Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014, 10:07 am
On the heels of Vladimir Putin’s Olympic proclamation that (foreign) gays will be welcome in Russia as long as they leave the kids alone, America’s homegrown anti-gay coalition is headed to the courts to unfurl their “scientifically-endorsed” gays are bad for children banner. A challenge to Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage started last week and "the kids" are center court.
By stoking associations like homosexual = pervert = sex offender = child molester, Putin and Team Anti-Gay Marriage USA are stirring a simmering cauldron that many LGBTQ people try hard to avoid.
Thursday, Feb 27, 2014, 2:32 pm
There is no question that Shonda Rhimes—the first African-American woman to create and executive produce a top 10 network series (Grey’s Anatomy)—is a trailblazer when it comes to diversity on television. Her use of colorblind casting brought us a hospital drama in which half of the doctors are played by minorities (Grey’s Anatomy) and a rare series with an African-American female lead (Scandal).
Rhimes has also received acclaim for her portrayal of bold and powerful women. And indeed, on the surface, the women of Grey’s and Scandal are intelligent, successful, ambitious and career-oriented. But scratch that surface, and the female characters in Scandal fall short of Rhimes' successful depiction of empowered women in Grey’s.
The differences manifest in the way the characters manage their personal lives. In Grey’s, the female characters are independent and powerful in every sphere of their lives: They are passionate, but not blinded by their passion, and most importantly, they refuse to compromise their values and integrity for anyone who isn’t willing to do the same for them. For instance, when surgeon Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) was told by her husband that she had to decide between a prestigious pediatric fellowship and their marriage, it took Bailey no time to pick the fellowship, “cause a marriage that results to ultimatums, it’s not a marriage.”
By contrast, Rhimes’ female characters in Scandal behave in ways that contradict the strength and independence they strive to embody. They show a willingness to take emotional abuse and they keep getting burned in the same ways, failing to learn from their mistakes. Susceptible to manipulation, they often compromise their ambitions and standards for undeserving people. Despite this stark departure from her previous model, Rhimes has managed to receive often-uncritical praise from media and fans alike, who have embraced Scandal as a source of female empowerment.
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014, 3:59 pm
In the years since mandatory minimum sentences were put in place by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, they’ve been roundly criticized for imposing upon nonviolent, low-level drug offenders sentences that are, as one federal judge put it, “so excessively severe they take your breath away.”
Such steep sentences are not only draconian, they also place undue pressure on defendants to forgo their right to a trial in favor of a more reasonable plea bargain. Mandatory minimums have also been criticized for disproportionally burdening people of color due to disparities in when, how and against whom they are employed.
After three decades, a push to reform these unfair practices is finally gaining traction. In August, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent and low-level drug offenders. “We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation,” he said.
Thursday, Feb 13, 2014, 11:58 am
In an increasingly digital world, both government surveillance and the activism against it tend to happen primarily on the Internet. But Michael Paus thinks Americans still need to show up on the streets to take action. Paus is an organizer with Restore the Fourth Chicago, a chapter of a national non-partisan organization that works to end unconstitutional surveillance.
“We just want to show, on the streets of Chicago, an actual physical presence of what’s going on,” Paus told In These Times at a Tuesday evening rally and march against mass surveillance that drew dozens of people to the city’s Richard Daley Plaza. Paus believes that concerned individuals need to assert their right to assemble because the NSA’s metadata collection threatens the First Amendment, in addition to the Fourth Amendment. “We’re doing this without a permit. We’re just showing up here and we’re asserting those rights,” he said of Tuesday’s action.
Tuesday's march in Chicago took aim at NSA surveillance as part of an international day of action called The Day We Fight Back. Over the course of the day, 6,000 websites—including Reddit, Tumblr, Upworthy, and Mozilla—hosted a banner urging users to contact their legislators and demand that they limit, rather than legalize, the NSA’s surveillance. Events were scheduled in cities around the world, from Bogota, Colombia to Bluffdale, Utah.
Friday, Jan 31, 2014, 6:42 pm
We are Jewish residents of New York who read, in the leaked transcript of your private speech to a meeting of AIPAC leaders, the following:
City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I'll answer it happily 'cause that's my job.
We understand that the job of mayor of New York is a complex one that often calls for your participation on the international stage, and we would not presume to define your job for you. But we do know that the needs and concerns of many of your constituents—U.S. Jews like us among them—are not aligned with those of AIPAC, and that no, your job is not to do AIPAC's bidding when they call you to do so. AIPAC speaks for Israel's hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us.
Friday, Jan 24, 2014, 4:15 pm
If a socialist can win an election in Seattle, why not Chicago? That was the spirit at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull House Museum on Wednesday night, where close to 100 Chicagoans gathered for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign.
Drawing on the example of Seattle’s Kshama Sawant—who in November became the first socialist in recent memory elected to a city council—the campaign seeks to run a socialist candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 2015 city council race. Activists also plan to use the electoral effort to amplify the demands of popular movements in Chicago, such as the call for a $15 minimum wage.
The January 22 meeting drew members of several socialist organizations—including Solidarity, Socialist Alternative and the International Socialist Organization—as well as members of community organizations and unions, such as Chicago Teachers Union, AFSCME and Service Employees International Union. Overall, the mood was hopeful. Shaun Harkin, a member of ISO, called the campaign “an exciting opportunity,” and his sentiment appeared to be shared by an ebullient crowd.
Inspired by Sawant’s victory, Chicago organizers first held an impromptu meeting last month to gauge interest in a similar effort in the Windy City. They emerged with a vision statement that calls for building a “people-centered” movement to “make real and lasting change” to the system.
Thursday, Jan 23, 2014, 1:21 pm
Back in August, writer and investigative journalist Barbara Ehrenreich spoke at a fundraiser to save the Lamont Street Collective, a cooperative living house that has existed for nearly 40 years in the traditionally mixed-income, mixed-race neighborhood of Mount Pleasant in Washington, D.C.
Mount Pleasant has long served as a lefty enclave in D.C.’s political scene. But its rich history is being threatened by a flood of rich Washingtonians moving into the neighborhood. As the Lamont Street Collective’s landlords attempt to sell the house, the battle to save it has become emblematic of the neighborhood’s broader resistance to gentrification. On August 15, Ehrenreich appeared at the event to show her solidarity. Amid demonstrating support for the co-op, Ehrenreich spoke about feminism, inequality and what she sees as the future of the progressive movement. Walker Bristol transcribed her remarks.
Thursday, Jan 23, 2014, 10:02 am
Melvyn Dubofsky’s generally snarky comparison of my narrowly focused and matter-of-fact The Myth of Liberal Ascendancy with Ira Katznelson’s expansive and colorful Fear Itself distorts my work in several egregious ways.
Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014, 8:08 pm
Someone alert Bill O'Reilly, Matt Drudge, Michelle Malkin and the rest of the right-wing media team that spent last year alternately belittling and hysterically hyping Chicago crime: their argument just fell apart.
Conservatives, led by O'Reilly, Drudge, and Malkin, callously used Chicago crime to attack President Obama and push back against his support for stronger gun laws. Pointing out that Obama's hometown is Chicago and his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is the city's mayor, they frequently highlighted the fact that the city struggled with well-publicized gang shootings despite some of the tightest laws in the country. The right tagged Chicago as a gun control test case and deemed it a miserable failure. (Fox contributor Katie Pavlich: "Slaughter in Gun Control Chicago").
Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013, 12:30 pm
4,265 U.S. citizens have been killed in Chicago since 2001—2.5 times more than in the Afghanistan War zone.
So opens Will Robson-Scott's 13-minute documentary short “Chi Raq”, a meditation on the violence and poverty that has wracked Chicago for years. Filmed in black and white, many of the lingering shots of the city and its inhabitants could stand alone as haunting portraits of a community left behind by politicians and half-hearted philanthropists.
Without the intrusion of any narrator, the subjects of "Chi Raq" stand before a camera—some with remorse, some with frustration or nihilism—to publicly address the danger prevalent on the streets of their neighborhoods. Through this intimacy, the viewer begins to see them as people whose narrative perspectives should be at the forefront of local policy-makers' discussions.