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Justice Dept to look into universities' Affirmative Action policies: report

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The Justice Department’s civil rights division is preparing to look into and possibly sue universities whose affirmative action admissions policies could be deemed discriminatory against white applicants, The New York Times reported Tuesday. An internal memo, obtained by the Times, advertised for lawyers within the agency who would be interested in a new initiative that includes “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

According to the Times report, the memo does not list any specific group of college applicants could be at risk of discrimination. However, the phrasing “intentional race-based discrimination” is geared towards affirmative action programs that aim to recruit more minority students to the student body.

The memo appears to be a project that will be carried out in an office within the civil rights division where many of President Trump's political appointees work rather than career civil servants who usually handle cases involving schools and universities.

The Justice Department declined the newspaper's requests both to provide more details about on the new initiative or to make John Gore, acting head of the civil rights division, available for an interview.

“The Department of Justice does not discuss personnel matters, so we’ll decline comment,” said Devin O’Malley, a department spokesman, told the Times.

The Times says this signals President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are leading the agency’s the civil rights division in a more conservative direction.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a diverse student body benefits the education provided by a university, thus justifying that race could be used as a factor when deciding among applicants, but the higher court left the parameters of such a practice quite undefined. 

Nat’l NAACP Names Interim President To Replace Cornell Brooks

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The NAACP has named Derrick Johnson, the vice chairman of their board of directors, the organization’s interim president.

The unanimous decision was made by the executive committee of the board of directors during the Association’s 108th annual convention in Baltimore. The NAACP is the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the U.S. The executive committee of the board is comprised of 14 people.

On May 19, the NAACP board announced that the contract of Cornell William Brooks, the outgoing president, would not be renewed. Brooks’ contract ended on June 30. Brooks began his tenure as NAACP President in May of 2014.

“I am thrilled to announce that my friend and colleague Derrick Johnson has been appointed to interim president and CEO.

I could not think of a better, more battle-tested or more qualified individual to guide the NAACP through this transition period,” said Leon Russell, the chairman of the board of the NAACP.

“Derrick’s longtime service with the Association will allow him to take decisive action to deal with daily challenges. He will also serve as the primary spokesman for the NAACP. I have every confidence in Derrick and will support him in this new endeavor every step of the way.”

In a statement released on July 22, Johnson said that it is truly an honor and a privilege to be named the interim president and CEO of an organization that he’s served for decades.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we won’t waste any time getting to it. We are facing unprecedented threats to our democracy and we will not be sidelined while our rights are being eroded every day,” said Johnson. “We remain steadfast and immovable, and stand ready on the front lines of the fight for justice.”

The NAACP is about to embark on a nationwide listening tour to hear advice on what their focus should be moving forward. NAACP leadership has acknowledged that younger civil rights organizations are getting more traction and attention in a world of social media and faster communications.

The first stop on the NAACP listening tour is Detroit on August 24. The second stop will be San Antonio, Texas in September. The organization’s leadership will “visit a total of seven major cities across the country over the next few months,” according to a press release about the tour.

Johnson will serve as interim president and CEO until a new president is named. Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors as well as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP.

 

 

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Black judge removes Mississippi flag with Confederate emblem from court

Carlos Moore made history this week when he took to the bench as the first African-American municipal judge in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Then he made a ruckus.

On his first day on the job, Moore ordered officials to remove the Mississippi state flag from his courtroom, because that flag contains the Confederate emblem in its upper left corner.

“It was such a great feeling to see the police officer drag the despicable flag from the courtroom during open court. Great first day!” the judge posted on Facebook on Monday.

In Moore’s eyes, the Mississippi state flag doesn’t stand for justice and instead shows the state supports the Confederacy’s legacy of slavery, he told CNN affiliate WATN-TV in Memphis.

Another factor in Moore’s decision was the fact that a lot of the people who will stand before him in court will be African-Americans.

“Most of the people that appear before me will be African-American, and they need to feel that the courtroom is gonna be a place they can get justice,” he said. “That flag does not stand for justice.”

It isn’t the first time Moore has fought the flag. He filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the state from flying the flag and to rule that its design is unconstitutional. But US District Judge Carlton W. Reeves tossed the suit out last year.

Charleston shooting renewed calls for change

Mississippi is the last state with a flag that contains the Confederate battle emblem.

In 2001, Mississippi residents voted to keep the flag’s current design.

Renewed calls to change it surged in 2015 after the massacre of nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, brought the issue back into the spotlight. Shooter Dylann Roof apparently revered the flag as a symbol of white supremacy.

In October 2015, the University of Mississippi removed the state flag from its campus. Some Mississippi cities have voted or issued executive orders to remove the state flag from city property since the Charleston shooting. Others have voted to keep it flying.

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The state capital, Jackson, hasn’t flown the flag on city property in more than a decade. The Jackson City Council voted last year to urge the state to create a new flag, CNN affiliate WAPT-TV in Jackson reported.

 

 

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Here’s Why O.J. Simpson’s Parole Board Didn’t Use His Infamous Past Against Him

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A straight-faced O.J. Simpson told the Nevada parole board Thursday that he’s a good guy who got mixed up in a bad situation. “I always thought I’ve been pretty good with people, and have basically spent a conflict-free life,” Simpson said. The former gridiron great added, “I’m not a guy who lived a criminal life. I’m a straight shooter.”

Simpson made no mention of the 1994 double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Neither Simpson or anyone present at the hearing discussed the 1995 “trial of the century,” in which he stood accused of stabbing Goldman more than two dozen times and of cutting his ex-wife’s throat so deep that her head was nearly severed from her body.

The reason, according to a legal expert: The murders could not be considered by the board.

“He was found not guilty and that occurred long before the crime for which he is being punished,” Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Steven Cron told HuffPost. “When you’re found not guilty, that’s the end of that discussion.”

Simpson was acquitted in the criminal trial, but a civil lawsuit filed by the victims’ families resulted in a 1997 judgment finding Simpson liable for the deaths. However, that lawsuit also went unmentioned on Thursday.

According to Cron, the civil verdict was also inadmissible at the parole hearing.

“It wasn’t a conviction,” he said. “That was a civil proceeding, in which the standard is much lower than it is in a criminal case. A civil case is a preponderance of the evidence, where in a criminal trial you have to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Back in 1989, Simpson pleaded no contest to physically abusing his ex-wife ― another infamous bit of his past that Cron said was not relevant to the parole board.

Instead, the board had to focus on how Simpson has behaved since his 2008 conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping. 

“When he got sentenced, the judge would have had access to his entire criminal history and would have known about that,” the attorney said. “Presumably, all of that was factored into his sentence. The parole board is looking more at what has this inmate done since the date of sentencing. The fact that more than 25 years ago he had another case was not relevant.”

The board also had to look at his chance of reoffending and his prognosis for leading a law-abiding life.

“I’m no fan of O.J. Simpson, believe me, but they had to judge him just as they would any inmate and he apparently met those factors,” Cron said.

Tamron Hall Has A New Daytime Talk Show In The Works

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Several months after parting ways with NBC, Tamron Hall is developing a new talk show. 

The former “Today” host has partnered with Weinstein Television to develop a daytime talk show, according to Variety. Hall will reportedly co-create the program and serve as the show’s host and executive producer. 

The show, which is currently untitled, will be shot in front of a live studio audience. It will focus on current events, human-interest stories and interviews with celebrities and newsmakers. 

“I’ve been working towards developing a talk show for a long time, but needed to make sure I did it the right way and with the right person to take the lead,” Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, said in a statement, per Variety. “Tamron is far and away that person. She’s an exceptionally talented journalist whose interviews masterfully walk the line between entertainment and hard hitting. We couldn’t be more thrilled to begin this new venture with her.”

Hall severed ties with NBC after the network revealed their plans to recruit Megyn Kelly to host the 9 a.m. hour of “Today,” which Hall hosted alongside Al Roker for three years. Hall, the first black woman anchor in the show’s history, reportedly turned down a significant offer to stay with NBC.

Along with a daytime talk show, The Hollywood Reporter reports that Hall’s deal with Weinstein involves working with the company to create other non-scripted programming. No network is attached, as of yet. 

HuffPost has reached out to Hall’s representative and will update this piece accordingly.  

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