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April 30, 2010

Arizona Dept. of Education wants to ban teachers who speak with accents

Think Progress -- Arizona Expands Its Discrimination: Teachers With Heavy Accents Can’t Teach English, Ethnic Studies Are Banned I was about to ask "When did Arizona become the most racist place ever?" but then I remembered when they refused to acknowledge Martin Luther King jr. day.
Arizona’s supporters of the state’s draconian new immigration law insist that it has nothing to do with race and isn’t meant to discriminate against certain ethnic communities. Their claims are undermined, however, by what else the state government is trying to do to target recent immigrants. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Arizona Department of Education “recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English”: State education officials say the move is intended to ensure that students with limited English have teachers who speak the language flawlessly. But some school principals and administrators say the department is imposing arbitrary fluency standards that could undermine students by thinning the ranks of experienced educators. [...] “This is just one more indication of the incredible anti-immigrant sentiment in the state,” said Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University who conducts public-opinion research.

Why is Google making a map of everyone's home wi-fi data?

Innovation: The Wi-Fi database that shamed Google - tech - 30 April 2010 - New Scientist
But last week many were shocked to learn that while the advertising giant's camera-equipped cars were zipping past our front doors, they were not just collecting panoramic photos. Wi-Fi antennas on the cars were hunting down wireless computer networks, and equipment inside was recording the networks' names, locations and the unique MAC address of the routers supporting them. The revelation has, not for the first time, prompted a wave of accusations that Google doesn't care about privacy anywhere near enough. Google says it has collected the data in order to improve the accuracy with which smartphones can pinpoint their location on Google Maps, especially in city centres where GPS may be unreliable. Cellphone mapping apps can improve matters by drawing on knowledge of which cellphone tower the phone is in contact with, but Google realised that even greater accuracy is possible if the phone can note details of nearby wireless routers. The server supplying Google Maps to the phone can then calculate a precise position.

April 28, 2010

Greg Palast | Behind the Arizona Immigration Law:GOP Game to Swipe the November Election

Greg Palast | Behind the Arizona Immigration Law:GOP Game to Swipe the November Election
What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote -- and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas. In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters ... directed by one Jan Brewer. ... In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected. ...a federal prosecutor ...was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. "We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case." This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove.

California voters tricked into registering as Republicans with pot petition

Report: CA Voters Tricked Into Registering As Republicans With Pot Petition | TPMMuckraker
Orange County authorities are launching an investigation into possible voter registration fraud after a local newspaper reported over a hundred cases of voters being tricked into registering as Republicans by petitioners who asked them to sign petitions for, among other causes, legalizing pot. The Orange County Register reported last week that the Orange County District Attorney's office announced it would team up with the Secretary of State on the case, following a Register report that 99 written complaints were filed since March by voters who said they were registered as Republicans without their consent. Another 74 voters reached by the Register said they, too, were unwillingly made members of the GOP. In a lengthy investigation published earlier this month, the paper pointed to an $8 "bounty" offered by the California Republican Party for each new registration as a cause for the problems.