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04.18.14 - 11:28 AM

Not that we need it in a week that saw the anniversary of the West Texas fertilizer plant explosion and no less than three reports on the many public health risks posed by fracking, but here's more graphic proof of the dangers facing what remains our only planet. From EPA and Greenpeace data, a series of interactive maps showing thousands of facilities possessing "greater than certain threshold quantities of 140 chemicals" - a chilling phrase and number in and of itself - where a "catastrophic chemical release" could harm up to a million people. From Mother Jones. Who said, lest we forget, "Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living."

-Abby Zimet
04.17.14 - 6:42 PM

Changing Times Chap. 632: Spring brings baseball brings renewed visibility to racist names - Braves, Indians, Chief Wahoo - increasingly deemed unacceptable in polite society. Recently, both the Navajo Nation and U.N. joined the fight against "Redskins," Texas schools changed four team names, and a study found national teams with offensive names lose millions a year in revenue. Also, this happened: At Opening Day for the Cleveland Indians, a gaudy painted clueless fan met up with the 1,000-yard stare of Chiricahua Apache Robert Roche, leading the annual protest against the Indians' grotesque mascot “Chief Wahoo.” Has any photo better captured why this is not okay?

-Abby Zimet
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

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Sunday April 20, 2014

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer:
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Saturday April 19, 2014

Sue Sturgis:

Friday April 18, 2014

Ralph Nader:
Oscar Reyes:
Lina Newhouser