How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
Today, the Union of Reform Judaism, the body that represents synagogues in the Reform movement —Judaism's largest U.S. branch — unanimously passed the most far-reaching resolution on transgender rights of any major religious organization. The resolution affirms the equality of transgender people and welcomes them into congregations, camps and other Reform Jewish institutions. [more inside]
"There Aren't Enough Bricks in the World to Throw at Roland Emmerich’s Appalling Stonewall" - The first reviews of Roland Emmerich film about the Stonewall riots are in. They are not favorable.
Yesterday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Kentucky in the case S.R. v. Kenton County Sheriff's Office on behalf of two elementary school children, aged eight and nine, who were restrained in handcuffs because of behavior related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a history of trauma. Video footage (trigger warning) [more inside]
An Idaho State Senator, Paul Shepherd, has called on the state to impeach federal judges who struck down the state's anti-SSM law. One mistake, though. He forgot to renew the domain for his re-election campaign, and now a gay nerd has taken it over.
This week's Glenn Greenwald revelation is that Britain's GCHQ JTRIG intelligence organization offers its agents and planners tools with abilities to increase the search ranking of chosen web sites, “change outcome of online polls”, “masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries”, and accomplish “amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).” [more inside]
Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the civil rights act, and to commemorate, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library hosted in April a Civil Rights Summit, featuring dozens of civil rights luminaries as well as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama. [more inside]
When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography. [more inside]
"Better known as the “Jane Roe” in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, Norma McCorvey has led a conflicted life. Forty years ago, she was at the center of the court decision that famously legalized abortion. Today, she is a zealous anti-abortion advocate." Why did McCorvey turn against the cause she once championed? Tracing the life of an Accidental Activist. Via
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
With the U.S. Presidential election about 3 months away, and voter ID laws headed to court this Wednesday in Pennsylvania and in other states like Texas and Minnesota, Propublica tells you Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws. A solution to a nonproblem. [Previously] [more inside]
In 1971, "decades before any state had seriously considered legalizing gay marriage, long before anyone had thought of creating—never mind repealing—a policy called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” before Reagan, before AIDS, before the American Psychiatric Association determined that homosexuality was not a mental illness, and before half the people currently living in America were even born, a man named John Singer stepped into the King County marriage license office in Seattle." Meet Faygele ben Miriam, the radical activist who pioneered the fight for same-sex marriage in Washington State, 41 years ago. Via.
The King Center archive launched a new web interface this year, featuring online access to thousands of historical documents relating to Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Governor Christine Gregoire announces her support for marriage equality in Washington State. "And let me just tell you, I feel so much better today than I have for the last seven years." (SLYT) [more inside]
"Clay and many magazine people told me not to include a lesbian article in the first issue—and so, of course, we did."
The December 20, 1971 issue of New York Magazine came bundled with a 40-page preview of the first periodical created, owned, and operated entirely by women. The first issue sold out in eight days. 40 years later, New York Magazine interviews Gloria Steinem and the women who launched Ms. Magazine. (single page version.) From the same issue: How the Blogosphere Has Transformed the Feminist Conversation [more inside]
In 2009, Ctrl.Alt.Shift, the "youth initiative of Christian Aid," held a national competition in the UK for aspiring filmmakers aged 18 to 25. Their mission: create a short film treatment based around three key issues: "War + Peace," "Gender + Power" and "HIV + Stigma." The results were then screened to an audience at the 2009 Raindance Film Festival. The films: 1000 Voices, HIV: The Musical, Man Made, No Way Through and War School. (All YouTube links. Vimeo links and descriptions of each film are inside this post.) These films deal with adult subject matter and may be disturbing for some viewers. Some may also be nsfw. [more inside]
Images of a People's Movement - more than 18 pages of photos and dozens of first-hand narratives, interviews & recollections of the 1951-1968 Southern Freedom Movement by the Civil Rights Movement Veterans. (These are just samplings - it's a deep and rich site.) [more inside]
"Without the participation of Microsoft, these criminal cases against human rights defenders and journalists would simply not be able to occur"
Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent - Adding to its long-running series on corruption and abuse in post-Communist Russia, the New York Times has reported on Russian authorities using the pretext of software piracy to seize computers from journalists and political dissidents critical of current policies. In a surprising twist, lawyers representing Microsoft have been found working with Russian police, despite reporters and NGOs providing evidence of legitimate software purchases. An official response to the NYT piece suggests impostors claim to represent Microsoft in Russia, and notes the company's offer of free software licenses to these and similar groups.
Provoking pro-choice advocates, Oklahoma passed two highly restrictive abortion laws on Tuesday. One (rtf file) requires doctors to show women an ultrasound of their fetus and point out its physical characteristics — even if the patient was impregnated through rape or incest. The second (rtf file) stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide to lie to an expectant mother regarding her baby's birth defects. A third requires clinics to post signs telling patients they cannot be forced to have an abortion. The first law prompted an immediate lawsuit from Tulsa's only abortion clinic. [more inside]
Yesterday, US President Obama signed a $680bn military policy bill, which cuts military spending, including $2bn in funding for new F-22 fighter jets. However, the bill also contained the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, and fulfilled an Obama campaign promise: acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have now been added to the list of federal hate crimes.
“…If you stand up straight, people can’t ride your back. And that’s what we did. We stood up straight.”
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968, he was helping sanitation workers in Memphis form a union. In 1967, SCLC initiated the Poor People's Campaign to unify the African-American civil rights movement with working people's movements more generally. In MLK's words, "It must not be just black people, it must be all poor people. We must include American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and even poor whites." [more inside]
NJ says yes to same-sex marriage! (altho it might not be called that in the end) -- link to pdf of ruling here.
"If anything, a civil rights background is considered a liability." Meet the politically-appointed career staffers of the Justice Dept.'s Civil Rights Division: ... the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians. ... Thorough Boston Globe article on how the administration disbanded the hiring committee in 2002 to appoint lawyers with a very different vision of what civil rights are, and the ensuring and ongoing results.
Turning Pickets Into Pledges Planned Parenthood has launched a new program that "creates a no-win situation for anti-choice protesters — the more picketers who demonstrate outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, the more donations that clinic receives." This campaign allows supporters to pledge between 25 cents and one dollar per protester -- not a lot of money, but it adds up to thousands over time.
Only in 1967 did Loving v. Virginia overturn vigorously-enforced laws against interracial marriage in these 15 states--Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Only in 1964 did the Civil Rights Act overturn laws against equal access to voting, public accommodation, and public education. Only in 1963 did the Equal Pay Act mandate that men and women be paid the same wage for the same work at the same job. History isn't a superhighway, leading us in straight lines toward utopia. We fall back and we move forward, but over the past fifty years, the United States has become considerably more inclusive and equality of access to opportunity has widened. Take a look at this article from the Atlantic Monthly in 1956--1956!--if you don't believe me.
Thank Mahalia Jackson for King's "I have a dream." "On August 28, 1963, under a nearly cloudless sky, more than 250,000 people, a fifth of them white, gathered near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to rally for 'jobs and freedom.'... Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had originally prepared a short and somewhat formal recitation of the sufferings of African Americans attempting to realize their freedom in a society chained by discrimination. He was about to sit down when gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out, 'Tell them about your dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!' Encouraged by shouts from the audience, King drew upon some of his past talks, and the result became the landmark statement of civil rights in America--a dream of all people, of all races and colors and backgrounds, sharing in an America marked by freedom and democracy."