75th Anniv. of Internment of Japanese Americans

Seventy-five years ago yesterday, on February 19th, 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, that forced more than 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese descent into internment camps. This included nearly 70,000 who were American citizens.

George Takei talking:

as a matter of fact, yesterday, which we, as you said, consider the Day of Remembrance, I remembered my childhood imprisonment at the home of the man who put us behind those barbed wire fences, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park. I spoke on my memories there. And I spoke about that morning, when my parents got me up very early on that morning, together with my brother, a year younger, and my baby sister, still an infant, dressed us hurriedly. And my brother and I were told to wait in the living room while they did some packing back in the bedroom. And so, the two of us were just gazing out the front living room window, and we saw two soldiers marching up our driveway carrying rifles with shiny bayonets on them. They stomped up the front porch. This was in Los Angeles.

On Gardner Street, a two-bedroom house. And they began pounding at the front door with their fists. It was a terrifying sound. My father came out, answered the door. And literally at gunpoint, we were ordered out of our home. My father gave my brother and me little packages to carry, and we followed him out onto the driveway and waited for our mother to come out. And when she came out, she had our baby sister in one arm and a huge duffel bag in the other, and tears were streaming down her face. And this I told to a packed house audience at the Roosevelt Library on the thousand-plus-acre estate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was a strange feeling.

we were first taken to the horse stables at Santa Anita race track. We were taken there in a truck with other families that had been rounded up. And there, they herded us over to the stable area, and each family was assigned a horse stall, still pungent with the stink of horse manure, to sleep in. For my parents, it was a degrading, humiliating experience to take their three children and arrange the cots for us to sleep in. I was a 5-year-old kid then, and for me, the perspective was totally different. I thought it was kind of fun to sleep where the horses sleep. So, my childhood experiences were quite different from my parents’ pain and anguish and the humiliation and the degradation and enragement that they went through for over four years.

Earl Warren was an ambitious man. He wanted to run for governor. And he saw that the single most popular political issue in California at that time was the “lock up the Japanese” movement. And I’m using the long word for Japanese; it was an ugly three-letter word. And he made an astonishing statement as the attorney general, the top lawyer of the state. He said, “We have no reports of spying or sabotage or fifth column activities by Japanese Americans, and that is ominous,” the fact that there was no report. He said the Japanese are “inscrutable.” You can’t tell what they’re thinking behind that placid face. And so it would be prudent to lock them up, before they do anything. So, for this attorney general, the absence of evidence was the evidence. And he fed into the hysteria, the war hysteria of that time, and reached all the way to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

For over four years. We were taken from the horse stables to the swamps of Arkansas, and we were imprisoned there—barbed wire fence, sentry towers, guns pointed at us—for about a year. And then, you know, initially, after Pearl Harbor, young Japanese Americans rushed to their recruitment centers to volunteer to serve in the military. This act of patriotism was answered with a slap on the face. They were denied military service and categorized as enemy aliens. We were neither. We weren’t the enemy, and we weren’t aliens. We were born, raised, educated in the United States, mostly on the West Coast. And so, with that outrage, we were put into these barbed wired prison camps.

But a year after imprisonment, after they completely took everything away from us, they realized there is a wartime manpower shortage. And here are these young people that they categorized as enemy aliens. How to justify drafting them? So they came down with, of all things, a loyalty questionnaire. And it was put together in the most sloppy, ignorant way. The most egregious question was question 28. It was one sentence with two conflicting ideas. In essence, it asked, “Will you swear your loyalty to the United States of America and forswear your loyalty to the emperor of Japan?”

The very fact that he brought that up to justify whatever plans that they have for Muslim people is—shows that he’s not learned the lesson of the internment of Japanese Americans, because if he’s really learned that lesson, if he has studied that, he would know that the lesson is we must never do that again. Ronald Reagan apologized for it in 1988 and pledged a $20,000 token redress for that—$20,000, which totaled up to $1.6 billion. This man, Higbie, is totally ignorant of that. We must not do it again. And the fact that he brought it up shows his ignorance.

Korematsu case

they did challenge it after they were imprisoned, and not just Korematsu, but Gordon Hirabayashi and an attorney named Min Yasui. They challenged it all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the middle of the war, they were denied justice. They failed. But after the war, in the ’70s, they challenged it again, the finding of the Supreme Court. They went all the way up to the federal court, and the federal judge found that there was a fault in the original ruling. But they covered up those words by calling it by its Latin name, coram nobis, fault in the original ruling. And the government didn’t appeal that to the Supreme Court, so it ended there. But it was a fault in the Supreme Court’s original ruling, and it should never happen again.

In 1988, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act. And there was this $20,000 token redress paid. They went in the order of the age of the recipient, and I didn’t get mine until 1991. And it was—the letter of apology was signed by George H.W. Bush, with “George H.W. Bush” on the $20,000 check.

on so many issues, not just the Muslim travel ban, but issue after issue has been a failure. But this president is delusional. He just made that statement last week that his administration is operating like a finely tuned machine. He doesn’t realize the disaster that his administration is, the failure of the attack in Yemen and the series of failures that he’s—he is a danger. You know, the real terrorist is Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the terrorist president of the United States. And his rating is going down, down, down, and he still talks about the fantastic support that he’s been getting. We are going through an incredible time in American history.

George Takei
legendary actor and gay rights activist. He is best known for playing Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek. Takei’s Broadway show Allegiance screened in cinemas across the United States on February 19, the Day of Remembrance. It is about the internment of Japanese Americans, inspired by the true story of Takei and his family’s experience.

— source democracynow.org

This very dangerous road divides us

The health hazard posed by traffic is invisible. The safety hazard is all too obvious, especially here.

Nearly 8,000 U.S. public schools sit close to busy roads, and in some cases, students must cross those lanes to get to class. In Burlington, northeast of Philadelphia, hundreds of students walk across a road the nonprofit Tri-State Transportation Campaign calls the most treacherous for pedestrians in all of New Jersey.

A four-year-old on the way home from after-school care was killed in 2008 on the road, the six-lane Route 130. A 12-year-old was badly injured in 2012 while riding his bike across it. And last May, a 17-year-old sophomore who didn’t even have a foot on the road was fatally struck by a driver who ran off the pavement.

“Our students are walking across this road to get to not only our schools but almost everywhere they need to go in Burlington City,” said Burlington City High School Principal Jim Flynn, whose office looks out onto Route 130. “This very dangerous road divides us.”

Now, it’s mobilized them. Horrified about the death of sophomore Antwan Timbers Jr., his classmates have campaigned all school year for drivers to slow down, inspiring a state senator to propose a lower speed limit and other safety-minded changes.

It’s a local piece of a nationwide transportation challenge. About 100 children are killed every year while walking or biking during the times of day kids typically go to and from school, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Nine years ago, New Jersey enacted a law to try to stop schools being built near highway ramps, and vice versa, after the death of an 8-year-old boy outside his Newark elementary school in 1997. But it’s arterials — roads like Route 130 — that are the most deadly for walkers, in New Jersey and nationwide.

Lowering speeds around schools is one way to reduce crashes and deaths throughout the day, not just immediately before and after class, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership says.

In Burlington, an enclave of 10,000 that gets more than three times as much traffic on its main route, students and teachers want the speed limit permanently lowered from 40 miles per hour to 25. That’s the speed motorists are supposed drive for a few hours in the morning and afternoon when kids are most likely to be walking to and from school, but the temporary limit isn’t working.

When a group of students and staff clocked speeds with a radar gun one morning last fall, “nobody was going 25,” said junior Jesseca Lamont, 16. “Some people were going 50, 60 miles per hour.”

Students are also coming and going from the high school after hours and on weekends, when the crossing guards aren’t out and the 40 mph limit applies. Flynn said fifth- and sixth-graders cross Route 130 to get to football practice in late afternoons, and he routinely sees kids walking across the road in the dark.

The route is divided as it cuts past the Burlington schools, with stores tucked between the north- and southbound lanes. It’s as if students must navigate two roads rather than one, with twice the opportunities for harm.

Students have held a rally, made a presentation at City Hall, researched the life-and-death implications of crashes at different speeds and produced a safety video. In January they testified at a hearing on state Sen. Diane Allen’s legislation.

“If you would go to any student in any grade, they would be like, ‘Oh, Antwan, he’s an amazing friend,’ ” said Jesseca, who knew him well as a fellow cadet in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and who is best friends with the young man injured on the road in 2012. “We don’t want another tragic incident.”

— source publicintegrity.org by Jamie Smith Hopkins

Children say Boycott Hyundai

Campaign Cites Company’s Complicity in Demolition of Palestinian Homes & Violations of International Law

Palestinian human rights defenders launch #BoycottHyundai campaign to end its involvement in Israel’s “ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and the Naqab”

Campaign seeks to cut Hyundai’s sales, induce divestment and tender exclusions

Campaign urges Korean labor unions to pressure Hyundai to end its complicity in human rights violations

Chair of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel: Hyundai is an “actively complicit” in the “Israeli crime of home demolitions”

February 7, 2017, Haifa — Today, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) launched a campaign calling on Palestinians, other Arabs, and “people of conscience worldwide” to boycott the products of the South Korean company, Hyundai, until it “ends its involvement in Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinian people, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).”

BDS48 is a newly-formed group of human rights defenders, founded by Palestinian citizens of Israel. Their #BoycottHyundai campaign is the first such Palestinian-led BDS campaign for corporate responsibility launched from within Israel and specifically focusing on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights beyond the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory.

The call comes in response to the extensive use of Hyundai machinery by Israeli authorities in their recent demolitions of homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab (Negev) and in the city of Qalansawe, further north.

Mohammad Barakeh, the President of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the broadest coalition of Palestinian political parties and local councils in Israel, commented:

Hyundai equipment is used by the Israeli government to demolish Palestinian homes on both sides of the Green Line, in what we see as an assault on our lives and our homes. Hyundai is actively complicit in these crimes. We call on Hyundai to stop doing business with any perpetrators of crimes against humans; otherwise, the company will be increasingly recognized as a partner in crime.

A spokesperson for BDS48 explained:

Hyundai has for years ignored the mounting evidence of its persistent complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian and Syrian communities in the 1967 occupied territories. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

BDS48 is launching this Boycott Hyundai campaign as part of the wave of peaceful popular resistance against the recent escalation of the crimes committed by the Israeli regime of oppression against our people. Hyundai is knowingly profiting from Israel’s apartheid policies and serious violations of international law.

Human rights campaigners have highlighted the involvement of Hyundai in Umm al-Hiran, where Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes on January 18, 2017, “forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population, injuring tens of peaceful protesters, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood.”

A Bedouin Palestinian BDS activist, whose name is withheld for security reasons, stated:

The objective of this bloody Israeli conquest of Umm al-Hiran is to uproot its indigenous Bedouin Palestinian community for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, in order to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s land. Hyundai is involved in a war crime.

Israel’s latest crime is part of an ongoing policy of ethnic cleansing that Israel has adopted since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. The Nakba continues, and so does our steadfastness and popular resistance.

Israel has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens. As during the global resistance to apartheid in South Africa, we are calling on the world to boycott corporations that are enabling Israeli apartheid. BDS has proven its strategic importance in the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

BDS48 hopes to rally Arab and worldwide support, particularly among churches, labor unions and local councils, for its Boycott Hyundai campaign to pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights. It is also calling on Korean labor unions to pressure Hyundai to stop “its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations.”

The group’s spokesperson said:

Just as several multinational giants, like Veolia, Orange, CRH, and most recently G4S, were compelled under effective BDS pressure to end their involvement in Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, so will Hyundai. It is just a matter of time and strategic campaigning.


1) Hyundai equipment has been used in the demolition of Palestinian homes, particularly in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Beit Hanina, Surbaher, al-Issawiyya and at-Tur. A leading UN official has compared Israeli policies in occupied Jerusalem to the policies of the defunct South African apartheid regime.

2) Human rights defenders have documented Israel’s use of Hyundai equipment in the construction of Israel’s illegal settlements, such as Halamish, near Ramallah, and the Barkan industrial zone, in the northern West Bank. Israel’s settlement policy, which was recently condemned by the UNSC resolution 2334, constitutes a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

3) As documented by the human rights organization Adalah, the Israeli authorities allowed the creation of the village, Atir-Umm al-Hiran, to house the Bedouin Palestinians who were forcibly displaced during the 1948 Nakba – and who became citizens of Israel — from their original village, Khirbet Zubaleh. In 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plan to forcibly displace the Palestinian community again from “Umm al-Hiran” to build a Jewish-only colony called Hiran.

4) In 2012, then UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, international law expert Richard Falk, called on the UN General Assembly to endorse a boycott of international corporations that are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Falk’s list of companies included Caterpillar and Volvo, due to their involvement in the construction of Israeli colonies and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Hyundai is accused of involvement in similar crimes.

Watch the BDS48 #BoycottHyundai campaign video by clicking here.
Watch the video of Hyundai’s involvement in Israeli home demolitions in Isawiya, Jerusalem, by clicking here.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) is a human rights group founded by Palestinian citizens of Israel. Based in Haifa, it supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for freedom, justice and equality of all Palestinians. Visit https://bds48blog.wordpress.com and follow us on Twitter @1948BDS

— source bdsmovement.net

How investigated schools near sources of traffic pollution nationwide

We’re all exposed to unhealthy traffic pollutants, but people who spend a lot of time on or very near higher-traffic roads get more. The Center for Public Integrity and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting teamed up to look at the schools across the country that sit within 500 feet of busy roads.

We picked that distance because, in general, studies suggest that the biggest daytime exposures are within the first 500 feet from the road (though some studies have found elevated levels farther out, such as roughly 900 to 1,000 feet). California’s school-siting law, which aims to keep new schools away from freeways and other major routes, uses 500 feet as the area of concern.

The California law focuses on very heavily traveled roads, but there’s no true dividing line between bad and OK. Some studies have found health effects among people near roads with at least 10,000 vehicles a day, which includes routes with a tiny fraction of the traffic on an L.A. freeway. In fact, because steady speeds produce less pollution than acceleration, vehicles on highways that aren’t plagued by stop-by-go congestion are cleaner than they are on lower-speed roads with traffic lights and stop signs. And a road that draws diesel trucks, particularly old trucks, could be worse than a higher-traffic route with only cars.

We tried to account for these complexities with our traffic thresholds. We ended up defining a “busy road” as one with average daily traffic of at least 30,000 vehicles, or 500 or more trucks and at least 10,000 total vehicles.

We used schools data tracked by the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education. It includes latitude and longitude for every school, along with information ranging from the type of school to the demographic details on the student body. The most recent full dataset from the NCES is for the 2014-15 school year.

Our traffic data came from the Federal Highway Administration, which has average daily traffic figures for total vehicles as well as trucks on roads across the country — not just highways, but also local roads. We used 2014 traffic data for every state except Iowa. Highway administration data wasn’t available in 2014 for that state, so we used 2015 data instead.

Staffers at both agencies answered a lot of questions for us, from how the school geocoding was done (the NCES tries to put the coordinates on top of a school building whenever possible) to how the FHWA distinguishes trucks from cars (sensors in the roads, manual counts, estimates from the states).

We also received help from numerous academic researchers. People who conducted studies of schools near major routes and shared their expertise include Sergey Grinshpun with the University of Cincinnati, Gregory Wellenius of Brown University and Ryan Allen at Simon Fraser University.

Other academics who offered advice on a wide range of related issues include Julian Marshall and Matthew Bechle at the University of Washington, Steve Hankey at Virginia Tech, Dr. Janet Phoenix at the George Washington University, Nicky Sheats at Thomas Edison State University, Andrea Ferro at Clarkson University, Marc Serre at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jonathan Buonocore at Harvard University, Julia Heck at UCLA and Stuart Batterman at the University of Michigan.

Some news organizations have covered this issue in their regions, including InvestigateWest’s excellent Exhausted at School series in Seattle, but we came across none that crunched the data nationally. Here’s why: It’s a headache. You can individually verify that the school locations are accurate and each record in the database is in fact a school when you’re looking at hundreds of sites in a city. You can’t do it one by one when you’re working with a dataset of just over 100,000 entries.

If a school’s coordinates are off by even a few dozen yards, it could appear to be within 500 feet of a road that it actually isn’t, or farther away than it actually is. The location for each school is the equivalent of the pinpoint on a Google map, rather than the boundaries encompassing the entire property, so there’s not a lot of wiggle room.

The NCES dataset also includes entries that wouldn’t make sense for us to count in a story about K-12 schools educating kids close to traffic: online-only, adult ed, a host of programs that we’re not certain why school districts recorded as schools.

Reveal’s Eric Sagara and the Center’s Jamie Smith Hopkins and Chris Zubak-Skees spent several months verifying the data. Here’s what we did to improve its accuracy:

● We checked a random sample of schools showing up within 500 feet of busy roads and a random sample of schools geocoded a bit farther away, to see whether geocoding issues would lead to over- or undercounting of higher-traffic schools. (Justin Scoggins, a data-verification expert who is data manager at the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, recommended this step.) What this suggested: More than 90 percent of schools that are supposedly within 500 feet of busy roads really are. Meanwhile, schools that are closer to those roads than they appear — that is, they seem to be more than 500 feet away but are actually less than 500 feet — outnumber the schools that are farther than they appear. That gave us confidence that we’re not overstating the problem.

● All told, we eyeballed the locations of hundreds of schools, which allowed us to make fixes where necessary and gave us an understanding of the issues on the ground. When adjusting a school’s coordinates, we put them on a building rather than, say, the playground, to be consistent with what NCES tries to do.

● Sometimes NCES is better at locating a school, and sometimes Google is. By comparing locations with the California School Campus Database, which provides mostly-accurate school boundaries in that state, we found that using Google’s geocoding service to locate a school’s address, and then using Google’s coordinates when those were available with so-called rooftop accuracy, improved the location accuracy for many schools. That’s what we ultimately did for the entire country. (The Center’s Zubak-Skees, who worked through this issue, also conducted the geospatial analysis of schools and roads in the first place to determine what’s close to what.)

● We set to work figuring out which schools (and non-schools masquerading as schools) should not be counted. Online-only schools are supposed to flag themselves as such, but some don’t, so we ultimately excluded schools with “online,” “virtual” and “distance” in their names in addition to those that properly identified themselves as not teaching kids on site. Also kicked out: pre-K-only sites, adult-education sites, schools flagged as “future” or “closed” or “inactive,” locations with “program” in their names (other than a handful that our verification efforts showed really were schools), homeschool-support sites and homebound programs for ill students. We also didn’t count schools with fewer than 20 total students — smaller than the average size of a single classroom — as a way of further weeding out sites that really aren’t schools at all.

● It’s not unusual for districts to build several schools on the same property, but we were concerned that some of those clusters might not accurately reflect where the schools are located. We checked larger clusters across the country to verify whether the schools are there, as well as whether the coordinates reflect where on the property they sit. We cast a particularly close eye on clusters whose addresses matched their district headquarters address.

We didn’t exclude schools for not fully filling out their demographic data — giving the number of students in certain racial categories (say, white and black) but not the number of students in others (say, Pacific Islander). NCES staffers told us that it should be safe to consider these missing data points as “zero.” They don’t have a reason to believe there’s something fundamentally wrong with the numbers reported for those schools that would require invalidating them.

Our checks eliminated a little over 10,000 schools from our tally, bringing the total to roughly 90,000. And you know what? After all our efforts, the trends we found were the same ones that popped up with the raw data. Comforting and annoying.

Reveal’s Sagara then conducted a regression analysis to get a better understanding of what makes a school more likely to be near a busy road. Bottom line: Being in a big city. That might seem obvious, but there are plenty of schools near substantial traffic that aren’t in big cities, so this analysis was important for zeroing in on the key reason that predominantly minority schools are near these roads at a markedly higher rate than predominately white schools. (Why people live where they do, and how much traffic they’re exposed to, continues to be influenced by decades-old decisions about which neighborhoods to lend in and which to cut through when building major routes, as our story describes.)

If you’re wondering whether your child’s school falls within 500 feet of a busy road, check out our interactive data tool. You can enter any address, school or not, and see if it’s by a road that meets our traffic threshold.

— source publicintegrity.org by Jamie Smith Hopkins

James Baldwin and the Meaning of Whiteness

Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” is one of the finest documentaries I have ever seen—I would have stayed in the theater in New York to see the film again if the next showing had not been sold out. The newly released film powerfully illustrates, through James Baldwin’s prophetic work, that the insanity now gripping the United States is an inevitable consequence of white Americans’ steadfast failure to confront where they came from, who they are and the lies and myths they use to mask past and present crimes. Baldwin’s only equal as a 20th century essayist is George Orwell. If you have not read Baldwin you probably do not fully understand America. Especially now.

History “is not the past,” the film quotes Baldwin as saying. “History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal.”

The script is taken from Baldwin’s notes, essays, interviews and letters, with some of the words delivered in Baldwin’s voice from audio recordings and televised footage, some of them in readings by actor Samuel L. Jackson. But it is not, finally, the poetry and lyricism of Baldwin that make the film so moving. It is Peck’s understanding of the core of Baldwin’s message to the white race, a message that is vital to grasp as we struggle with an overt racist as president, mass incarceration, poverty gripping half the country and militarized police murdering unarmed black men and women in the streets of our cities.

Whiteness is a dangerous concept. It is not about skin color. It is not even about race. It is about the willful blindness used to justify white supremacy. It is about using moral rhetoric to defend exploitation, racism, mass murder, reigns of terror and the crimes of empire.

“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world’s most direct and virile, that American women are pure,” Baldwin wrote. “Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”

America was founded on the genocidal slaughter of indigenous people and the holocaust of slavery. It was also founded on an imagined moral superiority and purity. The fact that dominance of others came, and still comes, from unrestrained acts of violence is washed out of the national narrative. The steadfast failure to face the truth, Baldwin warned, perpetuates a kind of collective psychosis. Unable to face the truth, white Americans stunt and destroy their capacity for self-reflection and self-criticism. They construct a world of dangerous, self-serving fantasy. Those who imbibe the myth of whiteness externalize evil—their own evil—onto their victims. Racism, Baldwin understood, is driven by moral bankruptcy, narcissism, an inner loneliness and latent guilt. Donald Trump and most of those around him exhibit all of these characteristics.

“If Americans were not so terrified of their private selves, they would never have needed to invent and could never have become so dependent on what they still call ‘the Negro problem,’ ” Baldwin wrote. “This problem, which they invented in order to safeguard their purity, has made of them criminals and monsters, and it is destroying them; and this not from anything blacks may or may not be doing but because of the role a guilty and constricted white imagination has assigned to the blacks.”

“People pay for what they do, and, still more for what they allowed themselves to become,” Baldwin went on. “And they pay for it very simply by the lives they lead. The crucial thing, here, is that the sum of these individual abdications menaces life all over the world. For, in the generality, as social and moral and political and sexual entities, white Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any color, to be found in the world today.”

Footage in the Peck documentary of past murder cases including the 1955 lynching of the 14-year-old Emmett Till is interspersed with the modern-day lynching of young black men such as Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. Images of white supremacist parades from the 1960s, with young men carrying signs proclaiming “Keep America White,” shift directly to footage of Ferguson, Mo. This juxtaposition is almost too much to bear. If it does not shake you to the core you have no heart and no understanding of who we are in America.

The film begins with Baldwin’s 1957 return from France, where he had been living for almost a decade. He comes back to join the nascent civil rights movement. He was deeply disturbed by a photograph of Dorothy Counts, 15, surrounded by a mob of whites spitting and screaming racial slurs as she walked into a newly desegregated high school in Charlotte, N.C.

“I could simply no longer sit around Paris discussing the Algerian and the black American problem,” he said. “Everybody was paying their dues, and it was time I went home and paid mine.”

In short, he returned to the United States so that black children like Dorothy Counts would not have to walk alone through a sea of racial hatred.

He spoke and participated in hundreds of events for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, however, largely held him at arm’s length. Baldwin was too independent and outspoken about the truth. His words made King’s Northern white liberal supporters uncomfortable. Baldwin was supposed to speak at the 1963 March on Washington, but King and the other leaders of the march replaced him with the actor Burt Lancaster. Baldwin steadfastly refused to be anyone’s “negro.”

Baldwin was, like Orwell, an astute critic of modern culture and how it justifies the crimes of racism and imperialism. In his book “The Devil Finds Work” he pits Hollywood’s vision of race against the reality. The Peck documentary shows clips from films Baldwin critiqued in the book including “The Birth of a Nation” (a 1915 movie Baldwin called “an elaborate justification of mass murder”), “Dance, Fools, Dance” (1931), “The Monster Walks” (1932), “King Kong” (1933), “Imitation of Life” (1934), “They Won’t Forget” (1937), “Stagecoach” (1939), “The Defiant Ones” (1958), “Lover Come Back” (1961), “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961) and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967). In film after film Baldwin pointed to the ingrained racial stereotypes of African-Americans in popular culture that sustain the lie of whiteness.

Blacks were, and often still are, portrayed by mass culture as lazy and childlike, therefore needing white parental supervision and domination, or as menacing and violent sexual predators who needed to be eliminated. These Hollywood stereotypes, Baldwin knew, existed as foils for an imagined white purity, decency and innocence. They buttressed the myth of a nation devoted to the ideals of justice, liberty and democracy. The oppressed, because of their supposed character defects, were the architects of their own oppression. Oppression was for their own good. Racism was a form of benevolence. Baldwin warned that not facing these lies would see America consume itself.

In “The Devil Finds Work” Baldwin also wrote about the film “A Tale of Two Cities” (1935). He had read the novel by Charles Dickens “obsessively” as a boy to understand “the question of what it meant to be a nigger.” This novel and other novels he consumed, such as “Crime and Punishment,” spoke of the oppressed. He knew that the oppression of the characters in these stories had “something to do with my own.” The books “had something to tell me.” He wrote:

I was haunted, for example, by Alexandre Manette’s document, in A Tale of Two Cities, describing the murder of a peasant boy—who, dying, speaks: “I say, we were so robbed, and hunted, and were made so poor, that our father told us it was a dreadful thing to bring a child into this world, and that what we should most pray for was that our women might be barren and our miserable race die out!” (“I had never before,” observes Dr. Manette, “seen the sense of being oppressed, bursting forth like a fire.”)

Dickens has not seen it all. The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply: life is their only weapon against life, life is all that they have. This is why the dispossessed and starving will never be convinced (though some may be coerced) by the population-control programs of the civilized. I have watched the dispossessed and starving laboring in the fields which others own with their transistor radios at their ear, all day long: so they learn, for example, along with equally weighty matters, that the Pope, one of the heads of the civilized world, forbids to the civilized that abortion which is being, literally, forced on them, the wretched. The civilized have created the wretched quite coldly, and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the “conscience” of the civilized world. There is a “sanctity” involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it. Dreadful indeed it is to see a starving child, but the answer to that is not to prevent the child’s arrival but to restructure the world so that the child can live in it: so that the “vital interest” of the world becomes nothing less than the life of the child.

Nearly all African-Americans carry within them white blood, usually the result of white rape. White slaveholders routinely sold mixed-race children—their own children—into slavery. Baldwin knew the failure to acknowledge the melding of the black and white races that can be seen in nearly every African-American face, a melding that makes African-Americans literally the brothers and sisters of whites. African-Americans, Baldwin wrote, are the “bastard” children of white America. They constitute a peculiarly and uniquely American race.

“The truth is this country does not know what to do with its black population,” he said. “Americans can’t face the fact that I am flesh of their flesh.”

White supremacy is not defined, he wrote, by intelligence or virtue. The white race continues to dominate other races because it has always controlled the most efficient killing mechanisms on the planet. It used, and uses, its industrial weapons to carry out mass murder, genocide, subjugation and exploitation, whether on slave plantations, on the Trail of Tears, at Wounded Knee, in the Philippines and Vietnam, in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson or in our endless wars across the Middle East.

The true credo of the white race is we have everything, and if you try to take any of it from us we will kill you. This is the essential meaning of whiteness. As the white race turns on itself in an age of diminishing resources it is in the vital interest of the white underclass to understand what its elites and its empire are actually about. These lies, Baldwin warned, will ultimately have fatal consequences for America.

“There are days, this is one of them, when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it,” Baldwin said. “How precisely you’re going to reconcile yourself to your situation here and how you are going to communicate to the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel white majority that you are here. I’m terrified at the moral apathy—the death of the heart—which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they really don’t think I’m human.”

— source truthdig.com by Chris Hedges

Protect The Truth

Journalists are bravely standing up to Trump’s attacks on the free press, as they should. Yet one way in which they’re expressing their solidarity and resistance shows how little most journalists know about political framing and messaging.

Case in point: Trump has labeled journalists as “enemies.” So, journalists have responded by labeling themselves “#NotTheEnemy.” This hashtag is currently trending on Twitter, which is unfortunate. Adopting this slogan is a big mistake that helps Trump.

Anyone who has read my books or taken my classes at Berkeley will immediately understand why. For those new to political framing and messaging, I’ll explain briefly here.

Quick: Don’t think of an elephant!

Now, what do you see? The bulkiness, the grayness, the trunkiness of an elephant. You can’t block the picture – the frame – from being accessed by your unconscious mind. As a professor in the cognitive and brain sciences, this is the first lesson in framing I have given my students for decades. It’s also the title of my book on the science of framing political debates.

The key lesson: when we negate a frame, we evoke the frame.

When President Richard Nixon addressed the country during Watergate and used the phrase “I am not a crook,” he coupled his image with that of a crook.

He established what he was denying by repeating his opponents’ message.

This illustrates a key principle of framing: avoid the language of the attacker because it evokes their frame and helps make their case.

Why? Because, in order to negate a frame, you have to activate it. Frames, like all other ideas, are constituted by neural circuitry in the brain. Every time a circuit is activated, its synapses get stronger. When you negate a frame, you help the other side.

Avoid repeating the charges! Instead, use your own words and values to reframe the conversation. When journalists protest that they are “Not The Enemy,” they should remember how well “I am not a crook” worked for Nixon.

The important frame here is Truth. Donald Trump despises journalists because the duty of a good journalist is to tell the truth and inform the public. Trump doesn’t like the truth – or an informed public – because the success of his anti-democratic agenda depends on lies and distractions.

This is why he has labeled journalists as “enemies.” Because Trump is an enemy of truth, and you can’t have democracy without truth.

Journalists are the courageous people we trust to #ProtectTheTruth.

— source georgelakoff.com

Questions and answers about schools and traffic pollution

How close is too close, and how much traffic is too much traffic?

Traffic pollutants travel, but they’re higher on and close to roads. In general, studies suggest that the biggest daytime exposures are within 500 feet of the road, though some studies have found elevated levels farther out, such as roughly 900 to 1,000 feet. California’s school-siting law, which aims to keep new schools away from freeways and other major routes, uses 500 feet as the area of concern.

California’s law focuses on very heavily traveled roads, but there’s no true dividing line between bad and OK. Some studies have found health effects among people near roads with at least 10,000 vehicles a day, which includes routes with a tiny fraction of the traffic on an L.A. freeway. In fact, because steady speeds produce less pollution than acceleration, vehicles on highways that aren’t plagued by stop-by-go congestion are cleaner than they are on lower-speed roads with traffic lights and stop signs. And a road that draws diesel trucks, particularly old ones, could be worse than a higher-traffic route with only cars.

“As people are looking more and more at traffic pollution, they’re finding effects with less vehicles and they’re finding effects farther away as well,” said Barbara Weller, a toxicology expert who works at California’s Air Resources Board as supervisor for the population studies section of the health and exposure assessment branch.

To try to account for some of these complexities, the Center for Public Integrity and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting focused on roads with average traffic of at least 30,000 vehicles a day, as well as roads with at least 500 trucks and 10,000 total vehicles a day.

What are the health implications of putting a school near a busy road?

“The closer anybody is to a major road – school, home, business, whatever – the more they’re going to be exposed to air pollution from vehicles that are traveling on that road,” said Dr. Jerome Paulson, professor emeritus in pediatrics and environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University.

It’s not just about the time spent outdoors.

“There’s sort of this myth that when we close our windows and shut our doors, we’re completely protected, but that is not true,” said Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University. “Fine particles, ultrafine particles and gases, vapors, are able to come into the indoor environment. They penetrate very readily.”

That matters, because traffic pollution can stunt lung growth in children. The difference isn’t enough for immediate symptoms — though traffic exposure can also cause wheezing and worsen asthma symptoms, not everyone will feel those effects — but lung size could have implications later in life. Adults lose a bit of their lung function each year. Researchers worry that starting adulthood with smaller lungs could increase the odds of future health problems.

Newer research has also linked traffic pollution to the development (not just the worsening) of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cognitive and learning problems, heart disease and dementia. Some research has also linked traffic pollution to cancer; diesel exhaust from older trucks and certain chemicals emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles are known carcinogens. So the health concerns aren’t limited to children.

In Detroit, where the asthma hospitalization rate for kids is nearly three times the statewide rate, the head of the city’s health department is concerned about the long-term effects of traffic proximity.

“We built highways well into the heart of Detroit,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director of the Detroit Health Department. The city has lots of schools near significant traffic, and “we’re only now starting to appreciate that maybe these aren’t the best places to put our kids,” he said.

What factors affect exposure near roads?

Wind direction, for one. If the wind tends to blow from the road to your nearby location, you’ll get more exposure overall than someone on the other side of the pavement.

Elevated highways tend to be worse for people near them. Cut-section highways — roads lower than the land around them — are somewhat better. Sound barriers can help reduce exposure for people very close to the highway, though they might increase it for people a bit farther away (and can definitely do so for the drivers on the road, because more of it sticks around). An EPA paper you can download here sums up some of these issues.

The EPA thinks vegetation can help trap pollution as well, so a school separated from a road by a thick buffer of trees is likely better off — but this research is still developing. And location could matter. Some scientists have found that trees don’t help in urban areas because their ability to remove pollutants isn’t as strong as their ability to block airflow, keeping pollutants from escaping and getting diluted.

So what can schools near roads do about their air quality?

Closing a school’s doors and windows won’t keep traffic pollutants out (though that helps). Heavy-duty air filters — higher quality than the typical filters in schools — can substantially reduce what gets into the air the kids and teachers are breathing inside.

Filters rated MERV 16, characterized as surgery-grade, have been installed in dozens of Southern California schools. In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, more than 40 schools have high-grade filters to improve air in areas near highways, ports and other pollution sources.

Measurements by the South Coast Air Quality Management District — a local air-pollution control agency — found that MERV 16 filters in schools catch approximately 90 percent of fine and ultrafine particles, pollutants that are a key part of what makes traffic pollution a health risk. A much lower 20 to 50 percent of the particles were caught by the measured schools’ earlier efforts, which at best had involved air filters with a rating of MERV 7.

MERV 16 filters aren’t high price. You can buy them for less than $100 apiece. Schools with central air conditioning and heating — an HVAC system — should be able to use them, but it might take some retrofitting. IQAir, a company that’s installed high-grade filtration in hundreds of schools, most in California, says schools with a central system usually don’t need to spend much on alterations.

The big cost is for schools without HVAC. They’re left with two expensive options: pony up for HVAC, or pay for stand-alone air purification systems that are much pricier than air filters.

The South Coast air district offered a rough estimate of around $2,500 per classroom to install high-quality filters — averaging between schools that don’t need to do much and those staring down big-ticket HVAC costs.

At El Marino Language School in Culver City, California, officials retrofitted the heating system to get the filters in — that work cost about $500,000 — and plan to spend an additional $2 million installing air conditioning this summer so teachers can keep the doors and windows closed, allowing the filters to do their work.

How have schools paid for indoor-air fixes?

Dozens of schools in Southern California have received high-grade air filters paid for by the South Coast air district, which has funded the work with a pool of money that includes penalties assessed on polluting companies.

Not all schools near major roads in that region qualify, though. So the freeway-adjacent El Marino Language School got funding after the Culver City Unified School District in California proposed an ultimately successful bond measure, some of which was earmarked for work there. The lack of air conditioning at El Marino meant a higher price tag for effective filtration. The school could (and ultimately did) install filters by retrofitting the heating system, but it really needed to add AC, too, so unfiltered air wouldn’t flow in through doors open directly to the outdoors.

In Utah, meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation is paying for higher-quality air filters at five schools within about 1,600 feet of a highway under construction. That’s part of a deal struck after parents, environmentalists and doctors mobilized during the planning stages nearly a decade ago, modeled after a settlement over a highway-widening project in Las Vegas. Funding allotted for the Utah school upgrades and 30 years of future maintenance: $1.1 million, the equivalent of about $7,300 per school per year.

My school has air filters. That’s good enough, right?

School filtration and ventilation is often subpar, according to researchers who have documented conditions in the West and Midwest. Years ago, when he was at the California Air Resources Board, Thomas J. Phillips was part of a study of school classrooms and found air filters that “hadn’t been changed in quite a while — maybe the life of the school.”

Phillips, now principal scientist at Healthy Building Research in California, points out that school budgets are usually crunched.

“Things like air sealing and better air filtration will help,” he said. “But the devil’s in the details. How do you make sure it’s done right? How do you fund it? How do you maintain it?”

Being vigilant about maintenance is a good start. But the EPA also recommends that schools with traffic-pollution challenges install the highest-grade air filters they can. (For more details on that, see the answer above to “So what can schools near roads do about their air quality?”)

What can I do if my district is building a school near a highway or other significant road?

You could start a conversation if it’s not a done deal: Does your school district realize the health implications of nearby traffic? (Many don’t.) Are there other viable sites farther from busy roads?

Traffic isn’t the only environmental-health hazard, and the EPA cautions that building schools in far-off locations to avoid traffic just forces kids and staff to spend more time on roads to get there, breathing those pollutants while sitting in buses and cars. If a school must be built near significant traffic, experts recommend designing the site to improve air quality.

An effective HVAC system with high-grade air filters will substantially reduce the traffic particles getting to the classrooms, as schools in freeway-heavy Southern California have found. It’s also a good idea to put outdoor-activity areas, such as playgrounds and athletic fields, farther from the road while earmarking the closest spots for uses such as parking and storage, the EPA says. Other measures, such as placing the air intake away from the fumes of the road and the school loading dock, can also help.

The state plans to build a big road near my child’s school. Now what?

That’s happening in Utah. After parents, environmentalists and doctors joined forces to object, the state Department of Transportation agreed to pay for air monitoring and higher-quality air filters at five schools near the incoming Mountain View Corridor highway project.

“We’ve come a long way just to understand there is a problem out there,” said Linda Hansen, a member of the Utah State Board of Education and a former PTA leader in the affected school district. “We’re hoping once we get the data … from this project, we’ll be able to use it in other projects and get districts to see they really need to put some mitigation into those schools they have near roadways, because it’s hard on kids.”

This is why she thinks the advocacy effort paid off: “Groups that usually don’t work together on issues all came together.”

Reed Soper, environmental manager on the Mountain View Corridor project for a Department of Transportation contractor, sees the outcome as a win, too. “Everyone was willing to roll up their sleeves and come up with a solution that didn’t involve a lawsuit,” he said.

A big increase in truck traffic is coming near my child’s school. What can I do?

If it’s temporary, see if the traffic can be timed to avoid school days. Residents in Mars, Pennsylvania, convinced an energy company to wait until summer to hydraulically fracture gas wells there so schools wouldn’t be in session during the ensuing spike in truck volumes on the road passing by them, said Patrice Tomcik, the western Pennsylvania field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. State environmental protection officials acted as mediators between residents and the company.

“I just want other communities to realize they have options,” she said.

If it’s not temporary, talk to transportation officials. Could other roads handle the traffic instead? What would be the implications of rerouting it? Or talk to the company behind the increase, if there’s a single employer involved.

In Chicago, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization has pressed a manufacturer to use newer, less-polluting trucks as it prepares for hundreds more trips a day on a site next to an elementary school. The group’s leaders say they’re encouraged by the ongoing conversation.

“That’s not to say we don’t want the jobs, or that this growth isn’t important. It is,” said Kim Wasserman, executive director of the group. “But not at the cost of the truck drivers” — who breathe air tainted with their exhaust — “or the communities where these trucks are going.”

My kid’s school isn’t near any major roads, but what about the diesel school buses that idle outside? Isn’t that a problem?

Yes. Getting bus drivers (and parents) to turn off their engines while waiting to pick up kids really can make a difference. Pat Ryan, an associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, led a study that found significant drops in air pollutants following an anti-idling campaign at a Cincinnati school with a lot of buses.

Just putting up a no-idling sign isn’t enough, Ryan said: “You have to be a little more active, at least until — hopefully — it becomes a habit.” There’s an assumption among some drivers that they’ll burn up more fuel turning their engine off and back on again than if they idle, but that’s not true, he said.

The EPA has also helped school districts replace old diesel buses with grants from its Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program. But the future of that funding is unclear.

I’m not in a big city. This stuff doesn’t apply to my area, right?

Schools near busy roads are a particular problem in big cities, but thousands of these cases are in suburbs, smaller cities and rural communities.

School districts in areas with more undeveloped land do have options a heavily urbanized district doesn’t, as long as the issue is on their radar. Consider the suburban Blue Valley district in Overland Park, Kansas. Officials there try to get new schools into the plans for future subdivisions while there’s still time for that — and to build their campuses as far from major roads as they can.

“Safety is one [reason], but the impact of pollutants on those major roads is another one,” said Dave Hill, executive director of facilities and operations for Blue Valley, which helps mentor other school districts on indoor-air quality.

How many vehicles are on the road near my child’s school? How can I find out exactly what’s in the air there?

To see if a school falls within 500 feet of a busy road, check out our interactive data tool above. You can enter any address, school or not, and see if it’s by a road that meets our traffic threshold.

Determining what’s in the air isn’t so easy. The odds are low that a government air-pollution monitor is located in your exact area of interest. But that’s not your only option these days.

“There are a lot of emerging technologies — low-cost sensors — out there that communities can use themselves to measure some air pollutants,” said Sacoby Wilson, an assistant professor with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the University of Maryland.

That’s particularly true of fine particles (particulate matter that’s 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, or PM2.5 — far, far smaller than a grain of sand). The South Coast air district reviews those sensors here and here. Such sensors aren’t as accurate as high-cost government equipment yet, so use with caution, but you can get an idea of how the pollutants range in different locations and at different times of day. The EPA has a guide for how to do this type of “citizen science” air monitoring.

Unfortunately, sensors priced at a couple hundred dollars won’t help you track some key road pollutants, such as ultrafine particles — the even smaller specks that spike near roads — and diesel-emitted black carbon. That type of equipment is much more expensive, though it is possible to rent a black-carbon monitor rather than shell out thousands of dollars to buy it.

One strategy: Ask for help. A parent at the El Marino Language School in California borrowed air-monitoring equipment from a university to measure ultrafine particles at the near-highway site. She documented that ocean breezes weren’t ameliorating the problem, as some had hoped, and parents convinced the school district to install air filtration.

You could also encourage your community to conduct more air monitoring. The Array of Things project is installing all sorts of sensors, some measuring air pollution, across Chicago.

Does it make sense to pay for better air filters in thousands of schools, let alone other buildings near big roads? Isn’t it more efficient to just do something about the pollution?

High-grade air filters are a stop-gap measure. No-emission roads are likely a long ways off, and kids — as well as adults — have to keep breathing in the meantime.

But plenty of public-health advocates think that less traffic pollution should be the priority, because that would help air quality overall.

The good news: The trend’s heading in the right direction. New vehicles are much cleaner than old ones. The bad news: Diesel engines last a long time, so there are still a lot of old trucks in use. Besides California, no states have requirements to phase out old truck engines over time.

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act has helped replace or retrofit tens of thousands of old diesel engines to speed up slow turnover, but this could be the last year of that funding. (The program technically lapsed already but received some money this year because the continuing-resolution budget measure extended prior-year levels of funding through April.)

Where can I go for more information?

The EPA put out a guide in 2015 to help schools deal with traffic pollution. It also has a broader 2011 guide about schools and environmental health, including traffic-pollution issues.

The Healthy Schools Network focuses on environmental health in schools. Here’s the group’s Towards Healthy Schools 2015 report.

The Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces site has resources about indoor-air quality.

The South Coast air district has studied better air filtration in schools as well as the effectiveness of low-cost air pollution sensors.

And don’t forget our interactive data tool, which lets you type in an address and see if it falls within 500 feet of a busy road.

— source publicintegrity.org by Jamie Smith Hopkins