thepoliticalfreakshow:

A 15-year old boy with ADHD, comprehension delay disorder, and an anxiety disorder recorded classmates bullying him in school. But instead of reprimanding the tormentors, school officials targeted the boy for wiretapping — and he was later convicted of disorderly conduct by a district judge.

Using an iPad, a student at South Fayette High School in Pennsylvania whose name is undisclosed, recorded a seven minute video of his peers trying to harass him. In the recording, two other students discuss pulling the victim’s pants down, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. And a loud noise is heard further into the recording, after which a student said, “I was just trying to scare him.”

According to the victim, being bullied is a daily occurrence. Speaking to South Fayette District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet, he explained, “This wasn’t just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.” He revealed that he used the iPad to expose what was happening to him. “Because I always felt like it wasn’t me being heard,” the boy told McGraw-Dismet.

The high school staff knew about the bullying prior to the iPad incident. Assistant Principal Aaron Skrbin testified that Shea Love, the victim’s mother, previously voiced concerns about the tormentors. Last October, she approached the school when a classmate targeted the victim with spitwads — but Skrbin did not “[classify] that as bullying.”

When school officials learned about the recording, Principal Scott Milburn contacted local police on February 12, for what he considered a “wiretapping incident.” After approaching the boy for questioning, South Fayette Lieutenant Robert Kurta told him to dispose of the recording, and charged him with disorderly conduct. In Pennsylvania, the low-level crime is known as a “summary offense,” and does not typically result in jail time for juveniles. Nonetheless, they can stay on a juvenile’s criminal record. McGraw-Desmet later upheld the charges, fining the student “a minimum of $25.” The 15-year old was also ordered to pay court costs. Love is currently trying to get the decision reversed.

Statistics show that millions of students are bullied every year, and that teachers only intervene in 4 percent of incidents.

Meanwhile, teachers and school officials frequently turn to police to handle disciplinary violations at school, in what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Last December, for example, a group of three African American boys were charged for disorderly conduct after police claimed they were blocking “pedestrian traffic while standing on the sidewalk.” The three students were waiting for a school bus.

thepoliticalfreakshow:

n a recent Sunday afternoon, the Reverend William Barber II reclined uncomfortably in a chair in his office, sipping bottled water as he recovered from two hours of strenuous preaching. When he was in his early 20s, Barber was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful arthritic condition affecting the spine. Still wearing his long black robes, the 50-year-old minister recounted how, as he’d proclaimed in a rolling baritone from the pulpit that morning, “a crippled preacher has found his legs.”

It began a few days before Easter 2013, recalled Barber, pastor at the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “On Maundy Thursday, they chose to crucify voting rights,” he said.

"They" are North Carolina Republicans, who in November 2012 took control of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in more than a century. Among their top priorities—along with blocking Medicaid expansion and cutting unemployment benefits and higher-education spending—was pushing through a raft of changes to election laws, including reducing the number of early voting days, ending same-day voter registration, and requiring ID at the polls. "That’s when a group of us said, ‘Wait a minute, this has just gone too far,’" Barber said.

Barber “believed we needed to kind of burst this bubble of ‘There’s nothing we can do for two years until the next election.’”

On the last Monday of April 2013, Barber led a modest group of clergy and activists into the state legislative building in Raleigh. They sang “We Shall Overcome,” quoted the Bible, and blocked the doors to the Senate chambers. Barber leaned on his cane as capitol police led him away in handcuffs.

That might have been the end of just another symbolic protest, but then something happened: The following Monday, more than 100 protesters showed up at the capitol. Over the next few months, the weekly crowds at the “Moral Mondays” protests grew to include hundreds, and then thousands, not just in Raleigh but also in towns around the state. The largest gathering, in February, drew more than 15,000 people. More than 900 protesters have been arrested for civil disobedience over the past year. Copycat movements have started in FloridaGeorgiaSouth Carolina, and Alabama in response to GOP legislation regarding Medicaid and gun control.

With Moral Mondays, Barber has channeled the pent-up frustration of North Carolinians who were shocked by how quickly their state had been transformed into a laboratory for conservative policies. “He believed we needed to kind of burst this bubble of ‘There’s nothing we can do for two years until the next election,’” explains Al McSurely, a longtime NAACP organizer. But what may be most notable about Barber’s new brand of civil rights activism is how he’s taken a partisan fight and presented it as an issue that transcends party or race—creating a more sustained pushback against Republican overreach than anywhere else in the country.

Barber’s activism is rooted in his family’s history. In the 1960s, his parents moved back to eastern North Carolina from Indianapolis to help desegregate the local schools. His father, also a preacher, taught science at a formerly all-white high school. His mother became the school’s first black office manager. Students called her “nigger” before they finally learned to call her “Mother Barber.”

Barber fears that Republican lawmakers’ efforts to expand private-school vouchers will resegregate the very schools his parents worked to integrate. As NAACP president, he helped pass legislation establishing same-day voter registration and expanding death penalty appeals—bills that Republicans repealed in the last legislative session.

In 1993, a flare-up of his condition left him hospitalized, and he spent the next dozen years relying on a walker to get around. Exercise, faith, and “a little miracle and medicine” fueled his recovery—along with a good health plan. “I never want to have health insurance and see other members of the human family denied,” he says. “It’s immoral.” He shakes his head at lawmakers who receive generous benefits only to try to deny their constituents access to Obamacare or expanded Medicaid. “The logic doesn’t compute.”

"This is no mere hyperventilation or partisan pouting. This is a fight for the future and soul of our state."

Barber says his emphasis on morality is inspired by his predecessors in the civil rights movement. “They first had to win the moral high ground, and they had to capture the attention and consciousness of the nation,” he explains. “When those two things came together, it gave space for people like Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was a segregationist, to step out of his normal pattern of politics into a new way.” Barber says that Moral Mondays’ broad appeal is reflected in state Republicans’ sagging popularity: A February poll found that just 36 percent of North Carolina voters approved of Gov. Pat McCrory’s job performance; 28 percent approved of the General Assembly’s.

With North Carolina Democrats still in disarray following their drubbing in 2012, some progressives are looking to Barber to lead them out of the wilderness. “It’s our job to take this energy and turn it into reality at the polls,” says Democratic Party chairman Randy Voller.

But to Barber, the movement’s success is not tied to the ballot box. Rather, it’s in moments like the cold Saturday morning in February when tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of the capital. Black, white, gay, and straight, they came from churches and synagogues wearing rainbow flags for marriage equality, pink caps for Planned Parenthood, and stickers reading “North Carolina: First in Teacher Flight.” When it was Barber’s turn to speak, the crowd fell silent.

"Make no mistake—this is no mere hyperventilation or partisan pouting," he intoned, his voice rising and breaking. "This is a fight for the future and soul of our state. It doesn’t matter what the critics call us…They can deride us, they can try to deflect from the issue. And we understand that, because they can’t debate us on the issue. They can’t make their case on moral and constitutional grounds."

Source: Lisa Rab for Mother Jones

opensecretsdc:

Good morning! Here’s why one of our reporting interns thinks OpenSecrets.org should #WinaWebby for Best Political Site.

Vote for us here.

Want to see where we’ve been cited in the news? http://bit.ly/1q1R1sj

jazzypom:

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Colombian novelist and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, who died Thursday at the age of 87, wrote some of the most beautiful words ever put to paper. If you studied Spanish, if you studied English, if you studied literature of any kind, you likely read some of them. 

Two of his greatest literary achievements were Love in the Time of Choleraand One Hundred Years of Solitude — a novel that some argue contains the mostbeautiful opening sentence of all time: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” 

Those beautiful words are only one example of the incredible linguistic and literary legacy García Márquez leaves behind. Considered the father of magical realism and the most important Spanish-language author since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, García Márquez’ powerful impact on the literary world will not be soon forgotten. 

Enjoyed by readers of all generations, García Márquez’ words and language often offer the best advice for young people. Here are some of his greatest insights to carry with you, on life and love. 

1. On existence

"It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment." — One Hundred Years of Solitude 

2. On inspiration

"If I had to give a young writer some advice I would say to write about something that has happened to him; it’s always easy to tell whether a writer is writing about something that has happened to him or something he has read or been told." — The Art of Fiction

3. On children

"She discovered with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them." — Love in the Time of Cholera

4. On happiness

"No medicine cures what happiness cannot.” 

5. On aging

"It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” 

6. On marriage

"The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast." — Love in the Time of Cholera 

7. On memory

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

8. On regret

"Tell him yes. Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no." — Love in the Time of Cholera

9. On memories

"No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had." — Memories of My Melancholy Whores

10. On death

"A person doesn’t die when he should but when he can." — One Hundred Years of Solitude

11. On wisdom

"Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good." — Love in the Time of Cholera 

12. On poetry

"He repeated until his dying day that there was no one with more common sense, no stonecutter more obstinate, no manager more lucid or dangerous, that a poet." — Love in the Time of Cholera 

13. On love

"There is always something left to love." —One Hundred Years of Solitude

Source: Elena Sheppard for Policy Mic

Gah, such a writer. The world is dimmer now that he’s gone.