravens Fans React to Ray Rice Video and the NFL

Female Ravens Fans React to Ray Rice Video and the NFL

Last night was Baltimore’s first football game since TMZ released the domestic violence video of Ravens player Ray Rice. One WaPo videographer talked to a handful of women, all longtime Ravens fans, about Rice and the ensuing controversy that could cost the job of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and is forcing greater scrutiny of the NFL. Check out the mix of opinions in “The ladies of Ravens Nation,” including those where the love of football takes over all executive brain function. Then be sure to check out our gender columnist Miriam Zoila Pérez’s latest. She talks to longtime activists about the complicated relationship that women of color have with the now 20-year-old Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

(h/t Washington Post)

TAGS: NFL Ray Rice VAWA

Yahoo! Says Gov Threatened Fines for User Data, Che Joins SNL, Meditation for Migraines

Yahoo! Says Gov Threatened Fines for User Data, Che Joins SNL, Meditation for Migraines

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Oscar Pistorius is found guilty of negligent killing and could serve up to 15 years in jail. 
  • Authorities in Pakistan arrest 10 people believed to have carried out the shooting attack against Malala Yousafzai in 2012.
  • Documents say that the Bush Administration threatened Yahoo! with a $250,000-per-day fine if it didn’t hand over user data. That’s a nearly $2 million every week!
  • A teen serving life for killing three Ohio schoolmates is captured after a failed prison escape. 
  • Facebook wants your feedback about why you don’t like those ads on your feed. Probably to give you more ads. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Obama Turned Away from Three Elite Golf Clubs

Obama Turned Away from Three Elite Golf Clubs

Following fundraisers in New York and Rhode Island the Friday before Labor Day, President Obama had planned an overnight stay in Westchester County, New York, to attend a wedding Saturday. With a little free time on his hands, the president hoped to swing by a local golf club on Saturday morning, but he was turned down by three of them. 

Trump National, Willow Ridge and Winged Foot—all in New York—turned the president away. Sources tell WNBC that club managers didn’t want to inconvenience their members, who pay more than $100,000 to join some of the clubs.

Trump National is owned by Donald Trump, who poked fun about rejecting Obama on Wednesday on Twitter: 

Over Labor Day weekend, Obama returned to Washington on Friday evening and then headed all the way back to Westchester on Saturday. 

Following Ferguson: Residents Head to State Capitol as Street Protests Continue

Following Ferguson: Residents Head to State Capitol as Street Protests Continue

Ferguson residents continue to voice frustration on more than one front, and new video of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting surfaces. While street protests continued with an attempt to block Interstate-70 during rush hour yesterday, another 60-plus residents traveled to the state capitol in Jefferson City to tell their stories to state lawmakers. They hope, according to local station KSDK, to get laws to change—although the report does not specify which laws. Pharmacy technician Kayla Reed never expected to become an activist explains why she got on the bus. “If they see us and they hear us, and I’m speaking eloquently to them, and I’m not in their face saying, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot,’ if I’m not that because you couldn’t come to me when I needed you, so I’ll come to you,” she tells KSDK.

Of the nearly 150 people attempting to block I-70 yesterday, the LA Times reports that police arrested at least 10. One organizer, Eric Vickers, according to the Post-Dispatch, did not rule out future acts of civil disobedience. Protesters are calling for Governor Jay Nixon to replace St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch with a special prosecutor. McCulloch’s father, a police officer, was killed nearly 50 years ago by an African-American suspect. 

Meanwhile, video and new eyewitnesses corroborating previous testimony has surfaced. Two construction workers who asked to remain unidentified were on scene at the time of Wilson’s fatal shooting of Brown. Read more on Fox 2 Now St. Louis and USA Today.

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