Mixed Media

Local NAACP President Is Lying About Being Black, Parents Say

| Fri Jun. 12, 2015 11:25 AM EDT

The president of a local NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, is currently under investigation after her parents, both of whom are white, publicly accused her of lying about being African American.

On Thursday, the city announced it was looking into the allegations of whether Rachel Dolezal, who also serves as the chair of Spokane's Office of Police Ombudsman Commission and is an adjunct professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, violated the city's code of ethics by falsely identifying herself as African-American in order to serve as chair.

The controversy erupted earlier this week, when Dolezal's parents, Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal, announced that their daughter was fabricating her ancestry. In fact, they say, she is part Swedish, Czech, and German with "traces" of Native American heritage. Her parents supported their claims with official documents including a birth certificate presented to CDA Press

"It is very disturbing that she has become so dishonest," Ruthanne said in a recent phone interview with CDA Press.

There are other problems as well. For example, a photo posted on the Spokane NAACP chapter's Twitter account earlier this year shows Dolezal with an African-American man identified in the caption as her father. When asked about the allegations and the photo by a KXLY reporter, Dolezal was evasive and then abruptly walked away.

The photo, which has since been removed, can be seen below:

In an interview published by the Seattle Times on Thursday, Dolezal called the allegations a "multi-layered" issue and again did not respond to any direct questions.

Instead she struck a more philosophical note, saying, "There's a lot of complexities and I don't know that everyone would understand that. We're all from the African continent."

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America Didn’t Get to See John Oliver’s Latest Work of Comic Genius. Here It Is.

| Wed Jun. 10, 2015 4:20 PM EDT

Since last year's World Cup in Brazil, comedian John Oliver has used his Last Week Tonight perch to sound off about the ongoing allegations of corruption and human rights abuses involving FIFA, soccer's governing body. On Tuesday night, he brought that criticism to a new venue: Trinidadian television.

His target? Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who is among those accused of facilitating bribes—and who bought airtime in his native Trinidad and Tobago just last week to claim he would expose his co-conspirators in a paid advertisement called "The Gloves Are Off." (Warner, you might remember, is the same guy who recently took an Onion article a bit too seriously.)

In a four-minute segment called "John Oliver: The Mittens of Disapproval Are On," Oliver called on Warner to follow through on his warning and release all his proof of FIFA's wrongdoing:

CIA Tells "King of the Bros" He Can't See Bin Laden's Porn Stash

| Wed Jun. 10, 2015 3:58 PM EDT

If you were hoping to score a peek at Osama Bin Laden's pile of smut, arguably the most salacious stuff collected when Navy SEALs raided his hideout in Pakistan, it looks like you're out of luck: The White House is keeping good on its word to keep the reported porn stash under wraps.

Last month, David Covucci, the self-proclaimed "King of the Bros," sent the CIA the following FOIA request to view the X-rated spoils of the war on terror:

We at the men's general interest publication BroBible dot com (one of the nation's largest websites for men), would like to know what pornographic materials Osama Bin Laden had in his possession at the time of his death.

We are adults. We can handle it. We would like to know what kind of porn the world's most wanted man jerked it to. Does being under the constant threat of capture require extra stimulation? I imagine it would be hard for him to focus on his dick, so I figure he had to watch some really nasty shit.

Uncovering Bin Laden's pornography is a matter of great importance to Covucci. The government's refusal to disclose it, is "fucking bullshit nanny state bullshit," he recently wrote on BroBible.

Alas, the CIA denied his valiant effort because the porn—if it even exists at all—is classified as "operational," according to a letter it sent Covucci. Oh, and the agency insists it can't send "obscene matter" through the mail:

With regard to the pornographic material Osama Bin Laden had in his possession at the time of his death, responsive records, should they exist, would be contained in the operational files. The CIA Information Act, 50 U.S.C 431, as amended, exempts CIA operational files from search, review, publication, and disclosure requirements of the FOIA. To the extent that this material exists, the CIA would be prohibited by 18 USC Section 1461 from mailing obscene matter.

Fist-bump for actually getting a response from the CIA, though!

Jon Stewart Slams the "Asshole" Cop Who Pulled a Gun on Unarmed Black Teens at a Texas Pool Party

| Tue Jun. 9, 2015 10:38 AM EDT

Jon Stewart is just as horrified as you over the shocking video footage that emerged over the weekend showing a white police officer pointing a gun at a group of black teenagers during a Texas pool party.

Dubbing the segment "Assault Swim," Stewart took to the Daily Show on Monday to address the violent party, asking viewers, "How do you go from a pool party to this?"

The video from Friday's pool party, which shows officer Eric Casebolt waving a gun at the teenagers and even throwing a 14-year-old girl to the ground while she cries for help, has provoked national outrage over what many say is another example of excessive, racially-motivated policing.

But Jessica Williams, dressed in full-body armor, appeared on Monday to point out rather depressingly, the incident is actually an improvement in terms of police-community relations.

"It's progress Jon because a cop pulled a gun on a group of black kids and no one is dead."

John Oliver Explains How America's Bail System Destroys the Lives of the Poor

| Mon Jun. 8, 2015 9:18 AM EDT

In the United States, an overwhelming number of defendants spend time behind bars simply because they can't afford to pay bail—a situation that disproportionately hurts the poor and leads many people to plead guilty to crimes just to avoid jail time, regardless of guilt.

"The frequency and cost of bail have risen dramatically," John Oliver explained on Sunday. "In 2013, an analysis of New Jersey's jail population found that nearly 40 percent were being held solely because they couldn't meet the terms of their bail."

"If 40 percent of a group don't meet the basic criteria to be there, that should change your perception of what that group is."

But even a short stint in jail, oftentimes the only option for the poor, can end up ruining lives for a long time after.

"Jail can do for your actual life what being in a marching band can do for your social life," Oliver said. "Even if you're just in for a little while it can destroy you."

This is made all the more depressing, considering pre-trail services exist and offer a better and even cheaper alternative. Watch Oliver's segment below:

For more on the shady, highly lucrative bail industry, read our in-depth report here.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin's Fog of Sound

| Mon Jun. 8, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
The High Country
Polyvinyl

Modest to a fault, the understated Missouri band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (aka SSLYBY) has quietly compiled a stellar catalogue of state-of-the-art pop over the past decade. Briskly dispatching 11 songs in under a half-hour, SSLYBY's fifth studio album is an entrancing fog of sound, highlighted by buzzing guitars and blurry-yet-insistent vocals, with noisier-than-usual drums adding to a sense of hazy urgency. While numerous groups use interesting textures to compensate for a lack of solid material, the tunes on The High Country are smart and catchy, and could be covered in any number of styles. Although it's possible to hear echoes of R.E.M. in the intertwined guitars and voices, and the taut melodies sometimes evoke Spoon (who sound jaded and weary by comparison), SSLYBY seems to be getting more original, and younger, by the album.

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This Is the Most Heart-Wrenching News Photo of the Week

| Fri Jun. 5, 2015 2:58 PM EDT
Chinatopix/AP

This remarkable photo captures the grim reality setting in for the relatives of those aboard the Eastern Star cruiser, which capsized and sank Monday on China's Yangtze River: the vanishing chance that any more people will be found alive.

In the foreground, dozens of paramilitary policemen dressed in white overalls wait to recover bodies after the ship was lifted by cranes. For most of the week, the boat sat in the water with just its hull exposed, as passengers' families became increasingly desperate for answers from secretive government officials.

More than 100 bodies have been recovered, according to Chinese state media. There were only 14 survivors, a fraction of the 456 passengers, most of them elderly tourists.

The American Media Is a Sexist Shitshow. Welcome, Caitlyn Jenner.

| Wed Jun. 3, 2015 4:30 PM EDT

Caitlyn Jenner's public debut on the cover of Vanity Fair on Monday has been largely greeted with applause for her bravery. But as others have pointed out, much of the media's praise was also paired with unending comments about Jenner's new physical attributes, including her "ample cleavage" and beautiful hair. This is particularly troublesome considering, as actress Laverne Cox wrote on her personal Tumblr soon after, Jenner's physical transformation is a far cry from what most in the trans community experience, many of whom don't have the medical access or financial support to undergo similar transformations.

Jon Stewart addressed exactly this on the Daily Show last night with a series of cringeworthy examples of the media repeatedly dropping comments about her beautiful new look.

"It's really heartening to see that everyone is willing to not only accept Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, but to waste no time in treating her like a woman," he said.

 

Stephen Colbert's New Video Shows Exactly Why We Need Him Back on Air Immediately

| Wed Jun. 3, 2015 3:41 PM EDT

Stephen Colbert emerged from darkness today to give fans a peek into what life's been like since leaving Comedy Central back in December. The result is a six-minute video in which he bids a wonderfully unhinged farewell to his facial hair, all while shedding the remains of it over a hot dog.

"CBS is making me shave it off because Tom Selleck's mustache has a non-compete clause," Colbert explains. "Don't get me wrong, Tom's a great guy. His mustache? Such a bitch!"

It might be best for CBS to bump up his September debut on The Late Show. The man clearly needs us, just as much as we need him.

You May Soon Be Able to Calculate How Many Calories Are in Your Food Porn

| Wed Jun. 3, 2015 11:00 AM EDT

Are you the kind of person who relishes publishing over-saturated photos of your dinner onto Instagram? If so, a new project, reportedly being developed by Google, may soon provide you with yet another interactive activity with your food—other than simply eating it. 

The Guardian reports the prospective project, coined "Im2Calories," aims to help users calculate the caloric makeup of food photos. Using an artificial-intelligence technology that would "analyze the depth of pixels in an image" it would then figure out "the size and shape" of our meals by subjecting that analysis to various algorithms. After all that? Voila! That caloric content of those perfectly manicured entrees. 

It's not perfect. Developers say that initially the technology may only be able to correctly measure the calories in a photo 30 percent of the time. But in a recent presentation, Google research scientist Kevin Murphy said that success rate is good enough to attract enough curious users to improve it over time.

Although a spokesperson for Google said the tool is still only in research mode, its potential creation could certainly help people keep tabs on their calorie intake. But is this really effective for losing weight? Research suggests such knowledge does little to impact a person's food choices.

This might not matter much to Instagram's crowded food wing, reflected in popular accounts such as You Did Not Eat That and You Wish You Ate This, which is likely to gobble up the calorie counting tool. Just look at the overnight success of Microsoft's age guessing app. And after all, there is only so much satisfaction the number of likes a perfectly manicured food post can provide a person.