We teach our students that the first move in an argument is often one of definition: gun as tool. Gun as "objective correlative" (T. S. Eliot) of "liberty" (Wayne LaPierre). Gun as "right" that, if left "unexercised," will be lost (opencarry.org). While running for president, Jeb Bush argued that our country is a gun when he tweeted a photo of his engraved handgun with a one-word caption, "America." A gun is a little cannon for killing that we've sentimentalized and normalized. [American Weather]
"However, our race-based skepticism actually makes us nicer. Because of what we see on TV and movies, we assume all White people are one bad breakup or firing away from becoming a serial killer. I know that’s very prejudiced, but just like how your kin clutch their purses when we pass them in parking lots of Target, Black people will be nice to you for the first three months because they want to be the one person you spare when you go on your shooting spree."-The Caucasian's guide to Black neighborhoods
Aleppo, Ukraine, Cyber Attacks, Baltic Threats: What Should We Do About Putin? [The Guardian] “The challenge presented by Russia is one of the biggest facing the next US president. Some analysts say Putin is taking advantage of Obama’s lame duck status to create “facts on the ground” in Syria. The Russian president is said to anticipate a further deterioration in bilateral relations if Hillary Clinton wins. The two have a history of personal dislike, dating back to Clinton’s time as secretary of state. “She says she sees in him a cold-blooded, self-enriching KGB agent and a bully; he remembers how she appeared to encourage street protests against him in 2011,” said analyst Leonid Bershidsky. Speaking in August, Clinton described Putin as “the grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism” – lumping him with Trump, German anti-immigrant xenophobes and hard-right populists such as France’s Marine Le Pen.” [more inside]
Here are 12 interesting facts about urban nightlife from Peter C. Baldwin’s article for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, which shows how times have greatly changed and, remarkably, how some things have remained the same.
With a global mean temperature rise of 1.5℃ (video, direct .mp4 link) the Marshall Islands, site of the US's Bikini Atoll nuclear weapons tests, may disappear completely. With most islands just six feet above sea level and less than a mile wide the ring of atolls is already severely affected by climate change. ⅓ of all Marshall Islanders are believed to live in the US, although they may face deportation. In recent months the residents of the Pacific island nation have been advised to cease eating fish after elevated levels of PCBs were found in the waters around the US missile base on Kwajalein Atoll. Recently, very previously, previously, previously, personal anecdotes.
New York Times: Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun — Scientists’ warnings that the rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline are no longer theoretical. [more inside]
Who Works for the Workers? — Gabriel Winant on the future of the American labor movement [more inside]
(SLGQ) “There's no telling how many guns we have in America—and when one gets used in a crime, no way for the cops to connect it to its owner. The only place the police can turn for help is a Kafkaesque agency in West Virginia, where, thanks to the gun lobby, computers are illegal and detective work is absurdly antiquated. On purpose. Thing is, the geniuses who work there are quietly inventing ways to do the impossible.”
In the Great Lakes region there are people with roots in Finland and among indigenous North American peoples. It’s impossible to know how exactly many of these so-called ‘Findians’ exist, but their numbers are estimated in the hundreds. Author Katja Kettu, journalist Maria Seppälä and photographer Meeri Koutaniemi documented their lives over the course of three years. Their experiences form the basis for their book, ‘Findian country’.
Women Were Included in the Civil Rights Act as a Joke And a racist joke, at that. But working women and black civil rights lawyers had the last laugh when they brought women’s workplace rights to the courts and won.
"I don’t know how to feel that my life matters when there is so much evidence to the contrary." [more inside]
The Westminster Detective Library plans to "to catalog and make available online all the short fiction dealing with detectives and detection published in the United States before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 'A Scandal in Bohemia' (1891)." (This includes fiction originally published in the UK and Europe but reprinted in the USA.) Title, author, date, and full-text searches are all available. At present, the earliest tale available is from 1824. [more inside]
In case you were wondering about [a conspicuous lack of] the Koch Brothers' involvement in the 2016 US political elections, here is the inside scoop. [more inside]
"Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s." (slNYT) [more inside]
Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew announced that Harriet Tubman, a black woman who helped to free slaves via the Underground Railroad, will replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the US $20 bill. This is a change from earlier plans to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 with a woman. The new bill designs “should be ready by 2020.”
The New York Public Library has digitized the diary of one Elizabeth De Hart Bleecker as part of their Early American Manuscripts Project. Bleecker wrote about her life in New York City for seven years, beginning in 1799 when she was eighteen years old and ending in 1806.
In only the second case decided since the recent death of Justice Scalia, the United States Supreme Court today reached a decision [PDF] in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, deadlocking in a four-to-four tie that upholds an earlier circuit court ruling finding agency fees for non-union teachers to be constitutional, but that sets no precedent for future cases. [more inside]
And it’s even easier with a bit of international cooperation: Time lapse video of USCGC Bristol Bay and CCGS Samuel Risley working together to break ice from Sarnia to Windsor, Ontario, in one day. Further inland, Amphibex icebreaking machines are used to break ice on the Red River in Manitoba to prevent flooding from ice jamming ahead of spring. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to icebreaking... [more inside]
The family of Justina Pelletier has filed a lawsuit against Boston Children's Hospital; in 2013, while being treated for a suspected mitochondrial disease, the physicians at Boston Children's intercepted the teen's care, believing her issues were psychosomatic. When her parents attempted to get her discharged, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Family Services stepped in, and Justina was placed in a psychiatric unit. [more inside]
A battle over triplets raises difficult questions about the ethics of the surrogacy industry and the meaning of parenthood. (slSlate)
Oral arguments were heard on Monday in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a Supreme Court case in which the plaintiffs are attempting to invoke their First Amendment right to free speech to avoid being compelled to pay their share of the costs of union representation. Summarizing the oral arguments for SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe notes that "public-employee unions are likely very nervous, as the Court’s more conservative Justices appeared ready to overrule the Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and strike down the fees." [more inside]
On an American road trip, Stephen Marche enters the fray with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in Iowa and gets a view of the campaign trail from the perspective of his whiteness. (SLGuardian)
The history of the relationship between social science and foreign relations offers important insights into the changing politics and ethics of expertise in American public policy.
The site of the Tristán de Luna colony has reportedly been found in Pensacola: "'There were 1500 people there ... for about a two-year period' ... The colony lasted from 1559-61 and included 550 Spanish soldiers, about 200 Aztecs and an unknown number of African slaves ... The Luna colony is arguably the first European settlement and unquestionably the oldest multi-year European settlement" in the present-day United States. Just two years ago, the site of a 1567 fort built by the Juan Pardo expedition in western North Carolina [NYT] was confirmed as well. [more inside]
"Studies show that if you've served in the military -- any branch, any war, or even if you served in a time of peace -- you have a much higher risk of dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) than if you were not in the military. And no one seems to know why." [more inside]
Houston Voters Reject Broad Anti-Discrimination Ordinance [The New York Times]
A yearlong battle over gay and transgender rights that turned into a costly, ugly war of words between this city’s lesbian mayor and social conservatives ended Tuesday as voters repealed an anti-discrimination ordinance that had attracted attention from the White House, sports figures and Hollywood celebrities. The City Council passed the measure in May, but it was in limbo after opponents succeeded, following a lengthy court fight, in putting the matter to a referendum.[more inside]
The U.S. Department of Education announced yesterday that an Illinois school district is violating the rights of a transgender student by refusing to allow her the unrestricted use of a girls' locker room. This statement comes one week after the Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Gavin Grimm, a high school student in Virginia who has been denied access to the boy's bathrooms. [more inside]
We Mapped the Uninsured. You'll Notice a Pattern. By Quoctrung Bui and Margot Sanger-Katz [The New York Times]
Two years into the health care law, clear regional patterns are emerging about who has health insurance in America and who still doesn’t. The remaining uninsured are primarily in the South and the Southwest. They tend to be poor. They tend to live in Republican-leaning states. The rates of people without insurance in the Northeast and the upper Midwest have fallen into the single digits since the Affordable Care Act’s main provisions kicked in. But in many parts of the country, obtaining health insurance is still a problem for many Americans.[more inside]
By analysing the language of popular magazines, TV shows and self-help books and by conducting interviews with men and women in different countries, scholars including Eva Illouz, Laura Kipnis and Frank Furedi have demonstrated clearly that our ideas about love are dominated by powerful political, economic and social forces. Together, these forces lead to the establishment of what we can call romantic regimes: systems of emotional conduct that affect how we speak about how we feel, determine 'normal' behaviours, and establish who is eligible for love – and who is not.
Rus (from Ukraine) and Alla (from Russia) just spent six months travelling the US in a Subaru and took lots of pretty pictures. They visited: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada , New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods — a ProPublica investigation into racial disparities in debt collection lawsuits [more inside]
House Speaker John Boehner will give up his House seat and resign from Congress at the end of October. Boehner has been Speaker since January 2011, and has been a member of the House since January 1991. Boehner made the announcement this morning in an emotional meeting with fellow Republicans, according to the New York Times, which says that his resignation throws Congress and the federal government "into chaos" as Congress faces an imminent government shutdown, the first since 2013.
"Whether it is the covering of breasts in Southern India or the wearing of burqas in Afghanistan, women's comportment and clothing have offered an emotionally powerful shorthand for all that is wrong with native culture and all that must be corrected by the empire." Rafia Zakaria for Aeon: Clothes and daggers. [more inside]
PatentsView is a new patent data visualization platform from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The PatentsView beta search tool allows members of the public to interact with nearly 40 years of data on patenting activity in the United States. Users can explore technological, regional, and individual-level patent trends via search filters with multiple viewing options. The database links inventors, their organizations, locations, and overall patenting activity using enhanced 1976-2014 data from public USPTO bulk data files.
Here's The Daily Meal's list of 10 favorite regional soft drinks (SLIDESHOW). And here's Mental Floss's stories behind 11 regional soft drinks. More info follows.... [more inside]
In search of trifinia Even for geographical completists, visiting all of the United States' trifinia, or places where three states meet, is an often overlooked pleasure. [more inside]
Who's Funding Kevin Johnson's Secret Government? — Deadspin's detailed report on a developing scandal involving Sacramento, California mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson's alleged misuse of the power of his office to benefit for-profit charter schools. [more inside]
The Case for More Traffic Roundabouts — "Here’s why: Using simple principles of physics, roundabouts dramatically reduce crash rates, as well as injuries and deaths. They diminish vehicle emissions. They are a more effective use of road space, and cost less to maintain than traditional four-way intersections. And it’s time that America learns to love them."
One person's harbinger of river health is another's slayer of kings is another's invasive species. Take, for example, sea lampreys. They are making a comeback in rivers around the UK thanks to conservation efforts. [more inside]
"When protease inhibitors arrived, one era of the AIDS crisis was over. Many stories of the plague years in America end with this victory. Sometimes a coda is appended to acknowledge that the crisis itself isn’t over, referencing ongoing epidemics in Africa and, less often, in black and brown populations in America. What’s often missing from these analyses is an era that I’ve come to think of as the “footnote years” of AIDS activism: a sliver of about five years, from 1996 to 2001, in which a specific urban, queer-identified American activism played a role in changing the global response to HIV, and sought, less successfully, to use this work as a jumping-off point for a broader quest for justice."
The U.S. Trans Survey, currently being conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, "will give researchers, policymakers, and advocates the ability to see the experiences of trans people over time, how things are changing, and what can be done to improve the lives of trans people."
Yesterday, the Jamestown Rediscovery and the Smithsonian Institution announced that they had identified the remains of Capt. Gabriel Archer, Rev. Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman and Capt. William West, four of the earliest leaders of the Jamestowne settlement. Among Archer's remnants was a small silver box that researchers have identified as a Roman Catholic reliquary. [more inside]
Letter to My Son, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, July 4, 2015: "I came to understand that my country was a galaxy, and this galaxy stretched from the pandemonium of West Baltimore to the happy hunting grounds of Mr. Belvedere. I obsessed over the distance between that other sector of space and my own. I knew that my portion of the American galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was not... And I felt in this a cosmic injustice, a profound cruelty, which infused an abiding, irrepressible desire to unshackle my body and achieve the velocity of escape."
Inside Obama's Stealth Startup Their mission: to reboot how government works.