Friday, February 23, 2018

21st century Slavery : College Athletes talents pay for ordinary Non-Athletic Scolarships



IN THE UNITED STATES, college athletes — particularly those who compete at some of the largest football and basketball programs — generate not millions but billions of dollars for universities, brands, and television networks. In 2015, the top programs made a combined $9.1 billion. The NCAA, for its part, just signed an $8.8 billion dollar deal with CBS to air March Madness, the college basketball championship tournament.
College sports is a business – a very lucrative business.
That very obvious dynamic undergirds a lawsuit filed by former NCAA athlete Lawrence “Poppy” Livers asserting that scholarship students who play sports are employees and deserve pay. The Livers case argues that student-athletes who get scholarships should at least be paid as work-study students for the time they put in.
What the NCAA did in response to the lawsuit is as vile as anything going on in sports right now.
What the NCAA did in response to the lawsuit is as vile as anything going on in sports right now. I had to see it for myself before I believed it. At the root of its legal argument, the NCAA is relying on one particular case for why NCAA athletes should not be paid. That case is Vanskike v. Peters.
Only there’s an important detail: Daniel Vanskike was a prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, and Howard Peters was the Director of the state Department of Corrections. In 1992, Vanskike and his attorneys argued that as a prisoner he should be paid a federal minimum wage for his work. The court, in its decision, cited the 13th Amendment and rejected the claim.
The 13th Amendment is commonly hailed as the law that finally ended slavery in America. But the amendment has an important carve-out: it kept involuntary service legal for those who have been convicted of a crime. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” the amendment says. It’s that phrase — “except as a punishment for crime” — which allows American prisons to force their inmates to do whatever work they want or need them to do.
The use of the case stems from several other law cases alleging unpaid labor; two of them are previous lawsuits against the NCAA in which the case was cited as precedent, and the NCAA won.

Livers v. NCAA Filing on Comparison of Student-Athletes to Prisoners18 pages

IN THEIR RESPONSE to the NCAA’s motion to dismiss, Livers’s lawyers are arguing that the precedent was mistaken for applying the 13th Amendment exception for unpaid prison labor in a case dealing with non-prisoners.
“Defense Counsel’s insistence that Vanskike be applied here is not only legally frivolous, but also deeply offensive to all Scholarship Athletes – and particularly to African-Americans,” Livers’s rebuttal to the NCAA’s motion says. “Comparing athletes to prisoners is contemptible.”
“Comparing athletes to prisoners is contemptible.”
The NCAA is showing an incorrigible nerve to use this case, Vanskike v. Peters, as one of its justifications for not paying student-athletes. The Vanskike case has been cited in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals 14 times before, but in each of those 14 cases there were prisoners arguing that they should be paid a fair wage for their work.
Yet the NCAA wants to rely on this case and to call on the 13th Amendment. The body that runs college sports wants to use a justification for the slave labor of convicted criminals to justify its outrageous greed.
This is not just bad optics. It gets to the heart of what the multibillion-dollar enterprise that is the NCAA thinks not just of its athletes, but of its core business model. It is, in essence, admitting that student-athletes are working as slave laborers and as such do not deserve fair compensation.
Bigotry has a way of revealing itself. And that is exactly what the NCAA — by leaning on the case of a prisoner demanding he be paid as its justification for denying their athletes a wage of any kind — has done here. It has revealed itself to us.
Top photo: South Carolina players sit in the locker room after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Gonzaga, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

Schools See Major Uptick In Racial Harassment, New Data Suggests


Racial harassment complaints to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights increased nearly 25 percent between fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

It’s “distressingly unsurprising,” one former Education Department official says.

The U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights division saw a significant increase in the number of complaints it received regarding racial harassment in schools, including post-secondary institutions, in 2017, according to data the department provided to HuffPost. The increase represents the biggest rise in this category since at least 2009, the earliest consecutive year for which we could find publicly reported numbers in this category. 
The number of racial harassment discrimination complaints the department’s civil rights division receives has ebbed and flowed over the last nine years. It did not receive more than 600 complaints until fiscal year 2017, when the number climbed to 675, a nearly 25 percent increase from the previous year. Previously, the number had bounced between a low of 362 and a high of 577. 
The Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, is charged with addressing complaints under Title VI, the federal law that protects students from discrimination based on race, color and national origin.
The Department of Education provided the numbers in response to an inquiry from HuffPost. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment when asked about potential reasons for this uptick, or to a request about numbers from earlier than 2009, by press time. 
Catherine Lhamon, who ran OCR during the Obama administration, said she could not speculate on the reasons for this increase, but pointed to outside data showing a surge in hate crimes nationally.
“Our schools are places that encapsulate and reflect the national climate as well,” said Lhamon, who is now chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “It is distressingly unsurprising that there might be an uptick in racial harassment complaints coming to OCR.” 
Zoe Savitsky, deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, pointed to the numbers as evidence that the Trump administration is creating a toxic national environment that is in turn affecting schools. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center started surveying teachers about how the election had influenced their school’s climate. Many teachers reported seeing an increase in hateful language and attitudes toward marginalized student groups. 
“I am saddened but not surprised,” said Savitsky of the rise in racial harassment complaints in schools.
Our schools are places that encapsulate and reflect the national climate.Catherine Lhamon, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
In general, grievances regarding discrimination related to race and national origin appear to have mostly held steady between 2016 and 2017, per documents related to the department’s budget request released last week. But within that category, harassment complaints underwent a specific leap. Other types of complaints that involve race or national origin might cover disproportionate disciplining of minority students or segregation. 
The record number of harassment complaints comes as OCR has begun scaling back its operations under the Trump administration. The Education Department recently announced that it would no longer deal with discrimination complaints involving transgender students’ use of bathrooms. Last June, OCR announced that its attorneys would spend less time searching for evidence of systemic discrimination at public schools and universities in order to work through a backlog of complaints. The administration’s proposed budget for next year, released earlier this month, indicates that it plans to significantly shrink the number of employees working at OCR. 
Between 2016 and 2017, OCR saw a 23 percent drop in the number of complaints it received overall. This decrease, though, could be attributable to a single individual who filed over 6,000 complaints in 2016. Notwithstanding this complainant, the office actually saw a significant increase in overall complaints in 2017.
An Education Department spokesperson also provided HuffPost with numbers showing that complaints regarding incidents of sexual violence in schools, including at K-12 schools and universities, held mostly steady in 2017 after a huge uptick in 2016. 
Notably, in 2017, OCR also provided fewer technical assistance sessions, in which education department staffers advise public school officials and other stakeholders about their obligations under civil rights law. OCR held 250 sessions in 2015 and 295 in 2016. In 2017, the office held only 188. 
A spokesperson for the Education Department did not respond to inquiries about why this number might have decreased. 
Lhamon said she found the decrease concerning.
I was sick about how few technical assistance sessions we were able to offer in my time,” she said. “Reducing the number means OCR reaches fewer willing audiences about how to do what Congress has commanded and make sure students are safe.”

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Weekend Box Office: 'Black Panther' Bounds to Record-Shattering $235M-Plus Bow

Estimates for the history-making movie keep going up and up; overseas, it amasses $169 million for an estimated global launch of $404 million.

Estimates for the history-making movie keep going up and up; overseas, it amasses $169 million for an estimated global launch of $404 million.




In a defining moment for Hollywood, Disney and Marvel Studios' Black Panther exploded at the Presidents Day box office, bounding to a record-shattering estimate of $201.8 million for the three-day weekend and a projected $235 million-plus for the four-day holiday frame.
Those grosses are substantially ahead of Sunday's estimates of $192 million and $218 million, respectively. Overall revenue for the holiday weekend looks to be up a staggering 88 percent over last year, pushing revenue year-to-date in the black by nearly 7 percent.
The Ryan Coogler-directed movie — unprecedented in being a big-budget studio tentpole featuring a virtually all-black cast — secured the fifth-biggest domestic opening of all time after blasting past all expectations. And it nabbed one of the top four-day grosses of all time after stomping past Jurassic World ($234.1 million) to land behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($241.6 million) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($288.1 million). Black Panthercould climb even higher once weekend numbers are tallied Tuesday morning (head here for final numbers); rival studios put the four-day gross in the $240 million range.
On Sunday alone, the movie grossed an estimated $60.1 million, the second-biggest Sunday ever behind Force Awakens ($60.6 million).
Other records broken include that of the biggest opening for an African-American director, the top-scoring superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes (97 percent) and the biggest February bow, supplanting previous champ Deadpool, which took in $152.2 million over the four-day Presidents Day weekend in 2016.
Playing in 4,020 theaters, Black Panther is being fueled by a diverse audience. According to comScore, 37 percent of ticket buyers were African-American. Caucasians made up the next largest group (35 percent), followed by Hispanics (18 percent). That sort of demographic breakdown is unheard of for a marquee superhero tentpole. On average, African-Americans make up about 15 percent of the audience for such fare. Females also turned out in force to see Black Panther, heralded for its portrayal of strong women, making up 45 percent of all ticket buyers (that share is usually 35 percent-40 percent on a superhero movie's opening weekend).


"There are seven billion people on this planet and they come from all walks of life. Audiences deserve to see themselves reflected on the big screen. Beyond being the right thing to do, it makes for richer storytelling," says Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis.
Adds Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster, "Representation matters. Get OutWonder WomanCoco and now Black Panther show Hollywood that authenticity and inclusiveness wins."
Black Panther, which cost $200 million to make before marketing, was a bold move on the part of Disney and Marvel's Kevin Feige.
In the film, Chadwick Boseman stars as T'Challa/Black Panther alongside Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. The story, described as a tale of black power and black pride in addition to its superhero themes, follows T'Challa as he is sworn in as king of Wakanda, a cloaked, technologically advanced nation in Africa that is home to the exotic metal vibranium, the source of Black Panther's powers.
Audiences bestowed Black Panther with an A+ CinemaScore (the only other Marvel title to earn the mark was Avengers).

Black Panther hits theaters almost a year after Jordan Peele's maverick horror film Get Out transformed into a box-office sensation, although that was a genre pic. And in summer 2017, filmmaker Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, featuring a female protagonist, became the highest-grossing live-action film from a female director.
Overseas — where American films with a black cast can face challenges — Black Panther opened in virtually every major market save for Russia (Feb. 22), Japan (March 1) and China (March 9). The movie earned a mighty $169 million for an estimated global bow of $404 million through Monday, including a hefty $35 million from Imax locations around the world, the top showing ever for Marvel title.
Black Panther came in ahead of expectations overseas, but certainly not to the extent it did in North America. Still, it secured the 25th biggest international debut of all time, opening No. 1 in almost every territory. South Korea led with $25.3 million, the fifth-biggest start ever for a Western title. The U.K./Ireland followed with a $24.8 million launch, the best showing of any Marvel title behind Avengers: Age of Ultron and eclipsing the entire runs of Justice LeagueAnt-Man and the first installments in the Captain America and Thor franchises.
In North America, the only movies that dared to open nationwide opposite Black Panther were Lionsgate and Aardman Animation's family film Early Man and Pure Flix's faith-based pic Samson. Early Man placed No. 7 with an estimated four-day gross of $4.2 million from 2,492 theaters, while Samson came in No. 11 with an estimated $1.9 million from 1,249 cinemas.
Among holdovers vying for attention over Presidents Day weekend, Sony and Aardman's animated family film Peter Rabbit placed No. 2 with $23.1 million for a domestic total of $54.1 million, followed by Universal's Fifty Shades Freed with $19.4 million in its second outing for a seductive global total of $268.4 million.
Sony's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle came in No. 4 with $10 million as it crossed the $900 million mark globally to become the studio's No. 2 title of all time behind Skyfall after passing up Spider-Man 3, not accounting for inflation. Clint Eastwood's The 15:17 to Paris, from Warner Bros., rounded out the top five with $9.1 million in its second weekend for a global total of $37.6 million.
Fox's The Greatest Showman continued to sing loudly, coming in No. 6 with $6.3 million for a domestic total of $155.6 million. On Saturday, the original musical surpassed La La Land ($151.1 million). Songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who are up for an Oscar for best original song, also wrote the music for La La LandGreatest Showman now ranks as the No. 4 musical of all time domestically, not adjusted for inflation. Its international tally is $155.6 million for a global total of $341.2 million.

Weekend Box Office 2/18/18

3-Day Weekend Box Office Estimates - Source: comScore
WEEKENDCUMETHEATERSWEEK
1. Black Panther$235M$235M4,0201
2. Peter Rabbit$23.1M$54.1M3,7252
3. Fifty Shades Freed$19.4M$78.6M3,7682
4. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle$10M$379.7M2,8009
5. The 15:17 to Paris$9.1M$26.9M3,0422
6. The Greatest Showman$6.3M$155.6M1,9369
7. Early Man$4.2M$4.2M2,4941
8. Maze Runner: The Death Cure$3.2M$54.6M1,8924
9. Winchester$2.6M$22.2M1,4793
10. The Post$2.5M$77.1M1,0509



Monday, February 12, 2018

Nas Performs Entire Illmatic LP with a Symphony + Interviews and More!





Trump Expands Empire's War on Protests in US



At Trump's inauguration, around 200 protesters and journalists were mass arrested and now face up to 70 years in prison on baseless charges. Many other legal assaults on civil liberties are in the works around the country, from treating anti-fascists as "domestic terrorists", to legislation protecting drivers who run over peaceful marchers. To explore what this means for U.S. activists today, Abby Martin sits down with constitutional rights lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, head of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (JusticeOnline.org), a premiere legal organization defending protest rights. Verheyden-Hilliard has litigated, and won, several cases against the U.S. government for mass arrests and other types of repression.

Link: https://youtu.be/IWI7fyCVZLs