links for 2010-06-22

  • During the U.S. colonization of Puerto Rico, over 1/3rd of all women were sterilized.  And, today, still, Puerto Rican women in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. have “one of the highest documented rates of sterilization in the world.”  Two-thirds of these women are sterilized before the age of 30. Lopez finds that 44% of the women would not have chosen the surgery if their economic conditions were better.  They wanted, but simply could not afford more children.
  • The Equal Justice Initiative just released a report about racial bias in jury selection, particularly in the South. I first heard about it on NPR. Racial discrimination in jury selection is illegal, but evidence suggests it’s still quite common, particularly through the use of peremptory challenges (the ability of attorneys to exclude a certain number of potential jurors without having to say why or justify it).  The results are striking; for instance, “…in Houston County, Alabama, 80% of African Americans qualified for jury service have been struck by prosecutors in death penalty cases” (p. 4 of the report).
  • Israel's separation wall, twice the height of the former Berlin Wall and more than 750km-long, is a much hated barrier in the Palestinian West Bank. Now, a restaurant owner in the occupied Palestinian West Bank has come up with a unique way to please World Cup fans: he has been showing every match of the tournament on a section of the wall, transforming it into a giant screen.
  • "The girl punched in the face by an officer in Seattle has apologized. One of the frustrating things about how incidents like this play out is how rarely anyone in the situation apologizes, or has anything explained to them. Many people operate under misunderstandings on how policing works, and it’s pretty rare for anyone to explain the law to a defendant. It’s rarer that an officer would apologize, since departments believe that would open them to civil liability."