Monday, 6 June 2011

Pigford settlement applications open:$1.25 Billion

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2011 -- The Court-ordered process of officially notifying African American farmers and their heirs about the $1.25 billion "Pigford II" class action settlement, In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, is underway.

African American farmers around the country who tried to file a claim in the 1999 Pigford Settlement but were unable to receive a decision on the merits because their claims were late are now receiving information about their legal rights and options under the Settlement by postal mail. A comprehensive paid published notice program will complement this direct notice. The program will include a nationwide radio advertising campaign, including heavy focus on areas where large numbers of class members are believed to live. A Summary Notice will also be published in a variety of print publications including African American newspapers, general market daily and community newspapers, and farming and ranching trade publications. Finally, online ads will appear on a variety of websites.

African American farmers who tried to file a claim in the original 1999 Pigford settlement but didn’t receive a decision because their claims were late are now getting information about their rights and options in the mail. A national media campaign through radio and black-oriented newspapers, trade publications and online will also launch.

President Barack Obama signed the bill authorizing payment for the so-called Pigford II settlement in December 2010. If the settlement is approved in federal court, it will resolve discrimination claims against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for farm loans and other benefits. The settlement includes $1.25 billion for cash payments and loan forgiveness for class members who file valid claims. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will consider whether to grant final approval of the Settlement at a hearing in Washington D.C. on Sept. 1, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

Class members eligible for the settlement are African Americans who:

• farmed (or tried to) between Jan. 1, 1981 and Dec. 31, 1996;

• were barred from applying for or were denied a USDA farm loan during that period or given a loan with unfair terms;

• and filed or attempted to file a late claim between Oct. 13, 1999 and June 18, 2008 in the original Pigford case that was never considered because they tried to submit it after the late claim deadline. Heirs or relatives of individuals who would be eligible but have since died can also be class members.

Anyone who objects to the settlement must do so by Aug. 12. The deadline for filing claims may be as early as Feb. 28, 2012.

Class members can go to, or call toll-free 1-877-810-8110 for information on the notice, key dates, and filing claims.


Arular is the 2005 debut album by British musician M.I.A. Originally set for a September 2004 release, the album was delayed due to problems obtaining permission to use samples. Arular was finally released in the US on 22 March 2005 and a month later in the UK with a slightly different track listing. The album's release was preceded in 2004 by two singles and a mixtape.
M.I.A. wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album and created the basic backing tracks using a Roland MC-505 sequencer/drum machine given to her by long-time friend Justine Frischmann. Collaborators included Switch, Diplo, and Richard X. The album's title is the political code name used by her father, Arul Pragasam, during his involvement with Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups, and themes of conflict and revolution feature heavily in the lyrics and artwork. Musically, the album incorporates styles that range from hip hop and electroclash to funk carioca and punk rock.
Arular was hailed by critics for its blending of styles and integration of political lyrics into dance tunes. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2005 and was included in the 2005 edition of the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Although it only reached number 98 on the UK Albums Chart and number 190 on the US Billboard 200, several publications named it as one of the best albums of the year. By mid-2007, the album had sold 129,000 copies in the US, Arular spawned the singles "Sunshowers", "Bucky Done Gun" and "Galang", which was released twice.

Arular takes its title from the political code name employed by M.I.A.'s father, Arul Pragasam, during his involvement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, popularly known as the Tamil Tigers; she contends that her father's "revolutionary ideals" are the album's thematic base. M.I.A also considered that her father might Google his name, find out about the album, and re-establish contact with her; a strategy which worked. The album is influenced by music that M.I.A. listened to as a child in London, including hip hop, dancehall, and punk rock. She cited as particular influences Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, and London Posse, whom she described as "the best of British hip hop". Her work on the album drew on the punk music of The Clash and music from genres such as Britpop and electroclash, to which she was exposed during her time studying at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Living in West London, she met many musicians who to her defined an era of British music that was "actually credible". In a 2008 interview, she elaborated on the importance of the west London punk scene, citing acts such as The Slits, The Clash, and Don Letts; she claimed that Bow Wow Wow and Malcolm McLaren had a similar cultural impact in England to that of Public Enemy in America.
"I found understanding hip-hop a universal thing. Not just understanding the rhythm, how they danced, their style or their attitude; there was something else, beyond song structure and language. It works on a few basic human principles, in terms of what stimulation buttons to push...It had content and struggle behind it... and because I was able to adapt to it, hip-hop gave me a home, an identity. Hip-hop was the most guerrilla thing happening in England at the time. You had Public Enemy fronting it, and that felt like home, and I could dance while I was feeling shitty. It had a whole aesthetic to it – it was being really crass with pride."
Before the album's release, M.I.A. said that audiences found it hard to dance to political songs. This made her keen to produce music that sounded like pop but addressed important issues. "Sunshowers", with its lyrical references to snipers, murder and the PLO, was written in response to the Tamil Tigers being considered terrorists in some quarters. She said, "you can't separate the world into two parts like that, good and evil. America has successfully tied all these pockets of independence struggles, revolutions and extremists into one big notion of terrorism. The lyrics caused controversy; MTV censored the sounds of gunshots in the song and MTV USA refused to broadcast the video unless a disclaimer that disavowed the lyrics was added. The BBC described the lyrics as "always fluid and never too rhetorical" and sounding like "snatches of overheard conversation". The songs deal with topics ranging from sex to drug dealing.
Musically, the album incorporates elements of baile funk, grime, hip hop, and ragga. Peter Shapiro, writing in The Times, summed up the album's musical influences as "anything as long as it has a beat". Some tracks drew on Tamil film music, which M.I.A. listened to while growing up. Shapiro described her music as a "multi-genre pile-up" and likened it to her graphic art, calling it "vivid, gaudy, lo-fi and deceptively candyfloss". In a 2005 interview, when asked about the difficulty in categorising her sound, M.I.A. explained, "Influences are crossing over into each other's puddles. I just accept where I'm at, I accept where the world is at and I accept how we receive and digest information. I get that somebody in Tokyo is on the internet instant messaging, and someone in the favelas is on the internet. Everybody seems to know a little bit about everything and that's how we process information now. This just reflects that.


The following people are credited on the album:
Maya Arulpragasam – main performer, artwork
A. Brucker (Dave "Switch" Taylor under a different name) – producer on "Pull Up the People", final mix and producer on "Bucky Done Gun" and "U.R.A.Q.T"
Paschal Byrne – producer on "Pull Up the People", final mix and producer on "Bucky Done Gun" and "U.R.A.Q.T"
Diplo – producer on "Bucky Done Gun", "M.I.A." co-producer on "U.R.A.Q.T."
KW Griff – producer on "U.R.A.Q.T"
Pete Hofmann – engineer and mixing on "Amazon" and "10 Dollar"
Steve Loveridge – artwork design
Steve Mackey – producer on "Sunshowers" and "Galang"
Ross Orton – producer on "Sunshowers" and "Galang"
Nesreen Shah – chorus vocals on "Sunshowers"
Anthony Whiting – producer on "Fire Fire" and "Bingo"
Richard X – producer on "Amazon" and "10 Dollar"
Dwain "Willy" Wilson III (Richard X under a different name) – producer on "Hombre"
Wizard – programming, mixing and producer on "Bucky Done Gun"

Satoshi Kanazawa

Satoshi Kanazawa, PhD born November 16, 1962  is a controversial Japanese evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics. His research uses evolutionary psychology to analyze social sciences such as sociology, economics, and anthropology. An open letter signed by sixty-eight evolutionary psychologists states that "He has repeatedly been criticised by other academics in his field of research for using poor quality data, inappropriate statistical methods and consistently failing to consider alternative explanations for his results.

Academic criticism
Kanazawa's theories on race and intelligence are controversial. Kanazawa has argued that Asian cultural traditions and/or character inhibit Asian scientific creativity and that "political correctness" is a bigger threat to American evolutionary psychology than religious fundamentalism. He has been accused of promoting "racist stereotypes". In 2006 Kanazawa published a paper suggesting that the poor health of people in some nations is the result not of poverty, but of lower intelligence. In a letter to the editors regarding Kanazawa's claim that attractive people are more likely to have daughters, Columbia statistician Andrew Gelman points out that a correct interpretation of the regression coefficients in Kanazawa's analysis is that attractive people are 8% more likely to have girls, an error that Kanazawa acknowledges. Gelman argues that Kanazawa's analysis does not convincingly show causality, because of possible endogeneity as well as problematic interpretations of statistical significance in multiple comparisons. While Kanazawa claims that the former error is "merely linguistic" and that he addressed the latter two in his initial article,Gelman maintains that his original criticism remains valid.
In the British Journal of Health Psychology George Ellison wrote that the theory is based on flawed assumptions, questionable data, inappropriate analysis and biased interpretations. Ellison wrote that Kanazawa mistook statistical associations for evidence of causality and falsely concluded that populations in sub-Saharan Africa are less healthy because they are unintelligent and not because they are poor. Kevin Denny wrote similar criticisms regarding the IQ data and stated that African Americans should have similar IQs when compared to the sub-Saharan African population and that Kanazawa should have measured the distance between areas in a topographical fashion. P.Z. Myers, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota, has called Kanazawa "the great idiot of social science.

Popular protests
In May 2011, popular protests against Kanazawa were provoked by a Psychology Today blog post written by him asserting that black women are less attractive and intelligent than women from other racial groups. This article was based on the opinions reported by survey takers in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health ("Add Health"), which Kanazawa claimed could be used as "objective" measures of attractiveness. The article was subsequently removed from the Psychology Today site without explanation, though Kaja Perina, Psychology Today Editor in Chief, stated that "[Psychology Today reserves] the right to remove posts for any number of reasons.  The article was condemned by various figures including fellow Psychology Today blogger Mikhail Lyubansky, London School of Economics professor Paul Gilroy, and UMM professor Paul Myers as being pseudoscientific and harmful to marginalized groups. 
On May 16, 2011, a petition was launched demanding that Psychology Today remove Kanazawa as a contributor to their website and magazine. The petition cites Kanazawa's "discredited research" and "racially biased articles."
On May 18, 2011, the University of London Union Senate, the Union's legislative body representing over 120,000 students, voted unanimously in favor of calling for a campaign for Kanazawa's dismissal. The reasons stated for this call for dismissal include flawed research and unscientific bigotry.
On May 27, 2011, Kaja Perina, Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Today, issued this statement:
“Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published–and promptly removed–from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today’s mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused.

In 2003, in an article in the Journal of Research in Personality, he claimed to show that scientists generally made their biggest discoveries before their mid-30s, and compared this productivity curve to that of criminals.
In 2006 he published an article in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, claiming that attractive people are 26% less likely to have male offspring.
Kanazawa has co-written three books with Alan Miller: "Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire—Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do", Why Men Gamble and Women Buy Shoes: How Evolution Shaped the Way We Behave and Order by Accident: The Origins and Consequences of Conformity in Contemporary Japan. He also writes a blog entitled The Scientific Fundamentalist for Psychology Today.
Kanazawa uses the term Savanna principle: the theory that societal difficulties exist because the human brain evolved in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago, a drastically different environment from today's urban, industrial society.
Commenting on the criticism directed against some evolutionary psychology theories, Kanazawa has stated that "The only responsibility that scientists have is to the truth, nothing else. Scientists are not responsible for the potential or actual consequences of the knowledge they create.
Commenting on the War on Terror, Kanazawa claimed that "there is one resource that our enemies have in abundance but we don’t: hate... We may be losing this war because our enemies have a full range of human emotions while we don’t." He offers the following thought experiment: "Imagine that, on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, the President of the United States was not George W. Bush, but Ann Coulter. What would have happened then? On September 12, President Coulter would have ordered the US military forces to drop 35 nuclear bombs throughout the Middle East, killing all of our actual and potential enemy combatants, and their wives and children. On September 13, the war would have been over and won, without a single American life lost." Kanazawa has also argued that "conservative policies are more likely to succeed than liberal policies" and that a flat tax represents an ideal taxation system.
In March 2011, Kanazawa wrote an article titled, 'Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?' The article reads, "high-class prostitutes like Allie and Maggie have more in common with college professors, corporate executives, or poets than with the more affordable and visible members of their profession. prostitution is evolutionarily familiar, because mating is evolutionarily familiar and prostitutes (at least the classy ones) are no different from other women, whom men also have to pay – not in cash payments but in dinners and movies, gifts, flowers, chocolates, and motor oil.

Black women less attractive than other women?

And now Satoshi Kanazawa’s lost his blog and his profile page has been deleted from Psychology Today’s website. His article and unqualified research on unattractive black women sent off a fury of protests online. 75,000 people blew up Psychology Today via email, Twitter and Facebook. Some even rang Psychology Today’s telephones off the hook.
When all was said and done, Psychology Today sent an email to and informed the largest online African American political organization that Kanazawa’s work won’t appear on their site any longer. Psychology Today even said they’ve instituted new rules to prevent inflammatory content in the future.
People who hadn’t heard of Kanazawa were sharing the text in question, their hurt, their ire and disbelief that Psychology Today endorsed the piece. They demanded Kanazawa be fired. Students at Kanazawa’s other day job, London School of Economics, have also called for Kanazawa’s resignation.

Kanazawa concluded, based on a study in which several persons were interviewed, that black women were objectively less attractive than white, Asian and North American women, though they "subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others".
"Black women are significantly less physically attractive than women of other races," said Kanazawa, who works at the London School of Economics.
"The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races," he explained.
The claim that blacks are unattractive, while offensive and backward, has not come as a surprise to at least two local academics who said that years of independence from slavery has not changed people's perception of blacks.
Neither does it surprise counsellor Carla Brookes, who said the way some black women behave, dress and act fuels a perception of "the fat, loud video model type with loose morals".
"You can't blame people sometimes for judging us the way they do," Brookes said. "We cuss, we fight, we're loud and we act like we're proud of it!"
Noted Sociologist Dr Orville Taylor said the "seasoning" blacks underwent during slavery has caused many to look at blacks in a negative light, despite our achievements since independence.
"I am not surprised by any type of survey or psychological research that points to negative self-imagery (especially) when you juxtapose that against the bleaching phenomenon which is not about people trying to become white, but about people establishing a pattern of beauty that they aspire towards," he said.
He explained that like a curry stain, the effects of slavery which saw many blacks humiliated and exploited under European rule cannot be reversed overnight.
Kanazawa has been offensive before. He's blogged that criminals look different from non criminals (OJ Simpson, according to Kanazawa looks like a criminal.”) He had an epiphany when he blogged that all women are essentially prostitutes. In the past, offended readers emailed Kanazawa rather than his editors.

Kanazawa’s blogs, for as long as Psychology Today has published them (a little over five years now) have always been controversial, racist, sexist, and unfounded. Most of his blogs are hypotheses on human nature (or why men and women do the the things that they do). Readers are drawn into Kanazawa's ideologies because his notions offer one explanation for human behavior in our contemporary culture and its current setting.

As it stands, contemporary culture is obsessed with beauty and cosmetic surgery has proven itself recession proof. Celebrity lifestyles generally support many of Kanazawa's theses and much of Kanazawa's audience are celebrity and people watchers.

Kanazawa wrote about beauty, women, motherhood, men, and dating. All of which were big hits with contemporary online readers.