Brooklyn’s Gangster Graveyard

By Whit Andrews via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

By Whit Andrews via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

via The Daily Beast:

On a sprawling, idyllic cluster of rolling hills in an otherwise industrial section of New York City, history’s finest and most notorious have been laid to rest.

Green-Wood Cemetery should have its own ZIP code. Covering nearly 500 acres in the middle of Brooklyn, the land of the dead feels a world away from the skyscrapers of Manhattan, visible in the distance from the hilltops.

Visitors are greeted by a looming gothic gate, the kind used to signify that important residents lie behind its spires. The cemetery is home to 560,000 dead. In past lives, the area served as the location of the Battle of Long Island during the Revolutionary War. Once the first dead were interred in 1838, it became the country’s second biggest tourism attraction thanks to its scenic and fashionable burial grounds. In the 1860s there were more sightseers than entombed residents, as 500,000 visitors flocked there per year.

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Does Inequality Cause Crime?

By craftivist collective via Flickr (cc by 2.0).

By craftivist collective via Flickr (cc by 2.0).

Surprised?

via The Atlantic:

In 1899, Thorstein Veblen described a type of good that is more lusted after the more expensive it is (think Ferraris). And in 1968, the economist Gary S. Becker theorized that criminals perform cost-benefit analyses just like everyone else: What are the odds of getting caught, and what’s the potential payoff? These two frameworks have lived out vibrant lives in academic journals, high-school textbooks, and college lecture halls, but, as they’re ostensibly unrelated, they’ve rarely been put in conversation with one another.

A study put out this month in Oxford Economic Papers does just that, in an effort to come up with a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between inequality and violence. There’s a good amount of research from all over the world that suggests that places with pronounced income inequality are more likely to have high rates of violent crime, a finding that makes intuitive sense: the wider the socioeconomic gap, per Becker’s 1968 model, the more gains potential criminals perceive.

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Rest in peace @sweepyface

EVIL

Who is trolling who?

Dehumanisation is often the starting point of cruelty. Nazis didn’t see Jews as human, that’s how they could throw them into ovens. Slavery in America worked along similar lines, people were treated as cattle because they were labelled “niggers,” a word used to denote someone who was not quite “one of us,” not quite a person. Religions do this kind of thing a lot, in Islam it’s “kuffar”, in Judaism it’s “goyim,” in Christianity it is “heathen.”

In England at the moment the word “troll” is being used by Her Majesty’s Government to do the same. Originally “trolling” referred to a fishing technique where you slowly drag a lure or baited hook from a moving boat. In the old world of forums people would be called out for trying to “troll” for a response to their posts. Now it has become detached from its original meaning and conflated with the trolls of Tolkienesque fantasy.… Read the rest

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Nate Hagens – Limits to Growth: Where We Are and What to Do About It

Is the global economy hitting the limits to growth?

In this talk, Nate Hagens will synthesize the current landscape of global energy, environment and financial risks while offering suggestions on what to do as a hominid living on a full planet. He will raise the question of whether it is possible to degrow our economies with conscious effort before our options are constrained by external forces. After a quick summary of the situation, he will lead a conversation with the audience on appropriate responses to these challenges. Are large climate rallies accomplishing anything? If they aren’t, what is a better plan of action?

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Pulling the Ole Trayvon: The Untold Racism of Our Story

THIS JUST IN: “Missouri teen shot by police was two days away from starting college.”
THIS JUST IN: “Staten Island man dies after NYPD cop puts him in chokehold.”
THIS JUST IN: “Sleeping 7-year-old girl shot in head during no-knock police raid on wrong home.”

We see this shit going on all around us, and we’re enraged, upset, disappointed, and confused by it. We know full well that it’s fueled by race.

We think, “Again? Come on!”

We think, “It’s 2014, for chrissake! What about the civil rights movement?!”

We make sarcastic jokes about the supposed end of racism and how we don’t see color; and then we bicker, ruminate, or go rogue as self-important Facebook activists bent on “intelligently debating” among ourselves as to why that last black man was shot—a common response to what is now a regularly occurring event.

We ask, “Who’s the next black kid to get shot in the face?” Indeed, it’s a miserable state of affairs, one that is surely statistically quantifiable by now.… Read the rest

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Americans Ban Books on Poverty and Class

Not only are some Americans trying to remove books on sex and religion (not to mention evolution) from schools and public libraries, now they’re going after books dealing with poverty and class, reports the Guardian:

Late last month, for the 32nd year in a row, Banned Books Week was marked across the US. Spearheaded by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, the annual salute to the freedom to read has become a fixture. It aims to counterbalance perennial challenges to the content of books and efforts to get them banned, usually from schools and libraries.

The ALA collects information on which books are objected to and reports on prominent recurring themes that tend to generate moral or ideological indignation. Subjects such as religion, race, gender, sexuality and allegations of sexually explicit content or offensive language frequently top the list.

Berkeley Heights NJ public library books and shelves

More worrying, however, is the recent rise in efforts to get books banned that cover poverty and social class.

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The Ayahuasca Dialogues

If you’re concerned about the future of psychedelic medicines and ethical/sustainable sources, then please support this project by the Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council. They are making big strides and can use all our help.

From The Nexian:

With the continued rise in popularity of psychedelic plant medicines, concerns surrounding sustainable harvesting methods and safe administration by practitioners are growing. The Ethnobotanical Stewardship Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the sustainable and safe use of traditional plants and enriching the communities who work with them.

As we have seen in recent articles, unsustainable harvesting is a growing issue with ayahuasca, mimosa and acacia trees, iboga, peyote, and even sassafras in SE Asia. Quite antithetical to the earth-centered teachings of these plants, these harvesting methods have a devastating impact on the environment.

In order to truly heal with the planet we must not only have these experiences of higher awareness of the biosphere, but put our thoughts into action and become the stewards of nature, not its disease.… Read the rest

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Obama’s Support of Torture

Norman Pollack writes at CounterPunch:

And we thought the cold-blooded planning and execution of armed drone assassination vitiated any claim to moral character, a POTUS swaggering around on Air Force One methodically using drones and air power to destroy civilian targets and, as in the recent attacks on UN schools/shelters in Gaza, countenance—if not encourage-the same among friends and allies (Israel), now it is revealed by Charlie Savage of the New York Times, in an article, “Obama Could Reaffirm a Bush-Era Reading of a Treaty on Torture,” (Oct. 19), that our Nobelist Warrior is exquisitely parsing international treaties to allow for US TORTURE abroad, so long as not on the Homeland. Whether the program of torture or the rationale for its authorization is the greater Evil I leave to the professional philosophers to determine. But from here, America’s vanguard role, already the purveyor of global counterrevolution by all means possible, in this latest chapter of structural-political sadism, smells to high heavens.

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Suit Demands EPA Show Documents Related to Big Oil Influence over Fuel Standards

"The renewable fuel standards are one of EPA's most important tools for promoting clean air," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says. (Photo: Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

“The renewable fuel standards are one of EPA’s most important tools for promoting clean air,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says. (Photo: Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

A leading Washington, D.C. ethics organization filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday for failing to provide documents regarding oil industry efforts to influence the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Each year, the EPA sets the RFS for how much renewable fuel must be blended into transportation fuel supplies. “The renewable fuel standards are one of EPA’s most important tools for promoting clean air,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) states in its lawsuit (pdf).

CREW claims the EPA has yet to hand over all relevant communications—requested in May 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act—related to the EPA’s most recent RFS proposal, put forth in November 2013. At that point, for the first time since the standards were established, the EPA proposed reducing the amount of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel.

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