Tag Archives: race

Fatal Invention – Dorothy Roberts


Fatal Invention

How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century

Dorothy Roberts

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: June 14, 2011

Publisher: The New Press

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

An incisive, groundbreaking book that examines how a biological concept of race is a myth that promotes inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era.   Though the Human Genome Project proved that human beings are not naturally divided by race, the emerging fields of personalized medicine, reproductive technologies, genetic genealogy, and DNA databanks are attempting to resuscitate race as a biological category written in our genes.   This groundbreaking book by legal scholar and social critic Dorothy Roberts examines how the myth of race as a biological concept—revived by purportedly cutting-edge science, race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases—continues to undermine a just society and promote inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era. Named one of the ten best black nonfiction books 2011 by AFRO.com, Fatal Invention offers a timely and “provocative analysis” ( Nature ) of race, science, and politics that “is consistently lucid . . . alarming but not alarmist, controversial but evidential, impassioned but rational” ( Publishers Weekly , starred review).   “Everyone concerned about social justice in America should read this powerful book.” —Anthony D. Romero, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union   “A terribly important book on how the ‘fatal invention’ has terrifying effects in the post-genomic, ‘post-racial’ era.” —Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, professor of sociology, Duke University, and author of Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States   “ Fatal Invention is a triumph! Race has always been an ill-defined amalgam of medical and cultural bias, thinly overlaid with the trappings of contemporary scientific thought. And no one has peeled back the layers of assumption and deception as lucidly as Dorothy Roberts.” —Harriet A. Washington, author of and Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself  

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Fatal Invention – Dorothy Roberts

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The First Human – Ann Gibbons


The First Human

Ann Gibbons

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: April 18, 2006

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

In this dynamic account, award-winning science writer Ann Gibbons chronicles an extraordinary quest to answer the most primal of questions: When and where was the dawn of humankind?Following four intensely competitive international teams of scientists in a heated race to find the “missing link”–the fossil of the earliest human ancestor–Gibbons ventures to Africa, where she encounters a fascinating array of fossil hunters: Tim White, the irreverent Californian who discovered the partial skeleton of a primate that lived 4.4 million years ago in Ethiopia; French paleontologist Michel Brunet, who uncovers a skull in Chad that could date the beginnings of humankind to seven million years ago; and two other groups–one led by zoologist Meave Leakey, the other by British geologist Martin Pickford and his French paleontologist partner, Brigitte Senut–who enter the race with landmark discoveries of their own. Through scrupulous research and vivid first-person reporting, The First Human reveals the perils and the promises of fossil hunting on a grand competitive scale.

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The First Human – Ann Gibbons

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A bunch of kids confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein over the Green New Deal

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It’s becoming increasingly clear that kids, not grownups, are driving the global conversation around climate action. As you read this, young people in Europe and the United States are organizing marches, walk-outs, and sit-ins to protest the way their governments are handling (or ignoring) climate change. It’s not just a cute stunt, in many cases, these kiddos are getting serious results.

In the latest round of the kids v. adults showdown: A bunch of children and young folks stormed Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to ask her to back the Green New Deal. And the California Democrat took the opportunity to publicly back the proposal! Just kidding.

The meeting was organized by the Sunrise Movement, the same climate group that staged a sit-in in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand she support the GND after the midterms. The kids, and at least one adult, presented Feinstein with a handwritten letter asking her to vote “yes” on the progressive climate plan.

Judging by the video, Feinstein appeared prepared to negotiate at first. “I’ll tell you what,” she said. “We have our own Green New Deal.” But after being interrupted multiple times, Feinstein got a little feisty, and things turned testy.

“Some scientists have said we have 12 years to turn this around,” a little girl told the senator. “Well, it’s not going to get turned around in 10 years,” Feinstein responded, which is the political equivalent of telling a kid that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. Except maybe meaner.

Whether you’re on the side of the kids or the grandma (not an insult, Feinstein reports she has seven grandchildren), one lesson here is that telling a bunch of kids that you won your race by “a million vote plurality” isn’t the best way to endear yourself to an increasingly rambunctious climate movement.


A bunch of kids confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein over the Green New Deal

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Hurricane Michael could help climate denier Rick Scott in the Florida Senate race

As 155 mile-per-hour winds stripped roofs off buildings, and seawater surged through broken windows in the Florida panhandle, political insiders were already speculating about how Hurricane Michael might roil the November elections.

“Amazing to think with razor thin margins in FL statewide elections an October hurricane could swing it all …” Republican strategist Anthony Pedicini wrote on Twitter.

This isn’t the first catastrophe to upset Florida’s midterms. In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, the Democrat, and sitting Republican Governor Rick Scott, have been firing attack ads accusing the other of causing disgusting algal blooms. (Who’s right?  Read this).

Climate change can influence both hurricanes and algal blooms. Algae thrives in warm water, so hotter weather can mean bigger blooms. And while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that warming won’t cause more tropical storms, it does project that they’ll be more intense.

So with the environment already taking a leading role in electoral politics, could Hurricane Michael provide the updraft Florida climate hawks need to soar to victory?

Floridians are right in line with the rest of the country when it comes to climate change, with 70 percent agreeing that it’s a thing, according to the most recent survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. But Michael made landfall in deep-red MAGA country.

If anything, the hurricane is likely to give voters the warm fuzzies for Scott (who censored the words “climate change” government officials weren’t even allowed to say the words, which made for some funny press conferences), because it give him the chance to go out and do leaderly stuff like activating the National Guard. His campaign had just started running an ad called “Leadership,” portraying him as the guy who got Florida through previous hurricanes. Polls show that Scott got more popular after those storms.

Nelson and the Democrats are fighting back with ads pointing out that, with Scott at the helm, 11 seniors died from heat exposure, and there were charges of profiteering on the cleanup.

All of which looks like normal mudslinging, not exactly a political playing field upended by climate disasters. At least not yet.

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Hurricane Michael could help climate denier Rick Scott in the Florida Senate race

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Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and the credibility of a woman scientist

Christine Blasey Ford is a woman. She is a prolifically published expert in psychological statistics. She is a conventionally attractive natural blonde. She is the product of an elite private school education. She is a mother of two. She is a scientist.

All of these traits together contributed to the public’s impression of Dr. Ford as she testified to Congress that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Much has already been said about the Ford’s testimony as a survivor. But rereading her words, what struck me anew was the way she described the assault in clinical terms — the vulnerable state of the adolescent brain and the well-documented impact of childhood trauma — without evading an ounce of her own humanity. It’s a remarkable feat in a time when science itself is undergoing aggressive interrogation.

“I think that it was extra courageous for her to put in the effort to recognize that the science was important and her way of explaining it would be important,” says Kelly Ramirez, co-founder of the group 500 Women Scientists.

Neurological science tells us that a sexual assault at a young age will impact most victims for the rest of his or her life. Millions know the lasting impact of an assault from experience, but are not able to identify why they feel this way.

Throughout her testimony, Ford simply and carefully explained the different biological processes that contribute to the sharp memory of certain details and the blurriness of others; the surge in hormones that enabled her to escape; the varied and complicated pathology of sexual assault survivors. It was a relief to hear this in such relatively straightforward terms: You feel this way because this is what your body is doing. It is not a failure of your own will.

It is difficult to imagine a more impressive testimony on sexual assault — even as acknowledged by her detractors. Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor hired to interrogate Ford in Congress, acknowledged at the conclusion of her questioning that she had been “really impressed” by Ford’s expertise.

But it was not simply the statement of those anatomical facts that made Ford’s testimony powerful. The humanity in Ford’s testimony was where she exposed the lasting scars of (depressingly) shared experiences, which so many observers were able to recognize.

We also like to see scientists as humans, Ramirez says, and we trust them more when we see them show emotion. Isn’t that ironic! We understand climate science better, for example, when we can empathize with its personal impact on the scientist explaining the theory. Renowned climate scientist James Hansen has made his fight about the uncertain lives his grandchildren face.

The public’s reaction to Ford’s testimony was largely positive. Before the hearings, a poll found that 26 percent of respondents believed Kavanaugh and 32 believed Ford. After they testified, those who believe Kavanaugh bumped slightly to 33 while a remarkable 45 percent believed Ford.

Many comparisons have been drawn between the impassioned testimony of Ford and the cooler one of Anita Hill, the black civil rights attorney who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his own confirmation hearings. “African-American women have routinely been challenged in their efforts to tell a story about sexual abuse,” one of Hill’s attorneys said about the race and gender dynamics of the two hearings. (Hill, who graduated from Yale, was infamously depicted as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” by a Republican operative.)

“I really hope that it’s not because of Ford’s position as a scientist that people find her credible,” says Maryam Zaringhalam, another senior leader of 500 Women Scientists. “I hope it’s because people are starting to understand that this is something that happens to all women, from all backgrounds, of all ethnicities, with all educational experiences.”

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Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and the credibility of a woman scientist

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Megafire – Michael Kodas



The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame

Michael Kodas

Genre: Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: August 22, 2017

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

A brilliant exploration of the rising phenomenon of megafires—forest fires of alarming scale, intensity, and devastation—that explains the science of what is causing them and captures the danger and heroism of those who fight them In Megafire, a world-renowned journalist and forest fire expert travels to the most dangerous and remote wildernesses, as well as to the backyards of people faced with these environmental disasters, to look at the heart of this phenomenon and witness firsthand the heroic efforts of the firefighters and scientists racing against time to stop it—or at least to tame these deadly flames. From Colorado to California, China to Canada, the narrative hopscotches the globe and takes readers to the frontlines of the battle both on the ground and in the air, and in the laboratories, universities, and federal agencies where this issue rages on. Through this prism of perspectives, Kodas zeroes in on a handful of the most terrifying and tumultuous of these environmental disasters in recent years—the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona that took the lives of nineteen elite “hotshot” firefighters, the Waldo Canyon Fire that overwhelmed the city of Colorado Springs—and more in a page-turning narrative that puts a face on the brave people at the heart of this issue. Megafire describes the profound impact of these fires around the earth and will change the way we think about the environment and the essential precariousness of our world.  

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Megafire – Michael Kodas

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This Idea Must Die – Mr. John Brockman


This Idea Must Die
Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress
Mr. John Brockman

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: February 17, 2015

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Seller: HarperCollins

The bestselling editor of This Explains Everything brings together 175 of the world’s most brilliant minds to tackle Edge.org’s 2014 question: What scientific idea has become a relic blocking human progress? Each year, John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org—”The world’s smartest website” (The Guardian)—challenges some of the world’s greatest scientists, artists, and philosophers to answer a provocative question crucial to our time. In 2014 he asked 175 brilliant minds to ponder: What scientific idea needs to be put aside in order to make room for new ideas to advance? The answers are as surprising as they are illuminating. In : Steven Pinker dismantles the working theory of human behavior Richard Dawkins renounces essentialism Sherry Turkle reevaluates our expectations of artificial intelligence Geoffrey West challenges the concept of a “Theory of Everything” Andrei Linde suggests that our universe and its laws may not be as unique as we think Martin Rees explains why scientific understanding is a limitless goal Nina Jablonski argues to rid ourselves of the concept of race Alan Guth rethinks the origins of the universe Hans Ulrich Obrist warns against glorifying unlimited economic growth and much more. Profound, engaging, thoughtful, and groundbreaking, This Idea Must Die will change your perceptions and understanding of our world today . . . and tomorrow.

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This Idea Must Die – Mr. John Brockman

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Nearly 8,000 New Voters Registered Ahead of Georgia Special Election

Mother Jones

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A last-minute push to register voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District before the June 20 special election has resulted in nearly 8,000 new voters in the district as of Tuesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. That’s a big enough number to swing a close election, and polls thus far show the race within the margin of error. It’s also an encouraging sign for Democrat Jon Ossoff, the insurgent candidate who topped the first round of voting in the solidly Republican district and is hoping that new voters can put him on top in the June 20 runoff.

The election between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel has been widely portrayed as a test of the Democratic resistance to President Donald Trump. In the conservative district, Ossoff is trying to peel off Republican voters disenchanted with Trump, particularly white women. But in order to win, Ossoff also needs strong support from the Democratic base and new voters. So when a federal judge reopened voter registration in the district through May 21, groups that target young, poor, and minority voters rushed into the district to register eligible voters. The 7,942 new voters include new registrants and people who moved into the district after the primary and transferred their registration.

The district has more than 521,000 registered voters, so it’s unclear whether another 7,942—or about 1.5 percent of that total—will make a difference. Ossoff fell 3,700 votes short of winning an outright majority in the primary on April 18. If the runoff remains a toss-up, these new voters could determine the winner.

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Nearly 8,000 New Voters Registered Ahead of Georgia Special Election

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In One Executive Order, Trump Revoked Years of Workplace Protections for Women

Mother Jones

In 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order. It required companies with federal contracts to heed 14 different labor and civil rights laws, including ones aimed at protecting parental leave, weeding out discrimination against women and minorities, and ensuring equal pay for women and fair processes surrounding workplace sexual harassment allegations.

Last week, Trump revoked this order, leaving workers at thousands of companies much more vulnerable to a host of abuses from their employers—and undoing protections meant to create more equitable workplaces for women.

“We have an executive order that essentially forces women to pay to keep companies in business that discriminate against them—with their own tax dollars,” Noreen Farrell, the director of Equal Rights Advocates, told NBC. “It’s an outrage.”

One provision of the now-revoked order required paycheck transparency by companies holding federal contracts, in which they had to provide all employees with detailed statements of their hours and compensation—a measure that’s particularly important for protecting workers against wage theft. A second provision that was jettisoned banned the use of forced arbitration clauses by federal contractors in handling sexual harassment or discrimination claims in their workplaces. These types of clauses—which require allegations to be settled privately outside of court in usually secret proceedings—are a way for companies to preemptively keep sexual harassment allegations out of the public eye.

Trump’s order also revokes the requirement that companies seeking federal contracts disclose three year’s worth of violations of the Equal Employment Opportunity executive order, first signed in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson and since amended to include protections surrounding gender. The order now states that companies with federal contracts “will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.”

Nor will companies bidding on federal contracts be required to reveal their last three year’s worth of violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires that many companies provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents.

The day before President Trump signed this order, it was reported that his daughter Ivanka—who has regularly spoken about her father’s plans to improve protections for working moms, and who is currently pushing a child care tax credit as part of the administration’s upcoming tax reform initiative—would represent the United States at an upcoming women’s empowerment summit in Berlin. Here is her tweet:

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In One Executive Order, Trump Revoked Years of Workplace Protections for Women

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Transit ridership is slipping in some big cities.

Democratic Party insiders will vote for a new chair this weekend. The winner will get the tough job of trying to rebuild a damaged party.

Ten people are in the running, but the victor is likely to be one of the top two contenders: Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison or former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Ellison backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary last year, and Sanders is backing Ellison in this race. In 2012 and 2015, Ellison and Sanders teamed up to push a bill to end subsidies for fossil fuel companies.

Climate activist (and Grist board member) Bill McKibben argues that Ellison, a progressive who is “from the movement wing,” would help the party regain credibility with young people.

A coalition of millennial leaders endorsed Ellison this week, including a number of activists from climate groups. “We want a chair who will fight to win a democracy for all and overcome the profound crises of our time — from catastrophic climate change to systemic racism, historic economic inequality to perpetual war,” they wrote.

350 Action, the political arm of climate group 350.org, endorsed Ellison earlier this month:

And Jane Kleeb, a prominent anti-Keystone activist and a voting DNC member, is backing Ellison too:

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Transit ridership is slipping in some big cities.

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