Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Do you know your rights? Hit refresh on your constitutional knowledge!


The 2nd Amendment: How the gun control debate went crazy

The gun control debate has been at fever pitch for several years now, and as things fail to change the stats get grimmer. The New York Times reports that there have been 239 school shootings nationwide since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, where 20 first graders and six adults were killed. Six years later, 438 more people have been shot in schools, and for 138 of them it was fatal. Here, journalist and author Kurt Andersen reads the Second Amendment, and explains its history from 1791 all the way to now. "What people need to know is that the Second Amendment only recently became such a salient amendment," says Andersen. It's only in the last 50 years that the gun debate has gone haywire, and it was the moment the NRA went from reasonable to absolutist. So what does the "right to bear arms" really mean? What was a firearm in the 1790s, and what is a firearm now? "Compared to [the] many, many, many rounds-per-second firearms that we have today, it's the same word but virtually a different machine." Kurt Andersen is the author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire.

The 5th Amendment: Do not break in case of emergency

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution is often talked about but rarely read in full. The reason? Counterterrorism expert Amaryllis Fox explains that it has, these days, simply become shorthand for not saying anything in court to incriminate yourself. But the full text states how important the due process of law is to every American. So perhaps learning the full text, not just the shorthand, is an important step to being an American citizen. You can find out more about Amaryllis Fox here.

The 13th Amendment: The unjust prison to profit pipeline

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery—but it still remains legal under one condition. The amendment reads: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Today in America, big corporations profit of cheap prison labor in both privatized and state-run prisons. Shaka Senghor knows this second wave of slavery well—he spent 19 years in jail, working for a starting wage of 17 cents per hour, in a prison where a 15-minute phone call costs between $3-$15. In this video, he shares the exploitation that goes on in American prisons, and how the 13th Amendment allows slavery to continue. He also questions the profit incentive to incarcerate in this country: why does America represent less than 5% of the world's population, but almost 25% of the world's prisoners? Shaka Senghor's latest venture is Mind Blown Media.

The 14th Amendment: History's most radical idea?

In 1868, three years after slavery was abolished, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, granting equal protection under the law to every born and naturalized U.S. citizen. For CNN news commentator Van Jones this amendment is, in his words, the "whole enchilada." It's not the most popular amendment—it doesn't get name-dropped in TV courtroom dramas, or fiercely debated before elections—but to Jones it is a weighty principle that was far ahead of its time. "It doesn't say equal protection under the law unless you're a lesbian. That's not what it says. It doesn't say equal protection under the law unless you're African American. That's not what it says. It says if you're in the jurisdiction you get equal protection under the law. That's radical. In 10,000 years of human history, that's radical." Van Jones is the author of Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together.

The 26th Amendment: The act of voting should empower people

Is a 55.7% voter turnout really enough? Bryan Cranston was disappointed with the 2016 presidential election, not for the outcome but for the process. According to Census Bureau figures it was a bumper year for voter engagement with 137.5 million total ballots cast—but is just over half of the eligible voters really that impressive? The Pew Research Center shows that the U.S. still trails behind most developed nations in voter registration and turnout. "I think we've devalued the honor and privilege of voting and we've become complacent, and maybe a bit cynical about our place and rights as citizens and our duties and responsibilities," says Cranston. The good news? Millennials and Gen Xers are on an upward trend in civic engagement, casting more votes than Boomers and older generations in the 2016 election. Cranston reminds us of how empowering the 26th Amendment is in granting voting rights to Americans over the age of 18. "We can't take that lightly," says Cranston. It's a timely reminder too, as 40 million people are expected to drop off that 55.7% figure for the midterm elections, mostly from the millennial, unmarried women and people of color demographics. Bryan Cranston's new book is the spectacular memoir A Life in Parts.

More playlists
  • The Impossible Burger will be available in 27 Gelson's Markets stores in Southern California starting Sept. 20.
  • Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods sell plant-based burgers in restaurants, but only Beyond Meat sells products in grocery stores.
  • Tyson could begin to edge out these smaller companies with its unique meat product that contains plant and animal components, appealing to health-conscious "flexitarians."


Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have been battling to dominate the alternative meat industry, and now that battle is moving from restaurants to grocery stores.

The Impossible Burger will be available tomorrow in grocery stores for the first time, marking a new chapter in the company's battle against Beyond Meat to dominate the alternative meat industry. Starting September 20, the plant-based burger will be sold at 27 Gelson's Markets stores across Southern California, going for $8.99 per 12-ounce package, fresh or frozen.

But don't plan on stocking up on Impossible Foods' flagship product if you live in California: there's a 10-package-per-shopper limit.

Impossible Foods isn't the first or biggest company to offer plant-based burgers in grocery stores. In June, the rival (and more valuable company) Beyond Meat made its own grocery-store debut when it began offering its popular plant-based burger in stores like Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway, Publix, Wegmans, Target, and Sprouts. What's more, other brands — like Whole Foods' own 365 Everyday Value label — have also beaten Impossible Foods to the punch.

But the plan to roll out the Impossible Burger to grocery stores has long been in the works, according to Impossible Foods CFO David Lee.

"Even three years ago, before we launched at our first restaurant, we thought about what was the right sequence to eventually reach retail," Lee told Forbes, adding that the company wanted roughly 90 percent of meat-eaters to be aware of the brand before moving to retail.

After Southern California, it's unclear where Impossible Foods will next choose to offer its retail product. But considering the company struggled to meet demand after recently teaming up with Burger King, it's likely that Impossible Foods will choose a measured rollout.

"We are continuing to try to be as available as possible," Lee told Forbes, adding that he predicts "future rapid increase in demand and future short-term scarcity."

Can Tyson beat Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods?

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are currently the top players in the alternative meat industry, and it'll likely to stay that way in the near future, as the investment research firm CFRA noted:

"We forecast Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods will remain the fastest-growing players in the space over the next couple of years, thanks to demand from quick-service restaurants."

But Tyson, the world's second largest meat processor, could soon begin to dominate the game, not only with its size and deep pockets, but also by exploiting one potential problem with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods: these two popular plant-based burgers, while good for the environment, probably aren't all that good for you.

Meanwhile, Tyson's new brand Raised & Rooted is making what seem to be relatively healthier meat products that use plant and animal products.

"Its blended beef and plant-based patties specifically target the 'flexitarian' demographic, who are defined as consumers who purchase both meat and meat alternatives," wrote CFRA's Arun Sundaram.

"This patty stands out from competition, not only because it's a blended meat and plant-based burger, but because it seems to be the healthiest option in the marketplace — it has a comparable amount of protein to traditional 80/20 beef burgers and other plant-based burgers, such as those offered by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, but far less total fat and saturated fat. We think more and more consumers are looking at labels and realizing that many plant-based products are not as healthy as they initially thought, and this is where we think Tyson can stand out."

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Thursday plans to swiftly combat climate change.
  • Some parts of the plan include becoming carbon neutral by 2040, buying 100,000 electric delivery vans and reaching zero emissions by 2030.
  • Some Amazon employees say the pledge is good but doesn't go far enough.


Amazon pledged on Thursday to become carbon neutral by 2040 and to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early. The move — announced by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during a presentation with former United Nations climate change chief Christiana Figueres — comes one day ahead of the global climate strike, for which more than 1,500 Amazon employees are expected to walk off the job.

It marks the most sweeping climate promise to date from the world's largest retailer. To launch its new plan, Amazon created and became the first signatory of the Climate Pledge, which calls on businesses to measure and regularly report on greenhouse gas emissions, and also to implement decarbonization and carbon-offset strategies.

"We've been in the middle of the herd on this issue, and we want to move to the forefront," Bezos said.

This said, Amazon plans to:

  • Get 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2024, up from its current rate of 40 percent
  • Reach zero emissions by 2030
  • Become carbon neutral by 2040
  • Buy 100,000 electric delivery vans, some of which will begin making deliveries in 2021, with all projected to be in use by 2024, according to Bezos
  • Create a $100 million reforestation fund
  • Encourage other corporations to sign the Climate Pledge

"Meeting these goals is something that can only be done in collaboration with other large companies because we're all part of each other's supply chains," Bezos said. "We're signing up to help do that."

But Bezos disagreed with the idea that Amazon should no longer sign cloud computing contracts with oil and gas companies, which is one of the demands of Amazon employees planning to walk out on Friday.

"We should and we need to help them instead of vilify them," Bezos said, referring to aiding oil companies in the transition to renewable energies.

The Amazon Employees For Climate Justice Twitter account said the pledge is a "huge win," but added that it's not enough.

Josué Velázquez Martínez, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Transportation and Logistics and director of its Sustainable Logistics Initiative, told The Washington Post that Amazon's quick delivery services work against sustainability and climate-friendly goals.

"That part is not sustainable at all," Velázquez Martínez said, adding elsewhere that the company should show customers the environmental impacts of next-day shipping to incentivize slower delivery options. "They could do much more in terms of sustainability."

Of course, consumers share some of this responsibility, though many find the convenience hard to turn down.

"With Amazon, it's hard to be disciplined," said University of Washington's Don MacKenzie, who leads the Sustainable Transportation lab. "You've [got] an all-you-can-eat buffet as far as shipping goes. We don't see that price signal telling us, maybe you wait and combine shipments."

The global climate strikes are set to happen worldwide from Sept. 20 to 27, with hundreds of employees of other big tech companies, such as Microsoft and Google, planning to participate as well.

When Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, it didn't just flatten houses and flood hospitals – it plunged the island into a darkness that many islanders have yet to emerge from, both literally and metaphorically.


The catastrophe sent the island into the longest blackout in US history. Six months after the disaster, many residents are still without access to power. “Such prolonged darkness is insidious to community mental health," says Oxiris Barbot, First Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Barbot visited the island as a relief worker two months after the disaster and found nearly everyone she met knew someone in their immediate circle or one degree removed who had contemplated or died by suicide. Preliminary data from Puerto Rico's health department suggests that suicides were up nearly a third in September and October compared to the same period for 2016.

Physicians know that extreme events can have negative impacts on mental health, causing symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But in a recent paper, researchers admitted that much is still unknown about the consequences of disasters on long-term behavioural health.

In Puerto Rico, most of the islanders were unable to evacuate and so weathered the full trauma of the storm. Some were isolated and without assistance for days or weeks afterwards. In the following months, many faced hardships such as bereavements, loss of income and limited access to fresh water and food.

living in darkness after a power shortage can affect mental health

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Carmen Correa uses a candle for light in her dark apartment as she deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 30, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It's an experience that could leave a lasting imprint. "Exposure to trauma not only affects you in the moment, it affects you for the rest of your life if you don't have access to support services that will help you develop effective coping skills," Barbot says.

But little is known about how survivors of extreme events respond relative to the help they receive, according to Sandro Galea, Dean at the Boston University School of Public Health. He says scientists need to investigate the most effective post-disaster responses to both physical and mental health challenges: "The stigma that you can just 'get over' mental illness remains. In truth, one can get over mental illness roughly the same way one can get over a broken bone by oneself – with difficulty, and likely in a way that will not result in proper healing."

Public health researchers need to invest in research that prepares health systems for the next extreme event, Galea says. The first step would be to identify at-risk populations from both a physical and mental health perspective. Then health workers could act to create resilience and mitigate the consequences in vulnerable communities.

Doing such research now, before the next hurricane hits, could reap significant financial savings in disaster response efforts. "The payoff is enormous," Galea says. "And if we ask the right questions, we can mitigate mental health consequences that cost people's lives."

This article first appeared on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons licence.

  • A school in Michigan is being remodeled in a way to minimize the effect of a shooter should the worst happen.
  • It features limited sight lines, bullet proof windows, and doors that can be locked at the push of a button.
  • Some research casts doubt on how effective the plans will actually be.

America has a mental health, video game, single-parent household, lack of school prayer, violent television, gun violence problem. Every day, 100 Americans are killed by gun violence, and hundreds more are injured. While most of these shootings are not in public schools, it is the images of school children being mowed down in their innocence that sticks with us.

Despite widespread support for various gun control measures, they are currently political non-starters. Desperate for a solution, many people have turned to bulletproof backpacks among other curious solutions in an attempt to protect their children.

However, an architectural firm has decided to up the ante in this odd game; they have designed a school that is designed to minimize the impact of mass shootings.

The world Americans live in now

TowerPinkster, an architecture firm based in Michigan, has designed a school for the hamlet of Fruitport. It features many design elements selected by the firm to limit the impact of a shooter. While the project won't be finished until 2021, some elements are already in place as part of the longterm $48 million remodeling effort.

The campus will feature a series of fire doors which can all be closed and locked with the pushing of a single button, to isolate an attacker in one area. Hallways will be slightly curved to cut off the shooter's line of sight; intermittent wing walls will dot the halls as well so that children might hide behind them. Similar barriers will exist behind classroom doors in hopes that teachers and students can hide in their rooms as well.

Lockers will no longer line walls, but instead, be located on islands in the middle of wide-open spaces. The stated benefit of this is to allow teachers to see the whole room without obstruction. The lockers will also be much shorter than most high school lockers. The building's windows will be covered in a bulletproof film.

Before you get too shocked by all this, Sandy Hook was recently rebuilt with an eye towards keeping people out, and the American Institute of Architects came up with several ideas to make schools less vulnerable to mass shootings last year.

Do people think this will actually work? What are experts saying?

The designs are mostly untested, and their effectiveness during an active shooter situation is still theoretical. The Center for American Progress, a non-partisan think tank, has data that suggests that making schools "hard targets" isn't very effective and has unwanted side effects on students. The center's experts, instead, suggest we do something about gun violence overall, in terms of policy — a common refrain from other researchers.

It should also be said that some are concerned that if the worst should happen, the same features that are supposed to protect students could make it harder for the police to apprehend the shooter. This isn't too farfetched, in 2003 SWAT team members blamed the design of a Frank Gehry building for delaying their capture of a shooter — it took seven hours.

The people who built the school in Fruitport are also quick to say that it isn't "impenetrable," but do suggest that the design could make a difference in an emergency.

Given the stance of the American Institute of Architects and the number of expert resources that TowerPinkster had to turn to, it is likely that we will see more schools like this before we see fewer. Additionally, some of the design choices were suggested by the National Institute of Crime Prevention's Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design program.

In a Kafkaesque vision of things that may be, Fruitport Superintendent Bob Szymoniak did say of the building's features: "These are going to be design elements that are just naturally part of buildings going into the future."

As the United States continues to grapple with gun violence, private actors are beginning to step in where policy has failed. While the actual effectiveness of a "massacre proof" school remains unknown, it is understandable why some people would turn to one for a feeling of security.

  • The way we communicate is dictated in part by the setting that that communication takes place in. You're supposed to tell your doctor everything; on the other hand, you wouldn't tell your business competitor much at all.
  • In academia, communication is supposed to be somewhat provocative. The reaction to a provocative idea can't be to silence the one expressing it, but to approach it from the other side of the argument. One way to think about this is that if you don't understand the other side of an issue, then you can't claim to understand the issue.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.