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The 411 Last Updated: Apr 30th, 2010 - 13:17:18

The 411
By Red-Eye Crew, Compiled With Dispatches From
Mar 16, 2010, 14:17

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Federal Panel Finds NY Dept. of Education Discriminated
Debbie Almontaser
Against Arabic School Principal

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled the New York City Department of Education discriminated against the founding principal of an Arabic-language school in Brooklyn by forcing her to resign in 2007. In a non-binding ruling, the commission said the city had discriminated against the principal, Debbie Almontaser, “on account of her race, religion and national origin.”
Almontaser is a Muslim of Yemeni descent. She was forced out over her comments in the New York Post when she explained the use of the word “intifada,” or “uprising.”

The Post had questioned Almontaser because the word “intifada” appeared on a T-shirt of a women’s organization that sometimes used the offices of a community group where she was a board member. The T-shirt had nothing to do with her school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, but Almontaser came under right-wing criticism for not denouncing the use of the word “intifada.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ruling comes three years into Almontaser’s fight for reinstatement. The ruling calls on the Department of Education to reach a “just resolution” in accordance with Almontaser’s demands. In addition to reinstatement, she’s also seeking back pay, damages and legal costs.

But New York City officials are refusing to reverse their stance. Paul Marks of the New York Law Department said, quote, “The [Department of Education] in no way discriminated against Ms. Almontaser and she will not be reinstated. If she continues to pursue litigation, we will vigorously defend against her groundless allegations,” he said.

Study: Black and Latinos Face Longer Prison Sentences
A new government study has concluded black and Hispanic men are more likely to receive longer prison sentences than their white counterparts since the Supreme Court loosened federal sentencing rules. The report by the US Sentencing Commission examined sentencing rates since the 2005 US v. Booker. Black men have received sentences that were up at least ten percent longer than those imposed on whites. Hispanic men received sentences that were almost seven percent longer than those received by white men.

Wife of Justice Clarence Thomas Creates Tea Party-Linked Lobbying Group
The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has launched a tea-party-linked lobbying group named Liberty Central. Virginia Thomas says her organization will organize activism around a set of conservative core principles and will be funded in part by corporate donations. During a recent panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Thomas said, “I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country.” Legal experts say the new organization could pose conflicts of interest for Justice Thomas, particularly those involving donors to his wife’s nonprofit.

Unemployment Rate for Young Veterans Reaches 21.1 Percent
In economic news, the Labor Department has announced the unemployment rate for young war veterans has reached 21.1 percent, nearly five percentage points higher than for other young workers.
23,000 California Teachers Receive Layoff Notices
In California, teachers staged a protest on Monday by delivering pink slips to lawmakers and to Governor Schwarzenegger to protest the devastating education cuts. More than 23,000 teachers in California have recently received layoff notices.

Hundreds of Students Protest Cuts in Atlanta
Hundreds of college students rallied in Atlanta on Monday to protest budget cuts, faculty layoffs and tuition increases at public colleges in Georgia. The University System of Georgia is facing at least $350 million in cuts in the next fiscal year. At the rally, some students held fake caskets reading “RIP Georgia Education.”

House Might Pass Healthcare Bill Without Direct Vote
On Capitol Hill, the Democratic leadership is moving forward plans to pass the healthcare reform package later this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to use a special legislative procedure to avoid a direct House vote in order to pass the less popular Senate version of the healthcare bill. The tactic, known as “a self-executing rule,” would have Congress members vote on a package of changes to the Senate version. Approving those changes would in turn be deemed an endorsement of the initial Senate measure they’d be modifying. Republicans have criticized the proposal, calling it a way for Democrats to avoid an up-or-down vote.

Study Finds Link Between Childhood Obesity and School Lunch
A new study from the University of Michigan has found middle-school students who regularly eat lunch provided by their schools are more likely to be overweight and have higher levels of cholesterol than those who eat meals brought from home. Researchers said only six percent of school-supplied meals meet the nutritional requirements set by the US Agriculture Department.

“The War Next Door” in Mexico
In the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez, a US consular employee and her husband were shot dead on Saturday while driving in their SUV. In a separate incident nearby, the husband of a Mexican employee at the US consulate was shot dead. The shootings are believed to be the first deadly attacks on US officials and their families by Mexico’s powerful drug organizations. Reporter Charles Bowden, who covers the area, writes: “There is no serious War on Drugs…Rather, there is violence, nourished by the money to be made from drugs. And there are U.S. industries whose primary lifeblood comes from fighting a war on drugs.”

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