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Blue_Tires's Journal
Blue_Tires's Journal
December 23, 2014

Former Kansas official files federal suit against Edward Snowden documentary

Source: The Wichita Eagle

A former Kansas Secretary of Transportation has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to keep Edward Snowden and filmmakers from profiting from a documentary about his release of classified information on covert government surveillance programs.

Horace Edwards is asking the court to order a government seizure of the proceeds from the film “Citizenfour,” which chronicles Snowden’s evolution from National Security Agency contractor to whistleblower to international celebrity fugitive. The suit was filed Friday in Topeka federal court.

“This lawsuit seeks relief against those who profiteer by pretending to be journalists, but in effect are evading the law by betraying their own country,” Edwards’ lawsuit states. “Through this charade in the film ‘Citizenfour,’ a fugitive senior intelligence official … together with the ‘Hollywood Defendants,’ intentionally violate obligations owed to the American people, misuse purloined information disclosed to foreign enemies, and covet financial gain for their misconduct.”

Snowden’s release of information confirmed mammoth U.S. government surveillance of e-mail, phone calls, Web searches and other data of citizens in the United States and allied nations.

The film draws its title from Snowden’s assumed identity at the beginning of his effort to reveal the extent of NSA surveillance. It has won several awards from film critics and is considered a potential front-runner for an Academy Award.

Read more: http://www.kansas.com/news/local/article4829898.html

Before anyone asks:

1. I am not Horace Edwards
2. I am not any of the "John/Jane Does" listed as plaintiffs
3. I am 100% certain this lawsuit isn't going to last 30 seconds before being tossed out
4. Why am I posting it? Because it's LBN with a bit of entertainment value
December 15, 2014

White Anxiety and the Futility of Black Hope

This is the third in a series of interviews with philosophers on race that I am conducting for The Stone. This week’s conversation is with Shannon Sullivan, a professor in the department of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She is the author of “Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism.” — George Yancy

George Yancy: What motivated you to engage “whiteness” in your work as a philosopher?

Shannon Sullivan: It was teaching feminist philosophy for the first time or two and trying to figure out how to reach the handful of men in the class — white men, now that I think of it. They tended to be skeptical at best and openly hostile at worst to the feminist ideas we were discussing. They felt attacked and put up a lot of defenses. I was trying to see things from their perspective, not to endorse it (it was often quite sexist!), but to be more effective as a teacher. And so I thought about my whiteness and how I might feel and respond in a class that critically addressed race in ways that implicated me personally. Not that race and gender are the same or can be captured through analogies, but it was a first step toward grappling with my whiteness and trying to use it.

What really strikes me now, as I think about your question, is how old I was — around 30 — before I ever engaged whiteness philosophically, or personally, for that matter. Three decades where that question never came up and yet the unjust advantages whiteness generally provides white people fully shaped my life, including my philosophical training and work.

G.Y.: How did whiteness shape your philosophical training? When I speak to my white graduate philosophy students about this, they have no sense that they are being shaped by the “whiteness” of philosophy. They are under the impression that they are doing philosophy, pure and simple, which is probably a function of the power of whiteness.

S.S.: I think I’m only just discovering this and probably am only aware of the tip of the iceberg. Here is some of what I’ve learned, thanks to the work of Charles Mills, Linda Martín Alcoff, Kathryn Gines, Tommy Curry and many other philosophers of color: It’s not just that in grad school I didn’t read many philosophers outside a white, Euro-centric canon (or maybe any — wow, I’m thinking hard here, but the answer might be zero). It’s also that as a result of that training, my philosophical habits of thinking, of where to go in the literature and the history of philosophy for help ruminating on a philosophical topic — even that of race — predisposed me toward white philosophers. Rebuilding different philosophical habits can be done, but it’s a slow and frustrating process. It would have been better to develop different philosophical habits from the get-go.

My professional identity and whether I count as a full person in the discipline is bound up with my middle-class whiteness, even as my being a woman jeopardizes that identity somewhat. Whiteness has colonized “doing philosophy, pure and simple,” which has a significant bearing on what it means to be a “real” philosopher. Graduate students tend to be deeply anxious about whether they are or will eventually count as real philosophers, and whiteness functions through that anxiety even as that anxiety can seem to be totally unrelated to race (to white people anyway — I’m not sure it seems that unrelated to graduate students of color).

G.Y.: For many whites the question of their whiteness never comes up or only comes up when they are much older, as it did in your case. And yet, as you say, there is the accrual of unjust white advantages. What are some reasons that white people fail to come to terms with the fact that they benefit from whiteness?

S.S.: That’s a tough one and there probably are lots of reasons, including beliefs in boot-strap individualism, meritocracy and the like. Another answer, I think, has to do with class differences among white people. A lot of poor white people haven’t benefited as much from whiteness as middle- and upper-class white people have. Poor white people’s “failure” to come to terms with the benefits of their whiteness isn’t as obvious, I guess I’d say. I’m not talking about a kind of utilitarian calculus where we can add up and compare quantities of white advantage, but there are differences.

I’m thinking here of an article I just read in the Charlotte Observer that my new home state of North Carolina is the first one to financially compensate victims of an aggressive program of forced sterilization, one that ran from the Great Depression all the way through the Nixon presidency. (A headline on an editorial in the Observer called the state’s payouts “eugenics checks.”) The so-called feeble-minded who were targeted included poor and other vulnerable people of all races, even as sterilization rates apparently increased in areas of North Carolina as those areas’ black populations increased. My point is that eugenics programs in the United States often patrolled the borders of proper whiteness by regulating the bodies and lives of the white “failures” who were allegedly too poor, stupid and uneducated to do whiteness right.

Even though psychological wages of whiteness do exist for poor white people, those wages pay pennies on the dollar compared to those for financially comfortable white people. So coming to terms with whiteness’s benefits can mean really different things, as can failing to do so. I think focusing the target on middle-class white people’s failure is important. Which might just bring me right back to your question!


December 15, 2014

NASA chief delivers U. of Michigan commencement

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — NASA chief Charles Bolden Jr. has told University of Michigan graduates that it's their time and responsibility to lead the next generation.

Bolden delivered the annual winter commencement speech Sunday on the school's Ann Arbor campus.

He is the 12th administrator of NASA and the first African-American in the role. He has been on four space flights, commanded two missions and piloted the space shuttle Discovery, which deployed the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990.

Bolden also received an honorary Doctor of Science degree Sunday.

The Ann Arbor News reports that Bolden called graduates part of "the space generation."

"Your generation is going to take the things that people of my generation started and make them your own," he said. "It's time for you to go out and challenge the status quo ... and enrich the future.

"My advice for you is quite simple: Dream big dreams. Do what you want to do. Don't listen to anyone who tells you you can't do something or don't belong somewhere, and don't let any opportunity pass you by."

Other honorary degree recipients included Susanne Baer, a justice on German's Federal Constitutional Court; Ralph Cicerone, a top atmospheric scientist and the National Academy of Sciences president; and Dr. Hamilton Smith, the winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize in medicine.


December 15, 2014

Russia: 'Good news day' decimates website's readership

There's a reason why so many local newspapers focus on crime and accidents - and a website in southern Russia has found out the hard way.

The City Reporter, based in Rostov-on-Don, says it lost two-thirds of its readers after deciding to publish only good news for just one day. "Do you feel like you are surrounded by negative information? You don't want to read the news in the morning?" the website had asked its readers. "Do you think good news is a myth? We'll try to prove the opposite tomorrow!" On 1 December, as promised, the website carried only positive headlines. "No disruption on the roads despite snow," declared one. Another announced that an underpass would be built in time for Victory Day.

But as uplifting as they were intended to be, the good news stories sent readership numbers plummeting. "We looked for positives in the day's news, and we think we found them," wrote deputy editor Viktoriya Nekrasova on Facebook. "But it looks like almost nobody needs them. That's the trouble." The following day, the City Reporter decided to return to more reliable staples: car crashes and burst water pipes.


December 15, 2014

Police aggressively questioned girlfriend of African-American man gunned down by cop in Walmart

Police aggressively questioned the tearful girlfriend of a young black man they had just shot dead as he held a BB gun in an Ohio supermarket – accusing her of lying, threatening her with jail, and suggesting her boyfriend had planned to shoot the mother of his children.

Tasha Thomas was reduced to swearing on the lives of her relatives that John Crawford III had not been carrying a firearm when they entered the Walmart in Beavercreek, near Dayton, to buy crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars on the evening of 5 August.

“You lie to me and you might be on your way to jail,” detective Rodney Curd told Thomas, as she wept and repeatedly offered to take a lie-detector test. After more than an hour and a half of questioning and statement-taking, Curd finally told Thomas that Crawford, 22, had died.

“As a result of his actions, he is gone,” said the detective, as she slumped in her chair and cried.

Crawford had been shot by police officer Sean Williams , after a customer called 911 and claimed the 22-year-old was pointing a gun at passersby. Surveillance footage released later showed Crawford picking up the BB rifle from a shelf, wandering the aisles and occasionally swinging the gun at his side while he spoke on his cellphone to his ex-girlfriend.

A 94-minute police video recording, released to the Guardian by the office of Mike DeWine, the Ohio attorney general, in response to a public records request, shows Thomas, 26, being interviewed by Curd after she was driven from Walmart to the Beavercreek police department. Curd later told investigators he had not yet been told Crawford only had a BB gun that had been on sale at the store.

Curd promptly asked Thomas whether she and Crawford had criminal records. Already tearful and breathless, Thomas explained that she may have had some traffic offences and had been arrested for petty theft as a juvenile.

The detective then became increasingly aggressive and banged on the table between them with his hand. “Tell me where he got the gun from,” Curd repeated. Thomas insisted Crawford had been carrying only a white plastic grocery bag when they arrived at Walmart to buy the ingredients to make s’mores at a family cook-out.

Asked one of several times whether Crawford owned a gun, Thomas said: “Not that I know.”

Curd told her: “Don’t tell me ‘not that you know’, because that’s the first thing I realise somebody’s not telling me the truth”.

He later repeated: “You need to tell me the truth” and “You need to be truthful.”

Crawford was talking on his cellphone to LeeCee Johnson, the mother of his two sons, when he was shot by Williams. Curd repeatedly suggested to Thomas that Johnson, who was in fact at home in Cincinnati, may also have been in the Walmart store and that Crawford was there to attack her.

“Did he ever mention ‘I’m going to shoot that bitch’ or something like that?” the detective asked Thomas, who insisted that Crawford had not. Johnson, whom Thomas had never met, was miles away and listened over the phone while Crawford died.


December 15, 2014

Alia Atkinson Becomes The First Black Woman To Win A World Swimming Title

Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson recently became the first Black woman to win a world swimming title with the 100m breast stroke at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Doha, Qatar.

“Atkinson completed the short course race in 1 minute and 2.36 seconds, tying the world record, which according to FINA standards counts as its own record,” reports Jezebel.

Atkinson says she hopes her victory will strip away stereotypes about Blacks being non-swimmers. “I am very hopeful that my personal success in Qatar will ignite others, especially those in the ‘so called’ non-traditional sports to try even harder because now they can see for themselves that significant achievements can be attained,” Atkinson, who lives in Florida, told Jamaican Observer Online. “But let me stress that it takes a lot of work, in fact very hard work, mixed with very heavy doses of patience. I have had disappointments, I have had some good results and it all came together in just over a minute in Doha. I have worked really hard for my achievement in Qatar.”
She will start competing again in February 2015 with the US Grand Prix races. “But for now it is rest, rest and more rest,” the 25-year-old said.

Remember the Jamaican bobsled team? The team entered a sport most people would not associate with Jamaica, nor Blacks in general. Many have said swimming too was not a sport for Blacks. But Atkinson has proved them wrong.

- See more at: http://madamenoire.com/495096/alia-atkinson-first-black-woman-win-world-swimming-title/#sthash.HI1yV6w3.dpuf

I've personally never understood the "we're not good swimmers" -stereotype, since I've been swimming since childhood...I was never competitive, but it is something I do well and enjoy...On the flipside, I'm a horribly uncoordinated dancer, so I guess it evens out

December 15, 2014

If Eric Garner Were White

Imagine that Eric Garner had been white. Imagine that he’d been living in Idaho. Imagine that the law-enforcement officers who killed him had been federal agents.

His death would be a Tea Party crusade.

Think about it. The police hassled Garner because he had a history of selling untaxed cigarettes. It’s the kind of big-government intrusion that drives Tea Partiers nuts. One of the events that helped launch the Tea Party, in fact, came in January 2009, when activists from Young Americans for Liberty donned American Indian garb to protest the soda taxes proposed by then-New York Governor David Patterson.

Garner responded to being hassled with a statement of “don’t tread on me” anti-government defiance: “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!”

A tussle ensued. The police put Garner in a chokehold, and he died.

The Garner case bears some resemblance to that of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who this spring prevented Bureau of Land Management agents from impounding his cattle after he refused to pay government grazing fees. Like Garner, Bundy was engaged in a form of commerce he believed the government should not tax. Like Garner, Bundy resisted law enforcement’s efforts to punish him for it. For many conservatives, this made Bundy a hero and the government that sought to penalize him a tyranny. Right-wing activists, including some Republican legislators, flocked to Bundy’s ranch as he stared down federal agents, and Nevada Senator Dean Heller dubbed these vigilantes “patriots.” “At the heart of this issue,” declared Fox’s Sean Hannity, is “my belief that our government is simply out of control.” Ted Cruz called the Bundy affair “the unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government on” in which “we have seen our constitutional liberties eroded.”

To imagine how Fox News would be reacting right now had Garner been white, rural, and facing the feds, you need only imagine how it would have reacted had a BLM agent shot Bundy dead.

But Fox and the rest of the pro-Tea Party right aren’t reacting that way. Yes, some conservative pundits—noting the video that shows Garner being choked to death—have condemned the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who killed him. Rand Paul has denounced the high cigarette taxes that Garner flouted.

Overall, however, conservatives have responded to the Garner case with a yawn. At 8 p.m. Wednesday night, hours after the decision had been announced, at a time when the Garner case dominated the websites of MSNBC and CNN, the top story on FoxNews.com was about Texas suing President Obama over immigration. (Later on that evening, FoxNews.com made its top story, you guessed it, Benghazi. As of Thursday morning, the Garner decision leads the site.) There was virtually nothing about the grand-jury decision on the websites of National Review or The Weekly Standard. (Since this piece was written, National Review has posted some prominent coverage.) Sarah Palin did not post anything about it on her Facebook page. For its part, TeaParty.org posted 14 articles to its Facebook page between 8 and 10 p.m. Many of them discussed Obama’s immigration action; some concerned the violence in Ferguson; one was about the empty seats at Hillary Clinton’s Georgetown speech. None mentioned Eric Garner.


December 15, 2014

How Racists and Partisans Exploit the Age of Obama

One of my fondest memories was spending four days in February 1977 as a staffer sitting on the Senate floor, mostly wedged between Gaylord Nelson and Russell Long as the Senate debated a resolution to reform its committee system. They were good friends, lovely people, and great storytellers, and I mostly sat there taking their conversation in, occasionally earning my pay by letting them know what a particular provision of the resolution did or what an amendment would do.

At my request, Long opened up his Senate desk so I could see the signatures of all the senators who had used the same desk over many previous decades. The signature of Theodore Bilbo just jumped out at me. Bilbo was a legend—and not in a good way. In his two Senate terms representing Mississippi, from 1935 to 1947, he stood out as a mean and vicious racist, not shy about spouting ugly bile on the floor or elsewhere.

He wanted pure segregation and ultimately to send black Americans to Africa. He said, "The experiences and history of thousands of years prove that whenever and wherever the white and black man have tried to live side by side, the result has been mongrelization, which has destroyed both races and left a brown mongrel people." When he filibustered an antilynching bill in 1938, he called its supporters "mulattoes, octoroons, and quadroons." He use the "N" word incessantly, in and out of the Senate. Among a large collection of segregationists, he stood out for his ugly rhetoric and incitement of white Southerners to violence. As I sat on the Senate floor 37 years ago, I thought, "Well, we have at least come a long way."

And we have. After Bilbo, and despite a set of Southern Democratic senators who were more civil than he was but still tenaciously segregationist, Congress passed civil-rights bills in 1957 and 1964, and the landmark Voting Rights Act in 1965—thanks in large part to the efforts of Republican heroes like Bill McCulloch and Everett Dirksen. We have seen a sharp decline in racist attitudes, a widespread acceptance of interracial marriage, and many other salutary changes. But we are seeing vividly now that race remains a defining gulf in our society, despite remarkable progress over the past five decades.

Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post recently showed a series of poll results reflecting major change. For example, in 1972, about two-thirds of whites said homeowners should be able to discriminate against blacks when selling their homes, but that was down to 28 percent in 2008. In 1988, two-thirds of whites said they would not be happy if a family member married a black person; that was down to 25 percent in 2008. Great progress, but the fact that over a quarter of whites still recently held racially prejudicial views is unsettling.

Americans of all stripes were justifiably proud when the country elected its first black president in 2008, and again when he was reelected in 2012. The fact is that no other comparable democracy, in Europe or elsewhere, was then or would now be prepared to elect a leader from a minority group. But even as I watched the celebrations on election night in November 2008, I felt an undercurrent of unease. Heartening as it was, this was not a sign that we had broken the back of racism or of racially driven divisions in the country. The election of an African-American president could be seen by racists in America as a sign that they could be more blunt in expressing their views. After all, who could now say America is racist? And the same mindset could lead others to enable statements or actions that would otherwise be seen as over the line. And, of course, the inevitable harsh criticism of a president by partisans on the other side, something that comes with the territory, could easily take on a racial dimension for Barack Obama.


December 15, 2014

'#Blackmendream': Showcasing A Different Side Of Black Manhood

Nine men sit turned away from the camera; their faces are never shown. Many are shirtless or naked. They answer questions like: When did you become a black man? Do you cry? How were you raised to deal with your emotions?

This short film, called #Blackmendream, is the latest piece by Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist Shikeith Cathey. His work centers around the social, cultural and political misconceptions about black men in America, and the new film explores the emotional experience of black men, born out of those misconceptions.

The men seem both vulnerable and powerful as they thoughtfully respond to these basic, but piercing, questions. To the viewer, there's a feeling that you're eavesdropping on a therapy session.

"That's the response that I would get after wrapping the interview," Shikeith, who goes by his first name, tells NPR's Arun Rath. "The participants, the men, they would say, 'I haven't been able to express like this in so long and it feels like a weight was lifted off of my shoulder.' "

He says most of the interview subjects were strangers, but it wasn't hard to get them to participate.

"Honestly, I just asked — and that was the point. These questions, as simple as they are ... they aren't discussed. I couldn't remember a time when someone asked me, 'How do you feel?' " he says.

"I think it's just assumed that I'm angry as a black man. It's assumed that I don't possess these feelings that are part of my humanity."

Shikeith does all of his work in black and white and says the aesthetic composition of this piece — the nudity, the fact that we never see the faces of the subjects — is all symbolic.

"I wanted to expose what it was like to be dressed in assumptions, before even opening your mouth to say hello."

He adds, "My work is a reflection of that internal battle all black men have to face when you're not necessarily seeing things in black and white, but rather in gray."

This project has gained a lot of attention, as it adds to conversations about race and police use of deadly force. But Shikeith says that the timing is mere coincidence.

"I don't look at what's happening now as situational," he says. "It's not trendy; it's not something that just began. It's something that has been ongoing in this country for a very long time."

The inspiration for #Blackmendream actually came two years ago, Shikeith says: "I posted a status on Facebook that said, 'What do black men run from?' "

He was expecting answers that revolved around misconceptions of black manhood. But instead, he got a lot of negative stereotypes — mostly from primarily African-American men and women.

"They were writing, 'Black men run from the police, black men run from love, black men run from child support.' "

Disappointed, he set out to create a project that would change that conversation and showcase an emotional side of black masculinity.



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