A Deadly Decade for Environmentalists

Burning Rainforests

The Article: A Deadly Decade for Environmentalists by Joshua Keating in Slate.

The Text: According to a report released today by the London-based NGO Global Witness, at least 908 environmental activists have been killed over the last decade. That number is comparable to the 913 journalists killed in the course of their work in the same period and is likely on the low side—reporting is inconsistent in many countries, and full data for 2013 hasn’t yet been collected. 2012 was deadliest year ever for environmentalists, with 147 killed.

According to the report, more than two-thirds of these killings took “took place in the context of conflicts over the ownership, control and use of land,” reflecting the dark side of rapid development in many emerging economies.

The most dangerous country in the world for environmentalists is Brazil, with 448 killings over the last 10 years. According to the report, “this can be attributed to Brazil’s land ownership patterns, which are among the most concentrated and unequal in the world.” The country’s rapid economic growth has frequently brought powerful business interests into conflict with small and medium-sized farms as well as indigenous groups, often with deadly consequences.

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The US: The World’s Premiere Oligarchy?

Reagan Ford Bush

The Article: Major Study Finds The US Is An Oligarchy by Zachary Davies Boren in Business Insider.

The Text: The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded.

The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system.

After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile) and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the United States is dominated by its economic elite.

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The 1%: Ban Sleeping In Cars Because It Harms Our “Quality Of Life”

Homelessness

The Article: The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars – because it hurts their ‘quality of life’ by Gary Blasi in The Guardian.

The Text: Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.

This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.

To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.

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Will Today’s Hispanics Be Tomorrow’s Whites?

Hispanics White

The Article: Will Today’s Hispanics Be Tomorrow’s Whites? by Jamelle Bouie in Slate.

The Text: The Trayvon Martin shooting was hardly in the national consciousness before fault lines emerged around the case. Was Martin as innocent as he seemed? Did Zimmerman fear for his life? Did Martin provoke the incident? Was Zimmerman a racist?

Perhaps most controversial among all of these was the question of identity. Yes, Trayvon Martin was black, but is Zimmerman white? For Martin’s sympathizers, the answer was yes. For Zimmerman’s, the answers ranged from “it doesn’t matter” to he “is actually a Hispanic nonracist person who acted in self-defense.”

In their early reports on the case, both CNN and the New York Times labeled him “white Hispanic,” sparking thunderous condemnation from right-wing critics. At Fox News, contributor Bernard Goldberg accused the Times of race-baiting. “I guarantee you that if George Zimmerman did something good—if he finished first in his high school graduating class when he was younger—they wouldn’t refer to him as a white Hispanic, he’d just be a Hispanic,” he wrote. Likewise, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg blasted several news outlets for “playing the race card” with the term. And in typical paranoid style, Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro accused CNN of “labeling Zimmerman a ‘white Hispanic’ in order to maintain the false narrative that the killing was race-based.”

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To Mike Huckabee, Parts Of North Korea Are “More Free” Than The US

Mike Huckabee

The Article: Mike Huckabee: North Korea Sometimes Has ‘More Freedom’ Than The US by Paul Zsoldra in Yahoo! Finance.

The Text: Speaking at the conservative “Freedom Summit” in New Hampshire on Saturday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he’s beginning to believe that there’s “more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States.”

The quote — which the audience did not laugh at and didn’t appear to be a joke — was in reference to TSA patdowns and security procedures at the airport.

“When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position,” Huckabee said while holding up his hands. “People put hands all over me. And I have to provide photo ID in a couple of different forms and prove that I really am not going to terrorize the airplane.”

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