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Alone and Afraid: Refugee Children Face Deportation Without Legal Representation

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This post originally appeared in Capital & Main. Isabel Mejia was 17 years old when she arrived in the United States from El Salvador, having fled her home country for reasons even the most hardened immigration opponent might have trouble dismissing. Some local gang members had decided to conscript her as the “gang’s girlfriend” — to force her into a life of sexual slavery. At home, the situation was no better: She had been a victim of domestic sexual violence. Faced with rape, death or flight, she chose to flee. Today, Isabel… Read More »

Alternative Black History: Negroes With Guns

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Anyone who has ever seen a film or documentary depicting the violent atrocities that routinely occurred during the Civil Rights movement in America knows the scene well: a young black boy looks at a white woman in a way that makes her uncomfortable. A black woman walks home alone past a group of white boys. A civil rights leader angers the wrong group of businessmen in town, and violence erupts in the form of lynchings, rapes, burning crosses, murder … Inspired by Gandhi’s success with non-violence and passive resistance in… Read More »

Alternative Black History: Five Films

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This post originally appeared in Capital & Main: Every year for Black History Month, the TV networks and premium movie channels roll out the same programming: Malcolm X, Mississippi Burning, The Color Purple…. It’s not that these films aren’t great; they are. It’s just that every year for as long as they have been around, they’re all that come on during February. I can quote The Color Purple line for line. The history of black folks is larger and more diverse than the Civil Rights Movement and slavery. Let’s give… Read More »

Boycott Angora

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This post originally appeared in The Huffington Post and Alternet. It would be dishonest of me to say that I recommend watching PETA Asia’s video exposing the barbaric methods employed by Chinese laborers in the manufacture of angora fabrics. Even by the standards of animal cruelty investigative videos, PETA Asia’s footage is hard to watch. If you’re not prepared to see it for yourself, allow this description to suffice: bunny rabbits are shown strapped to boards, having their fur torn out at the roots by hand until they’re bald, screaming throughout the entire… Read More »

Steve King’s Farm Bill Amendment Hurts Animals — and California Farmers

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This article was first published as an op-ed in The Hill. Iowa Congressman Steve King is an interesting kind of conservative. Last year, when a seemingly non-controversial amendment was attached to the 2012 Farm Bill making it a federal crime to attend or to bring a minor to an organized animal fighting event, King strenuously objected, lashing out at those who seek to “elevate animals above humans.” Later, in the face of criticism for his apparent support of criminal dogfighting and cockfighting rings, he tried to explain himself by arguing that enactment and enforcement of… Read More »

Is The Government Lying About How Much Of Your Metadata It’s Using?

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This article was originally published in The Huffington Post. On Sunday, former NSA Chief Michael Hayden repeated what has become a familiar Obama administration talking point: While the government may make a record of every single call every American makes, its analysts actually use almost none of that data. “You’ve got this metadata,” Hayden said, arguing for a further expansion of government surveillance powers in the event of a future terrorist attack. “It’s now queried under very, very narrow circumstances.” The claim also appears in a July 18 letter from the Department of Justice… Read More »

NSA Surveillance Needs More than Window Dressing Reform

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This article was first published in The Huffington Post. Yesterday, President Obama repeated what has become a familiar routine: after two months of bad press on a controversial issue, he made a grand gesture of conceding that his critics may have a point, even while largely holding to his increasingly untenable position, and announced a series of “reforms” that amount, at the end of the day, to window dressing. It was an even less persuasive version of his performance than his pretense of holding Wall Street accountable for the crimes that… Read More »

Criminalizing Compassion

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This article was originally published in The Nation. On February 8, a 25-year-old animal rescue worker named Amy Meyer and a colleague pulled into a parking lot across the street from the Dale T. Smith and Sons Meat Packing Company in Draper, Utah, a suburb south of Salt Lake City. They crossed the street and stepped onto a strip of public land on the roadside, stopping short of a barbed wire fence that demarcated the boundary of the property of the slaughterhouse. Across a small field, the building housing the killing… Read More »

Us Against the World

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The most politically fraught movie of the summer may be Brad Pitt’s zombie flick World War Z, because of a brief act that takes place in Israel and that has given rise to competing interpretations of what it all means. The movie has political overtones, though, long before Pitt arrives in Israel – overtones that are more subtle because more familiar and closer to home. World War Z embraces the same plot points that most end-of-the-world movies do, and reinforces the same set of politics, by focusing almost exclusively on a single nuclear family. The movie opens with… Read More »

Attack of the Angry Black Woman

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In a recent interview with Roland Martin, Rachel Jeantel’s attorney Rod Vereen discloses a heartbreaking statement from Rachel about her friend, Trayvon Martin: “…he was one of the few guys that never made fun of me, about the way I dressed, about the way I talked, about my hair, about my complexion, you know, about my weight.” In a few months we will know if a jury believes that George Zimmeran was compelled to follow Trayvon Martin because of his race. We will find out if Trayvon paid the ultimate… Read More »