Monthly Archives: March 2012




Bulletin at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Competition

March 28, 2012 | Try your hand at creating a beautiful Hubble image and you might win an Apple iPod Touch or iPad. > read more

Vesta: A Study in Black and White

March 30, 2012 | NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is scrutinizing the second-largest asteroid from close range. Yet some aspects of Vesta’s surface — especially splashes of very bright and very dark material — are puzzling. > read more

Hubble Images Stir Up Dark Matter Debate

March 28, 2012 | Dark matter in the “Train Wreck” galaxy cluster (Abell 520) appears to behave in unusual ways. Now, new Hubble images are heating up the debate. > read more

Did the Moon Come From Earth?

March 27, 2012 | New findings show that the Moon might have incorporated more of Earth when it formed than previously thought — a problem for the widely accepted “big splat” hypothesis. > read more

An Emerald-Cut Diamond in the Rough

March 27, 2012 | Astronomers have discovered a rare, rectangular galaxy 70 million light-years away. The dwarf galaxy’s unique history presents a challenge for current theories of galaxy evolution. > read more


Global Astronomy Month logo

The World Celebrates Astronomy

March 28, 2012 | People are coming together this April for Global Astronomy Month 2012, a planetwide celebration of astronomy designed to bring people together through star parties, music and artistic performances, online observing events, and much more. > read more

Tour April’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

March 29, 2012 | April stands to be a great month for planet-watching. Venus and Jupiter are over in the west, Mars is high up in the southeast, and Saturn pairs with the bright star Spica low over the eastern horizon. > read more

Mars Takes Center Stage

March 5, 2012 | The Red Planet (actually yellow-orange) is the brilliant “star” climbing steadily in the east these evenings. Now’s your best chance to examine our next-out planetary neighbor. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Watch Venus skim the Pleiades April 2, 3, and 4

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

March 30, 2012 | Bright Venus high in the dusk skims the Pleiades, while Jupiter sinks ever lower. And the Moon joins first one star-and-planet pair, then another. > read more

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You Got a Problem? Well, Now You Do

Trayvon Martin was just 17, and maybe he hadn’t yet put together his strategy for dealing with life as the object of America’s nightmares. So he improvised and got killed. “But he had it coming; he was born black and male in the U.S.,” says Kai Wright.

Thousands of Young Black Men Die in Gun Crimes Every Year

INFOGRAPHIC] Gun homicide is the number one cause of death for black teens. Below, Hatty Lee paints the grim picture.

Also: As Millions Fight for Trayvon Martin, Kill at Will Laws Flourish

How Scholarships Leave Student-Athletes Powerless in the NCAA Game

While March Madness kicks into full swing, it highlights college athletes who are simultaneously the most visible and vulnerable students in the country. Jamilah King explains.

Texas Has to Chill With War on Voting Rights Act The same “chill effect” that Texas attorney general Greg Abbot is concerned about is the same chill that protectors of voting rights are concerned about when it comes to photo voter ID law, especially in Texas.

Howard University Men in Hoodies School You on Racial Profiling [Video] The Howard University men that are part of the Howard Students For Justice group created the video which asks viewers to check their biases about black men.

Black Masculinity, Personal Loss and the Crazy-Making Tragedy of Trayvon Martin It is sad how this country continues to sweat black men. And in the past month, the one thing I can’t shake is a deep fear and dread for the black men in my own life, writes Akiba Solomon.

California Senate Moves to Protect Immigrant Families in Deportation Nearly a quarter of the U.S. citizen children that found stuck in foster care as parents moved through detention and deportation are in California. The state Senate is moving forward with a bill that would keep their families together.

Worried About NYPD Spying? Go FOIL Yourself! In response to the slew of stories of NYPD spying on Muslims, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund has launched a mass Freedom of Information Law campaign—GO FOIL YOURSELF—to help individuals find out if they have their own NYPD file.

Anti-Gay Marriage Group Looked to Divide Gays, Latinos and Blacks Confidential documents show one of the nation’s leading anti-gay groups planned to defeat campaigns for gay marriage across the country by “fanning the hostility” between black voters and gay voters.

People of Color Tell Their ‘I Could Be Trayvon’ Stories on Tumblr asks visitors to share stories and pictures about their personal experiences with racial profiling.

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The short story The Lottery was originally published  in The New Yorker magazine on June 26, 1948. It was written by Shirley Jackson (Dec 14, 1916 – Aug 8, 1965). Up until then, Ms. Jackson was an American author who was unheard of until she gained fame – and notoriety – with her short story. The story ignited a cascade of hate mail and cancelled subscriptions. 

Many readers interpreted the story as an attack on the values of small towns across America.  What should be understood is that during the late 1940s, when this short story was published, many city councils across America sponsored weekly cash-prize lotteries that would draw people together in rural communities.  The lotteries were meant to create commerce for the local merchants.   Despite its reception at the time it was published, the story has achieved cult status as a short story classic and it is widely read in American classrooms today.

After viewing the movie The Hunger Games, which is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, I decided to post this not-so-well-known short story. The Hunger Games addresses a dystopian society in a future America, where in the ruins of a nation once known as America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV, where two young people, via a national lottery, are pitted against other young people from various districts to fight to the death, with only one victor left standing. The two young people must fight using their wits and skills, gladiator-style to stay alive and if they survive, bring glory to their district, all the while this bread and circus spectacle is beamed to the twelve districts as a live reality show.

The Lottery precedes The Hunger Games (Reprint edition July 3, 2010) by six decades, but, its message even for that time still made for a story that made quite an impact on its readers, as it still does today. Just as in The Hunger Games there is a rebellion against the lottery, so too in The Lottery there a rebellion (albeit a last minute rebellion) against what is about to take place as a result of the lottery, but, in the end, the lottery continues, as it has become so deeply ingrained into the communities that it has become the common and the routine in their daily lives. A community or nation, that could settle so comfortably into a tyrannical and totalitarian society that worships bloodlust and death.

I now present to you, The Lottery.


The Lottery
by Shirley Jackson
The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26. But in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner. The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play, and their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands. Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix– the villagers pronounced this name “Dellacroy”–eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys. The girls stood aside, talking among themselves, looking over their shoulders at the boys, and the very small children rolled in the dust or clung to the hands of their older brothers or sisters. Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed. The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands. Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call to their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times. Bobby Martin ducked under his mother’s grasping hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones. His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother.The lottery was conducted–as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program–by Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. He was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him because he had no children and his wife was a scold. When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of conversation among the villagers, and he waved and called. “Little late today, folks.” The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying a three- legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool and when Mr. Summers said, “Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?” there was a hesitation before two men, Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, came forward to hold the box steady on the stool while Mr. Summers stirred up the papers inside it.The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here. Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything’s being done. The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained.Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, held the black box securely on the stool until Mr. Summers had stirred the papers thoroughly with his hand. Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood, Mr. Summers had argued, had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing, it was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into the black box. The night before the lottery, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves made up the slips of paper and put them in the box, and it was then taken to the safe of Mr. Summers’ coal company and locked up until Mr. Summers was ready to take it to the square next morning. The rest of the year, the box was put way, sometimes one place, sometimes another; it had spent one year in Mr. Graves’s barn and another year underfoot in the post office. and sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there.There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open. There were the lists to make up–of heads of families, heads of households in each family, members of each household in each family. There was the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summers by the postmaster, as the official of the lottery; at one time, some people remembered, there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year; some people believed that the official of the lottery used to stand just so when he said or sang it, others believed that he was supposed to walk among the people, but years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse. There had been, also, a ritual salute, which the official of the lottery had to use in addressing each person who came up to draw from the box, but this also had changed with time, until now it was felt necessary only for the official to speak to each person approaching. Mr. Summers was very good at all this; in his clean white shirt and blue jeans, with one hand resting carelessly on the black box, he seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins.Just as Mr. Summers finally left off talking and turned to the assembled villagers, Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square, her sweater thrown over her shoulders, and slid into place in the back of the crowd. “Clean forgot what day it was,” she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly. “Thought my old man was out back stacking wood,” Mrs. Hutchinson went on, “and then I looked out the window and the kids was gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running.” She dried her hands on her apron, and Mrs. Delacroix said, “You’re in time, though. They’re still talking away up there.”

Mrs. Hutchinson craned her neck to see through the crowd and found her husband and children standing near the front. She tapped Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way through the crowd. The people separated good-humoredly to let her through: two or three people said, in voices just loud enough to be heard across the crowd, “Here comes your, Missus, Hutchinson,” and “Bill, she made it after all.” Mrs. Hutchinson reached her husband, and Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully, “Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie.” Mrs. Hutchinson said, grinning, “Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now, would you. Joe?,” and soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson’s arrival.

“Well, now.” Mr. Summers said soberly, “guess we better get started, get this over with, so’s we can go back to work. Anybody ain’t here?”

“Dunbar.” several people said. “Dunbar. Dunbar.”

Mr. Summers consulted his list. “Clyde Dunbar.” he said. “That’s right. He’s broke his leg, hasn’t he? Who’s drawing for him?”

“Me. I guess,” a woman said, and Mr. Summers turned to look at her. “Wife draws for her husband.” Mr. Summers said. “Don’t you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?” Although Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally. Mr. Summers waited with an expression of polite interest while Mrs. Dunbar answered.

“Horace’s not but sixteen yet.” Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. “Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year.”

“Right.” Sr. Summers said. He made a note on the list he was holding. Then he asked, “Watson boy drawing this year?”

A tall boy in the crowd raised his hand. “Here,” he said. “I m drawing for my mother and me.” He blinked his eyes nervously and ducked his head as several voices in the crowd said things like “Good fellow, lack.” and “Glad to see your mother’s got a man to do it.”

“Well,” Mr. Summers said, “guess that’s everyone. Old Man Warner make it?”

“Here,” a voice said, and Mr. Summers nodded.

A sudden hush fell on the crowd as Mr. Summers cleared his throat and looked at the list. “All ready?” he called. “Now, I’ll read the names–heads of families first–and the men come up and take a paper out of the box. Keep the paper folded in your hand without looking at it until everyone has had a turn. Everything clear?”

The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions: most of them were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around. Then Mr. Summers raised one hand high and said, “Adams.” A man disengaged himself from the crowd and came forward. “Hi. Steve.” Mr. Summers said, and Mr. Adams said, “Hi. Joe.” They grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously. Then Mr. Adams reached into the black box and took out a folded paper. He held it firmly by one corner as he turned and went hastily back to his place in the crowd, where he stood a little apart from his family, not looking down at his hand.

“Allen.” Mr. Summers said. “Anderson…. Bentham.”

“Seems like there’s no time at all between lotteries any more.” Mrs. Delacroix said to Mrs. Graves in the back row.

“Seems like we got through with the last one only last week.”

“Time sure goes fast, ” Mrs. Graves said.

“Clark…. Delacroix”.

“There goes my old man,” Mrs. Delacroix said. She held her breath while her husband went forward.

“Dunbar,” Mr. Summers said, and Mrs. Dunbar went steadily to the box while one of the women said, “Go on. Janey,” and another said, “There she goes.”

“We’re next.” Mrs. Graves said. She watched while Mr. Graves came around from the side of the box, greeted Mr. Summers gravely and selected a slip of paper from the box. By now, all through the crowd there were men holding the small folded papers in their large hand, turning them over and over nervously. Mrs. Dunbar and her two sons stood together, Mrs. Dunbar holding the slip of paper.

“Harburt…. Hutchinson.”

“Get up there, Bill,” Mrs. Hutchinson said, and the people near her laughed.


“They do say,” Mr. Adams said to Old Man Warner, who stood next to him, “that over in the north village they’re talking of giving up the lottery.”

Old Man Warner snorted. “Pack of crazy fools,” he said. “Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while. Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There’s always been a lottery,” he added petulantly. “Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody.”

“Some places have already quit lotteries.” Mrs. Adams said.

“Nothing but trouble in that,” Old Man Warner said stoutly. “Pack of young fools.”

“Martin.” And Bobby Martin watched his father go forward. “Overdyke…. Percy.”

“I wish they’d hurry,” Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son. “I wish they’d hurry.”

“They’re almost through,” her son said.

“You get ready to run tell Dad,” Mrs. Dunbar said.

Mr. Summers called his own name and then stepped forward precisely and selected a slip from the box. Then he called, “Warner.”

“Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery,” Old Man Warner said as he went through the crowd. “Seventy-seventh time.”

“Watson” The tall boy came awkwardly through the crowd. Someone said, “Don’t be nervous, Jack,” and Mr. Summers said, “Take your time, son.”


After that, there was a long pause, a breathless pause, until Mr. Summers. holding his slip of paper in the air, said, “All right, fellows.” For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once, saying,  “Who is it?,” “Who’s got it?,” “Is it the Dunbars?,” “Is it the Watsons?” Then the voices began to say, “It’s Hutchinson. It’s Bill,” “Bill Hutchinson’s got it.”

“Go tell your father,” Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son.

People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. “You didn’t give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair!”

“Be a good sport, Tessie.” Mrs. Delacroix called, and Mrs. Graves said, “All of us took the same chance.”

“Shut up, Tessie,” Bill Hutchinson said.

“Well, everyone,” Mr. Summers said, “that was done pretty fast, and now we’ve got to be hurrying a little more to get done in time.” He consulted his next list. “Bill,” he said, “you draw for the Hutchinson family. You got any other households in the Hutchinsons?”

“There’s Don and Eva,” Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. “Make them take their chance!”

“Daughters draw with their husbands’ families, Tessie,” Mr. Summers said gently. “You know that as well as anyone else.”

“It wasn’t fair,” Tessie said.

“I guess not, Joe.” Bill Hutchinson said regretfully. “My daughter draws with her husband’s family; that’s only fair. And I’ve got no other family except the kids.”

“Then, as far as drawing for families is concerned, it’s you,” Mr. Summers said in explanation, “and as far as drawing for households is concerned, that’s you, too. Right?”

“Right,” Bill Hutchinson said.

“How many kids, Bill?” Mr. Summers asked formally.

“Three,” Bill Hutchinson said.

“There’s Bill, Jr., and Nancy, and little Dave. And Tessie and me.”

“All right, then,” Mr. Summers said. “Harry, you got their tickets back?”

Mr. Graves nodded and held up the slips of paper. “Put them in the box, then,” Mr. Summers directed. “Take Bill’s and put it in.”

“I think we ought to start over,” Mrs. Hutchinson said, as quietly as she could. “I tell you it wasn’t fair. You didn’t give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that.”

Mr. Graves had selected the five slips and put them in the box, and he dropped all the papers but those onto the ground, where the breeze caught them and lifted them off.

“Listen, everybody,” Mrs. Hutchinson was saying to the people around her.

“Ready, Bill?” Mr. Summers asked, and Bill Hutchinson, with one quick glance around at his wife and children, nodded.

“Remember,” Mr. Summers said. “take the slips and keep them folded until each person has taken one. Harry, you help little Dave.” Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boy, who came willingly with him up to the box. “Take a paper out of the box, Davy.” Mr. Summers said. Davy put his hand into the box and laughed. “Take just one paper.” Mr. Summers said. “Harry, you hold it for him.” Mr. Graves took the child’s hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly.

“Nancy next,” Mr. Summers said. Nancy was twelve, and her school friends breathed heavily as she went forward switching her skirt, and took a slip daintily from the box “Bill, Jr.,” Mr. Summers said, and Billy, his face red and his feet over large, near knocked the box over as he got a paper out. “Tessie,” Mr. Summers said. She hesitated for a minute, looking around defiantly, and then set her lips and went up to the box. She snatched a paper out and held it behind her.

“Bill,” Mr. Summers said, and Bill Hutchinson reached into the box and felt around, bringing his hand out at last with the slip of paper in it.

The crowd was quiet. A girl whispered, “I hope it’s not Nancy,” and the sound of the whisper reached the edges of the crowd.

“It’s not the way it used to be.” Old Man Warner said clearly. “People ain’t the way they used to be.”

“All right,” Mr. Summers said. “Open the papers. Harry, you open little Dave’s.”

Mr. Graves opened the slip of paper and there was a general sigh through the crowd as he held it up and everyone could see that it was blank. Nancy and Bill, Jr. opened theirs at the same time, and both beamed and laughed, turning around to the crowd and holding their slips of paper above their heads.

“Tessie,” Mr. Summers said. There was a pause, and then Mr. Summers looked at Bill Hutchinson, and Bill unfolded his paper and showed it. It was blank.

“It’s Tessie,” Mr. Summers said, and his voice was hushed. “Show us her paper, Bill.”

Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd.

“All right, folks.” Mr. Summers said. “Let’s finish quickly.”

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. “Come on,” she said. “Hurry up.”

Mr. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said. gasping for breath. “I can’t run at all. You’ll have to go ahead and I’ll catch up with you.”

The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, “Come on, come on, everyone.” Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.

“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

-from The Lottery and Other Stories, by Shirley Jackson

The New Yorker: Audio podcast discussion by fiction editor , Deborah Treisman. The Lottery, read by A. M. Homes.

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Calling All Black People: NOM Wants to Use You

by  Mark Potok  on March 27, 2012

Black folks, this is a message for you: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country’s preeminent group fighting against same-sex marriage, really, really likes you. They even want to make some of you famous!

Have NOM’s principal leaders, former president Maggie Gallagher and current leader Brian S. Brown, stood up for African Americans before? Well, not so much. But it turns out that they’ve decided that you’re actually very important.

That unexpected revelation came out yesterday, when the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign publicized the contents of some previously confidential 2009 documents outlining NOM’s strategies for winning the national battle for “traditional marriage.” (The documents were just unsealed in a Maine court case over NOM’s refusal to identify its donors there, as required by state law.) “The strategic goal of this project,” NOM said, “is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”

Translation: Let’s get people who support marriage equality to denounce black opponents, making them look like evil racists. Maybe that’ll make people forget that the vast majority of black civil rights leaders support same-sex marriage.

Could this be something more than simply exploiting black people — folks who NOM figures would be hard for Democrats to criticize without splitting their base — for the cynical uses of opponents of same-sex marriage?

No, NOM’s pretty transparent about that. The “project” to which its call for a wedge strategy refers carries this title in the newly released document: “Not a Civil Rights Project.” They couldn’t make it much clearer than that, could they?

The newly released documents are remarkable, in part, because NOM has made much of keeping its battle, as well as its propaganda, both civil and factual. But as we say in a story published today— an article on NOM originally scheduled to be published in the forthcoming May issue of the Intelligence Report — NOM can be less than honest in its use of propaganda. Among other things, we point out that although NOM says it has no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than straight men, it frequently links to websites of others who claim to. We also point out that NOM, despite its claims, keeps bringing up the subject of children and sex.

Turns out that’s part of the plan, too. In one NOM documents entitled “Sideswiping Obama,” the group urges activists to raise “such issues as pornography” and “the protection of children.” “We will put a special focus on exposing those administration programs that have the effect of sexualizing children,” along with other “policy threats to children.”

What do pornography and sexual threats to children have to do with same-sex marriage? Well, nothing really. But as another NOM document points out, the object isn’t so much to appeal to rational argument, but rather “a new, more emotionally powerful set of messages.” You know, like gay men molesting your kids.

Let’s get back to using certain racial and ethnic groups to battle same-sex marriage for a moment. NOM points out that the Latino vote in America is “a key swing vote” and suggests a good way to appeal to that constituency: “[G]ather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites.” And they’ve already talked to a former Mexican beauty queen! Because Latinos apparently are into those “glamorous noncognitive elites.”

NOM isn’t the first organization to use such cynical marketing ploys, schemes that seem to have little do with the interests of the people they claim to represent, and it certainly won’t be the last. But the revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting. Because that is precisely what it has done.


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International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Quick Facts

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade remembers the lives of Africans who were forced into slavery in North, Central and South America.

Local names

Name Language
International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade English
Día Internacional de Rememoración de las Víctimas de la Esclavitud y la Trata Transatlántica de Esclavos Spanish

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is on March 25 each year. It honors the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.

Broken ChainThe International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade remembers the lives of transatlantic slave trade victims. © Sironen

What do people do?

Various events are held on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These include memorial services and vigils for those who died in slavery, as a result of the slave trade, or from campaigning to end of slavery. In addition, African-American inspired music is performed and exhibitions of art and poetry inspired during the slave trade era are opened.

This day is also an occasion to educate the public, especially young people, about the effects of racism, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Educational events are held in schools, colleges and universities.

Public life

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a global observance and not a public holiday.


About 17 million people were transported against their will from Africa to North, Central and South America during the 16th century and up until the 19th century. Millions more died while being transported to the Americas. This mass deportation and resulting slavery are seen as one of the worst violations of human rights. Some experts believe that its effects are still felt in Africa’s economies.

Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade’s causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice.

On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008.


The theme in 2008 was “Breaking the Silence, Lest We Forget”.

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Tue Mar 25 2008 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Wed Mar 25 2009 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Thu Mar 25 2010 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Fri Mar 25 2011 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Sun Mar 25 2012 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Mon Mar 25 2013 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Tue Mar 25 2014 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Wed Mar 25 2015 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance

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Published: March 23, 2012

John Payton, who as president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund guided it to several major victories before the Supreme Court, died on Thursday in Baltimore. He was 65 and lived in Washington.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

John Payton

The cause had not yet been determined, said Lee Daniels, a spokesman for the fund.

Named president in 2008, Mr. Payton was the defense fund’s sixth leader since it became a separate entity from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1940. He had been active in the civil rights movement since his days at Pomona College in the 1960s.

In 2010, he was the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Lewis v. City of Chicago, in which a group of African-Americans seeking to be firefighters contended that they had properly filed a charge of discrimination against the city.

Mr. Payton argued that the cutoff score on a written examination to define the pool of qualified applicants had a disparate impact on minorities — a contention to which the city conceded. But the city had successfully argued in lower courts that the discrimination charge was filed after a statute of limitations had passed. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the lower court ruling.

A year earlier, in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, a municipal district in Austin, Tex., challenged the validity of Section 5, a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The so-called pre-clearance clause requires government entities previously judged to have a history of discrimination to receive permission from the Justice Department before making substantive changes to the voting process in their districts. Mr. Payton assisted in the arguments leading to the Supreme Court’s 8-to-1 decision upholding Section 5.

In a statement on Friday, President Obama called Mr. Payton “a true champion of equality” who had “helped protect civil rights in the classroom and at the ballot box.”

In 2003, while he was in private practice, Mr. Payton was the lead counsel for the University of Michigan in defending the use of race as a factor in admissions for its law school.

A critical point of contention in the case, Grutter v. Bollinger, was whether a diverse student body was of compelling interest to the state. “In order to achieve this broad diversity, we must take race and ethnicity into account,” Mr. Payton argued. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the affirmative-action policy.

In 2010, the National Law Journal named Mr. Payton to its list of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.”

John Adolphus Payton was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 27, 1946, to John and Ida Mae Payton. Mr. Payton enrolled at Pomona College in 1965. At that time, he was one of only a handful of black students in the five colleges in Claremont, Calif. By his senior year, he had successfully lobbied Pomona’s administration to recruit more black students and to start a black studies program. Financial pressures forced him to work and study part time; he graduated in 1973.

A year later he enrolled at Harvard Law School. At that time, Boston was embroiled in its famous school busing controversy. As a law student, he worked on taking affidavits from black students who were injured in the race-related violence. He graduated in 1977.

Mr. Payton went into corporate law and became a partner in the Washington law firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr.

He took leave from the firm in the early 1990s to serve as the corporation counsel for the District of Columbia, and in 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated him to be assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Mr. Payton withdrew from consideration for the post after many members of the Congressional Black Caucus opposed the nomination. They were angered by his noncommittal answers to questions about whether the Voting Rights Act permits the creation of Congressional districts with a majority of black voters.

A year later, he was a member of a group of international monitors to the presidential election in South Africa.

Mr. Payton is survived by his wife of 20 years, Gay McDougall; two sisters, Janette Oliver and Susan Grissom; and a brother, Glenn Spears.

“Democracy, at its core, requires that all of the people be included in ‘We the people,’ ”  Mr. Payton said in a 2008 speech in Michigan. “For that inclusive democracy to function, it is essential that we see each other as peers.”





Published: March 22, 2012

Murray Lender, who with his brothers took over what started as their father’s bakery in a backyard garage and built it into a business that brought the bagel — the “Jewish English muffin,” as he called it — into kitchens across the country, frozen, died on Wednesday in Miami. He was 81.

Doug Lawhead/Mattoon Journal Gazette, via Associated Press

Murray Lender with a 563-pound bagel in 1996.

The cause was complications of a fall several weeks ago at his home in Aventura, Fla., his brother Marvin said.

Murray, Marvin and Sam Lender expanded H. Lender & Sons — founded by their father, Harry — into the nation’s leading distributor of packaged frozen bagels.

Lender’s Bagels, now owned by the Pinnacle Foods Group, had revenue of $40.9 million last year from the sale of 23.4 million six-bagel packages, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research company.

That’s a long way from the several dozen a day that Harry Lender hand-rolled and baked after emigrating from Poland in 1927, setting up shop in his garage in West Haven, Conn., and delivering to local grocers.

Murray Lender was president of the company from 1974 to 1982 and chairman two years later when it was sold to Kraft Foods. Pinnacle bought the company in 2003.

To be sure, it was Harry who started the transformation when he bought a large freezer in the 1950s. By ensuring that his product would not go stale after 24 hours, he was able to start distributing it across a large swath of Connecticut. After he died in 1960, his sons pooled their resources to build a plant in West Haven. At first about 100 workers produced 120,000 dozen bagels a week, packaging them in plastic bags and shipping them to 30 states.

“The 1970s saw an unprecedented interest in all things ethnic, and Lender’s frozen bagel was at the vanguard of the resurgence,” The Jerusalem Post reported in 2009, adding that by the end of the decade Lender’s had “reinvented the bagel as a versatile sandwich bread that could be as easily paired with peanut butter and jelly as it could be with ham and cheese.”

The company eventually had two plants in the New Haven area, one in Buffalo and another in Mattoon, Ill., a prairie town 180 miles south of Chicago. That plant, built by Kraft in 1986, has a 12-foot-wide conveyor belt holding 24 bagels across, a 70-yard-long oven and an 80-foot-tall, 250-foot-long freezer. By then the bagel had become a national food, in variants from the cinnamon raisin to the green St. Patrick’s Day variety.

“The vision,” Mr. Lender told The New York Times in 1996, “was to really get it out of the ethnic marketplace.”

Murray Isaac Lender was born in New Haven on Oct. 29, 1930, one of six children of Harry and Rose Braighter Lender. He was counting bagels in the backyard bakery before he was 11. After graduating from the Junior College of Commerce (now Quinnipiac University) in Hamden, Conn., he served two years in the Army, then went to work full time in the family business.

Besides his brother Marvin, Mr. Lender is survived by his wife, the former Gilda Winnick; a daughter, Haris Lender; two sons, Carl and Jay; and eight grandchildren. His brother Sam died in 2004.

After Kraft bought the company in 1984, Mr. Lender continued to work as its spokesman. “I never walked into anybody’s office without a toaster under one arm and a package of bagels under the other,” he said.

To those who contended that frozen bagels didn’t compare with the fresh ones found at shops opening around the country, he said, “I think our bagel is the best bagel in America, but on the other hand, I’ve never eaten a bad bagel.”





Published: March 19, 2012

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — King George Tupou V of Tonga, who gave up most of his powers to bring a more democratic government to his Pacific island nation, died on Sunday in Hong Kong. He was 63.

Glenn Jeffrey/New Zealand Herald, via Associated Press

King George Tupou V


His death was announced by the Tongan prime minister, Lord Siale’ataonga Tu’ivakano, in a radio address on Monday. The king had been hospitalized in Hong Kong, but a cause of death was not given.

King Tupou had led the island nation of 106,000 since his father, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, died in 2006.

His father long resisted ceding any powers of Tonga’s absolute monarchy during his four-decade rule. But after his death, rioters, unhappy with the pace of changes, took to the streets and destroyed the center of the capital, Nuku’alofa.

Against that backdrop, the new king delayed his official coronation until 2008 while he put together the framework for sweeping political reforms. Three days before the coronation ceremony, King Tupou announced he was ceding most of his executive powers to a democratically elected parliament.

While Parliament is now responsible for much of the day-to-day running of the country, the king remains the head of state and retains the right to veto laws, decree martial law and dissolve Parliament. The king’s brother, Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka, is the heir to the throne.

King Tupou V did allow himself an elaborate coronation, a five-day affair that included roast pig feasts, tribal rites and British-style pomp and cost $2.5 million, straining the finances of an already impoverished country.

Many will remember him for his throwback fashion choices, including a top hat and a monocle at times. He studied at King’s College in Auckland, New Zealand, and in Britain.

Paula Mau, a spokesman for the Tongan government, said the king was not married and is survived by a daughter.


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