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While You Were Sleeping for June 2017



In early May, workers in New Orleans removed a 15-foot-high statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which was originally unveiled in 1911. The statue was the second of four pre-Civil Rights era monuments removed by the city. In 2015, the city of New Orleans voted to remove the monuments after nine blacks were shot and killed outside a church in South Carolina. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu stated, "To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past." A bronze statue of Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard and a statue of General Robert E. Lee are also to be removed.

Source: Guardian

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order allowing national land monument borders to be re-evaluated and rescinded or reduced to allow more federal land for drilling and mining. The order, which was signed in April, is the first time a US president has ever issued a statement calling for national land monument boundary lines to be reassessed. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is scheduled to review nearly 30 monuments that have been created over the past 20 years—from the Grand Staircase protected by Bill Clinton in 1996 to the Bears Ears, a Native American cultural heritage site protected by Obama in December 2016. (Bears Ears is also where EOG Resources, a Texas oil company, has been given permission to drill.) Trump has stated Obama's use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create monuments was an "egregious abuse of federal power" which allowed to the government to "lock up" millions of acres of land and water. The Outdoor Industry Association has also spoken out against this order, claiming that outdoor recreation generates over $887 billion in consumer spending and creates 7.6 million jobs.

Source: Reuters

An analysis published by The Trace showed that road rage resulting in the use of a firearm has more than doubled from 247 in 2014 to 620 in 2016. According to At least 1,319 road rage incidents with firearms occurred in the three-year period. Of that number, at least 354 were wounded, and 136 were killed. Dr. Aaron Pinkhasov, chairman of the Department of Behavioral Health at Winthrop-University Hospital on Long Island, stated that road rage is a reflection of the driver's overall state of stress. "People need to learn coping strategies as well as stress reduction techniques."

Source: New York Times

The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed members of a major scientific review board. The dismissals came after the House passed a bill at the end of March that would include more coporate representation in the EPA. "This is completely part of a multifaceted effort to get science out of the way of a deregulation agenda," said Ken Kimmell, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Critics consider this act part of the Trump Administration's plan to reduce academic research in climate change and to further promote business and industrial developments.

Source: Washington Post

Bacteria and viruses, long dormant and frozen in ice for thousands of years, are coming back to life due to climate change. In the Arctic Circle, thawing permafrost revealed a dead reindeer which had been infected with anthrax (and has since affected many living reindeer). In August 2016 in the Siberian Yamal Peninsula, a 12-year-old boy died from anthrax poisoning, and at least 20 people were hospitalized. A 2011 study composed by Boris Revich and Marina Podolnaya stated, "As a consequence of permafrost melting, the vectors of deadly infections of the 18th and 19th centuries may come back, especially where the victims of these infections were buried." This scenario creates fear that frozen humans and animals of the past—and their deadly bacteria—could resurface and threaten the lives of modern humans.

Source: BBC

The IRS puts white-nationalist groups in the same category as orchestras, planetariums, and zoos. The legal status of white-nationalist groups exempts them from tax levies and allows their supporters to write off their donations. According to an analysis by the Associated Press, four white nationalist organizations (IRS-recognized charities)—National Policy Institute, New Century Foundation, Charles Martel Society, and VDare Foundation—raised $7.8 million in tax-free donations over the last decade. Head of New Century Foundation Jared Taylor claimed that his group raises money for the benefit of the "white race," a mission that taxpayers are indirectly funding with the group's status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Legal expert Eric Franklin Amarante of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas issued a proposal, urging the IRS to change its rules for tax exemption. However, such a change could affect organizations that sponsor educational lectures, conferences, and public discussions.

Source: Washington Post, Associated Press

In the last 15 years, cigarette sales have dropped by 37 percent, but tobacco companies' profits have increased by 32 percent to $93.4 billion in 2016. A pack used to cost $3.73 and now costs $6.42. Only two major cigarette companies exist in the United States right now—Altria (Marlboro and Next) and Reynolds American (Newport and Camel), producing eight out of every ten cigarettes in the US. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2016, Americans spent more on cigarettes than on soda and beer combined. Stocks also reveal the success of tobacco companies—the Wall Street Journal reported that the S&P 500 Tobacco Index grew 178 percent in the last 10 years.

Source: New York Times

21st Century Fox has spent $45 million in settlements since Roger Ailes was asked to leave Fox News Channel last summer due to many allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment toward women in the workplace. Ailes was said to have received a $40 million parting gift from Rupert Murdoch as he left Fox News. In September 2016, former "Fox & Friends" co-host Gretchen Carlson, one of the victims, sued him, and ultimately received a $20 million settlement check from Fox. She soon dropped her legal action. Sexual harassment settlements are not new to Fox News—Bill O'Reilly was fired in April after at least five women reported sexual harassment over the years (which cost Fox nearly $13 million in settlements).

Source: Deadline

In 1996, a 20-year-old with HIV, living in Europe or North America, would have lived into his or her 60s. But in the recent years, the outlook has improved: HIV-positive people are now living just as long as those without HIV. According to The Lancet HIV, on average, women with HIV live until their mid 70s, while men live until their early 70s (if they began treatment between 2008 and 2010). The average life expectancy in the US is 79 years. Unfortunately, HIV can lead to the development of other issues—such as Alzheimer's or HAND (HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorder), and the amount of care needed to effectively treat someone with HIV is extensive.

Source: Quartz Media

Compiled by Diana Waldron

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