The people of Atlanta are standing up for themselves, because their government won’t.

I revisit the subject of urban greenery on a fairly regular basis. My vision of a better world still involves cities, but I want those cities to be integrated with the surrounding ecosystems as much as possible. Rather than being a sort of desert landscape, we could have cities that could almost feel like living in a forest. Beyond the mental and physical health benefits, there’s also the fact that plants tend to lower the temperature around them, rather than simply absorbing heat the way asphalt and concrete do. As the climate warms, the amount of plant life in and around cities is going to make a big difference in how hot they get. To that end, we should be both advocating for new green spaces, and defending those that currently exist, whether or not that existence is “official”.

I add that last bit because there’s just such a fight going on right now in Atlanta, GA. A prison farm that used convict slaves to grow food for Atlanta’s prison population closed down in 1989, and has since been increasingly consumed by forest. That’s all well and good, but there are a couple problems. The land is still owned by the city, and it’s apparently been used as a dumping ground, and a firing range for Atlanta police. The early stages of a new development project have begun, which will clear away a big chunk of the forest in order to make a sort of “dummy city” for the cops to train in.

Because as we all know, what we need is for law enforcement to become more militarized.

That would be bad enough, but unfortunately there’s more to the story. I’ll just quote the folks working to defend the forest:


We have the highest percentage of tree canopy of any major metropolitan area in America. Our canopy is the main factor in ensuring Atlanta’s resiliency in the face of climate change. The forest in Southeast Atlanta is home to wetlands that filter rainwater and prevent flooding. It is also one of the last breeding grounds for many amphibians in the region, as well as an important migration site for wading birds.

The history of this particular land is deeply scarred. In the 1800s shortly after the land was stolen from Muscogee Creek peoples, it was used as a plantation. In the early 1900s, a prison farm was opened where inmates were forced to perform unpaid agricultural labor, marking the rebranding of slavery into for profit prison labor. The Atlanta Police Department currently uses this hallowed ground as a firing range.

This forest is at risk of destruction as the police and Hollywood make plans to pave over Atlanta’s largest remaining green space.

The Atlanta Police Department seeks to turn 300 acres of forest into a tactical training compound featuring a mock city. This project was recently announced to the shock of community members who had been given no opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. The entire process has been shadier than the forest itself.

Intrenchment Creek is an existing public park adjacent to the Prison Farm. Dekalb County seeks to swap this land with Blackhall Studios, a major film production company. Blackhall wants to clear cut 170 acres of forest to develop into an airport and erect the largest sound stage in America. This project would cement Atlanta as the new Hollywood, making the cost of living in our city outrageous.

We refuse to let our forest be bulldozed in favor of the police and sold out to Hollywood. There are many forms of action and advocacy to be taken. This is a broad, decentralized, autonomous movement. Get involved in whatever ways move you. Take a walk in the forest with your friends.

Forests and other wild spaces are vital public resources, and should be protected. I’ve talked before about how enraging it is that we’re all forced to just go through life like nothing’s happening, while the rest of the biosphere collapses around us, and a tiny number of the most evil people on the planet use their obscene wealth and power to continue the destruction of everything we hold dear. It’s difficult to know how to discuss these things for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that I’m not always sure where the boundaries of legality are when it comes to discussing what to do about unjust laws. I’m very glad that movements like this go out of their way to avoid harming any of the people they’re trying to stop, but I also find it encouraging that they’re clearly unwilling to abide by a rule of law that would see us all die to maintain the lifestyles of the rich and powerful.

The reality is that if we are going to survive, we need to protect every halfway-healthy ecosystem we can. That may be less urgent than ending fossil fuel extraction and use, but not by a whole lot.

I was talking to someone on Twitter the other day about what I do and don’t want for the world, and because it’s so easy to miscommunicate on a platform like that I ended up doing a brief rundown of what changes I think humanity needs to make. It’s… It’s a lot. There’s so much work to do, it’s hard to wrap my head around. I talked a while back about the problem of chemical pollution, separate from climate change, and that’s something that we can help by stopping pollution at the source, but I think it’d be a very good idea for us to do what we can to actively clean stuff up. I’m no doctor, but maybe it’s not good that there’s plastic and other shit in our blood? That’s going to mean cleaning up old dumping grounds like the area in the Atlanta forest, and cleaning up what could be centuries of mine waste, and battlegrounds all over the world, and sunken ships, and all the while the richest people on the planet want to keep making that monumental task bigger.

At what point is it self defense to obstruct this kind of “development”? At what point is it self defense to force the closure of a factory that’s poisoning your water?

As with white supremacy, the United States has responded to these questions with bluster and resentful concessions at best, and outright denial at worst. The reality is that our current structure of laws and norms has always devalued life, and now it seems poised to simply make life impossible for large portions of the planet’s population.

Part of the reason I favor the approach of local organizing networked to allow for national or global action, is that while we face huge, planetary problems, their manifestations are local in nature. Different communities have different needs, and the people on the ground – as in Atlanta – best know what the stakes are for themselves. The same was true with the opposition to the Keystone pipeline extension – activists came from all across the country to help, and they put themselves under the leadership of the Indigenous people whose land they were trying to defend.

People in Atlanta are fighting to do what their city’s government will not, and preserve the ecosystem that gives Atlanta its best hope of a better future as the climate warms. I support what they’re doing, and I hope to see more actions like it in the coming years. Maybe I’m just a bit too cynical, but I don’t see our “leaders” doing anything real any time soon, and we’re short on time.

If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!

Video: Why the baby formula shortage is a capitalist disaster

Tomorrow’s post will be a look into some radical action that’s not getting a lot of news coverage, but for tonight, I’m going to have to leave you in the hands of the good folks at The Majority Report. The formula shortage is like all other food shortages right now – it’s the result of how we’ve decided to organize society. I talk a lot about future crop failures and the like, but the reality is that in the present, we still produce more food than is needed to feed all of humanity – even the babies! I want us to be thinking about future food shortages because now is the time to change things to prevent them. If we wait till climate change and unsustainable farming practices create a global famine, it will be too late.

That’s why I think global solidarity, and an end to capitalism and imperialism, is more necessary than ever. Greed, and wars driven by greed, are the primary causes of starvation in the world at the moment. If our current system can’t keep everybody fed now, when we can produce enough to feed billions more people than are currently alive, how well will it do when there’s simply not enough food? Probably about as well as it’s currently doing at reshaping agriculture to account for climate change

This video is a good overview of the conditions that led to the formula shortage, as well as the societal conditions that led to those conditions.

Chile’s potential new constitution looks interesting

Last time I wrote about goings-on in Chile, it was to talk about a hilarious campaign ad from a very promising candidate. That candidate – Gabriel Boric – won, and is currently serving as president of Chile. The movement that put Boric in power also had other agendas, and it seems they’re close to getting real results. Apparently they have a final draft for a new constitution, to be voted on in September:

After 10 months of fraught negotiations, Chile has finalised the draft of a new constitution that could replace the document drawn up during Gen Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

María Elisa Quinteros, the president of the gender-equal, 154-member assembly will formally present the draft at a ceremony in the port city of Antofagasta on Monday afternoon.

“This is an ecological and equal constitution with social rights at its very core,” she said in an interview.

Among the long list of rights and freedoms the draft enshrines, the new constitution makes higher education free, ensures gender parity across government and makes the state responsible for preventing, adapting to and mitigating climate change.

The constitution will be put to a referendum on 4 September in which all Chileans aged 18 or older must vote.

Chile exploded into protest in 2019 and millions of people took to the streets decrying a host of entrenched inequalities. In response, political parties struck a compromise to move towards replacing the Pinochet-era constitution.

Nearly 80% of voters chose to begin that journey in an October 2020 plebiscite, and seven months later leftists and independents stormed elections for a constitutional convention.

“With every bill that passed, we have provided answers to the demands of the 2019 demonstrations, such as better healthcare, education and pensions,” Quinteros said.

The new document will for the first time offer constitutional recognition to Chile’s Indigenous population.

“Whether this constitution is rejected or approved [by the plebiscite], I believe that Chile’s Indigenous peoples have already won,” said Rosa Catrileo, who represents the Mapuche, the country’s largest Indigenous group.

“We have made our demands visible on a national level, and so never again will we be excluded from the conversation,” she said.

The new document even includes a clause for the compensated restitution of historically Indigenous lands.

Among a host of other changes, it opts to eliminate the senate in favour of a single-chamber legislature, and paves the way for Chile’s deeply unpopular private water rights system to be replaced.

Since July last year, the former congress building in Santiago has been the stage for a lengthy and often bitter public battle over Chile’s future.

The process was designed around participation, with citizens able to endorse articles and debate legislation at assemblies the length of Chile.

As the country confronted its past head-on, delegates have occasionally been hounded by the public, while a vociferous campaign to undermine the process has raged in the background.

Although the Pinochet-era constitution was reformed significantly under the presidency of Ricardo Lagos in 2005, it retains the ideological fingerprints of Chile’s dictator.

It omits certain rights, such as the right to housing, and focuses on securing the legacy of the military regime as well as a market-led model for the provision of social services.

With 499 articles, Chile’s new constitution would be the world’s longest, prompting some concern over the “maximalist” approach taken by the delegates.

The convention has divided into three commissions: one to streamline and condense the document; another to plot the transition from one constitution to the next; and a third to write a preamble.

However, the outlook is uncertain ahead of September’s plebiscite.

Latest polling suggests that initial enthusiasm for reform has dissipated, with 46% saying they will reject the draft compared with 38% voting in its favour.

The future is uncertain, and always will be. We can know some things for sure, but no struggle for liberation is a fight for a guaranteed outcome. We can make all the right decisions and have bad things happen anyway. That’s as true at a national level as it is at an individual level. Failing to get it right is not evidence that we should go back to a worse way of doing things – it’s an inevitable process of figuring out how to do things in a new way. It seems like “uncertain times” tend to make a lot of people cling to a familiar illusion of stability, forgetting that those very conditions were what led to the chaos we want to escape. I hope Chile manages to start something new and positive in September, and if they don’t get it then, well, life goes on, and we try again.


Infographics: Emergency alternatives to formula

I’m afraid I have to admit – the novel I’m working on seems to be draining all of my creative energy. It’s like my brain switched tracks, and now it can’t think about nonfiction. It’s taken me a while to get into a groove with the blog, and now this novel just slammed into my brain out of nowhere. I think I was as ready for that as I was ever going to be, but it means that I’ve got to figure out a new way to go about things. Hopefully I’ll get that dealt with sooner rather than later, but for now I think this is useful information for people to have, in light of the U.S. baby formula shortage

EDIT 20/05/2022: Hey, so problems with the content I posted here arose, and the person whose material I linked here has given an update. In hindsight, ignoring the red flags that Katydid mentions in the comments was a mistake, and I’ll try to do better next time.

I just realized both op and the commenter are insane trad christains so im deleting my reblog (because im not platforming their shit – this is ALSO why im censoring their URLs I’m not going to give them traffic) and instead reposing it with the following links/information:

1) The WHO still actively hosts a guide on how to create safe milk substitutes when access to breastmilk/milk substitutes are unavailable on the Institutional Repository for Information Sharing (iris). The guide is called “Infant Feeding in Emergencies: A Guide for Mothers”. Relevant information starts on page 38.

2) Here is a link to the archived guide WITH THE CAUTION that I was not able to find out why its no longer provided by the WHO or iris. It could be that the information is out of date. I am only sharing it because I think the visuals may be helpful for people who have trouble reading written directions. Consult the above link first, then refer to this guide only if you need clarification on how to perform certain actions. Link to archive.

3) The language in that second comment throws up so may red flags. I cropped it to only the information needed to understand the context of this post because I find it immensely suspect. The repeated allusions to 2020 for no apparent reason (but I can guess why, as an infection disease scientist) come across as loaded or dog-whistely. I would advise against sharing the OP for that reason. But because the information being provided is important and not well known, I’m making this alternative post for people to reblog.

4) The implication that the WHO is censoring information based on a 404 page is a really flimsy and extreme conclusion to jump to. The “Infant Feeding in Emergencies” guide I linked above also goes to a 404 page on the WHO’s main website – but again, can be accessed through iris instead. So no, the information on how to feed infants in a food crisis is not being censored by the WHO.

5) A more likely cause for the guide disappearing is that the link broke and they didn’t fix it. If you look at the original URL it indicates the guide was posted in a subcategory on the WHO’s website about International Crises, specifically in the Middle East. If you try to type in a shortened versions of that URL (specifically or the slightly modified you’ll see that the subdomain that was present with relevant info breaks around 2020. In fact, while testing this hypothesis, I came across this information page in a November 2021 version of the URL (which I was redirected to automatically from

The image is an error page that reads as follows: We have revamped our website. In 2020, our web migration project tackled over 180,000 pages of content and over 200,000 publications. Much of our content has been updated, made more dynamic, and may no longer be found in the same place. If you are having problems finding content, please try: -search for publications in our new Publications Hub - find content in Health Topics - Look for content in Teams - Find Disease Outbreak News in our new emergencies section - Brows by Initiatives - Look through WHO Activities - Sort by

There is no nefarious conspiracy theory. The link simply broke – as many many many many links do on the internet. The second commenters reply is proven bunk by a little bit of fact checking.

sorry for the long post, but I think the information on infant nutrition substitutes is genuinely useful, lifesaving info – but i’m not going to give more people with dangerous ideological views spouting nonsense a platform.

So yeah. Sorry about that, but hopefully the information this page now contains will be useful!

New research shows climate action will save lives in the short term. Our leaders will not care.

A new study has found that decarbonizing the U.S. energy system would save tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars every year, and this will do nothing to make those in power move any faster.

A new study adds to the case for urgent decarbonization of the U.S. energy system, finding that slashing air pollution emissions from energy-related sources would bring near-term public health gains including preventing over 50,000 premature deaths and save $608 billion in associated benefits annually.

I’m going to make a brief aside here. At this point I have no faith that anyone with the power to make a difference on climate change will actually do so any time soon. Those empowered by our system have made it clear, through decades of inaction, that they have no interest in doing anything to prevent that system from destroying us all.

It’s also worth noting that the ideas of saving lives and money don’t actually hold any value to the people running our world. That number of premature deaths isn’t far off from the number killed by the US for-profit healthcare system, but because that system makes a few people very rich, it’s protected by both major parties. It doesn’t matter that a universal system would save money and lives, because that’s not the point. Likewise, the folks running the U.S. government are perfectly fine pouring trillions of dollars into endless war all over the planet. They do not care about lives lost or money wasted, as long as they get some personal benefit in the process.

That said, I like research like this. I think this kind of thing is useful in making the case that there are far fewer downsides to climate action than some would have us believe. It’s also useful for making the case that those who claim to care about life, money, or climate change are just lying for votes, for as long as they’re not doing everything they can for real climate action. When it’s clear that the truth is not enough to move the powerful to action, we need to consider how research like this can be used.

Published Monday in the journal GeoHealth, the analysis by Mailloux and fellow UW-Madison researchers focuses on emissions of fine particulate matter, referred to as PM2.5, and of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from the electric power, transportation, building, and industrial sectors.

Those sectors account for 90% of U.S. CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the paper notes. The bulk of the emissions from the sectors comes from fossil fuel use, though the study points to “a substantial portion” of particulate pollution stemming from wood and bark burning and “a small portion” resulting from non-combustion sources.

“Many of the same activities and processes that emit planet-warming GHGs also release health-harming air pollutant emissions; the current air quality-related health burden associated with fossil fuels is substantial,” the analysis states.

The study also notes that “the current pace of decarbonization in the U.S. is still incompatible with a world in which global warming is limited to 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” and that “deep and rapid cuts in GHG emissions are needed in all energy-related sectors—including electric power, transportation, buildings, and industry—if states and the country as a whole are to achieve reductions consistent with avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.”

The researchers measured the potential benefits of the removal of the air pollution, ranging from all-cause mortality to non-fatal heart attacks and respiratory-related hospital admissions, using the Environmental Protection Agency’s CO-Benefits Risk Assessment tool.

They also looked at the impacts of both U.S.-wide and regional action on the reductions; they found that nationwide actions delivered the biggest benefits, though “all regions can prevent hundreds or thousands of deaths by eliminating energy-related emissions sources within the region, which shows the local benefits of local action to mitigate air quality issues.”

According to the analysis, the pollution reductions would save 53,200 premature deaths and provide $608 billion in annual benefits. The avoided deaths account for 98% of the monetary benefits. But apart from avoidance of human lives lost, the particulate matter reductions offer further benefits including up to 25,600 avoided non-fatal heart attacks, as well as preventing 5,000 asthma-related emergency room visits and avoiding 3.68 million days of work lost.

I know the tone of this post has been gloomy. It might be possible for me to not be consumed by frustration at the state of things, but if so, I’ve yet to figure out how. That said, it is good to know that the right choice will have benefits beyond “merely” keeping the planet hospitable to human life. As much as I’m afraid I’ll be saying this until I die of old age, it’s good that the only real obstacles to a better world are political. It means that we know we can do things differently, and make a better world in the process.

I think it’s also worth pointing out that the lives saved by taking these measures would be disproportionately poor and non-white. I’m in favor of real, targeted reparations, but the reality is that most actions we take to benefit all of humanity will benefit all humanity, if we actually do the work right. It should come as no surprise that those people most subjected to the ravages of pollution are also those with the least social and political power.

This study will do no more to move our so-called leaders than have the studies that came before it, but as with those prior studies, it makes it clear that we need to take matters into our own hands. Those who we’ve foolishly empowered to solve problems for us will not act until it is far too late. Sometimes that knowledge makes me despair, but then I remember that if we can figure out how to actually take the steps, a better world is within reach.

If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!

Tegan Tuesday: Scientists solve one part of the SIDS puzzle

I was probably around 5 when I first learned about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). A friend of the family, one year younger than I, had unusual sleep habits and I brought my new-found knowledge of him to my mother. I almost certainly wanted confirmation that I was the more-grown up with better habits than this friend, as I have been known to be petty and selfish, especially as a kid. My friend lived down the street with his family. Our moms were friends, and my sister and I often played with the three kids, so we naturally competed in a lot of ways. My mom instead told me how this friend, my sister’s playmate, was actually the fourth child born to his family, that the children had lost an older brother, the second child, before he turned one. That because of this mysterious, untreatable, unknowable disease that kills babies was now known to be part of this family, their mom had to fight to keep this youngest child alive. The third child was not affected by SIDS, but the youngest nearly died dozens if not hundreds of times, but was on monitors that would wake his mother up to save his life.

I remember it being one of the scariest things I had ever heard about. My great-grandmother lost a child to cradle death – as it was called in the 1930s – and according to family history, she blamed herself for what she might have done better until the day she died. I know that my mother’s friend, the mother of my friends, still feels guilt and shame for having saved one child but not two from this syndrome in 1985. And my mom told me how, because it comes to sleeping children under a certain age, there are a lot of recommendations about how to hopefully prevent such deaths. Limited blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in the crib; no soft mattresses; only letting babies sleep on their back. I developed a horror of having my face covered during this time period, because what if I fell asleep and died? I still am uncomfortable sleeping without my nose breathing air beyond the covers, even though I am well beyond the range of SIDS! The Mayo Clinic still lists the sleeping guidelines I learned in the early 1990s as the recommended preventative for SIDS. With the syndrome being sudden and unexplained, there was very little conclusive research expanding beyond the knowledge of the ’80s and ’90s. In 1994, the US ran an education campaign called “Back to Sleep” that did successfully raise awareness of safe sleep practices and SIDS cases dropped by 53%. Even with this wide-spread knowledge, however, SIDS remains the leading cause of mortality for infants under 12 months in age, at a rate of approximately 1 in 1000 births per year. That was the state of things. Research continued, but it seemed like everyone was coming up empty, at least when it came to figuring out either causes or new preventative measures.

At least, it seemed like everyone was coming up empty until this year. An Australian research team (Carmel Harrington, Naz Al Hafid, and Karen Waters, of the SIDS and Sleep Apnoea Research Group of The Children’s Hospital in Westmead, New South Wales) was one of many that were frustrated with the limited information and comfort modern medicine could offer parents.

But many children whose parents took every precaution still died from SIDS. These parents were left with immense guilt, wondering if they could have prevented their baby’s death.

Dr. Carmel Harrington, the lead researcher for the study, was one of these parents. Her son unexpectedly and suddenly died as an infant 29 years ago. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Harrington explained what she was told about the cause of her child’s death.

“Nobody could tell me. They just said it’s a tragedy. But it was a tragedy that didn’t sit well with my scientific brain.”

Since then, she’s worked to find the cause of SIDS, both for herself and for the medical community as a whole. She went on to explain why this discovery is so important for parents whose babies suffered from SIDS.

“These families can now live with the knowledge that this was not their fault,” she said.

It was already known that there were three factors that caused SIDS: a) environmental (such as the bedding); b) age (between 1 and 12 months of age); and c) biological susceptibility (yet to be determined, but suspected to relate to the body’s ability to wake). The new study, officially published in this June’s Lancet, demonstrates that they have started to crack the code finding a bio marker for those in danger of SIDS. Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is an enzyme that appears to be one part of the complex system that is autonomic function, specifically related to waking a sleeping body. In particular, it is one of the enzymes that hydrolyzes Acetylcholine (ACh), the primary neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system. In testing blood samples from 722 live births collected from 2016-2020 with 67 dead (26 SIDS and 41 non-SIDS), the research indicated that those infants who perished of SIDS showed lowered levels of BChE, while the non-SIDS deaths remained at the same levels as the control group. The blood samples were from the routine “heel prick” or Guthrie Test for a handful of dangerous diseases such as cystic fibrosis and phenylketonuria (PKU). As there is more than one enzyme regulating the ability to wake up, the researchers initially tested for both Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and BChE, but the storage of samples denatured AChE beyond current ability to test.

Currently, this is as far as this new research has gone. The next stage in SIDS research around the globe will be to develop reliable tests to assess the risk to newborns before children have to die. In the meantime, it’s important to keep following safe sleeping practices for infants who’re at risk. Hopefully in the next decade, SIDS will be join the list of concerns tested with the heel prick!

If you like the content of this blog, please share it around. If you like the blog and you have the means, please consider joining my lovely patrons in paying for the work that goes into it. Due to my immigration status, I’m currently prohibited from conventional wage labor, so for the next couple years at least this is going to be my only source of income. You can sign up for as little as $1 per month (though more is obviously welcome), to help us make ends meet – every little bit counts!

Tucker Carlson is a stochastic terrorist.

I don’t have a lot of energy today. Tegan came down with the same stomach bug as me, one day after, so while we both seem to be better, neither of us has gotten enough sleep. That means, of course, that today’s “content” is a video. In this case, it’s from David Doel at The Rational National:

Carlson has been increasingly blatant in pushing fascist propaganda, both the white supremacist “great replacement” bile mentioned in the video, and also the old-school tactic of making psuedo-leftist criticisms of capitalism, and then instead of real solutions, offering nationalism and bigotry as the answer. We know what follows from rhetoric like this, and I’m willing to bet Carlson knows it too. Just as I think his fascist content is made very deliberately, I also think he knows that his content will result in attacks like this, just as Bill O’Reilly knew the consequences of constantly calling George Tiller “the baby killer”. At this point, I think Occam’s Razor cuts in favor of malice as the explanation, rather than ignorance or incompetence.

Everything I’ve seen makes me think that this is the kind of result Carlson is looking for.

Edit: Just wanted to add this:

When I was one year old, the government of Philadelphia firebombed its own people

The United States is a country that was founded on white supremacy, and that has yet to actually address the myriad of atrocities and injustices that followed from that aspect of the nation’s founding. The current “CRT” panic from the right wing is a not-so-subtle effort to prevent the teaching of any history that might undermine fanatical patriotism, particularly among white students. From what I can tell, the conservative movement is horrified that people have been learning about things like the 1921 pogrom in Tulsa Oklahoma. Personally, I love to see it. Lately I’ve heard a lot of fascists online talking about their belief that history is cyclical, and that “their time” is coming, especially with the recent backlash against social progress. There’s a degree to which belief in such cycles can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you have hugely popular people like Joe Rogan spreading a mix of fatalism, bigotry, and machismo, and talking about ancient prophecies, I think there’s a real danger of people trying to create hard times, or at minimum shrugging off dangerous trends in society.

So I think it’s worth remembering both the kinds of things that can come from a racist law enforcement system, and remembering that this stuff is not remotely cyclical. Even a cursory glance at history shows “hard times” happening all over the world on any given date. Sadly, state violence against black neighborhoods didn’t end in the 1920s. On May 13th 1985, the Philedelphia Police Department firebombed a neighborhood:

In case it wasn’t clear, officials made the decision to let the fire spread:

In May 1985, after attempts to evict the group from its home in West Philadelphia, the city flew a helicopter over it and dropped a bomb. The explosives resulted in a raging fire, which the fire department refused to control. Various accounts suggest that police began shooting at members attempting to flee. Only two people escaped, and six adults and five children died in the blaze.

This is all bad enough, but because the U.S. is what it is, it gets worse. See – ordinarily when people die, regardless of the circumstances, their remains are treated according to the wishes of loved ones. It’s generally considered bad form to just… keep the remains without permission.

A forensic pathologist produced reports on the human remains found in the debris, including two sets of bones identified as belonging to Tree Africa, 14, and Delisha Africa, 12.

Mike Africa Jr., a current MOVE member who spent his childhood with the group, remembered Tree as fearless, someone who would find the tallest tree in the park and race to its peak. “No one could climb higher than she could,” he said in an interview this month. “She never feared the way up.” Delisha, he said, was always right behind her.

After an investigation into the bombing,the remains were given to anthropologist Alan Mann by the city Medical Examiner’s Office, according to the MOVE Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission letters, for further analysis. At the time, he worked at the University of Pennsylvania. When Mann transferred to Princeton University in 2001, he reportedly took the bones with him.

Researchers connected to the schools also used the girls’ bones in an online forensic anthropology teaching video, without permission of the relatives’ families.

That the MOVE bones were still being held by the universities was not widely known before revelations published this week by online news site Billy Penn. It has led to public outrage as controversy builds over American museums’ display and study of human remains. Just last week, the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology pledged to repatriate another group of problematic human remains known as the Morton Collection.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday that he was “extremely disturbed” by the mishandling of the girls’ remains and that the city is reviewing its internal records from the time of the bombing.

On Thursday, MOVE member Pam Africa told The RemiX Morning Show her organization had never been contacted about the remains.

“None of these monsters have called one MOVE person,” Africa said. “Tree has a mother, Consuela Africa, who did 16 years in jail.”

Fortunately, last year the remains were found after Philadelphia’s health commissioner Thomas Farley was found to have ordered their destruction without notifying anyone – let alone the family. This stuff isn’t ancient history. I was a year old when this happened, and Farley’s attempt to destroy the remains was in 2017. White supremacy is still very much the default in how a lot of the United States operates. Black Americans have been saying this for decades, it has become pretty fucking clear in recent years just how right they were.

Right now the country is in the grips of a massive, well-funded effort to roll back as many civil rights as possible. Whatever you may have been told, the “moral arc of the universe” is a comforting fiction. There is no inevitable good outcome for us. If we want the world to get better, we have to understand what it was, what it is, and we have to work to make it into something that it never has been before.

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