Al Gore doesn't tweet about many books (except maybe his own) but he really wants you to read this one: Toms River, by Dan Fagin -- probably the best thriller about toxic dumping since "A Civil Action" came to a theater near you. The Nobel Peace Prize winner for his environmental activism called Toms River "[a]n important read for all" -- and on top of all that, it's a yarn from our backyard, a.k.a.New Jersey.
Full disclosure: Dan is an old friend from back at Newsday a long time ago, back before anyone imagined that Newsday would become (sort of) the stuff of Broadway legend. I know first-hard that Dan is one of the best environmental reporters in America -- a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize who now teaches the craft at New York University when he's not writing books. Since my recommendation might be polluted (see what I did there?) by our friendship, check out what the objective New York Times said about Toms River:
There's one thing that's always been true about Philadelphia -- this town loves a fighter. You know, the ballplayer who may not be the second coming of "The Natural" but who loves to get his uniform dirty, the little guy who leaves everything out on the hardwood. Last night, Mayor Nutter went on national television -- MSNBC's "All In" with Chris Hayes -- to talk about the future of Philadelphia's public schools, where lives -- of thousands of kids from rough-and-tumble neighborhoods looking for a way up and out, and the dedicated men and women who teach them -- are hanging in the balance.
A fighter is absolutely NOT what the TV audience -- in Philadelphia and across the nation -- saw last night. In fact, Nutter looked the opposite...punch-drunk, dazed and confused. Or maybe like one of those hostages reading a prepared political statement while his captor with the AK-47 is right off camera, as if Nutter was going to start blinking "h-e-l-p" in Morse code.
This religion writer for the Charlotte Observer was arrested for covering a protest -- not in Gezi Park, mind you, but in North Carolina.
Nothing to see here, America...move along. (via Romenesko)
Yesterday I mentioned the stunning layoff notices to more than 3,700 teachers and other key employees of the Philadelphia School District, a story that was tossed down an Orwellian memory hole, partly because it was dumped on the Friday of an especially busy news week and partly because in the past pink slips have been used fairly successfully as a negotiating tool. But this time, it feels like an end game, and a lot of dedicated teachers and school employees feel that way too.
This picture at top is Ms. Cohen (that's what it says), a science teacher at Paul Robeson High School (whose namesake would be spinning in his grave if he knew what was happening in Philly), She is one of the Faces of the Layoffs from the Teacher Action Group, seeking to put a human face on some very inhuman actions by our so-called leaders. Check them out, and then check out this letter that Harvey Scribner, a teacher from the Crossroads Accelerated Academy whose pink slip was accelerated over the weekend, addressed to the school district, Here's an excerpt:
Meet America's newest best-selling author -- George Orwell. The past future (although the actual year 1984 did have its Orwellian moments) that the British author and public thinker dreamed up in the late 1940s has finally come to America, and book buyers are responding. Check out the sales for Orwell's dystopian masterwork, 1984:
Sales of George Orwell’s ’1984′ are up 69 percent on Amazon, according to a list on the website.
It was around rush hour on Friday that a gunman went berserk in Santa Monica, Calif. The man killed his father and his brother, set their house and fire and went out in the heavily populated coastal community with an AR-15 assault rifle and practically a warehouse of ammunition. He shot up a restaurant and a city bus, fatally gunned down a father and a daughter in their car before police finally killed the disturbed man in a shootout on a busy college campus. The man had killed six innocent people.
It was the kind of episode that once might have riveted a nation, sparked a debate not only about gun control but America's moral bearing, and made the cover of the newsmagazines back when there were several newsmagazines and people actually waited to read them. But in 2013, the episode was largely gone just like the tropical storm when folks woke up on Saturday. It was as if the mass shooting had been thrown down a memory hole -- a fitting metaphor for a time that would have made George Orwell quite proud of his abilities as a prophet, even though he would be revulsed as a citizen of the world.
:He has had "a very comfortable life" that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."
They're spying on Verizon -- and probably every other phone company:
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
Blight, absentee slumlords, porn, a clueless city government -- and death.
The story of 2136 Market Street is the story of Philadelphia.
I don't think any politicians would want the perilous choice that New Jersey Gov. Chris Chris Christie faced in the wake of this week's death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Christie had not one but two difficult decisions: When to call a special election to replace Lautenberg, and who to appoint as an interim senator between now and the election. Although he still hasn't appointed rocker Bruce Springsteen anyone yet, he did reveal today his plan for the election. And it's a doozy.
The scheme to hold a separate special election this October, after party primaries in August, allows Christie to accomplish more positive things than I would have thought possible. On the surface, every politician wants to be able to publicly proclaim that what he did was the most democratic (with a small "d") choice for the most people, and by letting people vote on the Senate seat as early as possible (most predicted the vote wouldn't be until November 2013 or maybe even November 2014) he can plausibly claim that's what he did. Indeed, he stated at today's announcement: "“The process to fill this United States Senate seat must allow the people to have a voice.” That may be contrived rhetoric on Christie's part, but I think it will resonate with New Jersey's largest voting bloc, independents.