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04.17.14 - 12:03 AM

Dubbed an experiment in "building empathy," a Silicon Valley “entrepreneur and sociologist" has created Homeless GoPro, wherein a $300 camera usually used for extreme sports is strapped onto poor people on the street to record their own extreme sport of having no home, on the gizmo-happy premise that other people can better understand a reality if it's livestreamed. Following earlier tech efforts - homeless hot spots, homeless bitcoin - the project is working with Adam Reichart, a homeless man who says the young GoPro team are "decent people," even if they do talk about technology offering the "opportunity to elevate our digital communities into our reality (and) our actions into greatness." Alas, for now the poor still need shelter, shower, food, clothes, mailing address, job prospects, dignity and hope. Maybe start with those?

-Abby Zimet
04.16.14 - 7:07 PM

Citing the "grim math" of 86 Americans killed by guns every day, Michael Bloomberg has announced a new $50 million, grassroots gun control initiative that hopes to adopt the same strategic tools utilized by the NRA - money, organizing, political pressure and the targeting of single-issue voters - to take it down. While the polarizing Bloomberg may not be the best front man for the umbrella group, called Everytown for Gun Safety, it's already put up a slick website and released a stomach-churningly powerful video. Not a moment too soon. In one of today's 86 shootings, a four-year-old Pennsylvania boy shot his two-year-old brother in the face.

-Abby Zimet
04.16.14 - 4:04 PM

The potty-humor-loving Captain Underpants graphic novels, about a couple of wise-acre fourth-graders who turn their mean principal into a superhero dressed in undies, again topped this year's list of kids' books most challenged by parents evidently not crazy about the references to boogers, tinkle, butts and barf that their kids, with the discerning taste of eight-year-olds, adore. The series, much praised for coaxing otherwise book-wary kids to read, was cited for "offensive language" and as "unsuited for age group" on the list released for National Library Week. Runners-up were Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, cited for depictions of rape, racism or violence - subjects they in fact address. Next is Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games, cited not for killing children but "religious viewpoint."

-Abby Zimet
04.15.14 - 10:25 PM

Ever more appalling economic news, with the AFL-CIO's 2014 Executive PayWatch tracking CEO pay - average $11.7 million - now 331 times what the average worker makes, and 774 times that of minimum wage workers, the world's largest pay gap. Using interactive graphics and data on 100 top companies, it contrasts, say, the WalMart CEO's $20,693,545 pay with the $12,000 earned by a full-time worker - who on average earned her company $41,249 in profits. Elsewhere, the news is just as bad: Palo Alto now has a law making it a crime for the homeless to sleep in a parked car, Oklahoma has one banning cities from raising minimum wages or enacting paid sick days, and The Onion says members of al-Qaeda are, thanks to all these morally and practically untenable economic policies, plotting to "sit back and enjoy themselves while America collapses of its own accord."

-Abby Zimet
04.15.14 - 3:55 PM

It seemed like a big deal when the USA's new Forever stamp was announced: It bears the image of Harvey Milk, this country's first openly gay elected official. But nothing says changing times like Finland's new stamps, which boast the homoerotic, buttock-loving, leather-wearing drawings of iconic gay artist Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland. His images of "confident and strong male figures," to be unveiled along with a more sedate series of garden scenes and bridges, were chosen for celebrating "a sensual life force." Officials admitted there was some debate over the choice, but "we wanted to live in the year 2014." Cue right-wing heads exploding. Would that Harvey Milk had lived to see them.

-Abby Zimet
04.15.14 - 12:21 PM

Surreal: Charging that possible perps "broke the law and should be prosecuted,aggrieved Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein is investigating, and has called on the DOJ to investigate, the dastardly leak to McClatchy of parts of the 6,600-page report finding the CIA repeatedly lied about a "brutal" torture program “inconsistent with (U.S.) public policy positions regarding human rights" - torture that in fact didn't work. It seems the Senate is scandalized not by the crimes committed in our names, but by journalists telling us about them. With the call for prosecution, the government thus maintains its admirable stance in only making accountable the people who reveal our nation's misdeeds - see John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden - but not those who authorize or commit them. Oh we have arrived at a sorrowful place.

-Abby Zimet
04.14.14 - 4:29 PM

Some wealthy residents in Davidson N.C. aren't sure about the new art outside their church, a bronze figure representing a homeless Jesus wrapped in a blanket, sleeping on a bench. The work deliberately leaves room to sit: It's only if people get that close they can tell it's Jesus by the crucifixion marks on his feet, but not many are, because, you know, ick, homeless person. The Rev. David Buck says the statue reminds his well-off parisioners to care for "the marginalized of society," as Jesus instructed, but that didn't stop one woman from calling the cops on Jesus because she was "concerned for the safety of the neighborhood." Others have complained the sculpture is inappropriate because Jesus wasn't in fact a homeless person. Oh, wait...

-Abby Zimet


Thursday April 17, 2014

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Lina Newhouser