Malalagate, Patriotism, and Disingenuous Agendas

Thursday, 23 October 2014 06:00 am
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Posted by shireen

Last week, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai was declared a co-winner of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize, along with activist Kailash Satyarthi. Since then there have been numerous articles, support pieces and critiques addressing her win, and the expected conspiracy theories. The announcement even reheated a discussion on the validity and relevance of the Nobel Peace [Read More...]
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India and China alone account for 35 per cent of tuberculosis cases reported in 2013

With more than two million cases of tuberculosis, India remains on top in the list of countries carrying high burden of the disease. This fact has been highlighted in the Global Tuberculosis Report-2014 published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.

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World Health Organization and international community have been repeatedly slammed for delayed intervention

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While the whole world waits for the researchers to successfully invent a vaccine against the deadly Ebola, the progress towards finding an effective treatment is being hampered by a few ethical concerns.

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Index measures performance of 60 countries in the global green economy

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Germany and Denmark have emerged as the top two green performers of 2014 (based on perception), according to the fourth edition of the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI). Sweden and Norway, on the other hand, have scored the highest based on performance.

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The antidepressant not only affects starlings’ food habits but also their interest in mating

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Increasing consumption of anti-depressants by humans is affecting bird populations, according to a recent study. The drugs find their way into the food chain of other species through sewage and effluent. 

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By Arturo R. García

Well now this is interesting.

As Variety reported on Tuesday, the demand for a new Static Shock revival will finally be met, in perhaps the most unexpected of fashions: an online-only live-action series.

It’s also encouraging to see the revival of Milestone Entertainment’s signature character is being led by Milestone alumni: Film and comics veteran Reginald Hudlin will be the executive producer, in collaboration with Denys Cowan, who produced the much-missed animated series that Warner Brothers stubbornly left by the wayside years ago.

Cover to first Static Shock TPB, “Rebirth Of The Cool,” from Milestone Entertainment.

Pushing Static into the digital realm through its new Blue Ribbon Content imprint could help DC Entertainment in its bid to keep up with archrivals Marvel in that arena; the comics division has won popular and commercial praise for offering Smallville, Batman ’66 and the upcoming Wonder Woman ’77 as online exclusives.

The upside might be more than even DC anticipates: Static now has the benefit of returning to television after literally years of fans and critics (including this site) denouncing the company for letting him languish in the name of feeding executives’ apparent love for Silver Age white heroes.

This new incarnation is also arriving at a moment when the Black audience is growing online; according to Interactive One, that audience has grown by 30 percent since 2011 to an estimated 23 million viewers. Comparatively, the white online audience has only grown by 8 percent during the same span.

But as is the case with Cyborg, DC must now consider how to take advantage of Static’s new presence in its comics. Currently, the character is supposed to be featured in upcoming issues of Teen Titans. But it’s going to be hard for longtime fans to forgive how badly the company botched its relaunch as part of the New 52 era, in a short-lived run that “featured” original writer John Rozum, another Milestone alumnus, essentially get turfed out:

From the first issue on, I was essentially benched by Harvey Richards and artist/writer Scott McDaniel. All of my ideas and suggestions were met with disdain, and Scott McDaniel lectured me on how my method for writing was wrong because it wasn’t what the Robert McKee screenwriting book he read told him was the way to do things. The man who’d never written anything was suddenly more expert than me and the editor was agreeing with him. Scott had also never read a Static comic book, nor seen the cartoon series, yet was telling me that my dialogue didn’t sound true to the character and would “fix it.”

There was more concern about seeing that the title sold and didn’t get cancelled than there was in telling good stories and having something coherent to bring readers in. This is what led Harvey to insist on the stuff with the two Sharon’s and cutting off Static’s arm. He had no answers for how to resolve these things, but thought it would keep reader’s wowed enough to stick with the series. This, too, was frustrating. It was a lot of grasping at straws and trying to second guess what would keep it selling. It was decided that “bigger action” on every page of every issue was the key.

Static’s alter ego, Virgil, who was more important to the original series than his super hero persona, was put on the very back burner because Harvey said it wasn’t important and that the book just needed to be all action. One of my scripts was deemed too slow because there were a total of 4 pages where no one was hitting or shooting anything.

There’s little reason to believe that Cowan and Hudlin won’t want to avoid this kind of creative debacle. Nor should we doubt that they’ve considered the tremendous upside Static stands to give DC. The big question, as always, is whether a company that complained nobody would buy his action figures is willing to let them develop and deliver on that promise.

The post Re-Re-Birth Of The Cool: Static Shock Gets A Shocking Online Revival appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

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Passive smoking can expose non-smokers to three times the officially recommended levels of fine particulate matter

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imageA new study, published online in British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control peer-review journal, finds that non-smokers who live with smokers are exposed to three times the officially recommended levels of damaging air particles.

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Egypt is worried the Nile dam may affect the availability of water to downstream countries

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Renaissance dam, the $4 billion Ethiopian dam which is slated to be the largest on the continent, has become a cause for concern for Egypt, Sudan and other countries. They are worried that the project, whose reservoir will hold 74 billion cubic metres of Nile water, will disrupt flows to downstream countries.

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Congress leader who contested Assembly elections from Kudal in Sindhudurg district is known to be a key player in the mining lobby in the entire coastal belt

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imageOne of the most significant upsets in the Maharashtra elections was the ouster of former chief minister and Congress stalwart Narayan Rane in his stronghold of Kudal in Sindhudurg district.

Voices from a wounded land

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:48 am
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Posted by Anjali Nayar


For decades now the beautiful state of Manipur has been wracked by a violent insurgency and torn by the excesses of a draconian army. Anjali Nayar visits the state, bringing back poignant tales and the feeling of what it is like to live with fear.

Over 200 stalls of crackers gutted in Faridabad fire

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 01:19 am
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Rise in number of fire accidents hints at faulty implementation of various laws and regulations

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As many as 200 shops selling firecrackers in Haryana’s Faridabad were gutted in a fire on Tuesday evening. The shops were located around Dussehra Ground, one of the authorised places in the state for selling of fire crackers. This is also the biggest firecracker market in the area.

Who We Be Examines the War on Multiculuralism

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 06:30 pm
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Posted by Latoya Peterson

“Color is not a human or a personal reality, it is a political reality.” – James Baldwin

This is not a book review, because Who We Be isn’t really a book. It’s more of a thoughtful examination of how the United States arrived at this point in racial history.

Long time friend of the blog Jeff Chang is the author of the American Book award winning Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation and editor of the anthology Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip Hop. To say we’ve been waiting for Who We Be is an understatement.

But in the introduction, Chang frames the core of the most recent case of racial backlash. Explaining the outsized reaction by some whites to President Obama, Chang notes:

In the 1830s white minstrels had put on blackface, creating space for the white working class to challenge the elite, while keeping Blacks locked into their racial place. Obama now appeared as a dual symbol of oppression. Because of his Blackness, he was even more of an outsider—and in that sense, even more American—than them. But he was also the president. His Blackness did not just confer moral and existential claims, it was backed by the power of the state.

And there went everything.

As much as we like to talk about the inevitability of America being majority-minority in 2042, the events playing out across the nation show that most places are outright hostile to the idea that people of color are equal Americans, with the same rights, privileges, representation, and agenda setting power bestowed to whites. Chang turns his critical eye to shifts in culture which becomes documentation of rise (and fall?) of multiculturalism.

The opening chapter is on the funny pages and American comic culture acting as a barometer for race relations. Chang finds amazing gems – Morrie Turner’s Wee Pals frames the narrative since Turner was the first black syndicated cartoonist, but we also hear about the work of Jackie Ormes, Gus Arriola, Barbara Brandon-Croft, Ray Billingsley, George Harriman, Robb Armstrong, and Oliver Harrington.

Chang also points to the variety of issues at play in cartoons like the friendly Sambo model that led to popular characters like Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, and Bugs Bunny. Racism was even in the inking -comics used three colors: black, white, and the pinkish “flesh” tone. Anyone who did not conform became odd tones of purple. The modern world of comics hasn’t improved much – even with established cartoonists like Lalo Alcaraz and Keith Knight doing their thing, the Sunday comics pages have stubbornly resisted full integration.

From comics, Chang moves to art and the marketing of identity. Then on to politics, culture,The DREAMers, politics, war, neoliberalism, capitalism Occupy Wall Street and more in a bid to make racial sense of the country’s political mood.

While reading, one could wonder if society learned anything from the past 40 years? Or has polite society only learned to spout the “correct” answers? Later in the book, Chang discusses the phenomenon of people saying they want diversity, but seeing the reality play out in one of the biggest areas of segregation in America – housing:

How much did Americans value diversity and integration? Over the course of four decades, the Gallup survey had asked whites, “Would you move if great numbers of Blacks moved into your neighborhood?” In 1958, 79% said they would. In 1997, 75% said they would not. A month after Obama’s victory, a report from the Pew Research Center showed that almost 2 in 3 Americans—including 52% of Republicans, 60% of whites, 83% of Blacks, and 76% of 18-29 year olds—said that they preferred to live in a community made up of people who were a mix of different races. The numbers were similar for religious, political, and socioeconomic diversity.

Fully 68% of those making $100,000 or more a year—a significantly larger proportion than every other income bracket—said they preferred to live in a community with a mix of economic classes. But when Stanford professors Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff examined the data from 1970 to 2009, they found that not only had residential segregation by income soared, the wealthy had segregated themselves the fastest.

Large majorities told pollsters they wanted integrated schools and diversity in education. Pundits and politicians would often trot out such these polls as cause for optimism around racial justice issues. But in light of the actual social facts, the survey data looked less like an emerging consensus for cultural equity than evidence that multiculturalism had made some better primed to answer the questions “correctly.” For in this colorized generation, public schools were resegregating at a dramatic rate.

By 2010, 80% of Latinos and 74% of Blacks attended majority non-white schools. Around 40% of Blacks and Latinos in public schools attended hypersegregated schools in which 90-100% of the students were nonwhite. Blacks and Latinos were also twice as likely to attend a school predominantly serving low-income students than white or Asian students. White students were the most racially isolated of all—the average white student attended a school that was 75% white.

Resegregation did not escape even the rapidly diversifying suburbs or the most liberal strongholds. From city to exurb, the San Francisco Bay Area— one of the nation’s most diverse regions, the birthplace of the multiculturalism movement, and the site of Berkeley’s national model public school desegregation program—also boasted California’s highest rates of White isolation. Although white students made up only 28% of the Bay Area’s student-age population, 65% of them attended majority white schools. Those schools were eight times less likely than predominantly non-white ones to be deemed “high-problem” schools.

After 1968, busing, court orders, and district plans had helped to integrate the schools from the deep South to the Northwest. In turn school desegregation climbed sharply and peaked in the late 1980s. But then conservative challenges to desegregation mounted, and anti-integrationists began to accumulate victories in the courts and the legislatures. During the 1990s, while multiculturalists were winning the battle to change school curriculum and staffing, they were losing the battle to desegregate the next generation of public school students. By the new millennium, the same southern school systems that had made the most progress toward integration were the fastest to resegregate. Progress had always been fragile.

The book ends on equal parts heartbreak and hope, juxtaposing a few different stories to paint a picture of where we are.

The ambiguous ending fits the overall theme of the book – after all, isn’t that what we go through as people of color everyday?

Ultimately, Who We Be can feel a little disjointed – condensing America’s entire racial history in imagery is a major feat, and the book is much better at raising ideas and questions than providing concrete answers. But anyone who cares about racial equity should read this book – if for nothing else than to supply the foundation for our action.

Racialicious is giving away a copy of Who We Be. To enter, leave a comment addressing this question: “What does multiculturalism mean now and what needs to happen next?”

The post Who We Be Examines the War on Multiculuralism appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

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Posted by Arturo

By Arturo R. García

DC Entertainment scored a rare PR victory over archrival Marvel over the weekend when it announced its upcoming slate of films. At first glance, this latest take on the DC movie universe instantly puts Marvel’s to shame when it comes to inclusion.

But besides the far-flung timetable involved, it very much remains to be seen whether the company is willing to put in the work to elevate its non-white heroes to a position befitting their upcoming roles on the big screen.

Here’s how the schedule looks, courtesy of Slate:

Not only does this signal the long-awaited arrival of Wonder Woman in her own solo feature, but the Flash movie will be led by a queer actor in Ezra Miller. And that’s before getting to the two POC leads in Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and, perhaps more surprisingly, Ray Fisher starring as Cyborg.

Ray Fisher (right) will play Cyborg for DC Entertainment. image via wn.com

If you’ve never heard of Fisher, don’t be surprised; according to IMDB, his appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will constitute his first major on-screen role. No pressure, right?

But look at the timeline again. Throw in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appearing in Shazam, and it’s likely that POC will not be prominent in a DCE film for at least three years. The X-factor here is Suicide Squad, which appears to be on the fast track and should by all rights include Amanda Waller. Even if it means the “sexy” version unveiled three years ago as part of the company’s comics relaunch.

A cynical observer might point out that waiting until 2018 for an Aquaman film starring Momoa and Fisher’s starring role two years(!) later gives DC enough time to scuttle their plans if Dawn of Justice is as much of a disappointment as Man of Steel. Or that Aquaman and Cyborg’s position in the movie pipeline reflects their standing within the Justice League. They’re such valued members that the Suicide Squad got the nod first, and Cyborg has to wait for two Justice League movies before getting his shot. A cynic might argue that the only reason Cyborg isn’t dead last is because Ryan Reynolds’ turn as Hal Jordan was enough of a flop that the Green Lantern movie brand still hasn’t recovered.

Cyborg in the “Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians” cartoon. Image via DC Wikia.

On the bright side, DC now has no excuse to decisively elevate Cyborg into the top tier of its roster, even if most sensible fans wish John Stewart were getting that same treatment. It’s important to remember, first of all, that Victor Stone’s inclusion in the Justice League’s “New 52″ comics roster isn’t without precedent; in 1985, the character was featured on the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians animated series, the final incarnation of the venerable SuperFriends franchise.

Cyborg on the cover of “Tales of the New Teen Titans” #1, as published in June 1982. Image via Wikipedia.

Then, as now, Cyborg was the junior member of the team — the POV character for the audience and the team’s designated IT person. Which probably seemed fine to casual viewers, but was in fact a reduction of his much larger role in DC’s hottest property of that time, the Teen Titans comic. As conceived by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, the Victor Stone of the ’80s had the benefit of a full journey from being horrified at his condition to eventually leading the team and forging a new family relationship with them.

But just as John Stewart went from a stalwart hero to one with a higher profile thanks to the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series, another version of the Titans brand put Cyborg in the public eye:

Cyborg in the “Teen Titans Go!” animated series. Image via Fanpop.com.

It’s very possible that, to non-comics fans, their image of Cyborg is of the high-appetite, high-energy version from Teen Titans Go!. A funny guy, sure, but maybe not the kind of hero that’s going to fill up a multiplex. If DC is serious about making the character the next great POC movie superhero, we’d like to argue that the company needs to split the difference: show his traumatic origin, sure, but take him beyond the JLA’s sidekick and let his film reach for the afrofuturistic heights he’s perfectly positioned to reach. A movie-going public living in an increasingly tech-reliant world could really get behind a hero who can plumb the depths of the grid from anywhere in the physical world. If DC wants to end its “phase one” with a bang, it needs to stop treating Cyborg like the last one in line, and understand that for this position in pop culture, he’s the first of his kind.

The post On DC Entertainment, Cyborg, And Going Back To The Afrofuture appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.

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Increase in radioactivity blamed on the recent typhoon, Phanfone

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The level of radioactive contamination in underground water near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan rose to record levels after the country was hit by a typhoon last week, says Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK.

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Lack of livelihood options makes herders more vulnerable

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Extreme weather events such as drought, torrential rains and floods are making life hard for the pastoral community in Kenya. This group is particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change because of their low adaptability to unpredictable weather patterns.

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The government hopes these measures will protect the fast-diminishing rhino population

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The South African government has started moving its rhinos to safer parts from Kruger National Park, after poachers killed 769 rhinos in the country this year.
Gerry Swan, chairperson of the South African National Parks conservation and tourism committee, confirms that 20 rhinos were moved to secret locations last week.

New study links diabetes with stress

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 01:22 pm
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People with type-2 diabetes have weakened biological ability to recover from stress

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A study conducted by the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London has found that there is a link between type-2 diabetes, increased exposure to stress and a weakened biological ability to recover from stress.

Northern white rhino on verge of extinction

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 01:12 pm
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Only six members left after male’s death on Friday

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Northern white rhinoceros, the extremely rare subspecies of white rhino, moved one step closer to extinction last Friday, when one of the last breeding males died in captivity in a Kenya conservancy, media reports said.

Amazon deforestation up by 190 per cent

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 10:50 am
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Satellite data shows 402 square km of the forest—an area more than two times the area of Kolkata—was cleared in September alone

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Photo by Araquiem Alcantara, courtesy Imazon

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