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Cartoon:  Black Father & Son (THIS IS LICENSED UNDER A SINGLE USE LICENSE TO SHANIKKA ONLY - DO NOT USE FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE]
You know, at some point us Sistas get tired of repeating ourselves.

It has been just under two years since I publicly made what, to me, was a very straightforward request for a favor:

"Hey, America! Can you please stop killing our (usually innocent) Black male children now?"

Nearly two years later, I guess I have my answer:

HELL NO!

Please follow me below the orange fleur de lys (yes, I know it's not actually a fleur de lys!)

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What most of Netroots Nation 14 missed.
Since around here at Daily Kos if you're not crystal clear about what you're saying, too many people get all funky and keyboard spew before fully reading or reconciling what they think you said with what you actually said, let's start with a few disclaimers:

1) I love Elizabeth Warren.  My greatest Netroots Nation memory is spending nearly 20 minutes sitting, face to face, talking to her.  Discussing the foreclosure crisis, the legal strategies lawyers like me had tried and were trying out here in California to attack the predators, and the arguments one might make to create primary-residence cramdown rights in Bankruptcy Court.  Before she became a Senator.  Becfore she even decided to run for Senator. This diary has nothing to do with how I feel about Senator Elizabeth Warren.

2) I dig Vice President Joe Biden. He speaks off script and I like that.  But he ain't perfect, and I am still bloody furious with him about Anita Hill. I also resent that his status at Vice President created huge delays at NN14 that had panels and the reception before the keynote address starting really late on Thursday afternoon.  (Thank you Secret Service - NOT). But this diary has nothing to do with how I feel about Vice President Joe Biden, either.

3) This has nothing to do with Netroots Nation 2015 being in Phoenix, how I feel about that decision, or the Netroots Nation Board or staff.  The decision to write this diary, as those who were with me in Detroit can confirm, was originally made on Friday morning, that's how angry I was. It was before most of us learned of Markos' viewpoint on the locale of NN15. Before I made clear that if he wasn't going to be in Phoenix, neither will I. It has nothing to do with the Board/staff of NN, either - they can't control what conference attendees choose to do, or not do, with their time.  And in this case, NN did what anyone could have reasonably expected it to do to encourage activism at the conference.  

4) This has nothing to do with the only direct political action (aka sponsored protest) that, to my knowledge, has ever taken place during Netroots Nation--the March and Rally that took place on Friday July 18 in support of the residents of Detroit's demand for renewed access to a fundamental human right - water.  I have lots of feelings about that.  I feel rage at the BS arrests by the Detroit PD and genuine joy about Netroots Nation's public sponsorship of the rally.  And more.  (Of course it didn't stop the majority of the approximately 3,000 NN attendees deciding they'd rather get lunch or schmooze than turn out in solidarity, such that only 250-300 attendees bothered to join the March--even less stayed for the Rally afterward--despite Netroots Nation attendance being at least 2,500 strong that day.)  But this diary has nothing to do with my feelings about all that, either.  

Actually, to be honest, it does have to do with my feelings about one aspect of (4).  You see, the comparative lack of participation by NN 14 attendees as I note in (4) is a symptom of the problem this diary IS about.

Disclaimers over. Here is what this diary IS about:

The failure of the denizens of Netroots Nation to show support of, and interest in, the ONLY activist keynoting at Netroots Nation in 2014.  The only one who is actually organizing, mobilizing and taking direct action as opposed to politicking, campaigning and punditizing.

It is about the attendees of Netroots Nation, for the most part, showing the most fundamental disrespect (through their absence) of one of this nation's true progressives:

Dr. Reverend William Barber, leader of the Forward Together (formally Moral Mondays) Movement.

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Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 08:00 AM PDT

Bittersweet Fourth of July

by shanikka

African American with American Flag
We still dream today for what could have been
Each Fourth of July, I see as if for the first time the beauty of our flag, and the universality of the love for our country that far too many Americans show far too infrequently. And, without fail, I re-read the extraordinary beautiful prose of our America's Declaration of Independence.

And each year, I cry.

Mine is a bittersweet cry, born from love of country, and from rage against country.

To cope with my reverent pain, in the face of reading the literary and philosophical dream that is the Constitution of our great country, each Fourth of July I let myself dream a little dream.

I dream of what our nation would have been, could have been, should have been, had all the grievances against King George III that our Founding Fathers been aired in indeliable print with that same brave collective voice that demanded, as divine right, "Liberty or Death!":

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another...
Follow below the fold for more.
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14th Amendment of the United States, Page 1.
As its ink dulls with time, so too does its true purpose, thanks to the Supreme Court
THE LAW: "Black Americans, rejoice! Racial Discrimination has now become illegal."

BLACK AMERICANS: "Great, we who have no jobs want them. We who have lousy jobs want better ones. We whose kids go to Black schools want to choose integrated schools if we think that would be better for our kids, or want enough money to make our own schools work. We want political power roughly proportionate to our population. And many of us want houses in the suburbs."

THE LAW: "You can't have any of those things. You can't assert your claim against society in general, but only against a named discriminator and you've got to show that you're an individual victim of that discrimination and that you were intentionally discriminated against. And be sure to demonstrate how that discrimination caused your problem, for any remedy must be coextensive with that violation. Be careful your claim does not impinge upon some other cherished American value, like local autonomy of the suburbs, or previously distributed vested rights, or selection on the basis of merit. Most important, do not demand any remedy involving racial balance or proportionality; to recognize such claims would be racist."

—Alan Freeman, Legitimizing Discrimination Through Antidiscrimination Law: A Review of Supreme Court Doctrine (1978)
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20 days ago, I wrote a diary about two passionate dreams held by two passionate dreamers.  One of them is a 24-year old young man from the Ivory Coast, Landry Assokoly, who dreams of studying in conservatory and storming the world of Opera someday because of his passion for the art form, nurtured only through You Tube Videos and self-directed study.
The second is a 30-year old African American/Biracial world traveler, photographer and filmmaker Taneisha Berg (aka Kossack Hotkamali), whose love of Landry's story, the nexus between it and her vision of change (in which stereotypes and assumptions are best combatted through the telling of human stories) and her own desire to make movies compels her to tell Landry's story to the world through film as her directorial debut.
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Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 03:31 PM PST

A Different African Story

by shanikka

In a world of politics and politicking-- about never-ending Republican obstructionism, bridge hijinx, spying, drone warfare, relentless police brutality or the increasing stratification of mankind into winners and losers thanks to the global economy and the concentration of wealth that it encourages-- it is crucial to remember that there are still billions of individual human stories of worth and hope left to be told. And to remember that the telling is, itself, sometimes a political act.

This diary is about one of those stories, and is a request for your help and support in getting just one of those stories about an inspiring young man, Landry Assokoly, told to the world.

His different African Story.

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House in a mousetrap
On Dec. 19, 2013, in news that went largely unnoticed outside of financial and real estate blogs, a company called Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC agreed to a $2.2 billion consent order (aka settlement) of nationwide litigation brought by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Attorneys General of 49 states (Oklahoma being the lone hold-out) and the District of Columbia to resolve countless complaints about Ocwen's loan servicing practices. This settlement followed the filing of litigation by those parties just one day before in order to create a legal vehicle to support the previously-negotiated settlement. In the settlement, Ocwen's civil liability for predatory (in this author's opinion) mortgage servicing practices going back to 2009 (4 years prior to the settlement) was fully and finally resolved, subject to court approval.  

There are a plethora of articles to link celebrating the Ocwen settlement and how much each state will supposedly receive. But in this author's opinion, I can't understand why anyone other than the CEO of Ocwen and its stockholders would celebrate. This settlement is chump change, if you know anything at all about Ocwen and its lengthy history preying upon low-income and credit-impaired homeowners throughout the United States.

Yet despite its history, Ocwen is now the largest non-bank mortgage servicer in the United States. And, most frighteningly if you owe a mortgage, Ocwen is poised to grow even bigger. Given this, the Ocwen settlement, despite the many celebratory stories, is a sad testament to this Main Street reality: The worse a financial actor has been (even if it remains so) the less likely that it will ever face any meaningful consequence for its behavior. Instead, it will become more powerful, and influential, and basically too big to fail.

Follow me below the fold for a brief discussion of the settlement and just a snippet of the convoluted, lengthy history of Ocwen in all its various disguises. A history that makes crystal clear that this particular bad actor just bought a rosy financial future for itself and that this settlement is just a whimper, not a bang, of consumer rights enforcement.

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Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM PST

Midday open thread

by shanikka

  • Budget Deal from House Ignores the Unemployed Many "serious people" are celebrating the budget deal that (finally!) managed to pass out of the House this week, but here's one reason not to celebrate it: it contains no extension of unemployment benefits for the approximately 1.9 million people for who unemployment benefits serve as their only financial lifeline. So, on this issue, Charles Blow speaks for me, not the New Republic.
  • Honoring Madiba despite the inevitable bad apples: As the world prepares to say its final farewells to Madiba upon his being laid to rest in Qunu, South Africa, on Sunday, the world's mourning has been reflected flights of beautiful whimsy. These include motorcyclists "Bikers for Madiba" scheduled to rev their engines in a last #BigroarforMadiba and take a symbolic ride in his honor to key places in Madiba's life. And the work of an Italian pianist, Marco Grieco, composing a 95-second long piece in honor of each year of Madiba's life. Sadly, this mourning period has also been marred by horrible hoaxes, the most recent being a fake photo of Madiba at rest being published on Twitter, to the horror of his family. The other being the embarrassing display at Madiba's public funeral by the maybe-fake, maybe-criminal whose disastrous gesticulations in the name of sign language interpreting effectively deprived those without hearing of full participation in the worldwide celebration of Madiba's legacy.
  • Yet another cop acquitted in New Orleans for a Katrina murder: In a surprise to absolutely no one, this week confirmed that no "Officer of the Goddamn Law" will face punishment for murdering helpless people fleeing the ravages of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Despite the involvement of the federal government in the prosecutions, on Wednesday David Warren was acquitted following his second trial for the murder of unarmed Henry Glover. Clearly, the first jury got it wrong, which is why the appellate court threw out Warren's first trial result (a conviction and sentence of 25 years) because there were "extenuating circumstances" despite the fact that there was a law enforcement conspiracy to destroy Glover's remains in an effort to avoid punishment. And, of course, Warren is left with "no regrets." Either way, the government (with an able assist from the appellate courts) continues to fail to secure convictions that stick and, thus, to hold any of the murderers of innocent people—law enforcement affiliated or not—criminally responsible for murdering Black people during Katrina and its aftermath (unless you count a conviction for lying under oath during a deposition being held "criminally responsible", that is).
  • Bill Bratton: Same as it ever was: Speaking of Officers of the Goddamn Law, it's official: Mayor-elect Bill di Blasio has chosen Bill Bratton as the next Police Chief of the city of New York. I'm sure Bratton will do the same fine job as he did while at the LAPD (or even the same fine job he did when he was at NYPD before) restoring the trust and confidence in the racial fairness and objectivity of NYPD law enforcement. After all, folks like Al Sharpton who normally have spent their waking hours complaining about (and folks who have spent their waking hours suing, like Condoleezza's sane cousin, Constance Rice) police practices that abuse the civil rights of those unfairly targeted are optimistic about it. Time will tell, but at least it's a firm goodbye to the man who nobody Black or Brown in NYC will miss, Ray Kelly.
  • Time's person (and second person) of the Year for 2013 were excellent choices: Pope Francis, who despite his short tenure is already being called "the Pope of the People," was selected Time's Person of the Year this week. The debate will never end about whether Pope Francis's exhortations to change our world's failure to live up to the Christian mandate to care for the poor are from the heart, or just brilliant PR, but his chastisement on behalf of the politically voiceless poor deserved to be heard, and deserve to be acted upon, nonetheless. Person of the Year runner-up, Edward Snowden, was honored for the important favor he did the country in exposing the continuation and expansion under the Obama Administration of the seemingly limitless NSA spying programs begun in earnest under the Bush Administration post 9-11. The debate will never end about whether Ed Snowden's person, as opposed to his actions, are what requires appreciation. But the concerns Snowden's disclosures raised about the overreach of America's government scrutiny of us all in the name of the War on Terror deserved to be heard, and deserve to be acted upon.
  • Help the world see this "Invisible Child": This incredible piece of journalism about the life of a beautiful little girl named Dasani, one of New York City's 22,000 homeless children (a record not seen since the Great Depression), has not in this author's opinion gotten the attention and discussion here at Daily Kos it deserved. This is despite the issues it raises in stark relief about our country's poor and how we fail them on so many levels, including the level of basic human understanding and empathy for the complex life that those in poverty lead, without moral judgment. So, if you missed it, here's another chance: read it. Read all 28,738 words of it. More than once. Then send it to everyone you know and begin the dialogue about what we as so-called activists should be doing. (H/T to both teacherken and chaunceydevega for trying to start the discussion.)
  • Ted Cruz survives getting rolled by the Congressional Black Caucus: Poor Ted Cruz. Gangbanged (to hear the right-wing media tell it) by not 1, not 5, but 20 members of the Congressional Black Caucus on his way to South Africa to pay congressional tribute to Madiba. It's a miracle that Cruz made it to South Africa alive, particularly after he'd already gotten eaten by his own following his attempt at a tribute to Madiba. Of course, the only real news following this 20-hour "earful" from the CBC (with another 20 hours promised by Rep. Cummings on the way back, aka being
    ganged up on) isn't news: Cruz is exploring a run in 2016. Surprise, surprise, surprise. (In case it's not clear, 40 hours of being forced to hear what's right from colleagues he'd love to ignore is not being ganged up on.)
  • It may be humor, but it's truthful humor: Finally, someone has debunked the right-wing meme known as "reverse racism" in a way that hopefully will end use of that ridiculous term once and for all.

Discuss

Republishing due to a problem at the request of earlier readers

Nelson Mandela on April 30, 2013
Nelson Mandela, the world's most famous political prisoner, the man who following decades of fighting oppression and imprisonment was the first father of a new nation called South Africa, has died today at the age of 95.
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Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM PST

Midday open thread

by shanikka

  • Baghdad Marching Steadily Towards Civil War, One Execution-Style Murder at a Time
    Extrajudicial, mob-style killings appear to be increasing in frequency in Bagdad. Thursday's murder and body-dumping on a farm of 18 Sunnis (including a local province official) after their arrest by folks in "military style uniforms", suggesting the imprimateur of Shia ethnic hate under color of law enforcement/military, follows three separate incidents of virtually the same murder/body dump variety occurring just one day before. Add this to the bombings that left 29 dead as well, and it is clear that the Bush Administration's misadventure in Iraq that left 100,000 dead (including 66,000 civilians) all in the name of taking out Sadaam Hussein because he once insulted Papa Doc Bush did that country no demonstrable good, and may have possibly enabled renewed unspeakable harm: the sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni that has in the past left tens of thousands dead.
  • A Must-Read, No Matter What Your Religion (Even it's No Religion):
    Whether you're Catholic, lapsed Catholic, never was Catholic or won't ever be Catholic, Pope Francis' first Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Guadium, issued this week, is a must read. (All 217 pages of it.) Not only does the Pope set forth a vision of the gospel that is thorough and decidedly non-Westernized in its utter rejection of materialism, consumerism and selfishness, he indiscriminately (more than 100 times!) uses throughout one of the English languages' dirtiest words (going by how rarely it is uttered by most people, especially those in politics and in power): poor. Here's one of my favorites: With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.” (Don't you feel naughty just reading that? Gives me chills.) Now, if we could get our President, Congresscritters and every politician on the planet to install the Pope App so they can hear these words on an hourly basis (or at least compel them to receive his Twitter feed, @Pontifex; the Pope is nothing if not social-media savvy!) we might get somewhere making a dent in global poverty.
  • Food Banks Can't Keep Up, Not Surprisingly, Since November 1
    Right now, in the war between human dignity and the wages of poverty, poverty is winning handily. As the New York Times reported the day before Thanksgiving, and as NBC is reporting the day after Thanksgiving, food banks are being pushed to their limits trying to meet the ever-increasing need of the poor for food just to survive since the inexcusable November 1 cuts in Food Stamps took effect. And to think it's going to get worse, not better. All the ACA health care in the world doesn't do people any good if they are starving.
  • Retail Workers Having to Serve When They Can't Provide Shames us All:
    IMO the "black" in Black Friday should stand for more than the retail world's "our books are finally in the black" reference. It should also stand for "black mood". That is the mood of many underpaid, overworked, and definitely underappreciated retail workers on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season. And no wonder: as the linked article makes clear, it's hard being cheerful after spending all day helping frenzied consumers buy even modest things knowing that the person behind the counters helping folks get their shopping freak can't even afford for their own children despite working, at times, more than one job. Fortunately, Walmart workers continue, despite corporate lies and retaliation, to show another way to react to Black Friday.
Pollng results re: minimum wage
  • What's the Excuse Not to Raise the Minimum Wage Again?
    As the saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way. Well, recent polling makes clear that there clearly is will, and majority consensus (yes, national as in "including even those damned Republicans") that the minimum wage must be raised. So now, let's get busy with the way: local and state-level enactments accomplishing what all the politicians in Washington DC from President Obama on down can't  manage to get done. We can, in that, emulate Seattle, Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties in Maryland (and San Francisco, which got its raise done in 2003) and put boots on the ground for the campaigning and/or ballot initiates needed to increase the local minimum wage.  Now that's how you start a movement.
  • Yet Another Chink in the Dodd-Frank Armor:
    The "risk retention" rule sought to limit the possibility of another financial crisis by requiring that lenders and syndicators keep a meaningful financial stake in the loans and investment vehicles they market, and was one of the many bright spots of Dodd Frank. Unfortunately, like other key elements of Dodd Frank that have been weakened, the risk retention rule is now in danger of being largely nullified through regulation, especially that which will make it far easier to deem a mortgage "qualified" and thus allowing the exceptions to ultimately swallow the rule. This unfortunate development is thanks to an unholy alliance between folks whose hearts really are in the right place (affordable housing advocates opposed to the minimum 20% down payment requirement because of the impact on access to credit by otherwise creditworthy minority borrowers) and those whose hearts are made up entirely of dollar signs (the banks, lenders and securitization trust managers because why should they now have to face financial risk when so far homeowners and government have borne the entirety of it so far?). Given that this might end up resulting in almost every residential mortgage being "qualified" (and thus exempt from the risk retention rule under Dodd Frank and the consequences for issuing bad loans), it looks like the 1% is poised for yet another victory against Main Street.  /ffs
  • Dinesh D'Souza: STILL a Racist
    What is it with racists not having the cojones to take the heat their racist actions deservedly bring upon them? Not only did this holiday week see the latest conflagration in the never-ending sure-there's-racist-behavior-but-there-are-no-racists-war that has gone at Daily Kos for years, but Dinesh D'Souza (aka the most IGNANT non-white racist on the planet) tweeted to the world that he was thankful on Thanksgiving Day not because white folks all over America lap his IGNANT bullshit up and he gets paid handsomely for it, but instead because "America is big enough and great enough to survive the Trayvon Martin in the White House."  Of course, D'Souza deleted the tweet rather than defend his racism, proving once yet again that D'Souza is not the man that either President Obama is or Trayvon Martin (RIP) was.
  • 9 Days Later, Illinois Man and Dog are Reunited:
    You can't get more holiday spirit than this: Separated for 9 days following the tornado that destroyed their town in Washington Illinois, Jacob Montgomery and his best friend, six-month old Dexter, were reunited. They are camping at a friend's until they find a new home, but at least they are together. (I haven't had such an 'awww gee" moment since Barbara Garcia found her dog, Bouncy, while being interviewed on camera following the tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma earlier this year.)
  • The Gap Knows Racism when It Sees It, And Takes a Stand:

Even businesses with mediocre at best, crappy at worst, corporate citizenship records can get one right every now and then where being anti-racist is concerned (begging the question of why many so-called liberals have such trouble!) . Such is the case with The Gap, and its reaction to the racist defacement of one of the most visually compelling ads it has ever issued: a portrait of Sikh actor and jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia. After the company learned on Twitter that the ad had been defaced with racist and ethnocentric anti-Arab bullshit (substituting the words "Make Bombs!" for the ad's "Make Love" theme and adding"Please stop driving taxis"), The Gap not only immediately sought information about where this act had occurred, but it changed its corporate Twitter logo in solidarity.  It responded equally quickly to another defacement with the words "Bin Laden" written across Ahluwalia's forehead. Baby steps? Yes, but that's how you do anti-racist when you're serious.  (Here's hoping that similar sensibilities in corporate will ultimately prevail and The Gap will stop opposing labor reforms necessary to ensure the safety of the nonwhite people all over the globe that sell its clothes.)

Discuss

Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 12:00 PM PDT

Midday open thread

by shanikka

Spector8745, 8/6/13, 8:58 AM,  8C, 3000x4000 (0+0), 50%, ten stop S cur,  1/12 s, R38.4, G30.1, B67.6.
Thank you—and we're sorry.
  • On Thursday, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a stay preventing implementation of remedies ordered to bring "Stop and Frisk" into constitutional compliance in Floyd v. City of New York and Ligon v. City of New York, and removed the judge, Shira Scheindlin, from both cases.  The reason? Not that Judge Scheindlin had issued a bad ruling in either Floyd or Ligon—that remains to be determined following resolution of the appeal on the merits. Instead, the Appellate panel concluded that Judge Scheindlin had violated the judicial canons requiring the "appearance of impartiality" (because she told an attorney in another stop and frisk case, Daniels v. City of New York that if he thought they had proof of racial profiling they should bring another suit and relate the case—leading to the filing of Floyd.) Oh, and for defending the court against harsh criticism in the media. So, for now, the NYPD can party like it's 1999 (again), since briefing on the appeal on the merits of the case won't be done until March 2014 and knowing how fast the wheels of appellate justice run, there won't be a ruling until sometime in 2015. But who cares? It's not as if all the Black and Latino folks profiled under these policies have any right to be free from the racism that allows even liberal folks to make excuses for the NYPD's racist implementation of otherwise lawful stop and frisk practices in New York City.
  • Even the best airport security can't stop a determined, level headed lunatic. On Friday, Terminal 3 of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX to those who love to hate it) was shut down after a lone gunman calmly entered it, opened fire, and went upstairs to the screening area where he fatally shot a TSA screener, wounded a second, then continued apace looking for even more TSA agents to kill until he was finally stopped (with gunshots) by law enforcement. This effectively disrupted airline travel nationwide as flights were diverted from LAX, not exactly a minor traffic hub, or stuck on the tarmac for hours after landing. The terminal is still closed, continuing the disruption. The gunman has been identified as 23 year-old Paul Ciancia. There is no confirmed reason why Mr. Ciancia felt compelled to shoot at innocent people just because they worked for the TSA, but according to the cops he was apparently "disappointed in the government." May Gerardo I. Hernandez, the slain TSA employee who apparently did nothing more than be in the right place at the wrong time, rest in peace.
  • On Friday, a 5% cut in benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka Food Stamps) went into effect for 47 million Americans. For the average family of 4, they will lose $36 in benefits a month. That may not seem like much, but when that $36 is coming off an already lean-and-mean maximum benefit amount of $668/month? It's going to hurt, and hurt bad. But of course here in America nobody goes hungry, right? They are just "food insecure." Or "lazy". Or all driving Lexuses and eating steak and lobster.(Don't believe me? Just read the sick, sick, sick comments from the so-called-public in response to almost any online article about this subject—but bring a barf bag.) Fortunately, USA Today has come to the rescue, with a helpful video on how to survive on $1.40/meal.
  • Now that activists in Germany have interviewed Ed Snowden about the scope of US spying by the NSA against Germany, the German government is interested in hearing more. One small wrinkle: it wants Snowden to testify in Germany (presumably before the Bundenstag.) Snowden's reported response? He would like to testify—in Washington. (I presume he means DC, unless there's a Washington in Germany?) At the same time, Snowden is willing to testify in Germany about the scope of spying against Germany only if he is not at risk of being returned to the United States (where Washington DC is.) Meanwhile, Snowden's lawyer is contradicting Snowden, saying that he may not testify to anyone at all about anything if it's not in his best interests (same position that any self-respecting lawyer, including me, would take; I'd especially put a lid on that "amazingly talkative" part of him reported by the BBC) I do wish the man would make up his mind about what he's trying to do, though. First Snowden's cause was stopping allegedly-unconstitutional spying by the US government on US citizens (which we haven't heard much from him about lately). Now it's exposing global spying by the United States and every other nation on earth apparently (the Asian continent is currently going ballistic over Australia's role—per Snowden leaked documents—in all of this). This is right up, consistency-wise, with Snowden first insisting that he wasn't hiding from the law while in Hong Kong, at the same time refusing to return face the possible consequences of the law in the US.
  • In another judicial reversal, on Thursday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay against implementation of that state's newest draconian TRAP law requiring hospital admitting privileges for all abortion providers. This reversal came just three days after the injunction had been issued by the District Court in Austin.  The reason? Even though of course the record hasn't been fully developed yet below, the appellate court believes that the law is perfectly constitutional and imposes no undue burden on the abortion right--even though it is predicted to shut down virtually every non-urban abortion provider in Texas and many of the urban ones, too.
  • For those of us who simply cannot do without our tablet, smartphone, or Candy Crush addiction while flying, good news: the ban on the use of many of these devices under 10,000 foot altitude may be coming to an end soon. Joy. Yet another salvo in the war to ensure that no waking moment of a person's day has him or her disconnected from technology, even if it means safer airplane landings and take-offs (since the FAA has lifted the ban before all the airlines have all actually concluded that there is, in fact, no increased safety risk to any of their airplanes), or anything unimportant like that.
  • All the sound and fury that has taken up billions of words over the implementation of the ACA since October, and the insistence on both sides of the discussion that there is either nothing wrong with the program and that folks complaining about skyrocketing costs are just political operatives, or those claiming that the End Times are upon us because of all this socialized private insurance, is enough to make your head hurt. Too few are willing to admit that the reality is that aspects of the ACA rollout are fuckin' awesome, good, bad, and fuckin' ugly—largely dependent upon where your family's insurance situation stood before October 1 and upon what state you live in—and the truth about the law's day-to-day financial impact on individuals and families remains firmly planted somewhere in between. Ahh well, at least the Democratic party leadership is focused on fixing things as much as possible for the real people affected badly and celebrating the things that are going well for the real people who truly are benefitting, instead of worrying about how this rollout is hurting their future electoral chances.
  • Shopping While Black (SWB, to those of us who have actually had to live with it) has roared back into the headlines, following the multiple lawsuits filed by young folks buying high end merchandise at stores like Barney's New York and Macy's. You'd think nobody ever heard of it before, despite it being the subject of a famous "What Would You Do" segment on mainstream TV ½ a decade ago. In case you missed it:



    Yet somehow, this is news, to the point where famous Black and Latino people are now in the mix, either saying "Yes, I pay the "respectability tax" too" or "Why you dissing me for not saying a peep, especially since I was formerly not a famous billionaire, but a base runner who got a rare second chance in life?"
  • One of America's shames will be, when current events become history, the failure of its justice system to criminally punish those responsible for their role in engineering the financial catastrophe known as the the Great Recession (or, let's be honest, the Second Great Depression). One of its pride and joys in the midst of that shame? The herculean efforts of a humble, low-profile government attorney who got his degree in night school to persuade his colleagues that use of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989(FIRREA)—the RICO-like law that was put in place after the savings and loan debacle—was a way to ensure at least some financial punishment was levied upon those most responsible. Talk about unsung American heroes: DOJ has been following his lead. And it's working (even though the numbers are still not high enough.)
Discuss

Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead is the latest feminist manifesto and seems to be growing in influence rather than diminishing each day. The "Lean In Movement" is growing by leaps and bounds. There are Lean in Circles popping up all over. This is despite the undeniable fact that there isn't really anything "whack upside the head" new about anything Sandberg says in her book. Her descriptions of the sexist obstacles women in the workplace face each and every day and how they impact the ability to grow professionally or even close the well-known wage gap are actually a bit of "duh – tell us something we don't know." There also isn't anything new in her conclusion that we simply cannot "have it all" when it comes to work and family. Nor in her call for women to "work together" (stick together) to better the odds that women will ultimately be successful.

Despite there being nothing new in any of this, there has certainly been a healthy, necessary debate about this book and what it means, or doesn't mean, for women in the world of work. This is a Good Thing.

But IMO there is also a bad thing: there has been too little debate about the questions I am most interested in: (a) whether Sandberg's cultural myopia in writing Lean In makes her advice not only irrelevant for Black and other women of color, but dangerous; and (b) what is Sheryl Sandberg's advice to "Lean In" leaning us all into?

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