Benedetta Berti: The surprising way groups like ISIS stay in power – August 12th Ted Talk

ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas. These three very different groups are known for violence — but that’s only a portion of what they do, says policy analyst Benedetti Berti. They also attempt to win over populations with social work: setting up schools and hospitals, offering safety and security, and filling the gaps left by weak governments. Understanding the broader work of these groups suggests new strategies for ending the violence.

It’s Time for the Black Rights Movement to Finally Embrace Gay Rights – —By Brandon Ellington Patterson | Thu Jul. 2, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Every chain must be broken if freedom is to be achieved for all black people.

Tori Sisson (left) and Shanté Wolfe kiss after saying their marriage vows in February, in Montgomery, Alabama. Brynn Anderson/AP

Last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide was a milestone for the LGBT rights movement. While it didn’t give gay Americans complete equality in every aspect of their lives, the decision provided a long-sought-after victory: an acknowledgement that their love is equal in the eyes of the law.

This last year has also seen a dramatic rise in visibility for transgender celebrities—Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, and Caitlyn Jenner among them—drawing attention to the legal discrimination and socioeconomic inequalities faced by the transgender community, especially transgender people of color, and those on the economic margins of society.

But not everyone is fond of Friday’s ruling, or of the so-called “transgender tipping-point“—including parts of the black community.

Of course, I’ve noticed support for LGBT rights from within the black community over these last few weeks: NBCBLK, NBC’s showcase for stories by and about the black community, featured a black church in DC that performs same-sex marriages and employs LGBT clergy; Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., where he was murdered two weeks ago, was celebrated by some as a gay ally in the statehouse; and there’s a push underway to get the Black Lives Matter Movement, criticized for focusing too narrowly on straight black men, to address violence facing women and LGBT people, especially black transwomen.

But I’ve seen a lot of pushback from black people as well.


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Amid Criticism, Indiana’s Republicans To Revisit Religious Freedom Law – MARCH 30, 201511:16 AM ET

Republican leaders in Indiana say they will work to ensure the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, both Republicans, discuss their plans for clarifying the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act during a news conference today at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, both Republicans, discuss their plans for clarifying the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act during a news conference today at the Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Michael Conroy/AP

Republican leaders in Indiana say they will work to ensure the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“This law does not discriminate, and it will not be allowed to do so,” Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long said at a news conference with state House Speaker Brian Bosma.

They said they would “encourage our colleagues to adopt a clarifying measure of some sort to remove this misconception about the bill.” The Associated Press says that the measure “prohibits state laws that ‘substantially burden’ a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of ‘person’ includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.”

As Indiana Public Media reports, the two Republicans said the state’s GOP governor, Mike Pence, was unclear about the law when he appeared Sunday on ABC’s This Week. (Pence spoke of an “avalanche of intolerance that has been poured on our state” but declined to say whether the law makes it legal to discriminate.)

As NPR’s Scott Neuman reported over the weekend, Pence in media interviews said he supports an effort to “clarify the intent” of the legislation while acknowledging surprise over the hostility it has sparked.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act stoked controversy almost from the moment it was passed by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature and signed by Pence on Thursday. Pushback came not only from Hoosiers and the hashtag #boycottindiana, but also from some of the country’s biggest corporate figures, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle. (Scott has a roundup of the criticism here.)

Pence and other supporters of the measure note that Indiana is not the only state with such a law on the books. But as Scott noted, “Although the law is similar to a federal one and those in 19 other statessexual orientation is not a protected class in Indiana, leaving the door open for discrimination, critics say.”

At today’s news conference, Long said the law “doesn’t discriminate, and anyone on either side of this issue suggesting otherwise is just plain flat wrong.”

Bosma added: “What it does is it sets a standard of review for a court when issues of religious freedom and other rights collide due to government action.”

Democrats want the measure repealed, but Long and Bosma said that was unlikely.

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A new study suggests people have a hard time believing black and Latina women are scientists


Nearly half of black and Latina women scientists say they’ve been mistaken for administrative or custodial staff in the workplace, a recent study finds.

(Harvard Business Review)

(Harvard Business Review)

Forty-eight percent of black women and 47 percent of Latina women said they’d had this experience. The numbers for white and Asian women are lower but still disturbing, at 32 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Those are just some of the findings from new research reported by the Harvard Business Review. The takeaway of the study, by Joan C. WilliamsKatherine W. Phillips, and Erika V. Hall, is that personal choices aren’t the only reason women decide to leave STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. The bias they face in the workplace once they enter these jobs plays a huge role, too. And unsurprisingly that bias is especially intense and takes different forms when it comes to women of color.

The researchers interviewed 60 female scientists and surveyed 557 more, and confirmed Williams’s previous findings that there are four major patterns of bias women face at work:

  1. Having to prove their competence over and over again
  2. Walking a tightrope between being seen as too feminine to be competent and too masculine to be likable
  3. Having their commitment to their work and their competence questioned after they start families
  4. Navigating the tense relationships between women that result from the gender bias they all face

They also uncovered a fifth pattern that applied mostly to black and Latina women: isolation. These women said they were excluded from social events with their STEM colleagues (or excluded themselves because of negative experiences or fear of being judged), and that they fielded offensive comments and assumptions based on their identities.

Things like being mistaken for custodial and administrative staff understandably contributed to this experience.

The research also revealed other patterns based on race: For example, 37 percent of Asian women (compared with 26 percent of white women and 8 and 9 percent of black and Latina women, respectively) said they’d been encouraged by colleagues to work fewer hours after having children.

Williams used the findings to argue that those who are interested in retaining women in STEM careers need to listen to women — including women of color, specifically — about what’s happening to them and why they’re leaving, and develop objective metrics for eliminating this bias.


FOR ONCE, YOU have a great reason to be distracted from the goings-on on the Internet this week: You’ve been listening to the new Kendrick Lamar album,  thinking about race, and finding out those all-important nine things about him you needed to know in order to go on. That’s entirely understandable, but as you’d expect, there’s been a lot happening on the web that might have went under your radar as a result. As ever, we’re here to help, with this round-up of the strangest, stupidest, and Mr. T-iest things online. You’re welcome.

Big Barbie Is Listening

What Happened: Mattel revealed the next generation of Barbie dolls: a Barbie that can listen to what you’re saying. And then send recordings elsewhere via WiFi. No, really.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: Finally, someone has thought to use modern technology the way it was always intended—to create the next generation Teddy Ruxpin. Meet Hello Barbie, a doll that can “learn” about her owner by eavesdropping on conversations and storing that information in the cloud, thanks to an internal Wi-Fi connection. Unsurprisingly, not everyone is excited about this idea, with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launching a letter-writing campaignthis week to have production halted before the product launches later this year. Plenty of reportsexplaining why this doll is problematic surfaced as news of Hello Barbie spread with everyone across the political spectrum admitting that “surveillance Barbie,” as she’s now being described, sounded more than a little creepy. To date, Mattel hasn’t commented on the uproar, but don’t worry; pretty soon, they’ll have enough Hello Barbies out there that they’ll know exactly what we’re all saying about their toys.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon gets death threats after racist video 13 March 2015 Last updated at 17:21 ET

A Oklahoma fraternity whose members were filmed chanting a racist song has received death threats, a lawyer said.

Stephen JonesLawyer Stephen Jones did not detail the threats

Stephen Jones did not detail the threats that the University of Oklahoma students had received, but said authorities had been alerted.

The local chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon hired Mr Jones to “protect the rights” of its members, he said.

Two students were expelled and the fraternity house was closed after the video was posted online.

The video showed two members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity leading racist chants that said a black person would never be allowed to join the fraternity.

“Unfortunately, there have been some incidents involving current members of SAE where death threats have been placed, where there had been physical assaults or altercations on the University of Oklahoma campus, and where some of the students who are members have frankly been afraid to go to class,” Mr Jones told reporters on Friday.

Mr Jones said there was “no justification” for the slur-laden chants.

The high-profile lawyer did not lay out explicit demands but said that he had been hired to protect the “due process” rights for the local chapter’s members.

Students marching

Students have rallied against racism this week

“We are interested – where needed – to act to protect the due process rights, the first amendment rights, and the fourteenth amendment rights of the members,” he said told reporters.

He said that he was not seeking an apology from the university president, David Boren, who shut down the university’s SAE chapter as the scandal unfolded earlier this week.

In response to the video, students rallied against racism and in support of the student group on Monday.

He also hinted at a possible dispute between the fraternity and the university over ownership of the fraternity’s house.

He did not the rule out the possibility of lawsuit against the university, but said said he preferred a non-legal solution.

Mr Jones first came to prominence when he defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1995.

Fraternities are social organisations that college students, usually male, are given the option to join at many universities across the US. Sororities are a similar option for female students.

ISIS Ability to Recruit Women Baffles West, Strengthens Cause – By Paul D. Shinkman March 2, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EST

Success in stemming the youthful allure of the Islamic State group won’t come from attack jets.

An Iraqi Assyrian woman who fled from Mosul to Lebanon holds a placard depicting the map of Iraq and Syria, during a sit-in for abducted Christians in Syria and Iraq, at a church in Sabtiyesh area east Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.

An Iraqi Assyrian woman who fled from Mosul to Lebanon holds a placard depicting the map of Iraq and Syria, during a sit-in for abducted Christians in Syria and Iraq, at a church in Sabtiyesh area east Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday.

A young woman who says she lives in the United Kingdom posted last August to a Tumblr page reportedly run by recruiters for the Islamic State group.

“i so badly want to go to raqqah and live under the shariah and live in the land of khilafa but as a young muslimah in the uk it’s rly difficult,” she wrote, using another term for the “caliphate” the extremist network also known as ISIS or ISIL claims to have founded. “it hurts my heart to live here. I yearn to be the wife of a mujahid and support him and khilafa all the way.”

Moments later she received the same warm, welcoming and thoughtful response that so many others on the site had received before, reminiscent of a well-trained college campus tour guide.

“I swear by Allāh I completely understand the feeling,” the responder began, piling on empathy for the young woman’s fears of leaving her family at home for an unknown cause abroad. But the responder assured her she would find even more stability and support were she to travel to Syria and help solidify territory the group had claimed proudly, in blood.

“I refused in the west to marry anyone unless he was a mujahid, I wanted someone who fought for Allāhs deen,” the responder wrote. “And it is a beautiful feeling being married to a mujahid.”

Intolerance After The Violence: Paris Gun Attack (Dispatch 4) – Published on Feb 5, 2015

Terrorism has aggravated anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and social segregation across France. VICE News correspondent Milène Larsson travelled to Paris to see how the attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in early January have impacted its disparate communities.

Larsson meets the French branch of controversial political organization Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), which has gained support across Europe on the back of its anti-Islamization rhetoric. She also visits a Jewish school in Paris under heavy security, and speaks to activists from Muslim Students of France about the stigmatization of young muslims. Finally, she travels to the Paris suburb Villiers-sur-Marne — where a girlfriend of one of the attackers once lived — to find out what pushes young people towards radicalization.

Ignoring Christian Violence Isn’t Very Christian by Jack Jenkins Posted on February 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm Updated: February 6, 2015 at 7:40 pm

President Barack Obama inadvertently sparked both a theological and historical debate while speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, inciting a wave of criticism from conservatives for asserting that Islam is not, in fact, the only religion to struggle with issues of violence.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast. CREDIT: AP

Addressing a bevy of faith leaders that included the Dalai Llama, Obama spoke at length about the wrongs of militant terrorist groups like ISIS, who he said abuse the Islamic faith for their own goals. However, he also warned against the temptation to cast Islam as a uniquely violent religion, imploring Christians and others to look at their own history before passing judgement.

“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Obama said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

The President’s comments are, of course, accurate, and he went on to explain that his point was ultimately about maintaining religious humility. But his embrace of historical fact infuriated some conservatives, many of whom equated his reference to things such as the Crusades to an attack on Christianity. E.W. Jackson, a former candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia and a devotee of much-maligned “prosperity gospel” theology, bashed the President on the FOX and Friends television show, saying, “Mr. President, we’re not on our high horse. What we’re on is high alert. And the American people would like to know, for once, that you’re willing to defend Christianity and defend America instead of defending Islam.”

Well-known conservative pundits also weighed in. Rush Limbaugh dedicated an entire segment of his show to the comments, and Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said, “The evil actions that he mentioned were clearly outside the moral parameters of Christianity itself and were met with overwhelming moral opposition from Christians.” Naturally, the conservative Twitterverse also exploded with tweets deriding Obama’s remarks, and conservative media watchdog Matt Philbin snarked, “So Obama’s not interested in fighting radical Islam today because of stuff Christians did in the 11th Century.”