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February 12, 2009

San Francisco band beer, nudity from Bay to Breakers race

Beer, nudity banned in Bay to Breakers race

City leaders and sponsors of the 98th annual wacky footrace announced several major changes Wednesday that detractors say will turn the over-the-top, only-in-San Francisco party into a 12K footrace like any other race in any other city in the world.

At the May 17 event, police will cite or arrest anybody openly drinking alcohol or appearing to be drunk, and will physically remove floats and any other items on wheels like shopping carts with kegs in them, officials declared.

People dressed in oversized costumes must run at the back of the pack, walkers must stay to the right while runners stay to the left, and no in-line skates, bicycles or skateboards are allowed. Nudity is not allowed, though police said they aren't planning to issue citations for indecent exposure.

Supreme Court to consider legality of book banning

Editorial - Banning Books in Miami - NYTimes.com

Schools are supposed to introduce children to a variety of ideas and viewpoints, but the Miami-Dade School Board decided a few years ago to put one viewpoint off limits. It banned the children’s book “A Visit to Cuba” from its school libraries because it said the book offers too positive a portrait of life under the Castro regime. That was bad enough, but then last week, a federal appeals court upheld the ban. The Supreme Court should reverse this disturbing ruling.

“A Visit to Cuba” and its Spanish edition, “Vamos a Cuba,” are part of a series of books for children ages 4 to 8 that introduces them to the geography, customs and daily life of different countries. The Miami-Dade County Public School District had 49 copies in its elementary and middle schools.

The father of an elementary-school student, complaining that the portrait of Cuba in the book was inaccurate, petitioned to have “A Visit to Cuba” pulled. The school superintendent denied the petition, but the school board overruled him. The board said it was acting because of inaccuracies and omissions in the book, but Miami’s strong anti-Castro political sentiment was undeniably a factor.

February 10, 2009

Lincoln the racist

Was Lincoln a Racist? | The Root
I stumbled upon an essay that Lerone Bennett Jr. published in Ebony magazine entitled “Was Abe Lincoln a White Supremacist?” A year later, as an undergraduate at Yale, I read an even more troubling essay that W.E.B. Du Bois had published in The Crisis magazine in May 1922. Du Bois wrote that Lincoln was one huge jumble of contradictions: “he was big enough to be inconsistent—cruel, merciful; peace-loving, a fighter; despising Negroes and letting them fight and vote; protecting slavery and freeing slaves. He was a man—a big, inconsistent, brave man.” So many hurt and angry readers flooded Du Bois’ mailbox that he wrote a second essay in the next issue of the magazine, in which he defended his position this way: “I love him not because he was perfect but because he was not and yet triumphed. ….” To prove his point, Du Bois included this quote from a speech Lincoln delivered in 1858 in Charleston, Ill.: “I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” Say what? The Lincoln of 1858 was a very long way from becoming the Great Emancipator!

California prison overcrowding ruled unconstitutional

California may have to cut prison population by 40 percent - CNN.com

(CNN) -- Federal judges tentatively ruled on Monday that California must reduce the number of inmates in its overcrowded prison system by up to 40 percent to stop a constitutional violation of prisoners' rights.

"Overcrowding is the primary cause of the unconstitutional conditions that have been found to exist in the California prisons," the court concluded.

California state officials, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, immediately promised to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

"The governor and I strongly disagree with this ruling," said Matthew Cate, California's corrections and rehabilitation secretary. Implementing the court's ruling would result in up to 58,000 prisoners being released, Cate said, describing it as a threat to public safety.