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Bad things I’ve had bookmarked since summer

In July my family tried its best to go plastic free, as part of Plastic Free July. The rules were simple: don’t buy anything plastic. If we already had things in plastic we could use them. We began with enthusiasm – a challenge to change our ways, to go from reduced plastic to zero. By the end, as supplies dwindled, the task felt tedious, expensive and difficult.”

“In a mission to clean up trash floating in the ocean, environmentalists pulled 40 tons (36 metric tons) of abandoned fishing nets this month from an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

“Can we all agree that it is inhumane and cruel and a waste of resources to crush the wheelchairs of people who are living on the street after a car accident in a full body cast?

“Throughout the 191 day ordeal, one thought was more pervasive than the rest: What about those among the disabled community who can’t be their own advocate? What about those who don’t have family members who can help them? I had the privileges of energy, an Internet connection, and no language barrier. If I wouldn’t have had these privileges of self-advocacy, I may have never gotten my chair at all.

All of the children who’ve died since December [2018] were initially taken into custody by agents from the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors of the Border Patrol. Before December, no child had died in Border Patrol custody in a decade.”

U.S. citizens are often mistakenly detained and targeted for deportation. As a 2018 investigation by the Los Angeles Times revealed, there have been hundreds of instances in immigration courts where U.S. citizens had to prove they were Americans, sometimes after being detained for months or even years.”

“On Monday, an appeals court ruled that Watson, now 32, is not eligible for any of that money — because while his case is “disturbing,” the statute of limitations actually expired while he was still in ICE custody without a lawyer.

Pouring out my whole backlist of Depressing Political Links in one go

“Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

U.S. officials turned away a 17-year-old Palestinian incoming Harvard freshman last week after he was questioned about his friends’ social media posts, according to the Harvard Crimson.” (It was never about whether other countries are “sending their best people”! It’s racism! It was always racism!)

Connors said the family was asked about family members in the United States they could be released to, but instead of being freed they were transferred to the Berks Family Residential Center, outside Reading, on Oct. 5. […] the Berks County-run facility was not equipped to care for [their 3-month-old] child and that normal caretaking items — such as a container of formula and teething powder — have been confiscated. At one point, her baby had no clothes while staff washed the clothes he arrived with.” (This family is white, British, and crossed over the Canada border by accident. Abolish ICE.)

“The judge agreed that they probably would kill him, just before he denied his asylum claim. He was deported. They did.

2600 Magazine has compiled a full listing of Customs and Border Patrol stations, a number of which are being used to imprison migrants, immigrants, and/or refugees, many of whom are children. In the interests of openness, we are sharing that info here.”

“OCI has produced about the most conservative possible estimate of the subsidies received by fossil fuels in the US. These are solely production subsidies — taxpayer money that goes directly to producing more fossil fuels. […] $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives, for a total of $20.5 billion annually in corporate welfare.

“The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan report Tuesday calling for Congress to consider new laws designed to prevent foreign interference on social media — the culmination of a two-year investigation into how Russian intelligence agencies sought to manipulate American public opinion in the 2016 election.”

“…the Pew Research Center’s latest rolling poll of U.S. veterans, published Thursday, in which solid majorities of former troops said the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria were not worth fighting. The gaps between approval and disapproval were not even close to the poll’s 3.9 percent margin of error; barely a third of veterans considered any of those conflicts worthwhile.

It’s a good time to be in comics

Lore Olympus, one of the biggest hits on Webtoon, has been picked up by the Jim Henson Company for development as an animated series.

Webtoon is also teaming up with Crunchyroll to co-produce animated content from the site’s other original webcomics.

From an earlier generation of self-published comics, Jeff Smith’s BONE has been picked up for publication by Netflix. (The series was originally self-published, with Smith driving around the country delivering them to comic shops out of the back of his car, before it got picked up by Scholastic.)

And speaking of Scholastic, their latest graphic novel release by Raina Telgemeier debuted as the #1 book in the US last month. Not the #1 comic — the #1 BOOK.

Sometimes, nice things happen.

Highlights from the past few months of gun-related news

I haven’t managed to post any of these for a while, but that’s not for lack of material.

A first grader who found his grandmother’s loaded gun at school this spring pointed it at another student[…] [Vicky] Nelson was allowed to carry the weapon as part of the district’s concealed-carry plan adopted last year to arm administrators and select staff members to protect students from potential gun violence.” Sounds like that “put more guns in reach of small children” plan is going swimmingly.

Police say the two children broke into a locked bedroom, took a semi-automatic pistol out of a drawer, and were playing when the gun discharged. [The 10-year-old died.] Capri says the homeowners were legally able to own the gun and ‘did what they felt necessary to secure the firearm.'” Gun security should be regulated by laws, because obviously “feelings” aren’t cutting it.

A Texas police officer confronted by a loose dog pulled out his gun and opened fire [August 1], missing the animal and striking a woman standing nearby, killing her.” In the chest. No, the dog was not that tall. Either his aim is so bad that he has no business being a cop, or he’s lying, he meant to shoot the unarmed pedestrian, and he has no business being a cop.

‘He didn’t just die down there did he?’ an officer asked minutes after 32-year-old Tony Timpa lost consciousness while being restrained by police. ‘I hope I didn’t kill him.'” Justice for Tony Timpa.

“Ten days after he testified in the murder trial of a former Dallas police officer [Amber Guyger, finally convicted off murdering Botham Jean], key witness Joshua Brown was gunned down at his apartment complex.” Justice for Joshua Brown.

“A black woman was shot and killed by a white police officer in her Fort Worth, Texas home after a neighbor called dispatchers to report the woman’s front door was open, police said. The officers were searching the perimeter of the woman’s home when they saw a person standing near a window inside and one of them opened fire. […] She died at 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the bedroom of her home.” Justice for Atatiana Koquice Jefferson.

“…data from the 15 years following the [assault weapon ban]’s expiration now provide stronger evidence that permitting the gun industry to flood the market with increasingly powerful weapons that allow for faster killing has facilitated exactly that outcome. In the decade after the ban, there was a 347 percent increase in fatalities in gun massacres, even as overall violent crime continued downward.”

Sorry, liberals, there are only 23,328 genders

[Boag] was shocked at the size of this population, which he’d never before encountered in his time as a queer historian of the American West. Trans people have always existed all over the world. So how had they escaped notice in the annals of the Old West?” (Some not-well-thought-out use of the phrase “assigned sex”, but worth reading anyway.)

““M” and “F” didn’t always appear on the federal identity document. In fact, sex was not directly listed on U.S. passports until 1977.

“I believe that gender reassignment surgery is a right but I didn’t know what surgery would mean for me. […] Even my friends who’d had the procedure couldn’t really explain what would happen, so I made my decision without proper information about possible outcomes. I’m writing this essay to offer a small window so that other trans girls have more information than I did.

“‘He was rightly classified as a man’ in the medical records and appears masculine, Stroumsa said. ‘But that classification threw us off from considering his actual medical needs.’

“And that, these devout fundamentalist Baptist women all knew and believed, was simply wrong. The life of the mother, they all knew — with utter confidence and moral certainty — was more important than the potential life who wasn’t expected to survive this difficult pregnancy.

The idea that millions of sperm are on an Olympian race to reach the egg is yet another male fantasy of human reproduction.”

We couldn’t see the [Alzheimer’s] plaques in the brain until 10 years ago because we didn’t have the technology. So now that we have the technology to find the plaques, we actually understand that we probably misdiagnosed women forever. And that could be one of the reasons why some treatments don’t work that well in women.”

“Until the 1960s, scientists considered the idea of a cancer-causing virus to be preposterous. At the same time, more than 8,000 women a year were dying of cervical cancer, and researchers couldn’t figure out what was causing it. […] Way back in the 1950s, bacteriologist Sarah Stewart pioneered the concept that viruses could lead to cancer—and was almost thrown out of the scientific community for her heretical ideas.

There’s a species of fungus that has 23,328 distinct sexes. “Individuals of any sex are compatible for mating with all but their own sex. However, there are two genetic loci determining the mating type, locus A with 288 alleles and locus B with 81 alleles. A pair of fungi will only be fertile if they have different A and different B alleles; that is, each sex can enter fertile pairings with 22,960 others.” Sorry, liberals, there are only 23,328 genders. And 368 ways for these mushrooms to be gay.

We need stronger background checks, defective product recalls, and more prosecutions for trigger-happy cops

There is “overwhelming evidence” that [deputy stationed at Stoneman Douglas] Peterson heard gunshots, but no evidence that he attempted to investigate. Peterson instead chose to hide near a stairwell as shots rang out on the campus, the report found.” (He’s getting charged — good — but way more harshly than cops who actually shoot innocent children — not good.)

Black family is held on gunpoint (and threatened with murder) by Phoenix police because a 4-year-old child took a dollar-store Barbie without paying. (Video.)

Shaquille Dukes was admitted into the hospital for double pneumonia. He received doctors orders to walk around the hospital. He was stopped by a racist security guard, who called racist cops. He was arrested and accused of trying to steal the IV machine.” (Video.)

“The authorities say they are investigating how Mr. Martin slipped through the cracks of the Illinois law, which the police might have been able to use to confiscate his handgun years ago. And the Illinois State Police said they were reviewing why an initial background check failed to turn up a criminal conviction that should have blocked him from buying the gun to begin with.”

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission can order the recall and repair of thousands of things, from toasters to teddy bears. If a defective car needs fixing, the U.S. Department of Transportation can make it happen. The Food and Drug Administration deals with food, drugs, and cosmetics. Only one product is beyond the government’s reach when it comes to defects and safety: firearms. Not even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can get defective guns off the market. If a gunmaker chooses to ignore a safety concern, there’s no one to stop it.”

“I shopped the killed piece around for a few days until it piqued the interest of a female editor at Politico, who accepted it as it was on spec. However, my piece was again passed on to a male editor to review — who asked me to change the premise of the piece to shift more of the blame for mass shootings on mental illness rather than toxic masculinity.”

Just to be clear: they’re concentration camps.

And “horseshoe theory” — the idea that far-left rhetoric can loop back around and end up awfully close to far-right — is nicely demonstrated by this one person I saw on Twitter saying, in all apparent earnest, that maybe we shouldn’t use that phrase because it’s “appropriating Jewish culture.”

(Look, I am neither Jewish nor an expert in antisemitism, but anyone should be able to figure out the problem with that if they actually stop and think about it for 2 minutes before posting.)

Also, while I’m soapboxing? There is no measurable difference between “concentration camps” and “internment camps” and “forced detention camps.” It’s just a matter of how generous you’re trying to be toward the camp-runners.

“Children told lawyers that they were fed oatmeal, a cookie and a sweetened drink in the morning, instant noodles for lunch and a burrito and cookie for dinner. There are no fruits or vegetables. They said they’d gone weeks without bathing or a clean change of clothes.

Acting locally to help immigrants and refugees.”

There are amazing groups at the border and beyond doing critical work to defend the rights of immigrant and refugee children. If you can, please chip in to support a few of them today.”

A white American journalist tries to re-enter the country: “I told the officers I had nothing to hide, but I felt I had a professional obligation to call an attorney for further advice. Pomeroy said I could not because I wasn’t under arrest; I just wasn’t allowed to enter the United States. I wasn’t allowed to leave the Homeland Security zone, either. I know because I tried to sort of wander out a couple of times and got yelled at. When I actually tried to call a lawyer friend of mine in Austin, Pomeroy stopped me. They held onto my phone from then out.

“Even moderates like Susan Collins repeated assurances by the party’s pseudo-economists that the plan would not increase the deficit. So far, the growth feedback from the tax cuts has made up about 5 percent of the plan’s revenue loss, a mere 95 percent shy of the predictions.

The Cretaceous Period (145 to 66 million years ago) seashore in Alabama vs how Alabama voted in the 2016 election.”

“He recruited the best liars he could find—a group of prisoners at a Massachusetts penitentiary. For a small fee he asked half to tell the truth of their crimes on video and the other half to lie, saying they had committed someone else’s crime. He showed the videos to college students and police. Neither group did particularly well at truth detection (the average person is right about half the time), but the students performed better than the police. Yet the police felt more certain about their conclusions.”