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Arizona ban on ethnic studies unconstitutional

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A federal judge has overturned an Arizona ban on ethnic studies courses aimed at Hispanic students, saying it was motivated by racial discrimination and violated pupils’ constitutional rights.

The decision by Judge A. Wallace Tashima issued on Tuesday came in response to a lawsuit by students and parents challenging the law, which ended a Mexican American Studies, or MAS, program run by the Tucson school district.

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“The Court is convinced that decisions regarding the MAS program were motivated by a desire to advance a political agenda by capitalizing on race-based fears,” Tashima wrote in his ruling.

Officials with the Arizona Department of Education were not immediately available for comment. A Tucson Unified School District member, Kristel Ann Foster, said she was “elated” to be able to restore the program to classrooms.

In 2006, Arizona’s then-schools superintendent and former attorney general, Thomas Horne, began a probe into MAS after an incident when a labor activist told students that Republicans were racist. Horne concluded the program violated school code, and the state threatened to withhold funds until it was stopped.

Tashima, however, backed a study conducted in 2012 – the year the program was dropped from the syllabus in Tucson – which found MAS helped improve the graduation rates and test scores of some of the district’s worst-performing students.

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One of those, Alfred Chavez, 27, said he had been on the verge of dropping out in 2006 when he signed up for the MAS curriculum at Tucson High School. He credits the classes with keeping him in school and propelling him toward a career in education.

“They didn’t just appeal to the A+ student. They appealed to street kids, the marginalized population,” said Chavez, who works as a program specialist at Mesa Community College near Phoenix. “It turned them on to education.”

About 64 percent of Arizona’s school students are Hispanic, according to state figures. The MAS program included units on Mexican-American history, art and literature.

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The attorney for the parents and students who brought the lawsuit, Steve Reiss, described the ruling as an “extraordinary” win.

“To show that a state passed and implemented a law with discriminatory intent is extremely hard these days,” Reiss said.

Speaking to Reuters before the ruling, Horne said he continued to believe such courses were racist and had no place in schools.

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“They should learn about the contributions of all groups, not their own group,” Horne said.

(Reporting by Taylor Harris in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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US set to blow other countries away with ‘staggering’ scale of new oil and gas production

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Over next decade, unlesss its trajectory changes, 61 percent of new global production will come from the United States

A new analysis reveals that the United States is expected to be the main contributor to a "looming carbon time bomb."

Released Tuesday by human and environmental rights group Global Witness, the report (pdf) shows how the U.S. is on track to dwarf other nations' shares of new oil and gas production over the next decade. In fact, says the analysis, 61 percent of all new global production is likely to come from the United States.

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GOP is still accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a megadonor caught in prostitution scandal

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In February, Republican megadoner John W. Childs was charged with soliciting prostitution at a Florida massage parlor.

Childs was charged in the same sting that implicated Robert Kraft, the outspoken owner of the Eagles.

Since the sting, Childs has continued to be a major funder to Republican groups and candidates, reports CNBC.

He's given a total of $330,000 to Republicans, according to FEC filings.

The primary recipients of his largesse have been the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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Nothing new for US in Trump’s Greenland ambitions

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President Donald Trump's interest in buying Greenland has been met with disdain -- but it follows a longstanding US tradition of expanding its frontiers through land purchases from foreign countries.

The self-governed Danish territory has been in US sights at least twice before, while Washington has bought territory from Russia, Spain, France and Denmark since the turn of the 19th century.

- The Louisiana Purchase (1803) -

In the early 18th century, London and Paris were at loggerheads over control of North America, but French interest waned after it lost Quebec in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759.

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