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New Illinois law to curtail book bans takes effect Jan. 1: While Iowa braces for a law that restricts books in public schools, Illinois is getting read for a law that tries to curtail book bans, writes Block Club Chicago. The new law requires Illinois public libraries to adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights that says, in part, “materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.”

Fentanyl drives all-time overdose high in 2023: This sentence in Alaska Public Media‘s article says it all: “the magnitude of this calamity now eclipses every previous drug epidemic, from the 1980s to the prescription opioid crisis of the 2000s.” Read about how harm reduction is getting more focus now as fentanyl and xylazine drive a three-year explosion in drug overdoses that hit 112,000 in a 12-month period for the first time ever this year.

Concerns re-emerge about mpox after outbreak in Congo among gay, bisexual men: Officials warn that the epidemic involves a more severe form of mpox, reports EuroNews, and that stigma against LGBTQ+ people in the Congo could further the epidemic,  leading it to spread to other countries, in the same way 2022’s mpox outbreak spread globally.

Alice Walker praises new “Color Purple” adaptation and open lesbian reference: Author Alice Walker, who wrote “The Color Purple” in 1982, says she’s glad the new adaptation of her Pulitzer Prize-winning book is upfront about the queer relationship between Celie and Shug, reports Screen Rant. “”We really needed to see that love is love,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. The lesbian relationship was not fully portrayed in Stephen Spielberg’s xxxx movie, or a 2005 stage rendition, Boluwatife Adeyemi writes.

Alabama case challenging transgender health care will proceed: An earlier court ruling that keeps Alabama’s transgender health care ban in place will not be put on hold, reports Metro Weekly. Rather, a three-judge panel’s August decision to preserve the ban will be heard in April. Metro Weekly reports that the federal government had sought a delay in the case while other appellate courts nationwide ruled on whether states can ban gender transition care for youths. Alabama is among 22 states that have enacted some form of restriction on gender transition care.

How the “Lost Cause” movement is connected to Nikki Haley’s slavery stumble: Politico writer Joshua Zeitz explains how the “Lost Cause” movement that began within a decade after the Civil War’s end in 1865 has contributed to a historic and long-standing misrepresentation and whitewashing of slavery’s central role in the war between the Union and the Confederacy.


(photo credit: Alice Walker signing autographis in 1990, courtesy of the State Library and Archives of Florida, and a Stop Banning Books sign at the Georgia Capitol in 2022, courtesy of John Ramspott through Wikimedia Commons)