• RefugeesIgnoring anti-refugee rhetoric, Texans rush to help in resettlement

    By Jim Malewitz

    Texas’ top elected officials have not exactly welcomed refugees over the past year. Last week, for example, Gov. Greg Abbott threatened to end state cooperation with the nation’s refugee resettlement program unless federal officials “unconditionally approve” a Texas plan requiring extra vetting of applicants. But everyday Texans seem to be more willing to help refugees from Syria and elsewhere start new lives in the Lone Star State. Nonprofits that resettle refugees say volunteer turnout has increased — in some cases dramatically — since Abbott first suggested they threatened security.

  • Water securityCalifornia's almond boom ramped up water use, consumed wetlands

    Converting land in California to grow water-hungry almonds between 2007 and 2014 has led to a 27 percent annual increase in irrigation demands — despite the state’s historic drought. The expansion of almonds has also consumed 16,000 acres of wetlands and will likely put additional pressure on already stressed honeybee populations.

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  • Water securityAbnormalities found in drinking water in Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale region

    Chemists studying well water quality in the Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale region found some abnormal chloride/bromide ratios, alongside evidence of dissolved gases and sporadic episodes of volatile organic compounds, all indicative of some contamination from industrial or agricultural activities in the area.

  • Water securityRadioactive wastewater enters Florida major aquifer after huge sinkhole opens up below fertilizer plant

    At least 980 million liters of highly contaminated water — including radioactive substances – has leaked into one of Florida’s largest sources of drinking water. The leak was caused by a huge sinkhole which opened up beneath a fertilizer plant near Tampa. The sinkhole caused highly contaminated waste water to pass into an aquifer which supplies much of the state. The waste water contained phosphogypsum, a by-product of fertilizer production, which contains naturally occurring uranium and radium. the Floridan aquifer aquifer underlies all of Florida and extends into southern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, supplying groundwater to the cities of Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa, and St Petersburg.

  • RefugeesTexas threatens to withdraw from refugee resettlement program

    By Alexa Ura

    As part of its ongoing fight to keep Syrian refugees out of the state, Texas is threatening to withdraw from the nation’s refugee resettlement program if federal officials refuse to “unconditionally approve” a state plan requiring additional vetting of relocated people.

  • Water securitySolar-powered Ring Garden combines desalination, agriculture for drought-stricken California

    With roughly 80 percent of California’s already-scarce water supply going to agriculture, it is crucial for the state to embrace new technologies that shrink the amount of water required to grow food. Alexandru Predonu has designed an elegant solution which uses solar energy to power a rotating desalination plant and farm that not only produces clean drinking water for the city of Santa Monica, but also food crops — including algae.

  • Water securitySolar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California

    The infrastructure California needs to generate energy for electricity and clean water, which will be significant, need not blight the landscape. Designs like The Pipe demonstrate how the provision of public services like these can be knitted into every day life in a healthy, aesthetically pleasing way.

  • SurveillanceMany sections of Baltimore are under secret, constant aerial video surveillance by BPD

    The Baltimore Police Department has secretly deployed a surveillance system using planes and powerful cameras that can continuously record 30-square-mile sections of the city at once. The technology, which is run by a private company, was originally developed for the Defense Department for use in Iraq. It stores the video footage for an undetermined amount of time, and police can use it to retroactively track any pedestrian or vehicle within the surveillance area.

  • Emergency alertsConnecticut launches emergency alert mobile app for state residents

    Connecticut governor Dannel P. Malloy last week announced the launch of a new emergency preparedness mobile application for Connecticut residents. The app provides information and alerts in emergency situation, and also helps residents prepare in advance of an emergency. The CT Prepares app, which can be downloaded to most smartphones, incorporates and integrates text messaging, e-mail, and social networking, allowing residents to communicate with family members during an emergency.

  • Dirty bombIn dirty bomb prevention, Texas fails a crucial test

    By Patrick Malone

    The clandestine group’s goal was clear: Obtain the building blocks of a radioactive “dirty bomb” — capable of poisoning a major city for a year or more — by openly purchasing the raw ingredients from authorized sellers inside the United States. It should have been hard. The purchase of lethal radioactive materials — even modestly dangerous ones — requires a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a measure meant to keep them away from terrorists. But a team of undercover bureaucrats with the investigative arm of Congress discovered that getting a license and then ordering enough materials to make a dirty bomb was strikingly simple.

  • Domestic terrorismFive officers killed by a sniper in Dallas (updated)

    Five police officers were killed, and seven officers and two civilians injured, on Thursday by 25-year old Micha Xavier Johnson, who opened fire on the officers during a protest march in Dallas. During a 3-hour standoff with the police, Johnson said he was not associated with any group or organization, and that his only purpose was to kill White people – especially White police officers. It was the deadliest attack on law enforcement officers since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

  • GridUnderstanding California electricity crisis may help prevent future crises

    Between 2000 and 2001, California experienced the biggest electricity crisis in the United States since the Second World War. Exactly how it happened, however, is complex. New research now reveals insights into the market dynamics at play, potentially helping regulators standardize the market and prevent future crises.

  • Mass shootingAurora movie theater owner seeks $700,000 from families of mass shooting victims

    A Colorado jury ruled that Cinemark was not responsible for the 2012 massacre in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, in which twelve people were killed and seventy injured – and now Cinemax, the owner of the movie theater, is demanding that the families of the victims of the mass shooting pay $699, 187.13 to cover the company’s legal costs defending itself.

  • GunsHawaii becomes first state to place gun owners – both residents and visitors -- in a federal database

    Hawaii has become the first U.S. state to place its gun owners on a federally managed database — the FBI’s “Rap Back” criminal monitoring system — and monitor them for criminal activity. The new law would permit Hawaii police to determine whether gun owners ought to be allowed to keep possession of a firearm following an arrest.

  • Plum IslandBill proposes sea mammal protection zone around Plum Island

    Three Long Island lawmakers on 1 June introduced a bill which would create a marine mammal and sea turtle protection zone around Plum Island and two other environmentally sensitive eastern Islands. The bill is expected to get a full vote in the legislature next week.