As a former Girl Scout—of the uber-lite variety… as in, whose only camping experience consisted of a night in a heated cabin with bathrooms—I am wholeheartedly inspired by this new scouting group, the Radical Brownies. If young women, and especially young women of color, aren’t going to learn important parts of American history from our public schools and if our culture is primarily going to give them the Disney-princess version of beauty, then it’s about time they get a different, richer space to learn and grow together.
I am always interested in media that scrutinize our (messed-up, wasteful) fashion economy. A new Norwegian reality show sends a few local teens, one of of them a fashion blogger, to work in the Cambodian sweatshops where much of their clothing is made. Unfortunately, the clips in the article are mostly not subtitled, but you can certainly get the gist of their experience. If you’re really interested, you can check out an interview with the series’ producer from WNYC’s program Q earlier this week.
I recently surfed my way into an interesting academic study on tree cover, impervious surfaces, and the residential segregation of racial and ethnic groups. The conclusion? In the US, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are 21-52 percent more likely than whites to live in urban heat islands, even after adjustments for home ownership, poverty, and ecological conditions that affect tree growth. The results were affected by population density and the overall segregation level and size of cities. The authors recommended that climate change mitigation efforts, such as tree planting and changes in roof and pavement types, should proactively incorporate an environmental justice lens. This article on current and historical racial segregation in Seattle provides a valuable follow-up.
You might be surprised by how many people submitted comments to the Federal Elections Commission on the issue of money in politics. But you probably won’t be surprised what they had to say.
Speaking of which, there’s a new documentary that traces Koch Brothers money shaping American politics by quietly seeding the tea party movement and by leveraging racist sentiments.
Also: Check out this Frontline on the political power of the National Rifle Association.
We're in our Spring Fund Drive—make a gift now to support more research like this!
Finally: Poverty is rising much faster in the suburbs than in American cities.
If a dog can figure out the bus, surely you can…
From Canada, Roger Annis reports on the blame-shifting and responsibility-evasion that’s in full flower in the aftermath of the Lac-Megantic oil train catastrophe. As Annis’ reporting shows, oil-by-rail is a wonderful industry populated by honest do-the-right-thing companies.
Like BNSF, for example, the biggest carrier of crude oil on trains. After trumpeting their commitment in 2014 to order 5,000 new “safer” tank cars, the firm’s executives have quietly walked it back in 2015. The promise made for good PR copy last summer, but it must have run afoul of their profit margin.
Or like Tesoro, the problem-plague oil company that aims to develop the country’s largest oil-by-rail facility at Vancouver, Washington. Its workers are describing the company’s contract offer as “offensive.”
Or like BP, which already receives oil trains at its Whatcom County, Washington refinery. When officials there recently discovered that an arriving tank car had spilled 1,600 gallons of crude oil somewhere along the route, the company “forgot” to mention it to most of the relevant oversight and cleanup agencies. As Curtis Tate reports:
The information never reached the Washington state Department of Ecology, which responds to inland oil spills; the U.S. Coast Guard, which responds to oil spills along navigable waterways; or the Whatcom County Unified Emergency Coordination Center.