Archive for November, 2010

Why Racial-Profiling is like Affirmative Action

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

(Faster Times) The Transportation and Security Administration’s new video screening and pat-down procedures has given new fuel to advocates of racial profiling at airports around the nation. Opponents of racial profiling argue that treating an individual differently simply because of his or her race is wrong because discrimination, even for noble intentions, is just plain wrong. Let’ call this the principle of formal equality.

Oddly enough, this is exactly what opponents of affirmative-action say. They typically argue that some other signifier, for example class, can be a more efficient, and less discriminatory way of achieving similar outcomes if affirmative-action policies were in place.

This argument is analogous to the one offered by those who are against racial profiling. They suggest that some other signifier, for example behavior, can be a more efficient, and less discriminatory way of achieving similar outcomes if racial profiling policies were in place.

It seems, then, that one can either be for race-based profiling and affirmative action, or against both. What is problematic is if one is for one but not the other. My guess is that most liberals are for race-based affirmative action but against racial profiling, and most conservatives are against race-based affirmative action but for racial profiling. Inconsistency?

Full story…

Federal lawsuit alleges stop-and-frisk unfairly targets minorities

Monday, November 29th, 2010

(Philadelphia Inquirer) In the debate over the police tactic known as stop-and-frisk, both sides agree there’s nothing inherently wrong with officers stopping more black and Hispanic than white residents, at least in cities where violent crime is concentrated in minority neighborhoods.

The question is: At what point does stopping a disproportionate number of minorities cross the line into illegal, race-based policing?

When does a legitimate, proactive tactic become the wholesale harassment of communities?

Determining those limits has been one of the more controversial topics in big-city law enforcement – and a question that often has gone before the courts to be answered.

In Philadelphia, where police embraced an aggressive stop-and-frisk policy nearly three years ago in response to rising gun violence, the debate is about to begin in earnest.

Civil rights lawyers filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month, arguing that Philadelphia police have been targeting people based solely on race.

Full story…

Asian American National Seniors Top NAEP Math … AND Reading in 2010

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

(Asian Week) The NAEP = National Assessment of Education Progress is the yearly federal test that is suppose to track the progress of American reading and math skills in various grades. I think it’s an OK way to compare groups and different years, although I still think it’s a huge mistake to set ANY bar that everybody is supposed to master as that allows the creation of a test where everybody is below “average”.

Here are some highlights from Education Week: “Even within high-scoring states, however, the report shows significant disparities among subgroups of students. White students in Connecticut, for instance, produced an average reading score of 301, while African-American students’ average in that state was 265. …Achievement gaps among subgroups didn’t shrink between 2005 to 2009 in either reading or math, even though all racial and ethnic groups and both males and females turned in higher average math scores than they did in 2005. Progress was more uneven in reading: the only subgroups that made gains in the past four years were white students, males, and Asian-Americans.”

Full story…

Florida congresswoman first Hispanic to head House Foreign Affairs Committee

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

(AP) She hung up on the next president, Barack Obama. Twice. She thought it was a prank.

In an expert stroke of political spin, she immediately sent out a press release explaining the apparent snub as a mix-up.

Meet Florida U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress and the next in line to head the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The phone incident occurred in late 2008 as the president-elect reached out to potentially friendly Republicans and shortly after a radio host fooled Sarah Palin by impersonating the president of France on the phone. But it was vintage “Ily,” as she is known in Washington: frank, almost irreverent, yet imbued with an underlying seriousness and political savvy.

It also was a reminder that Ros-Lehtinen, 58, presents an increasingly rare image these days — a politician occasionally willing to work across the aisle. The legislator, who was re-elected with 69 percent of the vote, is a hawk on foreign affairs but breaks with her party on immigration, gay rights and other issues important to the people she represents — Cuban-Americans, gays, a strong Jewish community.

Full story…

Majority of Republicans favors racial profiling at airports, while Dems, indys oppose

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

(Washington Post) Republicans are the only group that favors racial profiling at airports, with a majority of them supporting the policy, while Democrats and independents are strongly opposed to it, according to internals of the new Washington Post/ABC News poll that were sent my way.

As I noted yesterday, the new Post poll gauging attitudes towards the TSA pat-downs also tested attitudes towards the possibility of the Transportation Security Administration profiling passengers. While most favor profiling in general, a sizable majority, 59 percent, are opposed to including race in passengers’ profiles, while only 40 percent favor it.

I’ve now obtained the partisan breakdown on this question, and it finds Republicans at odds with the rest of the country:

* Fifty three percent of Republicans think race “should be included in a passenger’s security profile,” while 45 percent think it shouldn’t.

* Only 39 percent of independents think race should be included, while 59 percent think it shouldn’t.

* Only 31 percent of Dems think race should be included, while 68 percent think it shouldn’t.

This is perhaps not a terribly surprising result. But it’s certainly worth noting that with a variety of conservative media figures aggressively pushing racial profiling in recent days, the only people who agree with them are Republicans, while the rest of the country is strongly opposed.

Study: African American and Hispanic women less likely to acknowledge when they are overweight

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

(AOL Health) Despite the fact that obesity rates are on the rise in the U.S., many women, in particular, often think their weight is healthy even when it’s not.

And a new study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston shows that such misperceptions about one’s weight could be a deadly error, leading women to continue to eat poorly, gain more weight and eventually develop the complications of obesity, including diabetes and hypertension.

Researchers report that almost 25 percent of overweight women of child-bearing age don’t believe they’re overweight, or at least not to a degree that is dangerous. On the other hand, 16 percent of normal weight women also misperceive their body weight, often leading them to pursue dangerous and unnecessary dieting habits. The researchers’ data is published in the December issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“We were not surprised by the study results,” corresponding author Dr. Mahbubur Rahman, assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and Center for Interdiscliplinary Research in Women’s Health, told AOL Health. That’s in part because as the nation’s obesity rate grows, it becomes more socially acceptable to be overweight and the truth can become more obscured.

Full story…

Republicans Made Inroads with Hispanic Voters in 2010

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

(Weekly Standard) There is an under-noticed bright spot for the Republican Party after the recent midterm election: Gains with Hispanic voters and Hispanic politicians.

The numbers are deceptive at first glance. Overall, exit polls show that Hispanic voters nationwide broke a little less than 2-to-1 for Democratic candidates. But the details tell an interesting story. In fact, the numbers point to some opportunities for Republicans.

As several commentators have observed, the 2010 elections saw conservative Hispanics break through to win major offices in New Mexico, Florida and Nevada. Until this year, a conservative Hispanic in public office was likely to be a Cuban-American. In the Congress now stumbling toward its lame-duck finale, four Hispanic Republicans served time – three House members and their fellow Floridian, Sen. Mel Martinez, who retired in August of 2009. All are of Cuban descent.

Onn November 3, the number of Hispanic Republican major officeholders had risen by 150 percent. Of much greater significance, three of those Hispanics were elected to statewide offices, two of them as first-time Hispanic governors of recently blue states. Most important, their ranks include both Mexican-American and Puerto Rican conservatives.

Full story…

Reported Hate Crime Drop Sharply, But Data Is Limited

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

(Huffington Post) Hate crime incidents reported to the police in the United States decreased sharply, by 15% in 2009 according to data released today by the FBI. There were 6,604 incidents in 2009 down from 7783 the year before when a 2.1% increase was reported. The 2009 numbers appear to be the lowest reported in at least a decade, where the figures since 2002 have generally been in the 7,000-8,000 range. Last year’s rise was less than the increase in the number of agencies participating in the reporting program. The number of agencies participating in the data collection effort ( most of which reporting zero) increased in 2009. 14,422 agencies “participated” in the effort, up from 13,690 the year before, however, the number of agencies actually sending in incidents declined from 2145 (15.7% of agencies) in 2008 to 2,034 (14.1% of agencies) in 2009. A 2005 victimization study estimated that there are 191,000 hate crimes nationally, with most going unreported to police. Overall, non-hate crime declined about 5% last year.

Full story…

Stop Racial Profiling, Justice Department Warns LAPD

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

(Care 2) The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a letter to the Los Angeles Police Department warning that it must take a stronger stance against racial profiling.

Recently a recorded conversation of two LAPD officers was released where they were being dismissive of complaints of racial profiling. One argued that he “couldn’t do [his] job without racially profiling.”

An independent study conducted by a Yale Law scholar in 2008 found that for every 10,000 residents in Los Angeles, about 3,400 more blacks are stopped than whites. Blacks are also 127 percent more likely to be frisked, 76 percent more likely to be searched and 29 percent more likely to be arrested than stopped whites. Still, they were 42.3 percent less likely to be found with weapons after being frisked, 25 percent less likely to be found with drugs and 33 percent less likely to be found with other contraband.

The LAPD dismissed the study, with Police Chief William J. Bratton commenting, “We live in an imperfect world. There are many issues and questions for which unfortunately there are no perfect answers. This issue of bias and profiling is one of those issues…This department does not engage in racial profiling.”

Full story…

Palin Slams Obamas for Views on Race in New Book

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

(CBS News) In her new book “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin suggests President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama perceive the United States as racially unjust, according to leaked excerpts of the book.

In a chapter entitled “We the People,” Palin referenced Michelle Obama’s verbal gaffe from the 2008 campaign trail, in which she said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.”

Palin writes that “in retrospect, I guess this shouldn’t surprise us,” according to an excerpt from “America by Heart” first leaked by the anti-Palin website Palingates, “since both of [the Obamas] spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church listening to his rants against America and white people.”

The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and others quickly criticized Mrs. Obama’s comments in 2008, and then-Sen. Obama clarified that his wife was specifically talking about her cynicism of the political process.

Full story…

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