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Sen. Rand Paul Assaulted At Home In Kentucky

Sen. Rand Paul was assaulted at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Friday afternoon, leaving minor injuries, according to local news outlets. Kentucky State Police responded to a reported incident at 3:21 p.m., finding Bowling Green resident Rene Boucher, 59, who allegedly assaulted Paul. The troopers arrested Boucher and charged him with one count of fourth-degree assault causing minor injury. Boucher—whose name is spelled “Rene Albert Bousher” by the Warren County Regional Jail—was taken into custody. “Senator Paul was blindsided and the victim of an assault,” said spokesperson Kelsey Cooper in a statement. “The assailant was arrested and it is now a matter for the police. Senator Paul is fine.” Read more at The Daily Beast. […]

After Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis, Worries Shift to Virgin Islands

In the Northern Mariana Islands, the depleted public pension fund was wreaking such fiscal havoc in 2012 that the territory declared it bankrupt, but the case was thrown out. The government then tried cutting all retirees’ pensions 25 percent, but the retirees have been fighting the cuts, and the fund is nearly exhausted anyway.Even Guam, which enjoys the economic benefit of several large American military installations, has been having qualms about its debt after Puerto Rico’s default.“Puerto Rico’s troubles provide a teachable moment for Guam,” said Benjamin Cruz, the speaker of the legislature, who recently helped defeat a proposal to borrow $75 million to pay tax refunds. “Spending borrowed money is too easy.”But the debt dilemma is now most acute in the Virgin Islands — the three main islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John — where the government has been struggling ever since a giant refinery closed in 2012, wiping out the territory’s biggest nongovernment employer and a mainstay of its tax base.Its troubles began to snowball last July, when Puerto Rico defaulted on most of its debts.In August, Fitch downgraded the Virgin Islands’ debt to junk, citing the territory’s chronic budget deficits and habit of borrowing to plug the holes, like Puerto Rico.More downgrades followed, and in December, Standard & Poor’s dealt the territory a rare “superdowngrade” — seven notches in one fell swoop — leaving it squarely in the junk-bond realm. That scared away investors and forced it to cancel a planned bond offering in January.The failed bond deal meant there was not enough cash to pay for basic government operations in February or March. As a stopgap, the territory diverted its workers’ pension contributions.PhotoCoreen Lloyd-Adams and Shenika Freeman, registered nurses, preparing a bed in the labor and delivery unit at the Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas. […]

New carbon capture technology could help microbreweries recycle CO2 & cut costs

A technology developed at a national lab for improving carbon capture at power plants may be able to help craft breweries capture and reuse CO2 from their fermentation processes, while also slashing costs. […]

Southern California is facing a serious tree catastrophe

Stricken sycamores, waning willows, ailing oaks – thanks to years of drought and invasive pests, tens of millions of trees are at imminent risk of a massive die-off. […]

Artist’s murals of animals in mystical metamorphosis reconnect us back to nature (Video)

Animals painted with fantastical realism undergo an extraordinary transformation in these large-scale artworks. […]

Money doesn’t matter: White people breathe cleaner air

Money doesn’t matter: White people breathe cleaner air

By on 11 Mar 2016 7:00 amcommentsShare

Not everybody gets to breathe clean air. So how do we decide who winds up wheezing through the smog and who winds up inhaling fresh air? Too often it depends on your skin color.

For the most part, even when controlling for poverty, race is a far better indicator when it comes to determining who lives under a cloud of pollution in the United States. Thanks to a new, interactive air pollution index created by the National Equity Atlas, you can have a closer look at what that means, state to state and city to city.

Here’s how it works: The average person in the U.S. lives in a place that ranks in the 50th percentile for air pollution exposure, based on the EPA’s 2011 National Air Toxics Assessment. Anyone below the 50th percentile is essentially breathing better air than the average American, and anyone above the 50th is worse off.

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What makes the big difference? Race. People of color rank at the 60th percentile while white people breathe easier at the 44th percentile.

You might think that poverty would play a stronger role. Don’t poor people face more air pollution, regardless of race? The short answer is, yes, but barely. People of color living below the poverty line in the U.S. are reaching for their inhalers at the 62nd percentile, while those living above the poverty line fare slightly better at the 60th percentile.

By contrast, whites living below the poverty line are still better than average at the 46th percentile, while those above the poverty line rank at the 44th percentile. In other words, poverty hardly changes the ranking at all. Overall, poor whites still breathe cleaner air than better-off people of color. That’s true for the U.S. as a whole and in region after region.

“I’m sure it’s the case that in some regions, race may matter a little less, but by and large the result is that race explains the differences in pollution exposure holds,” says Justin Scoggins, the data manager for the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California who also manages data for the National Equity Atlas, which created the index.

When looking at the index, we can distinguish among people of color. Blacks, Asians, and Latinos all fare worse than the average American when it comes to air pollution exposure. Native Americans get surprisingly fresh air at the 37th percentile. I’m going to guess that may have to do with the fact that about 20 percent of Native Americans live in reservations. And reservations are often highly polluted from coal, oil, and gas extraction. The index also doesn’t measure for water and other kinds of pollution.

We can also sort by state, city, or metropolitan region and find surprises. Metropolitan areas around two famously progressive and green-friendly cities, Seattle and Minneapolis, have bad air as well as stark inequities by race.

The National Equity Atlas also provides a list of resources to combat these inequities, based on creating policies that promote equitable air quality. Think land-use planning that includes people of color in decisions about the way their neighborhoods are shaped, green affordable housing that builds homes with the premise that no one should live near environmental contamination, and leadership development that encourages those people who are most affected by pollution to advocate for themselves. All are important — as is acknowledging that communities of color face disproportionate burdens when it comes to environmental contamination.



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If You Want to Go Quickly, Go Alone. If You Want to Go Far, Go Together.

Photo Credit: Tom Puchner, Creative Commons There is a great African proverb; “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Throughout my career I’ve seen it proven again and again, the lasting solutions in fisheries and maritime issues are ones where stakeholders can find common ground, earn trust and work together. Helping people today – but not at the expense of people or nature tomorrow. When I took office as Fisheries Commissioner, only four fish stocks were being fished sustainably in the EU. At the end of my term, 27 stocks were being fished sustainably. But the agency did not get there alone. This was only possible through collaboration between communities, fishers, seafood industry and government leaders. These changes took time but they have meant more fish in the sea, more jobs in the community and growth for the economy overall. It was a challenging journey and one we took together. The oceans team at The Nature Conservancy lives by this proverb as well and for decades has worked closely in and with coastal and fishing communities around the globe. For example, ten-years ago the Conservancy, fishermen and community leaders began working together in Morro Bay, California to help rebuild the collapsed groundfish fishery. Working together, our collaboration tested new technologies and tools to reduce bycatch and protect important ocean habitat. These new approaches are developed with and implemented by local fishermen and have led to a decline in bycatch of 50%, while increasing their target catch by 20%. Now we are taking that concept to the waters of Palau, and to one of the most valuable fisheries in the world – tuna. For twenty-five years, the Conservancy has worked with the people of Palau and their government to help protect their ocean territory. And this month, we have made a major commitment to expand our work with the regional fishing industry. The Nature Conservancy has purchased a year’s worth of fishing rights (400 vessel days) in Palau’s longline tuna fishery. Together, The Conservancy and fishing industry will test new and innovative fishing practices that reduce the bycatch of turtles, sharks and rays by using different bait, hooks, time of day and depth of gear when setting the fishing line. A recent study in Palau’s longline tuna fishery found one-third of everything caught in the fishery was bycatch, sharks, rays and other marine life important to the health of Palau’s waters and its tourism. Once the fishing research is complete, we will work with the government of Palau to set new conservation standards for fleets fishing their waters – standards that support a more sustainable tuna fishery, local economy and healthy ocean. Our goal is to use this multi sector approach and the scientific data collected beyond the waters of Palau in order to better inform regional fishery management decisions, reduce illegal fishing and help establish a premium for sustainable and traceable tuna in the marketplace. Ending illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, reducing bycatch, improving access to markets for more sustainable fishing products and other efforts to improve fishing is going to be a long journey and one we must take together. Livelihoods, coastal economies, food for millions and the health of our ocean are at stake. We have far to go and so we must go together. Explore The Nature Conservancy’s latest thinking, science and recommendations on fisheries management and ocean conservation. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]