Justice Department Finds Pattern of Police Bias and Excessive Force in Ferguson

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Ferguson, Mo., police officers at a news conference in August. A Justice Department report will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the department or face being sued by it on charges of violating the Constitution. (WHITNEY CURTIS FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

WASHINGTON — Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents, the Justice Department has concluded in a scathing report that accuses the officers of using excessive force and making unjustified traffic stops for years.

The Justice Department, which opened its investigation after a white Ferguson police officer shot and killed a black teenager last summer, says the discrimination was fueled in part by racial stereotypes held by city officials. Investigators say the officials made racist jokes about blacks on their city email accounts.

Ferguson is a largely black city with a government and a police force that are mostly white. After the shooting of the teenager, Michael Brown, the city erupted in angry, sometimes violent protests and looting. Since then, Ferguson has been at the center of a national debate over race and policing that has drawn in President Obama, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

The report’s findings were summarized by a federal law enforcement official. The full report is expected to be released on Wednesday. A separate report is expected to clear the officer, Darren Wilson, of any civil rights violations in the shooting of Mr. Brown.

Ferguson officials now face the choice of either negotiating a settlement with the Justice Department or potentially being sued by it on charges of violating the Constitution.

In compiling the report, federal investigators conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed 35,000 pages of police records and analyzed race data compiled for every police stop. They concluded that, over the past two years, African-Americans — who make up about two-thirds of the city’s population — accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of citations, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of cases in which the police used force.

Black motorists were twice as likely as whites to be searched but were less likely to be found in possession of contraband such as drugs or guns.

The findings reinforce what the city’s African-American residents have been saying publicly for the past year: that years of discrimination and mistrust created the volatile environment that erupted after Mr. Brown’s shooting.

article by Matt Apuzzo via nytimes.com

Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and “Training Day” Director Antoine Fuqua Reteam on “Magnificent Seven”

Denzel Crushes "Fences"!It’s been over a decade since Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, and director Antoine Fuqua patrolled the mean streets of Los Angeles in “Training Day,” and it looks like that team is looking to head to the Wild West for their next collaboration.

Sources say the Oscar-nominated Hawke is in final negotiations to join Washington in MGM’s “Magnificent Seven” remake with Fuqua directing.

Chris Pratt and Haley Bennett are also on board to star.

The 1960 original, itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. It centered on seven gunslingers who protect an oppressed Mexican village from a group of outlaws.

The script was most recently reworked by John Lee Hancock, with “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto writing the previous draft.

MGM is hoping the pairing of Hawke with Washington leads to the same success the two saw on crime drama “Training Day,” which overperformed at the box office and led to both men receiving Oscar nominations, with Washington eventually taking home the prize.

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Phylicia Rashad to Star in CBS’ “For Justice” Drama Pilot

Phylicia Rashad

(KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES)

Phylicia Rashad has been cast as a series regular in CBS’ drama “For Justice.”

“The Cosby Show” co-star will play a gay woman by the name of Georgina Howe in the pilot, set to be directed by “Selma’s” Ava DuVernay.

Rashad’s character is described has a savvy Washington player who has faced discrimination for her race and sexual orientation, and fights to protect the independence and integrity of her high-profile Civil Rights Division.

The project, based on James Patterson’s novel “The Thomas Berryman Number,” follows a female FBI agent working in the Criminal Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division who finds herself caught between her radical real family and her professional family.

“Law & Order” vet Rene Balcer wrote the pilot and will serve as executive producer, alongside DuVernay, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, James Patterson, Bill Robinson and Leopoldo Gout. Berry Welsh will co-executive produce. CBS TV is the studio.

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Kevin Garnett Buys 1,000 Tickets to Give Away to Minnesota Fans

Kevin Garnett (Getty Images)

Kevin Garnett (Getty Images)

Kevin Garnett has purchased 1,000 tickets that will be given to Timberwolves fans to show his appreciation for their warm welcome to his return to Minnesota.

The team announced Sunday morning that Garnett bought the tickets for Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, reports NBA.com. Starting at 9AM Monday, the first 500 fans to claim tickets on http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/kg will receive a pair of tickets to the game.

“The response and support I’ve received from Wolves fans since my return to Minnesota has been nothing short of amazing. It’s been unbelievable,” Garnett said. “As a gesture of thanks, I would like to treat some fans to Monday night’s game against the Clippers. Love you all, and thanks for the love. Enjoy the game on me.”

article by Carrie Healey via thegrio.com

ARCHITECTURE: The Forgotten Masterpieces of African Modernism

La Pyramide, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

La Pyramide, Abidjan, Ivory Coast. (Photograph: Iwan Baan)

field of triangular roofs pokes up above the horizon on the outskirts of Dakar, like a forest of wigwams that have been baked to stone under the scorching sub-Saharan sun. They sit on a triangular concrete plinth, from which bigger triangular pavilions protrude, accessed by flights of triangular steps from the dusty streets, along which triangular gutters jut out. It could be Toblerone Town, a city-sized hymn to the three-sided prism.

This mysterious complex, which looks like what might have happened if the Mayans had discovered reinforced concrete, is the Foire Internationale de Dakar, or FIDAK for short. It is a sprawling exhibition centre built in the capital of Senegal in 1975 to host the country’s biennial international trade fair – and trumpet the new nationstate’s presence on the global stage. Designed by little-known French architects Jean-François Lamoureux and Jean-Louis Marin, it is a project of obsessive and extraordinary detail. There are facades decorated with coloured pebbles and tiled mosaics, psychedelic sand art murals that evoke the rocky African coastline and its azure seas. Yet outside Senegal, this building is almost entirely unknown.

It is just one of the astounding projects documented by Swiss architect Manuel Herz, who has spent the last few years researching the architecture of African independence with his team at ETH University in Zurich. A period of bold structures and strident new forms, it is strangely absent from the recorded history of modern architecture. “There was an intense flowering of experimental and futuristic architecture in the 1960s and 70s, which the young African countries used to express their national identities,” says Herz, who has curated an exhibition of more than 80 buildings from sub-Saharan Africa, showing at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, until May. “But we simply don’t know about it. When people think of Africa, they think of poverty, misery and violence, while architects fetishise informality and focus on slum-upgrading. But we wanted to show this incredible cultural wealth that also exists.”

University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

University of Zambia, Lusaka. (Photograph: Iwan Baan)

The buildings, a number of which have been beautifully shot by Dutch photographer Iwan Baan, portray a period of extreme confidence and political ambition. They are mostly the products of big, state-sponsored initiatives, from heroic parliament buildings and imposing central banks to daring universities and vast stadiums, many the pet projects of Africa’s “big man” leaders, built for propaganda purposes as much as anything else.

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre, whose pink cylindrical shaft towers above Nairobi, was initiated by the country’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, as a lavish new HQ for his ruling Kanu party. At 32 stories, it was by far the tallest structure in east Africa until the 1990s, a big column for Kenya’s big-man chieftain. Yet its great size can be credited to an accident of international intervention. In the midst of its design, the World Bank decided it would host its 1973 annual meeting in Nairobi, and the building was chosen as the venue, forcing a growth spurt. The tower almost tripled in height, while a magnificent auditorium shaped like a closed lily-bud was also added, and mirrored by an open flower form at the top of the tower containing a revolving restaurant.

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“Empire” Grows Audience for 7th Straight Week; Growth Spurt Fueled by Young Women, Urban Markets

Timbaland Empire Fox

In music biz terms, Fox’s “Empire” is zooming up the charts with a bullet.

On Wednesday the family soap centered on a hip-hop musical mogul continued its unprecedented growth streak by gaining audience for a seventh straight week, hitting 13.9 million. No series in the history of Nielsen’s People Meters (going back to 1991) had grown with the first five episodes following its premiere, and “Empire” has now bested that by two weeks.

The 20th Century Fox TV/Imagine TV drama stunned the industry with its Jan. 7 premiere, which averaged a 3.8 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 9.9 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. It built on its lead-in, the season premiere of “American Idol,” by 32% in  adults 18-34 and logged the net’s top premiere score in this demo in six years.

And it’s only gotten bigger since. “Empire” is part of the ratings boom this season for series that feature diverse casts and executive producers — as exemplified by ABC’s success with comedies “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” and drama “How to Get Away With Murder.” But “Empire’s” audience is so big that it is clearly a big-tent hit with broad viewership across a range of demographics.

In adults 18-49, it has grown in six of the last seven weeks, with Wednesday night’s rating (5.4) — a monster 42% build on its premiere — the top score for a regularly scheduled broadcast drama since ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” in the fall of 2010.

The biggest growth spurt for “Empire” has come in women 18-34, in which last night’s rating (6.2) was 68% larger than its premiere rating (3.7).

“Empire” figures to once again rank as the week’s top-rated broadcast series in adults 18-49, having leapfrogged CBS vet “The Big Bang Theory” for the first time last week. And for the season, “Empire” is on track to finish as broadcast television’s No. 1 drama; only AMC’s “The Walking Dead” rates higher.

(Fox estimates that in the month since the “Empire” pilot aired, it has been watched by 22.6 million when all time-shifting and viewership on other nonlinear platforms are included.)

“Empire” is being driven by a young, urban audience and is faring especially well in many of the nation’s biggest cities.

Among the top 12 markets, Wednesday’s episode of “Empire” won in the 18-49 demo in every one but Boston. The top scores in those cities came from Atlanta (14.9 rating/29 share), Detroit (9.2/24), Washington, D.C. (7.8/23), Cleveland (7.5/17) and New York (7.3/20) — all well above the show’s national average of 6.0/17.

Roughly two-thirds of those age 2 and older watching “Empire” last Wednesday night (66.9%) were African-Americans. It joins ABC’s Thursday tandem of “Scandal” (42% African-American) and newcomer “How to Get Away Murder” (41%) as broadcast dramas in which more than 4 in 10 viewers are black.

In addition to “How to Get Away With Murder,” ABC has also added two solid comedies featuring minority leads (“Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat”) this season while its “Cristela” has fared decently on Fridays. CW, meanwhile, has garnered critical accolades and is slowly building an audience for its comedic hour “Jane the Virgin.”

All of these series are delivering a younger skew than other shows on their networks, which only makes sense based on U.S. Census data.

According to Nielsen’s calculation of the 116 million-plus TV homes in the U.S. this season, whites make up 75% of the nation’s 50-and-older population, but they comprise 59.3% of the adults 18-49 pie — down from 63.5% just five years ago.

African-Americans make up 14.2% (up from 13.3%) and Asian-Americans have jumped to 5.6% (from 5.0), but the biggest growth spurt has come among Hispanics, which have grown from 17.6% to 20.1% of the country’s TV-viewing population.

In addition to the two-thirds of its audience that is black, “Empire” has also dominated in the top-10 Texas markets of Dallas (7.2 local rating in 18-49/19 share last night) and Houston (7.0/18), where Hispanics make up more than 40% of the population.

In fact, with about 10% of its audience Hispanic, “Empire” ranks as the season’s No. 1 new series and No. 1 broadcast drama overall with Hispanic (English-language) adults 18-49 and 18-34.

The median age for “Empire” last night was 43.5, making it the night’s youngest-skewing program on the Big Four. The net’s “Gotham” is the only other current drama on ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox this season to consistently have a median age under 50.

Another indication of just how big “Empire” has become is that while roughly 63% of its 18-49 audience is female, it also ranks as the season’s No. 1 new series in men 18-49.

“Empire” is benefiting from increasingly strong buzz in social media. Based on Nielsen Social Guide and Twitter metrics, “Empire” now has the highest average number of tweets per episode during its live airings (381,770) than any other broadcast drama this season — overtaking ABC’s “Scandal” (355,012).

And last night’s episode generated a record 714,742 social comments.

Ratings for primetime shows tend to drift downward at the onset of Daylight Saving Time (which starts March 8), so it’s likely that “Empire’s” growth streak will come to an end in one of the weeks prior to its March 25 finale. But at this point, you’d be crazy to bet against it.

article by Rick Kissell via Variety.com

Loretta Lynch Wins Senate Panel Approval to be Attorney General

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the 83rd U.S. attorney general and the first African American woman to hold the post.

The vote was 12 to 8, with 3 Republicans voting in favor of Lynch, who is the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.

Lynch’s nomination now goes to the Senate floor, where she seems assured of eventual approval. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has so far been noncommittal about when he will schedule the vote. Democrats have complained that Lynch’s nomination has been pending for more than three months.

Republican opponents of Lynch have mostly not criticized her, but have used the nomination as a proxy for their opposition to President Obama’s executive action that would shield from deportation several million immigrants in the country illegally.

Lynch has testified that the legal underpinning for that directive was “reasonable.”

The committee debate also featured a spirited disagreement about the constitutional role of senators in confirming nominees, one that did not stricly follow party lines.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee chair and a Lynch supporter, excoriated fellow Republicans in the House who said in a letter that voting for Lynch was a vote in favor of “lawlessness” on the part of President Obama.

“That is ridiculous on its face,” Hatch said angrily.

“The case against her nomination, as far as I can tell, essentially ignores her professional career and focuses solely on about six hours that she spent before this committee on Jan. 28,” Hatch said.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) joined Hatch in siding with all nine Democrats on the committee.

“To those who really believe this is a constitutional overreach of historic proportions, you have impeachment available to you,” Graham said, referring to the immigration controversy.

Noting the near-constant complaints among Republicans on the committee about the current attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., Graham said wryly that “Eric Holder’s ready to go, and I wish him well. He’s about to make a lot of money. Republicans are into that.”

Conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say Lynch would not be independent of President Obama on immigration and other issues and would not depart from Holder’s policies.

Cruz, a potential candidate for president, said Lynch had refused to answer crucial questions in her confirmation hearing.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has led opposition to Obama’s immigration plans, denounced Lynch.

“The Senate cannot confirm someone to this post who is going to support and advance a scheme that violates our Constitution and eviscerates congressional authority,” Sessions said. “Congress makes the laws, not the president—as every schoolchild knows.”

Lynch has twice been U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, the top federal prosecutor in a district that includes all of Long Island and most of New York City outside of Manhattan and the Bronx.

She has been a federal prosecutor much of her career and earned the endorsement of a number of top law enforcement officials and organizations. She has extensive experience in terrorism and public corruption cases.

Lynch also has international experience, volunteering over several years with the International Criminal Tribune for Rwanda training lawyers and conducting an investigation.

article by Timothy Phelps via latimes.com

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