links for 2010-04-04

  • Nollywood, the country’s phenomenally successful home-grown video film industry, makes little use of extras or props. Crews of as few as eight or nine people, with no special effects teams or lighting technicians, just turn up at places such as local markets or roadside slums, armed with little more than a small digital video camera.
  • The Alma Mater Society [of Queens University] yesterday published a two-page apology and cancelled a food-bank fundraiser scheduled for today, which was to feature two Sumo suits. The letter scolds the student government's own executive for "marginalizing members of the Queen's community" and failing to "critically consider the racist meaning behind [the fundraiser]." It also vows to discourage other campus groups from using the suits, owned by the school's athletic department.
  • One woman already is circling Earth in a Russian capsule, bound for the International Space Station. Early Monday morning, NASA will attempt to launch three more women to the orbiting outpost – along with four men – aboard shuttle Discovery. It will be the most women in space at the same time.A former schoolteacher is among the four female astronauts about to make history, as well as a chemist who once worked as an electrician, and two aerospace engineers. Three are American; one is Japanese….[Astronaut Stephanie] Wilson became the second black woman in space in 2006; one other has since followed her.
  • "I'm not turning anybody away — that would be unethical," Dr. Jack Cassell, 56, a Mount Dora urologist and a registered Republican opposed to the health plan, told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. "But if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it."
    (tags: via:ca)
  • "We really ask a lot of our young service people out on the checkpoints because there's danger, they're asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations. However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I've been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it."

    He continued: "That doesn't mean I'm criticizing the people who are executing. I'm just giving you perspective. We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force."

  • "The bill, which is expected to pass the Legislature, makes anyone who is in the state without documentation papers a de facto criminal. Police must check the residency of anyone they believe to be in the country illegally, and anyone knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant is subject to arrest."
  • "The new book also includes a section on black preppies, led by President Obama, noting that his wife, Michelle, often appears in J. Crew outfits. The first volume, which has been out of print for nearly 15 years, was not devoid of black faces; there was one on Page 163, a bow-tied lawyer in a crowd at a cocktail party."
  • "The study concludes that black pupils perform consistently better in external exams than in teacher assessment. The opposite is true for Indian and Chinese children, who tend to be "over-assessed" by teachers. It also finds that white children from very poor neighbourhoods were under-assessed when compared with their better-off peers."
  • This week saw several developments in disturbing criminal and civil cases against former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his "midnight crew" — a group of officers that spent much of the 1970s and 1980s torturing innocent people into confessing to crimes they didn't commit.

    The allegations against Burge and the "midnight crew" are disturbing, to put it mildly. A deep pool of evidence shows that this group of officers tortured more than 100 people over two decades. They asphyxiated suspects by putting their heads in plastic bags, they electrocuted their testicles, beat them with hammers — the list goes on. The defendants were almost always African American.