Earlier this week the FBI announced that they were elevating Black Liberation Army (BLA) and Black Panther Party (BPP) activist Assata Shakur (formerly Joanne Chesimard) to their ‘Most Wanted Terrorist’ list of domestic suspects, making her the only woman in history to have such a designation, and the second US citizen ever to be added to the list. The timing, coming on the 40th anniversary of her alleged killing of a NJ cop, reeks of FBI Cointelpro 2.0, and has the PATRIOT Act, police state and prison-industrial complex slime all over it from head to foot and back again.
Assata Shakur, aunt of the famous rapper Tupac Shakur, has been a thorn in the side of the racist US government since before I was born–as you can see from, the original 1973 FBI wanted poster below. She was a leading Black thinker and activist during the height of the Black liberation struggles of the late 60′s and 70′s, and continues to be a brilliant and outspoken radical from her home in exile of Cuba. She continues to argue she is innocent. You can read the response of her lawyers to the FBI charges here. Read More
In case you haven’t heard, a young girl named Kiera Wilmot was arrested on Monday (4/29) at Bartow High School in Polk County, Florida for a science experiment involving “The Works” (Drano knock-off) and tin foil in a bottle. That’s right, arrested, expelled and now facing felony charges! And it has got many folks in the science community in an uproar, as can be seen here and here and here and also here. And twitter pretty much blew up on #ScienceIsNotACrime and #Solidarity4Wilmot.
For those note familiar, basically how this backyard experiment works is that you mix something like Drano/The Works and aluminum foil together in a closed container–usually a 1 liter soda bottle with a screw cap–which creates an acidic chemical reaction. For the science nerds it’s: 6 HCl (aq) + 2 Al (s) —> 2 AlCl3 (aq) + 3 H2 (g). This chemical process rapidly produces gas which then builds up in the sealed container until the pressure expands the plastic bottle and forces the bottle cap to pop off with a loudish exploding pop and a puff of smoke. Here’s an example of the process–you can find hundreds of similar videos on YouTube and elsewhere online. Read More
In other news, Politix reports on a recent incident where students were allegedly forced to listen to a Christian fundamentalism sermons disguised as a student assembly, this time in a Mississippi public school in Rankin County.
“A Mississippi public high school has caused a furore by forcing students to attend Christian assemblies, students allege. Northwest Rankin High School assemblies were led by local church officials, students claim, and showed Christian video while teachers actually blocked the exits to prevent students leaving.”
Here’s the basic details as reported by local station WAFB 9:
“The Appignani Humanist Legal Center learned from Northwest Rankin High School students that a mandatory assembly was held during school hours on April 9 where a representative of the Pinelake Baptist Church spoke of finding “hope” in “Jesus Christ,” according to a press release from the American Humanist Association.
The group claims that students stated anyone who attempted to leave the April 9 assembly were prevented from doing so. The press release adds that at the end of the presentation, the speakers led the students in a Christian prayer.” Read More
[Editor's Note: Offensive language follows]
Did you catch the latest white supremacist twitterganza following the MTV movie awards? If not, then check out Public Shaming’s Tweets of Privilege post here. I would say that this sort of thing is shocking, but truth be told, having spent this semester teaching a course on race, immigration and white privilege, and writing and thinking about issues of justice and privilege for a while now, I’m becoming less and less surprised by such incidents, and more and more convinced it speaks to something much deeper in the US psyche. Read More
27-year old Benjamin Curell was arrested yesterday for breaking in and vandalizes Bloomington, Indiana Planned Parenthood offices with an axe. Claimed his actions were motivated by religious fundamentalism, as he said they “kill and murder” babies there. Curell is now facing felony charges in court. According to local Fox 59 reports:
Officers with the Bloomington Police Department responded to 421 S. College Ave. at approximately 3:51 a.m. after receiving a report that a man was attempting to break into the facility. The officers located Curell inside the building, carrying an ax. Police said he used the ax to cause “extensive damage” to the building and office equipment. Additionally, police said he splashed red paint onto the building.
In case you’ve missed all the hubbub the past few days over the leaked Ford Figo ad from JWT India ad agency in Delhi, here’s the main image that has gotten everyone in an uproar and had Ford and JWT’s PR teams working double time on damage control. Although the ad was never used, the political work is already done.
As I noted recently, there’s some new data out from several sources showing long-term and historical temperature changes, none of which is encouraging, followed closely by the usual climate denial pr machine. I’ve spent a lot of hours over the past week reading various climate denial blogs and surfing their networks, as I’m finalizing a paper I will be presenting on Christian fundamentalism and the Anthropocene for the upcoming WPSA Conference in Hollywood, CA. And as anyone involved in this work knows, it’s becoming increasingly hard to separate the climate denial movement from Christian fundamentalist movement and their Bible-based attacks on all things green, secular or–well, basically even marginally sane. Read More
This week saw two important notes in climate news and events. First, an AP Wire story on new climate data revealing an alarming but unsurprising trend–more CO2 in the atmosphere.
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show. Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the world’s economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China. Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million, says Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959…More coal-burning power plants, especially in the developing world, are the main reason emissions keep going up — even as they have declined in the U.S. and other places, in part through conservation and cleaner energy.
Latest news on the Anthropocene science front: global warming still happening, breaking records yet again. You can read the Dot Earth post by Andrew Revkin here, and the journal Science article here. The short and sweet is that we have a new and seemingly comprehensive data set reconstructing not just part, but the entire, Holocene data temperatures. And guess what, it reinforces and extends the “hockey stick” analogy for climate change.
So last week I had the chance to sit on stage with a handful of New York students and Bill McKibben and ask him some questions about the newly emerging climate divestment movement that a number of NY schools are beginning to work on, and which was the focus of the fossil free divestment talk that Bill gave at Cooper Union. In a nutshell, the campaign aims to get American universities (and a few other institutions) to divest their endowment money or other financial products from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. The hope is that between the financial hit that these companies might take, combined with additional efforts to weaken their political clout in Washington, we might start to shift the discussion around climate change and energy politics in the US. Read More