Worldwide Air Pollution Deaths Per Year Number Over 2 Million, New Study Claims

From Huffington Post:

By Rachael Rettner

Air pollution may be responsible for more than 2 million deaths around the world each year, according to a new study.

The study estimated that 2.1 million deaths each year are linked with fine particulate matter, tiny particles that can get deep into the lungs and cause health problems.

Exposure to particle pollution has been linked with early death from heart and lung diseases, including lung cancer, the researchers said; meanwhile, concentrations of particulate matter have been increasing due to human activities. The study also found that 470,000 deaths yearly are linked with human sources of ozone, which forms when pollutants from sources such as cars or factories come together and react. Exposure to ozone has been linked to death from respiratory diseases.

Most of the estimated global deaths likely occur in East and South Asia, which have large populations and severe air pollution, said study researcher Jason West, an assistant professor of environmental sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Air pollution is an important problem. It’s probably one of the most important environmental risk factors for health,” West said. The study suggests that improving air quality around the world would increase life expectancy for some, he said.

While some studies have suggested that climate change can make air pollution more deadly, the new study found that climate change had only a small effect on air pollution-related deaths.

Pollution and climate interact in several ways. Climate-related factors such as temperature and humidity can affect the reaction rates of particles in the air, which in turn determine the formation of pollutants; additionally, rainfall can affect accumulation of pollutants, the researchers said.

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Before Stonewall

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Why the God Hypothesis is Obsolete (Trusting Doubt)

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Rand Paul’s Confederacy Scandal Is Not an Anomaly — Libertarianism Papers Over Deep Racism in America

From Alternet:

Libertarianism is a nice-sounding “philosophy” of “freedom” that obscures 500 years of genocide and apartheid in America.

By Thom Hartmann
July 11, 2013

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul the guy who questioned the wisdom of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when he first ran for office, finds himself at the center of yet another race related controversy this week.

On Tuesday, the Washington Free Beacon published an article titled “Rebel Yell” detailing the previous career of Paul’s right-hand man co-author Jack Hunter.

While working as a radio host in South Carolina, Hunter appeared in public wearing a Confederate flag mask, openly called for secession, and even defended the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He called himself “The Southern Avenger” and was a chairman of the Charleston wing of the League of the South, a group, which, according to its own website, “ advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union, and the formation of a Southern republic.”

Rand Paul is now trying to disassociate himself from Hunter, but that will be a difficult task. The “Southern Avenger” isn’t just some random Senate staffer: he’s a close associate of Paul and helped him write his first book back in 2010.

It now looks like Senator Paul is continuing in a great family tradition. Even though he denies responsibility, his father Ron published a series of racist newsletters during a1996 Congressional campaign.

However, we shouldn’t really be that surprised by either of the Pauls’ connection to far-right racism. That’s because they’re libertarians and libertarianism is the velvet glove over the iron fist of racism.

Here’s how it works: when you have an entrenched racial and economic class that has ruled a continent for five centuries, they have well-established levers and levels of power and wealth. They will, generation after generation, do whatever is necessary to hang on to that wealth and power.

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Ohio tea party member flies Confederate flag during racist rant at school board meeting

From Raw Story:

By David Ferguson
Saturday, July 13, 2013

Springboro, Ohio residents are up in arms after a member of the local tea party unfurled a Confederate flag at a meeting of the town’s school board Thursday. According to Huffington Post, Sonny Thomas, who bills himself as the president and founder of the Springboro Tea Party was protesting the removal of a set of religiously-themed and ideologically slanted classes from the district’s summer curriculum.

Thomas, who has a history of racist and inflammatory statements, reportedly gave an impassioned defense of the classes, which were intended for parents and children. The summer courses were sponsored by the Institute of the Constitution, an offshoot group from right-wing think tank The American View and the National Center for Constitutional Studies, a religious-themed nationalist group funded by the Church of Latter Day Saints.

In his speech, Thomas made racist remarks, invoked neo-Confederate group The League of the South and displayed the Confederate flag, saying that African-Americans in the U.S. “should consider themselves lucky since they are treated better in the United States than they would be if they were in ‘Black Countries’ with ‘genocide,’” according to Springboro resident Nimisha Patel.

Patel also noted the school board members showed unusual deference to Thomas, allowing his remarks to run over his allotted time slot. They also allowed him to stay for the rest of the meeting, whereas other speakers who the board deemed problematic were escorted from the premises.

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Zimmerman verdict: A green light for racist vigilantes

From Salon:

This verdict allows every paranoid, sub-intelligent, vigilante with a gun to go on victimizing black youth

Just weeks ago, I returned to New York City from Fire Island on a Sunday evening, and decided to stop by my office.

After I let myself into the office, I noticed some Caucasians mingling around. I paid them no mind, since our office often has off-hours visitors who rent the common space.

“Can I help you?” said a middle aged white man, testily.

“No,” I shot back.  “But I can I help YOU?”

“What do you mean?”

“I work here,” I said. “This is MY office.”

“Oh,” he said, stepping back slightly.  “I saw you and just wanted to make sure things are OK.”

“Thank you, George Zimmerman,” I said.

Weeks later, my sarcastic one-off is more painful to me than I could ever have imagined. George Zimmerman’s acquittal leaves me feeling so nauseous.

This office exchange has been common to me my whole life. A testy “Can I help you?” doubles as a passive-aggressive demand for me to justify my presence even where I belong. Thankfully, I have never encountered an armed white person on the other end of that presumption.

Trayvon Martin paid for that common presumption with his life.

Zimmerman’s stooges and apologists claim that his deadly encounter had nothing do with race. And that his trial and acquittal have nothing to do with race.  His defenders effectively portrayed him as a hapless Samaritan who got in over his head. Meanwhile, they tarred Trayvon as a menace who failed to properly justify his existence.

These presumptions colored every moment of the Police Department’s botched initial reaction and the trial.

How does an armed adult defy the policy, chase down a youth, kill him, and then turn around and call it self defense? Defense from what? A fleeing kid? Was Trayvon Martin seen for his humanity? Or as a “fucking punk”? Are black men seen for our humanity or as three-fifths of a fucking punk? This verdict will have devastating consequences. It is an implicit green light for every paranoid, sub-intelligent, vigilante racist to go on victimizing black youth. Trayvon Martin is dead for no reason other than being black.

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Rand Paul defends secessionist aide: Confederate flag like smoking pot

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says that an aide who believes in secession and has a history of wearing Confederate flag masks should be forgiven because he is “incredibly talented” and his mistakes are similar to using marijuana.

Earlier this week, The Washington Free beacon revealed that 39-year-old Paul aide, Jack Hunter — who was known on his South Carolina radio show as the “Southern Avenger” — was previously the chairman of the League of the South, which the Anti-Defamation League has called “an implicitly racist group.”

As a part of his “Southern Avenger” persona, Hunter often wore a Confederate flag mask and advocated for “the states of the old Confederacy to break away from the rest of the Union.”

Hunter also had praised John Wilkes Booth for the assassination of former President Abraham Lincoln, saying that his “heart was in the right place.”

In an interview with The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman this week, Paul stood behind Hunter while distancing himself from some of his rhetoric.

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The Internet’s destroying work — and turning the old middle class into the new proletariat

From Salon:

The new economy is turning human labor into just another computer process — and will keep wrecking jobs

An executive at an up-and-coming start-up settles into a cross-country flight. After the unthinkable torture of the ban on electronic devices ends, she pulls out her tablet, connects to Wi-Fi, and reviews her to-do list: Cancel cable TV service. Make dinner reservations at that annoying restaurant that doesn’t use Open Table. Research the entrance requirements for elite Brooklyn preschools. The prospect is disheartening, especially 35,000 feet high in the sky. A lot of hassle, a lot of time-wasting minutes spent on hold, a lot of unnecessary roadblocks preventing her from focusing her concentration on more important things, like getting her world-changing start-up up and running.

But no worries! She’s signed up for the $45-a-month plan at Fancy Hands, the online clearinghouse for virtual assistants, and that entitles her to outsource 15 discrete tasks every month — anything and everything that can be taken care of by someone with access to a computer and a phone. So she logs in and posts her tasks. By the time she lands, it’s all been taken care of by Fancy Hands’ always-on-call army of contractors. Another state-of-the-art lesson in getting things done via the Internet economy.

Fancy Hands — “Do What You Love — We’ll Do The Rest” — is just one entrant in a growing cohort of companies that are outsourcing all kinds of humdrum work to the “cloud.” The biggest names — Task Rabbit and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk — have offered similar services for years. The market niche seems sure to boom further, propelled by a generation completely comfortable with turning to the smartphone as the first place to look for work.

The best cloud labor start-ups have received plenty of laudatory press coverage and rave reviews from users. In the specific case of Fancy Hands, one can instinctively understand the appeal. Who wouldn’t want their own executive assistant on hand 24/7 to deal with the drudgery that clogs up daily life. You know you would love to “automate all the boring parts of your life.” Fancy Hands democratizes access to what previously was only available to the very well off.

That’s progress — for the consumer of the service. But one thing you discover when reading reviews of these services is that the vast majority of commentary focuses primarily on the users. Far less discussion is devoted to the producers, to the phenomenon of a new and growing class of drudges — the peons now making your phone calls and conducting your Google searches and washing your cars and toilets. These are not your father’s jobs. The typical Task Rabbit or Fancy Hands employee is invariably an independent contractor eligible for no benefits, quite often working for rates well below minimum wage, and able to exert zero leverage to resist employer abuse.

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The Stonewall Riots – comic book trailer

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PRESS STATEMENT from the Southern Poverty Law Center in Response to Verdict in State of Florida v. George Zimmerman

From The Southern Poverty Law Center:


The following statement was issued by Richard Cohen, President and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, following the verdict in State of Florida v. George Zimmerman:

“‘They always get away.’ These were the words George Zimmerman uttered as he followed and later shot Trayvon Martin — words that reflected his belief that Trayvon was one of “them,” the kind of person about to get away with something.  How ironic these words sound now in light of the jury verdict acquitting Zimmerman.

Trayvon is dead, and Zimmerman is free.

Can we respect the jury verdict and still conclude that Zimmerman got away with killing Trayvon?  I think so, even if we buy Zimmerman’s story that Trayvon attacked him at some point.  After all, who was responsible for initiating the tragic chain of events?  Who was following whom?  Who was carrying a gun?  Who ignored the police urging that he stay in his car?  Who thought that the other was one of ‘them,’ someone about to get a away with something?

The jury has spoken, and we can respect its conclusion that the state did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  But we cannot fail to speak out about the tragedy that occurred in Sanford, Florida, on the night of February 26, 2012.

Was race at the heart of it?  

Ask yourself this question:  If Zimmerman had seen a white youth walking in the rain that evening, would he have seen him as one of ‘them,’ someone about to get away with something?  
We’ll never really know.

Racial bias reverberates in our society like the primordial Big Bang.  Some years ago, Rev. Jesse Jackson made the point in a dramatic way when he acknowledged that he feels a sense of relief when the footsteps he hears behind him in the dead of night turn out to belong to white feet.  Social scientists who study our hidden biases make the same point in a more sober way with statistics that demonstrate that we are more likely to associate black people with negative words and imagery than we are white people. It’s an association that devalues the humanity of black people — particularly black youth like Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman probably saw race the night of February 26, 2012, like too many others would have. Had he not, Trayvon probably would be alive today.

The jury has spoken.  Now, we must speak out against the systemic racism that still infects our society and distorts our perception of the world.  And we must do something about it.”


The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, see

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White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman

From The Nation:

Aura Bogado
on July 14, 2013

A jury has found George Zimmerman not guilty of all charges in connection to death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But while the verdict came as a surprise to some people, it makes perfect sense to others. This verdict is a crystal-clear illustration of the way white supremacy operates in America.

Throughout the trial, the media repeatedly referred to an “all-woman jury” in that Seminole County courtroom, adding that most of them were mothers. That is true—but so is that five of the six jurors were white, and that is profoundly significant for cases like this one. We also know that the lone juror of color was seen apparently wiping a tear during the prosecution’s rebuttal yesterday. But that tear didn’t ultimately convince her or the white people on that jury that Zimmerman was guilty of anything. Not guilty. Not after stalking, shooting and killing a black child, a child that the defense insultingly argued was “armed with concrete.”

In the last few days, Latinos in particular have spoken up again about Zimmerman’s race, and the “white Hispanic” label especially, largely responding to social media users and mass media pundits who employed the term. Watching Zimmerman in the defense seat, his sister in the courtroom, and his mother on the stand, one can’t deny the skin color that informs their experience. They are not white. Yet Zimmerman’s apparent ideology—one that is suspicious of black men in his neighborhood, the “assholes who always get away—” is one that adheres to white supremacy. It was replicated in the courtroom by his defense, whose team tore away at Rachel Jeantel, questioning the young woman as if she was taking a Jim Crow–era literacy test. A defense that, during closing, cited slave-owning rapist Thomas Jefferson, played an animation for the jury based on erroneous assumptions, made racially coded accusations about Trayvon Martin emerging “out of the darkness,” and had the audacity to compare the case of the killing of an unarmed black teenager to siblings arguing over which one stole a cookie.

When Zimmerman was acquitted today, it wasn’t because he’s a so-called white Hispanic. He’s not. It’s because he abides by the logic of white supremacy, and was supported by a defense team—and a swath of society—that supports the lingering idea that some black men must occasionally be killed with impunity in order to keep society-at-large safe.

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