Category Archives: Resources

Map of the day II: Where two dangers intersect


From Maptitude:

Headline of the day II: Corporate predator alert


From The Hill:

Clean water crisis threatens US

  • Hundreds of cities and towns are at risk of sudden and severe shortages, either because available water is not safe to drink or because there simply isn’t enough of it.
  • The situation has grown so dire the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence now ranks water scarcity as a major threat to national security alongside terrorism.
  • The problem is being felt most acutely in the West, where drought conditions and increased water use have helped turn lush agricultural areas to dust.

UPDATE: With a new headline from Truthout:

“Nestlé Is Trying to Break Us”: A Pennsylvania Town Fights Predatory Water Extraction

Donna Diehl, a 55-year-old school bus driver from Kunkeltown, Pennsylvania, a small historic town located on the edge of the Poconos, wanted to do three things this year: drive the bus, paint her bathroom and learn to crochet. Instead, Diehl, along with dozens of her neighbors, is spending her time trying to stop the largest food and beverage corporation in the world from taking her community’s water, putting it in bottles and selling it for a massive profit.

Puerto Rico, red meat to predatory banksters


The power of predators to draft American financial laws should be apparent to anyone by now, but it’s still shocking to see how viciously those laws impact the lives of men, women, and children who are both citizens and colonial subjects.

Puerto Rico is the classic example, a territory whose natives are by birthright U.S. citizens, yet are simultaneously exempt from laws created to protect citizens who happen to be born in states rather than territories.

Leave it to John Oliver and his gifted staff of researchers to get to bottom of things, with a little musical help from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the hottest ticket on Broadway.

From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Puerto Rico

Program notes:

Puerto Rico is suffering a massive debt crisis. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins John Oliver to call for relief.

Map of the day: Radium levels in drinking water


From the U.S. Geological Survey, a map of measured levels of radium in drinking water wells, with the red spots indicating radiation level above the government’s five picocuries per liter maximum:

Elevated radium concentrations occur most commonly in aquifers in the eastern and central United States for the wells sampled in 15 principal aquifers across the United States. About 3 percent of sampled wells had combined radium concentrations greater than the MCL. Ninety-eight percent of the wells that exceeded the combined radium (radium-226 plus radium-228) drinking-water standard of 5 picocuries per liter established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were in aquifers east of the High Plains. The highest concentrations of combined radium were in the Mid-Continent and Ozark Plateau Cambro-Ordovician aquifer system and the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain. More than 20 percent of sampled wells in these aquifers had combined radium concentrations that were greater than or equal to the MCL.

Elevated radium concentrations occur most commonly in aquifers in the eastern and central United States for the wells sampled in 15 principal aquifers across the United States. About 3 percent of sampled wells had combined radium concentrations greater than the MCL. Ninety-eight percent of the wells that exceeded the combined radium (radium-226 plus radium-228) drinking-water standard of 5 picocuries per liter established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were in aquifers east of the High Plains. The highest concentrations of combined radium were in the Mid-Continent and Ozark Plateau Cambro-Ordovician aquifer system and the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain. More than 20 percent of sampled wells in these aquifers had combined radium concentrations that were greater than or equal to the MCL.

Call it a case of border enforcement blowback


It’s one of those stories you just gotta love.

From Princeton University:

The rapid escalation of border enforcement over the past three decades has backfired as a strategy to control undocumented immigration between Mexico and the United States, according to new research that suggests further militarization of the border is a waste of money.

“Rather than stopping undocumented Mexicans from coming to the U.S., greater enforcement stopped them from going home,” said Douglas Massey, one of the researchers and the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton.

Advocated by bureaucrats, politicians and pundits, the militarization of the U.S. border with Mexico transformed undocumented Mexican migration from a circular flow of predominantly male workers going to a few states into a settled population of about 11 million in all 50 states, Massey said. From 1986 to 2010, the United States spent $35 billion on border enforcement and the net rate of undocumented population growth doubled, he said.

“By the 1990s border enforcement had become a self-sustaining cycle in which rising apprehensions provided proof of the ongoing ‘illegal invasion’ to justify more resources allocated to border enforcement, which produced more apprehensions, even though the actual number of undocumented migrants seeking entry was not increasing,” Massey said.

The research is detailed in an article, Why Border Enforcement Backfired, [$10 for access — esnl] that was published by the American Journal of Sociology in March. The authors are Massey, Jorge Durand of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica in Mexico City and Karen Pren, project manager of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton’s Office of Population Research.

The research was supported by funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as well as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

While advocates of increased border enforcement argued it would slow undocumented immigration, Massey said data gathered from communities throughout Mexico since 1987 on histories of migration and border crossings point to the opposite effect.

“Greater enforcement raised the costs of undocumented border crossing, which required undocumented migrants to stay longer in the U.S. to make a trip profitable,” he said. “Greater enforcement also increased the risk of death and injury during border crossing. As the costs and risks rose, migrants naturally minimized border crossing — not by remaining in Mexico but by staying in the United States.”

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

San Francisco mines the poor to fund the gov’t


Yep, that city fabled in song and story, born of the great California Gold Rush of 1848-49 has found a new mother lode to mine for cash to keep government afloat [the rich, after all, are the fountains of cash for political parties, not government].

From The Young Turks:

Traffic Courts Are Driving Inequality in California

Program notes:

A new study looked at transit-related fines, and how they target the poor and minorities. We’re not supposed to have debtors’ prison in the US, but in many ways we do. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“The story of Mayo’s escalating fine for a minor transit-related offense, and his inability to afford it, is commonplace in California. A study published Monday by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, a civil legal aid organization, and several partner organizations documents the extent of the problem and its disproportionate impact on black and Latino Californians.

In San Francisco, the report’s authors found, black people make up less than 6 percent of the city’s population yet account for 49 percent of arrests made for failure to pay a fine or appear in court. Civil fines left unpaid also disproportionately lead to the suspension of driver’s licenses for black and Latino Californians, according to the study, with the highest suspension rates concentrated in neighborhoods with high poverty rates and high percentages of black or Latino residents.

“Not only do we know that these fines and fees are harming people economically; we now also have really clear evidence that it’s highly disproportionately racially impactful,” said coauthor Michael Herald of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “There’s a very consistent pattern where police are stopping blacks in particular at a far higher rate than they do white residents.”

Map of the Day: Pesticide water pollution risk


BLOG Water

From Yale Environment 360: which reports that:

Streams across roughly 40 percent of the planet’s land area are at risk of pollution from pesticides, according to an analysis published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Globally, roughly 4 million tons of agricultural pesticides are applied each year, and studies show they are associated with significant declines in freshwater biodiversity, the researchers note. Surface waters in the Mediterranean region, the United States, Central America, and Southeast Asia are particularly at risk, according to the study, which produced the first global map of pesticide pollution risk. Taking into account weather data, terrain, pesticide application rates, and land use patterns, the map shows that the risk of pesticide pollution is relatively low in Canada and northern Europe but increases closer to the Equator. More areas are likely to face high pesticide pollution risk as global population grows and the climate warms, the researchers say, because agricultural activity and crop pests will both intensify, likely requiring even higher rates of pesticide use.