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SAY WHAT?- Sir David Attenborough, the 95-year-old legendary wildlife filmmaker told Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes: “A crime has been committed” and that urgent action is needed to save nature to save ourselves. The crime rests on oil for allowing the world to populate so proficiently the last few centuries and giving Sir David the opportunity to attain the ripe old age of 95 and to travel the world more than most. 

In the 1800’s most people never traveled 100-200 miles from where they were born. Life expectancy throughout Europe hovered between 20 and 30 years of age. Food shortages and insecurity were leading concerns in the 18th century, especially in Europe, and these were exacerbated by reduced harvests yields. Disease was another leading cause of death, with rats and fleas being the common carriers of disease, specifically plagues, during this era.

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SAY WHAT? - Fast running out of boogeymen and deranged conspiracies - Dr. Seuss, Mr./Ms. Potato Head, trans girls playing sports, Karl Marx and his evil spawn antifa, Italy and/or dead Hugo Chavez flipping elections, cancel culture warriors of any flavor - and bereft of principles or policies, a flailing GOP has feverishly glommed onto Critical Race Theory as the latest Scary Threat to American democracy, in the process miraculously failing to realize it's actually them. A 40-year-old, once-obscure academic concept developed at Harvard, CRT acknowledges the fundamental role of racism, and its accompanying inequality, in every aspect of American society, from legal systems and social structures to economics and education; common examples are the ways racism led to housing redlining in the 1930s, and still informs today's college admissions, income inequity and incarceration rates. But confronting the systems behind white supremacy, the narratives white people tell themselves to justify it, the way power and privilege work to support it can create fear - economic, social, cultural, racial - in those threatened by any change in the status quo, especially when they're busy trying to suppress the votes of those who would benefit. It's a lot - complex, nuanced, potentially hazardous - for a party of morons like Marjorie Taylor Greene who conflates Democrats with Nazis 'cause, see, they both have "Socialist" in their names, sort of. Thus flattened by idiotic branding, some say the end game is "to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think 'critical race theory.'" In those wee little brains, little wonder CRT becomes "any conversation about race I don't like," "hostile to white people," and "teaching kids to hate each other and our country" - which is the greatest, even though for centuries it did buy, sell, own, rape, abuse, exterminate and otherwise oppress hundreds of thousands of people who, according to a social construct, had the "wrong" color skin.

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SAY WHAT-While COVID cases are down and vaccinations are up, huge swaths of this ostensibly great country remain vulnerable to deadly new variants like the Delta strain thanks to the peculiarly American phenomenon of a "golden age" of perilous, obstinate, lunatic anti-vaxxers entertaining a mix of "conspiracy theory Mad Libs" that normal people who actually believe in science deem "dubious," "wholly unfounded," "grossly distorted," and insane. Facing a flood of wild claims that "The Vaccine Is A Microp-Chip Delivery Tool" and "COVID Vaccination=Death," social media executives are playing a frantic "cat and mouse" game with an "empire" of up to 58 million believers on hundreds of websites largely dominated by a "Disinformation Dozen" of anti-vaccine crackpots. "The United States hosts the world's largest and best-organized anti-vaccine groups," warns one, and "the bad guys are winning"—in part, he charges, due to the reluctance of public health officials to acknowledge the reach of anti-science mobs or confront them from fear of giving them "a platform and oxygen." Even though WHO recognized vaccine hesitancy as a key threat to global health even before the pandemic, the ever-growing proliferation of organized, extremist, anti-vaccine groups spreading lies—including the whopper to the black community that vaccines are "medical racism"—render even targeted counter-messaging "drops in a vast sea of misinformation."

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SAY WHAT- "Amazon's surveillance-driven police state is fundamentally incompatible with racial justice, civil rights, and democracy," said Fight for the Future's Evan Greer. 

To mark the one year anniversary of Amazon's extended temporary moratorium on sales of its controversial Rekognition facial identification software to law enforcement agencies, over 20 advocacy groups and more than 10,000 supporters on Thursday launched Protest Amazon, a digital demonstration that's part of the #EyesOnAmazon week of action.

"Amazon must make their moratorium on keeping Rekognition out of the hands of law enforcement permanent and extend that policy to all of their surveillance products." —Myaisha Hayes, MediaJustice

Led by the digital rights group Fight for the Future, Protest Amazon is joined by Color of Change, Demand Progress, Free Press, MPower Change, Public Citizen, Presente.org, RootsAction, and other organizations demanding Amazon permanently divest from what campaign organizers call "racist surveillance tech" and "police state" surveillance. The campaign is also calling on the company to end its complicity in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportations.

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MEDIA WATCH--A year after the painstakingly prolonged public execution of George Floyd, America is caught between hope and despair at what comes next, with the much-touted racial reckoning of a country possibly finally ready to acknowledge "the blood at the root" of a vexing origin story slamming into recalcitrant racist reality on all sides.

Many Confederate statues have come down, and more Americans have been speaking, reading, thinking about racism. Still, says Donald Williams, who witnessed Floyd's murder and "called the police on the police" - his anguished charge, "Y'all are murderers, bro" played at Chauvin's trial - the trauma remains. (Photo above: Facing off against America's systemic racism. Photo by Joshua Lott.)

 "I don't think most of America understands," he says. "They kind of see it and hear it, but I don't think they fully understand." Little wonder, given our bloody history and a current, panicked, right-wing move to rewrite it. 

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MEDIA WATCH--A ceasefire from the slaughter in Gaza is good news. It's also woefully inadequate, given it comes with "an inevitable expiration date" amidst the Occupation's "normal" reign of apartheid and horrific, bloodthirsty, ever-new sins visited upon besieged Palestinians. (Photo above: Jewish rioters lynching Said Musa, an Arab man, in Bat Yam. Photo by Reuven Castro)

Add to the 14 Gaza families killed in their  homes, the 17-year-old shot in the head and radio journalist targeted in an airstrike and wheelchair-bound man killed with his pregnant wife and three-year-old daughter as they were preparing lunch and hundreds of others; add to the 75,000 people now homeless and the barrage of murder, eviction, random arrest, illegal incarceration, litany of indignities daily endured by Palestinians - add to that the virtual lynching’s of Arabs in what turn out to be tenuously mixed cities by frenzied, emboldened, rampaging, knife-wielding mobs of Israeli extremists, abetted by media and politicians, spewing "Death To Arabs" and vowing, "Kill them one by one,"  which they sometimes do by dragging them from their cars.

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MEDIA WATCH-In an "extraordinarily hackish" move (among many), newly unsealed court documents show that, near the ragged end of his reign of terror, the former guy and Bill Barr's Department of Justice (sic) sought to use a covert grand jury subpoena, the federal machinery behind it and your money to unmask, not violent cops or white supremacists or corporate crimes, but Twitter pranksters saying mean things about faithful lapdog, litigious snowflake, friend to insurrectionists and "proud graduate of smiling for beginners" Devin Nunes - all while in the gleeful guise of, variously, his cow, his mom and his Drag Queen self. Inexplicable head of the House Intelligence Committee representing California's 22nd District - whose constituents he hasn't met with for years - Nunes is known for his sordid history of defending/denying Russian tool and former guy's abuses so zealously some wonder, when Il Duce goes to prison, if Nunes will turn up during his first body cavity search. The author of a bill denouncing frivolous lawsuits, Nunes has spent much of his time in Congress filing frivolous  lawsuits - nine at last count - against people and organizations that hurt his feelings, expose his hypocrisy and call him mean things like "a treasonous cowpoke."

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MEDIA WATCH--Like more than 120 million other Americans, Jan Massie is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and can pretty much give up wearing a mask under the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But she’s still covering her face, even as the temperature rises in her native Alabama, because of benefits she says are too great to give up.

The retired educator didn’t catch the illness caused by the new coronavirus, and she also didn’t get the flu or her twice-yearly colds while masked during the pandemic. Unlike some, she’s not gotten any hostile blowback in public for wearing a mask. So why quit now?

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MEDIA WATCH-Have you gotten your vaccine yet? If it helps, let me tell you about mine.

I just got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The side effects weren’t pleasant, but they were manageable — I had about six hours of flu-like symptoms that started six hours after I got the shot, then a headache in the morning. Tylenol helped.

I wasn’t excited about getting the shot. I’m wasn’t worried about the less than one in a million chance of blood clots, but I expected the flu-like symptoms and the headache and I dreaded them.

But I am still happy with my choice.

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MEDIA WATCH-America prefers to look forward rather than back. We're a land of second acts. We move on. 

This can be a strength. We don't get bogged down in outmoded traditions, old grudges, obsolete ways of thinking. We constantly reinvent. We love innovation and disruption.  

Trump is consolidating his power over the Republican Party, based on his big lie. 

The downside is a collective amnesia about what we've been though, and a corresponding reluctance to do anything about it or hold anyone accountable. 

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MEDIA WATCH-Sarath Suong has often felt like the term “Asian American” doesn’t really serve him.

“I was told that I am Asian American when we came here,” says Suong, a Cambodian refugee who immigrated to the US as a child. “But I faced a lot of colorism, a lot of classism, and not a lot of understanding about who Southeast Asians are and how we fit into the Asian American context.”

Suong and his family were among tens of thousands of refugees who fled during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, eventually settling in the Boston area. When he arrived in the US, he struggled to find where exactly he fit in a country where everyone from teachers to neighbors made him feel unwanted.

“Growing up for me, I felt so disempowered,” he told Vox. “I was always wondering why people in my community were getting harassed and being thrown in jail by the police.”

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MEDIA WATCH--We have seen a lot of people waiting in lines lately, most abundantly to acquire a vaccine to quash a global pandemic. Despite the intentions of a democratic process, low-income areas have faced profound disparities and some downright selfish inequity. Evident are the challenges to meet this need and to achieve mass efficiency in service of saving lives and hastening a return to normalcy in society. As I inched forward in my car at Dodger Stadium for my first and second shots, I thought of the other lines, much less just and over-represented with the poor and destitute. 

Every time I see or hear of people forced by hunger to line up for giveaway meals, clothing, medical care, shelter beds and other basics of life, the thought recurs that charity is an awfully dubious salve for poverty. Few events drive home this truth quicker than last December’s dithering in the White House and Senate over what size of a bone to toss those millions struggling through the Great Pandemic amid the long-awaited death spiral of a White House rightfully deserving of the pronouns I, Me, and Mine.

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MEDIA WATCH-We're just gonna leave this photo here of two smart, tough, accomplished women - one of color, and the first and second in line of succession to the U.S. presidency - on the House dais before Joe Biden's first prime-time speech to a joint session of Congress, which opened for the only time since the reign of George Washington with the mellifluous if woefully belated phrase, "Madam Speaker, Madam Vice-President." (Photo above: Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi. AP)

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MEDIA WATCH-Derek Chauvin's been convicted - guilty, guilty, guilty, deeply - but the carnage persists. Since his trial began, police have killed at least 64 more people, totaling over three killings a day; more than half of the dead are black and Latino, among them 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant and 13-year-old Adam Toledo. (Photo above: Phoenix Robles and Dorcas Monari hug after Robles stopped to protect Monari. Photo: Nick Pfosi/Reuters)

Little wonder, then, that during the past few weeks, as people of color have had to painstakingly confront and re-live their "collective, ancestral trauma," the rates of those suffering mental health distress have soared, while the rates of white people haven't changed. So it was that with Chauvin's trial still underway last week, a lone pained black woman in crisis abruptly sat down in the street in Brooklyn Center, Minn., near where Daunte Wright was shot and killed.

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MEDIA WATCH-Bills targeting the transgender community have stalled all over the country this week as legislators debate the effects these laws will have on trans youth.

2021 has marked an onslaught of hate in state legislative sessions across the country as Republicans sponsored bills that seek to limit trans youth’s access to gender affirming health care as well as prohibit their ability to participate in school sports. While several have passed, multiple bills in at least six states have been set aside or gotten veto threats from governors this week. 

In Missouri, after a contentious debate between Republicans and Democrats, the state house agreed to put a proposal on hold that would require athletes to participate on sports teams based on the sex written on their birth certificate. Republican lawmakers argued the bill would protect the safety of cisgender female athletes, while Democrats argued that the bill would put transgender kids at greater risk of suicide and bullying and would also block them from the benefits of team sports.

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MEDIA WATCH--Stupid Is As Stupid Does Dept: A year after the deadly fact, the U.S. continues to see almost 75,000 new COVID cases a day, with a total of over 31 million cases, over 565,000 deaths, and estimated new cases as high as 850,000 by May - the world's most disastrous pandemic response.

Only Brazil's current "humanitarian catastrophe" comes close (but second), for the same reasons: The far-right Jair Bolsonaro's refusal to follow science-based guidelines in the face of what he's doggedly dismissed as "a little flu" in a country that now boasts over a quarter of all global COVID deaths. In America, that top-down fatal stupidity has been aided and abetted by moronic former guy acolytes like Rand 'Throw your mask away' Paul, Cancun 'No more mask and I don't care what the CDC says' Cruz, and Ohio's Gym 'I'm gonna keep yelling at people until they stop asking me about the 177 cases of sexual abuse I pointedly overlooked' Jordan, who all continue to deflect, distort and dispute established science on COVID under the GOP's unholy mantra of, "I'm fine so fuck the rest of you."

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MEDIA WATCH--In a small, scant step toward justice, former Minnesota cop Kim Potter has been arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter for killing Daunte Wright, 20, during a "traffic stop" - for black people in the U.S., the sinister set-up for what AOC calls "the repeated outcome of an indefensible system that grants immunity for state violence." Police in Brooklyn Center, outside of Minneapolis, ostensibly pulled Wright over Sunday afternoon for an expired tag, or for the air freshener dangling from his mirror, or hey for just driving while black; once they stopped him and found there was a warrant out for him, a clusterfuck of an inept scramble ensued during which Potter, 48, yelled "Taser!" but fatally shot Wright in the chest, because even though she'd been a police officer for 26 years she still somehow mistook her gun for her much-lighter, bright-colored taser on her other side. (Photo above: Potter shooting Wright)

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MEDIA WATCH--Aisha Mills, the powerhouse Black lesbian who previously led the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is not to be trifled with. Former Fox News host Eric Bolling found that out the hard way.

During a BBC debate, Mills’ sharp retort to Bolling’s handwringing left him so upset he stormed out when Mills refused to apologize to him for being offended by what he had said.

During a discussion about Major League Baseball’s (MLB) decision to yank the All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the state’s draconian new voter suppression laws that are aimed at disenfranchising the votes of people of color, Bolling was very concerned about Black folk.

Not that their civil rights were being violated, but that moving the game to Denver will hurt minority-owned businesses in Atlanta who would have benefited from the game.

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MEDIA WATCH--In the wake of major league baseball abandoning Georgia to protest their new voter-suppression laws, a GOP that incessantly rants about "cancel culture" has continued its death spiral with increasingly crackpot attacks on things they used to love they now want to cancel - baseball, corporations, free speech, OMG the Easter Bunny - with sinister portents pickleball, apple pie, water polo or  barbecues could be next. (Photo above:  Fidel at (communist) bat.)

MLB's conscientious decision to re-locate their All-Star Game and draft, made after always-dangerous "thoughtful conversations" with players and management, has shifted the focus of right-wing hysteria against all things "woke" from football - always suspect given all those black guys, never mind that SOB Kaepernick - to, shockingly, "America's game," even though it's still pretty white so you'd think it would be okay.

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MEDIA WATCH--Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is quietly signaling that he may vote against the Equality Act as sources say that he’s telling colleagues that a massive rightwing call-in campaign has him scared. 

During his campaign, President Joe Biden said that he would sign the Equality Act in his first 100 days in office. But 71 days in and it doesn’t have a clear path in the Senate. Several moderate Republicans have come out against it, and now there’s doubt that even all Democrats support it.

The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights legislation, extending discrimination protections to LGBTQ people. The bill is popular – 70% of voters support it and even most Republicans support banning discrimination against LGBTQ people – but Christian conservatives fiercely oppose it, arguing that not being allowed to discriminate would violate their religious freedom.

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MEDIA WATCH--Women know that our progress is often characterized by two steps forward, one step back.

For women of color, the obstacles are even greater. And so, as the Biden-Harris administration makes a groundbreaking effort to nominate more women of color to high-level positions, the backlash has been swift and vicious. (Photos above: Deb Haaland (left) and Marcia Fudge (right) / Shutterstock)

Anyone watching cable news will know this already, having seen the strident ad campaigns against an early Justice Department nominee, Vanita Gupta. Gupta is in the vanguard of what we hope will be an historic wave of women of color nominated by the new administration to positions in the executive branch and — importantly — on the federal bench, too.

Gupta is an extraordinarily qualified individual who’s come under fire. So have other extremely qualified nominees — like Deb Haaland (confirmed as Interior Secretary), Marcia Fudge (confirmed as Housing and Urban Development Secretary), and Kristen Clarke (nominated to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division).

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