Friday, April 29, 2011

Tell Bill Maher: stop legitimizing Andrew Breitbart

Tell Bill Maher: stop legitimizing Andrew Breitbart

James Rucker (ColorOfChange) makes the case that Maher should not be re-booking Breitbart, or at the least should come clean about Breitbart's record and not softball him. Cross-posted from JJP.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why We Fight, or: Clearly, America has a Black President, not just a President

On the night of April 27, 2011, the night of the day President Obama called a special press conference to personally release his birth certificate, thus "showing his papers" to the country, Rachel Maddow was smart enough to turn her show directly over to Goldie Taylor of The Grio. Goldie explains, through a story about her own family, how this aspect of race in America has shown the constancy of the trade winds.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Once you have absorbed the video, I recommend to your attention the full text of Goldie Taylor's column at the Grio.

ETA: I am reminded by rikyrah at JJP to remind you to check Baratunde's April 27 video as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Digital Africa (cross-posted, sort of)

I just don't want to lose this item from Intelligent Life magazine (from The Economist) before I've had a chance to reread it. I think you'll find more on topic re: technology and Africa, or corporate dominance and Africa, elsewhere... I focused on this article in the first place due to coverage at CNu's place of Libya's impact across Africa.

In a continent with few computers and little electricity, a smartphone is not just a phone—it’s a potential revolution. J.M. Ledgard reports from Somalia and Kenya ...

From INTELLIGENT LIFE Magazine, Spring 2011

The front-line in Mogadishu was just beyond the ruined cathedral. You could hear the small-arms fire of the al-Qaeda fighters and the return of heavy machinegun-fire from the sandbagged positions of the African Union troops. But the scene on the sun-washed street in the Hamarweyne district was calm. Women were shopping for fruit and vegetables, and the ciabatta and pasta Mogadishu gained a taste for in its Italian colonial days. A couple of cafés, serving also as electronics shops, were crowded, with people inside making voip phone calls and surfing the internet. Outside on the street boys were fiddling with mobile phones, Nokia and Samsung mostly, but also those fantastical Chinese models you find in poorer countries, nameless, with plastic dragon-like construction, heavy on battery-guzzling features like television tuners. I asked my Somali companion what the boys were up to. He wound down the window and summoned his gunmen to go and ask. The answer came back. “They’re updating their Facebook profiles.”

According to a recent intelligence estimate by a defence contractor, 24% of residents in Mogadishu access the internet at least once a week. This in a city in a state of holy war, too dangerous for foreigners to visit freely, where a quarter of the 1.2m residents live under plastic sheeting, infested, hungry, and reliant on assistance brought in on ships that are liable to be attacked at sea by pirates. Half the population of Mogadishu is under 18. Some of these teenagers end up uploading and downloading ghoulish martyrdom videos and tinkering with websites celebrating the global jihad. But far more spend their time searching for love, following English football teams, reading Somali news sites uncensored by the jihadists, and keeping track of money transfers from relatives abroad. It takes more than violent anarchy to extinguish the desire of the young to stay connected, and to keep up with the contemporaries they see on satellite television.

When it comes to electricity, Africa remains the dark continent. There are a billion Africans, and they use only 4% of the world’s electricity. Most of that is round the edges, in Egypt, the Maghreb and South Africa. The rest of Africa is unlit; seen from space, the Congo River basin is as dark as the Southern Ocean. Demand for power is already outpacing economic growth. With its population expected to double to 2 billion by 2050, Africa will have to build entire new power grids just to stand still. So far, the failure has been systematic: of Nigeria’s 79 power stations, only 17 are working. All of this increases political risk. Some African countries could collapse by 2020 unless they can power an industrial base. Yet Africa’s virtual future is not dependent on its physical future. You don’t need much electricity to run a phone network. You need even less to run a phone itself. Even the scabbiest African village has worked out how to charge mobiles and other devices using car batteries, bicycles and solar panels. Connectivity is a given: it is coming and happening and spreading in Africa whether or not factories get built or young people find jobs. Culture is being formed online as well as on the street: for the foreseeable future, the African voice is going to get louder, while the voice of ageing Europe quietens.

What makes this possible is a series of undersea cables which have finally hooked up Africa to the rest of the internet. EASSY (the East African Submarine Cable System) emerged from the Indian Ocean at Mombasa last July, looking as fine as gossamer and delivering 3.84 terabits per second to 18 countries. It seemed inconceivable that it could carry the weight of so much information and so many hopes. But EASSY and other fibre-optic cables are freeing Africa from the costs and failings of the satellite internet, and for the first time making it affordable for Africans to talk to the outside world and, crucially, to each other. Prices are down, speeds are up: it takes minutes now instead of hours to download a YouTube video. The future is not supposed to feel futuristic—it’s usually far more like the present than the novelists and film-makers imagine—but the present in Africa has been rudimentary for so long that this future really does feel like science fiction...

[Much more at the above link on impact of mobile, and influence of Facebook, Google & Nokia]

Friday, April 22, 2011

350 for Earth Day

A neat compilation, "350 for Earth Day: African Americans Enriching Life on Our Planet," at:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Google & minority hiring practices as "trade secret"

Duly noted that Blogger is owned by Google and all that, and people providing "free" services don't have to explain anything, not really. Yeah, I'm glad for the space, having haggled with ISPs in the past. And I can follow that Google's hiring process might be a trade secret. But the actual numbers of minorities employed? Reverse-engineer those numbers to understand Google?
Google won’t release minority hiring statistics, claiming trade secret
By Priyanka Sharma | 17 Apr 2011

The universal search engine may not be as transparent as it claims.

Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” yet when asked to disclose data about its internal hiring process, the company flatly refused.

Google has claimed that its hiring procedures are a trade secret, but other Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Intel, Cisco, and eBay have released their data.

“All we are asking is for Google to show us the numbers,” said Len Canty, chairman of the Black Economic Council. He was among several minority leaders who protested outside Google’s Mountain View headquarters on Feb. 10, rallying for Google to be more transparent about the minorities it hires...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A History of Black Folk on Twitter (cross-post)

Mark Anthony Neal at TEDxDuke 2011:

See more of Dr. Neal at NewBlackMan. But watch the video first...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Black History of the White House (book)

Cross-posted at JJP.

The Black History of the White House on BookTV (C-SPAN2), author Clarence Lusane video at the link:

Book excerpt at City Lights (PDF):

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Obama's Budget Deficit Speech

Here's a Wordle visualization of the text of President Obama's speech at GWU on Wednesday, April 13. (The words laughter and applause were removed.) Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Prison Smorgasbord! not exactly all you can eat

I was already piling up some items in multiple browser tabs, hoping the browser wouldn't crash, when Prometheus6 went ahead and posted this item that is exceedingly strange due to the joint appearance of Ben Jealous (NAACP) and Grover Norquist (hater of all taxes all the time):

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

So best for all concerned is for me to just add my bottlenecked items about California's new prison transfer law, AB109; Gov. Jerry Brown's signing message affecting how the bill is implemented; reactions from county/local officials; an item on women and prison reform; and several others. Off you go, then:

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late Monday that aims to make a key part of his budget proposal a reality -- AB109, which authorizes the transfer of thousands of state prisoners to local jails (and also shifts various other criminal justice functions away from the state and down to the county level).

One problem: Brown planned to fund the measure with tax increases and extensions -- you know, the ones vehemently opposed by Republicans. The governor had hoped to put those taxes before voters in June, but threw in the towel last week after being stymied by that GOP opposition.

But Brown had to do something -- if he didn't sign of veto AB109 by Monday, it would have gone into law automatically. So he attempted to soften the blow by writing in his signing message that AB109 will not take effect until the state has figured out way to pay counties for the extra responsibilities...

Governor signs bill returning prisoners to local jails
Herald Staff Writer
Posted: 04/06/2011 01:42:46 AM PDT

Law enforcement officials in Monterey County are preparing for the return of some state prisoners to county custody even as they try to discern exactly what that would mean.

Late Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill authorizing the return of certain "low-level" nonviolent offenders to California counties — with the caveat that it won't happen until the money is there to help counties accommodate them.

The bill approved by Brown says the "realignment" is scheduled to begin July 1 — but can only go into effect "upon creation of a community corrections grant program to assist in implementing this act, and upon an appropriation to fund the grant program."

Despite that provision, some local police leaders fear the state won't follow through with adequate funds.

"The California Police Chiefs Association has had a lot of trust in Governor Brown since he was attorney general," said Marina Police Chief Eddie Rodriguez. "He normally does what he says. The only problem is the state is in a fiscal crisis and we don't know where that money will come from."

"I don't think 'make sure that it's fair' is part of the paradigm," said Sheriff Scott Miller. "It's not going to be a pretty thing."

But Miller said he has a more immediate concern than the money — where to put the returning prisoners.

The county's jail runs about 200 to 300 inmates over capacity every day...

INTERMISSION: Here's a San Francisco Chronicle cartoon that sums up the above two articles, I think. Click the jammies to see the whole Tom Meyer cartoon.

Timothy P. Silard,Lateefah Simon
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If we want to fix California's broken criminal justice system, let's start by changing our approach to incarcerating and rehabilitating women. That is one of the key proposals offered in March by a panel of law enforcement and social justice leaders on California Attorney General Kamala Harris' transition team. Here's why:

California holds the largest number of female prisoners in the country...

How we re-enter women into society affects entire families and communities...

Our current way of doing business makes no fiscal sense. We spend about $52,000 to keep each woman behind bars for one year; the two largest women's prisons, both in Chowchilla, cost $278 million to operate annually. Annual costs for social services for children of female inmates are estimated at $56 million.

The costs we incur make even less sense as the vast majority of women behind bars today are classified as low-risk and were convicted of nonviolent crimes...

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press
Saturday, April 2, 2011
(04-02) 08:32 PDT ATLANTA (AP) --

As costs to house state inmates have soared in recent years, many conservatives are reconsidering a tough-on-crime era that has led to stiffer sentences, overcrowded prisons and bloated corrections budgets.

Ongoing budget deficits and steep drops in tax revenue in most states are forcing the issue, with law-and-order Republican governors and state legislators beginning to overhaul years of policies that were designed to lock up more criminals and put them away for longer periods of time...

Prison guards, supervisors rack up millions of hours in paid time off
Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
(03-08) 04:00 PDT Sacramento - --

California prison guards and their supervisors have racked up 33.2 million hours of vacation, sick and other paid time off - an astounding accumulation that amounts to nearly half a year per worker.

It also adds up to a $1 billion liability for taxpayers of the deficit-plagued state.

Poor management at California's prisons has for years allowed workers to stock up on generous amounts of paid time off - a benefit that employees must either use or cash out when they retire. But the numbers swelled when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger imposed furloughs in 2009, forcing prison guards and their supervisors to take unpaid days off each month to help save state cash.

Furloughs are problematic at California's 33 state prisons, all of which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have thousands of unfilled prison guard positions. Workers have been coming in on their furlough days and banking paid time off.

"You can't shut prisons down," Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said. "You have to keep them operational. You have to cover every post. You don't want to endanger staff by not doing that."...

Monday, April 4, 2011

As soon as anti-immigrant folks stop speeding, using drugs, and paying employees under the table, let me know

I think I could be OK with people who say "Illegal means illegal" if I didn't know so many so-called upstanding U.S. citizens who regularly broke the law as described in the post title.

n Arizona-like law to combat illegal immigration has a snowball's chance in Phoenix of passing the California Legislature, but freshman Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks (San Bernardino County) is giving it a shot.

Donnelly, who has patrolled the California-Mexico border as part of the militant Minutemen citizen group, held a rally at the Capitol today for his bill, AB26. The bill would make a number of changes in state law, including requiring law enforcement to verify the immigration status of anyone who is arrested and suspected of being in the country illegally...

The rally attracted about 100 participants, along with a good number of television cameras, and the crowd largely consisted of folks wearing Tea Party T-shirts and other Tea Party garb...

The rally did not go off without a protest, though, as about a dozen people marched and shouted "Si Se Puede" a few hundred feet away. An immigration rights group called the bill "dead on arrival" as it faces its first legislative hearing on Tuesday.

"Simply put, California is a very different place than Arizona. We are proud of our state's spirit of inclusion," said Reshma Shamasunder, director of the California Immigrant Policy Center...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I need to find time for Inherently Unequal

BookTV (C-SPAN2) just showed Lawrence Goldstone on Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903 over the weekend and it's available on demand at their site.

May have to multitask and watch it today, even though such practice continues to be decried.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Race-neutral, my eye: William Julius Wilson changes his mind

The American Prospect Q&A linked below is interesting for where Wilson agrees w/ President Obama (e.g. Promise Neighborhoods) and where he doesn't (e.g. lack of united Democratic Party & administration message against right-wing racism). Wilson's call to bring race back into the political discussion on the left is a change of his 1990s position, which was based on the political situation at the time (Reagan-Bush years).

Personally I'm still impressed w/ the President's Univision town hall* on March 28 which shows the that the President CAN go to specific audiences that are deemed controversial by right-wingers and directly address issues that affect POC. They just have to keep the ball rolling. If they choose to. Okay, here's Wilson:

ETA: A version of this item is cross-posted at Prometheus6 where there's a bit of conversation on Wilson.

*Obama/Univision Mar. 28 text here. Full video is here.