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Revisiting the Rodney King Verdict 25 Years Later

Mother Jones

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On April 29, 1992, Los Angeles was engulfed in flames after a jury acquitted four LAPD officers who had been charged in the beating of Rodney King, an African-American motorist. Videos and images of King’s brutalization were widely circulated, provoking an immediate call for justice. When that call went unheeded, the ensuing unrest ignited a wave of violence, death, and financial loss in America’s second-largest city. Fifty-four people were killed in the riots, nearly 12,000 were arrested, and the city incurred more than $1 billion in damages. (The following year, two of the officers were convicted in federal court of violating King’s civil rights; the other two were acquitted once again.)

The parallels between modern-day police brutality and the 1991 King beating serve as a grim reminder of how little has changed today, despite efforts to reform law enforcement. Here are four documentaries and television specials that offer a window into the enduring legacy of the King verdict:

  1. LA Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later
    Despite being a retrospective, A&E’s special does not allow readers to retreat from the present-day, unfurling images of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin at the start of the two-hour film. LA Burning spins through first-person recollections from a week of dark, incendiary nights in Los Angeles. The grievances and discontent of rioters are visible onscreen, and notable interviewees include George Holliday, the photographer whose video of King’s beating went viral in the pre-Internet age. The special is available to stream on A&E’s website.
  2. LA 92
    At a midnight speech in Sacramento, California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) declares a state of emergency in LA: “This is a matter that needs to be settled in the courts and not in the streets,” he tells residents. Using archival footage, LA 92 is National Geographic Channel’s reconstructed glimpse into the turbulence roiling the city during the riots. We shuttle from images of the California National Guard on standby duty to moments of quiet calm at the First AME Church, where African-American city council member Rita Walters tells crowds, “Tonight we must tell our children one more time: Stay cool, be calm…that for African-American children and adults, freedom is not yet a reality in the United States.” The film premieres on Sunday, April 30, on National Geographic.
  3. The Lost Tapes: LA Riots
    As conflagrations spread across Los Angeles, first responders, dispatchers, and law enforcement agents scrambled to ensure the city did not fully descend into flames. Their voices are among those highlighted in this program from the Smithsonian Channel, which stitches together raw footage and homemade videos capturing the riots at the height of their intensity—some of it rarely-seen footage. “I can smell the fires,” one resident phones into a local radio station. “I’m really angry, and I’m really very scared. I just spent the last 10 years of my life in college. But it doesn’t really matter because even with a briefcase in my hand and suit on my back, I’m still just another nigger to the cops out there.” The episode is available online.
  4. Burn Motherf*cker, Burn!
    Showtime’s 99-minute documentary evaluates the events preceding the King beating, outlining the LAPD’s long history of systematic racism. The Sacha Jenkins film revisits the 1965 Watts riots, which were sparked by the arrest of African-American driver Marquette Frye. The six-day rebellion that followed in this largely African-American LA neighborhood killed 34 people and led to approximately 4,000 arrests. It was the costliest urban riot of its period, and it served as a precursor to the 1992 riots. The documentary also examines California’s Simi Valley, the predominantly white community to which the King trial was moved after fears of media saturation led to a venue change. No black citizens served on the Simi Valley jury that acquitted the officers. The full film is available on Showtime’s website.


Revisiting the Rodney King Verdict 25 Years Later

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5 Great Environmental Documentaries

The Academy Awards shine a spotlight on the best movies made in any given year. Here’s a list of five of the best environmental documentaries made in 2015.

The Human Experiment
This documentary tells the stories of three families who believe their health has been seriously compromised by toxic chemicals circulating willy-nilly in our environment. Produced and narrated by Academy Award-winner Sean Penn, the filmexamines what we know (and dont know) about the connection betweenskyrocketing rates of cancer, autism, infertility, asthma, and other diseases and the chemicals we encounter in such common household items as plastic baby and water bottles, fragrances in perfumes and cosmetics, and chemicals in shampoos, deodorant and cleaning products.

Companies that produce and use toxic chemicals do not need to prove they dont pose a human health risk. That’s because the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, called TSCA, places the burden of proof on the consumer, not the company producing the product. The film makes a powerful argument for strengthening federal laws to get dangerous compounds off the market and away from the people they can hurt. You can read the full review on Care2 here.

Stink also examines the impact toxic chemicals can have on our lives, but from the point of view of a father who is shocked when the new pajamas he buys for his two daughters stink so badly from the flame retardants they’ve been doused in that the girls can’t wear them. The father, who is the filmmaker Jon Whelan, goes on a quest to figure out why so many toxic chemicals are allowed into our world. He also tries to figure out whether his wife’s death from breast cancer could somehow be connected to chemicals she was exposed to. The film is gripping, even devastating in parts, but also lights a fire under the viewer, as the filmmaker makes it clear that we citizens must support stronger legislation to reduce toxic exposures.

Mislead: America’s Secret Epidemic
Tamara Rubin founded the Lead Safe America Foundation when she realized her own children were lead poisoned. Then she decided to make a movie about the lead poisoning crisis that is making so many people, specifically children, sick. The resulting documentary, titled MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic, makes a powerful case that lead poisoning is dangerous, pervasive and must be stopped.

Tamara and her crew highlight 17 different families, all of whom are trying to help children already lead poisoned while preventing the situation from getting worse. The documentary draws a direct line between the “sudden, alarming” rise in the number of American children suffering from ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum symptoms and similar neurological disorders and children’s exposure to lead. These disabilities cost society more than $50 billion annually, says Lead Safe America. Especially in light of the terrible crisis facing the families living in Flint, Michigan whose children have been poisoned by lead in drinking water, the film couldn’t be more timely.

National Parks Adventure 3D
For a completely different kind of film, don’t missMacGillivray Freeman’s National Parks Adventure in 3D. Narrated by Academy Award winner Robert Redford, the movie takes you on an IMAX adventure into what Redford calls the “most awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping places that belong to us all.”

Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Everglades, the Redwoods, the Grand Canyon, Arches and Canyonlands are among the nation’s crown jewels featured in this film, all perfectly suited to the giant-screen cinematographic adventure IMAX provides. If you liked some ofMacGillivray Freeman’s other Great Adventure Films including “Everest,” “Dolphins,” “Journey Into Amazing Caves” and “Grand Canyon Adventure” you’ll probably love this one, too.

Short of visiting a national park yourself, this may be one of the best ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the national park system, which occurs on August 25, 2016.

My Life as a Turkey
Writer and naturalist Joe Hutto quite unexpectedly found himself raising 13endangered wild turkeys in the flatlands of Florida from the moment they hatched. Hutton told the talefirst in his book “Illumination in the Flatwoods.” Now , he brings it to life in this poignant film, and it’s not one you want to miss.

“Day after day, for over a year, I saw no one – except my family,” he says as the movie opens, Joe walkingshrouded in mist and surrounded by his feathered youngsters. “It was a family like none you know. But I’m a mother, it seems, and these are my children.”

Hutto spent each day amblingdeep into the Everglades with these birds, roosting with them, taking them foraging and even learning to speak their “language.” In the process, he says, “they revealed their charming curiosity and surprising intellect.”

The day came for Hutto the way it comes for all parents, and he had to let his brood go off on their own. Keep some tissues handy when you watch this sweet, lovely film.

For more film options, check out the offerings at the D.C. Environmental Film Festivalor the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Great Environmental Documentaries

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9 Tips for a Magical, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

The irony of the holiday season is not lost on me.

How did we get from a symbolic meal of abundance, sharing, community, gratitude and family to people literally shoving anyone in their pathto get in the doors of a store on Thanksgiving Day?

It’s not the magic of the season I recall. We were definitely spoiled with a lot of gifts when I was a kid at Christmas, but being together with family remained the central theme. Little rituals like football with dad, or trying to help my frantic mother with the Thanksgiving dinner,or wrapping gifts with big bro at midnight on Christmas eve, while listening to cool tunes and getting educated on various nuances of rock history (listen to my brother’s excellent, entertaining AND educational radio show, Uncle Buggy Radio Show). These are the things I look back on with that gooey, tingly, warm and fuzzy glow. Do I remember the gifts? No, not so much.

I knew the gift was being with my family, even if we were at odds or snarking at each other or someone was too drunk. I knew this for sure after my father died and the magic went kind of dark, then many family members evacuated the planet in rapid succession, which demolished the holidays for me — for a time.

My well-meaning older sister fought hard to keep us all together and recreate the scenes of our youth, but it never really worked. As my children appeared (as if by magic in this story), I knew it was up to me to create meaningful holidays for them (and for the purpose of this post, “holidays” = Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years).

It was my turn to become the standard bearer of this season and set the backdrop of great memories for my offspring. Daunting task. It has evolved over the 30 years since my first was born (wow, can you imagine what I was like as a teen mom? just kidding . . . but I don’t feel as old as all this makes me sound!). Now I have a new role as a Ya Ya (grandmother), and as a green diva, it’s also about making the most eco-friendly holiday possible.

My motto now is buy less, make more, and when I have to buy, I buy local and if I can’t buy local I make for damned sure it is sustainably made, recyclable, and as eco-friendly as possible!

Watch this short and silly Green Divas holiday message, then read on for more ideas!

Here are a few ways to create magic and meaning in the holiday seasonwhilereducing theimpact on momma earth…

1. Peace starts within ~ if I want to have a more peaceful and fun holiday season, I have to take darn good care of myself from the inside out. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so take good care and it will be a lot easier for you and those around you! Read my post about personal energy conservation for the holidays.

2. Remembering the Reason for the Season ~ whatever holiday you celebrate, try not to be sucked into the commercial marketing aspect of it or the expectations of those that ARE sucked in. Be who you are and shine your love on those around you. No really. I’m not going to get too philosophical, but I’m not sure if there is any religion or belief system (that is a positive one) that being kind and loving and generous isn’t a theme.

3. Make stuff ~ I do a lot of holiday preparation with my kids now. From Thanksgiving dishes to holiday crafts, and at least one of my daughters has begun her own creative traditions. Spending time with them coming up with crafty and creative ideas and then sitting around making stuff is probably my very favorite thing to do over the holiday season. Make this amazing vegan hot cocoa gift for friends and family (and yourself). It’s always a huge hit!

4.Buy less ~ I stopped buying crappy plastic stocking stuffers and filler years ago, and I spend a lot of time coming up with USEFUL and cool items, many of which are locally crafted (by real artisans as opposed to my goofy attempts). As a family, we decided years ago to give up the multi-gift crazed thing for Christmas and just focus on handmade items and stockings. We spend less money, consume less packaging in store-bought items, and use much less wrapping paper, but we all have a great time getting creative. I prefer getting a few meaningful gifts than a mess of haphazard (even expensive) gifts.

5. Regift ~ seems like a cardinal sin or something, but honestly, we just have way too much stuff and there’s no reason to generate more stuff! I have jewelry to pass down to my girls, or books or special things from my mother and grandmother that have infinitelymore meaning to them than anything I could buy at the store (well almost anything).

6. Buy local ~ I rarely go into a shopping mall EVER, but I have not stepped foot in a mall betweenThanksgiving and New Years in many years now. I have my favorite local shops I go to for the few gifts I don’t make or regift. I am fortunate that I live an an extremely cool little town and I enjoy visiting the store owners and sharing my dollars with them, especially during the holiday season.

7. Stick to healthy routines ~ it’s a wonderful season to visit with friends and family and attend all those fun parties, butit’s not necessary to toss out all your healthy ways (or become the super annoying vegan drag at the party). There are a lot of ways to maintain balance even if your friends and family are not. Here’s a fun Green Divas Foodie-Philes featuring Jerry James Stone about how he has a healthy vegan/vegetarian holiday season:

8. Ease up on the decorations ~ for the love of whatever god you believe in (0r none at all), PLEASE don’t create a blow-up doll village on your lawn! I’m sure I’ve offended someone (sorry), but they are probably manufactured in China of questionable plastic fabric, and they use up more energy than we should be wasting on this stuff. Minimize the blazing lights not only for the energy savings, but there is a thing called light pollution, which is serious and we could light up the sky with some neighborhoods that compete for who can be most creative with their holiday light extravaganzas.

Listen to this Green Divas Radio Show from the archives for a great feature with the Dark Ranger, Kevin Poe who talks about light pollution.

9. Gratitude & giving always works ~ even if your family sucks and the world seems bleak for you this season, I bet there is someone who has it worse off than you. Get your gratitude on and go out there and be generous with your time, love, kindness, energy, whatever you have to give. You don’t have to spend money to give amazing gifts, and nothing gets me out of a funk like helping someone who has less. Read my post from last year on how to Be the Light during the holidays.

Written by Green Diva Meg|image via shutterstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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9 Tips for a Magical, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

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Do You Eat Ugly Produce? (Video)

Imperfect Produce is a San Francisco area start-up that is trying to reduce food waste and environmental impact by selling “ugly” produce thatfarmers ordinarily would notsell. This “unsellable” produce makes up about 20 percent of all produce grown in the United States. Watch this video to learn more about these less-than-ideal looking fruits and vegetables and why its important that we change our tune about produce that might not be pretty.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Do You Eat Ugly Produce? (Video)

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House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood

Mother Jones

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The House on Friday voted 241-to-187 to strip Planned Parenthood of some $500 million in federal family planning funds for a year. The move is intended to keep the public eye on allegations of illegal behavior by Planned Parenthood staffers but remove the possibility of a government shutdown by conservatives bent on defunding the organization.

The vote followed several grueling hearings held by the House Judiciary Committee into the undercover sting videos that allegedly show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal parts, which would be a violation of federal law. The organization has denied the allegations, and state after state investigating the videos, which are heavily edited, has been found no evidence of wrongdoing. As the October 1 deadline for funding the government approaches, however, several conservative members of Congress, including presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), threatened to block any government funding bill that provided Medicaid or family planning dollars to Planned Parenthood. But it remains to be seen if this latest vote will satisfy conservative elements of the party.

Planned Parenthood is barred by law from using federal funds to provide abortions. The $500 million or so it receives each year from the government allows the group to provide family planning and other reproductive health services to mostly poor women on Medicaid. Ahead of the vote, conservative activists and lawmakers circulated a list of thousands of other family planning providers that could replace Planned Parenthood for the thousands of poor women who use its services. There is ample evidence to suggest that these alternatives to Planned Parenthood do not have the capacity to treat the group’s patients.

The bill now goes to the GOP-held Senate, where it almost certainly faces a filibuster by Democrats in the minority.

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House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood

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Arkansas Is the Latest State to Defund Planned Parenthood

Mother Jones

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Following in the footsteps of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has directed his state’s Department of Human Services to terminate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood. The termination will be effective in 30 days.

In a statement, Hutchinson said, “It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them. This includes their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.”

The announcement comes in the wake of outrage over heavily-edited sting videos released by anti-abortion activists alleging a litany of offenses by Planned Parenthood. The Obama administration contends that cutting Planned Parenthood off from Medicaid funds breaks federal law.

Federal money cannot be used for abortion, and abortion is only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. The organization mostly provides STI/STD screenings, contraception, cancer screenings and the like.

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Arkansas Is the Latest State to Defund Planned Parenthood

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Donald Trump Gave Out a Senator’s Cell Phone Number. So He Doused the Phone With Lighter Fluid and Torched It.

Mother Jones

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Lindsey Graham learned the hard way on that you never give your phone number to a petty billionaire. But even though Donald Trump’s public read-out of Graham’s cell phone number to the entire country on Tuesday led to a slew of random calls, the Republican senator from South Carolina is responding with a sense of humor.

First he joked on Twitter that he needed a new phone thanks to the flood of calls, asking his Twitter followers on Tuesday afternoon what kind he should get.

Now Graham is trolling Trump in a video for IJReview, a conservative news site. Using fire, a toaster oven, a golf club, a cleaver, and other fun but totally unnecessary methods, he destroys a bunch of flip phones—and one unfortunate blender. “Or if all else fails, you can always give your number to The Donald,” Graham says in closing, before hurling one last phone off screen “for the veterans,” a dig at Trump’s attack on Sen. John McCain’s time as prisoner of war.

Someone may eventually want to tell Graham this isn’t actually how phone numbers work, but we’ll take the videos for now.

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Donald Trump Gave Out a Senator’s Cell Phone Number. So He Doused the Phone With Lighter Fluid and Torched It.

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What Would Happen if Honey Bees Disappeared? (Video)

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What Would Happen if Honey Bees Disappeared? (Video)

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How Cool is This Air-Powered Bike?

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How Cool is This Air-Powered Bike?

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