News & Features

Facing Severe Drought, Californians Support Cutbacks

Ngoc Nguyen

Californians rank the drought as their number-one environmental concern, according to a new statewide survey. The poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found three out of four residents favor mandatory curbs on water use. “They want the local district to do something -- mandatory reductions -- and they want the state government to do something,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “They recognize that it is a problem and the most important issue.”

 

The ‘Sister Wives’ Effect: Can the U.S. Rebrand Polygamy?

Stephanie Stark

Earlier this month, TLC brought back "Sister Wives," a reality show featuring the Utah-based polygamist Brown family of four wives and 17 children, for another season. Since last season, the Browns struck down a major piece of state legislation that may pave the way for the legalization of polygamy under the guise of “religious freedom.” In a nod to anti-gay marriage advocates who warned the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to other kinds of sexual freedoms, such as polygamy, the ruling is deemed a watershed moment for the rights of polygamist families— of which there is estimated to be around 45,000. 

The Unfair $23 Billion Tobacco Verdict

Sandip Roy

But the catch is Johnson died at the age of 36. So for much of his life he must have known full well the dangers of smoking. From 1966, packets in the US warned smoking may be hazardous to health. From 1970 it became a more definitive "The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health". That Johnson could not quit his addiction is a different matter. But the verdict is clearly less about Johnson’s tragedy as it is about teaching cigarette companies a lesson for peddling a vice. 

California Agriculture Is at Risk of Greatest Water Loss To Date

Kat Kerlin

The study found that the drought — the third most severe on record — is responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture, with river water for Central Valley farms reduced by roughly one-third. Groundwater pumping is expected to replace most river water losses, with some areas more than doubling their pumping rate over the previous year, the study said. More than 80 percent of this replacement pumping occurs in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin.

High Rents Force New York Chinatown Retailers to Seek Out Other Locations

Rong Xiaoqing

Just a few blocks north of Chen’s crammed shop is a different world. Ten or so spacious storefronts are completely empty, with “for rent” banners on the awnings covered in dust. Some of them have been left like that for more than a year, as new tenants can’t afford the increased rents after former tenants are pushed out. Thanks to skyrocketing rents in recent years, this eerie contrast – shops crammed into tiny spaces next door to vacancies of spacious storefronts -- has become a fixed image in Chinatown. 

Facebook and the Powers of Media Manipulation

Marty Kaplan

The average Facebook user sees only 20 percent of the 1,500 stories per day that could have shown up in their news feed.  The posts you receive are determined by algorithms whose bottom line is Facebook’s bottom line.  The company is constantly adjusting all kinds of dials, quietly looking for the optimal mix to make us spend more of our time and money on Facebook.  Of course the more we’re on Facebook, the more information they have about us to fine-tune their formulas for picking ads to show us.  

San Francisco Considers Resolution to Help Migrant Children

Elena Shore

About 200 to 250 children each month are coming to the Bay Area to be reunited with family members or sponsors, according to CARECEN. The organization has seen a tripling in the number of minors seeking its immigration legal services, from 20 to 60 minors per month – more than they have the capacity to serve. A resolution introduced last week by Supervisor David Campos would ensure that while these children await immigration proceedings, they have access to housing and social services.

Should Women Have Paid Menstrual Leave?

Stephanie Stark

A handful of East Asian countries seem to think so. Women in Taiwan get three paid days off per year for menstrual leave. Indonesian women are given two days per month. In South Korea, they are awarded back pay if they do not take their allotted days. The Philippines order “mandatory menstruation leave” to female private and government employees, and provide half pay for those who are menopausal and pregnant. And last year in Russia, a lawmaker attempted to pass two days off monthly for women during their menstruation cycle, claiming women’s memories and efficiency at work are deterred.

The Caribbean’s Clean Energy Revolution

Richard Schiffman

This move to solar is being driven by tax incentives for green businesses and consumers. In an address marking the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) “World Environment Day” in Bridgetown’s Independence Square, Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart recently pledged that the island nation would produce 29 percent of its energy from renewables by the end of the next decade. That rather conservative goal is still over twice what the United States currently produces with renewables. 

Obama’s Quick Fix Won’t Solve the Refugee Crisis

Michelle Brané

Particularly concerning about the recent surge is that the children making the perilous migration journey are now younger than in years past. It has become common for children as young as 4-10 years old to be picked up and arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol. Additionally, a higher percentage of the children are girls, many of whom arrive pregnant as a result of sexual violence. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently conducted research with this population and found that 58 percent of the children interviewed raised international protection concerns.

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