Wealthy L.A. Schools’ Vaccination Rates Are as Low as South Sudan’s

I know there are lot of pro- and anti-vaccination readers who are going to want to weigh in on this, so without comment from me either way, consider the resurgence of whooping cough in LA, where vaccination rates are, according to The Atlantic, “as low as south Sudan’s”:

When actors play doctors on TV, that does not make them actual doctors. And that does not mean they should scour some Internet boards, confront their pediatricians, and demand fewer vaccinations for their children, as some Hollywood parents in Los Angeles have apparently been doing.

The Hollywood Reporter has a great investigation for which it sought the vaccination records of elementary schools all over Los Angeles County. They found that vaccination rates in elite neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have tanked, and the incidence of whooping cough there has skyrocketed…

Parents in these schools are submitting a form called a “personal belief exemption,” which states that they are not vaccinating their kids due to “a diffuse constellation of unproven anxieties, from allergies and asthma to eczema and seizures,” reporter Gary Baum writes.

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Free Radical Media Podcast: Mathematics, Education and True Learning with chycho

via chycho

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the folks at Free Radical Media to see if I would be willing to be a guest in their fledgeling podcast network. I checked out some of their work and really liked what I found, so I nervously agreed – I’ve never been a guest on a podcast before.

We ended up discussing a myriad of topics focused on mathematics, education, and some of the problems associated with our centralized systems as well as some of the solutions available to us at the moment.

It was a very fun experience and I would like to thank Eric and Patrick for having me as a guest. Below you will find the podcast.

FRM – Mathematics, Education and True Learning with chycho

For those interested in further exploring some of the topics that we discussed, you will find additional information regarding these topics at:

 

 

 

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A Case for Abolishing Juvenile Prisons

Juvenile Detention Center by Stuart McAlpine via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Juvenile Detention Center by Stuart McAlpine via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Sara Mayeux via The Awl (follow the link to read the rest of this piece, this article is long-ish):

Last month, archaeologists identified the first of the fifty-five human bodies recently exhumed at Florida’s Dozier School for Boys—a now-shuttered juvenile prison where, for decades, guards abused children, sometimes to death, despite cyclical scandals and calls for reform spanning almost a hundred years. Dozier represents an atrocious extreme, but the failures of America’s juvenile justice system are widespread. Whether labeled “boot camps,” “training schools,” “reformatories,” or other euphemisms, juvenile prisons have long harbored pervasive physical and sexual abuse. In one survey, twelve percent of incarcerated youth reported being sexually abused in the previous year—a figure that likely understates the problem.

During the “tough-on-crime” years of the eighties and nineties, states confined larger numbers of children than ever before, with the proportion of youth in prison reaching an all-time high in 1995.

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Infographic: The Fatal Wounds of King Richard III

Via Live Science:

A study of King Richard III’s bones uncovered 11 injuries inflicted near the time of death by common Late Medieval weapons. Although the king was wearing armor in battle, the head injuries are consistent with his helmet having been lost or removed. A pelvis injury was likely inflicted after death.

Four of the wounds to the face, skull and ribs were likely due to dagger stabs. Another, likely fatal, wound to the rear of the skull, was likely due to a sword strike. The largest wound to the head, penetrating deep into the brain, likely came from either a sword or the spike atop a halberd.

[Read the full story on the postmortem analysis of Richard III's Skeleton]

Chart shows dagger, sword and halberd wounds to the king's skeleton.

Source:LiveScience

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Say You Want a Revolution: The Invisibles Started 20 Years Ago

invisiblesWhen people ask me what my favorite pieces of psychedelic literature from the last 20 years are, I immediately tell them Graham Hancock’s Supernatural and Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles without even having to think twice about it. Of course, I’m not sure if anyone I’ve ever told this has actually taken my advice and read either one, but I’ll just keep repeating it in the off hope that at least one person will have their mind blown by the genius of either one of those epics. When people ask me for suggestions regarding books about magick, The Invisibles immediately jumps to the top of my list. This usually leads to someone arguing with me and informing me that The Invisibles isn’t an instruction manual on how to do magick to which I reply, that’s exactly the point. Since you can sum up basic sigil magick techniques in a few paragraphs, and chaos magick was supposed to be about pushing these techniques forward and creatively fitting them to your subjective microverse, I have zero idea why books regurgitating technique are even of much value at this point.… Read the rest

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Federal Government Is Supplying Schools With Assault Rifles, Grenade Launchers and Other Military Gear

How mad is this? In addition to turning America’s local police forces into paramilitary occupying forces, the Federal government is also sending assault rifles, grenade launchers and all sorts of other military gear to public schools. Yes, you read that right, story via the Wall Street Journal:

A federal program that has drawn criticism in recent weeks for supplying surplus military gear to local police has also provided rifles, grenade launchers and armored vehicles to public schools, some of which were unprepared for what they were getting.

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In the wake of school shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., and elsewhere, some school security departments developed SWAT teams, added weapons to deal with any contingency and called on the federal government to help supply the gear. But now the program is facing renewed scrutiny from both outside observers and police using the program.

In south Texas, near the Mexican border, the sprawling Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District has 34,700 students and operates its own SWAT team, thanks in part to military gear it was given in recent years.

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People Are Attracted to the Body Odor of Others with Similar Political Beliefs

By Matthew Hurst via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Matthew Hurst via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

A new study reveals that people find the smell of others with similar political opinions to be attractive, suggesting that one of the reasons why so many spouses share similar political views is because they were initially and subconsciously attracted to each other’s body odor.

During the study, 146 participants rated the attractiveness of the body odor of unknown strong liberals and strong conservatives, without ever seeing the individuals whose smells they were evaluating.

“People could not predict the political ideology of others by smell if you asked them, but they differentially found the smell of those who aligned with them more attractive. So I believe smell conveys important information about long-term affinity in political ideology that becomes incorporated into a key component of subconscious attraction,” said Dr. Rose McDermott, lead author of the American Journal of Political Science study.

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Mayans Defeat Monsanto In Guatemala

Anga Bottione-Rossi00Who’s got the cojones to stand up to Monsanto and send them packing? The Mayans of Guetamala, that’s who!

IC Magazine reports on the recent victory of the Mayan People’s Movement against Monsanto’s attempt to bring their patented, genetically engineered seeds into Guatemala, displacing traditional seed diversity:

On September 4th, after ten days of widespread street protests against the biotech giant Monsanto’s expansion into Guatemalan territory, groups of indigenous people joined by social movements, trade unions and farmer and women’s organizations won a victory when congress finally repealed the legislation that had been approved in June.

The demonstrations were concentrated outside the Congress and Constitutional Court in Guatemala City during more than a week, and coincided with several Mayan communities and organizations defending food sovereignty through court injunctions in order to stop the Congress and the President, Otto Perez Molina, from letting the new law on protection of plant varieties, known as the “Monsanto Law”, take effect.

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White House backs body cameras for cops

MdTA Cops by Elliott Plack via Flickr. (cc by 2.0)

MdTA Cops by Elliott Plack via Flickr. (cc by 2.0)

via Politico:

Responding to a petition after the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri, the White House says it supports the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement officers.

“As Ferguson continues to heal as a community, this Administration will continue to work to ensure that our justice system, across the country, is truly just,” the response released on Monday read. “We’ll continue to work to support the use of video technology, review and evaluate law enforcement agencies that use it, and continue to engage in discussions about how this technology impacts policing, communities, and public safety.”

The original petition has gained about 154,700 signatures. A petition is required to receive 100,000 signatures before the White House is required to respond. Roy L. Austin Jr., the deputy assistant to the president for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity in the Domestic Policy Council, wrote the response.

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‘They’re Right’: Citing Climate, Prosecutor Drops Charges Against Coal Blockaders

Ken Ward (left) and Jay O’Hara on the boat they used to block the delivery of 40,000 tons of coal to a power plant in Somerset. (Photo: 350Mass)

Ken Ward (left) and Jay O’Hara on the boat they used to block the delivery of 40,000 tons of coal to a power plant in Somerset. (Photo: 350Mass)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

A local district attorney in Massachusetts surprised parties on all sides on Monday after he sided with two climate justice activists who employed a “necessity defense” to justify their use of a small lobster boat to block the path of an enormous coal freighter trying to dock at the Brayton Point Power Station in the town of Somerset last year.

Several serious charges were brought against two men, Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward, for their attempt to wedge their boat, the Henry David T., between the dock and an approaching coal freighter, the Energy Enterprise, on May 13, 2013. (Read Common Dreams original reporting on the action here.)

For the brazen act of civil disobedience both O’Hara and Ward faced many thousands of dollars in fines and as much as two years in jail, but it was Bristol County DA Sam Sutter who decided that all charges in the case would be dropped after he determined that their expressed purpose—to put an end to the carbon-spewing pollution directly related to the current climate change crisis—was an adequate and defensible position.  Sutter dropped all charges against the two.

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