By Chris Isidore @CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - The American Civil Liberties Union sued Morgan Stanley on Monday, charging the Wall Street firm discriminated against African-American homeowners and violated federal civil rights laws by providing funding for risky mortgages.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, is the first that connects racial discrimination to the process of bundling subprime loans into mortgage-backed bonds that were then sold to institutional investors and pension funds. The lawsuit was filed behalf of five Detroit residents, and asks the court to certify the case as a class action. It argues as many as 6,000 black homeowners in the Detroit area may have suffered similar discrimination.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Abigail Fisher argues that the University of Texas unconstitutionally considered race in admitting students, resulting in her exclusion. She sued the university, and on Wednesday, the highest court in the land began hearing the case, reigniting contentious debate on whether a policy of preferences does good or harm.
Should America consider new limits on racial preferences? Or ban them altogether?
Should we be chanting "Long live affirmative action"? Or cheering its death?
A few years ago, in a Supreme Court ruling on school desegregation, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote:
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."
Simple enough to say, but, of course, a far more difficult notion to implement. FULL POST
By Monica Attard, CNN
Sydney, Australia (CNN) -"Smoking hot" was how many observers described Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's blistering attack on sexism and misogyny in the bear pit of Australia's Parliament on Tuesday.
The roar of support from Australian women on Twitter was deafening. So too was their rage when the parliamentary press gallery almost uniformly condemned Gillard's excoriation of the Leader of the Opposition coalition, Tony Abbott, as hypocritical and showing poor political judgment.
For 15 minutes Gillard tore into Abbott before the Australian House of Representatives, the expression on his face going from a wry smile to embarrassment.
The occasion was a highly charged debate on a motion brought by Abbott to sack the Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper. Slipper, a coalition turncoat who helped the government bolster its numbers by taking up the highly paid position last year, stepped aside in April amid allegations of fraud and sexual harassment.
By Jason Hanna and Mallory Simon, CNN
(CNN) - Sixteen members of a breakaway Amish community in rural eastern Ohio, including its leader, were convicted of federal hate crimes Thursday for the forcible cutting of Amish men's beards and Amish women's hair.
Sam Mullet Sr. and the 15 followers were found guilty of conspiracy to violate federal hate-crime law in connection with what authorities said were the religiously motivated attacks on several fellow Amish people last year.
The verdicts were read in U.S. District Court in Cleveland following several days of jury deliberation and a trial that began in late August, a U.S. attorney's office said.
Prosecutors said the 15 followers, at Mullet's instruction, shaved the beards and cut the hair of Amish people who had left his group over various religious disagreements. Five attacks happened in four eastern Ohio counties between September and November 2011, authorities said.
To the Amish, a beard is a significant symbol of faith and manhood, and the way Amish women wear their hair also is a symbol of faith, authorities said.
The assaults violated the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which "prohibits any person from willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person," according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.FULL STORY
By Herndon Graddick, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Herndon Graddick is the president of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
(CNN) - This week, Jennifer Tyrrell and her family went to the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America in Irving, Texas, to deliver a petition of 300,000 signatures asking the organization to end its ban on gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders.
The BSA's policy of "not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals" is a travesty.
It led to the dismissal of Jennifer, who was the den leader of her own 7-year-old son's troop in Bridgeport, Ohio. By reaffirming its anti-gay policy this week, the BSA is telling the entire nation that maintaining its legacy of discrimination is more important to them than strengthening the bond between a mother and her son.
The BSA clearly has its priorities backwards. In spite of calls for change from its own board members, from high-profile Eagle Scouts and from Americans of all stripes, it refuses to budge. Other organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and even the U.S. Armed Forces, have put an end to such discrimination.
It might not be easy for an organization to admit it is wrong. Especially since the BSA has had this policy for decades; it has even gone all the way to the Supreme Court to try to preserve it.
But just because you have a right to discriminate doesn't mean it is right to discriminate.
By Catherine E. Shoichet and Gustavo Valdes, CNN
(CNN) Nearly half of the nation's states have new voting measures that could stop some Latinos from heading to the polls in November, a civil rights group said Monday.
"This year, an unprecedented number of voting restrictions impose barriers to voting that disproportionately affect the Latino community," said a report from Advancement Project, which has also sued to block such voting measures in a number of states.
Monday's report from the organization, which pushes to protect voting rights, was the latest volley in a national battle over such measures that splits largely along party lines.
Advancement Project's report points to three different types of efforts in 23 states that it says will impact eligible Latino voters: efforts to purge rolls of non-citizen voters, proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration and photo ID laws.
By Emil Guillermo, Special to CNN
(CNN) - To the average American, the name Wilma Lamug may not have any meaning at all. But to the more than 3 million people in the Filipino-American community, the name could some day be as important as that of Rosa Parks.
Lamug and 68 other nurses in California’s Central Valley have achieved a major victory in their two-year language discrimination fight against the Delano Regional Medical Center. Without admitting guilt, the medical facility has agreed to undergo anti-discrimination training and monitoring, and more importantly, pay out a settlement to the nurses of nearly $1 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The nurses’ advocates at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center call the deal the largest language discrimination settlement in the U.S. health care industry.
Some might be very familiar with discrimination based on skin color or an ethnic look - but based on language or accented English? Some people - especially those who feel that English and only English should be spoken in America - might lack sympathy.
If that’s you, the case of the Filipino nurses of Delano, California, is instructive to understand how language discrimination can lead to a hostile workplace, one that’s unhealthy and illegal. FULL POST
Editor's note: This piece was originally published in the Southern Foodways Alliance's Gravy Foodletter #42, December 2011. Today's installment comes courtesy of Kat Kinsman, managing editor of CNN Eatocracy.
By Kat Kinsman, CNN
Several stories above Manhattan's Central Park, there hangs a three-Michelin-starred, monstrously expensive restaurant that an awful lot of people think is perfect. I may have thought that, too, at one point, but I know it's not, because I've been to the K&W Cafeteria.
Actually, I'm going to back that up and admit out loud in public that I have in fact boarded a plane, rented a hotel room, and stayed overnight in a city several states away for the express purpose of sitting down with a groaning tray of K&W chicken livers, fried okra, collard greens, and vegetable congeal and eating my greedy head off.
Yes, I made some preemptory noises about going to visit a couple of old friends who live in relative proximity to a K&W. I brought them along with me so I could steal hush puppies off their plates. And their child's. I have no shame. And the trip cost just slightly less than my single meal at the aforementioned palace of gastronomic fanciness.
There clearly are many, many things wrong with me as a human being, but if you've ever eaten at a K&W, you know my love of the place is not one of them.
That wasn't always the case. Though a Sunday apres-church K&W dining room is now typically a multi-racial, transgenerational, pan-denominational assembly of Southerners possessed of a great appreciation for fancy church hats and rock-bottom prices, in the early 1960s, several outposts found themselves at the center of the battle over segregation.
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