By Gustavo Valdes and Thom Patterson, CNN
(CNN) - North Carolina pastor Otoniel Recinos has been offering an unusual warning these days to members of his church: Don't drive in nearby Alamance County. It's not safe, he warns them, because of the sheriff's department.
A two-year Justice Department investigation backs up what Recinos and other Latinos in the region say they've known for a long time: Traffic stops by Alamance County sheriff's deputies are sometimes part of a "pattern of racial profiling" aimed at searching for illegal immigrants, according to a statement this week by Thomas E. Perez, the assistant U.S. attorney general for the civil rights division.
Sheriff Terry S. Johnson has used offensive language when talking to Spanish speakers, the statement said, describing them as "Taco eaters."
Deputies were between four to 10 times more likely to stop Latino drivers for traffic violations than non-Latinos, the Justice Department said. Many of the stops took place at traffic checkpoints organized by deputies near Hispanic communities. Latinos were arrested for violations, while others got only warnings or citations, the department said.
The Justice Department also said Hispanics who were jailed after their arrests were discriminated against because they were targeted for immigration status checks.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Naomi Wolf is the author of "Vagina: A New Biography."
(CNN) - It seems as if we are in a time of unprecedented struggle over the meaning of women's bodies and sexuality. Controversy is swirling about an American University professor who breast-fed a baby in class; topless photos of Kate Middleton have been released; and a Time magazine cover showing a mother breast-feeding her toddler sparked even more tittering in May.
It is not just the breast that is contested: Pussy Riot, the punk band, was sentenced to two years in a Russian prison after a staged performance in which they did high kicks that showed too much of their bodies. They tried, from prison, to explain "what pussy meant" and "what riot meant."
Michigan representative Lisa Brown got into hot water - and fought back - for using the words 'my vagina' in the Michigan statehouse. Michigan women supported her by standing in front of the statehouse with a giant "V" symbol and spelling out the words 'VAGINA' in pink letters.
Young women in Tahrir Square protesting in the Arab Spring were punished by imprisonment - and vaginal exams by armed strangers for "virginity tests." This is not so surprising when you understand the delicate brain-vagina connection that my new book documents - female sexuality around the world is targeted because through traumatizing the vagina, you can intimidate women on multiple other levels.
What is going on?
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - On Tuesday, just a day after GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s controversial “joke” about "it would be helpful to be Latino" was posted in a secretly recorded video obtained by Mother Jones, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore was motivated to start the Twitter hashtag #IfOnlyIWereMexican.
Michael Moore tweeted:
The tweet was made in reference to Romney's comments to donors that "it would be helpful to be Latino,” in order to win the presidency.
Except most people on Twitter did not understand Moore's reference, or that the comment poked fun at Romney.
The tweet received a number of racy responses.
“#ifonlyiweremexican I would have to worry about getting my head cut off by the zetas, “ and “#ifonlyiweremexican Mitt could mow my yard while I wear sombrero drinking corona thinking about how to beat taxes.” And, the list goes on.
Without background or context, some were offended by the hashtag #ifonlyiweremexican, and are waiting for a response from the "Fahrenheit 9/11" director. FULL POST
Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.
(CNN) - Newsweek's cover story "Muslim Rage" has inspired a comedic rage.
The magazine's newest issue features an article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who purports to lecture the West on how to best handle Muslim rage. Newsweek, in an effort to promote the article, turned to Twitter, asking people to tweet their thoughts on the article, followed by the hashtag #MuslimRage.
What happened next was not what Newsweek or Ali could have anticipated or wanted. Instead of an academic discussion about the article, or hate-filled diatribes by Islamophobes, it turned into something extraordinary.
Thousands of tweets bearing the hashtag #MuslimRage filled Twitter, showcasing satire at its best - the type, by definition, which uses "wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly."
The tweets - posted mostly by Muslims it seems - are a comedic roast of the specious proposition that was peddled to us by Newsweek and Ali. Here are just a few samples:
Danya Hajjaji @DanyaHajjaji
When everyone in history class turns to you once 9/11 is brought up. #MuslimRage
By Alicia W. Stewart, CNN
(CNN) - Just as Mitt Romney's campaign ramped up outreach to Latino voters at the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, his "off the cuff comments" that it “would be helpful to be Latino" to win the presidency were met with sarcasm and humor.
"Pobre guey! What Mitt doesn't realize is that if he were Mexican, there's a 94.6% chance that he would've already been deported by his opponent,” CNN Contributor Ruben Navarette wrote on his Facebook page.
"It's a terrible joke," said Matt Barreto, author of “Ethnic Cues: The role of shared ethnicity in Latino political participation.” "There is no evidence that Latino candidates have an easier time getting elected. As someone that studies this professionally, this is not true. Minority candidates have a much harder time of winning elections."
In a secretly recorded video obtained by Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, the presidential candidate spoke to donors at a private fund-raiser last May on a variety of topics.
One comment generating response: that had his father been "born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot of winning this," Romney joked. "I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino." FULL POST
By Tom Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney told Latino business leaders this week in Los Angeles that he is convinced the "Republican Party is the rightful home of Hispanic Americans," but added that "my speech today isn't about my political party."
With good reason.
Unable to close ground on President Barack Obama in the polls, the GOP challenger seeks to woo Hispanic American voters but finds himself hindered by the conservative stance he took on immigration policy in order to win the Republican primary campaign.
Now, his opposition to Obama's popular move this summer to halt deportations of some children of illegal immigrants puts Romney at odds with a majority of Latino voters, especially younger ones in the fastest-growing demographic of the U.S. population.
Facing a highly anticipated appearance on Wednesday at the Univision News "Meet the Candidates" forum in Miami, Romney has struggled to explain his stance on the issue because of the difference between what his party base demands and what most Hispanic Americans want to hear.FULL STORY
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
(CNN) - A federal judge has allowed Arizona to enforce the most controversial part of its politically charged immigration law, the so-called "show me your papers" provision.
In an order on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton upheld the section allowing authorities, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of people who may be in the United States illegally.
The Supreme Court in June tossed out most other aspects of the tough new law, but said the part known by critics as the "show me your papers" provision could go into effect, at least for now.
The hot-button immigration issue is a major attack line in this year's presidential campaign with Republicans, led by Mitt Romney, accusing President Barack Obama of failing to devise a comprehensive strategy to deal with illegal immigration.
Arizona is the nation's most heavily traveled corridor for illegal immigration and smuggling. The Justice Department said Arizona's population of two million Latinos includes an estimated 400,000 there illegally, and 60% to 70% of deportations or "removals" involve Mexican nationals.
The Pew Hispanic Center recently issued a report that found that Mexican immigration to the United States has come to a standstill. However, the debate continues as more than 10 million unauthorized immigrants - from Mexico and other countries - continue to live in the United States.FULL STORY
By David Ariosto, CNN
(CNN)- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent a controversial voter ID law back to a lower court on Tuesday to assess the availability of alternative forms of identification and whether the new law disenfranchises voters.
The high court said the state's Commonwealth Court has until October 2 to file its response, according to court documents.
The lower court, in August, upheld the law requiring that most voters show photo identification before casting ballots.
"Overall, we are confronted with an ambitious effort on the part of the General Assembly to bring the new identification procedure into effect within a relatively short time frame and an implementation process which has by no means been seamless in light of the serious operational constraints faced by the executive branch," the high court said Tuesday.FULL STORY
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - To claim fans have been eagerly waiting for Dominican author Junot Diaz's next book would be an understatement.
Diaz took the literary world by storm with "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," a story about the life of "poor lovable" ghetto nerd Oscar de Leon, narrated by Yunior, the main protagonist in Diaz's first novel, "Drown." The story of a chubby Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008, National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named Time's No. 1 Fiction Book of 2007. Not too shabby.
Now, in "This Is How You Lose Her," a collection of stories released last week, Diaz brings back the character of Yunior to tell the "important and necessary story of the inner lives of 'bad boys,' " as the acclaimed author says.
Born in Santo Domingo and raised in New Jersey, the Rutgers alum took some time out of his book tour to talk about his new book, what his family thinks of his writing and the unique voice in his work.
CNN: Was it difficult to write "This Is How You Lose her," considering all the attention "Oscar Wao" received?
Diaz: I don't think it was difficult for that reason. It's one thing to write something about a poor lovable nerd who in some ways who could not find love and whose larger culture sort of rejects him and another to write about a messed-up-in-the-head cheater. And, to make that character and that story in some ways sympathetic was the greater challenge.FULL STORY
By CNN Political Unit
(CNN) – Mitt Romney on Monday said his controversial statements caught on tape were "off the cuff" and "not elegantly stated," but he defended the main message of his remarks.
Romney took three questions in a brief press conference with pool reporters late Monday night in California, scheduled at the last minute in response to the release of secretly recorded video of the candidate speaking at a private fund-raiser in May.
The video quickly caught fire as potentially damaging material to the Republican presidential nominee.
In the footage, taped with a hidden camera, Romney argued nearly half of Americans will vote for President Barack Obama because they rely on government support, made apparent jokes about wishing he had Latino heritage, and talks about a Chinese factory his former firm purchased.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in one clip. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that for tax year 2011, 46% of households will end up owing nothing in federal income taxes. But if payroll taxes are counted, the number of non-payer households drops precipitously – to an estimated 18% in 2011.
Adding to his argument about entitlement, Romney said his "job is not to worry about those people."FULL STORY