Tuesday, June 25, 2013

  • In Affirmative Action Ruling, Supreme Court Upholds Importance of Diversity in College Admissions

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    With just days before the summer recess, the Supreme Court has handed down the first of four major decisions on issues of civil rights, discrimination and equality, ruling on a challenge to the use of race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions. The petitioner, Abigail Fisher, accused the University of Texas at Austin of discrimination for rejecting her college application, she says, because she is white. Many had expected the court’s conservative members to seize upon the case as part of a right-wing effort to end affirmative action for good. But instead, the court came down with an opinion that gives both sides reasons to cheer. In a 7-to-1 decision, justices sent the case back to a federal appeals court and told it to consider affirmative action under a harsher standard. But they also refused to overturn the 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which rejected the use of racial quotas in college admissions but allowed for less direct methods of affirmative action in order to improve diversity. We’re joined by Damon Hewitt, director of the Education Practice Group at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The group filed a number of amicus briefs in the Texas case on behalf of the Black Student Alliance at the University of Texas-Austin.

  • Insider Threat: Government Employees Urged to Tattle On Coworkers in Effort to Stop Classified Leaks

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    As the media focuses almost exclusively on Edward Snowden’s possible whereabouts, more details on the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers have come to light. A new investigative report has revealed the administration’s crackdown on leaks extends far beyond high-profile cases like Snowden or the Associated Press, to the vast majority of government agencies and departments — even those with no connection to intelligence or national security. For nearly two years, the White House has waged a program called "Insider Threat" that forces government employees to remain on the constant lookout for their colleagues’ behavior and to report their suspicions. It targets government officials who leak any information, not just classified material. All of this leads McClatchy to warn: "The [Insider Threat] program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations." We’re joined by the reporter who helped break the story, Jonathan Landay, senior national security and intelligence reporter for McClatchy Newspapers. Landay also discusses his reporting that revealed how drone strikes carried out in Pakistan over a four-year period ran contrary to standards set forth publicly by President Obama.

  • Eve Ensler on New Memoir & Confronting Gender Violence with Congolese Activist Christine Deschryver

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    Eve Ensler is the award-winning playwright and creator of "The Vagina Monologues" and V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day, in turn, gave rise to One Billion Rising, a Feb. 14, 2013, event urging women and men to "strike, dance, rise" against violence. Ensler is out with a new memoir, "In the Body of the World," an exploration of the female body — how to talk about it, how to protect it and how to value it. She shares her deeply intimate, painful relationship with her own body and how it has changed throughout her life — from being raped by her father to struggling with anorexia, from battling uterine cancer to reclaiming her body when dancing with the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ensler joins us to discuss her book and her campaign against gender violence, along with Christine Schuler Deschryver, a Congolese human rights activist with V-Day. Schuler Deschryver is the director of City of Joy, a revolutionary community for women survivors of gender violence in Bukavu.

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