November 12th, 2013
From Sam Eifling for the Arkansas Times, an investigation of the rupture of an ExxonMobil pipeline that spilled oil and released fumes throughout a neighborhood in Arkansas. Before the spill, residents didn’t know they were living above a pipeline.
“The oil went to the lake, [Ann] Jarrell said. “But the toxic fumes came to us.”
In one part of the series, he reports the health risks are still largely unknown, at least to the people affected: Most doctors aren’t trained in environmental medicine that would prepared them to treat patients with chemical exposure and oil companies such as ExxonMobil consider the chemical formula proprietary anyway.
In another part, Eifling traces the path of the 858 mile long pipeline, some of it above ground, some of it below. In Arkansas: .. it crosses watersheds for 18 drinking water sources that together serve about 770,000 people, a quarter of the state’s population.
Photo Courtesy of Sam Eifling.
November 8th, 2013
From Jarrett Murphy and Kate Pastor for City Limits, a report on the state of gambling in New York, where more casinos will be opening now that voters have approved a constitutional amendment.
The winners and losers are not easy to predict, according to the report: [T]he number of existing gambling options raises the question of whether new casinos will draw new players to the market or merely pick off customers who are now placing their wagers at a racino, at an Indian gambling or via the lottery.
The new revenue from casinos has been pledged to help schools, echoing promises made for Lottery proceeds. City Limits investigated whether that promise was fulfilled, finding: Since 1995, the state’s Lottery revenue has grown faster than state spending on schools (Lottery revenues are up 145.83 percent from 1995 while state spending on schools is up 117.89 percent). Meanwhile, per pupil spending by the state actually declined in recent years.
Photo Courtesy of Karla Ann Cote.
November 7th, 2013
From Laura Kasinof for Washington Monthly, an article about the post-war grief that may impact women who have served in the military differently than men. An excerpt: *While it’s clear that war is hell for everyone, men and women alike, it’s unclear how the unique female experience in the barracks, on the battlefield, and back at home may affect them differently. Female veterans are already more likely than male veterans to be homeless, divorced, or raising children as single parents. Female vets under fifty are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to kill themselves. And a growing body of research suggests that female vets may also be more susceptible than men to psychological disorders, including PTSD.*
*Sexual assault in the military may play a role, reports Kasinof: *Women in the military must also face “negative consequences for reporting [abuse or harassment] or they may have to continue working with someone who has assaulted them, or they were assaulted by a commanding officer,” said Janice Krupnick, research professor at Georgetown University’s Department of Psychiatry, who works with female veterans.*
Photo courtesy of Warrior Writers.
November 6th, 2013
An excerpt: *If recent research by the US Department of Agriculture is any indication, the crop failures will be a sign of the future. In a February 2013 report, the agency rounded up relevant scientific findings from 56 experts from federal service, universities, and nongovernmental organizations. The results cast doubt on the viability of the US heartland in the age of
warming—and not just for dryland cotton. “Continued changes by mid-century and beyond,” the report said, “are expected to have generally detrimental effects on most crops and livestock.” Among other problems, “weed control costs total more than $11 billion a year in the US. Those costs are expected to rise with increasing temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations.”*
Photo courtesy of Ben Depp.
October 16th, 2013
From Trey Kay, radio documentary producer, “The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom,” a documentary premiering on KUT Radio, Austin, Texas that explores the culture wars over classroom curriculum in Texas. From the release announcing the premiere:
“Long Game focuses on the fundamentally different mindsets that are pitted against one another when deciding how to educate the next generation. The culture war differences in Texas are not that different from those in other states. Long Game suggests that based on the differences among Texans— those who advocate for a values-neutral classroom and those who see the mission of educating tomorrow’s generation as an epic religious struggle— the prospect of common ground for national Common Core standards may be bleak.”
Photo courtesy of Kate McGee, KUT News
October 4th, 2013
From Ken Silverstein for The Nation, an investigation of dirty foreign money, the luxury Miami real estate it buys, and the political fight to keep the money flowing to Florida.
“…Florida’s political leaders have been spearheading the fight against a new Treasury Department rule mandating that foreign banks tell the IRS about accounts held by US taxpayers—and which would, reciprocally, require US banks to share the same information with foreign governments. Not surprisingly, Florida banks and realtors don’t like the idea of more sunlight on their lucrative dealings with foreigners. “There is a huge amount of dirty money flowing into Miami that’s disguised as investment,” said Jack Blum, a former congressional investigator and Washington attorney specializing in money-laundering cases. “The local business community sees any threat to that as a threat to the city’s
October 3rd, 2013
From Amy Lieberman for Women’s Enews, the final part in her series on the hazards faced by transgender women locked up while awaiting immigration and asylum hearings. For example: “[Attorney Sarah] Vidal’s client lives in a dorm with about 20 men and has filed formal complaints alleging an attempted rape, as well as ongoing harassing comments by detainees and guards. ‘I am not sure why she was placed in an all-male facility,’ Vidal said in a phone interview. ‘She alleges that when she asked about it they told her that because she is a man they are putting her in a male facility.’”
The photo to the left, taken by Lieberman, is an example of hotel housing managed by charitable groups that are trying to accommodate transgender people seeking asylum in the U.S.
September 24th, 2013
From Cathryn Jakobson Ramin for MORE Magazine, a report on “bioidentical” hormones that are NOT what the doctor ordered. Lab testing of compounded hormones was financed in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism: “[T]he ingredients of each capsule were analyzed using a process called high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection mass spectrometry, meant to evaluate the specific pharmaceutical content of the product.”
September 17th, 2013
For the San Jose Mercury News, New America Media, and Viet Bao Daily News, Ngoc Nguyen reports on Vietnamese Americans who have suffered in silence, victims of Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War.
“As a soldier in the South Vietnamese army, Trai [Nguyen] gathered intelligence that helped American soldiers. He fought alongside the Americans and was exposed to the defoliants that are known to have injured them. But he’s excluded from the compensation and health care afforded to U.S. veterans for the same service-connected disabilities.
Vietnam War veterans in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea receive Agent Orange disability benefits through their governments. Canada has compensated citizens who were exposed to herbicides during prewar testing of the chemicals. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has paid billions in disability benefits related to herbicide exposure to eligible American veterans.
In contrast, Vietnamese Americans who were exposed and are now sick — a group that includes both veterans and civilians — haven’t received a dime.” One reason: “For the most part, Vietnamese Americans, especially former South Vietnamese veterans, have not demanded redress for harm caused by herbicides. A strong anti-Communist streak in the community causes some of its most outspoken members to view the dangers of Agent Orange as a Communist hoax.”
Photo Credit: Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group
September 16th, 2013
From Todd Melby for Prairie Public, a series of stories on the rising number of workplace deaths and injuries in North Dakota, where there has been an oil boom. North Dakota is now the most dangerous state in the US for workers, according to a labor union study, worse than Alaska - also an oil producing state.
Melby investigates in detail how and why a young oil worker, Dustin Bergsing, died, and the legal battle that produced evidence of ”internal warnings about unsafe working conditions.”
Photo of a natural gas flare, courtesy of Ben Garvin.