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Book News: Calif. Law Calls For Textbooks To Teach Significance Of Obama's Election

Aug 27, 2014

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • California history textbooks will now be asked to cover "the significance of President Barack Obama's election," under a law signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown. The new law requires California's Instructional Quality Commission "to consider including, and recommending for adoption by the state board, instruction on the election of President Barack Obama and the significance of the United States electing its first African American President, as appropriate." The author, Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden, said in a statement: "We want to make sure that future generations understand that the election of our nation's first African American president was a historic step in the effort towards equality and that previous elections involved intimidation and violence that prevented millions of African Americans from voting."
  • Idra Novey has a poem, "House-Sitting With Approaching Fire," in Guernica:

"Dear friends

the ash-fall is thickening here

it's filming over the pool

I tell the cats we'll be fine

the flames will not reach us..."

"If there's no need for movement, then no need for a brain, I've learned,

a fact demonstrated by the sea squirt, a small creature that swims

freely in its youth until it settles on a rock. Then it devours its own brain."

  • Architect Zaha Hadid is suing The New York Review of Books for defamation over a book review that Hadid says implies she was unconcerned about working conditions for the laborers building her design for a 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar, Reuters reports. Architecture critic Martin Filler, who was reviewing Rowan Moore's book Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture, wrote that Hadid "has unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern, for the estimated one thousand laborers who have perished while constructing her project [Qatar's Al Wakrah stadium] so far. 'I have nothing to do with it,' Hadid has claimed. 'It's not my duty as an architect to look at it.' " Filler has acknowledged that construction on the stadium isn't scheduled to begin until 2015, and, according to Reuters, will print a retraction apologizing for the error. Hadid has not said whether she drop the lawsuit.
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