Mixed Media

Mark Zuckerberg Donates $5 Million to Help Dreamers' Education

The scholarships will go to Bay Area students.

| Wed Jun. 17, 2015 3:32 PM EDT

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced they will be donating $5 million to provide scholarships to undocumented students living in the Bay Area. The Facebook CEO wrote:

Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants are part of our communities and attend school legally in the United States. Many of them moved to America early in their lives and can’t remember living anywhere else. They want to remain in the country they love and be a part of America’s future. But without documentation, it's often a struggle to get a college education, and they don’t have access to any kind of federal aid.

The money will be given to TheDream.US, a national scholarship program launched in 2013 to help fund education for immigrant youth, which will then create specific programs for 400 selected students to receive the tuition assistance.

Zuckerberg has called immigration reform the "biggest civil rights issue of our time," and has made other efforts to help dreamers. In 2013, he launched the group FWD.us to mobilize the tech community's support for immigration. Despite its popular support among tech leaders though, the group has run into the same problems that have plagued immigration reform in Washington.

Zuckerberg's Facebook post below:

 

Today Priscilla and I made a $5 million donation to thedream.us, a scholarship fund that helps undocumented young...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, June 17, 2015

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Uber Drivers in California Are Employees, Labor Commission Rules

Disrupting the disruptor.

| Wed Jun. 17, 2015 2:45 PM EDT

California's Labor Commission just delivered what could potentially be a significant blow to Uber's business model. After a former driver sued to be reimbursed for driving expenses, the commission ruled that drivers working for the popular ride-hailing app are employees, not independent contractors.

"The defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation," the commission wrote in its ruling. "The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation."

The ruling, which for now only applies to California drivers, is the result of a claim filed back in September by Barbara Ann Berwick, a former Uber driver. Berwick argued she was owed payment for expenses, such as mileage, incurred while working for the company, but Uber insisted that she was only an independent contractor and therefore not eligible for reimbursement. On Tuesday, the commission ordered the company to pay Berwick $4,000 in expenses.

The difference in classification is significant, as an employee status may force Uber to provide drivers benefits such as social security, health insurance, and unemployment insurance. Uber is in the process of appealing the decision.

Read the ruling its entirety below:

Uber vs Berwick by SuperAdventureDoug

 

The Daily News Welcomes Donald Trump to the Presidential Race

A front-page feature worthy of a true clown.

| Wed Jun. 17, 2015 9:09 AM EDT

On Tuesday, Donald Trump descended from an escalator and announced he's actually running for president. The formal launch is yet another entry into a group of obvious losers that have little to no chance of securing the White House. 

Will Republican voters eventually warm up to the Donald, though? Judging by this fantastic cover of today's Daily News, a traditionally right-leaning New York paper, we're guessing no:

Indeed, the clown car that is the current GOP presidential field finally has a leader! 

Rachel Dolezal: "I Identify as Black"

The former Spokane NAACP leader speaks out for the first time since being accused of lying about her race.

| Tue Jun. 16, 2015 9:10 AM EDT

In her first public interview since allegations that she lied about her race for nearly a decade, Rachel Dolezal sat down with Matt Lauer on Tuesday to address the controversy.

"I did feel that at some point, I would need to address the complexity of my identity," the former Spokane NAACP president said. When asked directly if she is an African American woman, Dolezal responded, "I identify as black."

She went on to explain her "self-identification with the black experience" started around the age of five, when she began drawing self portraits of herself using a brown crayon, rather than a peach one.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Dolezal announced she was resigning as the local NAACP chapter president. Hours after posting the letter, the Smoking Gun reported she once sued Howard University claiming racial discrimination against her for being a white woman.

When Lauer broached the 2002 lawsuit, Dolezal said, "The reasons for my full tuition scholarship being removed, as well as my teaching assistant position, were that other people needed opportunities and 'you probably have white relatives that can help you with your tuition.' I thought that was injustice."

Two years after she filed suit, a judge dismissed her case.

Rachel Dolezal Sued Howard University for Racial Discrimination

A report claims the former NAACP leader once sued for discrimination as a white woman.

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 4:28 PM EDT

A new report from the Smoking Gun claims Rachel Dolezal—the Spokane woman who has lied for years about being African American— sued Howard University in 2002. According to court documents obtained by the site, Dolezal, who went by Rachel Moore at the time, sued the historically black college by alleging discrimination "based on race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender." From the report:

She alleged that Smith and other school officials improperly blocked her appointment to a teaching assistant post, rejected her application for a post-graduate instructorship, and denied her scholarship aid while she was a student.

The court opinion also noted that Dolezal claimed that the university’s decision to remove some of her artworks from a February 2001 student exhibition was "motivated by a discriminatory purpose to favor African-American students over" her.

Two years later, a judge dismissed the lawsuit.

Earlier on Monday, Dolezal posted a letter on Facebook announcing her resignation as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP after the news broke that she had been pretending to be black for many years. The allegations, accompanied by her birth certificate, were made by her biological parents, both of whom are white.

 

BREAKING: The Sun Has Not Exploded

Best news retraction ever.

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 3:34 PM EDT

When publishing breaking news, all good editors should exercise a sense of urgency, while also preventing any cause for unnecessary alarm. This is particularly crucial when reporting news that the world is about to come to a sudden, apocalyptic end.

Just ask the Athens Banner-Herald, which on Monday fell "victim to miscue" after an emergency broadcast system notice mistakenly alerted readers that the sun had just exploded:

Erroneous news of the sun's explosion gave way to one of the best breaking news retractions we've seen in awhile: "To our knowledge, the sun has not exploded," the paper's director of digital wrote in a post.

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Rachel Dolezal Resigns as Spokane NAACP President

Her decision to step down follows controversy after allegations she lied about being African American.

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 12:51 PM EDT

Rachel Dolezal, the president of Spokane, Washington's NAACP chapter, resigned on Monday.

"In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP," Dolezal wrote in a Facebook post. "It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley."

Dolezal's decision comes just days after her biological parents came forward and accused her of lying for years about being African American.

"I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions—absent the full story," she wrote in her official letter of resignation. "I am consistently committed to empowering marginalized voices and believe that many individuals have been heard in the last hours and days that would not otherwise have had a platform to weigh in on this important discussion."

Dolezal is also chair of Spokane's Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, and Spokane officials are currently investigating whether she lied about her race in order to secure that appointment.

To read her resignation notice in its entirety, jump here.

Sharon Van Etten's Anguished Territory

The artist's new EP, 'I Don't Want to Let You Down,' is mournful but exhilarating

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 12:46 PM EDT

Sharon Van Etten
I Don't Want to Let You Down
Jagjaguwar

When it comes to harrowing beauty, Sharon Van Etten's music has no peer. Following last year’s dazzling album Are We There, this stunning five-song EP of gorgeous chamber pop returns to the same anguished territory, plumbing the depths of damaged relationships and massive self-doubt with unsparing candor. The desperate sentiments of the title track or "I Always Fall Apart" might veer into melodramatic excess if not for Van Etten's understated but wonderfully expressive singing, which lends a ring of plainspoken truth to the darkest scenarios. Despite the mournful vibes, I Don't Want to Let You Down is ultimately exhilarating, simply because it’s thrilling to see a gifted artist in full command of her substantial powers.

Let John Oliver and Helen Mirren Convince You to Finally Read America's Damning Torture Report

"America should not be a country that tortures people because it is brutal. It is medieval and it is beneath us."

| Mon Jun. 15, 2015 9:16 AM EDT

Last December, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its long-awaited torture report, which provided overwhelming evidence interrogation methods used after the attacks on September 11th to be largely ineffective and inhumane. Despite this, most Americans have yet to even skim the report's findings and continue to believe torture tactics can successfully lead to reliable information.

"Torture is one of those things that is advertised as something that works, but doesn't like a Ford truck or those weird bottles of Horny Goat Weed available at your local bodega," John Oliver explained on the latest Last Week Tonight. "But maybe the reason that so many of us innately believe that torture works is that it does on TV all the time. Look at 24."

On Sunday, Oliver implored viewers to start paying attention—he even recruited the help of actress Helen Mirren to eloquently read some of the report's most horrifying details—as Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein currently have the chance to pass a bill seeking to permanently ban specific torture methods for good.

"America should not be a country that tortures people because it is brutal. It is medieval and it is beneath us," he said.

 

Local NAACP President Is Lying About Being Black, Parents Say

The city of Spokane has opened an investigation.

| 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."