Fight Book Bans by Reading These Books

books

Movements in the United States are trying to ban a number of works of fictions which they deem to be problematic. The problem, as they see it, is that certain books can help people question the world around them. Another problem they identify is that some books for children inform the children of previous human atrocities like slavery and the holocaust. Ironically, they are literally burning books. These groups want to deny knowledge and history.

Over at the Atlantic they’ve collected some of the books the anti-intellectuals want to ban. Defy the book burners by reading the knowledge they want banned! If you’re in a region where groups are trying to censor knowledge, stand up and support your librarians.

His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman 

Pullman’s award-winning fantasy trilogy is populated with talking armored polar bears, soul-sucking specters, and translucent angels. But ultimately, it’s about a war on adolescence. The story’s villains, all affiliated with an allegorical version of the Catholic Church, are motivated by a perverse desire to keep children innocent—even by essentially lobotomizing them. In contrast, the heroes celebrate knowledge and fight to overthrow the religious hierarchy threatening their world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the books were criticized for their supposed anti-Christian themes and plotlines involving witchcraft.

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Mexico Targets American Gun Manufactures

The drug cartels in Mexico are backed by American guns and profits from selling drugs to Americans. The Mexican government can’t do anything about the demand side within America, but they can do something about the arms trade. The Mexican government is strategically taking American gun makers and sellers to court to reduce the access to guns the cartels have. So far it’s looking successful and if all goes to plan then Mexico will be a safer place to be.

Mexico’s legal complaint is careful to make clear that its targets are private entities engaged in allegedly negligent business practices — not the U.S. government nor the legitimacy of the Second Amendment. “It’s a tort law case,” Celorio said. Still, it is no secret that the litigation is one piece in a broader effort to reframe the country’s relationship to Washington on matters of violence and security. On November 22, the same day that the gun companies filed their responses, Ebrard appeared before the U.N. Security Council to present a proposal for an international strategy to combat small arms trafficking. The foreign minister explicitly connected the proposal to the lawsuit.

At the core of Mexico’s claim is an argument that the gun companies could make any number of changes in their business practices to help stem the violence but that in the interest of making money, they deliberately chose not to.

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The Insurrection Index Exists to Defend American Democracy

vote sign

The Insurrection Index launches today to defend democracy in the United States from internal attacks on democratic institutions. The focus of the initiative is clearly in response to, and all about, the failed coup and insurrection attempt that happened on this day last year. Multiple organizations joined together to create the index to promote democratic transparency around who (and what organizations) helped try to overthrow the government in support of former president Trump. By making the names of people involved in the extreme anti-democratic action it will be easier to keep those people out of office by exposing their anti-American actions.

It’s good to see that there is a concerted effort in the USA to defend their struggling democracy. Let’s hope that this marks a turning point in the country to more open, honest, and better defended democratic institutions.

The index is the brainchild of Public Wise, a voting rights group whose mission is to fight for government that reflects the will and the rights of voters. Christina Baal-Owens, the group’s executive director, said that the index was conceived as an ongoing campaign designed to keep insurrectionists out of office.

“These are folks who silenced the voices of American voters, who took a validly held election and created fraudulent information to try to silence voters. They have no business being near legislation or being able to affect the lives of American people,” she said.

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They mapped the thousand places in America where you’re breathing poison

industry

The Trump administration in the USA cut funding for their Environmental Protection Agency which led to an increase in pollution that harms people and nature. The pollution problem isn’t all thanks to Trump though, it comes from years of negligence around policies and procedures to protect communities from dangerous industrial waste. For example, in the early 2000s the Bush administration stopped a few NASA efforts to observe greenhouse gas emissions in the nation.

Despite government inaction, ProPublica decided to map out the most poisoned places in the States. Why is this on a good news site? If we don’t look at where the emission are coming, and what the combined impact is of those emissions then we won’t be able to adequately fight climate change. Knowledge is power.

At the map’s intimate scale, it’s possible to see up close how a massive chemical plant near a high school in Port Neches, Texas, laces the air with benzene, an aromatic gas that can cause leukemia. Or how a manufacturing facility in New Castle, Delaware, for years blanketed a day care playground with ethylene oxide, a highly toxic chemical that can lead to lymphoma and breast cancer. Our analysis found that ethylene oxide is the biggest contributor to excess industrial cancer risk from air pollutants nationwide. Corporations across the United States, but especially in Texas and Louisiana, manufacture the colorless, odorless gas, which lingers in the air for months and is highly mutagenic, meaning it can alter DNA.

In all, ProPublica identified more than a thousand hot spots of cancer-causing air. They are not equally distributed across the country. A quarter of the 20 hot spots with the highest levels of excess risk are in Texas, and almost all of them are in Southern states known for having weaker environmental regulations. Census tracts where the majority of residents are people of color experience about 40% more cancer-causing industrial air pollution on average than tracts where the residents are mostly white. In predominantly Black census tracts, the estimated cancer risk from toxic air pollution is more than double that of majority-white tracts.

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Thanks to Tom Scott for the title!

It’s Time to Destroy Highways to Build Cities

People make cities an interesting place to be. It’s the people that produce culture and economic prosperity, yet many cities have highways going right through them. These highways make the city worse in every regard.

Now, cities in America will be getting funding to repair the cities from the damage done by highways. Hopefully other parts of the world will see that highways are a thing of the past and we need to build cities for people.

The future of the country’s highway system is about much more than those neighborhoods, too. It will also affect public health and climate change. And the debate is happening at a fascinating moment: Many of the midcentury highways are reaching the end of their life span, and attitudes toward transportation are shifting.

“As recently as a decade ago,” said Peter Norton, a University of Virginia historian, “every transportation problem was a problem to be solved with new roads.” That’s not always the case anymore.

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