The Latino Hero You Created Just Had to Have a Drug Cartel Past? You’re Killing Me, The Gifted.

I’ve been really excited for The Gifted, which premieres next week. I’m not even a huge X-Men fan, and yet every trailer has intrigued me. I’m digging the family approach, the fact that it’s about parents protecting their children with newly-discovered mutant abilities from a world hostile against mutants. Yet there’s one element (created specifically for the show, so there’s no source material to blame) that dulls the luster of my excitement.

In an interview with, Matt Nix, creator of The Gifted, delves deep into the hows and whys of his new show. A lot of it sounds really cool, and resonates with me. This show sounds like it’s going to be hella political in a way that’s relevant to what’s going on in the country, and the world, right now.

The show takes place in a reality where the X-Men and the Brotherhood are gone. All that’s left are regular, average mutants who are basically second-class citizens. Nix describes the dynamics and the conflicts of privilege and class this way:

“This group is asking itself a lot of the same questions that have been asked in the comics and the movies, but they are asking them from a unique perspective. They don’t have a mansion. They don’t have a jet. They are living in a ruined bank that is falling down and rests on the outskirts of Atlanta. They don’t have anything, including money. […] Some people want to fight. Some people want to find a way to co-exist.

The other side of it is the Strucker family coming into this, having lived on the human side of the equation and enjoyed the rights and privileges that humans have in this society and mutants don’t, really, and not realizing that was the case. They were blind to their own privileges and now they find themselves on the other side of this equation. They are waking to the reality of the world that they live in. Reed Strucker, who was prosecuting mutants, had felt like he was a human person just enforcing the law. He didn’t hate anybody, but now finds he was part of a system that was really hurting people. Caitlin Strucker was a mom who didn’t really think about these issues and now realizes that by not thinking about these issues, she was also part of the problem.”

All of that sounds really awesome, doing the thing I love that’s possible with superhero stories: using them as metaphors for real-world problems and themes. Yay, storytelling!

The show will be using characters familiar to X-Men fans, like Polaris, Blink, and Ahab, and Nix talks about what The Gifted‘s version of those characters will be like. However, there are also characters who are original to this show. Like the Strucker family, for example. And there’s another new mutant, and member of the Mutant Underground, Marcos Diaz, A.K.A. Eclipse.

They created a Latino character for this show? Awesome! I was so excited to see that. The actor who plays him, Sean Teale, is a British actor of Venezuelan, Spanish, and Welsh descent, but the character of Eclipse was born in Mexico. Here’s what Nix had to say about him:

“Eclipse was born in South America. He basically made his way north working with the drug cartels. That was his only opportunity as a kid. His parents kicked him out and the only way he could survive was initially, he was a street rat and he ended up working for the drug cartel. The idea is he came to the attention of the Mutant Underground and they ended up bringing him in as someone who had connections and know how. They are smuggling mutants into Mexico. A lot of times, Eclipse has experience smuggling drugs out of Mexico. The Mutant Underground recognized a hunger in him to do something other than move drugs.

What was important to us with him, and when I was thinking about creating the character, was this idea of exploring somebody who was forced to be an outlaw and that relationship to society, where he was rejected by his human parents. He was struggling to survive. He did things that he’s not proud of in order to survive. At the same time, he cannot really deny that he enjoyed it. The reason that he’s Eclipse is he’s sunshine covered by darkness. There’s a battle within him. He has these dark impulses. That’s what makes him useful to the Mutant Underground. He’s a guy who knows how to kick ass if necessary. He’s a guy who understands how to get things done on the dark side, but he’s trying to help the Mutant Underground. Over the course of the season, he has to reconnect with his past. Everybody struggles with, “Is that a legitimate thing to do?” He hates it. He doesn’t want to do it, but there are circumstances. He could lose friends. Under those circumstances, he is willing to re-engage with a past he left behind.”

And suddenly, my excitement has become muted. Here they are, providing some much-needed Latinx representation, right? Going to all the trouble of creating an all-new character from scratch…and they go “immigrant with a connection to Mexican drug cartels.” Really? REALLY?! That’s like a double whammy of problematic. That this was the go-to.

Because either way this went down, it likely wasn’t great. Either they consciously wanted to create a Latino hero (an admirable goal in and of itself), and when they thought Latino Hero immediately thought “immigrant” and “Mexican drug cartels in his backstory!” OR, they wanted to create a  character specifically to be “somebody who was forced to be an outlaw and that relationship to society,” and they immediately thought “Latino.”

The thing is, I don’t even necessarily have a problem with either one of those elements individually. It’s not that he’s an immigrant that’s the problem. It’s not that he’s a criminal that’s the problem. Either of those could be used to tell very important stories that could actually illuminate the experiences of Latinx if done well.

The problem to me is that having him be both an immigrant and someone with connections to crime, specifically drug cartels which seem to be the only thing people think there is in Mexico, doubles-down on some pretty heinous stereotypes. So often in pop culture, Latinx are both othered and criminalized. And at a time where we’re being forced to stand up for things like DACA, and against things like ICE sanctuary city raids, having a hero who is the exact embodiment of what’s hated feels like an affront.

Could Eclipse not have been an American Latino and still explored all these themes, and if there was a criminal past it couldn’t be, like, some white collar shit? That, to me, would be interesting: having this guy having once been involved in some high-level corporate criminal shenannigans before mutanthood made him fall hard. Or alternately, could he not have been a schoolteacher from Mexico City, who loves kids and thus he has a soft spot for child mutants? There are so many other stories. Why does Eclipse have to rely on the one story we always hear about Latinos.

I’m still going to watch The Gifted, but I’ll be watching it with a very close eye. I’d say, don’t do this to me, show, but it’s already been done. The character choices have already been written and baked into the show. The best we can hope for now is nuance to counteract the stereotype. I wish those choices hadn’t been made in the first place, but here we are.

The Gifted premieres October 2nd at 9PM ET on Fox. 

(image: Fox)

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Star Trek: Discovery’s Female Lead Character Is Named Michael Burnham and I Can’t Stop Thinking About It

Names have power: just ask Rumpelstiltskin. As someone with a longstanding interest in the meaning of names, the first thing that caught my attention while watching Discovery was that the First Officer played by Sonequa Martin-Green has a traditionally masculine name. I had to know more.

I assumed—erroneously—that Martin-Green’s part was written with a man in mind and when she was cast, they decided to keep the original name for the hell of it. But according to TV Guide, this was not the case. The idea for the name originated with Discovery‘s former showrunner Bryan Fuller, who exited the project but co-wrote the pilot episode, “The Vulcan Hello.” Fuller has a history of giving his female protagonists masculine-sounding names: “See: Dead Like Me’s George (Ellen Muth); Pushing Daisies’ Chuck (Anna Friel); and Wonderfalls’ unisex Jaye (Caroline Dhavernas).”

Discoverexecutive producer Aaron Harberts described naming lead women with male-associated names as Fuller’s “signature move,” calling it “a motif.” Harberts himself came up with “Michael,” explaining in an interview that he “pitched the name after thinking of female columnist Michael Sneed, who writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, and The Bangles’ bassist Michael Steele.” He added, “And, of course, an archangel is named Michael as well, and it just had a lot of potency for us.”

Michael Burnham is hardly the first female Michael in pop culture, and she’s not the first woman to sport a gender-ambiguous name on Star Trek, where officers are often referred to by their last names. “Dax” is a much more recognized moniker among fans than “Jadzia,” for example. But that still doesn’t stop me from noticing every time Martin-Green’s character introduces herself or is called by her full name, because the name stands out even as she stands next to aliens aboard a starship. Michael herself is a fascinating character, fearless and brilliant from what we’ve seen of her so far, caught between her Vulcan upbringing and her human emotions.

Actress Sonequa Martin-Green was enthusiastic about the name, liking the symbolism and anticipating a more gender-fluid and equal opportunity future. Of Michael, she said: “I appreciated the statement it makes all on its own to have this woman with this male name, just speaking of the amelioration of how we see men and women in the future.”

Martin-Green gave Michael’s name a special history that we may end up exploring with her on-screen. “I also just decided for my creation and for my background and whatnot, that I was named after my father. And so, we get a little bit of exploration of the father‑daughter dynamic … I think it’s a lovely symbol.” After all, considering the centuries-long tradition of the eldest boy inheriting their father’s first name, why shouldn’t a girl?

On the flip side, it would be interesting to see the reception of a lead male character with a firmly female-associated name. (Look at how often Firefly’s Jayne, an ensemble member, is made fun of for his name). Because as much as I love Martin-Green rocking the hell out of “Michael,” that’s partially the thrill of seeing a woman of color own both the lead part for the first time on Star Trek and assume another badge of cultural power—the inherited name of the patriarch. But some men with traditionally unisex names that have come to be thought of as more “female”—think Stacey or Alexis —report being teased for this attribute, because in the patriarchal culture we’ve all been raised in, the association with femininity is something to mock in a man while simultaneously undervaluing women (“you throw like a girl”). Why can we take Michael Burnham seriously, but would never see Jason Isaacs’ character introduce himself as Captain Susan Lorca?

I’m looking forward to the far more gender-fluid future where gendered stereotypes lose ground, and anyone can be named anything that they damn well please, though we’ll still have to grapple with the cultural weight of names. Names have an impact all on their own, and it is often centered around gender and race. I would be far more likely to have a manuscript accepted for publishing if I used a male or gender-neutral pen name. Names conjure racist fears and discrimination from thin air: “[a] study of mostly white participants shows that men with black-sounding names are more likely to be imagined as physically large, dangerous and violent than those with stereotypically white-sounding names.” People with perceived “ethnic” names are much less likely to be interviewed or hired for a job than people with “white” names, even when their resumes are identical otherwise. Names have power.

If you’re curious, the meaning of the name “Michael” is a rhetorical question: “Who is like God?” with the implied answer that no one is, so there is no answer. Michael is also a powerful archangel, the leader of God’s armies against the forces of Satan—and one of two archangels named in both the old and new Testament. The other archangel? Gabriel, which just so happens to be the first name of Jason Isaacs’ Captain Lorca. I’d like to imagine that from this Biblical symbolism, Star Trek: Discovery has some epic stories in store.

(via TV Guide, image: CBS)

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DC’s Got the Right Idea in Deviating From the “Shared Universe” Formula, but Will It Work? – Everything is going according to plan!

Cinematic universes are all the rage right now, despite that Marvel is the only company to have really made one work up to their level of scale and success—and even that has its flaws. Meanwhile, the DC Extended Universe, despite being adapted from its own interconnected comic book universe, has struggled a bit to find the same footing, despite some fairly successful franchise entries at the box office. Now, it seems like they’re thinking that deviating from the Marvel norm might be the way to go.

The new approach they’re looking at was detailed today on Vulture, where DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson, along with DC Films Co-Chair Geoff Johns, helped them make sense of what has, at times, seemed like a nonsensical strategy from the outside. We’ve heard of a Joker origin movie and a separate Harley/Joker movie, but neither of those seem to have anything to do with each other, which makes it difficult to figure out how they fit into movie continuity. Justice League is on the way to tie things together, but so is a solo Batman movie that has, at times, sounded pretty far outside of what’s going on with everything else.

So what gives? Nelson explained, “Our intention, certainly, moving forward is using the continuity to help make sure nothing is diverging in a way that doesn’t make sense, but there’s no insistence upon an overall story line or interconnectivity in that universe.” It’s actually, oddly enough, more of a comic book take on the concept of a fictional universe, with that Joker origin movie set to be part of a yet-to-be-named side label for movies that are pretty much entirely standalone in nature. Comic book fans are no strangers to one-shots and other stories that don’t fit with regular continuity, but provide different, interesting takes on familiar characters, with continuity as an afterthought, if it comes up at all.

But even their interconnected movies will remain more loosely bound than Marvel’s, as has already been easily visible in the lack of the post-credits “stinger” scenes at the end of DC movies, while Marvel’s have basically become infamous—some movies even sporting multiple scenes. Really, it’s a great idea to let movies stand on their own, even if they do come together at times. Marvel’s dedication to extreme interconnectivity can feel a bit stifling at times, and though it’s an easy example due to already being one of the team-up movies, Age of Ultron specifically seemed to suffer from it. The problem has also popped up for Marvel’s TV outings, where Daredevil’s second season felt more like setup for Defenders than a continuation of the first season’s story.

On the other hand, this is all a bit of PR on DC’s side. In the article, Nelson is very clear that they’re specifically out to combat the notion that things are in chaos with DC movies, so of course they’d have to explain how all is actually going according to plan. But whether there’s chaos or not, I’m all for that plan.

Aside from Wonder Woman, we’ve yet to be really wowed by DC movies, but I’m at least optimistic upon hearing that they’re not just running with the industry’s takeaway from the “universe” concept, which seems to be just “make everything a universe!” How that universe is constructed is important, and I’d be very happy to see one that feels more balanced between the connection and individuality than what Marvel has done so far. That doesn’t guarantee all the movies will be great or even good, but it’s one less hindrance to worry about.

(via email tip, image: Warner Bros.)

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Reviews Say the Flatliners Remake Is Dead on Arrival

Although I’m terrified of horror movies, I watched the Flatliners trailer because I am married to James Norton. The premise is intriguing, and I’ve been waiting to hear the movie’s prognosis. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking good for Flatliners.

Drawing from the 1990 Flatliners plot of young doctors who experiment with the boundaries between life and death with disastrous consequences, the new movie seems to only inspire unflattering comparisons to the original. (It’s billed as a “sequel” rather than a reboot—and Kiefer Sutherland, star of the first Flatliners, shows up here as an older doctor.) The main draw appears to be the young, attractive cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, Kiersey Clemons, and my husband, James Norton. But from the reviews rolling in, the actors aren’t given much direction or a good script to work with, and it’s unclear what made the Flatliners update necessary in the first place.

Spoilers for Flatliners ahoy!

The Student Edge

Cheap-looking and shoddy, Flatliners utterly fails to generate any scares over its 110 minutes, although it does inspire a pervasive sense of panic about Ellen Page’s career.

[…] In a way, it makes a lot of sense that a picture about doctors with a cavalier attitude towards humankind’s impermanence would be at the center of a movie that wantonly wastes two precious hours of our lives. These renegade filmmakers will stop at nothing to experiment with the boundaries of mortality.


The original wasn’t a great film, but it worked well mainly because of the chemistry with its cast. The remake lacks that entirely, with characters that are really hard to care about.

Director Niels Arden Oplev gives the whole thing a made-for-TV, soap opera aesthetic, with a cast that look like models pretending to be doctors.

The worst problem, however, is the script. It stinks.

There’s some lame scares and then a message about atonement or something, made all the more annoying by ruining what could have been such an interesting film.


… the exploration of spiritual issues through scientific progress goes all the way back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and it’s just as intriguing and relevant as ever. Flatliners is at its best when it’s an old-fashioned sci-fi yarn, complete with headsets covered in little Christmas lights, dramatizing that thin line between actual science and so-called “mad science,” which is driven more by ambition and obsession than anything resembling common sense.

But about halfway through Flatliners, the Ghosts of Screw-Ups Past show up and the film devolves into a series of familiar horror movie clichés with ghosts in the background, creepy noises coming out of radios and tearful confessions into camera phones. The complex ideas that Flatliners introduced in the first half give way to a simplistic moral parable.

Flatliners had every opportunity to improve on the original, and it doesn’t take most of them.

The Chicago Tribune

While the talented cast — especially principals Ellen Page, Kiersey Clemons, Diego Luna, James Norton and Nina Dobrev — do as well as can be expected with the (excuse the weak pun) pretty flat script, this remake likely will be all but forgotten shortly after it hits multiplexes this weekend.

Not every remake is unnecessary, but the idea only works when the new movie takes the basic premise and takes it in new directions. A good example would be David Fincher’s expansion of the Danish production of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Cinema fans will pick up on the irony here: that original filming of Stieg Larsson’s wildly popular novel was helmed by none other than Niels Arden Oplev — the fellow who directed this new, and definitely not improved, “Flatliners.”

The Mercury

The concept of Flatliners is an interesting one, to be sure. And save for a little bit of patchy medical science here and there, it is told with just enough believability to let you enjoy it without getting hung up on the impossibilities.

And there are some suitably trippy afterlife sequences as well, which are visually very well done.

But the story is just so painfully cliched and pedestrian that it was hard to feel very invested in it.

And in lieu of building actual tension in the story, the dialogue is instead peppered with characters repeatedly shouting things at each other like “RELAX!” or “CALM DOWN!”, lines that sound even sillier when delivered at times when the other person simply isn’t that stressed out.

They are disposable little nuggets of dialogue that exist only to tell the audience “THIS IS REALLY INTENSE RIGHT NOW!” even though it really isn’t.

It’s rare, when rounding up reviews, to find such a total consensus. While I haven’t seen anyone call Flatliners the worst, all seem to agree that the movie is uninspired, poorly written, and loses steam in the parts that are supposed to be the scariest. This is probably a movie that will hold your attention one day on an airplane.

Some reviewers suggest simply watching the original rather than spending your money to see the sequel, but I won’t tell you what to do because my lawfully wedded spouse James Norton is in this film and he needs your support. Actually, maybe you should just spend the weekend watching him in Grantchester. You can thank me later.

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Lynda Carter Herself Sticks Up for Wonder Woman Against James Cameron

You might have thought that would be the end of it when Director Patty Jenkins shut down James Cameron’s unnecessary trashing of Wonder Woman, wherein he managed to hold himself up as a feminist standard. But he was back at it again earlier this week, so now someone else has stepped up to tell him to stay in his lane: Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter.

Carter took to Facebook to advise James Cameron that maybe his narrow view of what a “groundbreaking” woman means when it comes to movies could stand to be expanded:

“To James Cameron -STOP dissing WW: You poor soul. Perhaps you do not understand the character. I most certainly do. Like all women–we are more than the sum of our parts. Your thuggish jabs at a brilliant director, Patty Jenkins, are ill advised. This movie was spot on. Gal Gadot was great. I know, Mr. Cameron–because I have embodied this character for more than 40 years. So–STOP IT.”

As Vivian pointed out in parsing Cameron’s double-down comments, he seemed very focused on Gal Gadot’s looks and her character’s likability, asserting that those aspects somehow take away from whether the movie or portrayal of the character can be considered “groundbreaking.” But Carter nailed it in saying that all women—and, likewise, the portrayal of women on-screen—are “more than the sum of our parts.” Cameron is losing sight of the bigger picture.

There’s a conversation worth having about whether Hollywood will let women be portrayed outside of their narrow ideas of acceptability, but that doesn’t mean we have to pit women, and female characters, against each other in the process. The whole point of that conversation is that there’s room for different variations of “groundbreaking” women on-screen, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman certainly included.

(via Daily Dot, featured image: Kathy Hutchins /

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Things We Saw Today: Joe Biden Tweeted the Sweetest Message to His Fellow “Veep” Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Remember when we had a Vice President that we could be proud of instead of one known for sparking an HIV outbreak because he hates Planned Parenthood and needle exchanges?

I remember too! I miss not waking in a constant panic every day, afraid of what Trump will do, also afraid of the horror that would be President Pence when Trump is indicted, don’t you? Anyway, my forever fave VP sent a lovely public message of support to Veep actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who recently announced that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

  • Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who wasted more than $500k of taxpayer money on chartering private jets for travel, resigned this afternoon. When you’re too corrupt for the Trump administration you’re really something else. (via Everywhere Right Now, Seriously Just Pick a News Outlet)
  • Other than Tom Price resigning, this story about a little boy being gifted an X-Box by two football players is the happiest thing you will read today. (via Pajiba)
  • Read this essay from Ta-Nehisi Coates on how we should have seen Trump coming. (via The Guardian)
  • Lupita Nyong’o and Kristen Stewart are reportedly in talks to star in a Charlie‘s Angels reboot. We love them, but can we please, please, please come up with some original properties? (via Deadline)
  • Boy Meets World and Dinosaurs are now available on Hulu, if you want to experience what it was like to be me watching TV in 1993. (via CNN)

So what’d you hit upon today?

(image: Shutterstock)

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Head of Air Force Academy Responds to Racism Against Cadets: “If You Are Outraged, You’re in the Right Place” – “If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out.”

Earlier this week, racial slurs were written on the message boards outside the dorm rooms of five black cadets at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado. An act that despicable, aimed at young men and women training to serve their shared country, requires a loud, definitive response of unwavering condemnation from those tasked with protecting and guiding those young people. Fortunately, that’s exactly what the academy’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, has issued.

In the video above, he tells the approximately 4,000 cadets that the words written on these boards will not be ignored or dismissed as just something that happens. They should be angry. He tells them, “If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place.”

Silveria says this isn’t an issue limited to the prep school. Bigotry affects everyone, and it will not be tolerated on any level. “That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA, and it has no place in the United States Air Force. You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.”

Silveria does not shy away from bringing up the larger contexts of racial politics. “We would also be tone-deaf not to think about the backdrop of what’s going on in our country,” he says, mentioning Charlottesville and the NFL protests. There are a lot of people clutching their pearls right now and trying to turn protests of racial violence into disrespect of the military. It’s heartening to hear Silveria encourage conversations on these subjects.

Because that’s what he’s encouraging. He told his cadets and staff that when facing “horrible language and horrible ideas,” that “the appropriate response is a better idea.” Ideas like engaging in “civil discourse,” not ignoring the larger conversations. A better idea is utililzing “the power of us as a diverse group.”

More than anything, he tells these cadets that racism and bigotry will not be tolerated. He tells them, “If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can’t treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”

He repeats that idea a number of times. He asked them to take out their phones and record him, just in case they ever need a reminder. No matter what is happening in the country, no matter what our president is giving tacit permission for every single day, no matter how confident hateful racists grow, those people still can’t rob us of our ideals. And when it comes to the Air Force, “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

(via Air Force Times, image: screengrab)

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Free Speech So Important, the DOJ Is Demanding Info on Members of an Anti-Trump Facebook Group

As we all know, issues of free speech are of the utmost importance to the current U.S. government. Which is why the Department of Justice is trying to force Facebook to disclose information about thousands of people who “liked” an Anti-Trump page. Because you’re allowed to freely share your beliefs…as long as they’re in support of your President. Or white supremacy.

The DOJ is demanding information on thousands of users of a page formerly known as DisruptJ20 (now Resist This), a Facebook group that originally formed to disrupt the Presidential Inauguration on January 20th. Six thousand people have liked the page before February 9th, when the DOJ secretly approached Facebook with search warrants. As reported by Fortune, “Although the page was public, the department is also after details of those who said they might attend events organized through the page, or who merely reacted to content shared from the page.”

That is all despite the fact that they say they are only targeting three people connected with the January 20th protests: Emmelia Talarico, an administrator and moderator for the DisruptJ20 Facebook page, and two other activists, Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour. The DOJ tried to place a gag order on Facebook, but Facebook challenged that, and the DOJ dropped that element of this case, which allowed Facebook to let those being targeted know what was happening.

If this were legitimately a case of concern regarding violence that occurred during the protests, and there were specific charges being made against specific people that would be one thing. However, the information that the DOJ is demanding of Facebook is wide-ranging and involves the personal information and activities of thousands of people, simply for “liking” a page that protests the government. This is terrifying.

Naturally, the ACLU is standing up to this, and is representing the activists in the case. ACLU lawyer Scott Michelman said, “The primary purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to prevent this type of exploratory rummaging through a person’s private information. Moreover, when law enforcement officers can comb through records concerning political organizing in opposition to the very administration for which those officers work, the result is the chilling of First Amendment-protected political activity.”

What the ACLU is hoping for right now is a result similar to what happened with web-hosting provider Dreamhost last month. The DOJ had gone to Dreamhost first in its attempts to retrieve users’ personal information, as the website ran off its servers. Fortune explains:

“Following considerable pushback, the DoJ dropped its attempt to extract information about more than a million people who visited the site, but it did succeed in getting a judge to order Dreamhost to hand over other site data. However, the court also ordered strict oversight for how the Justice Department could comb through the data it received, and forbade it from sharing the information with other government agencies.”

Right now, the DOJ is overstepping its bounds into the lives of private citizens, attempting to commit unlawful search and seizure in order to curtail citizens’ right to freedom of speech, which includes freedom of assembly. Yes, even on the Internet.

(image: Shutterstock)

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This School Librarian Turned Down a Book Donation From Melania Trump With a Scathingly Polite Open Letter – Do not f– with librarians.

For National Read a Book Day, Melania Trump sent Dr. Seuss books to one school in each state. The school librarian from Cambridge, Massachusetts, though, has declined the offer, explaining her reasoning in an open letter that proves “scathingly polite” is a thing.

The librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro, thanked Trump for the gift (“Sent second-day air, no less! That must have been expensive”), and is grateful for the recognition. According to the White House website, Trump chose schools “with programs that have achieved high standards of excellence, recognized by State and National awards and Blue Ribbon Awards.” Soreiro says her school is worthy of that praise, in large part because it is “a district that has plenty of resources, which contributes directly to ‘excellence.’”

When a school is fortunate enough to have the sorts of resources that have been proven to lead to better performance (high per-pupil spending, well-paid teachers, an expansive school library, etc.), those are the schools that so often receive more resources and attention as a reward. “And in the end,” Soeiro writes, “it appears that data — and not children — are what matters.”

These issues aren’t new for schools, but under the current administration, with all the damage being done by Trump’s husband and his appointees, the education system feels to be especially under attack.

Meanwhile, school libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school “choice” with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers, and their schools. Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control? Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? Why not reflect on those ‘high standards of excellence’ beyond only what the numbers suggest? Secretary DeVos would do well to scaffold and lift schools instead of punishing them with closures and slashed budgets.

Soeiro’s school simply “doesn’t have a NEED for these books.” Besides which, she questions the choice of the books themselves. And this is where it gets really good.

You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature. As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips. Just down the street you have access to a phenomenal children’s librarian: Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. I have no doubt Dr. Hayden would have given you some stellar recommendations.

There are other issues beyond just originality when it comes to Dr. Seuss. Like, you know, that whole racism thing. She writes, “Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”

Soeiro ends by reiterating her gratitude, pointedly so.

I am honored that you recognized my students and our school. I can think of no better gift for children than books; it was a wonderful gesture, if one that could have been better thought out. Books can be a powerful way to learn about and experience the world around us; they help build empathy and understanding.” In return, I’m attaching a list of ten books (it’s the librarian in me) that I hope will offer you a window into the lives of the many children affected by the policies of your husband’s administration. You and your husband have a direct impact on these children’s lives. Please make time to learn about and value them. I hope you share these books with your family and with kids around the country. And I encourage you to reach out to your local librarian for more recommendations.

Every librarian I have ever met has been the kindest, scariest, most badass person. I want every one of them to be my best friend, and I deeply hope never to be on the receiving end of an open letter penned by one.

(via The Horn Book, image: Shutterstock)

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Ooh! CBB’s Sarah Harding gives unexpected update on Chad Johnson relationship

The CBB star has finally broken her silence

The couple at the Celebrity Big Brother final

Sarah Harding and new beau Chad Johnson had us ALL talking when they became the most unexpected couple of this year’s Celebrity Big Brother.

Mostly because the Girls Aloud singer actually had a boyfriend on the outside world when the celeb pair hooked up.

But since being crowned Queen on the CBB house last month, Sarah has found herself at the centre of a load of split rumours after American reality star Chad jetted back to his home in LA.


And after keeping her cards close to her chest, the singer FINALLY broke her silence on just what’s going on with her boyfriend during Thursday night’s episode of Celebrity Juice.

During the comedy programme – which was filmed on Friday 22nd September – host Keith Lemon questioned the blonde beauty over her relationship status.

He asked: ‘So are you going over to America then?’

To which she replied: ‘I’m going next week, but I’m doing some work over there as well’.

Sarah opened up about her relationship status [ITV]

Talking about their controversial romance, Sarah then added: ‘I didn’t go in there looking for anything at all. I didn’t look at him like that at first…

‘He’s from The Bachelor… but he’s not a bachelor anymore, is he?!’

Sarah’s comments come after Chad – who starred in US dating shows The Bachelorette and Bachelor In Paradise – sparked rumours of a split after he removed all traces of Sarah from his social media.

Which is the BIGGEST tell-tell sign of a 21st century break up…

More: CBB lovers Sarah Harding and Chad Johnson split?! Fans speculate following THIS tell-tale sign

Although the reality star was quick to dismiss rumours as he later took to Twitter to set the record straight.

Reaching out to his 122k followers, Chad simply wrote: ‘We’re still together. Relax people.’

And backing her BF up, Sarah was quick to share the message with her own 242k followers.

That settles that, then!

The post Ooh! CBB’s Sarah Harding gives unexpected update on Chad Johnson relationship appeared first on CelebsNow.

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