Posted 5 months ago on Dec. 12, 2012, 4:44 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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"Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free"
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 09:13 By Charles Pierce, Anchor Books | Book Excerpt
The following is the foreword to the classic "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free" by Esquire columnist Charles P. Pierce. Completed toward the end of the second Bush administration and published in the first year of the Obama era, it remains a defining - and wry - look at how culturally and politically much of the United States has come to value ignorance over knowledge. As Pierce observes in the book excerpt following this introduction,"The rise of Idiot America, though, is essentially a war on expertise ... It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people we should trust the least are the people who know best what they're talking about."
How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation's Underground Water Supply
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 09:57 By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica | News Analysis
Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation's drinking water.
In many cases, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted these so-called aquifer exemptions in Western states now stricken by drought and increasingly desperate for water.
EPA records show that portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers have been written off because exemptions have allowed them to be used as dumping grounds.
"You are sacrificing these aquifers," said Mark Williams, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado and a member of a National Science Foundation team studying the effects of energy development on the environment. "By definition, you are putting pollution into them. ... If you are looking 50 to 100 years down the road, this is not a good way to go."
As part of an investigation into the threat to water supplies from underground injection of waste, ProPublica set out to identify which aquifers have been polluted.
We found the EPA has not even kept track of exactly how many exemptions it has issued, where they are, or whom they might affect. What records the agency was able to supply under the Freedom of Information Act show that exemptions are often issued in apparent conflict with the EPA's mandate to protect waters that may be used for drinking.
Though hundreds of exemptions are for lower-quality water of questionable use, many allow grantees to contaminate water so pure it would barely need filtration, or that is treatable using modern technology.
The EPA is only supposed to issue exemptions if aquifers are too remote, too dirty, or too deep to supply affordable drinking water. Applicants must persuade the government that the water is not being used as drinking water and that it never will be.
Sometimes, however, the agency has issued permits for portions of reservoirs that are in use, assuming contaminants will stay within the finite area exempted.
Regulators Under Fire for Keeping Fracking Pollution Test Results Under Wraps
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:46 By Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report
Residents living in the shadow of fracking rigs say they've suffered from headaches, nosebleeds and other health effects since drilling began in their communities. Meanwhile, state agencies refuse to release the results of air and water pollution tests.
Student Location Tracking Has Troubling Implications
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 12:18 By Rachel Levinson-Waldman , Brennan Center for Justice | Op-Ed
In Harry Potter, the young wizard and his friends are bequeathed a Marauder’s Map. The map allows them to precisely track the location of friends and enemies – as long as the users solemnly swear they are up to no good.
School districts in Texas and California have implemented a real-world (or Muggle-world) version of the Marauder’s Map: some schools are tracking students’ precise locations on school grounds using name badges embedded with Radio Frequency Identification (or RFID) chips.
The program earned national attention recently when a student at a science and engineering magnet academy in San Antonio refused to wear the badge (either with or without the tracking chip); after she was removed from the school as punishment, she and her parents sued. San Antonio is just one of many school districts that use the program to claim precious state dollars based on attendance; using the chips to track students on school grounds, they can report students as present even if they are not in the classroom. There are a number of troubling implications of this tracking plan. The first is the risk of training young people for a police state. Secondary school administrators and teachers have a critical responsibility for keeping their young charges safe, and the First Amendment rights of elementary and high school students can be curtailed in ways that would not pass muster in college and beyond. But a school is not a prison. Its obligations include educating the next generation of competent participants in our democracy: future taxpayers, voters, elected representatives, and judges. Teaching students at a young age to be cautious about whom they associate with, where they seek a quiet moment, and what student groups they join, lest they be remotely identified at the touch of a button, is a poor lesson for the future leaders of a democracy.