When The Mississippi River Floods A Lake
May 04, 2011
As the Mississippi River continues to rise higher and higher, the Army Corps of Engineers has been forced to blast levies along the river in an attempt to lower the water level. Unfortunately, while the destruction of levees has protected cities along the river, it has also led to the flooding of thousands of acres of farmland.
Leprosy: Can It Be Eliminated?
April 28, 2011
For years, about 150 Americans acquired leprosy annually, but doctors had no idea where about one-third of the cases came from. (Two-thirds were acquired overseas.) In a bizarre twist (bizarre, at least, for those of us who do not follow current events in leprosy), today in the New England Journal of Medicine American and Swiss researchers concluded that these leprosy cases, most occurring in Texas and Louisiana, were transferred from wild armadillos. (Researchers say mere contact with an armadillo is unlikely to transfer the disease.
Why Do Ethics Stories Still Quote CREW's Melanie Sloan?
March 04, 2011
[Guest post by James Downie] Kudos to the New York Times for a well-done investigation, published yesterday, on how companies operating in Louisiana are donating large amounts of money to Bobby Jindal's wife’s charity. Of course, that does not immediately prove something unethical has actually taken place, but, well, I’ll let a quote from the Times piece sum it up: “The motives might be good,” said Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics [in Washington], which has also examined public records detailing the operations of Mrs. Jindal’s charity.
January 13, 2011
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery By Eric Foner (W.W. Norton, 426 pp., $29.95) I. As we begin a raft of sesquicentennials that will carry us through at least the next half-decade—the secession of Southern states, the formation of the Confederacy, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, Appomattox, and so on—I confess to feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. These are all signal events in our history, the roadblocks and thoroughfares in the making of modern America, and at a time of general crisis they are especially important to revisit.
The GOP's Strange Ideas About Helping the Poor
December 17, 2010
My latest column for Kaiser Health News: Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is not just a Republican. He's also a doctor. And that means he has not one but two reasons to dislike Medicaid. Not only does it cost the government a lot of money. It also serves a lot of its beneficiaries poorly. Cassidy explained in a Dec. 16 column for Politico that Medicaid is the stingiest payer in our health care system. For most services, it reimburses less than both Medicare and private insurance.
Why Don't Novelists Care about Katrina?
September 10, 2010
Since 2001, fiction based on September 11 has become almost de rigueur among major novelists writing in English. In the aftermath of the attacks on the Word Trade Center, many of the most famous authors of our time have weighed in on the attacks, depicting the ways large and small in which they altered people’s lives. Some hypothesized possible motivations behind the terrorists’ actions: John Updike in Terrorist (2006) and Martin Amis in the short story “The Last Days of Muhammad Atta” (2006).
A New Oil Rig Explosion—and a Familiar Lesson
September 02, 2010
(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) As Brad Plumer reported earlier, another oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana today, forcing workers to jump into the water while the rig was on fire. The Coast Guard says it has rescued all 13 workers and, so far, it looks like we're not in for a repeat of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, according to New Orleans Times-Picayune. This rig, which is owned by Mariner Energy, was in much shallower waters--340 feet deep rather than a mile. And while the well was producing oil, Mariner officials say that workers shut down the operation before evacuating.
Another Rig Explosion In The Gulf
September 02, 2010
Not good. Some updates from CNN: An oil rig has exploded 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana… The accident took place 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana on the Vermilion Oil rig 380, which is owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough tells CNN that all 13 workers involved in the rig explosion are accounted for, but one person is injured.
Does Flood Insurance Just Make Things Worse?
August 27, 2010
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeastern Louisiana on August 29, 2005, it caused extreme flooding up and down the Gulf coastline. Four years later, the Gulf has made a dramatic recovery—thanks in part to the billions of dollars in aid sent via the national flood insurance program. The hurricane certainly underscored the need for federal aid in the event of a natural disaster. But was the federal flood insurance program the best way to get aid to those in need? Some background: The National Flood Insurance Program, run by FEMA, provides insurance to homes that lie in floodplains.
The Movie Review: ‘If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise’
August 23, 2010
Spike Lee's wonderful 2006 documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, wasn’t just about Hurricane Katrina. Rather, it explored the social inequities that the hurricane laid bare, and the incompetence, confusion, greed, and stupidity that made a terrible situation worse. His latest effort, If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise, which premieres on August 23and 24, casts a cold eye on the opportunism that followed in the wake of Katrina, finishing with a devastating hour about the BP oil spill and the political and economic forces that allowed it to happen.