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What discounts to offer for self-published POD books

Guest post by Maggie Lynch.

 

In an Authors Guild discussion group, author Maggie Lynch provided an excellent explanation for self-published authors who want to know how to work with wholesalers. I reprint it below with Maggie's permission.

 

It's important to understand critical information about WHO are wholesalers and their role (e.g., Ingram is a wholesaler who takes 15% of retail price of every book they print on demand). They also fail to disclose how the discounts really pass down to bookstores. Finally, they make it sound like you get to choose one discount for online retailers and a different discount for small bookshops. Not true. You choose one discount. Period with a print-on-demand (POD) vendor (e.g., Ingram Spark).

Which Companies Are Wholesalers?
Ingram is one. As I said they take 15% of retail.
Amazon is another one for those who go to Amazon direct via KDP print. They take 40% of retail.
Gardners in the UK is another one. They distribute to smaller bookstores and to libraries.
These are just the major ones, but there are hundreds of smaller ones as well. Every one of them takes some percentage of retail, usually in the 10-15% range.


What Do Bookstores Actually Get the Book for When They Order from Ingram?
Let me share a story of local bookstores in the Portland, Oregon area where I've done a number of events and know the owners. The story of what the bookstores get depends on where the book originates (Amazon, Ingram, another indie printer such as Lulu, Xlibris, BookBaby, etc.).


Originates with Amazon and is printed by Ingram
You set discount at 60%, the only option with Amazon POD
Amazon takes 40%
Ingram takes 15%
Bookstore orders book and has only a 10% discount not including shipping.
     NOTE: Most bookstores won't order from Amazon direct (a few do).


Originates with Ingram Spark
You set discount at 55%, the recommended discount with Ingram POD.
Ingram takes 15%
Bookstore orders book and gets a 40% discount. Most bookstores have an agreement with Ingram to get free shipping if they order 10+ books (not necessarily all the same book).
     NOTE: This discount is traditionally what bookstores expect and they have the room to discount the book in the store if they wish and still make a profit. Three small bookstore owners I've spoken with told me they traditionally discount a new release 20% in order to compete with Amazon. That leaves only 20% for them to pay their overhead costs and realize a profit.

Three Notes of How I Handle Discounting and Pricing for POD


I always choose the 55% discount at Ingram Spark for the reasons above. I support small bookstores and libraries and I value what they do to serve the public.
I do upload to Amazon direct for print, but I DO NOT select expanded distribution because Ingram is handling that for me. That makes my print book available on all Amazon sites with a 60% royalty to me (minus the cost to print the book). I upload to Ingram for everyone except Amazon. I choose the 55% discount. Ingram makes my book available to wholesalers, retailers, small and large bookstores both online and in person, as well as libraries anywhere in the world they distribute.

     I price my Amazon book and my Ingram book exactly the same. If it is $14.99 at Ingram, it is also $14.99 at Amazon. Some people price the Amazon book lower because they are getting a higher royalty and they want to compete with traditional books. IMO this is a mistake because they are, in effect, negating the purchase of the book at any small bookshops and driving traffic to their book on Amazon. You might as well not load to Ingram if that is what you are going to do. I price the same for both. Sure, I make more if someone buys on Amazon than from some other online or local retailer. But I push local bookstores as much as I can because I actually have a higher reach with them.

     Bookshop owners have told me how, in the past five years, they've watched potential customers come in the store, look at the books on the shelf and then immediately call up Amazon to see if they can get it for less. If so, they leave the store and purchase it online. It makes me very sad that some people put no value in the services of their local bookstore.

For more information about Maggie's business helping authors self-publish their books, see POV Author Services.

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What the December pandemic bill does for freelancers

Let me know about articles I've overlooked (in holiday haste):

 

Buried in Pandemic Aid Bill: Billions to Soothe the Richest (Luke Broadwater, Jesse Drucker and Rebecca R. Ruiz, NY Times, 12-22-2020) The voluminous coronavirus relief and spending bill that blasted through Congress on Monday includes provisions — good, bad and just plain strange — that few lawmakers got to read.
The Second Stimulus Package: Here’s What’s Included (Zach Montague, NY Times, 12-22-2020) Smaller stimulus checks, targeted aid for small businesses, and funding to buy and distribute vaccines are among the main components of the latest pandemic relief package.
Relief Deal Would Give Small Businesses a Shot at a Second Loan (Stacy Cowley, NY Times, 12-21-2020) The stimulus package being negotiated in Washington includes $285 billion for a renewed Paycheck Protection Program.
Rental protections, nursing home funding, food stamps: Here’s what’s included in the stimulus bill. (Zach Montague, NY Times, 12-23-2020) Smaller stimulus checks, targeted aid for small businesses, and funding to buy and distribute vaccines are among the main components of the latest pandemic relief package.
What the latest coronavirus relief package does for freelancers (Freelancers Union, 12-21-2020) Congress passed a $900 billion coronavirus relief package. Here's what it contains.
How the new relief bill will affect your taxes (Jonathan Medows, Freelancers Union, 12-22-2020) The financial and tax implications of the latest COVID-19 relief bill.

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Trump Stinks. Let me count the ways.

assembled by Pat McNees

What have I missed?


  “The dangerous, destructive charismatic leader polarizes and identifies an outside enemy and pulls his followers together by manipulating their common feelings of victimization.

~Jerrold M. Post, quoted in a December 2019 interview, from his obituary, CIA psychological profiler who labeled Trump ‘dangerous’ dies of covid-19 at 86(Sydney Trent, Washington Post, 12-5-2020)
The American Abyss (Timothy Snyder, NY Times Magaine, 1-9-2021) A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next.
History Will Judge the Complicit (Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic, July 2020) Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?
How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief (Jane Meyer, New Yorker, 4-20-2020) McConnell 'is the master of the Washington money machine. Nobody has done more than he has to engineer the current campaign-finance system, in which billionaires and corporations have virtually no spending limits, and self-dealing and influence-peddling are commonplace....Wilson considers McConnell, who has been Majority Leader since 2015, a realist who does whatever is necessary to preserve both his own political survival and the Republicans’ edge in the Senate, which now stands at 53–47. “He feels no shame about it,” he said. “McConnell has been the most powerful force normalizing Trump in Washington.”'
The President Is Winning His War on American Institutions (George Packer, The Atlantic, 4-2020) How Trump is destroying the civil service and bending the government to his will. “There’s a lot of people out there who are unwilling to stand up and do the right thing, because they don’t want to be the next Andrew McCabe.”
The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal (Tim Alberta, Politico, 11-24-2020) How a state that was never in doubt became a "national embarrassment" and a symbol of the Republican Party’s fealty to Donald Trump...the death knell of Trump's presidency was sounded by a baby-faced lawyer, looking over his glasses on a grainy Zoom feed on a gloomy Monday afternoon, reading from a statement that reflected a courage and moral clarity that has gone AWOL from his party, pleading with the tens of thousands of people watching online to understand that some lines can never be uncrossed.... Why were Republicans who privately admitted Trump's legitimate defeat publicly alleging massive fraud? Why did it fall to a little-known figure like Van Langevelde to buffer the country from an unprecedented layer of turmoil? Why did the battleground state that dealt Trump his most decisive defeat—by a wide margin—become the epicenter of America's electoral crisis?" As Anita Bartholomew observed on Facebook, "the underlying question about *who* gets to decide (the state legislators or the PA Supreme Court) could also cut out state courts and other officials from any decisions in any prez election from now on." 

How Reality-TV Fame Handed Trump a $427 Million Lifeline (Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig, The President's Taxes, NY Times, 9-28-2020) Tax records show that “The Apprentice” rescued Donald J. Trump, bringing him new sources of cash and a myth that would propel him to the White House. "Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame."
In 1,316 days, President Trump has made 22,247 false or misleading claims (Washington Post Fact Checker) The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office. A timeline of untruths, along with the facts. See also Trump is averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims a day (Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, The Fact Checker, 10-22-2020)
All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus (Christian Paz, The Atlantic, 11-2-2020) An unfinished compendium of Trump’s overwhelming dishonesty during a national emergency
Trump Administration’s Mishandling of the Coronavirus Response Congresswoman Jackie Speier's timeline. See also AP News Fact Check: Trump's alternate reality on COVID-19 threat
A detailed timeline of all the ways Trump failed to respond to the coronavirus ( Cameron Peters, Vox, 6-8-2020) Shows a president dead set on avoiding responsibility for the pandemic.
How Golf Explains President Trump (YouTube video, Sportswriter Rick Reilly, author of Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump with Bay Area sportswriter Joan Ryan, for Commonwealth Club of California, 6-19-19). Based on his personal experiences and interviews with dozens of golf pros, amateurs, developers, partners, opponents and even caddies who have firsthand experience with Trump on the course, Reilly takes a deep and often hilarious look at how Trump shamelessly cheats at golf, lies about it, sues over it, bullies with it and profits off of it.
An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry (David A. Graham, Adrienne Green, Cullen Murphy, and Parker Richards, The Atlantic, June 2019) His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence; only slowly did he begin to understand how to use them to his advantage. "One of the things Trump learned when he injected himself into the Central Park Five case was that he could get attention for himself because he was a spokesman for a certain type of Archie Bunker New Yorker. I think that’s one of the bonds that he shares with [Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor] Rudy Giuliani: They’re both profoundly guys from that moment in New York when a lot of racial boundaries got drawn."
Trump the Truth: A Timeline of Assaults on Free Expression (Pen America) The Trump the Truth timeline, maintained and updated by PEN America during the first year of the Trump Administration, was used to track important developments during the Trump Administration that posed a threat to undermine free expression and press freedoms (or, from another viewpoint, express his opinion). See also PEN America's Trump the Truth report and timeline (PDF in standard prose format).
PolitiFact's Truth-o-Meter report on Trump. See especially All statements by Trump, rated as true or false or somewhere in between. (36 pages as of 7-25-19)

The President's Taxes: Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance ( Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire, NY Times, 9-27-2020--part of a series) The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due. "Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made." The returns "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image — honed through his star turn on “The Apprentice” — that helped propel him to the White House and that still undergirds the loyalty of many in his base....Indeed, his financial condition when he announced his run for president in 2015 lends some credence to the notion that his long-shot campaign was at least in part a gambit to reanimate the marketability of his name."

18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records (NY Times, 9-27-2020) Times reporters have obtained decades of tax information the president has hidden from public view. Among the key findings of The Times’s investigation: "Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750. He has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes."Read on.
Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled (Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-9-2020) Tax records expose more than $21 million in highly unusual payments from the Las Vegas hotel Donald Trump owns with Phil Ruffin, routed through other Trump companies and paid out in cash. His tax records show that "his 'self-funded' presidential campaign was short on funds, and he was struggling to win over leery Republican donors. His golf courses and the hotel he would soon open in the Old Post Office in Washington were eating away at what cash he had left on hand....And in early 2016, Deutsche Bank, the last big lender still doing business with him, unexpectedly turned down his request for a loan. The funds, Mr. Trump had told his bankers, would help shore up his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. Some bankers feared the money would instead be diverted to his campaign."
The Swamp That Trump Built (Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Steve Eder, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, Grace Ashford, Michael LaForgia, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael Rothfeld and Larry Buchanan, NY Times, 10-10-2020) A businessman-president transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family’s hotels and resorts — and earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration.
Making Sense (Sam Harris's podcast, 10-30-2020). This link takes you to Harris's fascinating discussion with Andrew Sullivan about why Trump has been so successful despite being a horrible person.
How Trump Became the Pro-Infection Candidate (Dhruv Khullar, New Yorker, 10-23-2020)
The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) Is it a coup or a con? Trump’s bad con continues to show how easy it would be to stage a good one. Then we would call it a coup.
Trump's Clown Coup(Susan B. Glasser, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) We’ve been getting used to painful truths for so long that the awful enormity of the current situation doesn’t hit us in the way it should. The G.O.P. leadership, which has tolerated so many abuses by Trump, is now openly complicit in his worst one yet.

How Trump and His Enablers Are Laying the Groundwork For a Coup d'état (A Pointed View, 11-10-2020) There's an interesting discussion of this on Facebook (launched by Anita Bartholomew's post).
Disappearing Data (HuffPost Report, 10-28-2020) Data is the lifeblood of a functioning government. Over the past four years, the Trump administration has destroyed, disappeared or distorted vast swathes of the information the state needs to protect the vulnerable, safeguard our health, and alert us to emerging crises. This is an accounting of the damage in several areas where data is crucial: The Pandemic, Climate Change, The Vulnerable, Pollution, Science, Food, Conservation, and the Census.
Misinformation about Biden’s health spreads after debate (Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 9-30-2020) TikTok videos and Trump ads with false information got more than 700,000 views and clicks. See also Right-wing voices are dominating Facebook after the first presidential debate (WaPo, 9-30-2020) Many Americans who primarily get news from Facebook are living in a media ecosystem where the winner of the debate is clear: President Trump crushed Joe Biden. But Facebook and Twitter take unusual steps to limit spread of New York Post story (Dwoskin, WaPo, 10-15-2020) "Four years after Russian operatives exploited tech giants’ services during a presidential contest, the companies’ swift and aggressive steps in responding to the unverified story, and their divergent responses, are a real-time case study in their ability to protect the integrity of an election that has been marred by domestic disinformation and misleading accounts. That activity has included misinformation about Biden’s health, the dying wish of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the validity of mail-in ballots — much of it spread by Trump and his supporters."
Trump got a $21 million tax break for saving the forest outside his N.Y. mansion. Now the deal is under investigation. (Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 10-9-2020) Five years ago, Donald Trump promised to preserve more than 150 acres of rolling woodlands in an exclusive swath of New York suburbia prized for its luxury homes and rural tranquility. He wrote off the cost as a business expense and the family calls it "a retreat for the Trump family."
Trump says he's leaving hospital for White House, feels good (Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin, and Aamer Madhani, AP, 10-5-2020) "For more than eight months, Trump's efforts to play down the threat of the virus in hopes of propping up the economy ahead of the election have drawn bipartisan criticism....According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms can be contagious for as many — and should isolate for at least — 10 day. On Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus....Less than one month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, riding by Sunday in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear....[Sunday] was the second straight day of obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition."
‘It’s like every red flag’: Trump-ordered HHS ad blitz raises alarms (Dan Diamond, Politico, 9-25-2020) "The health department is moving quickly on a highly unusual advertising campaign to "defeat despair" about the coronavirus, a $300 million-plus effort that was shaped by a political appointee close to President Donald Trump and executed in part by close allies of the official, using taxpayer funds....[Michael] Caputo, who has no medical or scientific background, claimed in a Facebook video on Sept. 13 that the campaign was "demanded of me by the president of the United States. Personally."...But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns....But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns."
The Coronavirus and the Threat Within the White House ( David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-3-2020) "The best security system and the most solicitous medical officers in the world could not protect Donald Trump from a danger that he insisted on belittling and ignoring....The Centers for Disease Control and other public-health institutions have long said that wearing masks is essential to minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. Trump has been of another opinion, a delusional one."
The Battle Over “The Room Where It Happened” Continues (Authors Guild, 9-24-2020) "On September 15, the Trump Administration continued its campaign against John Bolton and his book The Room Where It Happened by opening a criminal inquiry into whether Bolton had unlawfully disclosed classified information in his bestselling memoir. Ellen Knight, formerly of the National Security Council, expressed concern 'about the politicization -- or even the perceived politicization -- of the prepublication review process. Once authors start perceiving that manuscripts are being reviewed for political considerations, they will lose confidence in the integrity of the process and find ways to publish or release their works without submitting them for review. This could result in unchecked disclosures of sensitive information and the potential for serious damage to our national security.' Ms. Knight’s letter states that the Bolton prepublication review process “entailed an unprecedented amount of interaction between the political appointees in the NSC Legal staff and the career prepublication review staff.”
Twitter’s Trump Fact Check Won’t Solve Much, but at Least It’s Something (Dahlia Lithwick, Future Tense, Slate, 5-27-2020) Twitter took the unprecedented step of attaching warning labels accompanied by links to fact checks to two of the president’s false tweets. The president then went on to threaten that Twitter was “completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” although anyone with a brain quickly pointed out that private companies are not state actors and Trump has no First Amendment claims here.
The First Amendment: what it really means for free speech and why Donald Trump is trampling on it (Eliza Bechtold, The Conversation, 8-5-19) "...there is no First Amendment right to use Twitter or have a Facebook page. As private entities, social media companies are free to adopt policies relating to user content and to remove users who violate such policies without implicating the First Amendment. Moreover, the First Amendment protects the expression of corporations and other associations, as well as individuals. This means that Facebook, Twitter, and others have free speech rights."
Judges toss lawsuit alleging anti-conservative bias on social media (Marc DeAngelis, Engadget, 5-28-2020) In 2018, the nonprofit organization Freedom Watch and a conservative YouTuber named Laura Loomer tried to sue social media companies. They alleged that Twitter, Facebook and Google -- which owns YouTube -- broke antitrust laws and violated their First Amendment rights by conspiring to suppress conservative viewpoints. Their case was dropped last year, but they appealed the decision. According to Bloomberg, a federal appeals court today affirmed the decision to drop the suit, leaving the tech companies in the clear.The plaintiffs say that tech companies conspired to suppress conservative views. See also Freedom Watch and Laura Loomer Lose Lawsuit Against Social Media Platforms (Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy, 5-27-2020) No, said the Court. The plaintiffs' First Amendment claim failed because "the First Amendment 'prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech," because there was no evidence of an anticompetitive behavior by platforms, and because D.C.'s public accommodation statute doesn't apply to online service providers.
The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (McKay Coppins, The Atlantic, 2-10-2020) How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election. After the 2016 election, much was made of the threats posed to American democracy by foreign disinformation. Stories of Russian troll farms and Macedonian fake-news mills loomed in the national imagination. But while these shadowy outside forces preoccupied politicians and journalists, Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world's demagogues and strongmen in power.
Literary Group Goes to Court to Stop Donald Trump From Violating the First Amendment (Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, 10-16-18) The Pen America Center says Trump is using his power to unconstitutionally punish and intimidate The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, the White House press corps and others who cover his administration.
Almost 2,000 former Justice officials condemn department for dropping Flynn case (Rebecca Klar, The Hill, 5-11-2020) 'Nearly 2,000 former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who served under Republican and Democratic administrations condemned the DOJ and Attorney General William Barr on Monday for moving to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The former officials said Barr “once again assaulted the rule of law” and accused the attorney general of using the department “as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests.” ' See also ‘A constant battle of you against the leadership of your country’: Justice Dept. rattled as Flynn fallout reaches FBI (Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, 5-8-2020) 'While the president continued to criticize the FBI’s conduct, multiple federal law enforcement officials interviewed Friday expressed varying degrees of anger, resignation and alarm over the decision by Attorney General William P. Barr to abandon the prosecution of Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. “The attorney general is supposed to be above reproach and apolitical in terms of how the department operates and how he or she as an individual operates, and he’s just completely lost that,” said one veteran Justice Department lawyer who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “He’s Trump’s attorney. He’s not the country’s attorney.” '
Kelly and Pompeo: How A Journalist Masterfully Combated Gaslighting (Stephanie Sarkis, Forbes, 1-25-2020) A brief demo on how to address gaslighters talking over you, spouting misinformation, acting as if they're being bullied, lying to make you look unreasonable, etc.
Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 7-18-16) “The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it. Over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.” “He has no attention span.” “. . .it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”
Defending Rights & Dissent Opposes Trump Executive Order Equating Support for Palestinian Rights with Anti-Semitic Discrimination (Defending Rights & Dissent, 12-11-19) Anti-Semitism is a real threat, but it is a distortion of civil rights to use federal civil rights law to suppress speech in support of Palestinian rights.
Judgment days (Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post, 7-21-18) In a small Alabama town, an evangelical congregation reckons with God, President Trump and the meaning of morality. How can people who purport to disapprove of sinfulness of all kinds vote for a twice-divorced alleged adulterer who has boasted of sexual assault? What was important was not the character of the president but his positions, they said, and one mattered more than all the others. “Abortion,” said Linda, whose eyes teared up when she talked about it. Read that and then read this: Avoiding false judgments in journalism about Trump’s evangelical supporters (Brook Wilensky-Lanford, Nieman Storyboard, 4-11-19) A religion scholar assesses how the Washington Post's Stephanie McCrummen avoids predictable pitfalls in "Judgment Days."
ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City (Jimmy Tobias, The Nation, 3-6-19) Documents reveal that the immigration enforcement agency has been keenly attuned to left-leaning protests in the city. “If [the Department of Homeland Security] is specifically focusing on those who are against the current president, it gets into the realm of what fascist regimes do,” says Jody Kuh, a volunteer organizer with Rise and Resist. “If they are watching us because we are against the current president’s policies, it is more than a little disturbing.”
Inside the Steele Dossier & The Fusion GPS Investigation Of Trump (listen to Terry Gross, Fresh Air, 11-26-19) During the 2016 campaign, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch hired former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to investigate Donald Trump's involvement with Russia. Their book about this topic is Crime in Progress (the inside story of the high-stakes, four-year-long investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties—culminating in the Steele dossier, and sparking the Mueller report—from the founders of political opposition research company Fusion GPS) This Washington Post review of the book may help you decide whether to read further.
The Summer of Chaos and God (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 9-5-19) 'A preference for chaos on the far right is connected to God in ways Democrats can barely talk about, much less comprehend, whether it’s the fundamental disconnect around evangelical support for unfettered gun rights or the right’s rejection of environmental protection or immigrants’ rights. But the more morally discordant Trump’s policies and politics are, the more he is seen as fighting for religious rights. This is not a claim that all or even most religious belief is nihilist—it is just a recognition that there is a deeply nihilist strain in some religious quarters, one that dovetails perfectly with the impulse to “blow it all up.”'
Trump Can’t Block Critics From His Twitter Account, Appeals Court Rules (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 7-9-19) "Because Mr. Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled unanimously." "The decision may have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to officials’ accounts in the social-media era."
The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine (Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 10-4-19) How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment. See also the book Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green, as well as the article “Stupid Watergate” Is Worse Than the Original (David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-4-19) "...his corruption is totally as we see it, out front. He doesn’t try to hide it. He doesn’t try to hide the conflicts of interest or the lying. He is not a secretive conspirator. Donald Trump’s behavior echoes Nixon’s in one sense: he and his confederates appear to have been engaged in an effort to undermine the integrity of a Presidential election."
The Difference Between Leaking and Whistle-Blowing in the Trump White House (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 10-4-19) 'A whistle-blower often speaks out with the aim of halting some wrongdoing, but a leaker’s motives are generally self-serving....We have normalized Trumpism to such an extent that journalists and politicians didn’t know how to think about the Ukraine story until the whistle-blower framed it as an egregious abuse of power....Yet it took two and a half years for someone with significant access to the Administration to go through the process of systematically collecting information and transmitting it through the institutional channels created specifically for the purpose of saying, “This is not normal.”'
What is Trumpcare? (Larry Levitt, news@JAMA, 9-25-19)
Who Are Donald Trump's Supporters? Trump Nation (USA Today Interactives) They’re not clichés. The USA TODAY NETWORK interviewed voters in every state to find out. Read their comments.
Under Trump, LGBTQ Progress Is Being Reversed in Plain Sight (Kirsten Berg and Moiz Syed, ProPublica, 11-22-19) Donald Trump promised he would fight for LGBTQ people. Instead, his administration has systematically undone recent gains in their rights and protections. Since taking office, Trump’s administration has acted to dismantle federal protections and resources for LGBTQ Americans, particularly those gained under President Barack Obama. Here are 31 examples.
'Times' Journalists Puncture Myth Of Trump As Self-Made Billionaire (Terry Gross interviews investigative reporters Susanne Craig and David Barstow, who say the president received today's equivalent of $413 million from his father's real estate empire, through what appears to be tax fraud. See also Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (Susanne Craig and David Barstow and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-2-18) The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through schemes to avoid paying taxes on multimillion dollar gifts in the family.
Mueller report suggests the ‘fake news’ came from Trump, not the news media (Paul Farhi, WaPo, 4-18-19) Mueller's report cites multiple instances in which Trump and White House aides misled or lied to journalists or in public statements as the investigation was unfolding....In fact, according to Mueller’s report, Trump’s first reaction [to news of Mueller's appointment] was anything but calm. According to notes taken by an aide, Trump responded by saying, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f-cked. . . . This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Donald Trump Fact Check (Toronto Star)
When Donald met Scott: a reporter's view of Trump and his White House wonderland (Katharine Murphy, The Guardian, 9-27-19) Australian PM Scott Morrison received a full-blown welcome from the US president. " If he doesn’t understand, the president will say: “Say it.” This means ask the question again, she says."
Why PEN America Is Suing Donald Trump (Jennifer Egan, LitHub, 10-18-18) "Trump's vitriol against reporters has made political journalism a more dangerous practice....President Trump’s frank admiration for authoritarian rulers makes his efforts to hobble a free press here in America all the more alarming. His actions conform to what some call an 'authoritarian playbook' for modern tyrants, in which the curtailing of free speech occurs subtly and gradually through a system of governmental rewards and punishments that encourage cooperation and gradually chill opposing voices."
Hundreds of Newspapers Denounce Trump's Attacks on Media in Coordinated Editorials(James Doubek, NPR, 8-16-18) NPR does not have an editorial board, and did not take part in Thursday's coordinated effort. The project was spearheaded by staff members of the editorial page at the Globe. See
---A Free Press Needs You (Editorial, NY Times, 8-15-18)
--- "Americans may not like the news they see or hear but they should not hold that against those who report it. In short, don’t shoot the messenger." --TriCorner News, LakeVille Journal, 8-15-18)
---Journalists are not the enemy (Boston Globe editorial board, 8-15-18)
---"Self-governance demands that our citizens need to be well-informed and that's what we're here to do. ... Some think we're rude to question and challenge. We know it's our obligation."--The Times of North Little Rock
---"Journalists are used to being insulted. It comes with the job ... But being called an enemy — and not of a politician or cause, but of the whole people of a nation — that's something else entirely."-- Topeka Capital-Journal
EPA Lets AP Reporter Back Into Summit After She Was Shoved Out Of Building (DAvid Bauder, Talking Points Memo, 5-22-18) AP journalist Ellen Knickmeyer and reporters from CNN and E&E News were told they could not attend an invitation-only event, a summit on a class of chemicals present in dangerous amounts in many water systems around the country. Knickmeyer "was earlier barred and shoved out of the building by a security guard." “We understand the importance of an open and free press and we hope the EPA does, too,” CNN said. Scott Pruitt apparently does not.
Trump admin tightens media access for federal scientists: report (Ali Breland, The Hill, 6-21-18) The Trump administration is directing federal scientists in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to get approval from the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The employees said that they believe the new policies were established to control the voices of Interior employees. They believe the move is a part of larger efforts to quell discourse about climate change, which the agency has produced research on."
"It's the law, stupid," and seven other lessons from the EPA's botched media blackout. (Indira Lakshmanan, Poynter, 5-24-18) The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that any advisory group making recommendations to the federal government “shall be open to the public.” Journalists protect their interests if they’re versed in open records and open meetings laws.
Board objects to EPA press office action (National Association of Science Writers, 3-26-18) Inpart: "With the March 20 “press release,” EPA effectively limited its discussion of a major science policy story to a handpicked, partisan outlet. It also encouraged journalists to learn details about this story from a published article, which can never be a basis of responsible news reporting.
"When reporters contact the EPA Press Office asking for information regarding the activities of a taxpayer-funded organization, those queries should be answered swiftly by knowledgeable staff. The same holds when journalists request public documents from an agency."
Judge: Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users(Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, 5-13-18).S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users who criticized him and his policies. Her ruling is an extraordinary victory for free speech on the internet and a harsh rebuke to Trump’s effort to prevent his critics from engaging with him online.
The White House's attack on scientists could manipulate public opinion (Lauren Kurtz and Romany Webb, Opinion, The Hill, 2-28-18) "The Trump administration’s FY2019 budget, unveiled last Monday, proposes cuts in essential funding for scientific research and education. Unfortunately, this attack on science is not an isolated incident. Barely a year into President Trump’s term, there have already been 111 attempts by the federal government to censor, misrepresent, or stifle science. Many appear intended to gain support for the administration’s efforts to prop up the fossil fuel industry... At the Department of the Interior (DOI), a website discussing the environmental and other risks of fossil fuel development was changed to emphasize economic benefits [and to argue against human causes of climate change]. A few months later, large swaths of land previously protected from coal mining and oil and gas drilling were opened to development. Shortly after this, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management changed the image on its homepage from a scenic park vista to a pile of coal, presumably to reinforce the message that public lands are for mining."
Words banned at multiple HHS agencies include ‘diversity’ and ‘vulnerable’ (Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, WashPost, 12-10-17) "The Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. The words to avoid: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Participants at HHS were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance. At the CDC, budget analysts were told they could use an alternative phrase instead of “evidence-based” or “science-based” in budget documents. That phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
The CDC analyst said it was clear to participants that they were to avoid those seven words but only in drafting budget documents.
Homeland Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family Separation Protests (Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, 4-19-19) In the last two years, law enforcement agencies executing the Trump administration’s immigration agenda have cracked down on critics of the president’s policies. Among the targeted: humanitarian volunteers providing food, water, and medical aid to migrants trekking through the desert, and immigration attorneys, journalists, and activists working with, and around, migrant caravans.“This is a chilling revelation, but follows an even scarier trend of constant government surveillance and policing of immigrant communities, and targeting of activists and journalists,” Jesse Franzblau, a senior policy analyst with the National Immigrant Justice Center.
The police threw the book at Trump Protesters in DC but sat and watched White Supremacists terrorize Charlottesville (Sandra Fulton, HuffPost, 8-29-17) "Last week, the Department of Justice altered a sweeping warrant, which sought to collect personal information on every visitor to an anti-Trump website that organized protests on Inauguration Day....The demand seems to be in line with a broader trend within the Trump Administration—a harsh crackdown against any group that disagrees with President Trump. For his part, Trump has categorized these protesters as the “Alt-Left,” a term that doesn’t seem to apply to any easily-defined entity beyond the paranoid imaginings of Trump and his allies." "The administration and law enforcement are using a range of tactics — from electronic surveillance to a growing number of anti-protest laws — to criminalize anyone that organizes in the streets to protest the president and his policies. But how are law enforcement and the administration responding to the very real threats coming from white supremacists like those who marched earlier this month on Charlottesville?'
Leaked FBI Documents Reveal Bureau’s Priorities Under Trump (Ken Klippenstein, The Young Turks, 8-8-19) Under President Trump, the FBI’s official counterterrorism priorities have included “Black Identity Extremists,” “anti-authority” extremists, and “animal rights/environmental extremists,” according to leaked Bureau documents.... When an August 2017 internal FBI report referencing the counterterrorism threat posed by “Black Identity Extremists” was published by Foreign Policy, the FBI became the subject of intense criticism for adopting what critics alleged was a racially loaded term....While the documents depict concerns about violent black extremist attacks, they do not cite a single specific attack — unlike white supremacist attacks, of which several prominent examples are provided....So grave did the Bureau consider the threat of black extremists that from 2019 to 2020, using new designations, it listed the threat at the very top of its counterterrorism priorities — above even terror groups like Al Qaeda."
Justice demands 1.3M IP addresses related to Trump resistance site (Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, 8-14-17) "DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day. “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”
Trump Administration Starts Returning Copies of C.I.A. Torture Report to Congress (Mark Mazzetti and Mathew Rosenberg, NY Times, 6-2-17) "The Trump administration has begun returning copies of a voluminous 2014 Senate report about the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program to Congress, complying with the demand of a top Republican senator who has criticized the report for being shoddy and excessively critical of the C.I.A....The committee, which was then run by Democrats, also sent copies of the entire classified report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate the report into their records — a move that would have made it subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That law, which allows citizens, the media and other groups to request access to information held by the federal government, does not apply to congressional records...The full report is not expected to offer evidence of previously undisclosed interrogation techniques, but the interrogation sessions are said to be described in great detail. The report explains the origins of the program and identifies the officials involved, and also offers details on the role of each agency in the secret prison program."
How Can Journalists Protect Themselves During a Trump Administration? (Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic, 11-10-16) The president-elect’s attacks on the press hint at an unfriendly atmosphere for reporters.
Trump Hates the Press? Take a Number. (Jack Shafer, Politico, 2-17-17) "No matter how grievous the sins of the press may be—and as a press critic, let me tell you, they are grievous—a president can’t forever blame everything on “dishonest reporters,” the “mess” the previous president left behind or the dug-in elites. Reckonings tend to take a while to form, as Nixon and Agnew learned. Trump’s will come."
Journalists around the country are joining a Slack channel devoted to FOIA and Trump (Krysten Hare, Poynter, 1-25-17) A few days before President Trump's inauguration, MuckRock opened up a Slack channel to help journalists better cover him and his administration. Sign up here: www.muckrock.com.
How far will President Trump’s media blackout spread? The Sunlight Foundation is trying to find out (Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, 1-25-17)
Hundreds of Newspapers Denounce Trump’s Attacks on Media in Coordinated Editorials (James Doubek, NPR, 8-16-18) Over 300 newspapers published editorials against Trump’s attack on the press. The President responded by calling the media “the opposition party,” and many believe this will only bolster his current platform. Will a united media be enough to reaffirm the First Amendment?
Trump tried to ban top aides from penning tell-all books (Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 8-13-18) After the controversy surrounding the Omarosa Manigault Newman tell-all, the President’s use of non-disclosure/disparagement agreements is facing public criticism. The idea that top government officials could be censored from speaking out against abuse of power is frightening. What happens in a world where important political stories cannot be told?
The Memory Hole 2, run by Russ Kick, and The Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine) save pages that disappear from the Web. Kick's site has been good about saving items deleted by the Trump Administration (including Trump's error-filled Tweets).
Trump shares Twitter accounts linked to conspiracy theory QAnon (Tony Romm and Colby Itkowitz, WaPo, 7-30-19) How QAnon, the bizarre pro-Trump conspiracy theory, took hold in right-wing circles online. (And how Trump tweets its latest claim.)
Unsolicited Advice for the White House Press Corps (Jack Shafer, Fourth Estate, Politico, 2-6-17) And keep up to date on Shafer's Twitter feed.
Poll: Trump More Trusted Than the Media (by Republicans) (Curt Mills, US News, 2-9-17) Views on the press and the administration break down along clear party lines. ""The partisan split on this topic is clear – 89 percent of Republicans find the Trump administration truthful, versus 77 percent of Democrats who find the administration untruthful. Conversely, 69 percent of Democrats find the news media truthful, while a whopping 91 percent of Republicans consider them untruthful. Independents consider both untruthful," according to a poll conducted by Emerson College.
The Private Trump Angst of a Republican Icon (Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, New Yorker, 9-27-2020) James Baker thinks Trump is “nuts,” but he voted for him once—and may soon do so again?
The Invention of Thanksgiving (Philip Deloria, The New Yorker, 11-18-19) Massacres, myths, and the making of the great November holiday--in which white Americans have from the start tended to play a villainous role. 'Today, Wampanoag people debate whether Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning or a chance to contemplate reconciliation. It’s mighty generous of them....“American Indian” is a political identity, not a racial one, constituted by formal, still living treaties with the United States government and a long series of legal decisions. Today, the Trump Administration would like to deny this history, wrongly categorize Indians as a racial group, and disavow ongoing treaty relationships.'
With New Trump Policy, Is the Moon for the Taking? (Ramin Skibba, Undark, 5-30-19) The Trump administration has been vague about what it hopes to accomplish on the moon, but mining may be on the agenda. "Worse yet, the 2024 target date suggests a selfish motive — an attempt by Trump to conjure a dramatic legacy before he leaves office, assuming he is reelected next year. Indeed, recent comments by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suggest the deadline was chosen with little, if any, consideration of the scientific and engineering challenges."

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Cancel Culture

The Harper's Letter on Cancel Culture
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate (Harper's Magazine, 7-7-2020) This letter, signed by many authors, appeared in the Letters section of the magazine, and provoked a big response.


A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate (The Objective, 7-10-2020) If you read the first letter, you should also read this response to it, which also has a long list of signatories. This letter was a group effort, started by journalists of color with contributions from the larger journalism, academic, and publishing community. "On Tuesday, 153 of the most prominent journalists, authors, and writers, including J. K. Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell, and David Brooks, published an open call for civility in Harper’s Magazine....The signatories, many of them white, wealthy, and endowed with massive platforms, argue that they are afraid of being silenced, that so-called cancel culture is out of control, and that they fear for their jobs and free exchange of ideas, even as they speak from one of the most prestigious magazines in the country." It addresses these examples from the Harper's letter.

1. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces?

2. Books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity?

3. Journalists are barred from writing on certain topics?

4. Professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class?

5. A researcher fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study?

6. The heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes?

 

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Verizon, You're driving me crazy!

Updated 10-28-2020

 

Open letter to Verizon:

 

I have begun to hate you, for several reasons, my biggest complaint being with your super-flawed billing system, although for months I have also had no messages on my cellphone, to the frustration of friends trying to reach me. My complaints: 

 

(1)  Your billing system is clearly flawed. When I tried using Virtual Agent Assistance to respond to your "overdue payment" notice, this is what I got

 

"Your chat with a virtual agent has connected.

     Hi! Welcome to Verizon. I am here to help with your billing needs!
     You currently don't have a bank account on file with us. In order to do the payment you will need to add a new bank account."

 

(2) I most certainly do have a bank account on file with you: I have paid my bills for several years via Presidential Bank's Billpayer system.  My Bank history shows regular monthly payments of $182 this year, and they do show up on my bank statement. I have a list of regular monthly payments of $182 (twice $186) showing as  paid to Verizon. (Miss Lisa, who I spoke with 10-27-2020, says that she is not showing a payment for July and August and it is clearly a problem with Presidential Bank, not them. But Presidential Bank is showing payments to Verizon for July and August. Miss Lisa says that it is the bank that initiates the payments, so the error has to be on their part, as my Verizon and Verizon Wireless accounts, both of which she could see, are entirely separate--and she also sees a large overpayment in Verizon Wireless.)  When this problem came up earlier, a Supervisor at Verizon transferred money from the Verizon Wireless account to the Verizon account. 

 

For several years there was no problem with the Billpayer system. The Verizon Wireless bill was roughly $35 and the Verizon bill was roughly $180. The number was so consistent that I put it on automatic payment initiated by Verizon.  At one point, there was a problem so I cancelled automatic payments initiated by Verizon and started paying each bill myself, online, within a day or two of getting it through Billpayer. My  record for both phones shows consistently right-on-time payment for both lines.  Mind you, the bills from both companies look exactly the same and say the same thing at the top:  Verizon (not Verizon Wireless)

 

(3) Your billing is a mess.  Verizon and Verizon Wireless make a big show of being entirely separate companies, but their bills look exactly alike and their finances are clearly intermingled. The last time I had a bill overdue I got through to a Verizon supervisor who looked through both accounts and found that the payment I had sent to Verizon went to the Verizon Wireless account, so he moved it.  This has clearly happened other times because I have a $600+ balance in my Verizon Wireless account, the balance for which remains a big credit. (10-28-2020: I got this message by email: "On 10/28/2020 8:45:29 AM, we spoke to you about a payment transfer of $182.00, $186.00 for your account ending in xxxx. This request has been processed and the payment has been transferred. Your payment will post to the account within three business days and your transfer request will be closed."  In other words, the two "missing payments have been transferred over from the Verizon Wireless account. The Verizon person I spoke to  says the error has to be Presidential Bank's fault; I don't believe that to be true, as Verizon has got so many other things wrong and so far I am unaware of any problems with how Presidential processes Billpaper payments. Not to mention that Verizon and Verison Wireless are only very loosely two separate companies.

 

As for who was responsible for the $ going to Verizon Wireless instead of Verizon, even if it were because of my error, this is an error that is inevitable,  because the bills from both places look identical.  It seems pretty clear from my Presidential bank statements that the payments are  going to Verizon (which, if true, gives me a considerable overpayment).

 

4) Moreover, and far more serious a problem, for several months now anybody who tries to leave a message on my cellphone  gets a "message box  full" response.  Yet I have ZERO messages and have not had for months now. When I try to leave a message for myself I cannot do so—though I see no (zero) messages on my cellphone. I have blocked some of the most annoying spam callers, and friend suggested that "blocking" might count as a message, but SURELY that should have no connection to the mailbox. I have asked to be on the Do Not Call Registry on both phones; why do so many spam calls come through? I have had no luck getting this problem resolved through Verizon. This is the main reason I am looking for another telephone company.  Luckily, I saw AT&T installing phone lines on my block last month.

 

5)  For some reason when I call my cell phone from my landline, the phone doesn't ring but vibrates, though it rings when others call me. One day recently my phone table overturned and my cellphone disappeared.  I tried calling my cellphone from my landline several times so I could locate the cellphone, but got no ringtone to help me locate the phone—only vibration (which I feel only when the phone is physically on me).  Hours later, I found the cell phone because someone else called me on it and on their call there was a ringtone.  Why on earth would you have a system where I couldn't hear a ringtone for my calls to myself, since this is a primary way for people to find their misplaced cellphones. (As it happened, the cellphone had landed behind a book, and was more or less where I thought it should be, but not visible.)  I NEVER intentionally silenced my phone myself. I have a LONG apartment and I often need to hear it ring to find it.  As an elder I consider this a major safety issue.

 

6)  Another day I tried to call my landline from my cellphone to leave a message, at which point a "Verizon assistant" came on the line and asked if it could be of help. "I want to call my other phone!" I shouted. The Assistant said Okay it would put the call through and it did.  Why on earth would the Assistant intervene in a call from my cell phone to my landline? The Assistant showed up for a couple other phone calls, too. It has NEVER assisted me when I needed  assisting. Mind you, the Verizon Assistant and the Google Assistant look virtually alike, so for all I know this is a Google Assistant.  I do have a Google pixel.

 

7) I have both a landline and a cell phone because I wanted, when there is a power outage, to be able to use my landline to make emergency calls. I was alarmed to learn during our last outage that our landlines are no longer hard-wired; for an outage that lasts longer than a day I lose both telephones. I don't think Verizon is upfront with this information.

 

I have been getting calls from Verizon to bring my payments up to date, or my service may be turned off. I can assure you, if it does get turned off I will take you to court.

 

                       -- With great frustration,

                              Pat McNees

 

P.S. Have others had similar problems with Verizon?   Is it true, as one friend advised, that I should never have both my landline and my cell phone with the same company? I see that AT&T has been installing lines in our neighborhood, and their ratings for service quality are similar to Verizon's.


What cell phone company do you recommend for DC's Maryland suburbs--specifically Bethesda?

 

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The Business of Personal History

by Pat McNees

 

Memoirs are no longer the province of the rich and celebrated. Noncelebrities are getting into the act, they often need help, and writing or editing their personal histories can be a deeply satisfying new source of potential income for journalists.

 

      I stumbled across life story writing in 1990, when Kitty Kelley recommended that Jim Dicke II, president of a lift truck firm in Ohio (Crown Equipment), use ASJA's Dial-a-Writer service to find someone to help tell his 90-year-old grandfather's story. At the time I supported my journalism habit by editing reports and writing summaries for the World Bank. Soon after a friend from Texas said I had "too much steak and not enough sizzle," Dorothy Beach, who ran DAW, sent several of us to Ohio for an interview. I landed the gig, interviewed Warren Webster, wrote his life story, and upped my sizzle factor.

 

      Projects like these are often part therapy, so I took a few years to write An American Biography: An Industrialist Remembers the Twentieth Century, the life and times of Warren Webster, an unknown industrialist. With a guaranteed sale of 5,000 copies, a DC publisher issued the biography in 2004, printing 10,000 copies altogether. Many copies were given away, but the book was also picked up by a couple of book clubs. Social and business history wrapped around a Horatio Alger story (and with a foreword by Rob Kanigel), the book paid me well enough to take out a mortgage on a three-bedroom condo, which I paid off with what I made writing personal and corporate histories:

 

     More important, and I can't overstate this, I had a sample. This got me many more projects, including the memoirs of a pediatrician (a friend's father) and a nuclear engineer (a friend's husband), and several histories of organizations (similar genre, but more complex). 

 

      Once I started doing personal and organizational histories, my income soared and became steadier.

 

A wide-open field

 

There are many ways to do personal histories. There's the plain old oral history, edited for narrative flow, often with photos. This involves interviews, transcribing (which I farm out), editing, and packaging (sometimes simple, and sometimes fancy -- for example, a fancy cloth binding with a photo insert on the cover to make it special, or with the family tree in endcovers). It's the least time-consuming of the print products.

 

     Then there's the as-told-to-memoir, in Uncle Vern's own voice, ghostwritten by you, based on interviews, journals, letters, the memoirist's own drafts—whatever it takes. There's the biography or history, written in third person, by the hired writer about the person, couple, family, or organization. I tend to interview everyone in the family or, for an organizational history, a range of participants, from the janitor to the CEO.

 

     Technologies have changed, making it easier to "self-publish" a printed book or mount a story on a website. On one end of the personal history spectrum are scrapbooking and quilting; on the other, many organizations and communities are commissioning personal and group oral histories (both recorded and in edited transcripts) or professionally written histories (my specialty), often with a shorter history via video.

 

     I love the video tribute or history—a Ken-Burns-like narration illustrated with photos and sounds, including recordings of people telling stories, sometimes captured in video, often as a montage of stills with narration and reminiscence in one or more voices.  Music is tricky because of copyright issues, but there are sources for commissioned, inexpensive, or royalty-free music. And music makes a difference.

 

Finding the market

 

Creating a personal history may be easier than finding clients willing to spend the amount you want to be paid. Many beginners spin their wheels marketing to senior citizens and old people's homes. I suspect residents of most senior homes are pinching pennies and don't think their stories are worth telling—not in a form that costs money. Market instead to their children, grandchildren, spouses, or well-to-do fans who have heard the stories so many times that they don't necessarily want to sit through them again, but want them preserved—or want the subject engaged in a project. (The "client" is often not the narrator, or storyteller, in other words.)

 

      Even a modest personal or family story can seem a huge, undoable task to most people, yet fairly easy to a writer-editor. What pleases my clients is that I come in from outside, establish rapport, and get a different (fuller, often franker) story than the family might get, though I get the story they know, too. What I do—what you can probably do, too—is help people find the patterns in their lives, the obstacles overcome, the lessons learned. This plus storytelling can make writing a personal history a transformative experience, helping people see that their life meant something.

 

How to get started

 

For a sample, do the life story of someone in your family, and package it handsomely enough that simply seeing it shows potential clients the possibilities for their own family or company. Start with something as simple as a photo tribute (with well-written captions) to a person, a place, an animal, a period in your life, or a period in someone else's or an organization's history.

 

      My brother and I, for example, began doing a photohistory of our family's migration from Kansas to hot Western deserts in Arizona and California during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Aunts, uncles, and cousins have turned out their photo collections and this is one story even my non-reading cousins are going to love.

 

     And that's the point. To the people for whom these personal histories are created, the story is fascinating, because it memorializes their roots. And for a major occasion—a 70th birthday, a 50th anniversary, retirement, or any hint that a person you love or admire is not going to live forever—some people will part with a fair sum if they think you can collect and organize all the information, stories, and photos they don't have time to deal with and create a product important as family legacy. If nothing else, this is a good way to share and thereby preserve those important family photos that might otherwise be lost to house fire or other disasters.

 

     Showing the right package to a receptive person—just showing what a personal history might look like—can land a client, sometimes instantly, sometimes months or years later.

 

      For the more lucrative and difficult task of landing an organizational history, again—a sample is your best calling card. I watched a businesswoman decide to commission a project based totally on looking through a photo history a personal historian casually handed her.

 

How do I become a personal historian?

 

In a sense a "personal historian" is anyone who helps others record the stories of their lives, families, or organizations. Few of the personal historians I've met were freelance writers making a living as writers. Those who belong to the Association of Personal Historians (APH, of which I was president for two years) typically had earlier careers as teachers, counselors, hospice workers, social workers, journalists, oral historians, historians, news broadcasters, gerontologists, businessmen or women, videographers, photographers, transcribers, archivists, nurses.

 

      Journalists and book authors have a leg up in terms of skills, knowledge of publishing, and natural nosiness, but one of my favorite firms (My Special Book) was launched during a building slump by two architects in Buenos Aires, Eduardo Zemborain and Vicky Randle, who see PH work as a design and management process. Check out their website (www.myspecialbook.com) and those of other personal history firms.

 

     APH (in the twenty years it existed) embraced print, audio- and videobiographers at varying levels of skill and experience. Many members were 50 and older. (It helped to have been around a while – or to have read widely enough to know what questions to ask when a woman says her family migrated from Lithuania in 1945.) I joined APH out of curiosity and to get my name listed on their website, but value their fall conference, where I can see the kinds of work I don't do myself. I have helped with two video tributes for print clients—and it helps to know what's involved and who's good at putting them together. It's also interesting to learn what people charge: from a few hundred dollars (many projects are $10,000 and under) to $30,000, generally, and much more for longer stories or more complex projects, including organizational histories. (That doesn't include production costs.)

 

       The most popular event at the APH conference (before it folded) was the Media Share, where people showed their audio-visual products. One of my favorites was the Breakstones' video tribute to a dog, with narration clipped from interviews with the dog's elderly owner. Video captured the affection, joy, and nostalgia on the man's face and in his voice, which, combined with shots of the man and his dog over the years made for a three-hankie experience.  It was a priceless form of personal history. If your friends are as nuts about their animals as my friends are, I think you could make a living just doing animal tributes.

 

This piece was originally published in December 2008, in ASJA Confidential, the Members Only section of the American Society of Journalists & Authors monthly publication.   Copyright (c) 2008 by Pat McNees.

 

You can find local personal historian groups here:
---Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington Area (DC, Maryland, and Virginia).
---Personal Historians (a Facebook group)
---Personal Historians Northeast Network (in the Boston area)
---Personal Historians NW (in the Pacific Northwest)
---Life Stories Australia (personal historians, biographers, editors, etc.)
---NYC Personal Historians (a Meetup group).

 

 

P.S. Teaching Life Story Writing

 

I teach a class I call “My Life, One Story at a Time”at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. It’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. My pitch is that participants are writing not for publication but for their friends and heirs; the students tell me “not writing for publication” both draws and liberates them. You’d think with that title I would get only senior citizens but I have had students in their 20s and 30s, as well as 60 and above, including several lively, loveable 80-year-olds. Every week students write something that takes 5 minutes to read aloud. Listening to each other, they learn what good storytelling is and are inspired to keep writing. I provide little instruction except to praise a good story or vivid scene and help them find their voice, but they are becoming better writers. We don’t worry about grammar and spelling. “Get the story,” I say. “Go deep. Get it down. You can go back later and rewrite and edit.”

     “It’s really a therapy group,” I heard one student tell another. I don’t present it that way, but it’s clearly therapeutic, for all of us. And it has me writing, too.

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How about writing letters to (stories about) your kids?

Pandemic is a wake-up call for me to jot down keepsake ‘letters’ for my kids (Bob Brody, Washington Post, 8-16-2020) And I quote:  "Back in January 2008, when our two children were young adults, I started to keep a handwritten journal, one for our son, Michael, and the other for our daughter, Caroline. Every weekend, I jotted down a few hundred words based on a specific memory about our lives together and mine before they were born." And so it began. "I took these actions, mind you, even though in perfect health. I had asked myself the questions so many parents might now be asking themselves amid the coronavirus outbreak. What should I tell my children about the lives we’ve all lived? What do they need to know about me and themselves and our wider family? The journals would ultimately serve as a keepsake, an inheritance that could be read in decades to come."

 

      For years I've (Pat) given a workshop at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland (and in local libraries), called My Life, One Story at a Time. It's a fairly popular workshop, one that some people repeat -- probably because it motivates them to write the stories for their kids and family and friends that somehow they just can't bring themselves to do on their own. Partly it's because they're writing and sharing their stories in a small group (which they tend almost instantly to bond with, however briefly, sometimes forming long-term relationships). More than once participants have said they are sharing stories with this group that they haven't told their friends.

 

     I don't know what the secret is, but one thing has disappointed me: I have a heck of a time getting any of my students (all adults, mind you) to write stories about their children!  "When you die," I tell them, "and you have written all these stories about your life, don't you think your kids are going to wonder why there aren't any stories about them?"  And they agree, but they still have trouble taking the bait (with a few exceptions--lately, especially--is the pandemic a sign that all could be over without even a chance to say goodbye?). I suspect they are afraid they will seem to favor one child over another. Maybe, like me, you've wondered if it isn't up to our children to write their own stories--why would they want us to write stories about them?  Or maybe you've thought, as I have, that would be invading their space. But what if they would love it? What if they would love it especially long after we are gone--but maybe even now?

 

       I hope this gets you all writing about your kids (or your nieces and nephews, or your grandkids, your friends --whatever, whoever):  Memories and stories about your kids that you can write now now and they can enjoy forever.  As inspiration, here are links to a series of wonderful posts from and about Bob Brody's letters-to-his-kids project.


Letters to My Kids (Bob Brody's blog, with links to all the posts)
To Michael: Labor Trouble (Bob Brody, 6-24-10) "You took your time coming out. I think Mom was in labor for 36 hours."
To Caroline: Your Opening Act (Bob Brody, 6-24-10) "You I worried about from the start, even before you were born. The doctor told us you were in there in an unusual position. Transverse breach, she called it."
Archives: Letters to My Kids by Bob Brody
Letters to My Kids 101: Invest In Your Past Bob Brody, on the process.
Letters to My Kids (Lisa Belkin, Motherlode column, NY Times, 6-23-2010) On Father’s Day, he took the journals virtual. He is transferring all 60,000 words onto a Web site, Letters to My Kids, one entry per week. That wasn’t his plan when he started the journals of letters, he says.
Spending Thanksgiving thanking our kids (Janice D'Arcy, WaPo, 11-23-11) The man behind the Letters to My Kids Web site is urging parents and grandparents to use Thanksgiving as an excuse to write a letter — long or short, simple or complex — to our children.
• You can find photos, etc., on Bob's Facebook page. Thanks, Bob. I'll let you know if this inspires my writing groups!

Feel free to post reactions here (or go to Bob's site and post them there!).

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Police, federal agents, protests, and racial justice

Police, federal agents, protests, and racial justice

 

After a short section on clashes between police, federal agents, and protesters in Portland and other cities, you will find more general links about police, protests, and racial justice. This post has been moved over from my comfortdying.com site as more appropriate here.


Feds Ordered Not to Assault, Arrest Journalists in Portland (Karina Brown, Courthouse News Service, 7-23-2020) PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) "Federal police are now under a court order not to arrest or assault journalists and legal observers for doing their jobs, after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Thursday that the government said it would appeal.
      “An open government has been a hallmark of our democracy since our nation’s founding,” U.S. District Judge Michael Simon wrote Thursday, citing precedent from the Ninth Circuit case Leigh v. Salazar. “When wrongdoing is under way, officials have great incentive to blindfold the watchful eyes of the fourth estate. The free press is the guardian of the public’s interests and the independent judiciary is the guardian of the free press.”
     To that hallmark, he added:“This lawsuit tests whether these principles are merely hollow words.” '
Police Are Cutting Ties With Domestic Violence Programs That Support Black Lives Matter (Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPost, 10-16-2020) "Eight days after Embrace’s statement was posted online, Barron County voted to strip the organization of $25,000 in funding for 2021. The county’s director of health and human services resigned from Embrace’s board of directors. Since then, a majority of the 17 law enforcement agencies that work with Embrace have indicated that they will no longer partner with the domestic violence organization, including all law enforcement in Washburn County. That means women who call the police for help, for instance, may not be referred to Embrace for help with safety planning, counseling and support." Law enforcement groups in multiple states have put pressure on domestic violence organizations for standing against racism.
“Defendant Shall Not Attend Protests”: In Portland, Getting Out of Jail Requires Relinquishing Constitutional Rights (Dara Lind, ProPublica, 7-28-2020) A dozen protesters facing federal charges are barred from going to “public gatherings” as a condition of release from jail — a tactic one expert described as “sort of hilariously unconstitutional.”
Trump's Portland crackdown is controversial. The man spearheading it might be doing so illegally. (Aaron Blake, Washington Post, 7-22-2020) Experts say acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf can't legally serve in that role, compounding issues raised by the crackdown.
Trump’s Effort to Provoke Violence Is Working (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 7-28-2020) The president sent federal agents into Portland with the apparent aim of inciting a confrontation.
Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didn’t Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said (New York Times, 7-18-2020) The tactical agents deployed by homeland security include officials from a group known as BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s equivalent of a SWAT team, a highly trained group that normally is tasked with investigating drug smuggling organizations, as opposed to protesters in cities. The agents lacked sufficient training in riot control or mass demonstrations. Rather than tamping down persistent protests in Portland, Ore., a militarized presence from federal officers seems to have re-energized them.
What to Know About Portland's Crackdown on Protesters and How You Can Help (Chelsea Sanchez, Harpers Bazaar, 7-21-2020) The Trump administration is trying to make an example out of Portland. But protesters and supporters are refusing to let him. 'Trump has since defended his decision to deploy armed units to confront Portland protesters, tweeting on Sunday, "We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!" '
Federal Officers Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab People In Portland, DHS Confirms (Jonathan Levinson, Conrad Wilson, James Doubek, and Suzanne Nuyen, NPR, 7-17-2020) NPR reported that the federal officers deployed come from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol Tactical Unit, and are intended to protect federal property. They have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least Tuesday. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation about why they are being arrested, and driving off. The New York Times additionally found that the units deployed are not specialized in nor have they been trained in riot control or mass demonstrations.
Cities in Bind as Turmoil Spreads Far Beyond Portland (Mike Baker, Thomas Fuller and Shane Goldmacher, NY Times, 7-26-2020) Galvanized in part by the deployment of federal agents in Portland, Ore., protesters have returned to the streets in Oakland, Seattle and elsewhere.
Police and protesters clash in violent weekend across the US (Jeff Martin, AP, 6-27-2020) Protests took a violent turn in several U.S. cities over the weekend with demonstrators squaring off against federal agents outside a courthouse in Portland, Oregon, forcing police in Seattle to retreat into a station house and setting fire to vehicles in California and Virginia.
N.Y.P.D. Says It Used Restraint During Protests. Here’s What the Videos Show. (video, NY Times, 7-14-2020) The New York Times found more than 60 videos that show the police using force on protesters during the first 10 days of demonstrations in the city after the death of George Floyd. A review of the videos, shot by protesters and journalists, suggests that many of the police attacks, often led by high-ranking officers, were not warranted
Trump Has Brought America's Dirty Wars Home (Stuart Schrader, New Republic, 7-21-1010) The authoritarian tactics we've exported around the world in the name of national security are now being deployed in Portland.
'Wall of Moms' joins Portland's anti-racism protests (BBC, 7-22-2020) Anti-racism protests have been taking place in Portland, Oregon, for almost two months - but in recent days they have been joined by a growing number of "moms." The "Wall of Moms" - as they have been dubbed - have been acting as a human shield between the protesters and the federal officers sent in to disperse them.
Conservative media helps Trump perform 'law and order' in Portland, with risks for November (Isaac Stanley-Becker, Washington Post, 7-22-2020) The strategy, resembling the focus on the migrant caravans in 2018, left some Republicans in bellwether counties uneasy.
Elected leaders need to take action to stop the rioting (Jeff Barker, Opinion, Oregon Live, 7-8-2020) "Oregon supports free speech. Go through the normal channels, obtain a permit and then follow the rules in the permit. You can march, you can gather to listen to speeches, you can hold up any sign you'd like even if it makes the rest of the world uncomfortable. But what you can't do is break the law." Barker was a law enforcement officer for 31 years and has represented House District 28 in the Oregon Legislature since 2003.

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Problems with policing generally


The Rape Kit’s Secret History (Pagan Kennedy, New York Times, 6-17-2020) This is the story of Marty Goddard, the woman who forced the police to start treating sexual assault like a crime. “She began to formulate questions that almost no one was asking back in the early ‘70s: Why were so many predators getting away with it? And what would it take to stop them?”
Criminal justice reform in the United States (Wikipedia)
What should be done about America's policing problem? (The Stream, Al Jazeera, 6-15-2020) Driven by nationwide protests, calls are growing to boost accountability and oversight of US law enforcement.
Terror Lynching in America (Equal Justice Initiative, video, 10-11-16)
Trump Sidesteps Mentions of Systemic Racism as He Signs Police-Friendly Executive Order (KHN Morning Briefing, 6-17-2020) Advocates and Democrats say President Donald Trump's executive order on police violence falls far short of what's needed to make actual changes to the system. The White House focused on police-backed ideas, such as a national misconduct database, and continued to insist the problems lie with a few officers rather than deeper issues. Congress is also taking steps to address reform, but the parties are on a collision course with their bills.
In wake of protests, New York lawmakers repeal law used to keep police misconduct records secret (Anjali Berdia, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 6-10-2020) In the wake of widespread protests against police violence and racial injustice, New York lawmakers voted on Tuesday to repeal Section 50-a of the state’s Civil Rights Law, a provision used to keep police disciplinary records secret.
Why Policing Is Broken (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 6-17-2020) Years of research on brutality cases shows that bad incentives in politics and city bureaucracies are major drivers of police violence. In wake of protests, New York lawmakers repeal law used to keep police misconduct records secret.
How Police Unions Fight Reform (William Finnegan, New Yorker, 8-3-2020) Police unions enjoy a political paradox. Conservatives traditionally abhor labor unions but support the police. The left is critical of aggressive policing, yet has often muted its criticism of police unions—which are, after all, public-sector unions, an endangered and mostly progressive species. Police unions have spent decades amassing influence. They have often used it to combat what Patrick Lynch, the head of New York City's P.B.A., calls "pro-criminal advocates."
The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world (David Robson, BBC, 5-13-19) Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.
The Defunding Debate ((Jack Herrera, Columbia Journalism Review, Summer 2020) Suddenly, defunding the police had exploded as a central campaign plot point. Look at the issue in historical context.
'Defund the police' calls grow amid protests. Reallocations could fund minority entrepreneurship instead (Steve Strauss, USA Today, 6-10-2020) Defunding the police certainly does not mean not having any police. But it does mean that some of the money used to fund police forces can likely be better spent if the goal is long-term safety, and to begin to eradicate the poverty gap and racial disparity between white and black America that fosters crime.
Teaching About Race, Racism and Police Violence (Teaching Tolerance)
Leo Tolstoy vs. the Police (Jennifer Wilson, NY Times, 6-25-2020) Why the great Russian novelist's critique of state-sponsored violence bears thinking about now. Tolstoy's views, particularly his strong invective against state-sponsored violence, riled authorities who consequently placed the writer under near-constant police surveillance.
Screening police officers before they kill (Jack El-Hai, Medium, 1-4-16) Psychiatrist Douglas M. Kelley found that one-third to one-half of America's police officers during the 1950s were psychologically unqualified to protect citizens or enforce laws. Kelley was uniquely qualified to investigate the psychological traits of people in positions of authority. During the months immediately after World War II, Kelley, then a U.S. Army captain, was sent to the jail in Nuremberg, Germany, to evaluate the sanity of the top 22 captured Nazi leaders awaiting trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The History of Policing in the United States, Part 1 of 6 parts. (Gary Potter, Eastern Kentucky University Police Studies Online) The development of policing in the United States closely followed the development of policing in England. In the early colonies policing took two forms. It was both informal and communal, which is referred to as the "Watch," or private-for-profit policing, which is called "The Big Stick" (Spitzer, 1979).
Violence Interrupter The Interrupters is a 2011 documentary film, produced by Kartemquin Films, that tells the story of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. ... The film features the work of CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention.
He used to sell drugs on D.C. streets. Now he's paid to make them safer. (Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 12-13-18) Duane Cunningham is a member of the District's Violence Interrupters, a group that works in troubled neighborhoods to try to stop violence before it happens.
Defund police? Some cities have already started by investing in mental health instead (Lindsay Schnell, MSN, USA Today, 6-20-2020) As calls to "defund the police" echo around the country at Black Lives Matter protests, a handful of communities already know what that looks like as they invest millions of dollars into mental health resources and response teams instead of just traditional policing. These crisis intervention teams typically do not include an armed, uniformed officer but do feature counselors, social workers and paramedics. And Eugene's 30-year-old program CAHOOTS, or Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets, is the model other cities are looking to as they form their own programs. (Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick, Oregon Register/Guard, 10-20-19)
These Cities Are Stopping Police From Responding to Homelessness, Drug Use, and Mental Health Issues (Emma Ockerman, Vice, 6-17-2020) Los Angeles proposed the change Tuesday. San Francisco and Albuquerque have already made it.
What does 'defund the police' mean and why some say 'reform' is not enough (Ryan W. Miller, USA Today, 6-8-2020)
Most Americans do not want to “defund” the police (The Economist, 6-18-2020) But they support other reforms.
Defunding Everything But the Police Short, effective video with a message
How ‘Defund the Police’ went from moonshot to mainstream (Maya King, Politico, 6-17-2020) To many watching the historic protests against racism and police brutality unfold across the country, it was a call that came out of nowhere: Defund the Police. Yet hours after the first videos of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer went viral online, those three words became the rallying cry of a movement that had suddenly won America’s undivided attention. See more stories on the topic here: The Deep Roots Behind Seemingly Sudden Rise of 'Defund the Police' (KHN Morning Briefing, 6-17-2020)
Protests focus on over-policing. But under-policing is also deadly. (Rod K. Brunson, WaPo, 6-12-2020) People in high-crime neighborhoods already don’t trust law enforcement to protect them.
Violence Interrupter (The Marshall Project) The best criminal justice reporting tagged with "Violence Interrupter," curated by The Marshall Project. The Interrupters is a 2011 documentary film, produced by Kartemquin Films, that tells the story of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. ... The film features the work of CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention.

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Books for and about children of color

assembled by Pat McNees.  Updated 9-23-2020.

You can buy many of the following books from Bookshop or Indie Bound (paths to independent bookstores) or from any of these (AALBC) or these  black-owned bookstores (LitHub, 6-3-2020). Click the links to learn more about each book. I've provided Amazon links because they are helpful and easy to get to. (I get a small commission for Amazon sales from these links.) Many if not most of these books have received book awards, which Amazon lists in its book descriptions (and see awards lists below).
A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Haunting tale of two boys' lives changed by police assault. Age 12+
As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds. Poignant summer adventure brims with family love and hope.


Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Lively profile of a brave man living in a dangerous time. Age 9+
Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes. When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally. Ages pre-school to 3.
Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by Kimberly Brown Pellum. Age 9+
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illust. R. Gregory Christie. Lively tale of store that aided civil rights struggle. Age 7+
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds. Soul-gripping story of teen's grief and hope. Age 12+
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Captivating poems depict coming-of-age in tumultuous 1960s. Age 10+

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Civil Rights Then and Now: A Timeline of the Fight for Equality in America by Kristina Brooke Daniele, illus. by Lindsey Bailey. Ages 12+
Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Grades K-Gr3. Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's wartime, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs.
Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe. From a 'fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive message that will make kids cheer. Ages 3+
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Soaring, poignant novel in verse centered on basketball hits all the right spots. Age 9+
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes. Joyful, foot-tapping celebration of fresh haircut, culture. Age 5+
Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers, Two boys, a writer and a runner, are drawn together in the struggle to overcome the obstacles that life in Harlem throws at them. Age 13+
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illust. by Bryan Collier. Amazing award-winning historical story told in free verse. Age 6+


Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis. A surprising novel of reluctant heroism on the part of eleven-year-old Elijah, the first child born free in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves near the American border. Age 9+
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. When eleven-year-old Langston's father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago's Bronzeville district, it feels like he's giving up everything he loves. First in a trilogy. Age 8+
Firebird by Misty Copeland, illust. by Christopher Myers. Soaring, rhythmic story for dancers with big dreams. Age 5+
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illust. by R. Gregory Christie. Slaves' lives, jazz roots shown in stunning nonfiction book that exposes young readers to realities of slavery in an age-appropriate way. Age 5+
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan. Moving portraits of slaves’ lives, drawing on historical slave documents. Age 6+


Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself. Age 11+
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes.A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history. Age: 10+
Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illust. by Daniel Minter. Joyful story of a deeply loving multigenerational family.
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia. The story of the Gaither sisters as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime. Book 3 of 3. Age 8+
Grandma's Gift (Age 4+, winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award) and Grandma's Records (Age 5+) by Eric Velasquez


Hammering for Freedom by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illust. by John Holyfield. Born a slave, William ""Bill"" Lewis spent the majority of his life 'renting himself' as a blacksmith in order to purchase his family's freedom. Age 7+
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Pinkney, illust. by Brian Pinkney. Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Captivating storytelling makes these heroes relatable. Age 9+
Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illust. by Shane W. Evans. "A clever, celebratory book that affirms all the positive, joyful ways kids can put their hands up."
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Powerful story of police shooting of unarmed Black teen. Age 13+
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson. Beautifully illustrated account of African-American history. Nelson knits together the nation’s proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history. Age 9+
A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich by Alice Childress. The story of Benji's addiction to heroine is told from several perspectives. Published in the '70s, this book is still relevant for many young readers.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman. An inspirational story. Age 4+
Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith. Chills galore in Southern supernatural thriller. Age 10+
How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson. Poet's moving civil rights memoir in free verse charts her '50s childhood. Age 12+
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Haunting look at killing of unarmed African American teen. Age 14+

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I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids by Gabi Garcia, illustr. by Charity Russell
If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement by Gwendolyn Hooks. Age 7+
I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr., illust. by Kadir Nelson. Stunning art amplifies meaning of King's words for kids. Age 6+


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. Tender story of Nana showing grandson city beauty via bus. Age 3+
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Age 6+
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Gripping, unnerving story of teen boy contemplating revenge. Age 12+
Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustr. Alexander Nabaum. Age 10+


Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz, illustr. by AG Ford
A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang (a Hmong American writer), illustr. by illust. by Seo KimYang. Age 5+. Yang, author of the adult memoir The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, has two more picture books featuring Hmong families coming out in 2020.
March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustr. by Nate Powell. This triloly documents the struggle for equal rights and civil liberties in the early 1960s. Powerful graphic novels capture the spirit of desegregation. Before he became a respected Congressman, Rep. Lewis was clubbed, gassed, arrested over 40 times, and nearly killed by angry mobs and state police, all while nonviolently protesting racial discrimination. Book One spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Dr. King, the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Age 12+
---March: Book Two details the real-life heroes of the 1960s, covers the lunch counter sitdowns in Nashville, and continues with events that took place in the South between 1960 -1963, culminating with the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Age 12+ 

---March: Book Three From the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church's Youth Day celebration through fractious struggles within the SNCC that threaten to derail the march from Selma to Montgomery. Age 12+ Uplifting finale to terrific series reveals tragic violence. Age 12+

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Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. A gripping novel about the mystery of one teenage girl’s disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth. Age 14+
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isable Quintero, illust. by Zeke Peña. A celebration of the love between a father and daughter, and of a vibrant immigrant neighborhood, by an award-winning author and illustrator duo. Age 4+
My People by Langston Hughes. Photos bring sparkling tone to simple poem of celebration. Age 5+


The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes, illustr. by Charles R. Smith Jr. Words and watercolors sing in a voice as deep as the river. Age 6+
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson. Stellar art portrays key aspects of Mandela's life for kids. Age 6+
New Kid by Jerry Craft. Funny, heartfelt middle school tale explores race, class. Age 8+
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Gripping story of a girl's bravery during Hurricane Katrina, one of several excellent novels by the author. Age 10+
Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes. His semi-autobiographical tale of an African-American family in rural Kansas--a powerful and moving portrait of race and poverty in America, as well as hope and perseverance.


One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. The story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. A gem, with strong girl characters, part 1 of a trilogy. Each humorous, unforgettable story in this trilogy follows the sisters as they grow up during one of the most tumultuous eras in recent American history. Age 11+
Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, illus. by Brittany Jackson. A visit to Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait. Age 4+
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Kids investigate past racist incident in gripping mystery. Age 8+
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. Powerful, insightful tale of self-awareness, power of art. Age 13+
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia. Tween coming-of-age set amid shifting family, '60s dynamics. Age 9+

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The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. When Taylor is sad, his animal friends suggest remedies, but the rabbit just listens. Sometimes empathy is all we need. Age: 3+
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe. Exuberant, visually stunning biography celebrates artist who had success when young. Age 6+
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this story of one family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice is also Cassie's story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family. Age 11+
Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden, illust. by Don Tate. A story based on an incident from the life of astronaut Ron McNair. When nine-year-old Ron tries to take library books home instead of just looking at them, he knowingly challenges the rule that "only white people can check out books." Ages 6+


Saturday by Oge Mora. An up-and-down journey reminds a mother and daughter that what's best about Saturdays is precious time together. Age 4+
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illust. by Eric Velasquez. “Carole Boston Weatherford’s descriptions and Eric Velasquez’s illustrations make clear how tirelessly Schomburg searched for books, pamphlets and art that could ‘tell our stories, proclaim our glories’…Although he died about 80 years ago, his library in New York City is a national historic landmark, as big and bustling as ever.”~ Washington Post. Age 8+
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. Heartwarming story of friendship and adventure. Age 8+
Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright, illust.and with biography by Nina Crews. Age 5+
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court.
Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez (Lado a Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez) by Monica Brown, illust. by Joe Cepeda. Excellent bilingual story about farm workers in the USA--great for civil rights and LatinX empowerment. Age 4+
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats captures the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall. Winner of the 1963 Caldecott Medal.
Sometimes People March by Tessa Allen. No matter how or why people march, they are powerful because they march together.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus. Teen girls fall in love, face death in breathtaking tale. Age 14+
The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustr. by Ekua Holmes. Poetic and imaginatively illustrated book introduces big cosmic concepts to little humans--from the beginning of our universe to life itself, starting with a small floating speck that suddenly explodes. "Bauer suggests that, just possibly, the power of creation and the power of love are not so different." Age 4+
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison. Girl learns to embrace her dark skin in magical tale. Age 4+

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Tobe by Stella Sharpe. A critical edition of a children's book published in 1939. "In the story, Tobe and his siblings are shown working on a family farm. The text is written for beginning readers. It is the photos [by Charles Anderson Farrell] that really make this is a book worth having. They are well done with a good eye to composition and capture well a moment in time; a look at North Carolina at the end of The Great Depression."
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky: Tristan Strong, Book 1 of 2 by Kwame Mbalia. "Mbalia expertly weaves a meaningful portrayal of family and community with folklore, myth, and history--including the legacy of the slave trade--creating a fast-paced, heroic series starter." Age 8+
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews. Fun, upbeat story of a boy, a trombone, and jazz. Age 4+
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. Poetic tribute to African American heroes and struggles. Age 6+
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustr. by Ekua Holmes. A welcome addition to civil rights literature for children. Age 10+
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illust. by Frané Lessac. "Cheerful, richly detailed folk art-style illustrations in bright, saturated colors show contemporary Cherokee life as one family participates in cermonies and festivals through each season of the year." Age 3+
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. Amazing paintings + compelling history = a grand slam. Age 9+
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illust. by Michaela Goade. "In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice." Age 3+
We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands/Tenemos El Mundo Entero en las Manos by Rafael López. "A beloved spiritual gets an imaginative and anthropocentric rendering in this vibrant picture book celebrating unity." Age 3+

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What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack, illust. by April Harrison. "A loving tribute to collective work, responsibility and the joy that comes from giving freely from the heart." Age 4+
When Aidan Becomes a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illust. by Kaylani Juanita. This sweet and groundbreaking #ownvoices picture book celebrates the changes in a transgender boy's life, from his initial coming-out to becoming a big brother. Age 4+
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill. Kid-friendly intro to the history of hip-hop. Age 6+
You Hold Me Up/Ki Kîhcêyimin Mâna by Monique Gray-Smith, illust. by Danielle Daniel (some editions include text in Plains Cree and English) Age 3+
Young Water Protectors...A Story about Standing Rock by Aslan Tudor, Kelly Tudor, and Jason Eaglespeaker. Beautiful art. Age 9+
Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thomkins-Bigelow, illust. by Luisa Uribe. Age 5+

 

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Anti-racist resources for children, including children's books

You'll find even more titles recommended in these articles:


Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati on the African American Children’s Book Fair African American Literature Book Club (AALBC)
A Children's Booklist for Anti-racist Activism (Embrace Race) 31 Children's books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance
Anti-Racist Resources for Children, Families, and Educators (Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, KidLit Rally 4 Black Lives, Brownbookshelf, 6-4-2020)
Teacher’s Reading List of Antiracist Books for Kids Goes Viral (Melissa Locker, Time, 6-5-2020)

Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners (recommendations by age group)
8 tips for choosing “good” picture books featuring diverse, BIPOC characters (Dr. Krista Aronson, Anne Sibley O'Brien and Dr. Andrea Breau of Diverse BookFinder, Embrace Race)
Top 154 Recommended African-American Children’s Books (African American Literature Book Club)
Black Books Matter: Children's Books Celebrating Black Boys (the conscious kid)
Black Boy Joy: 30 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists (Read Brightly)
Depictions of Race in Children's Literature (YouTube video, 80 minutes, an installment of Silver Spring Village's Racial Justice Series) Dr. Margaret Musgrove and Dr. Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo share perspectives on depictions of race in children's picture books. Why is it that so many decisions about whether to publish or present an award for books true to life as experienced by children of color are decided by white people, who often go for a white person's perspective, or a safe alternative like choosing a book featuring animals.
Young, Black and Lit
Here Are the 50 Must-Read Black Children’s and Young Adult Books of the Past 50 Years (Keyaira Boone, Essence, 4-30-2020) A roundup of titles over the years, including classic kids' favorites.
Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing (Vimeo webinar, 75 minutes, Authors Guild, 6-22-2020) Available only to AG members. From agenting to editing, from sales to marketing, less than five percent of publishing professionals are Black, according to the results of the most recent Lee & Low diversity graphic on Black representation in the publishing industry. How does institutional exclusion and racism impact the success of books by Black authors and the trajectory of Black creators? In this panel, industry experts offer insights, share experiences and concerns, and suggest ways to create change. Participants: Cheryl Davis (AG), Kelly Starling Lyons, Judy Allen Dodson, Vanessa Lloyd-Sgambati, Christopher Myers, Cheryl Wills Hudson, Wade Hudson, Queressa Robinson, Jalissa Marcelle Corrie. Worth a listen for the big picture.
Centering Black Creators (Authors Guild, vimeo--available only to Authors Guild members). The second part of the series Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing, explores the journeys of Black authors and illustrators. What are institutional barriers to success? How can the industry disrupt racism and support Black creators? How can Black creators advocate and advance?

 

SEE ALSO An anti-racism reading and resource list (Writers and Editors)

       For a recommended-reading list for adults -- both books and articles.

 

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."


"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor"

~ Desmond Tutu

 

"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

~ James Baldwin

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All-star pages

This is for me. These are website pages that I and others refer to often (especially during the pandemic)
Addictive and wonderful TV and cable shows
Awards, grants, fellowships and competitions
Black Lives Matter: An anti-racism reading and resource list
Books to help you get started writing your own (or someone else's) life story)
The boy in the plastic bubble
Central issues of our time
Cool science sites for kids
Coping with chronic, rare, and invisible diseases and disorders
Copyright, work for hire, and other rights issues
Coronavirus: The good, the bad, and the practical
Covering the COVID-19 pandemic: Resources for journalists
Conferences, workshops, and other learning places
The difference between a preface, a foreword, and an introduction
Fair use: A primer
Family history, family trees, genealogy, timelines, archives, and other historical resources
Fiction writing and editing
• ***Great and unusual online shopping
Great interview questions and guides
Great memoirs
Great search links
Helping a dying friend (what to say and not say to someone who is dying)
How to do a virtual book launch
Hospice care and palliative care
Investigative reporting
Memoirs, memoir writing, and autobiography
Music for funerals, wakes, and memorial services (comfort.dying.com site)
Narrative nonfiction
Prayers, poems, and meditations (on the comfortdying.com site)
Self-publishing and print on demand (POD)
Social media superpowers under the microscope
• ***Telling your story
The differences between mysteries, cozies, suspense novels, and thrillers
Timelines, genealogy, archives, family history, and other historical resources
21 frequently asked questions about personal histories and personal historians
What is an ethical will? (Pat McNees site)
Where journalists get their medical news and information
Zooming through the pandemic: How to and why

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