the struggle over gun rights and regulation in America, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings and the ongoing congressional stalemate over federal gun legislation. An investigative report from
"29 students from 16 journalism schools, as well as an experienced staff of editors" for Carnegie-Knight News21. [more inside]
: "Young called his creed 'the religion of nature' and 'the religion of nature’s God.' And he made abundantly clear that, in his own mind, this radical philosophical religion was the axis on which the Revolution turned. For him, the project to free the American people from the yoke of King George III was part of a grander project to liberate the world from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion." [more inside]
Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson?
- According to the police of Fergusson, Missouri it was because he reached for an officer's weapon, necessitating that he be shot multiple times as he ran away empty handed. Eyewitness tell a different story
. Whatever happened the killing has prompted demonstrations and looting. Ferguson police responded in full force, firing teargas
and wooden rounds
into crowds of protestors and sealing the area off from the media
. In the wake of the tragedy questions of racial profiling
, the paramilitarization of police
and media depictions of black shooting victims
have been raised. Meanwhile the shooter has not been named to preserve his safety
is a perfect introduction to one of the Obama era’s great conservative subcultures: the men and women who “roll coal.” For as little as $500, anyone with a diesel truck and a dream can install a smoke stack and the equipment that lets a driver “trick the engine” into needing more fuel. The result is a burst of black smoke that doubles as a political or cultural statement—a protest against the EPA, a ritual shaming of hybrid “rice burners,” and a stellar source of truck memes." [more inside]
Presdient Obama gave a speech (video
) at the United States Military Academy last month that outlined American foreign policy.
has been mixed. [more inside]
How Americans Die
- a visual tour through surprising trends in mortality among Americans in the last several decades
The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide
series is "Segregation Now
," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law.
" [more inside]
In 2002 Henry Louis Gates jr. published The Bondwoman's Narrative
. It was the first publication of a novel written in the 1850s by a former slave who wrote under the name Hannah Crafts. The original manuscript has been digitized by Yale's Beinecke Library
. The book caused a splash at the time, sold well and was reviewed widely, including an essay by Hilary Mantel in the London Review of Books
. The identity of Hannah Crafts was uncertain, which cast a slight shadow on its provenance, but Prof. Gregg Hecimovich discovered the writer's true identity
. Her name was Hannah Bond and after escaping slavery she became a teacher in New Jersey. Journalist Paul Berman further fills in the story of Colonel Wheeler
, the slaveowner whose family was depicted in The Bondwoman's Narrative.
Wheeler was the US ambassador to Nicaragua in the 1850s and played a major part in the administration of General Walker, the American who became a short-lived dictator of Nicaragua and tried to set it up as a slave state.
As a result of new coverage under the ACA, many previously uninsured people in eastern Kentucky are giving the nation a glimpse of life under the new health care law.
"Obamacare horror stories"
where innocent citizens are losing their insurance
and being forced to pay astronomical costs
for new plans on the exchanges are being reported by some media outlets. The problem
is that most
of these stories
. [more inside]
About the only place this book hasn't been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that's about to change. Because I'm going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that's how long it takes for a batch of my mother's Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I'm going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more. And I think it's fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote.
- Dan Savage reviews Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
Esquire's Chris Jones looks at the old techniques
used to make the new US $100 bill.
In a week which also marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, the Gettysburg Address was delivered by Abraham Lincoln, 16th President, 150 years ago today. Mitch Rapoport narrates an animated version
. [more inside]
across the country run "hell houses"
on Halloween. These attractions show how "sinful" activities
can ruin young lives
. Some churches are trying to be more positive
in their messaging. For those who are interested, you can now buy your own "hell house" outreach kit
. [more inside]
Scrapple, Half-smokes, Marionberry Pie, Cowboy Cookies and Akutaq: Deadspin responds to Slate's wonderful state-by-state sports map (previously
) with a map of regional foods
, complete with highly opinionated rankings and commentary.
In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
What is the case for Canada merging with the USA?
With the heady 200th anniversary of the War of 1812
still fresh in our memories, Dual Citizen and Editor at Large of leading Canadian newspaper The National Post, Diane Francis
, has written a book
proposing "the merger of the century"
describing five models for how these two great nations could join as one, and estimating Canada's resource value to the US at about C$17 trillion (US$16.5 trillion)
. Reactions have been mixed
: "The U.S. government on Friday approved Shuanghui International Holding’s bid to buy iconic U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company to date." [more inside]
NPR's Fresh Air interviews Elizabeth Rosenthal about her year spent investigating the high cost of health care.
"Every part of the system needs to rethink the way it's working. Or maybe what I'm really saying is we need a system instead of 20, 40 components, each one having its own financial model, and each one making a profit." [more inside]
"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."
-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat
, an essay by Chris Hedges
of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica
, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment
. There are location challenges
, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons
. [more inside]
"It's his charm. It's his gift. It's his political liability, and it's part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it's hilarious. [Vice President Joe] Biden can be fantastic when he's on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton's or Obama's. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama's miserable first performance against Romney. Watching those performances, it's almost impossible to see him as a person once crippled by speech."
A month after its release, Naughty Dog
's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us
is being hailed as one of the best games of all time
, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics
Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth
, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps
), leaving behind lush wastelands
of elegant decay
teeming with monsters
and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies.
Into this bleak vision of desperate violence
journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future.
Boasting tense, immersive gameplay
, compelling performances
from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score
from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla
, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men
to Cormac McCarthy's The Road
, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite
and Half-Life 2
as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements
. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages
And don't miss the 84-minute documentary
exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
The Other Redskins.
62 US high schools in 22 states currently use the name "Redskins" for one of their sports teams. 28 high schools in 18 states have dropped the mascot over the last 25 years. As public pressure
continues to intensify
on the Washington Redskins
football team to change their name -- one many consider a racial slur
that disparages Native Americans -- similar debates are being waged in towns across the country about their local high school teams.
Rape in the Fields
is a Frontline documentary that explores the persistent allegations that female agricultural workers in the U.S. are frequently sexually assaulted and harassed by supervisors who exploit their (often undocumented) immigrant status
. Victims typically do not seek help from US law enforcement, either out of fear that they will be fired, deported or worse, or from a lack of understanding of U.S. law. Reviews: Popmatters
. NY Times [more inside]
The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), on behalf of The National Academies, is seeking input papers on human spaceflight until July 9th, 2013
. You can also read the current submissions
. [more inside]
"'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.' So goes the old saying. Yet conditions in some American facilities are so obscene that they amount to a form of extrajudicial punishment." Mother Jones is profiling "America's 10 Worst Prisons."
Facilities were chosen for the list based on "...three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates." [more inside]
Her encampment is 'an old patio umbrella draped in a white plastic sheet secured with binder clips. It is flanked by two large boards with messages in capital letters: BAN ALL NUCLEAR WEAPONS OR HAVE A NICE DOOMSDAY and LIVE BY THE BOMB, DIE BY THE BOMB. This rudimentary shelter has been positioned outside the White House for more than three decades. It is a monument itself now, widely considered the longest-running act of political protest in the United States, and this woman, Concepcion Picciotto — Connie, as she’s known to many — is its longest-running caretaker.' [more inside]
Sexism at the border: A personal account.
"For me, carrying my own condoms (in purses, wallets, camera bags; everywhere) is a routine act towards safer sex. For someone else with the power to not only deny passage but judge, moralize and intimidate, it has become enough evidence to put a woman through hell. My story has brought a number of women out of the woodwork stating that they have had similar experiences." [h/t Alex Grossman
Tom Roeser was unhappy about the decline of his town, Carpentersville, IL. So he decided to do something about it. Roeser bought some foreclosed properties, renovated them, and then rented them out for below market value.
The Political Science Department
at Brooklyn College
is co-sponsoring a panel discussion
about the BDS Movement
(boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel this Thursday Feburary 7th. The event features Omar Barghouti
, BDS co-founder and Judith Butler
, prominent philosopher. The college has come under widespread attack for its hosting of the event, with a coalition of New York City councillors threatening to defund the school. [more inside]
The Geography of Abortion Access
- Forty years ago Tuesday, the Supreme Court ushered in legal abortion for American women when it decided in Roe v. Wade. Today, states—particularly in the South and Midwest—are eroding that right by legislating hundreds of provisions intended to impede access with burdensome obstacles. To understand more fully the complex state of access to abortion services in America, The Daily Beast identified and confirmed the location of the country’s remaining 724 clinics and calculated the distance from every part of the country to its closest clinic.
This past Thursday, Forbes Magazine published a pair of articles: The Most Stressful Jobs of 2013
and The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013
, the latter of which began with the sentence: "University professors have a lot less stress than most of us."
300+ outraged comments
(and thousands of sarcastic #RealForbesProfessor
tweets,) later they've added a retraction, and linked to a blog post that takes A Real Look at Being a Professor in the US
. [more inside]
2012: The year in graphs
- as picked by the Washington Post Wonkblog's favorite economists, political scientist, politicians and other wonkys.
The most-watched show in the history of the National Geographic Channel
or even the longest-running documentary series on cable tv: Explorer
. It's Doomsday Preppers
, a show that documents the "lives of otherwise ordinary Americans" as they prepare for the end of the world. [more inside]