Where The Girls Are (And Aren’t): #15Girls – John Poole OCTOBER 20, 2015 2:59 PM ET

Many fewer baby girls are born in India and China than the odds would predict.

Many fewer baby girls are born in India and China than the odds would predict. LA Johnson/NPR

Many fewer baby girls are born in India and China than the odds would predict.

LA Johnson/NPR

The world’s girls are healthier than ever. They live longer and more of them are going to school than at any time in history.

This story is part of our #15Girls series, profiling teens around the world. Read the stories here.

But most of them face discrimination simply because they are girls. The discrimination happens at every point in their lives.

In some cases, it starts even before they’re born, when parents decide to abort a pregnancy if the fetus is female.

A good way to get a sense of the progress — and the remaining gaps — in worldwide gender equality is by looking at the data. Numbers can tell a compelling story. The story we’re going to tell focuses on girls ages 10 to 19, an age range used by the World Bank and other groups to track populations. Worldwide, about 600 million girls fall into this age range. Nearly half of them live in just seven countries. Those countries are the focus of our story.

You might expect that there would be an even number of boys and girls in this age group in these seven countries.

But you’d be wrong.

Source: World Bank Population Estimates for 2015 Credit: Christopher Groskopf and Alyson Hurt/NPR

Source: World Bank Population Estimates for 2015
Credit: Christopher Groskopf and Alyson Hurt/NPR

The Missing Girls

Consider the girls who were never born.

On average, about 105 boys are born worldwide for every 100 girls. Girls tend to make up for this difference over time because of their greater resilience and resistance to disease.

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It’s not just Ahmed Mohamed: anti-Muslim bigotry in America is out of control – Updated by Max Fisher on September 16, 2015, 4:50 p.m. ET

Ninth-grader Ahmed Mohamed being arrested in school. Prajwol/R

The arrest of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, who was treated as a threat by his own school and police for bringing in an electronic clock he’d made as an engineering project, was not an isolated event. This was completely in line with a problem that has been growing over the past year: Islamophobia, which is the fear-based hatred of Muslims, is out of control in American society.

To understand why a Texas school would arrest a 14-year-old student for bringing in a homemade clock, it helps to understand what came before: the TV news hosts who declare Muslims “unusually barbaric,” the politicians who gin up fear of Islam, the blockbuster film that depicts even Muslim children as dangerous threats, and the wave of hatred against Muslims that has culminated several times in violence so severe that what happened to Mohamed, while terrible, appears unsurprising and almost normal within the context of ever-worsening American Islamophobia.

Many Americans might be totally unaware this is happening, even though they are surrounded by Islamophobia: on TV, at airport security, in our pop culture and our politics, and inevitably in our schools. Perhaps, then, Mohamed’s arrest will be a wake-up call.

Even just in greater Dallas, 2015 has been a year of Islamophobia

American Islamophobia has grown so severe that, even looking just at the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Mohamed’s Dallas suburb, one can see, in broad daylight, the climate of hostility and fear America’s 2.6 million Muslims have been made to live in.

The trouble began in January, when American Muslim families did what is increasingly expected of them, what American media and politicians demand of Muslims every time there is a terrorist attack: They gathered to formally condemn violent extremism and to cultivate positive ties with their local communities. They did this by organizing an event in the suburb of Garland called “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate,” to raise money for a center dedicated to promoting tolerance.

In response, thousands of protesters mobbed the event, waving anti-Muslim signs and American flags for hours, forcing local Muslim families who attended to endure a gauntlet of hate. “We don’t want them here,” a woman at the protests told a local TV reporter. One man explained, “We’re here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us.” They were not grateful that local Muslim-Americans had taken it upon themselves to combat extremism, but rather outraged that Muslims-Americans would dare to gather publicly at all.

A few weeks later, in early March, an Iraqi man who had just fled the Middle East to join his wife in Dallas stood outside their apartment photographing the first snow he’d ever seen when two men walked up and shot him to death. Police later ruled out the possibility that it had been a hate crime, but the murder drove home the fear among many Muslim-American families that they were unsafe.


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Ferguson Commission Shines Light On Racially Divided St. Louis – JASON ROSENBAUM SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 1:01 AM ET

Members of the Ferguson Commission, including co-chairman Starsky Wilson, second from right, listen at a recent hearing of the Ferguson Commission. After months of deliberation, the commission is releasing a report laying bare racial and economic inequalities in the St. Louis region, and calling for change. Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Ferguson Commission, including co-chairman Starsky Wilson, second from right, listen at a recent hearing of the Ferguson Commission. After months of deliberation, the commission is releasing a report laying bare racial and economic inequalities in the St. Louis region, and calling for change.
Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Ferguson Commission, including co-chairman Starsky Wilson, second from right, listen at a recent hearing of the Ferguson Commission. After months of deliberation, the commission is releasing a report laying bare racial and economic inequalities in the St. Louis region, and calling for change.

When Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., last August, his death set off riots and violence — and posed deep questions about race relations in America. The Ferguson Commission, appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, was tasked with finding some answers.

The commission set out to examine racial and economic gaps through the St. Louis region, and come up with policy recommendations. In their final report, the commission provides an unvarnished look at how a racially divided St. Louis underserves the African-American community.

The report provides a host of recommendations to transform how the region polices and educates itself – and its most vulnerable citizens. And in many cases, the suggestions would require the backing of a state legislature that may well balk.

In all of this, Starsky Wilson, the co-chairman of the commission, knows he’s venturing into familiar territory.

A Long History Of Failed ‘Riot Commissions’

During the commission’s final meeting last week, Wilson, a St. Louis religious leader, talked about the work of political scientist Lindsey Lupo, who penned a book examining nearly one hundred years of “riot commissions” set up after American rebellion and unrest.

Many of these commissions failed, Lupo argued, because they failed to tackle latent racial tensions and systemic discrimination.

But Wilson and his fellow commission members are taking another path. Wilson looked to places like Cincinnati where residents dealt head-on with their community’s inequities — not just settling for “accommodation and quiet.” And the Commission’s final report, set to be publicly released today, pulls no punches about the underlying causes behind last year’s unrest.

“We have not moved beyond race,” the final report states.

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What It’s Like to Be Black in the Criminal Justice System – By Andrew Kahn and Chris Kirk

These eight charts suggest there are racial disparities at every phase of the justice system.

In the year since Michael Brown was killed, Americans have focused their attention on the harsh treatment of black Americans at the hands of police. A shocking number have been killed in encounters with police, in the year since Ferguson and in the years before. Thousands more have suffered subtler forms of discrimination in the criminal justice system, where social science research shows striking racial disparities at nearly every level—from arrest rates, to bail amounts, to sentence lengths, to probation hearing outcomes. We combed a vast body of research to find the clearest indicators of racial disparities at different phases of the justice process. The eight charts below offer a grim portrait of what it’s like to be a black American in our nation’s justice system.

1. Black Americans are more likely to have their cars searched.

Police are three times as likely to search the cars of stopped black drivers than stopped white drivers, as the chart below, based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, illustrates. Nationally, black drivers are also more likely to be pulled over and less likely to receive a reason for being stopped. In one Rhode Island study, black drivers were stopped more even though they were less likely to receive a citation.150805_CRIME_Discrim-Chart01.jpg.CROP.original-original

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4 ways John Oliver nails America’s disastrous War on Drugs – TONY NEWMAN, ALTERNET THURSDAY, AUG 6, 2015 02:00 AM PDT

4 ways John Oliver nails America's disastrous War on Drugs

For some years now, Comedy Central and HBO have played a huge role in educating people about some of the most important issues of the day. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Larry Willmore and John Oliver are all skillful at both educating and entertaining us. They are so impactful that presidential candidates and others running our country make it a priority to go on their shows.

Oliver, with his extensive 15-minute segments on his spinoff show on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, digs deeper into issues than most traditional news channels. One issue that Oliver has taken the lead on is ridiculing and slamming our country’s disastrous war on drugs. Oliver hits the drug war from all angles. Here are four excellent segments that show Oliver is becoming one of the most influential voices in our country to say loud and clear: No More Drug War.

Oliver Slams Mandatory Minimums and Mass Incarceration

Just last week, Oliver piggybacked off the news of President Obama’s 46 commutations and pivoted to our country’s insane mandatory minimums and their role in making the US the world leader in incarcerating its people.

Oliver Blasts the U.S. Bail System for Locking up Poor People Regardless of Guilt

Oliver recently took on the U.S. bail system pointing out that it has increasingly become a way to lock up the poor, regardless of guilt. Oliver referenced a report by the Drug Policy Alliance that found nearly 40 percent of the jail population in New Jersey is held solely because they don’t have the money for bail, which can be a little as a few thousand dollars. The average length of time people wait in jail is 10 months.  It won’t surprise you that the vast majority of those locked up are poor people of color.


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IBM Punishes Louisiana For Governor’s Anti-Gay Executive Order LGBT by Zack Ford Posted on June 21, 2015 at 12:48 pm



When Louisiana state lawmakers were considering the so-called “Marriage and Conscience Act,” a bill that would have provided “religious liberty” protections for anybody who discriminates against same-sex couples, they didn’t see the same kind of national backlash as Indiana did when it considered a similar pro-discrimination bill earlier this year. But one company, IBM, made it clear that it opposed the bill. Though the legislation failed last month, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is expected to announce his candidacy for president this week, implemented the reforms through executive order instead. Now, IBM is firing back.

For months, a ribbon-cutting had been scheduled for Monday, June 22, to open IBM’s new National Service Center in Baton Rouge. It would have featured many city leaders, including Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District. There was a rumor when Jindal issued his executive order that IBM might cancel the event in protest, and this week, the company quietly took it off the schedule. If there is be any event celebrating the opening of the new center, which will bring 800 tech jobs to the state and is already stimulating downtown business with its current 200 employees, it won’t be until the fall.

IBM warned Jindal in an April letter that “a bill that legally protects discrimination based on same-sex marriage status will create a hostile environment for our current and prospective employees, and is antithetical to our company’s values. IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law.”

Jindal had made the legislation one of his top priorities of the session, and his office defended the executive order by claiming, “It just means if an entity acts in accordance with a religious belief in traditional marriage, then the state can’t take away its license to operate.”



Clinton student loan reform plan has Warren stamp – By ANNIE KARNI 6/11/15 5:20 AM EDT Updated 6/11/15 7:14 AM EDT

On a litmus test issue for liberals, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has sought out policy experts with ties to the Massachusetts senator.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, left, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talk during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee nomination hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. Senator John Kerry stressed the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He described the

In weekly calls and in meetings over the past few months, Hillary Clinton’s policy team has been soliciting input from policy experts with ties to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with the goal of making student loan reform the core of Clinton’s economic agenda.

The effort to make college more accessible — a litmus test for liberals and key to attracting grass-roots support on the left — comes as the Clinton campaign finds itself under increasing pressure to accommodate progressive demands. Yet it also could provide Clinton with a signature domestic policy issue, similar to health care for Barack Obama in 2008. With a student debt crisis climbing upward of $1.2 trillion, Clinton’s camp views the issue as one where the former secretary of state could drive the conversation and create a mandate for reform.

In one of the clearest signs of the importance the policy team — headed by senior adviser Ann O’Leary — is placing on the issue, student loan reform is expected to be one of the earliest policy rollouts after Clinton’s campaign kickoff Saturday. The campaign is expected to unveil its student loan plans in detail in mid-July, multiple sources said.

To the great relief of restive progressives, Clinton’s campaign has sought out policy experts with strong ties to Warren, who has crusaded on the issues of making college more affordable and refinancing student loans so that students get the same interest rates on federal loans as banks do on theirs.

Heather McGhee, president of the liberal think tank Demos, has discussed the issue directly with Hillary Clinton, sources said. McGhee’s think tank is aligned with Warren, whose daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, serves as chairwoman of the board of Demos.


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16 maps that Americans don’t like to talk about – by Max Fisher on May 27, 2015

The New York Stock Exchange. | Stephen Chernin/Getty

The New York Stock Exchange. | Stephen Chernin/Getty

The United States has a lot to be proud of: it is the most powerful country on Earth and a global leader in culture and innovation as well as international affairs, and has a well-earned reputation for freedom and democracy. But, like any country, it has its flaws, as well. And those flaws are important to remember and examine — even if many Americans would probably rather not think about them.


The US was built on the theft of Native Americans’ lands

This map begins by showing Native Americans’ land in 1794, demarcated by tribe and marked in green. In 1795, the US and Spain signed the Treaty of San Lorenzo, carving up much of the continent between them. What followed was a century of catastrophes for Native Americans as their land was taken piece by piece. By the time the US passed the Dawes Act in 1887, effectively abolishing tribal self-governance and forcing assimilation, there was very little left.

European settlers who arrived in North America found it filled with diverse, long-established societies. They may well have become sovereign nation-states had the settlers, and later the United States, not sought to purge them from their lands, deny them self-rule, and, once they had been reduced to a tiny minority, forcibly assimilate them and their land. These acts are the foundation upon which the United States as we know it today was built.

Image credit: Sam B. Hillard/Sunisup


The Trail of Tears, one of the darkest moments in US history — and we rarely talk about it

Trail of Tears

The largest act of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the United States government began in 1830, when Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, which gave him the power to negotiate the removal of Native American tribes in the South to land west of the Mississippi. Of course, those negotiations were corrupt and rife with coercion. Take, for example, the removal of the Cherokee, which was conducted via a treaty never approved by leaders of the Cherokee nation and resulted in, according to a missionary doctor who accompanied the Cherokee during removal, about 4,000 deaths, or one-fifth of the Cherokee population. Later scholarship suggested the numbers could be even higher than that.

–Dylan Matthews

Image credit: Nikater


America’s indigenous population today is sparse and largely lives in areas we forced them into

Indigenous population density

This map of indigenous population density today shows the effects of not just the initial disease-driven depopulation of North America in the wake of European settlement in the 15th to 18th centuries, but also the long effort of the US government in the 19th century to remove Native Americans from their homes and place them in reservations of its choosing. The Cherokees of Georgia are gone, having been forced to relocate to eastern Oklahoma. A handful of counties in the upper Plains states, Arizona, and New Mexico have large or majority native populations. Alaska natives are still a majority in a number of counties. But in most of the country — especially in the South, Midwest, and Northeast — Native Americans make up a vanishingly small percentage of the population.

–Dylan Matthews

Image credit: Rural Assistance Center


America didn’t just tolerate slavery for a century — we expanded it


Image credit: Golbez


The fight over slavery in the United States began even before independence, as constitutional framers clashed over whether or how to reconcile the world’s most barbaric practice with the idealistic new nation. The abolitionists lost, and while states such as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire ended slavery almost immediately after independence, slaveholders continued expanding the institution of slavery for decades. Slavery developed into a sort of cultural institution upon which Southern whites depended for their economic livelihood and their identity; they fought bitterly to press slavery onto news states. As America expanded westward, both pro- and anti-slavery factions tried to claim the territories as their own. The cultural and political divide deeply polarized the nation, leading inexorably to war.

The demographics of America’s public schools are changing. This year, for the first time in American history, nonwhite students outnumber white ones. But racial segregation in schooling — driven in large part by segregation in housing, and thus in school district placement — persists. The vast majority of white students attend majority-white schools. Black and Latino students are also likely to be in schools that are majority nonwhite, except in heavily white rural areas.

–Dylan Matthews

Image credit: Urban Institute

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