US schools get an “A” for censorship. Nearly 3,000 schools in 26 states banned 1,586 books from July 1 through March, according to PEN America.
The free expression advocacy group on April 7 released its first detailed, book-by-book and district-by-district list of what books have been pulled from library shelves.
PEN found that 41 percent of the banned books featured protagonists or prominent secondary figures as people of color; 33 percent explored LGBQT+ themes; 22 percent addressed race and racism and 16 percent are histories or biographies.
Targeted books include Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” John Irving’s “The Cider House Rules,” Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid's Tale,” Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud,” Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Elie Wiesel’s Night,” Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” Adam Cohen’s “Imbeciles: The American Supreme Court,” Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” Judy Blume’s “Forever,” James Patterson’s “Cradle and All,” and Frederick Douglass’ “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.”
Texas led the censorship pack, followed by Pennsylvania, Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas and Tennessee.
PEN America found that 98 percent of the banned books were arbitrarily dropped without a formal review or transparency.
Those censors are America’s version of the Star Chamber court.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is likely to last months or even years, Shashank Josi, defense editor at The Economist, said April 8 during a webinar sponsored by the magazine about the situation in Ukraine.
He said that the Ukrainian army has been battling separatists backed by Russia in the country’s Donbas eastern region since 2014. More than 14,000 people have died there.
Josi said the utter and complete failure of Russia to take Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv and the surrounding area has forced the hand of Vladimir Putin to concentrate his forces in Donbas.
Russia has lost 400 tanks in combat so far, a number that exceeds the 220 tanks in the British army. An estimated 15,000 Russian soldiers are dead.
Rather than the “shock and awe” war waged by the Americans against Iraq, Josi expects Russia will wage a “grinding war of attrition” in Ukraine.
He noted that UK foreign secretary Liz Truss says NATO should help Ukraine transition from its Soviet-era weaponry to arms used by the western nations.
That to Josi indicates the West plans to supply weapons to Ukraine over the long haul.
Josi did offer a caveat to his endless war in Ukraine vision. He suspects that Putin initially wanted to wrap things up by May 9, which is celebrated as “Victory Day” in Russia for defeating Germany in WWII.
Putin has told the Russian people that he launched his “special military operation” in Ukraine to de-Nazify the country’s leadership.
But Josi warned that an “artificial political deadline” could lead to disaster for Russia’s military, which “is running out of steam,” suffers low-morale and is short on supplies.
Nobody knows the political objectives of Putin, except the Russian leader himself.
Media watchers used to comment on the split personality of Fox News. It was “fair and balanced” during the day and off-the-wall right-wing lunacy during prime time.
NBC News president Noah Oppenheim is trying to draw the line between his operation and its liberal-leaning MSNBC cousin.
He told staffers, who are not thrilled over reports that White House press secretary Jen Psaki is heading to MSNBC, that the cable operation is in the “perspective programming” business.
NBC is a hard news business.
MSNBC focuses on commentary and analysis. Psaki will fit right in.
Under the leadership of Rashida Jones, who took over from Phil Griffin in February 2021, the network is evolving into an entertainment channel to give Fox a run for its money.