London has fatbergs: glistening, multiton agglomerations of fat, sanitary napkins, "flushable" wipes, human waste, dirty diapers, used condoms, and delicious strawberry jam; New Orleans has 93,000 pounds of plastic Mardi Gras beads. Read the rest
Kelli Sullivan called the Evangeline Parish, Louisiana Sheriff's Department for help with a difficult neighbor who'd harassed her family; when the Sheriff's Deputy arrived, he shot their rat terrier in the head in front of her children, then griped about the expense of the valuable hollow-point bullet he'd squandered on killing their beloved pet. Read the rest
Louisiana has always been a backward place for criminal justice, the only state in the union that funds its public defenders' office with conviction fees, leaving a public defender's office that averages $238 spent on each accused. Read the rest
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is one of the world's largest private jailers; it runs prisons and immigration detention centers across the USA (and is diversifying into halfway houses, mental health center, and surveillance for poor neighborhoods). Mother Jones's Shane Bauer went undercover at CCA's Winn Prison in Louisiana, the state with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and spent four months meticulously documenting the way that CCA destroys the lives of the prisoners in its care and its own employees, while paying its CEO $3.4M/year. Read the rest
Several residents of Rapides Parish called the sherriff's office to report a "terror message" on a sign that actually said "Welcome home, Yamit," in Hebrew. Read the rest
Matt sends, "video I caught of a spontaneous jam session that happened in front of me at Mardi Gras 2015: A USMC band and a bunch of high school band members met in the streets and suddenly launched into 'St. James Infirmary.'" Read the rest
IO9 profiles Zack Kopplin, a 19-year-old, five-year veteran of the fight against teaching creationism in Louisiana's science classes. Kopplin was a student when the a law came into effect allowing teachers to bring creationist material to class, and he took up the cause, winning a battle that prevented the exclusion of evolution from Louisiana science classes altogether. Kopplin has been vilified by state legislators and creationists, but refuses to give up the fight. If I can raise a kid with this much sense, savvy, passion and ethical commitment, I'll consider my life to have been worthwhile:
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He also has his eyes set on vouchers. After an Alternet story came out about a school in the Louisiana voucher program teaching that the Loch Ness Monster was real and disproved evolution, Kopplin looked deeper into the program and found that this wasn't just one school, but at least 19 other schools, too.
School vouchers, he argues, unconstitutionally fund the teaching of creationism because many of the schools in these programs are private fundamentalist religious schools who are teaching creationism.
"These schools have every right to teach whatever they want — no matter how much I disagree with it — as long as they are fully private," he says. "But when they take public money through vouchers, these schools need to be accountable to the public in the same way that public schools are and they must abide by the same rules." Kopplin is hoping for more transparency in these programs so the public can see what is being taught with taxpayers' money.
On Buzzfeed, Andrew Kaczynski reproduces pages from About Science 5, a fifth grade science textbook used in some Louisiana public schools, which teaches Biblical creationism alongside of evolution as the origin of life. As the publisher's page says, "Science 5 focuses on man's use of God’s creation and design."
Louisiana governor (and retired exorcist) Bobby Jindal has signed an aggressive charter school bill that will transfer millions in tax dollars to religious academies run by evolution-denying, homophobic, climate-change-denying Christian extremists. Mother Jones's Deanna Pan went for a dig through these schools' official texts and discovered that Louisiana's publicly funded education system will soon tell some of its luckiest students that the KKK "achieved a certain respectability" by fighting bootleggers; "the majority of slave holders treated their slaves well;" dragons might be real; "dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time," and many other fun facts.
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3. "God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ."—America: Land That I Love, Teacher ed., A Beka Book, 1994...
7. The Great Depression wasn't as bad as the liberals made it sound: "Perhaps the best known work of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath…Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage foreclosures, mass evictions, and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America."—United States History: Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1996...
10. Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson were a couple of hacks: "[Mark] Twain's outlook was both self-centered and ultimately hopeless…Twain's skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel."—Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University, 2001
"Several of [Emily Dickinson's] poems show a presumptuous attitude concerning her eternal destiny and a veiled disrespect for authority in general.
Caddo Parish, LA commissioner Michael Williams is sick and tired of being able to discern guys' penises through their pajamas at WalMart (apparently, the men of Caddo like to go to WalMart in their jammies, which is pretty boss if you ask me -- I live in my jimjams). He's proposed a local ordinance to prohibit the wearing of pajamas in public.
"Pajamas are designed to be worn in the bedroom at night," said Williams, likely after extensive research on the history and design of pajamas. "If you can't [wear them to the] courthouse, why are you going to do it in a restaurant or in public?" (Um, because those aren't courthouses?) Williams also invoked the "slippery-slope" argument, of course. "Today it's pajamas," he said, "tomorrow it's underwear. Where does it stop?" Seems to me there's only one further step once you get to underwear. This guy is really not that imaginative.
Locomotive Engine Failure - Blown Piston (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Videos on bus capture disaster when driver falls asleep Boing Boing High-speed camera shooting FROM a train - Boing Boing Train nearly runs over idiots (video) - Boing Boing Read the rest
Things could be going from really bad to even worse around the Gulf of Mexico, for residents and for BP. An investigation by Al Jazeera reveals that the dispersants BP is using to treat the spill are making people sick.
There are already a number of reports about the toxicity of oil itself, but this investigation by Al Jazeera suggests the problem is bigger than that: already toxic dispersants are forming new compounds when combined with crude oil that become even more dangerous— not just for the environment, but for the humans who live and work there.
"Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil. According to Naman, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from this toxic mix are making people sick. PAHs contain compounds that have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.Read the rest
Fisherman across the four states most heavily affected by the oil disaster - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida - have reported seeing BP spray dispersants from aircraft and boats offshore.
"The dispersants are being added to the water and are causing chemical compounds to become water soluble, which is then given off into the air, so it is coming down as rain, in addition to being in the water and beaches of these areas of the Gulf," Naman added.
"I'm scared of what I'm finding. These cyclic compounds intermingle with the Corexit [dispersants] and generate other cyclic compounds that aren't good.