How undocumented students go to college

In the heated debate about mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, some anti-immigrant groups are demanding that they not be given any services at all, including education. Some student groups in colleges are calling for them to be made ‘sanctuary colleges’, similar to proposed ‘sanctuary cities’, that will protect such students from being thrown out of the country.
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Could the speed of light have been larger during the very early universe?

A new paper by João Magueijo and Niayesh Afshordi has been published that suggests that the speed of light has not had the same value over the age of the universe but instead could have been much higher, even infinite, at the very beginning of the universe when the cosmic temperature was extremely high. (You can see the paper without a journal subscription here.) Their suggestion is made in response to the well-known problem that the universe seems to be remarkably homogenous and isotropic over its entire size. This suggests that all the parts of the universe were in contact at one time in order for that kind of equilibrium to be reached. The problem is that the fastest communication possible is with light and that speed is not sufficient to create that kind of homogeneity.
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The perils of shopping for cheese while black

There is a weird story coming out of Virginia where two young black men went to a CVS store to buy some cheese and suddenly found that all the store employees had disappeared, as if they had been abducted by aliens or been raptured. They looked everywhere for them and finally the police arrived to join in the search to find that the employees had locked themselves in a back room out of fear.
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Nelson Mandela and the US media

After I watched and linked to the clip of Nelson Mandela giving Kenneth Adelman and Ted Koppel their comeuppance at an event in City College, New York during Mandela’s first visit to the US after being released from prison, I became interested in seeing more of that event and found these two clips of it. The clips are illustrative of how the US media serves the US establishment. It was more of an ambush than a town hall but Mandela turned the tables on Koppel.
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Review: Looking for Fidel (2004) and Castro and black America

Cuba is going through nine days of mourning for the death of its long time leader Fidel Castro, whose ashes will be taken around the country before being laid to rest in the same cemetery as Jose Marti, the freedom fighter who is revered through Latin America. Castro is viewed with great admiration throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia and you can be sure that his funeral will be attended by a huge number of national leaders. Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau issued a warm statement of condolences, recalling that his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, was a friend of Fidel’s.
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The new red scare and fake news

In the December 2016 issue of Harper’s Magazine (subscription required) , Andrew Cockburn writes about the constant threat inflation that is practiced by the US government, whipping up one scare after another in order to support the vast expenditure on new weapons system, many of which do not work and cost vastly more than originally budgeted. We had the Soviet Union and president Kennedy’s infamous ‘missile gap’ and then when that threat waned, we had the war on drugs and then the war on terror and now we are in a retro period in which Vladimir Putin and Russia are back as the new scary monster that will destroy us if we do not spend more on fighting them.
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Fidel Castro dead at 90

The revolutionary leader of Cuba has died at the ripe old age of 90, after surviving numerous attempts by successive US governments to murder him. He said on his 80th birthday that, “I’m really happy to reach 80. I never expected it, not least having a neighbour, the greatest power in the world, trying to kill me every day.” He had proven so resilient that he seemed almost immortal and so his death, even though he had been having health issues for some time, comes as a shock.
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