At the end of each month I compile links to articles I found thought-provoking over that month, categorized with pull-quotes for your perusal and edification. Each of these is a story that made me stop and think, and hopefully one or two of them will do the same for you. This month a lot of those were on politics, and so I’ve mostly left those out – but here are the rest!
“The protesters, 270 or so who have been arrested since the standoff began in August, are a coalition of native people supporting the local Standing Rock Sioux, and they claim that the pipeline, which will carry sweet crude oil fracked from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois, will endanger the region’s water supply, and that its construction is destroying their sacred lands. If you’ve got even the barest knowledge of the 150-odd-year history of native protests against the desecration and development of their land, you could be forgiven for assuming that things are unlikely to unfold in their favor. But in sheer scale, this resistance is bigger and more organized than any protests native people have undertaken in decades — thousands of supporters from more than 200 tribes have set up camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Their protests have been frequently met with security forces armed with attack dogs and mace.”
“It is possible that the scrutiny that followed the McDonald shooting has made Chicago police more passive — less likely to stop suspicious people, for example, and more cautious in investigating reported crimes — leading to both the rise in gun violence and the decline in police shootings and complaints. But the Chicago Police Department offers another theory: that increased training has helped police officers do their jobs without drawing complaints or resorting to lethal force.
In October 2014, police officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times, sparking protests and drawing widespread scrutiny to the Chicago Police Department more generally. Protests intensified last fall as activists demanded the release of a dashboard-camera video showing the shooting; in November, the city released the video on a judge’s orders. (In December, Van Dyke was indicted on six counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.) The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into the police department, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the police chief and created the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, which in an April report cited residents’ reports of officers’ “overaggressive and hostile demeanor” in some situations.”
“The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing sparked a backlash against the anti-government extremism that had spawned Timothy McVeigh. The militia movement effectively went dormant following the election of George W. Bush in 2000. Then came the first black president. In the three years after Obama took office, the number of active militias in the United States increased eightfold, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. By 2015, there were more than 275 groups in at least 41 states.
The former militiaman who helped create the three percenter movement—and kick off the Fast and Furious scandal stopgunviolence/YouTube
The movement is bound together by a shared disdain for the federal government, but individual members’ motivations for joining can vary widely. “We all have different reasons to be here,” Captain Clyde Massengale of the California State Militia’s Delta Company told the new recruits at my first training. “Some might believe what is happening is something biblical right now. Some might believe it’s the New World Order. Some might believe the New World Order is making what is happening follow the Bible. Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck cares?” Come what may, the militia would be ready.”
“One thing we’ve learned in recent years is that the 1996 welfare reform substantially increased the number of people living in desperate poverty. The University of Michigan’s Luke Shaefer and Johns Hopkins’ Kathryn Edin have found that the share of families living on less than $2 per day in cash income per person more than doubled from 1996 to 2011. That suggests that more and more families are living on less than $3,000 a year in taxable earnings, and are thus excluded from the child tax credit.
The simplest way to fix this would be to simply make the tax credit fully refundable: Everyone below the phaseout level ($75,000 for singles, $110,000 for married couples) just gets a check for $1,000 in the mail every year for each kid they have (or $83.33 every month, etc.). Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has proposed something along these lines: a fully refundable $1,500 credit for kids under 3, with no phase-in.”
“I was in graduate school when I first heard the term “millennial.” It was at a conference. The session was about how to serve millennial students, because they have different characteristics than the Generation X students that went before them. It was here that I first started hearing things like “millennials need to be recognized for participation,” “millennials feel they are special,” “millennials are sheltered,” “millennials are likely to have helicopter parents,” and more. Society as a whole loves to hate on the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999), calling us “special snowflakes” and sarcastically referring to us as “social justice warriors,” calling us out for “being offended by everything” and, everybody’s favorite, pointing out how very entitled we are.
Here’s the secret: We’re not.”
“Science News for Students put a call out asking for women in science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) to send us their photos, videos and sound clips. We wanted to show our readers what scientists really looked like when we published a feature on women in STEM. The response blew us away. We had more than 150 submissions from all different fields of STEM and from all over the world! Today, we celebrate women in STEM who never lost their love for fossils. We also highlight women who study the ground beneath our feet and the skies above our heads.”
“Along with several of my colleagues here at the Union of Concerned Scientists, I’ve recently completed an in-depth analysis of the climate-related positions and actions of ExxonMobil and seven other leading fossil fuel companies. Our study focused on the period from January 2015 through May 2016, so let’s fact-check ExxonMobil’s claim that it now acknowledges climate risks.
Has ExxonMobil, as its press release implies, made a clean break from disinformation on climate science and policy? Unfortunately, no. Not even close.”
“This latest record—all the recent records—are not individually critical. But we see so many of them that they should trigger warning bells in your head. And when you see the trend—a paper recently published by climate scientists claims that the Earth is hotter than it’s been in more than a hundred thousand years—those bells should be clanging louder than anything else. Global warming is an existential threat to our species.
So why is it we had three presidential debates with only barely a mention of this? And why do we have flat-out deniers still sitting in Congress?”
Image Credit: NASA