Sunday, May 18, 2014

Links for the week ending 18 May 2014

"These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise." That's from a news release by Carol Rasmussen from the NASA Earth Science News Team. Have a nice day.

"But the unfortunate fact about uncertainty is that the error bars always go in both directions. While it is possible that the problem could turn out to be less serious than the consensus forecast, it is equally likely to turn out to be more serious." In case you're not already gibbering in terror, here's Elizabeth Kolbert at The New Yorker to take you the rest of the way there.

"Four years into a mean, hot drought that shows no sign of relenting, a new Dust Bowl is indeed engulfing the same region that was the geographic heart of the original." Laura Parker reports from the Oklahoma panhandle for National Geographic. (Via @pourmecoffee.)

"No one involved in the brewing court battle over who owns San Antonio’s wastewater is calling it 'potty water,' as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram did in a recent story about the Wichita Falls plan. " Neena Satija for the Texas Tribune reports that the future of drinking water is already here.

"The United States Fish and Wildlife Service says homeowners use up to 10 times more chemicals per acre than farmers do. Some of these chemicals rub off on children or pets, but most are washed with rainwater into our streams, lakes and rivers or are absorbed into our groundwater." Yes, I am subtweeting my neighbors with this piece from last week in the NYT by Diane Lewis.

"There will be only dryness or downpour, no more metronomic rains like the one that kept me awake the other night. Like the economy, the climate is expected to change in ways that only advance inequality: The wet regions of the world will get wetter; the dry regions of the world will get drier." Casey N. Cep at Pacific Standard.

"Although it will vary by region, these characteristics fomented by climate change, don’t bode well for West Nile outbreaks. And although it may be possible to disregard the slow changes happening within our climate, it’s less easy to ignore the effects of a disease ravaging a family." Brittany Patterson at The Atlantic last week on West Nile virus. (Via Maryn McKenna.)

"Ameer has been following the most recent news reports anxiously and closely, as has every literate citizen of Saudi Arabia, but this latest suggestion, that MERS-CoV might somehow be tainting the kingdom's camels, had caused him to recoil. He was not willing to believe it. He was about to do a defiant thing." Great story at National Geographic by Cynthia Gorney on MERS and camels and people in Saudi Arabia.

"One woman, Umm Ahmed, told how a driver for one charity demanded $7 to take refugees' names to receive boxes of food and soap distributed by a nearby mosque." Diaa Hadid reports for the AP on corruption seeping into the distribution of aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

"A bullet smashed through the window next to my head, hissed through the hair of my driver but miraculously left both of us unharmed. Since then I have probably become the only woman in the world to convert their United Nude shoe bag into a gunshot trauma kit which I’ve since carried with me at all times." Dispatch from Iona Craig, the last accredited Western journalist in Yemen — as she leaves the country maybe forever. At Index on Censorship. (Via Erin Cunningham.)

"This seemed to confirm what opponents of the A.K.P. already believed—that the government would take measures to help businesses develop Turkey, even at the expense of Turkish citizens." At The New Yorker, Jenna Krajeski on the mine disaster at Soma.

"Most of the coverage of the group has been about 'the amount of people who died, and here’s what the politicians think of it,' says Saratu, a young Nigerian who prefers to go by only her first name, who began the project in February. 'No one is listening to the voices of the people affected.'" At BuzzFeed, Jina Moore on the testimony of Nigerians afflicted by Boko Haram violence.

"Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a historic mandate in the country’s general election on Friday, emerging with 282 of 543 parliamentary seats, more than enough to form a government without having to broker a post-election coalition." Ellen Barry at the NYT on the final results in India's elections, which spell the end of the Gandhi political dynasty, and the beginning of the next chapter in India's history. (Via Lydia Polgreen.)

"Grace, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, doesn't smoke – at 15, she's too young to buy a pack of cigarettes, anyway – but she might as well have had a regular habit. At her job on a tobacco farm last summer, she handled tobacco plants for up to 12 hours a day, steadily absorbing nicotine through her skin." Human Rights Watch's Margaret Wurth at The Guardian on the health risks to child laborers on American tobacco fields.

"The Boston FBI agent who fatally shot a Chechen friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in Florida last year had a brief and troubled past at the Oakland Police Department in California. In four years, Officer #8313 took the Fifth at a police corruption trial and was the subject of two police brutality lawsuits and four internal affairs investigations." Maria Sacchetti at The Boston Globe. (Via Sarah Jeong.)

"There is little choice for an Afghan Muslim man who is not fluent in English, sitting in an NYPD office and being questioned about his family back home, his religion, and his leisurely activities." Commentary on the NYPD's recruitment of informers among Muslim immigrants, by Rozina Ali at her tumblr. (Via Anne Barnard.)

"More than one in every four black boys identified as having disabilities was suspended in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (PDF)." Just one of the many eye-opening statistics in Julianne Hing's excellent reportage on race, disability, and the school-to-prison pipeline. At Colorlines.

"Students shed streams of data about their academic progress, work habits, learning styles and personal interests as they navigate educational websites. All that data has potential commercial value: It could be used to target ads to the kids and their families, or to build profiles on them that might be of interest to employers, military recruiters or college admissions officers." The future is now, and it is fucking terrifying. Er, I mean, here is an interesting article about data mining in schools, by Stephanie Simon for Politico. (Via Audrey Watters.)

"While social media giants like Twitter and Facebook have been instrumental in facilitating social movements across the world, their democratic utility does not guarantee their democratic ethos. They are instead predictably and abidingly corporate; the primary freedom they go to bat for is market freedom." Clear, incisive piece by Meagan Day at Full Stop reviewing Astra Taylor's new book. (Via Dayna Tortorici.)

Do you all read "5 Useful Articles" by dude Parker Higgins and Sarah Jeong? You should. You'll be smarter (and funnier) about the latest techno/legal disasters because of it.

"Student news and opinion blog the Lion covered the grassroots action as the list of alleged assailants—all of whom, the anonymous scribbler claimed, had already been found responsible for sexual misconduct through the university’s judicial process but were allowed to remain at school—spread from bathrooms to classrooms to printed fliers." Amanda Hess at Slate on what happened at Columbia University when the student publication that had been covering sexual assault issues found one of the accused on its own staff. (Via Kayla Webley.)

"Bias in mammalian test subjects was evident in eight of 10 scientific disciplines in an analysis of published research conducted by Irving Zucker, a professor of psychology and integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. The most lopsided was neuroscience, where single-sex studies of male animals outnumbered those of females by 5.5 to 1." Roni Carin Rabin at the NYT on a new directive aimed at reducing the gender bias in basic science research.

"Unbeknownst to her, however, Colorado’s marijuana law need not explicitly state exceptions to legalized adult marijuana use for such exceptions to exist. The complicated, incentive-based relationship between federal and state child abuse laws obscures parents’ protections under legalization." Kristen Gwynne at RH Reality Check on holes in marijuana legalization that have resulted in prosecutions against mothers and pregnant women.

"I stood there, shaking, gaping at my jeans and T-shirt. What about my clothes said I wasn’t 13? What about me kept telling the rest of the world I wasn’t a child?" Lovely essay by Ashley C. Ford about that stage in which she had not yet grown into her maturing body. At BuzzFeed. (Via Shani O. Hilton.)

"When it comes to kids and recreational reading, here are the questions I have. Look at those readers from 30 years ago. Look at them now. Do they have better jobs? Are they earning more money? Did they go on to higher education? Are they happy? In other words, does reading for pleasure mean anything other than.... someone likes to read for pleasure?" Liz Burns at her blog skewering this week's edition of Kids These Days Don't Read. (Hat tip and fist-bump to Jody T. — god knows we have asked each other that last question frequently enough over the years!)

"Was my two-year-old ready for this? I figured probably not, but watching myself edit the book for her level turned out to be a strange pastime. I wasn’t just editing out the hatred but was also failing to explain why the kids were moving to a new school at all. It was as if I was afraid that mentioning race to her would cause her to say embarrassing things at daycare the next day, something I wanted desperately to avoid. " At Fuse #8, Betsy Bird on the perils, pitfalls, and absolute necessity of finding diverse books for children.

Wait, did something happen at the NYT this week? I kid, I kid. "She got fired with less dignity than Judith Miller, who practically started the Iraq War." Kate Aurthur at BuzzFeed. (Via Miriam Elder.)

"Observing the sharp contrast between this kinder, gentler transition and the cold glee with which Abramson was tossed on her ass today made me hope that eventually we will learn that she was stealing from the company cash register. Because that’s pretty much the only crime I can think of that would merit as swift and brutal an exit for a woman who—good or bad at her job, or, more likely, like most bosses in the world, some combination of the two—represented an undeniably historic first in journalism and at The New York Times." Rebecca Traister at The New Republic.

"To their surprise, she turned up at the noisy Manhattan bar, leaned in close, answered every one of their questions, and told dishy anecdotes about how she’s dealt with men who projected their own biases onto her work. 'It was awe-inspiring, the way she took that time out of her life to powwow with us, without ever seeming ceremonial about it,' one female staffer in attendance told me." Amanda Hess again at Slate. (Via @rsp1661.)

Sarah Miller at The Hairpin writing as David Brooks on Jill Abramson, which wins the internets this week, unless you are also counting "How To Fall Asleep: A Step-By-Step Guide," by Mallory Ortberg at The Toast.

"The Great Society did not just seek to redistribute wealth. Johnson also set out to shift power in America — from states to Washington, from the legislative branch to the executive, from corporations to federal regulators, from big-city political machines to community groups." Finally, at The Washington Post, Karen Tumulty's evocative essay on the fiftieth anniversary of The Great Society. (Via @pourmecoffee.)