The Amazon rainforest is burning, and the people who can stop it are doing nothing

The Amazon rainforests are burning, a cataclysmic event brought about by human greed, and a failure on the part of humans to act as the stewards to our home. Brazil’s revved-up deforestation policy under President Jair Bolsonaro has led to images of smoke and fire stretching out from the rainforests. The city of San Pablo is covered in smoke. However, these most recent fires are not particularly new to this regime. The New York Times reported that satellite imagery identified 39,194 fires, which marks “a 77 percent increase from the same period in 2018.”

The rainforest’s deforestation can be seen from space, and has led to imagery like this.


🌎Just a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!). SOS🌎

— Shannon Sims (@shannongsims) August 20, 2019

The increase in fires in the rainforest has become too much for firefighters to combat, and many have reportedly stopped trying to even contain these outbreaks. It’s important to note that the Amazon rainforest doesn’t have a fire problem of its own creation. Everyone acknowledges that humans are the main source of rainforest fires. The majority of these fires were intentionally ignited, set by farmers clearing their land. The fact that the fires are so bad at this point in the year is also distressing experts, who point out that the drought season begins in August and lasts a few months—which is usually when fires are set.

Bolsonaro’s administration has blamed the increase in fires on “nongovernmental organizations.” Of course, not unlike our current administration, Bolsonaro’s government reduced efforts to regulate and police illegal logging, and Bolsonaro offered up zero evidence of any of his claims. He’s also generally a liar. Bolsonaro, like his American conservative counterparts, seems very interested in blaming government regulations and laws for the fires, suggesting that privatizing the rainforest might be a good way to fix everything. It’s the age-old conservative strategy of choking off government programs and enforcement of existing laws, then saying those laws don’t work and so rich people should be allowed to carve up the public pie and dole out what they see fit.

Robin Chazdon, a professor at Connecticut University who studies rainforest ecology, tells NBC News that the less obvious deleterious effects of these fires will be felt by all of us, not just the people directly under the smoke. Chazdon explains that, unless these areas of rainforest are allowed to grow back, “or be reforested, they will not be able to recover their high potential for carbon storage.” And carbon storage is the name of the game when it comes to our planet’s ecological balance—in regards to life as we know it.

World leaders have spoken out on social media, hoping to bring this problem to more people’s attention.

From Canada and France …


I couldn’t agree more, @EmmanuelMacron. We did lots of work to protect the environment at the #G7 last year in Charlevoix, & we need to continue this weekend. We need to #ActForTheAmazon & act for our planet — our kids & grandkids are counting on us.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 23, 2019

… to the U.S.


These are the lungs of our planet! The Amazon holds 140 billions of tons of carbon. Its survival is our survival.I stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people fighting against the destruction of their home for the sake of greed and profit. ✊🏽

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 23, 2019


The #AmazonRainforest is still burning, with thousands of acres of wildlife in flames. World leaders must come together to end this crisis—and President Bolsonaro must step up and take responsibility for these fires and their consequences.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 23, 2019

Environmental and conservationist organizations also have spoken out. 


The scale of the Siberian wildfires is underlined by this animation of the huge area of the smoke cloud: more than 5 million km². For comparison, the EU is about 4.5 million km² and the contiguous US about 8.1 million km². (Via @anttilip of @IlmaTiede)

— WMO | OMM (@WMO) August 12, 2019


There was worldwide outcry when the Notre Dame cathedral was on fire. Why is there not the same level of outrage for the fires destroying the #AmazonRainforest?

— WWF UK (@wwf_uk) August 21, 2019

Protests have popped up around Europe.


Demonstrations took place outside multiple Brazilian embassies in cities including London, Copenhagen and Madrid, to protest the Brazilian government’s response to the record-breaking number of fires in the Amazon rainforest.

— ABC News (@ABC) August 23, 2019

Meanwhile, artists and others try to do their part to both inform and support the work that needs to be done to save our planet’s forests.


We only have one planet – as the #AmazonRainforest burns why can we not seem to grasp this fact?#RainforestAlliance #savetheamazon

— Ralph Steadman Art (@SteadmanArt) August 23, 2019

Of course, while this is going on, climate change denier Donald Trump is tweeting out things like this:


This despite the Fake News and Polls!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019

His last mention of “Brazil,” is more of a homonym than anything else.


Impossible to believe that @FoxNews has hired @donnabrazile, the person fired by @CNN (after they tried to hide the bad facts, & failed) for giving Crooked Hillary Clinton the questions to a debate, something unimaginable. Now she is all over Fox, including Shep Smith, by far….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2019

With right-wing groups taking control of various nations around the world, the populist claims they rode in on have given way to the harsh reality of what truly corrupt big business leadership looks like.

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Phoenix police must now log and report every single time they point a gun at someone

Without a doubt, police violence is a pervasive issue across the entire nation. While police brutality can impact anyone, it’s especially harmful in communities of color (especially black men), sex workers, and Indigenous populations. Critiques of social media notwithstanding, the ability to share videos and live streams of interactions with police have helped more people understand just how dangerous interactions with the police can be, especially if you’re not white.

Now, a big change is happening in the Phoenix Police Department. Officers are now required to record every single time they point their weapons at people, as reported by CNN. The language here is important. It’s not just shooting the gun, it’s aiming it at a person. Mayor Kate Gallego gave a press conference on Monday where she explained that the new rule came from recommendations released by the National Police Foundation.  

Police Chief Jeri Williams called the measure “an important step in our relationship building. Our updated record management system now allows us to track these incidents and will allow us to have a real idea of how many times our officers are able to successfully de-escalate an incident and a situation with the potential of deadly force,” she continued.

Mayor Gallego also noted that all officers will now have to participate in eight hours of mental health training in addition to wearing body cameras on duty. When speaking on the body cameras, Gallego said this addition “will allow us to show situations that have been de-escalated and better understand what is happening in our community.”

Now, it’s important to go into some background context for what’s happened in Phoenix that has led to this point. As we covered here at Daily Kos in June, a video went absolutely viral after the Phoenix police pulled a gun on a black family over accusations that a four-year-old child had stolen a doll from a local discount store. While no one was physically harmed, the situation was obviously traumatic, and the family wanted the officers involved to be fired. 

In the video footage, an officer (who is not seen on camera) can be heard yelling, “I’m going to f–king put a cap in your fucking head,” and “You’re going to f–king get shot.” Another officer pulls a gun on the pregnant mother, still in the car, and tells her to put her hands up, which she explains she can’t do because she’s holding her one-year-old.

Here’s a thread of videos of the incident, taken by a bystander. Big warning here that these videos are disturbing and could be triggering:


“My hands are up! My hands are up!” 22yo Dravon Ames says as a Phoenix police officer yells to “get your fucking hands up.” The same officer later says “You’re gonna fucking get shot!”Ames says the officers stopped him after his child walked out of a Dollar Store with a doll.

— Meg O’Connor (@megoconnor13) June 12, 2019

Ultimately, the couple wasn’t arrested or detained, and the store said they didn’t want to pursue charges. Again, this was over a child allegedly “stealing” a doll on her way out of a store. The family still wants justice and is suing for $10 million in damages. It’s impossible to watch these tragedies—which easily could have turned deadly—unfold again and again without taking structural action.

Phoenix’s problems with police brutality go beyond just this one horrifying example, too. In 2018, Phoenix had more officer-involved shootings than any other American city, coming in at 44. Numbers have dropped in Phoenix (so far) in 2019, but that’s not an excuse to slow down the effort to curb police brutality entirely, for Phoenix, and for the whole country.

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A Netflix series showcased a real-life hotline for detained immigrants, so ICE shut it down

Apparently, someone at the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement binge-watches “Orange is the New Black.” In an episode from the show’s final season, released in its entirety on July 26, fictional imprisoned characters use a toll-free number to contact Freedom for Immigrants. Freedom for Immigrants is a very real and essential resource for the thousands of immigrants being detained across the nation who are guaranteed few rights, as the characters soon discover.


Unlike in prison, detainees do not have a right to a lawyer for their immigration hearing. They can’t make a phone call until money has been added to their account, but no one knows where they are and the machine is broken anyway. Maritza can’t even send a letter because she has no money for a stamp. Blanca tells Maritza that it’s worse than prison; the ICE agents worse than the guards.  

Other characters in the show come to the rescue as best as they can: They discreetly share the number for Freedom for Immigrants, with a scripted warning that ended up eerily accurate.

“You have to be careful, though. Apparently if they figure out that you’re using the hotline, Big Brother shuts it down.”

Sure enough, on Aug. 7, less than two weeks of the entire “OITNB” farewell season dropping on the streaming service, ICE had blocked all access to the FFI hotline. 

Why? Freedom for Immigrants wasn’t a government-approved assistance provider.

ICE told Freedom for Immigrants that toll-free numbers for pro bono attorneys and organizations must be approved by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration courts, every three years and that those no longer appearing on the EOIR list will be removed from the system.

ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer dodged the Los Angeles Times’ questions about the Freedom for Immigrants hotline shutdown, and whether or not television shows are informing immigration policies. 

(Neudauer) said detainees are allowed to make free calls to legal service providers on the ICE-approved list “for the purpose of obtaining initial legal representation.”

“Pro bono organizations found to be violating these rules may be removed from the platform,” he said.

Now let’s back up a second, and explain how these hotlines work. An Alabama company called Talton Communications has long held a profitable contract with ICE, where they not only provide the phones available to detainees, but pocket the money spent to actually make calls, which cost as much as 25 cents per minute in 2012. Traditional toll-free numbers don’t work on Talton devices, so organizations seeking to help immigrants use what are known as hotlines. “Hotlines,” in regards to ICE detainee communication, are four-digit “extensions” that connect the user with the organization, free of charge.

In an interview with the L.A. Times, FFI co-executive director Christine Fialho states that the organization once ran three hotlines, serving as many as 14,000 detainees per month. Notably, Fialho says that FFI was never on the very EOIR approved list that is being invoked to keep the organization from serving their clients.

According to FFI, they were issued their first hotline extension to serve detained immigrants in 2013. It remained functional nationwide until October, when access was abruptly limited to detainees in less than 10 detention centers in one state, a decision that FFI has been fighting ever since.

In October 2018, less than a week after Freedom for Immigrants sent a letter to ICE and CCA/CoreCivic regarding the retaliatory shut down of their affiliated visitation program SOLACE in San Diego, the aforementioned pro bono line became restricted to eight facilities in Florida, when previously it was available at all or nearly all other detention facilities.

As a result, 15 members of Congress sent ICE’s Deputy Director a letter expressing their concern.

Yet, since October 2018, Freedom for Immigrants’ pro bono extension line has remained restricted to Florida facilities.

FFI also maintains that both the October restrictions and the current shutdown are retaliatory violations of the First Amendment, citing, in particular, the massive amount of press that FFI and those affiliated with “OITNB,” including prominent actors and writers, did to help the public understand that FFI was, indeed, a real resource for detained immigrants. Several “OITNB” actors and producers, as well as 121 other organizations, including the ACLU and SPLC, have signed on in support.

Not every current active hotline is on the revered EOIR list, asserts FFI’s cease and desist letter, sent Thursday and addressed to Matthew T. Albence, Acting Director of ICE, and cc’d to leaders of Talton Communications. Additionally, the organization cites what they consider to be a nearly-annual pattern of retaliation by ICE, going all the way back to the second term of Barack Obama.

The organization vowed further action if ICE and Talton don’t restore their original (nationwide) reach within ten days.

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Nuts & Bolts: Inside the DNC—diversity is our strength and unity is our power

It’s another Saturday, so for those who tune in, welcome to a diary discussing the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic Campaign. If you’ve missed out, you can catch up anytime: Just visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide. A few times a year this entry switches to cover the Democratic Party itself, and this week I am in San Francisco, where the Democratic National Committee is holding the summer meeting, which will discuss issues facing the party as well as provide members a chance to talk to one another about how to better organize our states, shape the primaries and caucus for 2020, and how do we beat Trump.

Beyond Trump, though, the party meets to discuss how we build a better party for the future. This week I’m going to just point out some of the major items being discussed, and take all questions in comments about what comes next for Democratic efforts 2020!

Climate Debate

In a vote of 17-8, the DNC Resolutions Committee motioned against support for a debate on climate change. The room erupted in protest from the Sunrise Movement who came out in force—and while that happened, other DNC members began looking at more ways to make sure that climate change was a key part of our discussions.

Among ideas I’ve heard this weekend:

A commitment that all debates have at least one segment on climate change
A commitment to have general election debates feature a climate change component
Online forums that would not put multiple candidates on stage for advocacy groups

Superdelegate change has major effect

The change in superdelegates—to make them, well, not super, has definitely had an effect on the DNC meeting prior to primary season. In the past, this meeting would be attended by all the candidates hoping to win some quick delegate votes. This time around? While Cory Booker, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang showed up in person, several campaigns including Joe Biden sent along surrogates instead. Few stayed any lengthy period of time, though if you wanted to have a drink with Yang, it was certainly an option.

Why? Because the change in the way in which we select our candidate means that the voters in all states truly have the final say—and that’s a good thing.

In fact, candidates noted that this change made for a more productive process — that they would reach out to the people directly to build their campaigns.

Diversity on display

Speaker Nancy Pelosi kicked off the Democratic breakfast on Friday with the pronouncement that our diversity is our strength, and unity is our power. She pointed out that all candidates running are better than Trump, and that we as a party recognize how dangerous it is to continue down the path of an irrational leader.

Speaker Pelosi also took time to point out that Democratic efforts succeed the more we welcome diversity. “Sharing diverse experience is the melting pot that makes a stronger America” she told a group in the crowd.

Expanding to include youth

As we head into the final days of the DNC meeting, members of the High School Democrats of America will be pushing for their inclusion as representatives within the DNC. Part of the pitch of HSDA is simple: Democratic efforts must do more to help young people, age 17 and 18 right now, get registered and help them vote.

Turning out a voting block which traditionally has poor turnout could make a major change in elections, contend HSDA representatives, and showing High School Democratic groups that the party supports them is a way to reward and promote them for all of their efforts.

Do you have questions about the DNC meeting? Or where the party is headed?  As below!

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In bizarre shareholder letter, ‘deep-state’-supporting CEO resigns, admits to dating Russian asset

A little more than a week ago, CEO Patrick Byrne wrote a bizarre internal memo to the company titled “ CEO Comments on Deep State,” in which he explained his wariness of the FBI’s “Men in Black.” The memo was in response to “articles by Sara Carter, a journalist and Fox News contributor,” that Byrne had been involved in some capacity in the special counsel investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign and their repeated Russian contacts. 

Bryne then spoke to The New York Times reporter Michael Corkery, explaining he’d had a three-year relationship with Russia’s “access agent,” Maria Butina. Byrne said that at some point the relationship had been “romantic” in nature. You may recall Butina was a central figure in the investigation after she spent years cultivating relationships with top NRA executives and the Trump campaign. Butina was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison for her part in that conspiracy. Her relationship with Byrne reportedly began after the two met at a Libertarian conference in Las Vegas in 2015.

Needless to say, revelations that the company’s CEO was possibly all-in on Trump’s bizarre “deep state” bullshit led to calls for boycotts of the e-retailer and plummeting stock prices. According to Bloomberg, the value of Overstock has dropped by more than a third in the two days following Byrne’s “deep state” memo. Three straight days of tanking shares is something the controversial CEO could not sidestep and the calls for his resignation became insurmountable. 

In his resignation Thursday, the e-retail company founder said that he was “sad” face about leaving the company but ultimately he had no regrets. “Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as C.E.O. and board member.” Byrne said he’d received support from “patriot Americans” but declined to name anyone backing him to stay in the position. 

Maria Butina remains in prison and is reportedly working on a tell-all book about life in a U.S. prison.

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Trump administration set for a Labor Day overtime fake-out, this week in the war on workers

The Trump administration is about to pretend it’s doing something great for workers, but surprise—it’s not so great. Heidi Shierholz explains the truth behind reports that the administration will roll out its new overtime eligibility rule in time for Labor Day, looking for positive headlines about all the workers who’ll suddenly be eligible for time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours a week. 

The Obama administration tried to raise the threshold to which salaried workers are eligible for overtime from the current level of $23,660 up to $47,476, meaning that a lot of workers would suddenly get either more time or more pay. That got blocked by a conservative judge, and now the Trump administration plans to propose an increase to $35,308—which sounds good, if you don’t realize that $47,476 had been on the table, so everyone earning between those two numbers will now be left out. It’s an advance over the status quo, sure, but a big step back from what the status quo would have been if right-wing groups hadn’t sued to block the Obama policy and a right-wing judge hadn’t taken their side.

“The Trump administration’s weaker rule will leave behind an estimated 8.2 million workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under the 2016 rule,” Shierholz writes. “This includes 4.2 million women, 3.0 million people of color, 4.7 million workers without a college degree, and 2.7 million parents of children under the age of 18.” Overall, $1.2 billion a year less will go to workers under the expected Trump rule than under the thwarted Obama rule.

Doordash said it would stop taking workers’ tips. That hasn’t happened yet.

● Vox’s German Lopez writes I was skeptical of unions. Then I joined one.

How unpaid internships hurt all workers and worsen income inequality.

Fifty years after Stonewall: LGBTQ workers seek equality.

More on Bernie Sanders’ labor plan.

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We’re back! Picks of the Week from the Daily Kos Community, Aug. 23 (and a Community conversation)

Hello, cherished Community! It’s been four dang months since I gave you, sweet Picks readers, the exclusive heads up that I would be departing for quite some time—what I refer to as “basically foreverpants”—and I couldn’t be happier that I’ve made my triumphant return. I’ve been back since last week, but unsurprisingly, there was a LOT to be done to feel normal  at work again, so I waited a week to re-launch PotW so that I would have time to comb over the week’s diaries like I’ve done in the past!

Did you miss Picks of the Week? Did you miss me? (Actually … don’t answer that last question.)

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It’s okay if you didn’t notice I was gone. The nation is burning.

Enough about me, though! This is, as always, about you, Dearest Ones, and your great writing. Here’s a quick recap on how this list is populated, from content written Fri.-Thur. each week:

Truly, there is no formula. We tend, unsurprisingly, toward stories with solid writing and fresh perspectives, that cover a wide swath of topics. We’re suckers for stories with a personal bent when we can find them. We also aim to feature different writers whenever possible. Finally, with this diary being put out on Saturdays, we do our best to pick stories that haven’t gone stale by the time I hit Publish.

Furthermore, I’ll add that as primary season looms, much effort is spent to avoid diaries that either endorse or bash a current Democratic candidate. Why? Because this series is about celebrating y’all and your talent, a goal that will last far longer than this election. As the steerer of this little weekly ship, I’m not going to focus on equal coverage for candidates to avoid accusations of bias. I’m going to avoid candidate talk altogether, even if that makes me a coward in some of your eyes.

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This week’s picks are so great, y’all. I can’t wait for you to read them. So without further ado, let’s dig in.

Tried (and failed) to love a tRumpster

By chelonia testudines

Support of Trump (and lack thereof) continues to shatter relationships nationwide, causing much pain. This unabashed first-person tale spares no punches as it takes us through one such journey

Victory! We stopped a Republican National Committee trojan malware op dead in its tracks

By DocDawg

A truly remarkable story about how skilled tech experts caught the GOP being very bad, and shamed them into doing better.

Hidden History: The Toronto Circus Riot

By Lenny Flank

Yes. A circus riot. The latest installment in the HH series tells one hell of a wild story that is stranger than fiction.

If Economy Slides Next Year, Trump Will Not Be Able To Blame the Federal Reserve.

By Merlin1963

We know he will, but here’s a great, layman’s exploration of how that’ll likely work out for him.

Why North Korea Wants Nuclear Weapons

By Russell Hall

In a digestible journey spanning decades, this explainer gets to the root of an issue that’s certainly not going to be solved by Trump and his flirtation with Kim Jong Un.

Random Acts of Protest

By Im a frayed knot

We all can do something to fight back against this dangerously tyrannical administration and its ever-increasingly cruel policies. The first step is the hardest.

Time to talk about guns again (and history too)

By BlackSheep1

Another accessible explainer that addresses our gun crisis and some of the ways we got here.

Name Dropping – My Rolling Stones Story

By 714day

We all have those moments in life that are forever imprinted in our memory, those stories we tell at parties. 

This is one of those experiences, and it’s freaking delightful.

Catholicism and My Bipolar Disorder

By Eihenetu

A brutally honest journey that only this writer could share with us. The title says it all.

Camille’s Wake

By Douglas Lee

Half a century later, Hurricane Camille, all but forgotten by most of the nation, leaves lasting scars on the land and people who found themselves and their homes in her path. A beautiful first-person narrative takes us near the eye and into the long-lasting impacts.

Officers return to duty 2 weeks after shooting black teen in the back as he fled in CO Springs.

By rflctammt

Another police shooting caught on camera, another pair of cops allowed to go back to work while a black family mourns and seethes. A longtime resident of Colorado Springs thoughtfully explores their own rage and the long history of inequality in this city, sparked by the killing of De’Von Bailey, 19, earlier this month.

Homelessness is Waiting

By LoreleiHI

Yet another painful yet beautiful diary from LoreleiHi that holds no punches as it presents the realities of homelessness. Sometimes, the waiting really is the hardest part.

How a Generic Abortion Pill Could Revolutionize Abortion

By ZawnVillines

It’s not just that this medication could change everything for pregnant people … it’s also about the fight to ensure it changes nothing.

That’s it for this week, folks! See you next Saturday, with a whole new list of stellar writings from your peers here in the Daily Kos Community. 

As always, feel free to tell me about any diaries I may have missed this week … and don’t hesitate to send suggestions for the coming week’s list via Kosmail, no later than Thursday at noon in your time zone.

It’s so, so good to be back, folks. Till next time.

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Schools designed to foil mass shooters are the latest answer to Republican inaction on gun safety

It’s been 20 years since the massacre at Columbine High School shocked us all, and not even seven since the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School left the American president in tears. It’s been a year and a half since Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School became a household name. School shootings are a dark norm in the United States, to the point that an entire generation of students have been doing active shooter drills for as long as they can remember. The cycle after a school shooting, or any mass shooting, is all too familiar: Thoughts and prayers pour out of Republican mouths, but it’s always too soon to politicize things. It’s never the guns that are to blame, the NRA whispers in these politicians’ ears as they hand them their next bag of gold. Never come for the guns.

Despite the fact that most mass shooters use legally purchased guns, calls for common sense gun safety laws meet insistence that existing laws just need enforcing, but then the nation fails to do even that. In recent years, mental illness has frequently been presented as the sole reason these murderers are able to murder so many, so quickly. Yet the mental health crisis being blamed for American gun violence is also ignored.

And so the nation has never managed to keep weapons of mass carnage out of the wrong hands, and the massacres continue. “Never again!” is said again and again, because the gun lobby has deep pockets, and has convinced the legislators that reelection is the most important thing of all.

And so, 20 years after Columbine, almost seven since Sandy Hook, and just 18 months after Parkland, the 2018-19 school year is rife with headlines about parents, teachers, and schools taking matters into their own hands. The bulletproof backpacks that aren’t even bulletproof. The kitty litter-and-buckets to build instant latrines for hours-long lockdowns—with popup tent for privacy optional.

And in one Michigan city, architects created a school building with mass shootings in mind.

The design of the new sections includes subtle safe spaces that can be used to protect students in the event of a shooting, and long curved hallways that would offer protection too.

“To cut down on the sight lines if we have an active shooter in the building,” (Fruitport Superintendent Bob) Szymoniak said.

By reducing the sight lines, anyone with malicious intent would be unable to see the entire length of the hallway.

Cement block bump outs are also placed in the curved hallways.

“To cut down on sight lines further, it also gives an opportunity for students to hide back behind and hopefully get help from within the classroom,” Szymoniak said.

As commenters nehill and jplanner point out, the bump outs, pictured above, also give a shooter an opportunity to ambush students, staff, and even law enforcement.

This will change all of their active shooter drills.

Additionally, all of the classrooms have one hiding corner that’s not visible to a murderer prowling the hallway and peering in windows—windows covered with a new film designed to resist the impact of gunfire. The school district also has “access controlled locks” on all doors, so that Szymoniak and other members of the Fruitport educational leadership can lock down the entire school district with one push of a button. 

Szymoniak says that these little architectural touches will save lives and give students and staff a better chance of survival while they wait for law enforcement. What’s more, he expects Fruitport to be a trendsetter in school construction.

“These are going to be design elements that are just naturally part of buildings going into the future,” he said.

What he didn’t  say is that it’s easier to change the way we build schools than it is to pass common sense gun safety laws. 

Click here to see original article

California high schoolers seen giving Nazi salute and singing Nazi marching song in viral video

Another day, another horrifying display of anti-Semitism and Nazism from teenagers in our schools. This time, the Garden Grove School District located in Orange County, California, is reopening an investigation into a video that showed students giving a Nazi salute and singing a Nazi-era marching song. At least one school official has noted that new photos and videos related to this incident have recently leaked. 

The incident in the now-viral video happened back in November. Why are we talking about this now? Well, for two reasons. First, because new details have apparently come out, and second, because it’s now been revealed that many in the community—including many in the school district—didn’t know this disturbing incident happened until the video evidence went viral online. That’s … very much not okay and, frankly, not even safe.

At a recent meeting, Pacifica High School principal Steve Osborne did apologize for not telling the community earlier. After the apology, Osborne dropped the line about officials having received “new allegations, new photos and video … and new claims that have led us to reopen and widen the scope of the investigation.” These new videos and photos feature students goose-stepping around campus while holding a German flag, as seen in the image above.

Several students shared the original video, which is about eight seconds long, on social media. The Garden Grove Unified School District says in a statement that the video was recorded off-campus before a student athletics banquet took place, and that the students were unsupervised at the time.

The district says that administrators at the high school first discovered the videos in March and that they “addressed” the situation with the students involved. However, it wasn’t until The Daily Beast published the video last week that some district-level officials (and much of the community) found out about it. Yikes.

How was the horrifying video “addressed” with the offending students? The school hasn’t said, citing student privacy concerns. So it’s entirely unclear whether or not they’ve actually been punished. 

In fact, a lot of American high schoolers seem to be getting away with hate speech.

You might remember the teenagers in Minnesota who went viral after a picture of their Nazi-themed prom proposal horrified the collective internet. Or the teenage boys in Wisconsin who appeared to be giving a Nazi salute in a prom picture. Or the California high schoolers who made a swastika out of red solo cups. 

According to an annual report released by the Anti-Defamation League,  the “number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record and the second-highest number reported since ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s.” Terrifying. It makes you wonder: How many of them feel emboldened by Trump? 

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Cory Booker is learning how to make school safer for trans youth from his nonbinary ‘niephew’

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, recently shared in an interview with Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund, that he not only has a nonbinary family member that has helped him expand his views on LGBTQ rights, but that he has a plan on how to offer better protection for the trans community from within the White House. 

As some background, it’s important to note that Booker’s trans activism isn’t new. So far in the 2020 debates, few candidates have brought up LGBTQ issues. While we all remember Rep. Tulsi Gabbard backstepping over her anti-LGBTQ voting record in the first forum, Booker noted, “We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans, and the incredibly high rates of murder right now,” that same night.

In the interview (which is embedded at the bottom of this post), Senator Booker introduced how his ‘niephew,’ Avery, helped him become more informed about the issues facing trans youth that are specific to school. “My brother’s child, my ‘niephew’ – which is a combination of niece and nephew – is a trans activist,” he said, “helped their uncle be someone who is more aware of specific issues facing trans youth in schools today.”

It’s been consistently reported that trans youth are at a higher risk of being suspended, dropping out of school, having lower grades, and worse attendance. Probably unsurprising, given that they’re also more likely to be bullied, harassed, and even sexually assaulted than their cisgender peers. Things are getting better, but the world is still incredibly hard for trans people, including trans kids and teenagers.

Perhaps what is most exciting about the interview is that, along with policy ideas, Booker is willing and eager to let trans youth lead the conversation when it comes to legislation that impacts them directly. 

“To deny people safe and nurturing environments means that we’re undermining their potential,” Booker said. At the end of the video, he spoke to trans students directly, saying, “I know these have been dark years. But help is on its way. I don’t care what title I hold. You will have stronger and stronger allies in this cause.”

“We need to have leaders that say, I don’t have all the answers when it comes to trans youth,” Booker continued. “But I’m willing to elevate folks to let them sit as peers with me on figuring [it] out.”

Booker also spoke about the importance of having accessible, affordable healthcare for the trans population. He acknowledged the incredibly high rates of violence against trans people, with a special focus on young, Black trans women

“I think that this is a moral moment in America and that the next president has to be someone that understands that there’s a restoration of the best of our values,” Booker stated. “It has to be done from that office by elevating how we are rendering populations in this country invisible. Marginalizing them is just not acceptable to me.”

“So I hope that one day very soon—let’s call it maybe less than two years—that Avery, my niephew, and other great trans leaders in the youth community have a seat at the White House to talk about issues.”

You can check out the full video below:


YouTube Video

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