September 28, 2011
Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern AmericaBy Richard White (W.W. Norton, 660 pp., $35) I. The scene is iconic, known to many Americans even casually acquainted with their history. Locomotives of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads come engine grate to engine grate, separated by a mere railroad tie, at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.
Who Counts as a 'Person'? Mississippi Decides This November
September 08, 2011
[Guest Post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] On November 8 Mississippians will vote by popular referendum to legally define the beginning of a person’s life “at conception.” Until now, there was a reasonable doubt that the pro-life-backed “personhood amendment” would never make it to the ballot, since Mississippi law forbids amending the state constitution by voter initiative.
A Radical New Ploy to Destroy Roe v. Wade—Which Just Might Work
September 02, 2011
2011 has been a banner year for abortion opponents. Thus far, 87 state laws restricting abortion have been enacted, the most in any year since Roe v. Wade and more than double the previous high. But one rogue wing of the pro-life movement sees no reason to celebrate: the budding “personhood movement,” which wants to turn abortion into homicide by methodically amending state constitutions to define conception as the beginning of a person’s life. This November, Mississippi votes on the personhood issue by popular referendum.
Hurricane Katrina is the costliest disaster in U.S. history and among the three costliest in the world ever. As such, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast stand as a lesson about what it takes to rebuild after a major catastrophe. Unfortunately, the demand for such learning seems to only grow.
‘The Help’ Isn’t Racist. Its Critics Are.
August 17, 2011
In the week since its release, The Help, a movie telling the story of a group of black maids in the South in the early 1960s, has been derided repeatedly in blog posts and reviews as a lazy collection of racist tropes, an irredeemable expression of naive bigotry. In an article in the New York Times, film critic Nelson George condemns the filmmakers for failing to properly “come to terms” with America’s racist past.
Pull Yourself Together, D.C.! Perrymania Is Overrated
August 16, 2011
Like much of his career, Rick Perry’s entry into the presidential campaign was exceptionally well-timed. Announcing the very day that his main rival for the “electable conservative alternative to Mitt Romney” mantle, Tim Pawlenty, was driven from the race by a poor third-place showing at the Iowa Straw Poll, the Texan has a lot of open political space to occupy.
What Is The Worsening Obesity Epidemic Costing Us?
July 14, 2011
There was more grim health news earlier last week when a new study revealed that obesity rates in every U.S. state have risen sharply since the 1990s. The state with the highest rate today is Mississippi, where more than one-third of all adults are obese. And even the state with the lowest obesity rate today—Colorado, with an obesity rate just below 20 percent—would have had the highest rate in 1995. Colorado estimates that its obesity problem costs the state over $1 billion per year.
June 23, 2011
In the fall of 2008, EnergySolutions Foundation, the charitable arm of one of the world’s largest nuclear-waste processors, began approaching nuclear utilities with an offer. Guided by a team of science teachers and industry p.r. staffers, the organization had developed a trove of materials on nuclear power for use in sixth-through-twelfth-grade classes.
Metros Turn Up the Heat on Addressing Climate
June 02, 2011
As the heat and humidity settle into Washington for the season and the hope that Congress might one day take action to prevent a warming climate melts away, readers can find some relief in a recent spate of reports emanating from across metro America. Metros, where 84 percent of the nation’s population live and work, will be on the frontlines of adaptation to climate change. Unsurprisingly then, a network of pragmatic metro leaders are taking the adaptation imperative seriously. They’re acting—on data and empirical evidence, no less!—to prepare for a future that will disrupt human geography
Do Floods Hurt or Help Fish?
May 11, 2011
Flooding along the Mississippi River continues to dominate headlines, as Mississippi and Louisiana brace for record water levels. The river has already reached a record 58 feet in Natchez, Mississippi, and is expected to crest there at 64 feet on May 21, while Louisiana officials nervously consider whether to open the Morganza spillway, which would lower the river by several feet, but also deluge thousands of homes and businesses. Cities farther upstream, though, aren't letting days of flooding get in the way of events: Memphis is even going ahead with a World Championship BBQ competition.